Qld parliament honours ‘giant’ Mackenroth

Labor stalwart Terry Mackenroth has been remembered as a giant of Queensland politics who enjoyed the respect of politicians of all stripes.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk moved an official condolence motion in state parliament on Friday after the 68-year-old’s death from cancer last month.

She told the house Mr Mackenroth first visited parliament as a schoolboy, and went home and said he would be a politician one day.

“I hope there’s a school group here today as well. They’ll have heard the story of the long-haired kid who walked in a schoolboy, and left a statesman,” the premier said.

She paid tribute to Ms Mackenroth’s family, several members of whom including wife Mary and daughters Rachel and Jessica were in the public gallery.

His love of his family was a common theme touched on by speakers on Friday, and multiple MPs thanked them for sharing their remarkable husband, brother, father and son with the people of Queensland.

Mr Mackenroth served in state parliament for 28 years, including as a Labor minister in eight portfolios.

He later held various roles including with the recovery taskforce set up after Cyclone Larry in 2006, and as chair of the Queensland floods appeal in 2013.

He died last month, two weeks after doctors treating him for pneumonia found a tumour in his lung.

The man known affectionately as “The Fox” had a strong mentoring role in the state Labor party following their 2012 election wipeout at the hands of Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party, and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad acknowledged the importance of his influence during that time.

“Terry was never disheartened, never dissuaded by the challenge ahead of the Labor party to restock and revive its political fortunes,” Ms Trad said.

Liberal National Party MP Steven Minnikin, who holds Mr Mackenroth’s old seat of Chatsworth, told the house the Labor veteran had fought him hard during the 2015 campaign.

But he’d always remained respectful and even friendly outside of politics, giving him the “cufflink advice”.

“Cufflinks on, cufflinks off. In other words, put them on when you’re in the boardroom with the top end of town, but know when to take them off when you’re talking to everyday people,” Mr Minnikin explained.

“So as a mark of respect to you Terry, I will leave one cufflink on today, and take one off.”

Australian Associated Press

Fergo shakes off axing to lead Roosters

He might have been shunned elsewhere but the Roosters are hailing Blake Ferguson as a leading light.He’s been dropped by Australia and NSW but Blake Ferguson has been hailed as an unsung hero by the Sydney Roosters.

After being axed by the Blues as part of Brad Fittler’s clean slate, Ferguson has responded in the best way possible with two match-winning performances for the Roosters over the past fortnight.

His tries either side of halftime against Newcastle proved the difference in their 18-16 win last weekend.

And six days earlier against the Tigers he kicked a sideline conversion, set up Daniel Tupou with a skillful pass in traffic before putting his body on the line to deny Mahe Fonua with the last play of the game.

“Fergo’s been playing that way all year, he’s been carrying strong, he’s been a physical specimen right from the word go,” Robinson said.

“He’s been very good since the selection. Either way, he’s just carried on his job and he’s done it with passion and it was really clear on the weekend as well.”

Ferguson’s chequered history, in particular his decision to go out drinking just days before NSW’s Origin III loss last year cost him at the selection table.

However the statistics suggest he’s been one of the league’s most imposing players this year and deserves to be in the representative frame.

According to Fox Sports Stats, he leads the league for most metres (187m per game). Even excluding kick returns, he’s still fifth (150m per game).

He’s equal fourth for tries (8), equal fifth for linebreaks (11) and equal 12th for tackle busts (44).

“He’s probably unsung outside of our walls and inside he’s been heralded as one of the guys leading the way for us,” Robinson said.

“He’s been leading the way but there’s other guys who have started to put their hand up and follow his lead. That comes from an individual game and it starts to blend into a team game.”

Australian Associated Press

Harry Harris backs Trump’s N. Korea talks

Harry Harris, once named as US envoy to Australia, has backed suspending war games with South Korea.Harry Harris, the firebrand former head of the US Pacific Command and President Donald Trump’s former nominee to be US ambassador to Australia, has backed an expected pause of US military exercises with South Korea.

The recently retired admiral faced the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington DC on Thursday ahead of his expected confirmation as the next US ambassador to South Korea.

Mr Trump made a surprise switch earlier this year to re-direct Mr Harris from Canberra to Seoul.

Mr Harris last year offered fiery words for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un but told the committee the dictator should be given some “breathing space” after this week’s historic meeting with Mr Trump.

“Following the president’s summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore we are in a dramatically different place,” Mr Harris said.

“The whole landscape has shifted and I believe we should give exercises, major exercises, a pause to see if Kim Jong-un in fact is serious about his part of the negotiations.

“I have spoken in the past about the need to bring Kim Jong-un to his senses, not to his knees, and I think the president’s efforts in Singapore did just that.”

Mr Trump is expected to announce a suspension of major military exercises with South Korea to encourage the North Korean leader to end his nuclear program and denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.

Australia has been without a US ambassador for almost two years, with Mr Harris warmly welcomed by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when first nominated.

Mr Trump is yet to announce a replacement in Canberra for Mr Harris.

The senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were full of praise for Mr Harris and his expected appointment in Seoul.

“As you know he was first nominated to be ambassador to Australia and I think the fact that this administration decided on this critically important post in South Korea, I think that indicates not only the confidence people have in the four-star admiral but it is also him willing to answer the call of service wherever he is required,” Senator Bill Nelson told the hearing.

Australian Associated Press

Comey made error in Clinton probe: report

Former FBI Director James Comey made a “serious error of judgment” when he announced shortly before the 2016 US presidential election that he was reopening an investigation into candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog says.

But Inspector General Michael Horowitz also concluded in a long-awaited, 500-page report that Comey did not exhibit any political bias in his actions or try to influence the election.

A long-serving law enforcement official, Comey became a controversial figure in the 2016 election, drawing accusations from both Republicans and Democrats that his handling of an investigation into Clinton’s emails influenced the campaign.

US President Donald Trump and former FBI boss James Comey have traded insults over what Trump perceived to be bias. Photo: AP

Comey later headed a separate probe into alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. Trump fired him as head of the FBI in 2017 and has frequently criticised him since.

Both sides of the partisan divide in US politics are expected to use the Horowitz report released on Thursday to press their cases against Comey.

The inspector general’s inquiry has focused on public statements made by Comey about Democrat Clinton’s use of a private email server, instead of a State Department server, while she was secretary of state.

In October 2016, less than two weeks before Election Day, Comey sent members of congress a letter disclosing that a probe into Clinton’s emails was being reopened after new emails were found.

Clinton has said that Comey’s letter contributed to her unexpected defeat by Trump. Two days before the November 8 election, Comey said the FBI had found no additional evidence in the new emails.

John Podesta, who ran the Clinton campaign, said “the report demonstrates beyond doubt” that Comey was unfair to Clinton by announcing developments of the email investigation during the campaign while not revealing the presence of the separate probe beginning in July 2016 into the Trump campaign and Russia.

“This report confirms what we have known for a long time – that the FBI inappropriately applied a double standard to the Clinton and Trump investigations which hurt her and helped elect him,” Podesta told Reuters.

The report sharply criticised Comey for violating Justice Department policies and accused him of usurping the authority of then Attorney General Loretta Lynch when in July 2016 he announced there would be no charges against Clinton for her email use as secretary of state.

Trump and his allies have accused a clique of FBI and Justice Department officials of working against Trump.

The Horowitz report was highly critical of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI staff members who exchanged highly charged political messages, finding their texts cast a cloud over the FBI and created the appearance of bias.

In one newly released email from August 2016, Page wrote to Strzok asking “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right!”

Strzok replied: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”

In July 2016, Comey held an unusual news conference to explain why the FBI would not be recommending criminal charges against Clinton over her use of the private server for some official business.

He chastised Clinton for being “extremely careless” but said there was insufficient evidence to charge her with a federal crime. That upset Republicans who said Comey’s statement could have helped Clinton’s election campaign.

Trump’s allies have signalled they will use the Horowitz report to press their argument that Comey did not act properly while overseeing the Russia probe.

Page and Strzok were involved in both the Clinton and Russia probes. Mueller removed Strzok from his team after Horowitz disclosed the texts to him.

Australian Associated Press

Russia kick off World Cup with Saudi rout

Russia launched the World Cup party in spectacular style when they thrashed a feeble Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament’s opening match to give their Group A aspirations a huge boost.

Thursday’s win gave the hosts the lift they desperately needed after a nine-month winless run.

Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored two brilliant goals after Yuri Gazinsky had headed home the tournament’s first after 12 minutes.

Artem Dzyuba was also on target a minute after coming on as a 70th-minute substitute and Aleksandr Golovin completed a memorable day by smashing in a free kick with the last action of the game.

Russia’s Denis Cheryshev joined the goal rush against Saudi Arabia, Photo: AP, Pavel Golovkin

Watching Russian President Vladimir Putin wasted no time in phoning coach Stanislav Cherchesov to congratulate him.

“We are not getting ahead of ourselves. We saw that we are on the right track but we should forget this game and concentrate on the next one,” Cherchesov said after ending a seven-game winless run in emphatic style.

Constantly criticised in the ragged build-up games, Cherchesov had promised improvement once the tournament began and his players duly delivered.

“We were tighter, more disciplined, more mature,” he said.

“To be good is one thing, to be good at the right time in the right place is another.”

It also helps if you are facing a team who have now lost eight and drawn two of their past 10 World Cup matches, whose defending fell painfully short of World Cup standard and whose attack was non-existent.

Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi does not speak any Arabic but it will not take long for them to become aware of his Spanish description of their performance as shameful.

Russia looked more purposeful from the start as they poured into the vast spaces on both flanks and it was no surprise when they opened the scoring after 12 minutes as Gazinsky was left unmarked to nod home Golovin’s deep left-wing cross.

Alan Dzagoev had been at the heart of things in their midfield promptings but had to go off after pulling a hamstring in the 23rd minute.

Cherchesov said later that his tournament might be over but one man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity as his replacement Cheryshev doubled the lead with a mesmerising touch of skill.

Collecting a pass from Roman Zobnin on the left of the box he showed great composure to nonchalantly dink the ball inches above two prone defenders desperately sliding in, before lashing into the roof of the net.

Russia made it 3-0 in the 71st minute when Golovin chipped in a cross for giant striker Dzyuba to rise and head in from close range.

The crowd were then treated to a fabulous finale as Cheryshev cleverly rifled home an unstoppable curving fourth with the outside of his foot before Golovin capped a great personal performance by curling his free kick beyond the wall.

Russia can now prepare to face Egypt next week full of confidence while Saudi Arabia need to find instant improvement if they are to avoid further embarrassment against Uruguay.

Australian Associated Press

Sugary snacks to blame for decay

Sugary snacks to blame for decay Reduce sugar: Sugary snacks are partly to blame for an increase in children’s tooth decay along with a lack of fluoride.

Check-ups: Children should see a dentist for the first time when or before they turn 1 and should have check-ups at least once a year.

TweetFacebookSugary snacks and drinks are the worst nightmare for children’s teeth.

Charles Sturt University oral health lecturer Libby Warlow said the university clinic is seeing “a significant incidence of decay.”

A lack of fluoride and sugar consumption are the two main contributing factors.

When comparing children living in town, who are exposed to fluoride in town water supplies, with children on farms, who drink rain water, the difference is “obvious.”

To combat this Ms Warlow recommends using fluoridated toothpaste twice daily.

“The days of giving farm children fluoride tablets are gone,” she said.

“There is no great benefit to having fluoride supplements systemically.

“It is better to use a fluoridated toothpaste and not rinsing after brushing to allow the fluoride to have a topical effect on the teeth.”

To combat sugar consumption look at snacks closely to see how much sugar they contain.

Talk to your dental practitioner for advice on what are some better snack options.

“In a busy world it is easy for parents to allow children “convenience” foods,” Ms Warlow said.

“Sticky-fruit snacks, muesli bars and cereal barsareaffectionately known as the “trifecta of causing tooth decay.” Labelling on many of these products use words like “healthy, fruit, rice,”so parents can be forgiven for thinking they are making good choices.”

There is also a perception that baby teeth “don’t matter”but this is completely untrue. “It is important that the teeth be able to follow the order of exfoliation and eruption to maintain space for permanent teeth and allow them to naturally erupt,” Ms Warlow said.

“When children have teeth removed prematurely due to disease it is likely they will encounter orthodontic issues later on which can be very costly.”

Follow Ms Warlow’s tips to keep teeth in top condition:

Brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpasteSpit after brushing, don’t rinseMinimise sugary drinks and foodsGet annual check upsGet your child’s first check up before they turn one

‘Too late to the party’: Tim Crakanthorp slams state government’s Stockton Beach funding announcement

Workers on site at the former Stockton rubbish dump where 5000 tonnes of household garbage has been stockpiled after it was exposed to the sea by worsening erosion. Picture: Jonathan CarrollEARLIER this week the NSW Liberal National government announced they would be allocating up to $1 million in funding to the rehabilitation of the exposed tip site on North Stockton Beach, but state member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp believes they have come “too late to the party”.

While the majority of the long-closed council landfill site– which sent household rubbish,car parts and asbestosspewing into the sea after a section collapsed in high tides last January – is located on land owned by Hunter Water, June storms have exposed a new area under the responsibility of NSW Crown Lands.

Crown Lands funding ‘late to the party’: Crakanthorp LANDFILL: Workers on site at the former Stockton rubbish dump where 5000 tonnes of household garbage has been stockpiled after it was exposed to the sea by worsening erosion. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

CONCERN: Opposition spokeswoman for the environment Penny Sharpe (centre), with Port Stephen MP Kate Washington, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and concerned Stockton locals. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

ON THE EDGE: The Stockton Mission Australia Early Learning Centre at risk of falling into the sea. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

UNDER THREAT: Huge swell has stripped tonnes of sand from Stockton beach. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

TAKING STOCKO: Beach-goers fear for Stockton beach as erosion continues to take hold of the shoreline, reigniting calls for new work. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers


State member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp.

Crakanthorp also likened the“disconnect between the two government bodies” to the drawing of two lines between“colonial states”, and said he was shocked there was little to no communication when Hunter Water’s remediation began.

“It’s pretty outrageous that [Hunter Water and Crown Lands]didn’t combine their efforts in the first place, the first large storm we have come through exposes the tip again,” Crakanthorp said. “It’s an abrogation of their responsibilities from January not to have done it.”

“There needs to be efforts now for the full site to be remediated, so now both parties need a coordinated plan to remove the waste, not Hunter Water doing their thing and Crown Lands not really doing their own thing.

“All of this is like when colonial states make borders in certain countries. They draw lines straight down the middle of various community groups, and half gets looked after and half hasn’t. Crown Lands should now follow Hunter Water’s positive example.”

Community advocate Simon Jones.

Read more:Crown Lands ordered to take action on tip site pollution

Crakanthorp’ssentiment of “too late” and “not enough” is shared by manyStockton locals, including Save Stockton Beach’s key organiser Simon Jones, who has been calling for action to fight the erosion for years.

He believes the“band-aid solutions” currently being offered up by state bodies is“not enough” as the town of 4,000 people watches their beachfront vanish before their eyes.

“There are concerns here that the band-aid solutions that the state bodies are bringing in will only worsen conditions in the long-term, and it’s difficult for me to understand why they don’t just fix the problem in one go. No one wants to see them going round and round in circles for years,” Mr Jones said.

“These issues should have been addressed at the same time, at least Hunter Water was quick to act on the problems that arose in January. The whole process is mind-boggling to us here in Stockton, and we just want them to get to the root causes and solve them.”

Rubbish found on Stockton Beach after the tip site was exposed by storms.

Mr Jones also raised one of the main concerns Stockton residents have about the funding: “will ‘emergency’ funding come through every time something happens, but that will be the only action?”

“We are hoping that isn’t the case, but that’s what has been happening historically now,” he said. “We saw it with the surf club in the past, now we have the tip and they’re addressing small problems as they crop up. It’s the same problem as the daycare, and none of these things help the fact it’s become a major issue now.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald, who announced the state government funding, said the estimated times for the emergency works are around two weeks, depending on weather.

Recent news on Stockton’s erosion problemsEmergency funding announced for Stockton beach tip siteCrown Lands ordered to take action on pollution from former tip siteTipping point on Stockton erosion: decades of waste piled on beachWave of concern as Stockton’s disappearing beach ‘ignored’Stockton community calls for state solution to erosion problems

Stockland Green Hills workers are delivering sorry notes and chocolates to residents to apologise for parking in their streets

SWEET: Stockland Green Hills shopping centre workers are signing sorry notes, attaching chocolates and delivering them to residents to apologise for parking in their streets.If you live in the streets surrounding Stockland Green Hills and you’ve received an unusual letter with a chocolate attached, it’s not from a secret admirer.

It’s actuallya sweet treat from the centre’s workers apologising for parking near your home.

The sorry notes, authorised by the Newcastle and Northern Branch of the Shop Distributive and Allied EmployeesAssociation (union), are personally signed by those workers wishing to apologise for where they park their cars during their shift.

Part of the notes read: “Stockland has booted me and my co-workers out of the shopping centre car park. We’re not doing this out of choice but out of necessity. It’s not like there’s a lot of public transport alternatives either.”

The note also asks residents to sign a petition, which already has 1500 signatures, circulating around the centre calling for more staff parking and toalso suggests residents contact Maitland City Council calling on it to intervene.

The move follows Stockland’s request for centre workers topark their cars in surrounding residential streets to free up spaces in the centre’s multi-level car park for shoppers.

The union’s assistant secretary David Bliss said theleaflets havealready been distributed toaround 300 homes located in streets affected by the parking dispute.

“The Union has spent the last week canvassing local residents about the parking on their streets,” Mr Bliss said. “It is fair to say that they share the exasperation of the centre’s workers. Stockland has successfully alienated itself from much of the local community.”

Mr Bliss said there has beenbeen some contact through an intermediary for Stockland to meet with the union to discuss the issue. They are negotiating a suitable date and time for thatmeeting.

A spokesperson for Stockland said last week that the company is exploring more options with council to introduce more staff parking.

“The union still awaits a response from council regarding whether it will take any meaningful steps to enforce its own consent,” Mr Bliss said.

A council spokesperson saidtheexpansion of Stockland Green Hills wasdelivered under two separate development applications.The application for the enlargement of the centre required3080 parking spaces. The application for the cinema required 36 spaces.“These are the total bulknumbers that are intended to service the entire needs of the centre, including customers and staff,” the spokesperson said.Stockland has confirmed that it has provided “3100 free customer car parks.”

Seven hundred extra paramedics for NSW

Hundreds of new paramedics will be trained in NSW after the state government revealed an “unprecedented” boost of 700 more officers over four years.

The $1 billion investment includes 50 extra call-centre staff and about 25 ambulances, with services to be deployed in growth areas such as the greater Sydney region.

In the following year, 200 extra paramedics will be trained – the maximum that can be trained at any one time.

NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan called the boost “exceptional”.

“This enhancement is going to deliver more paramedics than currently work in all of Tasmania and the ACT combined,” he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

“This is unprecedented.”

NSW currently has about 3200 full-time paramedics, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

“We’re not waiting until the community needs more paramedics, we’re delivering them ahead of time,” she said.

However, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) said it had been campaigning since 2015 for 500 extra paramedics and the need had become “critical”.

Secretary Steve Pearce welcomed the commitment but said the association also told the government 1000 paramedics were needed over three years to make a difference to response times.

“Once these new paramedics are on the ground, it will make a huge difference to spreading the workload and helping paramedics to perform the vital work they do,” he said in a statement.

Mr Berejiklian said discussions had been going on for a decade and with the state being in a strong financial position, and with training systems set up, now was the time to make investments.

Health Services Union Secretary Gerard Hayes said the state “absolutely” had the ability to train 200 staff immediately.

“It’s above politics, this is people’s lives being saved,” he told reporters, adding there would be no trouble filling the positions.

“This opens a door for a lot of people who accrue HECS debt, who have a passion, and now there’s a door open for them.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard agreed, saying paramedic was one of the most trusted professions in the country.

“We’re looking forward to working with the universities to make sure we have the numbers,” he said.

Labor’s health spokesman Walt Secord said paramedics endured “enormous pressure” and highlighted unfinished business such as safety for single-officer responses, especially in regional areas.

Mr Morgan said the boost would make paramedics safer by making sure there was “immediate backup” for any workplace violence.

Australian Associated Press

Brain study shows you like hot chips even if you believe you don’t

Think you don’t want the french fries? Activity in your brain proves that you do. Photo: ShutterstockWhat would you prefer: a bowl of oats sweetened with honey, or a cone of deep-fried french fries?

It doesn’t really matter. Whatever you choose, your brain wants the oily, starchy fries. Or a doughnut. Or a chocolate-chip biscuit.

There seems to be something unique about these ‘combination’ foods, which mix fat and carbohydrates in a way rarely seen in nature.

They overstimulate our brain, which unconsciouslycravesthem, no matter our conscious food preferences. Possibly, this craving is so strong it may lead to addiction.

“There is just something special about the combination of fat and carbs,” says Professor Robert Boakes.

This is the remarkable conclusion of an important new study from Yale University. It demonstrates for the first time that our brain responds in a very odd manner to ‘combo’ foods.

Our brains have two separate ‘systems’ for dealing with fatty food and carbohydrate-rich food. The brain uses each system to decide whether it wants to eat a particular food.

But that breaks down when the brain is confronted with modern snack foods that combine fat and sugar. Combo foods are rarely found in nature so our brain has not evolved to deal with them.

“Essentially this research shows that we have separate mechanisms in the brain that can sense fat and carbs. What they show is simultaneous activation of both of them produces a much greater reward effect than either alone,” says Monash University Associate Professor Zane Andrews.

“It’s like – why do we like chips and dip? Or wedges and sour cream? What we’re doing is hijacking fat and carb sensing to give us a huge reward response.”

To prove this, Professor Dana Small’s team wired 206 people up to brain scanners, and then showed them images of fatty, sugary and ‘combo’ snacks.

Every time an image of a snack that was both fatty and carby came on the screen, the reward centres in the subjects’ brains lit up like fairy lights on Christmas Eve.

No matter if they said they liked them or not. No matter how many calories they had. The braincravedthem.

“Our study shows that when both nutrients are combined, the brain seems to overestimate the energetic value of the food,” saysProfessor Small.

The researchers suspect the brain has separate regions for dealing with carby and fatty foods. When carbs and fats are combined, the two regions activate at the same time, generating a super signal to consume.

Another region, the Striatum, lit up too. This region is linked to habitual behaviour. Addiction.

“What they are showing is there is a distinction between liking something and wanting something – and this comes from the addiction literature,” says Professor Boakes, an obesity scientist at the University of Sydney who was not involved in the study.

“Smoking is a good example. People can crave a cigarette, even if they don’t like it. And this research is saying food craving is particularly strong for the combination of fat and carbohydrate.”

Importantly, the study corrected for how much each adult said they ‘liked’ a particular food. Shown in the study are the raw, unfiltered desires of our unconscious. In some cases, participants said they preferred one food – but their brain told a different story.

Professor Small’s study is published inCell Metabolismon Friday.