Saleyards still number one

With just nine sales to go for the year Dubbo has retained its position as the State’s biggest cattle-selling centre.
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It’s also the State’s second biggest seller of sheep.

Dubbo Regional Livestock Markets manager Andrew Stanton said more than 200,000 store and fat cattle had been sold in 2004 – a figure he described as “pretty standard” for most years.

“We’ve sold about 120,000 fat cattle and 82,000 store cattle so far and we still have about another nine sale days until the end of the year,” Mr Stanton said.

“These are pretty close to double Wagga’s figures.”

The saleyards have operated for more than 50 years and grown to be the largest saleyards in the nation in terms of sheep and cattle numbers shifted through the pens each year.

Mr Stanton said National Livestock Reporting Service figures showed more than 1.3 million sheep were sold in Dubbo this year to date, up 162,000 on last year.

“We came second in the State for the number of sheep sold – we’ve been holding first or second positions in sheep and cattle sales for several years now,” he said.

Mr Stanton said stock prices varied throughout the year with sheep and lamb prices down about 5 per cent compared to this time last year, and cattle prices up 20 to 25 per cent.

“The peaks and troughs throughout the year have been abnormal because of the seasonal fluctuations,” he said.

“Prices have been constantly fairly good through the year.”

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Funds needed for festive feast

Cash donations are urgently needed to assist the Christmas 4U community lunch to be held at the Dubbo Civic Centre on December 25.
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The event has grown enormously since it began in 2001 and although resources are stretched to the limit, organisers plan to cater for record numbers this year due to increased community demand.

According to Christmas 4U chairman Reverend Chris Pope, about 300 people shared the inaugural meal.

“Numbers grew to 550 last year and this time we’ll be providing for upwards of 600 people which will be quite a challenge as there’s not a lot of cash on hand because our financial buffer disappeared last year when the lunch ran at a financial loss,” Rev Pope said.

“Christmas 4U is not a money-making enterprise – we don’t charge for tickets, although those attending are welcome to make a donation if they wish or are able. Tickets are given freely to those who would otherwise miss out on a Christmas celebration. Guests experience festive food, good company, entertainment and share the spirit of Christmas.

“Over the past four years the event has been attended by old people and young people, families and singles, locals and travellers. Social and economic status is irrelevant.

“The lunch has met an enormous need, not just for those experiencing financial hardship or living in dysfunctional relationships, but for all who are sad and alone at Christmas.”

Community-minded people interested in helping should contact Reverend Pope at the Dubbo Baptist Church on 6884 2320 or Sandra Robertson from The Smith Family on 6884 5575.

While cash donations are most urgently needed, the organising committee hopes businesses may also be able to assist with large-scale donations of produce or opportunities to purchase goods at reduced cost.

The committee is also looking for flexible, non-judgemental volunteers to assist with the organisation of Christmas 4U.

“We’re looking for people to act as table hosts, to work in the kitchen or lend a hand in any number of behind-the-scenes roles,” Rev Pope said.

To volunteer call Lee Hickey on 6882 2310.

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Easy riders taking the fast lane

ALMOST one-third of motorists would consider switching to a motorcycle or scooter to save on petrol costs.
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A survey conducted for the Motorcycle Council of NSW as part of NSW Motorcycle Awareness Week also found that more than seven out of 10 people in NSW believe motorcycles and scooters will become even more popular in future.

The trend towards two-wheel transport has been boosted by a City of Sydney proposal to give motorbikes free meter parking and cheaper motorway tolls. The council votes on adopting the strategy next Monday.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said: "More motorists are feeling the pinch [from] increasing petrol prices and are switching to motorbikes, which can consume up to four times less fuel than a car, while being easier to park and easing congestion by taking less space on our roads. The City … supports the gradual shift away from large, polluting vehicles to smaller vehicles to complement walking, cycling and public transport."

Motorcycle Council of NSW chairman Guy Stanford said: "The City of Sydney is creating a transport policy that actively includes motorcycles and scooters and we congratulate them on this initiative."

The survey, conducted by Newspoll, also found that seven out of 10 people in NSW support motorcyclists paying a lower toll than car drivers. "Motorcyclists are happy to pay a toll as long as the price is fair. A car driver does not pay the truck rate for tolls," Mr Stanford said.

The survey showed the increasing popularity of motorcycles, he said.

"National sales hit an all-time high of 129,966 last year and in this state alone there are 6200 scooters on the road," he said. "Switching from a family sedan to a scooter for daily activities would reduce the petrol bill by about a third, so it’s no coincidence that the petrol hike and traffic congestion in Sydney have increased demand for two wheels," he said.

Former Olympic swimmer and keen motorcyclist Kieren Perkins is an ambassador for Motorcycle Awareness Week. Perkins, 35, stressed the need for other road users to watch out for motorcycles and scooters. "Look in your blind spots and remember that we’re all sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers out there," he said.

Today the NSW Motorcycle Council will hold its annual Breakfast Torque at Loftus Oval, Loftus from 8am to 11am with free breakfast, riding demonstrations and a safety gear fashion parade.

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Claim Mundine tagged Kooris as ‘wife bashers’

A call by National Indigenous Council member Warren Mundine for Aboriginal men to apologise for crimes against women and children has angered a former city rugby league identity.
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Clarrie Cook, a league identity in Dubbo during the 1960s and 70s, said Mr Mundine’s statements unfairly labelled all Aboriginal men as wife bashers.

Mr Cook acknowledged that domestic violence was a major problem but insisted it wasn’t just an Aboriginal issue.

“It affects all nationalities and cultures and I think it is very unfair of Warren Mundine to say Aboriginal men should stand up, admit they had done wrong and apologise,” he said.

“He says it is the only way we can go forward. It’s like he’s saying we should all stand up and say we are wife bashers, before any good will come to Aboriginal people.”

Mr Cook said he had been convicted of assault many years ago.

“I pleaded guilty so it wouldn’t go in the papers and cause problems for my daughter who had just started school,” he said. “I know how cruel kids at school can be and I didn’t want my daughter getting teased and not wanting to go to school. I put her education before my reputation and it cost me a lot personally.”

Mr Cook said he had tried to forget the past and get on with his life but it was all brought back when he read the remarks of Dubbo’s former deputy mayor.

“Warren should have been more specific with his comments,” Mr Cook said. “He makes it look like all Aboriginal men are violent, and we’re not.”

Mr Mundine said he would be raising the issue of domestic violence as a matter of urgency when the NIC meets next month.

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Manage yourself, says Della

NEW Health Minister John Della Bosca floated the idea of reintroducing hospital-based management teams across NSW during a crisis meeting with doctors in Dubbo yesterday.
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Mr Della Bosca toured the Dubbo Base Hospital with local MP Dawn Fardell and Mayor Greg Matthews to discuss the cash-flow problems besetting the hospital, which has debts of more than $16 million.

The Rees Government was humiliated when it was revealed that supplies were so scarce at Dubbo Base Hospital that it is borrowing bandages from the local vet.

Just four weeks ago, a doctor had to use $770 of his own money to buy reagent for urgent blood tests because the hospital had run out of credit with the supplier, while endoscopies have had to be rescheduled for lack of sterilisation fluid.

Clinicians yesterday demanded Greater Western Area Health Service chief executive Dr Claire Blizard be excluded from their meeting with Mr Della Bosca. Doctors told the minister that they wanted more money for the embattled hospital and a guaranteed capital works budget for its renovations.

Mr Della Bosca floated an idea before the doctors of a return to hospital-based management teams working together with clinicians in resourcing and recruitment decisions to break the chokehold of bureaucracy on supply lines.

A spokesman for the minister said the idea, which has not been formalised, would rejuvenate the sense of ownership and self-determination for local hospitals across country and metropolitan NSW. He rejected any suggestion that such a system would see the return of appointed hospital boards.

The minister said there was no magic solution to the money shortages.

"The most important thing is, I think, is that supplies are paid, so we don’t have these creditor problems," Mr Della Bosca told Nine news. But he offered no detail.

Dubbo hospital medical staff council chairman Dr Dean Fisher said hospital-based management teams would be an important first step but nothing would change without a major cash injection.

"It was North Shore last week … it’s Dubbo this week. It will be somewhere else in the next fortnight," he said.

Safety fears as maternity units overflow

THE state’s busiest maternity hospital is on track to deliver 5500 babies this year, despite being built for only 4000, raising fears for patient safety.
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During one 24-hour period last week, staff at Royal Prince Alfred Women and Babies in Camperdown delivered 25 babies in a unit designed for 14 a day.

Women in labour are regularly transferred to other hospitals and those who live outside the geographical area serviced by RPA Hospital are told to go elsewhere.

RPA Women and Babies director Dr Andrew Child said the unit had reached critical mass. He said October was the busiest month the unit had experienced since opening its doors in 2002.

Dr Child said it was being forced to put up the "house full" sign, with at least two patients a month transferred to other hospitals – usually Canterbury Hospital, about seven kilometres away. The Sun-Herald was told three patients were diverted to Canterbury during the past fortnight.

At other times, women who booked into the labour ward had been moved to the birth centre for low-risk deliveries. Staff say some women have refused to be transferred.

"Canterbury Hospital is a very good hospital and it’s geared to do childbirths," Dr Child said. "I wouldn’t say the patients are happy about it [being transferred] but they understand it’s better to go to a hospital where they will get the right attention than to be in a situation where they will be among five patients being seen to by one midwife."

One midwife raised concerns about patient safety given the large number of women going through the unit.

A woman who recently underwent a caesarean delivery at RPA Women and Babies said she felt pressured to leave early so her bed could be made available to another woman.

But Dr Child said the hospital would cap patient numbers before safety was compromised.

"We are considering capping our numbers," he said. "Obviously, we have to think about safety and I think the point we are at now is critical. We’ve already introduced a geographical limit with our bookings. If you live outside those particular postcodes, we’ll have to say no.

"Some days we’ll deliver 24 babies. Other days it’s only six. When we have more than 20 babies in a day, it really does put the heat on," he said.

Pat Brodie, professor of midwifery practice and development at the University of Technology, Sydney, said the demand at RPA Women and Babies highlighted the need for more federal funding for university places and clinical education programs.

The hospital should also look at more innovative models of care and more efficient and flexible ways of rostering midwives to work.

"Even in times of extreme activity there, the midwives can be very creative in finding ways to ensure safe care," she said. "But when you add another few emergency caesars to a dozen births already in train, they simply can’t be in two places at once."

Staff said stretched resources had also caused some mothers in recovery after a caesarean delivery to be separated from their child, thereby delaying the first breastfeed.

Australian Breastfeeding Association president Margaret Grove said: "Ideally, it shouldn’t be happening and every effort should be made to make sure it doesn’t. Even just from a bonding perspective – we’re talking about that first little while when mum and baby are getting to know one another."

Dr Child said the problem had arisen because the baby boom wasn’t forecast when the decision was made to close the old King George V Hospital and replace it with RPA Women and Babies.

"When KGV closed, we were delivering about 3600 babies a year," Dr Child said. "In the past six years, we have gone from 3600 a year to 5500 a year. You have to remember, going back to 10 years ago when the new maternity hospital was being planned, all the indicators suggested that the birth rate was going down.

"Since then, a number of factors – the baby bonus, economic prosperity – have resulted in this unforeseen increase in the birth rate. That said, the increase in the number of births at RPA is much higher than the average."

Auxiliary part of hospital history

Annual membership cost just a shilling and numbers were double back in 1934.
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But the biggest change for the Dubbo Base Hospital Auxiliary has been the fundraising, says current auxiliary president Yvonne Lynch.

The hospital auxiliary yesterday celebrated 70 years – complete with birthday cake – since the first official gathering of the group was held in a Dubbo hall on October 9 1934.

With membership numbers dwindling from 30-strong in 1934 to just 14 this year, none of which are original members, Ms Lynch said it was becoming more difficult to raise funds for the hospital.

“We’re raising less these days because we have less people,” Ms Lynch said at yesterday’s monthly meeting.

“We’re asking people to give up just one hour a month if they’d like to join and participate in the occasional working bee.”

The auxiliary raises an average of $10,000 a year, with a record fundraising effort of more than $20,000, and all funds are injected back into the hospital.

The hospital auxiliary holds fetes, sells raffle tickets and hosts various fundraising events each year.

A cherry picking adventure is the auxiliary’s next big fundraising event, set to take place on December 5.

All money raised is spent on equipment and “niceties” at the hospital such as thermal blankets, lifting devices and ECG machines.

The hospital’s business manager Peter Woodward and acting general manager Lynleigh Evans presented Ms Lynch and her 13 team members with a certificate to celebrate the auxiliary’s 70 years of service.

“Each of the departments at the hospital have at some stage had some benefit from the auxiliary – stuff we can’t afford to get with our budget,” Mr Woodward said.

“It’s the niceties and equipment essential for looking after our patients that we are able to get quicker than if we relied on other funds.”

For those interested in joining the hospital auxiliary please contact Yvonne Lynch on 6882 6957.

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Students calculate last exams

Twelve months ago learning economics was as foreign as the Japanese language for Year 12 student Stephen Bratby.
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Halfway through the year it all clicked for the Dubbo College Senior Campus student, and he was ready to put pen to paper for the economics exam yesterday in the Higher School Certificate (HSC).

For Stephen, the hardest questions in the exam were the essays about the effect of the exchange rate on the economy and the effectiveness of monetary and fiscal policy.

“I was pretty comfortable with it but I had trouble bringing out the figures in the essays,” the 18-year-old said.

Stephen said that after studying both business studies and economics in his final school year, he wanted “nothing to do with either of the subjects” next year.

“I thought economics was boring at first and I didn’t understand it at all,” Stephen said.

“But about halfway through the year it all came to me and I find it a bit more interesting now but I still don’t want anything to do with it.”

Fellow student Katharine Hollis on the other hand is hoping to study accounting at the University of New England in Armidale next year.

She said the exam mainly focused on the Australian Government and economy but also challenged students’ knowledge on international trading and how that affected other economies.

“There’s a lot of competition in our class to do well,” she said. “I expected the exam to be a lot harder but it turned out okay.”

Other senior campus students Stacey Mathews and Phillip Wheeler found the economics paper challenging in parts and were relieved it was over and done with.

“I remembered bits about everything, its just remembering everything about everything that’s the hard part,” 18-year-old Stacey said.

“As long as you remembered the all the work you were okay.”

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Shooting of friend in stomach an accident

A SECURITY guard who accidentally shot his friend in the stomach has told police he was trying to make sure the gun was not loaded.
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The 29-year-old man from Merrylands was showing off his semi-automatic handgun to mates in a relative’s garage at Lidcombe about 9.30am yesterday. He told police he had taken the gun out of its holster and was checking to see no bullets were loaded when the weapon fired one round, hitting his 36-year-old friend.

Detective-Inspector Chris Goddard, from Auburn police, said the security guard fled the Railway Parade house in a white Holden Barina but turned himself into police an hour later.

He was being interviewed at Auburn police station last night.

The victim, from Auburn, was taken to Westmead Hospital where he is in a serious but stable condition and awaiting surgery. A person at the house called triple-0, Inspector Goddard said.

A local plumber, Luke, who knows the security guard, told the ABC his friend put the magazine into the gun and it fired.

Luke said there was no malice involved and his friend was "not a violent person in any way. It just doesn’t get worse for him. He’s not a killer, he’s not a violent person in any way," he told the ABC.

Inspector Goddard said there was only one bullet in the gun and police were talking to the 29-year-old’s employer.

He said the situation could have been far worse. "[The victim] is extremely lucky and I think the message is to treat all firearms as if they are loaded and to be very careful," Inspector Goddard said.

Group out to beat street crime

Crime levels in Dubbo are expected to fall with the reintroduction of the Gordon Centre community night patrols.
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A month-long trial in May resulted in a marked drop in criminal and anti-social behaviour across the city, a result proponents of the scheme hope to replicate.

The number of break-and-enters during the trial period dropped from four to zero and cases of malicious damage fell from 14 to one.

The soon-to-be-introduced patrols will be manned by TAFE-trained officers recruited from the Gordon Centre men’s and women’s groups.

An equal number of men and women have been recruited for the 16-member team.

Patrol officers are required to complete an 18-week TAFE course and pass police screening checks to allow them to work with young people.

Group members Robyn and Noeline Dixon are keen to see the patrols reintroduced, believing it will improve community harmony.

“It can only be good for the community,” Robyn Dixon said.

“We will pick up young people on the streets at night and provide them with positive activities and role models.”

Noeline Dixon said a key area of their work would be improving relations between young people and police.

“We need to restore respect,” she said.

“Without it we cannot go forward.”

Ms Dixon said young people picked up by the patrol would be taken to the Gordon Centre, given something to eat and guided into positive activities.

“The care needs of the young people will be identified and an appropriate course of action taken to safeguard their wellbeing,” she said.

The patrols will operate from 6pm to 10pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Ms Dixon said the patrols would cover the central business district and other sections of the city, depending on demand.

The patrols are scheduled to start during the next few weeks as participants become accredited.

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