State’s year in health

LOOKING FORWARD: Health Minister Michael Ferguson has reflected on the year in health and set out priorities for 2017. Health reporter Tamara McDonald sat down with Health Minister Michael Ferguson.
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TM:Reflecting on 2016, what do you think we’ve done best in the health system and what do you think we’ve learnt from?

MF:I would like to reflect that 2016 has been a pivotal year in many respects in the government’sprogram to fix the broken health system and we’ve seen some key outcomes …We have a long way to go …but the plan is working. We’re seeing the record low waiting list for elective surgery …We’ve got some really exciting capital developments occurring right now at the LGH …One of the most significant policy outcomes has also been the rapid response service, which we’ve done in partnerships with local GPs… that together with our new extended care paramedic service, I think, is showing the signs of the directions that we set in 2015 starting to be delivered, helping people have a better life and a better experience in the health system.

TM: What about challenges faced in 2016?

MF:Challenges faced in 2016 certainly revolve around increasing demand. That’s growing at a rate which is very challenging for us, hence… the important need to provide stability and support to our emergency department, which we’re doing, with significant extra resources but also for the LGH, new leadership, which we’ve established this year. That was a very challenging episode but …we worked very closely with our hospital managers to stabilise that situation and to recruit to the vacant positions.

TM:How many of those positions have been filled?

MF: Well I would need to come back to you on the actual numbers.But there was clearly amisunderstanding in the community as to the level of people leaving the ED. If you look at the full time equivalents it was approximately three of approximately seven …there were people who for whatever different reasons have left their positions. We’re just so determined to work closely with the hospital management.

TM:How long is [Ward] 4D planned to be open?

MF:I’ve given a commitment that 4D, those beds that we reopened that were closed under the previous government, we’ve reopened them and they will be there for as long as required.

TM:Is there any possibility of them just being opened permanently?

MF:Effectively, that is what I’m doing. They are open, but we’re not going to staff a bed that’s empty. The issue here is that the beds will remain open. I’ve got advice that at times it’s been very useful to support the hospital with its patient flow, particularly through the winter we’ve just experienced, which was a busy winter, and the staff tell me it was greatly valued.

TM:In terms of replacing specialists that leave the LGH, what kinds of resources are being put into recruiting?

MF:Well if I can point to the ED as an example, we’ve actually put special energy into that. We’ve got a new permanent director of the emergency department …new leadership and fresh vigour in building the team. There is a specialist recruitment firm that we’ve engaged together with specialist Tasmanian based marketing materials so that potential candidates can see what kindof quality of life they can enjoy here.

TM:Big year for elective surgery. You often refer to the backlog that’s developed over a number of years. How close are we to clearing that?

MF:We will always retain a category-based system …but the great success has been with ourtargeting of the long-wait patients. The longest wait patient was 10 years, it’s now down to three … The good news is we’ve only done half of our program with more to come.

TM:Ongoing, in terms of outsourcing elective surgeries interstate, how much longer is that program?

MF:Well, that’s effectively come to a standstill, because the resources are being very heavily focused into our public hospitals. We’re talking about 2 per cent or less … choosing to use that interstate opportunity.

TM:Obviously the Mersey has been very topical recently, can I grab an update on those negotiations?

MF: It’s a Commonwealth owned and funded hospital, the Tasmanian Government’s very strong position is that should remain the case. We are indeed calling on the Commonwealth to support a continuation ofthe current arrangements with a 10-year time frame.

TM:Is there any sign of an outcome in the near future?

MF:So the negotiation period is formally set-down to still continue for another three months. We want a result as soon as possible, giving the longest possible certainty.

TM:Is there any plan to add acute mental health beds in public hospitals?

MF:I know that we recently had an unexpected increase in demand for acute mental health presentations. And that, of course, needs to be properly managed. If we can learn from some of those demand periods, then we certainly will. The answer to our mental health demand issue is to do exactly what theRethink Mental Health [plan] sets out and that is to provide increasing care in the community where people are provided with the support and it doesn’t get to the point thatthey require a hospital admission.

TM:Going into 2017, what are your top priorities?

MF:My top priorities are to continue to listen, both to our health professionals and to the Tasmanian community, about how we can continue the very positive path that we’ve already achieved …I want 2017 to be a year of continuing to listen, but essentially, continuing to implement our White Paper. A new focus on the outpatient waiting list, for example endocrinology, which is still under served in the North, and I want to see the THS … clinical management structure coming into place in the new year.

TM:Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MF:I’m just so grateful for the community providing me and the government the opportunity to fix the broken health system. The health systemI want is the health system that I’d be happy for my mother or my father or my wife or my children [to use].

This interview was edited for length

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Monsoon season developingVideo

WEATHER WATCH: The monsoon season appears is developing with very active shower and thunderstorm activity over Indonesia. VERY activeshower and thunderstorm activity associated with the monsoon are now occurringover Indonesia.
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Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Adam Morgan said heading into Christmas it’s that time of year when we start to look at the development of the monsoon to the north of Australia.

“At the moment, we can see some very active shower and thunderstorm activity associated with the monsoon over Indonesia,” Mr Morgan said.

“In satellite imagery, the yellow colours are the coldest cloud tops, the highest thunderstorms, or the most active.”

BOM: Monsoon season developing.Mr Morgansaid the shower and thunderstorm activity about the Top End was normal for this time of year and not associated with the monsoon.

“At the moment, the monsoon trough is still to the northwest of Australia, through the Indian Ocean,” Mr Morgansaid.

“The region of strongest winds to the north of the trough indicates the monsoon bursts. The monsoon bursts come from the north west. These are these north westerly winds that come from across the equator into the southern hemisphere.”

Mr Morgansaid it was the it was the north westerly winds that marked the monsson.

“Theybring showers and thunderstorms; as opposed to south easterly winds, which we see across northern Australia for most of the year,” Mr Morgansaid.

“As we move into the weekend we’ll start to see the strongest winds move further east and the monsoon trough develop in the Arafura Sea.

“We can see the convergence of these winds to the north of the trough—that’s really going to help strengthen the trough and develop it over the weekend. In terms of rainfall, we start to see rainfall accumulate in the coming days, most heavily to the north of the trough, still through Indonesia.

“We might expect well over 100mm to the north of the trough about many parts; but it’s as we move into next week that we’ll be watching the movement of the trough quite closely, as it moves further south.

“As it does move further south … Well, it’s a little too early to tell exactly what will happen in terms of rainfall or how much we might get, but we can always be confident with an active monsoon burst over northern Australia of seeing some reasonably good totals.

“So in this active monsoon period weather patterns can change quickly, so it’s important to stay aware of all the latest forecasts and warnings. With a monsoon trough in the region, tropical lows may form at any time, and these bring with them an increased risk of tropical cyclone formation.

“Heavy rain and flash flooding can occur with any active monsoon burst, so it’s important to be prepared for severe weather of any type and follow guidance from emergency services.”

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Disused Moree rail line back up for grain freight

INSPECTION: Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall with John Holland Group’s site manager Craig Lantry on the line on Friday.A $2 MILLION projectto reinstate a disused section of rail line at Moree –enabling hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain, cotton and pulses to be railed to Newcastle instead of being sent by truck to Queensland – is nearing completion.
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The NSW government funded work will link Broadbent Grain’s receival facilitieson the old Moree-Inverell rail linewith the main line servicing Moree.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the new 2.8kmline should be done by Tuesday after an intense three-week construction.

“This means that about 250,000 tonnes of grain and 6400 20-foot containers of cotton and pulses – the equivalent of 6000 trucks – per year can be moved by rail to Newcastle instead of having to go by road to Queensland ports,” Mr Marshall said.

“This is a big win for Moree’s rural economy and for jobs in country NSW.

“It’s an investment in appropriate transport options, better roads and greater efficiency.”

Mr Marshall said that, in addition to the new rails,the project would have1600 new steel sleepers laid on top of 574,000 tonnes of new ballast, which was sourced at a local Moree quarry.

“Amazingly, this whole project will have been completed in three weeks by a work crew of just 10 men and five contractors,” he said.

“Broadbent will soon construct its rail loading facility, which will pave the way for the first train to use the line early next year.”

Mr Marshall said he was thrilled with the progress and looked forward to the line being used.

“Using rail to get our commodities to port will cut freight costs massively, meaning more money for local primary producers, less truck on roads and highways and greater efficiency,” Mr Marshall said.

“This is a very exciting project for Moree and the whole region.”

Mr Marshall said the government was determined to shift more bulk freight onto railway lines to ensure produce can get from paddocks to ports as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“The freight transport network is the backbone of country NSW and we need to improve its efficiency to take more freight off our local and regional roads – a massive win for bush communities, economies and the state’s producers,” Mr Marshall said.

This project was funded as part of the NSW government’s $15 million Fixing Country Rail pilot program.

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Almost always, any job’s better than none

The news this week that more 35,000 people on unemployment benefits had refused to accept job offers was startling. Simply because if you have the opportunity to take up employment there is, mostly, no reason not to do so. The fact a person might not be paid more than the dole or only a bit more is no reason to reject paid employment.
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Unemployment benefits are only there to help out people who are trying to get a job but can’t. If the job entails cleaning toilets, picking up roadside rubbish or cleaning up after a sporting event, then so be it.

I have always believed in the concept of working for the dole.

That is, if you receive unemployment benefits you are required to undertake some sort of community work. Or you have to enrol in an approved course of skill training that makes you more employable – and that the cost is met by the government when an unemployed person simply can’t afford to do that.

Of course, a person’s physical and mental condition must be taken into consideration at all times.

The general principle that no one is owed a living will always ring true.

OK, that’s the moral outrage out of the way. So where to from here?

The bottom line is that if you are capable of working, work is available and you refuse to work,then you don’t receive unemployment benefits.

But what about the children of the unemployed and their basic living and education needs? Well, then we implement a food, education, clothing voucher system.

Which is great, except that to administer such a system we have to create a massive bureaucracy to do so.

I don’t know what 35,000 as a percentage of all Australians of employable age is.

And I don’t know what percentage it is as a total of all Australians that are on government benefits.

What I do want to know is where these jobs that 35,000 people knocked back actually came from – and what percentage of them were in regional areas?

I know from personal experience that jobs are not all that easy to come by – especially if you do not have tertiary level qualifications.

We are told that there are plenty of jobs out there if you are prepared to work.

Not true, even for basic “entry level” jobs – especially for mature workers.

I remember applying for a particular job, but despite being more than qualified for the position I did not even receive an interview.

I was told in the email informing me that I was unsuccessful that I should contact a certain person in the Wagga Wagga office for some feedback.

Well, I tried four times and the best I got was a staff member ringing me late on a Friday afternoon telling me she was going home in 10 minutes and if I did not catch her she would ring me on the following Tuesday. It didn’t happen.

It was hardly a “one-off” situation, and in due course I found such contempt of people seeking employment was the norm rather than the contrary.

I was recently told by someone there is plenty of work for anybody who wants it and she knew of a person in the hospitality trade who was crying out for workers.

After talking to the bloke in question it turns out the opposite was actually true.

So damn those 35,000 people on unemployment benefits who refused to accept offers of employment.

But let’s get rid of the myth that everybody who is not employed is in that situation because they don’t want to work.

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When the sheep come rolling in: VIDEO

New technology in the form of a drone fitted with a video camera has captured the heartbeat of this week record sheep and lamb yarding at Ballarat.
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Landmark Harcourt real estate agent Adrian Smith said anew toy he had recently purchasedwas flownover the 69,415 head which was sold over an eight period.

“It was a spur of the moment idea…we were really surprised with what it captured” Mr Smith said.

CVLXBallarat saleyards manager Jonathon Crilly said the massive yarding injected some$8.042 million into Ballarat rural community at an average of $155.86 per head.

Mr Crilly said that spring receivals this year were slightly down on average with the Central Victoriansaleyard clearing 441,606 head in the October to December period with one remaining sale still to go before the Christmas break.

The previous largest sheep sale conducted at Ballarat was 62,544 head offered on December 13, 2011 when sales on that day averaged $106 a head.

Not to be out done the Hamilton Regional Livestock Exchange this week hosted its busiest selling week clearing a record 116,859 sheep and lambs in its three markets.

HRLX manager Chris Dahlenburg said it has been the busiest week in his 30 years at the southwest market.

“We’ve had busier periods like last year when 510,000 head weresold in the seven weeks leading up Christmas while this year’s turnoff to date is slightly below 400,000” he said.

Mr Dahlenburg said the mild start to summer and the ample green pastures still remaining in the district was the reason for the slower turn-off, which should see the selling of sucker lambs continued into January.

For the record, Hamilton yardings this week comprised 43,308 at its Monday lamb sale, which was also a record, a record 62,187 lambs at its Wednesday lamb sale, and 11,364 head at its Thursday sheep sale, today.

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Letters to the editor

ICE STORM: The scourge of the drug ice in Wagga continues to impact on both users and victims of crime, according to a letter writer.Lesser of two addictionsI WAS reading in Thursday’s Daily Advertiser about a Howlong sex worker whodidn’t front court on drug charges.
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Instead of being addicted to drugs, she would have been better off addicted to the hokey pokey – she might have turned herself around.

Russell BreedWaggaTarred with same brushBE CAREFUL what you wish for Geoff Field (Letters, November 22, “Jihad on the economy”).

As an avid letter writer, you should tune into the Victorian papers to see what the letter writers think of Labor premier Dan Andrews –he’s no more popular than Mike Baird.

I might addNSW Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid has copped fiveyears jail. Hopefully, he will get more from the appeals court. He will fight this to the end.

He has accumulated plenty from the trough to justify burning some.

You think Labor and the likes of Eddie will be better? Are you going to change your vote to Labor or have you always been a Labor voter?

Bryan PomeroyWaggaStuck inthe ice ageTHERE’S currently lots of media coverage about the scourge of the drug “ice”.

On top of thecost to addicts, family and friends, here’s yet another repercussion.

Over the past threeweeks, I’ve had a lawn mower stolen, my car broken into and my wallet stolen, which had the spare house key in it, so I’ve changed all my locks.

And finally, my car was broken into yet again and in one hit my line trimmer, blower and chainsaw were stolen.

I can’t afford to replace any of this equipment, which is tragic, as my main source of income has been lawn and garden maintenance.

In short, I’m now virtually unemployed.

Tim StaitWaggaBridging the great divideCITY-BASED politicians make decisions on behalf of country people but they do not have to live with policies that affect Australian towns and rural farming communities.

The Murray Darling Basin Plan is a case in point. The farmers are the ones takingall the risks.

Senator Nick Xenophon will not support the government unless he reaches agreement over water to give South Australiaat the expense of reducing water allocations for farming communities in the basin.

Senator David Leyonhjelm has travelled to Griffith and its regions and he is standing up for water farmers and towns.

The backpacker’s tax was 32.5 per cent and it’s now 15 per cent.

Our politicians should take time off on their holidays and have a go at picking fruit for a week, and learn about climate change.

It can be hot and dusty one day, and the next day cold.

Backpackers pay their way picking fruit, they should not be asked to pay any tax. They are helping do a job that Australians do not want to do.

Backpackers travel;they spend their money in towns, shops, pay for food and accommodation.

Fruit pickers are helping the economy and at the same time having a holiday working and playing.

Young city Australians could do the same andsee how fruit grows on a tree and the outback is a big country to see.

Superannuation came about with Paul Keating setting it at 5 per cent in 1996.

That year, we paid super for our workers about $100 into a company.

What happened to the super money? That is the $100 question.

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Discover the flavours of Australia

There is a wealth of edible native foods in Tasmania that we don’t utilise and which can add distinctive flavours to our dishes.
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TazWildPlants’ Biz Nicolsonhas been growing these amazing plants for more than 35 years and here are some of her recommendations.

Vanilla lily (arthro minus) is a delicate grassy plant that looks insignificant, but underneath has flavour-packed tubers. These can be roasted gently in a frying pan using a little olive oil.

The vanilla lily grows to 10-15 centimetres and loves dry conditions. The delicate purple flowers produce masses of seed that strike readily.

Vanilla lily is a gourmet treat, with flavour-packed tubers. They are best enjoyed after a slow roasting in a frying pan.

Bulbine leek (bulbine bulbosa) is a perennial vegetable with a unique leek/spring onion flavour.

It likes a sunny, well-drained position and produces stunning, long-flowering stems with yellow starry flowers over spring and summer.

Its leaves can be used as a garnish in salads, soups and adds flavour to omelettes and savoury dishes.

It has an edible bulb with a nutty flavour.

Sea greens(disphyma crassifolium) is a salty, crunchy vegetable that grow very quickly, giving you a tasty vegetable crop all year round.

The more you pick the leaves, the more it grows.

Grow in full sun in a well-drained position. Its purple daisy-like flowers in spring/summer attract butterflies and birds.

This is a ground-cover that is happy in coastal positions and tolerates frost..

Sea parsley/celerygrows around our coastline and is part of the family of introduced parsleys.

It has a parsley/celery flavour and produces edible foliage all year. As with most native plants the more you pick the more it produces. Sea parsley also tolerate frost and is happy in coastal positions.

Manuka (leptosprmum scoporium) is an attractive common shrub covered in masses of white flowers and the small leaves are packed with flavour.

Captain Cook harvested this plant as a scurvy preventative and even brewed beer from the branches and leaves.

Early settlers found that many kinds of leptospermum made refreshing teas.

The tea is made by simply cutting a sprig from the garden, putting it in your teapot and pouring over it boiling water.

It is extremely hardy and tolerates frost, extended wet and dry periods and coastal positions. It likes full sun or partial shade.

Another refreshing and flavoursome tea is made from white correa (correa alba).

Make it by picking a fresh young tip about four centimetres long. White correa has lovely grey foliage and showy white flowers in winter when little else is flowering, making it an important nectar source.

NATURE’S BOUNTY: The Australian bush is nature’s pantry, with spectacular, unique flavours like white correa which makes a refreshing tea.

It likes a sunny, well-drained position and tolerates a wide range of soils, including sand and coastal positions and frosts. White correa is an ideal hedge or windbreak shrub.

Alpine mint (prostanthera cuneata) has a distinct mint flavour different to introduced mints.

Chop the small aromatic leaves finely and you will notice the difference. Add to chocolate and dessert dishes. It makes an ideal hedging plant.

Our own Alpine mint has a distinctive mint flavour which is markedly different to introduced mints.

It is covered in white flowers with a purple throat in spring, and attracts butterflies and small honeyeater birds.

The best known of our herb and spice plants is the mountain pepper (tasmannia lancelota). Its outstanding hot, peppery, spicy flavour is used for soups, savoury and all meat dishes.

The best known of our plants is mountain pepper, with a hot, peppery spicy flavour perfect for soups, savoury and all meat dishes.

Warrigal greens (tetragonia tetragonoides) sometimes known as wild spinach, is a delicious vegetable packed with nutrition with a slightly salty flavour.

Planting planPlan now for fresh garden vegetables next winter. Plant out cabbages (the crinkly savoy is one of the best), cauliflowers, leeks and swedes.

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Throw a party for a golden anniversary

Good as Gold: Brian and Deidree Russell have been married for 50 years.
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Fifty years ago, Brian and Deidree Russell were married.

The Muswellbrook couple will celebrate their golden anniversary today with a party.

The pair met when Deidree was a nurse at Auburn in Sydney.

“We used to hang around the nurses’ quarters. We used to visit the girls,” Brian joked.

They went on a blind date at the Pitt Club in Pitt Street in Sydney.

“We went out for a few months, then got married,” he said.

Brian and Deidree on their wedding day.

They were married at St Stephen’s Church in Mittagong. They bought a house at Eastwood for $15,000.

“We borrowed $16,000, I think,” Brian said.

Brian is 86 and Deidree 77.

“I’ve been a journalist for 70 years. I started off on the Coonabarabran paper,” Brian said.

Horses for CoursesBrian’s passion is horses.

“I’ve been writing on thoroughbreds for 54 years,” he said.

“I worked for a magazine called Racetrack, then I established my own magazines.

“I sold them, but I do email newsservices now.”

Brian tends to consider things in the context of horses.

“I was born at a place called Trundle, six weeks before Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup [in 1930],” he said.

Trundle, he says, is west of Parkes, “where the crows fly backwards to keep the dust out of their eyes”.

Brian noted that Deidree has “a second cousin called Jack Purtell”, who won the Melbourne Cup three times.

So what’s the secret to a long, happy marriage, we asked? Without missing a beat, he quipped: “Do what you’re told”.

Deidree joked that the truth of the matter was that Brian “doesn’t do what anyone tells him”.

Taking a more serious note, Brian said: “We’ve been happy”.

Deidree believed in commitment.

“We’ve been through some rough times and we’ve stuck it out, where today not many people do,” she said.

Keep GoingBrian was paralysed 44 years ago and could only move one arm.

They believe he contracted Murray Valley encephalitis from a mosquito bite while visiting horse studs in South Australia.

At the time, the couple’s only son was a baby.

Brian was in rehab for five months, where he worked hard to regain functionality.

He is able to walk with the use of walking sticks or a walker.

Deidree said her husband’s story was an inspiration to anyone with a disability “to keep going”.

“When he was paralysed, he kept writing even when he had the use of only one arm,” she said.

During a stint in hospital, Brian adopted the old Persian proverb: “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet”.

Deidree found strength to keep going through her belief in God.

“There’s always a way out [of despair],” she said.

But she had decided to “leave the dark storms that have come and gone in the tomb of time”.

“And I’m thankful to God that I’ve lived this long. I like to live each day to the fullest I can,” she said.

“It’s no use looking back on the past because you can’t do anything about it. I just like to celebrate my life.”

Recently Deidree has gone back to work as a volunteer in a church program that provides food for the disadvantaged.

Soon, the couple’s first grandchild will be born.

“The fact that I’m here to see a grandson being born is very exciting,” she said.

Christmas CrackersYou know it’s Christmas time when you see these posts on social media.

From a well-nourishedbloke: “Just finished dinner. A full kilo of black tiger prawns”.

And this from a frustrated mum with frayed nerves:“Ithreatenedto call Santa 10 times this week”.

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An extraordinary journey

Fascinating life: “It still amuses me that a Nobel prize winner, on many occasions, stayed in my daughter’s bedroom while she was away” – Deborah Hamilton.
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U3A Batemans Bay organises a range of activities for the over 50’s. They include language classes, fitness groups, book groups and art, craft and lifestyle courses.

It has more than 550 members, from all walks of life, who love to keep learning, enjoy companionship and have fun. Each month we will highlight one of those members.

Deborah HamiltonWhat made you the person you are?

I was born in Canberra, the daughter of an Australian diplomat.

My childhood in New York, London, Fiji and some dreamlike years in Kenya left me with a somewhat disordered education.

I was a shy child and found the frequent changes difficult and isolating.

By the time I was in my late teens, my father had returned to Canberra to work in the Defence Department.

My early employment variously included training and working as a horticulturalist, for the trade union movement, for the Liberal Party in the ACT as well as a wonderful year at Australia House in London.

Returning to Australia, I moved to Sydney, married and had a son and a daughter.

While bringing up the children I was renovating houses.

I have renovated 14 houses and lived in most of them.

In Sydney I started working as a political lobbyist, which required much travelling interstate.

Through lobbying I met my second husband, a Labor senator from Tasmania.

This was during the fascinating years of the Hawke and Keating governments.

It was an enthralling life, but somewhat more “public” than I really cared for.

It all took its toll and eventually we separated.

The early 90s saw me volunteering to work in the cause of the liberation of East Timor (now Timor L’Este).

I organised meetings, events, press and itinerary for the Timorese leader Jose Ramos Horta.

My political and lobbying background were useful and gave me some entrée to parliament.

I guess one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life was the eventual independence of Timor from Indonesia.

At age 49, I completed a graduate diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Canberra.

Thereafter, as a volunteer, I taught English to migrant and refugee groups as well as to the staff and family of the new Timorese Embassy.

Ross Thomas, my partner since 2002, coincidently worked for my father in the Defence Department, thus allowing him to suggest, on occasion, that he is used to being bossed around by Hamiltons.

What brought you to the Bay area?

The children and I spent many wonderful holidays at my parents’ beach house in Rosedale.

On my retirement, three years ago, Ross and I decided to move here, purchasing a lovely home near the water, but in the bush, in Lilli Pilli.

Do you have an anecdote?

Jose Ramos Horta, on his many trips to Canberra, stayed in my house.

In 1996 Jose received the Nobel Peace Prize.

It still amuses me that a Nobel prize winner, on many occasions, stayed in my daughter’s bedroom surrounded by teddys and doll’s houses, while she was away at school.

What is your involvement with U3A?

My partner Ross is on the U3A Committee and I assist him with the organisation of the popular Saturday Talks.

These talks are wide ranging and are given by people with knowledge in specialist areas.

Registration for 2017 membership and courses is in Batemans Bay on January 19, 2017 and Moruya on January 20, 2017.

For more information about U3A visit the website: bbay.u3anet.org419论坛 or phone 8250 5262.

If you require transport to any of the venues, please phone Community Transport on 44741040 to check eligibility for this service.

The University of the Third Age (U3A) is an international organisation, embodying the principles of life-long education and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, in an atmosphere of mutual learning and teaching.

Each U3A is a learning community, organised by and for people who can best be described as being active in retirement – the so-called Third Age of their lives.

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The future past present tense

Untung ‘Lakie’ Laksito continues his quest on finding ‘who the Ellawie’.G’day and season’s greetings! Christmas is coming thick and fast. A few more sleeps and everybody will be celebrating.
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Some of us will be rejoicing and others simply celebrating, having a feast, ripping the wrapping paper off Christmas presents and generally having a good time.

Without trying to stop readers doing what they enjoy best, I would like to remind everybody that it is a season of goodwill.

As a kid I was brought up in a country with the largest Moslem population in the world. Although if truth be known, half the population –at least during my life there –never set foot in a mosque or any other place of prayer.It never stopped them from celebrating the equivalent of Christmas, which is the end of Ramadhan.

During the month of Ramadhan people are required to fast –that is not allowing anything (food, drinks or even their own saliva) to pass through the mouth, throat and into their stomach. Fasting is not just for the physical and worldly things, but also for more intangible things such as evil thoughts, jealousy, anger etc.

At the end of Ramadhan, people celebrate the Id el Fitri.

It is not only the celebration for the end of a test of self control, it is a season of good will where people visit each other, especially family and relatives, exchanging gifts and presents and more importantly asking forgiveness for their faults and mistakes they made (wittingly or unwittingly) in the past.They praying together asking the Lord to absolve their sin.

The season of goodwill and Christmas reminds me of a story of Jesus. He was giving a sermon one day when a group of Pharisees brought to him a woman who allegedly had committed adultery. They set her in the midst of them and said to Jesus, “Master this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act”.They insisted that Moses’ law commanded that she be stoned.

Now before I continue the story, I watched Australian Story recently.

I don’t know if you have heard of Richard Flanagan. A largely self-taught writer, this Tasmanian novelist is a London the Man Booker Prize winner. Amongst his novels is The Narrow Road to the North, based on a true story about his father Arch Flanagan.

Arch was sent overseas in the second world war to fight the Japanese. Unfortunately he was captured and kept as a prisoner of war. Worse still, he was sent to Burma to help build the notorious Burma railway.

He witnessed and experienced the hardship and terrible treatment the POWs had to endure. Death from starvation, exhaustion and / or beating was frequent.

Amazingly, Arch survived. Asked to describe what it was like, he simply said, “a horrendous experience”. So was he embittered by that? And how did the experience affect him? He gave this response, “it makes me very tolerant”.

Back to the story of Jesus. Having pointed out that the woman should be stoned according to Moses’ law, the Pharisees asked Jesus, “what sayeth thou?”

They continued asking and in the end Jesus got up and said, “He that is without sin amongst you, let him first cast a stone at her”.

The above two stories are 2000 years apart and yet they have the same essence. The same message.

‘Tis a season of good will. The dawn of a new year is breaking. It is not just a time for celebration, it is a time to reflect, to ask questions without passing judgement to ourselves as to who the Ellawie.

Well this is the last of this year’s columns. May I wish you all a very happy and joyous Christmas. May the new year bless you with enlightenment, peace and tranquility.

Have a good time, enjoy this precious life and take care.

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

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