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Shame on us

DURING this year’s Tough Mudder on Phillip Island, competitors in the gruelling event were told to help each other if they fell at an obstacle or started to drown in the freezing lake.
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Conversely, Australians are now mentally attuned to spurning others in strife.

Ever since John Howard abhorrently declared about boat people that ‘we don’t want those sort of people here’, our humanity has suffered.

Instead of extending a helping, welcoming hand, we are determined – at all costs – to push them away from our shores. To sink or swim.

Federal Parliament is drowning in crocodile tears, but no-one except the Greens seems to have policy that displays a shred of compassion for the desperate refugees fleeing tyranny and oppression.

Why not allow them safe passage to Australia?

Why not process them on our shores? Millions of refugees are processed in other countries, but Australia seems horrified by the thought of ‘those people’ coming here: we were here first; get out.

An effective and fair tax on all our obscenely rich and selfish miners would pay for proper, humane treatment of refugees – who will keep coming whatever our policies – and would show the world that Australia is not only a lucky country, but a fair and compassionate one too.

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Yarriambiack increases rates by 4.1 per cent

YARRIAMBIACK Shire Council will increase rates by 4.1 per cent in the 2012-13 financial year.
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The council released its draft budget after a special meeting on Wednesday.

The rate increase is two per cent less than council's 2011-12 increase.

Chief executive Ray Campling said said the smaller rates increase this year was in some ways a catch 22.

"The more money we have the more services we can provide so this means we will need to do more work in securing additional grants, which we have done particularly well in recent years," he said.

"It's about doing more with less.

"I wouldn't say it was a sexy budget but it's realistic and it is a budget that encompasses the entire municipality."

For more details about the budget, see tomorrow's Mail-Times.

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Maids upset Ewes

LAHARUM has started revving its finals engines after upsetting third-placed Natimuk by two goals on Saturday.
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The Mountain Maids currently sit at sixth with only percentage standing in the way of a top-five spot on the Horsham District Netball Association A Grade ladder.

Laharum led at every change against the Ewes, helped by Madison Iredell’s 19 goals, to snare the win 29-27.

Laharum coach Tamika Burdett said the side was glad to return the favour to Natimuk, after the Mountain Maids lost by two points to the Ewes earlier in the season.

“It was a tough and physical match,” she said.

“There is always a bit of rivalry between us and Natimuk as soon as we walk onto the court.

“It was also great to have our home crowd cheer us on.”

Burdett said Iredell was fantastic under the net.

“Nikki Ervin and Naomi Gash were also great in defence, which helped us keep the pressure on Natimuk,” she said.

Burdett said Laharum’s position on the ladder did not reflect its promising form.

“We started off the season with a relatively new side,” she said.

“With each game we are learning more about each other and gelling as a side.

She said her team would be brimming with confidence when it took on Rupanyup on Saturday.

“We will keep working on our shooting and our teamwork at training,” she said.

In other matches Kalkee beat Taylors Lake 54-40, Harrow-Balmoral romped home against Swifts, 68-30, Noradjuha-Quantong kept up its good form against Edenhope-Apsley winning 46-39, and Rupanyup was too good for Pimpinio 59-43.

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Tom McDonald earns Rising Star nomination

TOM McDonald's meteoric rise from AFL hopeful to regular Melbourne defender continued with the round 13 AFL Rising Star nomination yesterday.
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McDonald, 19, was recruited from Edenhope-Apsley in 2010 as a project player.

"It's exciting to win an award when there are great players who have won it before," he said.

"I am moving on now and looking forward to this weekend."

McDonald has cemented his spot in the Demons' line-up this season, playing every game since a late call-up against West Coast in round two.

The key position player has played on some of the AFL's biggest names including Geelong's Tom Hawkins, Collingwood's Travis Cloke and St Kilda's Nick Riewoldt.

McDonald's round five performance on Riewoldt was lauded, as it highlighted the 194-centimetre teenager's strong aerobic capacity.

He expects to line up on Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown or swingman Daniel Merrett on Sunday.

"I enjoy the challenge of the one on one contest, especially with the big guys," he said.

"I try not to take too much notice of their name and reputation. I take it case by case."

McDonald earned his Rising Star nomination after a career-high 26-disposal effort against Greater Western Sydney on Sunday where he nullified number one draft pick Jonathon Patton.

The former North Ballarat Rebel collected 26 possessions, four marks and three tackles in the Demons' 78-point win.

"I worked with Jade Rawlings about how to attack the game and what to do and we stuck to the plan well," he said.

"I still made some mistakes."

Other players with Wimmera connections to receive a Rising Star nomination include Sydney Swans champion Adam Goodes, who won the award in 1999, Brisbane Lions' Tim Notting in 1999 and Hawthorn's Clinton Young and West Coast Eagles' Matt Rosa in 2006.

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Big test for St Brigid’s schoolaerobics teams

ST BRIGID'S College's three schoolaerobics will test themselves at a national level after strong performances at the Schoolaerobics State Championships in Geelong on Sunday.
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Energetic Stars placed second in stage two, while Energisers won stage one and Enerjets finished third.

Energisers earned automatic selection to nationals and judges used their discretion, inviting Energetic Stars and Enerjets.

St Brigid's College co-coach Amanda Wik said the results were overwhelming.

"On the day they stepped up and are now excited to go on to nationals," she said. "Each time they perform they get better and better."

Nine teams competed in stage two.

Energisers, who won the stage one national title in 2010, scored 89.60 points.

Stage two winner Sacred Heart scored 94.90.

"The standard extremely high in this section, very high scores for a state title," Wik said.

In stage one, seven teams competed with Energisers scoring 75.40 to win from Hailebury College.

Enerjets equalled Hailebury's score of 75.30 but placed third.

"Enerjets came equal second. It is then taken on the technical score and as Hailebury had a higher technical score we were placed third," Wik said.

The Schoolaerobics National Championships are in Sydney on August 19.

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Unbeaten Demons

HORSHAM'S A Grade netballers have emulated the feat of the club's senior football side, defeating every Wimmera league club in the opening nine rounds of the season.
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The Demons are outright first on the A Grade ladder after a comprehensive 55-21 win against Minyip-Murtoa on Saturday.

Stawell, out to avenge its 2011 grand final loss, is second.

The Warriors' only loss was to Horsham in round four.

Horsham coach Zoe Heard said the Demons would not rest on their laurels.

"We are pretty happy to be at the halfway mark on top but it doesn't mean much and the next five weeks are tough for us," she said.

"We play the rest of the top five in the next four weeks.

"We still have a lot to work on. Our passing hasn't been fantastic at times and we are not consistent over four quarters."

Heard said if Horsham was to lose a game before finals, it would only strengthen its resolve.

"I have been in undefeated teams before and have bombed out in finals," she said.

The Demons have lost Sheridan Petering for the season and Emma Uebergang for five matches.

Both represented Wimmera at interleague level.

Petering is pregnant, while Uebergang is travelling overseas.

"It's a good chance for others to step up and say they deserve to be in the team," Heard said. "We've been practising around it. We knew they were going so it wasn't a shock."

Heard said Paige Lloyd, Abbey Martin and Taylor Mentha were all contributing.

"It's amazing how well our juniors are standing up," she said.

"Taylor is officially in A Grade taking Sheridan's place.

"She is a fantastic netballer and so dedicated. To have her situation change mid-season and play the way she has has impressed me.

"She is one to watch in the future for sure."

Heard said Mentha made the decision to permanently move to A Grade, leaving a her spot in the Demons' 17 and under side.

In other round nine A Grade matches, reigning premier Warrack Eagles notched their fourth win of the season, accounting for Nhill 67-36, Stawell was too strong for fellow top five outfit Horsham RSL Diggers 50-26, and Dimboola recorded a seven-goal win against Horsham Saints.

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Top Wimmera netballers on show

WIMMERA Netball Association development manager Gayle Leith has praised its open and 17 and under teams for their efforts at the Netball Victoria Association Championships in Melbourne on Sunday.
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The open team won two of its seven games with two draws. The 17 and under squad won one of its five games.

"The open team of 10 players all combined well on the day, each game was played at a fast and quick moving pace with the netball getting into the goal ring very quickly," Leith said.

"It was most important that the team protected the ball and their passes were direct.

"The pressure applied to the player with the ball was intense all the time.

"With A Grade umpires umpiring, the open team games, games were again a lot quicker with the advantage rule being applied.

"The 17 and under team performed well in Melbourne coming up against some very big and strong players.

"The team continually improves each time they play together, the never give up attitude and the support they give each other on and off the court is an absolute credit to them all."

Wimmera results: open, defeated Boroondara 12-8, lost to Bendigo 13-11, lost to Mid Gippsland 10-12, defeated Kingston and District 20-5, drew with Diamond Creek Force, lost to Ovens and Murray 19-7, drew with Bellarine; 17 and under, defeated Sale 12-8, lost to Geelong 19-1, lost to Hampden 14-6, lost to Frankston 17-7, lost to Ovens and Murray 9-10.

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The University of Ballarat to cut 40 TAFE courses

THE University of Ballarat will retain about 160 TAFE courses, following State Government funding cuts to vocational training.
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Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Andy Smith said the university offered about 200 courses and initially thought it would have to cut at least 60 courses.

But he said discussions with staff over three weeks meant a list of 60 potentially lost courses was reduced to 40.

"The majority of our programs will continue just as they always have," Prof Smith said. "Some subjects in the areas of business and hospitality will close, with a few others.

"But the cuts will not have a huge impact on our western campuses at Horsham or Stawell or Ararat and the university is not intending to close any campuses."

Prof Smith said the university would establish a new employer-focused industry skills centre in Ballarat to help train apprentices.

He said apprentices in Horsham, Stawell and Ararat would have access to the centre.

The centre would offer vocational training programs in the engineering, manufacturing, automotive, agriculture, horticulture, hair and beauty industries, among others.

University vice-chancellor Professor David Battersby said the centre would target the skills needs of the region and employers.

"In addition, the university will establish a new college based in Ballarat," he said.

"This will incorporate the university's technical education centre and a range of training and preparatory programs including an English language centre."

Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay congratulated the university for refocusing vocational programs to meet industry needs.

"Despite the plethora of angst in the VET sector currently, the university is an institution that is now showing leadership and a positive approach," he said.

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Second Dimboola house fire in nine days

BLAZE: Fire-fighters were called to a house fire at Dimboola yesterday, for the second time in nine days. The two fires were unrelated. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERAUTHORITIES have confirmed a Dimboola house fire in Normanby Street on Tuesday morning was not suspicious.
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Country Fire Authority District 17 regional duty officer Peter Bell said the possible cause of the fire was an electrical fault in the kitchen.

He said the cause had been narrowed down to an electrical power point.

From earlier

FIRE-FIGHTERS were called to a house fire at Dimboola for the second time in nine days.

Country Fire Authority brigades attended a fire in Normanby Street just after 10am yesterday.

The earlier Dimboola house fire was at a vacant weatherboard house in Malvern Road on June 17.

Authorities said the fires were unrelated.

Five crews took about 45 minutes to extinguish the Normanby Street house fire.

They contained the blaze to a kitchen and roof area of the weatherboard house.

A woman who was in an attached granny flat at the time escaped unharmed.

The granny flat was unaffected by the fire.

The house will be demolished.

CFA District 17 duty officer and fire investigator Peter Bell said the fire did not appear to be suspicious.

"Fire investigations are determining the cause at the moment," he said. "It is all smoke damage and water damage, but the fire went through the roof so the roof is unstable, as are a lot of the walls in there.

"The fire is not linked to the previous house fire at Dimboola."

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