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Small business tax debts to be revealed to credit agencies

The release of the federal government’s midyear budget review by Treasurer Scott Morrison this week suggests small business tax debts be revealed to credit agencies. Photo: Andrew Meares Inspector-General of Taxation Ali Noroozi’s report into the ATO’s management of debt owed found that “there is a difficult balance to strike” when recouping tax debts from small business. Photo: Louie Douvis

The tax man will now disclose small business tax debt information to credit reporting agencies under a new measure announced in the federal government’s mid-year budget update.

The measure, which comes as tax debts to the n Taxation Office hit almost $20 billion, will initially apply to businesses with n Business Numbers and tax debts of more than $10,000 that are at least 90 days overdue.

The revelation was made in this week’s release of the midyear economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) by Treasurer Scott Morrison.

According to the ATO’s latest annual report, the total level of collectable debt as of June 30 was $19.2 billion. It said that $1.7 billion in debt was written off as “uneconomical to pursue” (up from $1.4 billion the year before).

The ATO has been under pressure to move faster to recoup escalating tax debts.

Small businesses make up the majority (65.2 per cent) of taxpayers with debts, and according to the ATO remain “a key area of focus” since just 72.3 per cent of of small business tax liabilities got paid on time.

Small businesses accounted for $12.5 billion of total collectable debt holdings, an increase of 1.9 per cent over the previous year.

Chartered Accountants and New Zealand head of tax policy Michael Croker said: “It’s time something was done about the level of unpaid tax debt in .

“Business taxpayers need to engage early with the ATO and sort out tax debt problems. Tax law secrecy provisions will no longer hide tax debts from other creditors.”

There were “legitimate concerns” about whether the government was “setting the bar too low” in reporting tax debts.

But he warned it also could make life tougher for small business.

“In finance circles, telling credit reporting agencies about an unpaid tax debt is like putting an advertisement in the newspaper,” he said.

“It can make things difficult for future finance and supplier credit applications. This is a policy that needs to be implemented with care.”

Council of Small Business chief executive Peter Strong said: “We support this, as they will only take action if a business does not engage with the ATO.

“The issue has been that if you act too early it can stop a viable business from trading through a difficult time, and if you act too late the business may end up in worse trouble and thus can also impact on its suppliers,” he said.

In previous years the ATO has been criticised for acting too harshly against small businesses with debts.

Inspector-General of Taxation Ali Noroozi’s report into the ATO’s management of debt owed found that “there is a difficult balance to strike between recovering tax debt efficiently and minimising risk to government revenue on the one hand, and providing appropriate financial accommodation to the taxpayer on the other”.

His report had found cases where enforcement action had been undertaken “where it was perhaps not appropriate”.

It noted that while the ATO was taking positive steps to manage debts and ensure officers were adequately trained, junior officers had been authorised to make important decisions without senior officer approval, such as garnisheeing taxpayer bank accounts up to $50,000.

While the ATO was right to try to take swifter action to recoup debts, “the manner in which the ATO pursues debt recovery should not jeopardise a taxpayer’s ability to generate future income and economic contribution in ordinary circumstances”, his report said.

The n Taxation Office has previously told Fairfax Media it will be taking “more timely action” to prevent small business debts escalating.

The ATO had previously allowed companies to accumulate more than $345,000 in back taxes before taking legal action.

An ATO spokesman said the agency was rethinking its approach. “The community has told us they want firmer treatment of tax debtors who do not address their debt,” the spokesman said.

“Businesses that ignore their obligations will receive timely, firmer action from the ATO. This will include legal action where there is evidence the business is insolvent.”

Since 2006 the ATO has outsourced some debt collection to third parties who charge a flat fee per debt case referred.

The ATO has been working to improve its relationship with small business taxpayers after a 2014 parliamentary inquiry found that many of them had been intimidated, made bankrupt and suffered mental breakdowns and contemplated suicide after drawn-out disputes with the tax office.

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Kim Kardashian’s troubled brother Rob seeking ‘help’ after public spat with fiance

Kim Kardashian West’s troubled brother Rob Kardashian says he is seeking “help” after public spat with fiance, Blac Chyna. Photo: Greg DohertyRob Kardashian’s battle with mental health issues and his resistance to treatment has been well documented on his family’s reality TV show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. But after a turbulent weekend and a very public spat with his fiance Blac Chyna that played out across a number of social media platforms, the younger brother of Kim Kardashian West said he is now seeking “help”.

It is unknown exactly what that “help” entails, but the 29-year-old certainly seemed to regret airing his grievances about the mother of his five-week-old daughter, Dream, after someonehacked her Instagram account and posted some disparaging texts she allegedly sent a friend about Rob Kardashian, calling him “lazy”, “fat,” and “insecure,” and saying she would leave him after one year. Flirty texts purportedly exchanged with actor Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith, 18, and rapper Young Thug, 25, were also posted, as well as a discussion with her lawyer about trademarking the Kardashian name. The screenshots were not verified.

Taking to his Instagram account on Monday under a red carpet picture of his on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again fiance, he wrote: “This weekend I was in an emotional bad place and did some things that embarrassed myself and my family. I apologise and I’m seeking help to deal with my flaws/issues. Please pray for me and I’m sorry Blac Chyna. You are a great mother to our child and I love you.”

He also posted a message to his baby girl: “I am going to get better for you Dream. You are my life and gave me a new start on being a better me. Love you.”

Chyna, 28, real name Angela Renée White, seems to have forgiven Rob Kardashian by regramming his post with a red heart emoji – a modern-day version of waving the white flag.

It is not known, however, if she has decided to move back into the Calabasas home (owned by his younger sister, beauty magnate Kylie Jenner, who was once Chyna’s arch-nemesis) she shared with Kardashian for less than a month. The stripper and rap video dancer turned beauty entrepreneur left over the weekend, taking their daughter, the furniture, and all of the food, including a freezer full of Eggos (a brand of frozen waffles in the US) and a bag of half-opened crisps.

Kardashian showed off the empty home, pantry and fridges on Snapchat videos that he also posted to Instagram. He has since deleted the posts, but thanks to the art of screengrabbing and downloading they will exist forever more on the internet.

“Chyna took the baby, took the whole nursery we built, and… she left and she just left me alone and took the baby,” he said. “I’m pretty upset, I’m pretty sad, because it’s about to be Christmas and I want to be with my baby.”

The video’s caption read: “I thought this was going to be the best year of my life… Had a beautiful baby Dream and haven’t spent Christmas with family in years and I just can’t believe she really hurt me this way. She knows how to hurt me and I loved her so hard like I’m supposed to. Like any man is supposed to love their Wife. Chyna knew exactly what she was doing to get me. I can’t believe she did this to me. And this isn’t for some ratings this is my real life so please understand I’m just being open right now. Cuz if it was for ratings I wouldn’t explain all this here. And with Chyna’s messages and her leaving with everything and the baby I am broken. I go 1000 percent for my girl. I am so confused how a man who gives and loves everything about a woman is the one left alone. I’m sorry for being so open once again… This is killing me. (sic)”

But it was the lack of snacks that really seemed to cut deep. “She took all the Eggos. Man, all my Eggos. Where’s my sugar? She took my sugar! She took my OPEN bag of my favourite chips!”

Chyna blamed the drama on Kardashian’s “personal issues” and said she tried to coax him to lose weight and take better care of his appearance and his mental health but to no avail.

The ratings he refers to centres on their KUWTK staged-reality spin-off, Rob & Chyna, executively produced by Kim Kardashian West and his mother, momager extraordinaire Kris Jenner.

Coincidently or not, the day after the drama all kicked off, Jenner’s cash cows had a show special focusing on the birth of their baby girl. Some have accused them of confecting their latest saga to help boost their ratings.

A clash may have been brewing for some time. Most recently it has been revealed that Kardashian West and her sisters, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, are trying to stop their sister-in-law-to-be from trademarking their name.

The Kardashian sisters have long had a fractious relationship with Chyna, which may have been another factor in the legal stoush.   ❤️ @robkardashianA photo posted by Blac Chyna (@blacchyna) on Dec 19, 2016 at 11:53am PST

Chyna started out as a friend to Kim Kardashian, attending her Italian wedding to Kanye West in 2014. But things turned sour when then 16-year-old Kylie Jenner (Kim’s half sister) started dating Chyna’s rapper ex, Tyga, also the father of her son King Cairo Stevenson, 4, around the same time they were breaking up in August 2014.

Chyna triumphantly announced her engagement to Rob Kardashian almost two years later with an Instagram of a seven-carat diamond engagement ring worth $435,000. Rob Kardashian, who has struggled with anxiety, depression and weight gain, did not tell his family about his plans to propose: they found out during a ski trip to Vail. A month later she announced her pregnancy with a Chyna emoji.

With reality television to be staged and money to be earned, the fractious relationship between Chyna and the Kardashians/Jenners is far from over, but America’s unofficial first family have met their match in Chyna.    I am going to get better for you Dream. You are my life and gave me a new start on being a better me. Love youA photo posted by ROBERT KARDASHIAN (@robkardashian) on Dec 19, 2016 at 11:19am PST

Sydney Fish Market gearing up for 36-hour Christmas marathon

Angelo Vaxevani and Devi Lama at Nicholas Seafood at the Sydney Fish Market. 20th December 2016 Photo: Janie Barrett Photo: Janie Barrett By the time the market closes at 5pm on Christmas Eve, the six wet fish retailers will have served 100,000 customers around 700 tonnes of seafood. Photo: Janie Barrett

Who needs a ham, when you can have a whole tuna for Christmas? Photo: Janie Barrett

Prawns for sale in the auction at the Sydney Fish Market in the busy week before Christmas. Photo: Janie Barrett

Rumour has it that prawns could cost up to $50 a kilogram this Christmas.

The talk, coupled with murmurs of a prawn shortage, follows a recent outbreak of white spot disease in prawn ponds south of Brisbane.

White spot disease, which was not previously known to be in , can stop prawns and crabs from growing but poses no risk to humans. The outbreak has sparked a temporary ban on prawn and crab fishing in the Logan River area, while the Prawn Farmers Association has labelled it a “national emergency”.

But the NSW Department of Primary Industries said shoppers can be assured the incident “will not affect availability of prawns for Christmas”.

“National response arrangements are in place…NSW has implemented an Importation Order prohibiting uncooked prawns from an area within 10km radius of the first infected premise on the Logan River,” a DPI spokesperson said.

Traders in NSW have also assured shoppers that prawns will be as abundant as ever.

“White spot shouldn’t affect us. They are trying to isolate it to the affected farm, and we’ve all ordered our prawns already,” said Angelo Vaxevani, retail manager for Nicholas Seafoods, at the Sydney Fish Market.

“We’re looking at selling for $24.99 to $36.99 a kilo, which is a couple of dollars down on last year. There has been better buying stock this year and a lot more product around … around 50 per cent more than last year,” he said.

From 5am on Friday, the fish market will open its doors for the 21st annual 36-hour seafood marathon.

By the time the market closes at 5pm on Christmas Eve, the six wet fish retailers will have served 100,000 customers about 700 tonnes of seafood; including 200 tonnes of prawns, 900,000 oysters and everything in between.

“Each year the favourite is always prawns,” Mr Vaxevani said.

“But what we are also seeing is other crustaceans becoming popular [at Christmas]; like lobster, scampi, bugs, clusters and Alaskan skin crab.”

Mr Vaxevani said the average customer spends about $70, but there is always “the odd customer who really likes their seafood,” and parts with about1500.

Sydney Fish Market general manager Bryan Skepper said, while the outbreak of white spot disease was a “tragedy”, Sydney would likely be unaffected.

“Longer term it could have a bit of an impact, but we are expecting really good supplies of prawns. Talking to the fisherman late last week, I’m told the phasing of the moon has been really good this year,” he said.”The fishing for prawns and a lot of seafood species is impacted by the season of tides, but prawns tend to get a better catch just after the full moon, and they’ve been getting good catches.”

Oysters, crabs, snapper and barramundi are also expected to be popular choices in the lead-up to Christmas, Mr Skepper said.

“But I wouldn’t leave it too late. We’ve had some years when people leave it to the last minute and they miss out. Give yourself time and don’t rush.”Traffic at the Pyrmont markets will be managed by police throughout the marathon, while extra parking will be available at Glebe Secondary College.

The light rail is also recommended for those who want to avoid heavy traffic, but shoppers who do so are reminded to “bring an esky”. Interact with us on Facebook – Savvy ConsumerLatest consumer news

Victorian Peter Handscomb ready to embrace Boxing Day Test

Emerging batting star Peter Handscomb has declared he is ready to embrace the spotlight of a home Melbourne Test and has hit back at claims Pakistan’s late resistance in Brisbane had put fear into the ns.

Having celebrated their 39-run win in what ultimately was a great escape at the Gabba, Handscomb and his Test teammates returned to their home ports on Tuesday, and will resume training as a squad at the MCG on Friday ahead of the Boxing Day Test.

This will be Handscomb’s maiden appearance on the biggest cricketing day of the summer, and he will pad up in superb form after his composed 105, including 10 boundaries and a six, in ‘s first innings in Brisbane.

“Obviously, it has given me a lot of confidence. I don’t think there is going to be a stage where you feel like you belong in such high-standard cricket, but it’s great to go out there now with confidence, knowing that I can make runs and just go from there and keep backing my own processes,” he said.

But recent history suggests he faces a tough task repeating such a knock in his home Test, for former fellow Victorian-born stars Dean Jones, Brad Hodge and Matthew Elliott struggled in the marquee fixture.

Jones had six Tests at the MCG but managed only two half-centuries, averaging just 25.1 in 10 innings. Hodge made seven and 24 in his only Boxing Day Test, against South Africa in 2005, while Elliott was also unable to produce the big score he would have craved, finishing with six and one in his only MCG Test, against the Proteas in 1997.

However, former n captain Graham Yallop averaged 69.16 in four Tests at the MCG, including thumping 268 against Pakistan in 1983.

Handscomb has attended the Melbourne spectacle as a spectator and, in what will only be his third Test, can expect a raucous response when he walks out into the middle.

“I have been to the Boxing Day Test before but, obviously, not in this capacity. I have seen guys walk out, I have heard the cheer before, I have been part of that cheer. I think it’s going to be great to actually be there, walking out and, hopefully, just embrace the moment that is going to come,” he said.

“I will be trying to think of my batting process and making sure that my game is ready to go. I will take a moment to enjoy, hopefully, that walk out there but once we are in the middle, it’s game on and you have got to be switched on.”

Handscomb’s old-school technique, where he stands deep in his crease and prefers to play off the back foot to the fast bowlers, has stood up well so far, while his willingness to bound on to the front foot and pounce like a cat when the spinners are introduced makes him an all-round threat.

He hopes the drop-in MCG deck does not have as much bounce as he encountered through the Sheffield Shield this season.

“I am hoping the pitch is going to be a bit flatter than the shield wicket which would be even better. That will be great,” he said.

“Like I said, I have the confidence coming into this game which is awesome for me but also awesome for the team because we are coming off a few wins now, especially with the one-day series. We have the momentum coming into this game, so we are coming in hot and with a lot of confidence.”

Pakistan fast-bowling great Waqar Younis said the tourists had “put the fear into the Aussies’ minds” after their second-innings fightback in Brisbane, but Handscomb disagreed, insisting the hosts were ready to claim the series.

“We are winning games. We won the last Test against South Africa, we have won this Test and the boys won the one-day series (against New Zealand) quite convincingly. I wouldn’t say there is any fear in our minds at all – we are going out looking to win and we are confident we are going to do it,” he said.

The ns added West n allrounder Hilton Cartwright to their squad on Tuesday to provide greater bowling depth after Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood had a heavy workload in Brisbane, each bowling 56 overs.

Cartwright, who was selected in the one-day squad earlier this month, would almost certainly replace struggling batsman Nic Maddinson in the XI.

Maddinson has failed in his two Test matches, the latest in Brisbane with one run in the first innings and just four from three balls in the second when the hosts were chasing quick runs.

“It’s not he is out of form at all. He is hitting ’em unbelievably well in the nets and, if he gets his opportunity in the Boxing Day Test, I see no reason why he won’t be making plenty of runs,” Handscomb said.

Cartwright has taken only 14 wickets at 42.50 in 14 Sheffield Shield matches but his batting has improved in the past year, thumping a century for A against India A in September.

Mitch Marsh had been the all-rounder for 19 Tests but was dumped after the loss to South Africa in Perth, predominantly because of his poor batting.

Red, white and clues: taking the mystery out of Hunter wines.

QUALITY: Assistant winemaker at Brokenwood Wines Kate Sturgess … Brokenwood produces a top Hunter semillon. Picture: Simone De Peak

So, you know the Hunter Valley makes impressive wine, but not much more?

Relax, you’re not alone. And yes, wine talk can be downright intimidating. Besides, youdon’t know if what they’re saying in the bottle shop is codswallop anyway.So here is a quick rundownon Hunter wine. And not a word to confuse you.

Let’s start with white wine.

Semillon: This is the Hunter’s star. Nowhere on the planet does it better. True. Trouble is it’s notnecessarily an easy wine to like. It can be a bit tart. Semillon flavours are lemon, lime and citrus.That’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Personally I love the stuff, but that’s me. It’s an acidic, fresh, zestystyle of wine and if you want to see it at its best, try it with seafood. It’s a wonderful match. Oldersemillon (say, five or six years) is more golden and picks up richness and complexity – honeyed,toasty flavours. If you can afford two bottles, buy a young wine and an older and taste thedifference. Labels: Mt Pleasant, Brokenwood, Thomas, Leogate.

Chardonnay: These days the Hunter’s best can sit up with ’s finest. As a matter of fact FirstCreek Wines have been taking out some major national awards in recent times for theirchardonnay. In general terms (and chardonnay can have wide ranging flavours) the top Hunterchardies tend to have white peach flavours, and some citrus bite. The entry level chardonnays (lessexpensive, drink now wines) tend to have yellow peach flavours, and have a bit broader flavourprofile. Not as concentrated. A good way to experience this is to taste the Scarborough chardonnays– they make a range. Find the one that suits you best. Food? Go for roast chicken. Labels:Scarborough, First Creek, Tyrrell’s, Wombat Crossing, Lake’s Folly, Allandale.

Verdelho: This is a terrific wine for novice drinkers. Why? It’s a fruit salad in a glass. Full of bright,fruity flavours, it’s a good option for a hot day. Buy a bottle, make sure it’s well chilled, and sharewith friends. I’ll bet it disappears pretty quickly. Geez, even my Dad likes this stuff. Labels: Tulloch,Margan, Tempus Two.

They’re the big three, but there are two other Italian varieties that are starting to make a mark.

Vermentino: An Italian variety that the Hunter is starting to do well. Think pears, citrus, andminerally grapefruit or green apple flavours. Can be tight and racy or made in a bigger, fuller style.Like semillon, it goes well with seafood. Labels: Little Wine Company, Tallavera Grove, HungerfordHill.

Fiano: The new kid on the block. A touch hard to define, with pear flavours common, but it can alsohave ginger and musk, as well as a crisp, tangy finish. Absolutely worth a try. It goes well withseafood, but also lighter pasta dishes. Labels: Briar Ridge, Hart & Hunter, Comyns &Co,Mount Eyre.

Now to the reds.Again, the simpler the better –we’ll call it simply red. When it comes to an idiot’s guide, I’m your boy.

Shiraz: The Hunter’sstar red, with daylight second. But here’sthe thing, ifyou’reafter full bodied, macho, blood and thunder reds, then the Hunter is not your boy. For those,you’relooking at the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. The Hunter makes medium bodied, elegant shirazthat ages gracefully. Don’tbefooled, the Hunter’s finest are truly superb – I said elegant, not wimpy. They’ve faced some hurdles though. For years global demand was for big, blockbuster reds. It wasall the rage. But the cycle has finally turned. Balanced, elegant wines are back in vogue – HunterValley (drumroll please), come on down.

Local shiraztends generally to have a flavour profile of mixed red and black fruit, with an earthyquality about them – you can taste the soil (in a good way) – and they’resavoury. Food wines. Veal,beef, pizza even. There’sso much good shiraz in the Hunter it’shard to go wrong, so here’sjust afew- Gundog, De Iuliis, Thomas, Tyrrell’s, Brokenwood, McGuigan, McLeish, Usher Tinkler. By the way, sometimes they blend shiraz with another variety, often cabernet, making a shiraz cabernet –or a cabernet shiraz. Whichever is named first, makes up the majority of the blend.

Cabernet: There’snot a lot of cabernet in the valley, but certainly Lake’sFolly leads the charge. Itmakes a beauty, but at $70, it’s a bit steep for the novice wine drinker. A more affordableoption would be Margan or Meerea Park. Food – red meat … lamb, steak or venison, or just a good cheddar.

Pinot Noir: It’s lighter and more fragrant than shiraz. At its best, its stunning, but it prefers a cooler climate. A couple of local wineries produce it –Scarborough andTyrrell’s included – while others blend it with shiraz, making a shiraz pinot(Brokenwood, Briar Ridge, Meerea Park). It’salighter, more perfumed alternative tothestandard shiraz – and oh soeasy to drink.

Tempranillo: A Spanish variety that is feeling very at home in the Hunter. Medium body, a goodinitial hit of flavour – cherries, some spice. It’s agoodchoice for a wide range of foods,from salami to pizza and Mexican. Labels: Glandore,Audrey Wilkinson, Domaine De Binet.

Barbera: Northern Italian wine, medium bodied,fragrant and smooth – drink it young andenjoy. Mixed red and black fruit – strawberry and dark cherries, sort of thing – with violet aromas. A good one for a barbecue. Labels: Margan, David Hooke.

That’s it, you’re all schooled up. Now break out the creditcard, it’s Christmas.

Newcastle’s Bogey Hole to be reopened by state government

Bogey Hole back for Christmas | PHOTOS TweetFacebookMr MacDonald, a Liberal Party member of the state upper house, said the Bogey Hole had been closed since November last year because of the threat of rock falls. The first stage of a $490,000 rock-bolting project had been completed, and the area was again safe for the public.

But there was more work to do, Mr MacDonald said.

CARVED FROM ROCK: The Bogey Hole from the air, taken in 2013. The surrounding cliffs have been stabilised, enabling the pool to reopen for Christmas. Picture: Peter Stoop.

The Bogey Hole contract was announced in September by Lands and Water Minister Niall Blair. Hunterfirm Ground Stabilisation Systems was tostabilise the cliff with a series of 15 rock bolts, each up to seven metres in length, and install a length of “rock catch” fencing to lessen the risk of rocks falling from above.

The company’s managing director, Peter Dark, said at the timethat his company usually worked in the mining and construction sectors, and was proud to be working on such a “high-profile local project”.

The future of the Bogey Hole has been a bone of contention between Mr MacDonald and the Labor state Member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp, who has repeatedly criticised the Baird government over the length of the closure, as well as the state of the former Newcastle bowling club site on the edge of King Edward Park.

Mr Crakanthorp said on Tuesday that the reopening of the Bogey Hole was “a great victory for the people of Newcastle”.

“I’ve been happy to champion this issue, and there have been more than 6000 people signing a petition letting the government know about their concern over this iconic attraction,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

The Bogey Hole was closed in 2003 over rock falls and again in 2014 after damage by heavy swells.

Michael Cassel and Bob Hawes appointed to top jobs on same day

MAIN MEN: UrbanGrowth’s Michael Cassel, left, has been appointed chief executive of the Hunter Development Corporation, replacing Bob Hawes, who has been appointed chief executive of the Hunter Business Chamber.EDITORIAL: Changing of the guard in power positions

HUNTER Development Corporation’s new chief executive has declared he wants the region “pulling in the same direction”, and says the focus of his tenure will be on job creation.

HDC announced on Tuesday that Michael Cassel, who is already known to Novocastrians as program director for UrbanGrowth’s revitalisation plans, which includes the centrepiece light rail project,would fill the position that had remained vacant after Bob Hawesstepped down as general manager in July.

With this appointment, Mr Cassel will work two jobs, retaining his position with UrbanGrowth.

Mr Cassel’s additional role came on the same day Mr Hawes was appointed the new head of Hunter Business Chamber.

Speaking of his relationship with Mr Hawes, the newly minted HDC chiefsaid he already worked closely withhis predecessor on major urban renewal projects.

He said he saw a “common mission” between UrbanGrowth and HDC, and that boosting the Hunter’s economy was about “people working together”.

“My job is to make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction,” Mr Cassel said.“[The Hunter] is a pretty special place, and I think it can go a lot further. At the end of my tenure …hopefully I can look back and say there’s more jobs for young people and greater opportunities. This is an ideal opportunity to shape the region for years to come.”

Asked whether he saw a conflict of interest in heading up two government bodies, the bureaucrat said there was a push towards a “whole-of-government” approach to public works.

“Whilst it may not be publicly seen, there’s already a lot of interaction between the two bodies,” he said.

While the former carpenter acknowledged there may be some teething issues, hedidn’t believe the demands of both jobs would be an issue.

“It’s just a matter of spreading myself a bit wider,” Mr Cassel said.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes praised Mr Cassel’s appointment, saying despite only living in Newcastle for the past two years, the UrbanGrowth co-ordinator had built up a “wealth of experience”.

Meanwhile, Mr Hawes said he had “a lot to contribute” to Hunter Business Chamber at a time when businesses are challenged.

“It’s not all wine and roses out there for our membership, and the chamber will be an ongoing issue to address,” he said.

Chamber president Jonathan Vandervoortsaid Mr Hawes’knowledge of the Hunter and previous advocacy with other organisations made him“eminently qualified”.

Tributes flow for Burnie-raised DJ Jessica Turner

The family ofBurnie-raised DJ Jessica Turner have paid tribute to the 25-year-old, who died in a car crash in Western over the weekend.

The crash happened about 5.20am on Saturday morning in the Perth suburb of Balcatta.

ENIGMATIC: The family of Jessica Turner have remembered an enigmatic young woman, who found a place in the hearts of everyone she met.

Western Police confirmed on Monday Ms Turnerwas drivingher Mitsubishi ASX when she failed to negotiate a left-hand bend and hit a tree on the central median strip.

Tributes have flowed since the crash, and memorials for Ms Turner will be held in both Western and Tasmania.

In a statement released by her family on Monday, Ms Turner was described as “an enigmatic woman”.

The statement reads as follows:

“Jessica was an enigmatic woman who found a place in the hearts of everyone she met.

“Jess had a way of lighting up a room with her personality, spark and quirky sense of humour.You couldn’t help but love her.

“She was adventurous and had an appetite for living life to its fullest.

“She cared for everyone around her and was especially good with children and the elderly.

“She attended Burnie High School and worked for a time in the Burnie area before moving to Perth, Western ,several years ago where she met her partner, Sam.

“She had recently been on holiday to the USA and was forging a promising DJ career in Western at the time of her death.

“Jess was driving home after working at a DJ gig in the early hours of Saturday morning when this accident occurred.

“There is no doubt Jess would have gone on to lead a fun-filled wonderful life.

“She has a wide circle of friends and family who love her dearly and are struggling to come to terms with this enormous loss from our lives.

“The family wishes to thank everyone for their support and we will have a celebration of Jess’ amazing life in the New Year.”

Western Police said major crash officers are still investigating the circumstances of the crash.

This article first appeared on The Advocate

Chinan of the Year 2017the finalists

n of the Year 2017 | the finalists National Finalist n of the Year 2017: Deng Adut

National Finalist n of the Year 2017: Paris Aristotle AM

National Finalist n of the Year 2017: Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim

National Finalist n of the Year 2017: Andrew Forrest

National Finalist n of the Year 2017: Kate Swaffer

National Finalist n of the Year 2017: Rosalie Martin

National Finalist n of the Year 2017: Alan Tongue

National Finalist n of the Year 2017: Andrea Mason

National Finalist Young n of the Year 2017: Arthur Alla

National Finalist Young n of the Year 2017: Jason Ball

National Finalist Young n of the Year 2017: Taj Pabari

National Finalist Young n of the Year 2017: Abdullahi Alim

National Finalist Young n of the Year 2017: Paul Vasileff

National Finalist Young n of the Year 2017: Mitch McPherson

National Finalist Young n of the Year 2017: Heidi Prowse

National Finalist Young n of the Year 2017: Bridie Duggan

National Finalist Senior n of the Year 2017: Dr John Knight AM

National Finalist Senior n of the Year 2017: Lois Peeler AM

National Finalist Senior n of the Year 2017: Professor Perry F Bartlett FAA

National Finalist Senior n of the Year 2017: Patricia Buckskin PSM

National Finalist Senior n of the Year 2017: Margaret Steadman

National Finalist Senior n of the Year 2017: Dick Telford

National Finalist Senior n of the Year 2017: Sister Anne Gardiner AM

National Finalist ‘s Local Hero 2017: Josephine Peter

National Finalist ‘s Local Hero 2017: Yasmin Khan

National Finalist ‘s Local Hero 2017: June Oscar AO

National Finalist ‘s Local Hero 2017: Reginald George Heading

National Finalist ‘s Local Hero 2017: Anthony Edler

National Finalist ‘s Local Hero 2017: Tejinder pal Singh

National Finalist ‘s Local Hero 2017: Stasia Dabrowski OAM

TweetFacebookThe awardsCommonwealth Bank has proudly sponsored the n of the Year Awards for 37 years. Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, said it was an honour to acknowledge the finalists.

“Commonwealth Bank congratulates all the State and Territory Award recipients on becoming national finalists in the n of the Year Awards,” said Mr Narev.

“We are delighted to celebrate their achievements and we wish them all the best for the National Awards in January.”

The announcement of the 2017 n of the Year Awards will be held in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra on Wednesday 25 January 2017.


Alan Tongue, NRL champion turned youth mentor and educator – ACT

After a stellar sporting career, Alan Tongue understands how to demand and inspire greatness in others. Since retiring from football in 2011, Alan began applying his talents to help young people at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre make the most of the cards they’d been dealt. Alan created the Aspireprogram to rehabilitate young people and equip them with life skills to make positive choices. The program has since expanded to include prisoners at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, and disengaged youth in Canberra’s schools. Determined to tackle family violence, Alan travels throughout the ACT and NSW to educate football players and High School studentsabout how they can eradicate family violence, and he is partnering with Barnardos to teach young people how to build healthy and respectful relationships. A friendly face at the Early Morning Centre for homeless people, Alan regularly serves breakfast to help some of the community’s most vulnerable. Post-retirement, Alan’s status as a Canberra legend continues to grow. Andrea Mason

Andrea Mason, Indigenous leader and business woman of the year (2016) – NT

Working across a 350,000 square kilometre stretch of central , Andrea Mason is helping Indigenous women to raise strong, healthy children. As the Chief Executive Officer of the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, Andrea brings together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal thinking to create employment, support health and wellbeing, and tackle domestic violence and other social challenges. With deep respect for local language, law and culture, Andrea is leading innovative social enterprises, such as the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, building micro businesses, teaching valuable employment skills, and melding traditional healers with the best of western medicine to maximise healing and well-being. She is determined to help children and young people realise the same aspirations as their urban counterparts. A high achiever, Andrea was the first Indigenous n woman to lead a political party, after the Family First Party chose her as its national leader in 2004. Today, Andrea’s commitment, compassion and drive to support families in the vast NPY region is indefatigable. Andrew Forrest

Andrew Forrest, Businessman, philanthropist and anti-slavery advocate – WA

With self-made wealth, Andrew Forrest drives hands-on philanthropy, leading n initiatives for some 250 community strengthening causes. He is the first Australasian to pledge to give away the overwhelming majority of his wealth. Never daunted by the scale of challenge, Andrew devotes his relentless energy to society’s most vulnerable, tirelessly ending ’s Indigenous disparity and drawing attention to and liberating 45.8 million people trapped in modern slavery around the world. His highly successful Fortescue Metals Group is ‘s largest sponsor of Aboriginal businesses and employment. Andrew publicly encourages ‘honest failure’ as key to any country’s success and humility as crucial to sustainable leadership. He promotes that he failed his way to success and encourages us all to stay above the politics of small thinking. Andrew wrote ‘Creating Parity’ for Prime Minister and Cabinet, served on the Global Citizenship Commission to refresh the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the United Nations, and is widely considered as one of ’s greatest philanthropists, business leaders and change agents. Deng Adut

Deng Adut, Child soldier turned successful Lawyer – NSW

At the age of six, Deng Adut was snatched from his mother and forced to fight in the war that eventually split his homeland of Sudan. Trained to use an AK-47 and expected to either kill or be killed, Deng was eventually smuggled out of Sudan into Kenya before making it to in 1998. Deng’s life journey has taken him from an illiterate child soldier to a criminal lawyer making a difference in Western Sydney. His remarkable story has spread around the world, and has inspired millions of people, thanks to a viral video made by his alma mater, Western Sydney University. Now studying for a second Master’s degree, Deng co-founded AC Law Group and fights for members of the Sudanese community from his home in Blacktown. While his life is now a long way from the privations of his childhood, Deng inspires others with his story of triumph over tragedy, and of the contributions that refugees can make to ’s rich community. Kate Swaffer

Kate Swaffer, Author and advocate for living beyond dementia – SA

A humanitarian, advocate and activist for people with dementia, Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with the disease in 2008, just before her 50thbirthday. Refusing to be defeated by the diagnosis, Kate has helped redefine the way the world views dementia and has driven improvements to services and outcomes for the 354,000 ns currently diagnosed. Since then, Kate has completed three degrees and is currently undertaking her PhD. As Chair, CEO and Co-founder of Dementia Alliance International, Kate is a voice for the 47.5 million people worldwide living with dementia. She sits on numerous committees and councils, and was the first person with dementia to be a keynote speaker at a World Health Organisation conference. An accomplished author, Kate has written a number of books and articles, includingWhat the hell happened to my brain: Living beyond dementia. By transforming tragedy into triumph, Kate is changing society for the better and showing others how to lead remarkable lives despite the obstacles. Paris Aristotle

Paris Aristotle AM, Anti-torture and refugee rehabilitation advisor – VIC

A tireless advocate for asylum seekers and refugees, Paris Aristotle has made an enormous contribution by helping countless people adjust to life in . In 1987, Paris established the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, also known as Foundation House. As its Chief Executive Officer, Paris has built a national network of torture and trauma services, supporting people with counselling, advocacy, education, information and complementary therapies. Leading a team of more than 200 staff, Paris has helped refugees recover from unspeakable trauma, and to rebuild their lives. For more than two decades, Paris has also advised both sides of politics on refugee and asylum seeker policy, and multicultural affairs. He has worked closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the field of refugee resettlement. Currently the Chair of two federal government councils, Paris has demonstrated patience, personal integrity and practical skill as he navigates what is often an ethical and political minefield. Rosalie Martin

Rosalie Martin, Speech pathologist working to rehabilitate people in the Justice System – TAS

Helping prisoners crack the code of reading, speech pathologist Rosalie Martin has developed a unique approach to literacy. For three years, Rosie has visited Tasmania’s Risdon Prison as a volunteer to deliver Just Sentences, a pilot project that is achieving astounding results. With specialist knowledge in the acquisition of language, and in the processing and production of speech sounds, Rosie is able to uncover hidden literacy problems and tackle them head on. As a result, many of the people in her program have learned to read in a matter of months, and Rosie is showing how many lives, currently on hold in prison, could be transformed. The founding speech pathologist of Chatter Matters Tasmania – a charity building awareness and skill in human communication – Rosie also runs her own private practice specialising in services for children with autism spectrum disorder. With patience and persistence, Rosie is helping others to open new doors and explore new worlds. Professor Alan Mackay-Sim

Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, Biomolecular scientist treating spinal cord injuries – QLD

An inspirational scientist and international leader in stem cell research, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim has given hope to thousands of ns with spinal cord injuries. A global authority on the human sense of smell and the biology of nasal cells, Alan led the world’s first clinical trial using these cells in spinal cord injury. In 2014, Alan’s research helped play a central role in the world’s first successful restoration of mobility in a quadriplegic man. As the director of the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research for a decade, Alan’s research has championed the use of stem cells to understand the biological bases of brain disorders and diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. Alan’s pioneering work has led to collaborations with teams of health professionals who are translating his research into clinical practice. He has laid the foundation for the next generation of researchers and demonstrated the value of inquiry, persistence and empathy.2017 YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR – FINALISTS Abdullahi Alim

Abdullahi Alim, Social innovator – WA

He graduated from his honours degree in finance last year, but Abdullahi Alim has already co-founded an innovation lab to solve issues of contemporary concern. Abdullahi came to as a Somali refugee at the age of five. At 23, he is pursuing studies through Stanford University. Now, through the Lighthouse Strategy, Abdullahi runs ‘hackathons’ – fast-paced and intense exercises that bring bright young innovators together to develop solutions to global challenges. Abdullahi’s approach has attracted partners from the n Government to Google and the US Department of State. For example, MYHACK, an anti-extremism hackathon he coordinates, has seen young ns create cutting-edge digital solutions to undermine the influence and pervasive appeal of violent extremist propaganda. Abdullahi’s goal is to create hubs or ‘lighthouses’ around the world to promote social impact and youth entrepreneurship. He’s set his sights on innovation challenges to empower more young ns to solve international issues including the global refugee crisis and Indigenous disadvantage in the West. Arthur Alla

Arthur Alla, Reconciliation champion – NSW

While volunteering for a year in Cape York, Arthur Alla listened to the wisdom of Aboriginal elders and wanted other young people to have the same opportunity. So in 2011, Arthur set up Red Earth, an organisation that gives Indigenous ns from remote homelands a way to host young people from the city. For two weeks, high school students live with traditional owners and local kids, volunteering on projects and learning about the world’s oldest enduring culture. Arthur’s work is deeply rooted in reconciliation: elders show their country with pride, telling their stories with their own voice, and choosing the projects that will add the most value to their homelands. Aboriginal children make friends and gain insights into life in the city, while visiting high school students open their hearts to first ns. Arthur’s work has connected 1,100 students who have spent over 370,000 hours learning from and working alongside Traditional Owners in Arnhem Land, Cape York and Central . Bridie Duggan

Bridie Duggan, Healthy living advocate – NT

Shocked by the suicide of a close friend in her hometown of Katherine, Bridie Duggan decided to take action. Setting herself an extreme challenge, Bridie travelled around Darwin each day for a month, and raised $27,000 for the Livin Foundation in the process. Determined to raise awareness and funds to support the one in four ns who will suffer from mental illness during their lives, Bridie wants others to know that speaking up and out is not weak. A qualified life coach and personal trainer with a degree in exercise and sports science and currently studying her Masters of Physiotherapy, Bridie inspires people to strive for healthy mind, body and spirit. She devoted countless volunteer hours to her community – helping people to lose weight and gain self-esteem, volunteering as a strapper for football clubs of all codes, and instructing fitness classes for children with autism. With a reputation as superwoman within her community, Bridie draws on an endless supply of energy to encourage others. Heidi Prowse

Heidi Prowse, Cystic Fibrosis champion – ACT

When the man she loved told her he had cystic fibrosis, Heidi Prowse didn’t shy away. Instead, Heidi put her positive attitude and problem-solving skills to great use, volunteering for Cystic Fibrosis ACT, and, together with husband Andrew, organised the inaugural Santa Speedo Shuffle. The event, which started with seven friends braving chilly conditions to circle Lake Burley Griffin in speedos and Santa hats, has collected $360,000 in just four years. In 2016, a record 101 people participated, with funds raised providing practical support services, such as equipment, nutritional supplements and sport and recreation grants. Today, as the organisation’s Executive Officer, Heidi divides her time between administration, fundraising and meeting with families and medical staff. A woman of enormous capacity, tenacity and integrity, Heidi supports parents of newborns diagnosed with CF and consoles those suffering. Learning first-hand the debilitating effects of CF, as a full-time primary carer, Heidi is determined to make a difference to people living with this chronic genetic condition. Jason Ball

Jason Ball, Diversity and inclusion champion – VIC

In 2012, Jason Ball harnessed the national spotlight when he became the first Aussie Rules player at any level of the game to come out. With no openly gay players at the elite AFL level his announcement was a game changer in the hyper-masculine sport and Jason’s story quickly captured the media’s attention and the public’s imagination. Jason was met with overwhelming support and used his platform to shine a light on the prevalence of homophobia in sport. Since then, Jason has marched in Pride March Victoria alongside his teammates from the Yarra Glen Football Club. He kick-started the Pride Cup – an event that celebrates diversity and inclusion in sport, and was the inspiration for the AFL’s Pride Game between St Kilda and Sydney. He’s trained AFL draftees on inclusive language, and has represented beyondblue and the Safe Schools Coalition , speaking at schools, sporting clubs and conferences about mental health and inclusion. With tremendous courage and conviction, Jason has elevated the conversation about homophobia in sport. Mitch McPherson

Mitch McPherson, Suicide prevention leader – TAS

When his younger brother took his own life in 2013, Mitch McPherson turned his devastating loss into a successful suicide prevention charity. Mitch has channelled his energy and ideas into SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY, which honours his brother Ty and spreads the message that it’s OK to not be OK. Starting with bumper stickers, Mitch has since raised more than $270,000 through running events, golf days and gala balls. He has more than 20,000 followers on Facebook, and has spoken to more than 300 school groups, workplaces and sporting clubs to help people understand that nothing is so bad that it can’t be shared. Now working full-time as a youth suicide prevention project officer with Relationships Tasmania, their new Schools program “#TeamChatTY” helps students build resilience and have a greater knowledge of where to access help when going through a difficult time. Mitch’s vision is that SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY will become a national charity. Demonstrating personal resilience, care for others, and a deep understanding of how to turn adversity into opportunity, Mitch has personally helped hundreds of Tasmanian students and families. Paul Vasileff

Paul Vasileff, Fashion designer – SA

With a passion for fashion, Paul Vasileff stitched his first dress at the tender age of 11, created countless formal dresses for friends in his teens and was just 16 when he showcased his first fashion collection. The young boy who learnt to sew with his grandmother graduated from Milan’s prestigious Europeo Istituto di Design and is now the brains behind couture label Paolo Sebastian. At just 26, this down-to-earth designer operates a growing business in Adelaide with thirteen staff. Paul’s luxurious hand-made creations are favourites on the world’s runways, are stocked in boutiques in New York and around the globe, and are worn by celebrities walking the red carpet at the Oscars and Logies. Determined to create a local brand, all Paul’s designs are stitched in South , and he has proven that there’s no need to relocate to succeed in the high-octane world of fashion. Paul’s recipe for success? Perfectionism, stubbornness and an enduring belief that there’s no place like home. Taj Pabari

Taj Pabari, Inventor and social entrepreneur – QLD

The mastermind behind game-changing social enterprise Fiftysix Creations, Taj Pabari is a young inventor and social entrepreneur taking the world by storm. Describing his idea as the ‘LEGO of the 21st century’, Taj cleverly combines hardware, software and education, enabling children to not just consume the world we live in but to create it. The Fiftysix build-it-yourself tablet and coding kit is as easy as a puzzle and as engaging as a computer game, and is being used in schools around the world. Taj has partnered with the Foundation for Young ns to build capacity in disadvantaged communities, and Taj and his team have educated more than 43,000 students in and internationally. Balancing his education and entrepreneurial endeavours is not easy, and Taj wakes up at 4am every day before heading off to high school. Taj has big dreams to expand his social enterprise and has set a goal of educating one million kids by 2020.2017 SENIOR AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR – FINALISTS Dick Telford

Dick Telford, Sports scientist and coach – ACT

Undoubtedly ’s most dedicated marathon running coach, Dick Telford has coached distance runners to eight Commonwealth Games medals, four being gold, as well as coaching ’s only Olympic marathon medallist, Lisa Ondieki. While his sustained coaching success has propelled him into the Sport Hall of Fame, Dick’s pioneering research into the ‘physical literacy’ of n children is equally deserving of a gold medal. As the director of the National Lifestyle of Our Kids Study, Dick’s work has shown that quality physical education led not only to better health, but to better NAPLAN results. He’s now working on a plan to implement physical literacy programs into state education systems. The first sports scientist appointed by the n Institute of Sport, Dick is currently a professorial fellow at the University of Canberra’s Research Institute for Sport and Exercise and Adjunct Professor at the n National University, while volunteering endless hours to coach an elite distance running squad and Olympic marathon runners. Dr John Knight

Dr John Knight AM, Doctor and altruist – NSW

‘s first celebrity doctor, Dr John Knight AM has spent decades amassing a residential property portfolio. John, also known as Dr James Wright, answered the nation’s medical queries in print, radio and as a regular guest on Midday with Ray Martin for 30 years. In 1973, John and his late wife Noreen established Medi-Aid Centre Foundation, a charity that provides accommodation for the elderly, particularly those who are frail, have no family support and no home. Now at 89, John has battled through heartbreak, personal and financial loss and cancer, but he’s kept buying property for Medi-Aid and now has almost 1,000 investments – including hundreds of Surfers Paradise waterfront apartments – that are rented out for a meagre sum. While John could afford to live in luxury, he chooses to live in the same un-renovated home where he raised his four children and has lived for the past 60 years. Lois Peeler

Lois Peeler OAM, Indigenous educator – VIC

A member of the Sapphires, Lois Peeler is also a political activist, passionate educator and principal at ’s only Aboriginal girls’ boarding school. Lois has worked in a range of roles in Indigenous affairs and currently chairs the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee. At Worawa Aboriginal College in Victoria’s Healesville, Lois welcomes students from some of ’s most remote regions, many of whom have been exposed to trauma and dysfunction in their young lives. Lois oversees a holistic approach to education that brings together Aboriginal knowledge, values and pedagogy and Western academic leadership. A powerful role model for her students, staff and community, Lois instils pride and confidence in her students, and helps them gain a deep appreciation of their culture, encouraging the celebration of Aboriginal ways of knowing, doing and being. More than a principal, Lois is also an Elder of the Yorta Yorta people, with the abiding responsibility of nurturing Aboriginal culture, history and identity in an education framework. Margaret Steadman

Margaret Steadman, Sustainable living advocate – TAS

A climate and sustainable living advocate, Margaret Steadman finds practical solutions to many of our challenging conundrums. As executive officer of Sustainable Living Tasmania and since her retirement, Margaret helps people understand the small steps that can make a big difference to the environment – from energy efficiency to low-carbon footprint end of life options. A founding member of Climate Action Hobart and the West Hobart Environment Network and a Council member of the n Conservation Foundation, Margaret has worked to influence the climate policy of the Tasmanian Government. She was the Hobart coordinator for the global People’s Climate March before the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, and has organised local lobbying of banks to divest of climate-damaging investments. Margaret has led community initiatives from bushfire-ready forums to a local suburban walking map. She also volunteers in theMigrantResource Centre’s refugee program and the Source Community Wholefoods Co-op and is a keen food gardener and electric bike rider. Quietly determined but never confrontational, Margaret works hard for people and planet. Patricia Buckskin

Patricia Buckskin, Educator – SA

A proud Narrunga Kaurna woman, Patricia Buckskin grew up in a family of eight children in South ’s Riverland. Her lifelong passion for Aboriginal education was sparked in 1972, when she was appointed to Mansfield Park Primary School as its first Aboriginal teacher aide. In 1987, following the formation of the South n Aboriginal Education Unit, Pat was appointed as the first Aboriginal state manager of aboriginal education workers – a position she held until her retirement in 2009. A strong advocate and sounding board for many, Pat drove the development of the first culturally-based education award in , led committees and was instrumental in setting up the Kaurna Plains Aboriginal School – the first public Aboriginal school established in an urban setting in . After decades spent encouraging Aboriginal parents to have a voice in their children’s schooling, Pat continues to contribute by working tirelessly on committees and councils to ensure all children have access to quality, enriching education. Peter Kenyon

Peter Kenyon, Social entrepreneur – WA

A community enthusiast and social entrepreneur, Peter Kenyon has worked with more than 2000 communities in and in 59 countries seeking to facilitate fresh and creative ways that stimulate community and local economic renewal. Motivated by the desire to create caring, healthy, inclusive and enterprising communities, Peter, through his organisation, Bank of I.D.E.A.S (Initiatives for the Development of Enterprising Action and Strategies) helps communities spark their own ideas and invest themselves in building sustainable futures. A significant part of the organisation’s income is returned to innovative community initiatives. In the last year he has worked with 70 communities from Marble Bar to Margaret River, Launceston to Mission Bay, and convened community building conferences in , India and New Zealand. A keen author, Peter has written 16 books on community and economic development, youth policy and enterprise. Peter’s passion and purpose sees him traverse the globe continuously in his relentless desire to enable communities to discover their strengths and transform themselves. Professor Perry Bartlett

Professor Perry Bartlett FAA, Neuroscientist – QLD

A pioneering neuroscientist, Professor Perry Bartlett has made ground-breaking progress in the discovery of how the human brain can be regenerated through stimulating the production of new nerve cells. Perry discovered the brain could produce new nerves in 1992, overturning traditional dogma and transforming the way we think of the brain. Once considered a static organ, the brain is now understood as an ever-evolving body part that can produce new nerve cells capable of altering learning, memory and mood. In 2003, Perry founded the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland, and through his leadership and vision it has become one of the world’s leading neuroscience institutes with over 500 staff. Perry and his team now have their sights set on a slowing down dementia by activating stem cells to produce new nerves. With dementia currently affecting one in three adults over the age of 85, Perry’s work has the potential to change the lives of many older ns. Sister Anne Gardiner

Sister Anne Gardiner AM, Community champion – NT

In 1953, as a 22-year-old member of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Sister Anne Gardiner was asked to move to Bathurst Island to live among the Tiwi people. Sister Anne has devoted 50 of the 63 years since to enriching community, enhancing opportunity and supporting the Tiwi culture. An advocate of peace, love, local decision-making Tiwi language and culture, Sister Anne has worked tirelessly to educate generations of children while also establishing community groups from mother’s clubs to Little Athletics. Since her retirement as principal of the local primary school, Sister Anne has run regular prayer meetings, founded an op shop and established a coffee shop to support her much-loved community. Sister Anne’s labour of love is working with community members to establish the Patakajiyali museum where Tiwi history, culture and language can be preserved for future generations. A key part ofthe community, Sister Anne is much loved and respected by the Tiwi people and has earned an enduring place in their hearts.2017 AUSTRALIA’S LOCAL HERO – FINALISTS Anthony Edler

Anthony Edler, Youth worker – TAS

A community leader and positive role model, Anthony Edler is driving a program that helps disadvantaged and at-risk young people in his community. As the coordinator of the Risdon Vale Bike Collective, Ant combines his knowledge and skills of mountain biking and youth work to help young people fix broken-down bikes while developing life and employment skills and making a positive contribution to society. Since Ant started the program 13 years ago, more than 1200 bikes have been restored; some have been sold, 500 have been given away locally and 440 donated to people in Namibia, creating jobs, helping children get to school and supporting nurses to care for the sick. With patience and passion, Ant has built links with funding bodies and businesses, schools and charities to fund community projects, including an upgrade to the local BMX track and the development of bush trails. He’s helped over 250 kids gain support and confidence, as well as the satisfaction of giving to others in need.Josephine Peter, Volunteer – NSW

Seven decades of volunteer work began in 1940, when seven-year-old Josephine Peter knitted her first pair of socks for ’s troops. Over the course of World War II, Josephine made 450 pairs of socks, starting a lifetime of dedication to others. Since then, she’s been a stalwart on parents’ committees and arts societies. She’s handed out how to vote cards at elections for 54 years. She sat on the board of Broken Hill’s Robinson College for 25 years, with seven years as president, she was a volunteer tutor for more than a decade and for the past 33 years she has been a Broken Hill tour guide. Josephine’s listened to people’s problems as a telephone counsellor, coordinated 22 debutante balls for Rotary and has supported the VIEW Club and Smith Family for 27 years, including 3 years as zone councillor and 3 year as national councillor. Josephine is involved with the women’s flying doctors and has been in the Silver City Probus club for 24 years on committee and served three terms as president. She’s driven thousands of kilometres in car rallies to raise funds for kidney health and to build a children’s cemetery in her hometown. At 83 years of age, Josephine’s volunteer efforts have not diminished, and her influence on the community of Broken Hill is unmatched. June Oscar

June Oscar AO, Anti-alcohol activist – WA

A senior Bunuba woman from Fitzroy Crossing, June Oscar upset businesses and even members of her own extended family when she began the tough work of securing alcohol restrictions in her community in 2007. But those restrictions acted as a circuit-breaker for a town in crisis. Frequent alcohol-fuelled violence and suicide had cast a shadow over Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley when June enlisted the support of West n Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan to lobby for a ban on full-strength takeaway alcohol. Since then, June has overseen the nation’s first study of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), discovering what many suspected: that her community has one of the highest rates of permanent brain damage from maternal alcohol abuse in the world. With remarkable strength and an extraordinary commitment to collaboration, June has brought about constructive discussion between often conflicting groups to support Indigenous families affected by FASD, and to build a safe and healthy future for the generations ahead of her. Reginald George Heading

Reginald George Heading, Agriculturist – SA

Few people can claim to have coined a phrase, but Reginald George Heading can. In 1976, George was involved with air freighting hundreds of stud dairy cattle to India after they were gifted by the n Government to aid herd improvement. George reported to the media that the Friesians travelled “cattle class” – creating the well-worn phrase that jetsetters know today. During his long career, George spent 25 years working in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain and Bhutan to equip local farmers with technical and practical knowledge, helping them apply modern n dryland farming techniques to improve the sustainability of their pastures and the health of their livestock. He has addressed colleges around the world, making a tremendous impact on the viability of entire industries. George has also given his time in service to local community organisations around South . He’s planted football ovals in Whyalla, established bowls clubs in Port Germein and rolled up his sleeves for the Rotary Club in Port Pirie. tasia Dabrowski and grandson Joshua Kenworthy want to thank Canberra for pledging more than $30,000 to buy the soup kitchen a new van. Photo: Karleen Minney

Stasia Dabrowski OAM, Soup kitchen volunteer – ACT

Best known as the ‘soup kitchen lady’, Stasia Dabrowski has been serving Canberra’s neediest for nearly four decades. Despite passing the 90-year milestone, Stasia shows no signs of slowing down. Born in 1926 in Poland, Stasia’s family lost everything during World War II. Arriving in Canberra in 1964 with her husband and young family, Stasia remembered her own experiences when her teenage son came home talking about a homeless family needing food, they cooked pizzas for them and that began the helping of others. Stasia is up at 5am six days each week, driving her van around Canberra to collect donated food from companies, then distributes it. Stasia runs a mobile soup kitchen in Civic – something she’s done relentlessly, rain, hail or shine since 1979. She peels and cooks 180 kilograms of vegetables Thursday night’s, feeding up to 500 people on a busy Friday night. A Canberra icon, Stasia gives not only food, but love, kindness and compassion to all. Tejinder pal Singh

Tejinder pal Singh, Food van founder – NT

For the past four years, Tejinder pal Singh has dedicated the last Sunday of each month to feeding poor and needy locals of northern Darwin. After a gruelling 12-hour shift driving a taxi, Tejinder spends five hours cooking up a storm in his kitchen, preparing 80 kilograms of vegetarian curry and rice which he then serves as a free lunch. After arriving from the Punjab region with his family in 2006, Tejinder endured a racist tirade of abuse while transporting a passenger which inspired the humble man to break down the negative prejudice associated with turbans. Funding the feast each month from his own pocket, Tejinder attributes his generosity to his deep Sikh faith. His work has inspired three other groups to take up the cause to distribute free food to the homeless on Sundays. And the hungry and thirsty come flocking when they see Tejinder’s van, emblazoned with the sign “free Indian food for hungry and needy people.” Vicki Jellie

Vicki Jellie, Community fundraiser – VIC

After her husband Peter died of cancer in 2008, Vicki Jellie found his plans for a local cancer fundraiser. His dream had been to bring radiotherapy services to the South West of Victoria. Peter’s dream became Vicki’s passion. In 2009, Vicki initiated “Peter’s Project” – a community group dedicated to fighting for improved cancer services. Despite being told that a cancer centre in Warrnambool would “never happen”, Vicki relentlessly lobbied governments, uniting the community and raising funds. By May 2014, Vicki secured $30 million combined funding from State and Federal governments and the community, meaning a cancer centre could be achieved. In July 2016 Vicki and her community celebrated the opening of the new South West Regional Cancer Centre, offering radiotherapy treatment for regional patients. Vicki has selflessly demonstrated why volunteers are the core of our nation’s community and her persistence has proven that ‘Nothing is Impossible.’ Vicki’s legacy will continue to support “all the Peters” facing their cancer battles for generations to come. Yasmin Khan

Yasmin Khan, Diversity champion – QLD

With an n heritage stretching back 130 years, Yasmin Khan creates connections and breaks down barriers to show how Muslims have made a great contribution to our nation. In 2005, Yasmin founded Eidfest – the largest Muslim gathering in Queensland to celebrate the end of Ramadhan and to showcase Muslim diversity and cultures. A well-known speaker, Yasmin works with schools, the media and community groups to share insights into her religion and her life experiences. Yasmin represents her community on multiple reference groups, recently being elected as the Chair of the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, and is a multicultural ambassador for the AFL and Asian Cup, and was one of the first female cricket umpires in Queensland. A vocal commentator on domestic violence in multicultural communities, Yasmin has established a support centre for Muslim women and women from the Indian sub- continent, regardless of their religion. At the helm of many highly-successful events and community activities, Yasmin continues to demonstrate why diversity makes a stronger nation.The Awards announcement will be broadcast live on ABC TV, iView and Local Radio from 7:30pm AEDT.

Newcastle council agrees to refer interim CEO search to the Office of Local Government

NO SITTING DUCK: Cr Brad Luke says he will not consider the vote on the interim CEO position until the issue is independently reviewed. Picture: Brodie Owen

NEWCASTLE councillors have agreed to refer the impasse over the appointment of a new interim chief executive to the Office of Local Government.

But the move, which was waved through with the support of Labor and Greens councillors on Tuesday night, has not appeasedconservatives, who remainfurious at what they say is a tainted selection process.

Theyclaim the successful candidate for council’s top job was allegedly leaked to a member of the public before it could be reviewed by councillors.

Tuesday’s adjourned meeting did not descend into farce and was relatively civil by recentstandards– last weekcouncillors stormed out, aborting the meeting.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes told councillors she would allay concerns by deferring the new interim CEO vote to January.

APPLYING PRESSURE: Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

However, sheramped up the pressure on her rivals by demanding the Office of Local Government alsoinvestigate the conduct of councillors Brad Luke (Liberal), Allan Robinson (Independent) and Andrea Rufo (Independent) as part of the review.

“Did they intend to deliberately try and derail this process?” Cr Nelmes said.

An agitated CrLuke dismissed the call for his conduct to be investigated as “playing tricks”.

He said it was “completely ridiculous” to suggest an independent review would be finished by January, noting “they’re on holidays”.

“There’s no way in the world the Office of Local Government will do this investigation in January,” Cr Luke said.

He reiterated his call for the matter to be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, although when pressed conceded: “You can only do certain things with ICAC.”

Cr Luke was joined by ally CrRufo at Tuesday’s meeting, with councillors Sharon Waterhouse, David Compton, Lisa Tierney and Allan Robinson all absent.

Cr Nelmes said it was possible the vote could again be delayed if the Office of Local Government had not completed its review in time, but still insisted the absent councillors “show up for work”.

“That’s what they are paid to do,” she said.