Region the ‘guinea pig’ for widespread privatisation

It must sometimes seem that the Hunter is the guinea pig for the NSWCoalitiongovernment’s ideological experiments. Following the privatisation of Newcastle’s buses and ferries,the sale of the Belmont TAFE site is in the news again.The state government also still seems intent on privatising Maitland Hospital. Butthe Hunter’s fighting spirit may still prevail and stop or reverse thesell-off of public assets.
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MAITLAND ACTION: Community and union campaigns have forced the government to abandon privatisation plans for other state hospitals, Senator Rhiannon says. Photo: Marina Neil

TAFE NSW is already reeling from the privatisation of technical education with 100,000 fewer students and 5000 fewer teachers compared with five years ago. Thousands of those lost students live in the Hunter. TheAustralian Government Actuary has calculated that more thana billion dollars of public money has been lost due to corruption in the privatisation of technical education.

If TAFE NSW is to stage a comeback – and the Greens andLaborare pledged to restore a healthy TAFE system – it will need all its campuses. So far sell-offs have not takenplace, whichis a tribute to the campaigns of teachers and the public. But it is not time for complacency. The government is advertising for a TAFE ‘portfolio divestment manager’ to ‘coordinate the portfolio of divestment projects from initiation to closure’. That has to ring alarm bells.

The Hunterappears to be the bunny in hospital privatisationtoo.A year ago the state government announced the privatisation of five regional public hospitals – Bowral, Goulburn, Wyong, Shellharbour and Maitland. A year later, onlyMaitland hospital is still slated for privatisation. Community and union campaigns have forced the government to abandon their plans for the other hospitals.

Health MinisterBradHazzard is trying to allay fears by promising that the privatisationof Maitlandwill be undertaken by a non-profit. Yet, as unions have pointed out, guarantees about staffing, wages and conditions,and the quality of care,willlast only two years.

Yet all is far fromlost. The Hunter can do what other communities have done. Maitland Hospital and Belmont TAFE can be saved as public assets. Our buses can return to public ownership. Support for re-nationalising privatised public assets is emerging. Privatisation of our electricity sector has been a huge failure. Instead of the promised greater efficiency and lower prices we have had double-digit increases in power bills and failures in supply.

This has led to JohnQuiggin, professor of economics at Queensland University, proposing that the Commonwealth and state governments buy back the grid and manage it. The aim would be to guaranteereliable supply, modernisethe grid for renewables andchargereasonable prices for households and businesses.

Likewise,theGreens andLaborsupport the ‘re-nationalisation’ of the TAFE sector. This would be achieved by guaranteeing that 85% (or 70% in the case ofLabor) of government funding for technical and further education go to TAFE.

These are practical initiatives that would benefit the people of the Hunter.Electricity prices fell in the decades priorto privatisationwhen the electricity sector was government-owned. Investment in renewables could benefit the Hunter with thousands of new jobs in advanced manufacturing.

More investment in TAFE to supply the skilled workers needed for this renewables future would follow logically.

None of this will be easy as the present NSW government has a dogmatic belief in privatisations. Yet with a combination of community and union campaigns, leading to a change of government in 18 months, the ideological experiment which threatens the Hunter and its future can be reversed.

Lee Rhiannon, Australian Greens Senator for NSW

‘Reddy to go to war’: Share bikes dumped in blind man’s backyard

As a blind person, Alistair Lee was already having troubles with share-bikes on footpaths. Now he’s discovered two Reddy Go bikes dumped in his backyard.
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On Friday morning he found two bikes that had been thrown over the back fence of his home in North Sydney, landing in the yard and destroying a clothes line and damaging a table.

Mr Lee, who is profoundly blind, said he discovered the bikes were there when his partner walked into the back garden.

“Sarah went out and said ‘oh my goodness, there’s two bikes in your garden!'” he said.

“It’s literally happened overnight. I didn’t hear them and the dog didn’t either.

“Whilst I am extremely annoyed, I can see the funny side. I guess you could say I’m ‘Reddy’ to go to war with them.

“[The bikes] are still there. I probably won’t get any washing done today.”

The washing line wasn’t the only casualty of the dumped bikes.

“When they’ve thrown the bike over, it’s obviously hit the table so hard it’s bent the table as well,” he said.

He said that this was the first time anything had been thrown into his garden.

“Where we are, we’re in quite a busy area of North Sydney but we’ve never had anything thrown over the back fence,” he said.

A spokesman for Reddy Go said: “We are deeply sorry that the bikes been thrown into Mr Lee’s garden and hope the police would help us to find out who did this. Bad behaviours should be penalised.”

He said the company would collect the bikes, pay to have Mr Lee’s washing line repaired and replace the table.

This isn’t the first time the Reddy Go bikes have caused trouble for Mr Lee.

In early October, he tripped over two bikes that were left in the middle of the pathway near his house.

“I went around to see someone and fell over two of them within half a metre of each other,” he said.

“It is a problem. I’m all for people getting on bikes but I do have a problem with the council having no effective policies for these bikes to be stored. Pedestrian walkways are for pedestrians, not bikes.”

As an online company, Reddy Go only takes reports of misplaced bikes through app, social media and email.

Mr Lee’s partner Sarah Downie posted to the company’s Facebook last month asking for Reddy Go to do more when it came to bikes being dumped.

Alistair Lee’s partner alerted Reddy Go to issues he was having via their Facebook page in early October.

Reddy Go apologised in a reply and said that it employed staff to maintain and relocate bikes across Sydney.

North Sydney Council is set to introduce new policies, aimed at regulating where people can leave the bikes, at a council meeting on November 20.

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FACS fails to meet standards

Six months: Hunter New England FACS office has an extended deadline to meet Children’s Guardian accreditation standards or it will be stripped of its authority to oversee children in out of home care.
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THE Hunter’s Family and Community Services (FACS) office could be stripped of itsauthority to oversee out of home care for at-risk children after failing to meetaccreditation requirements.

The Hunter New England FACS district has beengiven a “six month lifeline”to meet the Office of Children’s Guardian standards or have its accreditation withdrawn.

The move could put the safety of “thousands of Hunter children” at risk, family and community services shadow minister Tania Mihailuk said, as the “under-resourced” officemonitoredthe most children in care, and the most children at risk of harm, of any FACS office.

The districtfailed to meet accreditation standards in September 2016, when itwas given a one-year extension.

MsMihailuksaid if itdid not meet thisadditional six-month deadline, the responsibility of overseeing out of home carewould be transferred to anotherFACS district.

“It would shifta serious under-resourcing burden on to another district, instead of providing FACS with the resources it needs,” she said.

FACS hasnot revealed what criteria the Hunter New England district havefailed to meet, but aspokesperson saiditwas not due to any child protection risks.

The Hunter office monitorsmore than 3200 children in care, receivesalmost 16,000 reportsof children at risk of harm,and hasthemost child protection caseworker vacancies,FACSstatistics show.It hadthelowest rate offace-to-face assessments, seeing21 per cent of childrenreportedat risk of harm in the June 2017 quarter.

“The lifeline given to the Hunter New England office will be pointless unless it receives an urgent funding injection to meet the Children’s Guardian’s standards,”MsMihailuk said.

A FACS spokesperson said the NSW Government was spending $63 million in four years toboost the number of caseworkers andsupport workers, including in Hunter New England.

“We will work to address thefeedback provided in the coming months as part of our ongoing effort to provide the best support to children and young people in out of home care and their carers.”

Kate Washington, shadow minister for the Hunter, said the number of children in out of home care in the regionwas at “levels we have never seen before.”

“The poor staff are doing all they can with the little they have got,” she said. “But the majority of children at risk of harm aren’t having caseworkers even contact them. For the agency that is responsible for the oversight of those children once they are in careto be found to have not met accreditation criteria, is just horrifying.”

The Herald

Health Department to cut 55 jobs, shift hundreds more to Social Services

The Health Department will cut jobs for the second time this year as it sheds 55 staff and moves hundreds more employees into the Department of Social Services.
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Health’s public servants learnt of the overhaul on Thursday afternoon as the department starts to transfer hundreds of staff over several years into Social Services, which will take over its grants administration work.

Among staff leaving Health in the latest shake-up, the department has identified 55 positions it won’t need after the restructure.

Department first assistant secretary Donna Moody told employees that redundancies would be forced on staff that Health could not redeploy.

New Health Department boss Glenys Beauchamp. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

It plans to move grants administration into the new community grants hub run by Social Services, forcing a restructure in its Canberra division where positions will be declared vacant and staff will be asked to send expressions of interest for available roles.

“This process will be run over the next month or so with the expectation that it will be finalised by mid-December and that the new structure will commence in mid-January,” Ms Moody said.

“As of today there is an opportunity for voluntary redundancies for all staff who are in scope for the EOI process. Staff not placed in the new structure will be supported to find redeployment opportunities, however involuntary redundancy processes will apply for those who are not able to be redeployed.”

Staff reductions in the Health department’s state and territory network are expected to be made through natural attrition.

The latest round of job cuts comes towards the end of a volatile year for the department, which announced it was shedding 250 staff through voluntary redundancies in February, parted ways with former secretary Martin Bowles in August and subsequently welcomed new boss Glenys Beauchamp.

A Health department spokeswoman said under reforms to improve grants administration across the Australian Public Service, the Department of Social Services was one of two hubs consolidating the grant process across government.

“The department has reassured staff that there will be open and fair processes and staff will be fully supported,” she said.

Community and Public Sector Union deputy secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said Health had told the union most if not all of the positions would be cut through voluntary redundancy and redeployment in its bid to overhaul how funding for health services was administered and monitored.

She said the second round of major job cuts in Health was compromising its work and said the Turnbull government was attacking the public service.

“Health is one of numerous agencies that’s no longer provided with enough funding to properly do the work expected of it by the Australian public. Budgets have been cut to the point where there’s no choice but to cut jobs, inevitably hurting the core functions and services agencies provide,” Ms Vincent-Pietsch said.

“Health staff understand the theoretical benefits of a restructured grants process, but they have well-founded concerns that years of reviews and ‘streamlining’ have in fact resulted in less efficiency and ineffective management of risk.”

Ms Moody told employees Health was talking with the Social Services department about how it would move grants administration there, and said no formal agreement had been made.

Health’s national office in Canberra would shrink from three branches to two and from 13 sections to seven, reducing jobs from 145 to about 90.

State managers will review their divisions and make adjustments, Ms Moody said.

“The state and territory offices will also need to continue contributing to the division’s required reduction in resources to ensure we live within our means.”

Mr Bowles told staff early this year the department was cutting jobs in a bid for “affordable” staff numbers amid federal budgetary constraints.

The announcement came after he flagged last year that budget and staffing issues would be the department’s largest challenges in 2017.

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How decline in bees affects global food production

Winnie the Pooh said, “The only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it”, but indeed in the wider scheme of things most of our food depends on the pollination services that the worker bees offer to us as they buzz about their business of collecting nectar from the flowers to bring back to the hive to make honey.Famine would be widespread without such pollinators, and any decline in bee numbers is therefore of major concern.
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In the Northern Hemisphere beehives have been increasingly showing evidence of Colony Collapse Disorder where the worker bees, the foragers who bring the nectar and pollen to the hive, disappear leaving the queen and the juvenile immature bees without enough food for survival.There is no consensus as to the cause of CCD but a new class of insecticides, the neonicotinoids, are receiving much attention. These are the most widely used class of insecticides since pest insects have evolved resistance to traditional insecticides.

Scientific studies are underway across the world to categorise the levels of these chemicals that can be safely used and, at the same time, legislators are banning or restricting the use of some or all of this family of insecticides.Bans or temporary bans exist across Europe but not in the UK or Australia.

A recent study on 198 honey samples from across the world reported neonicotinoids in three quarters of all samples, although at levels below the maximum residue level authorised for human consumption.

Efficient food production relies on strong crop growth, which depends on keeping insect pests to a minimum but if the insecticides used also affect the bees, then pollination will be affected and food production will plummet.

Professor Tim Roberts is the director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment at the University of Newcastle

Luke in the Millennium Falcon: Star Wars trailer delights fans

The new trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is short and typically enigmatic, but it has fans abuzz.
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The reason? It shows Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) back on board the Millennium Falcon, the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy”, as it was once called.

Luke was last aboard the ship – in rather bad shape, having lost a hand to the Dark Lord of the Sith who had just revealed himself as his father – at the end of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. This time he looks to be in fuller command of his faculties, even if his mood is still rather bleak.

This is the third trailer released for the eighth Star Wars film, which opens on December 15, and it continues to develop the central theme evident in the previous two: light and dark striving to assert dominance, or alternatively to come into balance.

Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, the new villain of the series, reprises a line we’ve heard before. “Let the past die,” he says. “That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.”

We don’t yet know whom he is addressing, but it’s a fair bet it’s Rey (Daisy Ridley), who seems to occupy the space in this saga that was occupied by Luke in the first trilogy, a neophyte Jedi knight torn between wanting to do the right thing and giving full rein to her power whatever the cost.

That theme gets a further echo in the words of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), whom we saw in The Force Awakens only as a giant holograph but who was revealed in the second trailer in his full disfigured glory. “Darkness rises and light to meet it,” he growls ominously.

Little wonder, really, poor Rey seems so confused. “I need someone to show me my place in all this,” she says.

The notion of inversion gets another airing in the appearance of John Boyega’s Finn. Having shed his Stormtrooper origins to join the Rebels in The Force Awakens, here he is in the uniform of an Imperial officer. Has he switched sides again? Not likely, as he’s doing battle – with a light sabre, no less – with Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) who is, despite her gleaming silver armour, on the side of darkness.

How will all this play out? Who will survive? Who will join the Dark Side? Who knows.

Mark Hamill has teased his followers with a clue – or, more likely, a bit of misdirection – over on Twitter.

With Luke having already appeared in the looming Darth Vader position on a poster for the film some months back, a new poster for the Japanese market shows Rey in that same spot. Hey you Dark Side theorists: Look who’s looming at the back of the poster now! Another clue for you all… #TheWalrusWasPaul#WaitForVIIIpic.twitter南京夜网/ojizOaoYKu??? @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) November 1, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Prince Harry charmingly discusses his pizza preferences

During a visit this week to Chicago high school, Hyde Park Academy, Prince Harry, alongside Michelle Obama, surprised students in more ways than one.
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It’s not everyday that a prince and a former First Lady show up unannounced during a seminar being held for 20 students.

The students all had the opportunity to discuss the power of young people’s voices in making a difference, but it was an answer Prince Harry gave while being quizzed on Chicago’s signature delicacies that was one of the biggest (and best) surprises.

“I can safely say from my experience, and all the travelling I’ve done, all over the world, speaking to people your age – the younger generation is the cure to all of the problems,” he told the students.

After a serious discussion, the students from the school on Chicago’s South Side, located across from the future site of the Obama Presidential Centre, suggested trying Chicago traditions such as hot dogs and pizza. Thanks to my friend Prince Harry for joining me today to surprise these remarkable students at Hyde Park Academy on the South Side. We were blown away by their passion, ambition and talent! #ReachHigher #ObamaSummitA post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on Oct 31, 2017 at 2:54pm PDTWatch the moment when Prince Harry and @michelleobama made a surprise visit to Hyde Park Academy in Chicago. The high school is just across the future site of the Obama Presidential Center. As well as chatting to students with Mrs Obama at the high school, HRH later spoke at The Obama Foundation Summit.A post shared by Kensington Palace (@kensingtonroyal) on Nov 2, 2017 at 7:24am PDTThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘Time is ticking’: Tesla’s Elon Musk in ‘eighth hell’

There will be no new model 3 Teslas in 2017.
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The electric carmaker updated its website for customer reservations on Wednesday, including a table that shows the base $US35,000 ($44,000) Model 3 won’t be available until some time next year.

That follows a painful earnings call for chief executive officer Elon Musk, who described the company as being in the “eighth level of hell” (there are nine, in case you’re counting).

The stock price fell 8.9 per cent on Thursday, the most in more than 16 months.

The electric-car maker won’t build 5,000 units per week of its Model 3 sedan until sometime in March, three months later than planned.

“I have to tell you I was really depressed about three or four weeks ago,” Musk said on the call after Tesla reported a record quarterly loss and cash burn.

He downplayed the long-term implications of the delays. “In the grand scheme of things,” Musk said, “this is a relatively small shift.”

But the setbacks lengthen the wait for hundreds of thousands of customers waiting for their Model 3 and extend the payoff period for the billions of dollars the company has spent to expand. The manufacturing snags will embolden skeptics who’ve doubted the company’s ability to quickly reach mass production, a feat the youngest US carmaker is trying to pull off for the first time with a car that starts at $US35,000.

“We left the call frustrated with the lack of transparency from Tesla management,” Jeffrey Osborne, a Cowen & Co. analyst who recommends selling the shares, wrote in a note to clients.

“Elon Musk needs to stop over promising and under delivering and the board should rein in a CEO who publicly shares his aspirational goals that have rarely been hit.”

Tesla burned $US1.42 billion in cash in the third quarter. The carmaker is spending heavily on both its auto assembly plant and at its battery gigafactory, contributing to an adjusted lost per share of $US2.92 per share, worse than analysts estimated. Bottlenecks

People from key teams at Tesla are now focussed on fixing bottlenecks that have hobbled production, said Musk, who held his earnings call at the Nevada battery factory where he and co-founder J.B. Straubel are spending their days and nights, even camping on the roof . Btw, just want to express a word of appreciation for the hard work of the Tesla Gigafactory team. Reason I camped on the roof was because it was less time than driving to a hotel room in Reno. Production hell, ~8th circle ?????? Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2017 Source: Tesla

The “$US35,000 electric car” has been Tesla’s top goal and marketing calling card for years. It’s an important price point, competing with entry level luxury petrol-powered cars like the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C Class.

When you include a $US7,500 US tax credit, the price is cheaper than the average new US car and more in line with a well-optioned Toyota Camry.

But on Wednesday’s call with analysts, Tesla pushed back its timelines for the Model 3 by three months. And perhaps the biggest warning flag: Musk would no longer give a timeline on when Tesla would reach a production rate of 10,000 a week.

Last quarter he was unequivocal on that point: “What people should absolutely have zero concern about – and I mean zero – is that Tesla will achieve a 10,000 unit production week by the end of next year.” 2. The solar roof

One of the first completed installations of a Tesla Solar Roof. Source: Tesla

A year ago this week, Tesla unveiled its remarkable solar shingles with much fanfare in Hollywood on an old set of “Desperate Housewives.” It began taking deposits in May.

There’s still little indication of when the product might roll out. Tesla said things will move slowly in the coming quarter while it gets its new factory in Buffalo, New York, up and running.

Then, the company said, the product will ramp up “in 2018.” That’s a wide window for customers trying to plan a roofing project.

Perhaps a better indication of where things stand is this: Tesla’s website currently shows job postings for 24 “lead roofer” positions – all in California. Each position, according to the descriptions, would be second-in-command of a small roofing team.

Meanwhile, the amount of standard solar installations being done have dropped 42 per cent compared with the same quarter last year, just before Tesla bought SolarCity. 3. Autopilot

No hands. Photo: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

A year after Tesla started charging $US8,000 for a feature called Full Self Driving, there’s still no sign of a rollout of such features, and Musk hinted that a more powerful supercomputer may be needed to achieve its goal.

On Wednesday, he said the current hardware can reach “approximately human-level autonomy.”

Musk concedes that the system will probably need to be significantly safer than the average human driver in order to achieve regulatory approval, so a hardware upgrade may be necessary.

“We’ll have more to say on the hardware front soon, we’re just not ready to say anything now,” said Musk. As a consolation, anyone who has already paid for the option will get a free computer swap.

Tesla said new features will be coming for its less-ambitious $US5,000 Enhanced Autopilot package in the next few months. Musk said the other hardware for autonomous driving-8 cameras, a radar and 12 ultrasonic sensors-will be sufficient.

Other companies pursuing autonomous driving are also including expensive lidar kits. Musk was undeterred: “We are certain that our hardware strategy is better than any other option, by a lot.” 4. Tesla semi

Tesla was set to unveil its first all-electric long-range semi truck back in September. Then it was moved to October.

Then it was pushed until November 16, explicitly so that resources could be diverted to deal with Model 3 problems. Tesla Semi unveil now Nov 16. Diverting resources to fix Model 3 bottlenecks & increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas.??? Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2017 Photo: supplied

Tesla is working on a system that will allow owners to rent out their cars using what they’ve dubbed the Tesla Network. Once fully autonomous driving is achieved, the idea is that fleets of privately owned Teslas will function like a driverless Uber or Lyft, picking up and delivering passengers for a fee that will be split between Tesla and the individual car owners.

In the shorter-term, the Tesla Network could function more like Zipcar. An owner could switch a setting online and open their car for someone to rent. The Model 3 uses key cards and Tesla’s smartphone app instead of a key, so in theory anyone could be granted access through an automated system.

The Tesla Network, which accounts for billions of dollars in long-term revenue in many analyst models, is supposed to be unveiled this year.

With all of the bigger delays drawing the attention, it didn’t even get a mention on Wednesday.


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A suburb offering location and lifestyle

A suburb offering location and lifestyle FAMILY HAVEN: Adamstown has grown in popularity in recent years and has plenty to offer, including the Fernleigh Track. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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TweetFacebookSUBURB SNAPSHOTEnjoying a central position bordered by Merewether, Broadmeadow,Kotara and New Lambton, Adamstown is a suburb which has gained in popularity in recent years.

As people have become priced out of sought-after coastalsuburbs Merewether and Merewether Heights, they have started looking to Adamstown and realising all of the benefits it offers.

Around 6000 people live in Adamstown and it has a median house price of $695,000.

LIFESTYLEIt has access to many services with a shopping village located on Brunker Road as well as close proximity to Westfield Kotara shopping centre.

It is also offers easy access to the Fernleigh Track, which extends over approximately 15.5 kilometres betweenAdamstown to Belmont.

In its formative yearsthe suburb, like most of the early settlements in Newcastle, revolved around coalmining but was isolated from other suburbs by thick bushland

These days, it is a quick car or bike ride to the inner city, beautiful beaches and the harbour. It also has easy access to public transport and Brunker Road is targeted for an urban renewal.

It has several parks, including Adamstown Oval where some of the region’s most talented footballers have honed their skills.

FROM THE EXPERTAdamstown is a current hot spot for families with access to great schools, shops and close proximity to the city of Newcastle.

It is close to the Fernleigh track and Glenrock while Westfield and the Home Makers Centre are on your door step.

It has quiet streets with plenty of parks and house blocks are generally a generous size. Further growth is expected as surrounding suburbs become less affordable.

– Presented byMatthewWaddell, general manager Robinson Property

Bizarrely, our global city is not swinging like a gateway

UNDERWHELMING: Our hub-and-spoke network model is apparently ready to roll.What if a 40-year plan for infrastructure in Newcastle and the Hunter was announced and no one noticed?
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That’s what happened last week.

The document is the Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan.Even the government hid it under the bed. The ministers for transport (Andrew Constance) and roads (Melinda Pavey) issued a vague media release about the plan and said nothing about Newcastle and the Hunter. Nothing was issued at all by the parliamentary secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald.

Because there was nothing to announce?

We used to complain that Macquarie Street would make infrastructure promises, then renege on them. Now, it seems, they don’t even make promises.

The plan is more than a bit bizarre. A 40-year plan should do three things: appraise what is needed, show how existing and future projects will address a region’s needs, and set a timetable for the rollout of projects according to available funding. But the new plan does none of these, at least not for Newcastle and the Hunter.

As is too often the case with modern government, the document appears to have spent more time in a graphics office than on the desk of transport and infrastructure planners.

The state’s regional plan starts with a peculiar argument: that transport provision in NSW will in future concentrate on a “… hub and spoke network model radiating out [sic] from regional cities rather than a network just focused on Sydney.” What could this mean? That residents and businesses in non-metropolitan NSW should give up on getting anywhere fast unless it is to the nearest air-conditioned shopping mall?

Or maybe the hub and spoke idea is a way of telling us to give up on fast 21st century transport services across NSW, especially between Sydney and Newcastle.

Yet – again in bizarre fashion – the plan declares Newcastle to be one of NSW’s three ‘global gateway cities’, alongside Sydney and Canberra.

The fit-out that makes Newcastle a global gateway city is, apparently, its coal export port, the local airport and a cruise terminal. Underwhelming isn’t it?

In respect to connectivity between Newcastle and Sydney, the plan seems to defer high speed rail considerations for at least two decades. So an entire next generation of new rail users should expect no improvements on the world’s slowest rail journey other than new train carriages.

A year ago, writing in the Sydney press, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “Right now, Sydney is experiencing the biggest infrastructure and jobs boom in history. And the good news is we are only just warming up.”

She is spot on. Infrastructure spending in Sydney involves the rollout of a city-wide metro system, a new international airport for Western Sydney, major roads to the airport site, sizeable additions to the inner city light rail network and new light rail for Parramatta, and massive extensions to the city’s motorways via WestConnex and NorthConnex. More will follow, paid for by sale of portsand utilities, including the electricity networks, assets that once belonged to all of us.

The jobs and income benefits for Sydney are immense. And that city gets a fit-out deserving of a genuine 21st century city.

Meanwhile, just up the M1, the state’s second city gets a new tag: Newcastle, Global Gateway City. I hope they erect a sign.

Phillip O’Neill is professor of economic geography at Western Sydney University.