Monthly Archives: May 2019

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NSW Education Minister won’t budge on scripture

Parents will lobby the state government to change the strict rules around scripture in schools and the teachers’ union will review its existing policy on special religious education after new data revealed a rise this year in the number of students who did not list a religion on their enrolment form.

A motion was passed on Saturday at the P&C annual general meeting to write to Education Minister Rob Stokes and urge him to change the rules that prevent students who opt out of scripture or ethics classes from doing any educational activities while SRE is being offered.

The motion said the P&C would ask Mr Stokes to amend the department’s religious education implementation procedures to ensure that “all students participating in special religious education may be granted access to educational opportunities that align with the curriculum during the time scripture is being taught”.

But a spokesman for Mr Stokes said the government would not be “revisiting its position”.

“Any move to allow students to participate in formal classes during this time will unfairly disadvantage students who have a legal right to attend these classes,” the spokesman said.

The motion came as the NSW Department of Education for the first time published 2016 and 2017 data last week showing the number of students who did not nominate a religion on their enrolment form.

The data showed the number of students who listed no religion, not stated (intentionally) or unknown/not had risen more than 6 per cent from 2016 to 2107. At the same time, total enrolments grew 1.25 per cent.

The latest data was published after the group Fairness in Religions in Schools (FIRIS) accessed earlier enrolment data under freedom-of-information laws. That data revealed more than 40 per cent of the state’s 795,000 students do not list any religion on their enrolment form, which is an optional section.

If a student does not nominate a religion, the principal writes to parents informing them of the available religious programs at the school.

The NSW Teachers Federation supports SRE but at its council meeting on August 5, it decided to review its existing policy before its annual conference next year.

A spokesman for FIRIS, Darrin Morgan, said the group supported the P&C motion.

“This would be a very easy change for the minister to make because it is not in legislation, it is just in their implementation procedures,” Mr Morgan said.

It is also not clear how many students who nominate a religion attend scripture because the department does not track SRE enrolments, despite a recommendation from an independent review into scripture in the state’s schools.

But a spokesman for Christian SRE, Murray Norman, said 71 per cent of NSW students did SRE and it would be unfair to them if other students were allowed to do extra class work.

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

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Weary Knights fire up for one last stand

THEY’RE wounded and weary and Knights coach Nathan Brown admits, realistically, they will be collecting the wooden spoon on Sunday afternoon.

But he hopes his young troops can summon enough energy and inspiration to finish their season on a high note when they tackle premiers Cronulla at McDonald Jones Stadium.

REALISTIC: Nathan Brown.

After a three-game winning streak, consecutive losses to Melbourne (44-12) and Canberra (46-28) have left the Knights last by two points to Wests Tigers, and needing not only a win, but a 42-point turnaround on for-and-against statistics, to avoid finishing in the cellar for the third successive season.

“I’m pretty confident with where the Tigers sit and we sit, we’ll get the spoon,’’ Brown said.

But Brown said the Knights were “in a far different situation” to 12 months ago and “Ithink we should be excited that we can make some great strides next year.’’

Prop Daniel Saifiti (shoulder) and English import Joe Wardle (ankle) are both in doubt for Sunday, adding to a casualty list that includes Sione Mata’utia (concussion), Brock Lamb (knee), Josh Starling (neck), Luke Yates (knee), Anthony Tupou (hip) and Dylan Phythian (knee), as well as Rory Kostjasyn and Sam Mataora, who have both retired, and Tyler Randell, released to join Wakefield.

“I think we had 15 unavailable [against Canberra],’’ Brown said. “We got beat up pretty bad last week …we looked tired. It’s been a long year for a lot of our players.”

Brown was optimistic they would lift for Old Boys day.

“I’ll be hopeful with the long turnaround thatwe give the players a bit of time off, and freshen them up, and make a better account of ourselves next week,” he said.

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Ex-state agronomists demand axing of Shenhua coal mine

L-r Ian Daniells , Ian Collett , Brian Tomalin , Robert Duns , Rick Young. Group of farmers fighting against mining in the Liverpool plains. Pic Nick Moir 25 aug 2017Claims that Shenhua’s restricted coal mining will avoid affecting the aquifers of the rich farmlands of the Liverpool Plains are “false and ignorant”, former state and private agronomists have said in a letter to Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

The government last month paid the Chinese coal miner $262 million for just over half the exploration licence area of the proposed mine at Watermark in northern NSW. Energy Minister Don Harwin said the buyback would ensure there was no mining on the fertile black soils of the plains.

But the agronomists, five of whom worked for the Department of Primary Industries or precursor departments, said limiting the proposed open cut mine to ridges would still likely affect surface and groundwater flows in the plains and downstream regions.

“The claim that mining the ridges above Breeza will not have an impact on farming operations is false and ignorant,” the letter’s authors said.

“Hydrogeological investigations have shown that there is a high degree of connectivity between the alluvial aquifers throughout the Namoi Valley.”

Brian Tomalin, a retired cattle farmer and a former Namoi Catchment Management board member, told Fairfax Media endangered ecological communities such as whitebox woodlands were also at risk from impacts of an open pit reaching as deep as 300 metres.

“There’s more at stake than just the agriculture,” Mr Tomalin said. “If you drain the alluvial aquifers you’ll never get them back.”

Mr Harwin said Shenhua “must meet a range of Commonwealth and NSW consent conditions”. The company would also have to apply for a mining lease, which it hadn’t done yet.

???Phil Laird, a co-ordinator for Lock the Gate, said the government had missed an opportunity to knock the mine on the head.

“The Minister would be aware that a mining lease, once applied for, cannot be refused in NSW if it is for a mining project that already has state significant development consent, as Watermark does,” he said.

“If the government had cancelled the Watermark exploration license when they had the power and opportunity to do so, Shenhua would not have been able to apply for a mining lease.”

The retired agronomists said a range of studies indicated that, at the least, the government should be demanding more research to assess the risks posed by the mine.

“The Namoi Catchment Water Study, the Independent Expert Scientific Committee and the Federal Environment Minister all identified the need for more information to inform the decision-making process,” the letter said. “To date this has not happened.”

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

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McGregor v Mayweather: Conor’s performance a win for the UFC

McGregor v Mayweather: Conor’s performance a win for the UFC McGregor landed some clean shots early in the contest. Photo: AP

Floyd Mayweather hits out at Conor McGregor. Photo: AP

TweetFacebookWhat many thought would be the ‘Farce of the Century’ turned out to be an enthralling contest. We said there would be no winners bar the two men lining their pockets, but we ended up with no losers instead.

Conor McGregor battled with Floyd Mayweather Jr. for nearly half an hour before running out of gas.He won several of the early rounds. He got plenty of good shots in and, most importantly, he didn’t get knocked out.

Boxing’s reputation is protected with Mayweather’swin, but it’s a huge victory for the UFC as well. The Irish jewel in the organisation’s crown was not embarrassed, as many thought he would be, and he confirmed that he will return to the octagon in the future -even though now, more than ever, he does not need the money.

Read more:Mayweather v McGregor –as it happened

The public interest in UFC continues to rise, and their main attraction being thrust into a spotlight on a stratospheric level and giving a good account of himself can only be good in the long run for the sport, which has lost majordrawcards like Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones, potentially for good.

This fight confirmed McGregor’s boxing skills are far more impressive than many of us realised – especially in the early stages, when he came at Mayweather with a level of aggression we rarely see, born out of a complete disregard for the resume of his opponent.

The Irishman could not maintain that pace for a 36-minute fight, as most people expected, but to take it as far as he did was extremely impressive.

With Mayweather announcing his retirement, McGregor is indisputably the world’s biggest individual combat sports star – his return to the octagon will probably be the most anticipated fight in the UFC’s history – and this fight has just served to promote his compelling profile to a bigger audience.

He could swim against Michael Phelps or run against Usain Bolt and the masses would turn in. He’d probably back himself to win those contests as well.