Prowse says church won’t be muzzled

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Traditional views on marriage and the sanctity of human life have been marginalised by a new orthodoxy, according to the leader of the Canberra region’s 158,000 Catholics.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse was commenting on the quashing of anti-abortion protests and criticism of same-sex marriage opponents.

In January, police fined three pro-life supporters and took another into custody for praying in the protest exclusion zone at Canberra’s abortion clinic.

The zone was introduced around the Moore Street clinic in March 2016.

Archbishop Prowse said free speech was at risk of being muzzled.

“Even if it’s a lonely voice from the outer it should be heard,” he said.

“That’s a healthy Australia. We can’t all have the same opinion on every topic and march to the beat of a military drum.

“That seems to be a recipe for a very unhealthy society.”

Archbishop Prowse said the ACT government was being precious over its prayer ban.

“I think it sends a message the government is overly sensitive about the matter,” he said.

“How can a person just praying nearby impinge upon proper civic behaviour. I’m astounded by that type of preciousness of the government.

“It seems to me we must have scratched a very sensitive issue and it is a sensitive issue.

“Through modern medicine and foetal photography it’s quite clear that from the very early moments [of a pregnancy] it’s a human being.

“It’s an issue of when does life begin and we seem to be pushing it out all the time until when we’re born. That’s outrageous, absolutely outrageous.

“The church won’t be retracting on life issues. From conception to natural death we will be advocates of life.”

When ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury moved patient privacy amendments in the Legislative Assembly he said anti-abortion protesters were trying to influence a woman’s choice.

“While I respect an individual’s right to hold strong views on the matter of reproductive rights and choices I cannot believe that we would countenance this kind of behaviour relating to any other procedure,” he said during debate.

“This is not saying that you cannot protest this issue if you have a strong view. It is simply saying that there are limits on how, where and when you can undertake those protests.”

Archbishop Prowse said the legislation was part of a worrying trend.

In 2016 the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference had to defend a complaint against expressing its views on same-sex marriage.

The complaint to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner was ultimately withdrawn, but supporters of free speech said it should never have been accepted in the first place.

Archbishop Prowse said opponents of marriage equality were being unfairly portrayed as homophobic and he said federal Labor should reinstate a conscience vote.

“There’s only one side of the debate being heard at the moment,” he said.

“There’s a set opinion and those who hold a different opinion are peripherised and claimed to be homophobic or antediluvian.

“These are put-downs. We’re looking for arguments, not slogans.”

Archbishop Prowse said Labor’s removal of the conscience vote was anti-democratic.

“I see it as a sign of immaturity in our country,” he said.

Former West Australian Labor senator Joe Bullock, a Catholic, last year quit the party over the issue.

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Obesity linked to chronic kidney disease in the Hunter

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Weighty issue: High rates of obesity linked to chronic kidney disease.THEHunter is among Australia’s“hot spots” for chronic kidney disease and our high rates of obesity could be partly to blame, new data shows.

A report released by Kidney Health Australia on Monday highlights thelink between increasing ratesofobesity and a rise in chronic conditions such as kidney disease.

The report,Obesity and Chronic Kidney Disease: the Hidden Impact, was released to coincide with Kidney Health Week, from March 5 to 11, and World Kidney Day, onMarch 9.

The report estimated the Hunter and Central CoastPrimary Health Network areas had an obesity rate of 68 per cent, and a 12 per cent rate of chronic kidney disease, putting the region above the national average of63 per cent, and10 per cent respectively.

Kidney Health Australia chief executiveMikaela Stafrace said kidneys were forced to work harder in obese people, and the increase in function could damage them.

“Being obese is a potent risk factor for the development of kidney disease,” Ms Stafrace said.

“In obese people the kidneys have to work harder, filtering more blood than normal.

“This increase in function can damage the kidneys – effectively shutting them down – and cause kidney disease.

“When your kidneys shut down, your body shuts down.”

Kidney disease is known as a“silent killer”asit can be common for people tolose up to 90 per cent of their kidney functionbefore experiencing any symptoms.

The report says 1.7 million Australian adults have at least one sign of chronic kidney disease, but 90 per cent did notknow.

According to Kidney Health Australia, overweight people were 1.5 times more likely to developkidney disease. For obese people, the risk doubled.

Ms Stafrace said if kidney disease was caught early, and was managed with lifestyle changes and medications, the progressioncould be slowed by 50 per cent, and in some cases, reversed.

“If you’re at increased risk of developing kidney disease due to your weight, ask your GP for a simple Kidney Health Check and start taking control of your kidney health before you become another statistic,” added Ms Stafrace.

Melbourne City cling to third but need to defend better

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Coaches usually like to keep the momentum going after a win, but Melbourne City boss Michael Valkanis might be just as happy to be having a week off due to the A-League’s split round that keeps his team out of action until March 18.

As he quipped after the 3-2 win over Central Coast Mariners in a topsy turvey match in Gosford on Sunday afternoon, his team’s second-half display was enough to make the rest of his hair fall out.

City were 2-0 up and cruising after barely a quarter of an hour only to let the hosts get back on level terms just after the break. The visitors just managed to get their noses back in front from a penalty after an hour when Mariners goalkeeper Paul Izzo was sent off.

But even with that advantage City made hard work of picking up the three points in a landmark game for captain Bruno Fornaroli, who brought his goals total for the club to 40 in his 50th game.

The lengthy break at least gives Valkanis the chance to spend hours on the training track working on his team’s defensive shape, because after this display, when they were under the cosh from 10-men Mariners for much of the second half, they need it.

“The split round gives us the chance to work on things before we play Newcastle on March 18 and there are some things I want to fix,” he said on Monday.

“The best way of defending is to deny your opponents the ball, so we need to work on retaining possession more than we did in this game. We should have pressed them higher when we did have a one goal lead and a man advantage.

“It was a game we really should have put to bed by half-time given the start we got. We were cruising and had the chance to get a third or fourth goal, but they got back into it with a deflected free kick.

“Mariners were a team who were playing for their lives to try to make the finals, so we knew it wouldn’t be easy,” Valkanis said.

“In the past games we have given some really silly goals away so maybe it was in the boys’ minds, particularly when they got 3-2 up, to make sure that they sat back and defended the lead.

“We have to defend higher and when we did that, we looked better and we won the ball. The boys went into protective mode a little bit and sometimes it’s much better to be brave and continue on with the way we like to defend than go into a shell.

“That is something we will talk about and make sure we fix.”

“Even though they had 10 men they did take the game to us. We should have done better especially with an extra man.”

Still, the break means that key defender Michael Jakobsen – whom Valkanis called the best defender in the league last week – should have recovered from the calf injury that has seen him miss the last four games.

City are still in third spot on the table, albeit 20 points behind trailblazers Sydney.

They are also nine points behind second-placed Melbourne Victory, who would seem to have a top-two finish in safe keeping.

Brisbane Roar, with their fighting win in Newcastle on Sunday, are on the same number of points (33) as City, but with an inferior goal difference while Perth Glory are fifth just a point behind.

It looks now as though these three clubs will fight it out for third and fourth places and with it the home final that is guaranteed in the first week of the playoffs.

Western Sydney, with 22 points in sixth place, simply look too far off now to close the gap. Newcastle and Wellington are breathing down their necks in pursuit of the last finals spot.

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EDITORIAL: Dungog Council an obvious victim of merger reform

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Dungog Mayor Harold Johnston with former parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald after the April storms in 2015.

DUNGOG mayor Harold Johnston makes a fair point when he argues that hiscouncildeservesrecompense for the state government’s long, costly, and eventually abandoned merger process.

The Fit for the Future process at the heart of the local government amalgamation policy –without doubt this government’s most calamitous effort at reform –was, when it was announced in 2014, supposed to help make local councils more sustainable, efficient and effective in delivering services.

Councils that were unable to demonstrate these characteristics were to be merged into new, larger entities that could.

In realitythe process became mired by questions over the government’s financial modellingand lengthy court battles.And in the end it was politics, not policy, that decided the fate of councils in regional NSW.

In the middle of all that was Dungog, the only council in NSW subject to three merger proposals.

The state government has argued that Fit for the Future, while laborious, was in the end beneficial because it meant all councils were forced to take a hard look at themselves, becoming more efficient in the process.

That may be true of other councils, but in Dungog the problems have been well documented.

Theshire presides over more than 700 kilometres of rural roadsand has a$40 millioninfrastructure backlogwhileonly bringing in a little more than$5 million in rates.

On top of that, in the last two years the town has suffered through the devastating floods of April2015, and prepared for a costly legal battle with Daracon over theexpansion of Martins Creek Quarry.

Add to that the“millions” the council invested into theFit for the Future processand it’s hard to see how the Baird/Berejiklian governments havebeen helpfulto life on the banks of the Williams River.

The government has also argued that Dungog has got what it wanted by being able to stand alone.

That’s true, but from the beginning the council made no bones about the fact that it can only become sustainable with help from Macquarie Street.

It seems the least minister Gabrielle Upton could do to lift some of the burden imposed byher government’s ill-fated reform.

ISSUE: 38,483

NPL: Maitland running out of time and options on coaching front

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SENIOR MAN: Former Socceroo Matt Thompson. Picture: Jonathan CarrollMaitland were set to drafta letter to Northern NSW Football on Monday night outlining their search for a head coach and their available options after failing to meet an informal deadline to have one in place.

Magpies football managerMichael Mirisch said the club were given until last week to find a B-licenced coach to replaceDean Heffernan, who was to take on the role this season but stepped aside on January 15. He said that deadline was extended to this week given Maitland have the bye in round one of theNational Premier League this weekend.Mirisch said the club had talked to about a dozen candidateswhile senior players MattThompson, Shane Cansdell-Sherriffand Matt Trott have prepared the squad for 2017.

Maitland parted ways with coach Steve Piggott midway through 2016 and technical director Rod Haggarty then fulfilled their game-day requirements of having a B-licenced person on their bench. Mirisch said their fruitless search for a full-time replacement had left them in a difficult position.

“There probably is an option there, but is it in the best interests of Maitland football and Northern NSW Football?” Mirisch said.“Someone that can helpus and tick the box, but are we going to get proper value out of it?We’re fortunate to have the first-round bye, but our two options are that we drag Haggs in or get this other guy with a B-licence to sit there on game days and tick that box.

“Those two options could both be temporary measures while we continue to look around, but realistically we’reprobably not going to find anyone at this stage.”

NNSWF chief David Eland said it was inappropriate to discuss the situation given Maitland weretrying to resolve the issue.

Mirisch said “nothing official has been said” about what will happen to Maitland if they cannot satisfy NNSWF.

“We’ve been working with them the whole way along and making sure they know what we’re doing,” he said.

He said the club had gone as far as talking to a friend of English import Josh Dutton-Blackwho was a coach at Coventry Cityabout the job, but aftera week of discussions they werenot able to reach an agreement.

Mirisch said the club found two coaches but “they were both wanting in excess of what the top-paid coaches are getting”without having to assemble asquad or work in pre-season.

“I think the stupidity of the whole thing is that if you put a person in, and we could get someone and put them in that seat, and as long as they turn up to game days and sit on the bench, because that’s the rule criteria, we tick that box, but is that really benefiting the club, the game or the association?”

Regardless of what happens this year with the top job, Mirisch said Matt Thompson, who is yet to reach B-licence level,was set to play on in 2018 and the club wanted more off-field coaching support for him.

“We’ve got Matt Thompson but theimportant thing is to get him out of that full coaching role so he can concentrate on training,” he said.

“We’ve got some senior players who can help us get through, but it’s not ideal.You need someone at training marshaling the troops and driving them to get as much out of them as possible.”

If Haggarty fills the breach again, Maitland will become the third club to have one person fulfilling the coaching and technical director roles at the same time this year.

Edgeworth coachDamian Zane and Lake Macquariecoach Anthony Richards are performing the dual roles, which is allowed under the rules but is not NNSWF’s preferred situation.

Eland said “the softeningof this requirement is reflective of our consultation with clubs during the review”.