Editorial: Reason for hope in prolonged gallery saga

IT WAS almost six years ago when former Newcastle MP Tim Owen said, in his first speech to parliament, that he wanted to secure funding for the expansion of the city’sart gallery.
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Don Harwin

“While Newcastle is known around the country for our great sportsmen and women and industrial pursuits, it has produced some outstanding artists of all ilks,” Mr Owen told the parliament in 2011.

“I do not believe enough attention or money has been invested into harnessing the talents of our creative men and women.

“The time has come for this to change.”

Though Mr Owen was able to make good on some of his other priorities during his short stint in parliament, the art gallery was not one of them.

Instead, the gallery’s redevelopment –or lack of –has become, like the figs and the rail line,another contested narrative in Newcastle’s recent history.

Depending on where you stand, you might blame the state government for refusing to come through with the $7 million in funding required to make the project a reality back in 2013.

You might blame the previous councilfor reportedly getting its sums wrong on the actual cost of the project.

You might blame former lord mayor Jeff McCloy for using money set aside for the project to pay down the council’s debt.

Or you might blame the former federal Labor government for pullingthe $7 million it promised forthe project and spending it on the Glendale Interchange.

Or you might blame no one, and instead use new Arts Minister Don Harwin’s comment that he’s interested in hearing the council’s plan for the proposal as a reason for hope.

As Cathy Tate, who has probably done more than anyone to push for the redevelopment, said in 2015, “all that is in the past”.

“I want to start talking about how it can be done and not about why it didn’t happen,” Ms Tate said at the time.

Indeed. And the truth is that there is no reason that it cannot.

The state government has more than enough left in its cultural infrastructure fund to pay for the project, and a new minister who is at least receptive to the idea.

All that we need now is a council –and a city –that can prosecute the case for why some of the money should be spent here. As Mr Owen said, it is time for the prospect’s of the city’s arts community to change.

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Cloke impact will be visible, says Beveridge

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Travis Cloke looms as a key figure in the Western Bulldogs’ premiership defence, with coach Luke Beveridge adamant he won’t be the same player he was at Collingwood.

Beveridge is bullish about the future of the big-name recruit, and believes he will be a key cog in developing the Dogs’ new-look forward line.

Cloke will make his Bulldogs debut on Friday night against his former side at the MCG, a ground where he has kicked more than 300 of his 441 career goals.

The decision to trade for Cloke has created debate in football circles as to whether he can fit into the Bulldogs’ fast-moving and evolving game plan.

But Beveridge says he’s not the same player who wore black and white stripes for the last 12 seasons.

“He will definitely be a different player at the Western Bulldogs because of the way we do things and our expectations of what his output looks like,” said Beveridge.

“I don’t think he changes us structurally, he’ll still fit into our plans we like to set up down there.

“He’ll just be one of the six down there and we’ll expect him to play well in all the phases, which he will.”

Cloke has impressed his new teammates with his professionalism on the training track, and his lean shape.

He may not have been able to get a game for a team that finished 12th, but he looks certain to be a key pillar in the forward line of the premiership team.

“He’ll get first run at it,” Beveridge said in relation to selection.

Throughout his career, Cloke has been particularly durable.

From his third year in league football – 2007 – all the way through to 2014, he has played at least 20 games in every season.

He played 17 in 2015 when soft tissue injuries began to worry him and then 13 last year in a season where Pies coach Nathan Buckley dropped him three times.

If Beveridge is able to get Cloke back playing his best football – when he was one of the game’s most intimidating and damaging forwards – then it will be more proof of his coaching prowess.

“He’s a new recruit who’s got a lot of good footy in him at this level. He’s only 29, he’s really fit and he is an endurance outfit and works extremely hard. He sets a fine example in any organisation,” said Beveridge.

“He will change us because I think there will be more opportunities through him.”

The Bulldogs have won three of their last four opening round matches, which included last year’s 65-point drubbing of Fremantle at Etihad Stadium.

For the Magpies, round one has provided some stinging memories in recent times, particularly last season, when they were humiliated by Sydney at the SCG to the tune of 80 points.

The loss came shortly after the entire club was rocked by a drug scandal.

In 2015, they scraped past Brisbane by 12 points, while in 2014 it was another heavy defeat when they were smashed by Fremantle by 70 points at Etihad Stadium. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframe_afl_tiles’);

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Parliament House abuzz with plan for new beehives

The lost tradition of beekeeping at the home of n federal politics is set to be restored as specialist beehives are added to the grounds of Canberra’s Parliament House.
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As part of efforts to tackle the decline of bee populations – crucial to ‘s food security, agriculture and environmental sustainability – three hives will be installed in bushland outside Parliament on Friday night.

Head parliamentary gardener Paul Janssens said the hives include an award-winning n-designed Flow Hive, complete with an in-built plastic honey extractor, which allows honey collections without disrupting the bees.

Coloured in House of Representatives eucalyptus green, Langstrogh and Top Bar hives will also be installed, with the project’s first honey harvest expected later this year.

Honey will later go on sale at the Parliament House shop.

The project, a collaboration between the Department of Parliamentary Services, the n National University Apiculture Society and engineering and project management firm Aurecon, follows the installation of beehives at the White House and parliaments in Western and Queensland.

In 1976, speaker Billy Snedden approved the first parliamentary beehives in what he thought was a prank.

Victorian MP William Yates, one of the few parliamentarians elected to the British House of Commons and ‘s Federal Parliament, asked Snedden for permission to install two hives in the House of Representatives garden on April 1.

Assuming it was an April Fool’s Day joke, Snedden said yes.

Yates’ honey soon became a popular Canberra souvenir and even helped smooth over a dispute with Gough Whitlam. Yates sent the Labor legend a jar of honey after a particularly heated exchange during a parliamentary debate.

On one occasion the MP for Holt failed to properly extinguish the contents of his bee smoker, setting off the fire alarm and filling the Prime Minister’s office with smoke.

Mr Janssens said bees remain important to Canberra’s environment.

“Without the pollinating power of bees, things like fruit, seeds and nuts can’t grow, which means we won’t see foods like potatoes, broad beans and tomatoes to coriander and chestnuts in Aussie households.”

Aurecon head beekeeper Cormac Farrell helped established the first hives at the firm’s Canberra office in 2013.

“What began as a fun sustainability initiative has grown into something that produces honey gifts for staff and clients, inspires sustainable design, and even created the name for our company intranet, Hive.

“We’re honoured to be supporting n Parliament House’s roll-out of this important initiative,” he said.

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Pia Miller’s ‘zealous level of control’ canvassed in new Elle profile

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Elle is the Elizabeth Warren of publishing.

For the April issue, on stands Monday, the fashion magazine has cast model and Home and Away star Pia Miller as the new cover girl. This type of soft coverage – a fashion feature and photo shoot is usually considered the Holy Grail for celebrities and their publicists – not so much for the 33-year-old.

In the lead-up to the new issue going to press, the actor, who first appeared on the long-running soap in 2015 and plays Katarina Chapman, showcased an unprecedented and “zealous level of control” for editors.

Nevertheless, they persisted.

“The shoot concept and this accompanying interview were more difficult to agree on than most international cover stars in this magazine’s history. From the earliest planning stages, she displayed a zealous level of control – one that extends across her career and the way she’s publicly perceived,” the accompanying feature reads.

“Her fierce protectiveness of her privacy and her family goes some way towards explaining why it was never a sure thing that Miller would appear in these pages.”

Miller, who is a mother of two boys – Lennox, 10, and Isaiah, 13 – refused to pose with her family for the fashion publication that has built a glowing reputation for showcasing inspiring women.

A male model was also a non-negotiable for the spread. A compromise was found when Home and Away co-star Luke Pegler was recruited for the feature.

According to Elle, two assistants accompanied her to the interview and then sat “patiently at a table nearby”.

Last year Woman’s Day referred to the Logie-nominated actor as “Princess Pia” in a double-page spread claiming her cast mates “can’t stand her”.

“She has one of the smallest acting portfolios on the show, but carries on like she’s a five-time Oscar winner,” an unnamed source told the magazine.

A Seven spokesperson quashed the claims, saying the report was “untrue”.

Miller is a successful anomaly in the world of TV and fashion. She has the kind of reach and engagement with her fans that executives crave from their charges.

Like Miranda Kerr before her, she won the Dolly Model Search competition when she was just 14 before venturing into acting and landing ambassador roles for big international brands like ghd.

She is a social media star with more than 570,000 fans on Instagram, 200,000 more than Home and Away’s official account.

Miller made headlines in 2015 for announcing she was separating from her husband, former AFL star Brad Miller, on the day of the code’s grand final.

Despite the couple living in different states for more than a year at the time, the Millers chose to announce their split just hours before bounce down at the MCG. He has since relocated from Melbourne to Sydney to co-parent their children.

Miller is now in a relationship with Tyson Mullane, the co-founder of Macamilk – a locally produced Macadamia milk.

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Zegna learns hard way about Chinan farming

When Italian luxury label Ermenegildo Zegna purchased a stake in the historic Achill Farm in Armidale, New South Wales, no one could have guessed how hard the subsequent three years would be.
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Zegna learnt the harsh truth about n farming. Its 6300-hectare property was hit by a debilitating drought, forcing a decision to “tighten the belts”, according to Chairman Paolo Zegna, and test every hope he and sixth-generation wool grower Charlie Coventry had for the property.

But it seems that things are finally taking a turn for the pair. Whether by providence or luck, Fairfax Media’s arrival at the property Saturday morning happened to coincide with the region’s single biggest rain event in four years.

“As farmers, this is really exciting for us,” says Coventry. “It’s really put a smile on our faces. Especially over the past four years, we have really been dogged sideways. What we started with in this joint venture has really been a challenge but we continued with our investment.”

While this may have prevented the farm from hitting the ground running, according to Zegna it did allow for three solid years of preparation and auditing of process.

“We started to buy new rams, better quality rams, to know what kind of wool we wanted to get for the property,” Zegna says. “We worked on the genetics, on the breeding, taking care of the welfare of the animal and increasing water reserves, a new paddock for cattle – all things which we believed would put us in a much better situation, when the drought ends.

Achill is home to 10,000 sheep (and 1000 cattle), and the property, which the Coventry family has been involved in since the town’s early beginnings, is now looking to become ground zero in the reinvigoration of the wool industry and finding new and improved methods of wool farming in .

“A small test,” Zegna says.

“A lovely jewel, hopefully, in the entire organisation of the company. It will be a place to improve our learning curve and experiment, grow better fibres. It’s to find the right mix of animals, particularly sheep, and always find the right wool.”

Currently, wool being produced at Achill is weighing about 16 microns, which, while still in the top ranges of wool quality in , is not quite fine enough to make it into the coveted top 10 of the annual Zegna Wool Awards (which were held in Melbourne on Friday) that earns a guaranteed spot within the Zegna storehouse of merino wool.

But aside from guaranteeing that Zegna would have local access to what the company declares is the best wool in the world, the decision to purchase Achill was to “close the circle” as it were.

“The idea was to become the only fashion company to become fully integrated from sheep to shop,” says Zegna.

Although Zegna points out that while Achill will supply some of the company’s demand, the intention was never for it to become a sole supplier. Demand for product is too high – overall consumption of Zegna products in wool is equivalent to half a million kilograms and at Achill the average yield is up to 20,000 kilos. But he hopes that, after seeing what he and Coventry do at Achill, their relationship could inspire other farmers and goad the improvement of n wool.

But will it be enough to reinvigorate the industry, which has seen an increasing number of farmers walk away from the land due to lack of funding, support or crippling environmental conditions?

“I think having Achill is more about being here in front of a lot of wool growers,” Zegna muses. “It is to show that through a careful management of the company, we can demonstrate that the industry is still viable and can be continued for generations. Many people were compelled to abandon [the industry] and we would like Achill to strike a balance where we can be an example to others.”

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