Bega Pool business relay a family fun night out

Bega Pool’s Business House Relay might not be as packed or quirky as it used to be, but will still be a fun family night out says organiser Phil Harris.
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Harris said the annual event, which once hosted 78 teams and ran past midnight, had dwindled over previous years, but will still play host to up to 20 teams tomorrow.

And if you haven’t entered yet, you still can.

“Entries are open right up until the time,” Harris said.

“The first swim is what you are timed on so it’s no drama to show up on the night.

“Everyone has a bit of fun and comes to strut their stuff.”

Harris said over its history the night had attracted some spectacular costumes and spectacles.

“It’s not quite as involved as it used to be – we used to have people come as the East German swimming team.

“We would have these big blokes come all in costume.

“One year four guys did the entire lap under the water.”

Another time, when the finals could run until after midnight, two young swimmers had to be woken up to compete.

“We had to go and get two kids out of bed because they made the final,” Harris said with a laugh.

“Their mums were still there and had to go get them for the final, but they won it.”

The very first Bega event ran by Harris welcomed 16 teams, but wrapped up in just over one hour.

“We had bought all this meet for the barbecue, but it was all over and no one was there to eat it,” Harris said with a laugh.

Now, the yearly swim includes age sprints and a chocolate wheel and people are around to enjoy a feed from the barbecue.

Harris said tomorrow’s swim ensures a fun night out for everyone who attends.

Entry is just $2 or $5 for a family.

Depending on the number of entries, both the age swims and relay include heats, a semi-final and final.

Teams for the relay are made up of four people, but Harris is welcoming single or small group entries.

“If anyone has two or three they can get in touch with us – there are always people who would like a swim, but don’t have a team,” he said.

“We are happy to put them together and make up the numbers.”

The event is normally a major fundraiser for the Bega Amateur Swimming Club, but this year the proceeds will be given to the Britton Dunning Memorial Fund.

“Jacqui’s mother-in-law is a life member of the club so the committee decided to donate the proceeds to that worthy cause,” Harris said.

Events will run at the Bega Pool from 5pm tomorrow.

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Rex restores air services to Bamaga

Regional Express will fly to the remote community of Bamaga. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland Regional Express has announced it will introduce a Cairns-Bamaga service. Photo: Jim Rice
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The Australian mainland’s northernmost town will once again have regular passenger air services from next month, with Regional Express announcing it would introduce a Cairns-Bamaga route from March 30.

Bamaga was one of six remote Queensland communities left without regular services when Cairns-based airline Skytrans collapsed last month.

The airline’s collapse was blamed, in part, on the falling Australian dollar and the Newman government’s decision to award Regional Express, commonly known as Rex, with the subsidised “milk run” routes ahead of Skytrans.

Regional airline West Wing Aviation has filled in much of the breach, but Bamaga was not among its destinations.

Rex Queensland state manager Steve Jones said the airline had worked with the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council to restore services to the community on the tip of Cape York.

Mr Jones said air links to communities such as Bamaga were vital for their survival.

“People often aren’t flying just to visit Aunt Flo for her 40th birthday party, no disrespect to Aunty Flo, but people travel for compelling reasons,” he said.

“They travel largely to get back down to the major coastal regional centres of Cairns or Townsville to get to major medical facilities, kids coming in and out of school and, from a freight perspective, there are no regular road freight operations north of Weipa in Cape York at any time of the year.

“Certainly, in summer (the wet season), there’s nothing north of Cairns basically.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Northern Peninsula Area mayor Bernard Charlie.

“NPARC is focused on developing a long-term future for our people and building tourism and other investment in our region,” he said.

“Having a nationally recognised provider flying into NPA is an important step in our journey to further develop our economy and improve economic outcomes for the region.”

Mr Jones said he was still confident of expanding Rex’s reach in far north Queensland, despite some hurdles last month.

“We’re still open to discuss providing services to the other communities in Cape York if they feel the Rex model and product would suit them,” he said.

“We’ve been in discussions with the Peninsula Area council for quite some time now and we’ve both agreed that … what Cape York really needs most is assurance of long-term sustainability.

“I think Rex can provide that.”

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Sweet mixed bag of brief plays

COOL THREADS: Creative director Alex Robson said the production Favourite Shorts would be more colourful than these pants. THE event is called Favourite Shorts, but it has nothing to do with casual leg coverings.
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Creative director Alex Robson said Favourite Shorts will be a smorgasbord of short plays, with the wide range of genres sure to appeal to all theatrical tastes.

“It’s 16 plays, 16 directors and over two dozen actors,” Robson said. “Basically it’s a mixed bag of theatrical lollies.”

The play has been popular in the past, but it has special significance for the Armidale Drama and Musical Society.

With the passing of University of New England’s beloved drama lecturer Andrew McCue on February 18, his play is set to bring out emotions when it features in the short production festival. Robson said the coincidence is a fitting tribute for the much-loved theatre figure.

“It just so happened that one our directors had chosen one his plays,” he said.

“He thought all copies of the play had been, so when one of our directors got in contact with him, he was blown away.

“It’s one of his last surviving plays. The story follows Barbie dolls, the role of God and sex… it’s indicative of Andrew’s cheeky spirit.

“It is quite devastating to our town, as we lost Sue Fell and Andrew McCue in such a short amount of time.”

The shows will be staged at The ‘Stro for the first time ever.

“We did have it at The Armidale Club, but since it closed down we had to relocate [to the] ’Stro,” Robson said.

Favourite Shorts will be held on March 20 and 21, and on March 27 and 28. Tickets are available at www.adms.org.au.

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County Court judges warn on baseline sentences

County Court judges are warning baseline sentences will stretch resources.County Court judges warn that baseline sentences will lengthen criminal trials and increase the number of criminal appeals, putting more pressure on the court’s stretched funds.
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Chief Judge Michael Rozenes said that the law on baseline sentences could undo many of its improvements to the way the court performs “that we have worked so hard to achieve in recent years.”

“The new sentencing regime will likely add substantial complexity to the sentencing process, increasing the length of matters and the incidence of appeals. It will also change the case mix, adding to delay,” he said in the court’s latest annual report.

Lawyers are likely to ask Attorney-General Martin Pakula to reverse the law on baseline sentences, which were opposed by the Victorian Bar Association and the Law Institute of Victoria and are viewed as an unnecessary limitation on judges’ discretion.

Baseline sentences were introduced into law last year, prescribing median and maximum punishments for a range of crimes including murder and commercial drug trafficking. They were designed to lengthen average prison terms for offenders, with former attorney-general Robert Clark saying courts had previously imposed “appallingly inadequate” average sentences.

Judge Mark Taft, who heads the court’s criminal jurisdiction, said that requiring judges to determine sentences according to an overall median was a “constraint” that “will add substantial complexity to the sentencing process, will be productive of delay, additional cost and heightened prospects of appeal”.

Baseline sentences would increase growing pressure “on the court’s already stretched judicial resources”. The same number of judges were now required to sit on more criminal trials, which were getting longer because they involved a greater amount of evidence which was also growing more complex, he said.

The average trial length grew about 12 days last year, and the impact of the state inquiry into child abuse and the ongoing Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on the court was still to be felt.

The court needed more judges and staff “to ensure these trials are conducted efficiently and within a reasonable time of persons being charged”.

Mr Pakula has said the Andrews government will assess the impact of the Coalition’s sentencing changes in coming months “and [is] carefully assessing whether additional reform is needed”.

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Russell returns to Porsche Carrera Cup racing Video

David Russell makes returns to full-time Porsche Carrera Cup racing in Finance Ezi Racing Porsche 991 GT3 . Photo supplied Russell will drive the Finance Ezi Racing Porsche 991 GT3 in the series – his first full-time Porsche Carrera Cup season since he last competed in this highly competitive championship in 2008.arrera Cup season since he last competed in this highly competitive championship in 2008.Redland City motor racing driver David Russell makes returns to full-time Porsche Carrera Cup racing at this weekend’s Clipsal 500 event in Adelaide.
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Russell will drive the Finance Ezi Racing Porsche 991 GT3 in the series – his first full-time Porsche Carrera Cup season since he last competed in this highly competitive championship in 2008.

He has since earned a reputation as one of the fastest and most versatile racing drivers in the country, having competed successfully in several local and international GT races, alongside his five-year tenure with Nissan Motorsport / Kelly Racing as endurance race co-driver to both Rick and Todd Kelly.

The 32-year-old Birkdale resident is excited to be returning to the Carrera Cup after his superb cameo performances in the series last season at Bathurst and Surfers Paradise. His outstanding performances earned him a race victory, two podiums and several fastest race laps at two of the nation’s most challenging circuits.

“It is fantastic to be back in the Carrera Cup championship and to be in a position to have a real tilt at the title with Finance Ezi Racing.

“ I took some heat over how aggressively I was competing at Bathurst and the Gold Coast last season – that was just a taste of what can be expected from me once the red lights go out at the Clipsal 500,” Russell said.

Russell has already gained significant race mileage this season having set the fastest lap time of practice, the second fastest qualifying lap and a 7th place finish at the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

His qualifying lap time of 2:03.1751s in the JBS Lamborghini LP600 was the fastest lap time ever set by an Australian driver at Mount Panorama. He will also be competing in selected international Sportscar events along with the three V8 Supercar season of endurance races during 2015.

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