LIVESTREAM: Hunter Innovation Forum

Newcastle Next: archive and entries

WATCH our dedicated livestream as leading thinkers gather in Newcastle this week for a multi-faceted forum looking at the Hunter region’s role in the global innovation race.

The 2014 Hunter Innovation Forum is a series of events for industry, experts and the broader community to consider the latest innovation trends and how the Hunter region can best benefit from embracing new ways of thinking.

The Herald has a dedicated livestream of the event, which you can view, simply by pressing play in the viewer below.

Resourceful innovation– Thursday afternoon – 15 May at Newcastle City Hall

Sessions cover solutions to contemporary challenges in the Hunter’s traditional industry strengths of mining, manufacturing and energy. The region is transforming and the change is being driven by smart SME’s, by big research projects and by the region’s skill development and commercialisation programs.

This afternoon is an opportunity to catch up on where we are and why our big industries will continue to adapt and drive our region’s economy.

Working Innovation– Friday 16 May at Newcastle City Hall

Sessions cover a broad range of industry sectors including creative industries, health, retail, transport, construction, and education and training. Areas of focus include disruptive innovation, traditional and emerging industries, health, crowd-sourcing and urban revitalisation.

Thursday’s presentation is split into two parts, with the “Australian Internet of Things kicking off in the morning, before the Hunter Innovation Forum beginning at 12:30pm.

The Australian Internet of Things can be viewed by clicking here.

The Hunter Innovation Forum Livestream can be viewed by pressing play below.

Over the years our City has seen great change, as has the media landscape that we operate in. Herald News Director Heath Harrison, Night News Director, Joanne Crawford and Multimedia Journalist Adam Santarossa discuss these changes in the video below.

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Nathan Tinkler buys Wilkie Creek mine for $150 million

Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler is making another sortie into coal, purchasing Peabody Energy’s Wilkie Creek mine in Queensland for $150 million.

The purchase comes less than a year after Mr Tinkler was forced to sell his stake in Whitehaven Coal for about half the price it was worth when he obtained it in 2011 after the company’s merger with Aston Resources.

Mr Tinkler, who formerly topped the BRW Young Rich List, became embroiled in a stoush with creditors after increasing his debts and failing to make repayments.

He was then forced to sell his stake in Whitehaven to make the repayments.

Mr Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group still owns NRL team the Newcastle Knights, but is likely to face a battle with members for the club after defaulting in March on his commitment to have a $10.52 million bank guarantee in place.

The deal for Wilkie Creek will be funded through equity from Mr Tinkler and the support of Leucadia and Jefferies, as US-based investment and private equity firm, Mr Tinkler told The Australian .

The mine was closed last year following Peabody blaming the carbon tax, falling coal prices and increased costs of doing business as reasons for the shut down.

Peabody hired UBS in 2012 to sell Wilkie Creek for around $500 million, but was unable to find a buyer.

“I looked at it 18 months ago … at the time people in the market were saying they were looking for up to $600m and we probably weren’t that far away from that number then,” Mr Tinkler told The Australian.

Mr Tinkler said he would like to have the mine back into production by the end of the year, but has no intention of listing on the Australian stock market in the near-term.

NATHAN Tinkler has bought back into Australian resources in a $150 million deal for a Queensland mine.

The former billionaire’s Singapore-based Bentley Resources bought Peabody Energy’s Wilkie Creek thermal coal mine for $70 million in cash and the assumption of some of the company’s liabilities.

Coal giant Peabody has had its Queensland mine on the market since mid-2012.

At the time, Wilkie Creek was exporting 2.5 million tonnes of thermal coal a year through the Port of Brisbane and a $500 million price tag was touted to prospective buyers.

The mine closed in December, last year, with the company blaming the carbon tax and there are no employees or equipment left.

Mr Tinkler’s investment was made with the backing of Leucadia National Corp subsidiary Jefferies Group, a US investment bank.

According to documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Peabody expected to pay $34.5 million for port and rail obligations related to the closure this year and $25.9 million in other closure expenses.

Peabody said Bentley Resources would assume the rail and port obligations and ‘‘other liabilities’’ as part of the sale, subject to some closing conditions.

The Newcastle Herald reported in April that the embattled Newcastle Knights owner was trying to raise funds for a new coal venture after selling Aston Metals.

It is understood Mr Tinkler did not receive a cent from the Aston Metals sale, with all proceeds going to his banks.


Shoulder pain leads to a search for realignment

“What we are doing today does not support our eons of evolution… the lack of movement at all is our first problem.”Whether it was years of swimming, too much sitting at the computer or too much driving, life was taking its toll on my body. My shoulder was messed up beyond belief; the pain seeped down my right arm and across my back, up into my neck.

With a 1.6 metre open water swim race just three months away, and a shoulder so rigid I could no longer raise my arm over my head, I went to the doctor. First he tried to decide if I had bursitis or a rotator cuff injury (common in swimmers). I was put on Advil and taken off swimming. Things calmed down, but not enough.

I thought I was an outlier, but at physical therapy, about 75 per cent of those in the room had some kind of shoulder injury. Friends have complained of debilitating shoulder pain from working too many hours at the computer, from overdoing it at yoga or from jumping too fast into a hard-core fitness program.

“What we are doing today does not support our eons of evolution,” said Heath Reed, a licensed massage and yoga therapist who practices in the US. “There is no way our biology can keep up with technology. The lack of movement at all is our first problem. The secondary problem is our dysfunctional movement.”

I wanted to try every option before I considered surgery. Here’s my path:

Physical therapy

With my doctor’s referral, my first stop was physical therapy. My therapist asked me about the pain and when it started, and she felt around to find out where exactly it hurt. She swung my arm up, down, across and over, to isolate the pain. Swimmers, she said, are often weak between the shoulder blades.

First, she said, I needed to make sure my computer was at eye level, my arms were at my sides, my phone was not stretching my arm and I was not reaching for my mouse. In the car, I need to wedge a rolled-up towel between the base of my spine and the seat, to keep the curve in my lower lumbar spine.

I also was given a stretchy rubber sash for a series of arm exercises that used the wall, the door, doorknobs and the floor. They were short repetitions that required little effort, and, frankly, I was sceptical. I like to push until it hurts. I was told I could swim, but not hard, and no butterfly.

Drew Jenks, a physical therapist from New York who works with athletes and specialises in shoulders, said physical therapists look at movement impairment and work to fix it. “Do you have tightness in the back side of your shoulder? Do you have poor posture? Poor thoracic spine mobility? Poor stability and tightening of the muscles around the shoulder blade? We might get a doctor giving us a diagnosis for therapy for rotator cuff impingement, but that is not specific,” said Jenks, chairman of the Shoulder Special Interest Group for the Sports Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.

I did my exercises. I came back for five sessions of physical therapy. I swam tentatively at first, then harder. After five weeks I had regained almost complete mobility. I could not push myself. But my arm was functioning.

I competed in my race, and my shoulder did not hurt much. Still, I wanted no pain. Was that possible?


My physical therapist said massage complemented her work.

Reed, the Arizona massage therapist, teaches workshops on medical massage that focus specifically on rotator cuff injuries, shoulder bursitis and tendinitis. He said massage can help prevent shoulder injuries and rehab them, and help clients recover from shoulder surgery.

After an injury, there is an inflammatory response, Reed said. Traditionally experts have recommended RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Once the inflammation eases, many experts recommend MICE (movement, ice, compression, elevation). In the past, experts immobilised the area of injury, to give the body a chance to recover. But, Reed said, too long a rest can lead to stiffness. This is where movement and massage can make the difference. “In our practice, what we try to advocate is a union of physical manipulation of muscle, massaging, working with ligaments, tendons, joints, range of motion, stretching, strengthening to begin to bring balance to that joint,” Reed said.

Massage loosened my shoulder in the short term, and it felt good.

Walking more, driving less

I knew that part of my problem was that I spent too many hours in front of the computer or in a car. Walking might not help my shoulder per se, but I felt that it would help my body overall.

Dr James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist who invented the treadmill desk, coined the mantra “sitting is the new smoking,” and Reed agrees. “Movement is the missing ingredient in our modern, technologically oriented society,” Reed said. “We move significantly less than we did just a couple of generations ago.”

Even 15 to 30 minutes of walking every day would alleviate tens of thousands of injuries, Reed said.

To make that walk more effective, Reed said, exaggerate the swing of your arms and look about 20 degrees above the horizon. When you look up, he said, it activates parts of your brain that help with coordination. Studies have shown that walking is one of the best therapies for lower back pain, the pelvis, the bottom of the spine and for getting the synovial fluid moving.

I hiked every day. I hoped that would gently nudge my body back into alignment. I still spend many hours in front of the computer, but my shoulder feels better.


I’ve long been curious about Rolfing, named for Ida Rolf, a New York biochemist who studied alternative methods of body work and healing beginning in the 1920s. I had heard it hurt but that the results were phenomenal.

Rolf developed a theory that the body’s aches and pains arose from basic imbalances in posture and alignment, which were reinforced over time by gravity and learned responses among muscles and fascia — the sheath-like connective tissue that surrounds and binds muscles. Rolfing developed as a way to “restructure” muscles and fascia.

I felt like overworked muscles on my dominant right side were pulling across my back and yanking everything out of alignment.

Jan Sultan, a Redondo Beach-based Rolfer who was trained (and Rolfed) by Rolf and who has been practicing for 45 years, said that if a patient is orthopedically compromised with a rotator cuff injury, it lowers the probability that Rolfing will help. But it can help if the shoulder has a sprain, a muscle tear or imbalance to the joint.

My Rolfer, Maria Cristina Jimenez, discussed my history, symptoms and what I hoped to achieve. She had me walk, move and raise my arms over my head. Then she had me lie down on the table.

Her hands moved over my body, realigning and trying to find the pain. She was like a masseuse with extra-sensory powers. She found an upper rib (on the side of my injured shoulder) that had popped out, and with some pressure got it back in. Instantly my whole back and shoulder area felt better. The session ended with her gently cradling my sacrum and rocking me back and forth. There are many nerve endings there, she said. It felt weird, but good.

I walked home feeling clearer, taller and spaced out. After a lifetime of swimming, running, hiking, working, carrying children and sheer gravity, I realised that this is the crux of it: My body needs serious realigning — just like my car.

(I never got an official diagnosis because I chose not to get an MRI. And so far I’m not choosing surgery. I have just started swimming again after the race, so far without pain. I walk and practice yoga.)

The Washington Post

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National Union of Students slams tertiary reforms in federal budget as ‘horrifying’

Federal budget 2014: Full coverage

The national student union has condemned the federal budget’s shake-up of tertiary funding as ”horrifying” despite the changes being embraced by Australia’s leading university, the ANU.

The president of the National Union of Students, Deanna Taylor, said she was ”horrified but not entirely surprised” by the government’s most significant reform to the HECS scheme since its introduction in 1989.

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget announced restrictions on course costs will be scrapped while the amount of funding for university courses will decline from 2016. Graduates will also repay their HELP debts once they earn $50,638, rather than $53,345

But Ms Taylor said the changes mean a generation of high-school students nearing the end of their studies will have to reassess whether university is a viable option, given their family’s financial situation.

”The deregulation of fees is without a doubt going to leave students with a sharp increase in fees, which will hit disadvantaged students the hardest,” she said.

Ms Taylor said given the reforms announced in the budget, we may see more students paying in excess of $100,000 to receive a university education.

”We’re slowing moving towards United States models of tertiary education, which most people would agree is not the shining beacon of access to education,” she said. ”Obviously, we want our universities to be world class but the way to do that is not to punish disadvantaged students.”

Ms Taylor said there were some ”very big question marks” over the government’s promised scholarships for disadvantaged students and on access. The budget details 20 per cent of additional revenue raised through increased fees will be used to fund scholarships for disadvantaged students.

”The scholarships that the government has been talking about will not nearly make up for the increases in student fees and it remains to be seen how that equity scheme will actually work,” she said.

But ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young said ”the government is just being practical in these things”.

”We have seen over the last four years the demand-driven system has grown the cost to the budget significantly, now either the taxpayer is going to have to pay that or the student is going to have to pay that or the system will become impoverished … A slight change to the mix of what the taxpayer and the student affords is probably a good thing,” he said.

ANU Students’ Association president Cameron Wilson said disadvantaged students are already under-represented at the university and the budget reforms are likely to exacerbate inequality.

”Despite the equity scholarship fig leaf, disadvantaged students will have more and more trouble accessing university due to ballooning costs and dropping graduate incomes,” he said. ”We call on ANU to carefully consider and consult with students who are already crushed under huge student debts. ANU should have the best minds and not the best-paying minds.”

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Budget 2014 in words

What story does Joe Hockey’s words on budget night really tell? We’ve bundled the more than 3500 of the Treasurer’s words from his first budget speech into this word cloud. The biggest words are the ones the Treasurer used most often. First, we manually removed the words ”madam speaker”, ”government”, ”budget”, ”year” and ”people” since they featured very large but that seemed to be more a matter of necessary repetition than significance. Common words were also automatically excluded. In sentiment at least, the budget speech appears overwhelmingly positive. Words like ”better”, ”research”, ”more”, ”new”, ”benefit”, ”help” and ”jobs” all loom large. Such as ”the government will help” and ”provide help to those most in need”. This is despite many arguing it is the toughest budget since John Howard’s post-election budget in 1996. But the word ”build” was the top-scorer, mentioned 26 times in Mr Hockey’s budget speech. As in ”build a stronger Australia”.  ”Billion” featured high, too, with 21 mentions, largely in the context of a reduced deficit, debt and improved investment.  ”Work” was also up there, although whether that is positive or negative depends on the context, of course. This was sometimes in the form of ”the government will work” but also in the LIberal Party rhetoric of ”those who can work, should work … work gives a sense of self”. As is often the case, what was left unsaid was perhaps even more revealing. The words ”environment” and ”climate change” did not appear in the speech once. Although the word ”carbon” made it in there three times: ”We are abolishing the carbon tax”, ”the abolition of the carbon tax” and ”without the carbon tax”. If you squint you can see the word ”student” in the bottom right buried between ”future” and ”increase”. The implication of which will not be lost on students, since universites have been given the freedom to set their own fees. ”SBS” and ”ABC” were also conspicuously absent, since the government has broken an election promise by cutting the broadcasters’ budgets by $43.5 million. ”Mining” was also low-key, with only five mentions in the Treasurer’s speech. Although, admittedly, that’s a 500 per cent increase on the  number of times Wayne Swan said the word in last year’s budget speech. The word ”foreign” only appeared twice, matching a budget in which the government slashed foreign aid by $7.9 billion over five years. ”Hospital” was also used just once when Mr Hockey said that a reduction in interest paid after the debt was reduced was ”more than enough money needed to construct 15 major new teaching hospitals every year”. Despite slashing billions from the Commonwealth’s share of hospital funding.  

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