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Skate expectations as city boarders look for a new place to roll

THEY’RE the boys who fly through Martin Place on any given weekend, gliding along the smooth tiles and soaring over steps and along rails.But skateboarders may get a new home if a council plan for the central business district’s long-awaited first skate park goes ahead.Tonight a City of Sydney committee will consider a proposal for a purpose-built facility at the Western Distributor underpass near Wynyard, a plan that has lifted the hopes of skaters such as Alon Settinger, 20.”You’re never going to stop street skating,” the Surry Hills skater said. ”It feels rough, it feels good … But if [the park] is good, people will go there, they’ll meet up there instead of here.”There are an estimated 56,000 skateboarders living within 20 kilometres of the CBD, yet pleas for an inner-city park have often fallen on unsympathetic ears.In 1995 Frank Sartor exemplified the mainstream attitude to skating in a letter to the Herald: ”The pedestrians of Sydney can rest assured … there will be no skateboard ramp in Martin Place, or indeed any other public place in the CBD.”The current council has been more amenable but has struggled to find a suitable site. Clover Moore used her casting vote to veto a proposed facility at Prince Alfred Park two years ago after complaints from residents.But the new site bypasses many issues that have stalled previous plans, particularly concerns over the loss of green space.”This is not an issue at the proposed site at the Western Distributor underpass, which is currently an underutilised urban space,” said Michael Leyland, the director of city projects at the council.If approved, the park would open in late 2011. But it’s not a simple case of if you build it, they will come. Mr Settinger says how the park is built is crucial, because poorly thought-out design at other parks has kept serious skaters away. He’d like to see it filled with the urban features that have made ”Martin” the city’s unofficial skate park for years – smooth ground and plenty of edges, steps and rails.Other skaters would also like to see the council pursue a second, bigger facility that could accommodate major competitions.”Skateboarding attracts a certain kind of disenfranchised young boy,” said the veteran Sydney skater John Fox. ”But you can actually turn that around if they think councils or governments want to work with them.”
Nanjing Night Net

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Aboriginal artist gives fashion house a good wrap

EVERYTHING takes time at the French luxury firm of Hermes: celebrities wait months for their Birkin and Kelly bags, named for the actresses that inspired them.And so it is 64-year-old Aboriginal artist Gloria Petyarre has waited a long time to receive her own Hermes La Reve de Gloria scarf – the one she created.Three years ago, Petyarre became the first Australian artist invited to design a Hermes scarf. Two years ago, her commission was accepted, and the scarf went on sale this year. A month ago, Petyarre’s dealer, Lauraine Diggins, took four scarves decorated with a bush medicine motif to the artist’s home in Utopia, Northern Territory.”The new scarf, it is a pretty one, that one,” Petyarre said. ”I gave one to my cousin, that artist Barbara, and one to my great-grandchild, the others I keep for me and wear for special times.”Petyarre also received her first royalty payment, to top off the €8500 she earned for the original 90 by 90 centimetre design. ”It’s a very substantial fee,” Ms Diggins said. ”If you translate that into Gloria’s painting, she would [normally] do a work three times the size of that.”Hermes’ hand-rolled silk squares are collectables that cost $530. The Queen wears hers knotted under the chin; Kylie Minogue prefers a French twist around her neck.But Hermes’ 170-year heritage did not initially impress the Aboriginal artist, whose own artistic tradition is considerably older. Petyarre is one of the founders of the famed Utopian Women’s Batik Group in Central Australia, alongside Emily Kngwarreye.Her work hangs in the National Galleries in Canberra and Melbourne, in the Lodge’s dining room, and in museums and galleries around the world. According to Ms Diggins, Petyarre was bemused by the commission.”A scarf is a scarf is a scarf,” Ms Diggins said. ”Hermes doesn’t quite figure. I think for Gloria, it was a little mundane. However, when I showed her the packaging and the box, she became quite aware it was quite special.”While Louis Vuitton pioneered the artist-as-accessory by commissioning bag designs from Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami and Richard Price, Hermes is also ramping up its associations with contemporary artists.It was Hermes boss Pierre-Alexis Dumas who approached Ms Diggins at a Paris art fair to invite Petyarre to design a scarf.
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Warning on danger of building on farmland

THE State Government’s Sydney metropolitan strategy allows 400,000 new homes to be built on prime agricultural land, failing to take into account the impact of climate change and the increased likelihood of inland droughts, a leading landscape architect says.Adrian McGregor, who with his colleague Philip Coxall is proposing a new way of planning called ”biocity”, says that the $1 billion worth of vegetables the Sydney basin produces annually is critical to NSW as a food and economic source.The metropolitan strategy threatens the city’s food security and would lead to an increase in vegetable prices, he said.”The most progressive and forward-thinking cities, like London, are doing work on food security because people realise that with the effects of climate change on rainfall and agricultural production on an increasing population, feeding cities … is going to be one of our biggest global challenges,” he said.His comments follow a NSW Department of Industry and Investment report that predicted more than half of the city’s remaining 1050 vegetable farms would be lost when the north-west and south-west growth areas became suburbs over the next two decades.”Everyone thinks the west of the state has the most valuable agricultural land. It is the reverse. The city does,” Mr McGregor said.Research from 2006 showed that the return from agricultural production in the Sydney basin was $5433 per hectare, dramatically higher than the $136 per hectare for the entire state, he said.The federal Agriculture Minister, Tony Burke, said last week that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation had warned that global farm production needs to rise by 70 per cent in 40 years to feed an extra 2.4 billion people.Mr McGregor said he and colleagues had set up an interactive website, biocitystudio南京夜网, to publicise the concept that metropolises should be planned with a ”total system” in mind, including food as one of 12 components that must be in balance with others, such as transport.”We know we are running out of oil,” he said. ”We rely on it for cultivating agricultural land, for fertilising, for pesticides, for production and transport. So in that entire chain when fuel costs begin to rise, we are going to see food become less affordable to people in our cities. If we have built upon our productive agricultural areas, we have forever lost the ability to produce cheaper food close to where we live.”
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Turnbull reduced to a mere licence to talk

MALCOLM TURNBULL’S leadership is so diminished that it was considered a victory last night when his party gave him permission to talk to the Government.The Opposition members and senators agreed their leader could negotiate with the Rudd Government over its proposed emissions trading scheme. But it was on the condition that he not commit to anything.Knowing he would be rebuffed if he asked, Turnbull did not even try to seek permission from his party for the power to conclude an agreement.Instead, the party has agreed to Turnbull’s plan that he approach the Government with six amendments, then return to the full party room to report the outcome.Turnbull gets credit for taking the initiative in calling his party together to discuss the hugely divisive proposal.The Coalition has looked like a rabble, sniping and snarling and arguing with itself, all in the full glare of the TV cameras.Turnbull called yesterday’s special party meeting to get agreement on a practical path for approaching the Government’s scheme. He now has that.But a meeting designed to bring the party together under a positive act of leadership has affirmed the deep division in the Coalition and highlighted the low level of trust the party reposes in its leader.When a leader asks his colleagues for the authority to depart from customary consultation and to head off on his own on a policy, it’s called seeking a ”hunting licence”.Compare the hunting licences that John Howard and Kevin Rudd have demanded to the one that Turnbull won last night.Howard gambled the fate of his government on his ill-fated Work Choices laws. When he was considering amending them, he mentioned this to his cabinet once. The cabinet acquiesced and gave Howard and his minister, Joe Hockey, a hunting licence, without the least idea of what they had in mind.And when Rudd was considering an economic stimulus package in the face of the onrushing global recession, he mentioned it once in the vaguest terms to his cabinet, which acquiesced. Rudd then developed it in total secrecy within the gang of four – Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan, Lindsay Tanner and Rudd himself – without any further reference to the rest of the cabinet.For better or worse, this is the level of trust that successful leaders demand, and receive, from their colleagues.By contrast, Turnbull has managed to win his colleagues’ agreement to take a known set of amendments to the Government and to discuss them, but to make no decisions whatever.Turnbull’s amendments would lather the biggest carbon emitters with even more free permits, even more layers of pork-barrel lard, than Rudd wants to grant them.The amendments are designed to be difficult for Rudd to accept, but not impossible. Whatever tiny sliver of power that Turnbull’s colleagues have allowed him to keep is now in Kevin Rudd’s hands.
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Recognition on way for sufferers of chronic pain

AUSTRALIA could become the first country to recognise chronic pain as a disease in its own right, giving sufferers greater credibility and access to more integrated services.Chronic pain, which affects one in five people and costs the economy about $34.4 billion a year, is the third-most expensive health problem in Australia but most sufferers were still seen as malingerers or drug seekers by general practitioners and busy emergency department staff, the pain specialist Michael Cousins said yesterday.Professor Cousins, the director of the Pain Management Research Institute at the University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, has led a national draft strategy to have pain management addressed as part of the Federal Government’s national health reforms.The strategy, now open for public consultation, calls for a national advertising campaign to destigmatise chronic pain, a Medicare item number allocated to better evaluate its prevalence and costs, and a new system in hospitals where pain is included as one of the vital signs assessed by nurses.“All patients in hospital should be asked what level of pain they are experiencing on a scale of 0 to 10,” Professor Cousins said.“We take a patient’s temperature to see if they have a fever, so we need to be asking them to rate their pain as well. That’s the only way we will know to treat it and see if it is improving.”The strategy also calls for standardised assessments, phone hotlines for sufferers and their carers and a centralised website with links to services, information and resources. It wants funding for consumer groups, an ombudsman for personal injury insurance and pain management included as a core skill in undergraduate and postgraduate courses for doctors, nurses and allied health workers.Management of chronic pain, where a sufferer experiences daily pain for three months or more, was “shockingly inadequate” because it was still seen as a symptom of another condition rather than a problem in itself, Professor Cousins said.Many pain management clinics in Australia now had waiting lists of up to three years, and GPs were often reticent to prescribe large amounts of opioids or use newer methods of pain relief such as channel blockers, leaving sufferers with little help, he said.“Pain is one of the biggest health issues in Australia today – every bit as big as cancer, AIDS and coronary heart disease. It affects a person physically, psychologically and environmentally; and destroys all aspects of individual and family activities.”The chairwoman of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, Christine Bennett, said the “scale, impact and cost of chronic pain is so alarming that it warrants a co-ordinated, national approach to address this major health issue”.A final version of the strategy, the result of thousands of hours’ work by more than 70 specialists, will be presented at the National Pain Summit in March and could see reforms put in place by the end of next year.”Chronic pain is costing us billions but half those costs could be saved if a strategy like this was implemented. It’s almost a no-brainer,” Professor Cousins said.
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