Local Goverment Amalgamations: $5m sweetener not enough

THE $5 million NSW government sweetener on offer to Greater Taree City Council, Great Lakes Council and Gloucester Shire Council should two of them choose merge “is not enough” and any merger “will hurt services and the community”.
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That is the view of Greater Taree City Council mayor Paul Hogan and it comes as council staff work to the June 30 deadline to submit a proposal to the NSW government on how it “intends to become fit for the future”.

Currently, Fit for the Future is described by the NSW government as a “blueprint for change” and “outlines what the State will do to cut red tape, invest in reform and help councils work smarter together”. A reduction in the number of councils is flagged by the NSW government as an outcome.

Council’s general manager, Ron Posselt says the “Fit for the Future process has recommended that Gloucester Shire Council merge with either Great Lakes Council or Greater Taree City Council.”

“Great Lakes and Gloucester engaged a consultant to model the merged council and have both concluded a merger is not viable at this stage,” Mr Posselt explained.

“As a more sustainable council, Great Lakes is a preferred partner for Gloucester over Greater Taree. Greater Taree will be submitting a response to Fit for the Future by 30 June as a stand alone council.

“We don’t have a position of forced amalgamation of councils although we note that the peak body for councils, LGNSW has a position of no forced amalgamations,” he added.

Last week in NSW Parliament, Independent member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich put a motion to the Legislative Assembly that exposed the possibility that local government councils may be forced to amalgamate.

The revelation came from the minister for local government, Paul Toole on May 14 during debate of the motion, “That this House opposes forced amalgamations of councils that are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities.”

Mr Toole stated the “government does not support the motion of the member for Sydney” and outlined the government’s agenda in relation to local government reform.

Speaking in the legislative assembly chamber, Mr Toole said ‘NSW has 152 councils. They range in size from six square kilometres to 53,000 kilometres. They range in population from 1200 to 300,000 people.”

In relation to regional communities, Mr Toole said they “…play a major role in supporting the State’s economy. They put food on our table and sustain major export industries. They also play a crucial role in education, retail, resources, manufacturing and defence. For NSW to have a strong future our regional communities must also be strong.”

He revealed that “councils are losing up to $1 million per day, which is not sustainable” and said “clearly, it is not an option to make no change. The government is providing, and will continue to provide councils and communities with support and funding to make the changes needed.”

Cr Hogan contends that “income is the biggest issue for council and it is deliberately ignored at a State government level.”

“As an elected representative you want to see what is best for your community, and amalgamation for me, will not improve anything. It will not help our community, it will not improve the financial problem of infrastructure – that will not go away.”

Cr Hogan believes the NSW government offer of $5 million to assist two councils to merge “is not enough”.

“There may be redundancies that have to be paid out, infrastructure changes, such as making a depot larger – the money is easily spent,” he said. “I have never actually been involved in an amalgamation, only viewed what happened in Queensland and discussed it with people who were involved, and the word was that the money was not enough. I can’t see it working.”

THE NSW government has “finally tipped its hand” with its decision to not support a motion in parliament against the forced amalgamations of local government councils, according to Local Government NSW.

President Keith Rhoades AFSM described the debate in the legislative assembly as “crunch time”.

“It really does suggest that the whole Fit for the Future process is simply tick-a-box, with the government firmly committed to diluting local democratic representation for purely ideological reasons,” Mr Rhoades said.

“It was instructive to see the arguments trotted out against the motion, which included claims that amalgamations would ‘drive down rates’, that ‘bigger is better’, and that forced amalgamation is ‘a dead-set non-issue’ for our communities.”

“It was also interesting how often speakers against the motion adopted a straw man argument, suggesting that the local government sector was opposed to any kind of reform.

“I can assure the community and the government this is not the case. Local government welcomes reform that genuinely improves outcomes for residents and ratepayers.

“What the sector does not support is amalgamations being forced on councils who are able to show they are financially sustainable, and whose communities have stated clearly that they wish to continue to have grass roots representation via stand alone councils.”

Mr Rhoades revealed that the parliamentarians who spoke against forced amalgamations during the debate included Guy Zangari (Fairfield, Labor), Jamie Parker (Balmain, Green), Greg Piper (Lake Macquarie, Independent), Jodie Harrison (Charlestown, Labor), and Jenny Leong (Newtown, Green). He added that government parliamentarians who spoke against the motion, supporting forced amalgamations, included Geoff Lee (Parramatta, Liberal), Gareth Ward (Kiama, Liberal), John Sidoti (Drummoyne, Liberal) and Ray Williams (Castle Hill, Liberal).

The member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead did not take part in the debate.

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Iron ore price below $US60 a tonne as declines accelerate

Forecasts remain for the price of iron ore to potentially fall as low as $US45 per tonne in the second half of this calendar year. Photo: Manfred GottschalkIron ore has recorded its sharpest fall in weeks, as Canberra continues to mull whether or not to hold an inquiry into the activities of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
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The price of iron ore delivered to the Port of Qingdao fell $US2.32, or 3.5 per cent, to $US58.53 per tonne on Monday.

The fall came as China steel prices slid to their lowest in 12 years as the iron ore hungry nation’s peak construction season began to ebb.

Since May 11, when iron ore hit $US62.88 per tonne, the commodity has been gradually giving up gains made after BHP in April said it would slow production growth.

The movement in the price of iron ore has come against the backdrop of a public campaign waged by Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest against rivals BHP and Rio Tinto.

Mr Forrest has been winning support in Canberra for his claims that BHP’s and Rio’s activities in driving down the price of iron ore are against the national interest.

However, his push for an inquiry has little support outside political circles and BHP and Rio on Tuesday expressed their exasperation with the ongoing debate.

“Not all inquiries are bad because it can create transparency, but this is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money,” BHP chief Andrew Mackenzie told ABC on Tuesday.

“It’s red tape, pure and simple.”

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, Rio’s head of iron ore Andrew Harding said he was stunned by Mr Forrest’s campaign.

“As I keep saying, there is a reality dysfunction. The commercial reality of it all gets overlaid by the claim ‘that is rubbish’ and ‘that is not how it works’, but no one ever goes on to explain how it works in the alternative,” Mr Harding said.

“The reality is Australia has a great reputation internationally for its commitment to free and open trade … but if the only time you get to demonstrate how supportive you are of free trade and open markets is when you are going through the bottom of a cycle, the ramifications could be extraordinary.”

Forecasts remain for the price of iron ore to potentially fall as low as $US45 per tonne in the second half of this calendar year.

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Colouring yourself calm: why colouring-in is back

Adult colouring-in books are flying off the shelves of Avid Reader in West End as fast as they can stock them. Photo: Sarah DeasyA treasured childhood activity is now the go-to trend for practitioners of mindfulness.
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Adult colouring-in books are flying off the shelves as fast as bookstores can stock them, providing a guided creative outlet that can help with anxiety and depression.

Book buyer for West End’s Avid Reader Sarah Deasy said the trend began some years ago with humourous adult colouring books such as Colour Me Good 80s.

“It’s really only in the last six months that it’s really picked up as art therapy,” she said.

“So we’re now getting books with really beautiful floral, wallpaper, mandalas and other patterns rather than figures.”

Ms Deasy said the juggernaut was led by Johanna Basford’s 2013 book, The Secret Garden.

“At the time it was marketed as a children’s colouring-in book,” she said.

“But it’s such a gorgeously produced book, adults started coming in asking for it as well, and that really kicked the whole thing off.”

Basford has since released a sequel, The Enchanted Forest, and books like The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-stress Art Therapy for Busy People by Emma Farrarons and Colour Yourself Calm by Tiddy Rowan are in hot demand.

“I’ve been seeing photos of people going to the park with a group of friends and they sit around with their books colouring all day,” Ms Deasy said.

“People are doing colouring-in almost like book clubs.”

The pastime is huge on social media – a search of hashtags such as #colouring #colouringin #secretgarden and #enchantedforest on Instagram turns up hundreds of thousands of images.

But registered art therapist Justine Wake said the practice had deeper value as a mindfulness exercise.

“For people stuck in their own head, with a lot of anxiety and depression, it can be hard to have a mindful experience,” she said.

“If you can get someone to really just stay with the actual act of colouring-in, it’s a good practice for becoming mindful in the moment rather than getting caught up with over-thinking.”

She said practitioners could choose any colours they liked, and the existing outlines helped to build their confidence.

“You don’t really have to think, it’s very non-threatening,” she said.

“I would use it for people who are frightened of making art – and that’s common amongst adults,  lots of people have hang-ups from childhood about being bad at art.”

Dymocks currently lists three colouring-in books in its Top 10 bestseller list.

National buying manager Sophie Higgins believes their widespread appeal lie in a desire to break from the digital world.

“Digital media can be overwhelming and I know myself that I probably hit the average of 150 checks of my smartphone daily,” she said.

“As an attempt to combat what feels like an increasingly short attention span, people seem to be switching off their TVs and picking up their pencils.”

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Taree artist’s city opportunity

Sydney Adermann joined fellow Year 10 and Year 11 students from across the state at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
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SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD Taree local Sydney Adermann has taken the next exciting step in her art career.

She has been invited by The Smith Family to travel to Sydney during the school holidays to take part in a four-day art workshop called Bella Momentum at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).

Sydney, who attends Taree High, joined 11 fellow Year 10 and 11 students from across the State for the intensive artistic development opportunity.

Bella Momentum is staged twice each year for selected students supported by The Smith Family who are currently studying art subjects – or whom possess a strong interest in artistic pursuits – to hone their interests and inspire their post-school arts-related career options.

Sydney secured her place at the workshop ahead of a statewide pool of applicants.

During the workshop, participants explored a diverse range of contemporary art-making techniques, including drawing, sculpture, installation, print making and performance.

The workshop was conducted under the supportive guidance of tutors and professional artists, who assisted students to create a strong body of artwork and build a portfolio.

“The Bella Momentum art workshop is now in its 13th year and, thanks to funding made available through the Macquarie Group Foundation, is opening doors to students to build self-confidence, develop their artistic talents and explore career paths available in the art world,” CEO of The Smith Family, Dr Lisa O’Brien said.

During their stay in Sydney, students were also treated to visits to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Chinatown and waxworks museum Madame Tussaud’s to further inspire their creativity.

At the workshop’s completion, participants were provided with the rare opportunity to present their works in a professional gallery exhibition at the MCA’s National Centre for Creative Learning for friends and family members. All Bella Momentum participants attend schools in communities in which The Smith Family is working to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged young people.

Bella Momentum is a collaboration between The Smith Family, MCA, Perpetual and Macquarie Group Foundation.

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Manning TAFE students recognised

FOUR Manning Valley residents won major awards at the institute-wide Student Recognition Awards, which recognises the top TAFE students from the 17 campuses on the North Coast.
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The awards acknowledged the efforts in 2014 of top-performing students studying either on-campus, on-the-job or online on the North Coast, across NSW and Australia.

North Coast TAFE’s Apprentice of the Year, Leigh Ryan, from Wingham, also won the North Coast TAFE Manufacturing and Engineering Student of the Year award.

The winning students from the Manning included Leigh Ryan, from Wingham, who received two awards for his achievements in the Certificate III in electrotechnology electrician: the overall apprentice of the year and the manufacturing and engineering student of the year.

Jessica Maher, from Taree, is North Coast TAFE’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the Year, thanks to her high achievements in community services work

Jessica Maher, from Taree, was awarded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student of the year for both her studies in Certificate IV in community services work and her achievements in community and the workplace.

From minimal user of technology to IT expert- Lei Bush, from Caffrey’s Flat, received North Coast TAFE’s IT Student of the Year Award.

Lei Bush, from Caffreys Flat, won the information technology student of the year award for her achievements in attaining the Certificate IV in digital media technologies, and Kaitlin Lefevre, from Rainbow Flat, received the tourism and hospitality student of the year award for outstanding achievement in completing her Certificate IV in travel and tourism.

Terrific at tourism- Kaitlin Lefevre, from Rainbow Flat, is North Coast TAFE’s overall Tourism and Hospitality Student of the Year.

Institute director Elizabeth McGregor said the awards night was an inspiring celebration of the vocational dreams and achievements of many North Coast TAFE students across the region.

“It’s a complete privilege for us in North Coast TAFE to have somehow been a part of these achievements,” Ms McGregor said.

The awards were held in the Osprey Restaurant, at Coffs Harbour Education Campus.

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Manning home in line for State award

The Manning Valley home boasts stunning views of the surrounding landscape.AN “OFF-GRID” Manning Valley home has led to a local architecture firm being nominated for a state wide award.
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Austin McFarland Architects, who won the 2011 NSW Architecture Awards’ Blacket Prize, have been shortlisted in the residential architecture (new houses) and sustainable architecture categories for a project house based on a 90 hectare property in the Manning Valley.

The practice and clients drew heavily on locally sourced materials and artisans to create the “off-grid”, winter home which has stunning views of the Manning Valley.

The timber and brick house relies on itself to generate power, collect water and process waste.

Other regional members of the Australian Institute of Architects to have been shortlisted include EN House, by Newcastle practice Derive Architecture and Design.

This addition to a small inner suburban Newcastle home was designed to minimise the project’s footprint in order to maximise the small backyard.

The design retained a significant portion of the existing building fabric, supplemented by locally sourced, recycled materials

The 2015 NSW Architecture Awards with winners to be announced in Sydney on Thursday, July 2.

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Taree’s first parkrun: fantastic!

155 park runners turned up for the first edition of the weekly Taree parkrun held along the Manning River foreshore.ORGANISERS of Taree’s first parkrun have one word to describe the first run of the weekly event – fantastic!
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“155 park runners turned up and 137 of these were first timers,” organiser Janelle Jefferies said.

“We had runners from as far as Brisbane, Tamworth, Newcastle, Penrith and Port Macquarie.”

Runners arrived as early as 7.30am to hear organiser Marg Lewis run over safety information, to thank sponsors and to welcome all those that had come along.

Organiser Marg Lewis explained safety and thanked sponsors and attendees for supporting the new event.

The run kicked off at 8am.

Runners’ ages ranged from 10-years-old to 69.

“We had a lady named Kathy from Penrith who has now run every parkrun in NSW,” Janelle said.

Janelle and Marg were delighted by the “positive vibes” shared on the day.

“I heard stories of runners high-fiving on the way past,” Janelle added, “and others meeting new people out on the course.”

The course started at Endeavour Place near Manning River Rowing Club and went along the Manning River foreshore to Martin Bridge and return, with two laps making up 5km.

Ready… set…. parkrun!

Some participants ran the entire track, while others paced themselves or walked along with prams.

Along the way participants enjoyed cheers and encouragement from volunteers.

“Our volunteers did a tremendous job considering it was all new to them,” said Janelle.

“We will always be looking for volunteers because without them we can’t continue to run the event.

“The benefit of being a volunteer is to ensure parkrun stays in Taree for years to come.

“Volunteers are given maximum points towards the annual points competition and after volunteering 25 times will be rewarded with a t-shirt. Volunteering is easy and loads of fun.”

At the end of the track participants received a token which was then scanned with their personalised printed out barcodes.

This ensures their run time is saved and sent out to them by email and displayed on the Taree results page.

Topping last weekend’s results was parkrun Australia’s communications manager/territory director Dave Robertson, who travelled from Newcastle for the event.

Many locals made the top 10.

Family fun: Brooke Huland of Wherrol Flat participated with her children Joshie, Holly and Joseph.

Janelle and Marg would like to thank Dave Robertson and Dave Appleby from parkrun Australia for their ongoing support and guidance.

Local sponsors assisting the weekly event are Club Taree, Hunter Medicare Local and MidCoast Podiatry, who were all present on the day either running or cheering.

Club Taree donated drink bottles and Hunter Medicare Local donated a Garmin watch that was raffled off.

The winner was Catrina Dawson of Port Macquarie, who said she would be giving it to her mother.

“My mother is an amazing woman who is on an incredible weight loss journey,” wrote Catrina on Taree parkrun’s Facebook.

“I have a dream that one day I will complete a parkrun with her and this Garmin is going to help the reality of that dream come true. Thank you again.”

The average time time taken to complete the course was 35 minutes and 23 seconds.

The event ran so smoothly few changes will need to be made for this week’s run.

“We will aim for a bit more signage and we will move our start line back a little, due to reports of the course being around 80 metres short,” Janelle explained.

“I think Taree has needed something like parkrun for a very long time and I can see it growing bigger and better.”

To keep updated like ‘Taree parkrun’ on Facebook. If you would like to participate this Saturday, register here http://梧桐夜网parkrun南京夜网419论坛/register/

The final message from organisers to participants is “don’t forget your barcode!”

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Happy 75th Martin Bridge!

HISTORY RECREATED: Thousands walked the bridge on Sunday May 17 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Martin Bridge. This was a recreation of the first community walk across Martin Bridge in 1940, on the same day 75 years ago.
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THE challenge was set by the Night Bazaar committee and organisers of the Martin Bridge 75th Anniversary.

The committee aimed to recreate the photo of thousands standing on Martin Bridge at the original bridge opening in 1940.

Not only was this challenge met on Sunday May 17, but numbers of bridge walkers exceeded organisers’ expectations.

“We estimate between 4000 to 5000 to have walked the bridge on Sunday,” Night Bazaar committee member Catherine Calvin said. “Although police on the day estimates slightly more.”

In the original photo 75 per cent of the bridge was filled with roughly 3500 in attendance. Organisers believe at one point during Sunday’s bridge walk Martin Bridge was 90 per cent filled with walkers.

The organisers were overjoyed by the support they received from the community.

“There was such a co-operative atmosphere,” Catherine said.

“It could have been difficult, but everyone was in the spirit of making it work.”

The walk ran so smoothly Taree police and SES volunteers were able to open the bridge earlier than expected.

The bridge walk was led by town crier Rod Illidge and Wingham circus group Circartus, creating a colourful display at the front of the crowd.

Those who were part of the original 1940 bridge walk or who had family relations there on the day, were also up the front.

These included Norma Cox (formerly Miss Wicks) who walked when she was 13-years-old, Glad Fernley (formerly Miss Murray) who walked when she was 11-years-old, John Doust who watched the bridge walk at age nine, Wendy McKeough who walked with her nana at four-years-old, Peter Dahdah who had been pushed along in a stroller by his parents, Eric Richardson OAM who went along with a bus load from his school in Wingham, and Harry Dryer, who was a boy scout. Norma Smith’s grandfather was the largest man in the original photograph.

Manning Valley Historical Society (MVHS) had captured their stories and others in the lead up to the day.

In collaboration with Greater Taree City Council (GTCC), MVHS had a historical display, which was a highly popular stall at the celebratory day markets.

“It was a wonderful family day out,” president of Manning Valley Historical Society Barbara Waters said.

“We had a lot of people asking questions and interested in the history of the bridge and the area.”

Manning Valley Business Chamber also saw similar success with those interested in its businesses old and new display.

The 65 market and food stalls on the day boomed with interested and buying customers, said Night Bazaar committee member Annette O’Rourke.

“So many of our food stalls sold out!” Annette said.

“It was great exposure for new businesses and stall holders.

“One lady commented to me ‘It is so nice to see what is available in our area – especially things we don’t always see around'”

Fotheringham Park was alive with old fashioned games provided by Catholic Care, children playing in the park and those enjoying the entertainment on the day.

Entertainment was selected by Night Bazaar committee member Rosie Smith.

“I like to choose acts that are dedicated, local and good at live performance,” Rosie said.

“Performing at events like this are great launch pads for artists, especially young acts like SOAR.”

Rosie had asked two of the acts Tasha Joy Burton and Wingsong to cover 1940s songs, she was amazed when they met the challenge.

Other bands on the day included Jay Davis Trio, Mojo Bluesman, Alyse Gray, The Undecided and Jim Bird.

Jim Bird and Luke Bottomley of Aurora Show Effects handled the music’s production.

The Bean Car cafe enjoyed a full house for most of the day with its recreation of the original menu from the bridge opening.

Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead enjoyed the menu’s delicacies including Manning Bridge consomm followed by rock bottom chicken and lifting sauce, finished with span trifle and bitumen cream with Pacific Highway jelly and muddy coffee.

Official proceedings of the day included Mayor Paul Hogan cutting the 75th anniversary cake, that was provided by Andy’s Cake Kitchen.

GTCC and MVHS’s historical display is now available to view at the bottom of the administration building. GTCC is currently working to the display available to view online.

The Night Bazaar team will return again in November for the next Taree Night Bazaar.

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Cycling road race doubt

THE LONG-term future of one of Australia’s oldest one-day road races is in doubt.
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Increased financial costs in relation to police escorting has seen Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club elect not to organise this year’s Melbourne to Ballarat roadrace.

Instead, Cycling Victoria and Ballarat Regional Tourism will join forces to ensure the 105th edition, scheduled for July 18, will continue as planned.

The cost of the event will almost double this year after new anti-terrorism laws dictate that police must not work alone.

The change in rules mean that numbers needed for escorting duties will be doubled, resulting in a cost increase from $8000 to around $14,000.

Cycling Victoria CEO Kipp Kaufmann hopes to confirm the running of the 2015 Melbourne to Ballarat by next week, before turning his attention towards the race’s long-term viability.

“It’s our intention that it will take place (this year),” Kaufmann said.

“We should have something over the next week that we can go forward with.

“We want to find the short term solution and then to ensure the long term viability of the race.

“The police are a criticalfactor.”

Kaufmann said that efforts would be made to lower the cost of the event, but reducing the number of escort cars from 10 (one per bunch) wasn’t a likely solution for the 100-kilometre handicap.

“Even reducing escort cars from 10 to nine would be pushing the boundary,” he said.

“Another option would be to reduce the numbers, but then you can start to compromise the integrity of the race.”

Ballarat Sebastopol board member and past Melbourne to Ballarat race director Don Stewart says the race has become “financially unviable” for the club, with traffic management also an issue.

“The Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club has been running it for the last five or six years,” he said.

“We have looked at various alternative routes but the club will definitely not be running it this year.”

The Melbourne to Ballarat is older than the prestigious Melbourne to Warrnambool, and even has cycling’s three grand tours in the Tour de France (101 editions), Giro d’Italia (98) and Vuelta a Espana (69) covered for age.

“Not a lot of events get to 100 years and it certainly sits in the most historic of the grand races in Australia,” Kaufmann said.

Kaufman said discussions hadn’t been opened in regards to the finishing point of this year’s race.

The race has finished at Kryal Castle since 2013.

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BFNL netball squad boost

Georgia Cann, captain.VERSATILE state league netballer Laura McDonald has been added to Ballarat’s interleague campaign.
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McDonald played for Lake Wendouree at the weekend, making her eligible for Ballarat Football Netball League selection ahead of its AFL Victorian Country Championship battle with Bendigo at Eastern Oval on Saturday.

The Sovereigns championship division player has experience alongside fellow Sovereign Jordyn Bibby (North Ballarat City) in goals, Erin Riley (Redan) in defence and with Sovereigns Kara Hart (Lake Wendouree) and Lauren Atkinson (East Point) through the centre-court.

McDonald’s inclusion boosts Ballarat’s VNL championship division player count to four to complement a string of Regional State League and former VNL players.

Bendigo was yet to confirm its squad at the time of print, but Ballarat coach Kate McMahon had confidence her players had the depth to adapt to anything thrown at them on court.

“We’ve focused on combinations and our ability to transition from defence to offence. We have a chance to do that really well,” McMahon said.

“We’ve got a lot of versatility.

“There are good netball players in this netball team.”

Ballarat used last week’s interleague training sessions to share ideas on combinations and work on movement and patterns.

Players are moving into more intense scratch matches to test their game this week.

OPEN TEAM: Georgia Cann, captain (Sebastopol), Lauren Atkinson, Lauren Jew (East Point), Melanie Allen, Molly Boyle, Kara Hart, Laura McDonald (Lake Wendouree), Jordyn Bibby, Stacey McCartin (North Ballarat City), Emma Henry, Erin Riley (Redan)

Coach: Kate McMahon

Assistant coach: Kirsty Walsh

Team manager: Narelle Perkins

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