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The $300b industry without an ombudsman

Australia should establish a Retail Ombudsman to “freely, quickly and fairly” resolve disputes between “ordinary Australians” and retailers, the Consumer Action Law Centre says.

The centre provides legal advice and financial counselling for disadvantaged people.

Acting CEO Denise Boyd said an external dispute resolution scheme for disputes over goods and services bought instore or online in Australia would give people “certainty and justice in their consumer interactions and build trust in our retail markets.”

“Although consumers have legal protections in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) such as consumer guarantees to a refund, replacement or repair when there is a problem with a purchased good or service, if the trader refuses to assist to resolve the dispute it is very difficult for the consumer to obtain justice,” Ms Boyd said in the centre’s pre-budget submission to Treasury.

Australians spend about $300 billion a year with retailers. Retail is the country’s biggest private sector employer, accounting for about 10 per cent of the workforce, according to Bureau of Statistics figures.

Ms Boyd said polling indicated 60 per cent of Australian would use a retail ombudsman if available.

She also noted that more than 20,000 shoppers complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about consumer guarantees in 2016, despite the ACCC being unable to take action on their behalf.

“There is a significant gap in ordinary Australians’ ability to seek justice in these cases because it is likely to involve complex, lengthy and quite possibly expensive legal action in courts or tribunals,” Ms Boyd said.

She said the scheme should be modelled on a scheme in the UK, where retailers choose to join, pay a fee depending on their size, and are able to apply to become vetted as a ‘trustworthy trader.’

The ombudsman would tackle disputes only after a person had tried to resolve it with the retailer directly. It would first try to reach an agreement between the parties; if an agreement couldn’t be reached, the ombudsman would make a binding ruling. Cut corporate tax rates and penalty rates, retail body says

But industry bodies, in their submissions to Treasury ahead of next month’s federal budget, make no mention of a retail ombudsman.

The Australian Retailers Association said the government should cut corporate tax rates, and “allow more flexible workplace laws and support penalty rate changes”.

“Investment levels are floundering despite low interest rates,” the ARA said. “Businesses need incentives and certainty to grow and employ more workers, which in turn, will support wage growth.”

Another industry body, the Retail Council, said while it recognised the need for budget repair, the Abbott government’s controversial first budget in 2014 “had a negative impact on consumer confidence.”

“From a retail perspective it is critical that the federal budget does not further crimp household incomes, especially for low income earners,” the council said.

“Low wages growth is a positive from an inflation perspective but is a potential drag on consumption spending and consumer confidence which are both key metrics for the retail sector.”

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Maitland City Council supports Woodberry Swamp study

A comprehensive study focusing on the hydrologic issues atWoodberry Swamp has resulted inrecommendations for managing water movement and water quality across the wetland.

Maitland City Council representatives form part of a steering group for the Woodberry Swamp Hydrological Study.

The results of the study were revealed at a recent council meeting with councillors voting to continue to work with Hunter Local Land Services and the Department of Primary Industries in developing management plans for Woodberry Swamp.

Woodberry Swamp is a low-lying floodplain and wetland area located on the western side of the Hunter River Estuary between Maitland and Hexham. It includes areas of permanent open water, wetlands and pastures.

A council report said that while the study does not prescribe a particular course of action, it is a pathway forward for developing viable and effective management plans for Woodberry Swamp.

The study recommends regular connection of Greenways Creek with the Hunter River to promote flushing which willprovide benefits to water quality. It also recommends clearing of some vegetation to improve day to day drainage of the floodplain.

“The issues of Woodberry Swamp cannot be resolved by council as the approvals and funding to clean channels must come from State government departments,” a report to the council meeting said.

Involved agencies and organisations are now considering a range of options that could be implemented across the Woodberry Swamp floodplain, particularly actions that would improve environmental and land management outcomes.

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Anwar Ibrahim to challenge sodomy sentence ahead of Malaysia elections

Bangkok: Malaysia’s former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has filed a new legal challenge to his five-year jail sentence on sodomy charges that are widely seen as politically-motivated.
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Mr Anwar’s conviction in Malaysia’s highest court in February 2015 barred him from running for office, in a crushing blow to the country’s opposition alliance that has since splintered.

The challenge comes after the country’s embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak urged supporters of his ruling coalition to take to social media ahead of elections he is likely to call this year.

“We have long been in defensive mode. Enough. It is now time to attack,” said Mr Najib, who has shrugged off his alleged involvement in a multibillion dollar corruption scandal.

According to global investigators Mr Najib received more than US$1 billion ($1.3 billion) in his personal bank accounts, much of which came from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he set up in 2009 and oversaw through an advisory committee.

Mr Najib, a close ally of successive Australian governments, denies any wrongdoing.

Human rights groups and many countries, including Australia, described Mr Anwar’s conviction as deeply concerning.

His new legal action seeks a civil court ruling to invalidate the conviction and order his immediate release from jail where he is held in isolation. He says he suffers from chronic back pain.

Mr Anwar names the government as the sole defendant in the action, claiming his key accuser at the trial was an untruthful witness and gave false testimony.

The action also claims the government fabricated DNA samples to support the prosecution.

“Anwar is an innocent man. We will prove his innocence in court,” Mr Anwar’s lawyer, N.Surendran told reporters.

Mr Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, said the action was filed because “a day spent in jail is cruelty for an innocent man”.

Previous attempts by Mr Anwar to prove his innocence in criminal courts have been dismissed, including by the Federal Court in December. His request for a royal pardon was rejected.

In 2015 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Mr Anwar’s imprisonment violated prohibitions on torture, or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. The group called for Mr Anwar’s release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

Malaysia’s colonial-era law which criminalises consensual sexual acts between people of the same sex has been condemned by the UN and Western countries, including Australia.

Australian barrister Mark Trowell, QC, who was a legal observer at Mr Anwar’s trial, said the verdict was “unconvincing and lacked a detailed analysis of the facts”.

“In reaching these conclusions the court rejected or ignored evidence that raised serious doubts about the reliability of so-called independent evidence and the credibility of the complainant,” Mr Trowell said at the time.

While Mr Anwar has been in jail, Mr Najib has used a slew of draconian laws to crackdown on citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly, including harassment, intimidation, arrest and prosecution of Mr Anwar’s supporters.

The 1MDB corruption scandal has been described as one of the world’s biggest frauds, with investigators in at least five countries, including the US, looking into money laundering and tax haven schemes stretching from Malaysia to Seychelles, the US, Singapore and Australia.

Mr Najib, the British-educated son of a former Malaysian prime minister, has held a firm grip on power as the scandal unfolded. He has the support of powerbrokers in his long-ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation, who have benefited from the party’s largesse.

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Twitter recasts movies without straight, white men

From #OscarsSoWhite to #BaftasSoWhite, it’s fairly well established that Hollywood still has something of a diversity problem. As a recent study that highlighted this exact problem put it, “The film industry still functions as a straight, white, boy’s club.”
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On the study, Vulture reports, “In an analysis of the 11,000 speaking parts that appeared in 2014 studio films and live-action scripted TV shows from the 2014-15 season, only one-third were female, and only 28 per cent were nonwhite. When female characters did appear, they were more than three times as likely as men to be sexualised. LGBT representation was even worse, with that community making up only 2 per cent of all speaking parts. Of those, only seven characters were trans ??? a minuscule .06 per cent, one-fifth as much as real-world estimates.”

And that’s leaving alone the white people who have played black roles.

So what can be changed? Well, aside from Geena Davis’ simple and effective advice of first switching some character names to women’s names, and second, making a crowd scene half-female, perhaps the Hollywood bigwigs could listen to Twitter, which, thanks to journalist Brian J. White, has spent the past couple of days brainstorming ways to recast movies with no straight, white men.

White kicked off proceedings like so: This is fun. Guys, recast your favorite movies/shows with the following rules: no straight white men. Genderflipping is encouraged.??? Brian J. White (@talkwordy) April 15, 2017Young Batman, played by Oscar Issac. Lupita Nyong’o is Robin. Daniel Wu is Lieutenant James Gordan. John Boyega is Assistant DA Harvey Dent.??? Brian J. White (@talkwordy) April 15, 2017The Justice League, but everyone is Wonder Woman.

DC, call me.??? Brian J. White (@talkwordy) April 15, 2017Maverick: Felicity Jones Goose: Kate McKinnon Iceman: Zoe Saldana Viper: Cher Guy who says “rubber dogshit out of Hong Kong”: Ian McKellen https://t.co/yfh5ZoNPVS??? Ty Schalter (@tyschalter) April 16, 2017The A-Team: Hannibal Smith – Janelle Monae Murdock – Kristen Stewart BA Baracus – Rutina Wesley Face – Maggie Q https://t.co/hjQkm0X2uu??? Tristina Wright (@TristinaWright) April 16, 2017Grace Jones is the goblin queen and she has stolen Blue Ivy from her big bro Alfred Enoch https://t.co/s82fCoksQ1??? SarahTheRebel (@SarahTheRebel) April 16, 2017Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ferris = Rosario Dawson, Cameron = Winona Ryder, Rooney = Samuel L Jackson https://t.co/425TDhR8M8??? SmallRabbit (@smallrabbit) April 16, 2017Harry: Dev Patel Ron: John Boyega Hermione: Cherrelle Skeete Ginny: Lindsey Morgan Neville: Hayden Szeto Luna: Alisha Boe https://t.co/a3FWjAf99U??? Britt Rivera (@kindamoviesnob) April 16, 2017Usual Suspects. Viola Davis, Robin Wright, Uzo Aduba, Gina Torres, Kathy Bates.

Octavia Spencer is Keyser S??ze. OR IS SHE?! https://t.co/tRAFgBkca2??? Raychelle Burks (@DrRubidium) April 16, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Emotions high as Mitchell pushes for first encounter with Hawks

Star West Coast recruit Sam Mitchell is making a rapid recovery from an ankle injury in time for what looms as an emotional first outing against his old club Hawthorn in Melbourne on Sunday.
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Mitchell and Eagles coach Adam Simpson are expected to make an early call on whether the highly-decorated former superstar Hawk will be fit to take on his four-time premiership teammates at the MCG.

West Coast is also likely to get Jack Darling back from an ankle injury.

The big forward missed last Thursday’s win over Sydney in Perth with strained tendons in his left ankle he suffered in the team’s round three loss to Richmond in Melbourne.

Simpson said in his weekly Channel Seven interview on Monday night his gun recruit was “touch and go” to play his first game against his old club since his shock trade last October just days after winning his fifth Hawks club champion award.

Simpson said the 10-day break between last Thursday, when Mitchell was kicked in the lower left leg by a swinging foot from teammate Jack Redden, and Sunday’s crucial clash could significantly aid Mitchell’s recovery.

The four-time Hawks premiership midfielder is understood to have undertaken extensive treatment over the Easter weekend, including hourly icing of his lower leg as well as hobbling around on crutches to reduce weight on his injury.

Mitchell reported substantial improvement to Simpson on Monday afternoon.

“He was in doubt over the weekend,” Simpson disclosed.

“But he’s pulled up really well. The 10-day break is really going to help him.

“I don’t think we’ll play any games… If he’s not right we’ll declare it as early as we can.

“But I do want to give him as much time as I can.”

Simpson admitted Sunday’s showdown with Mitchell’s accomplished teammates could prove substantially emotional for the 34-year-old.

“I don’t want to overplay it,” Simpson said.

“It will be a big moment for him.”

Simpson and his Eagles also confront an alarmingly poor win-loss record at football headquarters where premierships are decided.

West Coast has a 38 per cent winning ratio at the “G” after 30 wins and 48 losses.

Since Simpson took over in 2014, the Eagles have notched three wins from eight trips, including successive losses to the Hawks, both by 46 points, in the 2015 Grand Final and last year’s round two re-match.

“More importantly it’s a big moment… travelling to the MCG again and playing a team that is on the ropes,” Simpson said.

“We know how important the game is for both clubs.”

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Australian had ‘no idea’ his book would be read at Trump’s first Easter Egg Roll

It would probably send a lot of other authors hopping mad.
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But when Australian children’s author Adam Wallace discovered Donald Trump’s chief spin doctor had co-opted his words in order to project a more family-friendly image during Washington’s Easter celebrations, he was more amused than anything else. After all, any publicity is good publicity.

Every year, thousands of children and their parents flock to the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll. As part of the festivities, a number of key players in American politics – including the first lady – read to groups of children.

For Trump’s first Easter Egg Roll, press secretary Sean Spicer ditched the Easter bunny costume in favour of a suit and speckled tie in order to put his communication skills to good use.

Carrying a copy of How to Catch the Easter bunny, Spicer – who is usually in front of television camera yelling at journalists for telling the truth – enlisted the help of a dapper child to read to everyone present.

The book’s author, Melbourne-based writer Adam Wallace, had no idea his book was chosen for the Easter festivities. In fact, he only found out about the picture book being selected after he was contacted by Fairfax Media.

“I had no idea at all,” he said. “It’s a massive shock. My publisher has been really good at getting my books out there… bizarre things are happening that I never would have expected. But this is all a bit out of the blue.”

One of Wallace’s previous books, How to Catch A Leprechaun, was a New York Times bestseller. He suspects this might have something to do with his Easter-themed picture book – illustrated by Andy Elkerton – was picked up by the White House.

Wallace admitted he didn’t have very strong opinions on Donald Trump, simply because he doesn’t watch much news. “It’s too depressing,” he said.

However, he did point out that maybe Sean Spicer is the best person to read How to Catch the Easter Bunny because it “might show a different side to him”.

“As an author, one of the biggest things is just having your books seen,” he said. “I do a lot of school visits and that sort of thing, but you can only go to so many schools over a year. I don’t know if it’s good publicity or bad publicity [to be associated with the Trump administration], but it seems good.”

Spicer appeared initially uncomfortable during the storytime session, but eventually relaxed into his role after commenting on one of the audience member’s bunny ears. But that didn’t stop the press secretary from being roasted on social media, with last week’s Holocaust-gaffe still fresh in people’s minds. Cute of this kid to teach Sean Spicer how to read #EasterEggRollpic.twitter南京夜网/bO4hyFecJv??? Aaron Matthews (@AaronLMatthews) April 17, 2017″You in the bunny ears stop shaking your head at me. That is how the Easter Bunny was caught!” @[email protected]#EasterEggRollpic.twitter南京夜网/tM4gLUyzmm??? Amelia Rustaey (@RustaeyAmelia) April 17, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Newcastle defend title with new-look squad

IMPORTED: Canadian Felix-Antoine Poulin is a defenceman with a knack of scoring goals. Picture: Skip Hickey/SkipsPics The Newcastle Northstars will chase a third consecutive Australian Ice Hockey League title with a new array of imports, but coach Andrew Petrie says his local players again will hold the key to the club’s fortunes.
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Last year’s leagueleading scorer, Connor McLaughlin, and fellow imports Scott Swiston andBrandon Greenside have left the club. In come Canadians Matt Marantz, Steve Kuhn and Felix-Antoine Poulin and American Joe Harcharik.

The club has also lost goaltender Dayne Davis but recruitedAustralian representative Charlie Smart from Sydney Ice Dogs to compete with fellow youngster Nick Mizen for a starting role.

Newcastle, who have changed their nickname from North Stars to Northstars, had five players in the Australian Mighty Roos squad thatwon silver in the Division II Group A world titles this month in Romania.

Captain Bert Malloy, Mat Lindsay,Beau Taylor, Pat Nadin and Smart were in the squad. John Kennedy Jr, who became an Australian citizen in January, was picked but hadfamily commitments.

The Northstars have won six Goodall Cups in 14 seasons, a consistency which suggeststheir success has as much to do with their cast of Australian players as the star qualities of their imports.

“That’s precisely what the key to the success is,” Petrie said.“You want to build a working culture of success and camaraderie, and then complement that with the right set of imports.

“Seeing so many of them get called up to the national team is really gratifying.”

Marantz, a six-foot criminology graduate from Calgary, is a centre who playedfive years with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs and a close friendofKuhn’s.

Kuhn played last season with Neuilly-sur-Marne Bisons in the French second tier with former Northstars MVP Geordie Wudrick.

Poulin is a goal-scoring defenceman whohas two seasons of pro hockey behind him, in the East Coast Hockey League withAlaska Aces and in the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League with Dundee Stars.He ledthe EIHL in goals for all defencemen with 17 and had32 assists.

“Felix has good size, great mobility and vision and has an elite-level shot,” Petrie told the AIHL website.

“He’s got a natural flair for jumping up into the offence.”

Harcharik, who will miss this weekend’s season-opening double-header in Adelaide and Perth, was sixth on the AIHL offensive charts when he played with the Sydney Bears in 2015.

The Northstars will launch their season with a Skate with the Champions evening on Wednesday from 6 to 8pm at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium. Stadium entry and skate hire will be free.

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RSL outraged at ‘silent disco’ on Anzac Day eve

RSL outraged at ‘silent disco’ on Anzac Day eve The flyer posted to the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.
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The post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

The flyer posted to the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

TweetFacebookA “silent disco” planned for the eve of Anzac Day has sparked debate in Bendigo with the Bendigo District RSL labeling the promotion as “inappropriate”.

Theevent at Universal Bendigo was described on the nightclub’s Facebook page as “A Minute of Silence… No… It Deserves a Night of Silence!!! ANZAC EVE…. SILENT DISCO!!!”

It is scheduled for the evening on Monday, April 24, with “three DJs to choose, hundreds of tunes and complete silence!”.

Bendigo District RSL president Cliff Richards said the way animageof a soldier and poppies was used in the flyer promoting the event was “disgusting”.

“It’s highly inappropriate this company has done this,” he said.

“As far as theBendigo District RSL is concerned, it’s certainly an inappropriate act to use the word ‘Anzac’ and images of poppies when promoting a disco.”

Mr Richards said Anzac Day was a day of national pride, not a day to advertisea disco.

The Universal Bendigo nightclub in McCrae Street.

The Facebook post, which was removed this morning, wasslammed by users when the event flyer was posted just after 5pm yesterday.

“Absolutely despicable. Me and my comrades are offended for those who lost their lives for this country. It’s not party time. Disrespectful and ignorant,” one Facebook user wrote.

“Come to the war memorial and talk about the 102,000 Australians that have lost their lives and talk to their families.”

Another called for the Universal to remove “this entire joke of a post” and make a formal apology.

Not everyone was offended, with a number of Facebook users tagging people and saying they would attend.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Penalties apply for the incorrect use of the word ‘Anzac’ under theProtection of Word ‘Anzac’ Act 1920 actand permission from the Veterans’ Affairs minister is generally required to use the word in a commercial context.

However, the words ‘Anzac Day’ may be used in connection with certain events or entertainment held on April 25, or on consecutive days including Anzac Day, withoutpermission.

The Bendigo Advertiser is seeking comment from Universal Bendigo.

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‘I couldn’t breathe’: Australian sisters injured in acid attack at London nightclub

An Australian woman who was injured in an acid attack at a London nightclub says she feared she had been caught up in a terrorist attack when chaos erupted inside the venue.
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Sydney woman Isobella Fraser, 22, and her sister Prue, 20, were with friends in the Mangle E8 nightclub in Dalston, east London, early on Monday morning when a fight broke out between a group of people standing nearby.

Isobella said she saw someone use a drink bottle to splash two men in the face with a liquid, which also splashed on her, her sister and others standing around them. Police say 12 people were injured when the corrosive substance was thrown.

“It just sort of went everywhere,” Isobella told Channel 7.

“I couldn’t breathe. I thought we were getting gassed, I thought it was a terrorist attack or something … I was freaking out just because of all the things that have been happening.

“I actually couldn’t breathe and I was coughing, and yeah, I just felt this thing on my arm, and I realised it was some sort of acid. It was pretty crazy.”

Isobella, who is a model, was burnt on her arm and on her back, while Prue was burnt on her arm. They took themselves to hospital for treatment.

Isobella said her shirt stuck to her skin when the acid hit, and the fabric had to be picked out of her wounds. But she said her injuries “could be worse”.

“They’re very painful, but I didn’t get it on the face or anything like other people did, in the eye, and apparently some people can’t see, which is really bad,” she said.

Prue said “everyone was crying” when they realised what had happened.

“It was horrific. Just the thought of it now is quite stressful,” she said.

Police said two men aged in their 20s were the most seriously injured, and remained in hospital. No one has been arrested over the attack.

“The substance is yet to be identified, but it is believed to have been acidic,” police said in a statement.

Another of the injured was Sadie Wright, the cousin of former Premier League footballer Jamie O’Hara.

O’Hara tweeted a photo of Ms Wright’s injuries, and described the attack as a “sick act of violence”. sick that my cousin got burnt from this acid attack in hackney,innocent people get injured for the sick act of violence,guy should get life pic.twitter南京夜网/gysgljLpuO??? Jamie Ohara (@Mrjamieohara1) April 17, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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A second roll up for Aberdare bowls site

VACANT: The site of the Cessnock City Bowling Club, which burned down in 2010.The future of the former Cessnock City Bowling Club site has become clearer –and it’s unlikely tocontain a major fast food outlet.
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Cessnock Councilwill ask the NSWDepartment of Planning and Environment to change thezoning at the Aberdare site to allow a greater range of development on the land.

The site is currently zoned for privaterecreational use only.

Council believes the zoning should be changed to B1 Neighbourhood Centre, which would allow developments such as accommodation, business premises, a cafe, houses,shops or a medical centre.

A motion to change the zoning at the March 15 council meeting was not supported by the majority of councillors.

But Crs Bob Pynsent,Di Fitzgibbon and Rod Doherty moved to reversethat decision at the April 6 meeting.

Their new motion had an additional requirement – torestrictthe floor space of any cafe or restaurantdevelopmentto 150 square metres.

Thatwould ruleout a major fast food development, such as the KFC that was proposed for the site in 2014.

Council papers show the landowner took his KFC proposal off the table last July.

Cr Fitzgibbonsaid the site sat as “an ugly wart on the edge of town” since the bowling club burned down in 2010.

She said council did not want to buy the land.

“Council already takes care of 126 parks, playgrounds andsports fields,” Cr Fitzgibbon said.

“If we waste money on land that we don’t need then how do we address other issues?”

Cr Fitzgibbon said restricting the area to recreational use stood in the way of jobs and progress.

“It sends a bad message to people who are willing to invest in the city,” she said.

Cr Pynsent said keeping the site as recreational only“sterilised the land”.

Cr Doherty pointed out that if the building had not burned down in 2010 it would still be operating as a licensed premises.

Meanwhile, Cr Allan Stapleford said that council did not buy the land, so itshould not putany development restrictions on the owner.

But CrIan Olsen did not want the zoning changed.

He saidit was always council’sintention to keep that part of town asa sporting precinct.

Cr Olsen said he didn’t see why there needed to be any development on thesite.

“The residents don’t want it, the schools don’t want it, the sporting organisations don’t want it,” he said. “I don’t know what we’re going to end up with up there.”

Related contentKFC lodges rezoning proposal for former bowls site

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