Health Minister Brad Hazzard listened to the community on Maitland Hospital, and then responded.

ON October 31, 1901 –less than a year after n federation –NSW Parliament’s Upper House exercised itsconsiderable energies discussing an issue that few thought would be controversial –the Maitland HospitalEnabling Bill.

But controversial it ended up being.

The Bill called for funds raised by a Maitland Hospital committee to be diverted from maintaining the existing hospital, to build a new hospital. The government proposed matching the committee’s funds, pound for pound.

Reading Hansard from that day is like reading the Hansard of 116 years later, when the subject of Maitland Hospital has come up for debate.

Like debate in 2017, the 1901 Parliament was told that the existing hospital was “not at all suited tothe purposes for which a hospital is required” by a “very populous locality”.

Port Stephens-born MP Henry Dangar jumped to his feet during debate in 1901 to say he did “not propose to mix myself up in any of the squabbles that are apparently going on with regard to this Maitland Hospital”.

But the Bill eventually passed. The new hospital was built.

For at least the past six years the future of Maitland Hospital has been the subject of strong debate after a NSW Coalition campaign promise to build the facility. LaborMaitland MP Jenny Aitchison has made the new Maitland Hospital a key commitment since her election, with a prominent clock on her website counting off, by the second, the time since the Coalition promise.

As of Tuesday, it had been 2336 days since that promise. It was also the day NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard drew a line under the highly controversial public/private model announced in 2016, with a plan for a new $450 million hospital at Metford after a not-for-profit provider is “approached” to build and run it.

The announcement came only days after the government also ruled out a privatised Wyong Hospital.

There is much to commend in the new Maitland Hospital model –particularly cancer services –and it is clear Mr Hazzardhas consulted widely to address people’s quite reasonable concerns.

There are obvious questions that still need to be answered, but the minister deserves credit for listening to the community, and responding.

Issue: 38,542

Edgeworth goalkeeper Nate Cavaliere takes chance with both handsphotos

FLYING EAGLE: Edgeworth goalkeeper Nate Cavaliere in full flight during the FFA Cup. Picture: Max Mason-HubersOn paper at least,or from the outside, it might not have seemed the smartest of moves for Nate Cavaliere.

Nate Cavaliere’s leap of faith to Edgeworth rewarded | photos TweetFacebookThe 23-year-old goalkeeperhad spenttwo years in the shadow of veteran Brad Swancott atLambton Jaffas, but instead of moving down to a lower-ranked team in search of game time, Cavaliere went to the top.

Cavaliere joined Edgeworth, who had just finished a second season of domination in the Northern NSW National Premier League. Jim Fogarty had been the mainstay in goalsand even secured a short-term deal with the Newcastle Jets as injury cover last November.

Coach Damian Zane, though, was keen to increase competition for spots and Cavaliere was up for the challenge.

Fifteen games in, Cavaliere is statistically the bestin the NPL.

He has started in every game for the league-leading Eagles, whohave the best defensive record, with just 10 goals conceded. He also has seven clean sheets to have the NPL goalkeeping award all but secured, and he’s helped his team into the FFA Cup round of 32.

And all in his first full season of top-grade NPL action, a fact that most excites Zane.

“We didn’t promise him anything,” Zane said.“But he came in, Jim was away on holidays, and Nate got his shot and did nothing wrong.

“You could say it’s easy to keep your spot behind our defence but I said to the keepers, ‘any mistake will be getting punished’, justbecause they are all there and they want a fair go.

“But he hasn’t put a foot wrong and considering it’s his first year in first grade andgoalkeeping is all about experience, it’s exciting to think where he may be in a few years.”

Cavaliere was also highly valued at the Jaffas and was being groomed to take over from Swancott, who was expected to retire at the end of last season.However, the 37-year-old played on this year, prompting Cavaliere’s switch to the Eagles.

Cavaliere, though, had only gratitude for the Jaffas and was thankful for his time learning from Swancott.

“If you’ve got life in the legs, you want to keep going, so there’s no hard feelings there at all,” he said. “I’d be the same.”

Cavaliere, who spent three years at West Wallsend before joining Jaffas, said he had no expectations at Edgeworth.

“They give a lot of young players a chance out there and Zaney had always rewarded people for good performances,” he said. “I thought if I went there and did well, I’d get rewarded.”

He said standing behind the likes of Pat Wheeler and Josh Evans “makes my job easy” and he had quickly learned why the Eagles had become so successful.

“Just the attitude and atmosphere the players have,” he said.“It’s a never-say-die attitude and the training we put in, the intensity and quality is always there.Eventually that always shows on the pitch.”

Cavaliere, who works as a waiter and personal trainer,admitted to feeling intimidated initially training with the all-conquering squad but said they had welcomed himin and were “agreat bunch of lads”.

The Warners Bay junior has ambitions to play at a higher level but was focused on staying on top in his breakthrough season at the Eagles.

“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” he said.“I just want to keep my head down, do the right things at training, and hopefully it can continue.

”Usually at Edgeworth, which has been different than previous seasons for me, is sometimes you only get that one moment in games, and you’ve got to win it, so it’s a matter of staying focused for the whole 90.”

Tanya Plibersek meets with Hunter parents of children with disabilities and calls for royal commission

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek and Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon met with Hunter parents on Tuesday.HUNTER parents’ allegations of schools mistreating their children with disabilities has left deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek in “shock and sadness”.

Ms Plibersek, who is also shadow minister for education, met with University of Newcastle academic David Roy and parents on Tuesday to discuss theirexperiences and reinforce Labor’s calls fora royal commission on violence and abuse against people with disabilities.

“It’s absolutely vital to investigate and expose any instances of abuse and neglect of people with disabilities,” Ms Plibersek said. “It’scertainly as serious as [allegations of child sexual abuse in institutions] and it took a royal commission to understand the extent of those types of issues. Until you have this kind of opportunity I think you’re only looking at the tip of the iceberg. Royal commissions give an opportunity for people who have been voiceless or too frightened to have their stories heard. The second thing you hope for is systematic changes that prevent further abuse and the third thing is for people to know they are believed when they disclose.”

The government has saidframeworks in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) would address concerns within thedisability services sector.“The NDIS can’t solve historic issues of abuse and we shouldn’t expect it to,” Ms Pilbersek said.

Calls for a royal commission followthe Legislative Council inquiry into the provision of education to students with a disability or special needs in NSW schools, which has raised questions about inclusion;funding for students; and how the Department of Education managescomplaints.

“I’ve heard from so many parents and so many young people who have experienced abuse in schools or in educational settings that inevitably I’ve come to understand this is a very widespread problem,” she said. “The fact I personally know it’s widespread does not reduce the shock and sadness I feel when I hear these individual stories.”

Kerrie Fletcher said a school didn’t allow her son, who has autism spectrum disorder, to use the playground or attend excursions and regularly suspended him. “I thought I was an aberration because … you don’t realise there’s other people being treated like that too.”Her son moved toanother school, where he became dux. He is now at university.

Dr Roy said while the parliamentary inquiry could “change the future, a royal commission could heal the past”.

New Maitland Hospital public-private partnership shelved for not-for-profit sector involvement

A previous artist’s impression of what the new Maitland Hospital at Metford could look like. Picture: SuppliedThe state governmentwill seek a not-for-profit organisation tobuild and run the new Maitland Hospital, ditching controversial plans for a public-private partnership.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard will announce today that the government will adoptan arrangementmore like Newcastle’sCalvary Mater Hospital or Sydney’sSt Vincent’s Hospital, in a move that’s attracted the support of the n Medical Association.

The new plan likelymeans more money and services than what the government would have provided on its own, or under a PPP.

Mr Hazzard told Fairfax Media he wanted construction of the hospital to start before the end of this year–earlier than the previous mid-2018 estimate.

He hasasked the NSW Ministry of Health and Hunter New England Local Health Districtto“expedite the process”, with tenders sought from today. Construction is expected to create 1250 jobs over four years.

“I’m aiming to bring it on as quickly as possible,” Mr Hazzardsaid.

“Today, as Minister, I hit the start button. I want it underway ASAP.”

The not-for-profit organisation chosen will provide money to build and run the hospital on top of the $450 million the state has promised.

Chemotherapy, mental health,emergency, intensive care, palliative care, maternity and paediatric care, surgical theatres and inpatient surgical beds are planned for the new facility at Metford.

“There are a range of opportunitiesout there and I want to tap into that and really make some medical magic for the local community,” Mr Hazzardsaid.

“Under this arrangement, the NSW Government’s $450 million investment wouldbe combined with substantial funds from the successful not-for-profit provider to ensure the people of Maitland get first-class public health services that go beyond anything the government alone could deliver.”

The decision comes after the government scrapped plans for PPPs at Bowral and Wyong hospitals last week.

AMA NSW presidentProfessor Brad Frankum said the doctors’ union welcomed the decision, particularly the“commitment to a hospital being able to offer a significantly expanded range of services” in the Hunter.

“This is essential for the health of the community of Maitland and the surrounding districts,” he said.

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison said on Wednesday there were still major questions around the hospital that needed answers.

“I will continue to hold the government to account to deliver a hospital that is in the best interests of our community,” she said. “After six years, the community and staff deserve to know exactly what is on the table.”

beach report: Wednesday, July 12, 2017

SANDED UP: Sandy shorebreaks at Bar Beach. Picture: Dave AndersonBeach watchCLOUDY day on the beach, with some coastal showers about. The onshore winds are not strong enough to generate much of an increase.

Surf conditions will only be of average quality. Swell is from the south at 1 to 1.5m. Winds moderate south to south-east by the afternoon.

Tide islow for the early. Merewether and Nobbys the best options. Groms may sneak a wave on the high tide at the Cowrie Hole.

Swell too south for Port Stephens, so try North Stockton. Try Dudley, Blacksmiths and Caves to the south. Not the best of days for a swim, with Nobbys, Bar Beach and Merewether patrolled. The water temperature is 16 degrees.

– Dave Anderson

Hunter boatingWinds:Southerly 15 to 20 knots turning easterly 10 to 15 knots in the evening.

Seas:1 to 1.5 metres, decreasing to 1 metre around noon.

Swell:Southerly 1 to 1.5 metres.

Weather:Cloudy. 90 per cent chance of showers.

Newcastle shippingDepartures

Yesterday: Spring Brave 8.19am, Kind Salute 1.52pm, Sonja 2.50pm, MP Kamsarmax 1 3.15pm, CBDL Ivy 8.17pm, Navios Melodia 9.32pm, Taipower Prosperity VII 10pm. Today: Cemtex Prudence 12.15am, Kaguya 5.15am, Topas 5.30pm, Ince Point 6.30pm.


Yesterday: Taipower Prosperity VII 1.42am, Topas 4.20am, Kaguya 10.54am, Sen-oku 4.45pm, Unity Discovery 5.45pm, Formosabulk Brave 11.15pm. Today: Brilliant Century 12.15am, Ocean Aphrodite 1.15am, Ince Point 2am, RTM Dampier 7am, Century Wave 11.45am, Pedhoulas Trader 1.45pm.


Air qualityWallsendGood





George Michael paid for Deal or No Deal contestant’s IVF, says former executive producer

The story of George Michael funding the IVF treatment of a woman he saw on a game show is one of many reported random acts of kindness that have come to light following his death on Sunday.

A tweet from UK television presenter Richard Osman has been retweeted over 34,000 times after alleging the late singer donated £15,000 ($25,000) to a woman who appeared on Deal or No Deal, attempting to win that amount of money to fund her IVF treatment.

Osman, who worked as an executive producer on the game show, said the singer “secretly phoned” the next day to gift the woman the money. A woman on ‘Deal Or No Deal’ told us she needed £15k for IVF treatment. George Michael secretly phoned the next day and gave her the £15k.— Richard Osman (@richardosman) December 26, 2016

Although Osman did not reveal the identity of the woman, a woman named Lynette Gillard, from Bolton, England, saw the tweet and claimed to be the recipient.

The 38-year-old told the London Telegraph she received £9,000 from an anonymous donor after her then-husband appeared on a 2008 episode of Deal or No Deal but won less than the total amount needed for a round of IVF.

“For many years I wondered who would of been so generous and now I know,” Gillard said. “What more can I say other than thank you George.”

A spokesman for the game show would not confirm the donor’s identity to the Telegraph.

Osman’s story seemingly prompted others to report random acts of kindness and charity work the late singer performed anonymously.

One Twitter user said the singer worked at a homeless shelter, and asked his fellow volunteers to not tell anyone. Another said he saw him give a waitress a cheque for £25,000 ($43,000) to give to a woman who had been crying about her debt at the cafe after he had left. @richardosman he gave a stranger in a cafe £25k as she was crying over debt. Told the waitress to give her the cheque after he left.— VectorVictoria (@V3ct0rv1ct0r) December 26, 2016George Michael worked anonymously at a homeless shelter I was volunteering at. I’ve never told anyone, he asked we didn’t. That’s who he was— EMILYNE MONDO (@EmilyneMondo) December 26, 2016

The stories have not been confirmed.

In addition to his iconic music career, George Michael is being remembered for his philanthropy.

He was a dedicated supporter of AIDS sufferers charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, as well as UK confidential youth counselling service, Childline.

Fellow musician Billy Bragg reminded his Twitter followers on Boxing Day that the singer played free concerts open to any nurse working in the UK’s National Health Service to express his gratitude to those who looked after his late mother during her cancer battle. His support for the LGBTQ community, the NHS and the miners marked George Michael out as an activist as well as a great artist. pic.twitter成都夜网/tsKNp22Lr7— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) December 26, 2016

Traffic queues for kilometres on NSW coast due to crashes, holidaymakers

Holidaymakers were told to expect lengthy delays. Photo: Kate GeraghtyHeavy traffic and car accidents caused queues of more than 10 kilometres along parts of the NSW coast, adding an hour to road trips north and south, as people travelled from Sydney to popular holiday destinations.

Heading north from Sydney, heavy traffic from Mardi to Warnervale has returned to normal, along with traffic on the M1 Pacific Motorway from Kariong to Somersby.

Traffic has eased in Ryde, where all northbound lanes have opened again after a truck breakdown earlier in the afternoon.

On the north coast, a regular pinch point on the Pacific Highway at Macksville had a queue of 7 kilometres, adding 20 minutes of travel time, while further north at Woodburn, heavy traffic added 40 minutes of travel time heading north, with a 12-kilometre backlog.

On the south coast at Batemans Bay, eastbound traffic on the Kings Highway is queued around 2 kilometres, adding 10 minutes of travel time.

The Princes Highway had some of the heaviest traffic in the state, with congestion for cars heading south at Albion Park, Berry, Nowra and Milton.

Motorists were already extensively delayed heading south on the highway on Tuesday afternoon, before it was closed for an hour near Nowra after a crash involving five cars.

Emergency services were called to the Princes Highway at Tomerong just before 1.30pm, where they found a man and a woman still trapped in the cars.

The man, estimated to be in his early 20s, was thought to have a concussion, a NSW Ambulance spokesman said. The woman, also in her 20s, complained of chest and back pain.

Both were taken by ambulance to Shoalhaven Hospital in a stable condition.

As the pair were cut free on Tuesday afternoon, traffic was diverted around the crash site. A queue of 3 kilometres developed, expected to cause further delays.

Southbound traffic on the Princes Highway at Tomerong has returned to normal, also easing at Berry after having stretched for 11 kilometres. Traffic from Kanhooka to Albion Park had queued for 6 kilometres, and at Ulladulla, cars queued for 3 kilometres.

Traffic was also snagged northbound at Ulladulla, with a 2-kilometre queue adding 10 minutes to journeys. Earlier traffic on the Hume Highway from a grass fire at Douglas Park had cleared by the afternoon.

At Pembrooke, a crash involving several cars added 45 minutes to trips heading north, with a 9-kilometre queue.

The New England Highway at Tarro was another hotspot, with cars told to expect an extra 15 minutes for their journey.

A spokesman for the Transport Management Centre said motorists should expect “lengthy” delays.

“Motorists are being urged to factor in plenty of additional travel time when travelling on the state’s road network,” the spokesman said.

“Heavy traffic is highly likely due to traditionally heavy holiday traffic.”

The large numbers of people driving during the holiday season has translated to police writing tens of thousands of tickets for speeding.

NSW Police said in the past 10 days, 11,000 speeding infringement notices were issued – almost 2000 more than this time last year.

Six people have died on NSW roads since mid-December, which is five fewer than this time last year.

VIDEO: Soundbites delivers its awards for 2016

GIRL POWER: Angel Olsen delivered an emotive record about love with her fourth album My Woman. Picture: Meredith O’SheaINTERNATIONALLY 2016 will be remembered as annus horribilis in music. The yearlegends like David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Glenn Frey and George Michael shrugged off their mortal coils. However, there wasstill plenty to celebrate, both locally and abroad.

Soundbites brings you its awards for 2016.

BEST ALBUMMy Woman (Angel Olsen): The American songwriter has been promising a classic for several years and it arrived with her fourth album. Olsen embraced more pop sensibilities to great effect in the lead single Shut Up Kiss Me, but maintained her emotional exploration of folk, country and rock throughout, all backed by her stunning voice.

Notable mentions:A Moon Shaped Pool (Radiohead), Don’t Let The Kids Win (Julia Jacklin), Camp Cope (Camp Cope), Teens Of Denial (Car Seat Headrest).

BEST SINGLEVincent (Car Seat Headrest):American Will Toledo has been producing albums out of his bedroom at a rapid pace since 2010, (13 in six years, to be exact), but it was on Teens Of Denialthat he finally captured international acclaim. Lead single Vincent, about a man’s suffocating experienceat a party,was a direct indie rock assault that captured the tension of The Strokes intheir early 2000s prime.

Car Seat Headrest – VincentNotable mentions:Frankie Sinatra (The Avalanches), Shut Up Kiss Me (Angel Olsen), Coming Of Age (Julia Jacklin), Glad That You’re Gone (The Hard Aches).

BEST LOCAL ALBUMWilliam Crighton (William Crighton):Black, broodingandunmistakably n. After spending seven years trying to get the formula right, the Bellbird country-rock troubadour struck gold on his self-titled debut. His tales of killing pedophile priests, teen suicide, struggles with faith and love, and intense live performances, channelled darkna.

Notable mentions:Introverted Extroverts (The Gooch Palms), Deep Dark Savage Heart (Melody Pool), Raave Tapes (Raave Tapes), Chemical Miracle (Trophy Eyes).

BEST LOCAL SINGLELove, She Loves Me (Melody Pool):The Kurri Kurri songstress emerged from her battle with depression with a blistering attack on an ex-boyfriend that dropped the infamous line “she f—ks me like a demon.” Outside the cutting lyrics, Deep Dark Savage Heart’s lead single featured Pool’s most beautiful and epic arrangement, which was driven by lush strings. It signalled Pool’s shift from country troubadour to a more mature folkartist.

Notable mentions:Jesus Blues (William Crighton), Corridor (Raave Tapes), Sex Me (dave), You Wouldn’t Know (The Treehouse Children).

BEST LIVE SHOWThe Gooch Palms (Cambridge Hotel,September 10):This was the night Newcastle embraced its own brand of working class culture in its full glory. The Gooch Palms, home from Los Angeles to promote their second record Introverted Extroverts, delivered a raucous show full of colour, rock’n’roll frivolity, nudity and most importantly, catchy tunes. The freshly expanded Cambridge Hotel glass house added to the spectacle.

WILD RIDE: The Gooch Palms’ September show was full of colour and crazy antics. Picture: Sol Took This

Notable mentions: Courtney Barnett (Bar On The Hill,March 13), Sahara Beck (Lizotte’s,May 21), Morrissey (Civic Theatre,October 31), Garbage (Bimbadgen,December 3).

BEST NEW ACTRaave Tapes:The Newcastle three-piece began the year as a relatively unknown indie band, but will end 2016 rubbing shoulders with Illy, San Cisco and Pnau at the Cambridge Hotel’s New Year’s Eve Street Party.

NEW WAVE: Raave Tapes have swiftly become one of Newcastle’s hottest indie acts and earned multiple festival spots. Picture: Josh Leeson

Along the way Raave Tapes havejoined Newcastle’s No-Fi Records label, released their self-titled debut EP, become one of the city’s most popular local bands and earned festival spots at This That and Mountain Sounds. You can expect more from the psych rockers in 2017.

2017 PREDICTIONSWe might not be waiting long for 2017’s best showwith the legendary Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds scheduled to make their long-awaited debut at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre to support their harrowingalbum Skeleton Treeon January 22.

The boss himself,Bruce Springsteen, is also expected to provide a musical highlight when he rocks Hope Estate on February 18.

We could also finally see ex-Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies step out of Daniel Johns’ shadow when he launches his debut solo record early in the new year, in which he sings and playsmost instruments onthe album.

Novocastrian soul divas Zoe K and Kira Puru are also expected to release long-awaited new records.

Football year in review 2016: Tim Cahill, expansion and TV rights

Consolidation: FFA Chairman Steven Lowy and FFA CEO David Gallop. Photo: Don ArnoldStory of the year: 2016 was all about one man. It began with Tim Cahill criticising the lack of “vision” in the A-League in early February before signing in China, sparking a war of words with FFA chief executive David Gallop.

The ensuing six months were spent by the two patching up their relationship in preparation for the inevitable.

The FFA changed the rules for Cahill to play in the A-League, chipped in with $500,000 to make it happen before the veteran made it all seem worthwhile with a stunning debut in the Melbourne derby.

Issue of the year: At the start of 2016, Steven Lowy and David Gallop seemed more concerned with nursing the bruises dealt by active supporters during the bitter fan revolt months earlier than they did with growing the A-League.

Consolidating what they had rather than expanding what they could was the mantra of the governing body who had little faith a competition with several teams living hand to mouth.

They flirted briefly with a team from Southern Sydney but only at the expense of the underperforming Wellington Phoenix who were given a stay of execution with an incentivised licence extension. It did little to encourage the neutral over the FFA’s long-term relationship with football in New Zealand.

It took other parties to drag them to the table for the FFA to realise the immediate potential within domestic football, and several months later the governing body finally led the charge.  The smallest of mutterings of expansion sparked frenzies all over the country and before long the new management team were cooling interest rather than searching for it.

FFA were suddenly faced with the reality that expansion is a must as bids flooded in from around the country. Framework will be introduced early in 2017 and the upcoming months watched closely as two new teams will be brought in.

Controversy of the year: The future of the national teams looked bleak in 2016 after a series of failures at major youth tournaments.

The under-23 team failed to reach the Olympics yet again after bombing out of the group stage in the AFC Under-22 Championships. The under-19s had a similar fate, falling at the first hurdle of their Asian titles as did the under-16s who lost all three games at their continental championship.

Quote of the year: “I just need vision, I’ve never asked for anything but that. The only thing is, some people’s vision is not as big as mine and it’s tough,” Tim Cahill said of the A-League in February.

Match of the year: The only thing ns love more than a football fairytale is a sense of injustice.

That the Matildas penalty-shootout defeat to Brazil had an element of both made it the most captivating women’s football match in our country’s history.

Heartbreak: Alanna Kennedy is comforted after missing the final penalty in the Matildas’ loss to Brazil. Photo: Pedro Vilela

In prime-time back at home, the darlings of women’s sport in came so close to a great upset at the 2016 Olympics, only to fall victim to the spot-kick lottery. When Brazil goalkeeper Barbara was shown to have stepped off her line for vital saves, despair turned to outrage. In causing such a stir, it was an outcome that could prove pivotal to the growth of women’s football, just as the Socceroos’ 2006 World Cup exit did.

Flop of the year: In 2015, Terry Antonis was rightfully selected ahead of Aaron Mooy for the Asian Cup winning Socceroos’ squad.

In 2016, the midfielder spent just 172 minutes on the park after moving to Greek giants PAOK before being loaned to Veria where he was cast further into the shadows. Injuries, form and selection have all gone against the 23-year-old whose stocks have unfortunately plummeted since moving to Greece and who faces an uphill battle returning to the national team.

A prediction for next year: Socceroos to scrape into World Cup after Confederations Cup hammering.

Clubs enter bitter pay dispute with FFA over share of TV rights. Greater cash windfall fails to trim registration fees. Preference to broadcast wishes underpins controversial expansion selection. Wanderers to sign a high-profile marquee. Sydney FC to break silverware drought. Aaron Mooy lights up English Premier League after getting promoted with Huddersfield.

Why old-time immigrants are siding with Pauline Hanson and One Nation

Pauline Hanson in parliament. Photo: Andrew MearesIt started sometime between the second and third courses at Christmas lunch.

Fresh from swallowing a mouthful of herring and potato pancake, with another shakily loaded to go, he could no longer hold it in.

“How’s that Pauline, eh,” he said, gleefully defiant. Not a question, but a statement of victory.

“I’m glad she’s back. She’ll stir things up in the state election too. Can’t wait.”

My dad rode the One Nation wave in 1998 and was bitterly disappointed when it crashed not too long after.

The re-emergence of the party, particularly in his home state of Queensland, is thanks to people like him, who never stopped believing in the message – first.

It doesn’t bother him that he would not have been allowed in to Pauline Hanson’s version of .

Displaced by WWII, he fled Lithuania with my Oma, leaving behind family, wealth and status and grew up in refugee camps across Europe. Germany. Italy. Others. Tents and uncertainty were just a way of life.

After years of bureaucracy and paperwork, they hopped on a boat and hoped for the best, landing in Melbourne, and another displaced persons’ camp. They were lucky. They spoke enough English to pick up more quickly, changed their names to better suit n palates and began attempting to repay a country that would not truly accept them for decades.

As working class as they came, Dad could never vote Labor, having absorbed the “reds under the bed” message too deeply during his political awakening, while the memories of his childhood were still fresh.

A conservative voter through thick and thin, he became disillusioned during the early Howard years, when working all his life still saw him struggle to put food on the table for his three children.

And then along came a Queensland firebrand, who inarticulately articulated his anger and frustration, standing up and talking about the way things used to be and who was to blame for the change.

It didn’t matter that he spent his life forced to smile through being called “the wog” and “the mad Russian”, despite being neither, or refusing to teach his children the language he fought, laughed and loved his mother in, because he was insistent they be “fully n”, or that he too suffered the isolation, fear and anger directed at “the different”, until his accent faded enough to blend.

He assimilated. So why couldn’t they? He gave up everything. So why wouldn’t they?

Pauline Hanson said the things he felt. And now, almost two decades later, he feels she still does.

“She speaks her mind, she’s an agitator. What have the others ever given us? “They’re all rubbish. Rubbish. At least she’s different.” He was preparing for a fight.

It didn’t matter that all “the others” had given him was education and medical care for his children. A state school system which has led to affordable tertiary study and produced a journalist, a teacher and (almost) a lawyer.

A series of strokes saw him forced to give up work before he was ready, leaving him with no savings, and panic and frustration delivered along with every new bill.

He’s nostalgic for an that never existed, but especially never existed for him. And, like millions of others, he is willing to vote for anyone who offers a chance they’ll provide it. He voted for Palmer in the Senate at the last election. He would have voted Trump.

He’ll vote One Nation every chance he gets. It’s not Hanson’s policies, but her dialogue which attracts him. The “bloody academics” and the “bastard politicians” don’t understand that, he says.

“But they will. They’ll see.”  The polls, and the mood, are on his side.

And if nothing changes?

“At least we tried.  At least we tried to shake the system up. What are you doing?”

Christmas lunch rolled on. And so does the One Nation steam train, powered by people like my dad – beaten, but still desperate for a chance to fight.