Monthly Archives: February 2019

NBN expert Paul Budde laments ‘second-rate’ network

LUCK OF THE DRAW: Paul Budde says 30 per cent of customers are encountering problems with the national broadband network. Independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde says ’s “second-rate” broadband network will continue to inflict pain onresidents like Marks Point’s Gail Henderson.
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The Newcastle Herald reported last week that Ms Henderson had been without a phone and internet connection for 11 days after also suffering from slow download speeds since switching to the NBN in February.

Her time without a connection has now stretched to 16 days after an NBN technician spent two hours inside and outside her Haddon Crescent house on Thursdayonly to conclude the problem lay with her modem.

She said on Tuesday that she was “back on the Optus merry-go-round” of the company’s customer-service line, although she was expecting to receive a new modem some time this week.

“I’m still not connected. It’s just too hard [for them]. I’m still working on this stupid damn dongle. I’ve still got no streaming, no nothing,” she said.

“I think it’s important that someone has to be held accountable for this. Who’s going to fix this shambles we’re in?”

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman recorded a sharp rise in NBN-related complaints in the 2016-17 financial year, a jump exceeding the increase in the number of homes being connected to the network.

STILL OFFLINE: Gail Henderson has entered her third week without an internet and phone connection.

Ms Henderson’s plight struck a chord with other customers in the Hunter, including some who complained on the Herald’s Facebook page about waiting months for their house to be connected to the network, being brought to tears by “hopeless” customer service and struggling to watch television streaming services due to repeated internet dropouts.

Several said they had been without an internet connection for months, and one woman said she worked for a business which had been without phones and internet since February.

Mr Buddesaid customers across would continue to encounter problems if their houses had old copper phone wires.

“The underlying problem is the network is a second-rate network,” he said.

“If you start mixing old technologies with new technologies, then you’re asking for trouble, and that’s what’s happening.”

He said about 30 per cent of people trying to connect to the NBN were encountering problems.

Paul Budde

“If you are luckyand you live in an area with good-quality copper, then you are better off than if you are in an area where youhave copper networks that are 30, 40, 50 years old.

“The second part of the problem is that if you had the previous internet connection, ADSL, then quite often you don’t notice any positive difference if you get the NBN.

“So people are disappointed once they get the NBN that it’s not much better than what they had before.”

Mr Budde said a “minority” of connectionissues could be linked to outdated equipment inside houses.

“If you’ve got a super-duper sort of connection and you have old modems or routers in your house, then that could cause a problem, too.

“That is a possibility, that the inside modem becomes the weakest link. But I think that would be the minority of problems.

“The majority is the underlying network, particularly people you talk about who are disconnected for weeks and months.

“That has nothing to do with your side of the network. That has everything to do with the fact NBN Co faces the problems they get with old networks that have been waterlogged or been cut into a million pieces over the 30, 40 years and repaired. That all brings the quality of the network down.

“Then you need to put in morenew copper network, and that’s the 30 per cent of the population that’sfacing that sort of problem.”

NBN has placed more than 300,000“not ready to connect”houses on ato-do list–some will have to wait until 2020 to join the network–and itwill have to decide whether to swap their old wireswith new copper or fibre.

“In one street you can have one house with a terrible connection and another with a perfect connection,” Mr Budde said.

“Of course, some areas you can say the network is so old that the whole street is bad. But equally there are lots of situations that are on a house-by-house basis.

“That’s when the problem occurs and you’ve got weeks and months without a connection, because it’s not a quick fix in the exchange. It’s then physically looking at the network and finding a solution.”

Mr Budde said NBN Co’s decision to cut wholesale prices for faster broadband by up to a quarter would deliver a better NBN experience for customers when it came into effect this year.

“That’s a huge improvement, because then you start seeing the difference between the old network and the new. You start seeing a much better-quality network for an affordable price.”

Some telcos were already offering discounted prices, and he urged customers to ask for a better deal.

Read more

Customer stages sit-in at Telstra store

NBN Co apologises …18 months ago

Lobby group says the system is broken

Dialing up the pain in Islington

Stuck in the slow lane

Vodafone offers back-up 4G service

Questions over‘local’ NBN support service

Telstra offering compensation over slow speeds

Why we’re slower than Kenya

Hunter complaints spiral

The lighter (and darker) side of NBN complaints

Bad start at Redhead

Business demands answers

Speed tests forced on telcos

NBN Co launches cut-price deals

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Sydney and Melbourne home prices fall, more declines tipped for 2018

National property markets ended 2017 with a whimper, with half of ‘s capital cities recording falling house prices in December.
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These declines are likely to continue over 2018 and 2019, with research house CoreLogic predicting falls of about 7 per cent for Sydney and Melbourne.

Sydney’s home prices dropped by almost 0.9 per cent in the last month of the year, making it the joint-weakest capital with Darwin.

Over the quarter, Sydney prices were down 2.1 per cent. Its property prices are now 2.2 per cent below the market’s peak in August 2017.

This is in stark contrast to price growth of more than 17 per cent in mid-2017, CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said.

The median house price in the harbour city is now $1,058,306, with a median apartment value of $774,124.

“Sydney’s housing market has become the most significant drag on the headline growth figures,” Mr Lawless said, with capital cities down 0.4 per cent on average over the month.

Melbourne also saw monthly declines, down 0.2 per cent. Its median house price is $832,735, with a median apartment price of $574,052.

The lacklustre results were expected to continue for both cities over 2018, which was “likely to be significantly different” to the boom cycle of the past few years, Mr Lawless said.

“We’re likely to see lower to negative growth rates across previously strong markets, more cautious buyers, and ongoing regulator vigilance of credit standards and investor activity,” he said.

“There’s going to be a negative growth rate, probably most similar to the 2000 to 2003 [time period] when prices fell by about 7 per cent.”

Other experts are predicting declines for the harbour city of 3 to 10 per cent.

Mr Lawless expected the “peak to trough” period to take 12 to 18 months for Sydney, and a similar period of time for Melbourne – though he said the falls in the latter city would be less pronounced.

“The market peaked in August for Sydney, so we’ve already seen four months of the slowdown,” he said.

Some markets are showing resilience. Relatively affordable regions, such as the Central Coast and the south-western suburbs of Sydney were better placed than the inner suburbs to hold their value due to interest from first-home buyers, Mr Lawless said. !function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”https://e.infogram苏州夜总会招聘/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”);

The annual number of sales can drop by up to a quarter from peak to trough in a property cycle.

Mr Lawless expected to see regulators and policymakers encouraging highly indebted households to reduce their exposure while interest rates were low, and warned that future borrowers, particularly investors, “may find securing a mortgage won’t get any easier in 2018”.

Brisbane was flat over the month, Perth property prices declined 0.1 per cent, Adelaide and Canberra grew 0.2 per cent, while Hobart was the top performer with 1.2 per cent growth.

A tighter labour market was expected to help Queensland, Western and South , where house prices have been sluggish or falling for several years.

Over the year, all capital cities except Perth and Darwin recorded growth.

Hobart, Melbourne and Canberra had the strongest growth, up 12.3 per cent, 8.9 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively. !function(e,t,s,i){var n=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement(“script”);a.async=1,,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”,”https://e.infogram苏州夜总会招聘/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js”);

Sydney recorded 3.1 per cent growth on an annual basis.

“While the headline figures are set to weaken, below the surface the individual cities and regions of will continue to operate under their own distinct cycles which are subject to more localised forces of demand and supply,” Mr Lawless said.

High migration, particularly into Victoria and NSW, was likely to remain a key driver of housing demand.

Low interest rates and support for first-home buyers “are providing some support and should help ensure only moderate price falls”, AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said in a research note describing a crash as “unlikely”.

He said Sydney and Melbourne prices would fall by about 5 per cent over 2018.

BIS Oxford Economics senior manager residential Angie Zigomanis expected prices could fall as much as 10 per cent in Sydney over the next two years in a “worst-case scenario” though said a 3 per cent decline over 2018 was more likely.

This was largely thanks to the restrictions placed on investors by the banking regulator, the n Prudential Regulation Authority, putting a “handbrake” on these buyers.

“Investors are a big contributor to price growth in Sydney and this will stop them from paying the premiums they have in the past,” he said.

“Melbourne seems to be holding up a bit stronger … we expect there will be low single-digit growth of around 2 per cent next year.”

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‘My mum has inherited $1m but would prefer to keep the pension’

My grandmother has recently passed and my mother stands to inherit a sum of money, about $1 million. My mother has said she does not want to lose her disability pension which I know sounds strange as she would be able to live quite comfortably without relying on government benefits. But unfortunately my mother is not that educated and has been on the pension for most of her life. I have tried to explain to her that she will more than likely lose her pension with the amount of money she stands to inherit. It would be greatly appreciated if you could offer advice of any sort to give us some clarity and direction. Mum has three daughters: myself (47, single, full-time worker, no dependants, no government benefits); Middle sister (46, married, one dependant, on government benefits); and youngest sister (40, single, three dependants, on government benefits). Mum also has eight grandchildren in total. Is it possible for the inheritance to be distributed to others to lessen her asset pool, therefore possibly being able to retain her pension? J.H.
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If your grandmother had decided to bequeath her assets to her grandchildren or great grandchildren, then the money would have skipped a generation or two. However, your two sisters might have found they would lose their welfare benefits, depending on their incomes.

Even if she does not want it, under the law your mother is the rightful owner of the assets, which is important if someone were to pipe up and say “No, the money is mine!”

You can explain to your mother that society, in the form of taxpayers like me, have been supporting her for most of her life, which is fair enough, I think society should support poor disabled people. But now that she can support herself with $1 million, the law requires her to do so.

As a long-term pension disability pensioner, its possible she has not been able to buy a home of her own, which she can now consider, or even build a granny flat on one of her daughters’ homes. If the latter, you should talk to Centrelink about their granny flat rules, which allow a certain amount to be used to buy or build the flat and that amount is then exempt from the means tests. If she buys a home or a home unit for herself, the value of this will be exempt from the means tests for the pension.

She could, if she wanted, give all the money away, in which case Centrelink’s means tests would count it for the next five years under the gifting rules and then she could apply again for welfare benefits, presumably the age pension. (The gifting rules allow her to gift up to $10,000 a year up to $30,000 in five years.) But that would mean she could not buy generous birthday and Christmas presents for her children and grandchildren, could not help pay for education where it is needed, or help them financially where they are struggling, all within the gifting rule above.

Your mother has 14 days from receipt of the money to notify Centrelink and if she intends to buy a home, she should also disclose this.

I turn 60 in December and am a retired, single female. I own my apartment, value $900,000 and currently have two super funds – First State Super, accumulation $14,300, pension $164,500. From the latter, I draw $289 a fortnight. My second super fund is a wrap account, current value $352,700, invested in blue chip shares and I draw $2500 a month from this. A $210 fee is paid to an advisor, which I understand is tax deductible. I have $229,600 in shares, outside of super with a total value of $760,000. I know I should combine my super into one account. I have read in your column that you do not like wrap accounts. This is my dilemma. I have spoken to both funds. I have put this decision off for too long. I get mixed messages from both funds. I have a financially independent 25-year-old son. Does FSS take 20 per cent tax on my super when I die, and wrap is tax free? I can’t get a straight answer. My gut feeling tells me to put all into FSS as it is more diversified in our 2017 economic times. I live month to month with bills, always having $500-$1000 sitting on my credit card. I would like to receive fortnightly payments of $1600. I know everything changes when I turn 60. K.H.

You are receiving $37,500 a year or 7.25 per cent of assets from your two super funds, plus about $9000 a year in dividends from your non-super share portfolio. This implies you are netting some $47,000 a year after receiving a rebate of around $500 in unused franking credits, assuming all your super pensions have been taxable, but with a 15 per cent tax offset, and also assuming a 4 per cent fully franked dividend yield.

Once you turn 60, you cease paying tax on your super pensions and your remaining income should fall within the tax-free general concession of $18,200, so you should still not have any tax to pay, based on the above figures, and will also be able to reclaim all your franking credits, taking your total income to around $50,000.

If you were to increase your super pensions to $1600 a fortnight, or $41,600 a year, this amounts to 8 per cent of your super balances. The minimum you must take from a super pension while aged 55 to 64 is 4 per cent, so you would be drawing double the minimum required pension. As I’ve said before, there is usually no right or wrong, only consequences and the outcome here is that your superannuation savings are likely to run out faster.

However. it seems to me that once you turn 60, and cease paying tax, you should be able to meet your needs without increasing your super pensions any further.

Regarding the shares in your wrap account, I like share portfolios more than I dislike wrap accounts, so I would hesitate to close down the share portfolio within your super wrap unless you were to find that your share portfolio within the account is earning less, after all fees, than, say, the First State Super n Shares fund. According to the research firm Superratings, this fund has earned some 17.5 per cent in the 12 months to November 30 and 8.64 per cent a year compound over the past three years, ranking 24th out of 62 and 23rd out of 61 respectively.

If you should fall off your twig and leave any superannuation benefits to your son, he or your estate (depending who receives them first) will pay a tax of 15 per cent plus 2 percent Medicare Levy on the taxable component of your super benefit, whether FSS or super wrap. Remember that your super is composed of a tax-free component (mostly what you may have contributed after tax) and a taxable component, viz. everything else. People over 60 often get these components confused with the fact that they don’t pay tax on any withdrawals after age 60.

To comply with the transfer balance cap, I commuted the excess amount from one of my account-based pensions. I’d like to combine this smaller pension account with a larger pension account. However, I presume that pension accounts still can’t be combined, yet the old route of combining through the accumulation phase, then returning to the pension phase seems closed once the cap has been reached. how can I combine pension funds? T.E.

Just continue as you did before. Presumably, as at June 30, 2017, the benefits in your two pensions resulted in credits totalling $1.6 million allocated to your transfer balance account (or TBA), which is maintained by the Tax Office.

When you commute the two pensions back to the accumulation phase, the ATO will be advised of the commuted amounts.

Lets say that your pensions are still valued at $1.6 million combined, so that after commuting both, your TBA is debited with $1.6 million. You combine the two accumulation accounts and then roll that $1.6 million back into a single pension, thus your TBA is again credited with that amount and all is sweet. You should make a point of estimating how much the unit price differentials will reduce your balances when selling and repurchasing units in your selected funds. It may be more cost effective to stay as you are.

Let’s make a different assumption i.e. that your two pension balances have fallen to, say, $1.59 million. On commutation, your TBA, with its credit from July 1 of $1.6 million is debited with $1.59 million, leaving it with a positive remaining credit balance of $10,000. As a consequence, you can only roll $1.59 million back into your chosen single “retirement phase pension”.

Let’s instead assume your pension amounts have grown since July and together total $1.65 million. By commuting these pensions, your TBA, with its credit of $1.6 million, ends up with a negative balance of $50,000, the result being that you can now roll over $1.65 million back into a retirement phase pension.

My father collects an age pension and owns his home. He lives alone. During the summer, he plans to stay with me to help out with his grandchildren. During that time I was hoping to rent out his coastal home as a holiday rental, managing and collecting the income myself. Is there any risk that this may impact on his age pension? L.N.

Yes, if your father earns income by renting out his home, he will generally need to advise Centrelink of the income received. Generally, amounts of one-off income received e.g. one day’s employment, or a few days, are not taken into account unless they are part of a pattern of income.

However, a few weeks’ rent of a coastal home will presumably result in a fairly large amount of income and thus will be taken into account by the means tests. The gross income can be reduced by deductions such as agent’s fees, repairs, land and water rates for the period. Centrelink usually relies on a tax return to determine the relevant net income but, where a pensioner is not submitting a tax return because his income is too low, Centrelink allows you to deduct one third from the gross amount of rent received to cover those standard deductions.

A single pensioner can earn combined income up to $4264 a year before his age pension begins to reduce and up to $50,456 a year before the pension cuts out altogether.

Another aspect of which you should be aware, when renting out a main residence, it loses its exemption from capital gains tax for the period it is earning income.

If you have a question for George Cochrane, send it to Personal Investment, PO Box 3001, Tamarama, NSW, 2026. Help lines: Financial Ombudsman, 1800 367 287; pensions, 13 23 00.

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150 tablets a day: Codeine rescheduling will put pressure on Hunter drug and alcohol services

AT the peak of his addiction, John was taking between 100 and 150 tablets containing codeine a day.
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Drugs such as Panafen Plus –which containibuprofen and codeine –werereadily available over the counter, and gave him an “amazing sense”of well-being, euphoria and contentment.

“Even the most mundane task is elevated with the use of opiates,” the Hunter man said.

John, not his real name,has been receiving treatment for his addiction, which began after a schizophrenia and anxiety disorder diagnosis, but he feared for the “droves of users” who wouldfind themselves without a legal supply of opiates once the Therapeutic Goods Administration changedcodeineto a prescription-onlydrugcome February 1.

“Even in an ideal world, where those users, instead of turning to other drugs or illegal opiates like heroin, fentanyl, oxy, etc went and sought treatment at facilities, we can’t accommodate them because there aren’t enough beds/doctors/nurses and allied health care professionals in the system as it is to deal with our current problem,let alone an influx of new patients,” he said.

Comment: History shows that restrictions on one drug almost inevitably result in the rise of use of another

It is a fear echoed by Newcastle GP Dr David Outridge, who worksin addiction medicine. He said it was difficult to know how big the problem was until the changes came into effect, but he had helped many patients who had beentaking90 Nurofen Plus a day.

“It’s hard to believe that the body can get used to that,” he said. “But codeine will create a very serious dependence.”

He said many people began taking codeine for pain relief,then began to enjoy the way it made them feel, and how it helped them cope.

“People become tolerant to the existing dose,” Dr Outridge said. “The body adapts to that level of opiate, and then trying to stop means you’re going into free-fall.”

Some ended up in intensive care with stomach ulcers, and kidney and liver damage. Dr Outridge warned that a differentdemographicof drug addict would emerge once the changes to the availability of codeine came into effect, and he was concerned that drug services were under-prepared.

He said opioidtreatment programs were generally geared towards people who have been in the illicit scene – turning to crime, dealing, or prostitutionto get their hands on opioid.

“What’s going to happen with this is that a completely different demographic of people are going to emerge. Theymight be running a business, they might be a student,” he said.

“And these people will find it difficult to fit into the existing public services. They may not seek help because of the fact those services tend to be more aligned with people who have been in a much heavier scene –rather than just going to a chemist and buying them over the counter.

“That’s why GPsare the ideal to take those clients on.”

Read more: Why codeine will no longer be solder over-the-counter

Dr Outridgeknew of about 20 “opioid maintenance program” prescribing doctors like himself in the area –not enough to cope with the influx of people who would need help comeFebruary.

“Some people will be able to come off their codeine. Others will not. They willbe not just physically-dependent, but addicted, and those people will need some sort of opioid replacement program,” he said.

“There is just not enough prescribers of the replacement program medications, such as Suboxone, for those patients to be catered for.”

Dr Outridge said Suboxone – a combination of buprenorphineand naloxone – was a “very safe” alternative to addictive opioids, and a safe alternative to methodone – the established “gold standard” for opiate maintenance programs.

When it was introduced in France, all GPs could prescribe it, with no special training.

“Their opioid overdose death rate plummeted to negligible overnight, and it has been that way ever since.”

He would like to see more GPs become opioid maintenance program prescribing doctors totake on more of these patients.

“GPs are already fairly busy, but possibly the stigma attached to substance use means a lot of GPs don’t want to get involved with it.

“But the thing with the codeine-use demographic is that they are the normal people we see as patients anyway, they are not people with a forensic history. These are people who fit quite well into general practices.”

Professor Adrian Dunlop, Hunter New England Health’sdirector of drug and alcohol services, said it was difficult to gauge the scale of the problem until it happened, but he was confident local serviceswould be able to meet the demand.

“We don’t have a good hard figure on exactly how many people are dependent on codeine,” Professor Dunlop said. “At best the figures are pretty woolly.

“Weexpect there will be people who are minimally-addicted, just using a bit too much too frequently, and they’ll stop. And then there will be a group of people who might need treatment.

“Their GP might work out a program with them which doesn’t necessarily include methodone or buprenorphine, but might include a more structured way to come off codeine. And then if that fails they might need methodone or buprenorphine maintenance.”

Read more: Pharmacists fear the side effects of a banon over-the-counter codeine

Nationally, less than fiveper cent of GPs offerthe opioid treatment program.

“In thegreater Newcastle area, there are 14. Across the whole Hunter New England Health region,we think there areabout 50,” Professor Dunlop said. “Patients should start talking to their GPs about their concerns now, not wait until the end of January.”

Professor Dunlop said ifsome of theaccreditation “hurdles” for the treatment program were removed it mightencourage moreGPs to becomeinvolved.

John, now middle-aged,had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in his twenties, when he also developed an anxiety disorder.

Initially, heself-medicated with marijuana. Headmits it was a “terrible choice,” as itreinforced his anxiety and exacerbated hishallucinations.

“However, I noticed when I took pain killers for tension headaches, the euphoric effect of the opioids would temporarily alleviate my anxiety, as well as my headaches, and it soon became my drug of choice replacing marijuana altogether.

“My addiction dictated my entire life. In the beginning, before any regulations were in place, I could frequent the same pharmacies and just grab what I needed off the shelf no questions asked. Then when they started to bring in regulations, I had to drive up and down the coast doing pharmacy runs to stock up my supply.”

John ended up requiring bowel surgerydue tocomplications caused bythe volume of pills he was taking.

“Prior to that I was taking ridiculous amounts of antacids to treat the reflux from the ibuprofen, and vomiting every day when it got too much for me,” he said.

“If I tried to decrease the dose I would go through withdrawals quite rapidly – severe headaches, fever, vomiting.

“I hope the prevalence of codeine addiction is acknowledged when determining front line treatment services in the public and private sector. The public system is already inundated and is crying out for help.”

Professor Dunlop said there could be some “stockpiling” of codeine ahead of February, although he did not think it was likely a black market would develop.

“I don’t think, in , we’re going to see what has occurred in the US, which is a rise of heroin-related deaths, but we do need to monitor it,” he said.

For help and advice for a drug or alcohol addiction, call1800 422 599.

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Centenary of the Great War

ON A MISSION: n Flying Corps members of No 1 Squadron prepare for a mission against the Turks. Picture: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony
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Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptionsandHunter Valley enlistment and death details for31 December 1917- 6 January 1918.

SUCCESS IN PALESTINEAn official report from Palestine states:- We further advanced our line northward of Jerusalem, between December 27th and 29th, and took 750 prisoners.

A thousand enemy dead were counted.

Mr. Massey, the official correspondent, states:- The troops will remember this Christmas tide for the most uncomfortable weather on the front line. Rain and a gale drove across the mountains for a day and a half, the roads became rivers of mud, but the service triumphed over the storms.

Since our left advanced northward of the Aujar River, the right has materially improved. The Turks on December 27th made an effort to take positions north-westward and northward of Jerusalem, where our raids had straightened the line. The enemy, with all determination and strength, tried to force us back towards Jerusalem, but failed heavily.

Further westward, on the right of the enemy’s attack, our infantry and dismounted men did brilliant work. After beating off the attack, they gallantly counter-attacked, swept the Turks back, and advanced our line on a front of nine miles to a depth of two and a half miles.

The enemy’s dead testified to the severity of their losses.

Airmen continued to bomb the enemy communications on Monday, and then made a big attack, machine-gunning the Turks at Kalundlu, between Jerusalem and Birch. The warships bombarded the enemy in the trenches near the coast.

THE WEST FRONTField-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant on the West Front, reports:-

Raiders were driven off before reaching our positions eastward of Epehy.

Hostile artillery was more active south-westward and westward of Cambrai, and was also active along the front southward of Lens to Armentieres, and in the neighbourhood of Zonnebeke.

Our aeroplanes on Wednesday night dropped a few bombs on Carvin, near Lille, despite the bad weather.

A previous report stated:-

The enemy, attempting to raid in the neighbourhood of Oppy, was driven off before reaching the trenches. His artillery is more active in the neighbourhood of the Ypres-Comines canal.

Our aeroplanes on Tuesday dropped 200 bombs on the ammunition depot near Courtrai, on the aerodrome at Inglemunster, and on other targets. Three hostile machines were brought down, and two driven down. One of ours is missing.

We repulsed night raiders in the neighbourhood of La Bassee, taking prisoners.

MILITARY HONOURSThe list of military honours issued in connection with the New Year is a striking testimony to the splendid services which all ranks of the Australasian forces are rendering in the field. From the first landing at Gallipoli the ns have proved themselves wonderfully adapted to bear their share of the great task which they entered into. The Victoria Cross and the Military Medal are conferred for some special deed of valour, while the Distinguished Service Order is given to men who by their zeal and ability do so much to make the army efficient for the work it has to perform. Each man must play his part. There must always be men in the forces who have but little opportunity to do the great deeds which earn for others either one or other of the coveted distinctions. But all are doing the work which has to be done, and all are worthy of the greatest possible measure of thanks. If the men who have received the honours which have been announced could be heard to speak, they would probably say that they had done no more than thousands of others, and that all would do the same if they had the chance. Such a statement would no doubt to a large extent be true.

There are many deeds of the greatest heroism performed under such conditions that they cannot attract the attention which would bring official recognition. It is no man’s business in the height of battle to look around for brave deeds. They are being done on all sides by men of all ranks. If it were not for that spirit the accomplishments of our forces would not have been as great as they have been. But every now and then some particularly heroic deed stands out in bold relief, and that is when the V.C. or D.C.M. is conferred. They are justly prized distinctions, and the men who receive them always richly deserve them. The list of officers on whom the Distinguished Service Order has been conferred contains names of men attached to all branches of the forces. Many of them took to the army great technical skill and administrative abilities proved in their own businesses. They have served their country well, and they have received recognition. No recognition could really adequately express the debt the people owe to the members of the expeditionary forces, but the decorations will be accepted as some tribute of the Empire’s appreciation of the services they have rendered.

MESSAGE TO AUSTRALIAMr. Hughes, the Prime Minister, has received the following message from Mr. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain:-

“At the beginning of a New Year I wish to send on behalf of the War Cabinet to the Government and people of a message of goodwill and confidence.

“We are now far on in the fourth year of the war, and, despite many set-backs, and many disappointments, we are also far on the path to victory. I have no doubt that if the Allies stand firm, they will not only restore liberty to Europe, but give lasting peace to the world.

“In the accomplishment of this great work, no peoples will have played a greater part than those who are members of the British Commonwealth. Against their steadfast courage, the legions of autocracy have cast themselves in vain, and the Empire which the militarists of Prussia were persuaded would crumble at a blow, has proved itself the most united and most massive of the bulwarks of freedom, because it is itself sprung from the eternal roll of freedom. We have good hope that before this new year is passed, the purpose to which we have set our hands will have been completely achieved.”

TITLE OF ANZAC DISAPPEARSSenator Pearce, Minister for Defence, on Wednesday explained that the five n divisions had been concentrated into an n Army Corps, while a separate corps had been formed of New Zealand and British troops.

The word Anzac had thus disappeared from both bodies.

LONELY SOLDIERS’ LETTERSSenator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, stated on Friday that as the result of the insertion in the n press of advertisements by “lonely soldiers,” inviting correspondence from residents in , several bags of letters, papers and parcels were received by members of the n Imperial Force, two advertisements alone resulting in the arrival of some 10,000 letters for two men. The Minister further stated that the practice of inserting advertisements in the press inviting correspondence of strangers is strictly forbidden by censorship regulations, and is an abuse of the facilities granted. It also causes congestion in the post office, to the detriment and delay of ordinary correspondence, to say nothing of the additional work thrown on the base censors.

In future advertisements in the press by “lonely soldiers” will be prohibited, and correspondence under the same class stopped.

WORD OF NEATH MENPrivate J. Ryan writing to his father, Mr. J. J. Ryan, of Neath, from France, on September 22, 1917, says: “It is a good while since I wrote you a letter, so I now write a few lines to let you know how things are going with me at present. All the boys from Neath who are here with me are well and going strong at the present. Myself, Herbert, Jim Hodges, and William Bamback have had our welcome leave to England, and I can tell you we enjoyed it after our long time in Egypt and the trenches in France. They treat us well in ‘Blighty,’ l met Jack O’Bryne the other day, and just as we met old Fritz began to lob his shells on us, so our chat was cut short for the time. I also met Charlie Hughes, senior, also Matty Laws the other day, They are going strong. My nerves go a bit shaky at times now, since my shellshock on the Lewis machine guns on the Somme, but one must have some nerve to keep from getting bluffed, more especially when you see your mates getting blown to pieces at times. We are on a pretty hot front now. Our battalion is engaged laying light railways and roads for taking up the guns when they advance. Old Fritz gives us some hurry up too. We do not get too many casualties in our battalion. We lost a few hundred on the Somme, and a few since we came in here this time; but they have shoved old Fritz back a bit. He comes over our camp nearly every night with his flying machines, dropping bombs, but I don’t think he will be long before he ‘chucks the towel in’ now. We gave him a good go this last few days. We got about 3000 prisoners, and some of them are starved-looking and broken up, and some very young looking, only about 16 years of age a lot of them. I don’t know how they stand our bombardments; they are terrible. I don’t wonder at them coming over and giving themselves up. It is very funny to see our fellows bringing the prisoners in. They leave them standing about anywhere, and they never seem to trouble about escaping.”

Private Ryan, who has been over two years on active service, has three brothers and a brother-in-law at the front also.

ENLISTMENTSEdward Alexander Barnes, Bulahdelah; Henry Charles Cridland, West Maitland; Edwin John Dorrough, Lochinvar; Allan Edward Ford, Mayfield; Andrew Smart Gillespie, The Junction; Benjamin Hardy, Merewether; Claude Albert Jack, Lorn; Roy Kendall, Lorn; Thomas Kenny, Muswellbrook; Anders Kristian Lund, Gloucester; Frank Hind Phelps, Aberdeen; Charles Edward Thompson, Waratah; Walter James Whyte, Waratah; Ronald Ernest Wood, Raymond Terrace.

DEATHSPte Claud Alfred Corner, Mulbring.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter-based military historian. Follow his research at facebook苏州夜总会招聘/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory read more »

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