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Supercars warns Newcastle hotels to lower rates



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Supercars warns against hotel price gouging CROWDED HOUSE: Fans at a Supercars event at the foreshore in April. Race organisers fear costly accommodation will scare off visitors. Picture: Marina Neil

An artist’s mock-up of part of the Newcastle track.

CROWDED HOUSE: Fans at a Supercars event at the foreshore in April. Race organisers fear costly accommodation will scare off visitors. Picture: Marina Neil

Supercars drivers James Courtney, Shane van Gisbergen and Chas Mostert inspect the Newcastle main straight last month. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebookSupercars has forecast the racewill attract 16,000 visitors to the city,but chief operating officer Shane Howard saidtourism operators should be careful not to discourage repeat business.

“Newcastle 500 is a tourism play and is a huge opportunity for the city and the region,” Mr Howard said in a statement to the Herald.

“It will be the biggest influx of people Newcastle has ever seen. That’s why it is important to take a sensible approach for the longer term.

“We have found at other debut events, Townsville as an example, there is a very real danger of accommodation becoming too expensive and having a negative effect over time.”

Shane HowardHerald spoke to said critics failed to take into account the “massive” disruption to Newcastle tourism businesses during the track’s construction.

“With what we’re all having to go through currently … to be honest, you need to put your rates up.

“It’s all very good to get these articles out saying everybody’s being ripped off by high accommodation, but nobody seems to be thinking about all of the impact everyone’s going through.”

‘Think of the children’: developers reject view that Sydney is full



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Developer lobby groups have reacted to a poll in which two-thirds of NSW residents declared Sydney was “full” by seeking to refocus the debate on housing affordability and the need to provide homes for future generations.

Fairfax Media reported on Monday that a ReachTel poll found that 66.4 per cent of NSW respondents oppose more development in existing areas to accommodate a bigger population.

The findings come amid rising tensions over plans by the Greater Sydney Commission for hundreds of thousands of new apartments in “priority precincts” in the next 20 years to accommodate population forecasts.

But Property Council of NSW executive director Jane Fitzgerald said the “well overdue discussions” about Sydney’s sustainable growth should focus on “what we want from our future, not what we don’t”.

“Our children and their children deserve to have jobs and homes near us, their parents, in the decades to come so sustainable growth that meets the demands of a growing population is critical,” she said.

She added that growth meant not only more homes but also “hospitals, new roads and transport options, and green spaces”.

“We must start with a question of what we want from our city, our built environment and our shared future rather than a Mexican standoff that will result in poor outcomes,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Chris Johnson, chief executive of the Urban Taskforce, which represents apartment developers, said the poll results “reflect the tensions of change”.

Mr Johnson said the result “avoids the reality of Sydney moving from a suburban to an urban model”.

“The average size of the n detached house is the highest in the world and it’s not hard to see how this also leads to Sydney house prices being one of the least affordable in the world,” he said.

“The two-thirds of Sydneysiders who oppose more development in Sydney are likely to be those that own suburban houses, while those who support the development of inner metropolitan Sydney are likely to be those looking for affordable homes.”

Mr Johnson said a focus on building smaller apartments around railway stations “will give the children and grandchildren of suburban families opportunities to buy into affordable housing”.

“Younger generations are also increasingly interested in more urban cosmopolitan lifestyles that come with a shared economy approach,” he said.

The government says its priority precincts are designed “to recognise local character, deliver more open and active recreation space and create employment opportunities at the same time as delivering the increased types of housing our city needs”.

A-League: F3 derby win does not alter Jets flight path says Topor-Stanleyvideo. photos



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SO CLOSE: Nikolai Topor-Stanley was denied by the post in the 5-1 win over the Mariners. The defender hopes to improve his strike rate in front of goal. Picture: Sproule Sports FocusNIKOLAI Topor-Stanley has been in the A-League too long to get carried away by one result –good or bad.

The towering defender played a key role in the Jets’ 5-1 rout of the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

The result set a number of club records and propelled the Jets to the top of the table after round one for the first time in eight years.

Defender: Win doesn’t alter Jets’ flight path TweetFacebookSo close but so far. @NewcastleJetsFC defender talks about hitting post and the 5-1 won over @[email protected]@newcastleheraldpic.twitter苏州夜网/BPnFdUGvYH

— James Gardiner (@JamesGardiner42) October 9, 2017

Topor-Stanley was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet himself,denied by the post after getting his head to searching Dimi Petratos freekick in the 22nd minute with the scores at 1-all.

“The keeper got a finger to it,” he said. “It was on target.That is half a goal in my books.”

Topor-Stanley, who stands 191cm, is a genuine threat from set pieces but hasn’t scored a goal since the final round of the 2013-14 season.

It is a statistic he is keen to improve, especially with the precision of Dimi Petratos and Ronny Vargas from dead-ball situation.

“That is part of my job description,” he said.

“I have to be up there. I set myself a target of scoring a handful of goals every season.

“It hasn’t come off that way, but I still believe in myself and believe I can score.”

At the other end, Topor-Stanley and defensive partner Nigel Boogaard were dominant. Topor-Stanley made nine clearances and three interceptions and won everything in the air.

“I thought Nikolai was outstanding,” coach Ernie Merrick said. “His partnership with Nigel was top class.”

The goal the Jets conceded came from a corner, which skimmed the head of Mariners defender Jake McGing and went in off the leg of Spaniard Asdrubal.

“It is never pleasing to concede from a set piece as a defender,” Topor-Stanley said. “We will look at it and I’m sure the coaching staff will give is feedback on where we can do better.”

Next for the Jets is Perth Glory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday and the dynamic attacking duoof Diego Castro and Andy Keogh.

“They have a plethora of attacking options in that team so wewill be up against it,” Topor-Stanley said. “But we are at home and we also have a great arsenal. That was clear on the weekend and in pre-season.”

VIDEO: Rachel Maria Cox nominated for best live pop act



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VIDEO STAR: Rachel Maria Cox achieved a lifelong goal on Saturday when the indie musician’s song Stronger Lines debuted on Rage. Picture: Cath ConnellWHAT a massive week it’s been for Newcastle’s Rachel Maria Cox.

It all began on Saturday when the indie artist’s latest video for the singleStronger Lines debuted on ABC’s music institution Rage and continued on Tuesday when Cox was nominated forPop Live Act of the Year at the second annual National Live Music Awards.

It is judgedby industry figures, musicians and media and winners will beannounced onDecember 7.

DIY record label and booking agency, Sad Grrls Club, which Cox founded and manages, was also nominated for the Industry Achievement award.

Cox would be considered the rank outsider to win best pop live actup againstAmy Shark,Client Liaison,Confidence Man andMontaigne. However Cox is ecstatic just to be sharing theircompany.

“I’m still trying to process it, seeing my name on that list with so many massive artists,” Cox said.

Rachel Maria Cox – Stronger LinesGang Of Youths, who feature Newcastle drummer Dom Borzestowski, were nominated forLive Act of the Year andpeople’s choice Live Act Of The Year and Maitland’s Groovin The Moo is up for NSW’s Live Event of the Year.

Cox’s nomination has capped off an exciting couple of months for the National Music Academy vocal specialist.

In August Coxreleased adebut album, Untidy Lines, to rave reviews, supported Ali Barter and Alex Lahey in Newcastle and triple J Unearthed afforded Cox withthe opportunity to shoot a film clip for Stronger Lines made bytheNational Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

“For me the song is about mental health recovery and surrounding yourself with people who support you in terms of recovery and accepting that it’s progress, not perfection,” Cox said.

HONKYTONKS TOE-TAPPING: Kate Oliver is bringing her honkytonk sounds straight from the Northern Territory.

THE meeting between Newcastle bluegrass queen Gleny Rae and Northern Territory country troubadour Kate Oliver in 1999 at theAdelaide River CountryMusic Talent Questwas a pivotal moment for both women.

As Rae explains, it was a meeting of two minds from the same musical heritage.

“We have found an interest in country music that springs from the ‘50s, like music with a rock’n’roll and swing influence,” Rae said.“Kate loves Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline and we both love that pure danceable rootsy country style.”

That friendship has since blossomed into a fully-fledged tour, the Honkytonk Revival Show, which also features Sydney-based bluegrass band Rob Luckey & The Lucky Bastards.

The Honkytonk Revival Show kicks off on Friday at the Stag and Hunter Hotel, before hitting Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel on Saturday and travelling south to Melbourne.

The concert willshowcaseOliver, Rae and Luckey’s various honkytonk originals and covers.

It’ll alsolaunch Oliver’s album Big News In A Small Town, which was produced by Rae last year at Robbie Long’s Funky Lizard studio at Kotara.

“It was bit of a geographical challenge, because Kate was travelling down from the Northern Territory,” Rae said.

“She’d come down and do a session over a couple of days to work on the songs. So it’s got lots of Newcastle musicians and other touring musicians who are friends of mine.”

PAPER TURNERNEWCASTLE musician Grace Turner will lend her hauntingly beautiful vocal to fellow local act Paper Thin for a special one-time-only performanceon Sunday night.

Paper Thin are launching their EP Living With. Being Without at the Cambridge Hotel with support from Melbourne band Self Talk and Newcastle act Safe Hands.

Turner appeared on Paper Thin’s track When You Calland accepted frontman Spencer Scott’s invitation to perform several more songs with the punk band at the EP launch.

FRITZ ON VIDEOFritz – Yuk!DESPITE being head deep in HSC study 17-year-old indie artist Tilly Murphy, aka Fritz, is still pushing through with her musical endeavours.

The year 12St Francis Xavier’s College student released two live performancesofher lo-firockersYuk! and Sandpaper Hands this week.

The tracks were recorded at Woodriver Studios withher band ofCampbell Burns (Vacations),Darren James (Arcades and Lions) and April Caslick (Liberties).

GOING ON A BEAR HUNT TOURBRISBANE grunge revivalists The Bear Hunt are taking their new EPFallen On Deaf Earson the road.

The Bear Hunt, led by the charismatic voice of frontwomanBec Wilson,will play at the Lass O’Gowrie Hotel on October 25.

The band’sdebut album To Be Honest enjoyed success in the Queensland capital’s music scene, through the singles Ready Or Not and Movie Star.Fallen On Deaf Ears will be released on Friday.

The Bear Hunt’s sound is described as sludge-pop and draws inspiration fromthe likes of ‘90s legends PJ Harvey, Soundgarden and Dinosaur Jr.

Your Home: Give wide board timber floors a go



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Boral Timber has introduced a wider board option to its engineered flooring portfolio, available in the popular n hardwood species of Blackbutt and Spotted Gum.

The new Boral Engineered Wideboard Flooring comes in 186mm wide, onestrip boards featuring a matte sheen brushed finish that highlights the natural colour and features of the timber.

Boral Timber national sales and distribution manager, Leon Travis, said open plan interiors and larger living spaces were ideal for integrating the wide board look.

“Engineered flooring has become a popular choice for both new build projects and renovations, delivering a striking timber floor with the benefit of a quick and easy installation over many surfaces,” he said.

“Homeowners now have the option of two popular widths – 134mm and 186mm wide boards – to create a stunning room makeover, or update flooring throughout their house or apartment [excluding wet areas].

“Pre-finished with seven layers of 10 per cent matte sheen UV cured acrylic coating, the 4mm nominal hardwood top layer allows resanding and recoating for a long service life.

“The board has a four-side Uniclic 14mm profile for a tight board-to-board fit and a smooth consistent finish.”

The new wider boards are also offered in a 2.2m length which is longer than the 134mm boards.

Boral Engineered Wideboard Flooring can be laid over a level subfloor such as a concrete slab, particleboard or plywood sheeting, old timber floors and tiles.

A variety of quality underlays can be installed with the flooring to address floor levelling, cushioning and any acoustic concerns.

Boral Engineered Flooring is a sustainable engineered timber flooring choice. It is Chain of Custody certified by the n Forestry Standard, which has mutual recognition by the world’s largest forest management certifier, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Scheme. This means the timber is produced using certified, legal and sustainably managed sources.

Details: Visit www.boral苏州夜网.au/timber or call 1800 818 317.

Open plan interiors and larger living spaces are ideal for integrating the wide board look and timber is a good choice for building because it is a natural and renewable resource.

Triathletes Josh and Krystal Hockley of Mandalong to compete in Ironman World Championship in Hawaii on October 14video



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COMMITTED: Josh and Krystle Hockley, of Mandalong, departed for Hawaii on Saturday. They will compete on October 14. Picture: Ellie-Marie WattsTriathletes Josh and Krystal Hockley reckon participating at the Ironman World Championshipin Hawaii next week will be akin to competing in a sauna.

So the Mandalong couple went out last year and bought a sauna to add daily sweat sessions to their gruelling training regimes.

“The temperature can get up to 35 degrees in Hawaii, but it’s the humidity that gets you. It can get up to 90 per cent humidity,” Ms Hockley said.

“We have competed in similar conditions, but not quite that extreme.”

Throw in winds of around 60km/h and you begin to understand why, for 30 years, those who completethe 3.8-kilometre swim, the 180-kilometre bike ride, and the 42-kilometre run in Hawaii consider it to be theultimate test of body, mind and spirit.

“By using the sauna you can train your body. They call it heat adaptation. After our training sessions we jump in the sauna, and it helps,” Ms Hockley said.

2016 Ironman World Championship in HawaiiBuying a sauna specifically to prepare for the world championship event is another example of the husband-and-wife team’s commitment to the sport.

The Hockleys estimate that competing at Hawaii’s Kailua-Kona on October 14 will cost them $15,000 each. The entry fee alone is $1400.

“And if you include the cost of qualifying for the world championship, it’s probably closer to $20,000 or $25,000,” Ms Hockley said.

And it’s not as if the Hockleys can hope to recoup that expenditure with prizemoney: as amateur competitors in the 30- to 34-years age group, the best the pair can hope for is a trophy.

The elite professional competitors, by the way, will be chasing a share of the $180,000 prize pool.

Ms Hockley qualified for the world championship by finishing second in her age group in an event in Busselton, Western , in December.

Mr Hockley qualified when he achieved fourth place in his age group at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship, in Cairns, in June.

BIG FIELD: More than 2000 athletes will compete in the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, on October 14. Picture: Donald Miralle

The couple started competing in triathlons just four years ago. At the time, Mr Hockley admitted he couldn’t swim 25 metres.

Now, the Hockleys trainfor 28 to 30 hours every week, and feel at home competing against the sport’s best.

The challenge is to find a balance between respecting the opportunity they’ve earned to compete in Hawaii, and not being over-awed by the occasion.

“The world championship race is physically no different to the qualifying races we competed in,” Ms Hockley said.

“The big thing is not letting the event swallow you up. It’s still the same distance. It’s still an ironman.

“We want to appreciate it, but still treat it like a normal race.”

The pair are at the peak of their powers, and are optimistic about their chances.

“We’ve both put in a lot of work, and we’re the fittest that we’ve ever been, so we’re both hoping for top 10 finishes. But it’s just so hard to predict,” Ms Hockley said.

Mr Hockley said the couple continued to be buoyed by the support they’d received from their community.

Businesses such as Breakaway Cycles, Central Podiatry, and Dawson Solicitors, all of Morisset, and Fit Life Health Club, in Cooranbong, had helped the pair to be the best they could be, he said.

“And even the clients that I have in my lawn mowing business, A Perfect Cut –Your Local Lawn Mowing Service, have been with us all the way. When I told some of my clients that we’d qualified for the world championships they were so happy for us that they had tears rolling down their faces,” Mr Hockley said.

Boo Seeka place world view into debut album



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LINE IN THE SAND: Boo Seeka chose to include almost all new material on their debut album to showcase their musical progression.EVER since Newcastle’sBen Gumbleton met his Boo Seeka collaborator Sam Croft in 2015 he’s been on a hectic journey travelling the world.

So it’s understandable that when the electro-indie duo finally caught their breath to release thedebut album Never Too Soon, that worldliness was on full display.

Instead of merely recording the album in a studio, Boo Seeka used various samples of vocal tracks, drum beats and guitar parts that were collected on iPhones across the globe.

They were recorded in planes, airports,Berlin cafes, Switzerland green rooms and even while sitting in a parked car in Portland, Oregon.

“No one else is going to pick that up, but in a way it’s given it a texture that you wouldn’t get sitting in a studio all day doing it,” Gumbleton said on a brief break back at his Dudley home.

“So we’re really proud of that because it got to a point where we were never going to be able to recreate that back in the studio.

“It’s amazing to hear people well known in the industry ask ‘wow, where did you record that?’ and it was in the back of an RV in Portland. It’s mind-blowing.”

Boo Seeka – Does This LastThe build towards Never Too Soon was typical of today’s streaming-dominated music industry. Boo Seeka released their first trackKingdom Leader in 2015 and another three singles –Deception Bay, Fool, Oh My –to create buzz and attract sold-out audiences before they’d even released any music physically.

The safe option would have been to include the hitson Never Too Soon, but only Oh My made the cut.

“We didn’t want to give our audience half a record they already had,” he said.

“We spoke about it and it was kind of a split decision, with people going ‘Kingdom Leader, Deception Bay and Fool should be on the record’ and another part was like ‘no, let’s show the audience and the critics that we’ve got more in the bag than an extra five songs’.”

Boo Seeka have certainly provedthat. Never Too Soon has continued to showcase the duo’s rapidly-developing songwriting partnership.Everything from the EDM-inspired Gold Sail to the soulful Humans.

Boo Seeka began their national tour on Friday and Gumbleton said they’re focused on creating an organic live sound.

“A lot of the rehearsals have been about finding those gaps in the songs where we can expand and have a bit of vibe to not be exactly how it is on the record,” he said.

“We don’t want people to come to a show and think we’re just pushing a button on the songs on the record and all I’m doing is singing along to them.”

Boo Seeka playthe Cambridge Hotel (October 21), Ballarat’s Karova Lounge (November 3 and 4), Launceston (November 11) and Canberra’s Academy (November 18).

Wests Group poised to offer Knights coach Nathan Brown a two-year extension.



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THE Wests Groupare poised to show faith in Knights coach Nathan Brown by offering him a two-season contract extension.

FAITH: Nathan Brown

The new deal, which would be likely to include performance-related clauses to safeguard Wests incase they were not satisfied with the progress of Brown’s team, would take him through until at least the end of the 2020 NRL season.

“The key for us is the head coach, getting him sorted out for the next period of time,” Wests chief executive Phil Gardner said.

“I think we’re keen to sign him on those performance conditions and get him extended for another two more seasons.

“Then we can offersome certainty for the players we’re trying to attract.

“It’s very hard to say to the players: ‘He’s only signed for one more year but we’d like you to sign for three or five.’

“That’s all got to go back to the [Wests] board and be approved, but in general terms, that’s the thinking.”

Brown arrived in Newcastle at the end of 2015 and is two seasons into a three-year deal.

When he took charge, the Knights were incumbent wooden spooners and they have since finished last in both 2016 and 2017, winning only six of 48 games in those two campaigns.

There havenonetheless been signs of improvement. Newcastle won five games this season, four more than last year, and improved their for-and-against statistics by 275 points.

A two-year extension would take Brown’stenure to five years –the same time frame former Knights coach Wayne Bennett predicted it would take to rebuild the club when he left at the end of 2014.

The Knights have already locked in Brown’s staff for 2018 and, for the first time, their under-16 and under-18 coaches will be full-time positions.

“Our coaching-and-development team is super important for the young guys coming through,” Gardner said.

“We’ve decided we want to have full-time coaches for the 16s, 18s and 20s and reserve grade, so we can provide our local juniors with the best possible pathway.

“We believe having high-level, professional coaches right through the club can make a difference.”

Gardner said Newcastle’s high-performance junior program would now be“the best resourced it has ever been by the time we start next year”.

Recently retired hooker Rory Kostjasyn, whose hopes of playing for Newcastle were cruelled by a career-ending throat injury he suffered in pre-seasontraining, will coach theunder-16s.

Former Newcastle halfback Scott Dureau will coach the under-18s, and both he and Kostjasyn will oversee the elite-development program from under-13s up.

Former Newcastle, Parramatta, Melbourne, Warriors and Brisbane utilityTodd Lowrie will again coach under-20s, and ex-Canberra hooker Simon Woolford is again in charge of NSW Cup.

Newcastle have appointed former Cronulla assistant coach James Shepherd to replace the departed Kurt Wrigley, who has returned to Sydney for family reasons.

Gardner was optimistic that Brown’s other assistant, Mick Potter, would stay with Newcastle despite speculation linking him with a vacant position at Canterbury.

“Mick’s contracted to us for next year,” Gardner said.

“If there was any reason he wanted that to change, we’d have to have some discussions with him about what he wants to do.”

Wests will assume full ownership of the Knights on November 1. They are currently partners in a transitional joint venture with the NRL.

Newcastle drivers ‘on a downer’ three months after NSW Government handed bus network to Keolis Downer



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Rail, Tram and Bus Union divisional secretary Chris Preston says there have been ongoing issues since Keolis Downer took over Newcastle’s buses. Picture: Nick BielbyThree months after private operator Keolis Downer took over Newcastle’s public buses, some drivers say they are still being underpaid.

But the company says its payroll issueshave been resolved.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union representatives met with the region’s state MPs on Monday to discuss a transition they called “far from smooth”.

“We are on a downer,” said one bus driver,who asked not to be named out of fear for his job.

Underpayments have been an issue since the first pay period after Keolis Downer took over the city’s buses from state government agencyTransport for NSW.

Some drivers have been underpaid as recently as the last pay period, the union says.

RTBU divisional secretary Chris Preston said the union had received about80 complaints about late pay.

He also said problems with staff rosters meant some drivers were working more than they should be.

For fatigue management, bus drivers are subject to strict rules about breaks between shifts.

Mr Preston said Transport Minister Andrew Constance should have ensured issues with pay and rosters would not become a problem before the government handed the reins to Keolis Downer on July 1.

“So far we’ve got workers who haven’t been paid right,” he said. “We’ve got fatigue in the rosters that the workers are driving and we’ve got stories of commuters and school children being left all across Newcastle.”

Mr Preston dismissed a suggestion that the issues could be teething problems.

“The size of the problems we’ve faced since the company [took over] is not acceptable,” he said.

Keolis Downer Hunter CEO Campbell Mason said the company hadimplemented a payroll system “that will ensure all Newcastle Transport staff are paid accurately, on time and in accordance with the conditions of their employment”.

He said a“small number” of payroll errors occurred as a result of migrating data from Transport for NSW to the Keolis Downer system, but those errors had been resolved.

Mr Mason said processes had been introduced to ensure drivers had the necessarytime off.

“No drivers have been required to work concurrent shifts without taking the required break,” he said.

Labor transport spokesperson Jodi McKay said Mr Constance needed to address the issues that had been brewing since the bus network was privatised.

When asked about the problemsand what the government did to make the transition smooth, Mr Constance said: “I expect Keolis Downer to pick up their game and make sure all staff are paid on time”.

Related content:

Keolis Downer handed the keys to Newcastle buses and ferriesKeolis Downer underpays drivers againKeolis Downer awarded contract to run Newcastle public transportNewcastle bus drivers underpaid after privatisation

Why Chinans haven’t been given a travel warning for the US



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It’s been a week since a gunman opened fire on a crowd of people at a concert in Las Vegas, raining bullets on them from a distant hotel room, killing 58, injuring some 500 or so. It’s a shocking event, something that has reverberated around the world.

In some ways, of course, it’s even more shocking that it was not unexpected. Mass shootings happen so often in the US that many go unreported here in . It’s only the big ones that make the news these days.

And this is big. You’d expect some sort of travel warning, naturally. If there’s a terrorist attack in Turkey, you’re warned. If there’s civil unrest in Myanmar, you’re told to be careful. The n government’s Smart Traveller website usually errs on the side of caution, scaring people when sometimes they don’t really need to be scared. So obviously there will be a warning about travel to the USA.

And yet, there isn’t. The official advice level on Smart Traveller, a week after the shooting, remains green. It’s “Exercise normal safety precautions”. That’s as safe as it gets. It’s like New Zealand.

The “latest advice” section mentions recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Nothing about a shooting. The summary of notable events in the US mostly focuses on hurricanes and travel restrictions that don’t affect n passport holders.

Tucked towards the bottom of that summary list, in between entries on regulation Homeland Security stuff, and something about Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas, there’s one short paragraph: “The United States has more violent crime than , although it rarely involves tourists. Mass shootings continue to occur in public places. See ‘Safety and Security’.”

Cool. Wait, what? Mass shootings? In public places? Isn’t that kind of a big deal? Isn’t that something you’d want to emphasise a little higher up? Isn’t that the kind of thing that would be setting off alarm bells the size of Big Ben if it was happening in Egypt or Colombia or somewhere like that?

Of course it would. And that doesn’t mean that the US is any safer to the average tourist that those other countries. What it means is that Smart Traveller’s warnings don’t exist in a vacuum, they’re influenced by politics, by the countries we see as our allies, and the countries we see as our enemies. Warnings are not created equal.

So you need to look at those warnings, particularly for the US, and add in your own information, your own conclusions. Is the US really a “normal safety precautions” country? Are people safe to visit a place that has regular mass shootings in public places?

My opinion is yes, and no. Yes, you can visit the US as a tourist right now and there is a very high chance that absolutely nothing bad will happen to you. The only guns you’ll see will be emerging from singlets on Venice Beach. The only violence you’ll witness will be on an ice hockey rink.

The United States is a huge country full of overwhelmingly friendly, welcoming people, the type who will love you purely because you talk kind of like a Hemsworth, who will treat you as a friend, who will show you a good time and send you on your way with a smile. That’s the US I know, and it’s the US so many other visitors are also familiar with.

However, it’s also impossible to claim that the country is completely safe, that going there carries the same level of risk as going to New Zealand, or Fiji. While mass shootings of random people continue to occur in public places, you have to accept a slim degree of risk when you travel to the US, in the same way as you would in any other country that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through Smart Traveller, rates as “High degree of caution” or above.

I would never advise people not to travel to the US, in the same way I wouldn’t want people to be turned off going to Thailand, or Peru, or Iran, or any other country with a rating higher than green. These are extremely rewarding and welcoming destinations, and the actual threat levels on the ground often turn out to be extremely minimal.

But you have to have a look at that green threat level and wonder. What has to happen in the US for it to change?

Do you think Smart Traveller’s rating for the US is fair? Do you take government warnings into account when you travel? Are there other countries that have been unfairly categorised?

Email: [email protected]苏州夜网.au

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