TOPICS: Tough ask as students to argue merits of feesDebaters Elyse Hudson and Paul Scott. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Debaters Elyse Hudson and Paul Scott ready to battle for the Godfrey Tanner Great Debate. Picture: Jonathan CarrollWE dare you to find a more turbo-charged thing to bring up at the University of Newcastle than fee deregulation. OK, maybe the cheating scandal. But fees are a big deal.
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That political hot potato will be served up next Tuesday during the Godfrey Tanner Great Debate, the uni’s annual tussle between students and staff. Popular former ABC Newcastle presenter Carol Duncan will adjudicate.

The debate topic, officially, is ‘‘to ensure Australia remains globally competitive in an international economy, universities should be able to set their own fees in a deregulated market’’.

Fraught, no? In a sadistic twist, the students have to argue for fee deregulation. Christopher Pyne will be sore from grinning.

Fittingly, the debate is a fund-raiser for the Godfrey Tanner memorial scholarship, worth $3000 to students facing hardship. They might need it soon.

The debate kicks off at 6pm in the Godfrey Tanner Bar, and regular punters are welcome to attend. It tends to be a ‘‘fun, loose evening’’, a source tells us.

Richie Beeton at his front door, which came from Rohallion, a reputedly haunted house on the Hill. Picture: Peter Stoop

​IF a spooky old mansion had a reputation as a ‘‘ghost house’’, you’d hesitate to souvenir a bit of it, wouldn’t you? Not Richie Beeton, of Belmont North.

He tells us his current place has the front door of Rohallion, a grand old house that once graced The Hill. It was pulled down 50 years ago.

‘‘I must have been in my 20s, and the blokes doing the demolition said, ‘If you want anything just take it’,’’ recalls Richie.

‘‘So I went in with my screwdriver and got it.’’

Rohallion was considered a landmark in its 1880s heyday but, in the proud Newcastle tradition, was falling apart by the 1960s. There’s a block of units there now.

‘‘It also boasted showy blue Venetian glass surrounding a large panelled cedar door with a shiny brass knocker and knob,’’ according to Herald history writer Mike Scanlon.

Richie says he remembers the blue glass, though it’s long been replaced. The house’s dark reputation stems from a rumour of a young woman being murdered on its front steps in 1937.

If that door could talk, eh?

Rohallion, the reputedly haunted house on the Hill, which was pulled down 50 years ago.

YOU won’t catch us running for Premier. It looks exhausting.

Asked at a press conference yesterday to gauge the mood in Newcastle, Mike Baird tried gamely to whip himself into a frenzy.

‘‘Well … ah … can you feel it?’’ he asked.

Well, no. But Mr Baird warmed into his How Good’s Newy? routine and soon had the reporters transfixed. Most of them are crushing on him pretty hard, truth be told, queuing for selfies and beers after hours during the campaign.

‘‘Look at those beaches. I mean, those beaches,’’ Mr Baird enthused.

‘‘Across the world, if you happen to be unfortunate enough to be living in the UK you would be desperate, you would be desperate to get to those Newcastle beaches. I mean, they are, like, the best beaches in the world.’’

Topics thanks the Premier for his honesty about our world-leading beaches, and wonders how many other coastal communities have heard the same spiel.

​Email Tim [email protected]上海龙凤419m.au or tweet @TimConnell or phone 4979 5944