Boat capsize passengers brought ashore safe

Monday, 14. January 2019

IN GOOD HANDS: Passengers are loaded on to an ambulance at Cleveland.TWO crew and nine passengers aboard a charter fishing boat that overturned on the South Passage Bar have been returned safely to the mainland.
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Paramedics met three passengers, one with a badly lacerated head, at Volunteer Rescue Marine headquarters at Cleveland after the men were returned from Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island.

The bedraggled men declined to talk about their early morning experience.

Senior police praised the braveactions of a police officer who dived into the water to help save those on boardwho could not reach life jackets, saying it was lucky everyone was accounted for.

Water police were called to the bar between North Stradbroke and Moreton islands just after 6am.

Bayside Patrol Group Acting Inspector Steve Hollands said there were potentially direconsequences when those on board were thrown into the water.

“The information that we’ve received is that a water police vessel was the first on scene and one of the officers entered the water to assistin extracting all of the persons on to the vessel,” he said.

“My understanding was the actionsof the officer was very brave.

“With any maritime situation, there’s obviously a delay in getting resources out to them, which heightens the risk, so we’re very grateful that all persons were able to be saved.”

One person wasflown to hospital and nine others have received medical treatment.

OVERBOARD: Two of the passengers leave the VMR boat at Cleveland with a Queensland Ambulance Service officer.

The vessel is being towed back to the mainland and investigationscontinue.

​A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said one man was airlifted to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with spinal precautions, while the other 10 were taken to the Dunwich Health Service Centre for further assessment.

Some passengers from 10-metre Moreton Island Fishing Charters vessel Firebird appeared to be suffering hypothermia, according to police.

Boat owner Mat Hubbard declined to comment.

Inspector Hollands said the vessel itself, the Firebird, was resting on the sand bar and would hopefully be retrieved later in the day.


Initial reports to police said nine passengers and two crew were on board when the vessel overturned between Moreton and North Stradbroke islands about 6am on Wednesday.

A police spokeswoman said all passengers and crew had been accounted for but one man had a serious back injury whileanother had taken in a large amount of water.

SAFE AND SOUND: VMR crewman Robert Cooper of Wellington Point leaves the rescue boat.

The Rescue 500 helicopter had been dispatched to meetwater police as they headed to Dunwich, on North Stradbroke Island.

Queensland Ambulance Service acting operations supervisor Logan Smith said the charter fishing vessel capsized on the South Passage Bar.

Water police and emergency services were sent to the scene after an emergency beacon was activated.

Two people were flown to Brisbane by chopper and theother nine taken to Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island for medical assessment.

Supt Logan said one patient had a substantial scalp injury that needed treatment.

Redland City Bulletin

Thornton childcare centre approved

Monday, 14. January 2019

Maitland Town Hall.Maitland councillors have approved plans for a new childcare centre at Thornton, despite concerns raised by vocal residents.
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All councillors except Henry Meskauskas voted on Wednesday night to approve the Avondale Drive centre, which would cater for up to 58 children aged five and under.

It came after someresidents urged councillors to reject the plan, amid concerns the centre would negatively affect the neighbourhood.

Possible traffic dangers, noise, parking and lighting impacts were among the concerns raised.

David Monk told the meeting that he and his wife had not long moved into their new home when they received a letter saying a childcare centre had been proposed for the two neighbouring blocks.

He said there had been a “number of near misses” with existing traffic levels on Avondale Drive since he had moved in late last year.

“We would not have purchased our block if we’d have known a childcare centre [was being built next door],” Mr Monk said.

A report by council staff noted the centre would operate between 7am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, and that the facility would contain indoor playrooms, amenities, sleeping areas, and two outdoor play areas.

There will be a car park with 15 regular spaces and one space for people with a disability permit.

Another nearby resident, Greg Andrews, said residents feared that increased traffic would put pedestrians and motorists at risk.

He said there had been two traffic incidents in Somerset Drive, which also borders the site, since Christmas.

One of these, Mr Andrews told the meeting, involved a driver losing control on a wet road and the vehicle ending up on one of the blocks where the childcare centre is expected to be built.

“We do not want any more traffic in our area,” he said.

Five submissions were lodged against the childcare centre during the public exhibition period, according to council’s report.

Several conditions are expected to be imposed to allay some of the concerns raised by the residents.

Ultimately, council staff recommended that councillors should approve the centre, which was allowed in the area’s zoning.

“The proposal is considered to be in the public interest as it will be providing additionalchild care facilities for the community and whilst the proposal will have some minorimpacts on the area (noting the land is currently vacant), the proposal provides for apositive social and economic benefit for the growing community of Thornton,” council staff noted.

Several councillors spoke in favour of allowing the childcare centre to go ahead.

Cr Robert Aitchison said he understood the concerns that had been aired, but Maitland was an area with a rapidly growing population.

“It’s compliant and we need the extra childcare places,” he said.

Cr Steve Procter responded to residents’ calls for councillors to vote with their conscience.

“I’m afraid we don’t have the opportunity for a conscience vote,” he said.

“We have to rely on the facts from our professional members of staff.”

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Minimising risk, raising well-being

Monday, 14. January 2019

SOPHISTICATED IMAGES: Advances in diagnostic ultrasound mean specialists can detect and manage a greater range of issues in pregnancy.
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Advances in diagnostic ultrasound now enable obstetricians and gynaecologists to detect many more things during pregnancy, a lot earlier.

The result has been a significant reduction in risk to both mother and child and the ability to tailor treatment and management plans.

“We’re now able to see a lot more, a lot earlier,” obstetrician Dr George Angus said.

“Whereas 20 years ago ultrasound could detect basic flows, it can now measure blood flows to the baby itself and its organs.

“High risk can be evaluated, and treatments expedited or delayed, thus minimising risks and providing extra management tools.”

Dr Angus cited the example of a patient who had a big bleeding incidentat 29 weeks into the pregnancy.

“Twenty years ago ceasarian section would have been almost automatic,” Dr Angus noted.

“This year I did an ultrasound and was able to detect that the baby was unaffected and so the mother stayed pregnant.

“This gave the baby more time to mature in utero, and thus reduced the likelihood of disabilities and related intensive care issues.”

Advances in ultrasound diagnosis have resulted in two major improvements for the well-being of women in general.

The first involves endometriosis, a painful heavy bleeding due to the lining of the uterus being in the abdomen or uterus muscle.

“Ultrasound can now see where that’s involving the bowel and bladder and enabling us to start treatments earlier,” Dr Angus said.

The second area of advancement is 3D/4D ultrasound for assessing pelvic floor function.

“Diagnostic ultrasound developments now mean our approach can be more precise and thus management of pelvic floor treatments after childbirth can be more tailored to defects.”

Dr Angus has been a practising obstetrician and gynaecologist for 20 years, is based at Newcastle Private Specialist Centre and holds a Diploma of Diagnostic Ultrasound.

He is a graduate of The University of Sydney and completed his specialty training at Royal North Shore Hospital, UKand John Hunter Hospital.

Doyle suffers defeat on V8 backtrack bid

Monday, 14. January 2019

DEFEAT: Greens’ councillor Therese Doyle’s motion to withdraw Newcastle council’s support for the V8 Supercars race was rejected at Wednesday night’s meeting.A GREENS proposal for Newcastle to withdraw its support for the V8 Supercars race has been slapped down amid scenes of outrage from East End residents who decried the council’s “shame”.
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The city’s support for the Newcastle 500 was reaffirmed on Wednesday night after Cr Therese Doyle’s (Greens) motion, citing recent crashes in the sport as a reason why the race should not be held, was rejected by the majority of councillors.

Cr Doyle had argued that the sport was a “highly destructive event” that would “cause harm” to the community, through emissions and noise pollution,when it is held in November.

“There are health risks that are beyond what is reasonable,” she declared.

She also argued that the city had committed too much money to host the race when the business case “doesn’t add up”.

“We should be very careful with the ratepayers’ money,” she said. “It’s a party – it’s a very expensive party – and it’s over very quickly. We bear the financial burden for much longer afterwards.”

Newcastle council’s support for the Supercars race has been reaffirmed despite an attempt to turn back the clock @newcastleheraldpic.twitter南京夜网/v9REp883x1

— Brodie Owen (@Brodie_Owen) April 26, 2017

Cr Michael Osborne (Greens) said the Newcastle 500 would be “held up as an example in universities about how not to consult”.

“We did not consult with the community before we even made that decision [to host the race],” he said. “The Supercars way of consultation is not the way to go.”

Cr Brad Luke (Liberal) said recent crashes in the sport – which included a 12-car pileup at a race in Tasmania earlier this monththat saw one driver taken to hospital –had resulted in no harm to the public.

“The accidents that you’re referring to, there was no public hurt. The only damage done was to the cars,” he told the meeting.

“Those drivers got up and raced the next weekend. The participants take a risk, yes, that is a fact of life.”

Cr Doyle rejected that.

“It’s quite extraordinary that we can think the risk of a fig tree dropping a branch on someone has more risk than the Supercars,” she said.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who has been publiclycritical of the state government and Destination NSW in its handling of the race, acknowledged that “the first year is going to be the most difficult year”.

“I’m hoping those communication channels [with residents] are improved,” she said. “Community safety is paramount to that process.”

Cr Doyle’s motion was voted againstby all but Greens councillors.

East End residents, who had filled the public galleries, shouted down the council for its “shame”and immediately left the meeting.

“You’re rubbish, rubbish, rubbish,” one woman said.

“Civil action coming, civil action coming, civil action coming,” said another.

Mum’s manslaughter trial

Monday, 14. January 2019

Newcastle courthouse. A HUNTER mother accused of “gross criminal negligence” in the death of her 12-year-old daughter will face a manslaughter trial in Newcastle Supreme Court.
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The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was represented by solicitor Mark Ramsland when she appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

The woman pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and the matter was committed for trial to the Sydney Supreme Court in June.

The girl’s step-father, who also cannot be identified for legal reasons, was committed for trial on charges of murder and reckless grievous bodily harm during a court appearance on April 12.

A raft of other alleged offences, including seven counts of common assault and 10 counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm,will serve as back-up and related offences when the man faces a trial in the Newcastle Supreme Court either later this year or early in 2018.

The man was arrested several kilometres from the family home on September 23, 2015, two hours after the girl’s mother discovered her daughter dead in her bed.

“I woke up about 5.40pm,” the girl’s mother allegedly told detectives.

“I went into [the girl’s] room and she wouldn’t wake up.

“I touched her and she was cold.”

Prosecutors will allege the girl hadbeen continually physically abused by her step-fatherin the lead-up to her death beforeshe was allegedly bashed by her stepfather and put to bed in the family home.

“He has hit her before,” the mother allegedly told the detectives after the girl’s death.

“He mostly takes her into the bedroom and won’t let me in.

“Sometimes he uses something to hit her with.”

The girl’s mother was arrested in June last year andcharged with her manslaughter after detectives conductedan eight-month investigation into the girl’s life in the lead-up to her death.

It will be alleged the mother showed “gross criminal negligence” by knowing that the girl was being continually physically abused.

According to a statement in the brief of evidence, detectives investigating the death alleged that it “became apparent that [the mother] was complicit in [the girl’s] death”.

“There was further evidence alleging [the step-father] had assaulted the victim a number of times prior to her death,” the statement reads.

The step-father remains in custody, where he has been since his arrest in September, 2015, while the mother remains on conditional bail.

Both will appear in Sydney Supreme Court on June 2 to set a trial date in the Newcastle Supreme Court.

Universities encouraged to take care

Thursday, 13. December 2018

Valuable role: Dr Marie-Pierre Moreau said there was a “misrecognition” of care work as ” a disturbance”. She will speak from 1pm on Thursday in HB13 at Callaghan.UNIVERSITIES need to provide moresupport to academics who juggle their careers with caring for children or elderly or disabled relatives, according to a visiting scholar.
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The University of Roehampton’s Dr Marie-Pierre Moreau will speak at the University of Newcastle on Thursday about her recent research project, whichfocused on how a university’s policies affect academic staff who are carers, plus how an academic’s caring responsibilities affect their careers and lives.

“There’s a general lack of awareness and that’s to do with the history of higher education, where traditionally it was a male scholar who didn’t have any caring responsibilities or was able to rely on the support of his spouse to undertake the care work,” Dr Moreau said.

“We still have this ongoing care-free culture, so often caring responsibilities are dealt with on an individual level rather than in the workplace and that contributes to make them invisible.”

Dr Moreau said while academics were“relatively privileged”, their profession was also “very greedy on your time”.

She said she had found the degree of support universities provided to academic carers was usually “quite modest” and depended on “how flexible and supportive your line manager is”.

She said there was also a “hierarchy of care”, with more support provided to academics with visible caring responsibilities, for children.

“If you have an elderly father who lives on the other side of the country, it’s up to you to make appropriate arrangements.”

The result, she said, wasacademics who may feel drained, emotional and distracted.

“If universities want to continue to attract the best people, then they need to be accommodating and acknowledge they’re not care-free workers, they do have responsibilities outside the workplace.”

DrMoreau suggested universities regularly collect data on their staff’s caring responsibilities and use this to inform more inclusive policies.

“What will be the different effects on carers and non carers? Make sure care is embedded in every policy and that policies are reviewed before they’redeveloped to make sure they’re not [adversely] affecting carers.”

Virtually no limit to the potential of VR

Thursday, 13. December 2018

More than fun and games: Unreal VR co-founder Daniel Girgis, seated, with business partner Matt Thomas.
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NEWCASTLE has gained another virtual reality hub in Unreal VR.

Six months after VRXP opened in Watt Street, Unreal VR has openedon the Pacific Highway in Charlestown.

Co-founders and relatives Daniel Girgis and Matt Thomas said their decision to open the business they label a start-upwas based on the increasingly broad appeal of virtual reality technology.

“VR has been around for 40 years but I have been watching the space and it’s becoming more commercially viable because the technology is getting so powerful,” says Mr Girgis, an industrial designer who also has his own company.

The Charlestown studio has four VR stations, or rooms, separated by curtains as well as a driving and flight simulator that has been a drawcard for both thrill-seekers and retired pilots.

“We are trying to appeal to families, professionals and businesses and for this also to be a studio for research to test new applications of VR,” says Mr Thomas.

“People are coming in for a fun experience and that covers the rent, but the real potential is in research and development across many industries.”

The business stocks a range of VR experience programs for punters but with Mr Girgis’ “super geek” background, also plans to develop its own.

The men say the only limit on the potential use of VR is your imagination.

Already, VR is being used in education, sport (to help athletes practice), training and even health and therapy.

“We are working with some therapists to assist with mood displacement, using different colours and experiences to lift mood,” says Mr Thomas of the research potential.

“The application of the technology really drives us in giving people an experience that they could otherwise not get.”

There is increasing interest in VR from the real estate sector –with estate agents giving virtual tours of apartments they are pre-selling.

The latest technology allows the viewer to change and mix and matchdesign and decor features of the home to allow the viewer to get a feel for what the final product will resemble.

Until recently the CEO of publicly-listed debt collection specialists Collection House, Mr Thomas relocated to Newcastle six months ago to be closer to family.

“I’m an escapee from the corporate world,” he says with a grin.

As such, he’s excited about the use of VR for training and team building purposes,providing an environment that gives people a chance to fail with a soft landing: “Anything that helps people work together more selflessly is a good thing,” he says.

Sew and steady wins

Thursday, 13. December 2018

Material gains: Mulberry and Flax owner Jennifer Smart in her Islington store. Picture: Penelope GreenOUR rapidly moving society is driving a resurgence back to pursuits of old, says the owner of the latest “crafty” business to open its doors in Newcastle.
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Former film industry veteran, author and screenwriter Jennifer Smart made the tree change to Newcastle two years ago and decided to invest in her love for fabrics and yarn.

“My sister had just died of a heart attack and it made me reassess and realise that life is short,” she says.

“I have always had a passion for knitting and fabric so I thought about how to make it work.”

In April last year she opened Mulberry and Flax, which specialises in high-end fabrics that she largely sources from the US but also in small quantities from Japan.

She recently relocated to Maitland Road, Islington, where she has more space to expand her range.

The daughter of a knitter and sewer, Ms Smart stocks a range of Liberty prints: “I think my fondness for them comes from my grandmother,” she says.

She also sellsa wide range of ethically produced fabrics that are mostly hand-made and largely using Australian yarn.

She retails European silk by labels including US fashion designer Tory Burch and currently has in stock a black silk fabric featuring gold lurex that was used by Kate Moss in her Capsule Collection.

She has sourced organic, Indian hand-block painted fabrics and Pirate Purl yarns made with superfine merino wool that is dyed in Newcastle.

Mulberry and Flax is a havenfor those who knit, crochet, weave, felt and sew.

“Most shops sell one thing for one craft,but if people have an interest in craft they tend to be interested in others,” explains Mrs Smart.

Briefly living in Newcastle as a child, she feels an affinity with the Hunter and is impressed by its creative kudos.

With workshops in weaving, knitting and crocheting afoot, she is noting interest from young women who want to get hands-on about craft.

“The faster that life becomes, we want to reach out to slower pursuits,” she says.

Nine-year-old asylum seeker gets compo for Christmas Island suffering

Thursday, 13. December 2018

The federal government has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to a nine-year-old girl who was detained on Christmas Island.
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The deal ends a bitter, three-year legal battle which had initially aimed to secure compensation for thousands of asylum seekers.

The Iranian girl, referred to as “AS”, was held in detention on Christmas Island for almost a year, after arriving in Australia with her parents by boat in 2013.

A class action was launched on her behalf in 2014 against then-immigration minister Scott Morrison and the Commonwealth.

The girl’s lawyers argued that she developed post-traumatic stress disorder, a dental infection, a stammer and separation anxiety in detention, and still needs ongoing medical treatment.

Lawyers reached a compromise before the trial, which involves the government paying compensation to AS in exchange for her dropping her legal claim.

Supreme Court Justice Jack Forrest approved the confidential deal on Wednesday.

The deal comes after Justice Forrest last month halted the class action, ruling that other asylum seekers could no longer jointly sue the Commonwealth with AS.

The judge said that their personal injury claims were too different from hers and each other’s to be dealt with as a group.

This left AS alone in her claim against the government. She and her family have been living in the community on a temporary bridging visa since January 2015.

Outside court, Sister Brigid Arthur, the litigation guardian for AS, said that the girl and her family were relieved to put the case behind them.

“In one way while it’s an effort to get justice, it’s also an extra trauma for them, and an extra thing they were waiting for a response to,” said Sister Arthur, who is co-ordinator for the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project.

While 35,000 asylum seekers were detained on the island between 2011 and 2014, it is unknown how many had signed on to the class action.

Tom Ballantyne, a principal of Maurice Blackburn, which represented AS, said outside court that while the deal was in her best interests, no amount of compensation could properly recognise what she and other asylum seekers had been through on Christmas Island.

Mr Ballantyne rejected the notion that the class action failed, saying Justice Forrest’s decision did not affect other Christmas Island asylum seekers’ legal rights to claim compensation separately.

“It in no way judged the actual conditions on Christmas Island,” Mr Ballantyne said.

“There are thousands of people who have been deeply affected by their experiences [in detention] and we encourage them to seek legal advice if they want to.”

The judge will make formal orders in the coming days, and the question of legal costs will be discussed in court next week.

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the minister and the Commonwealth had made no admission of liability in relation to the matter.

“As this matter is still before the Court in relation to some outstanding issues, it would not be appropriate for the Department to comment further.”

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Global gas giants use loophole to avoid tax on billions

Thursday, 13. December 2018

Foreign-owned gas companies have legally avoided paying significant tax on billions in earnings from their Australian operations because of loopholes, according to a study.
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The loopholes have allowed the companies to write off interest payments for the borrowings of offshore subsidiaries, it has been claimed.

The study, by academic accountants at the University of Technology School of Accounting, and left-leaning campaign group GetUp, looked at the available balance sheet data of gas giants ExxonMobil and Chevron. It found the two companies have achieved colossal revenue flows from their Australian operations but paid little if anything in petroleum resource rent tax in recent years.

The practice is known as “debt loading” or “thin capitalisation”.

Over the two years 2013-14 and 2014-15, Chevron earned more than $6.12 billion in revenue, but paid nothing in PRRT, according to the assessment.

It found ExxonMobil achieved revenue of almost three times that at $18.08 billion in the same period, but paid only $803.5 million.

The study concluded that between the operation of the company tax rules and the petroleum resource rent tax regime these enormous multinational resources companies can “load up” their balance sheets withexcessive debt, thereby reducing taxable income to the point where the tax liability is low or non-existent.

The report, Investigation into the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax and Debt Loading in Australia – 2012 to 2016, found 95 per cent of oil and gas projects in Australia paid nothing in PRRT in 2014-15.

The case for reform has been boosted by a recent Federal Court ruling that went against Chevron Australia in a $340 million dispute with the Australian Tax Office for financial arrangements between 2004 and 2008. The full bench concluded the Australian arm had paid more in interest payments to its US parent company than would otherwise be necessary, thus reducing its taxable profits.

However, the company noted it had paid close to $4 billion in taxes and royalties since that period.

GetUp’s Natalie O’Brien said the interest payments on borrowings were designed to minimise or eliminate tax liabilities, that could otherwise fund schools and hospitals.

“Between 2013-2015, Chevron made over $6 billion in revenue in Australia. It paid zero dollars in PRRT, and they paid zero dollars in income tax,” she said. “That’s a rort.

“In the same period, ExxonMobil made $18 billion in revenue and paid no income tax.

“Australians are sick and tired of big corporations using their influence to increase their own power and profits, at the expense of the community and our environment.

“Every day people are being forced to deal with cuts to essential services – all because our politicians won’t stand up to these greedy gas giants.”

The government has commissioned independent expert Michael Callaghan, AM, to review the operation of the petroleum resource rent tax to assess its effectiveness at securing a suitable return for Australians from the development and sale of their mineral resources.

The PRRT was introduced in 1988 under the then Hawke Labor government, and was designed to tax profits at 40 per cent.

It differs in this crucial respect from state royalties, which tax according to volume and thus do not differentiate between highly profitable ventures and those that might be marginal or even loss-making.

However, profitable income under the PRRT is calculated after the deduction of eligible expenses and where these expenses exceed revenue in a given year, such losses can be carried forward to the next year for deduction. This means high capital start-up costs, can be amortised over years, rendering apparently lucrative projects free of PRRT liabilities.

“The good news is that we can fix this,” Ms O’Brien said. “We can close the loopholes, and recover enough to restore every last cent of Coalition cuts to local hospitals and fully fund Gonski needs-based school funding reform – twice over.”

“Debt loading refers to a tax avoidance strategy where business operations and investments are funded with excessive debt rather than equity,” the UTS report authors note.

“Excessive use of debt compared to equity creates ‘debt loaded’ or ‘thinly capitalised’ structures. Debt loading is often used by subsidiaries of multinational entities to shift profits from high to low tax jurisdictions.”

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