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Debt won’t affect power bills

FEARS that households and small businesses will be forced to bear the brunt of debt lumbered onto power distributor TasNetworks can be categorically dismissed, according to economist Phil Bayley.
Nanjing Night Net

TasNetworks will from today take on $325 million of Hydro debt, in a move the government says will ensure the renewable energy generator remains sustainable.

The transfer takes TasNetwork’s total debt to about $1.64 billion, after it last month gave $30 million to prop up Forestry Tasmania.

Greens leader Kim Booth argued the government was pursuing a dangerous strategy bound to drive up power prices.

‘‘TasNetworks has only got one way of collecting revenue and that’s to charge for transmission of electricity and that ends up on everybody’s power bills, so the Treasurer is just using weasel words,’’ Mr Booth said.

‘‘If TasNetworks has an alternative revenue source by which they will pay down this debt, then please inform us.

‘‘Otherwise clearly it is Tasmanian mum and dad power consumers, and local business consumers, who will be paying.’’

Mr Bayley said the assertion was wrong, arguing TasNetworks was a regulated business with no capacity to alter its prices.

‘‘The mix of debt and equity any regulated business holds has no impact on its pricing … there’s absolutely no relationship there at all,’’ Mr Bayley said.

‘‘There is some evidence having high debt encourages power network businesses to operate efficiently and refrain from gold-plating network assets.’’

His views were echoed by TasNetworks chief executive Lance Balcombe, who said the increased debt level would not impact prices, customer services or capital plans.

Mr Balcombe said the Australian Energy Regulator assumed a debt gearing of 60 per cent among distribution companies and set prices accordingly, irrespective of a company’s financial standing.

He said TasNetworks’ debt loading would increase to 62 per cent after today’s transfer – a level he described as comfortable.

Mr Balcombe said there was no immediate need to pay off the debt, and did not believe it would impact the company’s credit rating.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein this week said Hydro had been forced the shoulder the multimillion–dollar debt when the former government bought the rarely-used Tamar Valley Power Station.

But Labor leader Bryan Green hit back, saying Mr Gutwein supported the purchase while in opposition.

‘‘The reality is that Mr Gutwein’s irresponsible spending spree during the election campaign has resulted in real pressure on our economy,’’ Mr Green said.

‘‘The government is eroding public services and stripping more and more money from our GBEs to pay for election pork barrelling that we cannot afford.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bail refused: woman held under new laws

THE state’s tough new bail laws that came into effect this week have had their first test in Tamworth.
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In Tamworth Local Court yesterday, a woman charged with three offences was refused bail in an appearance after the court found there was “no evidence as to why detention was not justified”.

The “show cause” hearing was triggered after the court was told the woman was on parole when she allegedly committed a strictly indictable offence.

It was the first “show cause” bail determination in the region under the amended laws, which came into force on Wednesday.

Those charged with serious offences must now prove they should not be held in custody.

Senior Tamworth police were brought up to speed on the new laws this week.

They joined thousands of their counterparts across the state as well as solicitors, the judiciary and Department of Justice staff who have been trained under the legislation.

Those deemed an unacceptable risk will be refused bail under the new laws.

In making bail determinations, magistrates, judges and Supreme Court justices will also have to consider risk factors such as criminal associations, victims’ views and any history of non-compliance with bail and court orders.

“This applies to crimes punishable by life imprisonment, the sexual assault of a child, serious firearm and drug offences, repeat personal violence offences and any serious indictable offence committed while a person is on bail or parole,” Attorney-General Brad Hazzard said.

“This is about keeping the state’s most dangerous criminals off the streets so we can better protect the community.”

The state government is touting the laws, which it maintains should make the community feel safer.

“From now, new laws make it very clear that those who pose an unacceptable risk, as defined in the legislation, should no longer be released on bail,” Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said.

“In the case of certain serious offences, the onus will be on the accused to show why their detention in custody is not justified.”

The state government has confirmed a Bail Monitoring Group, made up of police and representatives from justice agencies, will continue to review the laws to ensure they are operating effectively.

Former attorney-general John Hatzistergos will deliver a final report midway through the year.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘Serious charges’: bail denied for Walcha accused

A WALCHA woman will remain behind bars under the state’s tough new bail laws after she allegedly tried to influence a person to pervert the course of justice and coached a child to interfere with the evidence.
Nanjing Night Net

Natasha Beth Darcy-Crossman was arrested in Walcha on Wednesday night and failed in her bid to be released on bail in Tamworth Local Court yesterday, after she couldn’t persuade the court as to why she should not be detained.

“Oh god,” the 39-year-old shrieked, dropping her head into her hands after bail was refused. Darcy-Crossman was one of the first locals to be detained under the new Bail Act, after a “show cause” hearing was triggered by the serious charge, which was allegedly committed while she was on parole.

The court heard Darcy-Crossman had two weeks remaining on a two-year, 11-month sentence, after she was convicted in the district court of damaging property by fire, following an incident in Walcha in 2009.

Solicitor Fiona Hadlington said there were six issues, including “community and family ties” to Walcha, which demonstrated why her client’s detention was not justified.

“There would be a very long delay,” she said, adding that her client might not get to trial before early next year.

“There is no evidence to say she made a false statement … I find that very hard to prove … I do think that it is a very weak prosecution case.”

Ms Hadlington said her client denied enticing someone to change their statement after a meeting at a front gate in Walcha, as well as allegations of text messages.

“As your honour knows, that does not make a strong prosecution case,” she said, adding it was a he-said, she-said situation as it stood.

“She thinks (the complainant) is trying to get her into trouble.”

Police prosecutor Sergeant Cynthia Donovan said the charge of coaching a child to assist in criminal activity was a “premeditated and planned act”, while perverting the course of justice was a deliberate attempt “to manipulate theevidence”.

“This defendant has gone to great lengths to interfere with witnesses, which has brought the case today,” she said.

Sergeant Donovan said it was “a strong case” and that Darcy-Crossman was a high risk of reoffending and would “endanger the complainant and victims”.

“The community is at risk of those concerns,” she said.

Darcy-Crossman is facing three charges, including doing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice, making a false representation resulting in police investigation, and recruiting a child to carry out or assist in criminal activity.

“The accused has not provided evidence as to why detention is not justified. Accordingly, bail is refused,” Magistrate Michael Holmes said.

The case will return to court next month.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Council writes to minister with coal seam gas concerns

GREATER Taree City Council will “write to the minister expressing our concerns with the circumstances that have lead to the voluntary cessation of coal seam gas activities in Gloucester and seek an assurance that no further drilling will occur until the matter is fully investigated by the relevant authorities.”
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Council resolved to write to the Minister for Planning and Environment at its meeting on Wednesday.

Mayor Paul Hogan stated, “council and MidCoast Water have regularly expressed concern about the potential impact of coal seam gas mining in the catchment of the Manning River on the water quality of the area. The latest developments are very concerning and we are requesting that the State government and the Environmental Protection Agency leave no stone unturned in understanding what has happened at the pilot site run by AGL”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Situation dire: Petition seeks guaranteed government funding for hospital

Community pressure is needed to effect change on how government funding is allocated: Country Labor candidate and Taree doctor, David Keegan (second right) with Bryan Clancy, Marion Hosking OAM and Nola Binder discussing the lack of hospital funding. THE “dire situation” facing Manning Hospital in Taree is the catalyst for a community campaign to try to secure a State government guarantee that it will fund stage one infrastructure works.
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Counter tops in doctors’ rooms, chemists and general stores in the three State electorates that feed patients to the hospital will display a petition that seeks to focus State government attention on Manning Hospital. It reads:

“This petition of the citizens of the Greater Taree, Great Lakes and Gloucester local government areas, brings to the attention of the House, the dire situation facing the Manning Base Hospital in Taree. After years of lobbying for hospital funding, a Clinical Services Plan and Building Master Plan was completed in July 2013 and has been endorsed by Hunter New England Area Health Service. The undersigned petitioners ask the Legislative Assembly to guarantee funding to implement stage one of Manning Base Hospital.”

Driving the petition initiative is Dr David Keegan and he is hoping to mirror the success of the community campaign to stop the closure of the Nita Reed Community Dialysis Centre in Taree. Dr Keegan stepped forward in October last year to expose the concerns of hospital medical staff and patients about the Hunter New England Health (HNE Health) decision to close the dialysis centre. A petition as part of a broader campaign by Dr Keegan, Greater Taree City Council mayor Paul Hogan, Nita Reed OAM, Lyn Mayo OAM and dialysis patients saw HNE Health act to stop the closure of the centre.

Dr Keegan contends that community pressure on the State government is the only way to effect change in how funding is allocated to our region and he recently announced that he will seek to advance issues politically by standing as the Country Labor candidate for the Myall Lakes electorate in the March 2015 election.

He says it is critical that Manning Hospital be urgently allocated funding and “sadly, it seems that only when our community is forced to rally together to fight, like we did with Nita Reed, that anything seems to be done.”

“Three years ago the creation of a Clinical Services Plan (CSP) was considered urgent. It was done and nothing has come of it, and now we’ve been told that it’s really only a concept plan,” Dr Keegan said.

“We need the State government to direct money to our hospital so that we can get urgent capital works underway and I’ve now learned that it’s not even in the State government’s forward capital works program.”

Dr Keegan is also utilising www.change.org to provide people with access to an online petition. To access the petition go to the website and enter ‘Manning Base Hospital’ in the search box to locate the petition or click here.

Dr Keegan’s petition comes in the wake of recent comments about the infrastructure crisis and the political representation of member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead by Manning Health Committee chair, Don Macinnis.

Mr Macinnis described the infrastructure crisis as “a festering sore” and said “millions of dollars was urgently needed”. He said “the biggest challenge to be addressed is to get our local member who specialises in sound bytes, press releases and photo opportunities to get off his backside and do something.”

The reference to Mr Bromhead stems from the committee’s frustration at being repeatedly told “that money is coming”.

“Having spent all that time drawing up plans and ideas we want to know how they (State government) are going to go about it, and when they are going to start,” Mr Macinnis said.

“We want Mr Bromhead to put his hand-up for a new hospital. It is as simple as that.

“The front portion of the hospital was completed 57 years ago. That’s the front wing the other wing is older and inside that time, it has been gutted and rebuilt four or five times.

“It’s just a festering sore, I prefer to call it, and it’s not just us, Forster is just as much involved when you think about the issues.”

Two weeks ago Mr Bromhead issued a media release stating, “it is very pleasing that the NSW 2014/15 Budget contained $50 million in the Restart NSW program for six regional hospitals from which Manning Base will receive $5 – $10 million to kick start the project.”

The release did not provide the exact funding figure or details of when monies would be provided to enable works to begin but further questions to Mr Bromhead revealed that “the amount will be determined by the treasurer, the health minister and cabinet.”

The Manning River Times this week sought an update from Mr Bromhead regarding any further developments in relation to infrastructure funding. No response from Mr Bromhead was received at the time of going to print.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

MORNING RUSH: news, sport, weather, traffic and online buzz

​Don’t forget to refresh for updates. Got a news or traffic tip? Would love to hear from you – [email protected]南京夜网.au
Nanjing Night Net

8.30am That’s it from us this morning. Have a fantastic Wednesday. See you tomorrow!

8.24am WORLD NEWS:A South Carolina judge has sentenced fugitive mother Dorothy Barnett, who kidnapped her baby daughter two decades ago and lived a secret life in Australia, to 21 months’ jail. Read more.

8.22am Arrrrr look at this baby seal, oh so cute!

Post by seal.

8.12am Mark Feb 22 at 5pm in your diaries – it’s the last Hawks home game.

8.10am The team over at Three Chimneys have been baking again – this time, they’ve whipped up some yummy coffee cream & walnut scones.

three8.08am BREAKING:Two men have reportedly been arrested in Sydney in connection with an alleged beheading plot.

8.06am Port Fairy in Victoria has been dubbed Australia’s most liveable town.

Port Fairy, Victoria

8.04am TV NEWS: Have you been watching MKR? Canberra mum & daughter Gina & Anna made some SHOCKING food & were eliminated. If you missed it, here’s a recap.

8.02am LOCAL NEWS:Four Illawarra companies are among those interested in removing the defunct Oceanlinx wave generator off the coast of the coal-loader at Port Kembla.

*Reporter Glen Humphries has the story.

8am CELEB NEWS:IsHome and Awaystar Steve Peacocke poised to follow in Chris Hemsworth’s footsteps?Peacockehas been cast in a new film based on the bookTaliban Shuffle.It also stars Tina Fey & Margot Robbie.Nice!

7.58am Good morning! Welcome if you’re just tuning in.Today, we’re in for another partly cloudy day with a slight chance of a shower this morning. Expect a top of 26 degrees. All good on the roads & rail.

7.56am TRAFFIC UPDATE -Unanderra:All eastboundlanes have reopened on Five Islands Rd,approaching the F6,after that earlier accident.

UNANDERRA: All e/b lanes have reopened on Five Islands Rd approaching the #M1PrincesMwy following an accident.

— Live Traffic NSW (@LiveTrafficNSW) February 10, 2015Pitch Perfect. The sequel is set to hit theatres in May. Can’t wait!

7.46am Austinmer Rock Pool is set to close again on Monday for further repair work. The pool is expected to re-open on Feb 23.

7.44am TRAFFIC ALERT – Unanderra:a two-car accident is blocking two lanes eastbound on Five Islands Rd approaching the F6.Expect delays.

UNANDERRA: A 2 car accident is blocking 2 lanes e/b on Five Islands Rd approaching the #M1PrincesMwy. Expect delays.

— Live Traffic NSW (@LiveTrafficNSW) February 10, 2015Taken 3 on Thursday night.

7.34am Haha this is too good – this dog is just catching up before the release of 50 Shades of Grey this week…

507.32am EDUCATION:As the Abbott government hopes to get its controversial higher education reforms through to the upper house, the Senate could be looking for an alternative. Debate on the legislation to deregulate university fees will continue in the lower house today. (AAP)

7.30am Okay, time for a game of “anywhere but here”. Today I’d rather be winning some $$$ at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Sigh.

Sweet Charity is coming to the IPAC. It’s on from March 11-15.

7.26am HEALTH:Damage to the brain’s outer layer caused by smoking may be reversible after quitting, but it could take years,a study says.

7.24am ARRRRR TINY HAMSTER IS BACK! You remember him – the little guy that eats little tacos and pizza!? Well he went on a tiny Valentine’s Date. OMG I AM DYING….

Post by hamster.

7.22am Today is a sad day for ice-cream -Aussie icon Dairy Bell will close its factory doors by the end of the month. 🙁

7.20am Good news for Eurovision tragics – Australia is joining the Eurovision Song Contest. YES!!!!!!!! Who cares that it’s not in Europe!?

Australia is joining the Eurovision Song Contest. We know it’s not in Europe. We don’t care. http://t.co/jwI46MPhU1pic.twitter南京夜网/wjrnwXAjl3

— Digital Spy (@digitalspy) February 10, 2015Post by wyatt.

7.14am POLITICS:Tony Abbott needs to let his ministers do more talking and better understand his opponents’ perspectives if he is trulyto reset his leadership, negotiation experts say. Read more.

7.12am Don’t forget there is HEAPS of solid music theatre opening in the region this week – Evita at Roo Theatre, Once A Catholic at the Phoenix and A FairyGrimm Cabaret at Workshop Theatre. Phew!

7.10am Happy birthday Jennifer Aniston! The actress turns 46 today. Happy birthday to other Feb 11 babies too.

Post by jen.

7.08am LOCAL SPORT:FootballSouth Coast announced the opening of the region’s first Girls Football Academy on Monday. Very cool.

7.06am TV NEWS:Breaking Badspin-offBetter Call Saulhas broken a ratings record.The highly-anticipated drama drew an audience of 6.9 million during itslaunch on Sunday in the US – that makes it cable television’s highest-rating debut in the 18-49 demographic. Sheesh!

7.04am POLITICS:Independent senatorJacqui Lambie is threatening to introduce a private senator’s bill to stop what she believes is “halal money” funding terrorist group Islamic State. Read more.

7.02am CELEB NEWS: Hundreds have flocked to a candlelight vigil for Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney Houston’s daughter.

Post by bobbi.

7am If you missed this yarnby the talented Bri Parkins over the weekend, grab a cuppa and read it now – we love small bars!

6.58am Good morning! Welcome if you’re just tuning in.Today, we’re in for another partly cloudy day with a slight chance of a shower this morning. Expect a top of 26 degrees. All good on the roads & rail.

6.56am Awww look at this little goat. CUTE!

Post by goat.

6.54am Finally, the truth is out there – women ARE better drivers than men. Well at least in NSW. And probably not me because I really am a HOPELESS driver. Here’s the story:figures released by the Roads Minister Duncan Gay show female drivers in NSW are benefiting at an outsize rate from a scheme that gives discounts to motorists with unblemished driving records.

6.52am Don’t forget this Saturday is Valentine’s Day. Oooo.

6.50am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Garbage singer Shirley Manson has hit out at Kanye’s Grammys rant re Beck v Beyonce, stating:”You make yourself look small and petty and spoilt… I am pretty certain Beyoncédoesn’t need you fighting any battles on her account. Seems like she’s got everything covered perfectly well on her own.” Ouch! #kanyevhollywood #ohkanye

Post by kanye.

6.48amNSW: Some commercialdivers in Newcastle havevideoed a HUGE shark under their boat as they prepared to enter the water. Freaky!

6.46am Want to win a family pass to the Pixar Film Festival on Feb 21 @ Greater Union Shellharbour? We’ve got some to give away. Enter here.

6.44am In some weeeirrdnews this morning, convicted killer Charles Manson and his 27-year-old fiancee have called off their wedding. Because … she was only marrying him to SECURE THE RIGHTS TO HIS CORPSE. WHA!?

Post by manson.

6.42amQantas Airwaysfrequent flyers will be allowed to bid for upgrades to any empty business class seats a week before they fly, in an initiative designed to increase loyalty to the ­airline and boost revenue.

6.40am SYDNEY:A Sydney GP has been found incompetent to practise medicine because he has a narcissistic personality disorder, which impairs his ability to relate to, diagnose and treat patients. Read more.

6.38am O-Week is coming! And to celebrate, His Boy Elroy is hosting 99c wings on Wednesday night, $5 hot dogs on Thursday night & cheap drinks over the weekend. Nice!

Post by oweek.

6.36am LOCAL NEWS:The imminent arrival of the Qantas 747-400 has been the major focus for HARSin recent months, but another new addition will take centre stage this week -a former Royal Australian Air Force Mirage.

*Reporter Alex Arnold has the story.

6.34am TV NEWS: in what can only be described as perfect casting (pun completely intended), Eddie Perfect has joined the cast of Play School.

Eddie Perfect.

6.32am People, a diary date: local historical documentary Pig Iron Bob will screen at the Wollongong Town Hall on March 21.

6.30am WORLD NEWS:US President Barack Obama has confirmed the death of Kayla Mueller, a US aid worker who had been held hostage by Islamic State militants, saying the US would “find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible”.

Kayla Mueller. Photo: AFP/Mueller family

6.28am POLITICS:So big is the hit to the budget from commodity prices and the measures held up in the Senate it may “never get back to surplus”, Treasurer Joe Hockey has told the Coalition party room. Ouch. Read more.

6.26am Awww, does anyone else have a puppy that has THIS face?!

Post by dog.

6.24am MOVIE NEWS: Okay, so 50 Shades of Grey opens in theatres tomorrow. Will you be going to see it? I’m not keen – I feel like it’s come WAAAY too late after the “buzz” of the books. Thoughts?

6.22am Have you been snapped out & about in the Illawarra? Check out this week’s social pics – you never know who you might spot.

6.20am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Got a spare $3.88 mil? Excellent – you could snap up this pad from Scarlett Johansoon who just bought this LA home.

Post by la.

6.18am NATIONAL:Australian households are paying far more than people in comparable countries in electricity network charges, with huge discrepancies across different states, a new report has found. Read more.

6.16am LOCAL NEWS:A Sydney truck driver has been slapped with a hefty fine for sending an offensive religious text message to a North Wollongong woman.

*Reporter Bree Fuller has the story.

6.14am STRANGE BUT TRUE: I had to share this with you – I bought a robot vac awhile back and let me tell you, I eyed that thing off last night after reading this story. I don’t even know how this happens!?

Post by vac.

6.12am WORLD NEWS:South Africa has marked 25years since the day Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

South Africa has marked 25-years since the day Nelson Mandela was released from prison. #9Newspic.twitter南京夜网/zk4tEmA9nL

— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) February 10, 2015Bachelor winner Anna Heinrich had been in the jungle for just one day before she started wailing on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here. Missed last night’s ep? Here’s a recap.

6.08am CELEB GOSS ALERT: Rumours are circling that Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt are planning on adopting again. This time, a little boy from Syria.

Post by brang.

6.06am And in national news, via the SMH:

*A manpolice suspect was a mastermind of the Bali Nine drug importation is living a life of luxury in Sydney while two junior members of his syndicate, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, await the firing squad in Bali.

*A young woman has been shot dead by a police officer outside a western Sydney fast food restaurant. Read more.

*One of Georgina Bartter’s closest friends has been charged with supplying the ecstasy that led to the Sydney teen’s death at a music festival last year.

6.04am Here’s what’s making news in your Mercury today:

*A Thirroul couple whose car was wiped out by a 30-centimetre piece of falling rock as they drove up Bulli Pass say they are lucky to be alive.

*A Wollongong man who threatened to shoot and slit the throat of a child witness in a court case against him has been jailed for a minimum six months.

*University of Wollongong researchers have struck gold in their search for a more effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Read more.

6.02am Let’s kick things off with the latest weather & traffic

WEATHERMan alive, it was muggy overnight. Today, we’re in for another partly cloudy day with a slight chance of a shower this morning. Expect a top of 26 degrees.

TRAFFICAll looks good for your morning commute around town & to Sydney or south.

TRAINSThere is a good service on the South Coast line.

6am Good morning! It’s Wednesday, happy hump day. Middle of the working week already, roll on the weekend!

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Famous author from Wellington passes away

Colleen McCulloughColleen McCullough, the internationally famous Australian author, has died in hospital on Norfolk Island. She was 77. The author was born in Wellington
Nanjing Night Net

McCullough worked as a neuroscientist in the United States before turning to writing full-time.The Thorn Birds, a romantic Australian saga published in 1977, has sold 30 million copies worldwide and is the highest-selling Australian book, helped by the popular 1983 mini-series.

The paperback rights forThe Thorn Birds,McCullough’s second novel, were sold at auction for a then record $US1.9 million.

Her 25 books included a deeply researched fictional series set in Ancient Rome, which won her the admiration of readers including former NSW Premier Bob Carr and Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives, and was credited with renewing interest in ancient history among university students.

McCullough lived on Norfolk Island for most of the past 40 years and married Norfolk Islander Ric Robinson in 1983.

She died on Thursday afternoon after suffering a series of small strokes. She had lost her sight from macular degeneration and was restricted to a wheelchair.

In 2013 she published her final book, the novelBittersweet, about four sisters in 1920s New South Wales.

Her publisher at HarperCollins Australia, Shona Martyn, said McCullough had been dictating a sequel, set around World War II,into an old-fashioned dictaphone but had only completed a third of the novel when she died.

Sydney literary agent Selwa Anthony, one of McCullough’s closest friends, said she had encouraged McCullough to return to writing the mainstream women’s fiction that had made her name.

“She finally gave in andBittersweettook her back to Colleen’s storytelling. She said she would call it ‘chook lit’ and I said ‘Don’t you dare.’

“The book has done extremely well [with Australian sales at 65,000 copies] and pulled in a lot of mainstream readers who had moved away.”

Anthony was working as a buyer at Graham’s bookshop in Sydney whenThe Thorn Birdswas published.

“I was so excited when I read it before it was published that I said I’ll take 500 copies and the sales rep nearly fell over. We had already sold half of them when she came in and signed books for two hours.”

Australian readers lovedThe Thorn Birdsbecause McCullough wrote about Australia in a way that hadn’t been done.

“I thoughtThe Thorn Birdswas as good asGone with the Windbut set in our landscape,” Anthony said. “It was over the top and a real page-turner.

“She encouraged me to become a literary agent and gave me the courage to say I’m going to discover lots of popular Australian fiction writers.”

McCullough turned to the Roman novels she had always wanted to write when she had enough money to live and employ researchers to help her gather the vast amount of historical information she used. She accumulated an impressive private library of material on the Roman republic.

As NSW premier, Bob Carr quoted from McCullough’s biography of Sir Roden Cutler at the funeral of the former NSW governor. This led to a friendship based on a shared passion for Roman history.

Carr read all but one of McCullough’s seven Roman books (“that one had one siege too many”).

“Her research was unimpeachable,” he said. “She spent 13 years before she wroteThe First Man in Romein the most systematised research.

“She took rolls of telex paper, got all the resources of the Roman Republic and typed up everything that happened in every year. I think her background as a medical researcher explained that cast of mind.”

“The artistry became more finely honed as she got to the end of the series and her touch became lighter and livelier. She outshone others who have nibbled at stories of the Roman Republic. [Scottish author] Allan Massie was pallid by contrast.”

Carr said McCullough was “easy to get to know; she exuberantly shared her life story and gave a colourful account of her father who was revealed to have had two families. She had a great partnership with Ric, which was hugely apparent, and they were great company.”

While publishers continued wanting her to write anotherThorn Birds, McCullough went on to write a series of detective thrillers set in 1960s America.

“She wrote what she wanted,” Anthony said.

Anthony described her friend as “a big lady who was open to interviews and the passion was always there. She had a big life and leaves a big legacy through her wonderful books and her generous spirit; she was always helping people.”

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, paid public tribute, saying, “Colleen McCullough AO was one of Australia’s most-read authors. She enthralled readers for decades.

“Colleen McCullough was a unique Australian personality and Norfolk Island’s most famous resident.

“Her bookRoden Cutler VCwill always be required reading for those who want to know the story of one of Australia’s great heroes and NSW’s longest-serving governor.

“She will be missed.”

Read more:http://www.smh南京夜网.au/entertainment/books/colleen-mccullough-author-of-the-thorn-birds-dies-20150129-131dka.html#ixzz3QEl541Sg

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘Arise, my Hubby’ … Buckingham Palace maintains silence over knighthood bestowed on the Duke of Edinburgh

Under fire … Tony Abbott has faced a backlash for recommending the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, for knighthood in the order of Australia.What’s wrong? Ask Grong Grong – the locals will be honest
Nanjing Night Net

London: Buckingham Palace is maintaining a stony silence on the knighthood bestowed on the Duke of Edinburgh even though, technically, the Queen herself is knighting her husband.

In response to a list of questions submitted by Fairfax Media on Thursday, the palace even refused to confirm whether the Queen would personally hand Prince Philip the insignia of the Knight of the Order of Australia.

The previous two Dames and a Knight, since the order was reinstated last year, all were ‘invested’ in the order by the Queen in person.

Dame Quentin Bryce visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace last July, Sir Peter Cosgrove was invested at Balmoral in Scotland in August, and Dame Marie Bashir received the order’s insignia in an audience with the monarch at Buckingham Palace in July.

However, when asked when and where the ceremony would take place between the Queen and her husband, Buckingham Palace referred all questions back to the Australian government, saying it would not give any “guidance” on matters of process.

“The Queen acts on the advice of the Australian government on any appointment to the Australian order, just as she would act on the advice of the UK government for any British Knighthoods. We would direct you to the Australian government for further guidance on your below questions,” a Palace spokesperson said.

The Palace also declined to answer whether it was common practice for a royal to acknowledge, or express thanks, for honours and honorary positions bestowed by foreign governments or organisations.

The Duke of Edinburgh has made no public comment on his appointment (and we are unlikely to find out whether he has thanked his wife in private) – his most recent comments are about engineering, in an article in New Scientist.

And the Palace press office has not reflected it in their press releases or Twitter feeds.

This has led to speculation in the ‘electronic graffiti’ of social media that the Palace wants to stay out of a fight that has turned embarrassingly political – though another theory is that they have been too busy dealing with the scandal enveloping the Duke of York.

The knights and dames in the order of Australia were reinstated by ‘letters patent’ amended by the Queen under the great seal of Australia at St James’ Palace (the most senior palace of the Sovereign), on March 19 last year.

According to those letters patent, appointments to the order as knight or dame are made “with the approval of the Sovereign on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, by Instrument signed by the Governor-General and sealed with the seal of the order”.

There is no explicit instruction that the honour must be invested by the Queen in person. Technically, it seems, it could be signed by the Governor-General and sent to the Duke in the post. Or not.

However, the Queen has conferred titles on her husband in the past – and did it in person.

Most recently, she formally presented him with the title and office of Lord High Admiral of the Navy, as a present to mark his 90th birthday. The ceremony took place at Admiralty House in Whitehall in November 2011, four months after it was announced.

In the UK honours system, recipients of an honour are members of the order from the moment it is announced. The ‘investiture’ is a subsequent, ceremonial element.

It appears that Prince Philip has already been knighted, whether or not the Queen ever officially whacks him with a sword.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sydney’s Goods Line misses Gehry business school opening after delays

The incomplete pedestrian area next to the newly constructed Gehry building. Photo: James BrickwoodA Sydney project compared to New York’s famous High Line will not be ready for the grand opening of Frank Gehry’s first Australian building after becoming mired in delays.
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The Goods Line, a former freight railway track being converted into a pedestrian and cycling connection linking Darling Harbour and Central, was expected to open alongside the UTS business school designed by the renowned architect.

But the official unveiling of the university’s Dr Chau Chak Wing Building will go ahead on Monday with most of the adjoining Goods Line yet to be finished, after the state government project missed the anticipated deadline.

The 250-metre northern section of the multimillion-dollar, wifi-enabled, elevated park and thoroughfare was due to be ready by “early 2015” after its initial November completion date was pushed back.

It was expected to be finished ahead of the next stage, the redesign of a southern section of the former freight line linking through to Railway Square.

The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) said the contractor was working “tirelessly” to complete the first northern stage “as soon as possible”.

“Unfortunately, unforeseeable delays have slowed progress on site,” a SHFA spokeswoman said.

Delays associated with working around Sydney Trains’ high-voltage network, wet weather, design improvements and the delivery of pre-cast concrete panels used for key project elements like pathways, seating and stairs had all taken a toll on the timeframe, she said.

“UTS is a member of the [Goods Line] Steering Committee and has been kept updated on the project program throughout,” she said.

The Goods Line, billed as the civic “spine” of Ultimo’s education and technology precinct, is also expected to serve as a “visually attractive and functional frontage” to the Gehry building.

Work on the northern section, extending from the Ultimo Road underbridge through to the Powerhouse Museum, began in March last year.

UTS deputy vice-chancellor Patrick Woods said a 40 metre by 20 metre section of the Goods Line directly outside the Gehry building would be ready in time for Monday’s opening.

Mr Woods said the delays with the rest of the project had not held up the official opening of the business school building, which was completed in November.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

As Sydney builds its light rail, its last tram leaves for Victoria

Sydney’s last tram gets ready for its last journey Photo: Nic Walker Sydney’s last tram in the Rozelle tramsheds, which are about to be redeveloped. Photo: Nic Walker
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An artist’s impression of the City of Sydney’s plan for George Street in 2020. Photo: Supplied

Trams on the corner of George and Druitt streets, outside the QVB in the Sydney CBD in 1920. Photo: Supplied

Trams run down George Street in the early 20th century. Photo: Supplied

Half a century ago, Sydney’s last tram pierced the streets of Sydney’s eastern suburbs on a journey that would mark the end of the light rail in the hearts and minds of many Sydneysiders.

On Thursday, the last tram of that era embarked on a journey of resurrection, departing from the Rozelle tramsheds for Victoria after being neglected by successive NSW governments who enthroned cars and buses as the kings of Sydney’s roads.

Battered, bruised and graffitied with “bonez” and “babs was here” scrawled along it, the tram began its trip at the same time as the City of Sydney released its George St: 2020 paper on Thursday.

The paper gives the city a glimpse of a familiar future as the council mapped out its plans for the return of the George Street light rail route, on the exact path that up to 1500 trams once pounded the concrete.

During the 1920s, Sydney’s tram network was the largest in the southern hemisphere. So ubiquitous was the tram that entire suburbs and areas, like Bondi Junction and Maroubra Junction, were named after the point at which its lines met.

From 2019 the 21st century’s version of the “transport of the future”, or trams rebranded as light rail, will once again propel their way down George Street and Anzac Parade.

According to the City of Sydney plan, light rail will run down the middle of George Street, with a tree zone on either side, followed by a variable “flex-zone” for street furniture and an almost four metre pedestrian area along  buildings’ edges.

Though glamorised with all the mod cons of 2015, it’s a route that was already well established in 1920.

“This transformation is a unique opportunity to ensure that George Street becomes a world class boulevard that is also a thriving business and retail environment,”  Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

The cost of building the light rail  from George Street to Kingsford is expected to blow out to $2.1 billion by the time it is complete in 2019.

It is a figure that has left some wondering what would have happened if Sydney had just left its tramway network intact.

“Having the infrastructure there would have made a huge difference to the city today,” said Harold Clark, the president of the Sydney Tramway Society. “We would have a world class system but we gave it away because it was the flavour of the month to give it all up for cars and buses.”

The cost of the light rail project may prevent the government from expanding its capacity to anywhere near the level of its heyday, said Gavin Gatenby, from the advocacy group EcoTransit.

“The whole point about light rail is that it’s affordable, high-capacity and very flexible. It should be much cheaper than this. The fact that prices have been driven up so high means that we are not able to afford the amount of light rail we should be able to get.”

Mr Clark, who rode the city’s last tram in 1961, also regrets that the city’s last vintage trams have been left to rot.

“Now that we have light rail returning, they could have been made into fantastic tourist attractions, like the city circle line in Melbourne or the cable car in San Francisco.”

As for Sydney’s last tram, after the graffiti is cleaned and the emerald green restored in Victoria, it will come home again to its final stop at Mirvac’s Harold Park precinct in Sydney’s inner west. There it will form the centrepiece of the old tramsheds, which are being redeveloped into a shopping centre that also promises to blend old and new.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Duntroon workers win redundancy payments

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Dumped defence contractor Serco will have to pay hundreds of thousands in redundancies to up to 200 Canberra workers sacked after the Britain-based multinational lost the facilities contract for defence sites around the capital.

The Fair Work Commission has Serco, and its joint venture partner Sodexo, pay the cleaners, cooks and security guards, many of whom worked at the Royal Military College Duntroon, after a dispute over which workers were owed severance pay-outs.

The services union United Voice said the FWC decision had exposed the behaviour of the joint venture partners towards its former workers as “ugly and mean”.

The union says the workers, many of whom earned about $550 a week, might get between $4000 and $5000 each.

The joint venture Serco Sodexo Defence Services (SSDS) employed about 1400 workers in the ACT and parts of surrounding NSW, until it failed in a tender for Defence Department work last year.

SSDS supplied catering security and cleaning services to the military college and other military and defence installations, employing about 300 people, including about 100 casual employees.

When the joint venture failed in its bid to have its contract renewed in 2014, the workers were sacked with many of them finding work with the companies who took over the contracts.

Under Fair Work laws, a company does not have to pay a redundancy to a worker if the employer has secured a new job, with similar pay and conditions, for its former employee.

SSDS refused to pay redundancies to many of its Canberra workers, arguing that it had helped to get them jobs with the new contractors at defence, freeing the joint venture from the legal obligation to pay-out their former employers.

But after a three-day hearing in Sydney in November, Fair Work Commissioner Julius Roe found, in a decision handed down on Thursday, the joint venture had not played as decisive a role in its former employees’ new jobs as it claimed.

Workers gave evidence that they had heard about the jobs with the new contractors from a variety of sources, including Defence Department public servants.

“I am satisfied that SSDS was not a strong moving force behind the SSDS employees being offered employment with Transfield, Wilson, Brookfield, Menzies, AFL, Blackhawk, Spotless or Compass,” commissioner Roe wrote in his decision

“The actions of SSDS were insufficient to cause acceptable alternative employment to become available to the redundant employees.”

But the company still has a chance to reduce its liability with commissioner Roe agreeing to hear more legal arguments on the amounts to be paid.

A spokesperson from SSDS would not comment other than saying the company had noted the decision and was considering its position.

Tony Cabello, a security guard at the Defence Department’s Russell Offices, said he and his colleagues had been shocked when they lost their jobs at SSDS and had been given little help in securing new employment.

“Some of us were lucky to get employed but it wasn’t a very nice Christmas,” the father-of-four said.

United Voice ACT Branch Secretary Lyndal Ryan was scathing of the joint venture partners’ behaviour towards its former workers.

“This is the ugly and mean side of giant corporations,” Ms Ryan said,

“They can’t be allowed to flout local laws to rob hard-working loyal staff of their entitlements.

“This money is a drop in the ocean for SSDS but is a huge amount of money to those workers who have been left waiting.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Red-faced Canberrans avoid “messy” bowel cancer tests

Ella Wallace’s bowel cancer was treated successfully after early detection. Photo: Melissa Adams Ella Wallace’s bowel cancer was treated successfully after early detection. Photo: Melissa Adams
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Ella Wallace’s bowel cancer was treated successfully after early detection. Photo: Melissa Adams

Ella Wallace’s bowel cancer was treated successfully after early detection. Photo: Melissa Adams

A large number of Australians are avoiding free tests for the country’s second biggest cancer killer – and it may simply be to avoid embarrassment.

Bowel Cancer Australia data released on Thursday revealed only 43 per cent of males and 34 per cent of females surveyed had screened for bowel cancer despite the majority falling in the high-risk age group.

The reason? More than three quarters of respondents believed people avoided the tests because they are messy and embarrassing, despite the disease claiming nearly 4000 Australian lives each year.

Bowel Cancer Australia has launched a new awareness campaign – Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late – to encourage more people to prioritise bowel cancer tests.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program provides Australians aged 50 or older with free screening kits.

The organisation independently surveyed 1206 people aged 40 to 70 years to retrieve the data.

In the 2011-2012 year, 5717 Canberrans participated in the national screening program, 353 testing positive, according to the Department of Health.

Between 2008 and 2012, 128 Canberrans aged 74 and under died from bowel cancer.

Canberra colourectal surgeon Dr David Rangiah said there was a general reluctance about anything bowel related.

But screening and early detection could save lives.

“Anything related to bowels, I think that puts people off,” he said.

“I certainly think we’re behind other screening programs in terms of acceptance. Once people become aware it’s a really simple test to do … and it’s a private thing to do, it will become more acceptable.”

Dr Rangiah said the relatively new screening program involved gathering a small amount of fecal matter in a sealed bag and sending it to the organisation for testing.

He said anyone with bowel cancer symptoms such as bleeding, changing bowel movements or severe abdominal pain should see a doctor, even if they participated in the screening program or were younger than 50.

“Above age 50, incidents of bowel cancer really take off – age is probably the highest risk factor,” he said.

“But we are seeing an increase in incidents of bowel cancer below age 50, particularly among people in their 40s. Although it’s relatively uncommon, it shouldn’t be ignored.”

Franklin mother of two Ella Wallace knows firsthand the importance of seeking help straight away.

At 39 she is well below the typical bowel cancer age bracket. She discovered she had cancer almost five years ago.

“I had just given birth to my second daughter, she was four months old … and I was just about to go back to work after maternity leave,” she said.

“I noticed the smallest amount of blood on a tissue. I mentioned it to my husband. Right away, he said to get it checked. I never once thought it would be bowel cancer.”

A colonoscopy revealed the worst. Luckily, Ms Wallace’s cancer was at stage where it was operable and treatable.

Life is back to normal although she’s still at the watch and act stage.

“There’s a stigma that goes with colon cancer. I’m not male, I’m not 50 to 60 years old,” she said.

“Prevention is obviously the best cure and catching it early is so important. Don’t wait, don’t hesitate.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

NSW government announces $2.1 million funding boost for mental illness

“Developmentally appropriate” program: Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell. Photo: Jonathan Ng “Developmentally appropriate” program: Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell. Photo: Jonathan Ng
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“Developmentally appropriate” program: Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell. Photo: Jonathan Ng

“Developmentally appropriate” program: Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell. Photo: Jonathan Ng

The NSW government has announced that it will contribute an extra $2.1 million to a support program for young people with a mental illness.

A successful trial at Richmond psychiatric rehabilitation centre of the young peoples outreach program (Y-POP) found an 80 per cent reduction in the amount of time spent in hospital by young clients after entry to the program.

Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell said that those involved with the program made significant progress in a number of aspects of their lives including social engagement, independent living skills, health and well-being, self-esteem and confidence levels.

The program has been running since 2009 in Blacktown and Penrith and children are referred mostly after a period of treatment in a hospital.

“It’s for young people who have trouble connecting with other services,” said Pamela Rutledge, the chief executive of Richmond PRA.

“We go into the kids’ homes, we work with their family, often kids are locked away in their room, they’re so frightened and unwell. [Staff] can basically sit and talk to them and help them reconnect and get them in touch with clinical help if they need it or back to school or work.

“We’ve had amazing success with helping kids avoid hospitalisation. We’ve prevented suicide.”

The successful trial has led to the government committing funding to establish centres in South-Western Sydney, Hunter New England, Nepean Blue Mountains, Northern NSW and Western Sydney local health districts.

“Previous NSW community living support programs for people with severe mental illness have focused on the needs of adults,” Mr Rowell said. This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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