Councils oppose forced mergers

CENTROC has officially expressed its opposition to forced amalgamation.
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Bathurst Council Chambers.

Representatives of the 17 member councils met at Mount Panorama on Thursday to discuss the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s final report into the state’s councils.

The panel has made it clear that councils should consider forming alliances.

Earlier this year representatives of Bathurst Regional Council travelled to the Hunter region to see firsthand the preferred model for joint council ventures.

On Thursday, CEO of the Hunter group of councils Roger Stephan outlined how their model works to CENTROC members who did not make the trip.

The mayors and general managers of Bathurst, Oberon, Lithgow and Blayney councils have already met to discuss the option of forming a voluntary alliance.

Bathurst mayor Gary Rush is of the opinion that if these councils take a proactive approach, it would indicate they were in control of their own destiny.

The Bathurst mayor said CENTROC would be making a submission that it does not support the formation of mandatory joint organisations, however, he said certain aspects of the review were well received.

Cr Rush said member councils were cautious, and wished to explore all the options before any decisions were made.

“No council used the opportunity to state their position,” he said. “It is fair to say all local government areas realise there is a lot to consider. However, they don’t want any collaboration to be mandatory.

“I personally think there are advantages in having discussions and looking at how we can work together to achieve positive outcomes, particularly in relation to financial and resource sharing,” he said.

Cr Rush said chair of Central West Tourism, Norm Mann also spoke at Thursday’s CENTROC meeting.

He said they learned some funds have been allocated for distribution among local councils.

In the Bathurst region, these funds will go towards initiatives already planned.

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Brillante helps prop up Jets defence

HIGH FLYER: Josh Brillante.JETS coach Clayton Zane has no doubts that Josh Brillante will develop into a leader in the middle of the park, most likely at an overseas club.
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But for now Brillante is of most value to the Jets at right fullback.

The 20-year-old will line up on the flank for a fifth straight game against Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium in Parramatta tomorrow.

‘‘The loss of Scott Neville [to a season-ending knee injury] has hurt us a lot more than anticipated,’’ Zane said.

‘‘We didn’t want to get to the situation where we had to revert to midfielders playing at right back, but he has done a great job since coming in there.

‘‘We know away from home we are going to get a very solid defender, but he also gives us a little bit going forward as well. ‘‘In the future I can see him being an inspirational leader in the middle of the park.

‘‘But he needs to do a job for the team now, and he has done it so far.’’

After joining Newcastle from the Gold Coast, Brillante made his debut for the Jets at right back last season.

He makes no secret of his preference for playing in midfield but is content to fill whatever role is required.

‘‘When I first came to the club I played a lot of right back,’’ he said. ‘‘They are obviously very different roles, especially defence-wise.

‘‘I see myself as a midfielder. I grew up playing in midfield and enjoy that position the most. For now, it’s whatever is best for the team.’’

A fringe player in his maiden season at the Jets, Brillante grabbed the spotlight after a breakout campaign for the Young Socceroos at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in June.

His efforts in midfield were highlighted by a wonder strike against El Salvador. The goal, and his all-round performance, attracted attention from European clubs headed by Everton, Schalke and Lazio.

Managed by former Socceroos midfielder Vince Grella, Brillante has another year to run on his contract at the Jets but has aspirations of playing in Europe.

‘‘His mentality can’t be faulted,’’ Zane said. ‘‘He is the first to training every morning and quite often the last to leave.

‘‘He has the look about him of a kid who has one thing on his mind – to play in a bigger league abroad.

‘‘He knows the only way to do that is through persistent performances for Newcastle.’’

Brillante can’t help but smile when the El Salvador goal is mentioned, but he is yet to score a goal in the A-League.

‘‘To score a goal like that gave me a lot of confidence,’’ he said. ‘‘Even at right back, I have been having a lot of shots. Hopefully I get a bit of luck and put one in the back of the net.

‘‘Wanderers are very good in transition. As a fullback you want to get forward, but your first role is as a defender.’’

The Jets came from 2-1 down to grab a late equaliser in their last encounter with the Wanderers at Hunter Stadium four weeks ago.

Since then they have gone down to Phoenix 3-2 at home, upset Brisbane 1-0 away and lost to Sydney 2-0 (home) to slip to eighth place on 23 points, four outside the six.

It’s not do or die, but Zane said it was vital that the Jets ‘‘stay in contact with the rest of the pack’’.

‘‘There are still enough games to potentially finish in the top four,’’ Zane said. ‘‘Our thinking is that we can’t fall too far away from the pack.

‘‘We need to give ourselves every chance coming into the last three or four matches.’’

Kew Jaliens returns from suspension and Joel Griffiths is set to start his first game.

‘‘We are looking at a little more thrust going forward,’’ Zane said. ‘‘Wanderers try and control teams without the ball a lot more. We want people in the front third to take a little bit more initiative and take chances higher up the pitch.

‘‘There will be a lot of moments in the match where they want us to have the ball.

‘‘I don’t want players to shy away from a slower build-up. They just need to be able to read the game, when to quicken the tempo, when to be a bit more direct with Emile [Heskey], and choose their moment in the final third to take initiative.’’

Wanderers are lining up for a third game in nine days. They won 2-0 in Perth 2-0 last week before a demoralising 3-1 loss to Ulsan in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday.

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Jailed for fire bomb threat

A MAN has been jailed for threatening to fire bomb a house and assaulting a woman holding a two-week-old baby.
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Warwick Maxwell Toomey, 42, faced charges of common assault, stalking and intimidating and contravening the restrictions of an apprehended violence order when he appeared in Dubbo Local Court via video link from the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre in Sydney.

Magistrate Andrew Eckhold said the offences had been very serious.

“You were initially dealt with by circle (sentencing) and were placed on a three-year bond for assault,” the magistrate said.

“You have had extensive drug issues over a long period of time.

“Your background is tragic – your parents had issues with alcohol and you developed a physical addiction.

“You went to rehabilitation but left (a drug and alcohol centre) after three months and started using drugs again.

“In some ways it is a miracle that you are still alive.”

Magistrate Eckhold revoked the good behaviour bond previously imposed by the court and sentenced Toomey to 14 months jail, to date from January 15 this year. An eight-month non-parole period was imposed.

Toomey was jailed for 12 months for stalking and intimidating. A four-month non-parole period was set.

Toomey was placed on a two-year good behaviour for contravening the apprehended violence order.

Magistrate Eckhold made a finding of special circumstances due to Toomey’s need for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

“You are to be directed to full-time rehabilitation upon your release from jail,” the magistrate said.

“The bond is to supervised by Community Corrections.”

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On primes and Pluto

Maths Masters
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Is 1 a prime number? Not according to the Australian Curriculum, which bluntly declares that, whatever else, a number must be greater than 1 to be prime. So, that settles it. We’ll be back next week.

Except, of course, such an answer settles nothing. As many a curious maths student has noted, the apposite question is the follow-up: why is 1 not prime? After all, it is clearly not a product of other numbers. However, the frequent reply is a dismissive “because your teacher (and the Australian Curriculum) said so”. Great help.

There are variations on the don’t-bother-me response. For example, your Maths Masters are often apprised that a prime is a natural number (positive whole number) with exactly two distinct factors, namely 1 and itself; that leaves us with the expected 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 and so on. However this is nothing but legal shenanigans: the contrived qualification “exactly two distinct factors” has been inserted precisely to exclude 1, with still no justification for doing so.

And the justification can’t be all that simple. After all, the number 1 used to be prime. Really.

Exactly 100 years ago mathematician D. N. Lehmer compiled his List of Prime Numbers from 1 to 10,006,721. There, proudly occupying first place, is the number 1:

Was Lehmer a one-off, 1-loving crank? Decidedly no. In the centuries prior to Lehmer many tables of prime numbers were published and some, though not all, began with the number 1. Clearly some explanation is in order, and the explanation begins on Pluto.

Here’s the question: is Pluto a planet?

The answer, as most readers will know, is that Pluto is not a planet but that it used to be. Pluto was discovered in 1930 and was proclaimed to be the ninth planet in our solar system. However, astronomers always recognised that Pluto is very different from the other planets, and in 2006 the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a lesser, dwarf planet.

The point is that the notion of “planet” is not God-given and it is not set in stone. Rather, astronomers define what they mean by the word. Then, as astronomers learn more about just what kind of things are zooming around out there, they refine their classifications, making “planet” more precise and more useful. And so, as it happens, Pluto is demoted.

The question of which numbers are prime is analogous. We cannot hope to prove that 1 is or is not prime; it is simply a question of how mathematicians have chosen to define “prime”. And, though it is now accepted that 2 should be the first prime number, historically mathematicians have been neither clear nor consistent.

So how did mathematicians come to agree to exclude 1 as a prime, and why did it take them so long to do so? The answers take us into some weird and fascinating history.

The importance of primes is that they are the building blocks of the natural numbers; any composite number (a number greater than 1 that is not itself prime) can be written as a product of primes. For example, 84 is the product 2 x 2 x 3 x 7. Moreover, except for changing the order of the factors, 84 can be written as a product of primes in just that one way. That the same is true for any composite number is the very important (and not so easy to prove) fundamental theorem of arithmetic.

What if we permitted 1 to be prime? In that case, 84 would also have the “prime” factorisation 1 x 1 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 7. That is, 84 could still be factorised, but it would no longer have a unique prime factorisation.

The upshot is, if 1 is a prime number then describing prime factorisations is more complicated. That would seem sufficient reason to exclude 1 as a prime, and it is the reason your Maths Masters have always accepted. However, both mathematically and historically, that reason turns out to be somewhat wide of the mark.

Consider again the fundamental theorem of arithmetic. Is it such a big deal if we’re forced to replace “product of primes” with “product of primes greater than 1”? Hardly, and no one ever really considered it so. Indeed, until relatively recently the question barely even arose.

The fascinating history of such questions is documented in a wonderful paper by mathematicians Chris Caldwell and Yeng Xiong. They point out (quoting another excellent survey) that prime factorisation was not of any great interest before the 19th century. Yes, division by prime numbers was of practical importance, but not the complete factorisation.

It all really dates from 1801, when the great Carl Friedrich Gauss gave the first explicit statement of the fundamental theorem of arithmetic. Then, mathematicians began thinking seriously about the structure of numbers, and of whole worlds of numbers. And, once they started considering more exotic number worlds, things got very confusing.

In particular, mathematicians discovered very strange worlds in which a number can be factorised into “primes” in fundamentally different ways. (We’ll discuss these bizarre worlds in a future column.) In order to figure out what was going on, mathematicians were forced to be extremely thoughtful and precise with their definitions. A critical component of these definitions was to get the distractions out of the way, to classify do-nothing numbers such as 1 into their own separate group. That was the real impetus for 1 to cease being prime, though it still took another century for the modern definitions to take hold.

That would seem to be pretty much the story, except there is one more, astonishing twist. From the 19th century on there was good reason to exclude 1 from the primes, but what about prior to that? Yes, a number of mathematicians classified 1 as a prime number, but before 1600 it was very uncommon to do so. Why? Because 1 wasn’t a number!

We bet you didn’t see that coming. Certainly your Maths Masters didn’t. In their paper (and in an extensive companion survey coauthored by Angela Reddick), Caldwell and Xiong consider very carefully how mathematicians throughout history have thought of “number”. It turns out that, at least as far back as Euclid, most mathematicians prior to 1600 considered 1 to just be there. By contrast, “numbers” were different, effectively created from 1 by addition. It was only with the emergence of decimals in the late 16th century that excluding 1 as a number began to seem arbitrary and unnecessary.

The amazing fact is, for most of its history 1 has not been a prime number, simply because it hasn’t been a number. If it seems difficult figuring out what mathematics is about now, just imagine what it was like in times past.

Burkard Polster teaches mathematics at Monash and is the university’s resident mathemagician, mathematical juggler, origami expert, bubble-master, shoelace charmer, and Count von Count impersonator.

Marty Ross is a mathematical nomad. His hobby is helping Barbie smash calculators and iPads with a hammer.

www.qedcat南京夜网

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Chivers puts hand up for Futures League

Promising batsman Owen Chivers will make his ACT and Manuka Oval debuts less than three months after suffering a broken hand while bowling in the nets.
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Chivers hopes to use the three-day match with a NSW second XI starting on Monday ”to make a statement” for Futures League selection next summer.

The 19-year-old from Bowral has made an instant impression in his first season in the Cricket ACT first-grade competition, scoring a double-hundred for ANU in November last year.

But he was dealt a blow in the middle of December when he had to have eight screws and a plate inserted into his right hand after fielding off his own bowling in the nets.

Chivers initially thought he would miss the remainder of the season, but has got full movement back in his hand after playing the past two club games.

”I don’t normally bowl, and I was bowling to one of the lower-order batsmen and copped a ball straight back at me,” Chivers said.

”When I first came back two weeks ago it was 10 per cent weaker, but now it has fully recovered.”

Prime Minister’s XI representative Michael Spaseski will captain an up-and-coming ACT side featuring Chivers, Wests/UC batsman Adam Hewitt and emerging opener Matt Condon.

NSW will use the game to assess Manuka Oval to see if it would be suitable to host the Sheffield Shield final later this month if they win the rights to host it.

It is also an opportunity for fringe fast bowlers Gurinder Sandhu, Josh Lalor and Chris Tremain to push their claims for first-class selection.

”It’s going to be a great experience to see what it’s like to be on the end of a few of those rockets,” Chivers said.

”Sandhu’s going to be coming from a lot of height so I have to figure out how to combat that.

”My goal is to play in the Futures League next season and hopefully I can make a statement tomorrow.”

Play at Manuka Oval starts at 10.30am.

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Discord: NRL’s concussion precautions will protect players from themselves

Players will benefit from the new concussion rules. Photo: Anthony JohnsonUltimate League: Click here to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game 
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Let’s face it, the NRL didn’t do a very good job of proving that players were concussed when their clubs allowed them to play on over the past couple of seasons.

But now, we are being assured, the League is hellbent on proving they are not concussed when – or if – the new concussion guidelines are exploited to get a free interchange.

The bottom line is that it’s a good thing the League is doing something to protect players against themselves, and the sport in this country against bankrupcy which would surely come with an NFL-style class action. An American expert told the club CEOs by video conference recently that the legal action they would likely face would completely ruin them financially.

But the NRL has never taken action against clubs for flaunting the rules as they existed before. Even video of a player being given smelling salts was not considered compelling enough as evidence of an infraction.

Players stumbled around on national television and nothing was done.

So it’s hard to believe that collusion that happens behind closed doors, with just a few people involved, to fake a concussion can be adequately policed by the governing body.

Hopefully everyone will just appreciate what is at stake now, and will do the right thing.Flogging a dead horse

Is deducting points from clubs who go into bankrupcy a bit like executing someone for being dead?

Bradford are on the brink of collapse after their new owners-in-waiting withdrew an offer in response to the Bulls being deducted six competition points for entering administration.

RLF chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer says the would-be owners knew the dangers. Obviously a club going broke is not a good look for the sport and the governing body feels it has the right to respond with some sort of punative measure against those who damaged its brand.

But if there’s a bigger example in professional sport of kicking a dog when it’s down, Discord has not heard it. If the punishment is aimed at clubs who deliberately go into receivership to avoid their debts, why are we punishing the team and the fans, on the field?

Surely we don’t want people who do business in this way involved in our sport OFF the field? Punishing the team by docking points would achieve little but exonerate the RFL of accusations they did nothing.

It’s hard to imagine an NRL club experiencing financial difficulty being docked competitition points. In the past, the administration in Australia has helped clubs in trouble, by either advancing grants or even forwarding loans.

And what of the players still owed money by failed franchises such as the Celtic Crusaders? How does docking competition points help them?

In light of Bradford’s problems, it’s not surprising that the Super League clubs voted against a marquee player system.A word of thanks

Thanks to everyone who commented on Discord last week and Set Of Six on Monday.

Alan said the extended 1997 World Club Challenge was good. Most people would describe it as the most disastrous competition in the history of rugby league! As for his comment that State Of Origin was become irrelvant … Alan we dreamers often overlook the importance of tribalism in our game. Tribalism is why we have eight and a half teams in Sydney and none in Western Australia, South Australia or the Northern Territory.

There is clearly something to it!

Soot says a summer nines tournament may become irrelevant, like rugby union sevens. I’m sure the boffins at Rugby League Central would be happy to achieve that level of irrelevance. It doesn’t matter if the media ignores it, if it keeps the turnstyle clicking over the summer, then the concept will do its job.

DOS called for a PNG team on the NRL. As you may be aware, the PNG Hunters are making their Queensland Cup debut against Redcliffe on Sunday – and I’ll be there. But NRL? Is there a Major League Baseball team in Haiti? Where does the television rights income come from? How do you get players to live there? I have serious doubts it will happen in my lifetime.

Frank from Bexley, I suspect, was taking the mick so I won’t be responding to him.

Taffy said he liked my optimism but I thought last week’s column was largely pessimistic! I disagree that no-one debated union players going to league when union was not openly professional – many column inches were devoted to the subject at the time. And clearly hybrid games are commercial attractive because there are powerful forces pushing for them. You are right, however, to say rugby union in most places would have nothing to gain from rugby league – which makes the prospects I discussed last week even more forboding for league.

I recommend everyone read Friendly_Raptor’s comment at the bottom of last week’s Discord. I agree with Hear The Crow that Eddy Pettybourne should have been sent off on Saturday.

Here’s the forum

Subscribe to the podcast here

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James Courtney wins Adelaide 500 feature as Jamie Whincup makes bad start to title defence

Just when it looked like V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup was going to run away with the Adelaide 500, the dream start to his title defence turned into a nightmare after he figured in one of the many dramas of Sunday’s deciding race.
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Whincup failed to complete the final 250-kilometre leg after his comfortable lead at two-thirds distance was erased by a controversial pit lane drive-through penalty that triggered his ultimate demise.

Fighting his way back from the penalty, which dropped him to eighth, his Triple Eight Holden collided with Michael Caruso’s Nissan on the 63rd of 76 laps, snapping the steering. Whincup’s pit stop penalty handed the lead to Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney, who held off Craig Lowndes in the other Triple Eight Commodore to claim the Adelaide 500 trophy.

Lowndes’ second place, on top of his second and first in Saturday’s pair of 125-kilometre races, added to Whincup’s indignity as it left him trailing his veteran teammate in the championship standings.

While the start of Whincup’s bid for an unprecedented sixth V8 title ended in rancour and recriminations, Lowndes left the brutal 3.2-kilometre Adelaide Parklands street circuit with the early lead that most of his previous championship challenges have lacked – and on which they have often fallen short at the end of the season.

He amassed 282 points from the Adelaide 500’s three races, an advantage of 53 points over Whincup (199), who is fourth behind Fabian Coulthard (230) and Shane van Gisbergen, who were consistent scorers over the weekend.

Along with Whincup’s unexpected incidents, Sunday’s slog was punctuated by big accidents that helped define the outcome, causing safety car periods that bunched the field.

Will Davison, in his first event since his risky switch from Ford Performance Racing to Erebus Motorsport, crashed his Mercedes-Benz at the track’s infamous high-speed Turn 8.

After tangling with James Moffat’s Nissan Altima, Davison’s Merc was sent careering into the concrete safety barrier on the exit of the corner, losing its left front wheel and passenger front door.

But that crash was tame compared with the multiple rollover over suffered by Jason Bright, whose Brad Jones Racing Commodore was tipped over in a first-turn scuffle during the restart following Davison’s accident.

Bright was pushed sideways into a kerb, which tripped his car up on its wheels, which dug into the run-off area’s gravel and turned it on its roof.

The Holden slid across the track and slammed into a tyre barrier, sending it spiralling into the air along the safety fence before it slammed to earth upside down.

Bright was uninjured despite just about every bit of the bodywork being crushed or torn.

Whincup avoided the carnage but race officials ordered him to take a pit lane drive-through penalty after they observed that his car controller touched his car, which the rules prohibit.

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Mayor MacKenzie proud of council’s financial health 

PORT Stephens Council’s budget is in better shape than any council in the Hunter.
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The council crawled out of its multimillion-dollar financial black hole of 2009 to record a surplus last financial year.

At a time when other councils are struggling and being forced to make widespread cuts to services and staff, Port Stephens recorded an enviable $1.6 million surplus last financial year.

In 2009 the council had an underlying deficit of more than $10 million. It has spent every financial year since then painstakingly reeling it back in.

Council financial services manager Tim Hazell said the council returned to surplus two years ahead of schedule.

“We’d have to be one of the most envied councils,” Mr Hazell said.

The council also received a positive bill of health from independent auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers. It said the council’s financial position was improving.

However, it had fallen below acceptable industry benchmarks in some areas. These included civic assets, especially sealed and unsealed roads, drainage, kerb and guttering, which were described as being in poor condition.

The council has now turned its focus to asset renewal.

Mayor Bruce MacKenzie said he was very proud of the result, which had been achieved without council having to increase rates by more than the required minimum.

“This is the best council staff-wise and elected people I’ve been involved with for 44 years,” he said.

Port Stephens has the lowest rates in the Lower Hunter at an average of $950, compared with Maitland ($986), Newcastle ($1051), Lake Macquarie ($1141) and Cessnock ($1064).

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Greek star hopes for A-League attention

Former Greek international Sotirios Kyrgiakos has agreed to a two-game guest stint with NSW Premier League side Sydney Olympic.
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The 34-year old will make his debut for the ex-NSL champions against Blacktown Spartans on March 23 and is hoping to catch the eye of A-League clubs for next season.

Kyrgiakos has enjoyed a 15-year professional career with clubs such as Liverpool, Sunderland, Rangers, AEK Athens, Panathinaikos, Eintracht Frankfurt, and most recently, Wolfsburg.

While he missed Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph with a knee injury, he played at Euro 2008 and in the 2010 World Cup, accumulating 61 international caps.

Kyrgiakos said he first thought about moving to Australia when he was part of the Greek squad that played at the MCG in 2006.

“When I met Sydney Olympic technical director Arthur Diles in Athens, I was instantly excited by the opportunity to visit a country I briefly visited in 2006 when Greece played Australia in Melbourne,” he said.

“I’ll never forget nearly 100,000 people at the stadium that night. Greeks in foreign countries have achieved so much and I am aware of the great progress football is making in Australia, attracting star players like [Alessandro] Del Piero, [William] Gallas and [Emile] Heskey.”

Kyrgiakos says he still believes he has what it takes to earn a professional contract in the A-League.

“I am in very good physical condition and I am very focused on playing well for Sydney Olympic. But I want to play for another couple of years and the A-League appeals to me,” he said.

“I have had offers over the past six months from Europe but I want my last contract to be about a new experience, an exciting league and the A-League offers that.”

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Report from Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority warned against waste dumping plan

Dredging waste: Scientific advice opposing the dumping of waste in the Great Barrier Reef was ignored. Photo: Bloomberg NewsThe federal government ignored scientific advice when the dumping of millions of tonnes of dredging waste from a mining project into the Great Barrier Reef was approved.
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Documents released under freedom of information laws show the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority warned that approval should not be granted for dumping sediment waste into the reef to make way for a coal project.

”The proposal to dredge and dispose of up to 1.6 million cubic metres of sediment per year … has the potential to cause long-term irreversible harm to areas of the Great Barrier Reef,” the authority’s own report reads.

Under the proposal, the seabed would be dredged to create berths for six coal ships for the Abbot Point coal port expansion. The dredged waste would then be dumped in the Great Barrier Reef.

The report’s author warned particularly of the effects on seagrass meadows and coral reefs.

And yet the chairman of the authority, Russell Reichelt, approved the dumpings late last year.

”The approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds,” he said in January.

Queensland campaigner for Greenpeace Louise Mathieson said though it may be true the immediate disposal area has no seagrass, muddy plumes can spread for up to 80 kilometres. ”I think the chairman was downplaying the impact of dredging and dumping,” she said. ”What he said does not reflect the expert advice that was coming from staff about the real impacts the project could have, especially the risks to water quality.”

In its dredging permit assessment, the authority states that seagrass in the vicinity of the dredging activity is likely to be affected by the dumping, primarily by reduced light and increased water sediment.

”Coral reefs around Holbourne Island, Nares Rock, Camp Reef, Horseshoe Bay and Cape Upstart also have the potential to be affected by turbid plumes and sedimentation,” the assessment said.

The original application from North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation sought approval to dredge and dump 3 million cubic metres of spoil in the reef waters as part of coal terminal expansion plans at Abbot Point, north of Bowen.

Former federal environment minister Mark Butler extended the deadline for a decision on the application twice last year before the federal election.

Ms Mathieson said whilst these documents go some way in suggesting why a decision was delayed several times under Labor, they do not explain the approval granted by Greg Hunt, the present minister. But Mr Hunt says the groundwork for backing the dumping plan was made by previous state and federal Labor governments.

”This was Labor’s project, announced by Anna Bligh as a massive expansion and then upgraded to a super-terminal with 38 million cubic metres of dredging,” he said. ”The final approval was one-twelfth of this at 3 million cubic metres … I was advised the proposal put forward for offshore disposal was the best option available.”

In a statement released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, chairman Russell Reichelt said the documents released are “preliminary working drafts which were never submitted to the delegate, the senior manager responsible for the GBRMPA’s decision”.

He said the draft permit assessment took place prior to the application of rigorous conditions, “the strictest ever imposed on an application of this type,” which included a requirement for North Queensland Bulk Ports to offset the amount of fine sediments released into the environment by 150 per cent.

Should prevailing conditions such as waves, wind and currents contribute to the displacement of sediment towards sensitive habitats, disposal is not to proceed.

In addition, the Authority included a requirement that a five-year water quality monitoring program is to be implemented in addition to real-time monitoring, a condition which Mr Reichelt says is the “longest ever required for such a program”.

“Without these robust conditions GBRMPA is likely to have said ‘no’ to the application,” he said.

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Oscars: Getting a nod just a barrel of laughs for David Clayton

Nominee: Animation supervisor David Clayton with orcs from the Hobbit films. Photo: Ross Giblin Bombur barreling along in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Photo: Warner Bros.
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Dwarves in barrels racing down a river. A dragon buried beneath gold and jewels. Battles against exotic creatures.

Animation supervisor David Clayton has the kind of job he would never have imagined while he was growing up in Australia: creating visual effects for the Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy in New Zealand.

Nor would he have imagined being nominated for an Academy Award two years in a row, with every chance of a third consecutive nod, given there are plans for a spectacular finale to the trilogy.

After making an animated short film, Clayton was offered a job on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King more than a decade ago.

As he moved on to King Kong, X-Men: The Last Stand and Avatar, he joined dozens of Australians working behind the scenes in the film industry that Jackson built in Wellington.

”The ultimate challenge is to make sure any character we create is realistic and engaging and entertaining and holds up to the live-action performers they’re surrounded by,” he said.

Clayton is most proud of the dragon and dwarves-down-the-river scenes in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

”I started working on the barrel sequence years and years ago [when it was planned for the first Hobbit movie],” he said. ”The shot where Bombur bounces down the slope and he’s squashing all the orcs, that was originally my idea so I’m always stoked to see that go down well with an audience.”

While Clayton has been looking forward to his second trip to the Oscars, expecting it to be less nerve-racking than the first, he has no expectations of winning.

”I definitely feel like Gravity is a foregone conclusion,” he said. ”The visual effects were totally integrated into the story itself – the visual effects were the story – so they deserve everything they get.”

When the Hobbit trilogy wraps, Clayton has no shortage of work options at Weta Digital.

”We’ve got the Avatar sequels 2, 3 and a prequel,” he said. ”If I sign up for that, that’s going to be six or more years of steady work.”

Australia’s other Oscar nominees are Cate Blanchett for best actress on Blue Jasmine, Catherine Martin for both best production design, with Beverley Dunn, and best costumes on The Great Gatsby and Michael Wilkinson for best costumes on American Hustle.

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Brendan Reeves secures sweep in first round of the Australian Rally Championship

National Capital Rally champion Brendan Reeves overcame a 1.2-second deficit in the final stage to secure a clean sweep at the opening round of the Australian Rally Championship.
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The 25-year-old Victorian backed up his heat win on Saturday’s eight stages with another overall victory on Sunday.

Reeves was pushed across the seven stages on Sunday by Scott Pedder, crossing the finishing line just 5.4 seconds in front, with Canberra’s Adrian Coppin picking up his second-straight third place, 1:48.8 behind the leader.

”Going into the third-last stage we took the lead back and then Scott took the lead back again,” Reeves said.

”We were sitting on the start line of the last stage 1.2 seconds behind and we had to give everything, so it was a great feeling to know we took it all back on the last stage.

”He was two minutes in front of me on the road so I knew we would know either way once I was finished. We just threw everything at it and hit quite a lot of things and found a lot of holes out there, but got through the stage unscathed and came out on top.”

Reeves won five of the seven stages in the ARC division on Sunday to make it 10 from 15 stages for the weekend.

Defending champion Eli Evans was forced to pull out on Saturday after sustaining extensive mechanical damage in a crash on the opening day.

Reeves competed in the US last year, but has set his sights on continuing his strong form at the next round of the ARC in Western Australia in April.

”We just want to focus on the Australian title this year,” he said.

”We tried and we failed last year, so we want to make sure we get it this year.”

Rally legend Neal Bates and long-time navigator Coral Taylor showed all their experience in winning the Classic section in their 1980 Toyota Celica.

Bates declared he would be a certain starter at next year’s event after being blown away by the quality of the course.

He said it was one of the best Canberra rallies he had contested.

”The roads were fantastic, the organisation was fantastic. We were doing very similar times to the top guys.

”We won three stages outright yesterday, to be doing that in a 1980 Celica, we’re very happy.”

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Caroline Buchanan bemoans lack of Olympic-level track

Canberra is home to BMX world champion Caroline Buchanan, but not to an Olympic-standard BMX track.
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Buchanan, 23, would love one to be built at Stromlo Forest Park so Canberra can host the 2016 national championships.

Buchanan comfortably won the ACT state title at Melba on Sunday, winning three of her four races.

ellow Olympian Luke Madill won the men’s title.

The ACT state championships usually form part of the national series, but new regulations on track specifications meant the Melba track did not make the grade this year.

Buchanan is confident it will be back on the tour next year.

Bitumen is needed on two more turns to meet the standard.

Buchanan’s next race is the Perth leg of the national series in two weeks as she builds towards the Aussie nationals, the start of Olympic qualifiers and defending her world championship title.

She missed out on the Aussie national title last year but is hoping to reclaim that crown in Shepparton in May.

Track requirements for nationals have also risen, but Buchanan hopes a track can be built at Stromlo so the capital can host the championships in two years.

However, she conceded it would be an expensive project.

”It could be a while, but ideally it would be great to have that facility in Canberra, with the AIS here, with ACTAS, with Canberra being the cycling capital.

”I believe we’ve got everything else here, we’re just missing that Olympic-standard BMX track,” Buchanan said.

”I will be pushing for it … but it’s something that’s not cheap.

”There’s only one [Olympic standard track] in Australia at the moment and that’s on the Gold Coast and they put about $3 million into it.”

Buchanan will head to Perth to begin her preparations for the first World Cup in Manchester in April.

Then the Olympic Games selection process for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 begins at the third World Cup event in Berlin in June.

From there it’s all eyes on the world titles in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, in July.

Buchanan won’t be the only Canberran heading to the worlds – both members of her ”Next Gen” stable, Mikayla Rose, from Canberra, and Sydney’s Paige Harding, will go, too.

Buchanan has taken the pair under her wing as part of her mentoring program.

She said the $10,000 needed in donations for the pair to get to the Netherlands had been reached on Saturday night.

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