Monthly archives: March, 2019

Singleton and Muswellbrook are on the frontline over new air emissions standards

IN December, 2015 Federal and state environment ministers signed the National Clean Air Agreement with air quality standards for six key pollutants, andnew compliance standards for fine particle PM2.5 pollution.

The agreement set in train a two-year process requiring each state to formalise clean air plans, with another national meetingin December.

In November NSWwas shown how these actions by governments will impact communities. The NSW Environment Protection Authority released two reports –one on proposed changes to its load-based licensing scheme for polluting industries, and the second a NSW clean air plan.

The reports revealed that modelling for the EPA showed the new PM2.5 standard was “unlikely to be attained in Singleton and Muswellbrook into the future as coal production in the Hunter Valley is expected to continue to increase”.

It also showed all man-made particulate emissions, including from wood-burning domestic heaters, needed to be reduced by 50 per cent to meet the new standard.

Until the national agreement the PM2.5 standard was a reporting one, and not a compliance standard. The new agreement puts teeth into a communityexpectation that people have a right to breathe air that is not a risk to their health.

As a mid-term review of the national agreement noted in November:“The new national standards for PM2.5 are more health protective than World Health Organisation guidelines, and are the most health protective package of particle standards and long-term targets in the world.”

Targets are one thing. Achieving the standards is the hard part, and in the case of the Upper Hunter it is going to mean pain for some. The EPA is considering charging “relatively higher pollutant fees for PM2.5”in areas like Muswellbrook and Singleton where the new air quality standards may not be met, and including the coal industry in the load-based licensing scheme for the first time since it was established in 1999.

The NSW Minerals Council has already flagged its strong opposition.

Doctors for the Environment has argued it isessential the government adopts a “polluter pays” approach, with coal mines and coal-fired power stations paying, rather than the community in terms of serious health impacts. The Hunter region cannot afford to sit out this debate.

Issue: 38,448.

Netball mum Kelly Howard charged over alleged $299k theft from Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation

Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation manages Aboriginal heritage values and culture within Wadawurrung country. Photo: Ballarat Couier B Grade Netball Best and Fairest Winner Kelly Howard. Photo: Ballarat Courier

A decorated Bungaree netballer accused of defrauding the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation of hundreds of thousands of dollars has been charged.

As reported in The Ballarat Courier, accountant Kelly Howard, 43, appeared briefly before the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court on Monday to face a single charge of theft of almost $300,000 from the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation. The matter was set down for a filing hearing before magistrate Frank Jones.

The court heard Howard was charged by Ballarat CIU detectives on January 10.

Howard’s lawyer, Simon Gillespie-Jones, told Mr Jones his client had moved from the Ballarat region and wanted the matters transferred to Echuca.

But Mr Jones said the application would need to be made at the next court appearance before an Office of Public Prosecutions Victoria prosecutor.

Howard will return to court on April 13 for committal mention where it is likely an application to have the matter transferred to another region will be heard.

Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation accused its former bookkeeper Kelly Howard in a civil suit filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria last year of defrauding the organisation of more than $475,000 over six years.

Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation manages Aboriginal heritage values and culture within Wadawurrung country – a stretch of land that takes in Ballarat, Melton, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.

Ms Howard, a once relied-upon accountant, is accused of funnelling the hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation to fund personal purchases.

Her alleged spending spree on the indigenous corporation’s dime included but was not limited to landscaping works for her husband, Brad Howard, interactive comedy dinners by Bare Elements – the troupe behind A Dinner to Die For – and 20 netball dresses.

The accusations came after an audit found scores of payments to Ms Howard’s company. The audit was part of a wider investigation by the federal government regulator of indigenous corporations, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

The accusations against Howard came after a prolonged period of poor financial management and lax governance that sparked an intervention by ORIC and an examination of members of the corporation by ORIC and external auditors at Grant Thornton.

With Ballarat Courier

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Newcastle JetsTowering Harry Sawyer creates a big impression on debut

BIG FUTURE: Jets rookie Harry Sawyer. Picture: Grant SprouleHE has played only 16 minutes in the A-League, but Jets rookie Harry Sawyer has already reached rare heights.

At 195 centimetres (six foot four inches), the 20-year-old striker signed from Brisbane Roar –who debuted off the bench in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers at Campbelltown – is close to the tallest player to have pulled on a Newcastlejersey.

Only a centimetre separates Sawyer and teammateLachlan Jackson (196cm).

To put that in context, former Jets defenders Ljubo Milicevic and Nikolai Topor-Stanley stood 193cm and 191cm respectively.

The tallest player in A-League history was former Gold Coast goalkeeperScott Higgins (200cm). The tallest striker was Melbourne City’s former Dutch importGerald Sibon (198cm).

In keeping with his towering frame, Sawyer has createda big impression in a short space of time.

Since arriving in Newcastle a month agoon a short-term contract, he scoreda hat-trick on debut in the youth team’s 4-3 loss to Sydney FC two weeks ago.

That was enough to earn a surprise call-up to the top side, in the absence of strike weapons Andrew Hoole (suspension), Morten Nordstrand (concussion) and Wayne Brown (hip).

Whether Sawyerholds his spot for Friday night’s clash with Melbourne City remains to be seen, given that Hoole, Nordstrand and Brown are all expected to be available.

But Jets coach Mark Jones was impressed with Sawyer’s cameo appearance as replacement for Finnish import Aleksandr Kokko.

“He’s a big lad, put himself about, I thought he was very mobile,’’ Jones said.

“I thought when he came on he was dangerous and gave usa target.’’

Jones said Sawyer was“one I’m interested ingivingmore game time’’ on the strength of his first-up showing.

“He’s just on a youth contract until the end of the year, but we’ll look at that if he continues to perform well,’’ Jones said.

A university student who is studying a dual business-economics/sports science degree, Sawyer admitted it was slightly surreal to have graduated to the A-League so soon after joining the Jets.

“Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted, but it was good to get out on the park for the first time,’’ he said.

“The boys have been really encouraging and helped me settle in.

“It’s a privilege to come here and make my debut with a team like this.

“But in terms of the result, we have to go back and work hard because, as I’ve seen at training, we’ve got higher standards than that.’’

He said that the A-League was“definitely a step up in intensity” but his teammates helped him cope.

Meanwhile, three of Sawyer’s new teammates–Jackson, Nick Cowburn and Devante Clut–were named on Mondayina 26-man Australian under-23 squad for a three-day training camp on the Central Coast next week.

Thecamp, for A-League-based players, signals the start of preparation for the2018 under-23 Asian Cup, which will stage its qualifiers in July.

The most heavily represented club is Wanderers, who will provide seven players.

‘Hoons’ steal keys of volunteer fire captain battling Sutton blaze near Canberra

The fire captain approached the group because he was worried burnt rubber from their ”burnouts” could cause another fire. Photo: Supplied Fire crews working to contain the fire in the Mulligans Flat region last week. Photo: Finbar O’Mallon

A firefighter working to control a blaze was mocked by a group of men who snatched his keys and threw them into the bushes.

The captain of the Sutton volunteer brigade approached the group on Saturday evening after he saw them doing “burnouts” near the spot where a fire started on Wednesday.

“The local station were out there mopping up the fire near Sutton,” Southern Tablelands Superintendent Peter Alley said.

“The captain noticed a big cloud of smoke out near towards the original fire.”

The group of about 14 were warned by the captain that pieces of burnt rubber could fly into the surrounding parched fields and ignite.

“He went down there in his fire vehicle and saw some hoons doing burnouts,” Superintendent Alley said.

“He confronted them about it because he was worried about a piece of burnt rubber landing in the field and causing a fire.”

One of the men reportedly took the keys from the station ute the captain was driving and tossed them into the bushes.

Another allegedly tried to intimidate him as he confronted the group by driving towards him at speed.

“They took the keys out of his vehicle and threw them into the paddock,” said Superintendent Alley.

“Certainly they moved a vehicle in his direction.”

Amateur footage obtained by Fairfax Media showed one of the cars skidding down the road before a group of volunteers showed up in aid of the fire captain.

Superintendent Alley said it was hugely disappointing to see volunteers treated with such little respect and said he would be pursuing the incident further.

The incident occurred around 6pm on Saturday near the intersection of Mulligans Flat and Read Road.

The fire at Mulligans Flat started last Wednesday afternoon about eight kilometres north-west of the village of Sutton.

It burnt through more than 500 hectares in a matter of hours before it was brought under control on Thursday morning.

The Sutton fire followed a blaze in nearby Tarago that destroyed more than 3300 hectares.

NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman Greg Allen said residents across the region should remain vigilant and follow the directions of firefighters if they found themselves in danger.

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What’s next for Mike Baird? No pension but corporate career beckons

Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian arrive for the Liberal Party meeting on Monday. Photo: Wolter PeetersWhat’s next for Mike Baird?

He posted a congratulatory message to incoming Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Facebook, moments after she was elected as his replacement unopposed by the Liberal party room.

There was no accompanying tweet, however. Mr Baird deleted his Twitter account on Monday after saying his resignation would be a chance for more time with his family and less on social media, with which he has had an ambivalent relationship.

But after he walked a couple of hundred metres down Macquarie Street on Monday afternoon to hand in his resignation as premier, Mr Baird is free to focus on life after politics.

Mr Baird told the media on announcing his resignation that there had been no shortage of offers during his time as Premier.

“I have had people tell me in the past, ‘if ever you leave politics come talk to us’,” the Premier said last Thursday, without specifying.

It’s understood the offers have come rolling in since then, but Mr Baird said he would spend time with family before he turns his mind to his next professional step.

Mr Baird had an 18-year career in finance before moving into politics, serving lastly as the head of institutional banking for the multinational HSBC Australia and New Zealand. Politics was understood to have entailed a severe salary cut for Mr Baird, even on the premier’s wage of $350,000 a year.

“He could command a total package of no less than a million dollars,” said Jason Johnson, a founder and partner of Johnson, an executive search company.

“In the eyes of most business leaders he’s been a very successful premier; there’s a very strong interest in Mike’s skills and networks.”

Mr Johnson said he expected Mr Baird would field offers outside the world of banking to become a CEO, in the same mould as former Liberal leader John Brogden.

Unlike other MPs who have retired recently, Mr Baird will not be entitled to generous post-politics perks.

He came into politics in 2007, after the introduction of a new parliamentary superannuation scheme that will not entitle him to a salary for life, such as the $150,000 a year enjoyed by Barry O’Farrell.

Mr Baird received a 9.5 per cent contribution to his superannuation account for each year he was in office.

Under reforms brought in by the Coalition government Mr Baird will not qualify for perks such as an office, staff and free travel because he served less than five years as Premier.

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