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Archive for March, 2019

Flood of concern over ponds

Aerial view of the ponds

THE state government’s environmental watchdog investigated Santos’ holding ponds in the Pilliga forest on Friday, after the community raised concerns about their capacity.

However the company said there was no need to be alarmed, as the ponds still had ample room.

Like most of the region, the Pilliga forest was battered by heavy rain throughout the week.

Ex-government ecologistDavid Paull was so worried about the ponds’ ability to handle the deluge of water, he jumped in a plane to get an aerial view of them.

He wasn’t happy with what he saw, taking dozens of photos.Mr Paull said there were “real question marks” over the ponds’ capacity to handle heavy rain and flooding.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said it was aware of heavy rain in the Narrabri area and sent staff to inspect the water levels.It found no evidence the water had overflown and no environmental concerns were identified.

“The EPA’s inspection confirmed that the ponds still have significant capacity,” an EPA spokeswoman said.

“The EPA will continue to monitor the site.”

A Santos spokeswoman said the two holding ponds, which are divided into four cells, weren’t in any danger of spilling over.

While it may look like one of the cells was close to flowing into its neighbour, the company says the room around the edge of the pondpaints adifferentpicture.

“Today the ponds are not even close to the maximum permissible operating level,” the spokeswoman said.

Heavy rain and flooding was considered during the construction of the ponds.

“The Leewood ponds have ample capacity to deal with Santos’ ongoing operational needs and any rainfall events- including one in one-hundred year events,” the spokeswoman said.

“The Leewood ponds meet or exceed all of the NSW Government’s Dam Safety Committee guidelines and are operated in accordance with the design standards.”

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NO: West Coast council general manager Dirk Dowling has refused to include a family violence clause in the council’s new EBA, according to union official Dennis Mullins.The general manager of the West Coast Council has refused to include a family violence clause in the organisation’s new enterprise bargaining agreement, a union official says.

The Australian Services Union (ASU) has been negotiating a new EBAwith the council since March, with no resolution yet reached.

ASU Tasmania branch coordinator Dennis Mullins said on Friday a family violence clause has been accepted by each of the previous eight councils the union has negotiated with, including Central Coast and King Island.

The clause is activated by situations of extreme family violence and allows up to two weeks additional leave and practical provisions in the workplace, for example, changing a phone number.

The council’s general manager, Dirk Dowling, was contacted but declined to comment except to confirm the council were in negotiations.

Mr Mullins went on to say the council’s offer would hurt staff financially, and added some employees would be left“working poor.”

“The West Coast council’s offer of two per cent year one and CPI-only for years two and three gives no certainty, no guarantees and certainly no catch-up of the amount they are behind,” he said.

“This is particularly reprehensible when you consider that West Coast costs of living are now higher than anywhere else in the state.”

He said outdoor workers at the council onaverage earn$46,000 per year.

Mr Mullins negotiated the current agreement three years ago with council’s previous general manager, Paul Lockwood, who acknowledged employees were paid less than their counterparts in other municipalities.That agreement allowed for raises of five, 4.5 and four per cent over three years.

“That was designed to bring West Coast council halfway toward the average,” Mr Mullinssaid.

“There was an undertaking by Paul Lockwood that there would be a substantial rise again to try and address the shortfall that the West Coast employees face when compared to anyone else.”

But Mr Mullins said Mr Dowlingrefused to honour the agreement, which he said is on record in the minutes of the bargaining agreement.

Mr Mullins said staff are paying for the council’s forecastbudget surplus, rate freeze and increased expenditure on capital works.

He said he will lodge for a protected action ballot with the Fair Work Commissionon Monday.

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Silence on greyhoundsThe outrage continues, justifiably, on the Baird decision to close down the greyhound racing industry totally disregarding any real consideration of the impact to the voting community either morally, socially, or financially.

Readers should not forget that when the Closure Bill was finally presented to theNSWLower House of Parliament our local Member, Mrs Williams, together with the vast majority of her Party colleagues, voted with the government to support the Bill. This without any consultation with the electorate.

I wrote to Mrs Williams on August 30expressing my disgust at her and her Party’s stance on this issue.Since then, no acknowledgement, let alone a reply, just the deafening silence. However, this will not be forgotten.

Anthony Moy,Port Macquarie

Increase awarenessDuring Dementia Awareness Month, which runs throughout September, Alzheimer’s Australia is calling for greater awareness and understanding of dementia so people living with the condition feel less isolated and alone.

There are more than 353,000 Australians with dementia and an estimated 1.2 million people involved in the care of someone with dementia. In the Port Macquarie electorate there are an estimated 1,750 people living with dementia. That figure is projected to increase to about 3,500 by 2050.

A survey just released by Alzheimer’s Australia has found that people with dementia are almost twice as likely to have high rates of loneliness, and people with dementia and carers are significantly more lonely than the general population.

Treating people with the same respect, kindness, inclusiveness and thoughtfulness you always have is what makes a difference to them. They are still the same person they were before the diagnosis. They just may need a little bit more time, understanding and support.

John Watkins OAM

CEO Alzheimer’s Australia

Protect TAFELast week was National Skills Week, and we should have seen the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, The Hon Karen Andrews, MP to press the case for a bigger national vocational training effort.

However, we did not hear a word aboutskills and apprenticeshipsas a driver for improving the living standards of all Australians and to give apprentices the mobility to move to better paid jobs through training in both practical and theoretical skills, that is, the combination of on-the-job practical training and off-the-job technical training.

The fundamentals of a developed economy rely to a large degree on the skills of tradespeople, and the way in which those skills are passed from one generation to the next.

What we do know is that everything that underpins our standard of living relies on the skills of our workers. These skills drive the incremental changes that are constantly improving our industries and economic performance.

That is why I am so concerned the Turnbull government will capitulate to the small but vocal group of employers who want to change our entire skills and apprenticeships system for their own benefit,to the detriment of apprentices.

TheTAFE apprenticeship training system has been stable and effective, while ‘for profit’ providers rort the system to the tune of billions of dollars and offer online courses with no workshop or hands on experience.

Now the Turnbull government is making matters worse. Afterstripping $1b from the apprenticeships systemin their first term and overseeing acollapse in apprenticeship numbers, the government’s first decision post-election was to spend $9.2m on ill-defined pilot programs that the minister, Simon Birmingham himself describes as “slight adaptations of the apprenticeship model”.

There is a real danger this will lead to a system where low-paid trainees work at a company for a short period and learn narrow skills that a particular company needs. These workers can become captive to the success or failure of the enterprise as their skills are not transferable. Some employers want the taxpayer to foot the bill for these trainees, by dressing them up as ‘apprenticeships’.

This money would be better spent providing increased support to ourTAFEsystem and on helping apprentices through policies such as Labor’sTools for your Tradeprogram, scrapped by Abbott and Turnbull.

We need a system based on stable institutions like TAFE and a cooperative relationship amonggovernment, employers and unions. While unions are seen as the enemy by the Turnbull government, its most senior ministers can be heard at times praising the reforms of the Hawke and Keating governments; reforms that were a product of a joint approach to training involving government, workers and business working cooperatively.

We need better analysis of why business is shifting the cost of training to government, and how we can address the reduced business expenditure on training and the need to develop the skills required for advanced production methods and new technology.

I am not arguing there should be no improvement to our apprenticeships systems, but we have to start from the principles of what works, and that is a real employment contract for apprentices and the learning of industry-wide skills.

We must build on the best legacies of the apprenticeship training system that preceded the free market experimentation that has so clearly failed. In doing so we are more likely to find a way to meet the challenges we face.

Colleen Carmody,Port Macquarie

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Are you trying to lose weight, but failing to see tangible or satisfying results?

Fourteen days should be enough time for you to start noticing shifts in your body and overall health when following a healthy diet for weight loss.

So if you can’t see or feel any changes you may be doing this one simple thing wrong.

You might be drinking the wrong beverages too often.

We seem to think that drinks aren’t as harmful as food when it comes to weight gain and total health.

But it turns out that drinks and beverages in general can be a massive hindrance and can lead to unwanted weight gain and so could well be the reason that your weight loss efforts aren’t working.

Just because it’s liquid and the texture doesn’t feel as bulky and solid when entering the body as solid food doesn’t mean it isn’t doing you harm.

Think of a milkshake for example.

They often consist of ice cream, sugary-flavoured syrup and sugary milks to add extra taste.

If the ingredients weren’t blended into a liquid and you were able to place it into a bowl it would look, taste and feel no different than a bowl of desert.

Texture has alot to answer for, because it really is so easy to consume beverages and be under the impression that they aren’t doing you harm.

One of my favourite hot drinks is a Chai Latte, I could have three a day if I let myself, but one regular chai latte consists of 1700 kilojoules.

Would you believe it if I told you that one large chai latte has the same amount of kilojoules as a double cheese burger?

And if you’re having two chai lattes a day that’s almost half of the recommended daily kilojoule intake for an adult.

Scary isn’t it! That’s just one example.

Fruit juices, sports drinks and iced coffees that you can grab from most supermarkets and general stores are just as bad.

Alcoholic beverages will hijack your weight loss too.

And don’t event get me started on energy drinks.

I still think it’s important to have a balanced lifestyle so do t think that you have to completely cut out your simple pleasures in life, but if you are struggling to shift unwanted kilos, the beverages that you are consuming on a regular basis could be the culprit.

The average daily recommended kilojoule intake for an adult is 8700.

The actual number of kilojoules you need will vary depending on your age, gender, activity levels and love circumstances.

If you require assistance with your weight loss please seek advice from your doctor or see a weight loss consultant.Follow me on Snapchat @cassienewsome

Deceptive: Beverages can hijack your weight loss objectives.

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A clean slate: Workers and machinery begin works for the construction of a rapid-build prison at Wellington. The jail is growing to accommodate a record increase in inmates across the state. Photo: FAYE WHEELERConsultants, subcontractors and suppliers from NSW’s central west are already playing a part in a $150 million jail expansion at Wellington and more employment for local workers is on the horizon.

Managing contractor Hansen Yuncken reported it had already engaged “a mix of local and other state-based contractors” to assist in the delivery of the rapid-build prison project.

Workers and machinery can be seen on the site at the Wellington jail, less than two months after the first sod was turned on August 5.

Sourced from the central west so far were surveyors, concrete supplies, light-weight steel structures, and hardware and office supplies, Hansen Yuncken project director Matthew O’Grady said.

“We also anticipate that some of our subcontractors may engage people from the region and in some cases team up with local subcontractors,” he said.

Applications for a number of other positions, including foreman, project/ site engineer, safety officer, leading hand carpenter and site secretary, were to close on Friday.

The company that has already delivered numerous projects in the Orange, Bathurst and Blayney districts may make further contributions to the Wellington economy.

Hansen Yuncken had investigated options for accommodation that would be required for people working on the rapid-build prison at Wellington, which would bring benefits to businesses in the central west, Mr O’Grady said.

“One of the benefits that flow from construction works is the multiplier effect, wherein people working on the project spend time during the lifecycle of the project and spend money in the local community, providing stimulus to local restaurants and clubs,” he said.

Hansen Yuncken reported contacting more than 20 organisations including bus companies to look at transport options, and the feedback to date had been “excellent”.

The company anticipated being able to fill the remaining project positions from the inquiries coming through.

New correctional centres at Wellington and Cessnock will be the first rapid-build maximum security prisons in Australia.

Minister for Corrections David Elliott came to Wellington on August 5 and turned the first sod to mark the start of work on the expansion.

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