Archive for: ‘November 2018’

AGL fined $124,000 for failing to disclose donations

10/11/2018 Posted by admin

AGL has been fined $124,000 for political donations.
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AGL Energy and its subsidiary AGL Upstream have been fined $124,000 in the Land and Environment Court today for failing to disclose political donations when making planning applications.

The applications include the Newcastle gas storage facility.

The judgment is a result of a prosecution brought by the Department of Planning and Environment after a compliance investigation was undertaken following complaints from community groups.

This is the largest total penalty imposed since the provisions were introduced in 2008.

AGL Energy was fined $112,000 and AGL Upstream $12,000.

The company made$73,800 undisclosed donations across a number of the planning applications, including a$13,750 donation made to NSW Laborand an $11,000 donation to the Liberal Party, both in 2011.

In addition to the fine, the companies have been ordered to pay the department’s legal costs.

AGL Energy pleaded guilty to 10 charges and AGL upstream pleaded guilty to one offence of failure to disclose political donations under section 147 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The charges related to AGL’s coal seam gas projects in Gloucester and Camden; the Newcastle Gas Storage Facility; the Broken Hill solar plant and the Dalton Power Station.

General counsel for the Department of Planning and Environment James Hebron said the company cooperated with the Department’s compliance investigation.

“Under planning legislation there is an obligation on a proponent when making a planning application to report political donations” Mr Hebron said.

“This is to ensure transparency in the planning process.”

Community members in Gloucesteruncovered undeclared donations from AGL to major political parties in 2014. With the assistance of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office, they complained to the NSW Office of Environment.

“We were looking at something in the original planning documents because we always thought there was something not quite right about it,” Gloucester Groundswell member Jenni O’Niell said.

AGL’s Newcastle 1.5 petajoule gas storage tank was commissioned in May 2015.

It provides storagecapability for up to two weeks ofgasfor greater Newcastle.

AGL said the project would have an economic benefit of about $2 billion.AGLsupplies naturalgasto 700,000gasusers in NSW, including hospitals, schools, businesses and homes.

Kuta dog-paddles with the dolphins in Esperance

10/11/2018 Posted by admin

Kuta prefers to swim alongside owner Erin Cummings in the crystal clear waters of the Esperance coastline rather than catch a ride on the paddle board.Erin Cummings and her dog Kuta madewaves online when sheposted a video on her Facebook pageof the pup playing with a pod of dolphins.
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The 21-year-old took the footage on her GoPro camera while paddle boarding with her dog at West Beach.

The pair have often frolicked with dolphins around Esperance but this was her first attempt at filming the display.

Ms Cummings said she originally filmed Kuta and the dolphins for an international Go Pro competition.

“That was the first time I tried it and I got really lucky -it’s hard to get them on film,” she said.

Erin Cummings and Kuta swimming with Esperance dolphins.Post by Erin Cummings and Kuta swimming with Esperance dolphins..

“I’m still getting messages about it from people saying how much they loved the videoorasking if they can share it. People just don’t believe it, that it’s something we get to do.”

Ms Cumming and her boyfriend found Kuta and her sibling at eight-weeks-oldon the side of the road, malnourished and covered in fleas. The couple welcomed Kuta to the familyand their friend kept the other puppy.

A pod of dolphins visiting West Beach is a regular sight for long-time local Erin Cummings and her rescue dog Kuta.

“She’s the perfect dog for me, she loves the water and would happily swim all day,” Ms Cummings said.

“Afterwards I’ll take her home and she’ll just sleep all day, she’s a very easy dog to maintain.”

MsCummings said the rescue dog wouldride on the paddle board with her but prefers to jump in the water and swim alongside, especially when the dolphins appear.

“It’s the chase I think,she seesthe fins andjust takes off after them,” she said.

“These massive pods of dolphins will hang around us and they love her.”

The Bay of Isles Leisure Centre lifeguardhas lived in Esperance since she was four andtries to get down to the beach at least once a day, sometimes before and after work.

Kuta has even had the chance to play with a seal down at Blue Haven Beach.

“The seal would swim under herand pop up behind her, it looked like they were playing chasie”

Internet sensation: This photo by Erin Cummings has gained attention for capturing a hidden view of Kuta the dog playing with dolphins at West Beach.

Timothy Weeks, Wagga man abducted by Taliban, pleads for help in video

10/11/2018 Posted by admin

A man identified as Timothy Weeks pleads for his release in a video released by the Taliban. Picture: Screengrab/YoutubeThe Taliban has released aharrowing video of kidnapped Wagga man Timothy Weeks, who was abducted in Kabulin August,pleading for the United States government to arrange a prisoner exchange before he is killed by the terrorist group.
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The teacher, who was one of two people snatched near the American University campus in the Afghan capitalon August 7, has been held hostage for almost five months.

The first public sign of Mr Weeks since that day came in a 13-minute video released on Youtube on Wednesday, allegedly shot by the Taliban on New Year’s Day.

Seated in front of a light backdrop, a visibly-distressed man identified himself as Timothy John Weeks, as well as the names of his parents.

“My name is Timothy John Weeks …I am a teacher at the …American University in Kabul,” he said in the video.

“It’s the first of January. We are now here hostages of the Taliban. We have been here for five months.”

The Wagga man had been teaching high-level English at the American University of Afghanistan for less than a month when he was snatched, along with American Kevin King.

A man identified as American Kevin King pleads for his release in a video released by the Taliban. Picture: Screengrab/Youtube

Mr Weeks directly addressed his parents, urging for his family to make contact with the American embassy, and pleaded with US president-elect Donald Trump to intervene.

“People have promised to take care of us and to help us when something went wrong and they have forsaken their promise,” he said in the footage distributed on Youtube.

“We are here with no help and no hope.I don’t want to die here alone.

“My mother, I know you are sick in hospital and I may never see you again.I ask Dad, please, I want to come home, please speak to the American government.

“If we stay here for much longer, we will be killed.I don’t want to die here – I’m alone and I’m scared and I don’t have anybody to help me.”

After the August kidnapping,American Navy SEALs stormed a Taliban compound in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan as part of an unsuccessful rescue mission.

The SEAL team, supported by American Army Rangers, engaged in a deadlygun battle with dozens of insurgentsbut reportedly missed the Wagga man by a matter of hours.

In the newly released video, Mr Weeks addressed Donald Trump directly, and said the Taliban has asked for prisoners held at Bagram Airfield and Pul-e-Charkhi prison to be exchanged for himself and Mr King.

“They are being held there illegally and the Taliban has asked for them to be released in our exchange. If they are not exchanged for us then we will be killed,” he said.

“Donald Trump, sir, please, I ask you, please, this is in your hands.

“I ask you please to negotiate with the Taliban. If you do not negotiate with them, we will be killed.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Australian government “has been working with other governments to secure the release of an Australian man kidnapped in Afghanistan in August 2016”.

“We have also been providing consular support to the man’s family, who have requested privacy,” the spokesperson said.

“Out of respect for his family’s wishes, and in the interests of his own safety and well-being, we will not be commenting further.”

This article was first published on The Daily Advertiser

NSW and ACT General Practice of the Year award recognition of “quality care we provide”

10/11/2018 Posted by admin

WELL-DESERVED: Scone Medical Practice manager Ross Higham (centre) with Dr Edward Rice and personnel manager Lyndal Buckley on Thursday.PLENTY of boxes have to be ticked in order to win a prestigious award.
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And, Scone Medical Practice has done just that.

Quality training. Check. High retention rate. Check. A commitment to the health and well-being of its patients. Check.

These are just some of the positive aspectsthat helped Scone take out the NSW and ACT General Practice of the Year award.

Practice manager Ross Higham said it was an honour to receive the award.

“You’ve got to nominate for it, but we were encouraged to do so because of the high standard of our facilities and our records and services offeredto patients,” hesaid.

“It is recognition of the quality care that we provide, which is very important in a rural community.

“We try and save people from having to travel to specialists for their care.

“[Winning this] is also testament to the quality of our medical and support staff, plus our commitment to trainingboth medical students and doctors as well askeeping administration staff up-to-date with skills.”

PrimaryHealth Network CEO Richard Nankervis said Scone was thequintessential general practice.

“Since 1934 the practice has been providing continuing, person centred, comprehensive and coordinated health care to people living in Scone and the surrounding districts,” he said.

“One of the many challenges facing rural practices and their patients is the large distances needed to access health care.

“Scone Medical Practice has helped to alleviate this issue by providing a comprehensive range of medical services on site which help reduce the stress and costs for patients by minimising travel times.

“GPs working at the practice have a wide range of expertise and have gained specialised skills in areas such as obstetrics, anaesthetics, paediatrics, skin cancer, mental health and chronic disease management.

“The practice also arranges for visiting specialists in a variety of areas such as cardiology, endocrinology, physiotherapy, psychology and dietetics to provide services on site at the practice’s purpose-built medical facility.”

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

Graeme Mudd signs first World Cup downhill mountain biking contractphotos, video

10/11/2018 Posted by admin

Mudd signs first pro mountain bike deal | photos, video Graeme Mudd practising in the Awaba State Forest on Thursday.
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Graeme Mudd practising in the Awaba State Forest on Thursday.

Graeme Mudd competing in the Awaba State Forest in 2012, the last time the national series was held in the Hunter.

TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald on Thursday after a practice session on the Awaba State Forest track near Cooranbong.

“Bikes have been my life since the get-go.

“I started racing BMX as a six-year-old and then sort of worked my way up to downhill mountain biking by the time I was 16.

“I did my [fitter and turner] apprenticeship, but the whole time I was rocking up to work frustrated because I wanted to be out riding my bike.

“I’d see all my riding buddies on social media overseas riding in the world circuit and riding in all these mad places and doing well, and I was stuck at work, but I’m glad I still did my apprenticeship. It’s definitely been a good asset to have, thinking ahead.”

The World Cup season also includes rounds in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, England and Andorra before ending in Canada in early August.

Awaba State Forest downhill track preview (rider Joel Willis)Mudd’s best World Cup result was an eighth placing in the second round last year in Cairns, where he had more support from family and friends.

“Last year I did the World Cup season as a privateer, and I went over and bought a van, did all the work on my bike and sort of just gypsied my way around Europe.

“This year we’re going to have a semi-trailer, I’ll have a mechanic, team manager, physio. To be able to just rock up to an event and do what I need to do and race my bike will be a huge advantage.

“Obviously, in the right circumstances, I know what I’m capable of, and I’m pretty stoked to have the opportunity to be put in that position again.”

Downhill mountain biking is big business in Europe, where the top riders are on lucrative performance-based contracts.

“The size of the hills over there, you wouldn’t call them a hill –they’re mountains,” Mudd said.

“One downfall of being in Australia, our tracks are on smaller hills. They tend to make them zig-zag down the hill to get the time out of the track, ducking and weaving through the bush.

“Over there you can pretty much point the track down the hill. It’s a lot faster pace, bigger features, bigger jumps. It’s pretty cool. Same bike, but definitely a different set-up on the suspension.”

But, before Europe, Muddwill contest the Mountain Bike Australia national series, in which he is the two-time defending champion, starting on his home track.

“A lot of people would agree with me that this is one of the tougher tracks in Australia. It’s quite a steep track and it’s very rough the whole way. There’s a lot of rocks and some big features.

“It’s a good drawcard for big events like this. It brings in the quality in riders, puts on a good show, and puts the amateur riders to the test as well.They like to come here and see how they goon a track like this.”

This weekend’sround includes practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and men’s and women’s finals from 1.30 to 3.30pm Sunday across a range of age and ability categories.