OPINION: Absence of impartial planning system

RECENT donation revelations concerning AGL’s Gloucester Gas Project raise deep community concerns about its approval and future operation.
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The project was hurriedly approved under the former Part 3A provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act by an outgoing government that was in caretaker mode.

Such practice, though not illegal under planning law, was highly irregular and caused much criticism at the time.

However, that situation was worsened by the assessment procedure.

The Planning Assessment Commission was supposed to provide an independent assessment made at arm’s-length from the planning pressures of the time but examination of the process shows it was anything but independent.

The Director-General’s 64-page Environmental Assessment Report (November 2010) concluded with the recommendation that the Planning Assessment Commission approve the project and sign the attached instrument of project approval.

The Planning Assessment Commission responded by acknowledging the inadequacy of geological and groundwater assessments but accepted the Department’s position that the project could be satisfactorily developed using the adaptive management process.

Obtaining proper environmental assessment was doomed from this point.

The use of adaptive management overrides the application of the precautionary principal as required by Commonwealth environmental law but the applicant’s mere assertion that the precautionary principle had been considered was sufficient to satisfy the excessively liberal Part 3A planning provisions.

The Planning Assessment Commission accordingly approved the project with 13 operational conditions which, although providing nominal improvement, did not address the critical deficiencies in the assessment and approval process.

We are now aware of the political donations made by AGL at the time.

AGL’s present lack of social licence for the project and the deep community concern are natural developments from the inadequate planning procedure and the recent revelations.

No amount of AGL publicity, promises and propaganda can rectify the problem. In consideration of all the issues we can but regret the absence of an honest and impartial planning system.

Garry Smith

Gloucester

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Symposium: impact of global crises on NSW

The Community Relations Commission for a multicultural NSW ( CRC)) Symposium whichattracts community leaders from all around our State will this week discuss the impact oncommunities in NSW of conflicts and other humanitarian crises in other parts of the world in Parramatta today.
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The Chief Executive Officer of the CRC, Mr. Hakan Harman, said: “This is a difficulttime for many communities in NSW affected by overseas conflicts.

“The conflicts in Gaza, Iraq and Syria and elsewhere clearly have real implicationsfor people with family and community connections in those parts of the world.

“There is a humanitarian crisis unfolding in many parts of the Middle East andacross other parts of the World today, and our thoughts are with the innocent victimsof these conflicts.

“NSW is home to people who have come from every corner of the world. Many havefled places of conflict and strive to find peace and security in this beautiful State”, hesaid.

Asked why Parramatta was chosen as the locaiton,Mr Harman said:“Parramatta is the geographical, commercial and cultural capital of Western Sydney and is the heart of greater Sydney.

“Parramatta represents a diverse multicultural community with 45% of its population being born overseas and over 40% from Non English Speaking Backgrounds”.

On 20 August 2014, the CRC’s annual symposium will carry the theme, The impacton communities in NSW of conflicts in other parts of the world’.

“The symposium is an opportunity for communities to come together anddemonstrate ‘harmony in action’.

“We want NSW to set an example for the world, to show how people can livetogether in peaceful coexistence.

“The NSW Government stood by the cultural and religious communities of NSW intheir united opposition to proposed changes to the federal Racial Discrimination Act.

Now it is more important than ever that we protect all communities from vilificationand extremist hate.

“Whatever happens in other parts of the world, the CRC and the NSW Government willcontinue to work with all of the communities of NSW to uphold and protect our cohesiveand harmonious multicultural society.

“We are hoping that the discussions at the symposium will produce some good ideas andsome practical steps to maintain the harmony we all seek for ourselves and our families.

“We have invited a list of impressive speakers who will examine the state of communityrelations in NSW, in particular the impact of those overseas events.

“We expect this symposium will send some clear messages of calmness to the wholecommunity in New South Wales.

“Issues discussed during the Symposium assist the CRC to confirm and realign priorities andto advocate for change to services and programs as appropriate”, Mr Harman concluded.

“The Symposium is also an opportunity for the Minister for Citizenship andCommunities, Victor Dominello, to launch our new strategic plan, our vision, ourpurpose and our key the deliverables for the next three years”, Mr. Harman said.

Endorsing the CRC’s Strategic Plan, 2014-17, Mr. Dominello, said: “Ourmulticultural society is no longer a small segment of our community. It is a vitalpiece of our collective NSW identity and the time has come for us to revisit who weare and who we want to be.”

The symposium will be held all day on Wednesday 20th August at the Novotel Hotel 3350Church Street, Parramatta.

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Abbott and Hockey: Why poor people don’t matter

GITTINS: SAVING CAPITALISM FROM ITS EXCESSES:We simply cannot take the capitalist system, which produces such plenty and so many solutions, for granted. Ross Gittins comments.
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It doesn’t seem yet to have dawned on Tony Abbott that he was elected because he wasn’t Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd, not because voters thought it was time we made a lurch to the Right.

The man who imagines he has a “mandate” to mistreat the children of boat people, ensure free speech for bigots, give top appointments to big business mates and reintroduce knights and dames, represented himself as a harmless populist before the election.

Illustration: Kerrie Leishman.

The other thing he doesn’t seem to have realised is that just as he has us moving to reduce our commitment to action against climate change and to make the budget much less fair, the rest of the advanced economies are moving the opposite way.

President Obama is taking steps to overcome Congress’s refusal to act on global warming, the Chinese get more concerned about it as each month passes and the International Monetary Fund is chastising us for our apostasy.

And while we use our budget to widen the gap between rich and poor, people in other countries are realising the need to narrow it.

Wayne Swan, former Labor treasurer, noted in a speech on Monday that “centre-right political leaders across the globe are acknowledging the obvious truth that capitalism is facing an existential challenge . . . only last week ratings agency Standard and Poor’s emphasised yet again that high inequality is a drag on growth”.

In Australia, however, an increasing “vocal minority has decided to oppose any reform, no matter how necessary and no matter how obvious in its benefits to the whole nation, if they perceive it is in their short-term interests to do so.

“This is a recipe for unnecessary political division and widening social inequality, and unfortunately permanent reform failure,” he says.

Australians had done much better than the Americans at matching strong economic growth with social equity but, according to Swan, “we’re witnessing the Americanisation of the Right in this country. Obsessed with defending the advantages of the wealthiest in our society”.

In his various efforts to defend rather than correct his first budget’s unfairness, Joe Hockey seems to be doing just that. Meanwhile, the messages coming from international authorities are very different.

In a recent paper on policy challenges for the next 50 years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warned the growing importance of skill-biasedtechnological progress and the rising demand for skills, will continue to widen the gap between high and low wages.

Unless this was corrected by greater redistribution of income, other OECD countries would end up facing almost the same level of inequality as seen in the US today. “Rising inequalities may backlash on growth, notably if they reduce economic opportunities available to low-income talented individuals,” it warns.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, noted in aspeechthat the 85 richest people in the world control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population – 3.5 billion people.

“With facts like these, it is no wonder that rising inequality has risen to the top of the agenda – not only among groups normally focused on social justice, but also increasingly among politicians, central bankers and business leaders,” she said.

“Many would argue, however, that we should ultimately care about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.” As it happens, Hockey has defended his budget’s unfairness with just that argument.

“The problem is that opportunities are not equal. Money will always buy better-quality education and health care, for example. But due to current levels of inequality, too many people in too many countries have only the most basic access to these services, if at all. The evidence also shows that social mobility is more stunted in less equal societies.”

Disparity also brings division, she said. “The principles of solidarity and reciprocity that bind societies together are more likely to erode in excessively unequal societies. History also teaches us that democracy begins to fray at the edges once political battles separate the haves against the have-nots.”

Pope Francis put this in stark terms when he called increasing inequality “the root of social evil”.

“It is therefore not surprising that IMF research – which looked at 173 countries over the past 50 years – found that more unequal countries tend to have lower and less durable economic growth,” Legarde also said.

Get that? Until now, the conventional wisdom among economists has been that efforts to reduce inequality come at the expense of economic growth. Now a pillar of economic orthodoxy, the IMF, has found it works the other way round: rising inequality – as is occurring in Australia, the US and almost all advanced economies – seems to lead to slower growth.

Lagarde said other IMF research had found that, in general, budgetary policies had a good record of reducing social disparities. Social security benefits and income taxes “have been able to reduce inequality by about a third, on average, among the advanced economies”.

What can we do? “Some potentially beneficial options can include making income tax systems more progressive without being excessive; making greater use of property taxes; expanding access to education and health; and relying more on active labour market programs and in-work social benefits.”

Perhaps in his efforts to get a modified version of his budget passed by the Senate, Hockey could bring in the IMF as consultants.

Ross Gittins is economics editor.

SMH

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News in brief

GRILL POWER: Sandy Williams, getting ready for the Australia Red Cross 100-year fund-raiser. Picture: Stephen WarkHolistic lookat good healthA FREE complete health improvement program (CHIP) information night will be held at Dora Creek Seventh-day Adventist Church on Monday, August 27, at 7pm. CHIP is a holistic approach to good health, focusing on diet, exercise and mental attitude. Phone 4973 6228.
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Piper speaksat breakfastMP Greg Piper will talk about what’s happening in the area when he addresses the Toronto Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast next Thursday, August 28, from 7am at Toronto Multi-Purpose Centre. Financial security for small businesses will also be discussed.

Funds raisedfor Red CrossBUNNINGS Warehouse Morisset recently hosted a Red Cross Centenary Fundraiser which raised $921, including $140 from donations. Proceeds will go to the Red Cross.

Grant cuts hit nowFEDERAL government budget cuts will remove $24 million from the first quarter’s payment of vital grants to local councils across Australia this week, the Australian Local Government Association said. The Financial Assistance Grants, provided annually by the government, help councils pay for community services and infrastructure, including roads, parks and libraries.

Fare evasion targetedTHE Central Coast and Lake Macquarie have been identified as hot spots for public transport fare evasion, and will be among areas targeted by the state government, which is recruiting 65 extra transport officers. Fare evasion costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year, which means less for extra transport services, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said.

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GARDENING: The truth about bulbs

FLOWERING: The term bulb applies to any plant with a swollen storage organ.
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I NOTICED this week that the early summer bulbs have arrived at the nursery – it seems like yesterday that we were stocking up on jonquils and tulips, which should be fertilised when they begin to die off.

I did consider writing this column about the magnificence of spring bulbs, their perfume and colours, but in reality the new bulbs made me stop and think about correct terminology for the many flowering perennials we simply label bulbs.

The most popular planting time is autumn when we prepare for spring colour – if you haven’t been successful and there isn’t any sign of emergence you might still be able to buy freesia and ranunculus plants in seedling punnets.

Now to be a little more definitive – it may surprise you to know that freesias are not bulbs but corms.

Bulb is a term applied loosely to any plant with a swollen or thickened storage organ. Nevertheless, all bulbs and bulb-like structures have one characteristic in common, they are food storage bins that the plant can draw on to start active growth after dormancy.

These storage bins are the reason that you leave the foliage on the plant until it has ripened and dried naturally.

The food for these reserves in the bulb is manufactured in the leaves, so the longer the leaves survive, the bigger the bulb for next season.

Gladioli are corms and are in the same family as crocus, anemones and ranunculus – gladioli flower in summer and together with water lilies and bearded iris will soon be available for planting.

Dahlias are popular summer flowers – they are tubers, not bulbs, as are some begonias, cyclamen and potatoes.

Herbaceous perennials grow from crowns – the difference being that crowns are left divided and cut back, whereas bulbs can be lifted.

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PHOTOS: Brahmans through to grand final

PHOTOS: Brahmans through to grand final The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.
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The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

The Brahmans are through to their second straight grand final in the George Tooke Shield. Photos: RS Williams.

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AD FEATURE: Love is in the air

PLAYFUL: Galahs often get up to amusing antics. Picture: Geoffrey Dabb
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GALAHS are starting to show off and perform for their partners all over Lake Macquarie, as they get ready for the breeding season.

Galahs are well known for their playful activities, such as hanging upside-down or playing soccer with pebbles.

“Towards the end of winter, galahs begin renovations and interior decorating of their nest hollows for the arrival of their eggs,” Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife chief executive Susanna Bradshaw said.

There are plenty of creative options to make backyards more galah-friendly.

“Leave big, old trees in your garden so that galahs have somewhere to nest and socialise.

“On farms, try to provide hungry birds with their own feeding area away from crops.

“And if you love having these characters in your garden, it’s worthwhile installing a bird bath as galahs never stray too far from water and love playing in it.”

■ Visit backyardbuddies.net.au.

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Author heading back to Port Fairy

PORT Fairy has always been a special place for author Larry Votava.
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As a child Votava and his family would head down the coast from their Geelong home to spend their summer holidays camping in Port Fairy.

For 14 summers the Votava family would camp at the Gardens Caravan Park, a time that had a lasting effect on Votava.

“I have really strong and fond memories of Port Fairy and the summers we spent here,” Votava said.

“Camping was a popular thing for families to do back in the 1970s and Port Fairy was the perfect place.

“Our parents could let us just take off and they didn’t have to worry about us.

“I remember the East Beach and Pea Soup and the spinning wheels and procession down the street on New Year’s Eve.”

Now aged 55, Votava is coming back to Port Fairy as part of the town’s Ex Libris Book Fair on the weekend of September 5 to 7.

He has published his first novel, The Mahogany Ship, a fictional story about a young boy on his summer holidays searching for the fabled ship.

In the book a reward has been offered for anyone who can find the ship ensuring the young boy has to contend with treasure hunters and other weird and

wonderful characters.

The town the book is set in is Frigate Bay, a town that has an uncanny resemblance to Port Fairy.

“I must admit I find it hard to put the book into any certain category, it is fun, adventurous and a coming-of-age story in some ways.

“I think it appeals to a wide range of readers and I have feedback from people that it brings back memories for them of their own summer holidays,” Votava said.

The appearance at the Ex Libris will be the first major promotional engagement for Votava since becoming an author.

He said he was looking forward to seeing Port Fairy having only been back once since his childhood holidays.

“When I started writing the book four or five years ago I brought my parents to Port Fairy to have a look around.

“We certainly noticed some changes from those earlier days but essentially it was still very much the same, the vibe of thetown hadn’t changed much.”

Votava combines his time as an author with his work as a mineral exploration field assistant in the mining areas of Western Australia with Perth now his home.

He will be taking part in the Men Talking Books session on the Sunday of the Ex Libris festival along side Derek Guille, Roger Haldane and Matt Porter.

Getting the chance to talk about the role of men in literature as both authors and readers is something he is looking forward to.

He said given the strong presence of men in the mining industry workforce he had gained an insight into the reading habits of his workmates.

“As a rule women do probably read more than men do but I think men read more than might be thought.

“Spending long periods in those mining areas you can see that reading is an important part of everyday life for many of the men, it is certainly a valuable relaxation tool.”

The Mahogany Ship is on sale at Warrnambool Books and at online bookshops and will be for sale in Port Fairy during the Ex Libris weekend.


Book Week 2014 in the Highlands: photos

Book Week 2014 in the Highlands: photos Berrima Public School celebrated Book Week in style. Photo supplied
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Berrima Public School celebrated Book Week in style. Photo supplied

Jasper Pendlebury (dressed as Conor from Spirit Animals), Simeon Reilly (Tintin), Emerson Williams (costume inspired by George’s Secret Key To The Universe), Micah Reilly (Starflight) and Alexi Fox (Lionblaze) at the Southern Highlands Home Education Group’s Book Week event. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Joash Welsh (dressed as Possum Summer), Tobias Reilly (inspired by Ten Little Pirates), Elspeth Murdoch (Rapunzel), Zadan Evans (Batman) and Beatrix Murdoch (Ladybird) at the Southern Highlands Home Education Group’s Book Week event. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Nahum Reilly (dressed as Hiccup from How To Train Your Dragon), Mimi Love (Camille from The Fleurville Trilogy), Hannah Reilly (Madeleine from The Fleurville Trilogy) and Samantha Pilt (Mandie from Madnie and The Secret Tunnel) at the Southern Highlands Home Education Group’s Book Week event. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Georgia Murdoch (dressed as Grace from Meet Grace), Cedar Love (Julie Albright from Julie and the Eagles) and Tia Evans (Arianna from Unicorns of Balinor) at the Southern Highlands Home Education Group’s Book Week event. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Eleanor Pilt (dressed as A Ranger from Ranger’s Apprentice), Vanessa Pilt (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared 100), Rose Attreed (Fleur Delcour from Harry Potter series), Iris Love (Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter series) and (front) Pi Jeffaries (Hermoine Granger from Harry Potter) at the Southern Highlands Home Education Group’s Book Week event. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Niamh Murdoch (dressed as Emma from Lego Friends) and Freya Hernell (costume inspired by Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH) at the Southern Highlands Home Education Group’s Book Week event. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Mittagong Public students Cody, Archie, Alexis, Jada and Tyler dress up in their favourite pyjamas as part of Book Week celebrations. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Class 3/4F Book Week parade winner Jessica (centre), runner-up Will and third-placed Milly at Mittagong Public School. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Class 3/4C Book Week parade winner Courtney, runner-up Willow and third-placed Harmony at Mittagong Public School. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Mittagong Public School’s Class 3/4O Book Week parade winner Jordyn, runner-up Claire and third-placed Lacey. Photo by Josh Bartlett

Briony, Brittney, Taylor, Raff, Rosey, Levi and Oscar show off their costumes. Photo by Dominica Sanda

Sam, Alexander, Raff and Brayden are all dressed up for Book Week. Photo by Dominica Sanda

Chi, Anne-Maree Wulff and Alice went all out for Book Week. Photo by Dominica Sanda

Briony, Maude, Ned, Rosey, Erin and Brayden showing off their creative costumes. Photo by Dominica Sanda

Erin and Elly both dressed up as Princess Elsa. Photo by Dominica Sanda

From Disney to Marvel, many book characters showed off their costumes at Kamalei Children’s Centre. Photo by Dominica Sanda

Sam and Halle are all smiles. Photo by Dominica Sanda

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Wests Tigers side to take on Bulldogs

Wests Tigers head coach Mick Potter has named his side to face the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium this Thursday, August 21.
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Mitchell Moses will partner Luke Brooks in the halves against the Bulldogs on Thursday. Picture: Getty Images

Bodene Thompson makes his return from a two-game suspension in the back-row, replacing the injured Dene Halatau who suffered a hamstring strain last weekend.

Round 23 NRL debutant Jy Hitchcox retains his spot on the wing, with Cory Paterson starting on the opposite side with Blake Austin at centre.

The NRL match kicks-off at 7.45pm onThursday night with Holden Cupfeaturing in the lead-up at 5.30pm.

Wests Tigers NRL – round 24 v Bulldogs:

1. Kurtis Rowe

2. Jy Hitchcox

3. Blake Austin

4. Chris Lawrence

5. Cory Paterson

6. Mitchell Moses

7. Luke Brooks

8. Aaron Woods

9. Robbie Farah (capt.)

10. Keith Galloway

11. Curtis Sironen

12. Bodene Thompson

13. Adam Blair

Interchange:

14. Ava Seumanufagai

15. Martin Taupau

16. Sauaso Sue

17. Jack Buchanan

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Seeking long-term solution to erosion

ROBE District Council will seek a long-term solution to erosion on town beach after it was battered by recent stormy weather.
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Robe District Council will seek a long-term solution to erosion on town beach after it was battered by recent stormy weather.

Reporting on the matter to the council’s August meeting, CEO Roger Sweetman said recent high tides and strong winds had stripped sand from the beach.

“The sand that was removed is the sand that was placed there as part of the sand replenishment work undertaken this year.

“While it would appear that the work undertaken was wasted, in effect the sand replenishment did what it was intended to which was to protect the sand dunes from further erosion and it would have been interesting to observe what may have occurred if the sand replenishment project had not been undertaken.

“Town beach will always receive an amount of sand as a result of the dredging of the marina channel, however based on historical data this won’t be enough to continue to protect the beach and eventually the private property that adjoins town beach.”

Mr Sweetman said he had sought advice from the Coast Protection Board about the long-term future of town beach.

The board advised that it would not fund protection of private development or property owned by a State Government agency and Mr Sweetman suggested an equitable solution could be for all affected parties including private property owners to contribute.

He said a long-term solution to the problem of sand replenishment and property protection could be to excavate the dune at the property boundary, construct a stone wall and return and further replenish the sand.

The board would be happy to offer financial support for the necessary design work.

If any work was done, Mr Sweetman said it would also be opportune to extend the rock groyne at the landward end of the groyne, which would further protect sand on the beach.

Upgrading beach access also needed to be looked at to provide:

– Disabled access in accordance with Australian standards.

– Vehicle access to the beach in an emergency event.

– Access usable in times of low level sand on the beach.

– Access to the beach for equipment when doing sand replenishment or repairs to the groyne.

Councillors voted in favour of Mr Sweetman’s recommendations: to apply for funding from the Coast Protection Board for design work to protect the dunes and to repair the groyne, and ask the council’s works operations coordinator to prepare concept plans for upgraded beach access.

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Practising faith

DON Davey’s experience of almost falling foul of “a priest’s attentions” (Letters, August14) is indeed a sad one.
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As a cradle Catholic Don, I can only say how very very angry I personally feel at the way little children were so defiled by these men.

I feel angry and disillusioned that the very people that had the responsibility for teaching the Word of God, were the very ones who sexually abused little ones, and so grievously sinned against Him.

Most of us practising our Catholic faith don’t do so because of the priests or bishops who still remain in our church, but because we believe, as Jesus said we should, be “like little children”.

Our faith is a gift from God, which we have accepted as adults, and it is a source of great peace and happiness for us.

It is the most exciting way to live life to the full in the knowledge that God’s love abounds. It is not for us to judge others, we do however speak up for justice and acceptance for all God’s people.

So Don, please don’t judge our church as “an insidious religion” but rather find out more about the truth. It will readily become apparent that our faith is not about the bishops and priests in it, but about God’s message to His people.

Faith means we do not have to prove the existence of God, because we already know its truth.

— MARY T. BATES, Exeter.

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Tough without ferry

COWELL will face a tough year ahead after the Sea SA ferry stops its service at the end of this month.
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Sea SA’s Aurora V will make her last voyage later this month after a “disappointing” past 12 months.

Sea SA’s managing director Stephanie Dawson said the reduced use of the service was a result of the flattening economy in the state.

The Spencer Gulf ferry service will cease while development of the Lucky Bay port and construction of the new vessel gets underway.

Franklin Harbour District Council mayor Eddie Elleway said he was disappointed to hear about the temporary closure.

“It has really become a vital part of our community,” he said.

Mr Elleway said despite Sea SA citing poor use of the service a lot of Cowell businesses were still seeing the benefit.

“We were still very much getting business from the ferry.”

He said although it might be a tough 12 or so months he could see the benefit in the closure.

“From what I understand the new one will be much cheaper to run, maintain and crew.”

Sea SA has recently started the construction of a more modern catamaran, which has a larger hull, but reduced passenger capacity to contain crew numbers and ensure the vessel’s future viability.

The new vessel will have full disabled access accommodation on the vehicle deck without the need for a lift, as well as improved sea-keeping to minimise motion sickness.

Passenger facilities will be fully air conditioned with a licensed cafe, televisions, children’s area and comfortable seating.

Major capital expenditure on the harbours and berths at Lucky Bay and Wallaroo will also be undertaken during the closure to improve access for the future service.

“They also had to consider the development of the export port at Lucky Bay,” Mr Elleway said.

“Work on that development will start in about a month or so.”

The harbour and channel will be re-dredged and the new ferry will be built in accordance with that.

“There is no doubt it will be an inconvenience but it would have been a major problem to have the service running while all that was happening.”

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