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


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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.


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Barnaby welcomes the rain

FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce said widespread rainfall across part of the electorate as well as western NSW and south-west Queensland has gone some way to easing concerns about the the drought.
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New England MP Barnaby Joyce.

“It’s great to see we’ve had widespread rain, obviously the only cure for a drought in the end is rain,” Mr Joyce said.

“This is a good start, I’m glad to see we’ve had falls up to and around the two inches mark and I think there might be a bit more rain around still.

Mr Joyce hopes the rain will give beef prices and the cattle market a kick.

“A kick in cattle prices on the back of good sheep prices would be fantastic, and hopefully if people have got a bit of in-crop rain it will help finish off their wheat crops, which would have otherwise been for the high jump.”

Mr Joyce said there was still drought assistance available for farming families struggling with the extended dry.

“There’s still concessional money available and I’ve moved another $20 million into the NSW pot to deal with the issues of drought before us,” Mr Joyce said.

“There’s still access to $280 million at four per cent which will help farmers to re-stock and replant.”

By 3.30pm on Monday Drake in the far north-east of the Electorate had recorded 38 millimetres while Mullaley in the south-west had recorded 26 millimetres. Other falls included 36 millimetres at Inverell, 30 millimetres for Glen Innes, Manilla and Gunnedah, Barraba received 29 millimetres and Werris Creek 37 millimetres.

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Looking after road safety

Senior Constable Mark Hill is the region’s MAC ambassador for road safetyLocal footy players and club members around South Australia have signed up as ambassadors of the Motor Accident Commission’s new Game Changer program, including North Clare’s Mark Hill.
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The Game Changer program is a partnership between MAC and the SA Country Football League.

As a Game Changer ambassador, Mark Hill will communicate to football players and supporters about making the right choices on the road.

Mark Hill shared why he agreed to become an MAC ambassador and the impact road accidents can have.

“I agreed to be an MAC ambassador due to the good work MAC has been doing with country football and country communities in general over a number of years now,” Mark said. “I have seen first-hand the devastation caused by road deaths in small communities, I feel it is an effective program that is slowly making a difference.”

Mark then shared how big the problem of drink driving is in rural areas although it has dropped in recent years.

“The rate of drink driving incidents has drastically reduced over recent years,” he said.

“I believe this is as a result of a number of factors put together, including very harsh penalties, vehicle impounding and disqualification of a drivers’ licence on the spot.

“Drink drivers continue to get caught, but not with the same frequency as they used to a few years ago, suggesting a general decline in the problem, but it still exists to a certain degree.”

Mark said the main message behind the program is for drivers in country areas to be more careful on the roads, especially with more vulnerable situations.

“I feel the main message is about country drivers being more responsible, not only for their own behaviours, but also that of their mates if they see someone else in a potentially vulnerable situation,” he said.

“Those vulnerable situations quite often begin during the night with irrational behaviour and poor decision making once the alcohol has kicked in.

“The key is to make your plan to get home prior to drinking and stick to it, including, leaving no other option such as leaving your car behind and getting a lift, or take out the temptation by leaving your keys with someone who won’t be drinking early in the night.

“One of the MAC messages encourages that sober person to retain your keys, despite drunken pleas to get them back later.”

Mark said communities like Clare and Jamestown can be more at risk of drink driving problems thanks to the social aspect of sport in smaller cities and towns.

“Yes, I believe historically it has been a sad cultural fact that some members of the country communities drive home after a day and night at the football, but this is gradually changing and is not uncommon to see many cars left at an oval or football club overnight now,” he said.

“The message is slowly getting through and this is also reflected in our road toll, which has been on the decline and is again on track to be less than 100 for the year.

“I hear people complain about revenue raising or being ‘hard-done-by’ by getting caught just slightly over the limit, but the fact is, Police can’t possibly nail the really reckless, dangerous drivers without ‘stumbling over’ a few ‘ordinary’ drivers in the process.”

Mark finished with saying communities like Clare have no excuses when it comes to drink driving and have plenty of opportunities to be responsible.

“Communities like Clare and Jamestown are spoilt to have a reliable local taxi service, giving people no excuse to drink drive. Members of smaller communities need to take responsibility too, and look after each other as in the ‘Matemorphosis’ adverts,” he said.

The MAC Game Changer message will be rolled out to 186 community football clubs throughout South Australia.

Each Game Changer ambassador has a manual containing important road safety information to help instigate road safety conversations.

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Jobs priority

NO ONE could possibly argue against – “Creating jobs must be top priority” (Barry Prismall, August 19).
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But by their actions, some do argue against that proposition.

Just today a mining operation on the West Coast has shut down in no small part because of continuing objections to its operation.

A very substantial industry (forestry) has been reduced to a backyard operation by protesters using every trick in the book to make it as internationally uncompetitive and therefore uneconomic as possible – result: hundreds of jobs lost.

Sure, some jobs are being created – call centres, agriculture and aquaculture and in some of the tourist sectors – but too many see these as “gains” when they are really offsets to major job losses.

Governments are right to get tough at those whose active protesting affects the proper operation of work sites with employment suffering as a result.

What is often most galling is that those “professional” protest groups will talk loud and often that there are “better alternatives” to their targeted industries.

They rarely – more often never – appear: they are the mythical reasons why something should go.

In any event we don’t want just alternative jobs, we want – desperately need – to keep every present job and add another 10,000 a year.

Locally and nationally this should be a priority for every politician.


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Around Wagga in Pictures

Around Wagga in Pictures COLOURFUL CREATION: Young Joel Wetherbee points out his beautiful artwork while strolling through the Art to Crow About exhibition in the Wagga Art Gallery. Picture: Jacinta Coyne
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SPECIAL MOMENT: Wagga City councillor Alan Brown was proud to open the Art to Crow About exhibition. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

MILESTONE: Members of the Ladysmith Red Cross branch, Fiona Wilson, Andrea McGill, Marie Wilson, Stan Wilson, Donna Hann and Catelyn Hann, help celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Australian humanitarian organisation. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

SPECIAL OCCASSION: Vice-president Barbara Payne, member Christine Hardwick,president Ann Taylor and secretary Joy Schultz were a few members of The Rock Red Cross that made the trek to Ladysmith to join in the 100 year celebrations. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

BARE ESSENTIALS: Art in its purest form was on show in the recent Art to Crow About exhibition. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

MEMORABLE PERFORMANCE: Members of Kurrajong’s Twilight Troupe provide entertainment on the opening night of the Art to Crow About exhibition. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS: With a century of service between them, Yvonne McGrane and Marie Wilson are proud of the support which the Australian Red Cross still provides to the Australian community. The pair took part in 100 year celebrations recently. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

GIFTED: Christopher Clarke was overwhelmed to learn his artwork was chosen out of many to be used for advertising for the Art to Crow About exhibition. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

CENTRE OF ATTENTION: These was standing room only during the fashion parade at the recent Wedding Expo held in the Wagga RSL Club. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

TAKE THE STRESS OUT: Lyons and Turner Travel Associates representatives Angela Lyons and Stacey Willis were on hand at the Wedding Expo to provide expert advice on planning a honeymoon or trip away. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

AIR OF BEAUTY: Wagga Way and Lady M candles representatives Mereana and Brendan Pepper had a sweet smelling stand at the Wedding Expo. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

ADDED TOUCH: Bec Sedden from Stick Ups offered Wedding Expo visitors creative ideas to help make their special day all the more memorable. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

WORTH THE TRIP: Marriage celebrant Gabriel McCormack described the recent Wedding Expo as a “success”. She said with many potential brides and grooms stopped by her stall seeking advice and her services. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

HONOUR: Members of the Ladysmith Red Cross Branch had the priviledge of cutting the cake during recent celebrations marking the 100 year anniversary of the humanitarian organisation. Picture: Jacinta Coyne

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Ease the pain

TASMANIANS have a right to know the truth behind federal and state government, who will not agree to the listing of marijuana oils for medicinal treatments.
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There are many drugs on the market today that do more harm to public health than good.

If this oil can help people who are suffering terminal illnesses and can help to be free from pain then why not?

Every day people die from cancer of one sort or the other and endure months or even years of pain and suffering.

Then there are the families who also suffer, just watching their loved one slowly waste away to skin and bone.

To see the pain in their eyes while all the time trying to stay strong for each other.

To the children who don’t understand and keep asking when will Mummy and Daddy be coming home?

If these ministers have any gumption let them stand up and ask why not do the trials now and help Tasmanians all over in more ways than one.

—M. CAULFIELD, Scottsdale.

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Griggs wins nail-biter at Bombala bowls tournament: Photos

Griggs wins nail-biter at Bombala bowls tournament: Photos The final of the handicap singles championships on Saturday saw G Griggs def P Jones, 23-20. While some players managed to get in some games in Bombala, the tournament in Ulladulla was a wash-out.
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The final of the handicap singles championships on Saturday saw G Griggs def P Jones, 23-20. While some players managed to get in some games in Bombala, the tournament in Ulladulla was a wash-out.

The final of the handicap singles championships on Saturday saw G Griggs def P Jones, 23-20. While some players managed to get in some games in Bombala, the tournament in Ulladulla was a wash-out.

The final of the handicap singles championships on Saturday saw G Griggs def P Jones, 23-20. While some players managed to get in some games in Bombala, the tournament in Ulladulla was a wash-out.

The final of the handicap singles championships on Saturday saw G Griggs def P Jones, 23-20. While some players managed to get in some games in Bombala, the tournament in Ulladulla was a wash-out.

The final of the handicap singles championships on Saturday saw G Griggs def P Jones, 23-20. While some players managed to get in some games in Bombala, the tournament in Ulladulla was a wash-out.

The final of the handicap singles championships on Saturday saw G Griggs def P Jones, 23-20. While some players managed to get in some games in Bombala, the tournament in Ulladulla was a wash-out.

The final of the handicap singles championships on Saturday saw G Griggs def P Jones, 23-20. While some players managed to get in some games in Bombala, the tournament in Ulladulla was a wash-out.

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Artyculture record broken

TROPICAL: Chloe Sharpe designed and modelled the dress that her grandmother Joy Crosby made. It won the adult section.
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PRETTY: Megan Grainger modelled teen winner Amy Flavell s design.

CREATIVE: Georgina Gaston modelled incentive winner Therese Flavell s design.

BRIGHT: Jasmin Piggott modelled Beth Hammond s design, which was equal people s choice winner.

CUTE: Bree Alcock won the children s section.

AMAZING: Kate Grainger won the people’s choice and the best accessorised dress in the Artyculture parade. Her dress weighed about 25 kilograms.

THIS year’s Artyculture parade at the Eyre Peninsula Field Days broke participation records from previous parades.

“It was wonderful, we had more models than we have ever had before,” one of the organisers Maureen Johnson said.

Along with more models, Mrs Johnson said there were also a record number of 26 entries in this year’s parade.

“That is mainly because of the Cleve Area School’s involvement in the parade this year.”

Mrs Johnson said the Eyre Peninsula Field Days pavilion where the parade was held was packed every day and there were a number of people who put in a lot of work.

“There are so many people who work behind the scenes of the parade,” Mrs Johnson said.

“Jasmin Piggott did a wonderful job with the choreography and Jo Sampson just has to be thanked for all of her hard work and for being the compere.”

“Nathan Rosenzweig did all of the music, Tina Rosenzweig was our main dresser and Sue-Anne Marino did a wonderful job with makeup.”

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Andamooka and Hornridge remember Troy Gum with memorial trophy

RESPECT: Players from both Hornridge and Andamooka had a minute s silence for the Troy Gum Memorial Trophy match.
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Andamooka and Hornridge remembered the passing of friend and teammate Troy Gum with one minute’s silence before clashing in the Troy Gum Memorial Trophy match.

The game, now an annual tradition, pays a homage to a man tragically taken by cancer two years ago.

Troy grew up in Roxby playing football for Hornridge and was affiliated through friendship with the Andamooka football team.

The game as the french say was “a fait accompli”.

I suppose that is a fancy way of saying “yep, knew Andamooka were going to get their backside’s kicked”.

The 1.4-10 to 20.12-132 final score, however, doesn’t reflect the courage shown by the Andamooka boys despite the shellacking.

Kangaroos coach Craig Whyatt reflected on a season that demonstrated Andamooka’s inability to match it with the rest of the league, yet was pleased that under the circumstances his team had the courage to duke it out irrespective of the what the scoreboard was telling them.

While most teams had their fair share of injuries and absent players, arguably Andamooka suffered the most.

So for Whyatt and his band of brothers it’s the end of a forgettable season.

Hornridge on the other hand are major contenders in this year’s finals, however, while they might of got some match practice in against the hapless ‘Roos, they cannot afford to bask too long, if at all, in Saturday’s victory.

When the game is broken down, Andamooka kept a much stronger and aggressive Magpies to four goals in the first quarter and in the third the ‘Roos clipped a flatfooted Magpie run by only conceding four goals.

The truth of it is the ‘Pies should have slotted at least another four or six plus, against a Kangaroos side that had little or no run off the bench and inferior football skills.

The point is, Hornridge cannot afford to stray off the path and must play four quarters of consistent football.

If they are stalled by a depleted team such as Andamooka, imagine what a well oiled Roxby Districts, an unpredictable Olympic Dam, or if Coober Pedy manage to present its best side, will do to them if they stray too far from coach Mitchell’s plan.

DODGE: Hornridge’s Clayton Millard dodges defenders during his side’s win on Saturday.

Wymer: disaster funding for repairs not capital works

After the devastating floods of December 2010 and March 2012 across NSW, Young Shire Council pocketed $4.2 million in funding assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
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This amount of cash may sound like a windfall, but it could only be spent on repairing damage caused by the floods and heavy rainfall, Young Shire Council director of operations Dirk Wymer said,

“The fundamental principal of natural disaster funding is to repair… not to complete capital works,” he said.

“Under the program, council is eligible to have the costs of repairing identified damage reimbursed.”

Mr Wymer said the funding totaled $950,000 for 2013/14, including $450,000 to assist with gravel road repair, and the remainder on sealed road projects.

“Council will be carrying out the final inspections on the program with the RMS staff,” he said.

Although Mr Wymer couldn’t give a figure to how many complaints the shire receives on the rural roads, he said council faced major obstacles to funding road upgrades and maintenance.

This, he said, was not a problem unique to Young.

“The Local Government Infrastructure Audit June 2013 in which the total infrastructure backlog for all NSW councils was estimated to be $7.4 billion at 30 June 2012, of which $4.5 billion relates to roads and related assets and $1 billion relates to buildings. The infrastructure backlog is over $1000 per head of the NSW population,” Mr Wymer said.

“Another of the challenges facing not only Young Shire but local government is the resilience of the road pavements. Thin flexible pavements have not been designed for the increasing volumes and weight of road freight traffic and a period of extended rainfall can result in lots of damage to the network.”

And cuts to the indexation of council’s federal assistance grants, set to come into effect this week, will put a further squeeze on council’s funding.

Mr Wymer said the expected shortfall of $475,000 in roads funding could set council’s works projects back by up to a year.

But Mr Wymer denied a resident’s claim a council grader and roller sat inactive on the side of the road for weeks.

“I don’t believe a claim of a grader sitting idle for eight weeks could be justified given council is given regular reports on the works program and also regular reports on plant utilisation,” he said.

Looking to the future, Mr Wymer said council was planning for the ongoing improvement of roads.

These plans include the reconstruction of the urban heavy vehicle routes through town, an application to participate in the Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme, plans to widen the shoulder on Murringo and Milvale Roads, planned gravel roads reconstruction and resheeting and bitumen sealing some of the local gravel roads carrying higher traffic volumes.

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Snakes charm Penrith’s future scientists

New friend: Penrith South Public School year 6 pupil Lanu Cross-Taateo, 11, and year 4 pupil Lucas Golovchenko, 10, handle a python at an excursion to the University of Western Sydney’s Hawkesbury campus. Picture: Gene RamirezPenrith South Public School pupils scaled new heights of learning during a visit to the University of Western Sydney’s Hawkesbury campus for National Science Week.
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The year 6 pupils and 12 technology club members in years 3-6 handled pythons, lizards and other reptiles, discussed climate change, and made short movies with iPads to record their thoughts on their environment.

Year 4 pupil and reptile aficionado Lucas Golovchenko, 10, said he learned the children’s python was named after the English scientist who discovered it and that lizards were less easily agitated than snakes.

“The best part about today was getting to know facts more strongly,” he said.

“Holding the lizards and snakes was a good inspiration as well.

“Blue-tongue lizards are actually really gentle creatures.

“If you are going to get close to one you should be gentle and treat it how you would want to be treated.”

Year 6 pupil Jaylen Maipi, 11, said the climate talk focused on how much water animals and crops need and how to conserve water.

Classmate Lanu Cross-Taateo, 11, said the advice included not wasting water during shower times.

“They say if you just want to go for a shower to wash your body you should only go in for four or five minutes,” she said.

The UWS Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment’s communications manager David Thompson said it was the first time the university had offered the program to engage students in natural heritage and environment topics through technology.

“We’re hoping that it will reinforce their curiosity and their interest in all things environmental,” he said.

“By getting the students to record the small movies and document their own experiences the idea is to engage them in thinking about the science of our natural environment.”

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