Month: February 2019

  • Hunter household power bills set to fall

    HUNTER household power bills look set to fall by about $165 from July, or eight per cent, after the Australian Energy Regulator knocked back Ausgrid’s proposals for higher network charges.
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    But the savings will come at the cost of at least 2500 jobs and would mean a longer wait for electricity to be restored to homes during the next storm or emergency to hit the region, Networks NSW has warned.

    About half an average household energy bill is made up of transmission and distribution network costs – the ‘‘poles and wires’’.

    The determination, handed down on Thursday morning, reined in the amount Hunter distributor Ausgrid can recover from customers over the next four years to $6.5 billion, or 33 per cent less than the nearly $10 billion Ausgrid had argued for.

    Energy minister Anthony Roberts welcomed lower power prices for households but said the government had concerns that the regulator had refused requests to phase in the cuts.

    Networks NSW chief executive Vince Graham said at least 2500 jobs would have to be swiftly cut across Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy, reducing capabilities to respond to emergencies, such as the storms that recently hit the Hunter and Sydney.

    ‘‘This morning we’re down to several hundred customers who are off as a consequence of last Monday/Tuesday’s storms,’’ Mr Graham said.

    ‘‘It is perfectly logical that our ability to reconnect customers after such a significant event will be proportional to the number of skilled workers we can deploy after those events.’’

    The decision also provided for less money for bushfire hazard reduction, Mr Graham said, but he would not be reducing that spending.

    He said an appeal would be considered, and he would be holding the regulator’s ‘‘feet to the fire’’ over the decision.

    Australian Energy Regulator chairwoman Paula Conboy said it had considered emergency capabilities and other issues before setting the amount networks could charge customers. It was up the businesses to decide how to spend that money.

    ‘‘It’s important that consumers pay no more than necessary for a safe and reliable service,’’ she said.

    The regulator’s final decision has been keenly awaited, amid the Baird government’s plans to lease the state’s poles and wires.

    The government has argued prices won’t rise under private operators because the regulator would continue to set them.

  • Find them: East Albury rape victim, 17, was followed by men

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    -Be aware of safety, Mack urges walkers

    – Victim should never be seen as at fault| editorial

    A MAN with bad breath is one of three attackers police are hunting over an alleged sexual assault on a teenage girl in Albury on Tuesday evening.

    Police yesterday described the gang attackas “callous” and “random”.

    The 17-year-old was walking to her East Albury home across the Dean Street footbridge when three men began following her about 6.20pm.

    When she got to the eastern side, two of the men grabbed the girl and dragged her into a nearby bush on the bike path between Centenary and Kenilworth streets.

    One of the men allegedly pulled out a knife and threatened the teenager before she was sexually assaulted.

    Albury police Inspector Scott Russell said investigators were unsure at this stage as to the role each of the men played in the attack.

    The girl called police after the men fled along Dean Street.

    Police scoured the area on Tuesday night and set up a crime scene.

    The girl was taken to Albury hospital and later went home with her parents.

    Inspector Russell said yesterday the girl was reportedly “doing fine”.

    “She has not received any ongoing physical injuries,” he said.

    “Her mental state is being addressed by counsellors and she will receive ongoing counselling.”

    Nearby residents and those walking in the area yesterday morning were shocked by the attack, and the time it occurred.

    “It is well lit and that’s a busy time of night,” resident Julie Kaee said.

    Inspector Russell app-ealed for public help to catch the alleged offenders.

    “It is a concern and we are calling on any witnesses to come forward,” he said.

    “We have had a couple of phone calls, but we are seeking more people to come forward.”

    Police have visited businesses in the area to obtain CCTV footage.

    Inspector Russell was yesterday encouraging people to go about their lives as normal, but be mindful of their surroundings and personal safety.

    “We are treating this as an isolated attack, which doesn’t appear to be linked to any crimes we are investigating,” he said.

    “It would appear it’s a random, callous attack on a vulnerable person being a 17-year-old girl.

    “It’s not a type of crime we investigate every day, but it is concerning and we wish to find these people of interest and put them before the court.”

    The men have all been described as Caucasian in appearance.

    One offender is about 180-185 centimetres tall, 20-25 years old, with a slim but muscular build and dark mid-length hair.

    He was wearing a dark hooded jacket, tan jeans and maroon shoes.

    Another of the men was about 180-185cm tall, with a solid build and light short hair.

    He was wearing a dark hooded jacket, grey track pants and black lace-up shoes.

    The third man was described as 180-185cm tall, about 25-30 years old, with a slim build, gaunt facial features and bad breath.

    He was wearing a pale blue hooded jacket with white print, black jeans and camouflage patterned shoes.

    Those with information can phone police at Albury on (02) 6023 9299.

    Source: The Border Mail

  • Pastor Paul Downie and wife Anne offer support inside Bali prison

    Pastor Paul Downie and his wife Anne have been giving spiritual guidance to the Bali Nine.AS inmates at Bali’s Kerobokan prison came to grips with the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran yesterday morning, Paul and Anne Downie were there bringing comfort.
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    The former Warrnambool Gateway Church leaders were among a select group of “outsiders” at a church service inside the prison where the Australian pair had spent the past decade awaiting their sentence of death by firing squad for their role in the Bali Nine drug smuggling group.

    The Downies, who are relieving leaders at the Kuta International Christian Church, have experienced first-hand the tensions and emotions of prisoners with visits twice a week to assist Bali Nine member Matthew Norman.

    “Today will be indelibly impressed in our memories,” Pastor Downie said.

    “There were about 70 people at the service including about 50 prisoners, three of whom got up and sang.

    “It was all very moving and many were openly shedding tears.

    “There was certainly an atmosphere of grief, but oh boy, did it turn into a victory praise time.

    “A couple of them shared testimonies of how Andrew and Myuran had affected their lives for good.

    “The local pastor encouraged everyone to see the bigger picture that God has for us and to see the legacy that both have left.

    “Anne and I had the privilege of praying for people at the end of the service.”

    Pastor Downie said eyewitness reports described how Chan and the eight prisoners sang Christian songs as they faced the firing squad and he hugged the guards.

    “Andrew had certainly become a spiritual leader,” Pastor Downie said.

    “We may never know the full impact these two guys have had.”

    Pastor Downie said Norman had agreed to step up as spiritual leader inside the prison.

    “He was doing it really hard today, dealing with anger towards the Indonesian government,” he said.

    “That’s understandable because he’s lost two very great friends.

    “I prayed with him and his girlfriend Anita today.

    “Anita was responsible for leading four of the Bali Nine to the Lord.”

    Meanwhile, out in the Balinese community there is little of the media frenzy seen back in Australia, but there is open opposition in some local newspapers, Pastor Downie said.

    “I hope for the sake of the local community there is not a tourism boycott because that would have major ramifications,” he said. “It’s not the fault of the Balinese.”

    The Downies will leave Bali mid-May to return to their home in Teesdale, near Geelong.

    Source: The Standard

  • Floating solar farm opened at JamestownPHOTOS

    Floating solar farm opened at Jamestown | PHOTOS Australia’s first floating solar panel officially opened at Jamestown.
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    Australia’s first floating solar panel officially opened at Jamestown.

    Australia’s first floating solar panel officially opened at Jamestown.

    Australia’s first floating solar panel officially opened at Jamestown.

    Australia’s first floating solar panel officially opened at Jamestown.

    Australia’s first floating solar panel officially opened at Jamestown.

    Raj Nellore, Infratech Industries, at the opening.

    Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter opened the floating solar farm.

    Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter with Felicia Whiting from Infratech Industries

    Northern Area Council Mayor Denis Clark, Minister for Climate Change Ian Hunter, CEO Infratech Industries Raj Nellore , CEO Northern Area Council Colin Byles and Felicia Whiting from Infratech Industries.

    TweetFacebookAustralia’s first floating solar panel officially opened at Jamestown, in South Australia’s Mid North.

    Northern Areas Council Mayor, Denis Clark, said he was excited about what this would mean for the region.

    “This is an Australian first for floating solar power, and it’s a great way to put the Northern Areas Council on the map,” he said

    “This is brand new technology and it will raise the profile of the town.”

    Climate ChangeMinister Ian Hunter attended the launch, and officially opened the facility.

    “I am impressed with the ‘go getter’ attitude of the Northern Areas Council, and their willingness to embrace innovation and providing a future for your communities,” he said during his speech.

    Infratech Industries was behind the construction, and chief executive Dr Rajesh Nellor says the facility has multiple benefits.

    “This is a floating solar concept; it avoids taking land that could be used for other purposes, such as agriculture.

    “This is not a facility that just supplies power, it helps in water conservation, it helps prevent water evaporation, and it helps reduce blue-green algae which is a major issue with a lot of water utilities,” he said.

    “It’s got a concentrating system, a cooling systems and a tracking system, so it tracks the brightest spot in the sky.”

    The basin opened today will provide power toNorthern Areas Council Waste Water Treatment Plant in Jamestown, and construction is still not over.

    “There are other basins at this location, and we do intend to fill those basins with other kinds of solar technology,” said Dr Nellor.

    The additional basins will assist powering council operations and the local community.

    “Ninety per cent of the materials used have been sourced locally, and when I say locally I mean here in South Australia,” said Dr Nellor.

    During his address, Mayor Denis Clark said today’s launch was a proud moment in the history for the Northern Areas Council.

    “Northern Areas is our part of South Australia, we pride ourselves on agriculture, forestry, livestock, wind energy, and for being the gateway to Flinders Ranges.”

    “Partnering with Infratech Industries we are using Australian labour and Australian materials,” he said.

    “Sixty-nine people were involved with this project, and although those jobs weren’t local when you’ve been around town seeing the different vehicles and the guys that have been here putting this together, there’s still a benefit to our town because they’ve got to eat and stay in our facilities.”

    The facility will generate an estimated 57 per cent more power than fixed land based solar systems, with The Northern Areas Council expected to save approximately 15 percent on their current energy expenditure.

    “This facility can be hosted on any body of water, including moving water such as lakes,” said Mayor Clark.

    “We’re asking other Australians to invest in their own communities.”

    MrHunter believed the facility was a great way of looking at a problem and coming up with a solution that addressed two or three problems at the same time.

    “What we are striving for as a government in South Australia is emulating what this council has been able to achieve.

    “Climate change is a challenge that faces all of us, and we can’t afford as a country to do absolutely nothing about it, South Australia has decided to, in many respects, go it alone and lead the way nationally in terms of climate change,” he said.

    Other council members from throughout the region also attended the event.

    John Hadley, manager for works and technical services for the District Council of Mount Remarkable and Deputy Mayor Colin Nottle were very interested in possibly implementing the technology for their council.

    “We have basins at Melrose, Wilmington and Booleroo, with a new one opening soon in Wirrabara,” said Mr Hadley.

    “We think a facility like this would do really well at the new location in Wirrabarra,” he said.

    Principalof the Jamestown Community School, Mat Evans, said the event was a significant moment for the region.

    “The deputy principal, Jessica Hounsell and myself are here to investigate how we can get the kids involved and learning about solar power,” he said.

    People from the region and interstate attended the opening, curious and impressed by the technology.

    Dave Clarke, from Crystal Brook, said “it’s a very innovative idea, combining solar panels with evaporation reduction.”

    Rod and Miriam Jamieson, from Queensland, were in the region for a holiday and decided to attend the opening.

    “We’re so interested in the technology and the potential for its use, plus it’s a great excuse to spend the night in the Clare Valley.”

    Source: The Flinders News

  • Bali 9 executions: What you said

    From left: Michael Strutt, Robyn Starkey, Emma Dyce, Will Ridgeway. Pictures: Max Mason-HubersMICHAEL STRUTT, Mayfield
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    I’m against capital punishment in general, but I’m also against the prison system too.

    Prison doesn’t work for what it is supposed to do, it just creates more criminals. But more than anything else I’m against unnacountable killing by authorities, whether you get a judge to sign off on it or not.

    ROBYN STARKEY, Fennell Bay

    I think it is disgusting, absolutely disgusting.

    Obviously they did the wrong thing when they were very young and they have been rehabilitated and it is absolutely disgusting to kill anybody like that.

    I was horrified, it makes me feel sick.

    EMMA DYCE, Maitland

    On the one hand, they knew the risk, they knew what they were doing, they committed a crime and it is their own fault.

    But I see the other side, that they have been rehabilitated.

    I guess I’m against the death penalty, but I think it’s a completely different country and I don’t know if it is Australia’s place to go in and get involved.

    WILL RIDGEWAY, Merewether

    They knew the price they would have to pay and they wrecked a lot of families’ lives. But it wasn’t a violent crime.

    I don’t think they should have even gotten life, they shouldn’t have even got 10 years’ jail.

    From left: Danielle Lewis, Ashleigh De Bono, Graeme Holland, Geoff Clapham. Pictures: Max Mason-Hubers

    DANNIELLE LEWIS, Newcastle

    If you go into a country and on the way in there is a sign that says there is a death penalty for drug offences and you still do it then it might be hard to be sympathetic.

    But the fact that the Australian Federal Police knew and didn’t act on it until it was too late doesn’t sit right.

    No one deserves to die like that.

    I’m against the death penalty in general, especially for non-violent crimes.


    I’m against the death penalty, it’s against human rights. I would have preferred to see them stay in prison, they have reformed.

    People say they ruined people’s lives with drugs, but that is still those people’s choices. [Chan and Sukumaran] didn’t have a choice in their consequences.


    Firstly, I’m totally opposed to capital punishment anyway.

    I think a number of elements of this case were disgusting.

    I think it’s cruel and unusual punishment to sentence someone to death and keep them on death row for 10 years. I think [Indonesian President Joko] Widodo is weak.

    GEOFF CLAPHAM, Wallsend

    To be honest I think it’s wrong, but I also think they knew the consequences.

    To be honest, I don’t really care, it doesn’t affect me.

    I think it’s harsh, but they knew the risks.

    I agree that drugs ruin people’s lives, but the other aspect is the federal police tipped them off, they could have waited until they got to Australia.