Nanjing Night Net

Call to stop $450m Hunter dam

THE State Government is facing fresh calls to dump the construction of the $450 million Tillegra Dam – two new internal documents reveal serious concerns about the project’s legality and its impact on the environment.The environmental assessment report prepared by the Hunter Water Corporation as part of its application for planning approval of the dam has been slammed by senior officials in the NSW Office of Water and the Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority.A letter to the Department of Planning signed by the general manager of the management authority, Fiona Marshall, says two key justifications for the dam – the impact of climate change and the increased demand for water supplies due to population growth – are based on misleading or outdated data.A second document, also uncovered in a call for papers by the upper house, shows a senior manager from the NSW Office of Water believes the project ”will not meet the objectives and principles of the state’s water legislation and policy”.The letter to the Department of Planning, signed by Mark Mignanelli, the manager of major projects and assessments, says endangered flora would be destroyed by the dam in a way that is not consistent with government policy.Furthermore, the ”significant adverse effects” of the dam on wetlands, the flow of water in the Williams River and vegetation will be long term and cannot be mitigated, it says.The documents are the latest in a string of damning assessments by various government agencies of the proposed dam, which was announced a week after a local Labor MP, the former Aboriginal affairs minister Milton Orkopoulos, was charged with child sex offences.The Labor Government has consistently argued that the concerns are minority views within the bureaucracy or that documents were draft or unsigned. A spokesman for Hunter Water Corporation said these reviews were some of ”a wide range of views and opinions about this major infrastructure project”.The NSW Greens called for the dam to be dumped.
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Inexperience and thrill-seeking a lethal mix on Fraser Island

IT was a beautiful April morning when James May got behind the wheel of a four-wheel-drive on Fraser Island earlier this year. The Liverpudlian, 20, and 10 fellow backpackers were crammed into a Toyota LandCruiser exploring the world’s largest sand island.”I was going about 65 to 70 kilometres an hour when this one particular wash [from the sea] came into my path,” said May, who had never driven on sand before. ”It was a split second [from when] I saw it and then we were in it. We went through the water and I remember the windscreen tilting and then we were rolling.”The vehicle rolled three times. A Briton, Ian Davy, 22, and an Italian, Concetta Dell-Angelo, 26, were killed. The rest were injured.The horrific accident sparked an overhaul of regulations governing four-wheel-driving on Fraser Island.But the death of a Japanese backpacker, Kenji Sakai, 25, in another four-wheel-drive accident on the World Heritage-listed Queensland island last weekend has raised questions about whether more needs to be done.There have been calls to limit beach driving to 50km/h and to introduce special four-wheel-drive licences for visitors. Police were breath-testing and drug-testing on the beach this week.Beach driving on Fraser Island is widely regarded as challenging. Drivers must contend with rising tides and wash-outs, and six months of little rain have made conditions even more difficult. Roof-racks laden with luggage make the vehicles top heavy and prone to rollovers when inexperienced drivers swerve to miss waves.In the past five years there have been 106 casualties on the island involving four-wheel-drives. More than 60 per cent involved overseas tourists, mainly backpackers in their 20s. Locals blame the dangerous combination of backpacker thrill-seeking and four-wheel-drive inexperience.”Most backpackers have never driven four-wheel-drives,” a Fraser Island conservationist, John Sinclair, said.The president of the Fraser Coast 4WD Operators Association, David Robertson, said the problem was their attitude. ”You’ve got to calm them down – they’re not going out to war, or to bush-bash.”Everyone who hires an association-accredited four-wheel-drive to tour Fraser Island must attend a one-hour safety briefing, which includes instructions on safe driving, island hazards, speed limits and current conditions.After the April accident, speed limits on the island were cut from 100km/h to 80km/h on the beach, and from 40km/h to 30km/h inland. Proper speed limit signs have been erected on the beaches. There has been increased policing of speed limits and more inspections of vehicles.From next year four-wheel-drives will be limited to carrying eight passengers and rooftop loads will be banned. Tag-along tours will be introduced, where backpackers can follow a lead four-wheel-drive.The Queensland Transport Minister, Rachel Nolan, said she would consider ”any further changes that need to be made”.But Mr Sinclair believes the island should stop marketing itself as a four-wheel-drive destination.
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Opposition plays waiting game on the buses

IT’S the curse of the late-night commuter. The last train has left for the suburbs and the only option – other than an expensive taxi – is to wait … and wait.The State Government runs NightRide buses after midnight to replace trains but the services are infrequent and crowded, often with drunken and rowdy revellers.Today the NSW Opposition will release the next phase of its transport policy, which includes doubling the number of buses on key routes and introducing services to routes that have been neglected.”These NightRide buses are crucial in ensuring that people in Sydney are able to get home safely from shift work or following a night out,” the Opposition’s transport spokeswoman, Gladys Berejiklian, told the Herald.The Greiner government introduced the buses – modelled on the service in London – to a mixed reception in 1989, after axing most after-midnight rail services. Ms Berejiklian said that, over the past 15 years, the NightRide service had been run down.In the early hours of yesterday morning, she joined the Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, to meet passengers waiting, not always patiently, outside Town Hall station on George Street, for the NightRide.”As with most transport in Sydney, the Government has failed to expand the service to meet population growth,” she said. ”On busy nights of the week, like Thursday nights, commuters can be waiting an hour for a bus home.”Ms Berejiklian said the lack of late-night public transport from the city, especially on traditional party nights of Friday and Saturday, increased the risk of drink-driving because people were impatient at the long intervals between buses.”The lack of access to public transport can also lead to increased youth crime and anti-social behaviour in suburbs, where young people cannot travel to major centres for entertainment and social activities.”She said a Coalition government would extend the weekend timetable to include Thursday night, doubling the frequency of services that night, and introduce a new NightRide bus for the Richmond line, which has no service.The four weekend buses that terminate at Blacktown would be extended, with new stops at Marayong, Quakers Hill, Schofields, Riverstone, Vineyard, Mulgrave, Windsor, Clarendon, East Richmond and Richmond.She would double weekend services to Macarthur, and extend the current service, which terminates at Liverpool, further south-west to Campbelltown, Leumeah, Minto, Ingleburn, Macquarie Fields, Glenfield and Casula. A weekend NightRide service would be introduced along the Carlingford Line as well as more buses to Parramatta.The Coalition is also proposing an hourly service from the City to Carlingford, via Lidcombe, with stops at Clyde, Rosehill, Camellia, Rydalmere, Dundas, Telopea, and Carlingford. It would also provide $725,000 a year, on top of the existing $6.2 million, to increase NightRide services.
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‘We’ve done it, girls’: a Mass to remember

AS THE collection tray was passed around and the congregation queued to take communion, Sister Marie Dowling turned to her fellow sisters, beaming, and said: ”We’ve done it, girls.”The Sisters of St Joseph, Mary MacKillop’s North Sydney-based order, had reached the last step in the long road to the canonisation of their founding mother.Their excitement was evident in the jokes they cracked for the gathered camera crews, their joyful singing throughout Mass, and the fact that one of their number has already spread the news on Twitter.The 10am Mass at Mary MacKillop Chapel was overflowing with emotional congregants, some of whom were forced to stand.Worshippers broke into applause as the order’s head, Sister Anne Derwin, broke the news that the Vatican had recognised Mother Mary’s second miracle, clearing the way for her canonisation.Outside the church, worshippers smiled and wept from happiness.Beryl D’Cruz, who has attended the Mary MacKillop Chapel for more than a decade, attributed her daughter’s impending marriage to the intercession of Mother Mary.”I made the novena here … and the boy wrote to her five days later,” she said. The pair met at World Youth Day and will be married in January at Mary MacKillop Place.When asking for Mother Mary’s intercession, Mrs D’Cruz made sure to include a request for grandchildren.”I prayed for all things together. I said I want a fruitful marriage,” she said yesterday.Jemmel Sassine had been crying all morning, she said. She dragged her five children and husband out of bed to attend Mass at the chapel.”I have been praying to Mary for 15 years, I have had many miracles happen to me … from her,” she said.When she was pregnant with her fourth child, Mrs Sassine prayed to Mother Mary for a girl, and promised to call her Grace. Grace, now in primary school, was present at Mass yesterday. ”I believed in her. I know she had her moments in life when things didn’t go her way, and it related to my life,” Mrs Sassine said.Rosetta Babikiaf wiped away tears as she described how Mother Mary’s intercession cured her sister from cancer. ”She has been eight years in remission,” she said.There were rumours Nicole Kidman would visit the chapel for a private prayer session. The actress has prayed at the chapel before and is believed to have asked for Mother Mary’s help in conceiving her daughter Sunday Rose.Sister Derwin was unsure, when asked, of how Mother Mary herself might be celebrating the news of her canonisation in heaven.But the earthbound members of her order were going to have a long lunch.In Mother Mary’s South Australian home town of Penola yesterday, 100 or so parishioners gathered at St Joseph’s church to mark the occasion, including a group of students from Penola’s Mary MacKillop Memorial School.The woman who started their school a century-and-a-half ago and taught their ancestors is also defining their moral code.Friendly, helpful, loving, caring and forgiving were some of the words they used to describe Australia’s first saint.”A person who’s got lots of rosary beads and prays all the time,” Olivia Zema, 7, said.
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Pell says women priests won’t come marching in

EVERY Catholic parish in every remote corner of Australia will be asked to join in the multinational celebrations for the expected canonisation of Mother Mary MacKillop but the celebrations will be kept modest to reflect her life’s work.Once the Vatican names the date for the canonisation, the Sisters of St Joseph, the order Mother Mary co-founded, will urge each parish to mark the occasion in their own unique way with a special liturgy to be celebrated at Sunday Mass followed by barbecues, picnics and after-Mass get-togethers.Mother Mary is on the path to becoming Australia’s first saint after a papal decree recognising her second miracle, the cure of a Maitland mother-of-five from cancer, the final step needed before canonisation.Cardinal George Pell, the sisters of Mother Mary’s order, and Catholics across Australia yesterday rejoiced at the news, which was issued from the Vatican late on Saturday after a meeting between the Pope and the Congregation for the Cause of Saints.The Pope also elevated his predecessor, John Paul II, and the controversial World War II pontiff, Pius XII, by declaring them both venerable, the first step needed towards sainthood.”Finally the news we’ve been waiting for,” said Sister Anne Derwen, the head of the Sisters of St Joseph, Mother Mary’s North Sydney-based order.The Maitland woman who received the miracle ascribed to Mother Mary said she felt ”personally humbled and grateful to Mary MacKillop”.She spoke through an anonymous statement released to the Sisters of St Joseph. In the mid-1990s the mother-of-five had untreatable terminal cancer of the lung and secondary liver cancer. Her doctors gave her weeks to live and sent her home to be with family, where she and her loved ones prayed intensely to Mother Mary.Ten months later the woman was still alive and follow-up scans showed all signs of cancer had disappeared. She remains cancer-free.”Mary MacKillop has always provided me with hope and inspiration, particularly during the most difficult times of my life,” she said, adding that she would one day share the details of her story with the public.Mother Mary’s canonisation is expected to be held in Rome in the European spring, Sister Derwen said. About a hundred sisters from the order would travel to join the celebrations.Large screens are expected to be set up in public squares in all the major capital cities, including Federation Square in Melbourne and the Domain, to telecast the Rome ceremony.Holy Communion is expected to be celebrated nationally at the same appointed hour at churches around the country, including city cathedrals.In Rome a delegation of Australian pilgrims, made up of hundreds of youth and indigenous representatives, are expected to join the Sisters of St Joseph at St Peters Cathedral.As is traditional, the Pope is expected to canonise Mother Mary along with a handful of others during Sunday Mass.The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, said Saturday’s papal decree was ”an explicit recognition of the long-term contribution the Catholic Church has made and continues to make to the Australian people, and especially the wonderful contribution of Catholic women”.”Mary MacKillop shows that the hostile mythology that the Catholic women of old were weak, submissive and ineffective doormats is frightful nonsense,” he said.”They were strong women and enormously capable women.”The cardinal did not think the canonisation of Mother Mary would reignite debate about the ordination of women. ”She wasn’t in favour of women’s ordination,” he said.Tim Fischer, the Australian ambassador to the Holy See, said the decision was ”a great salute to a superb Australian”.The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said: ”Mary MacKillop was a humble Australian. She represents all that is good in Australians. She devoted her life to the education of young Australians, particularly in remote Australia, and of course she was dedicated to the vulnerable.”The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said: ”I hope all Australians are pleased at this development. But the last thing I would want to do is to politicise it.”Mr Abbott said he hoped it helped the cause of women. ”I hope it helps the cause of education, and I hope that people understand that you can make a difference, looking at her example,” he told Sky News.The Premier, Kristina Keneally, said there was applause in her church when the news was announced. ”It’s a wonderful, wonderful celebration for the Australian community,” she said.Ms Keneally offered Cardinal Pell the NSW Government’s help in any celebrations for the canonisation.
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