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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of climate change and the increased demand for water supplies due to population growth – are based on misleading or outdated data.A second document, also uncovered in a call for papers by the upper house, shows a senior manager from the NSW Office of Water believes the project ”will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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Speaking words of wisdom on how Mother Mary came to be

IN OCTOBER 1961 a thin and pallid 23-year-old woman was admitted to a Sydney hospital sweating profusely, with cramps in her cold hands, faintness and a recent history of menstrual hemorrhaging.The diagnosis was as swift as it was certain: the recently married Catholic woman had acute myeloblastic leukaemia. She was given barely a month to live.”The outlook was extremely poor and death was the evident outcome,” her doctor said.”My health started to decline from April or May of that year,” she said. “I got very tired. Bad cramps in hands; they were cold and numb.”Her family began referring to her in the past tense, her husband was told to expect the worst, and she went home in a wheelchair a little over a month later to prepare for the hereafter.On Boxing Day that year she returned to hospital with painful abscesses in her upper left arm and right thigh.”I think she was even more acutely ill than before,” her doctor said. “I think the doctors had a gloomier outlook on that second occasion. Despite the large doses of cortisone, she had developed the abscesses and presented a pitiful picture.”Then a miracle occurred. The cancer disappeared and in the following decade she gave birth to six healthy children.Now 72, she lives in Sydney.The woman, who has maintained her anonymity for more than 40 years, is Mary MacKillop’s first miracle, the reason the lauded nun was beatified in 1995.The details of her “extraordinary” recovery are closely guarded in volumes of Vatican documents borne out of decades of dedicated research by the Sisters of St Joseph and MacKillop’s former postulator, Father Paul Gardiner.A copy of the Vatican’s final medical report and unanimous judgment of the five-member Consulta Medica panel of doctors, viewed by the Herald, leaves no room for doubt.The patient’s prognosis, the official Vatican medical assessors concluded, was “infausta” – fatal.Her recovery was just as convincing: “Progressiva, completa e duratura; non spiegabile in base alle nostre conoscenze scientifiche.”html,body { border: 0px; }There was no scientific explanation for her complete and lasting return to perfect health, they said.The 1993 Vatican report contains the testimony of five treating and consulting physicians, none of whom could explain the disappearance of the woman’s terminal disease.”If it could be proven that this was a permanent cure, I would regard it as a miracle,” said one haematologist who treated her.”In light of all the circumstances, and in particular the fact that she has successfully had a baby, such an outcome is absolutely unexpected.”Though we know that remissions can occur, such a remission as hers is without precedent in my experience,” he said.But the sisters who invoked Mother Mary after a phone call from the sick woman’s mother had an explanation.”I hadn’t heard anything until her mother rang me to tell me she was very ill and had been in [hospital] for two weeks, and she asked me to get prayers said for her,” a Sister of St Joseph said.”I put a notice on the board asking for the Sisters to pray for her.”The Sisters and the sick woman’s family initiated a novena – a devotion of prayer – through Mother Mary of the Cross.The patient recalled the hospital bedside visit: “Sister gave me a relic of Mother Mary to pin on me,” she said.”The relic had a little photo of Mother Mary and a tiny piece of white cloth. I said the prayer that Sister gave to me – the prayer for the beatification of Mother Mary.”Barely six months later, the woman was working again. Less than a year after her second admission to hospital with abscesses, she was pregnant with her first child.”Gradually I felt stronger,” she said.”I didn’t have to go to hospital again, except for the birth of the children.”All the deliveries were quite normal. The babies needed no special care.”On the eve of papal confirmation of MacKillop’s second miracle – a Hunter Valley grandmother whose brain tumour and lung cancer disappeared after she was given just three weeks to live – Father Gardiner recalled the climax of the first.As MacKillop’s postulator, he was standing by Pope John Paul II at Randwick Racecourse in 1995 for the beatification when the Pope leaned in towards him.”He said: ‘This is wonderful, but remember it’s only the beginning.'”
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Household solar rebates burn through extra $500m

THE household solar rebate scheme has blown a $500 million hole in the federal Environment Department’s budget.The massive bill for the scheme is the result of a high demand for rebates and a last-minute rush to sign up after the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, announced its cancellation, with just 24 hours notice, on June 9.The revelation is contained in department budget estimates prepared for Senate estimates hearings, which begin in the first week of Parliament next year.The document states that an additional $534 million over two years has been provided to pay for the short gap in funding for the rebate.A spokesman for Mr Garrett said yesterday that the scheme was on track to deliver 120,000 solar panels to homes since November 2007.”This program will deliver the installation of eight times the number of systems in our original election commitment,” the spokesman said. ”Just three years ago this program had an annual budget of just $6 million. We have spent close to $1 billion.”In the last 14 days of the scheme, 55,000 people – up to 90 per cent of all those who applied – were granted rebates of up to $8000.The scheme has been replaced with a ”solar credits” program that grants households additional renewable energy credits for their solar panels, which can be sold on the market.The Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, has since announced a Council of Australian Governments investigation into the renewable energy market after the price of credits crashed earlier this year – meaning households are getting less rebate for buying solar panels.The Government has also closed or scaled down a number of renewable-energy and water-saving measures for schools, businesses and households as cost-saving measures to offset the massive rebate bill.The blowout to the Environment Department’s budget comes as the Government seeks $2 billion in funding for departments on top of the money allocated in the 2009-10 federal budget, the result of budget blowouts, additional government announcements, and the drop in value of government assets due to the surging Australian dollar.The Environment Department’s request for additional funding is the second highest , after the Defence Department, which is requesting $690 million.
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Stosur carries nation’s Open hopes on her buff shoulders

JOHN NEWCOMBE believes Samantha Stosur could give the Australian Open ”a shake” in what he rates as one of the most open women’s fields in years.Stosur boasts a career-high ranking of 13 following a breakthrough year in 2009. The Queenslander backed up her French Open semi-final appearance with a first WTA tournament win in Tokyo.No Australian, male or female, has won the national championship since an unseeded Chris O’Neil stunned the tennis world in 1978. Newcombe believes Stosur is Australia’s best chance of finally breaking the drought.”Sam is the only one that has shown during the year that she can do well here,” Newcombe told The Sun-Herald.”That’s a big part of the equation, her self-belief.”She could give it a shake. It’s pretty open there in the ladies at the moment. She might be able to snake her way through.”She knows she can compete with the very best, so with the home crowd, you never know.”Stosur’s career flatlined while she battled a debilitating bout of lyme disease. However, she battled back and spoke of a new-found confidence after lifting her ranking to the cusp of the top 10.”I’m close to top 10 now – anyone up around that mark has a chance of winning [the Australian Open],” Stosur said during the week.The 25-year-old will go into the year’s opening grand slam as the top-ranked Australian, while another local favourite, Alicia Molik, is sweating on a discretionary wildcard from Tennis Australia after she was bundled out of the wildcard play-offs.Newcombe said that compatriot Lleyton Hewitt could provide nuisance value to the big names if the world No. 22 had a favourable draw.”If you take away the top half-dozen guys, Lleyton would feel pretty comfortable playing everyone else in the field,” Newcombe said.”You just hope he gets a good draw. He knows how to win [a grand slam], he knows what it takes. I’m sure he’d love to win the Australian Open, he’s been so close and fallen just short.”You never know. A couple of guys get bumped off, the draw opens up and suddenly he’s right up there.”Newcombe called for Hewitt and his heir apparent Bernard Tomic to bury the hatchet.The pair have not spoken since Wimbledon after falling out over an apparent practice snub. It’s alleged that Tomic rejected a planned practice session with the former world No.1 – in favour of a hit with Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero. Tomic later cited the fact he’d contracted swine flu as the reason behind his pull-out – a claim Hewitt’s manager labelled as ”ridiculous”.Newcombe, the winner of seven singles grand slam titles, said it was time for the pair to resolve their differences. ”Obviously it’s not good if you’ve got two Australians – one who’s been right at the top of the world and another one who’d like to get there – fighting,” he said.”It’s disappointing to see that happen. It would be good if they started talking and put all that behind them.”Newcombe expressed surprise that world No.1 Serena Williams was permitted to play at Melbourne Park following her foul-mouthed tirade against a lineswoman at the US Open.”I think she was lucky to get away with what’s happened to her,” Newcombe said. ”You can’t do that. They used to get away with stuff years ago but you can’t now go up and say those things to a linesperson. If you did that to the referee in soccer you’d be out for a couple of years.”
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Man City, Juve keen on Hiddink

GUUS HIDDINK turned down offers from both Premier League side Manchester City and Italian club Juventus, the Russia manager’s agent claimed on Friday.Cees van Nieuwenhuizen has said he was contacted by City chief executive Garry Cook to request talks with Hiddink, but the former Socceroos boss’s agent politely declined.And the Dutch coach also declined a place at Juventus.”Yes, I did [speak to Cook],” van Nieuwenhuizen said. ”But Guus is happy with Russia. Definitely.”I have received calls from all over the world about Guus. There has also been an approach from Juventus.”Van Nieuwenhuizen is not aware whether Cook wanted to discuss the possibility of Cook’s succeeding manager Mark Hughes or being installed alongside the Welshman.”I don’t know because I said it was not worth discussing it because Guus was happy,” he said.”He [Cook] asked me if it would be worthwhile having a meeting to discuss the future and what might happen next summer. But I told him that Guus was contracted to Russia.”I said I didn’t think it was worth having a meeting. Guus is very relaxed. He starts his holiday tomorrow and in January there are elections for a new president for the Russian Federation.”He is contracted until next summer but there is an offer for him to stay for two more years, and I think he will definitely stay.”Despite van Nieuwenhuizen’s claim that Hiddink will stay with the Russian team, other sources close to the 63-year-old Dutch coach suggested that he does not intend to sign a new deal with Russia and will consider other options in February.At the same time, it is believed that former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini is keen to hold further talks with City should they decide to replace Hughes.The confirmation by van Nieuwenhuizen that City have been in contact will certainly raise the pressure on Hughes, whose side slumped to a 3-0 defeat away to Tottenham on Wednesday evening, a result which leaves them eighth on the Premier League table.Even though it was only City’s second defeat of the season, they have won just six of their 16 league matches, having gone through a series of seven successive draws.It was not just the defeat at White Hart Lane that has caused a deepening sense of frustration at City, but also the nature of the performance, which Hughes himself admitted was ”poor”, despite the outlay of more than £200 million ($360m) that the club undertook in the transfer market during the summer as the manager quickly rebuilt his team.As revealed in April, Hughes will had hoped to be given this season to prove himself at Manchester City. He was given that reassurance in a discussion with the owner of the club, the Abu Dhabi United Group, which did not set specific targets for this campaign beyond a significant improvement on last term.If Hughes is replaced it would appear to be an extremely harsh decision. Despite his expenditure, he has had to rebuild the squad from top to bottom and is making considerable progress in challenging the top six. He took over a team facing a relegation battle, rather than one trying to qualify for Europe.It appears that he is only part of the way through that process – the strength of Tottenham’s bench on Wednesday compared to City’s will be used as evidence to prove that he might have a strong first team, but not a strong squad.Hughes will hope to be given funds to spend in January, especially to reinforce his defence. A central defender is a priority, which could see City bid for Matthew Upson, who is keen to leave West Ham United.Hughes also needs another left back, with Wayne Bridge injured, and a creative midfielder.
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Schumacher set to make comeback with Mercedes

THE Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, has confirmed that Michael Schumacher’s return to formula one with Mercedes Benz is now a near certainty. Montezemolo revealed that the 40-year-old German phoned him on Wednesday morning and told him there is ”a very, very, very strong possibility” that he will make a return to the arena he left in 2006 with 91 grands prix wins.Montezemolo joked that it must have been Schumacher’s evil twin brother, but confirmed that he has released him from any Ferrari consultancy obligations. ”The real Michael Schumacher was with us, a Ferrari consultant who many times said he would finish his career with us. But now there is another one that looks like him, a German, same name, same determination, and he has decided to do a new career,” Montezemolo said.”Everyone can do what they prefer and I can understand someone at 41 years of age [Schumacher’s birthday is on January 3] wants to try again.”I like these people, but he’s not Michael, he’s another Michael that I personally don’t know. The real one told me he will finish his career with Ferrari so I think it’s possible that the twin, who looks very similar, will drive for Mercedes next year. As a friend I see someone so fit and with determination and it’s good for F1, but as chairman of Ferrari I’m sad.”Schumacher has been quoted many times saying that he would finish his career with Ferrari, but Montezemolo, who was instrumental in persuading him to attempt a return to the cockpit when the team’s Felipe Massa was injured in July’s Hungarian grand prix, said he had not been in a position to offer the seven times champion a drive next year.”After Hungary I was very worried about Felipe,” Montezemolo said. ”I called Michael into my office and said, ‘I need you. I need you to replace Felipe.’ For five minutes, and it was five minutes and not 10, he said, ‘No’. Then it was, ‘Yes’. Michael says that I convinced him well, but the truth is that he was ready to be convinced. It would have been perfect for him – in the middle of the season with a car that was not competitive and with not so much pressure.”Schumacher’s prospective return was scuppered when he tested a Ferrari at Mugello in Italy and discovered that his neck, fractured in a motorcycle accident in February, had not healed sufficiently. Ferrari then ended its contract with the 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, scheduled to run until the end of 2010, a year early, bringing forward the arrival of the 2005 and 2006 champion, Fernando Alonso, to partner the recovered Massa.Montezemolo advocated running a third car to the FIA, the sport’s governing body, in an attempt to accommodate Schumacher. ”The situation today is different to the middle of the year,” he acknowledged.”Ferrari has two young drivers. We tried to push for the third car, something I strongly believe in. Not a third Ferrari, but a third Ferrari managed by another team. I think formula one needs competitive cars and drivers. I wanted a situation where a driver like Michael can be on the grid. But that wasn’t accepted.”Montezemolo insists there is no animosity between them. ”When you have a 15-year collaboration with a driver you become friends,” he said. ”Some Ferrari fans think he’s a traitor, but I tell them, it’s not the real Michael, it’s another one. Michael took a lot from Ferrari and also gave us a lot. If I’d offered him something and he’d said no, I’d be very upset, but I was not in a position to offer him a drive, so I can’t say anything.”Schumacher is believed to have told Ferrari that he would be unable to provide more accurate information on his neck until January, which was too late for the team. Mercedes is understood to be awaiting that outcome before committing fully, with the situation not aided by the recently introduced formula one testing ban in the interests of cost-cutting.
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