Archive for May, 2019

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the first female head of DFAT would be a milestone. Photo: Peter Rae Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with minister Julie Bishop on the hustings last week. Photo: Andrew Meares

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If Julie Bishop is about to appoint the first ever woman to head the prestigious and powerful Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade she kept her cards close to her chest on Monday.

Asked about reports that she and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would appoint former ambassador to China and current prime ministerial adviser Frances Adamson shortly after the July 2 election (if victorious), Ms Bishop sidestepped the question by invoking the ever-handy convention of “caretaker government.”

However she did note that “were it to be a woman that would be notable because of course it would be the first female secretary of DFAT and that is obviously a milestone, just as people often comment on the fact that I’m the first female foreign minister of Australia. The first always draws comment.” Ms Adamson was in the front row at the Lowy Institute as Ms Bishop made her remarks.

DFAT sits at the heart of Canberra’s security and intelligence decision-making and if Ms Adamson succeeds incumbent Peter Varghese​, it will send a powerful message through the bureaucracy.

Ms Bishop was diplomatic on what the consequences of Britain voting to exit the EU might be. But she said Australian interests would be best served if a “strong Britain [were to} remain”.

A recent Lowy poll found 51 per cent of Australians wanted Britain to stay in Europe  as against 19 per cent for departure.

Much of Ms Bishop’s speech had an economic focus as she joined the government’s ” jobs and growth” push in the last phase of the election campaign. She said her role in shaping Australia’s economic future was “no less relevant to the Turnbull government’s jobs and growth plan than other minsters in charge of domestic economic areas.”

The Foreign Minister warned that Australia could not compete in a “race to the bottom” on labour costs but had to focus on the relative cost of labour to the value of a product.

China, Japan and Taiwan were investing “huge sums in advanced manufacturing and robotics.” she said. “Even now a single $30,000 robot can assemble 100 iphones each day, at a cost of less than $1 each phone. “

And there were currently ” almost a quarter of a million manufacturing robots in China alone .. replicating 20 manufacturing processes traditionally performed by humans.”

On the international terrorism threat in the Middle East, Ms Bishop said Australia had “done more than its fair share as a nation far removed from terrorism central.”

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BORG Panels at Oberon has been convicted of polluting waterways and fined almost $60,000 by the Land and Environment Court.

Borg was also ordered to pay the Environment Protection Authority’s investigation costs of $27,780.12 – incurred in testing and analysis of water samples – and professional costs of $45,000.

The company, which operates a wood processing facility on Lowes Mount Road in Oberon, was convicted last week after breaching Section 120 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, which prohibits thepollution of waters.

The matter was heard before Justice Pain.

The incident occurred on August 15, 2014, when a hose leaked waste materials from the wood manufacturing facility into a stormwater drain.

The hose, connected to a submersible pump in a sludge dam at Borg Panels, was placed down an embankment.

It discharged effluent from the sludge dam into a drainage channel, a tributary of Kings Stockyard Creek.

As a result, 2.8 kilometres of receiving waters were polluted by the effluent, which contained formaldehyde, nitrogen, ammonia and othermatter, causing chemical oxygen demand at levels which were harmful to the environment.

The Land and Environment Court found the harm caused by the offence consisted of “short-term degradation” of the water quality as well as likely harm to aquatic life, limited to no more than six days.

The court heard the incident occurred due to the actions of a “careless employee” who uncoupled the hose after it became blocked but thenforgot to reattach it before finishing his shift.

Subsequently, for an eight-hour period, an unknown quantity of pollutant from the sludge dam was discharged from the hose through the channel, the tributary of Kings Stockyard Creek, and Kings Stockyard Creek itself.

The court heard that Borg co-operated with the EPA during the course of its investigation, pleaded guilty to the charge and expressed remorse for its actions.

Since the incident, the court also heard that Borg had taken measures in an effort to ensure that a similar incident did not occur in the future.

In light of the subjective factors, Justice Pain considered a penalty of $90,000 was appropriate, which she reduced by 35 per cent in light of the subjective circumstances including an early plea of guilt.

Borg was prosecuted by the EPA and fined a total of $58,500.

Borg was also ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs and investigation costs.

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Brian Collins, Alice Barnes, Dianne Colbert, Bren Eckel, Catherine King and Paul Tatchell at the social justice debate on Monday. PICTURE: Luka Kauzlaric WRAPReal policy debates can happen away from the glare of the national election campaign, it seems.

And while candidates for the seat of Ballarat didlayout their parties’policies at Monday night’s forum, there was a real conversation about how best to help our country and our region’s most vulnerable people.

Nationals candidate Paul Tatchell represented the Coalition but did notbackthe government’s deterrence efforts.

“Here we are, all these years (after trading with Nauru when it was a rich country), and we want to put refugees there. Wanting to give them money, to Nauru, to send them people who have already come from hellholes back into another hellhole?”

“We also need to recognise we don’t have that many refugees (coming),” he said, after describing the thousands of people crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

Mr Tatchell also said Australia could not go back to allowing people who arrived by boat to settle here because of the deaths at sea.

Labor candidate and MP Catherine King defended her party’s refugee policy by explaining her own personal guilt over those deathswhen they were in government.

“Whilst (Labor) will have disagreements with peoplein this room over offshore processing, we tried a compassionate approach,we tried a different approach when we were in government, and the reality was people did drown, and I have to live with that,” she said.

Ms King answered a question about children in detention by saying a third country option would bethe only way for them to be free.

The audience included many fromrefugee advocacy groups, and Greens candidate Alice Barnes was well-supported when she called for an end to offshore processing.

“It is shameful that people are incarcerated indefinitely simply for asking for help.It defies belief that this is justified as the only way to break the people smugglers’ business model.”

Australian Christians candidate Dianne Colbertand independent Bren Eckel also spoke at the debate. Organisers said Liberal candidateSarah Wade had a family emergency.

Third Ballarat debate wrapping up. King a pro, Tatchell glanced at Nats party line once or twice, Greens playing well on refugees (1/2)

— Alex Hamer (@alex_hamer) June 20, 2016Aus Christians populist when not talking about Safe Schools, independent popular for emotional honesty. Crowd respectful #ausvotes (2/2)

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THEShire of Northam has secured funding of $95,000 through the LotteryWest Project Fund to repair the decorative masonry and render of the Northam Town Hall.

The Hon. Mia Davies presented the cheque to the Shire of Northam’s president, Cr Steven Pollard on June 17.

The hall consists of a brick structure including two-storey main hall and single-storey Lesser Hall, with rendered pilasters and pediments and corrugated iron roofs.

Constructed from 1898 to 1901, the Northam Town Hall has considerable architectural merit and is listed on the State Heritage Register and Council’s Municipal Heritage Inventory.

Chief executive Jason Whiteaker said the deterioration of the render is allowing water inundation to the substrate causing dampness and weakening of the buildings fabric.

“If left unrepaired the brickwork will eventually fail leading to the collapse of the building,” Mr Whiteaker said.

With the Northam Town Hall having heritage significance, heritage consultants have been involved throughout the process of determining the most appropriate actions to preserve the building and will oversee the project.

This will be undertaken through on going inspections during the repair process which will be carried out by the heritage consultant and the Shire of Northam’s Building Department.

“Investing funds into the restoration of the Northam Town Hall will ensure that a significant piece of our communities history is preserved for future generations to enjoy,” Shire president Steven Pollard said.

“In addition these works will assist in ensuring that the building does not become a safety risk for the community in the future.”

Work is set to be completed by May 2017.

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THE NSW Country Cockatoos breathed fire into a cold winter afternoon with a thumping 48-5 victory over the ACT Brumbies Provincial XV at Bathurst’s Ashwood Park on Saturday.

Walcha’s Soni Halanukonuka looks for a hole in the Brumbies Provincial defence playing for NSW Country at Bathurst on Saturday. Photo: Chris Seabrook, Western Advocate.

The Cockatoos scored several tries from attacking plays which began in their own half, Country star Pauli Tuala and Simon Newton both bagging a brace.

Country’s speed was their most impressive asset, particularly in the opening half.

They constantly hit the line hard and found gaps in the Brumbies’ defence with ease.

That pace may have dropped off in the back half of the game – and the Brumbies’ attack looked far more threatening as a consequence – but the Cockatoos still kept the scoreboard ticking over.

“We tried today to dominate the breakdown and that’s when we really got on the front foot,” Country coach Mat Thomas said.

“We had to change our plan completely yesterday because when we got here it wasraining.

“We had to adapt to a shorter game plan – we had a wider one that we wanted to play.

“The ground was very heavy and slippery and that’s why we saw a lot of knock-ons and scrums.”

When hooker Steve Lamont dived over for a try just four minutes into the game, it set the tone for what was to come from the Cockatoos.

Cowra’s Chris Miller drew cheers from Central West supporters when he made a break down the left side of the field. He then dished the ball off to Tuala, who put the hosts 10-0 up.

At the 17-minute mark Country had just as many points to their name thanks to a try from scrum half Adam McCormack.

Shortly after, Brumbies had two chances to get on the board but they came up empty-handed after being forced over the sideline then knocking-on.

Instead Tuala added another for Country to give them a 22-0 lead at half-time.

The Cockatoos picked things up where they left off when play resumed as Michael Howell scored.

But the Brumbies lifted in defence after that and finally enjoyed some quality time in possession.

The visitors struggled to find a way through, but the pressure they applied led to Tuala being sent to the sinbin for hands in the ruck.

Brumbies winger Riley Brennan dropped the ball close to the try line but he didn’t make the same mistake when given another chance, diving over in the left corner to make it 29-5.

However, Country showed their attacking prowess by scoring via Newton while still a man down.

Both sides struggled to maintain possession in a scrappy last 20 minutes of the game but, after withstanding another period of Brumbies attack, Country finished with a bang.

Tries inside the final 10 minutes to Dubbo’s Filisione Pauta and Newton extended their already sizeable lead.

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