All My Friends: celebrating the songs and voice of Gregg Allman

Posted on 22/07/2018

GREGG Allman is one of rock’s most acclaimed and beloved icons, both as leader of the legendary Allman Brothers Band and for his superb solo recordings.
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This new double CD and single DVD set serves as the perfect tribute to the man and his songs.

Recorded live on January 10 this year at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, it features a multi-generational assortment of musicians from the worlds of rock, blues and country performing a swag of Allman staples.

Notable guest performers include Eric Church, Trace Adkins, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Zac Brown and Brantley Gilbert.

Also included is performances by Taj Mahal and Gregg’s one time former roommate Jackson Browne.

While each interpretation is masterful in delivery an obvious standout of the set is the current Allman Brothers Band lineup – with Gregg singing – running through Dreams and a scorching rendition of Whipping Post.

The album will be available locally on May 2 through Rounder Records.

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Rubbish provokes outrage

Posted on 22/07/2018

Filthy: Hamilton Road residents are sick of rubbish lining their street.FAIRFIELD residents are outraged with the amount of rubbish they say is regularly dumped on their street.
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Hamilton Road resident Andrew Nicholson said the most recent pile of rubbish had been on the footpath for more than a week before the council came to remove it.

He said this was a regular occurrence.

“To make matters worse, there seems to be a broken sewerage pipe, which leaks waste across the footpath and into the roadside gutter,” Mr Nicholson said.

“This is utterly unacceptable and a danger to human health. Why do people on Hamilton Road have to put up with constant barricades of rubbish or push their children in strollers into oncoming traffic to try and escape an open sewer leaking across the council footpath?”

A Fairfield council spokeswoman said action had been taken.

“The council has dealt with the sewer overflow issue and an emergency order was issued last Friday to the managing agent to have the lines repaired in the coming days,” she said. “The occupier made arrangements last Thursday with waste enforcement to have the rubbish removed off the footpath.”

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Coca-Cola Amatil plays down ratings downgrades

Posted on 22/07/2018

Soft drink bottler Coca-Cola Amatil has played down the impact of credit rating downgrades by ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in the wake of Friday’s shock profit warning.
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CCA says the credit downgrades will have no impact on its interest costs or ability to refinance debt in the short to medium term.

The ratings agencies cut their credit ratings or downgraded the credit outlook for CCA after the bottler shocked investors on Friday by warning that June-half earnings were expected to fall by 15 per cent.

Moody’s long term A3 rating has been maintained, but the outlook has changed from stable to negative. Standard & Poor’s reduced its long-term rating from A- to BBB+ but affirmed CCA’s short-term rating at A-2.

CCA said on Tuesday it has maintained an investment grade credit rating with both agencies and the changes to its credit rating are not expected to have any short to medium term impact on the company.

CCA has pre-funded maturing debt for approximately two years. All of the debt maturing in 2014 and 2015 has already been refinanced with cash held on term deposits at margins above associated borrowing costs.

According to CCA’s annual report, the bottler had $3.1 billion of interest-bearing debt at the end of 2013 but cash on hand and short term deposits totalling $1.4 billion.

The report also showed that former chief executive Terry Davis, who stepped down in March, took a 53 per cent pay cut last year after CCA’s underlying earnings fell 10 per cent.

Mr Davis’s base pay rose from $2.3 million to $2.7 million, but he received no short term bonus (vs $2.42 million in 2012) and superannuation benefits on short term incentives fell from $947,562 to $338,351.

In addition, long term incentives were reversed by $99,282 (vs long term incentives worth $1.14 million in 2012) after performance hurdles were not achieved.

Mr Davis’s total remuneration fell from $7.9 million to $3.7 million.

None of CCA’s senior management team, with the exception of NZ managing director Barry O’Connell, received their short term bonus.

CCA’s new chief executive, Alison Watkins, has launched a broad-based strategic review and flagged a “step-change” in CCA’s fixed costs and productivity in the wake of the profit decline.

CCA has been unable to recover higher costs in Australia because of aggressive pricing in supermarkets and weaker sales in the higher-margin route trade.

Earnings in Indonesia are also expected to fall this year because of increased competition from new rivals such as Big Cola, rising labour and fuel costs and currency depreciation.

Broker CIMB says CCA could cut costs by more than $100 million a year by culling excess stock keeping units or SKUs, closing bottling plants and reducing its merchandise field force.

Brokers such as Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley believe CCA needs to cut prices to better compete against Schweppes, which bottles Pepsi, and come up with new products to satisfy changing consumer tastes.

Standard & Poor’s says CCA’s operating expertise should enable it to arrest the volume and earnings decline in its Australian business in the next two years.

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Is the journey really worth it?

Posted on 15/01/2019

Taking it slowly: Guatemala’s buses are about the spectacle, not the speed. Photo: Ben GroundwaterIt’s dark outside, pitch black, when the guy with the machine gun gets on board our bus and stalks down the aisle. He’s wearing a balaclava – you can only see the whites of his eyes as he scans the passengers, the gun held tight to his chest.
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A few seconds ago I’d been asleep. Now I’m wide awake, and seriously pondering the wisdom of catching the bus.

The guy walks past me, staring, the gun looking huge in his hands. It takes a few seconds to spot the insignia on his jacket: police. Phew. The balaclava remains a mystery, but we’re somewhere in the middle of southern Mexico and this is no time for questions.

The policeman wanders down the aisle of our bus, scanning passengers, not uttering a word, until, seemingly satisfied, he jumps out and signals us to carry on. The bus pulls back on to the lonely highway, past the roadblock, and continues on into the night.

This is a journey. It could have been quite a simple journey, with a few flights and a taxi ride, but I’ve opted for the more difficult, more interesting and probably more dangerous option.

I’m trying to get from Zipolite, a little surf town on Mexico’s Pacific coast, to Panajachel, a lakeside settlement in Guatemala. My circuitous route, booked with romantic notions of “It’s the journey, not the destination”, will take two-and-a-half days and include three taxis, two local buses, an overnight bus, a cycle rickshaw, a tourist shuttle, a boat, and a border crossing on foot. It will also include countless brushes with local Mexicans and Guatemalans, some spectacular scenery, some uncomfortable nights without much sleep, and a guy in a balaclava with a machine gun. But it’s all about the journey, not the destination, right?

That’s why I’m throwing my backpack into an old van in Zipolite, hoping to catch a lift down the coast to Puerto Angel, the nearest transport hub on this quiet coastline. There are only beach shacks and potholed roads around here, no towns of note until we rattle into Puerto Angel.

From there I’m jumping on a small local bus for the three-hour journey to Tehuantepec, a slightly larger city with a slightly larger bus station. And from there I’ll catch a slightly larger bus, too, one of the surprisingly comfortable intercity vehicles that crisscrosses Mexico, ferrying millions of people a day.

Or night, as it were, because this one is a sleeper, a rocket through the night, speeding me towards the Guatemalan border. The balaclava-clad policemen should probably make me feel safer, but in reality he does the opposite, causing a sleepless night of wondering what the big gun would be used for.

Still, I make it to Tehuantepec unharmed, the sun dawning on another glorious day as we pull into the bus station and unload the backpack once again. I could already be in Panajachel, of course, drinking a mojito on a hotel balcony. And I’m starting to think that would have been a good idea.

In Tehuantepec I’m headed for the taxi stand to make the short journey to the border. Taxis only go so far – I have to do the last few hundred metres on foot, passing the “Bienvenidos a Guatemala” sign before getting a stamp in the passport and crossing to another world. It’s noticeably poorer here, noticeably shabbier as I hail a cycle rickshaw and negotiate a price to the next bus station.

Things are about to get even more interesting. In Guatemala local buses aren’t just any old buses, they’re brightly painted riots of entertainment, often clapped out old things that have clearly had more money spent on their paint job than the maintenance of their engines.

I jump in one and we’re on the road again, this time on a cramped, four-hour journey to the mountain town of Quetzaltenango.

I’m staying the night in Quetzaltenango – there’s no other option. But this still isn’t my destination. The next morning I’m checking out of the hostel and wandering back down to the bus station to board a tourist shuttle, one of the minivans that offers a little more comfort and safety at an inflated price.

They’re not risk-free, however. A few of these shuttles have been stopped by robbers in the past, highway bandits who make off with the bounty of tourist wares. Today, however, we’re left alone on the twisting mountain roads, cruising finally into Panajachel and to the end of the road.

Except, I’m still not there. My hotel is on the banks of Lake Atitlan, which means I’ll need to take a boat to get there. And then, finally, I will have arrived. It’s a beautiful destination – but it’s got nothing on the journey to get there.

The writer travelled at his own expense.

Have you ever taken the more dangerous travel option? What happened? Would you do it again knowing the risks? What would you have done – jump into a small local bus for a four-hour journey or book a flight?

Email: [email protected]南京夜网.au

Instagram: instagram南京夜网/bengroundwater

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Asylum seeker families threaten legal action over potential for Australian-born babies to be sent to Nauru or Manus

Posted on 15/01/2019

An asylum seekers family at Christmas Island.A law firm has asked Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to promise not to send 26 Australian-born babies and their families to offshore detention centres, threatening possible legal action if he does not.
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Maurice Blackburn principal Jacob Varghese said on Tuesday that a number of asylum seeker parents had contacted the firm from Christmas Island, seeking legal assistance to prevent their children from being sent to Nauru or Manus Island. Two of the 26 babies were born in Melbourne.

Mr Varghese said the facilities on Christmas Island were ‘‘not suitable’’ for babies, particularly newborns. But he said that the parents were concerned that their families, like others before them, would be removed with little notice offshore at night.

‘‘We’re told … they’re given five to 10 minutes to pack up their belongings and then they’re whisked off,’’ he said. ‘‘They’re sick of living in fear [that] every night they’ll go to bed and get a knock on the door.’’

Mr Varghese said the parents were worried about their babies, many of whom suffered heat rashes and mosquito bites in offshore detention.  Detainees on Christmas Island do not have direct access to medical staff and rely on security guards to seek medical treatment for themselves and their children. They feared the conditions on Nauru or Manus Island would be worse.

One of the babies was born with a congenital disease, which the parents were advised required surgery when he or she was six weeks’ old.

‘‘To date they’ve not been told anything of when [that will happen],’’ he said.

Changes to the Migration Act last year mean that people who arrived in Australia by boat after July 19, 2013 are classed ‘‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’’ and can be removed offshore. But the law is silent on asylum seekers’ babies who are born in Australia.

The firm is also representing Brisbane-born ‘‘Baby Ferouz’’ in a High Court case that will determine the legal status of such babies.

‘‘We say they cannot be [unauthorised maritime arrivals] because they didn’t arrive by boat, they were born here,’’ Mr Varghese said. ‘‘Accordingly, there is no lawful authority for the government to take them to Nauru or Manus Island.’’

Mr Varghese sent 26 letters to Mr Morrison on behalf of his clients on Monday, asking for a written undertaking that he will not remove the families until after Baby Ferouz’s case has been decided, by 4pm on Wednesday.

‘‘We’re very hopeful the minister will see the sense of this undertaking, there’s clearly a very important legal issue here to be determined in the High Court and there’s no reason these children can’t be kept here until that issue is determined,’’ he said.

‘‘But if the minister doesn’t give that undertaking we will be contemplating appropriate legal action.’’

Mr Varghese said it was unknown when the High Court case would be heard.

He acknowledged that the federal government could still change the law, even if it was successful: ‘‘If they want to make an argument in Parliament that babies should be locked up from the day they’re born, then let Parliament debate that and let Parliament decide it.’’

Mr Morrison said that he was aware of the letter but said: “As this issue is being considered by the High Court it is not appropriate to say anything further at this point.”

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Dozens of police in brawl at Downing Centre court

Posted on 15/01/2019

Ali Mehanna, centre, and two unnamed men outside court. Photo: Emma Partridge Police outside court. Photo: Emma Partridge
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Dozens of police officers have been involved in a brawl inside a Sydney court with a family on trial for brawling with police.

One officer was “smacked in the face” during the fight, witness and 2UE court reporter Leonie Ryan said.

A number of police cars circled the Downing Centre at lunchtime on Tuesday.

The fight broke out minutes after Adel, Hussain and Ali Mehanna were convicted of numerous offences, including affray, resisting arrest and assaulting police during a fight that broke out outside their Bankstown home on January 1, 2013.

Five Mehanna family members were facing police assault charges after the brawl.

Ali Mehanna, who was allegedly involved in Tuesday’s scrum on level four, kept screaming: “This is police brutality.”

Ryan said Adel Mehanna was inside the dock of the courtroom when he started screaming: “I’m going to f—ing kill you.”

Officers then stormed in as Corrective Services attempted to take him away.

“We walked out of court, we were standing outside the doors and all of a sudden we just hear screaming. We turned around and it was almost like a football match brawl,” she said.

“There were punches being thrown everywhere. It was just fists flying everywhere and screaming.”

She said one police officer was punched in the face before a man was tackled to the ground and handcuffed.

Ali Mehanna told reporters outside the court that his brother, who was arrested over the brawl, was the victim of an “unprovoked attack”.

“They provoked my brother as he walked out, they found a reason and then ‘bang’ they jumped on him,” Ali Mehanna said.

“There was officers outside of the courtroom, there was no need for officers to be outside of the courtroom and then as we were leaving there was six or seven of them.”

Family supporter Hassan Anthony kept repeating the words “police brutality”.

“They hit him [a family] to the face, they kneed him in the back,” Mr Anthony said.

“There was no mercy, all because they [police officers] are wearing the colour blue,” he said.

The case continues.

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Australian faces jail for coverage of same story that won Reuters a Pulitzer prize

Posted on 15/01/2019

Bangkok: Reuters’ international news agency has a won Pulitzer prize for exposing the violent persecution of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority while an Australian journalist and his Thai colleague face jail for their coverage of the same story.
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Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian will face criminal defamation charges in a Thai court on Thursdayfor repeating information in a Reuters report on Phuketwan, their small Phuket-based news website.

Thailand’s navy last year launched an unprecedented defamation case against Mr Morison, a former senior editor at The Age, and Ms Chutima for republishing one paragraph word-for-word from a Reuters story that alleged some members of the Thai military were involved in networks smuggling Rohingya boat people from Mynamar.

No action has been taken against Reuters, one of the world’s largest news agencies, over the story that was published in July last year. The London-based company has declined to comment on the case against Mr Morison and Ms Chutima, who say they are prepared to go to jail to defend media freedom in Thailand, where defamation laws are being increasingly used to silence criticism.

The Pulitzer board commended Reuters journalists Jason Szep and Andrew Marshall for their ”courageous reports” on the Rohingya, who in their efforts to flee Myanmar ”often fall victim to predatory human trafficking networks”.

Mr Morison, 66, congratulated Reuters for the Pulitzer, the world’s top award for journalism excellence, awarded each year by Columbia University. ”Jason Szep and Andrew Marshall have worked very hard recently to bring to the wider world the tragedy of the Rohingya that Phuketwan has been consistently reporting since 2008,” Mr Morison said. Ms Chutima was hired by Reuters to help prepare some of the company’s Rohingya coverage.

Stephen Adler, Reuters’ editor-in-chief, said in a statement he was ”immensely proud” of Reuters’ ”high impact series” on the Rohingya. ”For two years, Reuters reporters have tirelessly investigated terrible human-rights abuses in a forgotten corner of the Muslim world, bringing the international dimensions of the oppressed Rohingya of Mynamar to the global attention,” he said.

Mr Szep, one of the authors of the report quoted by Phuketwan, said from Washington he hopes the prize will focus ”greater international attention of the risks and presence of religious violence in Myanmar”.

The prosecution of Mr Morison and Ms Chutima is due to go ahead despite calls by the United Nations and rights groups for the charges to be dropped. Phuket public prosecutor Wiwat Kijjaruk told reporters last week there was enough evidence to proceed ”even though the two said they just republished an article from Reuters … they should have checked the facts before doing so”.

If convicted, Mr Morison and Ms Chutima could face up to seven years in jail.

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Coming to terms with my ‘mummy uniform’

Posted on 15/01/2019

“This the first time I’ve worn clothes day in and day out that are really, truly, comfortable” … Kiran ChugI’ve realised I wear a subtle variation on the same clothes every day; it’s my ‘mummy look’, you could say. Skinny jeans, Converse-type trainers and a t-shirt.
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I’ve had a uniform before. Working in an office in Wellington, it wasn’t long before I found myself dressing in black from head to toe, just like most of my colleagues. It suited the city, I felt, and black certainly dominated the clothing shops in the CBD.

Yet outside the office, I’d try to be more adventurous. I experimented with different looks and new trends, I wore colour, and spent a bit of time putting together interesting outfits to wear at the weekends.

Things have changed dramatically since then. I now pull on a pair of jeans every morning and pair them with a t-shirt and cardigan. I’ve bought myself a floral print bomber jacket to bring my look up to date, but it’s hardly an exciting fashion statement. Neither are the patterned trainer-style flat shoes I slip my feet into each day.

It’s taken a bit of time, but I’ve decided I like my new look. It’s the first time I’ve worn clothes day in and day out that are really, truly, comfortable. They’re all good quality and cut well, and they’re definitely what you would call safe. They look good and wash easily. And with a baby and a toddler to run around after, this is the stuff that’s important. I don’t want to be rearranging a low-cut top or hitching up hipster jeans all day. They also need to be practical and things I don’t mind getting splashed with mud or paint or baby sick.

I haven’t had much money to buy lots of clothes now that my maternity clothes are far too big, but I have spent a little on a few pieces that I can mix and match to wear together. I have three pairs of jeans: two are different shades of blue and one pair is red. They’re all the same style because I know it’s a look I like and it works for me. (And the high waist is necessary after two children!)

My t-shirts and jumpers all match all three jeans options, and my trainers and jacket all work equally well together too. When I’m rushing around in the morning trying to get the kids fed and dressed before my toddler’s daycare drop-off, I don’t have time to spend on sorting out an outfit for myself or trying on different combinations of things. With my wardrobe as it is now, it doesn’t matter that I’m time poor. Everything works together.

I’ve not completely given up on fashion. I still love it and I long for the day when it is practical for me to be more experimental with my look again. For now though, I make do with wearing a statement scarf and this helps add a bit of interest to what I’m wearing. So does the odd bit of bling I wear. (I might have given up on fancy clothes but I’m never giving up my bling.)

I don’t think I’m being a lazy dresser by choosing to wear the clothes that I put on each day. I still want to look good – I just also want to wear clothes which are practical.

The only thing I do really miss each day, however, is wearing heels. I used to wear heels all the time, but now putting them on is a rare occasion; they just aren’t practical for the park, the long muddy walks and the running around I do each day. I never thought I’d become a mum who lived in flats. I guess it’s just another one of the surprises that motherhood brought my way, and another one I’m more than happy to accept.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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Tom Moody takes Renegades role

Posted on 16/12/2018

The Melbourne Renegades have turned to Tom Moody, the former Australian allrounder and Sri Lanka coach, to scour the cricket world for players capable of propelling the team up the Big Bash League ladder.
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Moody has accepted a role as director of cricket with the Renegades, placing him in charge of recruitment, list management and talent identification.

Although the Renegades had flagged their interest in signing Kevin Pietersen, the Melbourne Stars are leading the race to sign the sacked England star, and Moody seems more likely to focus his attention on returning West Indies allrounder Dwayne Bravo to the Renegades.

The role represents a step further into administration for Moody, who recently became director of cricket for the fledgling Caribbean Premier League. He is also coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL, where Renegades coach Simon Helmot is his assistant.

Helmot recently resigned as assistant coach of Victoria’s Sheffield Shield team to take up a job as coach of Trinidad and Tobago, where Bravo plays.

The Renegades finished sixth in the BBL last summer, having made the semi-final the previous season. Only one player, captain Aaron Finch, was voted into the BBL All-Star team but Bravo added some star power with a brief cameo late in the season.

Helmot and Renegades chief executive Stuart Coventry said Moody’s extensive cricket contacts would make him a valuable addition.

“His T20 knowledge is enviable, as is his intelligence on players around the world,” said Coventry.

“He’ll be working behind the scenes to ensure the best long-term results for the Renegades at the recruitment table.”

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The other cost of drought, fire and flood in rural NSW

Posted on 16/12/2018

Despite the announced Government relief packages and assistance for victims of the naturaldisasters that have impacted rural NSW in recent years, many of us are still left dealing withthe aftermath of the trauma.
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The damages bill ran into the hundreds of millions so we’rewell aware of the financial stress facing many, however the emotional cost of dealing witha natural disaster can also be high.

This strain, along with isolation and lack of access tosupport, is a big challenge for many people in the western plains of NSW.

Resilience is a word you may have heard thrown around; it’s commonly described as “thecapacity to cope with change and challenge and bounce back during difficult times”.

There’sbeen a lot of talk about teaching our kids resilience to stand up to potential bullies and thechallenges of growing up. But what about teaching ourselves resilience?

This article providessome practical tips for building your resilience, and developing coping mechanisms in theface of some of the challenges of living in rural NSW including drought, fire and flood.

1. Building coping mechanisms:Understanding strategies to cope and openness to learning new coping mechanisms arepart of resilience. These strategies might include meditation or different types of exercise.

Tolerance and openness are central to building resilience, not only personally, but also inyour community.

Everyone has different life experiences and resources available to them, sotry not to judge other people (or yourself) on the time it takes to bounce back from a difficult ortraumatic event.

2. Seeking help:Sometimes we just need to talk to somebody. Your local doctor, counselor or mental healthprofessional can be great to talk to after a stressful event.

They’ll be able to suggest somecoping strategies that you may not have considered.

If distance is an issue there’s manyonline programs and apps, created by some of Australia’s leading health organisations thatcan help with self care techniques such as monitoring your moods and stress management.

Find out more at: www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/

3. Support networks:Stay connected. Reach out to friends and family for support, including those who have sharedyour experience and those that haven’t. Feelings of loneliness and isolation only heightenstress and trauma, so sticking together is key to developing resilience as an individual and asa community.

4. Optimism and future planning:Optimism is not pretending you’re fine when you’re not. It’s about trying to look objectivelyat a situation and consciously focusing on the good. There are a number of techniques thatmight increase your optimism including:

– Setting goals and celebrating when you achieve them

– Positive self talk: try boosting your self-confidence rather than beating yourself up

– Practicing mindfulness: focusing on the ‘right now’ rather than worrying about thepast or future

While building resilience may take some work, it will improve your ability to bounce back afterthe next challenge life throws your way. Don’t let geography stand in the way of looking afteryour mental health; find out more about resilience and other mental health topics, servicesand programs by visiting the mindhealthconnect website.

The mindhealthconnect service is a national initiative managed by Healthdirect Australia, onbehalf of the Commonwealth Government as part of the national, E-Mental Health Strategy.

Healthdirect Australia is a publicly funded, COAG (Council of Australian Governments)company responsible for identifying, procuring and contract managing publically fundedtelephone and online health information and advice services including mindhealthconnect.

References:

1. MindMatters, Enhancing Resilience, http://www.mindmatters.edu.au/docs/default-source/resources-archive/enhancing-resilience-ii,

2. ReachOut南京夜网, Recovering from a Disaster, http://au.reachout南京夜网/Recovering-from-a-disaster,

3. Beyondblue, Research Project: Building Children’s resilience in fire affectedcommunities, http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/research/research-projects/research-projects/building-children’s-resilience-in-fire-affected-communities,

4. Reachout南京夜网, Building better coping skills http://au.reachout南京夜网/Building-better-coping-skills,

5. Kids helpline, Building resilience http://www.kidshelp南京夜网.au/teens/get-info/hot-topics/being-resilient.php,

6. Royal Australian & NZ College of Psychiatrists, Mind Games: are you fit to battlein the modern world? Published Dominion Post NZ, 1.3.14 https://www.ranzcp.org/Files/Publications/psyche/March-2014/Mind-games-Are-you-fit-to-do-battle-in-the-modern.aspx

Tony Abbott confirms Badgerys Creek as site of second Sydney airport

Posted on 16/12/2018

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Deputy Leader Warren Truss announce Badgerys Creek as site of second Sydney airport. Photo: Andrew Meares A second airport at Badgerys Creeks is set to take pressure of Sydney Airport. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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Peter Martin: Is a second airport really needed?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed a second airport for Sydney, triggering tens of millions of dollars of infrastructure investment for Sydney’s west.

After months of speculation, Badgerys Creek, 50 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, was approved by cabinet on Tuesday as the location of the airport.

Construction of the airport is expected to begin in 2016 and will spur the creation of up to 4000 construction jobs at its peak.

Mr Abbott said the bulk of the investment for the airport would come from the private sector, with government to take the lead on building surrounding infrastructure, including roads.

The cost of building the airport is estimated at $2.5 billion.

Sydney Airport has first right of refusal to build and operate the airport.

“It’s a long, overdue decision which, to be honest, has been shirked and squibbed by successive governments for far too long,” Mr Abbott said.

“I also want to stress that the government’s approach will be roads first, airport second, because we don’t want the people of western Sydney to have an airport without having the decent transport infrastructure that western Sydney deserves.”

Mr Abbott said the project would create 60,000 new jobs for western Sydney once the airport was fully operational.

The Prime Minister said details about how the infrastructure package will be funded will be made in the coming days.

It’s understood the federal and NSW governments are close to finalising a deal on how much federal money will be on the table.

An initial figure of $200 million that had been floated was insufficient in the view of the NSW government.

“I think this is a good news story for western Sydney,” Mr Abbott said.

“It’s good news for jobs and, because of the importance of Sydney in our national economy, it’s good news for Australia.”

Mr Abbott played down concerns that airport noise would become an issue at the new flightpath in the way it has for residents around Sydney Airport.

“I don’t believe this is going to be anything like the problem at Badgerys that it has been at Mascot,” he said.

“For a couple of reasons – first, because, quite frankly, people don’t want to travel in the middle of the night.

“And, second, because we are just dealing with far, far fewer people.

“If you look at the noise footprint, some 4000 people live within a Badgerys’ noise footprint.

“The equivalent footprint at Sydney is 130,000. So I just don’t think it’s going to be anything like the issue that it is elsewhere.”

Mr Abbott added: “We are certainly not saying there will be a curfew.”

Qantas immediately welcomed the announcement on Tuesday, with chief executive Alan Joyce describing Badgerys Creek as the right site.

“After decades of debate, we applaud today’s announcement by the Prime Minister,” Mr Joyce said.

“The role of second airports has been well-established in several of the world’s major capitals. Sydney is the key gateway for air traffic in and out of Australia and the benefits of having two major airports will be felt nationwide.”

Western Sydney Airport Alliance spokesman David Borger said the decision to build at Badgerys Creek was long overdue.

He said residents would support the decision because it will create jobs and raise living standards.

However, western Sydney Labor MP Ed Husic said locals are being “blackmailed”.

“They say ‘If you want better infrastructure you have to support the airport and by virtue of blocking the airport you won’t get better infrastructure’,” he told ABC Radio.

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Sex abuse ‘culture of shut up’ has to go

Posted on 16/12/2018

Trigger warning: discussion of child sexual abuse.
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Like much of Australia, I have watched with the Robert Hughes trial with morbid interest.

I watched as he strode with confidence into the courtroom, day after day, watched as he clutched the hand of his wife, Robyn Gardiner, and watched as she, steely faced, clutched him right back.

News reports of the trial made uncomfortable viewing, as did the testimonies of children aged between seven and 15 at the time of the assaults. Last week Hughes was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault and seven counts of indecent assault against children.

In the days that followed, his former fellow cast members spoke out about a cover-up on set. They said that they had gone to the producers with their misgivings, and were told to keep quiet. Cast member Simone Buchanan referred to it as the “culture of shut up”, as the young actors had been warned off saying anything because careers were on the line.

We can only hope that the high profile of this case and the subsequent conviction of a person with a significant public profile can begin to change this “culture of shut up” – because adults cover up the heinous crime of sexual abuse against children all the time.

When I was a child, my mother took me into the lair of a known child predator. A member of her family, he lured her to his roadhouse in a remote part of the Northern Territory. He said he couldn’t get workers, and she was in need of a job. He was cunning,and wiley, and a sick man in the body of a normal looking one. Because he didn’t need my mother at all; what he really wanted was me.

Most people don’t remember much of what happened when they were six years old, but I remember it all. I remember the layout of the building, the bar, the red gingham tablecloths in the diner, and I remember the walk-in fridge that was often used as a venue to molest me.

I remember the tension in my mother, night after night, as the perpetrator asked to take me into the shower with him. She kept saying it wasn’t appropriate – after all, he was a man in his 40s, and I was a small girl.

Most of all, I remember the night she gave up. Her shoulders fell, defeated, and she left me with him. I remember looking at her back as she walked away, and with her she took all that I could have been if I had not had to endure what came after.

In that moment, she destroyed us both.

As an adult, I have spoken out about the abuse that I endured as a child, abuse that continued long after that stint in the desert, as my mother continued to allow him into our home to prey on me again and again. It continued until I was 11, when the onset of puberty meant that I was no longer of any interest to him.

None of this came out into the open until after the death of my mother. She was plagued by mental illness that I’m sure was worsened by what she let happen to her child right under her nose. I’ve been lucky that the members of my family believed me, as not everyone who speaks out is so lucky, but it still makes people squirm with obvious discomfort. When I tell people, most want to play it down and say that I turned out okay, and that I should just put it behind me now.

As much as it soothes people to believe that not too much damage is done, no survivor of childhood sexual abuse is ever okay, ever again. We have to navigate our way through primary and high school with other children and adults, who wonder why we are so sullen and withdrawn and can’t fit in. We have to find our way in a world that often finds us “different”. We have to learn to form adult relationships with people who remind us of our abusers simply because they are the same gender, after one violated us at a time when our biggest concern should have been what cartoons were on Saturday Disney.

And then we have to raise our own children in a world where we don’t just think there are bad people – we know it. We know there are predators who walk around with regular people, who look no different from them, and we worry about who everyone might be behind their normal-person façade.

Since becoming a mother, I have watched four little girls blow out six candles on their birthday cakes. Each time, I’ve looked at them and can’t even imagine allowing something so dreadful to befall them, at this age of skipping ropes and trampolines, dress-ups and joyful innocence.

Most of all, I have looked at them and mourned the six-year-old me, the little girl who died that day, but continued to breathe.

Child sexual abuse is the systematic destruction of a human being. We can’t keep covering it up as adults, because we fear that it’s too distasteful to speak out against.

The high profile case of Robert Hughes has been satisfying in that it has seen a predator convicted of a crime that, inconceivably, often goes unpunished, even if it is reported. We can’t let an opportunity like this be lost. We must continue speak out, and so must the adults who turn their backs on our torment.

If you have been abused and need to talk about your experience, contact Lifeline.

Would you like to talk to someone? Call Bravehearts:1800 272 831

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

ICAC: Barry O’Farrell in the witness box

Posted on 16/12/2018

Barry O’Farrell with Nick Di Girolamo, right, at the Italian Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Gala Dinner. Photo: Supplied List of expenses: Nick di Girolamo. Photo: Nick Moir
Nanjing Night Net

Arthur Sinodinos heads into the ICAC hearing on Castlereagh Street in Sydney. Photo: Chris Pearce

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell takes the stand at the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Hello and welcome to the Herald’s live blog from the Independent Commission Against Corruption – where NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell is about to become the fourth serving premier to front a public hearing.

The inquiry has heard explosive allegations this morning that Nick Di Girolamo, then chief executive of Obeid-linked company Australian Water Holdings, sent O’Farrell a $3000 bottle of Grange in 2011 to “butter him up” over a proposed public-private partnership.

O’Farrell faces questions about why he didn’t declare the lavish gift on his pecuniary interests register, and what happened in an allegedly “cosy” meeting with Di Girolamo a month later.

O’Farrell has been attempting to dodge the media pack outside ICAC but should be in the box within minutes.

Barry O’Farrell is somewhere in “the environs” said his barrister John Agius, SC. Keen anticipation in the public gallery #icac— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) April 15, 2014

Barry O’Farrell’s silk, John Agius, SC, was counsel assisting the 1990s Wood Royal Commission into NSW police corruption.

The Premier is approaching the witness box.

O’Farrell says he thinks he was in a car with Di Girolamo when they went out to inspect the work of AWH in Sydney’s north-western suburbs.

He says he can’t recall “in detail” a dinner at law firm Clayton Utz on June 10, 2009, which was attended by O’Farrell, Liberal fundraiser Paul Nicolaou, now the NSW chief executive of the Australian Hotels Association, and Di Girolamo, among others.

He says he had “no knowledge” of Australian Water Holdings until he became Opposition Leader and it appeared at the time that it served a “worthwhile purpose”.

Barry O’Farrell is now in the wittness box, he looks nervous. #icac#nswpol— Mark Coultan (@mcoultan) April 15, 2014

O’Farrell says it was “not all that common” for him to see Di Girolamo at football games.

But he adds: “Certainly when I went…it would not have been surprising if I’d seen Mr Di Girolamo”.

Asked if Di Girolamo attended a $30,000 dinner with him, organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in aid of the Queensland flood appeal, he says: “I think so.”

“Are you Barry Robert O’Farrell?” counsel assisting ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, says.

“I am, Mr Watson,” the premier replies.

Watson gets straight to it: when did O’Farrell first become aware of Australian Water Holdings chief executive Nick Di Girolamo, a prominent Liberal Party fundraiser and associate of the Obeids?

O’Farrell says it was around 2007 and he was interested in AWH’s work. He says it was not until he was Opposition Leader that he noticed Di Girolamo at Liberal Party events.

Barry O’Farrell is asked about the uncanny coincidence of “lots of money going in to Liberal Party coffers” from Australian Water around the time he wrote a letter of support for the company’s proposal for a PPP while in opposition.

The Premier says he rejects “completely” any suggestion he was influenced by the donations.

“What drives me mad is perception,” he says, warming to the subject. “I will not and do not make decisions on the perception of donations being made. What got under my skin [in opposition] was not just what I believed was happening under the former Labor government but the perception that all politicians were tarred by the same brush.”

“Twenty-seventh of May, four o’clock on a Friday,” O’Farrell says of a critical 2011 meeting with then Australian Water chief executive Nick Di Girolamo in Parliament.

“It was to be for a grand total of 15 minutes.”

The former finance minister, Greg Pearce, gave rather pointed evidence last week that he was “taken aback” at how “cosy” the meeting appeared to be when he arrived.

O’Farrell says he did not have a “partisan” interest in Australian Water but was interested in “land release”. The company had positioned itself as being able to unlock the supply of new housing developments by providing access to water and sewerage infrastructure.

Pmr @barryofarrell tells #icac his broad support for AWH proposal, was not influenced by AWH donations to Liberal Party. @NewsTalk2UE— Derek Peterson (@DerekP2ue) April 15, 2014

Now the inquiry turns to the ticklish subject of Di Girolamo lobbying the O’Farrell government over a public-private partnership proposal with Australian Water Holdings.

ICAC has heard the family of corrupt former Labor minister Eddie Obeid were “secret stakeholders” in Australian Water and stood to make up to $60 million from the deal.

O’Farrell says he was aware of the proposal.

“No surprise there that a Liberal National Party or Coalition would be supportive of private sector delivery of services,” says.

Collective intake of breath from the ICAC hearing room.

O’Farrell is shown a phone record showing he called Di Girolamo at 9.29 pm on April 20, 2011 – the day he allegedly received the $3000 bottle of Grange.

This would tally with Di Girolamo’s evidence that O’Farrell thanked him for the gift in a telephone call.

“I have no knowledge,” O’Farrell says of the 28-second call.

OMG! #ICAC just shown a call from Barry O’Farrell to Nick di Girolamo at 9.29pm on the day the Grange was delivered.— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) April 15, 2014

Geoffrey Watson is pressing O’Farrell about the coincidental “collision” of dates: the premier allegedly receives a $3000 bottle of Grange and, just over a month later, he meets the alleged sender, Nick Di Girolamo, in state Parliament.

O’Farrell reiterates that he and his wife Rosemary have no recollection of the gift.

Asked about his involvement in a contract granted to Australian Water during his government, O’Farrell says he had no part in it “at all”.

Counsel assisting ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, is asking the question on everyone’s lips: “How does a fellow like this, Mr Di Girolamo, get this kind of access to the premier?”

O’Farrell says that Di Girolamo was a former managing partner of a Sydney law firm, Colin Biggers & Paisley, was the head of a company doing work in the north-west and chaired the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

“I do think we need to judge people as we found them at the time and not with the benefit of hindsight,” he says.

And now the inquiry turns to a $3000 bottle of Grange…

Counsel assisting ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, turns his focus on what Barry O’Farrell’s chief of staff Pete McConnell was doing in mid 2010.

O’Farrell was then Opposition Leader and McConnell was emailing the then deputy chairman of Australian Water, now Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, about Australian Water’s plans for a PPP (with chummy salutations such as “comrade” and “keep fighting”).

O’Farrell is not perturbed by McConnell suggesting he would welcome Australian Water chief executive Nick Di Girolamo sending a draft of a letter from O’Farrell supporting the PPP.

“He’s really there going in to bat [for Australian Water] if you like, he’s really encouraging them,” Watson says.

On the explosive subject of a $3000 bottle of wine allegedly couriered to his house at the behest of Australian Water boss Nick Di Girolamo, O’Farrell says he’s “certain I would remember receiving a bottle of Penfolds Grange, certainly one from my birth year”.

“I’m no wine connoisseur. I don’t drink a lot these days, that’s evidenced by my size,” O’Farrell says of his slimmed-down physique.

“I noticed that,” counsel assisting ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, says.

“I commend you to it,” O’Farrell quips, to a hearty roar from Watson.

O’Farrell drops a reference to his gym routine and Watson rejoins: “Stop boasting.”

“It’s the Don Bradman of wine, it’s unforgettable isn’t it?” Watson says.

“I don’t believe I would have forgotten it,” O’Farrell says.

O’Farrell admits that he and Di Girolamo had each other’s mobile numbers.

Asked how often they contacted each other, the premier says: “I don’t recall the frequency but certainly we had phone numbers.”

He says they would occasionally text about football and the contact was about “once a month” or “once every two months”.

“I might have been returning calls,” he says. 

Barry O’Farrell said he occasionally exchanged texts with Nicky D G, maybe once a month #ICAC— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) April 15, 2014

Watson has finished grilling O’Farrell. The lawyer for former energy minister Chris Hartcher, who is set to feature in the next ICAC inquiry into political donations starting on April 28, is putting questions to the premier.

O’Farrell says he doesn’t recall Hartcher being a proponent of Australian Water’s PPP plan.

The inquiry has heard allegations that Australian Water made “regular payments” to a slush fund linked to Hartcher in exchange for favourable treatment from the former minister

O’Farrell’s own brief, John Agius, SC, is now putting questions to his client. Agius was counsel assisting the 1990s Wood Royal Commission into police corruption.

He asks O’Farrell about his phone call to Australian Water boss Nick Di Girolamo on April 20, 2011, around the time the newly-elected premier allegedly received the $3000 bottle of Grange from Di Girolamo.

The premier says that if he didn’t receive the gift – as is his contention – then he didn’t call Di Girolamo to thank him for it.

John Agius, SC, is asking the premier about his practice when it comes to declaring gifts on the pecuniary interests register.

“The practice is that I comply with those rules,” a rather brusque O’Farrell says.

Asked if he has ever been given a $3000 gift, O’Farrell says he doubts even his family has been so generous. He then makes a rather dad-joke reference to a garden hose he got one Christmas.

And then there is this exchange:

It’s being suggested security at Bof’s house was of a level where it’d be easy to steal a bottle of wine delivered when no one home #icac— Katie Kimberley (@KatieKimberley) April 15, 2014

Barry O’Farrell exits the witness box, the media pack in hot pursuit.

The man who allegedly gave him a $3000 bottle of Penfolds Grange and lobbied him over a PPP, former Australian Water boss Nick Di Girolamo, has resumed giving evidence.

The Premier is expected to make a statement outside the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

After studiously avoiding the media when he entered ICAC earlier this afternoon, Premier Barry O’Farrell is now using a room in the building for a press conference.

O’Farrell has become the fourth serving premier to give evidence at the commission, after Nick Greiner, John Fahey and Bob Carr.

Of course, ICAC has also heard from a string of former premiers this time around: Kristina Keneally, Nathan Rees and Morris Iemma.

O’Farrell will be fourth sitting Premier to face #icac Greiner (’92) (“Metherell”); Fahey (Jan 95) (“Smiles’ pension”); Carr (96) (“Semple”)— Stephen Murray (@smurray38) April 14, 2014

Barry O’Farrell’s post-ICAC press conference seems to be taking almost as long as his stint in the witness box.

Media waiting for Barry O’Farrell’s press conference re #grangegate#icacpic.twitter南京夜网/YkS4sGJnI9— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) April 15, 2014

O’Farrell tells the assembled media that he is “absolutely confident” that his government followed proper processes when dealing with Australian Water Holdings.

He says his north shore home was “unoccupied and unattended” at the time he allegedly received a $3000 bottle of Penfolds Grange in April 2011 from the then chief executive of the company, Nick Di Girolamo.

Asked about a phone call he made to Di Girolamo around this time, O’Farrell says: “I know nothing about the call.”

Today was to mark the last day of ICAC’s inquiry into Obeid-linked company Australian Water Holdings, which is now in its fifth week.

As Premier Barry O’Farrell leaves the inquiry, Commissioner Megan Latham says with some resignation that the inquiry will sit until at least lunch tomorrow.

That concludes our live blog. Thank you for reading.

See you at 10am tomorrow when former Australian Water boss Nick Di Girolamo will finish giving evidence #ICAC— Michaela Whitbourn (@MWhitbourn) April 15, 2014

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.