Friday, 21 July 2017

Hazardous Surf Warning This Weekend.

BY DANIELLE RIES

Today the Bureau of Meteorology has launched the Hazardous Surf Warning service to alert the public on dangerous conditions for rock fishing, boating and swimming.

People in the Hunter are being advised to be extra careful and to check out this new service before heading to coastal waters, particularly with over a dozen people have been killed rock fishing around Catherine Hill Bay in recent years.

The alerts and updates will help reduce rock fishing injuries and deaths as up to 90 percent of people are influenced to change their plans.

Manager of Weather Services for NSW Jane Golding says this service will provide important information for people.

"This stand alone product ties in some safety advice, some precautions people can take if they're planning water activities and some very clear advice from the NSW Police and the marine area command section."

Also today, the Bureau of Meteorology has released a hazardous surf warning, asking the public to be cautious this weekend around coastal waters.

Senior Forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology Jake Philips warns the public to be safe around the coast over the next few days.

"At the current time we do in fact have a hazardous surf warning and this is the first time this has officially been issued as a warning product. It does cover the entire NSW coast and that's for today and tomorrow as well.

"If you're going out along or near the coast, just be very wary of those conditions in the next couple of days."

Mr Phillips also expressed there are plenty of other ways to check for dangerous conditions.

"The best way is to find out on our website www.bom.gov.au under the warnings section. If a hazardous surf warning is current, it'll be listed with the areas affected. But it's also listed on other forecasts such as any town forecasts along the coast and also district forecasts as well."

NeW Space Open Day tomorrow

BY JESSICA ROUSE

The University of Newcastle's NeW Space Building certainly stands out in the CBD from the outside, and tomorrow you can go and see how unique it is on the inside as well.

Image supplied UoN
An open day will be on tomorrow from 10am 'til 2pm with the university hosting information sessions, a pop up law clinic, student showcases from the School of Creative Industries and architects and builders will be there to explain why the building looks the way it does.

Business and Law Faculty Manager Kate Ramzen-Levy loves the new building and says not only are the views phenomenal but the learning spaces are great as well.

"We also have the builders who will be presenting on what was the inspiration for NeW Space. I think the building is a bit of an icon for the CBD of Newcastle and its got such a nod to all of its surroundings so there are some fantastic sightlines to city hall to the harbour foreshore and also back to Callaghan."

Staff have already been working in the building for a couple of weeks and students will start learning there from next week at the beginning of Semester Two. Kate says the learning experience students will get won't be better than the experience on Callaghan, it will be different - a very good different.

"I think that it's very accessible to the public, it opened to the public this week, we've seen a lot of members of the public and students wandering  through and taking advantage of the fantastic views across the city. But I do think it's going to have a really important place into the CBD of Newcastle," said Kate.


Councillor Bob Geoghegan running for Maitland Mayor

BY SARAH BARONOWSKI

With a local election looming in September, Maitland Councillor Bob Geoghegan is today announcing plans to nominate for Mayor of Maitland City Council.

As the endorsed Liberal Party candidate, Councillor Geoghegan is seeking the top position on Council. Citing years of experience with state government, he believes he has the strong working relationships and knowledge of community issues to fulfil the role of Maitland Mayor.

"I think I've got the right combination of energy, and experience, and passion and respect that's needed to be the Mayor of Maitland and to keep the city progressing as it has," he said.

If elected, Bob Geoghegan says there's a number of key issues he'd like to focus on including traffic congestion on the New England Highway, Testers Hollow Flooding and the new Metford Hospital.

"But the one that I've identified initially is the issue of value for money and the cost of living for people. I think the next Council has to be very aware of that and make sure that we get very good value for the ratepayer's money."

He says he hopes he and his team, which will be announced in the coming weeks, have a good chance of being elected.

"I think that's the challenge for me is to convince people that the best result for Maitland would be if I was Mayor. There will be a team announced in the coming week and they are very good candidates and I'm hoping that they will also be elected and they will support me."

Councillor Bob Geoghegan [Image: Maitland Mercury]


Mother's murder trial continues

BY JESSICA ROUSE

The trial continues for the Scone woman accused of killing her toddler 16 years ago.

The court heard she told a family friend she sacrificed the child to the Wolf Man. She allegedly said the wolf man was after her and she was searching for the "chosen one" to give her a baby girl.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is accused of killing her 16-month-old daughter sometime between Christmas 2000 and Christmas 2001.

Previously the court heard the woman told a Red Cross worker the girl was in a better place and told others she was living with another family in an informal adoption arrangement.

She has told varying accounts of the girl's whereabouts over the years but never said exactly where she was.

The woman has a long history of mental illness.

Newcastle Supreme Court Image abc.net.au






Achoo! Worst flu month on record

BY JESSICA ROUSE

Shadow Minister for Health Walt Secord has renewed his criticism of the Berejiklian Government after a massive jump in the number of flu cases in the Hunter and across the state.

We are just over half way through July, and already there's been more than 350 reported cases of influenza this month in the Hunter's hospitals and across the state there been a record4,085 reported cases to the official database for NSW Influenza notifications.

Walt Secord says the government were unprepared for the huge spike in influenza cases which he says has led to an increase in the number of "bed block" incidents.

"So you have a situation where patients wait at every stage, they wait for an ambulance, they wait for the emergency department and then they wait for a bed. Sadly the Berejiklian government has been caught unprepared for the flu season - we're on track to have one of the worst years on record for flu."

The flu season is smashing regional hospitals, particularly The Calvary Mater Hospital.

"Calvary Mater Hospital in Newcastle is one of the three hospitals that have been cited as being under enormous pressure so again Newcastle is also feeling the brunt of this flu season," said Walt Secord.

He adds while it may be too late for the government to do anything about it this flu season, there are things we can do ourselves.

"You can still get your flu shot - if you're feeling well you can get your flu shot. I had my flu shot in April and I haven't missed a moment of work so again there's still time to get your flu shot. August is usually seen as the high month, the worst time of the year so there's still time."

Drunk Hamilton man crashed into cars at Belmont North

BY IAN CROUCH and JESSICA ROUSE

A man will face court after he allegedly crashed into a parked car at Belmont North while drunk last night before speeding off.

The 33-year-old Hamilton man reportedly crashed into the car on the Pacific Highway but took off when the owner confronted him going through a red light.

He was pulled over at Pelican where it's alleged he returned a high range blood alcohol reading.

Officers suspended his licence on the spot.


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Flag of Convenience threatens national security

BY JESSICA ROUSE

The murder of two sailors on board the Sage Sagittarius on its way to Newcastle in 2012 sparked a senate inquiry into the Flag of Convenience (FOC) shipping company and now it's been found to be posing a huge threat to our national security.

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITWF) is calling on the government to step in and stop using FOC in Australia after the inquiry also found murder, gun-running, slave labour and harassment are just some of the things which happen on board. The inquiry found the Captain of the Sage Sagittarius was doing just that, ruling his ship with intimidation, but nothing was done.

The findings come one day after the Government announced they would create a Ministry of Home Affairs, but the ITWF National Coordinator Dean Summers doesn't think it will make a difference to the national security threats posed by FOC.

Sage Sagittarius Image wikipedia
"The Australian government doesn't seem too concerned about the security vulnerabilities in the shipping sector. If the same things were even suggested in the aviation sector or anywhere else, you'd have the whole intelligence organisation in Australia focusing on it,"

Dean Summers also says our national security is simply becoming vulnerable under the FOC shipping company. The organisation is accusing the Turnbull Government of replacing Australian seafarers with the lawlessness of FOC sailors probably because they're cheaper.

"Our national security have vulnerabilities when replacing Australians with Flag of Convenience. Even our Australian  Border Force (ABF) has stated very very clearly Flags of Convenience offer Terrorist organisations and organised crime groups the capacity to operate within Australia and around Australia," said Dean Summers.

The committee at the inquiry also made mention they were very concerned that FOC vessels were carrying dangerous goods around Australia's coast, "including ammonium nitrate and petroleum products. Last financial year, only 1,072 of the 15,715 commercial vessels arriving in Australia were searched by ABF".

The committee has made several recommendations in a bid to stop the use of the FOC shipping company.