Friday, 30 September 2016

Hunter Could have Blackouts Like SA

BY GARY-JON LYSAGHT

The Hunter could see blackouts similar to those in South Australia because of the State and Federal Governments axing of more than 2600 power workers, says the Electrical Trades Union.

Since 2012, the Government has gradually cut back workers across the State and in various companies.

Over the past four years, almost a quarter of all electrical workers have lost their jobs, including 1400 from Ausgrid and 800 from Essential Energy.

ETU Assistant Secretary Dave McKinley says the next natural disaster NSW faces could plunge it into darkness, much like South Australia this week.

"What has occurred in South Australia in the past 24 hours could easily happen in NSW," he said.

"The ability to restore power for consumers is dependent on having skilled workers available.

One of many fallen SA power lines. [Image: Tom Fedorowytsch]
"This loss of skilled workers will have a devastating effect on response time and the speed which power can be reconnected."

All of South Australia lost power on Wednesday night as wild winds and rain lashed the state, causing its wind turbines to switch off.

Power lines across the state also collapsed, which led to the extreme blackout.

The Hunter has also had wild winds, with parts of Dungog and Maitland submerged in water for days following last April's super storm that lashed the region.

McKinley is calling on Ausgrid and

other other providers to be prepared for the next weather event.
"We are urging them to take a good hard look at the resources they have available moving forward so they can ensure they have the skilled workers and specialist equipment needed to respond to similar events when they occur in NSW," he said.

[Image courtesy of ABC].


Newcastle Hospital Implicated In Chemotherapy Underdosing Scandal

BY IAN CROUCH

It's been revealed a cancer doctor who allegedly under-dosed more than 100 patients had previously worked at Newcastle's Calvary Mater Hospital.

Doctor John Grygiel worked there for two years as a medical oncologist in the 1980's, however health authorities admit they have no record of what he did or how many patients he treated.

Dr Grygiel is accused of giving low doses of chemotherapy to patients at Sydney's St Vincents Hospital as well as Orange and Bathurst Hospitals.

The revelation has prompted calls from Wallsend MP, Sonia Hornery for an inquiry into Dr Grygiel's work to be extended to include his time at the Calvary Mater.

"I'll be raising  this issue in Parliament to make the minister aware that this is of concern to us locally," she said

However, Health Minister Jillian Skinner has ruled this out saying his time there doesn't need to be investigated.

"The was before there were any protocols about the dosing to do with chemotherapy, so it was not pertinent to the inquiry conducted into his treatments out in the Orange hospitals later on," she said.

Dr John Grygiel photo courtesy dailytelegraph.com.au




NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner

EXCLUSIVE! 3 Children Rescued From Rip By Police At Caves Beach: Officers Named.

BY IAN CROUCH

 Two Lake Macquarie police officers will be recommended for bravery awards after saving three children caught in a rip at Caves Beach.

Around 6pm last night, two girls aged 15 and a boy aged 9 were swimming at Caves Beach when they became caught in a rip.

The 47-year-old father of the boy and one of the girls entered the water to help the children but he too became caught in the rip with all four swept about 70 metres from the shoreline.

With the beach lifesaver having gone home for the night, a witness called Triple Zero.

A short time later, 41-year-old Senior Constable Craig Hansen and 38-year-old Senior Constable Wade Fuller arrived.

They removed their appointment belts and obtained body boards from 2 civilians and entered the water.

They managed to reach the children and tow them back to shore on the body boards - the father was able to make his way safely back to shore.

Ambulance paramedic checked the children and the officers - no-one was was injured and the Senior Constables Wade and Fuller resumed their duties.

Lake Macquarie Duty Officer, Darryn Cox heaped praise on his young officers.

"A fantastic job from them. We'll be submitting a report up through the channels to higher command in regards to having them formally recognised," he said.


Thursday, 29 September 2016

MP: NBN Rollout "a disaster" for Small Business

BY GARY-JON LYSAGHT

Small business across the Hunter are at risk of failing because of the National Broadband Network’s rollout, says Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon.

Joel Fitzgibbon
It comes after four businesses in Morriset were left without phone or Internet services for weeks after being switched from their old network to the NBN.

“Not only are we seeing an inferior NBN service rolled out, but the transition is hopeless,” said Fitzgibbon.

“For a small business to be without a telephone service for weeks is a disaster.”

Labor have been critical of the Coalition Government’s NBN scheme, suggesting it is inferior and outdated as soon as it's switched on.

A strong small business sector was one of the talking points for the NBN, begun by Malcolm Turnbull in his capacity as Communications Minister and continued when he succeeded Tony Abbott for the top job.

But Joel Fitzgibbon said it only hurts them.

“Small businesses are going without telephone and Internet services literally for weeks.  That’s a disaster,” he said.

“The Government needs to apologise; to intervene and to sort these problems out.”

Jason Miles is one of the small business owners put out by the NBN.  He told the Lakes Mail it's severely hampered his business.

"I reckon we're running at about 10 per cent of what I'm used to.  Where I might usually get 100 people coming through the door per day, I'm down to 10.  Maximum," he said.

"The big problem is people don't have a choice to switch their landline over to the new system," Joel Fitzgibbon said.

Maitland Council Cracks Down On Illegal Dumping

BY IAN CROUCH

Maitland Council is stepping up efforts to crack down down on illegal dumping.

Council has received 104 complaints about illegal dumping in the past 6 months and recently obtained a state government grant to help with raising community awareness about the impacts of illegal dumping on the environment

It's planning to increase surveillance at known hot spots, while extra signs will be going up.

Educational material is also being produced to help people dispose of rubbish correctly and provide residents with information on how to report illegal dumping.

Council is also stepping up incentives to dispose waste correctly including providing residents with a free tip voucher allowing for the disposal of up to 400kg of waste and allowing green waste to be dropped off at the waste management centre free of charge at weekends.

Council's Development and Environment Manager, David Simm says everyone has an obligation to the environment.

"Illegal dumping is not only a financial burden to the community but a public health risk. Council offers a range of services and facilities that can help residents effectively and legally deal with their waste," he said.




Hunter Valley Braces For Wet & Windy Weather

BY IAN CROUCH

 Remnants of the severe weather system which blacked out the entire state of South Australia are expected to hit the Hunter Valley today.

A Severe Weather Warning is out for damaging winds and heavy rain, with wind gusts expected to top 90 kilometres per hour in some areas.

The Upper Hunter north of Singleton is expected to cop the worst of the wild weather later today, while heavy rain is also expected along the coast.

Meanwhile, at least 50-thousand sand bags from Maitland have arrived in the flood-hit towns of Forbes and Condolbolin as they prepare for more flooding.

Around 40 SES volunteers from the Hunter are in the Central West to lend a hand - a further 8 are heading out today, including a specialist flood rescue operator.

Severe Weather Warning Issued For Large Areas of NSW, including the Hunter

Hunter Officer Remembered As Part Of Police Remembrance Day

BY IAN CROUCH

 A service to mark National Police Remembrance Day is being held today at Newcastle's Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The day affords police forces within Australasia the opportunity to remember those officers who have lost their lives in the course of their duties.

In the Hunter, officers will be paying tribute to 43-year-old father of two Sergeant Geoffrey Richardson, who died when his patrol car collided with a tree at Allandale while responding to a pursuit in March.

Sergeant Geoffrey Richardson 6.8.1972 - 5.3.2016