Resources Regulator accepts enforceable undertaking from Sibelco China over sand mine accident

A SALT Ash sand mine operator will avoid further criminal prosecution over an accident in which a worker fell nearly three metres from a dump truck, fracturing his skull.
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The man was working for Sibelco , the mine operator of the Salt Ash Sand Plant, on Feburary 1, 2016, when he fell 2.7 metres from the off-driver’s side platform of an articulated dump truck, the Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Regulator said.

“The worker suffered a skull fracture requiring emergency craniotomy surgery to reduce brain swelling,” the regulator’s chief compliance officer Anthony Keon said in a report.

“Injuries included a jaw fracture, a brain haemorrhage which required secondary surgery, and ongoing loss of hearing.”

Following investigations, the Resources Regulator began criminal proceedings in the District Court at the start of this year, alleging the operator had breached the Workplace Health and Safety Act. The breach carried a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

This week, the Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Regulator said in a statement it had accepted an enforceable undertaking from Sibelco. Anenforceable undertaking is a legally-binding agreement proposed by a company, which may be considered as an alternative to prosecution.

As part of the undertaking, Sibelco has committed to a number of initiatives with a financial commitment of at least $531,697.50, the statement said.

The undertaking requires Sibelco to develop and share an educational video on articulated dump truck safety, share at five industry events a presentation on what it had learned from the accident and create two internships at Sibelco sites for university students studying work health and safety.

The undertaking also requires the company to donate $190,000 to the Hunter Brain Injury Service Centre.

As part of the agreement, criminal prosecution of Sibelco will cease and the company will pay the regulator’s costs of$171,752, making the total value of the undertaking $703,449.50.

NSW Resources Regulator’sMr Keon said the undertaking was accepted as it provided for significantly better outcomes than what could be achieved by prosecution alone.

“This case serves as a timely reminder to mining operators of their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act,” he said.

“The undertaking is considered significant and will provide tangible benefits to the mining industry and the community.”

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Dreamworld emergency stop button ‘a risk’

An inquest is examining the Dreamworld accident that caused the deaths of (clockwise from top left) Cindy Low, Roozi Araghi, Luke Dorsett and Kate Goodchild.Dreamworld’s former engineering boss has questioned whether a single emergency stop button should have been installed onto a ride that later killed four people.
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Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi died in October 2016 when a water pump on the Thunder River Rapids failed.

It caused water levels to drop and their raft to flip after colliding with another raft that became stuck.

Bob Tan, former general manager of engineering at the Gold Coast tourist attraction, on Thursday told an inquest into their deaths that shutting down the ride could have caused a bigger hazard.

He told coroner James McDougall putting a stop to the ride would have also turned off a water pump that would have led to dangerous amounts of water then washing through the ride.

“If two pumps turned off at the same time, there is violent water turbulence back flowing into the reservoir at the area at the bottom of the conveyor,” he said.

“I would not be comfortable to agree to doing that.”

The inquest has previously heard experts suggested a single emergency stop button be fitted during safety audits, but it could not be done because the attraction was too old to be retro-fitted.

Prior to the tragedy, Mr Tan was made aware the now defunct Wonderland theme park in Sydney had fitted a similar pump to their version of the ride.

But he did not consider making similar adjustments to the Dreamworld ride because it was built differently.

The long-running inquest has previously heard that the water pump had malfunctioned on October 19, 22, 23 and twice in the hours before the October 25 tragedy.

None of those failures were investigated.

Mr Tan, affectionately known among Dreamworld staff as the “oracle” because of the 28 years he’d worked at the park, also overlooked major modifications to the ride as posing a safety risk.

He said the removal of slats from the ride’s conveyor belt took place before he started working at the park and so didn’t see an issue with the changes.

“I was not involved in removing them but I assumed whatever had to be done was done,” he said.

“Nobody reported they had a concern, so I didn’t do what I didn’t know.”

Mr Tan, who resigned from Dreamworld in 2016, presumed safety analysis was carried out before the slats were removed but never found proof that it had been.

The inquest has previously heard the removal of the slats from the conveyor belt introduced a hazard, but Mr Tan assumed it complied with basic engineering and safety standards.

The inquest has wrapped up until December 6, when three expert witnesses will give evidence.

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Perth Glory’s defence living on the edge

Alex Grant has become a mainstay of Perth Glory defence in the A-League this season.Perth Glory’s defenders are on edge and that’s a good thing according to Alex Grant.
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The arrival of coach Tony Popovic and a host of stars have reinvigorated Glory, who sit atop the A-League standings with three wins and a draw from the opening four rounds.

Glory leaked an average of 1.85 goals per game last season but have cut that figure down to one goal this campaign.

Popovic’s back-three system that is complemented by two wing backs has worked a treat, and Grant has played a key role in the heart of defence alongside Shane Lowry and Tomislav Mrcela.

But with former Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic nearing a return from a long-term hip injury, Grant knows he can’t take his spot in the side for granted.

“Matt is a great player. He’s got the experience playing with the Socceroos,” Grant said.

“It’s good to have him waiting in the wings.

“It’s good having that competition there. We’ve got five centre backs fighting for three spots. And it’s good, it’s healthy.”

Spiranovic, who has missed the best part of an entire year, could make his return in Sunday’s clash with Central Coast at nib Stadium.

Mrcela is available after serving his one-match suspension, meaning veteran Dino Djulbic could be forced to make way despite performing strongly in the 2-0 win over Adelaide.

Skipper Diego Castro, who hasn’t played since injuring his hamstring during the pre-season, is also in the selection mix.

The Spaniard has taken the league by storm over the past three seasons playing as an attacking midfielder but he will have to be more defensive-minded under Popovic.

“You’ll probably see a different side to Diego where he’s not doing as much of a free role as he did under Kenny (Lowe),” Grant said.

“He’ll have to maybe defend a little more.

“But knowing Diego and how professional he is, he’s more than capable of doing that and still chipping in with goals and assists.”

The Mariners, who were beaten 4-1 by Melbourne Victory in their most recent game, prop up the ladder with just two points.

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Re-elected Vic Labor to move fast on road

Labor has pledged that work on the North East Link toll road will start on Monday, if re-elected.Victorian Labor has pledged to kick-start work on Melbourne’s $15.8 billion North East Link toll road on day-one back in office.
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The 26km road, which will connect the M80 ring road at Greensborough with the Eastern Freeway, was first proposed by Labor in 2008.

Premier Daniel Andrews recommitted to the project in 2016 and has already put more than $200 million into planning and design.

On Thursday he promised to call for construction tenders on Monday if successful at the ballot box.

“The tender process will begin on Monday and I know that there will be significant interest from construction companies both here and abroad to get on and build this road,” he told reporters.

He expects construction to start in 2020 and the road to open in 2027. The road will be fully funded by taxpayers.

Both Labor and the Liberal Party have promised to build the road, although Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has said he will review the plans if he wins office.

Mr Guy’s seat of Bulleen is affected by the current proposed route.

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said a review of the project by a Liberal-Nationals government would delay construction.

“A vote for the Liberal party … will mean it will be delayed, continue to be delayed forever,” he said.

“The last four years that the Liberal party were in they simply didn’t get a major project started and completed in their term.”

Mr Andrews said the project “stacks up”, unlike the dumped East West Link toll road, which cost the state more than $1 billion to scrap in 2014.

“We have got to accept funnelling people through the centre of the city is not the answer,” he added.

“Finishing the ring road will allow people to move around the city that’s what stacks up.”

Mr Andrews then set off for Deer Park, in the state’s west, to announce the removal of three rail level crossings, some of Labor’s hit-list of 25 if re-elected.

Victorians go to the polls on Saturday.

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Call for more security at hospitals

A Melbourne neurosurgeon has called for stronger security in hospitals to prevent violence, after a man was convicted of killing heart surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann.
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Joseph Esmaili, 24, on Wednesday was found guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann, 41, at Box Hill Hospital in May last year.

Michael Wong, a Melbourne neurosurgeon and spinal surgeon who nearly died after being stabbed 14 times at the Western Hospital by a mentally ill patient in 2014, called for stronger security measures in hospitals to prevent such attacks.

Dedicated staff entrances, restricted access to wards and regular security patrols of public areas were some of the measures needed, he said.

“An increased security presence in hospitals will deter violence, and may prevent tragedy like this from happening again,” Dr Wong said.

Dr Wong said over the past few months, violence, assaults and attacks in n hospitals had increased, even in small rural and big teaching hospitals.

“Staff at Sir Charles Gardner Hospital have been affected by spike in violent assaults from aggressive patients,” he said.

“Wagga Base Hospital, based in NSW, is seeing violent incidents on an almost-daily occurrence and is a growing problem.

“Hospital security should not be overlooked in an era of tight health budgets.”

Dr Wong said he and his colleagues were saddened by the senseless loss of Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann, a dedicated, caring colleague.

“The court hearing has been difficult as we “re-lived” the moments of the tragedy,” he said.

“I can imagine this is even more difficult for Christine, Patrick’s wife, and their children.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we sincerely hope that the jury’s verdict will bring some measure of comfort and closure to the family.”

The surgeon was leaving Box Hill Hospital in May last year, heading home to his wife and children, when he stopped to tell a group including Esmaili to stop smoking near the front entrance.

An argument ensued, ending with Esmaili punching the surgeon and running away.

Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann suffered bilateral skull fractures and was seen bleeding from the nose and mouth after the attack.

His life support was terminated about a month later.

Esmaili will be sentenced at a later date.

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Late shift sugary drinks a diabetes risk

Studies show sugary drinks consumed on the late shift could boost the risk of getting diabetes.Slurping down sugary soft drinks while working the late shift could be a recipe for increased diabetes risk, two new studies reveal.
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A Canadian study has found sugar-sweetened drinks pose a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes than most foods containing naturally-occurring sugar fructose, like fruit.

Meanwhile, research from the US has discovered shift work in combination with an unhealthy lifestyle poses a higher Type 2 diabetes risk than previously thought.

The sweetened drink study, by St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, found foods that add excess “nutrient-poor” energy to the diet, especially sweetened drinks, seem to have harmful effects on blood glucose levels.

By contrast, foods containing fructose sugars, like fruit and vegetables, did not have the same harmful effects.

“These findings might help guide recommendations on important food sources of fructose in the prevention and management of diabetes,” the study’s lead author Dr John Sievenpiper said.

For the study, the researchers analysed 155 studies that assessed the effect of different sources of fructose sugars on blood glucose levels in people with and without diabetes.

In the shift work study, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston examined nurses to look at the combined impact of an unhealthy lifestyle and rotating night shift work on the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The risk was deemed higher than when the two individual risks were simply added together, indicating that an interaction of the two factors added further risk.

Both studies, published by the BMJ medical journal, come after Diabetes UK said the number of children and young people with Type 2 diabetes in Britain was the highest it had ever been.

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Direct international flights between Auckland and Newcastle have begun

TOUCHDOWN: The first flight from Auckland to Newcastle arrives on Thursday night. It hit the tarmac about 8.45pm. Picture: Peter StoopNEWCASTLE Airport is no longer an aspiring international airport, it is one.
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But not without a few hiccups.

The first international flight from Auckland to Newcastle was delayed due to nearby bushfires, but it landed at the airport before 9pm on Thursday.

Then thefirst outbound flight to Auckland –flight VA199 – was delayedand then cancelled close to 11pm due to “technical difficulties”.

Passengers were told the plane needed to bechecked after a lightning strike during its earlier flight.

The outbound flight wasrescheduled to leave Newcastle Airportat 12.15pm Friday.

A Virgin spokesperson said the safety of passengers and crew was theirnumber one priority.

“Virgin flight VA198 from Newcastle to Auckland was delayed last night after it was struck by lightning before landing safely in Newcastle,” they said.

“Aircraft are designed to withstand and continue to fly safely when struck by lightning, however it is standard operating procedure that the aircraft is checked by an engineer after landing. The aircraft has now been cleared to return to service.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Newcastle Airport chief executive Peter Cock said the local Virgin crew worked tirelessly to source accommodation for all the passengers that required a bed on Thursday night.

“Understandably there is always high levels of occupancy for accommodation across the region when big events are being held, such as the V8 Supercars,” he said.

Despite the problems, the Hunter is now officiallyhome to the state’s second international airport.

The flights –the first servicing Aucklandin 16 years –mark thebeginning of a 13-week seasonal service operated by Virgin .

Prior to the problems, Dr Cock had said the official opening of the international gates wasa “momentous” occasion for the greater Hunter region, and the fruition of years of planning, persistence and patience.

“The significance of this iswhat it is going to do for the Newcastle region in terms of visitor economy,” he said.

“Our modelling suggests it is going to add over$6 million of value into the economy that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. That is significant for local businesses, and it starts fromthat international traffic.”

Passengers were welcomed into the $1.6 million international processing facilities for the first time on Thursday evening.

“It is something the airport has been aspiring to, and working towards, for many years,” Dr Cock said.

“We are no longer an aspiring international airport, we are an international airport.”

Passengers on-board the Boeing 737-800 from Auckland were welcomed by local tourism,industry and government representatives after it arrived about8.45pm.

Annette Piercy was on the first flight from Auckland.

She said she was keen to see what the region hadto offer “Kiwi travellers”.

“This is a business trip to explore the region, and to see what experiences we can share with our New Zealand customers,” Ms Piercy said.

“If you want to go to the Hunter Valley or Port Stephens for the weekend, the direct flight makes this very accessible.”

Virgin will offer three direct international services between Auckland and Newcastle per week until February 17, 2019, withDr Cock predictingit couldbring up to6500 extra visitors to the region.

Theservice will operate over the peak holiday period with direct flights available every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday until February 17.

“There has been really good collaboration between the tourism organisations within theregion,” Dr Cock said. “It has captured the imagination of people in the region, and it has brought everyone together with a common purpose for a common cause.”

Ittakes a lot of work to get an airline over the line. But it was something we knew the region needed, and something the people in theregion wanted.”

If the service proves successful in the next 13 weeks, it may continue.

“If we can make this work, I think it will give a lot of confidence to other airlines that people from the region will fly out of their own airport,” he said. “It is important that people use it. The more profitable it is, the more wecan start to try and get more aircraft times.”

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Christopher Mark Alabacos jailed for hitting 60-year-old man with metal pole

Newcastle courthouse. A MAN who repeatedly struck his 60-year-old neighbour with a metal pole after he was caught breaking into the victim’s unit at Hamilton South in Mayhas been jailed for a maximum of two years in Newcastle Local Court.
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Christopher Alabacos, also known as Christopher Brown, 35, was represented by solicitor Adrian Kiely when he appeared in court on Thursday for sentence after pleading guilty toreckless wounding, affray and break and enter.

A balaclava in his hand, Alabacos told people in the Neil Terrace units that he was “going to do a run in on old [victim’s name]” in the days before he forced his way into the victim’s unit and stole cash and a phone.

Another resident saw Alabacos leaving the unit and called out to the victim, who went inside and saw his property was missing.

He looked outside and saw Alabacos and Aiden James Ellison before arming himself with a metal pole and walking out to the courtyard.

Alabacos – also armed with a pole –rushed towards the victim, who raised his pole in a baseball stance. But as Alabacos continued towards him, the victim dropped his weapon and Alabacos punched him to the ground.

At one point the victim rose to his feet and hit Alabacos with the pole, before he was mercilessly bashed with the pole and kicked in the head.

“Dog scum, you think you’re better than me?” Alabacosyelled at the 60-year-old man. Magistrate David Price jailed Alabacos for a maximum of two years, with a non-parole period of 16 months on Thursday. He will be eligible for parole in November, 2019.

Ellisonpleaded guilty to affray after the DPP withdrew more serious charges and on Wednesday was sentenced to a nine month intensive corrections order, a form of custodial sentence served in the community.

Christopher Alabacos told the victim.

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Newcastle City Council says sorry for DA delays as Jeremy Bath predicts record year

The council says building activity continues to rise in Newcastle, though its website shows a 12 per cent dip in development applications this year. Picture: Simon McCarthy
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Newcastle City Council has apologised for taking longer to process development applications after what it says is a continued rise in building activity.

The council said on its website last week that the “current high volume of development applications is causing determination times to be longer than usual”, though a NewcastleHerald analysis shows the number of applications on the council’s online DA tracker fell 12 per cent in the first 11 months of thisyear.

The DA tracker shows 1547applications this year up to November 22, compared with 1761in the corresponding period last year and 1631in 2016.

A spokesperson said the council had determined 1300 DAs in 2015-16 with a combined value of $700 million, 1400 ($1 billion) in 2016-17 and 1400 ($1.1 billion) in 2017-18.

“So far, in the 2018-19 financial year, we have determined more than 500 DAs worth about $300 millionand are well on track to break last year’s record value,” the spokesperson said.

“We are currently processing more than 500 DAs worth more than $1 billion, and the size and complexity of the DAs coming in means they take longer to process.”

The online tracker contains 736 DAs lodged this financial year.

Market indicators showa sharp decline in building activity across since June, but council chief executive Jeremy Bath saidNewcastle was destined to“enjoy yet another record year for development”.

“In fact, this year we are expecting a 25 per cent increase in applications,” he said. “This sort of activity makes us the envy of not just the Hunter but the rest of the country.

“It’s inevitable with this sort of historic increase in workload that approval times will also increase.

“We believe it’s better to be up front with applicants about this workload rather than say nothing and create unrealistic expectations.”

The council website says:“Some timelines are outside of our control, such as waiting for additional information from applicants and referrals to third parties (such as State Government agencies).

“The existing DAs (500+) we currently have will take time to process. Many will not be finalised until 2019. Any new DAs lodged between now and Christmas are also unlikely to be processed until 2019.

“We apologise for any inconvenience and commit to the development of a more customer centric approach to applicants over the new year period.”

Lake Macquarie City Council said it had approved a record $1.16 billion in development last financial year.

“So far in 2018council has approved 2154 development applications with a total value just under $1 billion,” a spokesperson said.

“As at 26 November 2018, council is currently assessing a further 729 applications worth more than $706 million.”

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Socceroos squeeze coming for strikers

Tomi Juric has scored eight goals in his 41 international appearances for the Socceroos.Long-time Socceroos striker Tomi Juric could be bumped off the plane to the United Arab Emirates as Graham Arnold faces tough calls in his Asian Cup squad.
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Striker Juric is the most high-profile player in doubt for ‘s title defence.

Arnold has brought 41 players – including retiring legends Mile Jedinak and Tim Cahill – into three camps during his tenure to date, casting the net wide before January’s tournament.

And after a listless display against Lebanon, the math could be against Juric as he attempts to secure a spot in the 23-man squad.

Arnold must take three goalkeepers, and is likely to take eight defenders to provide cover for every place in the back line.

Five midfielders seem locked in – Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Massimo Luongo, Jackson Irvine and Mustafa Amini – as well as four wide attackers; Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse, Awer Mabil and Scottish recruit Martin Boyle.

Barring injury, that leaves three places remaining and only two are guaranteed to be No.9s.

With four in the mix – Juric, Apostolos Giannou, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout – something’s got to give.

And that’s before you begin to consider bolters like Craig Goodwin, unused World Cup attacker Dimi Petratos and recent debutant Jimmy Jeggo.

Should someone like Riley McGree, Terry Antonis or Adam Taggart push on with their A-League campaigns, the equation gets even tougher for Juric.

The 27-year-old hero of Western Sydney’s Asian Champions League triumph has just five starts this season at Swiss club Luzern and managed just one goal – against a second division side.

There’s no disputing Juric’s importance in helping secure a place at this year’s World Cup.

Since debuting in 2013, Juric has 41 caps for eight goals; five scored in crunch qualifiers on the road to Russia.

But like Bailey Wright, James Troisi and other stalwarts of the Ange Postecoglou era, a new coach’s style may leave him behind.

Arnold has stressed the importance of “speed and mobility” in his sides but denied that leaves Juric out of the mix.

“Tomi is quite mobile. He gives us a different dimension on how to play,” he said on Tuesday night.

“The system we’re playing with, the three nines … that system gives you flexibility, but it gives you speed and you can’t stop speed.”

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