Archive for December, 2018 | Monthly archive page

Environment watchdog investigates third Hunter mine

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Investigation: The state’s environmental watchdog is investigating an “overflow” at Bengalla mine, the third Hunter coal mine investigation so far this year.THE state’s environmental watchdog is investigating a third Hunter coal mine for water overflow or dam collapse problems.
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The NSW Environment Protection Authority has issued an alert saying it is investigating an “overflow” at Bengalla mine near Muswellbrook, only days after reports of dam collapse investigations at Wambo and Warkworth mines in the Upper Hunter.

The EPA is yet to confirm the nature of the Bengalla incident.

Bengalla is the smallest of Rio Tinto’s three Hunter mines, and is the subject of a sale by Rio Tinto of its 40 per cent interest in the mine to New Hope Corporation for $600 million. The sale is expected to be finalised in the next few months.

Bengalla is currently involved in a major project to build a diversion of Dry Creek. The Herald has been advised a dam failure, similar to failures being investigated at Wambo and Warkworth, is not likely and an overflow from the Dry Creek construction work is a more likely reason for an “overflow” after recent heavy rain and flooding.

Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckinghamtoday saidnews of athirdEPA investigation of a serious Hunter mine water issue demonstrated “asignificant and systemic problem with the coal industry failing to implement adequate standards, resulting in serious pollution incidents”.

“Since the year beganWambo,WarkworthandBengallacoal mines in the Hunter Valley have had failures resulting in millions of litres of sediment-laden water polluting the environment,” Mr Buckingham said.

“In the second half of 2015,ClarenceandRussell Valecoal mines also had dam failures resulting in significant pollution of waterways.

“As the coal industry heads for the exit door, they are cutting costs and trashing the environment almost with impunity,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Without strong regulations and independent monitoring to prevent pollution incidents, the decline of the coal industry represents a toxic threat to the environment and community.”

The third seat stays on Sydney’s trains following bungled trial

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

No future for the bench: the government has dropped plans to change the seating on trains following a bungled trial Photo: Sydney Trains Two seaters are not the future on Sydney’s double decker trains. Photo: Sydney Trains
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The traditional three-person seats will continue to be a fixture in Sydney’s double-decker trains, following the abject failure of a trial to gauge whether there was any benefit in getting rid of them.

Gladys Berejiklian announced the trial removal of the three-person seat in mid-2013 on some Tangara trains, replaced with two seats or a bench.

“The middle seat of the three person seat is often left empty so we want to see if this is a better use of that space,” the former transport minister said at the time.

Removing that seat, she said, could fit another 80 people into two carriages. That would be a boost of about 15 per cent, and potentially make it easier for people to get on and off the train.

A survey of train passengers at the time suggested little mood for changing the seating arrangements – people preferred what they knew.

But the government then contracted with engineering consortium UGL-Unipart to analyse two aspects of the $900,000 trial: how many passengers would fit into the redesigned train carriages, and would the new seats make it easier to board?

UGL-Unipart and their subcontractor ADT installed cameras in the trains. But when they handed their results to Sydney Trains, there was little that could be used.

A summary of the trial, provided this year to Fairfax Media following a drawn-out freedom of information request, catalogued multiple failures.

One indication that something was wrong was that the trial occasionally reported boarding information for doors on both sides of the train – even though only one set of doors was opening.

There was also “substantial amounts of duplicated data,” a summary document said.

And when the information was not duplicated, that was sometimes because staff counted different things: “i.e. one reviewer had counted throughout the whole carriage and another reviewer had only counted the half of the carriage in which the camera was situated.”

Sydney Trains said it could not use the information. “It was not generally possible to rely upon the data which had been supplied because the methodology use to collect it … had no transparency and was inconsistent.”

Nevertheless in a response for this story, Sydney Trains appeared to indicate that the experiment with new seating plans would not be repeated.

“The Tangara seating trial was carried out three years ago and it’s clear that alternative seating configurations would have limited benefits to double-deck train services,” a spokesman said.

“Although these results give us significant evidence to inform future fleet design, because of the limited benefits and expense there are no plans to modify the seating configuration of our existing fleet.”

For its part, UGL-Unipart said that “issues with the way in which the trials were conducted were addressed with Sydney Trains at the time the report was submitted.”

And the consortium pointed to a $131 million contract it won this year to upgrade the Tangara fleet of trains.

The new trains to run on the $8.3 billion Sydney Metro North West and its estimated $10 billion extension to Bankstown will have vastly fewer seats than Sydney’s current trains.

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

Spotless renews public housing contract worth $62 million a year

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Sources have told Fairfax Media several overseas buyers were interested in Spotless. Photo: Louie Douvis Beleaguered cleaning and catering company Spotless Group has been re-awarded a contract worth $62 million a year to maintain NSW’s social housing.
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The company will manage more than 24,000 properties for the NSW Land and Housing Corporation for next five years.

It has held the contract since 2002. The re-signing comes after Spotless’ share price has more than halved since early December after it warned investors its next profit would fall 10 per cent year-on-year.

Chief executive Martin Sheppard cited a delay or deferral of tender decisions for the profit slump. It also lost contracts, such as the catering rights to Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium which it held for more than 30 years. The company also struggled to gain new business, including a $400 million contract with Rio Tinto.

Mr Sheppard said Spotless was “very pleased to continue” its “valued relationship” with the NSW Land and Housing Corporation.

He said it would involve maintenance, renovations and heritage works across three regional centres: Central Coast, Sydney’s inner west and Illawarra.

“The annualised total revenue from the contract is over $62 million,” Mr Sheppard said.

Despite the soft market, Mr Sheppard told the market last month the company had managed to retain almost 90 per cent of its existing contracts this financial year. This doesn’t include the NSW social housing contract.

Spotless shares were almost 1 per cent lower at $1.03 on Monday afternoon. Its shares have plunged more than 58 per cent since its 12-month high of $2.47 last April.

The low share price has made the company, which returned to the ASX via a $1 billion float in March 2014, vulnerable to a takeover.

Sources have told Fairfax Media several overseas buyers were interested in Spotless, which employs 39,000 people and generated $2.8 billion in revenue last financial year.

The company told investors last month its earnings before interest depreciation, tax and amortisation will be flat in 2016, but its net profit will fall 10 per cent from last year’s profit of $142.8 million.

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

Rolls Royce of threats: ‘I will kill you’

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Lindsay Rundle
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HE was the member of a well-known Newcastle business family who continually waved at police as they urged him to pull his Rolls Royce over during a low-speed chase through eastern Lake Macquarie.

But Lindsay Bartley Rundle, 58, allegedly became decidedly terse after being cornered and manhandled out of the damaged luxury car he had locked himself in to avoid arrest.

“I know where you live …I’m gonna get your kids … You’re f—ing dead,’’Mr Rundle allegedly told one arresting officer after punching another in the face.

“I’ll f—ing kill you,’’ he allegedly told another officer when he asked him to provide a breath test.

“If you open that door I’ll f—ing assault you,’’ he later allegedly told an officer as they attempted to enter the charge cell where he was being held at Belmont.

Solicitor John Anthony, for Mr Rundle,told Newcastle Local Court on Monday that his client, who is a member of the family synonomous with tailoring throughout the Hunter, would be volunteering to enter a mental health facility if he was granted bail.

Police did not oppose the release application, where a police facts sheet outlined the eight charges he was facing including the pursuit chargeSkye’s Law, two counts of intimidating police and use an offensive weapon to avoid apprehension, and one count of assault police.

It was alleged police received numerous calls about how a Rolls Royce was being driven along the Pacific Highway between Catherine Hill Bay and Swansea on Sunday night, including one where the car was seen to crash into a steel roadside railing.

Police caught up with the car at Blacksmiths where they drove alongside the car and shone a torch towards the driver.

“The accused was observed to look directly at police and waved before continuing to travel in a northerly direction,” the police facts alleged.

Mr Rundle is then alleged to have swerved at an officer as he stood in the fog lane using a torch to signal him to pull over, before finally stopping at a set of red traffic lights.

But as police boxed him in, Mr Rundle is accused of putting the Rolls Royce into reverse and slamming into police cars before locking the car doors as police approached.

Theywere “forced to use batons to try and smash windows of the accused vehicle to gain access”.

“Due to the Rolls Royce’s toughened glass, these attempts resulted in three windows being partially damaged before the driver’s side window gave way,” the facts sheet alleged.

It was then that the profanities and threats allegedly started, as well as the punch which hit one officer on the side of his face.

Police also allege that after Mr Rundle refused to submit a breath test, he was taken to a caged truck “at which time he was observed to be extremely unsteady on his feet and in need of assistance to walk”.

Mr Rundlewas granted conditional bail, including that he not drive or occupya car driver’s seat.He is set to reappear in Newcastle Local Court on February 1.

Australian Open 2016: Hewitt v Aussies. Then Larkham. Now Duckworth

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Lleyton Hewitt preparing for the Australian Open. Photo: Joe ArmaoFull Nick Kyrgios package wins first roundOmar Jasika, Daria Gavrilova head a day with not much to oi about
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The only Australian to play an Australian Open match against Lleyton Hewitt before James Duckworth on Tuesday night becomes the second was unaware of his singular status until receiving a weekend interview request from Fairfax Media. Todd Larkham, best known in the 13 years since for his coaching work with fellow Canberran Nick Kyrgios, was stunned and astonished.

“I went ‘wow’, I couldn’t believe it,” said Larkham, 41, who is spending the week at a junior tournament in Traralgon. “I said ‘are you for real?’ I find it amazing that he hasn’t come up against anyone else. That’s unbelievable. Maybe we haven’t had enough players.”

Or perhaps, considering the host nation’s high annual number of wildcard entrants, that is simply a quirk of the draws, all 19 of them. Still, Larkham’s 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 drubbing in the second round of 2003 remains Hewitt’s only all-Australian affair in his first 49 at Melbourne Park. The former No.1’s wry recollection is of a quick match; for Larkham, a battling qualifier ranked 235th, it was both inevitable and memorable.

Inevitable because he had needed medical assistance after winning a marathon first round against American Cecil Mamiit. After it, as he sat dehydrated and cramping in the corner of the locker-room while his brother and coach Brent was otherwise engaged, the only help Larkham could muster was from Jason Stoltenberg – then Hewitt’s coach.

“I was feeling pretty sick, and the only Aussie guy in the change rooms was Jason Stoltenberg so I asked him if he could get me a drink and go get the doctor. He was coaching Lleyton at the time, but I was desperate! So those guys obviously knew that I was pretty worn out and so the first five six games of that match Lleyton just came out and ran me side to side and by the end of the first set my legs were pretty much gone and I was dead. “

The crowd embraced him though, Larkham recalls, and Hewitt was generous, too, during their handshake at the net.

“It was a pretty bad performance from me, I won two games and it wasn’t great, but the crowd was really good, actually, from my end. I think they were pretty neutral – obviously Lleyton was No.1 in the world and he was the best player in the world at that time.

“The crowd clapped me when I went off and so even though I lost pretty badly, it was a great experience and it was a dream come true, really, to play on Rod Laver. By the time I played Lleyton I was 28 and had played tennis my whole life, and my parents were tennis coaches and I was brought up with the sport, and it was a dream to walk out there, and even though I lost badly I’ve got great memories from it.”

Larkham thinks 134th-ranked Duckworth can expect a typically dogged battle from “one of the greatest competitors our sport’s ever produced”, given that a loss would end Hewitt’s two-decade career, and the 34-year-old will be swept along by a wave of support on the centre court he has graced so often.

“There’s no doubt the crowd will be with Lleyton,” said Larkham. “I think the Australian public has grown to love him because they respect his competitiveness and his effort, and his respect for the game and his opponents. The crowd will want to see him play another match or another few matches, hopefully, so Ducks will have to deal with that. But my advice to him would be just to concentrate on his own game.

“I expect Ducks to be highly competitive, he’s got a lot of variation in his game, and he can adapt his game a little bit to his opponent. Lleyton, tactically he’s very astute, and we know that he’s going to play every point with great intensity and effort, so Ducks is gonna have to use everything he’s got if he’s gonna win the match. “

When another Australian, John Millman, was asked for his prediction after practising with his mate Duckworth on Friday, the Queenslander gave a diplomatic no comment, except to say it was a question to which “there’s no right answer.” Larkham’s tip: in a match the whole nation will be watching, Hewitt to win it in five sets.

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