Temperature soars in the Illawarra

A woman enjoys an early morning swim at Austinmer last summer. The temperature reached 28 degrees in the Illawarra today, given residents a taste of the summer to come. Picture: KIRK GILMOURTwenty nine degrees.
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No, you didn’t misread that: that was the maximum temperature in Sydney city today, the third warmest August day on record, meterologists say.

At 1pm it was 29 degrees across most of the city, Bureau of Meteorology spokesman David Barlow said.

The temperature at Sydney Airport reached 30 degrees at the same time.

Meantime, in the Illawarra, the temperature reached 28 degrees at Albion Park and 26 degrees at Kiama.

Mr Barlow said it was the third warmest August day on record, with days in 1995 and 1954 peaking at over 30 degrees.

But he said it was unlikely to reach the 1995 August record of 31 degrees.

“It is above average for August. It is late August, but 18 degrees is the average for Sydney and even in September the average is 20.

“We do get some mid to low 20s most years but then above 25 is unusual for August.”

At 12.45pm the temperature hit 29.4 degrees at Sydney Airport, 28.5 at Observatory Hill and 28.3 at Sydney Olympic Park, the bureau’s website said.

Bondi lifeguard Dean Gladstone said the beach was quiet this morning, but afternoon crowds were expected.

“With the warmer weather [earlier in the year] over the last few years we find people do come down when it hits.”

Mr Barlow said the warm weather was being caused by northerly winds.

“They’re warm and gusty northerly winds and that’s bringing down a lot of warm air from the north of Australia.

“[But] a cold front is moving across the state today.

“It’s due to reach Sydney later in the day and it will be windy when it does arrive, but basically once that passes over, you’ll get back towards average from tomorrow.”

The front, expected to hit Sydney this evening, may cause thunderstorms, and the bureau issued a coastal waters wind warning, predicting swell up to three metres.

A maximum of 20 degrees is predicted every day until Monday, before rising to the mid-20s later next week.

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Politicians split over mining boom

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson. The Gillard government is split on whether Australia’s mining boom is over in the wake of the shelving of BHP Billiton’s $30 billion expansion of the Olympic Dam mine.
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Resources Minister Martin Ferguson this morning said Australia’s mining history had been the envy of the world.

‘‘You’ve got to understand, the resources boom is over,’’ Mr Ferguson told ABC radio.

‘‘We’ve done well – $270 billion in investment, the envy of the world. It has got tougher in the last six to 12 months.’’

But Finance Minister and South Australian senator Penny Wong disagreed with her colleague’s assessment.

‘‘No, I think the mining boom has got a long way to run,’’ she said.

The federal government put aside its differences on the mining boom’s expiration date, however, to criticise Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for running a ‘‘dishonest’’ fear campaign and linking BHP Billiton’s decision to delay the expansion of the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia to the mining and carbon taxes.

BHP had been consistently warning the two taxes were making Australia a less competitive place to invest, Mr Abbott said.

However, BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers made no mention of either tax in his lengthy explanation for stepping away from the expansion project.

Senator Wong said Mr Abbott was asking Australians to believe what he said was true even though BHP had cited other reasons for its decision, including subdued commodity prices and higher capital costs.

‘‘This is one of the most dishonest, self-interested fear campaigns that we have seen in Australian politics,’’ Senator Wong said.

Mr Kloppers said the company was not going ahead with the massive open-cut pit partly because of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan, which had led to a global fall in demand for uranium.

Senator Wong was more upbeat than Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne – who called the decision ‘‘catastrophic’’ for the economy – but conceded it had been ‘‘deeply disappointing’’.

‘‘Every South Australian knows that Olympic Dam is an incredibly important project for the state,’’ she said.

She welcomed BHP Billiton’s indication of its intention to extend the Olympic Dam project in due course.

‘‘The Gillard government intends to work closely with the South Australian government and BHP Billiton with the aim of seeing Olympic Dam reach its full potential as soon as it is commercially viable.’’

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said it was ‘‘ridiculous’’ and a ‘‘nonsense’’ to suggest the carbon and mining taxes played no part in BHP’s deliberations.

‘‘The question today is how could you possibly argue that a new tax that will be paid by the company is not an issue in the decision they make?’’ Senator Joyce said.

‘‘Do we think for one second that this [the carbon and mining taxes] wasn’t an issue that was discussed around board tables at BHP and every other resource company in the world?

‘‘Expenses such as these become part and parcel of the decisions you make.’’

Cabinet Minister Stephen Conroy was in the ‘‘no’’ camp when asked if the boom was busted, declaring the mining boom was not over.

‘‘I think the investment pipeline is extraordinary,’’ Senator Conroy said.

He said Mr Abbott’s claim that BHP’s decision not to expand the Olympic Dam was due to the Mining Tax was ‘‘sheer stupidity.’’

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Man freed from wreckage in Fairy Meadow crash

Crash on Pioneer Rd, Fairy Meadow.A man trapped in his vehicle after a crash at Fairy Meadow this morning has been arilifted to a Sydney hospital.
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Two children have been transported to Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney by helicopter.

Ambulance paramedics and police arrived at the scene of the collision on Pioneer Rd near Thomas Dalton Park about 11.15am.

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And the gold for whingeing goes to …

Sally PearsonThe Olympics weren’t half over before the hand-wringing began.
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We weren’t winning enough medals, whined so many people. Enough gold medals that is, because it seems that as a nation, we’ve decided winning silver and bronze is beneath us. Seems strange that we can devalue the majority of the Olympic medals on offer, but we have.

If I was an athlete I’d be stoked to win a bronze medal. Come on, it’s not like the little ribbon you won at the school athletics carnival – it’s a bloody Olympic medal. How on Earth can you think someone winning an Olympic medal – of any colour – hasn’t performed well enough?

Maybe it was because the Games start with the swimming events and that’s a sport we’re supposed to excel at. A sport that we’ve long ago assumed to be one we’re born for, where we arrogantly assume that we’re the best – and always will be.

So let’s just conveniently ignore the fact that the US has won substantially more Olympic swimming medals than us – 520 to to our 342. And the fact that they have way more swimming gold medals than us too – 214 to 58.

Forget all that – swimming is our sport and we’re meant to win every event all the time.

When reality set in and we didn’t get all the gold on offer in the pool it was an outrage, with calls for an investigation into why our swimmers had let the country down.

It was simply unfathomable to many that we actually weren’t winning. It was like we were a nation of poor sports. Instead of moaning when an athlete won a silver or even a bronze instead of gold for Australia, we should have been gracious enough to admit the swimmers beating ours were simply better.

Isn’t that what good sports do? Act graciously in defeat? I know they certainly don’t moan about how they should have won, in the process implying that the other swimmers’ victories were aberrations.

People also seemed to turn on the athletes themselves. Having so willingly built them up and put so much pressure on them, these people then complained when the athletes failed to fulfil these unrealistic expectations.

It felt as though many Australians took our athletes’ inability to live up to our expectations (note, not the athlete’s own expectations, but ours) quite personally. It was as though they’d somehow let us down on a deeply personal level.

Never mind that the 2012 gold medal tally is actually a better than average performance for Australia. Taking into account all modern summer Olympics, our gold medal haul average is five.

The better than average medal hauls at the last three Olympics have set people up with the expectation our deserved place is on the top spot of the podium in almost every event.

I’d half expect members of the public to downgrade the efforts of our athletes who won any medal that wasn’t gold. But I was surprised that it was also the attitude of Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates who said Australia had set an objective of finishing fifth in both gold medals and on the overall medal tally. An objective the team obviously fell well short of.

‘‘My only disappointment here was of the 35 medals – one the swimmers didn’t do better and just get us a few more than 35,’’ Coates said.

‘‘The other disappointment was we didn’t nail those gold medals, it was the silvers that dominated our tally.’’

Wow, who’d have thought the head of the AOC would downgrade the value of an Olympic medal?

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Reprieve for ‘Simon the Likeable’

There has been quite an outpouring of support since the Mercury first published the story of postman Simon McGovern who was facing disciplinary action from his bosses at Australia Post.
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It was all because the friendly postie, nicknamed ‘‘Simon the Likeable’’, earned the ire of his bosses for being too friendly and taking too long on his daily run.

Simon, it seems, went above and beyond the call of duty by hand-delivering things like condolence cards and stopping for a chat with some of his customers.

Instead it landed him in hot water and sparked a big campaign from the people around Austinmer and Coledale in Wollongong’s northern suburbs who didn’t take too kindly to the threat that they might lose their beloved postie.

The Mercury was inundated with calls, letters, SMS messages and heavy traffic on our website from readers demanding to know if it was bureaucracy gone mad.

Now it seems all has been forgiven and Simon will be allowed to keep his run.

That’s what you call a victory for people power.

And another thing …

The perennial argument about funding for schools is again on the boil as the federal government prepares its response to the Gonski report.

Regardless of what the government says or does, it is vital our elected representatives understand that all Australian children are equal and all deserve an equal opportunity when it comes to education.

That hasn’t always been the case and the Gonski review is an opportunity to get the system right.

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The Titanscan do it,says coach

Wests Titans coach Kay Buckley is confident her side can avoid relegation in its sudden death playoff against the Corrimal Cadets this Saturday.
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Titans and Cadets join minor premiers Dapto Reunited and second-placed Land Team as the four remaining sides in the Illawarra Premier League finals.

The third and fourth-placed teams, which were separated by a mere point after 14 regular rounds, will face off for the second time in seven days on Saturday.

Last Saturday, Wests received a monumental confidence boost after coming away with a 13-point win over the Cadets.

It was a reassuring performance for Buckley heading into this weekend’s re-match.

‘‘We’re feeling good with the way we’ve performed in the past few weeks,’’ Buckley said.

‘‘We started really well against Corrimal, but we probably need to be more consistent at the back end of games, so that’s something we’ll be looking to improve on this weekend.

‘‘It’s just as long as we stay true to our game plan and we appreciate what each of us bring into the game.’’

The winner of the Titans-Cadets game will play the loser of Dapto Reunited and Land Team in the top-tier semi. The winner of the latter game will receive an automatic grand-final berth.

Dapto was gifted a week off last Saturday after Berkeley Mixtures forfeited their final-round match, and Land Team managed a timely 64-39 win over Corrimal BaiMed.

Buckley was adamant that Dapto, the defending premiers, still carried the heavyweights status.

‘‘I think they’re still the team to beat because they’ve got talent across the seven,’’ Buckley said.

‘‘They’ve also got Michelle Reagan back in their squad now, so that’s another big boost for them.’’

Last weekend, Corrimal SMJ Haulage beat Seaview Preschool 68-38.

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Scottish legend returns

Towradgi Park recruit Matt Sargeant. Multiple world and Commonwealth Games champion Alex Marshall will return to play for Warilla in the Champions League tournament which begins tomorrow.
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The Scottish bowls legend first joined Warilla in 2002 and with countryman Willie Wood helped Warilla win the NSW Premier League title that year.

The new Champions League includes Warilla and Towradgi Park from Illawarra Zone 16 plus six of NSW’s biggest clubs and best players.

Warilla, Towradgi Park, Merrylands, Mt Lewis, Roselands, Belrose, The Hills, and a NSW Institute of Sport team meet in a round-robin format before the finals on October 13-14.

In the opening round Towradgi are away to Merrylands tomorrow and on Saturday are away to Mt Lewis, while Warilla are away to The Hills tomorrow.

Towradgi Park have recruited John Green (Taren Point, ex-Corrimal), plus Matt Sargeant (Wiseman Park), Matt McIntyre (Oak Flats) and Tim Farrell (Dubbo Railway).

Marshall will use his stint with Warilla to prepare for the biggest tournament of the year, the world championships in Adelaide in late November.

Marshall has a resume of one of the finest players of his generation.

He announced his debut for Scotland at the 1992 world outdoor championships in Worthing, UK, by claiming three gold medals.

Since then ‘‘Tattie’’ has picked up three more world outdoor gold medals, plus Commonwealth Games gold in 2002 and 2006.

Perhaps his most significant achievement is winning a record five World Indoor Singles Championships since 1999.

Warilla bowls co-ordinator Jeremy Henry says the addition of Marshall gives the club the right blend of youth and experience for their assault on the 2012 Champions League.

Marshall is joined by former world No1, Leif Selby, plus Henry, the reigning Bowls World Cup champion, and stalwarts Geoff McGillivray, Wayne Crane and Ted Clarke.

NSW under 25 reps Jesse Noronha and Aaron Teys – the Zone 16 singles champion – complete the Warilla squad.

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Illawarra to salute departing Dragons

Dragons legend Ben Hornby will be leaving the side at the end of the season.A capacity crowd of 20,000 is tipped to fill WIN Stadium for Saturday’s farewell for Dragons heroes Ben Hornby and Dean Young.
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Hornby revealed to his peers on Monday night that his 13th season would be his last, even catching team-mates off guard with his announcement.

Young has battled a chronic knee injury and has known for months that Saturday’s game would be his final fling on home turf.

Will the Dragons miss Ben Hornby next season?

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Given that St George Illawarra finish their season on the road against Parramatta next weekend, the round 25 clash with the Warriors will effectively be the last chance for Wollongong-based Dragons fans to pay their respects and give Hornby and Young the home sendoff they deserve.

Hornby sent a scare through the squad when an ankle injury prevented him from finishing yesterday’s training run.

The 32-year-old former NSW Origin fullback watched the rest of the session with his foot submerged in an ice bucket but remains confident of taking on the Warriors.

Young’s ongoing knee troubles kept him from taking on the Cowboys on Monday night, though he also expects to play this weekend.

The 28-year-old said he was proud to be riding into the sunset with his long-time friend.

‘‘Me and Benny go back a long way, back when I was 16 when I first met him,’’ Young said.

‘‘I was doing weights in Wollongong at quarter past six in the morning before school, and Benny was doing the same thing before he was going off to work. It was a long time ago, and to be retiring with such a good mate, I’m over the moon.

‘‘It’ll be an emotional time for both me and Benny. We’ve given everything to this club over a long period of time. We love the club. It means everything to us, so I’m sure it’ll be emotional for us and our families. But it’s nothing sad. I’ve been playing for 10 years and Benny 12, and we’ve achieved a lot in that time. It’s not really sad. I suppose we’ll be celebrating.

‘‘The knee was pretty sore last week. I was pretty keen to play but it wasn’t the case, so I’m looking forward to this week, especially being at home.

‘‘I’ve got a lot of friends and family coming and so does Benny. Hopefully we can go out and turn on a good performance for the fans that have been turning up all year, even though we haven’t gone as well as we would’ve liked.’’

Out of finals reckoning for the first time since 2007, the Dragons insist they still have plenty to play for.

‘‘I wouldn’t say [the heat’s] off,’’ prop Dan Hunt said. ‘‘You still want to win, and the last two games you’re going to build into next year.

‘‘We’ve put in a lot of effort since the pre-season and haven’t finished the way we wanted to, but the effort’s always been there in all the games. It’s our execution and discipline that’s let us down.

‘‘Obviously Benny’s announcement on Monday night was a bit of a shock, so I think it’ll be a bit emotional. Two of my good mates, two great players finishing up,’’ he said.

‘‘It hasn’t sort of happened since Gaz [Mark Gasnier] and Rylesy [Jason Ryles] left. ‘‘I don’t think [Hornby] spoke to anyone about it. He’s obviously put some thought into it and that’s his decision. You have to respect that and I just hope we can give him the win to send him off.

‘‘I know I’ll be giving 100per cent and I’m sure all the boys will do the same, trying to get the two wins for Benny and Deano.’’

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New Hurdle for Hawks

The Wollongong Hawks have signed former University of Miami guard Lance Hurdle to a one-year contract for the 2012-13 NBL season. The 25-year-old will fill a backcourt spot left vacant by Mat Campbell’s retirement. Picture: GETTY IMAGESThe Wollongong Hawks have come across a hurdle in the search for a new import – literally.
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American guard Lance Hurdle has signed a one-year contract with the Hawks for the 2012-13 NBL season and is due to arrive in town on Sunday.

The 25-year-old guard is expected to fill the void in the starting line-up after former captain Mat Campbell retired at the end of last season.

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‘‘We’re excited to have Lance arrive in Wollongong shortly and join our team this season,’’ Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod said.

‘‘He’s a player that we see positive upside in and a player that can develop his game here in Australia,’’ McLeod said.

Standing 188cm, Hurdle completed his college career with the University of Miami in 2009 and has spent the past three seasons playing for the Springfield Armour in the NBA Development League.

His best position is shooting guard but McLeod believes he is also capable of switching to point guard.

Hurdle has a reputation as a scorer and his signing gives the Hawks another good three-point marksman.

‘‘We think this is a real good opportunity here with the Hawks for Hurdle and his playing style,’’ McLeod said.

‘‘Once Lance gets settled in with the team and our structures, we think his skill set and style of play will really complement our current group.

‘‘He can get up and down the court pretty quick, he’s athletic, a quality shooter and our fans will enjoy watching him compete every night.’’

Hurdle is eager to get started with his new club.

‘‘I’m excited about the chance to come out and play for coach McLeod and the Wollongong Hawks,’’ he said.

‘‘I think this is a great program to be a part of and will be a good fit for my style of play.

‘‘This will be my first professional experience outside of the US and from what I’ve heard so far of Wollongong, the fans get behind the team and it’s going to be a great place to be.

‘‘I’m really looking forward to flying out soon, meeting all the guys on the team and putting the hard work in on the court.’’

The Hawks are close to adding a second American guard, and also on the verge of finalising the playing roster with the imminent signing of an Australian forward. Wollongong take on the Sydney Kings in a trial at Gosford tomorrow night.

LANCE HURDLE

Born: 15/4/87

Birthplace: San Diego, California

Ht: 188cm

Wt: 88kg

Career college stats: 7.6 points per game, 2.6 assists, 1.8 rebounds

NBA D-League 2011-12 stats: 13.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 35% 3-pt

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Warrigal Care’s audit shock

Catherine Davitt (left) with her mother Doris Lee, 88, and Warrigal Care’s chief executive Mark Sewell. Picture: GREG TOTMANA Warilla aged-care home has been hit with sanctions after authorities found serious problems, including the failure to keep the high-care facility clean and safe.
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The findings against Warrigal Care’s 102-resident Warilla home came during a bad fortnight for the aged-care provider, after Wollongong City Council last week snubbed its proposed seniors’ living project in Corrimal Street.

The sanctions at Warilla are the first against Warrigal Care, and chief executive officer Mark Sewell said it had acted immediately in response.

‘‘We are really disappointed and shocked that the auditors found those things and came to that conclusion,’’ he said.

‘‘Regardless of whether we agree with what they’ve found or not, we’re immediately acting upon everything they recommend.’’

Warrigal Care Warilla will not be able to accept new residents for six months after a routine inspection by the national accreditation body triggered a full audit, in turn leading to the sanctions.

A report to the Department of Health and Ageing identified concerns, including that residents’ challenging behaviours were not being managed appropriately and that privacy and dignity were not being recognised and respected.

Some residents were also not able to exercise choice and control over their lifestyle, and Warrigal Care had failed to maintain a clean environment, including keeping the premises and equipment safe.

Sanctions included the threat to revoke the home’s ‘‘approved provider status’’ unless it appointed an approved clinical adviser and an administrator for six months, which had now been done.

Mr Sewell said Warrigal Care Warilla had passed accreditation last year, as well as inspections as recently as February.

He said maintenance of the 30-year-old building was a main concern, and Warrigal Care had brought forward renovations.

He also confirmed the manager’s position had been vacant for about six months but a new manager had now been hired.

‘‘We believe that the appointed advisers will realise that it is not nearly as bad as originally feared and that Warrigal Care is entirely competent and resourced well to resolve all the matters pretty quickly,’’ he said.

Catherine Davitt, whose mum has lived at the home for six years, said she had never encountered any problems.

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