Dapto man allegedly stabbed in stomach

A 20-year-old man was taken to Wollongong Hospital last night after allegedly being stabbed in the stomach at Dapto Railway Station.
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Ambulance officers were called to the man’s residence around 8pm and transported him to hospital.

The man had allegedly returned home after an altercation at the railway station, had showered, noticed a wound and then called triple zero, an ambulance spokesman said.

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United eye Waratah Cup spot

All lit up: United’s Nathan McGraw and Justin Petkovski in training.Picture: ANDY ZALEKIWollongong United president Peter Vrtkovski has hinted at his club’s desire to play in next year’s Waratah Cup thanks to a $150,000 upgrade of Macedonia Park.
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The Bert Bampton Cup winners only last week flicked the switch on a state-of-the-art lighting system which features 28-metre towers at just under 300 lux (the measurement for illuminance).

They will allow Wollongong United to host washed-out mid-week matches, finals and possible home fixtures in the Waratah Cup.

“The Waratah Cup might be an option for the club next year,” Vrtkovski said.

Wollongong United’s local rivals Dapto Dandaloo flew the flag for the Illawarra in this season’s Waratah Cup. The Fury reached the semi-finals of the statewide knockout competition before being bundled out by eventual champions Sutherland.

The new facility at Macedonia Park now easily fulfils minimum lighting requirements for Illawarra Premier League and NSW Premier League matches.

The project, which has been in planning for 12 months, was aided by a $50,000 grant from the NSW government. Wollongong United raised the remaining $100,000.

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MATCH REPORT: Dragons gunned down by Cowboys

Dragons winger Daniel Vidot scores during St George Illawarra’s 32-22 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium last night. Tries to Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen sealed the Dragons’ slim top-eight finals fate. Picture: GETTY IMAGESThe curtain is yet to be drawn on their season, but it appears the fall from grace is now complete.
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Last night, North Queensland delivered the knockout blow on St George Illawarra’s campaign with a 32-22 victory at WIN Stadium, erasing the need for any mathematical ifs or buts about the Dragons’ finals prospects

Premiers in 2010 and a major contender last season, St George Illawarra were ranked among the heavyweights in the preseason polls.

Full coverage of the Dragons

GALLERY: The game in pictures

But they failed to strike a consistent winning formula and will now miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The old firm of Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen eventually proved the difference in a physical and spiteful encounter, with both crossing for second half tries.

“It’s a vital win. A little bit scrappy but it’s good to get the result,” Cowboys coach Neil Henry said.

“We let them in for a couple of tries, which is a bit disappointing, but it’s a tough place to play.”

A big talking point of the match was an all-in brawl in the 54th minute. The incident erupted after James Tamou gave Matt Cooper a facial during a tackle. The Dragons were awarded a penalty, while Daniel Vidot and Ricky Thorby were sin-binned.

“There was an overreaction from the Dragons … I thought we handled that OK,” Henry said.

The win boosts the Cowboys to fifth overall on the NRL ladder, two points behind Manly but with a much better points differential (+130)

Despite the loss, Dragons coach Steve Price was finally given something to smile about. With the odds stacked against them, the Dragons were able to post one of their better performances of the year. Again, it was their failure to ask enough questions of the opposition defence which cost them.

“Too many errors at crucial times and too many penalties at crucial times – it was the story of our season,” Price said.

“We had a lot of opportunities to win the game and they were there to be beaten.”

The Cowboys were at their menacing best early on, with wrecking balls James Tamou and Matt Scott making easy yardage down the middle of the Dragons defence.

Three consecutive sets inside the Dragons’ 20 metre zone created ominous signs for the 9245 largely pro-St George Illawarra fans who turned out at WIN Stadium. Inevitably, it was winger Ashley Graham who pounced six minutes in, before another to Kayne Linnett eight minutes later.

By contrast, the Dragons were stale early on. When they weren’t copping a battering from the Cowboys attack, they were struggling to formulate their own.

But the red and whites mounted a comeback midway through the first half to reduce the Cowboys’ advantage to 18-16 at the break.

First, Ben Creagh burrowed his way through the defence in the 26th minute to get the Dragons on the board, before further tries to Mitch Rein and Vidot.

A crucial Creagh knock-on invited the Cowboys back into the contest, with Linnett crossing for his second the following play.

In the second stanza, the Cowboys stormed home from a 22-18 deficit.

Dragons prop Dan Hunt provided his side a solid foundation to work with following his try off the back of a Matthew Scott penalty for late contact on Jamie Soward. But Thurston and Bowen hit back to with individual tries to put the game beyond doubt.

Last night’s result means the battle for two remaining NRL playoff spots is essentially down to three, with Brisbane, Wests Tigers and Canberra locked on 26 points. Gold Coast and Newcastle are outsiders on 24 points, while the Dragons languish on 22 points.

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Bags of fun ahead at Southern Stars

Nareena Hills students Eliza Taylor and Amelia Eshman rehearse for Southern Stars at the Croome Road Sporting Complex yesterday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBEREverything was coming up roses for some of the youngest members of the Southern Stars cast yesterday, as they twirled their way through one of the final dance rehearsals for the annual student spectacular.
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Students from seven Illawarra primary schools took part in the last rehearsal for an item called Rose Garden, where 230 children build a spectacular garden to a mash-up of The Foundations’ song Build Me Up Buttercup and 1970s favourite I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

Southern Stars operations manager Sharon Buikstra said the dance was part of a segment about inspiring love and being happy with who you are.

“It’s very pretty,” she said.

“We’ve got some very cute little garden gnomes and little bees, as well as dancers dressed as white roses, buttercups, crimson roses and some maintenance workers doing some work in the garden, so there’s a place for everyone.”

She said the practice was one of the last before the whole Southern Stars cast – made up of 3000 Illawarra students – begins technical rehearsal week at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

“We’ve been rehearsing for six months now and we’re at the crazy end … and it’s coming together beautifully,” she said.

“From writing the show on paper with the creative team back in October, right through to where we are now, it’s exactly what we wanted.”

Southern Stars is on at the WIN Entertainment Centre on August 31 and September 1. Tickets are available through Ticketek.

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BlueScope Steel in ‘stronger position’

BlueScope Steel CEO Paul O’Malley.BlueScope Steel’s struggling Australian businesses had “turned the corner” despite the company’s second consecutive billion-dollar loss, chief executive officer Paul O’Malley said yesterday.
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The steelmaker confirmed a $1.04 billion net loss after tax for its financial year, a slight improvement on the previous year.

Shareholders will not receive a final dividend, however the company is confident in a stronger position in future, and expects underlying earnings to near a break-even point by year end.

Deal needed to halt steelworker strike

Last year, BlueScope slashed steel production in Australia, quit the export market and cut about 1000 jobs, most of them at Port Kembla.

Yesterday it said it had beaten debt reduction targets and completed the Australian restructure, while its Australian businesses were expected to become earnings positive in 2012-13.

Mr O’Malley said exiting the export business was “absolutely the right decision”.

“We set ourselves some very challenging targets to implement that restructure, restructure our business and position ourselves for growth, and we’ve effectively hit just about every single one of those targets,” he said.

“And I think we did it in a way that was very respectful to those employees that we had to displace.”

BlueScope’s billion-dollar loss included $288 million in redundancy and restructuring costs, made up partly of payouts from Port Kembla, while its underlying loss for the year was $238 million.

The company’s share price has rallied in the last week from historic lows after it announced a joint venture with Nippon Steel.

The deal is expected to net BlueScope about $540 million – enough to effectively balance out the company’s debt – in the first three months of next year.

In Australia, ongoing challenges included the strong dollar, energy costs and weak demand.

“We need to make sure that we find every possible opportunity we can to improve productivity,” Mr O’Malley said, adding that the company had completed “most of the significant restructures that we need to”.

Almost half of BlueScope’s anticipated $300 million 2012-13 capital expenditure would be spent in Australia, he said.

BlueScope’s shares closed yesterday at 39.5 cents.

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Deal needed to halt steelworker strike

Despite posting a $1.4 billion loss, BlueScope Steel boss Paul O’Malley is confident the company’s Australian businesses have turned the corner.Steelworkers from Port Kembla’s strongest union could walk off the job as early as this week if a deal can’t be reached with BlueScope Steel over a new enterprise agreement.
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In a strike ballot last week, almost 500 Australian Workers Union members voted in favour of protected industrial action ranging from short to indefinite stoppages.

However, the result does not mean that action is certain.

Port Kembla branch secretary Wayne Phillips said negotiations with the company yesterday were “more amicable” in the wake of the ballot.

BlueScope Steel in ‘stronger position’

“We’ve put some propositions to the company and we’re meeting them again … so hopefully we will come really close to resolving this,” he said.

Mr Phillips said BlueScope had already been notified of a planned 24-hour stoppage at the Springhill site tomorrow, which would follow a shorter protest by two other unions earlier this month.

The protected action could spread to the main steelworks as early as Friday, although Mr Phillips was hopeful that a deal would be struck.

“I’m pretty hopeful that they will come back with the right responses … and we can call off Wednesday and we can call off Friday,” he said.

“We don’t want to go into dispute but if we do, we’re going to go for broke. The ball’s in their court.”

BlueScope Steel yesterday confirmed a $1.04 billion loss for the last financial year.

Regarding the negotiations, BlueScope chief executive officer Paul O’Malley said there had been “very constructive engagement happening … behind closed doors”.

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Who’s to blame for Unanderra train station?

Brian Langlands with his disabled son, Richard Kramer, at the bottom of the stair access to Unanderra railway station. Picture: KIRK GILMOURThe renewed campaign for disabled access at Unanderra railway station has reached NSW Parliament, with a heated debate on who is to blame for decades of inaction.
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Unions and community groups joined disability organisations last week in a renewed push to have easy access lifts installed at the station, lifts that were promised by the Labor government in 2009 as part of an $11 million upgrade.

Unanderra out of step for 20 years

Presenting a notice of motion on the issue, Wollongong MP Noreen Hay argued that before the 2011 election, the Liberal candidate for Wollongong and several opposition frontbenchers “came in their droves and promised that if they were elected those lifts would be installed”.

Ms Hay said the reason the lifts were not installed before 2011 was because RailCorp had found “some kind of mechanical or electrical problems underground”.

“RailCorp then put up a notice … stating that it had come across problems, that the patience of the community was required and appreciated, and that once the issues were rectified the second part of the easy access upgrade would proceed.

“In the interim an election occurred,” Ms Hay said.

“I had lobbied, and indeed on occasion had to fight inside my own government, to achieve the $11.4 million budgeted.”

Ms Hay took aim at Kiama MP Gareth Ward, whom she labelled “the now member for everywhere and everything”, accusing him of taking money from Unanderra station for the $39 million allocated for a new station at Flinders in his electorate.

Mr Ward said “people shouldn’t blame us because something wasn’t done when they were in government and when they said it would”.

“I am elected to look after the people of Kiama. I am not elected to go around mopping up Noreen’s mess,” he said after the debate.

“Of course I am concerned where there is inequality and I have made representations to the Transport Minister because I believe Unanderra should be a priority … I am just sorry the job wasn’t done when Labor was in government.

“They failed with the Oak Flats station car park and we are fixing that, but there are lots of things I would like to see happen but we only have so much money. There is a $770 million transport access program and that will see funds allocated on the basis of need.”

Ms Hay lodged a petition carrying 10,000 signatures in May calling for the lifts to be installed.

She said she was looking forward to seeing the issue debated on September 20.

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Coal dust risk to Illawarra households: Merrin

Uncovered Illawarra coal trains pose a risk to the health of people living close to rail lines, Wollongong councillor Jill Merrin said yesterday.
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The Greens councillor wants to force train operators to cover their loads, echoing concerns of a campaign in Newcastle.

“There is growing community support in the Hunter … to require all coal trains to be covered,” Cr Merrin said.

“Residents of Wollongong are also being subject to the health risks of coal dust by the transport of open-topped coal trains through their neighbourhoods.

“We now know that the fine dust particles from coal have the potential to cause serious lung diseases.”

Cr Merrin said the Environment Protection Authority had been testing the air quality near railway lines in the Hunter and she called for the same process to happen here.

“People who live anywhere near a train line in Wollongong know about the constant black dust they have to wash off their houses,” Cr Merrin said. “That same dust is lining their lungs and the lungs of their children.”

She said different approaches to covering loads depended on how the coal was transported.

“Trucks which transport coal are currently required to have their loads covered, so we want to know why the same standards are not applied to coal trains,” Cr Merrin said.

“It is time the state government imposed the same pollution control standards for coal transport, whether it’s by road or rail.”

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Bishop blesses new buildings at St. Patrick’s Cessnock

St. Patrick’s Primary School Cessnock celebrated the official opening and blessing of its new Building the Education Revolution facilities on the last day of term two.
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The school received $2,149,955 to build a new multipurpose hall, library and classrooms and put on a special afternoon to mark the occasion, with readings, prayers and musical performances by the students.

The event was attended by Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Fr. William Wright, Cessnock Parish Priest Fr. Tony Potts, several Sisters of St. Joseph, past principals and staff of St. Patrick’s, representatives from the Catholic Schools Office, parents and community members.

Bishop Wright performed the blessing of the buildings and also declared the new facilities open in the absence of Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon.

Mr. Fitzgibbon was due to fly back from Canberra that morning but his flight was delayed due to poor weather. He was said to be very sorry that he could not make the ceremony at his former primary school.

Mr. Fitzgibbon said the new buildings will provide benefits to students for many years to come.

“The BER is a $16.2 billion investment in the nation’s future and is delivering modern facilities to more than 9500 schools in metro and regional communities across the country,” he said.

“It is the single biggest investment in Australian schools in our history.

“Projects like the multipurpose hall, library and classrooms at St Patrick’s Primary School are making a real difference by improving the learning environment for our children.

“This is an historic investment in the modernisation of our schools and we will continue to see the benefits of this program for many years to come.”

BLESSING: Bishop of Maitland, William Wright blesses the new building at St. Patrick’s School.

NEW FACILITIES: St. Patrick’s captains Charlie Willis and Mali Unahi with Bishop William Wright after the opening and blessing of the new building.

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Redland ready for Paralympics

FOUR Redland athletes are in London ready to compete at the Paralympic Games, which kick off early tomorrow morning (AEST) and run for two weeks.
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Wellington Point goalballer Meica Christensen, 23, who has a visual disability, will captain her side at the games.

The team is ranked eighth in the 10-team competition but Christensen said their preparation put them in a strong position to beat the top two teams, China and the US.Goalball is open to athletes with a vision impairment.

All players wear blacked out goggles and the aim is to roll a bell-filled ball into the opposition’s net.

The first match for the goalballers is against Japan on Friday, August 31, at 6pm AEST before a game against Canada on Sunday, September 2 at 7.15pm and against the US on Monday, September 3 at 3.30am AEST.

The team will also have a 9.30pm game against Sweden on Tuesday, September 4, before the quarter finals start at 6pm AEST on Wednesday, September 5.

Cleveland swimmer Daniel Fox, 21, will compete in the 100m backstroke, in which he is ranked No.3 in the world, the 100m breaststroke and his pet event, the 200m freestyle, in which he broke the world record in March.

He will take to the pool for the 100m backstroke on Friday, August 31 at 6.30pm with the finals the next morning.

He will be in the pool again on September 2 for the 200m freestyle heats at 6.30pm with the finals on September 3 between 8.30am and 11.30am.

The finals will be televised in Queensland on ABC One.

Target shooter Bradley Mark from Alexandra Hills and Wellington Point’s wheelchair rugby player Cameron Carr are also competing at the games.

Carr, 35, who was part of the team to win silver at the Beijing Games in 2008, was co-captain of the successful Steelers team that beat Japan five-nil in Sydney in May.

First up, the Steelers play bronze medallists Canada on Thursday, September 6, at 4am AEST (Wednesday, September 5 at 7pm in London).

That night, they play Sweden at 11pm and, on Friday, September 7, at 8.30pm AEST they play Belgium before the semi-finals start on Saturday, September 8.

It will be the first games for 55-year-old rifle shooter Mark who will compete in the 10m air rifle prone on Saturday, September 1, at 6pm with the finals at 9pm AEST.

He will also compete in the standing rifle category, which starts at 6pm on Sunday, September 2, with the finals that night.

Wellington Point goalballer Meica Christensen, 23, who has a visual disability, will captain her side at the games.

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