Deck the halls: Xmas just 123 sleeps away

Christmas decorations at David JonesChristmas comes but once a year, except in the land of retail, where it drags on for more than four months.
Nanjing Night Net

With 124 sleeps still to go, staff at Wollongong David Jones on Thursday rolled out the retailer’s 2012 selection of decorations and synthetic trees.

The department store’s Christmas section is positioned behind glass, so will bring the festive season to the passing foot traffic of Crown St Mall … for more than one-third of the year.

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

Illawarra lifters aiming for hefty records

CAPO Power Lifting Australia will host its 21st National Championships this weekend.
Nanjing Night Net

The event will be held at the Commercial Club in Albury featuring two days of the best male and female power lifters from around Australia.

It will consist of three lift competition of squat, bench and deadlift, plus a bench only competition.

Wollongong lifters, CAPO president Peter Weatherall ( CAPO President ), Lucie Thompson, George McLaren and Damien Garrety along with Rachel O’Gorman and Greg Deegan will compete at the elite level.

They will be aiming to break and set their own CAPO national records, as well as attempting to set new WPC world records.

All lifters at the nationals will be trying to achieve good overall totals to be considered for an Australian team heading to Argentina in December at the World Powerlifting Championships.

Lifting starts midday on Saturday and 10am Sunday.

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

DRAGONS BLOG: Hometown farewell for duo

I’m glad that I’d already accepted that the Dragons were not playing finals footy before Monday night’s loss.
Nanjing Night Net

It meant that, while I was unhappy that we lost, I wasn’t gutted because it signalled the end of our finals dream. I’d figured that already ended a week or two ago.

So I simply had to deal with the emotions arising from the game, not the entire season. And I was by and large happy with the effort. Sure they screwed up a few things but at least they looked like they knew what they were doing and were having a bit of a dig.

They should hopefully have even more of a dig tomorrow night, because it’s the final home game for retiring players Dean Young and Ben Hornby.

The former announced he was finishing up earlier this year while Hornby made his decision public earlier this week.

While there is no doubt Hornby is a great clubman – he’s a premiership-winning captain and has played the most games of any player for the Dragons – I’m glad he’s calling it quits at the end of this season. I’d been very concerned about the possibility of him going around for another season.

So emotions will no doubt be riding high – both on field and in the stands – when the Dragons play tomorrow night.

But the Dragons will need a bit more than emotion to beat the Warriors. Yes, the kiwi side is on a six-match losing streak – but they sacked their coach this week. When that happens, the team magically turns things around and win games (which must really irritate the sacked coach).

Also, there’s the fact that the Warriors are also out of the finals race, so they’ll be free from any pressure and likely to throw the ball around with abandon.

That’s a concern given that Warrior Feleti Mateo already leads the league in offloads with 53. With the result largely irrelevant, he could go offload-happy and cause some real problems for us.

The retirement of two club stalwarts in a match that otherwise has little meaning should give the Dragons the edge over the Warriors. But it actually won’t because we’ve had a few examples in recent weeks of what happens when the Dragons have something to play for (like a finals berth) – they lose.

It’s as though the pressure to win causes them to go into their shells and play conservatively. Instead, what they need to do tomorrow night is go out there and play as if the result doesn’t matter at all.

That way, the Dragons will win.

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

Wild wind warning for Illawarra

A severe weather warning is in place for the Illawarra and South Coast with wind gusts of up to 100kph expected throughout the day.
Nanjing Night Net

Late yesterday the Bureau of Meteorology issued a warning for damaging winds across much of southeast NSW.

A trough and associated cold front are moving over eastern NSW to the Tasman Sea this morning.

A vigorous westerly airstream remains in the wake of this system, assisted by a deep low near Tasmania.

Illawarra State Emergency Service crews are yet to receive any calls for assistance, however a group of volunteers from Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Nowra have travelled to Sydney to assist.

Call the SES on 132 500 for emergency help in floods and storms.

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

Children injured in head-on car crash

Emergency crews work to free a Fairy Meadow man trapped in his vehicle after a head-on collision. Picture: DAVE TEASETwo young children were seriously injured in a head-on collision at Fairy Meadow yesterday.
Nanjing Night Net

Ambulance paramedics, police, and Fire and Rescue NSW crews were called to the crash, at the North Dalton Park car park entrance on Pioneer Road, about 11.15am.

Police said two cars, a north-bound station wagon and south-bound sedan, had collided.

The station wagon driver, a 40-year-old Fairy Meadow man, was trapped inside his vehicle for more than an hour as emergency crews worked to free him from the wreckage.

He was released from the car after a delicate rescue operation led by firefighters.

A three-year-old girl and four-year-old boy who were travelling in the back seat of the man’s car, suffered serious injuries.

Acting Inspector Jason Hogan of Wollongong police said the boy suffered an enclosed head injury and was taken to hospital by helicopter with his sister.

‘‘They’ve been airlifted to Sydney Children’s Hospital to have their injuries assessed and undergo further medical assessment and treatment if that’s required,’’ he said.

As the Rescue 24 ambulance helicopter carrying the two children took off about 12.45pm, a second helicopter, Rescue 22, arrived to transport the driver, believed to be the children’s father.

He was stabilised before being taken to Liverpool Hospital with chest injuries and a broken leg and wrist.

Specialist crash investigators from Sydney and Lake Illawarra inspected the site yesterday afternoon to determine the cause of the crash.

‘‘They’ll try to estimate the speed of the vehicles, as well as the point of impact, and they do that through scientific examination and witness statements,’’ Insp Hogan said.

‘‘At this stage the police accident investigation unit are investigating the circumstances.’’

He said it appeared one vehicle crossed to the centre line.

Two people in the south-bound car were not seriously injured.

Last night the boy remained in a serious condition while his sister’s condition was listed as stable.

Anyone who witnessed the crash is urged to contact Wollongong police on 4226 7899.

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

Police appeal for information on sexual assault

Police are investigating the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in Gwynneville.
Nanjing Night Net

The girl came forward this week with information about the incident which occurred in early May.

She told police she was forced into a van while walking along Gipps Road, near the intersection of Eastern Street.

The girl said she was driven to a secluded location where she was sexually assaulted. The van was then driven to the vicinity of Robsons Road where she was allowed to get out.

The van was described as white with black writing on the side, no windows on the sides or rear, with tinted front windows and a sliding side door.

The driver was described as Caucasian with tanned skin, aged in his mid-30s, with a medium build, short dark cropped hair, and a small goatee. He was wearing an olive green T-shirt and dark denim jeans.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the online reporting page.

People should not report crime information via police Facebook or Twitter pages.

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

UOW students celebrate diversity

UOW student Chloe Williams, sporting a Vanuatuan flag on her face, celebrates Global Highway with Spanish senorita Ines Bilbao, Californian girl Lauren Cole and Jose Trillo of Spain.. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI Ross Knight represents the UOW’s indigenous Australian students and Cindy Guevara is in El Salvadorian dress. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Nanjing Night Net

There were plenty of places to pull over on the Global Highway at the University of Wollongong yesterday.

Students used ‘‘passports’’ created for the event to check in at the 24 stalls which represented the countries of origin of students living in university accommodation around Wollongong.

They competed in a range of games and activities, from Chinese calligraphy, Vanuatuan sand-drawing and Thai napkin-folding through to the Aussie tradition of thong-throwing.

National costumes, music and dancing created a colourful, festive atmosphere which thousands of students revelled in throughout the day.

International House student and Global Highway co-ordinator James Walsh said the event was held each year to celebrate the diversity of students in UOW accommodation.

‘‘There are more countries than ever represented this year which shows the growing diversity of students living in our residences, as well as the students’ enthusiasm in sharing their cultural identities,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a fun and informative day which gives all the university’s students the opportunity to connect with a wide variety of international students and their cultures. And it demonstrates how great this university is that it draws people from all over the world.’’

Spanish students Jose Trillo and Ines Bilbao were among the international students only too happy to don their national dress and teach some Spanish phrases to fellow students.

‘‘I chose Wollongong University because it was in Australia which was as far from Spain as I could get. I wanted to travel so far from home because I wanted to experience new things,’’ said Mr Trillo, an engineering student. ‘‘And it’s been an amazing experience.’’

African Students’ Association president Brenda Amoro, in Kenyan dress, said she had followed in her sister’s footsteps in coming to the university.

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

Keiraville school knocks back $50,000

Keiraville Public School principal David O’Connor. Picture: ADAM McLEANKeiraville Public School has been forced to reject $50,000 in government funds after withdrawing from the first round of the NSW government’s controversial education reforms.
Nanjing Night Net

The school was one of 15 in the Illawarra to be awarded money through a federal-state government partnership in May, which meant it was one of the first 229 NSW schools to adopt the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms.

The reforms give principals control over 70per cent of their school budgets and allow them to have more control over hiring and firing staff.

Keiraville was awarded $50,000 through the partnership, but due to a lack of support from teachers and parents, it withdrew from the program last term.

Principal David O’Connor declined to be interviewed but said in a statement he was keen to participate in the program but could do so only ‘‘with the majority support of the school community which included staff and parents’’.

‘‘While many in the school community were supportive of taking part, it was not possible to get the level of support required, and a decision was made to withdraw the school’s expression of interest,’’ he said.

‘‘The school may revisit making an application at a later time.’’

In March, Mr O’Connor said he was ‘‘philosophically’’ supportive of the reforms because it made sense ‘‘that the people who know the school and the students the best make those decisions about the direction of their learning’’.

NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Nicole Calnan said many teachers, including those at Keiraville, were concerned the reforms would lead to teaching jobs being cut and school budgets being reduced.

She said teachers had not been given enough detail about the reforms, so they had ‘‘no choice but to withdraw their support’’.

Keiraville P&C president Jacqueline Sedgewicke said parents supported the teachers’ decision.

‘‘We have a very open and supportive relationship between the P&C and the teachers and the P&C supports the teachers in the approach they took, as we always have done. Their focus has always been on the best outcomes for our children,’’ she said.

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

Council in a flap over widow’s flagpole

Enid Robinson from Mount Warrigal has been told to remove her flagpole or face fines of $1.1 million and $110,000 a day. Picture: GREG TOTMANShellharbour City Council has threatened to fine a Mount Warrigal widow more than $1 million if a flagpole in her backyard is not taken down.
Nanjing Night Net

Enid Robinson, 77 (pictured), moved into her home in May and had her late husband Eddie’s beloved flagpole erected this month in time for what would have been his 80th birthday.

The nine-metre flagpole, which flies the Australian flag, had been in place at her two previous homes in the Shellharbour area and Enid said there had never been a problem before.

VOTE: Should Enid be allowed to keep the flagpole in her backyard?

‘‘We moved into The Boulevarde, Oak Flats, in 2004,’’ she said. ‘‘My husband loved flags and as soon as we moved to Oak Flats he put the flagpole up.’’

After Eddie died in 2009, Enid moved to Albion Park Rail and so did the flagpole.

She moved to her existing home in Reddall Parade, Mount Warrigal, in May.

‘‘We put it up on August 5 ready for what would have been Eddie’s 80th birthday on August 31,’’ Enid said.

‘‘My son put it up on the Sunday and on the Tuesday morning my doorbell went and there were two council workers and they wanted to have a look at the flag.

‘‘They measured from the back fence and they claimed it is 2 metres away when it should be three metres from the fence.

‘‘They left me a note about flagpoles, which says the maximum height allowed for a flagpole is six metres, and said I would be receiving a letter.

‘‘The council workers said I had to pull it down because there had been a complaint and because it is too high.’’

Last week Enid received the letter saying council was proposing to make an order requiring the removal of the flagpole.

They also requested removal of one of two smaller flagpoles, installed by a previous owner, as each lot was permitted to have just one flagpole.

Those two poles had already been removed, Enid said.

The letter said Enid had until September 5 to respond as to why the order should not be given.

Failure to comply would incur a maximum penalty of $1.1million and a further daily penalty of $110,000, the letter said.

‘‘I tell you that it has really upset me so much to think my flagpole has caused all this trouble after all these years.

‘‘A million dollars, plus $110,000 a day … it is like I am in a dream. It is a nightmare. It really has upset me.’’

Enid said she asked what she could do to keep the flagpole and was told she could put in a development application.

‘‘So I went to the council on Friday after I received the letter and said I was thinking of making an application, but I was told because this doesn’t happen very often they hadn’t decided what type of application I was to go for.

‘‘Apparently it costs around $1000 and there was no guarantee it would be approved.’’

By Wednesday this week Enid still had not heard back from the council. However, following Mercury inquiries council officers were quickly in touch with Enid.

She said the officer apologised for the letter and for her not being referred to the correct department, but Enid said the issue of approval remained.

Enid said her husband had been ‘‘a flag person’’.

‘‘He loved the flag and this has a lot of sentimental value for me.

‘‘He only died three years ago on July 11 and I still miss him something terrible. It is just a blow.

‘‘We were married when I was 17 and he was 19, we were married 57 years.

‘‘Whatever happens I will put in a six-metre flagpole to keep the memory of my husband going.’’

A Shellharbour City Council spokeswoman said the council responded to a complaint and advised Enid of the development code restrictions that applied to flagpoles on urban properties.

‘‘Council officers will continue to assist Mrs Robinson to undertake the correct process and to ensure the pole complies with regulations,’’ she said.

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

Wharfies angered by asbestos discovery

Dock workers (back from left) Gareth Jones, Glen Heaton, Shane Burley, (front) Mark Westaway and Allan Cross worked with shipment of contaminated soil from Barangaroo for a week. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELLIllawarra wharfies responsible for handling the soil shipped from Barangaroo to Port Kembla say they feel betrayed after asbestos was found in the first shipment.
Nanjing Night Net

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) this week revoked developer Lend Lease’s permission to ship about 600,000 tonnes of soil to Port Kembla after a small amount of the deadly substance was spotted after it was unloaded.

But that was no comfort to angry dock workers who said they had been told the fill was clean and had spent almost a week handling the material without the proper protective clothing.

Unions yesterday imposed a ban on receiving any further shipments from Barangaroo or conducting any more work that involved handling the material until they were satisfied there were no health risks.

The Mercury spoke with stevedores who were angry at Lend Lease and worried about their own and their families’ safety.

‘‘We got told by them that … you don’t need to wear PPE [personal protective equipment] but on their side they were wearing PPE to send it down here,’’ stevedore Glen Heaton said.

‘‘It’s not just me that it’s going to affect. I’ve got relatives that come to my place, I’ve got kids that come to my place … and all the other boys that are going home to their kids.’’

Foreman Mark Westaway, 46, said he felt betrayed.

‘‘Seven days we’ve been working in the dust, coming out of the hopper, seven days before they decide to give us an induction on asbestos,’’ he said.

Maritime Union of Australia southern NSW branch secretary Garry Keane said workers were ‘‘absolutely filthy’’.

‘‘Even if [Lend Lease] had said ‘look, we’re pretty sure there’s no contamination but there’s a possibility so wear the protective gear’, I don’t think you would have had the level of animosity here today,’’ he said.

‘‘Instead they’ve said it’s safe, go to work, seven days after the event they’re now saying ‘go on forward to finish the job off, we’ll throw the proper protective gear into the equation’.’’

He emphasised that waterside workers were not upset with the Illawarra stevedoring company.

A Lend Lease spokesperson said that after a review of procedures it had agreed protective equipment should be worn by workers on the ship and on the wharf while the material was unloaded.

“Once again we would highlight we correctly followed the procedures that the EPA had approved, which include an unexpected finds procedure which has been implemented at Port Kembla,’’ he said.

‘‘The small quantum of fibro identified has been removed by a qualified hygienist in accordance with regulations. No airborne asbestos has been detected.”

Strong winds buffeted Port Kembla yesterday, including the area where the first 13,000 tonnes had been stockpiled.

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