Barangaroo deal not a mistake: EPA

Soil shipped to Port Kembla that was contaminated with asbestos must be kept wet, and the air monitored. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELLThe NSW Environment Protection Authority has defended its handling of soil shipments from Barangaroo to Port Kembla after asbestos was found when the first ship arrived.
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EPA chairman Barry Buffier yesterday said it had not been a mistake to grant developer Lend Lease a resource recovery exemption to ship the soil to Port Kembla to use for land reclamation.

His comments came as the construction union accused Lend Lease of playing with workers’ lives.

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The bulk carrier CSL Pacific is still docked at Port Kembla and no further shipments will be allowed after 25 pieces of bonded asbestos were spotted as the first 15,000-tonne shipment was unloaded.

The discovery confirmed fears that contaminated soil would be shipped despite ‘‘stringent’’ tests.

The EPA quickly revoked the resource recovery exemption and ordered the soil to be kept wet and the air to be monitored.

‘‘I don’t believe it was a mistake to issue the exemption, but I am disappointed that some of the material has got through and that’s why we’ve stopped it,’’ Mr Buffier said yesterday.

‘‘These things are always based on judgment … but we did have in place a contingency if asbestos was found at Port Kembla, and we are now managing what’s there in a way that it won’t pose harm to the environment.

‘‘The simple fact of the matter is that taking the material from Barangaroo to Port Kembla is of benefit to Barangaroo and it’s also of benefit to Port Kembla in terms of the outer harbour development.’’

Mr Buffier met Lend Lease management in Sydney yesterday to discuss the way forward.

Shipments will only resume if the EPA is satisfied that a new licence should be issued.

Lend Lease said it had correctly followed the EPA-approved procedures.

‘‘We take the safety of our workers and subcontractors extremely seriously,’’ a spokesman said.

‘‘The screening measures that are in place at Barangaroo South are more stringent than is required under the resource recovery exemption, and the unexpected finds policy and procedures have all worked, and safely removed the identified fibro.’’

Screening measures included visual monitoring by qualified occupational hygienists and asbestos removal contractors. Air monitoring at the site and the ship indicated no airborne asbestos.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union state secretary Brian Parker said yesterday the find at Port Kembla suggested ‘‘major problems’’ with inspection processes at Barangaroo.

‘‘They should be treating it as contaminated soil, not as solid waste, and it should be dumped appropriately, where it’s put into a licensed pit, it’s buried in the ground where it’s not going to be resurfaced,’’ he said.

‘‘All they’re trying to do is save themselves a significant amount of money here.’’

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TAFE bosses ban talk by activist

West Wollongong TAFE fine arts students take their 18 Shades of Draper exhibition to the street after TAFE Illawarra Institute management banned media from attending. Picture: KIRK GILMOURIt has been nine years since Dave Burgess scrawled ‘‘No War’’ in crimson on the highest sail of the Sydney Opera House, but this week his plan to speak at the launch of an Illawarra TAFE art exhibition had institute officials seeing red.
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Burgess said he had been banned from addressing those attending yesterday’s official launch of 18 Shades of Draper, a show by a group of West Wollongong TAFE students. The media, too, were banned from attending by TAFE Illawarra Institute management.

Which is why, yesterday morning, most of the 18 artists involved moved their paintings to the pavement outside the West Wollongong campus for an impromptu media conference.

Save TAFE Illawarra spokeswoman and fine arts student Kate Morris, who has previously spoken to media about the effect of TAFE budget cuts on fine arts courses, said students were upset by management’s decisions.

‘‘We were given a brief by teachers to organise an exhibition, design invitations, generate press releases and invite a well-known artist to open the event – we did all that,’’ she said.

‘‘Then only this week I was pulled aside by the head of school and told that while Dave was allowed to come, he was banned from speaking at the launch. I was told that no media were allowed at the launch and that I was not to talk about TAFE cuts at the event.

‘‘It’s very disappointing after all the effort we’ve put in. We’ve worked so hard, despite the cutbacks, which have seen our technical assistance slashed, our life-model budget halved, and many other cuts to our services and supplies.’’

In a statement yesterday, TAFE Illawarra defended the decision to stop Burgess from speaking at the event.

‘‘A small group of students have used this opportunity to develop a media event for reasons other than recognising student work,’’ the statement said.

‘‘TAFE Illawarra was informed that the opening speech was to be used as a vehicle to discuss other issues rather than focusing on the students’ artworks.

‘‘TAFE Illawarra feels that this would not be appropriate and would overshadow all of the hard work put in by students who simply would like to showcase their works to family and friends.’’

Burgess said his activist days had started long before he scaled the country’s most famous icon on the eve of the Iraq invasion in 2003.

‘‘My activism in the mid-80s began in the face of TAFE cuts – but I’m not involved in the current proposed cuts to vocational training,’’ he said.

‘‘I really just wanted to encourage the students to keep going and celebrate their work and be aware of what’s happening around them.’’

The exhibition is at the Karoona Gallery at West Wollongong TAFE, where it will be on show until August 30.

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Pitbull savages family dog on Shellharbour beach

Jessica and Cathy Wagner with a photo of their Maltese terrier Teddy. Picture: GREG TOTMANA young woman collapsed screaming on the beach at Shellharbour this week as she watched her pet Maltese terrier savagely killed by another dog.
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Jessica Wagner, 21, was walking her family’s three dogs, including 12-year-old Teddy, on leads at Shellharbour South Beach on Tuesday evening.

She saw a family – a mother, father and a daughter aged about seven or eight – coming towards her from the area near the caravan park, with a dog on a lead.

The dog, which Ms Wagner said was a pitbull-type breed, started running towards her from about 50 metres away with the lead still attached.

‘‘It looked friendly and was sniffing around our dogs, but it took a turn and just grabbed Teddy,’’ she said.

‘‘It was horrible, I could hear Teddy squealing, it had his whole body in its mouth.

‘‘I was trying to get the dog off but it had such a lock on it.

‘‘The other family ran up, but the mum and dad stood back.

‘‘Their little girl tried to help, she was kicking at her dog to let go but her parents told her to ‘get away, get away’.

‘‘I threw the leads of my other two dogs to her but she ran away.

‘‘In the end their dog just ran off with our dog in its mouth like a rabbit. By then I was just on the ground distraught.

‘‘What do I do? Do I try and stop it or let him kill Teddy… he was beyond repair anyway.’’

Nearby, Shell Cove man Brett Rogers was in a car park preparing to go for a run when he heard screaming and ran to the scene.

‘‘I heard this commotion and saw these people running around and Jessica crouched over in tears,’’ Mr Rogers said.

‘‘I asked these people what had happened and they said ‘our dog attacked her dog’… the mother said the dog pulled the lead out of her hands.’’

The Good Samaritan asked the family to wait while he went looking for the Maltese terrier.

‘‘I found it dead on the sand and I went and told Jessica who was bawling her eyes out.

‘‘We turned around and the family had gone.’’

Ms Wagner said it was hard to understand that the people would just leave.

‘‘I am such a fair person, I can’t comprehend why they would just leave,’’ she said.

‘‘I remember the little girl was about seven or eight, we asked around but no-one knows who they were.

‘‘I am the biggest animal lover of all, but why would you have an aggressive dog like that especially with children?

‘‘These people just didn’t care.’’

Mr Rogers said he believed there was a problem with dogs in the vicinity of Shellharbour South Beach and he had seen a lot of dog fights in the area.

Ms Wagner’s mother Cathy said she had witnessed many dog owners in the area not taking responsibility.

‘‘My attitude is if you know your dog is going to be aggressive put it on the lead and avoid other dogs in the area,’’ she said.

She said there should be stronger controls for dangerous breeds and greater responsibility from owners.

The Wagners reported the incident to Lake Illawarra police and Shellharbour City Council.

A council spokeswoman said the council would work with police to investigate the incident and council rangers were patrolling the beach areas.

Any witnesses to the attack, or anyone who may know of the dog in question, are asked to contact Lake Illawarra Police on 4232 5599, Shellharbour council on 4221 6111 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Spread the rugby league dollars wide

What a week it’s been for rugby league news!
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Of all the things that have happened – a sacked coach, a rep coach appointed, a player retiring, some controversial judicial news – the biggest and most important was the new TV rights deal.

But now that the high-fiving and back-slapping is done, it’s time for the Australian Rugby League Commission to go public and explain how they’re going to distribute the money.

The $billion-plus figure has a nice ring to it, but what are they going to do with it?

They should be making a public statement or facing the media and announcing a fairly intricate breakdown of proposed spending.

I think the public who support rugby league and are involved in rugby league deserve as much.

There are 55,000 junior players in Australia.

What’s their financial breakdown?

I agree with everyone else that the players should be the first to be rewarded. If you’re the top person at your job, be it an athlete or an accountant, you deserve the top dollar.

So the big-name players should absolutely and deservedly get a pay rise as a result of all of this.

But we also have to look at the grassroots.

If I’m a junior player or administrator or parent or fan or whatever, I want to know exactly what is happening, where it’s happening and when it’s happening.

Getting over the billion-dollar mark is only half the job done. It’s now about how the commission implements that cash into all the different areas that need and want their slice of the pie.

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Wallabies under pressure ahead of Test

Only time will tell what head space the Wallabies are in for their must-win Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park tomorrow, but Quade Cooper’s bizarre media antics suggest the pressure on Australia to break rugby’s biggest hoodoo will only intensify before kick-off.
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The Wallabies are fighting to save their Rugby Championship ambitions and avoid a Bledisloe strike-out at a ground where they haven’t beaten the All Blacks in 26 years.

But as if that wasn’t more than enough to contend with, the Wallabies continued to cop it from all angles yesterday and even dished out a few curve balls of their own.

In a day of high drama, coach Robbie Deans admitted Kurtley Beale was battling confidence issues after dumping him from the starting team for Adam Ashley-Cooper amid a raft of changes.

Demoting such a star player for one bad game was a big and risky call.

Deans’ injury headaches continued with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau forced out of the starting XV and in doubt for the match, with Scott Higginbotham also under a cloud.

Of course the most prominent news was Cooper’s return to the fold for the first time since he fizzled out at the same venue in Auckland at last year’s World Cup.

But 13 seconds and 26 words in front of the cameras was all the wisdom the recalled five-eighth wanted to offer before walking away from his press conference at Leichhardt Oval.

‘‘All I want to say is I’m back. I’m fit, healthy, I’m ready to go. And I’ll see everybody at Eden Park,’’ said Cooper before turning his back on the media.

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Warriors out on their own without McClennan

The New Zealand Warriors’ players will attempt to fix what sacked coach Brian McClennan couldn’t when they go about ending a six-game losing streak tomorrow.
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McClennan paid the ultimate penalty for a series of well-below-par performances when Warriors officials announced on Tuesday that the club would be immediately parting ways with the 50-year-old.

Facing a seventh consecutive loss against St George Illawarra tomorrow, halfback Shaun Johnson said it was vital that players took control of the situation.

‘‘I feel really sorry for him, and I think if you put all the results aside he was genuine about his job and loved his footy and did try his best,’’ Johnson said.

‘‘On behalf of the boys we don’t like to see the coach take a rap for the missed tackles we make or our poor decisions.

‘‘But it is footy and it’s all performance-based stuff so, if we’re not delivering, I guess someone has to go.’’

It’s been a long 11 months since the Warriors qualified for last year’s grand final under former coach Ivan Cleary.

Considered a strong top-four prospect in 2012, the New Zealand outfit has dropped back to 13th on the NRL ladder with a forgettable record of eight wins and 14 losses – one spot behind the Dragons (9-14).

They will soon start talks with a number of coaching options, including caretaker Tony Iro and departed Parramatta coach Steve Kearney.

Hooker Nathan Friend has been ruled out of tomorrow’s clash after dislocating his right shoulder.

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Bombala one step closer to Grand Final!

PLAYING at home in the elimination final against the Milton Platypus, the Bombala Bluetongues played a great first 20 minutes, with the forwards having solid set plays and then going in pods for the next phase.
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The backs then got forward moving ball and were able to convert sustained pressure to a couple of tries.

The next quarter, the boys went to sleep and allowed the opposition to get some easy yards by turning the ball back inside rather than trying to spin it wide and try and run around the defence.

They were rewarded with three tries, and a good yell from some seasoned players about setting posts at rucks and mauls showed some great tackles being made, and another try for the Blues just on halftime saw it tied up at 17 all.

Travelling with only 15 players and gaining a few injuries, Milton called for decontested scrums, but with a few reserves loaded from the bench the Bluetongues ramped the tempo up.

This saw some fantastic rugby played and fullback Ben Mooney grab a hat-trick of tries. Thornie bagged a double and single tries went to Ray “Jobsy” Kading, Chris “Stan” Anderson and Hugh Platts.

Final whistle saw Bombala 48, Milton still 17.

No points awarded in the finals week, but Jackson Standen had a fantastic 80 minutes with some brilliant conversions from the sideline, but couldn’t get them right in front!

We are worried for Girvo who received an injury late in the game, but might see him back in the grand final against Broulee.

Also in Bombala on Saturday, Bateman’s Bay Boars played very poorly against a well drilled Broulee Dolphins, and they were not troubled by the red and black team running out easy winners 45-5.

This sees the Bluetongues travel down to take on the Boars at Bateman’s Bay this weekend at 3pm to see who goes onto the 2012 Grand Final.

A huge thank you has to go to all our helpers on the gate and working away in the canteen all day to make much needed money to get the team onto the paddock year after year.

Half back, Ben Mooney scored a hat trick of tries against Milton.

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Young vows to push through the pain

Veteran Dean Young will retire from the Dragons at the end of the season. Retiring Dragons veteran Dean Young has vowed to push through the pain barrier for his two remaining NRL games and see out retirement on his own terms.
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Young will start at lock for tomorrow’s clash against New Zealand – his last at WIN Stadium – and is confident he can recover in time for the round 26 finale against Parramatta the following week.

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The 28-year-old, who has been forced into early retirement because of a chronic knee injury, is eager to finish a stellar 207-game club career with two strong performances.

‘‘I had my knee drained on Sunday and it’s been pretty sore, but I’ll do my best to play and see how we go after that,’’ Young said.

Young was forced to sit out Monday night’s 32-22 loss to North Queensland, but the omission should allow him enough recovery for the run home.

Clashes against lowly Warriors and Parramatta are expected to fetch near-capacity crowds to farewell Young and teammate Ben Hornby, who called time on his career on Tuesday.

The Dragons were quietly buzzing yesterday over news the Parramatta clash had been moved to ANZ Stadium at Homebush.

‘‘The decision was out of our hands, being Parramatta’s home game, but the outcome is great for everyone involved,’’ Dragons chief executive Peter Doust said.

‘‘It now provides a lot more Dragons fans the opportunity to witness both Ben and Dean lead the club out one final time.

‘‘I am sure that Ben and Dean, as well as Luke [Burt] and Nathan [Hindmarsh], appreciate the gesture as all four men have been great ambassadors for the game.’’

Young was hopeful of a capacity crowd for his Wollongong send-off tomorrow afternoon – the same ground he debuted on back in 2003.

‘‘I think it would be nice to send us out with a big crowd,’’ Young said of the WIN Stadium farewell.

‘‘We’re both Wollongong boys and have grown up here. It’s our favourite ground and we love playing there.

‘‘It would be great to run out if it was full – that would be wonderful – even though the semis are out of reach.

‘‘I think the fans would have liked us to be in the finals, but you can’t fault the effort the team has put in this year. It’s just been our execution and a couple of other things that have let us down.’’

The two remaining games will take on extra significance for the rest of the Dragons’ players jostling for positions in next year’s side.

The club has refused to speculate on coach Steve Price’s captaincy options until Hornby sees out the season, and Young was indifferent when quizzed this week.

‘‘I’m sure that’s for the club to decide,’’ he said.

‘‘The coaching staff will look at that and make the right decision in due time. It’s all sort of happened and we thought Benny was playing on.

‘‘The staff and the senior players will get together and do a whole review of the season of what went right and what went wrong. I’m sure that will be in the discussions.’’

Tickets to the round 26 Dragons-Parramatta finale will go on sale from midday today.

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New Hawk feels at home

New Hawks signing Auryn MacMillan at training. Picture: DAVE TEASEA few friendly comments from strangers was all it took for new Wollongong Hawks signing Auryn MacMillan to feel like he had come to the right place.
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MacMillan officially joined the Hawks on a one-year deal yesterday, becoming the 10th player on the roster for the 2012-13 NBL season.

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The former Kilsyth junior’s signing came a day after Wollongong acquired American guard Lance Hurdle.

A 204-centimetre forward, MacMillan couldn’t wait to make his debut in Hawks colours in tonight’s pre-season trial against the Sydney Kings at Gosford.

‘‘I’m really looking forward to it,’’ he said.

‘‘It’ll be good to actually get and have a run against another NBL team. It’ll be a whole other step to play against an NBL squad.’’

MacMillan has been playing with the Kilsyth Cobras in the South East Australian Basketball League and is still in the process of moving to the Gong.

Venturing into town for a meal on Wednesday night, he was struck by how many curious well-wishers he met.

‘‘I went and got some dinner in a Hawks jersey and everyone’s pretty interested, even just people in the street,’’ the 25-year-old said.

‘‘I had several people talking to me already and it’s a real positive thing.

‘‘I really, really like the club. The whole community-ownership concept and the level of involvement the club has in the community … it’s fantastic.

‘‘The vibe I get from the club is great. The team, the coaching staff, everyone in the office. It’s a really close-knit family club.’’

MacMillan has had previous try-outs with Melbourne and Adelaide and is ecstatic to finally break into the NBL.

‘‘I guess I’ve kind of been on the brink for a little bit and it’s good to finally take that next step,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s certainly something I’ve aspired to be a part of. It’s the highest level in Australia and probably one of the better leagues in the world. To get that opportunity is fantastic.’’

The Hawks have 10 players under contract for next season and are very close to completing the roster with an American point guard. Hurdle is due to arrive in Australia on Sunday.

Meanwhile, forward Dave Gruber strained his lower back during Wednesday’s training session and won’t play in tonight’s clash with the Kings.

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Class sizes at risk of rising: teachers

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said classes sizes will remain at existing levels.A breakdown in negotiations between the NSW government and the teachers union has ended a staffing agreement that regulates class sizes and teacher numbers.
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Teachers today warned there was nothing stopping the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, from increasing class sizes on a whim.

However, Mr Piccoli said he was committed to maintaining existing class sizes as policy.

The director-general of the Education Department, Michele Bruniges, told teachers they had until 5.30pm yesterday to sign a new staffing agreement, with the current one due to expire within weeks.

The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maurie Mulheron, said he was not in a position to sign the agreement at such short notice without consulting his executive members.

One sticking point in the negotiations was the government’s refusal to guarantee the number of senior teaching positions.

Mr Mulheron said the staffing agreement would also have formalised class sizes, but these were now at the discretion of the minister.

“There is no way of regulating class sizes and the number of teachers we have,” he said. “These will all be determined unilaterally by the minister.”

Recent research has suggested a tenuous link between educational outcomes and class sizes, despite a long-held belief that smaller class sizes improve student results.

In a letter to staff, Dr Bruniges said four months of negotiations with the teachers federation over new staffing arrangements arising from the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms had failed.

“Unfortunately these negotiations have not resulted in an agreement and as such the department will implement the new staffing procedures from Day 1, Term 4, 2012 by way of policy,” she said.

“A key element of the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms is putting an end to the centrally determined one-size fits all staffing model.

“The minister and I have been very clear that the Local Schools, Local Decisions staffing reforms will maintain a statewide staffing system, which has greater opportunities for teachers to be selected at the local level to better meet student needs; maintain the department’s class size policies, and provide greater flexibility for schools to determine the mix of permanent and temporary staff to meet student needs and workforce planning requirements.”

Dr Bruniges said the department considered issues raised by the federation in negotiations, and where consistent with government policy they were included in a draft staffing agreement.

“The department has confirmed that the new Resource Allocation Model will fund schools to maintain their current staffing entitlements if they wish, including the notional executive and specialist teaching positions, assuming student enrolments do not change,” she said.

“The department also confirmed that in determining the number of deputy principals, assistant principals, head teachers and specialist teaching positions schools must meet Board of Studies curriculum requirements and school operational needs.”

Dr Bruniges said the staffing agreement offered to the federation maintained class sizes and incentive teacher transfers would remain.

“Once incentive transfers and Aboriginal employment applicants are placed, schools will be able to fill at least every second vacancy by local choice,” she said.

The Greens MP John Kaye said the real intent of school devolution had “now been exposed”.

“Classroom sizes and important administrative positions in schools have now been completely deregulated,” he said.

“Adrian Piccoli is about to destroy two decades of progress towards better education by making schools entirely cost driven without regards to the consequences for students.”

Mr Piccoli said class sizes would not increase, but be maintained at existing levels.

He said teachers still had the option of signing the agreement to make it legally binding.

“If it’s not an industrial agreement, it’s policy,” Mr Piccoli said.

“The federation can lock this in, making it legally enforceable until 2016 [if they sign the agreement]. The principals wanted the flexibility to determine their mix of staff and we’ve given that to them.

“This is the last thing the teachers federation wants and we are not going to give it to them.”

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