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TOPICS: Mumford & Sons give it up for Dungog heroes

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Although hardly a classic situation, recent events at Newcastle City Council remind us of a certain novel.
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Mumford & Sons have a soft spot for flood-hit Dungog, having played there in 2012. Local heroes of the town’s April floods have the opportunity to attend the band’s concert at The Domain on November 14 for free. Picture: Peter Stoop

BRITISH band Mumford & Sons have a special connection with Dungog.

The folk-rockers played there before a crowd of 10,000 people in 2012.

They didn’t forget the connection they made with the town that day.

The band has joined with Telstra to offer 400 free double passes to members of the Dungog community to attend a gig in The Domain on November 14.

The giveaway includes bus transfers from Dungog.

It’s all about recognising people who helped rebuild Dungog, following the April flood which devastated the town and took the lives of three people.

So get in there and nominate a local hero.

All you have to do is explain in 50 words or less why your nominee has shown ‘‘great community spirit’’.

Telstra area general manager Chris Cusack encouraged locals to get involved.

“We are honoured to be able to work with the band to reward some of the heroes who helped others in their time of need,’’ Mr Cusack said.

Entries can be made at telstra杭州龙凤论坛m/music.

A disgusting tale spawned from McDonald’s has been recalled.

TOPICS brought you the story yesterday about maggots found inside a bagged roast chicken bought from Waratah Coles.

This brought back a few memories for Derek Dowding, of Wallsend.

‘‘I had a similar encounter with a McOz burger from a local McDonald’s outlet in 1999,’’ Derek told Topics.

‘‘When the store manager failed to apologise for the wriggling maggot in my meal, I pursued it with head office and the health inspector.’’

Macky Dees sent him a letter, saying it did a ‘‘thorough investigation of your complaint’’.

The letter said Maccas referred the case to the University of NSW Department of Entomology for investigation.

The department ‘‘spent considerable time analysing the burger’’, the letter said.

‘‘They have been unable to identify anything that resembles insect origin.’’ Feeling a tad sceptical, Derek went back to the restaurant and confronted the manager.

‘‘He confessed the maggot was squashed and the burger was thrown in the bin,’’ Derek said.

‘‘The health inspector reported back saying he found a box of rotting tomatoes in the store and that was probably the source of my complaint.’’

Maccas said it was an isolated incident and posted Derek two vouchers for replacement McOz burgers. He didn’t take up the offer.

However, he did write a song called ‘‘The McMaggot’’, which included the line ‘‘would you like flies with that’’.

THIS brings us to Newcastle City Council. We were thinking about the Labor-Green axing of general manager Ken Gouldthorp.

We were also thinking about flies (there’s been a lot around lately, hence the maggots).

Then it hit us. This whole council business is a bit like Lord of the Flies.

You know the story – a group of children marooned on an island try to govern themselves with terrible results.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Lord of the Flies 1963​

Lord of the Flies 2013​Email [email protected]杭州龙凤论坛m.au, tweet him @Lakemacjourno, or call on 4973-7709.

Taylor Swift files counterclaim against radio DJ who allegedly groped her

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Taylor Swift has filed a counterclaim against a radio DJ she alleges groped her at a promotional event.
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Former radio DJ David Mueller filed a lawsuit against the singer last month, claiming he was fired from his job and banned from Swift’s concerts following her allegations that he groped her at a meet and greet in Denver, Colorado.

But now Swift has responded, filing a counterclaim which, according to People, alleges Mueller “lifted her skirt and groped her” during the fan event before her concert at the Pepsi Centre in June 2013.

People reports the countersuit details that Mueller admitted an assault occurred at the event, but he blamed his “superior” David Haskell, the program director at Denver’s country radio station, KYGO FM.

“Ms Swift knows exactly who committed the assault – it was Mueller – and she is not confused in the slightest about whether her long-term business acquaintance, Mr Haskell, was the culprit,” the countersuit states.

The countersuit goes on to detail that Swift, 25, was “surprised, upset, offended, and alarmed” following the incident.

“Resolution of this counterclaim will demonstrate that Mueller alone was the perpetrator of the humiliating and wrongful conduct targeted against Ms Swift, and will serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”

Swift is seeking damages and costs, and has requested a jury trial.

The countersuit specifies any surplus damages or costs awarded to Swift following the suit will be donated to “charitable organisations dedicated to protecting women from similar acts of sexual assault and personal disregard”.

David Mueller filed a lawsuit against the Wildest Dreams singer in the US District Court in Denver on September 11.

The Denver Postreports Mueller was attending a meet and greet with his girlfriend as an employee of KYGO FM.

According to Mueller’s suit, Swift was talking to the pair before she “suddenly announced it was picture time” and “quickly put her right arm” around his girlfriend.

Mueller joined the pair for the photo “at the last second”, after which he says Swift thanked the couple and left.

Mueller alleges he later spoke to an unnamed co-worker who “described and demonstrated how he had put his arms around [Swift], hands on her bottom” when it was his turn to meet the singer.

Based on Swift’s countersuit, it seems likely this unnamed co-worker is Haskell.

Mueller lost his job at the station as a result of the incident.

According to People, he had previously been dismissed twice from radio host jobs at other stations and hadn’t been employed as an on-air personality since 2006.

After news of Mueller’s legal action broke, Swift’s representatives said they had provided “evidence” to the radio station of the assault when it occurred, although the decision to fire Mueller came from his employer.

“The radio station was given evidence immediately after the incident,” her representatives told People in a statement. “They made their independent decision.”

OPINION: Safety is paramount to moving China

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THE n Bureau of Statistics says more than half a million trucks use n roads every day. They are moving goods and commodities; from livestock and grains, vegetables and milk, to online shopping and imported cars – all are essential to the way we live.
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The tyranny of distance is something that has come to define in many ways. Our geographical separation from the rest of the world, let alone ourselves, gives us our unique n culture.

It is the thousands of kilometres of road separating n cities that has given birth to a strong and vibrant trucking industry.

The Hunter Region is home to a large number of nationally recognised companies that are at the heart of the trucking and logistics industry.

With all the time we spend on the road, as an industry we have had to develop a rigorous approach to safety. In the past few weeks in our region we were reminded about the tragic effects of road accidents that involve cars and trucks.

About 21 years ago the local transport industry decided to do something about road transport safety and we held our first event at Civic Park with the objective of improving safety through education and awareness.

To do this we used our close working connections with our emergency services and it was this relationship that began a tradition that will celebrate the 22nd Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Day on Sunday, November 1.

Our overall objective has not changed. We remain committed to improving road safety, but our focus has moved slightly. One accident involving a truck and car is one too many. With more and more motor vehicles on our roads we must work harder to educate people about how we can better share roads.

Each year on the first Sunday of November, the trucking industry comes together with emergency services and our wider business community in Newcastle to celebrate what we do, with a strong message of safety and awareness that is aimed at the whole community.

On Sunday, a parade of more than 50 big rigs will roll in from Sandgate to Newcastle Foreshore where a community family fun day will promote the role of the trucking industry in the community and advocate for safe road use for us all.

A big part of our day is to support the work of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. For almost 40 years the rescue helicopter has been servicing our region, and like so many people in the Hunter and beyond, the trucking industry understands the enormous value of its work within the emergency healthcare chain.

The transport and logistics industry plays a role in the community that extends well beyond travelling along highways. Whether it’s providing storage or logistics to community and sporting events or sponsoring kids’ sport, we are proud of our contribution and proud to work with our community to keep people safe.

Education is the key to ensuring safe road use for everyone. Whether that is understanding the distance it takes for a loaded B-Double to stop or how to overtake with care.

Like you, truck drivers want to get home safely to their families.

Pete Black is the chairman of the Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Group

OPINION: Women reclaim the night

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Reclaim the Night rallies are held nationwide. Picture: Craig SillitoeTHIS evening hundreds of women will take to the streets to demand an end to sexual assault and violence against women.
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Reclaim the Night (RTN) is a yearly tradition for women that takes place all over the world, and Newcastle is no exception.

This protest was born in Germany in 1977 and the same year women’s rights activists in Britain organised RTN across 11 cities. By 1978 the event reached .

Reclaim the Night is, and always has been, a protest about ending sexual assault and violence against women.

The march is exclusively for people who identify as women and asserts that every woman has a right to live their lives free from violence, rape or fear.

Whether or not people wish to acknowledge it, violence and murder committed against women is chronic, brutal and devastating, and the statistics back this.

Almost every week one woman is murdered by a current or former partner, one in five women experiences sexual violence in their lifetime and one in three has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

Furthermore, intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to ill-health and premature death in women under 45, more so than any other risks, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, according to Our Watch.

The impact is so devastating that we feel the need to keep count: Destroy the Joint reports that 75 women have been violently killed this year and REAL for women has counted 34 Aboriginal women killed this year alone.

It’s a crisis and an injustice, and women deserve better. Women deserve to live their lives free of fear.

Rosy Batty has done much to put violence against women on the agenda in 2015, however, more needs to be done.

Ms Batty has given us a platform not just to raise awareness but to engage the community and work towards changing the culture of violence that exists in this country.

The need for these changes is reflected in the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey, which demonstrates some disturbing attitudes about violence against women by young people in : 40per cent of young people think rape results from men ‘‘not being able to control their urges’’, 60per cent think violence is caused by men being unable to control their anger and 25per cent think partner violence can be excused if they regret it.

These attitudes reflect a culture that condones violence against women and much more needs to happen, particularly with children and young people, to educate them around gender equality and human rights.

This is beyond simply respecting women; this is about creating a culture that does not abuse women and where men no longer feel entitled to abuse women.

Local issues of concern associated with this year’s RTN include the defunding of women’s and legal services by the federal and state governments and the absence of a Federal Circuit Court judge in Newcastle.

Hunter Domestic Violence services are very aware that incidents of domestic violence increase over summer, however, most services are at capacity already.

That scenario of support services at capacity, combined with a looming increased need for services, is a lethal combination that is terrifying.

Funding to women’s and legal services needs to be increased, not decreased, and comprehensive violence prevention strategies need to be implemented, as well as an overhaul of the legal system so that it supports women who are experiencing violence.

If these measures do not take effect, women will continue to be abused, assaulted, injured and murdered.

This is why we need initiatives like Reclaim the Night, so that we can continue to fight for justice and rights for women and to create a fairer society where women are free from harm and receive the services they so desperately need.

■ Reclaim the Night will be marked in Newcastle tonight with a march in Beaumont Street, Hamilton. Women and children are invited to march. Men are invited to attend activities before and after. Marchers will meet at 5.45pm in Gregson Park, Hamilton, for a 6pm march.

■ A Lake Macquarie march tonight has been organised jointly by Eastlakes and Westlakes Domestic Violence Committees, for Warners Bay foreshore. Meet at about 6pm near the rotunda for a march around 7pm.

Nicole Molyneux is a social science student, human rights activist and member of the Reclaim the Night Organising Collective 2015

MICHAEL McGOWAN: Guilty in his innocence

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Former n Prime Minister Tony Abbott gives The Margaret Thathcher Lecture at a banquet for The Margaret Thatcher Centre held at London’s Guildhall. Picture: Julian Andrews
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‘‘GOD save us always,’’ the novelist Graham Greene once wrote, ‘‘from the innocent and the good’’.

I wonder what Greene, a Catholic, would have made of the speech given by Tony Abbott in London this week.

While he seems intent on hanging grimly to what’s left of his parliamentary career, the former prime minister is apparently unhampered by his duties as member for Warringah, and found time to pop across to the old country to deliver the second Margaret Thatcher lecture.

You might say that Mr Abbott’s argument, that the ‘‘wholesome instinct’’ to love your neighbour as yourself has led Europe to make a ‘‘catastrophic error’’ in its response to the Syrian refugee crisis, fits neatly with Greene’s point.

The 1955 novel The Quiet American, from which I pulled the line, is set during the French war in Vietnam, and follows a cynical British journalist and an idealistic American CIA agent – two frenemies, to put it in contemporary terms.

The American – inexperienced and naive – is determined to make a difference in the conflict, but in the end his interventions only cause more harm.

In the context of ’s immigration policy, it is hard not to be reminded of the Left’s determined moral righteousness.

While decrying the government’s asylum seeker policy as fundamentally wrong, there seems to be no practical humane alternative to achieve what has become, rightly or wrongly, the electorate’s main concern; thatis, ‘‘stopping the boats’’.

Faced with an electorate more concerned with stopping brown people reaching our shores than a humane resettlement policy, the government has struck a sort of Faustian Pact in the interest of holding power, while the liquid-spined Labor Party follow along at its heels.

And there is no question that they have succeeded.

But, listening to Mr Abbott speak, I was struck, not for the first time, at the narrow lens through which he seems to view the world.

At the black-tie dinner, which cost £250 a head and, if you were wondering, featured Scottish lobster and Poached Hereford Tournedos on the menu, he lectured the crowd on how the continent’s compassion towards refugees risked ‘‘a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever’’.

Plenty has been written about the stunning obtuseness of those comments.

As if ’s policy of towing refugees back to Indonesia where – although they are reduced to a status as an essentially non-person – they aren’t shot, could or should be copy and pasted onto the literally millions fleeing civil war in Syria and the threat of Islamic State.

His comments seem to me to display a different kind of naivety. That of the blinkered ideologue.

I was living in England in 2009, and remember laughing out loud when I heard that the man I had always viewed as a sort of conservative conscience for the Liberal Party had become its leader.

He represented a sliver of modern life. The arch-conservative whose views, while not part of the fringe, still seemed antiquated.

The elevation of his sort of evangelical take on life seemed entirely out of step with what is generally a fairly moderate n public.

There was no way, I thought, that he could be acceptable to the average voter.

I turned out to be wrong.

But, now, unshackled from the chains of moderation that high office required, and with the (steadily decreasing) diplomatic heft that being a former n prime minister brings, Mr Abbott has decided to take his show on the road.

Still relatively young in political terms, he now gets to turn statesman, introducing the expanded version of his famous three-word slogans to a global stage.

There is another Greene line that springs to mind: ‘‘Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell,’’ he wrote, ‘‘wandering the world, meaning no harm’’.

EDITORIAL: The wrong question on councils

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THE answer, according to the NSW government, is to amalgamate more local councils around the state to create larger, more efficient entities and better economies of scale.
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If that’s the answer, then maybe the wrong question has been asked.

Local government has many faults, but it has some tremendous virtues. One of the greatest of these is that it is ‘‘local’’. Councils employ people who live within their local government boundaries. They spend money in their local areas, helping to stimulate local economies and supporting local businesses. They make decisions – as far as they are permitted – about local matters using local knowledge and experience.

Contrast this with state governments. Taking NSW as an example, the state government expends the greater part of its energies and resources looking after the state capital. Portfolio spending – both capital and recurrent – is heavily skewed to the capital.

Why, for instance, does the government spend hundreds of millions of dollars on cultural facilities in the capital, but steadfastly refuse to let any more than a trickle of funds leak into the regions? It is a cause for much frustration that Newcastle – the state’s second city – is left by the state to support its libraries, museums, art galleries and historical sites from council rates.

Too often, when the NSW government takes an interest in the Hunter Region, its decisions can appear ill-informed and unsuited to local circumstances.

No doubt some benefits can be obtained by amalgamating some local government areas.

However, many would argue that much greater benefits would accrue to ratepayers in regional NSW if only the current resourcing inequities could be effectively addressed.

Some day that will probably happen. Non-capital residents of NSW will eventually reach the point where they will refuse to tolerate the unfairness and put their demands for reform with such force that they can no longer be ignored.

Before then, however, the state government will keep pushing for council amalgamations. If the push becomes irresistible, ratepayers must insist that the resulting ‘‘super-councils’’ don’t replicate in smaller scale the negative aspects of centralised state rule.

Already many ratepayers within existing council boundaries – such as Beresfield in Newcastle and some parts of western Lake Macquarie – consider themselves victims of local government bureaucracies that can’t see far beyond the walls of their council chambers.

Any proposals for amalgamating councils in the Hunter must include safeguards to ensure the inevitable centralisation of administration does not exacerbate existing disadvantage, real or perceived, for those who don’t live close to the new centres of power.

Melissa Peacock’s inability to cope with mother’s dementia led to her death: inquest

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A Sydney medical receptionist who failed to take her sick, elderly mother to a doctor for more than two years, and then left her body in bed for months after she died, had been unable to cope with the woman’s descent into dementia, a coroner has found.
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The badly decomposing body of Noreen Peacock, 83, was found in October 2013 by real-estate agents conducting an inspection of the Kellyville home she had shared with the youngest of her three daughters, Melissa Peacock.

Six days later, police found Melissa at the Shangri La Hotel in central Sydney – one of a number of hotels in which she had been staying since her mother’s death.

They charged her with fraud and failing to report a death, the inquest into Mrs Peacock’s death heard.

“This was an extraordinarily sad case,” Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund said in handing down her findings on Thursday.

“Noreen Peacock died being cared for by the person who no doubt loved her the most, her youngest daughter.”

The inquest found that Melissa had lived with her mother since 1995 and cared for her since 2010 when Mrs Peacock was diagnosed with dementia.

The pair reportedly had a “very close and dependent relationship” but, from November 2010 until her death sometime in July or August 2013, Melissa failed to take her mother to a doctor or seek any other form of assistance.

The frail woman was left in the house for nine hours a day, six days a week, while Melissa undertook her job as a medical receptionist at Norwest Private Hospital.

Medical evidence suggested that Mrs Peacock had weighed as little as 37 kilograms at the time of her death, the inquest heard.

One doctor said he believed hypothermia was the most likely cause of death because she had been lying naked in bed during the coldest months of the year, probably without the heater on.

The doctors were unable to draw any conclusions from the discovery of fractured thyroid cartilage in Mrs Peacock’s neck.

While Ms Freund was unable to make a formal finding as to the cause of Mrs Peacock’s death, she found that the woman’s isolation from medical and other care had been a contributing factor.

“Responsibility for Mrs Peacock’s isolation must rest primarily with Melissa,” Ms Freund said.

“It was, in my view, totally unacceptable that Mrs Peacock was deprived of medical attention from November 2010.

“It is also unacceptable that Mrs Peacock was being left alone, locked in a two-storey house for up to nine hours a day, six days a week for many months while Melissa went to work.

“The risks involved in leaving an elderly person alone for this length of time are obvious.”

However, the coroner found that Melissa had most likely been suffering from serious, long-term depression and, more recently, alcoholism.

She also found that Mrs Peacock’s other two daughters, Jaslyne and Deborah, also bore some responsibility because they had failed to come up with a plan to assist with the care of their mother or “make further inquiries about how Melissa was coping”.

“They simply did not want to know,” Ms Freund said.

“At some point, Melissa became unable to cope with the responsibility of being the sole carer and provider of an elderly, frail mother who was suffering from the advanced stages of dementia.

“Melissa did not reach out for help. Her sisters did not extend assistance despite awareness of their mother’s deteriorating condition.

“This, in my view, further isolated Melissa from the outside world. Melissa was left to flounder and the consequences were extreme.”

‘Dehumanisation and stigmatisation’ of Rohingya Muslims based on Nazism: report

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A refugee bathes his child at the Kutupalong Camp in Teknaaf, Bangladesh. Photo: New York TimesWho are the Rohingya, and why are they being persecuted?Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi criticised for silence on Rohingya
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Bangkok: ​Nazi ideology and Islam-phobia are being used to stoke hatred of more than a million Rohingyas in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, according to the findings of an 18-month investigation.

The country’s military-backed government, state-level officials and Buddhist monks are orchestrating the mass annihilation of the Rohingya, say researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

Drawing on leaked government documents, researchers say they have uncovered evidence that the persecution of the stateless Rohingya – including corralling them into ghettos, sporadic massacres and restrictions on movements – amounts to a longer term strategy by Myanmar’s government to isolate, weaken and eliminate the group.

In a report titled Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar researchers from the university-based International State Crime Initiative concluded that “dehumanisation and stigmatisation” techniques being used against Rohingyas warrant comparison with Germany in the 1930s and Rwanda in the early 1990s.

Researchers said they found Nazi and SS paraphernalia such as t-shirts and helmets in official documents of the Arakan National Party, a Rahkine party.

Copies of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf are being sold on  Rakhine’s streets, they said.

The report quotes an editorial in an Arakan National Party magazine declaring in 2012 that “in order for a country’s survival …crimes against humanity or inhuman acts may be justifiably committed.”

“We will go down in history as cowards if we pass on these [Rohingya] issues to the next generation without getting it over and done with,” the editorial said.

Professor Penny Green, director of the initiative, said weakened and traumatised Rohingyas in camps and ghettos “endure the barest of lives and denial of basic human rights, with the ever-present fear of attack.”

Myanmar’s government officially refers to Rohingya as “Bengalis” from Bangladesh and claims they are mostly illegal immigrants in the country where 90 per cent of its 53 million people are Buddhists.

The report’s release comes ahead of landmark elections in Myanmar on November 8 that are seen as a test of progress in the country’s transition from half a century of often-brutal military rule to democracy.

Despite being described as Myanmar’s first free poll in 25 years, Muslims have been prevented from contesting and been the target of racial and religious abuse during campaigning by ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups like Ma Ba Tha, an acronym for the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have warned of an imminent humanitarian disaster as Rohingya families take to unsafe people-smuggler boats to escape Myanmar now that the monsoon season has ended in the Bay of Bengal.

While many reports have documented the decades-long persecution of Rohingya, the Queen Mary University report controversially finds they face the final stages of genocide, which it said was not always visible in Rakhine.

“It can be stopped but not without confronting the fact that it is, indeed, genocide,” Professor Green said.

The finding is backed by Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN’s special rapporteur of human rights in Myanmar between 2008 and 2014.

“At this point, the situation of the Rohingya cannot be understood without considering a possible genocide,” he said in comments released with the report.

“For decades, the Rohingya people in Myanmar have been victims of widespread government violations that, when considered hollistically, and analysed systematically, reveal a bleak conclusion: the Rohingya people are being gradually decimated,” Mr Quintana said.

“This dramatic conclusion has not been drawn powerfully or often enough,” he said.

The report said Rohingyas “have been subjected to a virulent and official nationwide policy and propaganda campaign which has incrementally removed them from the State’s sphere of responsibility.”

“The State’s persistent and intensified ‘othering’ of the Rohingya as outsiders, illegal Bengali immigrants and potential terrorists has given a green light to Rakhine nationalist and [Islamophobic] monks to orchestrate invidious campaigns of race and religious hatred reminiscent of these witnessed in Germany in the 1930s and Rwanda in the early 1990s,” it said.

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Malcolm Turnbull defends plan to build $1b icebreaker overseas

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An artist’s impression of ‘s new icebreaker. Photo: Supplied An artist’s impression of ‘s new Antarctic ship. Photo: Supplied
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the government’s decision to select a British-based operator and Dutch shipyard for ‘s $1 billion Antarctic icebreaker project.

The British Serco-owned n company, DMS Maritime, is close to sealing a deal with the government over the yet-to-be named icebreaker, to be commissioned in 2019.

It is being designed by Danish naval architects, Knud E. Hansen, and built by Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands, which claims broad experience with commercial and naval vessels.

The choice of the foreign build marks another loss of a major vessel to the n ship-building industry.

Mr Turnbull said the business of building icebreakers was clearly a northern hemisphere speciality.

“I don’t think it’s surprising that all the tenderers were involved with an overseas yard,” Mr Turnbull said.

The current icebreaker, the P&O owned Aurora Australis, was built at Newcastle in 1989.

The new design that was unveiled in Hobart on Thursday shows a ship almost twice the size of Aurora.  It is expected to be central to the n Antarctic program until mid-century.

The new 156-metre long, 23,800-tonne vessel will have increased cargo and marine science capability but is expected to carry around the same number of passengers.

Its crucial ice-breaking capacity will give it the power to steam through 1.65-metre ice, compared to Aurora’s 1.23 metres.

DMS Maritime was the sole tenderer for the project after P&O withdrew in January, saying the tender forced the contractor to unnecessarily pile up costs.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the final stages of the tender were being overseen by the Department of Finance and accountants KPMG.

“Both have verified that we are on track to a very successful result for ,” Mr Hunt said. “We’re driving a hard bargain.”

The $1 billion cost would include building the ship and its lifetime operation, he said.

A national naming competition is to be held for the vessel, and Mr Turnbull said that would be a chance to engage young people with n Antarctic history.

Aurora has been refitted to take it through to May 2017. No decision has been taken yet on filling the gap until the new icebreaker is ready in late 2019, a Senate estimates hearing was told.

Comment was sought from DMS Maritime.

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Malcolm Turnbull’s five mistakes about coal

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants a ‘clear-eyed, cool-headed, rational’ approach to coal. Photo: Andrew Meares Train of thought: what’s the future of coal? Photo: Glenn Hunt
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Brown-coal fired power plant in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley. Photo: Paul Jones

The young woman leading the energy revolution

This week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that when it came to coal, it was “important to take the ideology out – just approach it in a very clear-eyed, cool-headed, rational way”.

The PM’s comments were made in response to a call by 61 leading ns for an international halt to new coal mines and mine expansions.

The signatories included Nobel-winning scientist Peter Doherty and former Reserve Bank Governor Bernie Fraser, individuals who may not be unfamiliar with logic and rationality.

Mr Turnbull’s comments drew widespread applause from the mining industry, so it is likely that we’ll hear them echoed repeatedly between now and the Paris climate summit next month from both the PM and his colleagues.

Here are some of his comments and why the PM failed his own test:

Coal is a very important part…the largest single part of the global energy mix and likely to remain that way for a very long time. So that is not my forecast but the International Energy Agency’s forecast and many others.

​True, coal vies with oil as the largest share of the energy mix, at 29 per cent versus oil’s 31 per cent stake, according the IEA’s 2014 World Energy Outlook.

But the IEA, like Nostradamus, says many things about the future.

In its Energy and Climate Change report released in June, the agency proposes a peak in energy-related within five years in order to ensure global warming can be limited to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels (we are about half way).

“In the Bridge Scenario, coal use peaks before 2020 and then declines while oil demand rises to 2020 and then plateaus,” the agency says.

That prospect doesn’t point to the need for a lot of new coal mines. Opening up the giant Galilee coal province in Queensland could raise the amount of internationally traded coal by as much as 273 million tonnes if all 10 projects got developed, according to Tim Buckley, a former Citi analyst and now director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Not taking action to curb coal and other fossil fuels would leave the world on a course to 3.6 degrees of warming. Yes, that is also an IEA forecast, but to avoid that fate would require the entire world becoming “carbon neutral” – with emissions countered by storage – by 2040.

“Since emissions are not going to drop suddenly to zero once this point is reached, it is clear that the 2-degrees objective requires urgent action to steer the energy system on to a safer path,” the IEA said in its outlook report.

I don’t agree with the idea of a moratorium on exploiting coal…If stopped exporting coal, the countries to which we export it would simply buy it from somewhere else.

Actually, very few groups demand that every bit of the black rock has to be left in the ground. The call is for an end to new coal mines or the expansion of them – at home and abroad.

If, as the IEA calls for, coal use peaks with a few years, implying that the issue won’t just be a matter of buying the fuel from elsewhere.

But let’s entertain the prospect of an export halt by  – would that make a difference to prices?

Well, last year accounted for 186 million tonnes of the 310 million tonnes of internationally traded coking coal used in steel making – that’s 60 per cent, according the government’s own figures.

Even for thermal coal used in power stations – which is really the fuel substitution issue at stake – ‘s 201 million tonnes of coal exported in 2014 amounted to just under one-fifth of the globally traded commodity.

Mr Buckley says that as a major player in global coal markets, ‘s actions – even to cap exports – would have a big impact on markets.

“It’s just nonsensical from an economics point of view, what Turnbull was saying,” Mr Buckley said.

So if were to stop all of its coal exports … it would not reduce global emissions one iota. In fact, arguably it would increase them because our coal, by and large, is cleaner than the coal in many other countries.

Two problems here.

As above, ‘s actions to limit, cut or even ban exports – even taken alone – would likely lift the price of coal.

Alternative fuels almost always produce fewer emissions, especially if the source is renewable, such as solar, wind and hydro, all of which have virtually zero emissions once the plants are installed. The higher the price of coal, the more “iotas” of emissions reduction.

But how clean is n coal?

The Newcastle thermal benchmark is typically cleaner than Indian domestic coal. The energy content per tonne of the former is 6000 kilocalories per tonne, with a 12-14 ash content, Mr Buckley notes. By contrast, the Indian variety typically generates 4400 kcal with a 20-45 ash content.

However, the big Galilee coal province – which a focus of much of the opposition in to new coal mines – has a relatively poor quality.

According to details released to Mr Buckley by Adani, the proposed developer of the giant Carmichael mine earmarked to supply India, the average energy content will be 4950 kcal, with a 25-30 per cent ash content.

Once the coal has been dug up and carted hundreds of kilometres to the coast and shipped thousands more to India, the Carmichael coal will struggle to be cleaner than whatever it displaced.

People talk about different forms of energy and often, and some people talk about it in an ideological way, as though one type of coal is better or worse than wind which is better or worse than solar which is better or worse than nuclear power.

These are all things. They don’t have any moral characteristics. They are things. They have certain physical characteristics and financial characteristics.

One this point, Mr Turnbull is closer to the mark, although his comments do contradict his own Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg, who argued earlier this month  had a “strong moral case” to proceed with the $16 billion Carmichael mine.

Mr Frydenberg’s argument is that the coal would help ease the energy poverty of hundreds of millions of Indians by lowering the cost of electricity to a point where more of them could afford to join the grid for the first time.

If morality were the driver for such a worthwhile goal, then why not take a smaller profit to start with by lowering the coal price? Or perhaps donate our royalties to ensure more poor people could enjoy our coal (rather than slashing our aid budgets)?

But back to Mr Turnbull. Does every thing really have a value solely for its “physical and financial characteristics”?

Does it matter whether we exclude the cost of burning fossil fuels from its price, given the impact we know the greenhouse gas will have on global warming?

We know from Mr Turnbull’s turbulent time as Opposition Leader that he used to think a carbon price was a good thing. (The US government has made this stab at estimating the social cost of a tonne of CO2.)

Does it matter that those most likely to bear the brunt of the impacts of the more extreme weather we can count on from climate change are the very people whom we purport to be so concerned about when it comes to “energy poverty”?

Finally, what price, say, does a species made extinct by our actions have, or perhaps that is an “ideological” question.

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