Youth charged with Skys Law following police pursuit – Hunter Valley

A 17-year-old youth has been charged after a police pursuit in the Hunter Valley yesterday.

Police will be alleging in court that the young person was seen driving a PT Chrysler Cruiser through the Hunter Economic Zone, Pelaw Main, about 6.15pm (Wednesday 30 October 2019) at excessive speed.

Police attempted to stop the vehicle, however, the driver failed to comply, and a pursuit was initiated.

The vehicle continued onto Hospital Road, Kurri Kurri before tuning left onto a dirt track where it was met with dense bushland.

The vehicle quickly reversed and crashed into two police vehicles – causing minor damage – before it sped away.

The pursuit was terminated, and a description of the vehicle was broadcast via police radio.

The Cruiser was found soon after in Hebburn Road, Pelaw Main and officers called for the vehicle to be seized.

While waiting for a tow truck, the 17-year-old alleged driver returned to the scene with a support person and spoke with police.

He was arrested and taken to Cessnock Police Station where he was charged with Skys Law and drive manner dangerously.

He was granted conditional bail and will appear in Kurri Kurri Local Court on Tuesday 26 November 2019.

Govt rejects Senate Inquiry recommendations to improve transparency in operation of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)

The Australian Government has rejected key recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into the governance and operation of the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) aimed at improving transparency and avoiding conflicts of interest.

Greens Co-deputy leader and Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said the Morrison Government had rejected the evidence in favour of continuing with a politically motived waste of taxpayers’ money designed to funnel community resources into projects like Adani.

“The report out today shows Northern Australians have yet again been sold out by the Australian Government that is more interested in propping up the struggling Nationals than being transparent about investment in the north,” she said.

“The Senate Inquiry report found the NAIF’s assessment criteria are not transparent, assessment processes are inconsistent, and the CEO has too much power. Yet, the Government has rejected key recommendations for improving NAIF’s accountability.

“You can’t hand out billions in taxpayer dollars without the appropriate checks and balances, including reporting on any conflicts of interest for board members and making public suitable detail on successful projects and proponents.

“The Greens recommended acknowledging the climate crisis and Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement by prohibiting NAIF investment in infrastructure supporting the transport or burning of thermal coal or gas.

“The reality of the climate crisis has been rejected by the Government which receives substantial donations from the fossil fuel industry and then expects taxpayers to prop up their climate-wrecking projects, despite global warming and declining global coal outlooks.

“The Government’s support for handing over community funds will continue even when coal companies like Adani are exposed as poor corporate citizens and would fail a “suitable person test” for receiving investment.

“NAIF is operating in a secretive and underhanded way, it should be made more accountable and used to fund community infrastructure that supports regions and improves our environmental health,” Senator Waters said.

Enviro Minister signals plans to use EPBC Act Review to water down laws in favour of big miners and developers

The Environment Minister is in denial about the extinction crisis and plans to use the review of Australia’s environment laws to water them down in favour of big miners and developers, the Greens say.

“The current laws are not working to protect our animals or the environment. This Review should be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix them,” Greens Spokesperson for the Environment Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“However the signals from the Minister thus far indicate the government is more interested in making life easier for miners, developers and big business than saving our environment.

“It’s extremely concerning the Environment Minister doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation (EPBC) Act, or indeed her job.

“Like her predecessors, the Environment Minister has again failed to recognise her role is to protect our environment, not clear the path for coal, oil and gas.

“We’re in the middle of a climate and extinction crisis, the focus of this review should be on fixing the significant failures in our environment laws that are causing and exacerbating these crisis. The Terms of Reference don’t even mention climate despite the urgent need for our environment laws to look at the climate impacts of a project.”

Senator Hanson-Young said the inclusion of Dr Erica Smyth AC on the panel was deeply concerning given her ties to the oil and gas industry and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANTSO).

“We know the Minerals Council wants the ban on nuclear energy removed as a result of this review so it’s hard to be anything but cynical about the government’s appointment of an ANSTO executive,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“Minister Ley has been at pains today to send a signal to the Minerals Council that she has their back. She’s denied there’s even an extinction crisis and talked up making life easier for industry by streamlining approvals. Her denial is going to cost all of us dearly.

“The Greens will keep fighting for stronger environment laws and will keep pushing for a ‘climate trigger’ and for the maintenance of the ban on nuclear energy.

“A review of the EPBC Act won’t come around again for another decade after this; we simply do not have that much time to act to protect species and our special places, it’s now or never.”

Greens welcome Qld Labor’s step towards removing the toxic influence of big money in politics

Greens MP Michael Berkman and Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters have welcomed Queensland Labor’s announcement today that they will cap political donations and expenditure and increase public funding, but called on them to ban all corporate donations and cash-for-access meetings.

Greens MP Michael Berkman said:
“It’s great to see Labor adopting part of the Greens’ plan to get big money out of politics in Queensland, but I’m also calling on them to support my Bill to ban all corporate donations.

“Corporate donations make life harder for everyday Queenslanders because it lets banks, lobbyists and mining companies set the agenda.

“There are still big questions for Labor to answer, including whether they are leaving union affiliation fees unrestricted as in Victoria, and whether they are cracking down on ‘dark money’ donations from associated entities like Labor Holdings and LNP Nominees.

“Big money in politics was the first issue I raised in Parliament, starting with banning corporate donations. Just a month ago, I wrote to the Premier about my plan to introduce a Bill to cap donations and expenditure.

“Last week in Question Time I asked the Premier to scrap cash-for-access meetings, so I call on Labor to urgently confirm that they will be banned.”

Greens Co-deputy leader and Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said:
“Political donation data has consistently shown the major parties are owned by the mining, gambling, alcohol, property and banking industries. The caps brought in today will help reign in corporate interest and is a step towards restoring community confidence in democracy.

“However, Queensland must go further in removing the influence of big money and start restoring integrity into our parliament.

“The Greens call on premier Palaszczuk to go further and adopt Greens policy to stop all MPs from accepting lobbying jobs for five years after they retire and a ban on all corporate political donations including from mining, property development and gambling industries,” she said.

First Look at Western Sydney International Terminal

Australia has been given its first look at Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport with today’s release of the first design images.

The design is the next step in Western Sydney International taking shape, with major earthworks set to commence next year that will lead to the construction of runways, roads, rail and the terminal.

The innovative design of the country’s biggest aviation project in decades follows the appointment of the architects who will design the terminal precinct.

Successful architectural team Zaha Hadid Architects, and Australian architects, Cox Architecture won the honour to design the terminal precinct following a competitive process which generated more than 40 design entrants.

The winning design focuses on the customer journey while paying tribute to the Western Sydney region and natural landscape. It passed a range of value-for-money and technical reviews.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the designs showed the once-in-a-generation infrastructure project coming to life.

“This is set to be the largest gateway to Australia and these designs are another step to making it a reality,” the Prime Minister said.

“Designed alongside locals and built by local workers the airport will deliver massive economic benefits to the region.”

The appointment of the architectural design team and the first look at the terminal design is a major milestone in the delivery of the federally funded, $5.3 billion Western Sydney International.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said designing and constructing a terminal capable of catering for 10 million passengers annually was a significant challenge.

“To meet the challenge the terminal will be designed for modular expansion, to accommodate the long term capacity of up to 80 million passengers anticipated every year by the early 2060s,” Minister Cormann said.

To be considered for the design project, interested firms were required to have experience designing an airport of similar size and complexity to Western Sydney International in the past five years. The final decision on the winning design was made by a panel of some of Australia’s most renowned architects.

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney Marise Payne said the competitive process undertaken for the terminal precinct design led to the very best outcome for Western Sydney.

“The iconic final design ensures that air travel will be accessible for locals, as well as locking in new opportunities for people who want to work, shop and meet at the terminal precinct,” Senator Payne said.

The airport has committed to delivering 30 per cent of direct job opportunities to Western Sydney residents and is currently exceeding that target.

Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said Western Sydney would be the big winner as the airport continues to take shape.

“The construction phase alone will support 11,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Western Sydney region,” Minister Tudge said.

“Within the first five years of the airport opening it is expected to support 28,000 full time jobs for the people of Western Sydney.”

The design process encouraged the demonstration on how local university students would be included on the design team.

Member for Lindsay Melissa McIntosh said designing an airport and working through concepts with local students is important.

“I am pleased to see that Zaha Hadid Architects and Australian architects Cox Architecture will work with Western Sydney University students, local Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders to further refine and enhance the concepts to arrive at the final design,” Ms McIntosh said.

“This is the first step in preparing our local kids for the jobs of the future by playing such an integral role through the design of the Airport. We know that post construction over 28,000 jobs will be created and we want our kids to take those opportunities.”

PBS listings to save melanoma and multiple sclerosis patients to save up to $128,900 per year

Australians suffering from melanoma and multiple sclerosis will soon have new treatment options, with new and amended PBS listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) coming into effect on 1 November.

The Morrison Government will expand the current PBS listings of Tafinlar® (dabrafenib) and Mekinist® (trametinib) to include subsidy for post-surgery treatment for patients who have Stages IIIB, IIIC and IIID melanoma.

Over 260 patients per year are expected to benefit from this listing each year. Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $128,900 for each course of treatment for these medicines.

Stage III melanoma means that cancer cells have spread into skin, lymph vessels or lymph glands close to the melanoma but they haven’t spread to other parts of the body.

Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world – 11 times higher than the worldwide average; more than twice the rate than the UK or USA.

It is estimated 15,229 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2019, and approximately 400 will have Stage III resected BRAF mutation positive melanoma.

Additionally, paediatric patients being treated for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis will benefit from the extension of two medicines listings.

The current PBS listing of Gilenya® (fingolimod) will be amended to include a new strength of this medicine for treatment of patients weighing 40kg or less, including paediatric patients.

Up to 17 patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis are expected to benefit from this listing each year. Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $28,800 for a course of treatment.

The PBS listing of Tysabri® (natalizumab) will be extended to remove the age restrictions for this medicine, to subsidise use in paediatric patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $17,500 each year and it is expected that an additional 10 patients per year will have access to this medicine.

These PBS listings were recommended by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

Through the PBS patients will pay a maximum of $40.30 per script, with concessional people paying just $6.50 per script for these medicines.

Since 2013, the Morrison Government has made more than 2,200 new or amended medicines listings on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings per month – or one each day – at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.

Unlike Labor, we are listing all medicines recommended by the medical experts on the PBAC. In 2011, Labor stopped listing medicines on the PBS because they could not manage the economy.

Our commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

We are able to provide unprecedented levels of support to health and medical research because of our strong economic management.

About Tafinlar® and Mekinist®

  • Tafinlar® and Mekinist® is the first treatment targeting the BRAF gene mutation to be reimbursed for patients with Stage IIIB-D melanoma following surgery.
  • Whilst survival rates for those with early stage disease are very high, without treatment nearly one in two people with Stage IIIB-D melanoma at diagnosis will experience a recurrence within one year of surgery.
  • Tafinlar® and Mekinist®, known as targeted therapies, work on different proteins involved in tumour cell growth that are active in patients with a melanoma carrying the BRAF gene mutation.
  • By targeting and blocking growth signals from these proteins, Tafinlar® and Mekinist® can slow down or stop cancer growth.

SYDNEY’S SOUTH ON THE MOVE WITH THE NEW M6

Connecting one of the missing links in Sydney’s motorway network is a step closer to delivering benefits to the residents and businesses of Sydney’s south and the Illawarra.

From tomorrow, companies vying to build the underground motorway from Arncliffe to Kogarah, now known as M6 Stage 1, can express their interest in a project expected to create 5,300 jobs throughout its life.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the M6 Stage 1 would make journeys easier and safer by avoiding roads such as President Avenue and The Grand Parade – and save motorists up to 15 minutes in traffic.

“Once complete, the new M6 will provide significant time travel savings for Sydney’s south and the Illawarra. More than 2,000 trucks a day will be removed from local streets and 23 sets of traffic lights bypassed,” Ms Berejiklian said.

The M6 Stage 1, previously known as the F6 Extension, includes four kilometre twin tunnels between the new M5 Motorway at Arncliffe and President Avenue at Kogarah.

Roads Minister Andrew Constance said the M6 Stage 1 would provide relief for  motorists around Kogarah and Brighton-le-Sands.

“That’s why we are pleased to be moving forward with this congestion-busting infrastructure which will help get commuters home with their families sooner and spend less time stuck in traffic,” Mr Constance said.

Travel-time savings during the morning peak (when used with other motorway connections) include:

  • Kogarah to ANZAC Bridge – up to 15 mins
  • Miranda to Macquarie Park – up to 15 mins
  • Kogarah to South Sydney – up to 13 mins
  • Taren Point to Mascot – up to 12 mins
  • Kogarah to Sydney CBD – up to 8 mins

It is expected that a contract will be awarded in December 2020, construction will begin by early 2022 and open to motorists by the end of 2025.

$6 MILLION FOR METALS EXPLORATION IN REGIONAL NSW

Explorers are being encouraged to search new areas of the state for both traditional and high-tech metal deposits thanks to $6 million in grants from the NSW Government to attract new investment into regional NSW.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Resources John Barilaro said the third funding round of the New Frontiers Cooperative Drilling program will reimburse successful applicants for up to 50 per cent of their per metre drilling costs up to a maximum of $200,000.

Speaking at the sixth annual International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne today, Mr Barilaro announced a $2 million funding boost, on top of $4 million allocated under two previous rounds of the program.

“We’ve already seen the benefits from previous rounds of this fund, with the first Cooperative Drilling hole in a project near Broken Hill striking high-grade platinum group metals and leading to a $5 million joint venture investment,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Our goal is to make NSW the number one state for new mineral exploration and resources investment across the nation, and we’re doing that by providing greater support for explorers and investors, and providing greater certainty for the mining sector.”

The NSW Government has just completed the largest-ever aerial electromagnetic (AEM) survey by area in NSW history, with researchers looking for clues for new copper, gold and zinc deposits, and groundwater, over more than 19,000 km2 in the Greater Cobar region.

“A vast array of metals are used worldwide to manufacture high-tech products such as smartphones, satellite components and pacemakers, as well as renewable energy technologies including wind turbines and the batteries in hybrid and electric cars,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Global demand for metals is growing strongly and we want to ensure that the people of NSW, especially the NSW Central West, have every chance to capitalise on that demand, with the exploration for new mineral deposits and groundwater sources generating jobs, attracting investment and bringing economic and social benefits to local communities.”

Data from the AEM survey will be available to the public in the first quarter of 2020, adding to a range of other detailed maps and geological information already available from the Resources and Geoscience website.

Mr Barilaro also launched the NSW Government’s new Online Minerals Prospectus, another key deliverable of the NSW Minerals Strategy.

“This dynamic online portal acts as a one-stop shop for explorers, project developers and mining investors, giving them the tools and guidance they need to tap into the minerals and business potential of NSW, especially regional NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Mineral exploration is a high-risk investment with long life cycles that can exceed 20 years, but NSW offers the conditions for success and the NSW Government strongly supports our minerals industry and the responsible development of our mineral resources into the future.”

“Mining makes a significant contribution to the NSW economy and provides a wide variety of benefits to communities across regional NSW, including employment, with the industry supporting more than 29,000 direct and 115,000 indirect jobs.”

For more information on the Cooperative Drilling Program visit www.resourcesandgeoscience.nsw.gov.au/cooperative-drilling

View the Online Minerals Prospectus at www.resourcesandgeoscience.nsw.gov.au/investors/online-prospectus

Corrective services officer charged over alleged relationship with parolee – Maitland

A Corrective Services NSW officer has been charged over an alleged intimate relationship with a parolee in the state’s Hunter region.

Earlier this month, detectives from the Corrective Services Investigation Unit commenced an investigation following reports a community corrections officer and a parolee had been in an intimate relationship.

Following inquiries, detectives arrested a 30-year-old woman at Maitland Police Station about 10am today (Monday 28 October 2019).

She was charged with engage in sexual conduct etc compromise sentence/order.

Police will allege in court that the woman, who is a community corrections officer, was involved in a romantic relationship with a 29-year old male parolee.

The woman was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Maitland Local Court on Wednesday 11 December 2019.

She has been suspended by Corrective Services NSW.

Two charged over alleged sexual touching of teenage girl – Nelson Bay

Two men have been charged over the alleged sexual touching of a teenage girl at Nelson Bay earlier this year.

In May 2019, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad commenced an investigation following reports a 14-year-old girl had been sexually touched by two men who were not known to her.

As part of their inquiries, a 31-year-old man was arrested at Port Macquarie on Tuesday 17 September 2019.

He was charged with three counts of intentionally sexually touch child between 10 and 16 years.

The man was refused bail and appeared at Port Macquarie Local Court on Wednesday 18 September 2019, where he was granted strict conditional bail to re-appear at the same court on Thursday 21 November 2019.

Following further investigations, a 36-year-old man was arrested by officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District about 3pm yesterday (Monday 28 October 2019).

He was charged with three counts of intentionally sexually touch child between 10 and 16 years.

Police will allege in court that the men sexually touched the girl at a public toilet near Victoria Parade, Nelson Bay, in February 2019.

The Salt Ash man was refused bail to appear at Maitland Local Court today (Tuesday 29 October 2019).