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‘Stressed’: residents still out of home a month after burst pipe

‘Stressed’: residents still out of home a month after burst pipe DISPLACED: Elermore Vale resident Nick Millward surveying the damage to his Taurus Street unit after it was devastated by a burst water main. Picture: Marina Neil
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IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

Hunter Water managing director Jim Bentley at the Elermore Vale flooding. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

IN A MESS: Elermore Vale townhouse complex devastated after water main rupture. Pictures: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookNewcastle Heraldthey had become increasingly anxious in the wake of the September 22 burst, which sent a torrent of water into multiple units on Taurus Street, trapping some residents and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Hunter Water offered all who needed it temporary accommodation at no cost to residents.

However, according to correspondence seen by theHerald, that accommodation is due to expire on November 4, with residents told they would need to find alternate living arrangements.Residents were also given an initial9-day window to attain quotations for furniture claims over the value of $500.

Rent gap assistance–the cost of the new accommodation minus their original rent–would still be offered to residents.

BLOW-OUT: This unit succumbed to the water pressure. Picture: Marina Neil

However, traumatised residents said they felt the utility was“putting us under even more stress than we’re already experiencing”.

They said the utility’s request for residents to find new accommodation by November 4 was unrealistic.

“How can they expect us to do that in such a short time?” resident Nick Millward said.

“Even if we were to find a rental by that date, a lotof us have no furniture and there’s very few places that rent on a short-term basis.”

Other residents saidthey were still traumatised by the early-morning emergency.

At least one resident has sought professional help and children have struggled.

“It was very traumatic for us, and it still is for a lot of us,” one resident said.“I don’t think they [Hunter Water] understand how traumatising it was. They just need to understand that a bit better. None of this was our fault.”

ROUGH SLEEP: Residents were awoken by water lapping at their windows. Picture: Marina Neil

AfterHeraldinquiries on Friday, Hunter Water said it would make sure no one was left homeless.

“In terms of temporary accommodation, we want to help get people into their own, long term homes as soon as possible,” a spokesman said.“In the meantime however, we’re not going to allow a situation where a person has nowhere to stay.

“Hunter Water remains committed to supporting each individual affected by the Elermore Vale break in getting them back on their feet and to life as normal.”

A two-week extension was granted to allow residents to finalise claims.

“While it may be difficult providing these details, the sooner it happens, the sooner we can finalise claims and make ground on getting life back to normal for these residents,” hesaid.

‘Innovative’ energy policy no lifeline for coal, expert says

8th June 2017AFR GENERIC, solar, solar panels, green energy,Photo: Glenn Hunt .The design of the Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee (NEG) is “innovative and elegant”, and could supply as large a share of renewable energy into the market as proposed by the Finkel Review, Bloomberg New Energy Finance says.
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While cautioning that the scheme to impose minimum reliability and emission reduction goals on the electricity market remains “in the early stage of development”, the plan could result in 42 per cent of power being sourced from renewable energy by 2030, the energy consultancy said.

“It solves a whole bunch of problems in one package … in an incredibly elegant way,” Kobad Bhavnagri, head of BNEF in Australia, told Fairfax Media.

“Those who think it is throwing a lifeline to coal are mistaken.”

BNEF’s comments come as the federal government gave the states and territories just one day to respond to the NEG modelling scenarios it has asked the Australian Energy Markets Commission to canvass.

The scenarios include testing impacts of a straight-line reduction of emissions from 2020 to 2030, and an “optimised non-linear” one that presumably allows for a ramping up for renewable energy towards the end of the period, according to the letter sent to state governments and seen by Fairfax Media.

Mr Bhagnagri said he was surprised the briefing notes given to the states on Tuesday had predicted only a 28-36 per cent share of renewables by 2030. Various groups have seized on this estimate to criticise the plan.

If there were losers in the scheme, it might be large-scale solar and wind energy projects, which might be limited to 4.8 gigawatts of new capacity from 2021-30 because rooftop solar could crowd them out, BNEF said.

Mr Bhavnagri weighed into the debate about whether the scheme would generate a price on emissions, saying “the scheme does implicitly create a carbon price”.

Tom Koutsantonis, South Australia’s Treasurer and Energy Minister, said the scheme was “a carbon price but does not bear its name”.

“There’s only one way to [meet the Paris climate goals] and that’s to restrict the emissions of carbon,” Mr Koutsantonis told a lunch in Sydney. “They’ve got a price signal in place to do that – that is a carbon price.” Model uncertainty

One notable aspect of the scenario modelling – sent to the states and territories for comment on Friday – was federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg’s request the Australian Energy Markets Commission should “assume a constant target post-2030” in its work.

“Does this mean that electricity emissions would flatline from 2030, or that demand for electricity would flatline?” Alan Pears, an energy expert with RMIT University asked.

“Does it mean that all scenarios should assume the same carbon budget to 2050?”

“The modelling should test whether the NEG can deliver on a 2-degree pathway,” Mr Bhavnagri said, referring to the upper limit of the Paris climate goal.

“This is a core sensitivity. For power sector policy to be credible and durable, it must have the capability of meeting that goal,” he said. “Many of the world’s largest corporations stress-test their portfolio’s for a 2-degree world. If BHP can do it for it’s shareholders, I think the Australian government should do it for the nation,”

Two ministers complained to Fairfax Media about the short time given to provide feedback.

“This is not a sign of a government that wants to genuinely engage on an important piece of work,” one of them said.

“[There’s] insufficient time for us to consider it properly and respond,” the minister said. “Very unimpressed.”

Dylan McConnell, a research fellow at Melbourne University, said the Energy Security Board was being asked to do a “monumental” amount of work within the three-week deadline set by Mr Frydenberg to provide results by November 13.

“It’s practically asking the Australian Energy Markets Commission to re-do the modelling in the Finkel Review,” Mr McConnell said, referring to the eight-month effort led by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

He noted that while Mr Frydenberg sought modelling of the impact of Snowy 2.0 – potentially a $4 billion project to increase pumped-storage in the Snowy Hydro scheme – to be included in the modelling, other measures were excluded from the minister’s request.

The government should also ask for modelling for the renewable energy targets of Victoria and Queensland, and South Australia’s energy plan, Mr McConnell said.

“Once again the Energy Minister [Mr Frydenberg] is dictating to the states even though, like everyone else, they are still waiting on the details for this plan,” Mark Butler, federal Labor’s climate spokesman, said.

“It’s not just Labor state premiers – the Hodgman government [in Tasmania] have said they are not convinced on Turnbull’s plan and need more details,” he said.

Fairfax Media sought comment from Mr Frydenberg.

with Cole Latimer

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First home buyers, do you know what grants you’re entitled to?

SPREADING THE WORD: Holly Newbigging from Hore and Davies gave a seminar last week with ANZ on the new scheme for builders and buyers. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly Despite Wagga being ranked in the top 20 postcodes in NSW for taking up first homeowner benefits, agents say the market hasn’t lifted as much as expected following the sweetening of the scheme on July 1.
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The new First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme giveseligible buyersexemptions on transfer duty on new and existing homes valued up to $650,000 and concessions on duty for new and existing homes valued between $650,000 and $800,000.

In the 2015/16 financial year 195 grants were paid for home buyers in Wagga totaling $1,640,609. Wagga remains 13thin the state for claiming thesegrants.

Shaun Lowry, director at Fitzpatricks Real Estate said while the market in general has picked up, the result was underwhelming.

“We thought it would have a bigger impact than it actually did,” he said.

However, hesaid there’s been a noticeable increase in out-of-town buyers.

“In the last 12 months, 60 per cent of our saleswere out 2650 area code,” he said.

“Abig part of that was investment and smaller part first home buyers from the city trying to get into the market.”

He believes soaring city prices have driven people to look to the country areas for their first home, which are now more visible than ever thanks to technology.

Holly Newbigging, licensed real estate agent from Hore and Davies said while they also thought the market would take off more, they have seen a significant boost to buyer activity on established homes as a result of the stamp duty saving.

“A lot of first home buyers cant afford $450,000 plusfor a brand new home so making that available on existing homes makes a huge difference,” she said.

She believes the scheme was likely pegged at the Sydney market where the median house price is currently $900,000 and near impossible to crack, compared to Wagga’s $340,000.

But, she said a lot of buyers and builders are ill informed about the benefits available to them now.

“I’dsay about 20 per cent of buyers aren’t aware there’sno stamp duty on established homes up to $650,000,” she said.

“It’s just about getting it out there more so they can start saving and know they’ve got help.”

She said within their agency, first home buyers tend to be local whereas good rental returns continue to drive a huge demand for investors coming in from Sydney.

Daily Advertiser, Wagga

Food, water, power to be cut at Manus Island centre as refugees forced to depart

Authorities are attempting to ward off a potentially violent crisis as the Manus Island detention centre closes, warning refugees their food, water and power will be cut on October 31.
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Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers under Australia’s care have refused to leave the centre, whose closure has loomed since the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled the men’s ongoing detention illegal.

Alternative accommodation has been offered in the nearby town of Lorengau, but refugees fear clashes with local Manusians, and have largely refused to move.

Notices written in Persian given to some asylum seekers on Thursday – and translated by Fairfax Media – declare all services including food, sanitation and water will cease after October 31.

“All PNG government and Australian personnel will leave the regional processing centre. This site will be used by the PNG defence force,” the notices state. “If you decide to stay, you should know services will be terminated.”

Certified refugees can go to one of two alternative locations in Lorengau, or transfer to Nauru, and await the outcome of their applications for resettlement in the United States.

Asylum seekers not assessed to be refugees have been told they can go to a location called Hillside Haus but should make arrangements to leave PNG and go home.

Advocates fear an outbreak of violence as the October 31 closure deadline approaches, given rising tensions between refugees and Manusians, and the Good Friday clash between refugees and PNG soldiers.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee and journalist on Manus, said he and other asylum seekers were “very worried about the future and extremely scared by this situation”.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was not available on Friday and a spokeswoman referred questions to authorities in PNG. Mr Dutton had earlier told Sky News more refugees would soon be accepted by the US.

Asked about the issue in Parliament on Monday, cabinet minister Michaelia Cash – who represents Mr Dutton in the Senate – affirmed the centre would close on October 31 and “anybody will be removed by lawful means”.

The Australian government’s contractors, including International Health and Medical Services, will leave the island on that date, although the Guardian reported late on Friday that IHMS would remain on the island under contract of the PNG government.

Earlier this week, the United Nations said it was “profoundly troubled” by the situation on Manus Island and the imminent Australian withdrawal.

Its refugee agency, which sent a mission to PNG last month, noted “a lack of proper planning for the closure of existing facilities, insufficient consultation with the [PNG] community and the absence of long-term solutions for those not included in the relocation arrangement to the US”.

Those factors “increased an already critical risk of instability and harm”, the agency said.

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A menage à multiples

ENCORE: Four cast members have reprised their roles as has the director for G and S Player Comedy Club’s farce Move Over Mrs Markham.THE title of the farcical comedy Move Over Mrs Markham is a punning reference to the situations innocent people find themselves in while those around them are trying to have illicit relationships.
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Not that Mrs Markham can fully blame other people for what happens to her, as this popular play by two masters of the form, Ray Cooney and John Chapman, reveals.

Move Over Mrs Markham is being staged as a dinner show by Newcastle G and S Players Comedy Club at St Mathew’s Anglican Church Hall, Georgetown, opening on October 27.

The show’s director, Steve McLauchlan, said the company staged the comedy five years ago, and audiences and the staging team so enjoyed it that the company decided to do it again.

Indeed, the liking of the show by four of the cast members has them playing the same roles and Steve McLauchlan is again directing, as well as playing a role.

Writers Cooney and Chapman made their names as actors in farcical comedies, so they knew how to make such a show work,and this has been a hit since it was first staged in London in 1969. The G and S actors will appropriately be wearing bright 1970-style evening garb in most of the show.

The cast members repeating their roles are Geoff McLauchlan and Natalie Burg as Philip and Joanna Markham, in whose apartment the action takes place.

Peter Eyre is Henry Lodge, Philip’s partner in a company publishing children’s books, and Suellen Hall is a writer of such books who comes to see Philip while all sorts of romantic skulduggery is happening, wanting the company to take over printing her books because she is unhappy with her current publisher as “there is too much sex around” in the books they issue.

The other characters, played by Sean Hixon, Selina Elliot, Ann-Maree Day, Hilary Oliver and Steve McLauchlan, are friends and associates of the husband and wife who use their absence at a publishing function to have liaisons in their apartment, with confusion increasingly growing.

Philip and Joanna respectively and privately gave a key to the apartment to a person, and their housemaid also has a key, so unexpected encounters increase. Philip at one point finds a romantic note on the floor and thinks it was given to his wife by a lover, helping to boost the pandemonium.

Move Over Mrs Markham has performances on Friday and Saturday from October 27 to November 11, with a three-course dinner at 7pm followed by the show, for an all-inclusive $40 cost, and a 2pm $20 show-only Sunday matinee on November 5. Bookings: 0432 886 149.