Geelong ‘high and dry’ in budget


“For all the money the Morrison government is splashing around … there is still not a single cent from the federal [budget] committed to funding the NACH,” the deputy opposition leader said.

On Wednesday, federal Victorian senator Sarah Henderson announced $105 million for stages two and three of the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds rail duplication.

The budget also includes $90.5 million for the Barwon Heads Road duplication and $6 million to improve the safety of other local roads.

The Geelong City Deal will result in the region receiving $69 million for projects including the Queenscliff Ferry Terminal Upgrade, the planned Geelong exhibition centre and Great Ocean Road infrastructure in the budget.

The budget also includes $1.25 million for stage one of the Geelong Anam Cara Hospice and $92,000 to upgrade lights at Portarlington Recreation Reserve.

“In the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic, the 2021-22 budget is the next stage of the Morrison Government’s economic recovery plan to build a stronger nation,” Senator Henderson said.

“Across our region, tens of millions of dollars will be unlocked this financial year for major infrastructure projects. This will not only create jobs but boost our regional economy.”

Regional alliance G21 welcomed funding for the Great Ocean Road but criticised a lack of tourism funding.

“The lack of a targeted JobKeeper-style program is a double whammy for the region’s visitor economy,” G21 chief executive Giulia Baggio said.

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Welcome to Gen V



By Luke Voogt An “Australia-first” infant study set to create 100 jobs and potentially attract 150,000 participants from across Victoria has begun at University Hospital Geelong. The Generation Victoria (GenV) project will become “one of the world’s largest-ever birth and parent cohort studies”, according to Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). The institute and Barwon Health this week announced they had begun inviting Victorian parents and their newborns to take part in the project. Barwon Health research director Peter Vuillermin described GenV as a once-in-a-generation study. “[It] will create an internationally-unique resource for understanding the genetic and environmental factors that give kids a healthy start to life,” Professor Vuillermin said. MCRI plans to scale up GenV in mid-2021 to partner with all Victorian birthing hospitals. The project will give Victoria’s research community access to a more complete picture of the health and wellbeing of a generation, according to the institute. The opt-in project will follow babies and their parents to help solve problems like asthma, food allergies, obesity and mental illness – mostly using data that is already routinely collected. GenV will create about 100 new jobs in clinical settings across the state over the life of the project, according to MCRI. GenV scientific director and paediatrician of 30 years, Melissa Wake, said the project aimed to create a healthier future for children and parents by 2035. “In addition, we are seeking to address the inequities that face so many children and families across Victoria,” Professor Wake said. “Over the next two years, around 150,000 children born in Victoria and their parents will have the opportunity to participate in the project. “Put simply, by signing up to be a part of the GenV generation, parents will help to create a healthier future for all children and their families.” The project follows the Barwon Infant Study of more than 1000 local babies and their families, which has been running out of Geelong since 2010. Details: genv.org.au

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Torquay and Anglesea contest new cup


Anglesea’s newly-formed women’s side will take on Torquay for the inaugural Surf Coast IDAHOBIT Cup on Friday night.

Surf Coast Shire Council has provided a perpetual trophy for the match, which both sides will contest annually to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on May 17.

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Man charged after mum-of-four ‘shot dead’ at home


A 25-year-old man has been charged with gun and drug-related offences after a mother of four mother was allegedly shot dead in her home near Geelong, Victoria.

When they arrived on the scene, they found 31-year-old Emily Miller allegedly suffering from a gunshot wound to her torso.

Emily Miller , 31, died in the alleged shooting.

Ambulance Victoria rushed Ms Miller to hospital, but she died in the ambulance.

A 25-year-old man was arrested at the home, and was questioned by police yesterday afternoon.

He has been remanded in custody to appear before Geelong Magistrates’ Court today.

The grandmother and uncle of two of the woman’s children told 9News of their devastation.

A 25-year-old man was arrested at the home, and was questioned by police yesterday afternoon.
Today investigators charged the man with prohibited person possession firearm, trafficking heroin and possession of heroin.
He has been remanded in custody to appear before Geelong Magistrates’ Court today.
Homicide Squad detectives continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged shooting.
Yesterday friends told 9News the mum’s 18-month-old daughter was home sleeping at the time of the incident but was unhurt.

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Beef Australia volunteers prepare to close the gates on Australia’s biggest beef industry event


Volunteers who have worked tirelessly around the clock for Beef Australia 2021 say watching the crowd dribble out and closing the gates for the last time will be bittersweet.

More than 800 volunteers, staff and contractors from across the country made Australia’s biggest beef Industry event, which happens every three years, possible.

Volunteer Michelle Kinbacher greeted hundreds of people as they streamed through the gates of the Rockhampton Showgrounds.

“It’s such a big event, and it takes so much putting together, and if I can help someone, I will.”

This was Ms Kinbacher’s second time making the four-and-a-half-hour trip from Biggenden to volunteer at the event.

“My husband comes up, and it’s like a bit of a holiday for us as well because, on properties, you don’t get away every day or for a holiday,” she said.

“I think I’ll be back here in three years.”

Gracemere woman Cassandra Stanley took a break from her job as a full-time carer for her husband to work as a cleaner.

“[We’re] cleaning toilets and doing the bins and just making sure that there’s not paper and stuff laying around on the floor – and just keeping everything stocked up in the toilets for the ladies and gents,” she said.

Ms Stanley said she had met many friendly characters during the week.

“When people say, ‘Thank you. It’s like aw, thanks – it’s great to be appreciated it really is and people are so friendly,” she said.

“I mean, it kills the feet, but I would definitely do it again.”

As well as cleaning, Natalie Harkess was involved in the eight-week setup and will be involved in the pack down.

“I work in the afternoon as well [at a local hospitality venue] – 15 hours a day I’m doing, so yeah I’m a bit tired,” she said.

Both women only just realised they lived around the corner from each other.

“We’ve only just met as well. We don’t know each other,” Ms Harkess said.

The cleaning duo said despite the odd nauseating situations – working at the event was a great experience.

“The stallholders, they’re giving us lots of water so we’re not dehydrated.

“We get to see Beef [Australia] and we get to work it.”

Rockhampton man Gordon Ryan volunteered at Beef 2018 and often gives his time to local services and organisations.

“Right from the fire service, SES, anything that happens – the whole of Australia runs on volunteers,” he said.

Mr Ryan spent more than five hours a day at the cattle gates.

“It’s opening and closing the gates for the cattle to move in and out of the ring, so that we can keep the public separated from the cattle, so no-one gets hurt,” he said.

He said meeting different people was his highlight and what he liked was working with the other volunteers.

“Plus, we get to see all the cattle at the show go in and out, talk to cattle people and their handlers. It’s very good,” he said.

“There are some funny characters around the place.”

Mr Ryan said he hoped some new volunteers would join him at Beef 2024.

“A lot of volunteers are retirees,  and quite a few take time off work just to do the event,” he said.

“We’re not going to be around forever.”

Sarra-Lee Britton gained her qualification to work as a security guard last year.

“[I do] some big hours, but I know a lot of the other guards have been putting in bigger.

“It’s been a really good crew to work with.”

With the job of scanning people out of the event, the Rockhampton mum said her voice was wavering.

“I’m speaking to hundreds of people every shift – but I come to work with a smile on my face and leave with a smile on my face,” she said.

“Everyone’s having a great time. Everyone’s pretty well-behaved.

“I’m here until close, so I see them when they’re at their most jolly, you could say, but they’re definitely a good crowd this year.”

Arthur Patterson travelled 600 kilometres from Brisbane to Rockhampton as a contractor with a portaloo company.

“We do a few hours, but you do the necessary thing to keep the event happening,” he said.

“My work involves the rubbish collection, meeting the bin truck and just helping out with the guys out doing the rubbish, the hand cleaning of the toilet blocks and shower blocks.”

The 55-year-old’s “normal job” is a pump truck driver, but he jumps at the opportunity of working for any events.

“Like any other event, without anyone that does the clean-up, it would be a bit messy and disorganised.

“We get a lot of, ‘thanks, keep up the good work and thanks for all the hard work we do’.

“You’d be surprised a lot of people, your everyday punter, actually recognises what we’re here for.”

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Queensland universities’ plan for chartered flights, quarantine for international students criticised


International students could be flown into Queensland on specially chartered flights under an ambitious plan hatched by the state’s universities.

The university sector has suffered significantly from the absence of overseas students during the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s been buoyed by the mention of a possible return this year in this week’s federal budget.

The proposal — to fly in cohorts of students and quarantine them outside the existing system — will be put to the state government within weeks.

The Queensland Vice-Chancellors’ committee said the plan would need to be approved by the state and federal governments and would be contingent on not adding pressure to existing quarantine capacity.

But with 35,000 Australians stuck overseas, the proposal has attracted union and medical criticism.

Professor Sandra Harding is the vice-chancellor of James Cook University and chair of the Queensland Vice-Chancellors’ committee, which will present the proposal to the government.

She said the chartered flights would involve just a few hundred students initially.

“The words go to small pilot programs, so it’s obviously not a large number and I think it’s reasonable that the first few pilot programs should be relatively contained,” Professor Harding said.

Professor Harding said the program would not take plane seats or quarantine beds from returning Australians.

“The idea is that you’d be bringing students back and ideally you’d be using charter flights to bring students back so that they’re arriving as a cohort, rather than taking the places of returning Australians,” she said.

“We’re not wanting to be impinging on the airline capacity coming back in.

“So, students would be coming in as a cohort, they could be met at the airport as a cohort and go straight to their quarantine destination.

“We’re just absolutely mindful of the fact that we don’t want to be taking hotel quarantine spots.”

The universities were investigating vacant student accommodation facilities but were also considering other options in regional Queensland to house the international students.

“The idea is you could establish quarantine facilities of that type in purpose-built student accommodation, a lot of which in Brisbane and elsewhere in the state is vacant right now because we don’t have international students in them,” Professor Harding said.

“In addition, of course, we were talking previously about the Wagner group’s proposal at Wellcamp outside Toowoomba.”

The proposal, however, has been slammed by Sandy Donald, the senior vice-president of Together Union and an anaesthetist at Cairns Base Hospital.

Dr Donald said even if it were run in parallel to the mainstream quarantine system, it would still rely on public health resources if students got sick. 

“If the government is going to expand quarantine, which potentially is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, I will leave it to the experts and those who are managing it to decide what is required,” he said.

“Someone will have to explain how this is reasonable and fair if the government is allowing people with lots of money to bring in almost anyone they like, but not helping those who are stuck in desperate [situations] and very vulnerable?”

He said whatever private quarantine facility was set up, it would need to be rigorously checked for the potential of airborne transmission.

“The critical point is that, firstly, it’s robust, secondly, that people can get healthcare if required and, thirdly, that there is a hospital within a reasonable distance that can provide care if people get sick,” Dr Donald said.

“… that would seem to require either everyone in their own free-standing demountable as in the Northern Territory or otherwise a building where the air conditioning and airflow have been exhaustively checked.

“The key point is going to be how you manage security … it’s going to be a question of who is going to provide that workforce and who is going to pay for it.”

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Cairns woman dies at Windin Falls waterfall in Far North Queensland


A 58-year-old Cairns woman has died after plunging more than 40 metres from the top of a remote Far North Queensland waterfall.

Queensland police said the woman slipped and fell from the pools, at the top of the Windin Falls trail about 60 kilometres south of Cairns, just before 1:00pm on Sunday.

A land and air search was launched with the assistance of the Cairns-based Rescue 510 helicopter.

The woman’s body was found by helicopter crews about 4:00pm.

State Emergency Service area controller Peter Rinaudo said it was a tragic death.

“We activated members from our Atherton and Malanda crews and actually took an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) in through the walking track that leads to Windin Falls,” Mr Rinaudo said.

“Unfortunately by the time we got there, it was determined that there was nothing that we could do to assist.”

Windin Falls has become a popular site for thrill-seekers and photographers because of a natural “infinity pool” at the top of the falls that overlooks a lush rainforest valley.

“There’s a couple of small pools that come from a nearby creek that then plummet straight over the side of a cliff face,” Mr Rinaudo said.

“So if you are in the water in the creek it’s just like an infinity pool and you can look down the gorges down towards Palmerston National Park.

“It’s a very, very pretty place but one that can at times be quite dangerous as well.”

Queensland Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

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Brand-New Trains To Improve Travel And Back Victorian Jobs


VIC Premier

The Andrews Labor Government will deliver a new fleet of more accessible, reliable and energy efficient trains built locally to create a better public transport network and support jobs in Victoria’s world-class manufacturing sector.

The Victorian Budget 2021/2022 will invest $986 million to build 25 brand-new X’Trapolis 2.0 trains and the infrastructure they need to modernise the state’s train fleet – making journeys more reliable, directly supporting around 750 jobs across manufacturing and supply chains.

Designed and manufactured predominantly in Victoria, the new trains will provide a vital boost to the state’s advanced rolling stock manufacturing industry – particularly in regional Victoria, with at least 150 of the new jobs to be based at Alstom’s Ballarat facility.

This vital investment in new trains will also support the gradual retirement of the Comeng fleet – the longest-running trains on the metropolitan network – with the new trains set to run through some of Melbourne’s fastest-growing suburbs along the Craigieburn, Upfield and Frankston lines.

Part of the investment will also upgrade the Craigieburn Train Maintenance Facility, creating space for these modern trains and improving train maintenance to make the fleet more reliable and improve their longevity.

Detailed design work is already underway, with manufacturing of the X’Trapolis 2.0 trains to begin late next year.

This significant investment builds on the $1.48 billion investment in last year’s Budgetto design, build and maintain 100 brand-new Next Generation trams in Victoria, improving the state’s transport network for all Victorians and supporting more than 1800 jobs at the peak of production.

The Labor Government has invested more than $7.5 billion in Victoria’s rolling stock since 2015, building new trains, trams and buses to deliver better journeys for passengers and attracting – and retaining – the best and brightest manufacturing talent to Victoria.

As stated by Acting Premier James Merlino

“We’re designing and building Melbourne’s new train fleet right here in Victoria, delivering better journeys for Victorians in some of our fastest-growing suburbs.”

“These are trains made in Victoria, for Victorians, by Victorians – supporting local jobs at a time we need them most.”

As stated by Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll

“We’ve added hundreds of new services to our timetable – and we’re delivering a big pipeline of new trains and trams to support our Big Build projects and support thousands of jobs.”

As stated by Member for Buninyong Michaela Settle

“Ballarat has a proud history of making trains and this is great news – keeping high skilled jobs in our local community, backing our local economy.”

Quote attributable for Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison

“We said we’d work with Alstom to protect local jobs, and that’s exactly what this announcement does by delivering yet another huge pipeline of work.”

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.

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All new fossil fuel projects must be scrapped to reach net-zero by 2050, world energy agency warns



The International Energy Agency’s executive director says its new report shows the path to global net-zero emissions by 2050 is “narrow but still achievable”.

All future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to stand any chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

In a special report designed to inform negotiators at the crucial COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, the IEA predicted a “sharp decline in fossil fuel demand” in the next three decades as well as a 2040 deadline for the global energy sector to achieve carbon neutrality.

The Paris-based agency called for a rapid and vast ramping up of renewable energy investment and capacity, which bring gains in development, wealth and human health.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said the roadmap outlined in the report showed that the path to global net-zero by 2050 was “narrow but still achievable”.

“The scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal – our best chance of tackling climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5C – make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced,” he said. 

READ MORE

Britain to end taxpayer funding for overseas fossil fuel projects ‘as soon as possible’

 

Built using its industry network and energy modelling tools, the IEA’s roadmap lays out more than 400 milestones on the path to net-zero by mid-century. 

These include “no new oil and gas fields approved for development” beyond projects that are already committed as of 2021. 

It predicts “a sharp decline in fossil fuel demand, meaning that the focus for oil and gas producers switches entirely to output – and emissions reductions – from the operation of existing assets”.

The roadmap also said that sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars would have to end in 2035 and energy efficiency would need to improve four per cent annually this decade – around three times faster than the current trajectory. 

READ MORE
Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on for the opening remarks of the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by United States President Joe Biden.

Concern Australia’s action on climate change ‘out of step’ with global allies as they step up ambition

 

With annual additions of solar and wind power reaching 630 and 390 gigawatts respectively by 2030, the IEA said that investment in renewables could put global GDP four per cent higher by 2050 than it would be based on current trends.

By 2050, it said that renewables capacity and greater efficiency would see global energy demand drop about eight per cent compared to today, even as two billion more people gained access to electricity. 

Investment totalling around $40 billion USD a year – around one per cent of current energy sector investment- is projected to hook hundreds of millions up to the global grid.

The IEA said that clean energy and access to clean cooking solutions could cut the number of premature deaths by 2.5 million a year by 2050.

Overall, fossil fuels are set to account for only around a fifth of energy supply by 2050, down from almost four fifths currently, the report showed. 

Dave Jones, global lead at the energy think tank Ember, said Tuesday’s assessment was “a complete turnaround of the fossil-led IEA from five years ago”.

“This is truly a knife into the fossil fuel industry,” he said.

READ MORE
Clive Palmer on the Gold Coast in August 2020

Clive Palmer’s coal mine 10km from Great Barrier Reef park deemed ‘not suitable to proceed’

  

Under a scenario where all current national net-zero pledges are met on time and in full, the IEA outlined a changing energy mix in the coming decades.

Oil demand is predicted to plateau at around 104 million barrels a day just after 2030, the report said. 

Gas use is likely to increase significantly in the stated pledges pathway, as is nuclear.

Under its net-zero pathway however, oil is projected to decline 75 per cent and gas 55 per cent by mid-century.

It also said that all inefficient coal power plants needed to close by 2030 in order to achieve net-zero by 2050.

While most of the global CO2 reductions until 2030 in the net-zero pathway come from “technologies available today”, the IEA said that around half of reductions by 2050 would be provided by “technologies that are currently only in demonstration or prototype phase”. 

These include direct air capture and storage of CO2 from the atmosphere, which it said could be “particularly impactful”. 

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Infectious diseases expert Nick Coatsworth warns ‘risk of deaths’ over international travel border


One of Australia’s top infectious diseases experts has joined the growing chorus of calls for a timetable on Australia’s international borders as the Prime Minister continues to dig in his heels.

Former federal health official Dr Nick Coatsworth gave a frank assessment of life in a COVID-19 world in an interview with ABC News Radio’s Drive program on Tuesday, saying there will be a risk of Australians dying if we open borders.

The issue has been a major talking point for all sectors across the country after the federal budget last week predicted Australia’s international borders would remain largely closed until mid-2022.

It seems a growing topic of frustration for many Australians, as business groups openly push for more answers from the federal government and experts and tourism operators warn that the country must move towards a COVID-19 world and think about opening up.

Dr Coatsworth said Australia “needs to begin a conversation” on borders, suggesting a “staged, cautious approach, rather than opening like an iron door, opening or closing”.

The infectious disease physician and former deputy chief medical officer told the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas on Tuesday afternoon that Australia “should be prepared to test our health care system, to really test our public health system”, in 2022.

He was hesitant to open borders earlier than next year, though, “when we’ve got significant numbers vaccinated” and “we will have access to ICU beds”.

“There will be a risk of people dying from COVID-19 if it’s circulating in our community,” he warned.

RELATED: Scott Morrison ‘won’t take risks with lives’

RELATED: President of AMA warns ‘COVID is coming’ to Australia

Dr Coatsworth reassured that “what we know from the studies from what our intensive care specialists did in 2020 is that when Australians get to intensive care beds, their mortality from COVID-19, the chance of them dying, is far less than anywhere else in the world because we’ve got such a good system”.

In stunning results, the latest Newspoll showed 73 per cent of voters believe the border should remain shut until at least the middle of next year or until COVID-19 is under control globally.

Only 21 per cent of people said the opening of the international border should align with the completion of the vaccine rollout across the country.

It comes a day after another of Australia’s top medical experts, President of the Australian Medical Association Dr Omar Khorshid, backed the growing calls to open international borders while issuing a warning that no matter what happens, “COVID is coming”.

Dr Khorshid said Australia has been in a “bizarre little bubble” considering our low virus case count in comparison to the rest of the world, likening the country to a “gilded cage”.

He warned Australians were becoming complacent and should be thinking, “how are we going to get out of this”, instead of relying on the fact the country is relatively COVID-19 free.

Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison facing pressure in the week since the budget to work on a timeline, he is refusing to budge – warning it is “not safe” to reopen.

Earlier Tuesday, Mr Morrison slammed Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka for saying Australia’s borders needed to reopen even though “some people may die”.

He was defiant in keeping the borders closed, warning: “I‘m not going to take risks with Australians’ lives.”

Yet Dr Coatsworth agrees with experts, saying Australians need to think ahead even after the vaccine is administered.

“When we are fully vaccinated what risk appetite are we going to have?” he said.

“What I guess I’m worried about is that we’ve created with our success this deep risk aversion to COVID-19 which won’t necessarily be a valid position to base our policy on when we’ve got a majority of Australians vaccinated.

“That’s why I think the conversation best (be) had now before we want to open international borders in a staged approach in 2022.

“The message to Australians is that this is a different disease when you are immune to it, the amount of protection you get from immunity and vaccination is very, very significant.”

Dr Coatsworth had formerly made the bold claim that Australians could not continue to live in a pandemic “eliminationist bunker” and said that the full eradication of the virus was a “false idol”.

“It is clear we will not have our borders closed indefinitely,” he said speaking at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeon’s annual scientific meeting.

“We will not have quarantine stations in perpetuity while we aim for the false idol of eradication.

“At a point in the future when a significant majority of our community is vaccinated, there will be pressure to open our borders. We must not resist that. In fact, when the time is right, we should be leading the calls for it.”

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