Blue Hills development access ‘somewhat dangerous’


GOONELLBAH’S latest proposed development at Blue Hills Ave will be debated at the Lismore City Council’s extraordinary meeting on Wednesday.

At the centre of the issue, the council is looking at whether the land should be rezoned to be large lot residential development instead of zoned as primary production.

The council’s recommendation ahead of the meeting is to adopt the rezoning proposition and make a local environment plan after the Department of Planning, Industry and Planning delegated it to council.

 

The existing zoning situation at Blue Hills Ave in Goonellabah.

 

In the public submissions, locals raised concerns regarding the dangers the new development towards koalas and plans for their habitat.

“I believe rural land should stay rural land. Our food security for the future depends on having this zoning to provide it,” Dian Edwards said in her submission.

“This is also koala land, if anything this land should be improved for habitat including koalas that have lost so much to development in Goonellabah and that creeks health.”

Other submissions had raised concerns regarding the areas traffic and access for users, which includes school students attending Blue Hills College.

 

The proposed zoning situation at Blue Hills Ave in Goonellabah.

The proposed zoning situation at Blue Hills Ave in Goonellabah.

 

“As you will be aware, the access to 30 Blue Hills Ave is in a somewhat dangerous position, with poor visibility on a bend in a small cul-de-sac,” Nicola Lessing said.

“Having much more traffic at this point could be dangerous, but in our view two or a maximum of three lots with the resultant cars might be sustainable.”

Lismore City Council has accepted in their amended planning proposal that the area will need to undertake road widening to ensure the traffic is workable.

LCC has also amended the proposal to reduce lot yield which they believe will reduce the impact on koalas.

The extraordinary meeting is on November 25 at 6pm.





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G20 says it will strive for fair global access to COVID-19 vaccine



FILE PHOTO: The word “COVID-19” is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

November 22, 2020

By Davide Barbuscia, Marwa Rashad and Raya Jalabi

DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) – Leaders of the 20 biggest economies vowed on Sunday to spare no effort to supply COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines affordably and fairly to “all people”, reflecting worries that the pandemic could deepen divisions between the world’s rich and poor.

The pandemic and prospects of an uneven and uncertain economic recovery were at the centre of a two-day online summit under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia, which will hand the G20 presidency to Italy next month.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact in terms of lives lost, livelihoods and economies affected, is an unparalleled shock that has revealed vulnerabilities in our preparedness and response and underscored our common challenges,” the final communique said.

G20 nations will work to “protect lives, provide support with a special focus on the most vulnerable, and put our economies back on a path to restoring growth, and protecting and creating jobs for all”.

On vaccines, tests and treatments, the leaders said: “We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people.”

“There is a clear recognition from the G20: If we leave any country behind, we will all be behind,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told the closing news conference.

The world’s economy has suffered a sharp contraction this year as measures to contain the spread of the virus have curbed transport, trade, and demand across the planet.

The meeting was held by video link, like many such gatherings this year. Saudi King Salman said in his closing remarks that the group had “adopted important policies that will achieve recovery all the way to an economy that is resilient, sustainable, inclusive, and balanced”.

G20 leaders said that, while global economic activity has partially picked up thanks to the gradual reopening of some countries and sectors, the recovery was uneven and highly uncertain.

They reaffirmed their commitment to use “all available policy tools as long as required” to protect lives, jobs, and incomes.

They also said climate change was a pressing challenge.

The pandemic has made governments around the world more aware of the fact that economies have to be developed sustainably and not at the expense of the environment, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

U.S. President Donald Trump used his final G20 summit to defend his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, a move that took effect on Nov. 4, a day after the presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden, who has said the United States will rejoin as soon as he takes office.

DEBT FREEZE

The G20 endorsed a plan to extend a freeze in debt service payments by the poorest countries to mid-2021 and a common approach for dealing with debt problems beyond that, according to the communique.

The Debt Service Suspension Initiative has helped 46 countries defer $5.7 billion in 2020 debt service payments, short of the 73 countries that were eligible, and promised savings of around $12 billion.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, said the G20’s actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 had helped prevent massive bankruptcies and an even deeper crisis, but that there was more to do.

“The world is not out of the woods yet in terms of this crisis. Cooperation is going to be even more important going forward,” she said in a statement after addressing G20 leaders.

She called for a prompt and effective implementation of the G20 framework for debt treatments beyond the debt relief initiative, adding:

“We must also help those countries not covered by the Framework to address debt vulnerabilities so that their economies can become more resilient.”

In their joint statement, the leaders said they strongly encouraged private creditors to participate in the initiative on comparable terms when requested by eligible countries.

Debt relief for Africa will be an important theme of the Italian presidency next year.

(Reporting by Davide Barbuscia and Maha El Dahan in Dubai; Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Raya Jalabi in Beirut and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by William Maclean, Frances Kerry and Kevin Liffey)





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To block or not to block. Will Roskomnadzor actually restrict access to major sites like YouTube for ‘censoring’ Russian content?




On November 19, a group of lawmakers introduced a draft law to the State Duma, which would allow the Russian authorities to block any website for removing “publicly significant information” (or for “restricting the rights of [Russian] citizens to freely seek, receive, transmit, produce, and distribute” such information). The law could affect both Russian and foreign sites — the draft law’s explanatory note mentioned the American Internet giants Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube specifically. According to the authors of the draft law, these websites have committed these types of violations in the past — for example, censoring Russian state media outlets like “Russia Today,” “RIA Novosti,” and “Krym 24.” Meduza answers key questions about the latest attempt to control content on the RuNet.



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Information commissioner rips RCMP for slow response to information access requests


The RCMP’s inability to respond to access to information requests on time has reached a “critical” point and needs intervention, according to a scathing new report from the federal information commissioner.

“I would like to stress that the situation at the RCMP is critical and may soon be past the point of no return, unless senior leaders within the organization take action immediately,” Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard wrote in her special report.

“Canadians rightfully expect that the police force for Canada, in charge of enforcing Canadian law, will itself comply with it. The gravity of the situation at the RCMP calls for bold and comprehensive action to turn the tide.”

The Trudeau government signalled today it’s taking Maynard’s warning seriously. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced he will issue a ministerial directive to start the process of improving the RCMP’s access to information performance.

Maynard launched an investigation back in 2019 into the RCMP’s access office after getting complaints about it failing to meet statutory time frames under the Access to Information Act for responding to access requests. It also was spurred on by “the consistent failure” of the RCMP to provide responses to her office during complaint investigations, she wrote.

The access to information system — governed by the Access to Information Act and typically referred to as ‘ATIP’ — is one of the ways journalists and members of the public can get information from government departments and agencies that is otherwise hidden from view.

Backlog is ‘shocking:’ Maynard

Maynard’s review found that in February 2019, the RCMP had 4,532 active access to information requests — and 92 per cent of them had gone beyond the statutory due date for response.

“The size of the request backlog is shocking,” said Maynard.

The information commissioner said RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki was one of the first people she met with when she took over the job more than two years ago.

Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard raised serious concerns with the RCMP’s access to information request backlog. (Government of Canada)

“We couldn’t see any improvement. Actually, things were getting worse,” Maynard said in an interview with CBC News. 

“We issued a multiple number of letters so this was not news to Commissioner Lucki, was not news to Minister Blair.”

Blair issues new directive 

While the new report — which was tabled in Parliament this morning — said the RCMP told Maynard’s office it has implemented strategies to improve its response times, she seems unconvinced those changes will amount to much.

“My investigation revealed that the strategies implemented to date have failed to improve the RCMP’s performance. I believe that the RCMP will continue to fail in effectively managing access requests if leaders do not do more to improve the internal culture, along with the current processes and access to information program infrastructure,” she said.

Her office came up with six areas for improvement and 15 recommendations, centred on delivering more training and resources.

She also took Blair to task and urged him to make sure the force has the resources it needs to meet its obligations.

“The response I received from the minister falls short on many fronts, particularly when it comes to commitments to improve transparency and timely responses,” Maynard concluded.

“He has ignored most recommendations and appears unconcerned by the failings identified within the RCMP’s ATIP operations.”

Blair’s office said that, after speaking with Maynard this morning, he plans to issue a ministerial directive to identify the RCMP’s problems and come up with a plan to correct them.

“The RCMP will have three months to respond to today’s report from the information commissioner in full, and that report must be validated by Treasury Board officials,” wrote Blair’s spokesperson Mary-Liz Power.

“We are taking this matter seriously. We have made a commitment to transparency and we must live up to it.”

Asked about the report today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government will look at its findings. 

“Canadians need to have confidence in their institutions. We need particularly to have confidence in institutions like police forces, like the RCMP,” he said during his regular Tuesday briefing. 

“One of the best ways to do that is to demonstrate transparency and accountability. We have seen in the past that there have been challenges on that. I thank the information commissioner for bringing that forward and we will certainly be looking at how we can ensure that Canadians have full confidence in their national police force.”

CBC has requested comment from both the RCMP and Blair.



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New $4.57 million clinical training facility expands healthcare access in Bega – 16 News


A new clinical training facility at the Bega Hospital will expand healthcare access for residents across the region, following its official opening today.

The training facility will support medical, nursing, midwifery and allied health students to learn directly from health professionals and pursue their careers in Bega.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the new training facility will ensure people in Bega and the surrounding region have better access to healthcare in their community, where and when they need it.

“On average, we know Australians living in our regions may experience poorer access to health services, leading to poorer health,” Minister Hunt said.

“The innovative clinical service hub brings providers under one roof, making it easier for people living in Bega to access health services.”

The Australian Government invested $4.57 million to construct the training facility, and an additional $2.95 million to build short-term, residential student accommodation on the hospital grounds in Bega.

Minister for Regional Health, Mark Coulton, said the new facility was another example of the Government’s commitment to providing Australians with world-class healthcare no matter where they live.

“Evidence shows that students who train rurally are more likely to live and work rurally, and this is fundamental to the Government’s approach to building the rural training pipeline for doctors and health professionals,” Minister Coulton said.

“We want to make rural Australia a career destination of choice for young health professionals, and that’s why we are committed to training more medical professionals in the regions to improve access to health services for rural, regional and remote Australians.”

Senator Jim Molan AO DSC attended the official opening of the training facility and said it would not only attract trainees to the region, but also boost the economy and create jobs.

“Local construction projects like this are a great way to grow the local economy, and create and maintain local jobs,” Senator Molan said.

“It’s great these important skills will be retained in Bega and bring about a real improvement in the quality of life of residents and visitors to the region.”

The Government invested a total of $17 million in 2015, under the Health and Hospitals Fund, to build clinical training facilities and accommodation on the hospital grounds at Bega, Cooma and Moruya.

The funding was provided to the University of Canberra and the Australian National University.



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How to access the On The Frontline podcast



Do you want to listen to each episode of On the Frontline but don’t know how? Here’s a helpful guide:

 

LISTEN ON YOUR COMPUTER

Simply visit the episode guide here and hit play in the episode container provided. (Each episode will be added here as they are released. The most recent episode will be at the top).

 

ON YOUR APPLE IPHONE

Look for a folder on your phone screen titled ‘Lifestyle’ and tap to open it.

Look for the app ‘Podcasts’ and tap to open it – (you might need to swipe across to see it in the second column).

In the search function type either “On The Frontline” or “Grafton Daily Examiner”

Once you find the show, tap it, then tap ‘subscribe’ (N.B. This is not a paid subscription)

Now that you have subscribed, each time a new episode is published, you will receive an alert on your phone.

 

ON SPOTIFY

Open the Spotify app on your phone.

In the search function, type either “On The Frontline” or “Grafton Daily Examiner”.

Tap ‘On The Frontline’ to open the show.

In the top right corner touch ‘Follow’ to ensure you don’t miss an episode.





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Testing times for SACA members amid confusion over Oval access


The South Australian Cricket Association says it’s “pretty confident” its members won’t miss out on attending next month’s Adelaide Oval Test, despite flagging a “balloting process” to determine access.

SACA members, who have paid more than $300 to retain their membership, remain in the dark about their access rights to an already curtailed summer of cricket, with Adelaide hosting the Test series opener – the first day-night Test between Australia and India – from December 17.

An email sent to members this week thanked them for their patience “as we work through match day access and balloting processes”.

In an accompanying video, SACA boss Keith Bradshaw said “hosting cricket has taken on a whole new meaning”.

“We appreciate this year will be like no other,” he said, noting a “credit scheme” had been introduced “should there be significant loss of cricket content”.

“We understand the disappointment of members that transferable associate cards are unlikely to be issued this summer… this difficult decision was made to ensure all SACA members receive priority access,” he said.

He also noted SACA was working with Ticketek “to implement a fair access ballot system if required, should capacity constraints continue”.

Access to the Test is set to be determined by Cricket Australia, which is likely to seek to maximise its returns by public ticket sales.

However, at the moment Adelaide Oval’s COVID-curtailed capacity remains 25,000 – with SACA president Andrew Sinclair telling ABC Radio Adelaide this morning up to 21,000 members could seek to attend.

“We’re negotiating with Cricket Australia as to how much of the ground will be made available to SACA members,” he said.

“Every member who rolls up to the Test match this year will need a ticketed seat [but] we expect at the moment that every member who wants to go to day one will get to day one.”

However, he added: “If you don’t get to day one we’re looking at a priority system that you’ll get to day two.”

“We’re pretty confident so far that we’ll get all the members who want to go to go,” he said.

SACA memberships are traditionally general admission, with many attendees spending much of the day socialising in the ‘village green’ behind the western grandstand.

However, Sinclair said that too was subject to negotiations with SA Health as to “what they’ll permit”.

“Given everyone has to have a seat how do we also move them to an area that could be theirs because you can’t sit in the one seat for the whole day of a Test match without needing to get up for some food and drink and relieve themselves, so we’re working through all that,” Sinclair said.

“We’ve got six weeks to work through with SA Health to achieve something.”

The Stadium Management Authority said in a statement Adelaide Oval management “will continue to work closely with SA Health, SAPOL and other relevant agencies to maximise the possible attendance for the Test match”.

“At the moment, that capacity stands at 50 per cent, and how that capacity is distributed is up to the promotor, in this case Cricket Australia and SACA,” it said.

SACA member of 20 years Stephen Halliday told InDaily that if a limit on access is imposed “in these unusual times… I’d like to see access opened up for all SACA members first”.

“We’ve paid our dues this year – albeit slightly reduced – but we’ll not be getting any more than the Test… we won’t be getting T20, we won’t be getting ODIs [so] it’s beholden on SACA and CA to make sure that members can get access first,” he said.

“We understand they’re going to have to have set seats and go through some ticketing process [but] I’d think all members have a right to be prioritised.

“It’s up to SACA to answer these questions as soon as possible… I think it’s just about ensuring that the members who have paid upfront over $300 for their season of cricket should get the right to attend.”

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ATO to review super protections for victims of domestic violence under Coalition’s early access scheme | Australia news


The Australian Taxation Office says it will look at whether more needs to be done to ensure victims of family violence don’t lose their retirement savings as a consequence of abuse in the Morrison government’s early access to superannuation initiative.

After ATO officials acknowledged on Tuesday there were no specific controls to combat financial abuse, the tax commissioner Chris Jordan told Senate estimates: “We will certainly revert back and see what we can do now to find any examples and rectify that.”

The Labor senator Jenny McAllister asked a series of questions of ATO officials and cited commentary from the Financial Counselling Australia that the government’s early access to super initiative had opened the potential for financial abuse.

Earlier this week, FCA’s chief executive Fiona Guthrie said her organisation had been “getting reports of how the early release of super has opened up a frontier for people to financially abuse their partners”.

“People know you can get access to super early so they are forcing their partner to do that and use their money, it’s shocking,” she said.

The finance minister Mathias Cormann chided McAllister for running an “assertive attack” during Tuesday’s hearing and for deploying “confected outrage” to draw attention to the risks.

McAllister corrected Cormann: “I am genuinely outraged.”

ATO officials told the hearing they had worked quickly to try and give Australians access to the private retirement savings pool as one of the income support measures rolled out during the pandemic. The suggestion on Tuesday was speed had been the priority.

Officials also said it was difficult to monitor instances where an abuse victim had been forced by a partner to withdraw savings from superannuation because people applied for funds through their myGov accounts.

McAllister asked Cormann whether he was satisfied the scheme had been rolled out without specific protections for victims of family violence – people vulnerable to duress.

Cormann told the hearing government agencies were “doing the best they can to enforce the law of the land”. He said the government would “continue to review” the situation.

The finance minister told McAllister that governments accepted some trade-offs during program delivery when there’s “a need for speed”. McAllister replied: “Well, that’s some trade-off minister.”

The government opened access to superannuation in the opening months of the Covid-19 pandemic to allow cash-strapped Australians to access their retirement savings.

The program allowed people to withdraw $10,000 from their super before 30 June. People have a second opportunity to submit an application through ATO online services in myGov between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020. Applicants do not need to pay tax on amounts released.

As of 18 October, $34.4bn has been withdrawn under the scheme, with an average payment of more than $7,000. In the initial round, over three million Australians applied, and 1.3 million people have made a repeat request.

In May, allegations of identity theft involving 150 Australians forced the government to pause the scheme after police froze $120,000 believed to have been ripped off from retirement savings.

The ATO website carries warnings about fraud. It alerts people to guard against scammers impersonating the ATO, or super funds.

In Australia, if you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.



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Access to the latest and most effective diabetes drugs depends on where you live and what you earn


Access to the latest and most effective drugs for Australians with diabetes can depend on where they live and how much they earn, new data shows.

People in remote and lower-socioeconomic areas are more likely to be using older and less-efficient medications than those in wealthier or urban areas, according to the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute research.

The study tracked all 1.2 million Australians being treated for type 2 diabetes between 2007 and 2015.

It showed that two years after Australia’s newest diabetes medication came onto the market, people in remote areas were up to 62 per cent less likely to receive it than those in cities.

Co-author Jonathan Shaw said the older medications come with a higher risk of complications like heart and kidney disease.

“It shouldn’t matter where you live, it shouldn’t matter how wealthy or otherwise your suburb is, everyone should be entitled to the same interventions and same medication.”

The report stopped short of concluding why there was a gap in diabetes health care in Australia, but Professor Shaw said there were a few likely explanations.

The first is that information about the newest drugs takes longer to filter through to remote areas.

Secondly, he said diabetes care in remote areas was overwhelmingly provided by GPs struggling to cater to demand.

“We do see what some people call this postcode lottery and there are a number of reasons, one is it can be more difficult to access the best health care,” he said.

“We shouldn’t think health care in remote areas is poor or doctors are no good, they’ve got a big job to do and there aren’t as many health care professionals.

“There are time pressures, there are waiting rooms full of all sorts of people requiring urgent care.

“In that setting it can be a little bit more difficult to sit down and think what’s the absolute best that can be done, the newest that can be done.”

GPs caring for patients who can’t reach specialists

Konrad Kangru said regional areas lack the specialists who are often in better positions to prescribe new medication earlier than GPs.(Supplied: Angel Parsons)

Konrad Kangru, former president of Rural Doctors Association Queensland, said it was difficult for GPs to keep across new drugs hitting the market.

“We don’t have the specialists in the rural areas who are often the ones who are more confident in commencing these new medications or may have access to the additional supports these new medications might require,” he said.

One of Dr Kangru’s patients is 71-year-old Gay Gillies, who lives in the Far North Queensland coastal community of Dingo Beach.

Because her specialist is a 2-hour drive away, she receives most of her care from Dr Kangru in his Proserpine rooms.

To control her blood sugar levels more effectively, she was recently placed on a new type of diabetes medication.

But learning that medication was available for other Australians much earlier has left a bitter taste in her mouth.

“[I’m] not very happy, it’s a bit daunting you know, they think ‘Oh well we’re out there don’t worry about us’,” she said.

“I have enough problems going to specialist, it’s a 2-hour drive and I can’t do that unless I’ve got my daughter to help me.”

More complications and amputations in regional Australia

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People in regional Australia are already more likely to have diabetes.

On top of that, they are also more likely to have diabetes-related amputations than those in metropolitan areas, and more complications resulting from their condition.

That gap in care is a persistent problem, according to Renza Scibilia from Diabetes Australia.

“This study is important because it once again shows that this postcode lottery is real. It shows there are certainly differences depending on where people live,” she said.

Professor Shaw said attracting more doctors to rural and regional areas and educating both patients and health professionals would help narrow the gap in care.

“I think we need to have ongoing monitoring of this, we need to know what’s happening so we can react to it,” he said.

“It’s very much from my perspective a matter for government, for example, to make sure people in those areas get access and education is available.”

Professor Shaw said his research had particular implications for Indigenous Australians, who are more likely to have type 2 diabetes and live in remote areas.

“The importance of this has grown since the time we collected this information,” he said.

“These newer drugs were interesting drugs with some advantages, but since 2015 we’ve further recognised they have even more advantages — particularly for preventing heart disease and also for preventing kidney disease.

“We have to make sure that particularly our Indigenous population who are so vulnerable to those sorts of complications are getting access to these medications.”

A spokesperson for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Government already provides considerable support to Australians with diabetes through subsidised medication and services.

“The Morrison Government is committed to improving access to health services for all Australians, providing quality, safe and affordable health care no matter where they live, and provides considerable support to people with diabetes,” he said.

“It subsidises essential medicines, like insulin, under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and diabetes-related products through the National Diabetes Services Scheme.”

He said improving the health of Indigenous Australians with diabetes was a key priority for the Federal Government, and that a national strategy was being developed which would partly look at the distribution of Australia’s medical workforce.



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