Victorian opposition renews East West Link push ahead of next state election


The Victorian opposition has renewed its pledge to build the contentious East West Link and will again take the policy a state election, despite the project being scrapped six years ago.

The East West Link is a proposed tunnel from the end of the Eastern Freeway in Clifton Hill to CityLink in Parkville.

On the sixth anniversary of the project being dumped by the freshly-elected Andrews Labor government in 2015, the Victorian Liberal Party has renewed its push for the road to be part of its election platform.

It took a tweaked route, with the tunnel starting further east of Clifton Hill, to the 2018 election under leader Matthew Guy, but the party was soundly beaten on election day by Labor.

Mr Guy’s replacement as Opposition Leader, Michael O’Brien, has already put the road on his party’s policy platform.

Opposition Roads Spokesman Tim Smith said the pledge by the Commonwealth to allocate $4 billion to the East-West Link still stands.

“We can build this road immediately with that money,” he said.

But any East West Link project would likely cost more than $4 billion, meaning private investment would also be needed.

The project remains on Infrastructure Australia’s list of high priority projects.

An Infrastructure Australia audit in 2019 found the east-west corridor to the north of Melbourne’s CBD had the highest road congestion delay cost in Melbourne.

“It’s a vital piece of infrastructure that Infrastructure Australia rates as a very high priority, so the Andrews Labor government should get out of the way and let the Commonwealth fund this road,” Mr Smith said.

Daniel Andrews promised during the 2014 election campaign to cancel the contracts for the East West Link, and duly did so after defeating Denis Napthine to win government.

In 2014, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott dubbed the year’s state election a referendum on the East West Link.

The road has been taken to the last three state elections.

In 2010, by the Labor Brumby government; the Coalition Napthine government in 2014; and Matthew Guy’s Coalition opposition in 2018.

All three suffered defeat.

In 2016, Treasurer Tim Pallas ruled out the road, dubbing it a “zombie road project”.

Roads Minister Ben Carroll said the government would not revive the plan.

“Twice this issue has been to the people of Victoria and twice they’ve rejected it,” he said, referring to Labor’s election victories in 2015 and 2019.

Mr Carroll said the Victorian government was focused on other road and public transport projects.

“We are doing the West Gate Tunnel, but we are also doing enormous investment in our Airport rail link, which is going to be a real boon for the western suburbs.”

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Toondah Harbour development east of Brisbane puts koala habitat at risk, community groups say as Priority Development Area provision questioned


A plan to upgrade the ferry terminal at Toondah Harbour in Cleveland was given PDA status by the former Newman government in 2013, and then endorsed and expanded under Labor in 2015.

Since then, the Labor government has introduced dozens of PDAs across the state.

There are now 34 PDAs across Queensland, adding up to some 82,572 hectares – or 900 square kilometres – that do not fall under traditional planning legislation.

A PDA can override local planning schemes (zoning), state environment regulation, standard development processes, and remove the appeal rights of the community.

At Toondah Harbour, residents said while the protected wetlands had received much attention, on-shore koala habitat was also at risk.

On the day the ABC visited the site, a juvenile koala could be seen clinging to a gumtree on the development boundary.

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Rare water spout spotted on Sydney’s east coast


A video taken across the Rose Bay Area shows the rare weather phenomenon occurring off the coast of Bondi in Sydney’s east.

A waterspout is a rotating column of water that contains an intense vortex similar to that of a tornado.

Waterspouts usually occur over warm tropical ocean waters and appears as a funnel-shaped cloud descending from the sky.

A very high chance of showers is forecast in Sydney this afternoon with the possibility of a thunderstorm in the evening.

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BOM weather warning for South East Queensland may put a dampener on Easter weekend celebrations


The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) made the warning on Saturday as a coastal trough makes its way south over the Coral Sea.

The Central, Wide Bay and Burnett regions are forecast to be hit with heavy rain on Easter Sunday and into Easter Monday, while Brisbane is expected to cop a drenching on Monday.

In Central Queensland, the BOM has forecast severe thunderstorms, including damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rainfall across a broad area on Easter Sunday.

Heavy rain is expected across the state’s entire coastline, while severe thunderstorms have been forecast from Seventeen Seventy south to Maroochydore. 

If the low continues to track south, Brisbane could find itself in that warning zone for severe weather tomorrow.

Senior Forecaster from the Bureau of Meteorology Felim Hannify, said there was a “slight uncertainty” around the movements of the low.

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NBL and South East Melbourne will allow Mitch Creek to return to playing despite an ongoing criminal investigation



NBL player Mitch Creek is eligible to play on Thursday after being granted permission to “resume active team duties” after his criminal matters were adjourned to April.

Creek, who plays for the South East Melbourne Phoenix, has not played since he was charged by police in Victoria on March 15 with assault offences. 

The NBL and the Phoenix said at the time he would not be allowed to play until further notice. 

In a joint statement released on Tuesday, NBL and the Phoenix announced Creek would be eligible to play in Thursday’s match against the Illawarra Hawks. 

“The decision to allow him to play is not an indication to his guilt or innocence in relation to the criminal investigation being undertaken by Victoria Police, which the NBL and South East Melbourne are treating extremely seriously,” the statement read.

“Mitch Creek will relinquish his co-captaincy of the team and will not participate in any community activities with the Club until the matter has been determined by the courts.

“The NBL and South East Melbourne will continue to review the matter and will take into consideration any decisions or directions made by the courts.”

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The decision comes after Creek’s lawyers were told his preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for Thursday, had been rescheduled for next month. 

Creek is contesting all charges. 

Basketball Australia’s Integrity Unit, which had reportedly done a preliminary investigation into the matter, will not hold its hearing panel until after the matter has been through the courts, the statement said.

Creek, whose NBL career began in 2010, had brief stints in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves.

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Brisbane dog trainer accused of running terror network sending fighters to Middle East


A man accused of co-running a terrorist network that sent Australian fighters to Syria has been identified as Brisbane dog trainer Gabriel Crazzi.

Crazzi, a 34-year-old father-of-three, could spend decades in jail after being arrested south of Brisbane on Thursday.

His alleged accomplice Ahmed Talib, 31, was taken into custody in Melbourne at the same time.

Australian Federal Police allege the men were part of a sophisticated terrorist syndicate based in Queensland’s south-east that helped get Australians to Syria where they joined terrorist groups fighting against the government.

Those groups included Jabhat al-Nusra, also know as al-Qaeda in Syria.

One of the men the group helped was Ahmed Succarieh, believed to be Australia’s first suicide bomber.

He blew himself up when he drove a truck loaded with explosives into a military checkpoint in Syria in September 2013, killing 35 people.

AFP counter-terrorism commander Stephen Dametto said the pair arrested on Thursday were part of a group that had tentacles in Australia, Turkey and Syria.

Police believe that between 2012 and 2014, as many as seven Australian fighters were helped to reach Syria.

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Severe weather brings major flash flooding, tornadoes South as threat moves east


Some waterways in Nashville quickly rose to their highest levels since 2010.

Severe weather ripped through the South from Texas to North Carolina on Saturday and continues on Sunday morning with at least 168 reports of severe weather so far in the region.

Nashville, Tennessee, has received its second largest two-day rainfall total of at least 6.69 inches and parts of the metro area have received more than 7 inches already.

Some waterways in Nashville quickly rose to their highest levels since 2010.

The heaviest rain has moved just east of there and could receive additional rainfall on Sunday morning.

So far there have been at least 15 reported tornadoes in four states with five reported in eastern Texas, eight reported in Arkansas and one each in Mississippi and Tennessee.

Baseball-sized hail has also been reported in Arkansas and there is still a tornado watch in parts of Mississippi and Tennessee until 7 a.m. this morning,

There is still a severe thunderstorm watch for eastern Tennessee until 9 a.m. on Sunday morning as well.

Slow-moving thunderstorms this morning could produce up to 1 inch of rainfall per hour towards eastern Alabama and the Appalachians.

The severe risk region is from Georgia to Delaware with over 30 million Americans impacted, including major metropolitan areas such as, Raleigh, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

With this system we can expect flooding rain, damaging winds and a few tornadoes possible with the greatest risk for tornadoes in Norfolk and Richmond in Virginia and just north of Raleigh, North Carolina.

As this system progresses east from Boston, Massachusetts, to northern Alabama, rain totals up to 3 inches will be possible through Monday morning.

With heavy rain and thunderstorms moving across the Northeast by this afternoon, wind alerts are also in effect with gusts up 43 mph possible.

Another system will bring heavy rain and strong storms to the region by Wednesday with rain totals up to 4 inches of rain possible from today through Wednesday.

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Judge delays sentence of North East father facing rape charge | The Border Mail



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A North East man who allegedly violently raped his partner after she threatened to leave him will have to wait another month to learn his fate. The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, yesterday had his sentencing hearing in the County Court adjourned until April 16. The man is charged with one count of rape and one count of detention for a sexual purpose with Judge Scott Johns needing more time to deliver his sentence. He had been due to be sentenced on Thursday afternoon. The court heard at the plea hearing last month, the man has been in custody for more than 600 days over the 2019 offences which allegedly took place while three children were asleep in the home. IN OTHER NEWS: The prosecution alleges the victim’s nine-year-old daughter walked in to the living room after hearing her mother scream. The court heard the girl had been holding her pillow over her head trying not to hear the alleged assault.

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Carp occupies 97 per cent Australia’s large east coast rivers, study reveals


As many as 360 million carp clog Australian waterways in a “wet” year, researchers estimate.

That estimate drops to 200 million in an “average year”, according to scientists advising the National Carp Control Plan.

They have identified the destructive pest species’ biomass and density in an Australian-first study published in the Biological Conservation journal.

The research team collated data from 4,831 sites across a range of habitat types including rivers, lakes, wetlands and billabongs and used a model-based approach to estimate how many carp were in the waterways.

Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research principal scientist Jarod Lyon said 96 per cent of the carp identified were found on the east coast, where they occupied 54 per cent of wetlands and 97 per cent of large rivers.

To measure the density impact threshold — the number of fish in the water per unit area — the study used “a rule of 100kg per hectare”, Dr Lyon said.

“In some wetlands, we found levels of up to 1,000kg per hectare — way above what we know causes impacts on our environment.

“Luckily, at the moment, it’s the exception rather than the rule.”

Jarod Lyon from the Arthur Rylah Institute says carp pose a severe risk to aquatic vegetation and biodiversity loss.(

Supplied: DELWP

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Dr Lyon said some of the sites were wetlands in central Victoria, floodplain wetlands in South Australia’s Lower Murray-Darling Basin and the Lachlan River catchment.

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is known for sucking up mud and having a negative impact on water quality.

Dr Lyon said the fish posed a real threat to Australia’s biodiversity.

murky waters with grass and lots of carp
Common carp turn river waters muddy.(

Supplied: DELWP

)

Controlling populations

The federal government first announced $15-million funding for a National Carp Control Plan and the research into the potential release of a controversial carp herpes virus (Cyprinid herpesvirus-3) as a biological control agent for the pest in May 2016.

The plan has been delayed multiple times and remains incomplete.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment said it was working with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to complete ongoing research that was expected to be completed in the second half of 2021.

A cage being lifted from the river with carp inside.
Carp cages are another method used at local sites to reduce their population.(

ABC Rural: Jessica Schremmer

)

The department said other than integrating the remaining scientific research, the plan was close to completion and would be considered by all Australian governments and released publicly once it was finalised.

But many commercial fishers, like Garry Warrick from Barmera, in South Australia’s Riverland, are sceptical of the carp herpes virus and the impact dead carp could have on other native species.

“You are never going to get all the carp out, even with the virus,” Mr Warrick said.

A fisherman backing carp for the fertiliser market.
Fisherman Garry Warrick is catching carp for the fertiliser market and human consumption.(

ABC Rural: Jessica Schremmer

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He said he had been involved in some of the experiments for the National Carp Control Plan conducted in backwaters in the Riverland and was fearful of its results.

“They put six tonnes of dead carp into a backwater to see the effect it would have on backwaters and it actually killed all the live carp in the creek because they just ran out of oxygen and the water turned black,” Mr Warrick said.

An accumulation of carp in a river, pelicans swimming in the background.
Many Australian river systems have large density of common carp.(

Supplied: DELWP

)

Community role has ‘positive impact’

A female carp can produce 300,000 eggs in a single spawning event and has the potential to produce 1 million eggs over the breeding season.

While it is still unclear if the carp herpes virus release will go ahead, Dr Lyon says the research could also be used for site-specific control techniques including cages and manual removal.

“But it can have a really strong and positive impact on a site level where communities get involved in carp removal and reduction programs.”

Mr Warrick is trying to do his bit by catching carp at Lake Bonney and in local creeks.

He said he had seen a lot of change in the water habitat over the past 35 years of fishing and believed one of the biggest problems was a lack of high rivers.

Carp in a freezer.
Some carp are used to produce garden fertilisers.(

ABC Rural: Jessica Schremmer

)

“Carp breed up because the rivers don’t flow as much,” he said.

Red gum fish hotel ready to be dropped into the local lake
Kym Manning has invented a carp fishing competition to reduce carp numbers at Lake Bonney.(

ABC News: Brittany Evins

)

Fishing comp pulls 16,600 carp

Fellow Riverland local Kym Manning started a community initiative to reduce carp numbers nine years ago.

He invented SA’s largest carp fishing competition, the SA Carp Frenzy,  at Lake Bonney.

“The idea was to get rid of some of the carp to give our native fish a bit more space,” Mr Manning said.

He said the competition started with 350 competitors in 2012 and now attracted about 700 keen fishers every year.

But Mr Manning said it was shocking how quickly carp numbers could rise.

“After the flood in 2015, when they spawned in 2016, on the competition day we caught 16,600 carp in nine hours between 400 fishermen,” he said.

A man with fishing rots at a lake at sunrise.
Enthusiastic competitors fishing in the early morning hour of the SA carp frenzy competition at Lake Bonney.(

Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff

)

Mr Manning said he had witnessed many changes over his lifetime.

“When I was young there was never any carp — my first recollection of carp was in the ’70s,” he said.

“I remember, when the yabby season would kick-off in the [’70s and ’80s], your opera house net would be full of little carp in the backwaters.

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BOM warns more wild weather to come as tropical cloud band collides with east coast trough


“Absolutely incredible” totals are set to continue as weather systems collide, bringing a peak to the rain overnight and into tomorrow morning.

Every state and territory, except Western Australia, is expected to be under some sort of heavy rain warning by this evening.

Very dangerous conditions continue for flood-affected areas as another 50 to 100 millimetres is expected to fall on already swollen catchments today.

“We’ve got major flooding across the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo Rivers and moderate flood warnings to the mid-north, but we’re expecting another peak today,” said Jonathan How, senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.

“So pretty treacherous conditions right along the coast.”

Today another 50 to 100mm is expected across parts of Western Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Hunter and into the Mid-North Coast extending up to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, with high isolated falls again.

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The highest rainfall overnight was on the Gold Coast hinterland at North Tambourine recording 263mm. Brisbane CBD picked up 125mm.

In New South Wales, the highest was 245mm at Nambucca Heads on the Mid-North coast.

In the Blue Mountains the gauge at Kurrajong Heights recorded 174mm, 116mm at Springwood, 95mm at North Richmond, 93mm at Warragamba and 88mm at Penrith.

Sydney CBD only picked up 28mm in the end.

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‘Absolutely incredible’ totals so far

The overnight totals were impressive but the totals since 9am Thursday were even more extreme.

Comboyn, just to the south of Port Macquarie, has recorded 889mm of rain between 9am Thursday and 9am Monday.

According to Mr How they were likely to approach 1 metre of rain over the next day or so.

The highest falls in the Sydney area over the same period was at Blackheath with 465mm.

In Western Sydney they recorded 353mm at Warragamba, 290mm at Penrith Lakes and 263mm at Richmond.

“So we’re basically talking three to four months worth of rain over three to four days,” Mr How said.

Map of Australia with greens and blues extending from the Top End to the east coast
It has been a week of heavy and widespread rainfall for much of the continent and it is not over yet.(

Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology

)

The rain has not been restricted to just the last few days — Yarras, also known as Mount Seaview on the Mid-North Coast, is up to 911mm for March so far and, according to Mr How,

“They could get to a metre over the next day or so, which is absolutely incredible.”

Weather systems set to collide

From this evening it is about to get even wetter as a tropical cloud band swings in from the west, colliding with the coastal trough which has brought the rain so far.

“We’ve had days of torrential rain and now this tropical system coming through,” Mr How said.

Overnight there have already been falls of 120mm across Central Australia.

Series of synoptic charts showing the progression of tropical trough and rain moving across Monday - Thursday
Synoptic charts show the tropical cloud band extending across Australia, with low pressure system embedding in Tuesday before moving off on Wednesday. Resulting in clearer conditions by Thursday.(

Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology

)

Into Monday night, those heavy falls will push further east to places like Dubbo and in through the Northern Tablelands.

The resulting peak of the combined deluge is expected to be late tonight and into Tuesday morning.

“By tonight, we’re likely to have every state and territory in Australia, except WA, under some sort of heavy rain warning,” Mr How said.

Warnings are likely to extend to cover parts of the NT, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, eastern Victoria, and most likely north-eastern parts of Tasmania.

How unusual is this?

Weather systems colliding like this are not particularly unusual, but having this much rain in the lead-up is rare.

Mr How said that ironically for Sydney, the rainfall totals across the Hawkesbury and Nepean so far have not been more than what we saw in February last year.

“We did see a pretty similar event, in some regards, in February 2020, but the main difference was that coming off the drought, the soils were much drier and so had a much bigger capacity to absorb water,” he said.

“This time around, unfortunately because of a wetter La Niña summer, runoff is much greater.”

Current analysis suggests that flood levels for this event will fall short of the 1867 flood event for the Hawkesbury and Nepean, but are likely to exceed the 1961 flood event.

While this event will be record breaking, especially for parts of NSW, it was not likely to provide much competition to the widespread rainfall totals set in 2010 and 2011 for Australia as a whole, according to Mr How.

While this rain will have been welcomed by some still needing rain, others, especially places north of Brisbane like Rockhampton, have again missed out.

When is it going to end?

The silver lining of the tropical cloud band is that it will push this coastal trough off into the Tasman Sea.

Despite a low pressure system embedding within the combined rainband rainfall is expected to clear up by Wednesday morning for most of NSW and Queensland.

Wet weather is likely to continue for Tasmania and Victoria through Wednesday but the system should be completely clear of the continent by Thursday, according to Mr How.

But because there has been so much rain, we are likely to see the rivers continue to fill well beyond Wednesday and continue to run high until the weekend.

“Even though the rain will stop and it will be mostly sunny in Sydney by Wednesday, the flooding risk will persist for some time to come,” Mr How said.

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