Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority to take charge of state’s wind farm noise complaints


The new regulations are being introduced after residents in South Gippsland won a major legal battle against the 52-turbine Bald Hills Wind Farm in August last year.

In that case, the wind farm had launched a legal challenge against the validity of a report produced by the South Gippsland Shire that found noise from the project caused a nuisance for residents.

However, the Supreme Court upheld the South Gippsland Shire’s report, ruling there was no error in the council’s findings.

At least two fresh legal challenges against separate wind farms are underway in Victoria.

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A state government spokeswoman said the new laws would simplify the regulation of wind farms in Victoria and provide certainty for investors and local communities.

“Wind farms are vital for Victoria’s future,” she said.

“Wind farms play an important role in achieving the Victorian renewable energy targets while creating jobs and driving down carbon emissions.”

South Gippsland Shire chief executive Kerryn Ellis said the new laws meant councils would be spared expensive legal disputes about wind farm noise.

The Bald Hills Wind Farm in Tarwin Lower, South Gippsland Credit:Benjamin Preiss

“The council supports the change as it will provide clear regulation guidelines and a consistent process both for the industry and communities right across Victoria,” she said.

Ms Ellis said councils had previously been required to investigate noise complaints under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, which she argued was not created to deal with large-scale operations, including wind farms.

“The experience has been that it’s a complex, convoluted process that’s very costly for all parties.”

The sound level requirements for wind farms will remain the same under the new regime.

But the lawyer who represented residents in the Bald Hills case, Dominica Tannock, said the new laws would make it harder for neighbours to launch challenges against wind farms based on noise.

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She argues that local councils had been obligated to act when residents complained about noise, but this option would no longer be open to neighbours of wind farms.

Ms Tannock said councils should also take responsibility for managing noise created by projects within their own boundaries.

“They’re encouraging them to be built in their area,” Ms Tannock said.

However, she agreed that councils did not currently have the expertise to measure noise properly, and they should have access to EPA experts.

Ms Tannock said she supported renewable energy, but wind farms had to be built in appropriate places.

“This is not a fight over renewable energy or a fight over wind farms.”

She is representing residents in Hawkesdale in south-western Victoria who are challenging plans to extend a permit for a wind farm.

In a separate case, she is also representing residents who are mounting a fresh legal challenge of noise compliance at Bald Hills Wind Farm.

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A Bald Hills Wind Farm spokeswoman did not comment on the new challenge.

But she said the company welcomed the government’s decision to transfer wind noise regulation from local councils to the EPA.

“Wind farm noise assessment is a complex area that needs a scientifically rigorous and standardised approach,” she said.

The spokeswoman confirmed the wind farm had engaged acoustic experts to conduct “extensive noise monitoring” to demonstrate it was complying with planning permit requirements.

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Why Less Noise During the Pandemic Might Help Our Ears But Not Our Hearts or Brains


Latest Mental Health News

THURSDAY, Feb. 18, 2021 (American Heart Association News)

Jack hammers. Buzz saws. Screaming toddlers. Barking dogs. Horns blaring from incessant traffic jams. Any of these can set nerves on edge, especially if you are subjected to the noise for hours, days or weeks on end.

It’s more than aggravating. Studies show noise-generated stress is bad for the heart and brain. But pandemic-induced shutdowns and social distancing have led to substantially less noise generated by human activity over the past year, and researchers are looking at whether that could translate into human health benefits.

“We know that stress in a variety of forms is unhealthy. Noise is a type of stress we all encounter in our daily lives,” said Dr. Michael Osborne, a cardiologist at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital who has studied how noise enters the brain and harms the body.

Noise and noise-related stress have been linked to health effects such as hearing loss, sleep disturbance, impaired cognition, high blood pressure, heart disease and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. A 2011 report from the World Health Organization estimated noise pollution in Western Europe annually robs people of more than 1 million healthy life years. A growing body of research continues to shed light on how.

But over the past year, pandemic-related shutdowns, fewer people working outside the home and social distancing have greatly reduced human activity, lowering noise patterns across the globe. One study in the journal Science found shutdowns between March and May of 2020 cut the noise generated by human activity in half, resulting in the “longest and most coherent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history.”

An ongoing study in all 50 states uses smartwatch monitors to track noise exposure. Initial data gathered during shutdowns last spring in California, Texas, New York and Florida showed a halving of environmental noise pollution in these states. Researchers found study participants experienced an average drop of 3 decibel levels.

That’s enough to potentially reduce adverse health impacts, such as hearing loss, said the study’s lead investigator Richard Neitzel, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

For every 3-decibel rise in noise exposure, the risk for hearing loss increases substantially, Neitzel said. “If we can keep noise at a conversation level, below a daily average of 70 decibels, we can completely eliminate noise-induced hearing loss.”

To determine how the drop in environmental noise may be affecting people, Neitzel and his team are asking participants to take regular hearing tests on their smartphones for an analysis they expect to do later this year. They’re also collecting data on heart rates and self-reported stress levels.

The benefits of better hearing could extend well beyond the ears.

A Lancet Commission report on dementia prevention notes hearing loss in midlife is one of the largest modifiable risk factors. Last summer, a study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia found just 10 decibels of additional neighborhood noise is associated with a 36% higher risk for mild cognitive impairment and a 29% higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Osborne’s research gives some clues for how environmental noise may be entering the brain and hurting the body: He found high levels activate the amygdala, a part of the brain involved in processing stress. High levels of activity in the amygdala were associated with an increase in inflammation. “And this associated with downstream cardiovascular events,” he said.

While a quieter environment may result in some benefits, Osborne said other stressors associated with the pandemic could wipe out any health gains.

Anxiety, depression caused by isolation, the loss of family members and other loved ones, fear of contagion, job losses and financial stress all raise concerns of increased health impacts.




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“It’s the sum of the stress we are facing that impacts us,” Osborne said. “I would not be surprised at all to see people with high levels of amygdala activity right now.”

That doesn’t mean the damage can’t be reversed, especially if people find ways to cope with added stresses, said Osborne, who is studying whether mindfulness training might reduce disease in highly stressed people.

“By lessening the constant drive of stress,” he said, “those parts of the brain could become less metabolically active and less hyper-connected, and that could lower inflammation.”

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email [email protected]

By Laura Williamson

American Heart Association News

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City of Melbourne threatens to fine protesters for ‘excessive noise’


The men were transferred amid stormy protests to the Park Hotel from the Mantra Bell City Hotel, where they had been locked up for more than a year.

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On Wednesday, protesters demonstrated outside 1 Treasury Place, home to the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the office of Premier Daniel Andrews, calling for the men’s release.

They gave speeches using microphones and portable amplifiers.

After the protest, a City of Melbourne officer – supported by a crowd of Victoria Police officers – handed two protest organisers notices to comply with the bylaws, and told them they would be fined $500 each.

Apsara Sabaratnam, who ran as the Greens’ lord mayoral candidate in the November council elections and was one of those issued a notice, said she would refuse to pay a fine.

“It’s very important for people like ourselves to stand our ground and the right to protest is an important right,” she said. “And when we give up some ground, what we actually doing is giving up power.”

Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre executive officer Anthony Kelly said even if only a few people were fined, it could have a deterrence effect on other protesters.

“My opinion is that it’s inappropriate and a misuse of the laws,” he said. “It’s always dangerous when any law is used outside its original intended purpose.”

The City of Melbourne bills itself as a Refugee Welcome Zone, that takes a whole-of-council approach to supporting diverse communities. More than 50 per cent of the municipality’s residents were born overseas and speak a language other than English at home.

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A council spokeswoman said the matter would be reviewed internally before any fine was issued.

“If the use of megaphones or amplifiers at protests creates excessive noise and becomes a public amenity issue, our officers can issue verbal and written warnings, and as a last resort, an infringement,” she said.

“We give a number of verbal warnings before any infringements are issued. Issuing fines at demonstrations is not a regular occurrence and we respect the right to protest.”

A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said the City of Melbourne’s local laws restrict the use of amplifier devices to make noise without a permit.

“Victoria Police works closely with all local councils right across the state to enforce local bylaws,” she said.

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Family mourns Filipino mother and son shot by police over noise


PANIQUI, Philippines: Relatives of a woman and her son shot dead by an off-duty policeman in the Philippines called for justice at their wake on Tuesday (Dec 22) amid public outrage over an incident that went viral on social media after it was caught on camera.

Sonya Gregorio, 52, and 25-year old son Frank Gregorio, were shot in the head on Sunday after a row over noise, triggering accusations from activists that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs had created a culture of police impunity.

READ: Philippine authorities investigating fatal shooting incident in Tarlac involving police officer

“I lost a mother who was the most loving mother to us. I lost a brother who was also a very loving and caring brother. It’s very hard for us,” said Tasha Delos Santos.

“I hope our family gets justice.”

The one-year-old daughter of Frank Anthony Gregorio looks at the coffin of her father, Dec 22, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)

Duterte on Monday condemned the Tarlac shooting and said he only defends police who do their duty, warning “there will be a hell to pay” for rogue officers.

In a video recorded on a family member’s mobile phone, policeman Jonel Nuezca was seen engaging in a heated argument with the Gregorios over the use of a homemade cannon in Tarlac province, north of Manila. The devices, which make a booming sound, are typically used to celebrate New Year.

When Sonya wrapped her arms around her son as the row intensified, Nuezca shot her in the head before doing the same to Frank. Before fleeing, Nuezca shot Sonya Gregorio again.

Wake of mother and son shot by an off-duty police officer

Florentino Gregorio stands beside the coffin of his wife Sonya Gregorio, 52, who was shot along with their son, Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25, by an off-duty police officer following a confrontation in front of their house in Paniqui, Tarlac province, Philippines, Dec 22, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)

Nuezca surrendered to police that night and faces two counts of murder. The government has promised a thorough investigation.

“They weren’t criminals, they were the nicest family here,” said neighbour Gonyong Liwanag.

Wake of mother and son shot by an off-duty police officer

The daughter and mother-in-law of slain Frank Anthony Gregorio sit beside his coffin, Dec 22, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)

Critics and rights groups say Duterte’s talk of killing criminals and promises to protect law enforcement have emboldened police to commit and cover up murder. Police reject that.

Government data show that 5,942 suspected drug dealers have been killed by police since 2016. Rights group say that number is an understatement and accuse police of summarily executing users and pushers. Police say those killed had resisted arrest.



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Storm use training to adapt to crowd noise


Melbourne will try to simulate the Suncorp Stadium noise at training this week, admitting the unaccustomed roar of the crowd affected their attack in their NRL finals win over Parramatta.

The Storm looked rattled and trailed the Eels 10-0 early on but piled on four second-half tries for a 36-24 victory to book a preliminary finals berth and earn a week’s rest.

Melbourne assistant coach Jason Ryles said the players took a while to adjust to the noise of 16,000 fans in Brisbane, which was their biggest crowd of the COVID-restricted season.

With Victoria still in lockdown, and the club based on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, they will also play their ‘home’ preliminary final at Suncorp.

“The boys aren’t used to that level of noise after the COVID games but it’s given us something to work on this week, and we will simulate that at training and prepare for our next game,” Ryles said.

“Getting a bit of noise in and around training is something that we can look at as the players did say early on that it was something they had to adjust to in relaying calls and communicating with each other.”

Ryles said having a week off was a major blessing after the condensed season, with 18 rounds straight plus the increased speed and intensity of matches following rule changes.

“It’s huge – the biggest reflection of it is Parramatta this week with both their wingers going down,” he said.

“They will be pretty bumped and bruised and they would have loved to have had the week off so we’re very fortunate.”

He said that injured playmaker Cameron Munster would have been unlikely to feature if the Storm had been required to face South Sydney in the elimination final on Saturday night but is good to go for the following weekend.

They will face one of last year’s grand finalists, Canberra or the champion Sydney Roosters, on Friday week.

Ryles said defence has been a major focus at training this week with head coach Craig Bellamy unhappy with the amount of points the Storm have been conceding.

“It was really disappointing to let that many points in and we’ve been doing it the last couple of weeks,” Ryles said.

“It’s not a trend we’d like to keep going, or one that Craig is very happy with, so it’s put the whole group on edge.”





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The Mpow M9 true wireless earbuds with 4-mic noise cancelation: $22


How are these only $22? How?!


Mpow

I’ve tried many a cheap earbud that sounded good when listening to music but came up short on calls — Zoom, voice and otherwise. If that’s a priority for you, consider this: For a limited time, and while supplies last, the Mpow M9 true wireless earbuds are just $21.99 when you clip the on-page $5-off coupon and then apply promo code CODE9987 at checkout.

Mpow? For once this is a brand I know. It’s been around for years and makes some of the better low-end audio products I’ve tried. (CNET’s David Carnoy is a big fan of the company’s X3, which made his list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds under $50.)

The M9 doesn’t offer traditional active noise-cancelling features, though you do get passive noise-reduction via the silicone ear tips (which, like most, must be seated snugly inside your ear canals). Rather, it employs four-microphone “environment noise canceling,” which is specifically designed to improve the audio quality on calls. It does so by reducing background noise and improving voice detection.

How well does this actually work? I did a couple informal tests, walking outside on a particularly windy day. The folks I talked to said it sounded like I was inside; they couldn’t detect any wind noise. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I’ll just note that the M9 scored an average user rating of 4.6 stars — from over 4,000 buyers.

Other notable features: A USB-C charging case, an IPX8 waterproof rating, touch controls and support for single-earbud mode. Better still, Mpow backs the M9 with a two-year warranty, which is pretty uncommon. Just one requirement: You have to register the product on their site within 15 days of purchase.

All told, this is what I classify as a stupid-good deal. $22. Bonkers.

Your thoughts? 

Stuck at home? Get your work done on Dell’s refurbished 23-inch all-in-one desktop for $360 (Update: Sold out)

dell-optiplex-9030

The photo suggests otherwise, but the Dell OptiPlex 9030 comes with a wired mouse and keyboard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


Dell

Before you plunk down money on a new laptop, ask yourself if you really need that machine to be mobile. If it’s going to spend all its time on a desk anyway, consider a desktop — specifically an all-in-one desktop, which packs the whole system right into the monitor.

Like this one: Today only, and while supplies last, Woot has the refurbished Dell Optiplex 9030 23-inch all-in-one desktop for $360. That’s a pretty amazing price given the specs.

The system runs on an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM (expandable) and a 256GB solid-state drive. It also has a whopping eight USB ports (six of them USB 3.0), a headphone jack, a 2-megapixel webcam and — nostalgia alert! — a DVD-ROM drive.

The full-HD display can tilt and swivel on its height-adjustable stand, and it can even rotate 90 degrees for portrait-mode computing. The keyboard and mouse are wired, alas, but you could certainly swap them for wireless components if you’d prefer.

The icing on this cake: The system includes a 180-day warranty, not the usual 90 days. The only real ding I can find here: the integrated Intel graphics subsystem, which won’t do much for games.

Other than that, this looks to be a solid desktop at a sweet price.

This article was published previously.


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Adelaide should be making noise to host this year’s AFL Grand Final, says SA footy legends


SA football legend Neil Kerley has demanded the state government get “off their backside” and fight hard to secure the AFL grand final, calling it a great opportunity.

State government officials are developing an official proposal to hold the game at Adelaide Oval this year, if it cannot be at the MCG due to Victoria’s coronavirus crisis.

Queensland is the frontrunner to stage the match, which has always been in Melbourne, because it has saved the season by hosting hubs.

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Perth’s Optus Stadium is considered next in line with its capacity of 60,000, although that will be cut to 30,000 until October 24 – one of two proposed grand final dates, along with October 17 – due to WA’s latest COVID-19 restrictions.

With SA well placed due to its exemplary health record and Sports Minister Corey Wingard this month declaring “we’re in this”, Kerley and fellow state greats John Platten and Tony Modra told News Corp Australia that Adelaide Oval should be in the mix for the decider.

Kerley, who has won three SANFL premierships Adelaide Oval and has a bar named in his honour in the ground’s Riverbank Stand, could not believe it had taken the State Government so long to formally make its case.

“We’ve known now for quite some time it probably won’t be held at the MCG, so I can’t understand why the people here that are in a position to fight hard for this contract haven’t got off their backside and done something about it,” Kerley, an Australian Football Hall of Famer, said.

“It’s a great opportunity for the South Australian football hierarchy to get their teeth into it, get hold of the right people and really put in a strong bid to host it.

“(Hosting the grand final) would be a hell of a lift for football in this state … and they’ve got nothing to lose by trying to get it.

“If we could become the first state apart from Victoria to host the grand final, gee whiz, that would be a hell of a plus.”

The AFL continues to say publicly that the grand final will be at the MCG, which has a contract to host the event until 2057, and is expected to make an official decision on the game’s location by the end of the month.

“The Victorian people have got to realise it won’t be at the MCG so they’ve got to take second best for the first time ever,” Kerley said.

“There are a lot of things about football the Victorians take for granted and think belongs to them, which is bulls***, in my opinion – it should be shared to the various things.”

Kerley rated Adelaide Oval the equal second-best ground in the league with Optus Stadium, behind the MCG.

He said hosting the grand final in SA would be even better if ladder-leading Port Adelaide was in it.

“Adelaide Oval would be a great spectacle and a good test for our people to see if they could run it,” he said.

The last grand final that was not at the MCG was at Waverley Park in 1991, when the Great Southern Stand was under construction.

Hawthorn and Central District champion Platten played in that match and he hoped SA would get a chance if the game hit the road again.

“It’ll be great to showcase Adelaide Oval and one of the most spectacular grounds going around in the world,” said Platten, the 1987 Brownlow Medallist and 1984 Magarey winner.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re playing at Elizabeth Football Club in front of 2000 people, it’s a grand final – they’ll play in any part of Australia to play in a grand final.”

Modra, the Crows’ all-time leading goalkicker, expected Queensland to be awarded the match “but would love for it to be in Adelaide”.

“It’d be once-in-a-lifetime,” Modra said.

“It’s a great time to show off the rest of Australia as far as the AFL grand final goes and seeing what they can offer.

“With the city, the accommodation, how picturesque it is, we love our city and there’d be no drama selling it out.

“I think we beat Perth … because with travel, the less they fly the better and Adelaide is a lot closer than Perth, so I think it’s going to be between us and Queensland.”

A spokeswoman for Wingard said the government was developing a proposal in line with an AFL request and the state was well placed to host finals.

WA makes call on Grand Final crowd

A Grand Final staged at Perth Stadium would be restricted to a half-capacity crowd under Western Australia’s extended COVID-19 restrictions.

WA Premier Mark McGowan on Tuesday extended the state’s Phase 4 restrictions until October 24, meaning a maximum of 30,000 people is permitted at Perth Stadium for any event.

Depending on whether the league opts to implement a pre-finals bye for competing teams, the Grand Final could fall on October 17 or 24, with a determination on both a planned date and location expected by the end of the month.

But McGowan — who said he had no knowledge of reports that the state had offered the AFL $35 million to host the match — was adamant he would not budge on the measure and that the premiership decider was “not our main priority”.

“I don’t know what date the Grand Final is scheduled for, I’m not sure they know exactly what date it is,” he said.

“But clearly our advice is to keep Phase 4 in place for two months. And that means up until that date, we expect that we will have the current restrictions at Optus Stadium remain in place.

“Look, the truth of the matter is, that the Grand Final is one of those things that I get asked a lot about, particularly at press conferences.

“But it’s not our main priority. It’s not our main focus. Keeping people safe, getting our economy back up is our main focus.”

He said that if the league was to opt to stage the decider in Perth “in a COVID-safe way”, it would “have to abide” by the 30,000 cap on the crowd.

The Gabba is understood to be the current frontrunner to host the game should the league make the call to move it away from the MCG, with the Brisbane stadium likely restricted to a capacity of less than 20,000 people.

“I understand (Perth) would still be the biggest stadium and the biggest crowd in Australia, so it’s not like they would have lost anything,” McGowan said.

“But the reality is, we’ve got big issues to worry about. The Grand Final is not one of them.”

BROWNLOW COULD BE VIRTUAL EVENT

The AFL will consider all options for a Queensland Brownlow Medal – including the drastic option of a virtual event – as it safeguards its finals series from coronavirus.

The Herald Sun understands the league’s working group will report back on options by the end of next week for an event likely to be held in the days after Round 18.

That timeslot would allow the league to hold the event with the majority of its players in attendance, having just finished the home-and-away season in Queensland.

But there are biosecurity risks with holding a function for hundreds of players given the AFL would need to guarantee a clean event that didn’t expose players and potentially partners to the risk of coronavirus.

There are club fears around putting players who have been in strict quarantine and high performance hubs in a venue with catering and security staff in attendance.

The league would have to be confident a waiter or security guard had no chance of passing on the virus to a group that would literally be the AFL’s best and brightest players, some about to play finals.

The AFLW best-and-fairest in April was awarded to Carlton’s Madison Prespakis after the league streamed its award on video platform.

That is one option for the AFL if it cannot guarantee its biosecurity protocols have been as tight as they have in recent months.

Queensland continues to boast extremely low COVID positives but the league’s determination to avoid risks that could derail the season will intensify on the eve of the finals.

The league will have to be confident the risk is close to zero to hold an event, which would include social distancing and only a small group of players in attendance.

Whether the AFL would invite wives and girlfriends who have been in quarantine hubs is another consideration given the red carpet has become a significant part of the night.

The league will also have to consider the future of a range of awards nights including its MVP, All Australian and Rising Star awards.

Brownlow Medal winner Shane Crawford has backed the event to be held on the Gold Coast after he won the 1999 Brownlow Medal when the ceremony was held in Sydney.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said recently the state would love to host the award, which has only moved outside of Melbourne once in its 97-year history.

“Of course I would love to see the Brownlow Medal here in the Sunshine State,” Palaszczuk said.

“Queensland would be the perfect place for the glitz and the glamour of the Brownlow and it makes sense if we’re going to be the temporary home for the AFL.”

PREMIER’S VICTORIAN RALLY CALL FOR GRAND FINAL LOCATION

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called on Victorians to rally behind Queensland as the destination of choice for the AFL Grand Final.

The league is set to make a call on where the decider will be played at the end of this month, with the chances of the MCG – the traditional and contracted home of the game – hosting the match deemed incredibly slim due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis in Victoria.

Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Perth have all expressed a desire to host the game, which could be staged outside of Victoria for the first time in the history of the VFL/AFL.

Palaszczuk said that the sunshine state would be ready if required, but was waiting for the league to make its call.

“But we are having some close talks behind the scenes,” she said on Monday morning.

“We’re going to work very closely behind the scenes.

“And if the decision is made for it not to be held in Melbourne, Queensland has hosted the bulk of the competition and I would hope that people living in Victoria would also support Queensland.”

Palaszczuk would not be drawn on how much money could be involved, and said “we’re not at that stage at the moment”.

“Like I said, we need the AFL to make their decision,” she said.

“This is a very tough decision, because let’s face it – it has never left Victoria. But Queensland does stand ready, willing and able to host if it is unable to be hosted in Victoria.”

If the season continues without a pre-finals bye, the game is slated to be played on October 17.

South Australia continues to push its cause for hosting AFL finals, including the season decider.

“The South Australian Government is developing an official proposal in line with the AFL’s request,” an SA government spokesperson:

“South Australia is well placed to hold finals given our exemplary health record and the facilities we have on offer at Adelaide Oval.

League boss Gillon McLachlan has been open that he would not intend to go head-to-head with the Caulfield Cup, or the 150th Cox Plate the following week if the bye was implemented.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday that it was still too soon to make a call on moving the game away from the MCG, and said the state government and sports Minister Martin Pakula were engaged in conversation with the league.

“We’ve got a contract in place so we would seek to add a year at the end of that contract if the event can’t occur here,” he said.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that it does, but it is a long way off.”

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Virgin boss urges workers to ignore bondholder ‘noise’


“If for some reason an alternative proposal was allowed to be put to the meeting to be voted on, it would be very disruptive to the sale process and problematic for us,” Mr Scurrah said in a note sent to staff seen by this masthead. “Any delay to the administration process would mean we remain in administration for a longer period.”

“From day one, the goal has been, and remains, to bring this business out of administration as quickly as
possible and avoid the potential outcomes of going into liquidation, which is not something any of us
want.”

Mr Scurrah said it was important staff knew that the bondholder proposal was “non-binding, conditional, indicative and incomplete”.

Virgn’s administrator Deloitte has, meanwhile, told members of Virgin’s creditors’ committee of inspection in a letter sent on Thursday that the sale deal signed with Bain on June 26 precluded it from considering or even discussing any other deal.

“This remains the position unless the asset sale to Bain Capital is set aside by the court,” joint administrator Vaughan Strawbridge said in the letter, seen by this masthead. “Currently, neither [Broad Peak and Tor] or any other party, have brought an application to court seeking to set aside the asset sale to Bain Capital.”

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He said the vote of creditors early next month would only determine how Virgin was sold – either via the asset sale or a deed of company arrangement (DOCA) – and not who it was sold to.

“We do not see how a competing DOCA that deals with the assets of the business that are subject to the agreement with Bain Capital can be put to the creditors,” Mr Strawbridge said.

A key reason Deloitte chose to enter an asset sale was to secure funding to keep Virgin out of liquidation, with Bain immediately taking over financial liability of the airline. Mr Strawbridge said Broad Peak and Tor had not shown any evidence of funding and that their proposal remained “highly conditional”.

Virgin went into voluntary administration with debts of $6.8 billion in April after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to ground most of its fleet.



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Working from home will require a rethink of noise restrictions


The impact of COVID-19 on work continues to evolve in many different ways. A week does not seem to go by without the demise of workplaces.

We hear a lot about zombie companies, so-called because they are the walking dead, or in other words, were unsustainable or marginally sustainable when the government stepped in to prop them up. Many people have lost their jobs and many more are clinging on, with it being only a matter of time before they lose their jobs.

More of us are having to juggle family and work from home.Credit:E+

Large numbers of people have found themselves stuck at home during working hours. This has led to a number of changes, some predictable and some not.

There has been plenty of coverage of how confinement is creating problems with domestic violence. I wonder, too, whether it may lead to conflict between neighbours. In Melbourne and Sydney in particular, there has been significant growth in medium and high-density housing. More and more of us are living in townhouses and apartments. Planning rules for new terraces will only increase this phenomenon.



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Washington Residents Bang Pots and Pans as Post-Curfew Noise Protest



Residents in Washington, DC’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood banged pots and pans as a noise protest after the city imposed a 7 pm curfew, video from June 2 shows. Washington Mayor Muriel E Bowser placed the city under a curfew from 7 pm to 6 am as of Monday, in the wake of demonstrations responding to the police-involved death of George Floyd, local news reported. Locals said that the protest, known as a cacerolazo in Latin America, started at 7 pm on Tuesday and continued for at least an hour. Credit: Maddie Hagerman via Storyful



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