‘Twin towers’ send shockwaves through community

A development application for a six-storey block of flats in Trafalgar Street Woolgoolga has sent shockwaves through the local community.

Northern Beaches Residents Association (NBRA) President Ray Willing says the proposal is the kind you would see on the Gold Coast.

“The building is completely out of scale with the adjoining single and two-storey dwellings in terms of height, bulk and massing and would block views for all surrounding properties and dominate the landscape.”

Coffs Harbour City Council has requested the developers erect scaffolding to demonstrate the height of the building.

“The scaffolding has been dubbed the Twin Towers by locals and it already dominates the skyline of Woolgoolga.

“However, despite their foreboding and ominous nature, they only represent the lowest point at the rear (southern end) of the proposed high-rise building.”

The estimated cost of the work is $3.8m and the application is currently on public exhibition.

The proposed Trafalgar Street development is the latest in a line of development applications that the NBRA sees as evidence that developers are trying to exploit delays in enacting the Woolgoolga Town Centre Master Plan to push through developments that are completely at odds with the seaside village character of Woolgoolga.


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Mr Willing says the latest proposal is the thin edge of a very unwelcome wedge.

“It could set a dangerous precedent and many in the community are worried that Woolgoolga will very quickly become another version of the Gold Coast.”

The Woolgoolga Town Centre Master Plan was agreed by residents and unanimously adopted by Council.

It sets the height limit for developments in Woolgoolga at 11 metres to preserve the character of the town.

“This proposed development greatly exceeds that limit,” Mr Willing said.

“Woolgoolga residents should not have to pay for Council delays in having the Master Plan enacted. Council should reject this application and any others that fall outside the limits imposed by the Master Plan.”

He says to do otherwise would be a breach of faith with the residents who worked so hard developing the plan with Council and that most residents are not opposed to development but want it to be in keeping with the character of the town.

For more details on the proposal go to Council’s DA tracker and search for the number 0888/20DA

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Canberra mum tells of her battle to save premature twin babies during the shocking summer bushfires 

‘I locked myself in the smallest room in the house’: Mum tells of her terrifying battle to save premature twin babies during the deadly summer bushfires – before eventually having to flee her home

  • Brooke Lye has recalled twins’ fight for life after going into labour at 33 weeks
  • Ruby and Ash were born during horror bushfire season in Queanbeyan region
  • Spent five weeks in hospital before heading home as smoke filled their room

A mum has recalled her premature baby twins’ desperate fight for life during last summer’s horror bushfires.

Brooke Lye’s complicated pregnancy ended when she went into labour at 33 weeks with twins Ruby and Ash entering the world four minutes apart last November 20.

The premature babies spent their first five weeks in hospital before the family were forced were to flee home after their room was filled with smoke due to devastating bushfires over the New Year period.

They couldn’t escape the danger there either, as smoke choked every room at their home in the Queanbeyan suburb of Googong, near Canberra.

Ms Lye feared for her babies’ lives over the next five days as she placed wet towels under doors to keep the smoke out. 

‘I locked myself in the smallest room in the house with the babies and an air purifier and we took terms being in there with them for five days straight,’ she told the Sunday Telegraph

‘We couldn’t go outside, they were still getting fed by a tube and the nurses had to cancel their visits because they couldn’t drive through the smoke, it was that thick.’

NSW experienced one of its worst bushfire seasons on record in 2019-2020. The catastrophic summer claimed the lives of 33 people across Australia.

Ruby (left) and her twin brother Ash (right) had difficulties breathing when they were born

Last summer was one of the worst in Australian history, destroying an estimated 18.6 million hectares and almost 6,000 buildings – including 2,779 homes. 

The lives lost included 25 in NSW, three in South Australia and five in Victoria.

Billions of animals, including native wildlife were wiped out.

Canberra recorded the worst air quality on Earth on New Year’s Day as devastating bushfires ripped through the NSW south coast and surrounding inland regions.

‘The smoke was so bad, you could literally see a haze in the hospital and I was panicking. I thought ‘they have premmie lungs, how are they going to get through this? Ms Lye said.

Bushfires had already ravaged the Queanbeyan region when Ruby and Ash arrived seven weeks early in November.

Brooke Lye went into labour with premature twins Ruby (left) and Ash (right) during the horror Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20

Brooke Lye went into labour with premature twins Ruby (left) and Ash (right) during the horror Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20

Ms Lye and her husband Sam were unable to touch or cuddle their precious babies during the harrowing first few weeks as they struggled to breathe on their own. 

‘Ash had problems with his lungs so he couldn’t breathe at the start on his own,’ Ms Lye told WIN News this week. 

‘Everything that comes naturally as a mum, it was the complete opposite. There’s nothing naturally about leaving your babies with somebody else.’ 

Almost a year on, Ruby and Ash are happy and healthy as they get ready to celebrate their first birthday next month.

The family went on a five kilometre walk on Sunday for the Walk for Prems fundraiser to raise vital funds for the 48,000 sick and premature babies born in Australia each year.


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A touch of light: Ilwempe Aperrtye, Twin Gums


All photos © Mike Gillam

When people ask, I describe myself as a refugee from Melbourne, and my teenage years in horizon stretching suburbia provide some context for what I’m about to write. It’s not my intention to pour scorn on that vast southern city at a time when morale is low but my loyalties lie in the arid zone, a richer definition of vast.

 Like so many of my baby boomer generation (b.1955) my first exposure to ghost gums and red gums, came through the water colour paintings of Albert Namatjira. I can hardly write about ghost gums, the colour and light of Centralia, without mentioning Namatjira and those that followed.

In fact, ghost gums have cast a spell on every photographer to pass through Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap) for well over one hundred years. A spell so great that all of us are willing to risk the derision of our community howling out cliché, as we struggle to find a tortured survivor clinging to a rock face or any other rarity or angle that offers our image a hint of originality.

For this distracted teenager growing up in a dreary suburb the impact of Namatjira’s paintings was a delightful and unsettling shock. I remember framed prints of ghost gums and river red gums hanging in a school classroom and the lounge-rooms of friends. It would be entirely accurate to say Namatjira touched the lives of millions “condemned to live and die in crowded towns” (to borrow a phrase from the explorer Ernest Giles).

My favourite city refuge was a degraded urban creek in Boxhill and there could be no greater contrast to Namatjira’s paintings conceived in the desert heartlands. I’ve just searched the internet and perhaps predictably this tiny tributary of the Yarra known as Koonung Creek is showing ‘improvement’ with elevated walking trail/cycle paths. It’s still described by Melbourne water as the unhealthiest water in the city but the high E.coli counts are not relevant to my story.

In my time there was a secret pool where, if you sat very quietly and long enough, you could see long neck tortoises swimming around. On a warm summer’s day, one might even discover a lowland copperhead draped over a cushion of dead bracken ferns, seeking the sun. Copperheads were slow moving and gentle snakes, strangely forgiving of risk taking teenagers who didn’t really know what they were doing.

In retrospect my beautiful refuge was really a glorified sub-divisional drain, a largely disrespected place where some locals thought to dump the occasional dead fridge or washing machine from the road bridge above. The avalanche of lawn clippings and shrub prunings heaved over back fences of the tidy middle class housing estate were slightly less eye watering.

Few other places held my interest. There was a neglected cemetery or two where subsidence had caused the cover stones of occasional graves to crack and tilt. These were perfect habitat for wonderful blue tongue lizards that would bask in the sun on the heated black granites and disappear into the void at the first sign of young boys stalking them.

Arriving in Alice Springs at the tender age of 17, I felt immediately at home among the painters and the dreamers in a small town held in the strangely familiar embrace of oxide mountains. Sure it was an unsavoury frontier society awash with alcohol and misery but its wild heart was still beating.

Like Melbourne, there was plenty of squalor and rubbish but far, far fewer people. There was also the slow theatre of a desert sunrise, the omnipresent peak of the wild dog ancestor and the screech of cockatoos. In a sandy river bed Aboriginal people sat in semi-circles beneath the muscular branches of river red gums and sang in time honoured praise of Altjira, ancestors and country.

And rain, a generally despised and vaporous element in Melbourne, here in the centre of the continent was revered, delicious and more varied in form.

Aboriginal artists saw trees as sentient beings and both ghost gums and river gums featured prominently in the watercolour tradition of what became known as the Hermannsburg school. The ghost gums in particular with their characteristic skin creases and prominent protruding hips and elbows looked as though a cocooned spirit was struggling to emerge from centuries of stasis.

In time I discovered the trees of Otto Pareroultja, a vision of country quite different to Albert’s, trees as totemic forms, rotating and twisting with a life force, vigorous and dynamic.

 Much later I met the endlessly inquisitive David Mpetyane Stuart who trained at CAAMA, the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association, as a cameraman. Mpetyane saw ghost gums as lightning rods connected to underground force fields that he represented with electrical motifs for AC and DC currents.

His unique Arrernte vision was equally informed by a technical knowledge of electricity and the nature of lightning, where ground ‘leaders’ complete the connection so that lightning passes not only from the clouds to earth but also from the ground up. I remember one of Mpetyane’s late career paintings that combined ghost gums and a conical quartzite hill. His symmetrical white trees looked very much like forked lightning inverted.

My friend did not have time to reveal his full creative potential, his life (1963-2008) cut tragically short by the effects of a serious assault and residual poor health. I write this essay, one week before my 65th birthday and reflect that Albert Namatjira died aged 57, Otto Pareroultja at 59 and David Mpetyane at 45.

Many of those famous trees painted by Namatjira are still alive, a tribute to their longevity, with ages of 400 and 500 years commonly cited for river red gums.

Tragically, one of his most famous painting sites, referred to as the Twin Gums, was destroyed in an arson attack. As their name suggests, the trees in question stood side by side and they certainly felt closely balanced in form and appearance.


In late 2012 the Twin Gums were nominated for inclusion on the register of the national heritage estate in recognition of their cultural significance and connection to Albert Namatjira. This nomination was widely publicised and an arborist was duly engaged to help improve their failing health.

Then, on Sunday 30 December they were burnt with a fire so intense it followed the trunk underground for approximately one metre. With high fuel loads from the previous very wet year, 2012 was a dry year, characterised by a record breaking 157 days without rain.

Three fires were apparently lit on a 38 degrees C day and were fanned by a stiff 25 knot breeze from the SSE. It seems possible that embers travelled from fire two and were responsible for the ignition at fire three, the site of the Twin Gums, a mere 100 metres west.

There is a history of tree killings in Australia, too many to mention. One relatively recent example is the Tree of Knowledge in Barcaldine, a ghost gum and symbol of union fellowship, which was poisoned in 2006. Barcaldine was the headquarters of the 1891 Australian shearers’ strike and the tree was the site of the 1892 reading of the Labour Party manifesto leading to the formation of the Australian Labor Party.

Closer to home, at the Traeger Park oval in Alice Springs, two sacred trees, associated with the story of the Kwekatye boys travelling north, were drilled and poisoned in 2009, apparently because they stood in the way of plans to extend a grandstand. 

Killing a sacred tree, an ancient life form that has stood through multiple human generations, is a coward’s way of inflicting great pain on the tree’s custodians and admirers. The perpetrator knows too well that such a crime will not attract the degree of attention or level of punishment reserved by our society for those who assault or kill their own kind or even those that commit mainstream property crime.

If the criminal is lucky, no-one will even bother to investigate the murder of sacred trees. So it was I discovered a few years later, for the case of the Twin Gums. Claiming the crime scene had not been preserved, police decided not to investigate.

A few days after the event I received a call from the sacred sites authority (AAPA). They were intending to send their investigator, an experienced former policeman, to Alice Springs and asked if I had any thoughts on the arson. I’d heard only the news reports and offered to drive out to look at the trees.

The fire had been very intense; regrowth seemed improbable. I called in to a couple of nearby outstations to see if they knew anything but there was no one home so I returned to town and passed on the tragic news that the Twin Gums were no more.

A few days later a journalist rang from Melbourne looking for quotes and I declined the offer. In conversation we both agreed the national media interest in the trees as a result of their heritage nomination and their destruction a little while later was a hell of a coincidence. Regretfully in that moment I failed to caution him against making assumptions that the destruction of the Twin Gums was a racist act.

Overnight the inference of a racially motivated attack on the sacred trees known as the Twin Gums made international news. For the many locals who knew and loved this prominent landmark, it felt like Alice Springs was in the news yet again for all the wrong reasons.

I have no doubt that some fire fighters and others living in the area knew the truth but what’s done is hard to undo. Media interest was intense but in the rush to print, those who knew the truth were apparently never asked.

The following excerpt is representative of media reports that followed the fire: 

“There is no doubt somebody set out to destroy the trees,” a source close to the investigation told Fairfax Media. “… they had been approved for heritage listing, and that had apparently made them a target.” … Susan McCulloch, author of the Encyclopaedia of Australian Art, said destruction of the ”majestic ghost gums” that appeared in so many of Namatjira’s best-known and much-loved works was a tragic act of cultural vandalism …

In the weeks following the fire I returned to take photographs. Walking the fire ground I was reminded there had been three separate spot fires along the southern roadside of Larapinta Drive. The most easterly ignition point was just inside the boundary grid approaching the Simpsons Gap turnoff, another on the west bank of Roe Creek and finally the third at the Twin Gums. The fires were separated by a distance of about 1.7 km and the ignition points of fires two and three were only 100 metres apart.

There was little left of the Twin Gums to photograph so I focused my efforts on the nearby fire (fire 2) that had claimed a ghost gum, healthier and more magnificent than either of the ageing Twin Gums. I composed a surreal image with the fallen tree flowing like a torrent towards the camera, another graceful standing tree nearby and the inscribed tracks of the fire tender connecting both (image at top).

The more time I spent at the site, the more convinced I became that media reports had not uncovered the real cause of these fires. Might we not have to entertain the possibility of coincidence here, between the heritage nomination and the destruction of the trees.

Why would a racist, intent on destroying the nationally significant Twin Gums, spread their assault over such an area, thereby increasing the risks of detection? I remembered numerous other fires within the national park that had originated from the roadside. One informant confirmed my instincts of an unusual fire history showing a definite cluster in the local area involving many fires lit over several years.

Fires are lit for a multitude of reasons. I’ve seen a fire lighting spree triggered by a domestic violence incident – the man choosing to light random fires along the grassy river banks to terrorise his wife who had disengaged from their argument and was walking away. I’d draw a parallel with blokes I’ve known, who losing an argument with their wife or girlfriend, would punch a hole in a door to demonstrate their strength and propensity for violence.

I have it on good authority the Twin Gums incident involves a pattern of behaviour by a regular visitor to the area, a troubled and drug-affected young man seeking attention and demonstrating his anger. I doubt the destruction of the Twin Gums was a premeditated act but rather a grass fire that escalated. Nevertheless, the risks of this behaviour extends well beyond trees; such a fire could spread and threaten neighbouring hamlets and suburbs within minutes.

I won’t say more but I am convinced that any inference of racism, unlike the act of bastardry that killed the Traeger Park trees, is totally wrong. I could complain bitterly about the heavy price of lazy journalism and hasty judgments consigned to print. More relevant, I should emphasise the greatly weakened position of mainstream media and the pressure on fewer journalists to file more with less time and resources.

I really didn’t want to write this story and open old wounds or point the finger. Is it possible however to write about ghost gums and some of our nation’s most treasured artists whilst ignoring the Twin Gums tragedy? Might this awful memory fade from public memory over time? Wrong! The next lavishly illustrated book on the history of art in Australia or the one after will surely dedicate space to the shocking loss of this important cultural site. The existing public record stands until it’s corrected. Surely I owe it to the next generation of writers to interrogate the evidence and clarify this historical event.

I would argue this incident involving potential pyromania, mental health issues, adolescent stupidity and drug abuse should occupy a lesser citation in the continuing push-pull of the culture wars. Legitimate examples of systemic and shocking racism are commonplace in Australia and we certainly don’t have to magnify them or invent more to satisfy our appetite for bad news. Unsurprising to me, none of the Aboriginal people I spoke to wanted to throw white people under the bus for the Twin Gums tragedy.

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French nudists, furious librarians and twin commissioners – POLITICO

It’s been a tough few days for French nudists | Pascal Guyot/AFP via Getty Images


These are tough times for people who like to wander around in the nude.

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

How do you make a Frenchman angry? Tell him to put his clothes back on.

Yes, it’s been a tough few days for French nudists. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was forced to intervene following an incident on the beach at Sainte-Marie la Mer, close to Perpignan in southwest France, when three women who were bathing topless were asked to cover up by police after complaints from a family with children.

“Freedom is a precious commodity,” said a (probably) topless Darmanin.

Nudists fearful that they might be, er, stripped of their rights have more to worry about. Health authorities said there had been a “very worrying” outbreak of the coronavirus at a naturist holiday resort on the Mediterranean coast, with around 150 people testing positive.

The authorities said 95 people staying at the Cap d’Agde Naturist Village, south of Montpellier, were found to have COVID-19, while a further 50 who had been at the resort tested positive on their return home.

Known as “Naked City,” Cap d’Agde is the world’s largest clothing-optional beach resort and visitors have now been told that they must wear a face mask, if nothing else.

And if it really is “Naked City” then there are certain jobs it must be very hard (if you’ll pardon the pun) to fill: butcher, rugby player and barbeque chef, to name but three.

It wasn’t the first time nudists have been in trouble during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, police in the Czech Republic issued a warning after complaints about maskless naturists enjoying warm weather in the small town of Lázně Bohdaneč, east of Prague. And in May, authorities in the Belgian region of Bredene announced the closure of the country’s only nudist beach for the whole summer.

But if there’s one group even angrier than fully clothed French people, then it’s librarians.

When Boris Johnson gave a speech at a school on Wednesday — during which he tried to blame England’s recent exam chaos on a “mutant algorithm” — the librarians were ready for him. On the bookshelves behind the prime minister were some strategically placed books with rather unflattering titles, including “Betrayed,” “The Resistance,” “Fahrenheit 451” (a dystopian novel about a society in which books are banned), “Guards! Guards!” (about a secret brotherhood that attempts to overthrow a corrupt patrician and install a puppet king), and “The Twits.”

Alas, there don’t seem to have been any copies of Johnson’s hilariously bad 2004 novel “Seventy-Two Virgins — A Comedy of Errors.” That would have been too cruel.

However, the display apparently wasn’t intended for Johnson, but for school management. “I actually feel a little bit sorry for the prime minister because it wasn’t ever intended for him — I did it as a message for the school management before I left in February,” the now-former school librarian told the Huffington Post.

Speaking of trolling, Irish singing twin weirdos Jedward were quick off the mark when fellow Irishman Phil Hogan resigned as European trade commissioner, tweeting a picture of them standing behind an EU flag lectern. Two days earlier, Jedward had tweeted “We have more EU connections than some people! We did do Eurovision twice!” and got a ‘like’ from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The heavily gelled singing twins have already made it clear that they don’t play golf, so maybe they have a chance at the Commission job.


“The remake of The Karate Kid looks rubbish.”

Can you do better? Email pdallison@politico.eu or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“OK, you left me with no choice … karaoke!” by Giovanni Cellini.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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Twin U.S. Gulf Coast storms stir deep production cuts by energy giants

Tropical Storm Marco arrives at the coast of Louisiana as Tropical Storm Laura follows (bottom right) in an image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) GOES-East satellite August 24, 2020. CIRA/NOAA/Handout via REUTERS

August 24, 2020

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Energy companies are moving to cut production at U.S. Gulf Coast oil refineries after shutting half the area’s offshore crude oil output ahead of back-to-back storms aiming for the coast this week.

Tropical Storms Marco and Laura, a rare double-team approach to the U.S. Gulf Coast, threaten days of heavy rains and strong winds this week. Producers by Sunday had shut more than 1 million barrels per day of Gulf Coast offshore oil production, 9% of the nation’s total output, as one storm is forecast to become a damaging Category 2 hurricane.

Motiva Enterprises on Monday began preparations to shut its large Port Arthur, Texas, crude oil refinery, said people familiar with plant operations. A Motiva spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Benchmark gasoline prices rose nearly 7% to the highest since March and Gulf Coast crude oil grades strengthened in thin trading on Monday, according to traders. Gulf Coast refiners account for 45% of U.S. oil processing capacity.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest Gulf Coast oil-export facility, halted operations at its marine terminal on Sunday.

Storm Laura is forecast to strike the Texas/Louisiana coast by Thursday as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mile per hour (169 km/h) winds and heavy rain. Some meteorologists say the storm could strengthen to a major hurricane before it makes landfall.

Other refiners including Exxon Mobil, Valero and Royal Dutch Shell are planning to maintain operations at Louisiana plants as the first cyclone arrives Monday, people familiar with those refineries said. Storm Marco is expected to drop up to 5 inches (12.7 cm) of rain along the Louisiana coast.

Refineries in east Texas including those operated by Exxon, Valero and Total are weighing plans for Storm Laura when it hits the Texas-Louisiana border.

During 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, which occurred three years ago this week, five feet (1.52 meters) of rain fell on east Texas, forcing Motiva to halt Port Arthur plant operations for nearly two weeks and others to take shorter shut-downs.

That storm led Motiva, which is owned by the world’s top oil producer Saudi Aramco <2222.SE>, to cancel plans to expand the refinery.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Pressure on for Hobart City Council to approve New Town hospital, despite twin knockbacks

One of Tasmania’s highest-paid public servants has joined the call for Hobart City Council to approve a development in one of the city’s oldest suburbs — despite the proposal being twice recommended for refusal.

Deputy Mayor and Planning Committee chair Helen Burnet said “the extraordinary letter” from coordinator-general John Perry urging councillors to use their “discretion” to approve the private hospital was a clear example of the increased lobbying experienced by councils.

“Over the last two to three years, in my 15 years on council, I have seen a very concerted effort by PR companies, by hired lobby groups to drive home their position,” she said.

The position of coordinator-general — which attracts a remuneration well above that of the Tasmanian premier — was created in 2014 by the newly-elected Liberal Government as part of a key election pledge to be “the primary point of access to government for investors”.

In his LinkedIn profile, Mr Perry lists “red tape reduction” as one of his functions as coordinator-general.

John Perry said the project’s proponent Nexus has a “strong record as a healthcare provider”.(TasmanianLeaders.org.au)

The news of his letter to elected members comes a week after the State Government introduced its Major Project Bill which would allow it to declare large and complex developments as requiring special attention to have them assessed by a specially-convened panel rather than a local council.

It’s unclear whether the proposed Tasman Private Hospital development in New Town would qualify as a “major project”, but the Health Minister has voiced her support for the project.

The $55 million proposal consists of “an integrated medical centre and hospital” including six operating theatres and a 24-hour bed overnight ward. Other health services, including a general practice, pharmacy, radiology and pathology would be co-located with the hospital.

The company behind the development, Nexus Hospitals, owns and operates 15 hospitals across Australia and describes itself as “building Australia’s leading network of short stay hospitals”.

It wants to replicate its model in Hobart, but its first application was rejected by the council in December on multiple grounds including the operational hours’ potential impact on residents.

Council officers have once again recommended its amended application for refusal, writing that the proposed building height “is not compatible with the scale of nearby buildings [and] … does not contribute positively to the streetscape”

Nexus Hospitals proposal for a hospital in Hobart
An artist;s impression of the private hospital proposed for New Town in Hobart by Nexus Hospitals.(Supplied: Nexus Hospitals)

Mr Perry wrote to the council’s general manager Nick Heath in support of the hospital in August — ahead of the vote, but outside of the official representation period — and asked him to circulate it to elected members.

“Tasmania not only needs development to drive our economic recovery from COVID-19 but it needs this type of development to help build our healthcare capacity to provide backup to, and free capacity in, public hospitals,” he wrote.

He noted that Health Minister Sarah Courtney had voiced her support from a healthcare perspective, quoting her correspondence from June.

“The Government acknowledges the important role [that] private health providers play in providing Tasmanians with choice in healthcare, as well as easing pressure on the public health system”, Ms Courtney wrote.

Mr Perry then went on to write that Nexus Hospitals “has a strong record as a healthcare provider”, listed the ways the company had attempted to accommodate “the concerns of local residents” and pointed out councillors could approve it, despite their officers recommending against it.

His input came as a surprise to long-serving Cr Burnet who said she found it “extraordinary” and “worrying”.

“There needs to be a few questions asked around this,” she said.

Following the Planning Committee’s rejection, Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds took to social media to gauge her community’s support, posing the question “positive project, wrong site?”

“There’s been criticism from some circles that the project should be waved through,” she wrote.

“But the question on my mind is — perhaps this is not the right location for Hobart’s latest private day surgery / mega medical centre?”

‘New low for the anti-development brigade’

According to the council officer’s report, those supporting the development say it will provide employment “both in the construction phase and in an ongoing way” and argue it will “take pressure off the existing public and private hospitals”.

Master Builders executive director Matthew Pollock slammed the committee’s decision to refuse it, saying he hoped that would be overturned at full council.

“The rejection of the $55 million Tasman Hospital development by the Hobart City Council sub-committee is a new low for the anti-development brigade,” Mr Pollock said.

“I urge the Council, on behalf of the 6,000 businesses and 20,000 workers which make up the building and construction industry to use their discretion and approve this development application.”

Government Minister Elise Archer said the Government welcomed any project that provides significant investment and jobs into the state.

“It is essential for a strong public health system to have an equally strong private system that sits alongside it,” she said.

“The Government would like to see any project that provides significant investment, significant jobs into this state and of course if it’s into our health system that is very welcome.

“As long as it complies with planning requirements.”

Ms Archer said the major projects legislation was reserved for the most complex cases and she wasn’t sure if the development would qualify.

In a statement, the Australian Institute of Australian Architects said it was “supportive of the City of Hobart’s Urban Design Advisory Panel and would like to reaffirm the importance of the expert advice that is provided by this panel when assessing applications”.

The coordinator-general has been contacted for comment.

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Energy firms shut 58% of Gulf of Mexico oil output due to twin storm threat, U.S. says

FILE PHOTO: A boat sails near an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, November 16. 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardner

August 23, 2020

(Reuters) – Energy firms shut 57.6%, or 1.07 million barrels per day (bpd), of offshore crude oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico because of the twin threat from Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura, the U.S. government said on Sunday.

Also, 44.6%, or 1,205 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd), of natural gas output was shut ahead of the storms, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said.

Workers have been evacuated from 114 production platforms out of the 643 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, BSEE said.

(Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Chizu Nomiyama)

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A pair of twin YouTubers offer a lesson in openness

The impact of the coronavirus on people of color may be worse than we thought, a long overdue apology from pediatricians, a lesson in inclusion from a pair of YouTubers, and it turns out that the big companies who posted solidarity statements after George Floyd are lagging behind in representation.

But first, raceAhead readers respond to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, in Haiku.

Michelle put it down
Biden then picked it back up.
We all need to vote.

Roses are red, some 
Nikes are blue, we all must 
vote! That means you too.

The “Second” Lady?
Ha! She graded papers and served.
Let her be First now.

The roll call was great!
One stood apart from the rest:
The Biggest Little

Vote for me, vote for
you, vote for us. Fix the past:
A better future.

Bonus haiku on the resilience of nature:

Wolverines are back
Stalking prey on Mount Rainier
Good news amid bad

Thanks to Kevin Bethune, Mike Spinney, Anjuan Simmons, Robert Caruso and others for contributing to the haikus.

Vote to take care of yourself this weekend.

Ellen McGirt

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Twin YouTube stars Alan and Alex Stokes charged after allegedly faking robberies | World News

Twin American YouTubers face possible prison time after allegedly staging bank robberies for prank videos filmed in California last October.

Police say Alan and Alex Stokes, 23, dressed in black outfits with ski masks while carrying around duffel bags of cash and pretending they had just robbed a bank.

In a statement, Orange County District Attorney’s Office said they ordered and entered an Uber but the driver, who was unaware of the prank, refused to drive them.

This was witnessed by a bystander, who believed the men had robbed a bank and were tying to carjack the Uber driver.

Irvine police arrived and ordered the Uber driver out at gunpoint.

He was released after police realised he was not involved in the prank.

Police issued a warning to the Stokes brothers about their “dangerous conduct” and let them go, the statement read, but four hours later they staged a similar prank at the University of California.

The twins each face a felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit and one misdemeanour count of falsely reporting an emergency.

The crimes have a maximum sentence of four years in state prison.

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Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said these “weren’t pranks”.

“These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed,” he said.

“Law enforcement officers are sworn to protect the public and when someone calls 911 to report an active bank robbery they are going to respond to protect lives.

“Instead, what they found was some kind of twisted attempt to gain more popularity on the internet by unnecessarily putting members of the public and police officers in danger.”

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