Monthly Archives: September 2018

Fast trains worth the ride

LIGHTNING: Bullet trains in Australia would be a welcome sight for many commuters, but legitimate high speed projects still aren’t on the radar.It’s a topic that has been ridiculed to the nth degree in recent years, butslowly andsurely, high speed rail is becoming a more relevant debate on Australian soil.
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Bacchus Marsh transport consultant Jeff Moran says a long-term high speed rail service in Australia could benefit major regional centres like Ballarat, more thanhalve travel time to and from Melbourne and reduce the strain on clogged domestic airports.

A Federal government studyinto ahypotheticalexpress line from Melbourne to Sydney and through to Brisbane revealed the project, from 2027 to 2058, would cost an astonishing$114 billion.

The colossal figure notwithstanding,countries well versed in the production of high speed rail, such as China, Japan and Koreahave already flagged an interest in investing capital intoAustralian high speed rail ventures.

In answer to the study,Mr Moran’scompany, AWTY Transport Consulting, with the Gippsland Local Government Network,last year produced a detailed document about the viability of a Melbourne to Sydney fast train stopping atDandenong, Packenham, Warragul andTraralgon.

Findings have revealed a staggering set of results that one day could positively translate to areas like Ballarat.

A two-way service (between Melbourne and Traralgon)running every 10 minutes during peak hours could attract a weekday patronage of 113,000 trips, effectively clearing five highway lanes on the congested eastern transport corridor.

It would also increase public transport trips by 29,000 per day, displacing 25,000 car trips, while travel time would be reduced by 100 minutes to Traralgon.

A benefit to cost ratio of almost $2 returned for every $1 spent on infrastructure was also estimated.

Hypothetically speaking, a bullet train service between Adelaide and Melbourne stopping at Ballarat Station could deliver Ballarat commuters to Melbourne in less than 18 minutes.

“It’s critical that we understand what high speed rail is doing in other countries,” Mr Moran said.

“I think people are cynical about it (but) this is a solution and it’s inevitable.”

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Early start to burn offs

ASTHMATICS and allergy sufferers might not be too happy about the smoke around Collie lately, but the annual bush burn offs are here to stay.
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February’s fires at Northcliffe and closer to home at Boddington were a reminder of how quickly things can go bad.

The fires eventually entered the Shire of Collie and covered homes with ash as locals were placed on high alert.

This year, authorities have moved swiftly, with the burn-offs in the South West starting early.

Department of Parks and Wildlife district manager Drew Griffiths said more than 9000 hectares had been burnt.

“Every year we aim to burn a certain amount of land,” he said.

“Theses burnoffs offer a whole heap of protection to towns.

“We plan to burn three times what we have done so far.”

This year the state government has contributed extras funds through the Royalties for Regions fund, which has allowed for extra burns.

“The specific funding has allowed us to do extra burns in areas we may not have covered due to a lack of resources,” Mr Griffiths said.

“For example, we can now employ local contractors to help with traffic management for burns near roads.

“It’s an expensive process which we couldn’t always do in the past.”

Support for the Collie and Harvey teams have come from Merredin, Narrogin, Wanneroo, Kirup and Busselton fire crews.

The burn-offs will continue into the near future until conditions no longer permit.

“We also continue to receive fantastic support from local bush fire brigade volunteers,” Mr Griffiths said.

“We will keep going until it gets too dry around early December.

“Conditions have to be just right – not too dry and not too wet. It a difficult process as conditions can change quickly.

“As we all know we have had a very dry winter.”

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Expo shows precise approach to farming

Farmers from the Gunnedah region attended a Precision Agriculture Expo at Gunnedah Showground on Tuesday.
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Graham Alcorn, Andrew Mitchell and Sean Bailey from the Peel Valley Group with a John Deere planter simulator.

The free event was hosted by the Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA) and included presentations from a number of companies.

Machinery from names including John Deere, Topcon and Case was on display.

Sean Bailey from the Peel Valley Group said Peel Valley had set up training modules for famers to have a hands-on look and get a better understanding of the equipment.

“We have developed a program of 12 instructor-led precision agriculture education units specific to each individual farming operation,” Mr Bailey said.

Curlewis farmer Andrew Riordan, Jason Wood from Wideland Ag and George Truman from North West Local Land Services at the Precision Agriculture Expo at the Gunnedah Showground on Tuesday.

SPAA executive officer Nicole Dimos said the day provided an opportunity for farmers, farm workers and contractors to get together to learn about precision agriculture system use.

She said the expo followed on from a successful event held by the SPAA last year at Quirindi.

SPAA president Robin Schaefer said it was vital to inform farmers about precision agriculture technology under Australian conditions.

He said the event included short training sessions from sponsors, and access to expert advice.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and often we are collecting data but not using it at that next level,” Mr Schaefer said.

“This event hopes to educate and demonstrate it’s not that daunting and you’ll benefit by understanding how to access it and use it.”

The event included a barbecue lunch from North West Local Land Services, was the results of the Department of Agriculture 25th Anniversary Landcare grants, and many sponsors.

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Refugee experts visit to Cowra rescheduled

Phil Glendenning will speak at St Raphael’s Hall on Tuesday evening, October 13 from 7.30pm.One of the consultants involved in the landmark television series ‘Go Back To Where You Came From” will share his insights into the refugee and asylum seeker debate at a public lecture hosted by St Raphael’s.
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Phil Glendenning was scheduled to speak in Cowra last year but was called away to the United Nations at the last minute.

Now, he has been rebooked to speak at St Raphael’s Hall on Tuesday evening, October 13 from 7.30pm.

Phil Glendenning has been the Director of the Edmund Rice Centre since its inception in 1996 and is currently the President of the Refugee Council of Australia.

With a background in education, law, political science, and overseas aid and development, today he is primarily involved in human rights advocacy and education, peace and reconciliation work, raising awareness of the impact of climate change on marginalised peoples.

His work for the rights of Indigenous people saw him co-found Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) in 1997, and for ten years he was National President.

He has served on the Boards of the Australian Council for Social Service (ACOSS), various committees of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, and the Centre for an Ethical Society.

In his work for the rights of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Phil led the Edmund Rice Centre’s research team for the Deported to Danger series which monitored the safety of rejected asylum seekers in 22 countries, and resulted in an internationally screened documentary, “A Well Founded Fear”, in 2008. He was a consultant on the 2012 TV series “Go Back to Where You Came From.”

In conjunction with the Pacific Calling Partnership, he has been part of delegations to Pacific Island nations, particularly Kiribati, monitoring the impact of climate change on the population and joining them in international forums to advocate for change.

He is widely sought after for media comment and consultancy in Australia and overseas.

In 2007 Phil was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Australian Catholic University and was also recognised by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) with the Sir Ron Wilson Award for Human Rights.

Entry is by gold coin donation with a light supper included. Everyone is most welcome to attend what should be a very interesting, informative and topical presentation.

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Golfers compete for Queanbeyan Cup

Queanbeyan Head Professional Jake Nagle, with the trophy for this weekend’s winner of the Queanbeyan Cup. Photo: Miles ThompsonGOLF players from across the state will descend on Queanbeyan this weekend, with the town’s golf course playing host to the annual Queanbeyan Cup.
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This year’s tournament has added appeal, with the winner to be offered a place in the main draw of the New South Wales Open Championship at Stonecutters Ridge in mid-November.

Queanbeyan Head-Pro Jake Nagle said that the extra draw card could see up to 200 players competing for the title on Saturday.

“I’d suggest we’re probably going to get close to 180-190 players,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of entries from Sydney players… I think we might even have one or two coming up from Melbourne.”

But it shouldn’t deter the locals from putting in a strong showing.

“All our local guys are playing. I know a lot of guys from around the ACT clubs, a lot of the better golfers are all playing as well,” Nagle said.

“Our local guys will have a fair bit of course knowledge which is always in their favour. One of our young fellas has been playing pretty well, Lachlan Tisma… his form over the last two or three weeks has been pretty good.”

It’s the first time any event at Queanbeyan will act as a qualifier for the NSW Open.

“It’s the first time we’ve had it. I think it’s the first time NSW Golf has done anything like it,” Nagle said.

“I think they’ve handpicked six or 12 events around NSW. Luckily we were one of them.”

Queanbeyan is renowned as one of the more difficult courses in the district, and Nagle said around one or two under par for the 18 holes would probably be enough to win the event.

“We are a pretty tough golf course. I think if someone shot even par, they’d probably be in with a shot as well,” he said.

“If you ask most golfers we’re the most challenging in the district.”

Nagle said the toughest thing about the course was the real mixture of challenges it presents to a player.

“We’ve got three par fives, but two of them are very long. The greens are generally running very fast but true, plus we’ve got very tight fairways… you can’t get away with a bad shot,” he said.

“The course is in great condition, so anyone that does play here who hasn’t played here before is most likely going to tell everyone else about it.

“Word is getting around a bit, and I think… just being able to say we’ve held our Queanbeyan Cup that we’ve had for a long time. But the fact that it’s got this attached to it is always going to help.”

The Queanbeyan Cup will be held on Saturday, October 10, from 7:00am at Queanbeyan Golf Course.

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