Defective track leads to train derailment

A weak track formation contributed to the derailment of six train wagons and damage to 15 kilometres of track, according to a new Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) report.
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The derailment of the freight train 7SP5 occurred between Caragabal and Wirrinya, NSW on October 23, 2011.

At the time of the derailment, the train was travelling from Stockinbingal towards Parkes and was 14 hours into its journey from Sydney to Perth.

The lead bogie (the undercarriage with wheels) of the 42nd wagon of the train derailed three kilometres north of Caragabal.

The scene of the derailment in October 2011.

The wheels of the bogie were dragged – off the rails – for about 15 kilometres until they reached a turnout where six wagons separated from the train and overturned.

The ATSB found that a dip in the track, combined with an adverse twist, had caused the bogie to derail.

Based on available evidence, it is likely the track dip developed under train 7SP5 and was caused by an undetected weakness in the track formation. The formation is the foundation of the track structure.

Track inspections had been conducted, but the report said it was unlikely the inspections would have identified any warning signs of formation weakness before the derailment.

Maintenance history indicated that track geometry defects had been identified and repaired around the site of the derailment, but they were generally not significant when compared to the defect that caused the derailment and defects identified and rectified in other locations along this track.

Since this serious incident, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has implemented its Engineering Code of Practice for its rail network in NSW as part of an ongoing program of procedure standardisation across the ARTC rail network.

The ATSB has urged managers and maintainers of track infrastructure to strengthen their predictive track maintenance systems by considering greater examination of historical maintenance and defect data.

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Poet launches book

Yass Valley Writers Group member Alan Watts released three of his latest collections of work at Yass Library recently.
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Alan delighted the audience with readings from his two poetry collections – The Suitcase and Bushed – and read from the Introduction to his short novel, The Straight-Through House. The latter is written from his experience of growing up in country New Zealand during the Second World War. His brother from New Zealand was in the audience.

Binalong poet Lizz Murphy launched Alan’s three works, and spoke about Alan and his career. Also available was Alan’s CD of his poetry set to music and performed by Nina D’Arcy. CD and all three books are available from Alan Watts, through Yass Valley Writers (phone 6226 2132).

Seniors Week

How are you going to enjoy NSW Seniors Week, March 15-23?

Don’t miss out! With hundreds of events across NSW covering art, technology, entertainment, health, wellbeing, sport and much more, there is something new for all seniors to enjoy.

To plan your week visit www.nswseniorsweek南京夜网.au or pick up a free program from your library. Both showcase events divided into geographic locations, as well as multi-lingual and accessible events. As many of the events require bookings, be sure to get in quick to avoid disappointment!

Mobile library times

The Yass Mobile Library visits the villages of Binalong, Bowning, Gundaroo, Murrumbateman and Sutton every second Wednesday of the month and Wee Jasper every second Monday. Copies of the timetable are available from Yass Library and Murrumbateman Library, the General Store in Bowning, Binalong Post Office and Murrumbateman Chemist.

A flyer produced for the Yass Chamber of Commerce has advertised the Wee Jasper Mobile Library dates incorrectly. The library will visit Wee Jasper Memorial Hall on April 7, May 5 and 19 and June 2, 16 and 30 between 3-4pm.

Allan Watts and Lizz Murphy at the Yass Library recently. Photo: Contributed.

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Wild backdrop for wedding day

IT’S good luck to have rain on your wedding day according to newlywed Justin Schultz.
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“We must have the extremist of luck now,” joked Justin on Monday before heading off for his honeymoon to South Stradbroke Island.

Justin and Sheree (pictured above in the photo courtesy of Shane Chalker Photography) were married on Sunday afternoon at the Tanks in Forster.

Celebrant Sarah Julian had just completed the hand fasting ceremony. This is an Irish tradition where the hands of the bride and groom are tied together by a number of symbolic cords.

WILD STORM: Justin and Sheree (pictured above) had their wedding ceremony on Sunday afternoon at the Tanks in Forster when a wild storm broke out. Photo courtesy of Shane Chalker Photography.

Justin was facing the water so he noticed the “mini tornado” before his soon-to-be wife. It was the celebrant who made the call to cancel the ceremony.

“We all got ready to run. It just came in so quickly,” Justin explained.

He and his two groomsmen got soaked as they helped pack up the equipment but Sheree made it back to the cars in time with a dry dress, ready to complete their vows at the bowling club.

For a man who spent many years working at sea he described the storm as a “freak occurance” and for some guests it was a frightening experience.

“My grandmother has dementia and when she saw everybody run it was pretty scary for her.”

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Obeid school friends lose millions in AWH investments: ICAC

Eddie Obeid jnr: he was having breakfast with his former classmate Tony Karam in early 2007 when the prospect of investing in water infrastructure company AWH was allegedly first raised. Photo: Rob Homer Corruption hearing: Eddie Obeid snr. Photo: Peter Rae
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Australian Water Holdings: what you need to know

School friends of Eddie Obeid jnr and Nick Di Girolamo have lost millions of dollars in their respective investments in Australian Water Holdings, the company at the centre of a corruption inquiry.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating allegations that former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid snr, misused his political position in an attempt to gain lucrative government contracts that would have reaped up to $60 million for his family.

Tony Karam, who attended St Patrick’s College at Strathfield, said he was having breakfast with his former classmate Eddie Obeid jnr in early 2007 when the prospect of investing in water infrastructure company AWH was first raised.

Mr Obeid informed him that their friend from school, Mr Girolamo, was running AWH. At a later meeting Mr Karam was told the company could be worth as much as $200 million if a public private partnership with Sydney Water eventuated.

Mr Karam, a successful businessman, invested $500,000.

When asked by Greg O’Mahoney, junior counsel assisting, if he was a “savvy investor”, Mr Karam retorted: “Well, I’m not if I am here, am I?”

After the Obeid family’s $3 million investment in AWH was raised at a previous ICAC inquiry into the Obeids’ involvement in a corrupt coal deal, Mr Karam said he and fellow investors became nervous.

They requested a meeting with Mr Di Girolamo and other AWH executives.

At that meeting, Mr Di Girolamo promised that none of the investors – who included the Navarra family who run reception centres, another St Patrick’s classmate Rod de Aboitiz and AWH employee Carlo LoGuidice – would lose out and that they could have his own shares.

Mr Karam was later shocked to discover that Mr Di Girolamo had sold his 60 per cent shareholding in AWH for a mere $400,000.

“To say I was irritated, that would be an understatement,” Mr Karam told the inquiry.

Later he and Mr De Aboitiz, who had invested $1 million through a family trust, compared information that they had received from Mr Di Girolamo.

They discovered they had been given different financial forecasts.

The two men are suing current and former directors of AWH including Senator Arthur Sinodinos, Mr Di Girolamo, lawyer Greg Skehan and former NSW treasurer Michael Costa over their investments.

Also involved in the Federal Court lawsuit against AWH are Mr Di Girolamo’s brother-in-law, Danny Koutsogiannis, and the Navarra family.

Despite being issued last August with a notice to produce all relevant documents, Mr Macgregor-Fraser found key documents in his garage on Monday and gave them to his lawyer on Wednesday.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly had the acronym AWU instead of AWH in the headline.

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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Debris found in search for MH370, says Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

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PM says satellite images could be missing plane

AMSA

John Young

Tony Abbott

Chinese officials released satellite images showing what they say could be wreckage from Flight MH370.

The original search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, which has since been reduced from 232,000 to 89,000 square nautical miles. Photo: AP

A P3 Orion, the type of aircraft being used in the search for MH370.

Briefing the press: John Young. Photo: Andrew Meares

The reduced Australian search area for Malaysia Flight MH370, in which it is understood debris has been found.

A screen grab of the CNN website earlier today.

The Australian-led search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight has had an apparent breakthrough, with satellite images showing two objects in waters off Perth.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament on Thursday afternoon that an Australian P-3 Orion aircraft had been diverted to check out the objects and would be followed by other planes.

The Australian-led search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight has had an apparent breakthrough, with satellite images showing two objects in waters off Perth.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament on Thursday afternoon that an Australian P-3 Orion aircraft had been diverted to check out the objects and would be followed by other planes.

The first Orion was due to arrive on the scene about 2pm, he said.

Mr Abbott stressed it was not yet clear whether they were parts of the plane.

But Mr Abbott described the breakthrough as “new and credible information”

“The Australian maritime safety authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search,” Mr Abbott said.

“Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”

“I should tell the House – and we must keep this in mind – the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370,” Mr Abbott said.

“Nevertheless, I did want to update the House on this potentially important development.’’

Mr Abbott said he had informed his Malaysian counterpart, Prime Minister Najib Razak, and promised to keep him updated.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is co-ordinating the search, has called a news conference for 3.30pm when they will be announcing more details about the objects spotted in the ocean off Perth.

This website will be live streaming video of the press conference as it happens.

If you can’t watch video, then we will be live blogging the action here.

Fairfax’s correspondent in China, Philip Wen, is watching the reaction on Chinese social media: 

Initial reaction on Chinese social media re #MH370: “Hope it’s not true.” Hijack theory had given some hope of survivors— Philip Wen (@PhilipWen11) March 20, 2014

Big flurry of activity on the WeChat group Chinese #MH370 passenger families have set up. Telling each other to keep calm.— Philip Wen (@PhilipWen11) March 20, 2014

From Fairfax’s China correspondent Philip Wen: 

Just arrived at Lido Hotel in Beijing where families have been gathering for news updates since plane went missing. #MH370— Philip Wen (@PhilipWen11) March 20, 2014

Many grim-faced families arriving now and entering conference room, most likely to watch press conference beamed live on television. #MH370— Philip Wen (@PhilipWen11) March 20, 2014

It’s important to remember that this is not the first time there have been reports of possible sightings of debris of MH370.

On the day after the plane went missing, Vietnamese air force planes spotted two large oil slicks off the southern tip of Vietnam. It was later confirmed to be unrelated to the missing airliner.

Then last Thursday a Chinese government agency released satellite images it said showed unidentified “floating objects” in the “suspected crash area” of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. Again it proved to be a false alarm. but there was no immediate confirmation that the pieces were part of the plane’s wreckage.

Earlier this week a crowd-sourced effort to find the wreckage announced a possible find, that gained millions of hits on Reddit.

Australia took over the search in the Indian Ocean on Monday.

The Indian Ocean lies on one of two ”vectors” that authorities have identified as paths the mystery flight might have taken.

If flight MH370 did indeed take a south-west path, then it would have most likely have gone into Australia’s search and rescue zone, which stretches thousands of kilometres into the Indian Ocean, extending about halfway to southern Africa.

Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein has urged caution about news of a possible find, but said ”with every lead there is hope”.

“We will need to wait for the aircrafts to go to the area,” he said.

“We need to verify.”

Mr Hishammuddin said he had not been told what kind of debris had been sighted.

Earlier a senior Australian navy officer left the search headquarters at a Kuala Lumpur hotel.

“I can’t comment,” he said.

Prime minister Najib Razak received a call from Mr Abbott informing him that “two possible objects had been identified the southern Indian Ocean,” Mr Hishammuddin said.

The Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur had also briefed him on the situation.

“At this stage, Australian officials have yet to establish whether these objects are indeed related to the search for MH370,” Mr Hishammuddin said.

AMSA says in its latest statement that the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation – Defence’s satellite experts – have assessed the satellite images as “a possible indication of debris”.

Apparently the possible debris has been spotted approximately 2500 kilometres south-west of Perth, according to AMSA.

The images were captured by satellite. They may not be related to the missing aircraft.

“The indication are of objects that are a reasonable size and are possibly awash, with water going up and down over the surface,” says John Young from AMSA’s Emergency Response Division.

This is “a lead”, he says; it is probably the “best lead” we have right now.

The largest piece of debris spotted is up to 24 metres long.

The water in the search location is several thousand metres deep, AMSA says.

Weather conditions are moderate in the southern Indian Ocean, but visibility is poor.

A RAAF Orion first arrived on the scene of the potential debris at 1.50pm AEDT, AMSA says.

The satellite images are credible enough to divert the search to this area, authorities have said.

However, they have reminded reporters that this is still no guarantee the objects in question are the plane.

“Satellite images do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good,” John Young says.

China has expressed an interest in helping the search, according to Air Commodore John McGary from Defence.

There were more Chinese passengers on MH370 than any other nationality, making up 153 of the 239 on board.

The press conference has been told that it is not uncommon to find debris in the ocean. It can be containers from ships falling overboard, for example.

But the size and the fact that a number of objects were located in one area give credence to the idea it may be debris from MH370, AMSA says.

Here is a link to the full statement released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

From Fairfax’s China correspondent Philip Wen, from the Lido Hotel in Beijing where families of passengers on the missing plane have been gathering for news updates: 

Reporters not allowed in room but some Chinese reporters have snuck in. About 100 relatives inside watching CCTV news. #MH370— Philip Wen (@PhilipWen11) March 20, 2014

Medical staff and police have arrived at Lido Hotel in Beijing just in case #MH370— Philip Wen (@PhilipWen11) March 20, 2014

That AMSA press conference has now wrapped up. Here’s a few of the key points to emerge.Commercial satellites have captured images of several large objects in the ocean off Western Australia.The images were analysed this morning and thought to be credible enough to warrant a full-scale search by aircraft and ships for the objects in the belief they may be debris from missing flight MH370.The objects are around 2500km south-west of Perth.The largest of the objects is up to 24 metres long.One RAAF aircraft is already at the location. A further three aircraft have been sent to the area, including a New Zealand Air Force Orion and a US Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft.It is not unusual to see debris floating in the ocean. Containers are sometimes adrift after falling overboard, for instance.There is no guarantee the objects are from the missing flight, but this is the best lead search authorities have had so far.It is not known when the objects will be physically located.

The news Australia may have found the wreckage of MH370 has gone global, leading websites around the world.

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A return forDel Piero to Sydney FC?

Frank Farina will be happy to have Alessandro Del Piero back for Sydney FC this weekend. Photo: Ben Rushton Frank Farina will be happy to have Alessandro Del Piero back for Sydney FC this weekend. Photo: Ben Rushton
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Frank Farina will be happy to have Alessandro Del Piero back for Sydney FC this weekend. Photo: Ben Rushton

Frank Farina will be happy to have Alessandro Del Piero back for Sydney FC this weekend. Photo: Ben Rushton

Sydney FC marquee Alessandro Del Piero looks set to be given the all clear to play in Friday’s must-win clash against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The Sky Blues’ position in the top six hangs in the balance before the fixture, with a bad loss potentially putting their finals hopes in jeopardy. They are presently three points – and a superior goal difference – clear of seventh-placed Newcastle.

However, a win could put them as many as six points clear, which, with three matches left, would look a safe enough buffer from the chasing pack.

Del Piero missed the 1-1 draw against Brisbane Roar last week after being found to have fluid on his hamstring and the side lacked his creative presence in the front third, not least when Brisbane were reduced to 10 men but still looked the more likely winner.

However, having trained sufficiently this week, and with the team in a full session on Friday, the 39-year old is determined to make his impact.

“He’s done light training this week, he trained yesterday, trained this morning and will travel with us and we’ll make a determination tomorrow when we get there,” coach Frank Farina said. “But he looks as though he should be all right.”

Farina added that the Italian was “more than likely” to be the only change to the starting side.

There was a small chance Del Piero could have pushed through against the Roar last week but Farina insisted it wasn’t worth the gamble.

“Last week, there was no point,” he said. ”He hadn’t trained much at all, it was too short a week and, with four big games coming up – you roll the dice last week and you might miss him for two or three weeks. Now with four massive games to go he should be OK.”

Del Piero’s future remains in question and it is understood his desire for a new contract extends beyond the parameters of the club’s marquee budget for next season. Their budget is capped at $1.5 million, whereas his representatives are hopeful of a continuation of the $4 million-per-season deal he has enjoyed for the past two years.

While the decision – and the decision-making process – is above Farina’s station, the coach reckons the matter isn’t finished just yet.

“Discussions haven’t been held with Alessandro out of respect for what he wants to do, which is finish as high up the table as we can,” he said. “There’s no decision been made whatsoever.”

The Italian is one of 12 Sydney FC players coming off contract in the coming weeks.

With plenty of those players on the borderline of being released, Farina acknowledges it’s time for some to make a statement.

“I think every player is playing, not for their career, but playing to get a contract or justify why we’ve signed them,” Farina said. “We are in discussions with a number of players, but it’s not the priority at this stage.”

Another of those players, Sasa Ognenovski, is one the club wants to re-sign but he has made no secret of his desire to return to Melbourne after playing interstate and overseas for the past eight years.

He appears torn between extending his temporary stay in Sydney – undertaken primarily to aid his fitness as he chases a World Cup berth – and a move home.

“I’m originally from Melbourne so it would be nice to go home,” he said. “So I’ll have a chat with the club and we might be doing something shortly.”

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Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: PM Tony Abbott says satellite images could be wreckage of crashed plane

Tony Abbott Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces that satellite images show objects in the waters off Perth that could be debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. Photo: Andrew Meares
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The reduced Australian search area for Malaysia Flight MH370, in which it is understood debris has been found.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s John Young addresses the media on the latest in the search for a press missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Photo: Andrew Meares

ASMA has released satelite images of the unidentified objects.

Imagery released by the Department of Defence showing the largest piece of potential wreckage.

The 13-day search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 could be close to resolution after satellite images picked up what appears to be a 24-metre long bobbing object in waters off the Australian coast.

But the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said efforts by aircraft to locate the objects were being hampered by poor visibility and weather on scene.

The possible breakthrough, revealed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Parliament on Thursday afternoon, could bring resolution for the families of the 239 missing passengers following a massive international land and sea search involving dozens of countries.

The maritime authority said on Thursday it had not been able to confirm if the objects located by satellite 2500 kilometres south-west of Perth were debris from the missing plane.

The objects in the satellite images, which were released on Thursday evening, were described by the authority as “indistinct” but the sightings had been assessed and were credible.

John Young from AMSA’s emergency response division said the objects were of a reasonable size and “probably awash with water bobbing up and down under the surface”.

He said the largest object had been assessed as measuring 24 metres, with “another one that’s smaller than that” and a number of other images located in the vicinity of the largest object.

“We have to get there, find them, see them, assess them,” he said, to confirm if the images were debris from the missing plane.

“The weather is not playing the game with us. We may get a sighting, we may not.”

US television network ABC has reported that US naval craft dispatched to the site had picked up significant “radar returns” from the search area.

“Crew on @USNavy P-8 spotter tell [of] ‘significant radar returns’ coming from site where possible MH370 objects spotted,” ABC foreign editor Jon Williams tweeted.

Mr Young said water in the search area would be several thousand metres deep.

“This is a lead, it’s probably the best lead we have right now, but we need to get there, find them, see them, assess them to know whether it’s really meaningful or not and I caution again they will be difficult to find.”

Search aircraft at scene

Mr Young said the images were close enough to the National Transportation Safety Board’s assessment area to potentially be linked to the 777.

He said the first royal Australian Airforce Orion aircraft had arrived in the search area at 1.50 pm on Wednesday.

A further three aircraft have been tasked to the area.

A Poseidon from the US was also on scene, while a New Zealand Orion was due to arrive at 8pm.

A second Australian Orion is due to arrive at 6pm.

Mr Young said an Australian Hercules had been tasked to drop marker buoys to mark the search base.

Australia took charge of the search for the missing plane in the Indian Ocean on Monday.

The Indian Ocean lies on one of two “vectors” that authorities identified on the weekend as paths the mystery flight might have taken.

The Australian-led search, supported by the US and New Zealand, began in a massive stretch of ocean west of Perth.

News of the potential breakthrough emerged on Thursday afternoon when Mr Abbott told Parliament that an Australian P-3 Orion aircraft had been diverted to check out the objects and would be followed by other planes.

But Mr Abbott described the breakthrough as “new and credible information”.

“The Australian maritime safety authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search,” Mr Abbott said.

“Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”

“I should tell the House – and we must keep this in mind – the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370,” Mr Abbott said.

“Nevertheless, I did want to update the House on this potentially important development.’’

Mr Abbott said he had informed his Malaysian counterpart, Prime Minister Najib Razak, and promised to keep him updated.

Families wait in hope

Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein urged caution about the news but said ”with every lead there is hope”.

“We will need to wait for the aircrafts to go to the area,” he said.

“We need to verify.”

Malaysians gathered around televisions in cafes and hotel lobbies to watch the press conference.

Malaysian Insider website flashed “the best lead we have had until now”.

Acting transport minister Hissammuddin was locked in briefings at the search headquarters in the Sama Sama Hotel near Kuala Lumpur airport.

Mr Hishammuddin said he had not being told what kind of debris had been sighted.

Earlier a senior Australian navy officer left search headquarters at a Kuala Lumpur hotel.

“I can’t comment,” he said.

Prime minister Najib Razak received a call from Mr Abbott informing him that “two possible objects had been identified the southern Indian Ocean,” Mr Hishammuddin said.

The Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur had also briefed him on the situation.

“At this stage, Australian officials have yet to establish whether these objects are indeed related to the search for MH370,” Mr Hishammuddin said.

At the Lido Hotel in Beijing, where families have waited desperately for information on their loved ones, grim-faced relatives filed into a hotel conference room to watch a live broadcast of the Australian press conference.

About 100 people in the room watched silently and intently, with police and medical personnel standing by at the back.

A sad, collective sigh went up in the room when the Australian official said the first thing to do would be to check for survivors.

One woman in a blue jumper, who said her husband was on the Malaysia Airlines flight, told Fairfax Media through tears that she hoped the Australian government was wrong and that the objects would not prove to be wreckage of the plane.

“I hope it’s not the truth,” she said.

With Lindsay Murdoch, Philip Wen

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Fletcher puts up shoes on family feat

Dustin Fletcher has played 378 games, over 22 years, and past his 38th birthday. He is old enough to have fathered some of his Essendon teammates and as a teenager played on some of the best forwards the AFL has ever seen. But even he knows what might be asking too much.
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Fletcher has a 13-year-son, Mason, and younger one named Max. He has no idea how long he will be able to keep playing but knows he won’t be hanging around for long enough to play in the same side as his boys, should they become third generation Bombers one day.

“Someone actually said to me the other day that there was a father and son who played in the WAFL,” Fletcher said. “He played with his son. But no. Mason’s only coming up to 14 and Max, the younger one, is 11. It might have to be senior footy or touch rugby or touch footy, something like that.”

Fletcher never imagined as a 17-year-old – who once skipped an Essendon match to play in a big game for his school side – that he would still be going as he approached his 40s.

He keeps to himself in the locker rooms at times, because he has no idea what his teenage teammates are talking about and because they listen to music that “is not down my alley.”

At the same time they have helped teach him what he would like to do once football finally does end: keep going, in another way. “There’s a part of me that would want a bit of a rest from football, but I enjoy talking to the young boys because they’ve got a lot of questions about football and the way football’s played today,” he said.

“It’s a demanding game and for the young kids coming through it’s tough on them and they like to improve. I see myself trying to help out those younger boys because I was in that position once. I really learnt from some really good people and I’d like to think I can help those kids.”

Breaking Madden’s record was never something Fletcher set out to do, even though he has only ever wondered once whether he could or should go on. That was last year, when he was frustrated by groin soreness, but a long and restful off-season break eased his mind.

Madden can remember watching him play a couple of years ago and thinking for the first time that he might, maybe, be able to get there. Ironically, Fletcher was drafted as a replacement for Madden in the ruck; he played his first game there, and has never been back.

“I thought it would be hard for anybody to get over 350 games, just because of the pressure of the game and the way it’s played,” Madden said. “But he’s still got his speed, he’s got very good judgment with the ball, he works the angles really well.

“I’ve had a couple of chats to Dustin saying, ‘Nobody’s played this many games before, you’re the best judge of your body’ and I think he’s been very good at that, knowing how to get the balance right. He’s been fantastic.”

His secret? Switching off, as often as possible. “Football’s a demanding sport and a tough sport. There are times when I try and mentally switch off because I don’t know if you can keep that up for the whole year,” Fletcher said.

“In saying that I still really enjoy the training and the actual games. The game to me is the real part of it, and that’s what Ive enjoyed. I’m still enjoying it now.”

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Kane Evans relishing opportunity

Blessing in disguise: Kane Evans helped off the field after injuring himself in a Newtown Jets game. Photo: Dallas Kilponen Blessing in disguise: Kane Evans helped off the field after injuring himself in a Newtown Jets game. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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Blessing in disguise: Kane Evans helped off the field after injuring himself in a Newtown Jets game. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Blessing in disguise: Kane Evans helped off the field after injuring himself in a Newtown Jets game. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Ultimate League: It’s not too late to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game 

When the second-tier salary cap, and then injury, conspired to rob Kane Evans of his NRL debut last year, the mammoth Roosters prop was shattered. Now it appears it was all a blessing.

Evans was slated to replace an injured Sonny Bill Williams last June, only for the NRL to knock back the move. Instead, he ran out for Newtown the following week and suffered an ankle injury which all but ended his season. While Penrith’s Matt Moylan remains the posterboy for all that was wrong with the second-tier cap, his wasn’t the only dream dashed.

Instead, Evans’ NRL debut against Parramatta was made all the more memorable by the frustrations that preceded it.

“It was pretty tough, what happened, then sustaining the injury a week later,” Evans said.

“To get out there and put it into action feels good. It’s [sweeter now], especially with the coaching staff here helping me work on what I had to work on. I probably wasn’t up to scratch last year in my defence and that gave me a lot of time to work on my defence. I’m grateful to have such a great coaching staff here.

“It’s crazy to debut with players of this calibre, it’s a dream come true. I didn’t think I’d ever get an opportunity like this, I’m still buzzing.”

To stand next to Evans is to stand in his shadow. At 192 centimetres tall and weighing 110kg, he used his hulking frame to good effect against the hapless Eels. Now he has been named on a five-man bench to take on Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

“I had butterflies but a lot of the experienced players told me to just think about my own role,” he said of his debut.

“I’m blessed to be in a good team like the Roosters where you have got role models like Sonny [Bill Williams] and Jared [Waerea-Hargreaves] to show you the ropes.

“There was a lot of head noise but I just tried to put into action what they said.”

Evans has represented NSW under-20s, the Junior Kangaroos and was named a member of the NSW Cup team of the year. But the 22-year-old, whose mother is Fijian, credited the opportunity to represent that country at the World Cup as the ideal preparation for his first-grade debut.

“It was an honour, I’ve been back to Fiji seven or eight times,” he said. “To go back there humbles me and to play for them is my dream.”

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Missing flight MH370: PMAbbott says satellite images could be crashed plane

Satellite imagery provided to AMSA of objects that may be possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in a revised area 185 km to the south east of the original search area. The imagery has been analysed by specialists in Australian GeoSpacial-Intelligence Organisation and is considered to provide a possible sighting of objects that has resulted in a refinement of the search area.The Australian-led search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight has had an apparent breakthrough, with satellite images showing two objects in waters off Perth.
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament on Thursday afternoon that an Australian P-3 Orion aircraft had been diverted to check out the objects and would be followed by other planes.

A Royal Australian Air Force crew member of an AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft scans the surface of the sea near the west of Peninsula Malaysia in this handout picture by the Royal Australian Air Force.

The first Orion was due to arrive on the scene about 2pm, he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces that satellite images show objects in the waters off Perth that could be debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. Photo: Andrew Meares

Mr Abbott stressed it was not yet clear whether they were parts of the plane.

But Mr Abbott described the breakthrough as “new and credible information.”

“The Australian maritime safety authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search,” Mr Abbott said.

“Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”

“I should tell the House – and we must keep this in mind – the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370,” Mr Abbott said.

“Nevertheless, I did want to update the House on this potentially important development.’’

Mr Abbott said he had informed his Malaysian counterpart, Prime Minister Najib Razak, and promised to keep him updated.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is co-ordinating the search, has called a news conference for 3.30pm.

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MH370 mystery: PM says satellite images could be missing plane

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority on Thursday received an expert assessment of commercial satellite images possibly related to the search for MH370
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It showed potential debris in an area 2500 kilometres south-west of Perth

A RAAF Orion arrived on the scene at 1.50pm AEDT.

An additionalthree aircraft have been sent to the area, including a New Zealand Air Force Orion and a US Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft.

The US Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft arrived at 3pm and thesecond RAAF Orion is expected to depart RAAF Base Pearce, north of Perth, at 6pm.

The New Zealand Air Force Orion, is due to depart at 8pm.

FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE:

Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s John Young addresses the media on the latest in the search for a press missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Pic: Andrew Meares

The press conference has been told that it is not uncommon to find debris in the ocean. It can be containers from ships falling overboard, for example.

But the size and the fact that a number of objects were located in one area give credence to the idea it may be debris from MH370, AMSA says.

The satellite images are credible enough to divert the search to this area, authorities have said.

Weather conditions are moderate in the southern Indian Ocean, but visibility is poor.

However, they have reminded reporters that this is still no guarantee the objects in question are the plane.

The largest piece of debris spotted is up to 24 metres long.

“The indication are of objects that are a reasonable size and are possibly awash, with water going up and down over the surface,” John Young.

Apparently the possible debris has been spotted approximately 2500 kilometres south-west of Perth, according to AMSA.

AMSA says in its latest statement that the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation – Defence’s satellite experts – have assessed the satellite images as “a possible indication of debris”.

EARLIER: The Australian-led search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight has had an apparent breakthrough, with satellite images showing two objects in waters off Perth.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament on Thursday afternoon that an Australian P-3 Orion aircraft had been diverted to check out the objects and would be followed by other planes.

The first Orion was due to arrive on the scene about 2pm, he said.

Mr Abbott stressed it was not yet clear whether they were parts of the plane.

But Mr Abbott described the breakthrough as “new and credible information.”

“The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search,” Mr Abbott said.

“Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.”

A photo taken from the Lido Hotel conference room in Beijing wherefamilies watched the press conference live.

“I should tell the House – and we must keep this in mind – the task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult and it may turn out that they are not related to the search for flight MH370,” Mr Abbott said.

“Nevertheless, I did want to update the House on this potentially important development.’’

Mr Abbott said he had informed his Malaysian counterpart, Prime Minister Najib Razak, and promised to keep him updated.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is co-ordinating the search, has called a news conference for 3.30pm.

The day 2 search area.

A RAAF Orion arrived on the scene on Thursday afternoon.

HMAS Success.

Tony Abbott

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Wind farms in NSW to face more red tape

Wind farm Photo: Damian WhiteCommunity groups will be given more power to object to wind farm projects in NSW, a move environmental groups and a renewable energy firm say amounts to halting the industry’s growth in the state.
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The O’Farrell government on Wednesday removed the “critical infrastructure” status for wind farms created by the former Labor government, restoring the community’s rights to appeal against decisions made by the independent Planning Assessment Commission.

“We changed Labor’s rotten laws in 2011 ensuring major projects like wind farms would be considered in an open and transparent process,” Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard said.

“The community can have confidence that their voices will be heard on wind farm projects in NSW and that projects will be assessed and decisions made at arm’s length from the government,” he said.

Nine wind farm projects now face potentially lengthy and costly community appeals in the Land and Environment Court although they won’t have to repeat any part of the assessment process already completed.

A senior manager at a wind farm operator unaffected by the decision said the change would create a “lawyers’ picnic”, and signals NSW is ‘‘closed for business” for new wind farms.

“Now that the NSW government has decided to add hundreds of thousands of dollars and at least a year to the wind farm development process, we look forward to [it] restoring the community’s rights around coal seam gas projects and coalmines,” the manager said, preferring not to be named.

Greens MP John Kaye said the government had shown “a complete commitment to making it as hard as possible for wind farms”.

“This is a government that treats wind farms with far lower community impact and no known health impacts in a totally hostile way while providing red-carpet treatment for coal seam gas,” Mr Kaye said.

New clean energy projects are largely on hold nationally as the federal government reviews the renewable energy target. Wind energy firms and other suppliers of renewable energy are worried the review will recommend a weakening of the goal of supplying 41,000 gigawatt-hours of clean energy by 2020, undermining investor confidence and returns.

Consistent rules

A spokeswoman for Mr Hazzard said businesses want to know what the rules are and be confident those rules are followed.

“That’s what our changes have achieved. All State Significant Development follows the same rules,” she said.

“Companies have two years once Director-Generals’ Requirements are issued to provide their Environmental Impact Statement, that is the same for all State Significant Development.

“These windfarms were given fair and reasonable time to progress their proposals under the transitional part 3A arrangements and they have failed to do so,” she said.

Health issues

The Friends of the Earth, though, said the government had caved into concerns from a small number of people worried about the health or other impacts from wind farms.

“The NSW government has sown the seeds of community division by reopening the planning process for these wind farms,” said the group’s renewables spokesman Leigh Ewbank.

“A noisy minority refuse to accept wind energy and continues to make unsubstantiated claims that the technology has health impacts. This decision looks like a capitulation to those elements.”

The Greens, meanwhile, said it had obtained letters sent by Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson to Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Planning Minister Mr Hazzard suggesting she was lobbying against wind farms on health grounds.

In a June 23, 2011 letter to Ms Skinner, Ms Hodgkinson sought advice on comments published by anti-wind farm activist Sarah Laurie and a review then under way by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

“(I) would appreciate your seeking to have this research reviewed as a matter of urgency as if, correct, it will have significant adverse public health impact on large areas of my electorate,” Ms Hodgkinson wrote.

In a letter to Mr Hazzard dated 15 November 2012, Ms Hodginson wrote on behalf of a constituent concerned about the Gullen Range wind farm and “more generally about noise emissions from wind farms”.

She again cited the NHMRC and its 2009 Rapid Review about wind farms and “adverse health impacts”. “(T)here is universal agreement that a definitive answer is needed to the question of whether wind farm-generated noise causes health problems,” Ms Hodgkinson wrote.

The NHMRC in February released a draft information paper on the effects of wind farms on human health, concluding “there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans”.

“The real damage to human health is being done by groups that promote myths around wind farms and consequently generate anxiety and stress,” said Greens MP Mr Kaye.

‘Many issues’

Ms Hodgkinson said she had made many representations on behalf of constituents about “very many issues across all agencies over the years”.

“Whilst the health impacts of inappropriately sited wind turbines is one concern held by my constituents – particularly in relation to noise and blade flicker – visual amenity, efficiency of electricity generation, subsidisation by the taxpayer, non-compliance, and many other issues have also been raised with me by constituents in relation to the turbines,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“It is important that with such a relatively new technology that all issues are appropriately canvassed particularly by the approving authorities,”  she said.

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NSW mandatory sentencing laws to be sent back to upper house

Controversial mandatory sentencing legislation to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence will be sent back to the upper house of the NSW Parliament for consideration a second time after the government rejected Labor’s amendments to the proposed laws.
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Premier Barry O’Farrell said Labor’s amendments had “taken the teeth out of the legislation” by giving judges discretion to ignore mandatory minimum sentencing provisions and by giving people aged 18 to 21 a “get out of jail free card”.

He said the government’s original legislation would be sent back to the upper house to be considered again after “the dust settles”.

“This legislation will go back to the upper house intact,” he said.

Mr O’Farrell criticised Labor, the Greens, and Shooters and Fishers Party MPs for opposing the government’s Crimes Amendment (Intoxication) Bill 2014.

Labor’s amendments, which are modelled on Victorian laws and which watered down the government’s bill, were passed in the upper house by 20 votes to 19 on Wednesday night.

“Labor’s siding with the thugs and once again the Greens are siding with the drugs,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“If the Labor Party wants to make light of drug-fuelled violence, do so on your own head.

“This is a government that has put in place a comprehensive package.”

Labor’s amendments included a clause that would give judges discretion to overlook the minimum mandatory sentence in “substantial and compelling circumstances”.

They also included an exemption for people aged 18 to 21 who were found to be too immature to control their behaviour.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said the government had been “missing in action” for months over summer before cobbling together a quick political fix for the problem of alcohol-fuelled violence. He said the Premier had sought a political remedy instead of a well-considered policy to address the issue.

“Far too close to their mates in the alcohol industry,” Mr Robertson said.

“Quite happy to take their directions and their instructions from the head of the [Australian Hotels Association] who just happened to also be the fund-raising boss for the Liberal Party.”

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