Facing asset challenges

Dr Ian Tiley: There is still some way to go in attaining optimum asset management.This is the first of a regular series of articles giving my perspective on several pressing issues being faced by NSW Local Government and by your Armidale Regional Council.
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Local government reform in NSW has accelerated since 2011.A key driver for this reform is issues pertaining to the financial sustainability of councils.

The financial sustainability of a council is closely linked to the management of infrastructure.A large majority of council services are provided by infrastructure, which typically represents the majority of a council’s assets.

NSW Treasury Corporation offers the following definition of financial sustainability: “A local government will be financially sustainable over the long term when it is able to generate sufficient funds to provide the levels of service and infrastructure agreed with its community.”

This definition recognises the need for a long-term view and one that considers the relationships between revenue, infrastructure and service levels.

The Charter under the Local Government Act, 1993 requires councils

• Provide directly or on behalf of other levels of government, after due consultation, adequate, equitable and appropriate services and facilities for the community and to ensure that those services and facilities are managed efficiently and effectively;

• Have regard to the long-term and cumulative effects of its decisions;

• Bear in mind that it is the custodian and trustee of public assets and to effectively plan for, account for and manage the assets for which it is responsible;

• Engage in long-term strategic planning on behalf of the local community.

For at least the first decade after the 1993 Act was proclaimed, only a small number of councils prepared strategic asset management plans. From 1993, most councils adequately developed asset registers to comply with the accounting standard AAS27. However, attention was generally not directed to the wider purpose of the Charter.

The requirements in the AAS27 general purpose financial reporting arrangements include the preparation of a Special Schedule Seven report, which reviews the status of a council’s assets.

The Local Government Act was amended in 2009 to include the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework (IP&R) which will soon be strengthened under an amendment to the Act, and requiring all councils in NSW to establish a long-term financial plan, informed by an asset management plan. IP&R mandates improved reporting, benchmarking, collaboration and industry capacity building in respect of the sector’s asset management practices and ultimately the services delivered to the community.

A key aspect of the IP&R framework is that asset management should have a service delivery focus and the assets provided should be appropriate to meet the needs of the community, as set out in the community strategic plan.

However, at the time of implementation of IP&R, the asset management plans developed by most councils modelled existing levels of service and used age-based, not condition-rated, deterioration models. Therefore the full benefits of the framework are yet to be achieved.

Your council has made good progress with asset management but still faces many challenges.

Dr Ian Tiley, administrator,Armidale Regional Council. To read the full column, visit 梧桐夜网armidaleexpress南京夜网419论坛

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Lots on in the week for seniors

Forbes Senior Singers. There’s something for everyone during the Forbes Seniors’ Festival from March 3 to March 12.
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If you are over 60, the Forbes Seniors’ Festival will give you the chance to make new friends or get together with old ones with a number of events planned.

The festival will start with a community barbecue at 12pm on Friday, March 3 at Jemalong Residential Village. The event will feature entertainment by Paddy Molloy and Ray Lassere as well as a barbecue lunch.

From 2pm on Sunday, March 5 a Seniors Variety Concert will be held at the Forbes Town Hall with performances from the Parkes Orchestra, Trish Maxwell, Barbara Bruce, Lyn Sharp, James Janetski, John Smith, Richard Morgan, the Gilmours and the Forbes College for Seniors Singers. This event is a gold coin donation.

A morning tea with the residents at Mater Aged Care is at 10.30am on Monday, March 6.

Entry is $6 and there will be lucky door prizes, raffles, a trading table and morning tea.

On Wednesday, March 8 students will be supporting seniors to help them learn more about computers and the seniors kiosk. This event will be held from 9.30am to 11am at Forbes High School with bookings essential.

Later that afternoon from 2pm, Mater Aged Care is hosting Big Bingo. Families and community members are welcome to attend with great prizes on offer.

For the final event of the festival, the Forbes Men’s Shed at the Forbes Showground will open its doors from 10am to 12pm. Sample the activities on offer and find out more about the Men’s Shed. For moreinformation or to RSVP contact Community Relations Officer Blake Nicholson on 6850 2355 or [email protected]论坛

Now in its 59th year, NSW Seniors’ Festival is the largest festival for seniors in the Southern Hemisphere, reaching up to 500,000 seniors each year.

If you are over 60, NSW Seniors’ Festival gives you the chance to make new friends or get together with old ones at an array of local community events, many which are free or heavily discounted.

Presented by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), NSW Seniors’ Festival is designed to celebrate the role seniors play and the contributions they make to the NSW community, aligning to the policy objective of inclusive communities.

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St Pat’s, Loreto favourites

St Patrick’s College and Loreto College are the overwhelming favourites heading into Sunday’s Head of the Lake.
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Both crews have beendominant in lead-up regattas and will take some catching on race day.

St Pat’s is hoping to register its first Head of the Lake triumph since 2010 and return to the glory days of St Pat’s rowing that saw it claim the crown from 2007-10.

However, it has been keeping its cards close to its chest.

St Patrick’s College’s boys’ firsts crew has only raced in one regatta against fellow Ballarat schools, but has shone in a number of regattas in Geelong and won the Head of the Schoolboys.

President of the Wendouree-Ballarat Rowing Club John King said the St Pat’s crew had been extremely impressive in the lead-up to the event and would certainly take some beating. But he felt Ballarat Clarendon Collegeposedas the main threat to St Patrick’s College’shopes.

“They’ve been hiding their cards a little bit, they’ve only raced in one regatta against the other schools,” King said.

“I think College are the next best crew, they seem to be challenging very well.”

Meanwhile in the girls’ firsts race, Loreto College are equallyfancied boasting an undefeated record in the lead-up regattas.

If Loreto can produce the goods it will be the first time it has triumphed in its 10-year involvement.

The crew is led by Laura Foley who is involved with the WestVic academy. But King said the crew was far from a one-girl show and will be very hard to beat on Sunday.

King felt Ballarat Grammar offered the main competition to Loreto given the impressive record of coach Bill Gribble.

“It’s hard to see who is going to challenge them at the moment.

SUCCESS: Ballarat Clarendon College’s boys’ firsts celebrate victory at last year’s Head of the Lake. It poses as the biggest threat to St Patrick’s College. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

“The whole crew’s fitted together really well, all very strong and fit, they’re travelling beautifully.

“Bill Gribble always coaches crews up to the Head of the Lake very well and he’s girls did a fantastic job last year.”

The weather is promising to deliver a brilliant day, pushing into the late-20s and sunny. But more importantly, the wind will play a minimal role.

King expected a slight tailwind, similar to that of 2005 that saw Ballarat High School break the Head of the Lake record.

Races start at 9am with the firsts’ races beginning at 11.35.

Meanwhile, St Patrick’s College paid tribute to Olympian Christian Ryan by naming a boat after him in the lead-up to the Head of the Lake.

Ryan was a silver medalist in the 2000 Olympics as a member of the men’s eight and is a former college captain of St Patrick’s College.

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Victorious start for Great Lakes Canoe Club

The complete NSW schools team with the National small competitors’ Schools Trophy won by Great Lakes Colleges.This year has begun with great results for the Great Lakes Canoe Club with a number of competitions held over the summer locally, in Sydney and in Auckland (NZ).
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The first of these was held in January at the Australian Schools Championships on the Barrington River, Barrington.

Five paddlers, Miah Kellett, Jock Sweeney, Alexander Fiebig, Tristan Yule and Kristian Fiebig, represented Great Lakes College in canoe and kayak slalom and sprints, with sensational results, culminating with a win in the national small competitors’ schools trophy.

Each paddler contested a number of individual and team events and came away with a swag of medals, with brilliant performances, especially from Miah and Jock, for who were competing for the first time at national level.

Great Lakes was part of the NSW team which played host state to the national event.

Under the leadership of Paddle NSW and Great Lakes College teacher, Phil Koch, they worked very hard to prepare the course at Barrington in the lead-up to the event.

The site was a last minute change, announced only three weeks before the event, due to a problem of water release at a different river course at Glenbawn Dam, which the team with their families had been helping to prepare over the last eightmonths.

Despite the low water level on the Barrington River it worked out very well, with more than 70 paddlers competing from Victoria,Tasmania, Western Australia and other regions of NSW.

Following this school’scompetition Kristian Fiebig joined his older brother Kaspar in the C2 (double canoe) for the Australian Nationals Canoe Slalom, held at Penrith in January, where they came away as national open C2 champions.

They put in a good performance at the Oceania Championships in Auckland at the end of January and followed it up earlier this month at the Australian Open, where they paddled their fastest ever and qualified for the U23 Australian Team.

This means they will compete in the world championships in canoe slalom in Bratislava, Slovakiathis coming July.

So now the hard work in preparation begins!

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Always pay attention to the soothsayer as Ides of March approach

Beware the Ides of March.
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World soccer’s governing body FIFA has ordered Australia’s peak soccer body, Football Federation Australia, to hold an emergency general meeting by the end of March to bring about wholesale change to the way its board and governing statutes are constituted.

Steven Lowy, the under-pressure chairman of the FFA, would do well to heed the advice of the soothsayer in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, who warned the emperor to beware that March date as it could prove catastrophic. It ultimately did when Caesar was assassinated by his former colleagues and supporters.

If he can’t bring about the necessary change to the game’s governance structure, satisfy the increasingly impatient A-League clubs who want a greater share of the cash from the new TV deal and convince all of the game’s stakeholders that he has a credible plan for the future Lowy too could find himself under a real challenge.

There will be a growing number of dissidents who will be keen to press for revolutionary change if the Lowy-led FFA board does not bring about the kind of change they deem vital.

So, in the parlance of the game, has the head coach lost the dressing room?

Put it this way, if this was a relegation dogfight, Lowy’s team would certainly be battling for survival.

While he clearly has the support of his board – many of whom have close links through social or business connections – the full extent of disaffection with the way the FFA runs the game is now emerging with daily disclosures from disgruntled parties about the need for change in the face of alleged management inertia.

In many ways Lowy’s is a thankless task given his background.

His father Frank was an extraordinary, if at times controversial, force in the game and his predecessor for a decade: if the son blows up the governance model put in place by the family patriarch – as he is being urged to do by his critics – he may feel disloyal to the legacy of his father.

But if he doesn’t make significant change he will simply be accused of being a puppet of his predecessor, in thrall to his memory and solely concerned with maintaining the family’s grip on power in the game.

The mark of his leadership now will chiefly be determined by how he will satisfy the demands of the clubs.

They want far more autonomy and say in the running of the A-League, which they argue is the game’s major cash cow, as well as far more of the broadcast rights cash so they can plan for a bigger future and invest in developing local talent and signing better marquee and foreign players.

This has already become something of a dirty war, with both sides briefing against the other and heavy-handed threats and counter-threats having been made.

In some cases attitudes have hardened and the fear is that there is now little room for negotiation and compromise.

But for the centre to hold, some compromise is what has to happen, particularly on the composition of the new FFA board. Currently that comprises nine members, mainly all business people with little connection to the clubs. All may be characterised as supportive of the chairman.

In talks earlier in February, Lowy and his team floated the idea of a 17-person board (including representatives from the women’s game, referees and other areas of soccer) of which the clubs could nominate three.

It does not look as though this will mollify the clubs.

As one critic said this week: “The clubs are only valued at 18 per cent in that arrangement. It’s not workable and we won’t stand for it. They will have to give us more say. The clubs really need to be financially, operationally and in a governance sense independent of the FFA. But they want to control us so they can retain control of the money.”

So will civil war ensue at the extraordinary general meeting in March?

Several names have been floated as potential replacements for the incumbent if things fall apart, with Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro, who has built his club into a domestic powerhouse, often touted as the sort of candidate who might be desirable. But Di Pietro, who made a critical speech against the FFA earlier this month, has always ruled himself out and has recently distanced himself from such speculation.

The statutes, in any case, make it almost impossible for a club official such as Di Pietro to run for chairman anyway as the rules state that no one who has been involved with a club can stand until they have been away from their club involvement for two years.

Expect that to be challenged strongly if the critics do not get satisfaction next month. There is much hard talking to be done in the interim.

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Wind farm proposal a jobs boom

More than 70 ongoing regional jobs would be created by the proposed Golden Plains Wind Farm if the project is given the green light, according to the developer WestWind.
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The company said a further 768 local jobs would be created during the construction process of the 200-240 turbine project, which will be completed by 2021 if the project does not face any hold ups.

The Mount Mercer Wind Farm, which is also located in the Golden Plains Shire.

WestWind held a community consultation process at the Rokewood Hall on Thursday, with around 200 locals attending.

WestWindcommunications and stakeholder engagement manager Paige Ricci said while the feedback from the community had been overwhelmingly positive, some residents had expressed concern at the scale of the project.

“It allowed a lot people to come through and hear about the proposal andthe majority were supportive and keen to hear how it might benefit the community,” Ms Ricci said. “We had a few who were concerned with the visibility of the project and some were a little bit overwhelmed by what they had read in the paper.”

Developers have proposed installing turbines with a tip height of between 190-220 metres, notably taller than the nearby Mount Mercer Wind Farm turbines which are also located in the Golden Plains Shire.

The farm would generate more than 2500 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power more than 450,000 homes.

The developers will hold a briefing with Golden Plains Shire councillors next Tuesday ahead of the council meeting. The project will need to have a planning permit approved by the state planning minister before construction can begin.

Rokewood councillorHelena Kirby said the response from Rokewood residents had been surprisingly favourable after the proposal was first made public a fortnight ago. “Most people have seen the turbines over in Mount Mercer so they’ve got some experience with them,” Cr Kirby said.

At least $200,000 per annum is required to be spent in the community as part of the farm’s community fund program.

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The poisoner’s handbook: What Israel and North Korea have in common

The front page of the New Straits Times showing an image purportedly of Kim Jong-nam moments after the attack. Photo: Supplied/New Straits Times Ri Jong-chol, the North Korean man in Malaysian police custody over the killing of Kim Jong-nam. Photo: thestar南京夜网
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In this image from security camera footage, Kim Jong-nam gestures towards his face while talking to airport security at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, shortly before his death. Photo: Fuji TV/AP

Khalid Mishal and his security detail walk the streets of Doha, Qatar, in February 2013. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Washington: Avoiding unfriendly airspace, Benjamin Netanyahu took a circuitous flight path to Australia this week.

Still, the Israeli prime minister’s Singapore stopover was probably closer than he would have preferred to the scene of a crime that draws attention to Netanyahu’s membership of an oddball global fraternity.

Its members are the messy assassins – either they botch the kill or they can’t make a clean getaway. The fraternity recently admitted as a high-profile member the erratic North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Try as they might, these two have been unable to master the craft like, say, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whose opponents are poisoned or gunned down with regularity – but invariably the perpetrators evade capture, leaving a cloud of suspicion but, in most cases, no smoking gun.

As Netanyahu flew by early this week, authorities in Malaysia were trying to unravel the February 13 death by poisoning at Kuala Lumpur International Airport of a slightly pathetic figure – 46-year-old Kim Jong-nam, who might have inherited the Pyongyang dictatorship had he not been elbowed aside in the Kim family’s power struggles and eventually supplanted by his younger half-brother, Kim Jong-un.

A team of four North Korean agents reportedly watched the attack on the exiled Kim from the Kuala Lumpur airport concourse, before boarding flights out of the country on their own circuitous return to Pyongyang. A fifth North Korean, a senior diplomat at the country’s Kuala Lumpur embassy, was with the four on the concourse and is now a wanted man.

The men reportedly recruited two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, who police say they trained in executing the attack on Kim with several dry runs in local shopping malls.

Authorities quickly detained the women. But despite some police statements and the leaking of dramatic snatches of CCTV footage from the airport security system, the emerging narrative is incomplete – for now.

The two women are said to have doused their hands in a poison, possibly one of them with a part-A potion and the other with a part-B additive, a concoction that became lethal only when the two mixed them on Kim’s face. Yet the leaked footage shows only one of the two women accosting Kim – from behind.

Other reports suggest a poison was sprayed in Kim’s face and according to China Press, a Chinese-language newspaper in Malaysia, his last words were: “Very painful, very painful. I was sprayed liquid.”

Kim’s reported use of the word “spray” recalled Netanyahu’s humiliation in 1997 when, during his first stint as Israel’s prime minister, he approved a plan by the intelligence agency Mossad to assassinate Hamas leader Khalid Mishal –  which was then spectacularly botched.

Just as Pyongyang chose the territory of Malaysia to unleash its attack on Kim, so Mossad chose to go after Mishal in the streets of Jordan’s dusty little capital, Amman.

In both cases the government setting out to kill was prepared to burn a friend – in the case of the Mishal attack, one of only two Arab states that had diplomatic relations with Israel.

Netanyahu was determined to avenge a recent series of bloody Hamas suicide attacks in Israel. But the Mossad team’s blunders left Jordan’s King Hussein holding all the aces.

Mishal’s life hung in the balance for days. But his bodyguard had captured two of the Mossad attackers, who were thrown into prison – and King Hussein announced theatrically that he’d happily hang them. When it emerged that four of their accomplices were holed up in the Israeli embassy, the king threw a military cordon around the mission.

Hussein then got on the phone to Washington, demanding the unquestioning support of the Clinton White House – Netanyahu had to be ordered to hand over the formula for the poison and an antidote. If Israel refused to comply, the king would tear up the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, signed in 1994 in the first optimistic days of the Oslo peace process.

The audacity of Netanyahu’s venture meant that Hussein was able to demand and win the release from an Israeli prison of Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, and dozens of other long-term Palestinian prisoners.

In the assassination business, poison usually is preferred over a bullet, because the cause of death might go undetected and if it is administered correctly, death might not occur for some time after what ideally would have been a surreptitious attack.

That was certainly Israel’s plan for Mishal. And it seems likely that the North Koreans would have intended Kim to have died on the flight he was due to board, rather than making a spectacle of themselves and of his death in a foreign country.

Mishal survived the attack – in which a poison was sprayed in his ear. His doctors concluded that the Mossad team had sprayed a little less of the drug than was required for him to die over a period of hours, quietly and seemingly of natural causes.

Did Kim’s attackers apply too much of their chemical weapon? Malaysian doctors have concluded an autopsy, and a statement from the inspector-general of police on Friday said a preliminary analysis of substances taken from Kim’s face identified a “VX nerve agent”.

In Mishal’s case the drug was levofentanyl, an incredibly powerful derivative of the widely used surgical painkiller fentanyl, which, experts believe, had been shelved by its Belgian producers because it had no medical application – but which was then acquired by Mossad.

If Mishal had quickly ingested a large quantity of levofentanyl, he would likely have died very quickly. His doctors were puzzled – they could find no research on the efficacy of administering the precursor drug fentanyl through the ear, in which the tougher tissue of the eardrum effectively acts as a shield.

But looking through a killer’s prism, and not a doctor’s, the thinking became clear – the Israelis had wanted Mishal to die in his own time, so they needed the drug to be absorbed slowly. Ideally, his attacker was to have brushed past him, spraying the drug into the Hamas leader’s ear as an accomplice distracted Mishal by popping a pre-shaken can of fizzy drink.

Had they not botched that street encounter, Mishal’s family and colleagues probably would not have connected his bodily system shutting down to bumping into someone in the street – the  expectation was that his only symptom would be a need for sleep, from which he would not awake.

But that deliberately delayed action became the plan’s fatal flaw – the hours in which the Israelis had expected Mishal to die became the hours in which Jordanian doctors might save him.

Both governments, Israel in 1997 and North Korea nearly 20 years later, resorted to censorship in efforts to keep their people in the dark on the detail of their acts and the uproar they provoked. And in both cases they would have been relying on whispers, not megaphones, to convey the message to their target audience – the Hamas leadership in the case of Israel;  the wider Kim family and activist dissidents in the case of North Korea.

Netanyahu wore his shame quietly. He really had no choice – the Clinton administration was remarkably friendly to Israel, yet at the time of the attack on Mishal, not a single senior Clinton official was prepared to defend the Israeli prime minister.

Pyongyang, however, is kicking like a mule.

On Thursday, it accused Beijing of hypocrisy for suspending coal imports from North Korea, in punishment as much for the Kim killing as for its recent ballistic missile test, analysts say. Kim Jong-nam was reportedly being warehoused by Beijing – if for no other reason than as a bloodline successor to the North Korean leadership, he was a useful pawn at China’s end of the regional chessboard.

But Pyongyang has saved its most vitriolic language for the Malaysian government, blaming it for Kim’s death, demanding that the body be handed over and that the “innocent” women be freed.

No government likes to see its territory used a killing field. So Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak likely took great satisfaction in informing Pyongyang that a requirement of Malaysian law must be met before Kuala Lumpur could hand over Kim’s body – a DNA sample was required from the victim’s next of kin.

Kim Jong-un is not expected to provide a blood sample any time soon.

Paul McGeough is the author of Kill Khalid: Mossad’s failed hit … and the rise of Hamas

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‘I had the courage not just to give speeches, but to act’: Malcolm Turnbull hits back at Tony Abbott

“I’m not going to be provoked,” says Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: SMHPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he will not be distracted by Tony Abbott’s “latest outburst” and most direct attack on the government to date, defending his record of achievement and portraying the backbencher as a hypocrite who was unable to govern effectively when he was leader.
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Mr Turnbull has joined cabinet colleagues Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne in rounding on an emboldened Mr Abbott following his “deliberately destructive” speech and interview on Thursday calling for a shift to the right to avoid defeat at the next election.

Mr Turnbull said every Coalition MP should ask if they are contributing to the government’s success and said Mr Abbott “knows exactly what he’s doing and so do his colleagues”.

“I’m not going to be provoked,” Mr Turnbull told Melbourne radio station 3AW when asked if he would punish Mr Abbott.

“The fact is my government has a record of achievement. In the last six months or so since the election, we have achieved more with fewer seats in the Senate, in the House, than in the previous three years.”

The Prime Minister contrasted his record with Mr Abbott’s, declaring: “We are acting and we’re getting things done. We’re getting things done that we couldn’t or wouldn’t or didn’t get done in the last Parliament.

“I have not talked about abolishing the life gold pass for former MPs and minister, I’ve abolished it. I have not talked about reforming parliamentary entitlements and politicians expenses, I have set in place the biggest reform in that area in a generation. I have set up an independent parliamentary expenses.

“I haven’t talked about restoring the rule of law the building sector, I’ve done it. I had the courage not just to give speeches, but to act.”

As leader, Mr Abbott promised to scrap the gold pass – which affords certain retired parliamentarians free air travel – but never acted on it. Many Abbott government bills, including the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and contentious measures from the 2014 budget, were blocked by an unpredictable Senate.

In his speech launching a new book, Making Australia Right, on Thursday night Mr Abbott said “our politics can’t be just a contest of toxic egos or someone’s vanity project” and urged the Coalition to cut the renewable energy target, abolish the Human Rights Commission, halt all new government spending, reform the Senate and, notably, “cut immigration to make housing more affordable”.

Mr Turnbull dismissed the former prime minister’s calls for a review of the RET and a cut to immigration, observing that the RET was reviewed and set by the Abbott government.

He defended the immigration program as a “nation-building exercise” and a “question of getting the best and brightest of the world to meet the demands of our economy”.

Mr Abbott has also copped a strong rebuke from Senator Cormann, a senior conservative who backed the former prime minister in the September 2015 leadership spill.

“I was flabbergasted by Tony Abbott’s interview last night. I was watching live from my office in Perth and there is nothing good from an interview like that. It was deliberately destructive, it was completely unhelpful, it was not designed to be helpful, it was not trying to help our cause or help our country. It was quite self-indulgent,” Senator Cormann told Sky News.

After it was also reported that Mr Abbott has not given up hope of returning to the leadership, Senator Cormann told Sky News “I can’t see any scenario in which there is a return of Tony Abbott to the leadership of the Liberal Party”.

The ordinarily restrained senator said Mr Abbott’s latest intervention was sad and “much of what he says is either wrong or inconsistent with what he did as prime minister”.

The Prime Minister later said Senator Cormann had described the situation “perfectly” and reaffirmed his critique of Mr Abbott, declaring: “I don’t think Australians were impressed by that latest outburst and I am not going to be distracted by it.”

“It’s sad,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Pyne, a senior moderate, also hit back at Mr Abbott on Friday morning, saying his policy proposals would either be a disaster or had failed the first time around.

“We won’t be slashing spending, Tony Abbott tried that in 2014 in the budget during his leadership but of course a whole lot of zombie legislation sat in the Senate unable to be passed,” Mr Pyne told Channel Nine’s Today show.

“We won’t be going down the track of putting a freeze on immigration for example, which Tony Abbott wants to do, because it would be catastrophic in places like the Northern Territory, Tasmania – most places outside the major cities,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also defended her conduct after Sky News host Andrew Bolt, in his interview with Mr Abbott, said Ms Bishop was not “conservative, plain-speaking and loyal”. This elicited a laugh and smile from Mr Abbott, who accused his former deputy of treachery when he lost the top job.

The Prime Minister has refused to promote Mr Abbott to his frontbench, resisting pressure from him and his allies. Mr Abbott now regularly cites his backbench status as a licence to speak freely and says it is his duty as a former prime minister to speak up on matters of importance.

The theme of his latest remarks is the disaffection of right-leaning voters who have drifted to minor parties like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

with Latika Bourke

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UC study looks to develop a smartphone app to prevent falls

University PhD candidate Hafsa Ismail is investigating an alternative method using inexpensive video equipment to produce a new walk assessment tool that could prevent falls. Photo: Georgina Connery Video footage and data from the expensive force plate is collated and analysed. Photo: Georgina Connery
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University PhD candidate Hafsa Ismail is investigating an alternative method using inexpensive video equipment to produce a new walk assessment tool that could prevent falls. Photo: Georgina Connery

Tens of thousands of elderly Australians are hospitalised each year for fall-related injuries but a new University of Canberra PhD study hopes to put prevention in the palm of people’s hands.

University PhD candidate Hafsa Ismail has to firstly investigate whether video can replace the the need for expensive and cumbersome force plate walking assessments.

The project aims to create a computer program or a smartphone app which could be used by older people to capture changes to their walking, gait and balance through their smartphone camera.

Over time, it would alert them or their carers to changes in the way they walk that might mean an increasing risk of suffering a fall.

“Clinicians now are using video to look back at movement but they also use a force plate in their assessment – a tool which costs about $50,000 and weighs between 20 to 30 kilograms,” she said.

“The idea is we can do the same assessment without the force plate. The main goal with the research is to have an app that can do the analysis from the movement on the video.”

Professor Roland Goecke is supervising Ms Ismail’s study and said it harnessed accessible technologies to improve healthcare access and would hopefully reduce the likelihood of falls.

“What we are interested in is three months in advance whether we can notice changes in people’s gait and sway so that there is enough time to put an exercise regime in place to counterbalance those changes so people don’t even have a fall,” he said.

Professor Goecke said the app would be a “set and forget style tool” and likely work by placing the smartphone on a dock or single spot and having the user pace past the camera.

It’s hoped portability and ease of use will allow the tool to be used in the home or in aged care facilities and end the era of booking on site appointments for regular walking assessments.

Ms Ismail is calling for 50 participants aged 50 years and over to get involved in the three stages of monitoring set three months apart.

Judith Wimborne, 77, has just begun monitoring sessions and said she had been mindful of her stability since she had a nasty fall tripping over something while walking hurriedly last year.

Ms Wimborne hoped taking part in the study would see the handy app developed rolled out for use very soon.

“I use my phone a lot so the app would be helpful,” she said. “The health field is full of things that cost a lot of money so if you can have something simple like this it could be so much better.”

People interested in participating in the research can contact Ms Ismail on [email protected]论坛.UC PhD candidate Hasfa Ismail is testing participants like Judith Wimborne to find smarter tools for falls prevention @canberratimespic.twitter南京夜网/9Q3TOEHdPM??? Georgina Connery (@georginaconnery) February 23, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Show pavilion upgrades receive support

The Parkes Showground is in for a major face-lift and Parkes Shire Council has decided to throw its support behind the project.
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With plans to demolish five out-dated pavilions to make way fora new multipurpose pavilion at the site, council last week voted to provide ‘in-principle’ support.

They also agreed to provide financial support for the future construction of themultipurpose pavilion.

The Parkes Showground Trust says the existing pavilions have “reached the end of their useful lives”.

“There’s always a need for more venues for functions around town,” Cr Ken McGrath said during the February 21 meeting.

But the councillor asked if council would have a say in the project.

Council’s general manager Kent Boyd told the meeting it depended on council’s commitment to the project.

“If council contributes a certain amount of funding, then that’s a whole different ball game,” he said.

“I’ve seen this grow from a wide span building to now what is a substantial, [well-thought-out] project, it has come a long way.

“But there’s no reason why we can’t (have a say).”

Councillors also agreed last week to offer to assist the Showground Trust in its endeavours to secure funding for the project.

The Showground Trust has already lodged a Development Application for the demolition of the showground pavilion buildings located to the east of the showground grandstand.

The demolition development application covered the main exhibit pavilion, commercial pavilion and the arts and crafts pavilion and receivedParkes Shire Council approvalat its final meeting in 2016.

In a letter to council, Showground Trust secretary Kaye Bird said the Trust is seeking to have council include the pavilion project in its forward planning.

The Showground Trust is currently gathering information to supportan application for funding of the project through the NSW Government but may also make a request for funding assistance from council in the future.

Ms Bird said the Trust was seeking council consider the project in its forward planning“with a view to providing both financial and verbal support of the project during the next financial year”.

“The Trust intends that the new buildings will have architectural and community appeal and provide a space which is accessible for a range of activities which Parkes residents currently do not have a venue for,” she said.

Some of the events, Ms Bird said, which have been discussed as possibilities for the new pavilion included machinery expos, stud cattle and sheep shows, produce and retail displays as well as balls, conferences, exhibitions and functions.

The Trust’s most recent costings putthe cost of the project at $1.5 million but Ms Bird said the Trust is currently updating the costs, adding interior fit out with the possibility of air conditioning to make the venue suitable for use during all seasons and conditions.

Toilets, showers and kitchen facilities are all included in the costings, Ms Bird wrote in the Trust’sletter to the council.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.