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Shellharbour Beach scattered on Everest

Shellharbour Beach scattered on Everest

Peter Wells climbs upwards on May 23. Peter Wells on the summit of Mt Everest.
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Somewhere on top of the world there's a little piece of Shellharbour Beach freezing its sun-bleached grains off.Adventurer and TV presenter Peter Wells scattered the sand on high last month when he realised his 15-year-old dream of climbing to the summit of Mt Everest."It's the beach that I grew up on and learnt to surf on; my roots are there," said Wells, who now lives in Sydney's northern beaches.Wells was among a group of five who dedicated the climb to raising awareness of bowel cancer.He thought himself well prepared for the challenge on arrival at base camp on April 1, but was quickly stunned by the onerous conditions.A warm spell had melted much of the ice, resulting in "massive avalanches that cut out the morning light".A series of corpses exposed by the melting added to the apocalyptic element.Authorities removed five bodies in the early days of Wells' two-month stay as part of a program to clean up the mountain.Bodies included that of a Sherpa buried for years beneath the treacherous mountain's ice."The passion for the mountain means you're well read; you hear about all the deaths," Wells said.The final ascent took five days, with Wells passing into the "death zone" - the 8000m point - after 8pm, using the light of the moon and his head-torch to light a path at times resembling a knife's edge.He arrived at the summit just as the sun appeared over the Tibetan horizon at 5.19am on May 23."The triangular shadow cast by Everest at that time in the morning; it stretched all the way to the horizon," Wells said."I actually said out loud: 'thank you, thank you, thank you'. I was thanking the mountain that it had let me up there."The accomplishment is the latest in a long line of hair-raising experiences for the Sydney Weekender presenter, who reached the summit of Tibet's Mt Cho Oyu in September 2005 and who lists being woken by a lion outside his tent in Nakuru National Park in Kenya in 1999 as his scariest moment.

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Miners, union ‘can live with’ Govt’s revamped resources tax

Miners, union ‘can live with’ Govt’s revamped resources tax

The Federal Government's second attempt at a mining tax has received a warm reception across the region.Prime Minister Julia Gillard took a knife to the controversial resources super profits tax (RSPT), slashing the rate at which miners would be taxed by 10 per cent and christening the new deal the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT).The revised tax marks the end of the RSPT in its original form, which had been met with open hostility by the multinationals in control of the region's mining operations.Mick Davis, chief executive of multinational Xstrata, which owns the Tahmoor Colliery, said he was looking forward to finalising the details of the tax after "constructive engagement" with the Government, while BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers expressed similar sentiments.BHP Billiton owns Illawarra Coal, which operates the Appin, West Cliff and Dendrobium mines.The miners' union had come out strongly in support of the RSPT, but yesterday CFMEU mining and energy division vice-president Wayne McAndrew said the union could "live with" the new deal."It still delivers 90 per cent of what the original proposal delivered - it will deliver small business tax breaks, it will deliver an increase in super, over a period of time, and most importantly for us, will deliver badly needed infrastructure in mining communities affected by the resource boom."But business tax breaks only go half as far as originally proposed, to the disappointment of the Illawarra Business Chamber.Chamber Chief executive Greg Fisher said the pressure would be on the Government to reintroduce cuts to company tax once the budget returned to surplus in 2013.It is also unclear if a $6 billion infrastructure fund, mooted for Western Australia and Queensland under the RSPT, would be extended to NSW.Mr McAndrew said the CFMEU was prepared to return to the campaign trail to ensure the region had a fair share of the tax proceeds."If there's a need to continue to push hard for a fair share of this to go to infrastructure in mining communities, yes, we'll continue to push that pretty hard," he said.
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Jonovski may run for council as independent

Jonovski may run for council as independent

Kiril Jonovski could make a political comeback as an independent after he was cleared of misleading a corruption investigation into Wollongong City Council.The sacked councillor, who has maintained his innocence since the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation began, was this week found not guilty of lying about his involvement in a meeting with developer Frank Vellar at the Flame Tree Cafe in 2006.Mr Jonovski said the verdict now opened the way for a future political career."I'm not ruling anything out, I'll leave the door open for anything," he said, indicating he would likely run as an independent.After Wollongong City Council was sacked in the wake of the 2008 ICAC inquiry, NSW Labor officially expelled Mr Jonovski, along with former councillors Frank Gigliotti, Val Zanotto and Zeki Esen and council official Joe Scimone.Mr Jonovski welcomed Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell’s pledge this week to hold early council elections should the Liberals win power.“It’s the only way this city can progress, and the sooner we have the elections, the better.”ICAC Commissioner Jerrold Cripps’ final report handed down in October 2008 found Mr Jonovski had engaged in conduct that could constitute or involve corruptly soliciting a benefit.It recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) pursue charges for the offence of corruptly soliciting a benefit from developer Frank Vellar in return for favouring Mr Vellar’s North Beach Bathers’ Pavilion redevelopment proposal, and the offences of making a false statement to, or providing misleading evidence to, the commission.The DPP chose only to pursue the latter two matters and on Thursday both of those charges against Mr Jonovski were dismissed.Mr Jonovski rejected suggestions his involvement in the corruption inquiry had soiled his electoral prospects.“I did my job (as a councillor), I was the people’s person,” he said.“If I decide to run, people will make up their own mind.”The 66-year-old said the protracted inquiry had caused untold personal damage.“Anything like this would take a toll on anyone. For no reason, my family name was tarnished,” Mr Jonovski said.“It’s not just tarnished me, it’s tarnished the town and the community for no reason.”Mr Jonovski said he had been the victim of a “witch-hunt”.
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Brett Morris hoping Origin drought may be broken

Brett Morris hoping Origin drought may be broken

Brett Morris doesn't have any problems scoring for the Dragons.NSW winger Brett Morris admits to being frustrated by it all.Having broken into the Blues line-up this year, his ultra-impressive try-scoring record has been tarnished.Morris is still on zero from two starts in a team blown away by Queensland's march to a fifth-consecutive State of Origin crown. Full coverage of the Dragons This is the same man listed as the shortest-priced first try scorer in rugby league history this year, such is his knack for putting on the Dragons' opening points.The Kiama kid has bagged 39 four-pointers in 38 NRL games in the past two years wearing the Red V.The 23-year-old left-wing wonder was a late call-up for Australia's end-of-season Four Nations tour last year and has gone on to score eight tries in five appearances in green and gold.So while NSW's trophy cabinet may be bare for another year, Morris is desperate to make it third-time lucky in Sydney on Wednesday."Yeah, definitely," he said."I've had a bit of success playing on the wing for Australia with the tries and some good games."Origin is the pinnacle of rugby league, it's the hardest game to play and I haven't made my mark yet. I think it's fair to say that."Hopefully we can get a bit of ball (on Wednesday) and show people what we can do."Morris' opportunities in 160 minutes of Origin have been limited.Pretty much everything he's tried during the series has - for one reason or another - failed to come off.The most accurate reflection of Morris' time in sky blue came when he was denied a try in the closing stages of game two in Brisbane.The result was already beyond doubt by the time Morris put in a neat grubber kick past Israel Folau and Billy Slater, before running around them and planting the ball down. The only problem was that Morris had also rolled the ball between the legs of NSW replacement Kurt Gidley, who was caught in the crossfire and penalised for being offside and obstructing Slater.Morris' only clear break in the two Origin clashes was in the first half in Brisbane with a sweeping run down the left touchline before trying a chip kick.But instead of regathering, the ball fell favourably for Slater to return fire with a counter-attack of his own.Morris knows the task of breaking his Origin duck to help deliver a NSW victory will be that much harder because of AFL-bound Queensland winger Israel Folau's farewell."They'll be looking to send him out on a big note," Morris said."He'd love one of those tries he scores off kicks and I think there's going to be a lot of bombs coming my way, but that's part of your job as a winger."You've got to defuse the bombs and Izzy is probably the best jumper in the game, so it's a great challenge."Morris said he hasn't developed any AFL-style catching techniques to attempt to shut down Folau, who will join the new Greater Western Sydney franchise next year."I haven't even thought about practising the AFL leap - I think (Folau's) got it down to a tee," he said."I've got my own technique, but I definitely don't get as high as him."We'll obviously just have to work hard at training to get certain players in position to shield myself and we'll go from there."Folau scored two in Origin II as the all-Dragons left side of Morris, Matt Cooper and Ben Creagh were caught short on a number of occasions.This time he'll be playing in a revamped Blues team next to the in-form Penrith centre Michael Jennings.The pair played together for Australia last year, but on that occasion Jennings was on the other side of the field."I feel a lot more comfortable with those (Dragons) guys there, you play with them week in, week out," Morris said."But that's not to say the guys that are inside me, I won't feel comfortable with."We're just going to have to work together over the week to get things right, but guys don't get picked in rep teams because they're bad defenders."I'm sure we'll work hard on it and get our structures right."For all of Morris' personal ambition to put his stamp on rugby league's greatest stage on Wednesday, he says he'd happily let the scoreless streak continue if it meant NSW turned the tables on the Maroons."As a winger you like to be scoring tries to know you're doing your job and not just hanging out with the footy players," Morris said."So I'll be looking to score a try."Definitely a try would be nice, but I want a win."I haven't experienced a win on the Origin level and it's something I'll really be trying to do, and with training this week we'll be putting ourselves in the best position to do that."
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Money a poser to children service

Money a poser to children service

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information revealed that 40 per cent of family violence incidents involved children, she said yesterday.
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But the FoI papers of minutes from a Child and Family Services Southern regional coordination committee meeting showed that, even when extra State Government funding flowed to the service, nobody knew how it was spent, she said.

"In minutes from the meeting, it was noted that $303,000 was allocated to the Child Protection and Referral Service for increased workload, but it was queried where this money had gone," she said.

The document also showed that the department had identified that the service needed 38 extra case workers, but had been unable to fill the positions.

Since the Government's Safe At Home legislation was introduced, there had been a dramatic increase in the number of police- initiated family violence orders and the police response incidents had jumped by 60 per cent, Mrs Napier said.

There had also been a large increase in the number of restraint order applications and demand generally for services to do with family violence had ballooned.

"One of the areas to bear the brunt of this increase is Children and Family Services, but the resources to cope with this are simply not there," Mrs Napier said.

Health Minister David Llewellyn said that at the end of last month there were 289 notifications of possible child abuse or neglect Statewide that had not been allocated for investigation within the bench mark time- frames.

"But all priority one cases - those where there is an immediate risk to the child - were allocated for investigation within half a day," he said.

Mr Llewellyn said that since February 2003, the Government had funded 45 new positions to address the problem.

But he did not say how many of the 45 positions had been filled.

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State of Origin: Gallen saviour of NSW

State of Origin: Gallen saviour of NSW

Paul Gallen fronts the media in Wollongong yesterday. Picture: ANDY ZAKELINSW lock Paul Gallen could be the man to lead the Blues into a new era of success as part of a plan discussed by newly installed State of Origin captain Trent Barrett.The former St George Illawarra star and Cronulla skipper will lead NSW onto the field for the first time in what is almost certainly to be his last Origin appearance.But Barrett has spoken to Gallen about developing the Sharks enforcer's leadership skills in order to help solve the Blues' ongoing captaincy woes.The captaincy was stripped from Kurt Gidley and handed to Barrett after the versatile Newcastle fullback was named on the bench for Wednesday's third Origin clash with Queensland in Sydney.Barrett took over the captaincy at Cronulla last year when Gallen quit after being embroiled in a racism controversy with former Dragons and now Bulldogs forward Mickey Paea.However, Gallen has revealed that Barrett told him he could be the man to bring the Origin shield back to NSW next year."Trent has actually spoken to me about being a captain and that he can help me in the future," Gallen said."With his help I can probably be a better captain, yeah."He hasn't spoken in depth about it, (but said) he'd love to help out if he's finished."I'd love to see him keep playing and keep the NSW captaincy," he added.NSW yesterday held a team meeting at their Wollongong base, putting behind them the racism saga that rocked the camp before game two.Assistant coach Andrew Johns was sacked for calling Greg Inglis a "black c..." before that game and Timana Tahu left in protest.Desperate to put some pride back in the sky blue jersey after losing a fifth successive series with the 34-6 loss at Suncorp Stadium, Gallen said he would try to lead by example at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday."I just lead by playing footy, I'm pretty simple like that," he said."I just go out there and do my best on the field and people see that as having leadership qualities, by going out there and working hard."Gallen welcomed suggestions that Sharks coach Ricky Stuart would take over NSW next year if Craig Bellamy steps down.Stuart will leave the Cronulla post at the end of the year, with Sharks assistant Shane Flanagan - also on the NSW coaching staff - already declaring he will reinstate Gallen as club captain next year."He's very passionate," Gallen said of Stuart."If you brought Stick (Stuart) in, he'd be a perfect change."They'd bring different tactics because they are different coaches, but a change might be what NSW need."Gallen said he was comfortable with the reasons Bellamy stated for overlooking him for this year's series opener.Bellamy told him he was making too many errors and "trying too hard" in NRL games.However, Gallen said he doesn't feel the need to overplay his hand for NSW, having attempted to lead the Sharks - who have struggled for the past two seasons - back towards the top eight."If you have a look at the Origin games and Test games I don't try as hard, I just do my job and I think I perform pretty well at Test and Origin level," he said."It's a different game for me and I'm probably more comfortable coming in at Origin level, because I know I only have to do my job."Whereas at Cronulla I probably try to do everything," he admitted."And that's what it's been like because we've been struggling until the last month or five weeks, where I've just been able to do my job."
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Briefs

Briefs

Manslaughter for Dad[BB] AIKEN, South Carolina - A man was convicted of manslaughter for giving beer to his 15-year-old son and letting him drive a truck which crashed, killing the boy and his two brothers. Attorneys said Michael Batchelor, 37, would probably spend more than 30 years in prison for the 2002 wreck.
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Batchelor bought the beer for his three sons and three of their friends and then let the oldest son, who did not have a licence, drive the truck while he rode beside him in the cab.

The truck hit a car head-on, killing driver Ashton Groomes and his brothers, 13-year-old Brandon Batchelor and 11-year-old Drew Batchelor. The other boys were also hurt.

Call to fight drugs BANGKOK - The United Nations wants Australia to do more in the fight against drugs and corruption in Asia.

"A mature economy, a democratic society like Australia has indeed a responsibility to assist the countries in the region," UN's Office of Drugs and Crime executive director Antonio Maria Costa said.

Berlusconi to return ROME - Silvio Berlusconi seems set to form a new Government amid a crisis that forced his resignation as Italy's Prime Minister and raised the spectre of snap elections.

Mr Berlusconi quit on Wednesday after losing some coalition members.

He has apparently reached a deal with two key coalition partners; the centrist UDC and the right-wing National Alliance.

Gutierrez exile plans QUITO - Deposed President Lucio Gutierrez was holed up in the Brazilian embassy on Thursday awaiting a flight into exile. Ecuadoreans tried to return to normalcy after a week of street violence and political chaos.

Ecuadorean television showed video of police searching for another ex-president, Abdala Bucaram, whose return from eight years of exile helped spark the current crisis.

Government buildings were left in shambles after rioters set fires and threw rocks and bottles at anything connected to the Government, killing at least two people.

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Top referee’s verdict on Harry Kewell red card

Top referee’s verdict on Harry Kewell red card

Damien, 4, gives his referee dad, Strebre Delovski of West Wollongong, a red card.Australia's best whistleblower believes his Italian counterpart erred by sending off Harry Kewell against Ghana.Wollongong resident and Mercury columnist Strebre Delovski - the 2009-10 PFA and A-League referee of the year - disagreed with Roberto Rosetti's decision to show the Socceroos star a red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity.With Australia leading 1-0 on Sunday morning, Jonathan Mensah's shot struck Kewell - who was standing at the goal line - on the arm.Rosetti awarded a penalty - converted by Asamoah Gyan - and Australia played for more than an hour with 10 men for a gallant 1-1 draw that left their hopes of advancing hanging by a thread.Delovski, who controlled last season's A-League grand final, would have allowed play to continue as he didn't believe Kewell was guilty of handling the ball."He shouldn't have been sent off because the handball rule states you have got to make a deliberate movement towards the ball," Delovski said."Handball is either deliberate or not, had there been movement towards the ball fine, but that didn't happen. It wasn't a penalty, I would have blown play on."In my opinion it's not a send-off offence."Delovski - who watched the match with friends because he feared a controversial decision and an ensuing inquisition - cleared Kewell of two handball "red flags"."Harry was in his natural body posture, he didn't have his arm out and the ball hit him," he said. "A giveaway with handball is when the player is watching the ball, but Harry had his eyes closed."He didn't have time to move because the shot was struck so hard."Although he disagreed with the decision, Delovski said Rosetti had no choice but to become the second official to banish a Socceroo in as many World Cup finals matches."The red card was for denying a goal-scoring opportunity because he was on the goal line," Delovski said."There's no in between - it can't be just a yellow (card) or just a penalty."It comes down to the opinion of the referee, unfortunately that's the way it goes."However with Kewell automatically banned for the must-win Group D tie against Serbia on Thursday morning, Rosetti's decision could have effectively ruined Australia's hopes of progressing to the knockout phase."I'd hate to be in his shoes, he had to make a decision in a millisecond and he's gone for it," Delovski said. "He is human, after all. He doesn't have time to evaluate or review it from a million camera angles."Delovski also disagreed with Rosetti not adding to the three minutes of time added on after Black Stars defender John Pantsil was injured.He estimated that error cost Australia a precious 90 seconds as they pushed for a winner."If there is an injury during stoppage time, more time should have been added on," Delovski said. "He should have played an extra minute or 90 seconds."See Monday's Mercury for Delovski's take on Tim Cahill's red card against Germany.
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Bitter-sweet result for Mt Warrigal mum

Bitter-sweet result for Mt Warrigal mum

Laurelle Rankmore, with son Keiran, hopes a lesson is learned after a company was fined for safety breaches relating to her son's death.A Mt Warrigal mother, distraught over the 2006 death of her son on a building site, hopes a court ruling against his former employer will raise awareness about workplace safety.Laurelle Rankmore says the $100,000 fine handed down to an Illawarra building company will not bring her son back, but will send a strong message to all employers, supervisors and their staff."I am pleased the NSW WorkCover Authority investigated this incident so thoroughly and then prosecuted," Mrs Rankmore said."If others can learn from this tragedy about the need for safe work practices, something has been achieved."Mrs Rankmore was responding to an Industrial Court of NSW ruling which penalised CKR Pty Limited for safety breaches relating to a workplace incident in which its employee, Aaron Rankmore, was fatally injured after he fell 5.3m from the first floor of a two-storey residential unit.Judge Anna Backman also handed down a $10,000 fine to Zoran Cvetkovski, the owner of the site where the unit was under construction.The incident happened on December 11, 2006, and Mr Rankmore, a 21-year-old carpenter, died in Wollongong Hospital four days later.Mrs Rankmore said the impact of Aaron's death on her and younger son Kieran, 20, had been devastating and they were still struggling with overwhelming grief."To have to sit here every day, hoping and waiting ..." she said, her voice trailing off. "It's been a long 3? years. It used to be Aaron, Kieran and me and now it's a triangle with one side missing, and it will never be the same."Mrs Rankmore said she was angry that Aaron's death was preventable."There were real breaches of safety (at the worksite). He was a polite, good young man who was down-to-earth and who cared about his family and friends. He had a lot to live for."A written judgment handed down by the court earlier this month found CKR supervisor Cord Tolson had instructed Mr Rankmore and another employee, Owen Smith, to stack timber wall frames, and while pulling on a frame Mr Rankmore fell 5.3m from the first floor through a makeshift work platform and landed on the floor below.In the judgment, Justice Blackman said the first-year carpenter was inadequately supervised on the day of the incident.She also said Mr Cvetkovski's failure to have safe procedures in place was a serious omission.
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Dragons’ winning culture ‘is safe’

Dragons’ winning culture ‘is safe’

St George Illawarra's five fallen NSW stars have vowed not to let the devastation of another losing State of Origin series corrupt the developing winning culture at the Dragons.Winger Brett Morris, second-rower Ben Creagh and centre Beau Scott are all expected to take the field against the Sharks at Toyota Stadium tomorrow after being part of the failed Blues campaign on Wednesday.Matt Cooper will miss the game with a hamstring injury, while prop Michael Weyman is also in doubt with groin soreness. Full coverage of the Dragons But with the harsh spotlight turned upon them as irate NSW fans call for heads to roll following a fifth straight series loss, they must now focus on continuing the Dragons' magical run at the top of the NRL ladder.Creagh said the NSW players needed to pick up the pieces without letting their latest dose of the Origin blues rub off on their club team-mates."It will be hard because I'm so disappointed about the game and the loss, but you can't carry it with you too long," Creagh said."I've got to go back to Saints and find the positives because it can spread very easily."I'll go back and be as upbeat as I can and prepare for the game."You really want to make amends (for the Origin loss) and come back fit for your club and I'll be doing everything I can for the Dragons. We'll be all right."But Cronulla duo Trent Barrett and Paul Gallen will also have their chance to bounce back tomorrow after the Sharks enforcer took an early plea for a high hit on Queensland's Nate Myles.There will be no such questions of motivation for triumphant Queensland pair Darius Boyd and Neville Costigan.Dragons fullback Boyd has been cleared of serious injury after being spear-tackled by NSW firebrand Luke O'Donnell on Wednesday night.There has been a long-standing questionmark over the Dragons' culture, having failed in previous finals series, including last year after winning the minor premiership.But there is little doubt about becoming a tougher outfit under coach Wayne Bennett, in his second season in charge.With the Red V flying high with a 10-3 record to be outright first, Scott was adamant he would put the loss in his Origin debut behind him.He admitted he was desperate to be part of a winning team again."You can use (Origin) as a motivator to get back out there and be in a winning team again," he said.
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