Keeping children safe

STAY SAFE: Eglinton Public School captain Jane Sheather, vice captain Lachlan Taylor and kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 students with the Daniel Morcombe Foundation Big Red truck. Photo:CHRIS SEABROOK 102516cdaniel
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IN 2003, 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe was abductedfrom the side of the road as he waited for a bus.

He was later killed, his remains not found fornearly eight years.

His story is well-known throughout Australia and has spawned the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, which now aims toeducatechildren about personal safety through various school-run programs.

On Tuesday, Eglinton Public School was visited by the foundation’s Big Red truckin a joint-effort with the Australian Federal Police to continue spreading its message.

Assistant principal Ross James said child safety is a very important part of the curriculum at Eglinton Public School.

“It is important for every child to remain safe and ensure that while they are in our care they are safe,” he said.

The school has participated in Day for Daniel, held onOctober 28, for the past three years, but Tuesday was the first time the truckhad visited.

Educators from the truckwere keen to spread one vital message to students: recognise, react and report.

Students were told to trust their instincts in unusual situations and react accordingly.

“In a lot of situations about child safety, instincts tell us that if you don’t feel safe, you probably aren’t safe,” Mr James said.

Internet safety was another focal point of talks during the visit.

Studentswere told to protect their identities online, regularly changes passwords, restrict social media use until they’re over 13 years of age and never add someone they don’t knowas a friend on social media.

“It is one of our biggest concerns and I don’t think we are aware about how dangerous it can be,” Mr James said.

Eglinton Public School will participate in formal Day for Daniel activities on Friday.

Students will wear red to school in support of the day and talk about a specific child safety issue in classrooms, which will be shared at an assembly later in the day.

Mr James said the Daniel Morcombe Foundation has made addressing these issues with students easier thanks to itssupply of classroomresources.

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Funding boost for Wimmera schools

Seven Wimmera schools have received new state government funding for buildings. WIMMERAschools will be able to upgrade old buildings after the state government announced new money for maintenance.
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Seven Wimmera schools are among 400 schools to share in $40 million.

Hopetoun P-12 College will receive $246,000, Horsham Primary School will receive $166,000 andHorsham West and Haven Primary School will receive $60,000.

Dimboola Primary School will receive $47,000, Kaniva College $29,000, Apsley Primary School $13,000 and Beulah Primary School $5000.

Hopetoun P-12 College principal Tony Hand said he was ecstatic to learn about the money.

“We haven’t got the finer details yet about where exactly we can spend it, but it will certainly contribute to our refurbishment work in putting all the students onto one campus,” he said.

The collegemoved all of its students onto the senior school campus from the start of this year.

Previously there was about onekilometre between the junior and senior sites.“This money will allow us to now focus on some of the secondary school buildings and remove some old, decommissioned buildings,” Mr Hand said.

“We had plans in place for these buildings, but we weren’t expecting any money, so this willallowus to get our plans into action.”

Mr Handsaid merging the school’s two campuses had been a positive move.

“The transition of all students onto one campus has been exceptionally smooth, which is a credit to students, staff and the community,” he said.

Horsham Primary School principal Chris Walter said how the money would be spent was still to be decided.

“We are really pleased got some money and it is always very helpful to our school,” he said.

Education Minister James Merlino said the funding boost would allow more schools to replace or upgrade building that were in poor conditions.

“It’s important our teachers and students have the first-rate classrooms they deserve,” he said.

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Shire canoe club face a very Hawkesbury Halloween

Big day: Sutherland Shire Canoe Club members. Picture: SuppliedWhile you and your kids are out trick-or-treating this weekend, some of theShire’s fittest and fastest will be spending their Saturday night in a very differentway.
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Around 14 members of the Sutherland Shire Canoe Club have entered theannual Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, a 111km overnight paddle that raises fundsfor the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation.

The Classic, now in its 40thyear, starts at Windsor and ends at Mooney MooneyBridge at Brooklyn, on the Hawkesbury River.

The paddlers will leave Windsor in groups between 3pm and 5pm on Saturdayafternoon, with the fastest taking around 8.5 hours to do the route, arriving inBrooklyn at around 2am. The average paddler will take 13 hours while theslowest will take 16-19 hours – and probably get to see the sun rise.

“A few of our paddlers – and about two-thirds of the entire field – have enteredwhat’s called ‘Brooklyn or Bust’ which is simply focused on finishing the eventrather than racing,” club presidentSteve Dawson said.

“The rest are racing classes divided by boat type, age, and gender. Personally I’drather finish fast because sitting for longer in a boat is physically worse thanworking harder.”

Among the club members hopeful of good results are Dawson and his wife,Kate, who are record holders from previous years, as well as fellow husband andwife team, Ross and Robyn Bingle. Other hot tips are Bob Turner and JasonCooper paddling together, and Kristy Benjamin.

Steve and Ross covered the distance last year in less than nine hours (8h:46m).Bob and Kristy have also posted sub-ninehour paddles previously. Others whohave competed before but not this year will be at the river as support crew.

All the club members who have entered have been training hard. Most haveclocked up 40-50km each weekend; the Dawsons have been doing 60-80km.

Many have been cross-training too, either running or cycling.While it might seem a punishing way to spend a weekend, Mr Dawson saidfinishing the 111km race comes with a real sense of achievement – and more.

“The event has a great atmosphere. Everybody encourages others as they passin the night. In last year’s race, where Ross and I were racing for a podiumposition, we were paddling alongside the other leaders, chatting and swappingstories for almost the entire race,” he said.

“When we came across a paddler in difficultly, all the lead boats stopped tocheck they were okay, even though we didn’t need to. When we knew they werealright, we all went off again together.

“The chatter stopped in the final two kilometres as everyone got down tobusiness. We finished third, two seconds behind the boat that came second.

“There are tough times, because it is such hard work. Between 40km and 60km isthe worst, while the final 30km is almost a relief. Crossing the line is ecstasy.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the cause can do so via the club’sEveryday Hero account.

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Global infrastructure set for rerating as private equity dives in

The gap in valuation between public and private infrastructure is narrowing, CBRE Clarion says. Photo: Phil Weymouth CBRE Clarion’s Jeremy Anagnos with UBS Asset Management chief Bryce Doherty. Photo: Christopher Pearce
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Shares in listed infrastructure groups are more likely to be boosted by private equity firms buying their shares in lieu of opportunities in the unlisted space, rather than the promise of fiscal stimulus, CBRE Clarion’s head of infrastructure says.

Australia’s relatively small infrastructure space includes some of the most expensive stocks on the S&P/ASX 200 Index, including Transurban and Sydney Airport. But the picture is much friendlier elsewhere, and public companies are trading at a discount to their private counterpart, chief investment officer of infrastructure at CBRE Clarion Securities Jeremy Anagnos said.

The sector has been a haven for pension and sovereign funds that have been driven out of bonds as yields, until recently, have tumbled to multi-year lows.

But while valuations of local stocks have soared due to the relatively small pool, outside of Australia, most of the capital from these funds have been into buying physical assets as opposed to shares, US-based Mr Anagnos said.

“The same phenomenon hasn’t played into the listed market,” he said.

“Our analysis says that on the average the pricing we’re seeing for assets transacting in the private markets implies that the assets held by the public companies are at a discount of around 15 to 20 per cent,” he said. ‘Dry powder’

Yet listed companies could be set to a rerating, due to a scarcity of private assets and there is plenty of cash to deploy. At the end of the third quarter, private capital sitting as “dry powder” globally topped $US136 billion ($178 billion), and that scarcity is driving them into buying shares, Mr Anagnos said.

“In the last six to 12 months there has been an increasing overlap or intersection of private infrastructure funds and large sovereign fund investments buying straight into public companies,” he said.

Global Infrastructure Partners, one of the largest private equity firms in the space sitting on as much as $US16 billion, last month bought a €3.8 billion ($5.4 billion), 20 per cent stake in publicly listed Spanish company Gas Natural. Last year, IFM took a 25 per cent stake in a Mexican toll road owned by OHL Mexico.

“This is a trend that will highlight the market and the more that capital starts to overlap, the more that [valuation] disconnect will start to narrow.”

The UBS Clarion Global Infrastructure Securities Fund holds 4 per cent of its total holdings in Transurban, with a 7 per cent invested in Australia. Almost half the fund is tied up in US shares. Among its top holdings it includes US-based Crown Castle International, Kinder Morgan, Sempra Energy and Canadian firm Enbridge. Reform cheer

Private equity will be cheered by the prospect of fiscal reform that has sprung up from the perceived limits of central bank policy and mooted by the likes of new British Prime Minister Theresa May and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But more critical to the prosperity of the sector is the need for significant capital to be invested in ageing infrastructure assets and also a shift towards cleaner energy.

“It is far easier to get approvals from regulators to spend the capital [on refurbishment] because of the need for these assets not to cause harm,” Mr Anagnos said.

“The governments have been understanding of the need for new infrastructure and investment. But governments are not always able to follow through on what they talk about.”

Fiscal spending would be the “gravy” which will add to the investment case for infrastructure, but the time frame is more uncertain.

“It will bring awareness to the asset class more broadly and good for our economic environment, but it would be a plus to the investment case rather than what we build the investment case on.”

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Spring carnival 2016: Matt Cumani relying on the best for Melbourne Cup

Matt Cumani is better placed than most to comment on the raging debate between how Australian horse trainers prepare their distance horses as against their fellow horseman in Europe.
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As the son of highly successful trainer Luca Cumani, Matt Cumani has tasted both methods of getting your racehorse to run a distance.

Cumani, 35, maintains that in some instances Australians prepare their horse similarly to English and Irish trainers.

“It’s often referred to as the Aussie way of putting speed into their legs, but giving riding instructions to gallop a horse over seven furlongs and go home hard the final two furlongs is pretty much world standard,” he said.

“They worked them that way in Sydney, Melbourne, and Newmarket. In fact it’s a fairly standard approach to preparing race horses.”

Cumani has moved to Ballarat and has established his own training base and believes there are only a few telling differences in how trainers make stayers perform at there best.

Cumani has a Melbourne Cup runner this year, Grey Lion, who has enjoyed the best of both worlds.

“It’s just those subtle differences really when two horses gallop here, they leave the track straight away and while they’re still blowing they will be hosed down, scraped and sent back to their box,” Cumani said.

“But, in contrast, in England after our horses are worked they will take a leisurely hour walk home. And that’s the way of finding out little idiosyncrasies and also goes a long way to keep them relaxed and enjoy what they are doing. But it’s labour intensive because if you have 100 horses in work in England, you need perhaps 30 or 40 track workers to make the operation tick.

“And that’s a luxury that in Australia we can’t afford. It’s very expensive to hire so many extra riders that it’s just not worth it.”

Cumani believes that staying horses are unnecessarily put into shorter races in Australia on their way to their favourite distance journeys which may be 2000 metres or beyond.

Cumani points out that there is no need to have horses start preparations at 1400 metres, then 1600, and then to their favourite distance.

“I just get concerned that you start them at a distance a lot shorter than they are used to and they can become exhausted because of the taxing effects of racing at an unsuitable trip and they struggle to get their stride and rhythm,” he said.

“That’s why in Europe horses go straight into 2000-metre races or beyond. It’s feared that the horses become uncertain of what they are doing racing at a short distance.

“And then the next time they come to the races they don’t know what to do and they want to get the race over as quickly as possible so then you’ve got a horse that over races and pulls hard.”

Cumani maintains that Australian racing has incredible upsides at this time of year with the attention being solely focused on the sport.

“When the major races are on in England you don’t have soccer fans instantly becoming taken with racing. The sport in England is a niche sport,” he said.

“But in Australia it’s quite different, football fans begin to embrace racing as soon as the footy is over and the sport and the sporting landscape is all racing.”

And his hopes of winning a Melbourne Cup with Grey Lion may rely on the best of both worlds when preparing a stayer to win Australia’s most important handicap.

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Giving is receiving in good deed game

AUCTION: The property was snapped up by a Sydney investor for $622,000 and the proceeds were then donated to fund childhood cancer research.I was inspired last weekend by the building and sale of what they called the “Cure House” at Teralba.
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It got me thinking about charity and philanthropy and howI could probably give a little bit more than I do.

For those who missed it, the Children’s Cancer Institute, McDonald Jones Homes, McCloy Group and a number of other parties joined forces to celebrate International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by building a house in under 21 days.

This seemed like a massive construction effortin itself, considering the time it can take to put together a flat pack barby from a hardware store, let alone a house.

But there was so much more to it.

The home was built on land donated by McCloy by over 120 tradies who lent their time free of charge to meet the challenge of getting the luxury project completed within the designated timeframe.

It was fully furnished by Freedom, with all kitchen and laundry appliances provided by Electrolux and home entertainment by Panasonic.

And if it all sounds like a bit of a plug, you’d have to say #accomplished.

The deednot only raised the profile of childhood cancer research in what is an unfortunately crowded marketplace of good causes, it raised funds. Lot’s of them.

The property was snapped up by a Sydney investor for $622,000 at an auction attended by such luminaries as Scott Cam from The Block, and the proceeds were thendonated to fund childhood cancer research.

Talk aboutfeel-good factor.

“We’re here to help, and we’ve got to help,” McDonald Jones Homes founder Bill McDonald told theNewcastle Heraldlast Sunday.

This got me thinking about the different levels of helping you can do, depending on your circumstances.

Charity, I thought, began at home, and philanthropy seems to begin when that home gets really big.

I think things like that when I hear about billionaires like Facebook founderMark Zuckerberg pledging $3billion to eradicate all disease in the lifetime of his children.

Talk about raising the bar.

Charity actually focuses on eliminating the suffering caused by social problems, while philanthropy focuses on eliminating social problems.

Feeding someone during a famine is charity while teaching someone how to grow food is philanthropy.

The Cure House project was surely an inspired combination of the two in that it was focused on eliminating the suffering of childhood cancer by generating funds to research causes to eliminate childhood cancer.

Zuckerberg’s pledge just reflectsthe different level we work on when it comes tosocial conscience. We’d do the same thing in his position if we became unfathomably rich, wouldn’t we?

There’s certainly no shortage of causes.

And of course it’s all relative. In fact, most of my generosity is aimed towards relatives –immediate ones mainly, which I often complain are sending me broke.

But that’s family for you.

You struggle and save andthen, according to Forbes Magazine, you amass an incredible fortune, a fraction of which you should give away, ala MrZuckerberg, Warren Buffett, George Sorosetc.

It’s called philanthropy, which Americans have become famous for, derived from the Greek words “philos,” which means loving, and “anthropos,” which means humankind.

Cynics might suggests “taxman-thropy” plays a role too,but indeed I was surprised recently to hear that a person I know contributes a weekly amount, beyond taxes, to causes she supports too.

I wasn’t so much surprised to hear that, as perplexed that I don’t do it.

The friend’s no billionaire but obviously rich in spirit, and It’s not as if it’s a new idea.

References to charity and philanthropy can be found through the ages in the Koran, Bible, Torah and in the teachings of many other religions and cultures, including Buddhism, Japanese and Native American cultures, Hinduism and the ATO.

There is no doubting what is the right thing to do; as fundraisers know only too well,the challenge is getting the doingdone.

Which gets us back to the Cure House.

Certainly, it wasthe right thing to do, although there may be a question mark over theslight kerfuffle that followed.

A refund claim by McDonald Jones Homes on certification fees totalling apiddly $1000 was rejected by Lake Macquarie City Council.

Voting to donate the money to another charity, LMCC ruled they have a responsibility to look after ratepayermoney and that the good publicity was rewardenough for the builder.

Technically that was probably the right thing to do as well. ButIt shouldn’t detract from what was an inspirational project.

City dump FFA Cup holders Victory to reach final after Cahill controversy

‘Two sets of rules’: Victory coach fuming at referee
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Melbourne City dumped holders Melbourne Victory out of the FFA Cup in a pulstating semi-final, winning 0-2 in front of nearly 16,000 fans at AAMI Park on Tuesday night to set up a final against Sydney FC.

The decider will be staged at the same AAMI Park venue on Wednesday, November 30.

The semi-final was a brilliant advertisement for the enmity that derbies develop, and for the intensity and passion generated by sudden-death cup soccer.

It had drama, controversy, niggle and spite, melees and confrontations as spotfires broke out all over the field.

Tim Cahill put himself about in a ferocious first 45 minutes when he looked as fired up as he was for any Merseyside derby back in his Everton days.

Carl Valeri, the Victory captain, threw himself into the fray at every opportunity, while Besart Berisha hustled, shouted and got in the face of City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis on every occasion the shotstopper fluffed a clearance.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat – once a teammate of Cahill’s at Millwall – clashed with City’s star on the sideline; Cahill clashed with Jason Geria and Leigh Broxham. Geria went into the book for a rough challenge on Fernando Brandan and at every turn crunching tackles flew in, challenges were issued and never shirked.

This was a game in which no quarter was sought – nor any offered. The stakes were far higher than 10 days earlier, when City humiliated Victory 4-1 in the opening A-League derby of the season.

For Victory it was the chance to retain the trophy they won last season, for City the opportunity to win its first silverware and give its Manchester owners the first return on their investment.

It was also an immediate opportunity for Muscat’s men to prove what an aberration that derby loss had been.

Muscat ensured his side would not be bossed around in the same manner on this occasion, and they sought to impose themselves physically on their slicker oppponents from the outset.

But it was Lawrence Thomas who was the busier goalkeeper early, having to save from Cahill and then produce an excellent stop to deny Brandan.

A minute later – the ninth – came the game’s most controversial moment. Luke Brattan won the ball well in midfield from Fahid Ben Khalfallah and fed Brandan wide on the left. Brattan kept running forward as the winger cut in and played the ball back to him before Brattan fired a beautifully struck drive from outside the area past Thomas.

The only problem was that Cahill strayed into an offside position, and although he had not touched the ball he was in Thomas’ line of vision. The fact he had to duck to avoid the ball suggested he was interfering with play. The assistant referee cut short the City celebrations by flagging for offside but he was ultimately overruled by referee Shaun Evans, who allowed the goal to stand.

Victory’s North Terrace leaders had announced before the game that they would no longer co-ordinate active support, but in truth their influence was not missed in this match. There was plenty of singing and chanting, and every time Cahill went near the ball the cry of “here for the money, you’re only here for the money” rang out.

But they could not inspire their side to an equaliser in the first half, although they came close when City’s Danish defender Michael Jakobsen had to head off his own line and Bouzanis almost gifted Victory a leveller when his clearance cannoned into Besart Berisha and looped just over the bar.

Berisha had a golden opportunity to put his side back on level terms just after the half hour when he was set up with a great chance by Marco Rojas, but hit his cross over the bar. Shortly after, Baro’s header was dramatically saved by a diving Bouzanis as the temperature rose even higher.

Rojas had the ball in the net with 18 minutes remaining only for the goal to be ruled out as Berisha had played him on from an offside position. City put the tie beyond Victory’s reach with 13 minutes remaining when Paulo Retre robbed Nick Ansell and fed Nick Fitzgerald, his shot being seized on by Brandan to fire past Thomas.

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Fraudster won’t have to repay thousands

Convicted Lavington criminal Pauline Blake.Pauline Blake will never have to repay the thousands and thousands of dollars she ripped-off the community.
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It has been estimated she spent up to $25,000 collected for a bogus cancer charity on herself and her partner-in-crime, husband Dylan Blake.

But no compensation has been sought in the case, simply because there was no paper trail detailing who donated to the heartless fraudster.

The only punishment she has is a 12-month jail term that she will get to serve in her Lavington home.

Magistrate Tony Murray suggested to Blake she could have easily faced the more onerous penalty of prison time.

“It’s very fortunate that she didn’t come before me,” he said.“Obviously his honour found special circumstances.”

Fellow magistrate Michael Crompton previously ordered that Blake, 41, be jailed, though that this be in the form of home detention.

The court was told on Tuesday that Blake was deemed suitable for such an order, which Mr Murray then confirmed.

She was given a non-parole period of eight months, which means she will be allowed to leave home again on June 24 next year.

Blake was ordered to immediately return to her home to await the arrival of Community Corrections officers to fit her with monitoring equipment.

Dylan Blake will be sentenced on November 16, though because of parity in the matter – the pair carried out the ruse together, which meant each was charged with dishonestly obtaining property by deception – he too is unlikely to end up in jail.

Blake initially sobbed when she was given the 12-month jail term by Mr Crompton on September 14.

That was in sharp contrast to her relaxed demeanour on Tuesday, safe in the knowledge she would instead get to hang around her own home for a few months.

Mr Murray asked defence solicitor Chris Halburd whether compensation was being sought.

In reply, Mr Halburd said “no” as it was not known to who that money would be paid.

Blake came up with the idea of raising money for a fake cancer charity after her mother-in-law died of the disease.

They struggled to pay their bills, something which Mr Halburd previously indicated the crime was an offence “of need, rather than greed”.

Mr Murray though castigated Blake when she fronted court in early August.

“One would think there would be significant public condemnation of this type of behaviour. It’s a particularly callous deception.”

The fraud ran for three years from November in 2012 and involved walk-throughs in pubs and clubs and donations by businesses. Dylan Blake was not in court on Tuesday.

Border Mail

Fatal Dreamworld accident captured on CCTV

Dreamworld on October 25, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia. Photo: Jason O’Brien/Getty ImagesDreamworld fatalities come after history of theme park accidentsDreamworld emergency: multiple deaths confirmedThe horror theme park accident that killed four people at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast was caught on CCTV, police have confirmed as investigations into the tragedy began in earnest.
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Gold Coast Inspector Tod Reid said police would remain on site for a significant amount of time to assist in both the investigation and the recovery of the four bodies.

The four victims were on board the Thunder River Rapids ride, which involved six-person circular rafts riding a heavy man-made current.

Police and investigators at Dreamworld on October 25, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia. Photo: Jason O’Brien/Getty Images

“There is CCTV footage available and that will be reviewed as part of the investigation,” Inspector Reid said.

Inspector Reid said forensic pathologists had examined the victims, two women aged 32 and 42 and two men aged 35 and 38, “in situ” and the Queensland coroner had also examined the scene.

“We have specialist police here engaged with witnesses and those people are being offered support, along with the responding police are being offered appropriate support as well,” he said.

Responders would be on the site well into the night, Inspector Reid said, as he expected the “complex” retrieval of the bodies to would involve heavy equipment.

“That will take several hours,” he said.

Inspector Todd Reid speaks to media about the accident at Dreamworld. Photo: Queensland Police

Queensland Ambulance Service acting senior operations supervisor Gavin Fuller said two people were ejected from the ride and the other two were caught in the ride.

“They were assessed by Queensland Ambulance personnel and had all sustained injuries that were incompatible with living,” he said.

Mr Fuller said responders had been “deeply affected” by what they had seen and would be offered counselling.

Dreamworld chief executive Craig Davidson said the amusement park would not be open on Wednesday.

Later, the Dreamworld website announced the park would be closed “until further notice”.

Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson addressed the media some hours after the fatal accident. Photo: Seven News

“At this stage, the park is closed and Dreamworld is working closely with police and emergency services and authorities to establish the facts around the incident,” Mr Davidson said.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this and our hearts and our thoughts go to the families involved and to their loved ones.”

Dreamworld visitor Lisa Walker said the Thunder River Rapids ride had broken down earlier in the day.

“It had broken down and we went back a couple of times to this particular ride,” she said.

“We were standing on the bridge watching and the water had stopped.

“There was no rapids.”

The tragedyoccurred about 10 minutes after Ms Walker and her daughter, Kaylah, walked away from the ride.

“We had just got off the ride,maybe five or 10 minutes,and hadcome over to the water park,” Ms Walker said.

“We had just come back and heard all the sirens and things and we saw all the people being ushered out.

The scene at Dreamworld after an accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Gold Coast theme park on Tuesday. Photo: Jason O’Brien/Getty Images

“Some were coming out by themselves, some were coming out on their own. Some were coming out crying, cuddling people.

“It was just horrible.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said police and workplace health and safety were doing a “thorough” investigation and expected that to continue until early Wednesday morning.

“I understand there were many witnesses and I want to thank paramedics and police who were there,” she said.”I have been told the scene was horrific.

“Everyone is in deep shock that this has actually happened at one of our most popular theme parks, our heart goes out to family and victims.”

I’m very saddened by the tragedy at Dreamworld today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families. https://t.co/FGF9vsrB1s

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) October 25, 2016

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in Brisbane on Tuesday when the tragedy occurred.

“Theme parks are a place for family fun and happiness, not tragedy,” he said Tuesday evening.

“This is a very, very, sad, tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives.

“This is a verysad day, and we trust there will be a thorough investigation into the causes of this accident over the days to follow.”

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said his city would assist the loved ones of the victims in any way it could.

“Any help they need, whether or not they need some help to get family or loved ones back to their hometown, things like that,” he told Nine News.

“We want to reach out and let them know that Gold Coasters will be doing our best to make sure they are comforted.”

Ardent Leisure, the operator of the Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast, had itsshare price fall by as much as 8 per cent following news of a tragedyat the venue.

ASX-listed Ardent ownsDreamworldand the neighbouring WhiteWater World on the Gold Coast.

-Amy Mitchell-Whittington, Jorge Branco, Tony Moore, Cameron Atfield and Carolyn Cummins

NBA veteran Steve Blake ready to mix it with Sydney Kings young guns

Old head: Steve Blake in action for Detroit against Matthew Dellavedova’s Cavaliers. Photo: CARLOS OSORIOA question about the age of Sydney’s latest NBA import, Steve Blake, was delicately put to their coach ahead of his anticipated arrival on Wednesday.
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“36, I don’t see that as being particularly old,” said Kings coach Andrew Gaze.

“Certainly you’re closer to the end of your career than the start of it but it’s not to say you’re not capable of playing at a very high level.

“Let’s not forget, as short a time as seven months ago was running around with the Detroit Pistons playing 17 minutes a game.

“My experiences in the NBA are very, very brief. But if you’re playing 17 minutes a game in the NBA, you’ve got some skill and you’re still capable of playing at a very high level.”

Blake has played 870 games, plus a further 53 of the playoff variety, for nine NBA teams including the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, Washington Wizards and the Golden State Warriors. His time at the Lakers didn’t quite coincide with the championship-winning stint of another Kings import, Josh Powell, but between them they boast enough big-game experience to raise hopes Sydney may retain its position on top of the NBL ladder for some time yet.

The addition of Blake continues Gaze’s honeymoon period as a rookie basketball coach. The Kings have won three of their first four games, including Monday night’s hammering of arch rivals Illawarra, to mark the club’s best start to a season since 2007-8. They will get a chance to avenge their only loss, to Brisbane, with the addition of Blake in front of their home fans on Sunday.

Corporate Sydney is also coming to the party, with the Kings announcing on Tuesday that The Star has joined as one of the club’s foundation partners.

Blake will have little time to acquaint himself with his new surrounds or teammates. Asked if the veteran guard, the 38th pick of the 2003 NBA draft, was a chance of facing the Bullets, Gaze said: “He is going to play this weekend, he’s not a chance to play. He will play on Sunday.”

Blake, who has averaged 6.5 points and four assists during his regular-season NBA career, has played alongside some of the game’s biggest names. Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Draymond Green are just some of the superstars to have called him teammate. He has also played alongside Australian Andrew Bogut at both Golden State and Milwaukee.

The Kings have struck up a chemistry that has not been evident in sides wearing the purple and golds in recent campaigns. Gaze is confident his newest recruit will add to, rather than disrupt, it.

“Steve brings awesome experience, 13 years in the NBA with a variety of different clubs,” Gaze said.

“The more experienced the players are, the less ego involved, the more team-first type mentality. Sometimes imports come over here and are under enormous pressure to carry the team. We’ve got great depth and it’s about playing a role and sometimes that requires sacrifice from some of the players.

“When you’ve got experienced guys that have been around, they understand team success outweighs individual success. There’s far greater enjoyment when there is team success involved.”

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Northern Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching damage worse, surveys suggest

Diver Margaux Hein surveys dead branching corals at Day Reef, near Lizard Island. Photo: Greg Torda, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies Dead coral at Yonge reef, near Lizard Island. Photo: Greg Torda, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies
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Healthy reef between Mackay and Townsville escape. Photo: Tane Sinclair-Taylor, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Crown-of-thorns starfish attached to healthy coral on a reef between Mackay and Townsville. Photo: Tane Sinclair-Taylor, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Extensive bleaching of Acropora corals on the reef crest of North Direction Island, April 2016. Photo: Andrew Hoey, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Dead bleached corals on the reef crest of North Direction Island in October 2016. Photo: Andrew Hoey, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

A healthy southern reef. Photo: Tane Sinclair-Taylor, ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Fresh surveys of the Great Barrier Reef six months on from a mass coral bleaching have found large-scale damage north of Cairns, where a growing coral death rate due to heat stress is being exacerbated by disease and predators, scientists say.

Researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies have released a map with new pictures and video that show the aftermath of the extreme underwater heatwave last summer.

The southern half of the reef is in good condition, but the scientists say ongoing surveys at the top end – stretching north of Cairns to Papua New Guinea – confirm it was the worst bleaching episode recorded.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority earlier this year estimated 22 per cent of coral died across the length of the reef due to heat stress.

Greg Torda, from the Centre of Excellence, based at James Cook University in Townsville, said millions of corals died from heat stress in March and ongoing surveys showed many more had slowly died in the months since.

“On the reefs we surveyed close to Lizard Island [off the coast of Cooktown, in far-north Queensland], the amount of live coral covering the reef has fallen from around 40 per cent in March to under 5 per cent now,” Dr Torda said.

The scientists reported finding damaged living coral in that area under attack from snails and affected by disease.

In the central section of the reef, between Mackay and Townsville, Andrew Baird said there was still close to 40 per cent coral cover at most sites.

“The corals that were moderately bleached last summer have nearly all regained their normal colour,” Professor Baird said.

The high mortality rate across the reef came at the end of what was then the warmest year on record, and during an El Nino, when sea temperatures are particularly warm in the eastern Pacific. (This year has been warmer across the globe, but the El Nino cycle is over.)

Scientists warn that as the planet warms due to climate change, bleaching of many types of coral is expected to become more frequent and severe.

Coral bleaching occurs when the stressed coral host ejects the tiny marine algae, known as zooxanthellae, that lives inside its tissue and gives it its colour and the bulk of the energy needed for it to grow and reproduce.

Most corals rely on zooxanthellae to feed. Without it they start to starve and their tissue becomes transparent.

Corals can regain their zooxanthellae and colour if the temperature returns to normal, though some never fully recover. When heat stress continues for eight weeks or more, bleached coral often die. If the mortality rate on a reef is high it can take reefs years or decades to recover.

There was historically significant coral bleaching at reefs across much of the globe last year. Scientists say along the Great Barrier Reef it was worse than previous episodes in 1998 and 2002.

The current surveys are due to be completed in mid-November.

See more video and pictures of the reef here.

Follow Adam Morton on Facebook and Twitter.

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Horse racing: John Kissick to miss 12 months with fractured spine

John Kissick is expected to make a full recovery from his fractured spine. Photo: Jenny Evans John Kissick is expected to make a full recovery from his fractured spine. Photo: Melissa Adams
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Canberra jockey John Kissick has broken his back and could be out of the saddle for up to 12 months after a nasty cattle riding fall.

The popular hoop was flipped from a steer on a private property in Braidwood on Monday, landing heavily on his head and fracturing his T-12 vertebrae.

It is believed Kissick and a number of Canberra-based jockeys were enjoying an informal steer riding competition on the property where the incident occurred.

After initially experiencing a tingling sensation in his toes, he has since restored feelings in his limbs but will be bed-ridden with the lower back injury for the next six weeks.

It couldn’t come at a worse time for the in-demand rider with race meetings ramping up to coincide with Melbourne’s Spring Carnival.

Kissick’s fellow jockey and housemate Brodie Loy was awaiting results in hospital on Tuesday and said his friend was feeling “down” and “shattered” but relieved to have feeling in his legs and arms.

“You’ve got to look on the bright side of things; he’s not in a wheel chair, he’s going to be back riding and he’s going to be kicking goals in six months,” Loy said.

Kissick is expected to make a full recovery but it is a cruel blow for a highly sought after jockey.

“It’s massive,” Kissick’s manager Dean Walsh said. “Obviously this time of the year is busy and he had 20-odd rides booked for just this week so you can work out the magnitude of it over a course of 12 months.”

Kissick recently moved from Wagga Wagga to Canberra to further his career and has become a popular rider amongst trainers at Thoroughbred Park.

“Everybody hires him, he’s such a well sought after rider and he’s lucky and good enough to get the attention of just about everybody,” Walsh said.​

Although Kissick’s injury was not sustained working with horses, his accident is another reminder of the dangers associated with the sport a week out from the Melbourne Cup.

Canberra riders Richie Bensley, Carly Frater, and Chynna Marston have all suffered serious injuries over the last two years, as well as Victorian Michelle Payne.

And National Jockeys’ Trust manager and NSW Jockey’s Association vice president Tony Crisafi said the falls occur with frightening regularity.

“One in four NSW jockeys will be transported to hospital by ambulance following a fall from a horse at either track work or during the races,” Crisafi said.

This translates to one rider a week for the around 200 jockeys in NSW and Crisafi said it was important to be mindful of the dangers in the industry.

“While everyone is celebrating on Melbourne Cup day these jockeys are putting their lives on the line every day,” he said.

“The top jockeys riding at Flemington will be well remunerated but not the ones riding around Narrandera, Tumut and other places like that.”

“The National Jockeys’ Trust and the Australian Jockeys’ Association are here to help John in ever way. That’s what the NJT is for; to help injured jockeys and their families.”

At this stage it is believed Kissick’s fracture will heal without requiring surgery and the results of the MRI will provide further information.

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Sheffield Shield round one, day one: All you need to know

BIRD IS THE WORD
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The first round of the Sheffield Shield season had loomed as a bowl-off between Jackson Bird and Peter Siddle for the third fast-bowling spot in Australia’s XI for next week’s first Test against South Africa in Perth. With Mitchell Starc returning from injury ahead for NSW’s clash with Queensland at the Gabba, and Blues teammate Josh Hazlewood another likely starter for the WACA match against the Proteas, Siddle and Bird both arrived at the MCG for Victoria’s meeting with Tasmania as the two leading candidates to join the NSW pair next week, and were striving to impress on-duty selector Mark Waugh. Bird got first crack after Tasmania won the toss and elected to bowl in the pink-ball clash. He was typically economical and caused trouble for Victorian opener Travis Dean early, but took just one wicket as Victoria cruised.

SMUDGE STARS

Starc – restricted to playing half of this match as he is managed by Cricket Australia – and Hazlewood were also denied the chance to bowl early on day one after NSW were sent in by Queensland captain Usman Khawaja at the Gabba. David Warner fell early but Australian skipper Steve Smith notched a century, as did Kurtis Patterson. Luke Feldman impressed with the ball for the Bulls, finishing with five wickets.

TIMELY DECLARATION

Starc was preventing himself from bowling in a handy rearguard partnership in which he and Ryan Carters put on 52 for the eighth wicket. Smith declared however at 7-327, allowing Starc and Hazlewood a crack at the Bulls under lights. It meant an early crack for the pair at under-pressure Australian batsman Joe Burns. Charlie Hemphrey was then bowled by Hazlewood for a duck, setting up the tantalising prospect of Starc and Hazlewood bowling at Khawaja and Burns under lights. First Bulls wicket down… but Burns survives. Hazlewood clean bowls Hemphrey for a duck. Khawaja next man in… Bulls 1-0. Presure much?— Phil Lutton (@phillutton78) October 25, 2016FIGHTING FIT  

In good touch: Shaun Marsh staked his Test claim with the bat. Photo: Paul Kane

Left-hander Shaun Marsh was looking to prove his fitness ahead of the first Test in Western Australia’s WACA clash with South Australia after suffering a hamstring injury during the Matador Cup earlier this month. So far, so good, with Marsh notching 73 as the Warriors made a bright start to their campaign. His brother Mitch struggled though, making just 12.

MAXED OUT

Glenn Maxwell was unlikely to play in any of Australia’s home Tests this summer but was seen as a smokey for February’s Test tour of India. But in order to stake a claim for that series he’ll need to play some first-class cricket. It’ll be hard for him to do that as 12th man, where he was on Tuesday after being overlooked for the Bushrangers’ XI for the MCG match. Maxwell – who unsuccessfully sought a move to NSW during the winter – was understood to be shocked by the news.

SCAPE ESCAPE

No dramas: Queensland’s Usman Khawaja is still very much in Australia’s Test plans, according to Darren Lehmann. Photo: Chris Hyde

While Maxwell has something to worry about, Khawaja does not. Having claimed to have been a “scapegoat” for Australia’s failure having been omitted from the Test team following poor form during this year’s whitewash loss in Sri Lanka, concerns those comments would be held against him were allayed by Australian coach Darren Lehmann, who said Khawaja was in the frame to play in the first Test.

MAKING HIS ED

The strangest moment of the day came when former Australian opener Ed Cowan declined to play a shot to this ball from Queensland seamer Luke Feldman when on 10. The rest was history. Ed Cowan’s leave a few minutes ago, on a scale of 1 to Glenn Maxwell… #SheffieldShieldpic.twitter南京夜网/k1wOBR8hFa— Ethan (@ethan_meldrum) October 25, 2016

PINKER PINKER

The pink balls being used on Tuesday weren’t the same pink balls used in the Test in Adelaide last year. They are, in fact, pinker than ever before and include a more-pronounced seam (black stitching, not white) to see if that can encourage some more movement. Kookaburra has continued to work on the design and all of the players at the Gabba were keen to see how it performed. Darren Lehmann was keeping a close eye on proceedings but with only about 40 per cent humidity on a 27 degree day, it’s hardly a good guide for how it might play in the middle of December.

with Phil Lutton

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