Blue Mountains rockslide: National Parks contractor killed, two others airlifted

Police rescue officers near the site where a bushwalking track has collapsed. Photo: Wolter PeetersA 36-year-old National Parks contractor was killed and two of his colleagues seriously injured when a rockslide at a Blue Mountains walking track fell from a 10-metre height on Wednesday.
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The three National Parks and Wildlife Service contractors were working to improve the safety of the National Pass walking track when they were hit, in an area which has been closed since August 31 “due to an identified risk of unstable sections of rock”.

The 36-year-old man died at the scene, where a crime scene has been established and where he will remain under police guard until his body can be recovered.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

The two survivors, aged 26 and 27 were airlifted to hospital with multiple fractures on Wednesday afternoon, following a sensitive extraction.

In a statement the National Parks and Wildlife Service said “experienced contractors” were working to make safe the walking track between Valley of the Waters and Slack Stairs.

“Our condolences go to the family of the contractor who was killed and our thoughts are with the other members of the crew who were injured,” NPWS said.

Emergency services first responded to reports of people injured in the rock fall around 11.40am, with critical care paramedics winched in to assess the patients and rescue teams from police and fire and rescue also on scene.

Officers from Blue Mountains Local Area Command, police rescue, Polair and National Parks and Wildlife Service were at the scene. Photo: Wolter Peeters

“It took about one hour for emergency responders to access the site,” said Superintendent Darryl Jobson on Wednesday afternoon.

Fifteen ambulance crews, three rescue helicopters and three Fire and Rescue crews responded to the incident, while a command post was established at the end of Falls Road.

One witness, Mike Burgess, told the ABC he was bushwalking below the remote walking track when he heard a “big explosion” that sounded “like dynamite going off”.

“But I knew it wouldn’t be dynamite, it would be a big slab,” he said.

“We heard all the blooming rocks smash down through the bush – right after that I heard a bloke scream. I’d say there were some pretty bad injuries down there.”

A man has died and two others are trapped after an accident at Wentworth Falls. Photo: Seven News

National Parks director David Crust said the matter was now under investigation, describing it as “a tragic event.”

SafeWork NSW has been notified about the incident.

Large rocks previously fell on the National Pass walking track at Wentworth Falls in November last year.

The track, a popular attraction for 90,000 visitors every year, was then closed on August 31.

The closure was prompted by further signs of increasing instability, which were revealed in an assessment by geo-technical engineers that identified a “dangerous, unstable section of rock above the walking track”.

“Falls of this nature occur throughout the park and the procedures are to help ensure the safety of everyone,” NPWS Blue Mountains acting area manager Arthur Henry said at the time.

Police asked members of the public to avoid the area. Photo: AAP

Federal Court workers walk off the job in Newcastle, call for more money, better conditons

CPSU: MP Sharon Claydon talking to staff outside the Commonwealth Law Courts in Bolton St. Workers walked off the job for half an hour over fair pay and conditions. Picture: Simone De PeakNewcastle’s Federal Court staff stopped work on Wednesday, in protectedindustrial action seeking more money and better conditions.
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Staff walked off the job for the first time in decades, after69 per centof workers rejectedthe most recent enterprise agreement.

Outside theCommonwealth Law Courts in Bolton Street head organiser for the courts for the Community and Public Sector Union, Bronwyn Parris, said the strong rejection vote was a huge achievement.

“It has forced the courts into conciliation and that is a huge achievement, “ she said.

“We are hopeful now, with the assistance of the Fair Work Commission, we can move toward a fairer settlement.”

According to the CPSUthe current offer fails to deliver equity across the courts and cuts existing rights and conditions.

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon, whohas backed the CPSU,attended the strike in Newcastle on Wednesday.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members met with Federal Member for Newcastle @SharonClaydon outside the Commonwealth Law Courts to outline the conditions that have led to them taking strike action for the first time in decades. pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/eFxvO62b5D

— Newcastle Herald (@newcastleherald) November 29, 2017

“These workers have been pushed to the brink,” she said.

“They haven’t had a pay rise in four years and were recently asked to accept a pitiful one per cent increase and cuts to their working conditions.

“The fact that this workforce, which hasn’t taken industrial action in 25 years, is now being forced to strike shows just how serious the situation is.”

CPSU Deputy National President Rupert Evans said previous industrial action had alreadycaused significant disruption in the courts, with registries closed and hearings adjourned as a result of our members striking.

“It’s well and truly past time for the bosses to wake up to reality and work with us on a just outcome,” he said.

“The Federal Courts is one of very few agencies where bargaining remains in such a frustrating deadlock.

“We’re calling for Attorney-General George Brandis to step in and advise courts management to follow the lead set by other Commonwealth agencies that have successfully brokered agreements after belatedly recognising that retaining existing rights and conditions is the key to settlement.”

A spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney-General said “the federal courts are responsible for their own operation and management, including in relation to enterprise bargaining matters and therefore it would not be appropriate to comment.”

HistoryHunter’s lost churchesMike Scanlon

COMMUNITY CONCERN: Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson outside St Clement’s in 2013.FEW things seem sadder in the Hunter Valley than a closed and apparently deserted church building.
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Over the years, with shifting populations, especially those following work in the coal industry, some prominent churches have shut their doors forever.

Then the inevitable happened. Some people remember a once busy church being closed at Greta, then being demolished, while others remember a similar solid Methodist church at Morpeth being torn down in the early 1970s.

But sometimes there is life after death, if you’ll pardon the pun.

A landmark Mayfield Anglican church dating from 1860 was also demolished, probably in the 1960s, and its graveyard also disappeared. In this case, however, a new church was built there to replace it.

But there’s not always a happy ending to old, deconsecrated church buildings.

New life: This striking former historic Presbyterian church in Minmi has been reinvented as a Coptic Orthodox Church.

I was reminded of the sorry sight of another ‘lost church’ while motoring up past Singleton recently. It was the fleeting glance caught from the highway of an historic and imposing church building almost hidden away on the slope of a hill.

I’d spied the former church of St Clement’s, just past the village of Camberwell, about 13 kilometres north west of Singleton.

It stood below where the New England Highway intersects with Glennies Creek Road and I went off to investigate because in such a relatively young nation as , this was reputed to be almost 160 years old, or maybe 170 years, when it was formally deconsecrated in 2013.

The sign at the gate on the drive down the dirt road to the former Anglican church of St Clement’s stated 1841/1842, indicating the adjoining cemetery may precede the church.

So, what’s the story behind it shutting forever? An arson attack forced the church’s closure in 2008. It was the beginning of a sorry saga of changing times and priorities

St Clement’s was then reputed to be the Hunter’s second oldest church. Officially it was built in 1843/1844, but only consecrated in 1855. Rather oddly, the earliest tombstones date from around 1860, but a lot more are from 20 to 30 years later. Perhaps the earliest burials are in now unmarked graves, or elsewhere.

For the nearby village of Camberwell – said to be named after a district of the same name in London – must have been a long way from anywhere in colonial times.

St Clement’s church was a real community cornerstone, as former Herald colleague Matthew Kelly discovered in May 2013 when the news broke that the church could soon be deconsecrated.

Kelly reported that nearby residents believed the church had then become a symbol of defiance of mining industry expansion, which threatened to swallow the village in the next decade.

Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson (pictured) told the Herald at the time that local residents had been robbed of their spiritual home.

“It’s not just a place of worship, it’s an icon of what our community spirit is about,”

Parishioners said they had paid the church’s insurance premiums for many years and had fought to have it restored and reopened for regular services.

The Anglican diocese, however, argued the $375,000 insurance payout would not cover the repair costs plus other likely unforeseen costs. The money should be spent instead on other churches in the Singleton area.

Historic artefacts from the church were to be relocated and a trust fund set up to maintain St Clement’s as an historic site and keepthe cemetery open to the public.

But St Clement’s former parishioners remained angry right up to the church’s being deconsecrated in early July 2013.

The Herald reported that resident Wendy Noble, who had five generations of her family buried in the church cemetery as being “absolutely disgusted with what’s happened”.

Former St Clement’s warden Graeme Cheetham also said the decision was a disgrace. Earlier, he said. “We’re tried everything but they (the diocese) control the funds. It’s a beautiful old church that’s going to be left to rot. That’s the sin of it.”

Former parishioners also feared more local churches might suffer the same fate as St Clement’s as their congregations dwindled.

When Weekender visited the church site recently everything appeared neat externally but big, heavy metal bars had been installed to deter vandals. The church appeared empty, but a magnificent stained glass window could be glimpsed inside.

On the other side of the coin,at least two impressive former 19th century Minmi churches have been given a new lease of life. The small mining town west of Newcastle was like a ghost town for years after the area’s last mine abruptly closed in 1924.

The exodus of mining families, however, had begun in Minmi much earlier, in 1909 when the Maitland Coalfields opened.

As churches closed, St Andrews Presbyterian Church then seemed to become Minmi’s sole survivor. Today the church structure remains, but it’s now the St Mary and St George Coptic Orthodox Church (pictured).

Not far away, the historic former 1883 St John’s Church of England building hasbeen reinvented as a romantic getaway, oozing old world charm (plus in-ground pool), all for $185 a night.

But closer to Newcastle, there once was a building which underwent a more dramatic and unexpected role change.

Older Kotara South residents are likely to remember a disused Catholic church on the corner of Vista Parade and Greyson Avenue. In March 1978, this landmark church building had been vacant for 15 months.

The Newcastle Sunreported that the solid, but plain, church building with its high glass wall of 1960s-style coloured glass squares, was for sale for $30,000. It was a real bargain in anyone’s language. Part of its apparent value – besides the church building itself – was its huge land area.

At the time, the site couldn’t be developed for residential use because of its then land-zoning, which specified church use. There was talk of it becoming a church hall, although none of the other churches seemed interested in buying it.

The church land was the equivalent of about four residential building blocks. The property’s zoning must have eventually changed because homes cover the site today.

The solid brick church, however, had only a short life span of 13 years. It was used until the end of 1976 when services moved to a new $160,000 church nearby. The familiar Kotara South landmark was originally builtas a bathhouse for mineworkers at the local Crofton Colliery in 1952. It wasconverted to a church in 1963.

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Labor questions compensation for clubs while stadium built

Supplied renderings of proposed stadiums.Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced Allianz and ANZ stadiums will be rebuilt and transformed into world-class facilities, keeping NRL Grand Finals in Sydney for at least the next 25 years.?? Ms Berejiklian said the investment would ensure NSW remains the number one destination for major sporting and entertainment events.NSW Labor is demanding to know how much taxpayer funding has been promised to three sporting clubs based at Moore Park to compensate them while a new stadium is built.
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The Berejiklian government announced last week that it would spend about $2 billion to replace Allianz Stadium at Moore Park and ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park.

Eighteen months ago, the three clubs – the Roosters (rugby league), Sydney FC (A-League soccer) and NSW Waratahs (rugby union) – warned loudly that being without a home stadium for years would have a disastrous impact on their business.

But the three clubs last week all welcomed the decision to build a new stadium at Moore Park, even though this would dislocate them for two or more years.

The change of heart by the clubs has prompted questions about how much taxpayers’ support they have been promised.

“The NSW government should reveal how much they’re compensating these clubs and if there’s more to come,” said NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who is also a Roosters fan.

“The Berejiklian government has opened up the pot of gold for these clubs because of their ineptitude at unnecessarily upgrading both stadiums at the same time,” Mr Foley said.

“That’s less money for desperately needed schools and hospitals,” said the Labor leader, who has been campaigning on the issue at schools.

Last year, Waratahs chairman Roger Davis put the compensation bill for the three tenants at Allianz Stadium at up to $150 million if they were to be moved during construction.

“You’re talking about $600 million on a new stadium many would say you don’t need, then you’re talking about $100-$150 million in compensation,” Mr Davis toldThe n in March (paywall).

Mr Davis said the Waratahs had compensation clauses in their lease with the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust.

“We have a lease with the Trust for 16 years,” he said. “Why you would sign it for 16 if you’re going to be gone for four is a different issue.”

The three clubs said in a joint statement in April last year they would require “major levels of compensation” if their stadium was out of action for up to four years.

After the three clubs endorsed the stadium plan announced last week, The Sydney Morning Herald asked them about potential compensation.

In an email, a spokesman for Sydney FC said: “Compensation was discussed and will be worked through in the fullness of time.”

Other than that, the clubs have not addressed the issue.

The Herald asked Sports Minister Stuart Ayres whether any compensation for the three clubs would come on top of the $705 million allocated for the construction of the new stadium at Moore Park.

A spokeswoman for Mr Ayres said: “Fixtures for content displaced during the construction of both ANZ and Allianz Stadium will be determined by clubs and codes as is currently the case during the construction of the Western Sydney Stadium.”

One source said compensation for the affected tenants at Allianz could come via favourable future venue-hire agreements with the SCG Trust.

Another option might be government support to establish “high performance centres” in the nearby Entertainment Quarter.

The neighbouring Centennial and Moore Park Trust is running an expression of interest for the operation of the Hordern Pavilion and Royal Hall of Industries.

Chairman of the SCG Trust Tony Shepherd has said he would be “be happy to see the Swans or Roosters use the Hordern (or RHI), but that decision is up to other authorities.”

The Swans play at the adjacent Sydney Cricket Ground.

The n Institute of Architects, meanwhile, has criticised the proposal for two new stadiums.

“To demolish, rather than refurbish, seems like an extraordinary waste,” NSW chapter president Andrew Nimmo said.

McCartney appointed GWS list manager

Former Western Bulldogs list manager Jason McCartney has joined the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
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McCartney replaces Craig Cameron as list manager at the Giants. Cameron recently departed GWS to join the Gold Coast Suns.

“We are excited to have Jason join us,” GWS footy boss Wayne Campbell said.

“The work he and his team have done at the Bulldogs has been outstanding and we feel his character, work ethic and willingness to immerse himself in the Giants will make him a valuable addition to our club.”

McCartney thanked the Bulldogs for their support.

“It has been a great experience, and I’ve made some strong friendships over the last six years,” he said in a statement.

“An exciting opportunity has presented at Greater Western Sydney for my family and I, and I’m now looking forward to the next chapter of my career.”

There had been speculation about friction between McCartney and Bulldogs recruiting chief Simon Dalrymple, particularly as the Bulldogs’ premiership defence faltered and they missed finals.

Dalrymple is contracted until the end of 2019 but McCartney came off-contract after the draft.

The Bulldogs had split the roles of list management and recruiting, which other clubs have one person in charge, sparking speculation the pair have clashed over individual players and overall recruiting philosophy.

Chris Grant, the Bulldogs’ director of football, told Fairfax Media in September that the pair had “had their disagreements and difference of opinion over the years” but were “completely fine” when working together.

“On behalf of the club, I’d like to thank Jason for his valuable contribution to the Bulldogs over an extended period of time,” Grant said.

“We understand the role is a great opportunity for Jason and his family, we are very supportive of the decision he has made, and we wish him all the best for the next phase of his career.”