Team Australia is ‘counter-productive’, says terrorism expert

A counter-terrorism expert at the Australian National University has described Tony Abbott’s “Team Australia” campaign as counter-productive and called on the government to prioritise community based programs to deradicalise supporters of Islamic State.
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Dr Clarke Jones, a visiting fellow who worked on national security programs with the federal government for 15 years, said greater efforts must be made to understand why some Australians support IS and to develop new role models for those who do.

According to Attorney-General George Brandis, there are around 60 Australians directly involved in the current conflict in Syria and Iraq with dozens more supportive of their cause.

“IS may have been able to lure them to wanting to join but the factors that have got them to that point are often underlying social issues here in Australia that can be addressed,” Dr Jones said.

“If you are talking to these people you’ve got to address some of the reasons why they feel disenfranchised in the first place.”

He said the term Team Australia had proved “counter-productive” as a decradicalistion tool as it was confusing and reinforced the sense of marginalisation felt by those likely to support IS.

“The government is going to have to more transparent in explaining to the public why they have been introducing new national security legislation,” he said.

Dr Jones, who is detailing his research at a public lecture in the ANU on Thursday, said authorities need to develop more sophisticated engagement programs with families and community groups to address grievances.

“The government has to knuckle down and dedicate funds to interventionist programs and be more willing to embrace and understand the motivations some may have for supporting IS, which are not always religious,” he said.

Dr Jones said the most immediate task of any community based program would be to develop new role models and social identities for those who feel marginalised.

“Sporting programs and coming into contact with coaches and senior players who can become role models is important if they are still in a relationship stage,” he said.

“New employment and educational opportunities can also give those at risk new role models and social groupings.”

Dr Jones said community based programs were less effective when individuals had been radicalised over a long period of time or from a young age, such as the child of Sydney based jihadi Khaled Sharrouf who reportedly posed with a decapitated head in August.

“In Australia, those who have become more hardened radicals need to be removed from social media influences and that’s a critical thing as it removes all contact to the social group who often led to their radicalisation in the first place,” he said.

Dr Jones said the 60 Australians fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria could play a critical role in deradicalisation programs in Australia provided they had become disillusioned while fighting overseas.

“Those who have joined terrorist groups like IS could be some of the greatest assets in preventing terrorism,” he said.

“They might not like what they see when fighting overseas, and disengage from supporting organisations like IS. In carefully constructed programs, these returnees could prove useful if encouraged to dissuade others from supporting IS.”

Racecaller Terry McAuliffe reveals shock at jockey Caitlin Forrest’s death

Shock death: jockey Caitlin Forrest. Photo: FacebookSouth Australian racing broadcaster Terry McAuliffe left Murray Bridge races late on Wednesday night hoping for the best but fearing the worst, following a horrific fall that afternoon.
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However, in the early hours of Thursday, news came in that Caitlin Forrest had died from injuries she incurred in the four-horse fall.

McAuliffe said the racing industry in South Australia was in disbelief that one of it’s most popular young riders had suffered such a “shock” fall.

After 30 years in racing, McAuliffe admitted it was the toughest day he had faced.

He feared Forrest was in real danger moments after a helicopter arrived to take her to an Adelaide hospital.

“The moment it happened was the most confronting thing in my broadcasting life,” he said. “This beautiful girl with so much ability freakishly had her mount, Colla Voce, break a leg at the top of the straight, crashing to the ground with three other horses coming over the top of her.

“I knew, like so many of us on course, that Caitlin was in trouble and I had the terrible job of conveying messages to not only on-course spectators but also nationally, through my broadcasting commitments.

“They were mixed messages, some positive and some negative, but when I got the call very late on Wednesday night it seemed the horrific injuries had taken their toll.”

Another jockey, Libby Hopwood, was also in an Adelaide hospital suffering concussion and a broken collarbone.

The other two jockeys involved, Adrian Patterson and Justin Potter, were able to ride in the final two races.

Last year Forrest was named the finest first-year apprentice rider in South Australia and secured the country premiership for winners.

Her mother Yvonne, a former jockey and now a trainer, was at Murray Bridge on Wednesday, while her father Darren is a leading harness racing driver.

“The whole racing world has come to a standstill,” McAuliffe said. “Other people have told me when this happens at race meetings it will affect you for a long time.

“Underneath, I didn’t want the last two races to go on. I sensed like so many that something was awfully wrong and our instincts were right. It’s been 60 years, we think, since the last fatality in South Australia.”

Leading Adelaide jockey Clare Lindop said the South Australian racing community was gathering around the Forrest family and that Victorian Jockeys Association chief executive Des O’Keeffe was flying into Adelaide on Thursday to offer support.

Former South Australian trainer David Hayes said the death had affected everyone. He said the trainers’ hut at Flemington was a very quiet place on Thursday morning.

“You could sense that everyone was feeling this tragedy,” he said. “I haven’t seen the tape and I don’t want to see the tape. It’s one of the terrible aspects of a jockey’s life and they deserve all the money that they are paid.”

Caltex faces $2m fine for petrol leak

Caltex’s Kurnell refinery, linked by pipeline to the Banksmeadow site. Photo: Jane Dyson Caltex’s Kurnell refinery, linked by pipeline to the Banksmeadow site. Photo: Jane Dyson
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Caltex’s Kurnell refinery, linked by pipeline to the Banksmeadow site. Photo: Jane Dyson

Caltex’s Kurnell refinery, linked by pipeline to the Banksmeadow site. Photo: Jane Dyson

Caltex Australia faces a fine of as much as $2 million for an uncontrolled discharge of about 170,000 litres of petrol at its Banksmeadow Terminal at Port Botany in July last year.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has sought to pursue Caltex for a Tier 1 offence, which carries its highest penalties. The EPA has had six such prosecutions over the past decade.

“Tier 1 offences under the Protection of Environment Operations Act 1997 are the most serious offences under legislation administered by the EPA and it requires approval from the EPA Board before commencement,” EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier said in a statement.

“The EPA Board believed this incident was significant enough to warrant prosecution in order to seek the highest penalty possible for an environmental offence,” a spokeswoman for the agency said.

The EPA will allege that a break in a hose during a fuel transfer led to the creation of a “pool of petrol”.

“It is alleged that the discharge continued for around 80 minutes before a NSW Fire and Rescue officer waded through a pool of petrol to turn off the valve,” the EPA said.

That officer, Ron Morasso, had to walk through knee-deep petrol to close a storage valve. Mr Morasso, now retired, received the force’s highest honour – the Conspicuous Medal – for his bravery in May this year.

“There was a real possibility of an explosion if the leaking valve was not shut off,” FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said at the time of the award ceremony.

“The rate at which the fuel was escaping from the tank, about 2000 litres per minute, meant there was only a small window of opportunity in which to act,” he said. The storage tank could hold 2 million litres of fuel.

Fire risk

The EPA will tell the court that the discharge “could have resulted in ignition of the petrol vapour and a consequential major fire”.

“We take safety very seriously,” said Sam Collyer, a Caltex spokesman, adding the company had cooperated fully with the EPA investigation.

It’s understood that Caltex is surprised by the size of the potential fine, particularly as the fuel was contained within storage bunds.

“Although there was no harm to the environment, Caltex is disappointed that the incident occurred given our longstanding commitment to maintaining the highest standards in environmental, personal and process safety,” the company said in a statement. “Caltex does not believe its systems and processes were inadequate.”

Earlier this year, oily water from Caltex’s nearby Kurnell Refinery overflowed into Botany Bay, affecting the nearby national park and local fishing sites.

The pollution was triggered by a deluge that led to an overflow from containment areas, prompting an EPA probe.

“The EPA has concluded its investigation and is currently determining the appropriate regulatory response which will be made public in due course,” the spokeswoman said.  

Injured Diamonds captain Laura Geitz out of Tests against England

A tearful Laura Geitz will miss the remaining two Tests in the Diamonds’ international season, with the Australian captain succumbing to a left knee injury that will require surgery.
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Coach Lisa Alexander and her medical staff have taken a safety-first approach to Geitz’s welfare before a demanding 2015 season that culminates with the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August.

The brilliant defender has been managing the cartilage issue for 12 months, but aggravated the problem during Wednesday’s four-goal win over New Zealand.

Geitz will be replaced by Bec Bulley for the two-match series against England, starting in Bendigo on Sunday.

“She is going to require a little bit of cleanout surgery,” Alexander said from Auckland. “It’s an ongoing issue. She’s had a little bit of a niggle in her knee for a while, and it’s got to the point where we had to make a call, and it’s affecting her performance out on court now.

“It’s a piece of floating cartilage behind her kneecap, so it just needs a cleanout. Very standard. But the earlier it gets done, the better. That’s why we’re keen just to get that moving, and then she can get into her rehab phase and get started on her pre-season.

“But she’s terribly disappointed, as you can imagine. She really is enjoying her time with the team and what we’re doing together as a group, so there’s a few tears, but she’ll be fine. And the girls will respond in the way that they’ve been asked to, which is that everyone steps up.”

Geitz, who would have been the first-choice opponent for English star Jo Harten, returned home to Brisbane on Thursday, while the rest of the Diamonds squad travelled via Melbourne to Bendigo to prepare for Sunday’s sold-out rematch with the team that fell just one goal short of a major upset at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

“Missing the England series means that I can be back ready for the ANZ Championship, so it’s nothing too serious, rather just an opportunity to make sure I get it in tip-top shape for the big year ahead,” Geitz said.

“I obviously would have loved to stay on for the remaining two Tests but I’ve got no doubt that the players are capable of getting the job done against England before a well-deserved break.”

Alexander said her team needed to bring far more intensity to the contest than it managed in what was easily its most competitive match en route to the Commonwealth Games gold medal. But, having swept the Constellation Cup series 4-0 for the first time, the Diamonds have built a 17-game international winning streak.

“In Glasgow, we just didn’t get out of the blocks quick enough against England,” Alexander said. “Our performance definitely was below par and the girls know that, so they want that opportunity to show what they can do, particularly on our home soil in Bendigo.”

Alexander expects England to be motivated by its surprise loss to Jamaica in the bronze medal playoff in Glasgow, where the improved netball nation also got to within one goal of the second-ranked Silver Ferns.

“They’ve got players playing in ANZ; we’re providing them with a high-performance environment that they are benefiting from,” said Alexander, referring to the likes of Harten, Geva Mentor and Sonia Mkoloma.”There’s no doubt about that – that’s the cold hard facts of the situation.

“They’re getting to know us better as opposition because of that, but we also know them very well too, so we know their weaknesses and strengths, and we’ll use that to our best advantage.

“They’re getting stronger and fitter and they’re playing perhaps more our style of game, which is quite interesting, so it’s basically like Oz playing on Oz – that real powerful speed, fast-moving play. But we obviously think we’re pretty good at it, and we’ll just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”

One need not be George Clooney or Amal Alamuddin to fall in love with Venice

When prominent human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin married US actor and coffee salesman George Clooney in Venice, the world swooned, and not just at the genetically blessed couple. Sun-soaked and frocked-up herself, the city put on a stunning display seen by billions.
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You don’t have to lead a wedding flotilla on the iconic waterways, share a Bellini with Matt Damon or swap vows at the Aman Canal Grand Hotel to feel the romance of Venice. Yes, of course George, Amal and their guests are more fabulous than the rest of us, but we all put our coffee in the espresso machine one pod at a time and we can all savour the Venetian passion.

Venice is like an exciting new lover. Arousing and uniquely beautiful, she draws you out of yourself and inspires you to push your boundaries – across one more ponte, around the next corner, down another alleyway. She entices you to be bolder, more adventurous, more alive.

She dresses to please and you smile, ecstatic to be in her company, thrilled that she is on your arm. You wish that other cities – where you were ripped off or that disappointed you – could see you now, with your hot new love.

This is Casanova’s home town and romance is everywhere. Pretty young things hold hands and make love with their eyes. Gondolas glide by, dressed to kill in gleaming black lacquer with a posy of flowers on the bow, guided by the firm and experienced hand of sexy gondoliers with perpetual three-day growths. Even the piano accordionist with the soggy stogey hanging from his lips is appealing as he serenades passers-by with his lilting version of O Solo Mio.

Venice tempts you with her wiles. Her mystique makes you doe-eyed and giddy. Everything about her is intriguing. Shall we try that trattoria? How about a cocktail at Harry’s Bar or a $20 cappuccino in Piazza San Marco? What young romantic scrawled that graffito and what does it mean?

Layers of exotic accents thrill your ears. Her rococo, baroque and Romanesque splendours mingle and delight the eye. Gen Instagram pout and smile as they snap selfies on the Ponte di Rialto. Tour groups follow raised umbrellas and pause here and there to learn another of her sensual secrets. Shop keepers yell to each other from the doorways of their elegant boutiques, their hands saying as much as their words.

Sure there’s the gauche souvenir shops knocking out trinketry like miniscule Murano glass curios, I ‘heart’ Venezia T-shirts and cheap Carnevale masks, but you never notice a fresh lover’s flaws, do you? You buy it all.

Bella Venezia, you had me at “Bongiorno”.

James Ehnes shares his loves for strings and sports cars

Fast cars, old Strads: Passions collide for Canadian violinist James Ehnes. Photo: Dallas Kilponen Fast cars, old Strads: Passions collide for Canadian violinist James Ehnes. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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Fast cars, old Strads: Passions collide for Canadian violinist James Ehnes. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Fast cars, old Strads: Passions collide for Canadian violinist James Ehnes. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

There are some obvious similarities between a 1715 Stradivarius violin and a 1979 Ferrari GTS: their shared Italian origin and their breathtaking price.

But to Canadian violinist James Ehnes, owner of both, these two “high-precision machines” have a more important characteristic in common.

“Strads are a little bit like Ferraris in that there is so much more that you can do with them than 99 per cent of people have any interest in doing,” he says.

The 38-year-old virtuoso has returned to Sydney with his 1715 “Marsick” Stradivarius violin to perform Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He last performed with the SSO in 2010, playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto under Vladimir Ashkenazy.

He didn’t bring his prized car with him, but he was enthusiastic about the sports car brand sitting in a Ferrari 458 Spider in Sydney last week

“In a Ferrari racing car, I’m sure I could get from A to B, but that’s completely not the point,” he said.

“So it’s funny when there are amateurs who will buy a Stradivarius violin and they’ll have it almost de-tuned, so they kind of know how to operate it and it’s not too feisty. But that’s sort of missing the point.”

Ehnes performed Prokofiev’s violin concerto last week in a program that included Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.5 and the Excelsior! concert overture by Swedish Romantic Wilhelm Stenhammar.

His performance with the SSO, under the baton of Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård, was described as “compelling…with a sound of utmost clarity and blemishless beauty”.

Ehnes will perform in two sold-out performances of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at City Recital Hall Angel Place on October 16 and 17.

Off the stage the violinist has put his hands to another delicate art, taking apart and rebuilding a vintage car. His first buy was a bright orange 1971 Chevrolet Corvette which he rebuilt from the wheels up. Ehnes is also the artistic director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society and an occasional music commentator.

In a comment piece for the Huffington Post in 2013 he called for the revival of lesser-known works that consistently fail to make the program over the more recognisable favourites. Why not take them for a spin? he asked.

Ehnes wrote: “[It is] time for violinists to return to the days of living dangerously, and time for critics and concert presenters to accept that music doesn’t have to be by Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms to be worthwhile and enjoyable.

As the Four Seasons is arguably the most popularised and lauded of Vivaldi’s works, Ehnes happily admits “that doesn’t really apply to these two weeks”.

While it is important that musicians today challenge “traditional” concert repertoire, he says at the same time “when someone calls you to ask if you want to play the Four Seasons, you’re going to say yes.”

“It is such a ubiquitous piece for performing musicians, you’re surrounded by it your whole life. It’s just one of those miracle pieces.”

Immersed in music from birth, Ehnes grew up surrounded by the artistic friends of his trumpet professor father and ballet dancer mother, and thinks he first became interested in the violin after watching Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street.  

He got his first violin for Christmas when he was four, and now takes to international stages with his beloved Stradivarius.

While violins crafted by the Stradivari family are traditionally considered the greatest, there is debate about whether they are really worth the dollars and the praise they earn. A little bit like sports cars.

“Like anything in life you can pay exponentially more money for something that gives you a tiny bit of an advantage.” he says.

Provided the violinist is of a certain level, Stradivari’s violins can offer a player options they might not get on another instrument, Ehnes said.

“But people always want to talk about how much they cost and how old they are, neither of which is really relevant; my violin is 300 years old and my viola is 3 years old and I love them both.”

James Ehnes plays Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Thursday and Friday at City Recital Hall

Visa for the wealthy fuels house price fears

The new visa program is likely to boost investment, but much of this could go into property, adding to the heat in the nation’s housing market. Photo: Glen McCurtayne The new visa program is likely to boost investment, but much of this could go into property, adding to the heat in the nation’s housing market. Photo: Glen McCurtayne
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The new visa program is likely to boost investment, but much of this could go into property, adding to the heat in the nation’s housing market. Photo: Glen McCurtayne

The new visa program is likely to boost investment, but much of this could go into property, adding to the heat in the nation’s housing market. Photo: Glen McCurtayne

Advisers have cheered the creation of a $15 million fast track to permanent residency for wealthy foreigners, in a move by the Abbott government to harness Asia’s wealth to boost economic growth and job creation.

But the move has also sparked concerns much of this investment will flow into Australian property, driving prices up even further.

The new premium investor visa program puts Australia on the front foot in the competition for rich investors looking to safeguard their wealth in stable offshore markets, advisers said.

“Australia competes with many countries for high net wealth migrants, making it an attractive prospect is in the national interest,” migration lawyer Alan Rigas said.

The program, announced on Tuesday as part of the government’s competitiveness agenda, gives permanent residency to applicants investing $15 million in certain assets after 12 months.

“The changes can only lead to more investment,” said Prosperity Fountainguard Advisers’ Luke Malone, who led a nine city investor roadshow throughout China in June.

Fountainguard has a second investor delegation currently en route to Shanghai, where it will present to more than 20 individuals looking to invest up to $20 million each. He said the visa, available from July 2015, will be “highly attractive” to this group.

But business migration agent John Findley feared much of this investment will be attracted to property assets. It will drive up prices, which many, including billionaire Lang Walker, said are already inflated by a flood of Chinese developers.

“The likelihood of the $15 million going into property is very real and very high,” said Mr Findley.

Investment choices too broad

He said investment choices for compliant funds are too wide and the government should direct it towards infrastructure, or new investment in small and medium businesses.

NSW recently scrapped the requirement for significant investor visa applicants to park $1.5 million into low yield Waratah Bonds.

As part of the changes announced on Tuesday, the Australian Trade Commission, or Austrade, will be handed responsibility for drawing up the list of complying investments.

While details are yet to be released, the government has indicated compliant investments will align to five sectors earmarked for growth: food, agri-business, mining technology and services, gas and energy resources, medical technology and pharmaceuticals, and advanced manufacturing.

Latest figures show that to July 1, the federal government has granted 286 significant investor visas, out of a total of 1027 applications, bringing $1.4 billion worth of foreign investment. Most came from China.

The significant investor visa program, which began in 2012, grants permanent residency to foreigners who invest a minimum of $5 million in prescribed assets after four years. A review by the department of immigration found other countries with similar investor visa programs “have less onerous application criteria and processing requirements”.

The government wants to “target premium investors more effectively”, and streamline the administration of the program. It also wants to “diversify the sources of investors” under the program, while maintaining safeguards to ensure it is not abused.

Safe Haven

Risk Basis Point managing director David Chin said investment from China has only just begun. “Research indicates that 5 per cent of the wealth of Chinese high net worth individuals was allocated outside of China.

“In other countries this group of investors have around 24 per cent of their wealth outside their home region.”

Egg policy ‘commodifies’ women

IVF technology has come a long way in the last decade. IVF technology has come a long way in the last decade.
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IVF technology has come a long way in the last decade.

A leading Australian workplace relations expert has labelled a policy of paying female staff to freeze their eggs and delay childbirth as a “loaded option” that commodifies women’s lives.

Professor Marian Baird, who heads up the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney’s Business School, said she was “astonished” when she first heard news of the policies in place at tech giants Apple and Facebook, and questioned the business case behind them.

“Here are companies basically buying the ability of their talented female employees and giving them some sort of capitalist incentive to delay having children – which may not even work,” she said.

Apple announced it would pay up to $US20,000 ($22,953) to cover the costs of freezing and storing eggs of full-time and part-time female staff, from January 1, 2015.

Facebook also confirmed it had introduced a similar policy on January 1 this year, accessible by US employees covered by the company’s insurance plan. The benefit covers all costs of egg freezing for medical and non-medical reasons, also up to $US20,000.

Facebook’s egg-freezing policy does not apply to its Australian employees. However, local staff can access other family benefits at the company, including 16 weeks’ maternity leave, four weeks’ paternity leave, family health insurance and a baby bonus to help cover extra costs associated with having a baby.

Dr Tony Bartone, president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association, told Fairfax Media “no employer should determine when a women can have a baby, or any other pregnancy and/or contraception decisions”.

Far from dictating when women should fall pregnant, Apple says the policy empowers female staff members. Facebook declined to comment.

However Professor Baird said the policies sent a subliminal message to women that freezing their eggs and having children later may be the best option for their careers.

“This is a real dilemma for women as they often reach their peak career times at the best time to have a baby,” Professor Baird said.

“We already see that women who have babies are not seen to be committed. It’s a very loaded option.”

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has pointed to the pressures surrounding women and family in the workplace.

“I know many women who won’t discuss their children at work out of fear that their priorities will be questioned,” Ms Sandberg wrote in her bestselling book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

University of Melbourne bioethicist Dr Rosalind McDougall warned that embarking on IVF after thawing eggs was “no guarantee” of producing a baby.

She said egg-freezing human resources policies were essentially endorsing “social freezing”, although whether or not that was a problem was debatable.

Doctors have reported that egg-freezing is becoming increasingly popular for social, as opposed to medical, reasons.

In Australia, Medicare covers the majority of IVF treatment costs for medical reasons such as infertility, but does not cover “fertility preservation for social reasons”.

In the US, health insurance is usually provided by an individual’s employer, although the Obama government’s Affordable Care Act (dubbed “Obamacare”) has introduced a public health safety net more akin to Medicare.

Professor Baird said the decision by US companies to take advantage of the “social freezing” trend was evidence of “the cycle of employment” further encroaching into “the cycle of life”.

“No company introduces a policy without a business case,” she said, but questioned whether such a case was sound from both a corporate and personal perspective.

Such policies were “commodifying the whole fertility process”, she said.

Associate Professor Jeremy Thompson, a fertility expert at the University of Adelaide, said an older woman’s uterus was just as capable of supporting a healthy pregnancy as a younger woman’s, so long as the eggs were young and healthy.

“These days the pregnancy rates from freezing and thawing are very good,” Associate Professor Thompson said.

In some ways it was a healthier pregnancy because the IVF process meant the uterus was “naturally primed”, with benefits to the health of the child, he said.

However, natural conception was still the “first choice” for any couple looking to have a family, Associate Professor Thompson said.

US technology companies, often located in or around Silicon Valley, California, are known for being ahead of the curve with human resources policies as they battle it out for the best tech talent. Many offer on-site fitness centres, massage therapy and free meals.

Ebola front line hard to walk away from for Cook Hill Red Cross nurse Libby Bowell

IN ISOLATION: Libby Bowell of Cooks Hill, left, who is now in isolation for 21 days, has spent five weeks helping in the fight against Ebola.LIBBY Bowell may be physically, mentally and emotionally drained after five weeks helping to control the deadly Ebola epidemic in Liberia, but her remarkable resolve to see the disease eradicated has not wavered.
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‘‘It was difficult to leave – there’s still a lot to be done and if I could have stayed longer, I would have happily stayed longer,’’ Ms Bowell said.

‘‘The Liberians are very grateful for any help they get and they see it’s an enormous sacrifice for us to leave our families and go there – but all the American troops are far from being on the ground and while there’s certainly people turning up, we’re too slow.

‘‘They need more help, they need a lot more people and a lot more resources, they can’t afford to run out of supplies.

‘‘We’re still behind it – we’re nowhere near it.’’

The Australian Red Cross health aid worker left Liberia on October 10 and is in 21 days of isolation, keeping a low profile and venturing from her Cooks Hill home only for the occasional walk and to visit the supermarket when it is not busy.

Ms Bowell had been on about 20 Red Cross missions when she flew to Liberia’s capital Monrovia on September 4 as the organisation’s emergency health co-ordinator for the Ebola response.

When she arrived, the highly contagious Ebola virus disease had spread to 13 of Liberia’s 15 counties, more than 2000 people were infected and more than 1000 people had died.

During her five-week stay, the disease swept through the remaining two counties and the tally rose to 4200 people infected and 2400 dead, including 15 doctors and about 80 nurses.

‘‘The feeling is one of desperation, there’s still not enough beds by several hundred and the existing health infrastructure is completely overwhelmed,’’ she said.

Ms Bowell said that in some cases, the sick who were unable to get an ambulance were using taxis to travel between full treatment centres, where they were turned away and had to go home, potentially infecting other family members.

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She said she had also heard of healthy pregnant women who needed to go to hospitals – which had been closed to prevent transmission of the disease and where medical staff had been redeployed elsewhere to fight the outbreak – risking infection for a bed at a treatment centre where they could give birth.

‘‘Every day it goes up by about 50 to 70 cases and between 30 to 50 deaths across the country and the really scary part is it’s in the city, in Monrovia, where the numbers continue to escalate – it’s much harder to contain because it’s such a denser population,’’ she said.

Ms Bowell worked for an average of 17 hours a day in a non-clinical role that involved training Liberian Red Cross volunteers in three areas: educating communities about how to protect themselves and prevent the further spread of Ebola; how to remove and manage dead bodies; and how to psychologically support family members of those who had been infected or died.

She also developed a program to teach families how to provide temporary care for a sick relative awaiting transport or treatment, including how to provide food and dispose of waste while maintaining a safe distance.

Despite travelling to some remote communities, Ms Bowell said she didn’t feel at risk of infection.

She washed her hands at least 20 times a day, had her temperature taken regularly, did not hug or shake hands with anyone and only had to wear the head-to-toe protective suit once, when she was providing training to the 16 teams of six people who make 10 trips a day to remove highly contagious bodies from homes, spray properties and take the dead to a crematorium.

Up to 50 people are cremated at a time, with the Liberian government keeping the ashes from each day for a memorial to be erected once the disease is eradicated.

When Ms Bowell’s period in isolation concludes at the end of the month, she plans to visit her parents in Kempsey and resume travelling in her role as national education manager with CRANAplus, promoting health in remote Australian regions.

But she will never be able to forget what she saw in Liberia.

‘‘The local people kept me motivated, they keep getting up every day and doing this [aid work],’’ she said.

‘‘They do it with dignity and energy and they believe they have to keep doing it to get this dreaded disease out of their country – then they cry at night.

‘‘I’ve got something to give and while it’s tough and sad, it’s tougher and sadder for them and they can’t leave.

‘‘The feeling is this will continue into next year and we have to continue to help – they can’t do this on their own.’’

To donate to the Red Cross Ebola appeal, visitredcross杭州龙凤论坛.au

Source: Newcastle Herald

Woodside boosts its full-year production target

Following a 46 per cent jump in third-quarter sales, the company raised its production target for the year. Following a 46 per cent jump in third-quarter sales, the company raised its production target for the year.
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Following a 46 per cent jump in third-quarter sales, the company raised its production target for the year.

Following a 46 per cent jump in third-quarter sales, the company raised its production target for the year.

Woodside Petroleum has boosted its full-year target for production for the second time in three months after a strong September quarter that also benefited from a rise in liquefied natural gas prices.

Output in 2014 is now set to reach between 93 million and 95 million barrels of oil equivalent, as much as 9.1 per cent up on last year, compared with an initial forecast for the year that suggested only a modest rise, if any.

Sales for the third quarter surged 46 per cent from a year ago to a record $US1.96 billion ($2.24 billion), fuelled by higher LNG prices from the $15 billion Pluto project and the Vincent oil project off the Western Australian coast.

“The numbers were strong,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Andrew Williams. “We were always at the high end of the production guidance: operationally it’s going very well.”

Woodside shares gained 1.7 per cent to $39.66, beating the benchmark energy index.

Production was particularly robust in the third quarter, up 15 per cent from a year earlier to 25.2 million barrels of oil equivalent, well above analysts’ estimates that were mostly in the range of 22.4 million to 23 million boe.

Between the North West Shelf Venture and Pluto, Woodside shipped 91 LNG cargoes in the three-month period, 15 more than in the same quarter last year.

Thanks to higher LNG prices at Pluto that took effect this year, revenues from Pluto gas exports alone more than tripled to $US935.2 million and output of condensates produced alongside the gas also increased.

JPMorgan analysts told clients: “This is a very strong result, which should provide confidence in the bankability of Woodside’s current producing assets as well as the strong Pluto prices indicative of a favourable outcome from the renegotiations.”

Woodside reported little progress on new projects, but reiterated its aim of committing to engineering and design work for the Browse floating LNG project late this year.

It also indicated a final investment decision would be taken this half to develop the Persephone gas field, the next big gas development for the North West Shelf Venture.

On the exploration front, Woodside reported the Toro-1 discovery in the Exmouth part of the Carnarvon Basin in July. But it is still drilling its Hannover South-1 well in the Outer Canning Basin, where it has reduced its risk by selling part of its stake to British oil major BP.

Chief executive Peter Coleman has taken Woodside into several new overseas exploration plays in recent months, most recently in Cameroon, as announced this week.

However, in the company’s Canary Islands venture with Repsol, Woodside has decided not to take part in a well to be drilled by its partners this quarter.

The new output target for 2014 compares with the guidance of 86 million to 93 million boe at the start of the year, which was upgraded to 89 million to 94 million boe in July.