Archive for April, 2019 | Monthly archive page

Boy, 7, orphaned in mystery car crash

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

TRAGEDY: Darren and Susana Milne died, along with their 11-year-old son, after a car crash on the Central Coast, below. Their seven-year-old son survived. HEADING to Hunter beaches was a regular excursion for the Milne family.

However, a trip north turned to tragedy at at Berkeley Vale on the Central Coast on Sunday when the family’s car crashed into a tree, killing all but one member of the family from Ryde in Sydney’s north-west.

Darren and Susana Milne and their 11-year-old son died.

Their seven-year-old boy was left on life support in a critical condition.

Police have contacted Mr Milne’s aunt, who lives at Redhead, but said they were having difficulty tracking down next of kin who might take care of the seven-year-old boy if he recovered.

Police said Mr Milne, 42, may have turned around to speak to his children, causing the silver Toyota Corolla to crash on a straight stretch of Enterprise Drive, between Wyong and Lisarow, about 12.20pm.

Inspector Colin Lott, of the Tuggerah Lakes Local Area Command, said the car hit the tree with such force that the trunk tore through the engine and lodged where the driver’s seat should have been.

He said witnesses told police the car was travelling between 90 and 100km/h in the 90km/h zone and did not appear to brake as it veered off the road.

‘‘It hit the tree at full speed,’’ Inspector Lott said.

He said the most likely cause of the crash was inattention.

‘‘It was not a savage turn and the car was only a few metres off the road,’’ he said.

However, Tuggerah Lakes crime manager Detective Inspector Dave Waddell said on Monday that police were investigating all possibilities.

Mr Milne was dead when emergency services arrived and his wife, 39, died shortly after. The two boys were pulled from the back seat.

The older child died of cardiac arrest in the ambulance, while the younger child was flown to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

The Milnes loved the water and often headed to beaches and lakes around Sydney as well as the coastal suburb of Redhead in Lake Macquarie to visit Mr Milne’s aunt.

Mr Milne was a novice sailor. His wife was born in Mexico and has siblings around the world.

Earlier reports said the 11-year-old boy was the sole survivor but police corrected the information on Monday.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Detectives have searched the Milnes’ home for clues.

‘‘We would be neglectful if we didn’t search the house …,’’ Inspector Lott said. ‘‘We have to tick all the boxes. Part of the investigation is to eliminate all possibilities.’’

‘‘The first thing that would come to mind would be inattention,’’ he said.

Police at the scene of the fatal crash. Picture: Dean Osland

● Family in triple fatal

A man, 42, a woman, 39, and a boy, 11, died at the scene. Picture: Dean Osland

Patriots deny Seahawks with miracle intercept in NFL Super Bowl

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

MAIN MAN: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates a touchdown, Pictures: Getty ImagesGLENDALE: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots rallied to defeat Seattle 28-24 in Super Bowl 49, denying the Seahawks a second consecutive NFL championship in dramatic fashion.

With their fourth Super Bowl triumph, and first in a decade, the Patriots reconfirmed their status as the league’s dominant team of the past 15 years while Brady cemented his legacy as one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks.

“It has been a long journey,” said Brady, whose team recovered from a lacklustre start to the season and dealt all week with suggestions they purposely under-inflated footballs used in a play-off win over Indianapolis.

“It’s just a great win,” Brady said. “We left it all on the field.”

The Patriots rallied from a 24-14 third-quarter deficit, with Brady’s three-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman putting them ahead with 2:02 remaining.

Rookie Malcolm Butler’s goal-line interception of a pass by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson with 20 seconds remaining preserved the victory in a title showdown that lived up to its billing as a clash of titans.

Brady threw two of his four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to rally the Pats against the most feared defensive unit in the league.

Brady joined boyhood idol Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins, having also led New England to the title in 2001, 2003 and 2004. He set the record for most career Super Bowl touchdown passes, taking his tally to 13 to surpass the 11 of Montana, and matched Montana with his third Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award.

But the dynasty appeared to be on shaky ground early this season, after an ugly 41-14 loss at Kansas City sparked suggestions that Brady was in decline.

He admitted he was pleased to have proved the doubters wrong, but he’s not ready to contemplate his place in the NFL pantheon.

“I never put myself in those discussions,” he said. “That’s not how I think. There are so many great players that have been on so many great teams, and we’ve had some great teams that haven’t won it.

“I think you’ve got to just enjoy the moment.”

The Seahawks looked like they might pull off another miracle in the waning moments.

Wilson hit Marshawn Lynch with a 31-yard pass to put the Seahawks in Patriots territory.

Then Jermaine Kearse came up with a stunning catch as he fell to the turf, corralling a ball that had appeared to have been deflected out of his reach.

That put Seattle on the 5-yard line. Lynch was stopped just short of the goal line on the enusing play, but the Seahawks didn’t go to him on the next play.

Instead, Wilson attempted a short pass to Ricardo Lockette that Butler seized to end Seattle’s hopes.

“I just guessed and went and made a play,” Butler said. “It’s crazy man.”

Added Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: “It’s a miraculous play that kid made to get in front of that route.

“I hate that we have to live with that because we did everything right to win the football game,” Carroll added. AFP

Hope for landowners as commission urges changes to voluntary acquisition rules

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Bengalla Mine, Muswellbrook ●Rio Tinto’s extension proposals questioned

●EPA survey finds Hunter air quality concerns

THE Planning and Assessment Commission has acknowledged information given to landowners who are affected by mining in the Upper Hunter and want to sell-out has been confusing and ambiguous.

In its draft report to the Department of Planning, published on Monday, the commission said changes to voluntary acquisition rules should be made before an extension to Bengalla Mine in Muswellbrook was approved.

If its concerns are addressed the commission has recommended the project, which is expected to generate more than $1200 million in state and commonwealth royalties and provide 900 jobs, be given the green light.

The Rio Tinto-operated mine is seeking approval to extend to the west and increase production to 15 million tonnes per year until 2038.

Landowners have raised concerns they would be “affected through the operation of the mine, however, because they are located outside the modelled zone of affection, they would not be able to request acquisition or mitigation,” the commission said.

If landowners are judged to be adversely affected they have the choice to sell to the mine.

Residents, whose properties are sandwiched between Mangoola, Mt Arthur and Bengalla coal mines, said they were affected by the cumulative effect of noise, dust and vibrations of all three neighbouring mines and should have the opportunity to go.

Others said it was not clear which mine they should approach to buy them out.

The commission said it had accepted clarification from Bengalla and department of planning but “acknowledges the confusion caused for landowners due to the wording of the conditions”.

But the commission has recommended an “independent and robust” process be implemented to investigate complaints and monitor air and noise levels at properties that do not fall into the immediate acquisition zones.

“The commission considered that it is not acceptable to place landowners in an inequitable position when the fault lies entirely with [Bengalla’s] assessment of and/or operation of the mine.”

The commission said land acquisition should also be an option if noise or air quality was below acceptable levels on 25 per cent of the landowners’ property.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has slammed the report for recommending the mine be approved.

The “huge new mine” would further reduce air quality in the Upper Hunter, Mr Buckingham said.

Rio Tinto’s extension proposals questioned

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

CONTENTIOUS: Questions have been raised over Rio Tinto’s proposed extension of its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine.Hope for landowners

EPA survey finds Hunter air quality concerns

RIO Tinto has been accused of “relying on hope rather than analysis” by sticking to a high coal price in economic assessments of its Mount Thorley Warkworth extension bid, despite concern it could threaten the mine’s future.

The company declined a NSW Department of Planning request to outline the mine’s future if coal prices remained much lower than the $85 per tonne on which it relied in economic modelling presented to the Planning Assessment Commission in December.

It also ruled out using mine overburden to reduce the size of a proposed final void because such a cost would be “prohibitive”.

The Planning Assessment Commission will recommend in February if Rio Tinto’s plans to extend the mine should go ahead, after both the Land and Environment Court and the Supreme Court rejected the project.

But questions have been asked about why Rio Tinto failed to provide the commission with information to address concerns raised at the court hearings and during the application process.

In a statement to the commission, Rio Tinto said its economic modelling was “robust”, and the viability of the project was a matter for the company.

“The mines have been able to operate in both the lows and highs of the mining cycle and, therefore, Rio Tinto Coal Australia is best placed to assess questions of financial viability,” project approvals manager Anthony Russo wrote.

The federal budget used a $62 per tonne coal price, and Goldman Sachs surprised world markets this month by arguing thermal coal had reached its “retirement age”.

“Coal prices have fallen over the last four years and 2015 may make it five, with many now asking whether the fuel is in a cyclical slump or permanent decline,” the finance giant said in a research note.

Australia Institute economist Rod Campbell said the mines were financially marginal on current coal prices, and Rio Tinto’s insistence that coal would average at $85 per tonne over the future life of the mine was “relying on hope rather than analysis”.

“Just insisting that it will be so doesn’t help decision-makers and the PAC understand what the costs and benefits to NSW might be under current market conditions,” he said.

Bulga resident John Krey and Lock the Gates spokesman Steve Phillips said Rio Tinto’s failure to change its original plans could also be a sign it believed the NSW government would back any proposal.

THE LOWEDOWN: Ange shows that who dares wins

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Fouled but not out: Tomi Juric of Australia competes for the ball before setting up the winning goal by James Troisi. Photo: Ryan PierseIF you found the semi-final of the Asian Cup at Hunter Stadium a big occasion, but slightly on the comfortable side, after Australia’s early goals, how’d the excitement and anxiety of the final against South Korea grab you?

What a fitting end to an excellent tournament. A tight, nail-biting contest, played with passion and spirit, and no shortage of quality. Soaring euphoria meets last minute anguish, which brings out unyielding resolution and determination.

Australia were worthy winners, but South Korea gave a tremendous account of themselves, and the comfort and support that host nations carry into big sporting events proved a telling factor.

In racing parlance, the preparation was meticulous and timed to perfection, the players peaked at the right time and were ready to produce their best when it mattered.

The credit for that must go to Ange Postecoglou, who co-ordinated all aspects of the project to his specifications, ignoring a lot of advice from ‘‘expert’’ external sources, and made the tough, pragmatic calls when they needed to be made.

He rested his front three in the group game against South Korea, when losing wasn’t terminal to the team’s chances.

He took Tim Cahill off early in the semi-final to save him for the final, and in the biggest game he withdrew his talisman when he needed a more mobile physical presence at the pointy end.

Though he was probably sorely tempted, he left one of his favourite players, Mark Bresciano, on the bench in the final, opting for the industry and energy of Matt McKay and the front third threat of James Troisi.

As much as coaching is about planning and analysis, tactical options and the like, the really good ones have a sense about individuals, and after his team talk, an unusually demonstrative gesture from Postecoglou sticks in my mind.

He had finished the group instructions, sought out Troisi and gave him a few quick words and a solid slap on the chest, telling him with that gesture that he could and would make the difference, and lo and behold …

Few of us will ever know the level of pressure, the expectation, and the criticism he had endured over the past six months, a pressure intensified by host nation status, and he delivered when it mattered most.

Some will say he is handsomely paid to deal with that, and it’s true, but so have others before him.

Twenty-five years ago I used to have to track the skinny overlapping fullback, with curly hair and pornstar moustache as he marauded forward for South Melbourne.

Today he is on top of the world, and he has done that by sticking to his beliefs, being brave, thinking about long-term goals rather than short-term job security.

His self-assurance never tips over to dismissive arrogance, and he is respectful by nature, but will dig his heels in hard when he feels slighted, and obviously doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

The winner: James Troisi scores. Photo: Saeed Khan

He provides a feeling of security, a calm that seems to rub off on his players and staff, and leaves we fans believing rather than hoping.

The FFA made a bold move to appoint Postecoglou, and he has rewarded its faith with bold attitude, and performance.

Watching his joy and satisfaction, and reflection, post-match on Saturday was poignant, and the embrace with his family would have brought a tear to a glass eye.

Typically in post-match interviews though, he declared that this was the ‘‘first step in a long journey’’ and that we had ‘‘only just scratched the surface’’.

He is aware that big improvements are needed if we are going to control games against bigger opponents.

Just as Ange rested players in the group match against South Korea, their coach Uli Stielike opted to play conservatively in that game, allowing Australia about 70per cent possession.

When it came to the crunch in the final, Stielike decided that the Socceroos could be pressured into turnovers and disrupted their attempts to build from the back, with a sustained high press.

Japan tested both methods in two halves of the friendly match on home soil late last year, with telling effect when they pressed, and that’s the area that Postecoglou will look to improve.

No easy ask that; playing through sustained, organised and athletic pressure is the toughest ask in top level football.

If we are totally honest, others in this tournament are still technically better than us, that has traditionally been the case, and Ange is working towards bridging that gap.

The fact that organisation, will, and the odd bit of magic from surprise Massimo Luongo and champion veteran Cahill got us home in this first major tournament victory, is not to be derided in any way, but to win against the best footballing nations our individual technique in tight areas must improve.

Mat Ryan, Trent Sainsbury and Luongo all had terrific tournaments, and were widely recognised as Australia’s best contributors and it’s hard to argue. The fact that a goalkeeper, a centre back, and a box-to-box midfielder were our best, is no great surprise either.

Luongo had a fantastic tournament, though in my heart of hearts, I couldn’t put him in front of Omar Abdulrahman as the player of the tournament.

The UAE’s No.10’s touch and extraordinary vision and awareness placed him in a class of his own, and the fact that he did it as a heavily targeted danger man, only adds to his status.

Had he worn the green and gold of Australia in the semifinal, rather that the white of the UAE, I reckon the score might have been five or six.

You can argue that players like Omar are born, not developed, but if we ever get one, nurture and encourage him, and make him the first player picked, I reckon we are on the way to being a mature and serious football nation.

That said, congratulations to Ange and the boys, you have done us all proud.

What hasn’t filled anyone with pride has been the mess at the Jets. I’ve deliberately left limited space for comment on the subject, and will leave it to the news hounds to report factually.

What I will say is that recovery from the current situation will take some time, however the chips fall over the next couple of days, or weeks.

Friendships, bonds, trust, have all been stretched at best, ripped apart at worst, and no Band-aid solution will disguise that.

Some reputations have been forever tarnished, others have been smeared, but we’ll find those stains will wash off in the rinse.

Some who have been smeared will seem cleansed to the outside world, but won’t forget or forgive internally.

For the sake of football in this town, and for the integrity of the league, swift, decisive action seems like an absolute must.