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Monthly Archives: April 2019

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Tom Dascombe yard stablehand breaches quarantine rules at Werribee

A stablehand has been sent home to England after a Saturday night breach of the strict quarantine protocols at the Werribee centre that houses the international runners for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.

The stablehand from the Tom Dascombe yard was looking after Brown Panther – owned by former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester United and England football star Michael Owen. Fairfax Media understands the stablehand made a visit to the quarantine centre on Saturday night, and might have jumped the fence to get in and out. It is understood he was stopped by security in the carpark as he was getting into his car to leave.

The centre is owned and run by Racing Victoria but it must adhere to strict Department of Agriculture protocols put in place to protect Australian livestock. These include procedures for washing in and out of the centre.

Racing Victoria international recruitment officer Leigh Jordon consulted government officials and the horse’s trainer before it was determined the stablehand should be told to leave.

“We can confirm that one of the stable staff with Brown Panther breached quarantine on Saturday night at the TAB Werribee International Horse Centre when he entered and left the stables without following the necessary protocols around showering and the changing of clothes,” Jordon said.

“Following consultation with DAFF and the horse’s trainer it has been determined that the staff member will return home to England, whilst another remains to oversee the horse’s preparation.

“DAFF are satisfied with the immediate action taken by our quarantine supervisors in ensuring that the staff member was subsequently showered and his clothes detained before leaving the racetrack.

“This incident has had no impact on the quarantine status of horses in the Newminster Stable at the TAB Werribee International Horse Centre, and there is absolutely no suggestion of foul play. Brown Panther has not and will not miss any work as a result of this incident, and no other horses have been impacted in any manner.”

The stablehand would have been aware of the requirements of working at the Werribee centre because all people with access have to undertake a course on the procedures and protocols. Jordon said the quarantine status of other runners had not been affected. The stablehand would have had to have subsequently made contact with Australian horses for there to be a problem.

Brown Panther’s trainer Tom Dascombe will fly to Australia in coming days to oversee the final preparations of Brown Panther, and would make only a brief statement on Monday night.

“I don’t know anything about it yet, I’m afraid, but obviously I will be looking in to it,” Dascombe said. “I’m coming out to Australia myself so when I do I will be able to know more about it.”

Brown Panther has a very good record in Europe, winning seven of his 16 starts and running second to Masked Marvel in the 2011 English St Leger and third in the Irish St Leger last year.

It has long been a goal of Owen’s to get him to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup, and he comes after winning the Lister Castle at Pontefract and the Goodwood Cup over two miles in August.

He disappointed when only running fifth after leading at his last start in the listed race over 1986m at Goodwood on September 25.

Meanwhile, this year’s Irish St Leger winner, Voleuse de Coeurs, will have its first serious hit-out since arriving in Australia at Werribee on Tuesday morning. Mike Moroney’s $1.7 million purchase will be ridden by her Melbourne Cup jockey, James McDonald.

”We really don’t know much about her yet but it’ll be good to get James on her back and get some feedback,” Moroney said. ”Of all the horses I’ve ever travelled, she has settled the best. She has put on weight and is looking great.”

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Newcastle friends in sea plane crash 

AS the ultralight plane he was a passenger in was just seconds away from crashing into Bass Strait, off Tasmania’s north-east coast, Joel Nelson called his father in Newcastle to say goodbye.

Police say the Belmont resident and his friend Shayd Hector, who is from Tingira Heights, were lucky to survive the serious crash.

The two 23-year-old friends were beginning a trip home to Newcastle when the engine of Shayd’s ultralight plane stopped working.

They crashed into the sea just after 3pm. A personal locator beacon they were carrying notified emergency services, who launched a major search.

The beacon helped an Australian Search and Rescue helicopter pinpoint the location of the friends, who were plucked from the water just after 5pm in the Waterhouse Island area, north of Bridport.

They were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia after floating in the freezing water on life raft devices they had taken with them as a safety precaution.

“We just were pretty lucky I guess, we’re here alive, we thought we might not have made it there for a while,” Shayd told ABC news following the rescue. “We’ve put a plane down safe, we’re alive and we’ve lived to tell the story I guess.”

Joel’s father Tony said he had feared the worst when his son called him and said: “The plane’s about to crash, this is pretty serious”.

“I was actually on the phone to him when he crashed; it was pretty horrific,” he said.

“He told me what was happening and then all you heard was noise and I couldn’t get back on to him, I kept trying to call him back.

“I didn’t know he was OK for two hours – it was a big relief.’’

Shayd was flying his plane back to Newcastle after living in Tasmania for a few years, where he flew regularly. His father, Stephen, said his son was an experienced and responsible pilot who took safety very seriously.

“Someone was saying he made the perfect crash after the engine cut out,” he said.

“I take my hat off to the people involved in the rescue operation, they did an amazing job.

“He had just been up visiting us for a couple of weeks and he was flying the plane here because he was moving back home.”

Freedom Flight chief flying instructor Eugene Reid gave Shayd flying lessons during his time in Tasmania. From his 30 years working in the area Mr Reid said he’d never heard of anyone surviving a crash into Bass Strait before.

“To my knowledge they are the first to survive a crash into Bass Strait,” he said. “Shayd went to the trouble of taking all the safety precautions and this would have made a huge difference.”

LUCKY: Joel Nelson. Images: ABC-TV

Pop newbie Dami wins X-Factor

Overwhelming favourite Dami Im was crowned the fifth winner of The X-Factor on Monday night after near-flawless grand final performances the previous night.

In the final act of a glitzy two-hour finale on Monday, Queenslander Im, 24, was named X-Factor champion, after 24 hours of public voting. Im placed her hand over her mouth and sank to her knees when the result was announced by host Luke Jacobz CORRECT. Momentarily unable to get up, she recovered, thanking God and said she wanted to use the win to “help daggy losers like me”.

Redfoo, one of the show’s judge’s said Im was “too good” and another, Natalie Bassingthwaite, said “no matter what you do it’s flawless”.

Victoria’s Taylor Henderson, 20, came second and NSW’s Jai Waetford, just 14, was third.

While Waetford and especially Henderson were affected by nerves at the business end of the competition, on Sunday night the polished Im stamped her authority on the show she’d been tipped to win by most pundits. She sang a powerhouse version of Jennifer Hudson’s And I Am Telling You, Mariah Carey’s Hero and the song written as her “winner’s single”, Alive.

Henderson, 20, forgot his lyrics on Sunday in one of his three songs, Damien Rice’s Blowers’ Daughter while Waetford, 14, became the first ever finalist to sing an original song and was solid. But he messed up mid-song the previous week.

The public voted after Sunday’s show.

Im’s win is the latest chapter in an inspiring journey. Her family settled in Brisbane from South Korea when she was just nine and Im, who taught herself to sing by copying her pop idols, admitted she had been teased over her accent when she first arrived in Australia and still suffers from severe shyness.

Im was even sent home early in the X-Factor series after forgetting the words during a ‘boot camp’ performance, but was brought back after another contestant quit.

Now many industry experts give her a fighting chance of becoming the first Asian-Australian pop superstar and going on to a long-term career, a rare thing for reality talent show winners. While most previous reality show winner’s singles have topped the iTunes and ARIA singles charts, most have faded quickly from the spotlight.

Im is also the second woman in a row to win the show, after Samantha Jade in 2012.

The finale also featured live songs by two major American pop acts (current ARIA singles chart-topper, Katy Perry, and rock band Fallout Boy), a joint song by the three finalists and another by the most successful Australian reality show winner, Guy Sebastian. Im also repeated one of her best performances, her cover of Prince’s Purple Rain.

OVATION: Dami Im wowed the judges in the final of The X-Factor 2013

Stockton Bight 4WD access rage

Stockton Bight closures may be permanent

Stockton Beach disappearing

Tin City in danger: video, gallery

THE Hunter’s 5000-strong four-wheel-drive community is on a collision course with the state government over access to the region’s natural playgrounds, including Stockton Beach, Barrington Tops and the Watagans.

The politically savvy collective is demanding increased access to hundreds of hectares of dunes and bush that have been declared off-limits.

A draft plan for Stockton Bight that could overhaul camping arrangements and limit four-wheel-drivers to about 350hectares of the 4200-hectare zone was released on Saturday.

High-profile 4WD activist John Rooth, who led a 48-kilometre convoy of 4WDs across the Hunter in February, and the NSW Shooters and Fishers Party have thrown their weight behind the Hunter campaign.

The push coincides with the launch of the national Unlock Australia campaign and the rise to prominence of the Motoring Enthusiast Party.

But the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which manages the areas on behalf of the state government, believes it is striking the right balance with the size of the no-go zones, which it says are necessary to promote conservation and safety.

Hunter 4WD enthusiast Justin Madden said recreational drivers like him had been unfairly targeted by government departments seeking to appease conservationists.

‘‘We are as concerned as anyone about the environment; our code of ethics talks about the importance of looking after the environment because we are dependent on it,’’ he said.

‘‘We are not a bunch of yahoos; most 4WD owners just want to take their family out for the day.’’

Access to the Stockton beach sand dunes north of Lavis Lane, which includes an area used for a sandmine and hundreds of Aboriginal shell middens, is a particular sore point for the 4WD lobby.

It is also the site of a camping ground that has been off-limits due to massive tidal inundation that occurred during storms in mid-2012.

Mr Madden argued the area was needlessly locked up.

“Show us an environmental impact statement that says the area is still damaged,” he said.

“They won’t let anyone drive on it, but at the same time there is a sandmine that is taking thousands of tonnes of sand away from the beach. What causes more damage?”

February’s Hunter 4WD rally attracted an estimated 5000 vehicles from as far away as Queensland who descended on Newcastle to demand greater access to recreational areas.

The protesters formed a convoy that stretched from Stockton to Cessnock, where it was forced to disband.

Mr Rooth, who is based in Queensland, would not rule out another Hunter-based rally.

‘‘It’s a disgusting situation where the people, taxpayers, the poor buggers who work hard all week and want to duck out for a fish on the weekend, are being shoved to the bottom of the pile with everybody else’s rights put above theirs,’’ he said.

NSW Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Robert Brown told the Herald the party acknowledged the need to protect the environment but said 4WD access should be allowed.

“We certainly support conservation but you don’t achieve it by locking up great tracts of land for no good reason,” he said.

“I’ve been in touch with 4WD clubs in the Hunter for more than 20 years. Many of them are involved in maintenance and track work programs to make sure these places stay open.”

A National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman said 4WD vehicles were welcome at Stockton, the Barrington Tops and the Watagans.

At Stockton, there was over 22kilometres of beach driving available to the public and over 350 hectares of sand driving available in the recreational vehicle area.

Barrington Tops had about 60 kilometres of 4WD trails accessible to the public.

“Most of these have seasonal closures, due to public safety and potentially severe trail and environmental damage, generally during winter,” the spokesman said.

‘‘Of the nine camping and 17 day-use areas in Barrington Tops National Park, there are a number of highly attractive facilities accessed only via 4WD,” he added.

About 170 kilometres of 4WD trails were accessible to the public at the Watagans.

“Gates throughout the Watagans are a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of all our park visitors,’’ the NPWS spokesman said.

He said the gates were only closed when absolutely necessary, generally during road works or after periods of heavy rain.

The Herald reported yesterday details of the Worimi Conservation Lands draft plan to protect Stockton Bight.

Citing ecological damage and delicate Aboriginal artefacts, the plan would make storm closures introduced last June permanent.

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Andrew Smith encouraged all users to comment on the plan of management.

‘‘The plan will give the community an opportunity to get an understanding of how the Worimi Conservation Lands board is thinking,’’ he said.

‘‘The board will be able to look at those comments and work out a balance for all users.’’

The Worimi Conservation Lands draft management plan is open to submissions until February 17.

DAY OUT: Justin Madden at Lavis Lane with fellow four-wheel-drivers.


■Driving is allowed on the beachfront between the Sygna shipwreck and the Gan Gan road access, and in the recreational vehicle area. Driving across the frontal dune is permitted only on designated crossings.

■Camping will be allowed only at designated sites. A maximum of 30 camping sites may be provided behind the frontal dune between Tin City and the south-western end of the conservation area.

Obeid faces more allegations

CORRUPT former Labor minister Eddie Obeid used two senior bureaucrats to make decisions enriching his family’s secret business ventures by millions of dollars.

Mr Obeid, former NSW Maritime chief executive Steve Dunn and former Department of Water and Energy director-general Mark Duffy are being investigated for corruption in a three-part probe by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

All three men face potential criminal charges if found to have acted corruptly, counsel assisting the ICAC, Ian Temby, QC, said in his opening address.

The commission is examining the Obeids’ interests in retail leases at Circular Quay, water licences covering their family farm in rural NSW and consultancy business Direct Health Solutions.

Mr Temby said the inquiries, codenamed Operation Cyrus, Cabot, and Meeka, spanned more than a decade and involved three government departments and four former Labor ministers.

Former waterways ministers Carl Scully, Michael Costa, Eric Roozendaal and Joe Tripodi will be called to give evidence in Operation Cyrus about Mr Obeid’s alleged attempts to lobby them to renew two retail leases at Circular Quay, for the Sorrentino Restaurant and Quay Eatery, without going to tender.

A NSW government plan to put the leases up for competitive tender was postponed by Mr Costa in August 2005, days after then Premier Bob Carr announced his resignation.

In January 2009, when Mr Tripodi was waterways minister, an Obeid-controlled company was given new five-year leases with the option to extend for another five years. The value of that right was estimated in 2001 to be at least $1million per lease.

‘‘Each of the ministers will say he did not know of the Obeid family interests in Circular Quay,’’ Mr Temby said.

The inquiry heard Mr Dunn was director of fisheries when Mr Obeid was the minister, and ‘‘the two men remained in contact thereafter’’.

Mr Dunn was appointed the chief executive of NSW Maritime in March 2008 and expressed a ‘‘specific interest’’ in the Circular Quay leases.

Mr Temby said the inquiry would consider if Mr Dunn played a role in the change to the government’s commercial lease policy to allow the leases to be awarded without a competitive tender ‘‘and if he did anything at the behest of Mr Edward Obeid’’.

Mr Dunn will also be called to give evidence in Operation Cabot, which is probing whether Mr Obeid lobbied bureaucrats in 2008 about lucrative water licences over his family’s rural property, Cherrydale Park.

The Bylong Valley property was at the heart of a previous inquiry by the ICAC, Operation Jasper, which found Mr Obeid and his political ally, former NSW Labor mining minister Ian Macdonald, corruptly agreed in 2008 to create a lucrative coal tenement over the farm in 2008.

Mr Costa will re-emerge in Operation Meeka, which probes the former Labor government’s dealings with Direct Health Solutions, a consultancy that was owned by an Obeid family company when it wrote to Mr Costa in August 2005 seeking a meeting to promote its services.

Mr Costa is expected to tell the ICAC he was unaware of the Obeids’ interest in the firm.