Daily Archives: February 15, 2016

Snake bite kills six-year-old girl in Walgett


THE tragic death of a young girl in Walgett at the weekend has prompted emergency services to remind people of the danger poised by snake bites.

About 3pm on Friday, a six-year-old girl was bitten by a brown snake on a property near the north-western town.

The girl was taken to Walgett Hospital for treatment, where doctors administered anti-venom.

She was later airlifted to Sydney Children’s Hospital where she was placed on life support.

After the girl’s condition significantly deteriorated, she was transferred back to Walgett Hospital where she passed away on Saturday.

The girl did not know she had been bitten until several hours later when she was almost comatose, the shire’s deputy mayor says.

“I believe the family didn’t know she’d been bitten and, by the time they’d realised, she was comatose,” Walgett Shire deputy mayor Jane Keir said.

“The little girl could have been on the edge of Sydney and the result would have been the same.”

Cr Keir said she believed the girl trod on the snake while outside on her family’s property, about 25 kilometres from the Walgett township.

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She was suffocating by the time she was admitted to hospital and the family wasn’t able to identify what snake bit her because no one saw it, Cr Keir said.

Snake warning

NSW Ambulance has now issued a timely reminder to local residents and the wider community, in light of this tragic incident, to be wary of snakes in warmer months.

Heatwave conditions similar to those being experienced across NSW at the moment, make the movements of snakes more prevalent.

If you are bitten by a snake, ensure someone calls Triple Zero (000) immediately;
Until help arrives, if the bite is on a limb, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage but not so tight it will cut off circulation;

If the bite is not on a limb, apply direct and firm pressure to the bite site with your hands (it is also important the patient is kept still); and,

Check items of clothing that have been left outside before wearing them and if you lift something such as a rock or log, lift the object so it’s facing away from you.


Funding rates for top NSW private schools exceeds poorest schools


The public funding for some of Sydney’s most expensive private schools has increased at twice the rate of many of the state’s poorest schools, new analysis of the latest MySchool data reveals.

Trevor Cobbold, a former economist for the Australian Productivity Commission and convener of the Save Our Schools public education advocacy group, analysed the data and found the average funding increase per student for 14 selected private schools was 23 per cent from 2009 to 2013.

For 15 of the most disadvantaged public schools in NSW the average increase per student was 11 per cent over the same period, the report says.

“In NSW, government funding for Meriden School increased by 29 per cent; Ravenswood by 28 per cent; St Andrew’s Cathedral School by 26 per cent; and for Ascham, Kincoppal Rose Bay, The King’s School and Trinity Grammar by 24 per cent,” the report says.

In contrast, funding for Punchbowl Boys High School fell by 3 per cent, while funding increased for Canley Vale High School by 2 per cent; Francis Greenway High School by 3 per cent; and for Chester Hill High School, Lake Illawarra High School, and Windsor High School by 12 per cent.

Mr Cobbold said not all disadvantaged public schools in NSW received smaller funding increases than high-fee private schools.

“Funding increases for many disadvantaged schools have matched those for the selected elite private schools and, in many cases, have exceeded them. On the other hand, many elite schools have received smaller increases than their counterparts selected here,” Mr Cobbold said.

But he said the funding increases exposed an “incoherent and unfair school funding system that favours advantaged students and discriminates against disadvantaged students”.

“There can be little wonder that Australia has failed to improve the results of disadvantaged students or to reduce the large achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students over the past 15 years,” Mr Cobbold said.

Mr Cobbold looked at government funding levels for some of the most expensive private schools in NSW, where 80 per cent of students were from the highest socio-educational advantage (SEA) quartile and one per cent were from the lowest quartile.

In the disadvantaged schools, 62 per cent of students were from the lowest quartile and 3 per cent from the top quartile.

A spokesman for the federal education minister Simon Birmingham said the Commonwealth’s funding per student in government schools had grown at more than three times the rate of per student funding in the non-government sector in the 10 years to 2013-14.

“In the 10 years to 2013-14 the Commonwealth’s funding grew in real terms by more than 66 per cent in government schools and 18 per cent in non-government schools while state and territory funding per student grew by 6.7 per cent and 12.3 per cent respectively,” the spokesman said.

Jennifer Buckingham, a research fellow at the free market think tank the Centre for Independent Studies, said funding increases in each sector were from different bases.

“A funding increase of 23 per cent in an independent school getting $2000 per student in government funding will be an absolute increase of $460 per student, while a funding increase of 11 per cent in a government school getting $15,000 in government funding will be an absolute increase of $1650 per student,” Dr Buckingham said.


Australian police seize huge haul of meth hidden in gel bra inserts


Australian police have seized 720 litres of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of A$1bn (£490m), hidden in gel bra inserts and art supplies.

Four people have been charged over their alleged involvement in importing and manufacturing the drug.

The joint organised crime group operation involved the Australian federal police, New South Wales police, Australian Border Force and Australian Crime Commission.

“This has resulted in 3.6m individual hits of ice being taken off our streets with a street value of $1.26bn,” NSW justice minister Michael Keenan told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

Officials said the operation began in December when Border Force examined a shipping container out of Hong Kong.

“That shipping container was found to contain gel bra inserts and hidden inside those gel bra inserts was 190 litres of liquid methamphetamine,” Commander Chris Sheehan said.

An additional 530 litres were found during the inquiry by joint organised crime investigators.

“These drugs were concealed inside art supplies housed in five storage units in Sydney in the suburbs of Miranda, Hurstville, Padstow and Kingsgrove,” Sheehan said.

A 33-year-old Hong Kong national was charged over the original seizure. Following his arrest, another three Hong Kong nationals – a 59-year-old man, a 37-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman – were arrested and charged over the drugs located in the storage facilities.

“This has been a very good day for Australian law enforcement and a very bad day for the organised criminals that have targeting the Australian drug market,” Keenan said.

Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of methamphetamine usage. The Australian Crime Commission said in March 2015 that as many as 1.3 million Australians had tried ice or speed, with nearly 400,000 using in the last 12 months.

Research in 2014 from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that while methamphetamine usage had remained stable since 2010, the proportion within that of users taking the crystal form – otherwise known as ice – had markedly increased.

The purity of the drug in its crystalline form, the high demand and the relative success of law enforcement in intercepting imports means the price of the drug is higher in Australia than nearly anywhere else in the world, police said.

Australians pay nearly US$500 a gram compared with an average street price in China of US$80 a gram. Wholesale prices in Australia ranged from $90,000 to $325,000 a kilogram, a report from the Australian Crime Commission found.

The massive profit margin has made Australia an attractive destination for criminal gangs involved in the manufacturing and trafficking of methamphetamines.


Australia’s population to reach 24 million


Australia’s population is set to tick over to 24 million people in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The milestone will put Australia level with the Chinese city Shanghai, which manages to accommodate over 24 million people in a thousandth of the space.

The figures are based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics population growth clock, which works off 12-monthly population estimates. Based on these rates Australia will reach a population of 25 million in 2018 and 50 million in 2086.

By then the global population will have reached 10.6 billion.


English Premier League: Danny Welbeck gives Arsenal late Leicester win, Liverpool crush Villa


London: Danny Welbeck, making his first appearance of the season as a late substitute, headed a stoppage-time winner as Arsenal boosted their hopes of winning the Premier League title with a 2-1 home win over league leaders Leicester City.

Meanwhile, title rivals Tottenham beat Manchester City 2-1 away at the Etihad Stadium. At Villa Park, Liverpool crushed Aston Villa 6-0, pushing the league strugglers even closer to relegation.

Welbeck, who had not played since last April after a series of injuries, came on after 83 minutes and scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time when he glanced home a Mesut Ozil free kick to secure the victory.

The win lifted Arsenal to 51 points, two behind Leicester, who played most of the second half with 10 men after defender Danny Simpson was sent off in the 54th minute.

“It was a pivotal moment today because the mathematics meant it could be eight points or it could be two points. That is a great change,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports.

“There’s a long way to go, we play a lot of big teams. But we had a bad spell where we couldn’t win for four games and have now won two on the bounce. We have come out of that bad spell and still have a good chance.”

Leicester, seeking a first ever top-flight title, had not beaten Arsenal in their last 18 league matches but after surviving some early pressure, took the lead in the 45th minute when Jamie Vardy scored with a penalty after referee Martin Atkinson ruled that he had been fouled by Nacho Monreal.

Vardy smashed home his 19th league goal of the season giving Petr Cech no chance of saving but the balance of power swung heavily in Arsenal’s favour after Simpson’s dismissal.

He was booked twice in five minutes, the second time for a clumsy challenge on Olivier Giroud and most of the second half was played out in Leicester’s half of the field.

Arsenal’s dominance paid off after 70 minutes when substitute Theo Walcott equalised from close range after Giroud’s header found him in space.

However they could find no way past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel – who made a series of excellent stops – until the dying seconds when Welbeck, rose above the defence to seal a hugely significant victory.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri told Sky: “We are still top of the table – we must carry on and smile. We lost to our opponents – we must say well done.”

In Manchester, Christian Eriksen celebrated his 24th birthday with the winning goal for Tottenham when they beat Manchester City to stay second in the Premier League table.

Spurs broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute after referee Mark Clattenburg ruled that City’s Raheem Sterling had handled in the area even though he turned his back as Danny Rose crossed and the ball hardly seemed to hit his arm.

But that did not worry Kane who fired his spot kick down the centre of the goal and past his England team mate Joe Hart into the net.

Yaya Toure almost equalised for the home side when he hit the bar with a 57th minute free kick, but they were soon level when Kelechi Iheanacho swept a cross from Gael Clichy into the roof of the Spurs net.

Eriksen though gave Spurs all three points when he scored in the 83rd minute after a surging run from Erik Lamela.

In Birmingham, Liverpool crushed Aston Villa, leading to a mass exodus of home fans long before the final whistle at Villa Park.

Liverpool went ahead when Daniel Sturridge, who has been injured for most of the season, headed in after 16 minutes before former Villa winger James Milner doubled their lead with an inswinging free kick eight minutes later.

Villa collapsed midway through the second half conceding four goals in 13 minutes with Emre Can starting the blitz with a 25-metre shot that beat keeper Mark Bunn after 57 minutes.

Divock Origi burst through to make it 4-0 a minute after coming on as a substitute before England defender Nathaniel Clyne made it 5-0 with a tap-in and Kolo Toure headed a sixth in the 70th.

The victory ended Liverpool’s run of five matches without a win in all competitions.


Newcastle in mix to host Socceroos’ Greece international


NEWCASTLE is on the “first level of options” to host a friendly international between the Socceroos and Greece as the NSW government battles Victoria for the right to host a two-game tour in early June.

The game would be played at Hunter Stadium, most likely on Tuesday, June 7, after a match in Sydney three days earlier.

The games were originally set down for Sydney’s ANZ Stadium and Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, but Football Federation Australia has struggled to agree on a funding deal with the Victorian government.

A source told the Herald that Newcastle’s proximity to Sydney and its successful hosting of Asian Cup games last year gave the Hunter the inside running to secure the second game if NSW wins the rights to both.

The source said other cities had shown some late interest but Newcastle remained a viable option.

Bicci Henderson, the general manager of Hunter Venues, which controls the stadium, confirmed Newcastle was in the mix to host the Greeks.

“I think it would work really well,” Henderson said on Sunday.

“I’m not sure how far down the track they are, but if they are looking at doing it regionally in NSW, then we are the only option.

“There’s rumours going around and there’s a chance for it to come to Newcastle, but there’s competition from Melbourne and maybe Perth.”

It is understood government body Destination NSW is aggressively pursuing sporting events to promote the state’s tourist attractions overseas.

Newcastle and Sydney hosted last year’s Asian Cup semi-finals, but Melbourne has not hosted a Socceroos match for more than a year.

It is not scheduled for any games in the current round of World Cup qualifying.

Newcastle hosted four games in the Asian Cup, including Australia’s 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates in the semi-finals.

The Socceroos’ double-header in June will follow an away friendly against England on May 27, the first between the two countries in 13 years.

Greece have not played in Australia since a warm-up game for the 2006 World Cup when the Socceroos won 1-0 in front of 95,103 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Greece did not qualify for Euro 2016 and finished bottom of their group, below the Faroe Islands.

But the Greeks have a huge following in Australia, and especially in Melbourne, due to the large expatriate population.