Council reverses opposition to second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek

Tuesday, 14. May 2019

The Federal Government is expected to announce Badgerys Creek as the site for Sydney’s second airport early in the new year. Photo: Brendan Esposito The Sydney council that would host a second airport built at Badgerys Creek has reversed its opposition to the plan after consultation revealed the proposal had broad community support.

Liverpool City Council formally changed its position to one of support on Monday night when it tabled research showing a high proportion of people believed a Badgerys Creek airport would benefit the community.

The Federal Government is expected to announce Badgerys Creek as the site for Sydney’s second airport early in the new year.

The 1700-hectare site in south-west Sydney was bought for an airport between 1986 and 1991.

Liverpool’s Liberal mayor Ned Mannoun said 30 years of indecision surrounding the airport had hampered local business growth and economic development plans for the region.

“To date, Council’s position has been to oppose any proposal to build an airport at Badgerys Creek, however Council has reassessed its position based on the widespread community support for the airport,” Cr Mannoun said.

Council conducted a telephone survey, two independent focus groups and an online survey after resolving to consult the community in September.

The phone poll of 1237 people found that 54 per cent of residents supported Badgerys Creek as the location of a new airport, 35 per cent were opposed and 11 per cent indifferent.

A total of 39 people were involved in the focus groups.

The first group reversed its 59 per cent opposition to the airport to 53 per cent support by the end of the meeting “highlighting how attitudes can change once participants are provided with new information”, the report to council said.

A second evening focus group, catering to full-time workers, increased its 60 per cent support to 73 per cent by the end of the meeting.

But the same trend was not reflected in the online survey, which returned 472 responses.

It found 54.4 per cent of those were opposed to a Badgerys Creek airport, compared to 42.6 per cent in favour.

This included a “disproportionally high” frequency of responses in opposition from Bringelly and Greendale, suburbs neighbouring Badgerys Creek, the council report said.

The council report said aircraft noise was the “issue of most concern” for residents who opposed the airport.

No Aircraft Noise spokesman Allan Rees said the “critical” question was whether those involved in the consultation were being asked if they supported a 24-hour airport.

“We think these things have to be pretty clear up front, because we think Wilton is much more likely to be suitable for a 24-hour airport,” Mr Rees said.

Monday’s meeting resolved to set up a “multi-government taskforce” to ensure council had an active role, should the Badgerys Creek site be confirmed.

The council’s new position was welcomed as an “early Christmas present” by the Western Sydney Airport Alliance.

Its spokesman David Borger said an airport at Badgerys Creek “is a big tick for thousands of new local jobs and millions of dollars in investment for Liverpool”.

“The process undertaken by Liverpool City Council is a great example to other councils in the region who continue to stand by their antiquated motions of opposition to the airport,” Mr Borger said.

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Spinnaker start unlikely for big race

Tuesday, 14. May 2019

Perpetual Loyal will be one of the main contenders for line honours in the Sydney to Hobart. Photo: Nic WalkerA classic spinnaker start to the Sydney to Hobart on Thursday is unlikely, if a change in the forecast for the big race prevails.

While north-easterlies for the 1pm start were predicted last week, the Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday has changed its forecast to east to south-easterly winds at 10 to 15 knots with rain a possibility.

Andrew Treloar from the bureau said the forecast for further into the 628 nautical mile race as it heads south remains the same as what was predicted last week, with winds switching to the north-east and strengthening.

Then on Saturday, he said, a cold front is expected through Bass Strait ”and with possibly gale force winds in its wake” which should make for a rough, bumpy and unpredictable ride for most of the 94-strong feet.

Adding to the mix and sense of uncertainty over what will eventually prevail is that there are two currents on the route, a main one heading south off Narooma with a second pushing north off Montague Island.

”Last week we flagged there would be a low pressure trough to the north of Sydney,” Treloar said on Tuesday.

”Now it looks like that trough will be closer to Sydney and we could have a low pressure system off the coast.

”The good news is that the system seems to be moving away … quite quickly and so for the start of the race looking for East to south easterly rather than a north-easterly.

”Following that, the conditions are pretty much what we talked about last week [with] the winds tending round to the north-east as the boats head down the coast, freshening up in strength; and then on the Saturday a good cold front moving through Bass Strait with possibly gale force winds in its wake.”

Veteran Sydney to Hobart skipper Syd Fischer, whose maxi Ragamuffin is an outside chance of challenging the two main favourites – Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal – smiled when he was asked about the forecast.

“It’s a race …” Fischer said laughing. “It’s basically what it’s all about.”

Mark Richards, skipper of Wild Oats XI which has won line honours six times and last year in a race record and on handicap, said: ”It’s going to be a very, very tricky race … To the death. Ragamuffin is going to be there. Perpetual Loyal is going to be there. Beau Geste is going to be there. Wild Thing is going to be there. It’s going to be fantastic to watch.”

For Anthony Bell and his crew on Perpetual Loyal, the latest forecast – which has cruelled the chances of the race record being beaten – should serve them well.

However, like most skippers and their navigators who are assessing various permutations, he is readying further changes to the forecast.”We say all the time, ‘Don’t rely too much on the forecasts’. For us the big thing from the latest news will be keeping the boat going – keeping the boat in one piece, keeping the crew in one piece. It would appear it’s going to be a race for the navigators.

”There will be a lot less certainty coming up. We are happy to go out there and have a crack.”

Bell admitted Tuesday’s forecast was better for his boat, but he would not label it ideal, saying: ”Uncertainty is the big issue.

”I think we are in for a proper boat race. We were little bit depressed a couple of days ago as to what the forecast was saying.

”I guess from this point we have moved from depression to uncertainty. It’s not the worst thing.”

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Ice worth $43 million seized as central coast drug syndicate smashed: police

Tuesday, 14. May 2019

Bush retreat The house where the alleged drug laboratory was found. Photo: NSW Police

Officers allegedly seized litres of solvents used to cook the drugs. Photo: NSW Police

There was a swimming pool at the hyome where the drugs were allegedly seized. Photo: NSW Police

A central coast drug syndicate allegedly manufacturing more than $43 million worth of drugs to distribute across the state has been smashed following a year-long investigation, police say.

Six men were arrested in co-ordinated raids on Monday that netted millions of dollars worth of ice as well as a treasure trove of goods including guns, cash, jewellery, luxury vehicles, steroids, a South American Macaw and a Diamond python.

A clandestine laboratory hidden on a multimillion-dollar semi-rural property just metres from the M1 motorway at Ourimbah was the headquarters of the operation, police allege.

From its driveway down a narrow bush track, the one-storey home appeared to be a plush bush retreat with four cars in its garages, a golf buggy, a pool and a personal gym.

However, officers allegedly found a sophisticated drug lab set up in a garage attached to the home with four kilograms of methylamphetamine or ‘ice’, 1200 litres of solvents used to cook the drugs and 37 litres of methylamphetamine oil, which makes about 37 kilograms of ice.

The drugs were allegedly distributed throughout the central coast, Sydney and interstate.

“It’s a significant arrest by anyone’s standards purely based on the volume of meth seized at the lab,” said Drugs Squad Commander Nick Bingham.

“The potential for that lab, based on the output it has on a daily basis, is huge and we’re hoping it will have a noticeable impact on ice on the central coast in particular.

“The money the distributors are making from it is one thing, but the social issues ice creates and the havoc that it wreaks on families and hospital emergency wards and so many others is another.”

Two men, both aged 32, arrested at a home in Matcham, were allegedly in charge of the manufacturing of the drugs.

Police seized a Glock pistol, a Luger pistol, cash, steroids and three vehicles – a Mercedes C63, a Mercedes CLK and a Jeep – from the home.

Three men who were allegedly involved in the distribution of the drug were arrested at homes in Ourimbah, Palmdale and Matcham.

The sixth man, a 37 year-old well-known criminal in the area, was located during the same operation but was wanted by Operation Polaris investigators in relation to organised crime on Australia’s waterfront.

The operation began last November following information from the NSW Crime Commission that suggested one of the men was involved in large scale drug supply. He was monitored for 12 months, leading police to many of his associates.

Detective Superintendent Bingham said the arrests capped off a big year in the fight against drug crime.

“The number of clan labs shut down by police in NSW during 2013 now totals 113,” he said. “Furthermore, we have seized millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs and charged hundreds of people with significant drug supply offences.”

He urged people to look out for the seven tell-tale signs of a suburban drug lab:

– Strange odours emanating from the property

– Diverted electricity

– Chemical containers and waste

– Blacked out windows

– Hoses and pipes in strange places

– Blinds down, with extremely bright indoor lighting radiating through gaps

– Vehicles arriving at odd hours

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Transurban close to completing Cross City Tunnel debt deal

Tuesday, 14. May 2019

Transurban is close to completing the purchase of $475 million of debt held by Sydney’s Cross City Tunnel.

The Cross City Tunnel was placed into receivership in September for the second time in eight years, having largely underperformed since being built for about $1 billion between 2003 and 2005.

The Cross City Tunnel runs for 2.1 kilometres from the west of Sydney’s central business district to Rushcutters Bay and the Eastern Distributor.

Transurban holds a large portfolio of toll-roads in Sydney, which includes the M2, M5, M7, the Eastern Distributor and the Lane Cove Tunnel, and has been keen to add the Cross City Tunnel to its business.

The deal had previously been flagged in November, when Transurban agreed to buy the debt from The Royal Bank of Scotland. The transaction is expected to be completed by December 31.

Transurban expects the tunnel to generate ‘’very moderate growth’’ over the long term, and would continue to toll motorists.

Australia’s largest toll-road operator has also declared interest in buying Queensland Motorways, which operates five tollways in Brisbane, should its owner decide to push ahead with a sale.

Macquarie Equities analyst Ian Myles said Transurban was buying the tunnel for a “great price” by removing the likelihood of competitive tension emerging from other bidders. But he said the tunnel was “not a must-have in their portfolio”, and agreed that growth in traffic would be modest.

‘’The east doesn’t go west. Until you get those in the eastern suburbs to go to more than the fish markets, the tunnel’s growth has got some constraints,’’ he said.

Transurban shares are up 0.7 per cent at $6.845 and are up 12.4 per cent this year.

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Watchdog clamp on UBS trades

Tuesday, 14. May 2019

UBS staff attempted to manipulate a short-term money market. Photo: Nic WalkerThe Australian arm of UBS has been forced to review internal processes and put $1 million towards financial literacy after some staff tried to manipulate a key local interest rate.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission on Monday said UBS last year gave evidence that staff were trying to influence submissions to the bank bill swap rate, a key short-term money market.

The submissions were intended to benefit UBS’ derivatives positions, though an independent expert has found their market impact was ”insignificant”, ASIC said. After withdrawing from the group of banks that makes submissions used to set the bank bill swap rate in February this year, UBS has agreed to an enforceable undertaking with ASIC.

It must ensure it does not compromise benchmarks in the future, and has also put $1 million towards funding financial literacy projects, ASIC said.

Until September this year, the bank bill swap rate was calculated through submissions from up to 14 local banks. It is now calculated electronically, as regulators globally investigate the integrity of benchmark interest rates following revelations London’s inter-bank offered rate (Libor) was rigged by bankers.

Global investment banks are under scrutiny after traders were found to have distorted key market benchmarks such as the Libor between 2005 and 2010. Libor is used to set an estimated $US500 trillion of bonds, home loans and other interest-rate products. UBS paid $US1.5 billion in fines to US, British and Swiss market regulators for its traders’ role in rigging Libor. ASIC said its investigations of Australia’s benchmark rate were continuing.

In a separate move, National Australia Bank will contribute $2 million to fund independent financial literacy projects in Australia. The move came as ASIC secured an undertaking from NAB over its role in the way it regulated information. The undertaking relates to NAB’s responsibility for ”potential market misconduct” undertaken by a traders linked to a contractor. This trading led to a price spike across stocks last year.

With Eric Johnston

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