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Pasha Bulker ten years on: the heroes

Pasha Bulker ten years on: the heroes Westpac Rescue helicopter crewman Glen Ramplin down sick after rescuing crewmen from the Pasha Bulker. Picture: Darren Pateman
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TEN YEARS ON: Glen Ramplin and his daughter Monique. Picture: Simone De Peak

RISING TIDE: Ben Donaldson stops his jet ski in suburban Merewether on June 8, 2007, to check on a motorist in floodwater. Picture: Simone De Peak

Ben Donaldson today. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

SAVIOUR: Ben Donaldson, Victor and Christina Wang, and their sons Ethan and Jeremiah in 2007. Picture: Dean Osland

RETURN TO SCENE: Naomi Roskell-West and her son Zac at the St James Road service station. Picture: Simone De Peak

Pasha Bulker off the Cowrie Hole. Picture: David Wicks

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Darren Pateman.

Picture: Darren Pateman

Westpac Rescue helicopter crewman Glen Ramplin after rescuing crewmen from the Pasha Bulker. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Brock Perks

Picture: Brock Perks

Picture: Dean Osland

Picture: David Wicks

Police take Pasha Bulker crew members away from the surf club on June 8, 2007. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: David Wicks

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: David Wicks

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Darren Pateman

TweetFacebookOne by one, Mr Ramplin wrangled, harnessed and lifted the ship’s fuel-soaked crewmen into the chopper. Some cried, prayed, and hugged their rescuers. Few spoke much English, but one later quipped to reporters that the captain was “f—ed”.

Eighteen times the static jolts ran through the deck and through Mr Ramplin, most violently on his final rescue of the captain.

Subsequent findings about the ship’s grounding didn’t read well for the ship’s South Korean master, who was exhausted from a lack of sleep, hadn’t ensured enough ballast on his ship, and was found to have taken an ill-timed breakfast.

“I didn’t see the captain until he was the last one we got off. I guess you could tell what had unfolded was weighing heavily on him,” Mr Ramplin said.

“We didn’t exactly have a conversation about it. I just told him, ‘time to go’.”

After two-and-a-half hours, the last man airlifted to the makeshift emergency centre of the Nobbys surf club was the captain. Chief crewman Graham Nickisson – winchman throughout the rescue – said later he “really felt for him”.

“It was a pretty emotional business.”

Of all Glen Ramplin put himself through that day, his dry-retching in the Nobbys grass was private and brief. But it’s dry-retching he remembers.

“I get seasick real easy, and all the static shock had taken its toll on me.”

By June 8, 2007, Ben Donaldson was better-known as a gravel-voiced Merewether builder with a passing resemblance to Buzz Lightyear than as a Newcastle Knight who’d played nine games at dummy-half.

That morning Mr Donaldson, 28, was one of three jet ski operators who rode out with Newcastle’s head lifeguard Warren Smith asked to support the helicopter rescue mission on the Pasha Bulker.

The other two were Josh Ferris and Mr Smith’s son Rhys. They pushed their skis off from Carrington boat ramp and roared out through the billowing grey mouth of the harbour.

“My son said, ‘you’re not going out there alone, dad’, so he and a couple of his mates came out with me,” Warren Smith recalled later.

They were to assess the damage to the ship’s vast red hull – “a bit of cracking, but not too dramatic” – and retrieve anyone who fell from the chopper or the deck. Their only shield from the wind and the 18-metre white tongues of water, Mr Donaldson said, was the mass of the Pasha Bulker.

“The tugboats were just getting engulfed. Because the waves were rollers it was nonstop, and for a while going out there we couldn’t see the Pasha Bulker,” Mr Donaldson said.

“When a gust of wind came through, that chopper was blown 20 metres like a pendulum.”

All day the radar image of the storm glowered over the Hunter “like a purple scroll”.

Night fell and Mr Donaldson went home to Frederick Street, as his neighbours’ yards sloshed under 160mm of rain and their cars bobbed and scraped against the kerb.

His place seemed clear of the floodwaters, so he slipped on a wetsuit pushed out into the canal of Frederick Street on his “Mal” surfboard, just so he could say he’d paddled down his street.

“Then people were asking me to get them out of their houses,” Mr Donaldson said.

“I did six or eight people on me Mal. An elderly lady asked me to get her out with her cats.”

He paddled from house to house, ferrying the elderly, shivering occupants to the higher ground of Helen Street.

The water was rising and cold by now, about 10 degrees, and he swapped his Mal for his jet ski; it meant he could putt back through the streets and collect the lady’s wary cats in their cages.

There came a scream.

Christina and Victor Wang were doctors from Western Australia who’d moved to Merewether with their little boys Ethan and Jeremiah, who was seven months old.

Christina was at home with Jeremiah that night. There was a moment at her kitchen sink when the water wouldn’t recede down the plughole. Outside the window, water brimmed over the back fence.

Victor Wang was stuck at work at John Hunter Hospital and growing quietly desperate to get home.

He’d picked up Ethan from childcare, but couldn’t get through to his wife.

“Trees were down everywhere. The mobile network was down. I had to go back to the hospital just to ring her. I was new to Newcastle and I kept getting lost on the roads,” Dr Wang said.

“So I rang my friend who was a few streets away.”

The Wangs’ family friend Jim Lai arrived in his four-wheel-drive to collect Christina and Jeremiah but the car, as so many that night, drove into water that was deceptively deep. The engine died and they began to float. Water gushed in and pushed inwards on the doors.

“By the time we realised we could be flooded in it was already happening,” Christina said.

“The car started filling up and we had to get out; the water was up to our shoulders and we needed help fast because the baby was frozen and couldn’t handle much more.”

When Mr Donaldson found them and wrenched open the doors, Christina was shoulder-deep and holding Jeremiah above her head. The baby was purple. He didn’t cry until they splashed into Mr Donaldson’s indoor heated pool, and then they waited on his couch in footy tracksuits until Victor and Ethan arrived.

The family has since moved back to Perth, and Jeremiah is ten years old.

Before the storm, Mr Donaldson had had terse dealings with Newcastle City Council about the requirement to build his house to withstand a once-in-a-century flood.

“But in hindsight, you probably have to give them that one.”

On the day of the storm Naomi Roskell-West was 29 and increasingly aware of the rain that was blasting through Hamilton.

Her boss had left early to pick up her kids and Ms Roskell-West, of Valentine, decided to close up and collect her own three-year-old son, Zac, from his grandparents.

“I was a single mum. This was the Friday of my first week in a new job working in the office of a distribution company,” she said.

“I had to take a detour towards the stadium and I couldn’t believe how flooded it was. In the traffic near the service station on St James Road I thought, this is a bit scary. I decided I was going to pull up in front of a bowser and stay there listening to updates on ABC radio.”

Then she saw the cars being washed down the road and the quivering people between them.

It’s a struggle to explain, and Ms Roskell-West puts it down to being “analytical”, but she still feels anger towards some of them.

Ms Roskell-West, an office worker who’d “never been in the SES, Scouts, or anything like that”, climbed the bull bar of a four-wheel-drive to reach a man clinging to a car’s side mirror.

“I reached out to grab him before he could move away any further,” she said.

“I can’t imagine what this guy must’ve been thinking, with this chick coming up at him on the front of a four-wheel-drive.”

On higher ground, the service station attendant decided it was time to close – but a woman and three children were still huddled on the roof of a car.

“All I could see was this water pounding on the front of their car. I screamed bloody murder, told [the attendant] ‘you are going to get these people killed’.”

The servo doors slid open. Ms Roskell-West found a ball of fine rope on a shelf and tied a length around her waist. Shaky and numb, she told herself to tie a proper knot. She tied the other end to a light pole and fought the chest-deep surge.

Unseen objects brushed her legs. The only permissible thoughts were “keep going” and “don’t slip”. She hasn’t seen the woman or children since she held their hands in that cold water, but she’d like to.

Not, she adds, because of nostalgia.

“I don’t see it as a positive outcome. I mean, it is, because those people are OK, but I think it’s quite sad,” Ms Roskell-West said.

“It’s a massive reminder that Mother Nature holds all the cards.”

Instead, she says it’s complicated. The days after the storm were “very much a reality check”.

Ms Roskell-West and Zac were evacuated to a hall around the corner from their house in Valentine and given blankets and soup. She still wraps herself in one of those blankets.

Later that night the police were ferrying people to Wests. She called her whole family and told them she was OK.

In the weeks that followed, the Hunter gradually realised that a series of brave interventions had stopped the death toll from climbing into the dozens.

Cardiff was a microcosm of the heroics; as staff from the suburb’s vet surgery carried a German shepherd with a broken back through the storm, five locals put down their beers to help rescue 80-year-old Pauline Eichman from her flooded home.

The five mates tethered themselves to the Lemon Grove Hotel and helped paramedics Al Qvist and Scott Hardes carry their elderly patient to an ambulance.

“The bystanders made a huge difference,” Mr Hardes said, echoing a tale told across the Hunter.

Thursday’s 10th anniversary of the storm, for Glen Ramplin, will be overshadowed by the realisation his daughter is nearly a decade old. He doesn’t think about the Pasha Bulker much, but says helicopter crewmen think about things like the significance of a shift swap.

The June long weekend is saturated in history for Ben Donaldson, who celebrates his wedding anniversary and the birthday of daughter Saoirse.

For years, Naomi Roskell-West couldn’t drive past the BP on St James Road.

“At one point I was painfully affected by it all,” she said.

“Then one day, without even realising it, I’d done it. Now it’s just a heaviness in the pit of my stomach.”

And she still gets nervous about the forecast of an East Coast Low.

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Activist’s long walk for justice

Clinton Pryor arrives in Ballarat after walking from Perth Picture: Kate Healy. Anybody who decides to walk across the entire continent is likely to have plenty of time to see things and thinkthings through.
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Clinton Pryor arrives in Ballarat after walking from Perth Picture: Kate Healy.

Which is one of the reasons Aboriginal rights activist, Clinton Pryor has walkedall the way from Perth to Ballarat on his Walk for Justice.

Mr Pryor, who arrived in Ballarat yesterday during Reconciliation Week, is on his way to Canberra and hopes to speak with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about issues concerning Indigenous people in Australia.

The 26-year-old said that he was inspired to raise awareness by the government’s announcement to close 150 Aboriginal communities in 2014.

“I was sitting there thinking about how do I keep voices up about forced closure of communities and the homeless,” he said. “I came up with an idea to do a big massive walk across Australia to find out the truth and to find out what’s going on.”

Mr Pryor is originally from Aboriginal community Mulan in East Kimberley, Western Australia. He set off on his walk in September 2016. Along the way, Mr Pryor has met with Indigenous elders and leaders to hear about the problems they are facingand what they feel might help.

“Fromwhat we have seen is there’s still a lot of work needs to be done,” he said.

RELATED CONTENT:Five days in Uluru: Australia’s first Indigenous constitutional conventionAll the questions you were too afraid to ask about Indigenous recognitionMr Pryor also gives talks at schools to warn children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Elder of Wadawurrung, Bryon Powell said that Pryor is an inspiration to young Indigenous people.

“I hope young people around the younger generation see him as a bit of a role model. Because we need more people, young ones to stand up, be counted and stand up for their community.It’s great that you’ve got young people that are so motivated that they will take on board issues such as this and then run with it. Well, walk actually.”

The City of Ballarat supported Mr Pryor on his journey. Mayor, Samantha McIntosh, was at Victoria Park to welcome Mr Pryor.

“What an amazing trek,” she said. “For this particular week, it’s just a superb time to be welcoming Clinton here.

“It’s really important to raise awareness and for people to remember the challenges of the past and make sure they embrace every opportunity and really embrace everyone’s culture into the future.”

More information about Clinton’s Walk for Justice can be found on his website:clintonswalkforjustice.org or on his Twitter: @ClintonsWalk.

The Courier, Ballarat

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‘U-turn Queen’ Theresa May under fire for debate no-show

British prime minister Theresa May has been dubbed “not so much the Iron Lady as the U-turn queen”, in an election debate between her rivals that crowned another bad day for the Conservatives.
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A new poll on Wednesday- for the first time – predicted a hung parliament could emerge in the UK from the June 8 election, after a campaign that began with Mrs May’s Tories looking at a landslide win.

Wednesday evening’s debate was anticipated as a low-wattage affair, with both Mrs May and her Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn booking proxies to quarrel with the country’s minor parties.

But Mr Corbyn decided at the last minute to capitalise on his surprising momentum in the campaign, and personally joined the debate.

May’s boycott then became the political story of the day, despite her desire to focus on Brexit-related issues.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Mrs May had made it clear to the electorate that “you are not worth (her) time” – and “if she can’t be bothered, why should you?”

“How dare you call an election and then run away from the debate?” he said.

Greens co-leader Caroline Lucas said “the first rule of leadership is to show up – you don’t say it’s the most important election of our lifetime and not be bothered to show up”.

May was also heckled online by an American TV show: House of Cards, whose Twitter account commented “@Theresa_May They respect you more when you show strength. Or show up”.

Even The Sun, the Murdoch paper that has been fervently in Theresa May’s corner, did her no favours by pointing out that May’s proxy debater, home secretary Amber Rudd, had turned up despite the death of her father two days earlier.

Earlier in the day Mrs May defended her decision, saying she was taking questions from voters around the country instead of “squabbling” with rivals.

But the new distraction came on a day when a pollster, for the first time, predicted the Conservatives would do worse in this election than in 2015 – a result which would likely end May’s prime ministership even if her party retained government.

YouGov’s analysis of the latest polling data, applied to individual constituencies, came out with a prediction that Labour would gain almost 30 seats and the Conservatives lose 20.

This would result in a hung parliament.

The Conservatives would still be most likely to form a minority or coalition government that could gain the confidence of the Commons – but only just.

The prediction was hotly contested by other pollsters, most of whom are still predicting a dominant Tory majority of 100 or more seats, despite Labour’s consistently improving poll numbers during the campaign.

And both parties reacted with skepticism, with one Labour insider telling The Times that Mr Corbyn’s unpopularity would cause him to lose, not gain seats in the Midlands.

But YouGov stood by its modelling, which it said it had tested successfully in last year’s Brexit referendum.

Wednesday night’s TV debate had seven participants: Mr Corbyn and Ms Rudd plus the Liberal Democrat’s Tim Farron, SNP MP Angus Robertson and the leaders of UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens.

Ms Rudd summed up her opponents as the “coalition of chaos in action”.

She scored a hit on Mr Corbyn when she pointed out that his parliamentary colleagues had passed a vote of no confidence in him, saying he had a weak team that could not be trusted to negotiate Brexit.

She also attacked Mr Corbyn’s opposition to anti-terror legislation and his economic credibility, saying “there is no tax you don’t want to rise??? we have to stop thinking, as you do, that there’s a magic money tree”.

But Mr Corbyn hit back with his strongest moment of the night, asking Mrs Rudd “have you been to a food bank? Have you seen people sleeping around our stations? Have you seen the levels of poverty that exist because of your government’s conscious decision on benefits?”

His outburst won applause and cheers in the Cambridge venue.

The BBC was forced to defend its selection of a studio audience which appeared raucously pro-Corbyn, saying it had asked a polling company to choose a representative cross-section of the country’s politics and demographics.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Snow expected over Canberra next week as winter hits

Canberra Times winter photcomp (2016) -?? my three entries – all taken at Moruya Heads on June 6 this year as the South Coast Low stirred up the ocean and the run off turned the Moruya River to mud. I thought a black and white conversion might depict the drama betterCheersAlan Nicol#1 Wild Wave. The morning after a wild night – the wind was howling and the rain was driving, but it was worth it to watch Nature??????s might from the Headland at Moruya Heads.The first day of winter didn’t disappoint: Canberra dropped to minus 3.6 overnight, dipping lower just before sunrise on Thursday to minus 4.2.
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Generally clear skies can be expected through the weekend as temperatures drop to about minus 3 at night, hovering at about 15 degrees during the day.

Weatherzone senior meteorologist Brett Dutschke said Canberra can expect snow next Tuesday night, with chances of snowfall remaining until Thursday.

“I doubt it’s going to settle for long on the ground, if it does its probably going to be quite windy [which helps melt the snow],” Mr Dutschke said.

Mr Dutschke said snow was expected as far north as the NSW central tablelands, but low elevations such as Canberra shouldn’t expect much.

“The start of winter looks a better chance of being average sort of rainfall or even above average rainfall,” Mr Dutschke said.

He said the further we headed into winter the drier it was expected to be.

Out east, Braidwood was slightly colder at minus 3.7.

This weekend it’s expected to receive marginally warmer nights than Canberra but colder days.

Temperatures down at the coast on Bateman’s Bay remained above freezing overnight, with a top of 18 expected.

Similar temperatures were expected through the weekend at the coast, with water temperatures to float around a relatively balmy 18 degrees but with three-metre swells.

“Probably feel pretty nice jumping in there in the mornings when it’s as cold as it is in the air,” Mr Dutschke said.

“Although there’s some fairly big waves, not as a big as further north. Pretty rough unless you’re an experienced swimmer.”

Overnight on Wednesday in the immediate Canberra region, temperatures dropped as low as minus 6.7 at the top of Thredbo or minus 6.5 in Goulburn.

Freezing conditions have allowed Perisher to open one week ahead of the snow season, with the resort expected to open this weekend.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Bus passengers travel for free as drivers declare ‘fare-free day’

SMH News story by, Matt Wade. Story: Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance pictured at Leppington trainstation,announcing more train services for the area. Photo shows, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance. Photo by, Peter Rae Monday 27 February, 2017.Bus passengers across large parts of Sydney are travelling for free after drivers and their union declared Thursday a “fare-free day”.
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In the latest escalation of an industrial battle between the Rail, Tram & Bus Union and NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, the drivers’ union initiated the fare-free day to draw attention to the impending “franchising” of buses in the inner west region.

The decision to allow passengers to travel for free is also affecting the provision of real-time transport information to bus passengers.

If drivers turn off Opal ticketing machines, transport information apps are denied the location and running times of bus services.

“Private operators will put profits before people,” the union’s bus division president David Woollams said.

“As a result, the community will get higher fares, fewer services and the removal of local bus stops.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Constance said: “It is disappointing that this action is occurring despite the ongoing conciliation process and direct orders from the Industrial Relations Commission last night that this action not take place.

“Once again the union bosses are showing absolute contempt for the law, customers and the people of NSW,” the spokeswoman said.

The union said the fare-free day would apply across the 12 Sydney depots currently managed by the government-owned State Transit.

Those areas are in the inner west, eastern suburbs, north-west suburbs to Epping, and across the lower north shore and to the northern beaches.

Bus drivers in the inner west last month conducted a 24-hour strike over Mr Constance’s decision to put services in that contract region out to tender to private operators.

Mr Constance has said the government will retain ownership and control of all buses, depots, timetables and fares. Bus services across much of western Sydney are already operated by private companies.

Mr Constance, who has argued that restrictive workplace practices have led to poor service quality in the inner west, said on Wednesday he would not rule out franchising further services.

“If cabinet resolves to make a decision … that’s what we will do,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule it out into the future in terms of franchising those other regions.”

Mr Woollams said the franchising of the inner west services was being rushed through without consultation or community support.

“It’s an absolutely disgraceful way to conduct yourself in public office,” Mr Woollams said.

“Trying to flog off the public assets before they get the chance to realise what you’re doing and oppose you.”

The RTBU said about 3500 drivers would take part in the fare-free day. Inner West Bus drivers fighting against privatisation of buses – offering free trips today <3 #sydneybusespic.twitter南京夜网/QpYWnIphOL??? Jumss (@Jumss) May 31, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Hunter BreakfastJune 1

Morning Shot: @cyclicalobscura/InstagramBeachwatch:The big southerly swell is already clearing out the sand in the southern corners and setting up the banks for winter.Strong sweeps and a early low tide making a difficult paddle out for the experienced surfers.Swell is coming in from the South at 2 to 3m. Winds strong South easing during the afternoon.Southern facing breaks to handle the conditions best off Nobbys,Merewether and Dudley.Stockton and Blacksmiths offering some protection.Fingal up at Port Stephens.Take care if going for a swim and more than likely dangerous surf signs up at patrolled beaches.Best to swim at Ocean Bathes. Water temp 18C. –Dave Anderson
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Weather:Shower or two in Newcastle and Nelson Bay, possible shower in Wallsend and Toronto (all 18 degrees). Possible shower in Raymond Terrace (17 degrees).

Traffic: No major incidents reported on Hunter roads.

Trains: Good service on the Newcastle and Hunter lines.

Hunter headlinesA WOMAN has escaped a sinking car to swim to the shore after careering off the Swansea Bridge. Read more.

A late night Malaysia Airlines flight was turned back to Melbourne Airport shortly after take-off following a security incident involving a “disruptive” and “threatening” passenger who tried to enter the plane’s cockpit while carrying an unidentified black object, according to the airline and local police. Read more.

PHOTOS Humpback whales are now migrating through the waters of Port Stephens. Read more.

HUNTER engineering company Varley has expressed renewed business confidence after reaping rewards from a lucrative federal government contract for the F35-A Joint Strike Fighter program. Read more.

THE University of Newcastle will shed 30 jobs as it seeks to “future-proof” itself in the face of industry change and ongoing budget pressures. Read more.

A SECRETtaskforce set up by the Turnbull government to tacklefirefighting foam contaminationwill not be having any meetings.Nor will it be reporting to thepublic on its activities, dealing with the legacy of toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl[PFAS]chemicalsat dozens of sites across the country. Read more.

The steadying influence on the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service after being part of its inception in 1975, CliffMarsh announced on Wednesday that he was standing down as chairman after 25 years at the helm. Read more.

NEWCASTLE Knights did an extra wrestling sessions this week to prepare but Nathan Brown insists there is nothing illegal about the Storm’s ruck tactics. Read more.

State of Origin: Round oneNewSouth Wales hasgone one-up in the 2017 State Of Origin series with a dominant display in the opening match of the series at Suncorp Stadium. Read all about it.

Scenes from Game 1 at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

State of the nationNeed anational newssnapshot first thing – well, we have you covered.

Regional news

►CRESCENT HEAD:Nearly 300 surfers took to the waves at Crescent Head over the last week for the annual Malibu Classic surfing competition. Full story.

Back in: Surfers return to the water after a shark sighting caused a temporary cessation of proceedings on Friday. Photo: Callum McGregor.

►BURRADOO:A Burradoo home sustained significant damage after a fire broke out on May 31. Full story.

►NEWCASTLE:Two experienced Filipino crewman who died aboard a foreign-flagged ship in within a six-week period met with “foul play”, a Coroner has ruled.

The chief cook,CesarLlanto​, 42, disappeared overboard from the giant coal carrier MV Sage Sagittarius on August 30, 2012 as it approached Australian waters in the Coral Sea en route to Newcastle. Full story.

Sage Sagittarius: The coal ship at the centre of an inquest into mysterious deaths on board. Picture: David Tease

►TASMANIA:A missing persons case in Tasmania’s south has become a murder investigation.Full story.

Dwayne Robert Davies, 47, of Risdon Vale.

National news

►MELBOURNE:A late night Malaysia Airlines flight was turned back to Melbourne Airport shortly after take-off following a security incident involving a “disruptive” and “threatening” passenger who tried to enter the plane’s cockpit while carrying an unidentified black object, according to the airline and local police. Full story.

Security personnel board flight MH128 after it returned to Melbourne. Photo: Andrew Leoncelli

► SYDNEY:For almost a decade Mark and Faye Leveson have searched tirelessly for their son.

They have armed themselves with shovels and spent hours digging at possible burial sites, lobbied for a $250,000 reward in Matthew Leveson’s case and come face to face with the man once charged with killing him. Full story.

The parents of Matthew Leveson, Mark Leveson (left) and Faye Leveson (right) at the site where the search continues for the burial place of their son Matthew Leveson in the Royal National Park at Waterfall, NSW. 31st May, 2017. Photo: Kate Geraghty

►CANBERRA:A male Labor politician has been forced to apologise for demanding to know whether Foreign Minister Julie Bishop ordered flowers and other decorations at an event because she is a woman. Full story.

►VICTORIA:Researchers undertaking a landmark study on the platypus are warning of significant population declines and localised extinctions across areas of South Australia and Victoria. Full story.

►National weather radar:World news:►BANGKOK:A new video has emerged of Myanmar soldiers kicking, beating and threatening to kill six ethnic villagers as they were handcuffed on the ground.

The footage posted on Facebook also shows a soldier holding a machete to a villager’s throat. Full story.

►BAGHDAD:An Australian schoolgirl was one of more than a dozen people killed when a massive car bomb tore througha popular ice-cream parlourin the Iraqi capital Baghdad this week. Full story.

►EAST TIMOR:East Timor’s prime minister has asked a Dili court not send two journalists to jail in a controversial defamation case he brought against them that was condemned by human rights and press freedom organisations. Full story.

►WASHINGTON:As the high-powered congressional probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 election gather steam, who is in power and who is out has become key to the response of those connected to US President Donald Trump now and during his campaign. Full story.

On this day1968Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs Robinson” hits #1.

1969Tobacco advertising is banned on Canadian radio & TV.

1970″Everything Is Beautiful” by Ray Stevens hits #1.

1970Soyuz 9 launched into Earth orbit for 18 days.

1970Tigers Al Kaline collides with another player & swallows his tongue.

1979Los Angeles passes its first homosexual rights bill.

19801st transmission of CNN, the Cable News Network.

FACES OF AUSTRALIA: IMOGEN-FAITH MALFITANOWollongong’s CBD is now abuzz with hairspary, sequins and stacatto notes for the 123rdWollongong Eisteddfod –the second oldest in the country.

Opera singer Imogen-Faith Malfitano, 24, from West Wollongong was one of the first competitors, listed in five different categories over the weekend. Read on.

STARS IN HER EYES: Opera singer Imogen-Faith Malfitano, 24, from Wollongong has been entering the Wollongong Eisteddfod since she was 8 and competing again this weekend. Picture: Sylvia Liber

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Use your first-home buyers grant building a granny flat

The exterior of a modular granny flatBrisbane builder perfects quintessential tiny housesTen of the world’s best tiny housesBrisbane’s south side: You could be on a ‘gold mine’
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Can’t afford a house? If you’re in Queensland, you can use the $20,000 first-home buyer grant to put towards building a granny flat instead.

As bizarre as it sounds, a new company that specialises in luxury modular houses has discovered that first-home buyers who cannot afford a house can still access the $20,000 Queensland Government grant if they build a granny flat.

Last year the government announced it would give first-home buyers an extra $5000 towards the cost of their new home, taking the total of the grant to $20,000. That extra boost is set to expire on June 30 and Nano Homes, a NSW-based building and finance company, is urging first-time buyers to consider a granny flat as a real property investment strategy before the grant drops back to $15,000.

Managing director George Nori says if the concept sounds left of field, buyers need to “think outside the square”.

“This is a fantastic opportunity ??? if first home buyers are unable to afford the cost of their own home, they can put property on a relative’s land,” he says.

“It gives excellent, flexible, long-term opportunities for families at all stages of life … parents can buy equity, they can downsize into the granny flat as their children’s families grow, it can be rented out, used for other siblings … the opportunities are endless.”

The cost of one of these modular granny flats ??? which are constructed off site then built on the land in about five hours ??? is $139,920. Included in that is a two-bedroom, two bathroom turn-key property with bamboo flooring, modern kitchen, internet, wiring for automation and ducted airconditioning.

With the $20,000 grant, the total cost of the house comes down to $119,920, which Mr Nori says couples on a modest annual income of $40,000 each should be able to pay off in about two years.

“After that, they’ve got an equity position. Depending on what council they’re in, they may be able to rent the granny flat out and get an income from it, or they could sell it to their parents and use the profit to upgrade to a more traditional home … the point is, you’ve created an equity position,” he says.

“The immediate fix is that it gets young people independent, it teaches them how to save, it creates that stepping stone and it also allows them to stay in the suburbs they know and love … and they get to take advantage of that grant before it expires.

“With a little help from their parents, home ownership can be accomplished in an amazingly short time frame.”

Of course, this solution only works if your parents have enough of a backyard to house a granny flat.

“It’s not a universal panacea but it can solve a lot of problems for youngsters who want to get on the ladder and also for their parents wanting to get their kids independent,” Mr Nori says.

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Bomb threat man had just been released from psychiatric care

The Sri Lankan national who allegedly threatened to blow up a Malaysia Airlines plane was released from a psychiatric facility hours before boarding the flight, police say.
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Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton said the 25-year-old man bought a ticket for the flight after he was released from the Monash Medical Centre in Clayton on Wednesday.

He said police had initial reports that there was possibly more than one offender or more than one explosive device on board, which led to a delay in getting passengers off the plane.

Mr Ashton said clearance was granted overnight for police to question the man after he was assessed to be fit for interview on psychological grounds. The man was likely to be charged and face the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, he said.

“We are no longer treating it as a counter terrorism incident,” he said.

“We did initially because of the reports we had and the assessments that were being made. We subsequently, on doing this assessment, determined this was a case involving a mental health issue.”

Mr Ashton said he believed the man was a voluntary patient at the facility.

Premier Daniel Andrews backed the police response but did sympathise with passengers.

He said people were understanding of the fact police had to know what they were dealing with before entering the plane.

He said rushing on could have made things worse.

Mr Ashton said had the incident occurred in Europe or the US, it was likely passengers would still be on the plane.

A passenger on the flight said the man was carrying a large black device that had several aerials protruding from it when he allegedly tried to enter the cockpit.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. It was the size of a watermelon, it was huge, it was black,” the passenger, former AFL player Andrew Leoncelli, told radio station 3AW.

“It had two sort of like antennae stuff coming off it, but it also looked like it had an iPhone jack in it, so it could have been just like a beatbox thing.”

The flight had taken off from Melbourne Airport bound for Kuala Lumpur just after 11pm on Wednesday when the man stormed into the business class section of the plane and demanded to speak to the pilot.

Superintendent Tony Langdon, from Victoria Police, said early on Thursday that the man was believed to have a history of mental illness. He is a 25-year-old Australian citizen from Dandenong, in Melbourne’s south-east.

“We do not believe this is terrorist-related at the moment,” he said.

“We are obviously concerned for the passengers and crew. It would have been a very traumatic experience for them.”

Mr Leoncelli described the alarming moment the man allegedly made threats to blow up the plane, while holding his mystery device.

He said he confronted the man, who ran towards the back of the plane, where a group of other male passengers detained him.

Those passengers held the man on the floor “with eight feet” on his head, back and legs, and hog-tied him as the flight turned around and returned to Melbourne Airport. The flight landed just after 11.40pm. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},”#pez_iframe_tipstar_409″);

“I ended up chatting to the lads who did it [detained the man], and they said they seriously did a number on him and put the hog-ties on him really tight.

“[They] basically sat on him with their feet on his back with his face into the carpet for the next 20 minutes while we turned the plane around and landed again,” Mr Leoncelli said.

Another caller, Russell, said his brother-in-law was on the plane, and described how the man had the device strapped to his body.

“Apparently a gentleman wearing a beanie stormed into the business class section of the aeroplane screaming that he wanted to see the pilot, and he had a device strapped to his chest,” Russell told 3AW.

“Three or four people in the business class section I suppose abandoned their champagne and their orange juice and they gang-tackled him to the ground. They sat on him until they discovered the device, I think it was a transistor radio, gaffer taped to his chest.” Russell said that his brother-in-law described how, once the plane landed, the police stayed “about five miles away” from the plane.

“His words were [they were] ‘probably having a meeting on occupational health and safety’ on how they were going to get into the plane,” Russell said.

Passengers said that, when the plane landed, they were left on the tarmac for about 90 minutes, with very little information from airline staff about what was happening.

Eventually, heavily armed police from the Special Operations Group, wearing camouflage gear and helmets, entered the plane and arrested the man. Malaysia Airlines flight #MH128 has returned to Melbourne after a passenger tried to enter the cockpit shortly claiming he has explosives. pic.twitter南京夜网/6PPTLgW1Qd??? Brendan Grainger (@S118869) May 31, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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‘I’m going to f—ing blow the plane up’: Terrifying flight out of Melbourne

Security personnel board flight MH128 after it returned to Melbourne. Photo: Andrew LeoncelliPassengers on board the Malaysia Airlines flight turned back to Melbourne after a man made a bomb threat have spoken of their ordeal and the long wait for police to storm the plane.
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One fellow passenger described seeing the man behaving erratically and threatening to “blow the plane up” before he was eventually pinned to the floor and subdued by others on the plane.

A 25-year-old man from Dandenong is in custody after he allegedly approached the cockpit on flight MH128 while brandishing an unidentified black object that he said was a bomb.

A group of male passengers detained the man as the flight turned around and returned to Melbourne Airport, where heavily armed police eventually stormed the plane to arrest him.

Robert Macdonald heard a commotion before jumping on the man and restraining him with several other passengers.

He said he wouldn’t think twice about doing it again and dismissed claims he was a hero.

The Scotsman – who was visiting family in Melbourne –also criticised police efforts after they took more than an hour to board the plane.

“I heard an air hostess shouting ‘this guy’s crazy’ and there was a commotion in the seat in front of me.

“We pushed the guy onto the floor and cabin crew put cords on him and secured him to the ground.”

Mr Macdonald said the man’s eye’s were glazed over and he looked dazed as passengers and cabin crew pinned him to the floor.

“It was just my instinct to get up and help,” he said.

“There were three or four guys on him already. He was really struggling but they were big guys so he had no chance.”

“I’d do it again.”

Mr Macdonald echoed sentiments from other passengers upset with how long it took police to storm the plane.

“When we got into the airport this guy was already pinned down so we thought it was going to be quick.”

“Instead we spent an hour and 10 minutes with a potential bomber and potential bomb onboard. What was the delay?”

Fellow passenger Selena Brown said the worst part of the ordeal was waiting 90 minutes for police to board when they could see them outside.

“We were only 10 minutes into the flight and I could hear a kerfuffle behind me. Next thing, a guy ran up the other side of the plane saying ‘I’ve got bomb,'” she said.

“People were screaming and then he was jumped on. There was so many people it was hard to see. Everybody was really calm after that.

“We were told police would take 10 minutes but it was over an hour. I thought it was really disappointing only because we weren’t updated all the time.

“We could see them all outside and they weren’t coming on to the plane and we didn’t know why.”

Ms Brown praised the efforts of passengers who jumped on the man after he started shouting about having a bomb.

“They are pretty big burly guys and they weren’t letting him get away saying something like that,” she said.

Selana Brown tells of her ordeal on board MH128, when a man threatened to blow up the plane. Photo: Justin McManus

“My heart went into my throat a bit but everyone was really calm. The people sitting behind him with little kids, one lady was really upset.

“The passengers were brilliant. Typical thing for Australians to do, to say ‘this isn’t going to happen’. It was really good.”

Don and Judith Urwin were seated in row 32 of the plane, opposite the man in in question in row 31.

Mrs Urwin said she suspected something was wrong when the man got out of his seat 15 minutes after take-off, as the plane was still ascending .

“I just said ‘there’s something wrong – he’s out of his seat –because the plane is still going up,'” she said.

Mr Urwin said he didn’t hear the man yelling threats or see what device he was reportedly wearing on his chest.

“After about 15 minutes he opened up the luggage compartment and proceeded to run up the aisle,” he said.

Selana Brown tells of her ordeal on board MH128, when a man threatened to blow up the plane. Photo: Justin McManus

“Apparently he put one of the hostesses in a headlock. [She] was yelling out ‘stop him’. The passengers jumped on him and got him down pretty quickly.

“You don’t think it can happen in this country but it does.”

When the plane landed, heavily armed police boarded and found that the device the man had been carrying was harmless.

Passengers Stan and Pam Young said there was “no communication” as they sat on the tarmac, and questioned why it took authorities so long to board the plane.

“They just left us waiting and wondering. The captain said security would be there in 10 minutes but it took two hours,” Mr Young said.

“If there was a bomb on that plane we should have been evacuated straight away but we sat there for an hour and a half.

“If security at the airport couldn’t come a bit quicker than that, there’s something wrong.”

Mrs Young said tactical police told passengers to put their heads down and look away as the man was being taken out.

The couple said they weren’t made awareof any potential bomb threat until they were taken off the plane and told by a policeman.

The pair are on their way to a holiday in London and said they haven’t slept in 24 hours.

“We’ve lost a couple of days,” Mrs Young said.

Anotherpassenger, former AFL player AndrewLeoncelli, told radio station 3AW he had “never seen anything like” the device the man carried.

“It was thesizeof awatermelon, it was huge, it was black,” he said.

Former AFL player Andrew Leoncelli was on the flight. Photo: Justin McManus

“It had two sort oflikeantennae stuff coming off it,but it also looked like it had an iPhone jack in it, so it could have been just like a beatbox thing.”

Mr Leoncelli said the group of men hog-tied the offender and restrained him on the floor him as the plane turned back to Melbourne.

“I ended up chatting to the lads who did it [detained the man], and they said they seriously did a number on him and put the hog-ties on him really tight … basically sat onhimwith their feet on his back with his face into the carpet for the next 20 minutes while we turned the planearoundand landed again,” MrLeoncelli said.

Malaysia’s deputy transport minister said the device was some kind of mobile phone charger, while Victoria Police superintendent Tony Langdon said the item was something one would “carry around on a regular basis”.

Superintendent Langdon said the man seemed to be suffering from a mental illness and had been acting alone.

Police are not treating the incident as terror-related. Mr Irwin said he and his wife were impressed with police efforts and were not afraid of continuing their travel plans. The pair will now get on another flight to Kuala Lumpur.

“Life’s too short,” Mr Urwin said.

Early reportsA late night Malaysia Airlines flight was turned back to Melbourne Airport shortly after take-off following a security incident involving a “disruptive” and “threatening” passenger who tried to enter the plane’s cockpit while carrying an unidentified black object, according to the airline and local police.

One fellow passenger described seeing the man behaving erratically and threatening to “blow the plane up” before he was eventually pinned to the floor and subdued by others on the plane. A Malaysian government official later told local media the man had been holding a power bank, or mobile charger, not an explosive device.

Dramatic photographs taken by other passengers on board the flight showed heavily armed security personnel boarding the plane after its return to Melbourne.The Malaysia Airlines flightlanded safely around 30 minutes after take-off and the passenger was apprehended by airport security.

Flight MH128, which left Melbourne for Kuala Lumpur at 11.11 pm, was turned back “after the operating captain was alerted by a cabin crew of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit,” according to a statement from the airline.

In air traffic control audio posted online, a male voice can be heard saying: “We have a passenger trying to enter the cockpit.” About three minutes later the same male voice can be heard saying the passenger was “claiming to have an explosive device, tried to enter the cockpit, has been overpowered by passengers.”

“However we’d like to land and have the device checked,” the voice says.

Victoria Police, who are investigating the incident, said in a statement the man had allegedly threatened the safety of passengers and staff before being subdued.

Passengers have since disembarked the Malaysian Airlines plane. Photo: Andrew Leoncelli

Former AFL player Andrew Leoncelli was sitting in business class, several seats away from the cockpit, when the incident unfolded. He described seeing a man carrying a large black cylindrical object which looked like speaker, which appeared to have an on/off button and a charging port.

The Malaysia Airlines flight has since landed safely and the passenger has been apprehended by airport security. Photo: Andrew Leoncelli

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Hayne tight-lipped over Titans future as D-Day arrives

Match Report: Fifita stars as Blues smash MaroonsPlayer Ratings: How New South Wales faredPlayer Ratings: How Queensland fared
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The mystery surrounding the future of Jarryd Hayne continued on Wednesday night, with the star refusing to give an answer on whether he had decided to take up the option to remain at the Titans next year.

An hour before the deadline expired for Hayne to take up the $1.2 million option, the NSW centre remained coy on his future – despite admitting he had made a decision the day before Origin I.

It’s expected that the Gold Coast Titans will announce Hayne is staying on the Gold Coast next year, but Hayne was keen to keep building the suspense when asked after Wednesday night’s victory over Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.

“I’ll have a couple more beers and see how we go ay?,” Hayne joked after the game when asked about the decision on his future.

“The Titans will put out an announcement tomorrow (Thursdsay). I want to give them the respect to put that announcement out and we’ll go from there. You’ll have to find out tomorrow. Make sure you have your phone on you.”

Hayne, who scored a try in his return to the Origin arena for the first time since 2014, is expected to remain at the Titans given a shortage of interest from rival NRL clubs for his services.

He admits he’s comfortable with the decision he’s reached, despite an unwillingness to share that information.

“During the week I wanted to sort it out and what not,” Hayne said.

“Once we make the announcement, I will go into a bit more detail into it. I’m pretty laid back but then I got told we had a timeline, so I was like ‘yeah, sweet’. You’ll find out tomorrow [what I’m doing].”

While James Tedesco and Andrew Fifita stole the show for NSW, Hayne also impressed in his return to the Blues.

“He’s a special player,” NSW coach Laurie Daley said.

“We knew he would come up with those special moments.”

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