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Ettamogah Rail Hub furious about silence on Logic deal

Terminal operator Bryden Power drives a stacker to move containers around. Picture: DAVID THORPETHE operators of the privately run Ettamogah Rail Hub have slammed the secrecy surrounding Wodonga Council’s plans for a freight centre at its Logic industrial estate.
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They have questioned the feasibility of a rail freight business at Logic and whether Wodonga ratepayers will “end up footing the bill for this behind-closed-doors decision by the council”.

Wodonga Council is considering selling land to Blanalko Pty Ltd, the property arm of SCT Logistics, with a view to setting up a freight terminal at Logic.

A decision on the sale is set for a council meeting on January 28 with councillors to hear those who have made submissions on the deal at a special meeting next Monday.

The concerns of those at the Ettamogah Rail Hub have been outlined in its submission, which was formally lodged with the council this week.

The hub’s strategy and business development manager Robert Perkins said “we’re appealing to commonsense”.

“Why would the citizens of Wodonga support a deal when they’re not entitled to know the details of that deal,” Mr Perkins said.

In its submission the hub operators claims “the extent of the financial benefits to SCT Logistics in the terms of the sale mean the land is being sold at substantially less than valuation, with no transparency about exactly how much less”.

At a meeting in November, Wodonga mayor Rodney Wangman declined to say how much SCT had offered for the site and the council has rejected a freedom of information request on the matter by the Ettamogah Rail Hub.

The deal involves a terms of agreement ending in 2023 with possession to occur after a planning permit for a rail terminal is issued and government funding secured.

Wodonga ratepayers will also partially fund agreed infrastructure and the council will enter into a rates concession deed.

“Our objection to the proposal comes down to the substantial secret subsidies involved which will distort competition and lead to higher costs for rail users,” the hub’s submission argues.

The rail hub submission also contrasts Wodonga Council’s approach to that of Gippsland’s Latrobe Council which “undertook a transparent business case to determine (the) commercial viability” of its plan for a rail freight terminal.

“Ettamogah Rail Hub meets all the criteria outlined by Latrobe City Council; the proposed SCT Logistics terminal at Logic would not,” the submission stated.

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Don’t waste recyclables

Wodonga councillor John Watson and Jason Perna are out to promote the fact that the council is offering recycling facilities at several of the popular places at the lake. Picture: JOHN RUSSELLTHE dumping of 40 boxes of empty stubbies in rubbish bins on the Lake Hume foreshore on Australia Day last year has inspired Wodonga Council to install distinctive yellow recycling bins at its lakeside reserves.
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The council has received $30,000 from a Sustainability Victoria Public Place Recycling grant program, enabling new bins to be installed at Kookaburra Point, Ludlow’s Reserve, Ebden Reserve and Jackson Point.

The addition of the 30 new recycling bins brings the city’s total to almost 100 bins in public places.

Waste management co-ordinator Jason Perna said the council’s most recent audits showed at least 75per cent of the contents of bins out at the lake could be recycled.

“Last year on Australia Day we found there were about 40 boxes of stubbies that people had put beside the bin, they didn’t want to put it in the bin, they wanted them recycled but there was no option for recycling at that stage, so that’s what drove this campaign,” Mr Perna said.

“We want every community corner store, and public places like parks, to have a recycle bin next to the waste bin.

“At the moment we have 90 to 100 public place recycle bins but we really want to push that out to about 200 this year if we can.”

The biggest site — Kookaburra Point — had 15 new bins installed before Christmas while the other 15 bins are split between three sites.

A post installation audit revealed there was less than 5per cent contamination in the recycling bins.

Cr John Watson said the bins would be emptied fortnightly and signage would help to ensure people were recycling properly.

“We’ve got signage and we are getting the message across that we are doing recycling on our foreshores at Lake Hume,” Cr Watson said.

“We hope people come out here and put rubbish in a rubbish bin and recycling in recycling bin, which is clearly labelled, to help the environment and reduce landfill.”

The bins come after signs enforcing a no-glass policy were also installed.

The council cracked down on patrons having glass along the foreshore after a three-year-old boy cut his foot in 2013.

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Land values in Albury drop

Albury City general manager Frank Zaknich, pictured with mayor Kevin Mack, says land values have dropped slightly in the city. Picture: DAVID THORPELAND values in Albury have fallen but don’t expect council rates to follow.
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Figures from the NSW Valuer-General’s office show the median residential land value in Albury dropped by 1.19per cent this past year, from $101,000 to $99,800.

However, the city’s median commercial land values increased from $254,000 to $259,000, while rural median land values are up $2000 to $262,000.

Landowners will receive notification next week of their land values, which will be used in the coming months as Albury prepares its next budget including rates for 2015-16.

The drop in land values does not automatically correlate with lower rates, which last year rose in line with the state government pegged figure of 2.3 per cent.

Albury City general manager Frank Zaknich said the correlation between the two was a common misconception, and land values were just one component of the council’s calculations.

“There are a whole range of processes council goes through in terms of formulating rates and putting it out for public comment,” he said.

“If landowners aren’t satisfied with their land value, they’ve got the opportunity to review or reject that (through the Valuer-General’s office).”

Mr Zaknich said although residential values declined slightly this year, Albury had seen an overall 2.34per cent increase over the past three years.

Ray White real estate agent James Brown said the land values did not represent a huge drop in house prices overall, with the local market still “very attractive” given current interest rates.

“I don’t think it will deter the market, if anything I think it should drive a bit more activity,” he said.

Scott Mann, at commercial and industrial agents LJ Colquhoun Dixon, said the rise in commercial land values was “a natural progression”.

“As a general rule Albury is going very, very well,” he said

“A lot of national players are tenants and that’s really earmarking Albury as a place for expansion.”

Industrial land values dropped $3000 to $203,000, a fact Mr Mann attributed to the surplus of industrial land.

“It’s not that occupiers have dropped off, as a general rule industrial land development has a slower uptake.”

Residential land values in Deniliquin increased by 4.94per cent, from $46,600 to $48,900, while rural land increased $5000 to $95,400.

Residential values in Corowa and Greater Hume remained steady at $68,000 and $131,000 respectively.

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Aplin prepared to table petition

ALBURY MP Greg Aplin says he will table Rights to Privacy Albury’s petition on exclusion zones around women’s health clinics if it gains enough signatures.
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In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Mr Aplin outlined the action he had assisted privacy campaigners with — one of the most detailed public comments so far on the ongoing debate around medical privacy and the Englehardt Street clinic.

Mr Aplin did not attend this week’s medical privacy forum as he was in Sydney on parliamentary matters, but did send a representative from his office.

“I have refrained from making detailed public comment on the Englehardt Street Clinic due to the sensitivity of the issue and out of respect for the clients accessing the services,” he said.

“I have met and discussed this issue with the Rights to Privacy organisers on many occasions.

“I have provided advice, made representations on their behalf to ministers and provided the ministerial responses.

“I have … advised I would table the petition in Parliament once presented to me. To date, the petition has not been presented.

“I am aware of suggestions to increase the level of privacy for clients by allowing vehicle access to the facility.

“People have also been advised to report any incidents to the police. This is the mechanism for achieving change when one public right faces another public right.”

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They turned me away: pro-lifer

They turned me away: pro-lifer Charleen Sharp and Liz Marmo protest for the right to privacy outside the clinic. Pictures: DAVID THORPE
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Protesters were outside the clinic yesterday.

A man prays outside the clinic.

Protesters were outside the clinic yesterday.

TweetFacebookThe Border Mail witnessed the pair speaking outside the forum, with the man walking away after a few minutes.

Yesterday, he said he was “disappointed” he did not hear from the forum’s speakers, including NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi, who plans to reintroduce an abortion law reform bill following the March election, and other women’s health professionals.

“I thought it was open to the public … I really wanted to observe and listen,” he said.

“I was looking forward to hearing a really concise statement on what they hope to achieve … all I’ve heard is demonising the right-to-life group.”

The man said he doubted hearing the discussion would have changed his view on “the rights of the child”, but that it would have given him a “clearer understanding” of their argument.

“I understand them wanting to protect their issue but it was also an example of intolerance,” he said.

Ms Marmo, who was outside the clinic yesterday to observe the Helpers’ members and offer solidarity to those using the clinic, said only two pro-life campaigners were refused entry as Rights to Privacy’s history with those people was that they “could cause trouble”.

“I’m sure there may have been other members of Helpers who came along and respected the conversation,” she said.

“If a representative of Helpers had approached our committee members about attending they would have been welcome.”

Fellow privacy campaigner Pieter Mourik said Helpers did have a representative attend, who sat alongside Father Peter Macleod-Miller and “seemed very interested in the meeting”.

“The forum was not a debate,” he said.

Prominent Helper member Anna Von Marburg declined to comment on the forum when approached outside the clinic yesterday.

“We’re not big political activists, we’re just here to offer women help,” she said.

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Mayors won’t pay for Truss meeting

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss. Picture: GRAHAM TIDYTHE Border’s mayors won’t be missing the chance to share a drink or two with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss next month, but they’ll skip the planned $1100 a head dinner.
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Wodonga mayor Rodney Wangman and his Albury counterpart Kevin Mack yesterday said they’d happily accept their councils’ invitations to the free, two-hour cocktail party with senior federal Nationals MPs at The Cube on February 5, with each hoping to bend the ear of Mr Truss on their city’s projects.

Speculation has arisen the Nationals have chosen Wodonga as the site for their gathering — including a party room meeting and $1100-per head fund-raising dinner at Huon Hill — as part of the party’s bid to make a serious run at Indi at next year’s federal election.

Regardless of the purpose of the visit, both mayors said they were just happy to take a chance to bend the ear of Mr Truss.

Both councils have applications for funding from the National Stronger Regions Fund, which is headed by the Deputy Prime Minister in his role as federal Regional Development Minister.

Wodonga is seeking cash for the city centre redevelopment; money promised by the previous Labor government in the 2013 election, but not matched by the Coalition.

Albury wants funding for the Davey Road interchange off the Hume Freeway near the Ettamogah Rail Hub, a development Cr Mack said would “get the hub looking even more appealing to big business”.

“You don’t miss an opportunity like a cocktail party to meet significant heavy hitters in Canberra,” he said.

“I’ll go along for the chance to speak to Warren and (Agriculture Minister) Barnaby Joyce, but what sort of audience will you get? Who knows?

“I think their interest is on the other side of the Border at this point,” he added, acknowledging the three-cornered contest likely to arise in Indi next year.

Cr Mack said he and Albury general manager Frank Zaknich had tried to get meetings with Mr Truss regarding Albury but had so far been unsuccessful.

In contrast, Cr Wangman said Mr Truss and his Coalition colleagues had “always been very amenable” to speaking with Wodonga when asked.

He hoped the visit would “help remind” Mr Truss of the city’s progress and plans for further redevelopment of its centre.

“I’m pleased they are using Huon Hill and The Cube, both show a collective $40million in investment in the city and I’ll relay to him how that funding has been used so he can see what we’ve done and what happens next,” he said.

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Home invasion was a ‘target’

Detective Sgt Graeme SimpfendorferTHE victim of a violent Wodonga home invasion may have been targeted for her prescription medication, according to her mother.
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The woman’s Emerald Avenue home was targeted by two masked people armed with unknown weapons about 4.45am yesterday morning, with nearby residents hearing banging noises, shouting and screaming.

The victim had been at home with a man and three children aged about 10 to 13 at the time.

The offenders fled the scene quickly and are thought to have run along Tourmaline Drive and Melrose Drive.

Police arrested a 45-year-old Wodonga man yesterday and last night charged him with armed robbery, aggravated burglary, theft and assault over his alleged involvement.

He was remanded in custody during an out of sessions court hearing to reappear before the Wodonga Magistrates Court today, and police were still seeking the second offender late last night.

Police located several items at the scene, but remained tight lipped yesterday about what the items were.

Detective Sgt Graeme Simpfendorfer said the family had been left shaken and fearful.

He said it was believed that the home had been specifically targeted.

“To be woken up at that time in the morning with people in your house is terrifying,” he said.

“To traumatise the kids as well is very disturbing for anyone.

“We’ll work pretty hard at trying to catch these people quickly.

“The kids will receive some counselling down the track and we’ll support them as much as we can.”

The victim’s mother said her daughter had probably been targeted for her painkiller medication.

“My daughter’s distressed,” she said.

“We believe they were after her medication.

“Everyone’s traumatised.

“They’re exhausted.”

Phone detectives on (02) 6049 2600 if you have any further information about the incident.

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Confusion over Parliament House cleaning contract

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Apparent bewilderment about when the Parliament House cleaning contract ends appears to have slowed enterprise bargaining negotiations with the workers.

The staff who work for Limro Cleaning Services keep all areas of the massive nationally important building, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office, spotless and hygienic and were seeking an extra 85 cents an hour.

But the United Voice union’s Lyndal Ryan said there seemed to be a disparity about when the existing contract ran out.

“The company says that they only have a contract until June this year and whilst they are sympathetic to the fact that cleaners have not received an increase for two years they are unable to agree to increases unless they have an ongoing contract,” Ms Ryan said.

The union wanted wage increases consistent with those set out in the Commonwealth Cleaning Guidelines which the Abbott government scrapped.

The first negotiation meeting with Limro was held on December 15.

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A spokesperson from the Department of Parliamentary Services, which runs Parliament House, said there was a long-standing contract between DPS and Limro.

“The provisions of the contract dealing with extensions of the contract, and the times at which DPS must formally extend the contract, are complex, but generally speaking DPS has for some time operated on the basis that the contract will run until 2018,” the DPS spokesperson said.

Limro did not respond when contacted.

United Voice said there were 42 cleaners keeping parliament’s 4700 rooms and other common spaces clean and there were  more than 100 when the building first opened.

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Air safety public servants strap in for workplace turbulence

Hundreds more public servants have been told they must spend more days at their desks if they want a pay rise in 2015.
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More than 800 officials at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) face the loss of three days off and another three days of personal leave entitlements in return for an unspecified pay rise.

But bosses at the air-safety agency admit that they still do not know if their package of cuts will be tough enough to satisfy the government’s stringent Australian Public Service “bargaining framework”.

CASA’s negotiators told unions in late December that the agency had space in its budget for a pay rise but warned it would come at a price, with workers expected to trade away days off on Easter Saturday, Labor Day and their Christmas shutdown day.

The days are not mandated as public holidays in the National Employment Standards but are designated holidays in the CASA enterprise bargaining agreement.

Personal leave entitlements will be cut from 18 days to 15 under the proposal.

The authority’s bosses also want to strip conditions and entitlements out of the enterprise agreement, which cannot be altered during the life of the deal, and move them to “policy”, which has no such legal protection.

The move is in line with the government’s instructions to strip down and simplify enterprise bargaining agreements across the service, with agency managers ordered to wage war on “duplication”.

CASA wants procedures for dealing with underperformers taken out of the enterprise bargaining agreement and moved to policy, as well a requirement to hold talks with an agency employee before moving them from full-time to part-time work.

The authority also wants to be free of the requirement to consult staff and unions before changing employment policies.

The authority is waiting for approval from the Public Service Commission before it reveals fully what is on offer and put its bargaining proposal to its workforce for a vote.

But across the service, negotiations are stalled as agencies and departments battle to get the commission to sign off on proposals.

Only two agencies, the Financial Services Authority and the Employment Department, have managed to progress their negotiations to the point of a ballot of their workforces, with staff overwhelmingly rejecting pay offers of 1.3 and 1.4 per cent respectively.

A spokesman for the authority said it would not talk publicly about the talks but assured workers public holidays mandated by the Commonwealth legislation were not under threat.

“It is not appropriate for CASA to comment in detail on the enterprise agreement negotiations at this time,” he said.

“Public holidays are mandated under the Fair Work Act and cannot be removed by an employer.”

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10 cleaning tips: what you’re doing wrong

Your house is dirtier than you think.
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Sure, you’ve removed any obvious signs of dirt and grime and the remnants of last night’s dinner have been disposed of, but unfortunately, the saying “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t apply to germs and bacteria.

A 30-minute binge saves time, but the consequences could be bad for your health.

In fact, here are 10items you didn’t know you were cleaning wrong.

1. Toilet

The toilet seat isn’t the dirtiest item in the bathroom – behind it is.

Even though great care and attention is taken to keep the bowl and seat clean, neglecting the area behind it can result in a build-up of urine and feces. An easy way to clean this area is with rolled paper towel.

Huffington Post said, “Take two or three paper towels and roll them up tightly, as if you’re rolling a cigar, dip them in a bucket of cleaner (like Scrubbing Bubbles). Then, while facing the toilet, place the roll of towels behind it; take one end in either hand, and ‘floss’ the back base.”

Let the cleaner sit for five minutes, “floss” again and dry.

2. Garbage disposals

Anything associated with the word ‘garbage’ needs cleaning and the garbage disposal unit is no exception.

Before resorting to a store-bought sink cleaner, try using homemade vinegar cubes.

Simply freeze vinegar like you would water, throw them down the drain when needed and turn on the disposal. Alternatively, a few citrus rinds can remove bad odours.

3. Towels

Fabric softener is a conditioner used to, well, make fabric soft. But in some cases its name can be misleading.

Christina Peterson from Good Housekeeping said, “While everyone loves to dry off with a soft towel, liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets can reduce the absorption factor of terry cloth and other fluffy fabrics.”

Instead, Laundry expert Marlowe Leverette recommends washing bath towels every three to five uses and adding some vinegar to the load.

4. Humidifier

Humidifiers are great for increasing or removing excess moisture from the air but if left unclean a dirty humidifier breeds mould and bacteria.

The Mayo Clinic said, “Even in healthy people humidifiers have the potential to trigger flu-like symptoms or even lung infections when the contaminated mist or steam is released into the air.”

The Mayo Clinic recommends changing the water and filter regularly and cleaning every three days. “Remove any mineral deposits or film from the tank or other parts of the humidifier with a three per cent hydrogen peroxide solution, which is available at pharmacies.”

5. Pet hair

Cleaning pet hair often seems futile.

While you can’t prevent the hair from sticking to surfaces, you can minimise the amount. Give your pets a brush every few days with a good grooming tool and catch shedding hair before it hits the couch.

Alternatively, Bright Nest has another solution: rubber gloves. “Simply moisten your gloves with water and run your hand over the surface of your furniture.”

6. Gym clothes

Gym clothes can quickly become a smelly pile of bacteria.

As well as softening fabric and eliminating static, Reader’s Digest said vinegar also kills bacteria in your washing.

“A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria that may be present in your wash load.”

7. Red wine stains

Somewhere along the way, it became popular belief that red wine stains can be cleaned with white wine.

But according to Professor and Assistant Chairperson of Textile Development and Marketing, Ingrid Johnson, salt is the best way to clean red wine out of the carpet.

“The first and easiest thing to do is ​to ​sprinkle with salt as this will absorb the wine,” Johnson told the Huffington Post.

8. Coffee maker

If you aren’t cleaning your coffee maker regularly, there’s a good chance it has mould in it according to a 2011 study.

Director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping, Carolyn Forté, told the Huffington Post, “The carafe, lid and filter basket should be cleaned daily with warm, sudsy water.”

But she also recommends cleaning the machine with vinegar every few months.

9. Knives

It seems like a no-brainer to put everything in the dishwasher – that’s what it’s there for. But washing your knives in the dishwasher leaves them dull, blunt and susceptible to rust.

Simply handwash them with warm soapy water, it will only take a minute.

10. Sheets

Considering we spend one third of our lives asleep, for some, that means spending a considerable amount of time lying in dirty sheets.

Although Martha Stewart believes washing your sheets is a “personal preference”, she recommends doing it weekly.

But if you enjoy a snack or two while in bed, the Huffington Post said this isn’t enough.

“For those who constantly eat in bed, she says every three days would be ideal.”

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