Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC to face Arsenal?

Arsenal's starting eleven that played Dinamo Zagreb in the UEFA Champions League in November.

According to reports, English Premier League giants Arsenal are the next big European club to play friendlies in Australia with the Gunners reportedly set to take on Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers in 2017.

A report in the UK’s Mirror claims Arsenal will take on the Hyundai A-League clubs as part of their pre-season preparations for the 2017/18 EPL season.

Arsenal’s trip Down Under gives Aussie fans another chance to see some world-class talent, with the Gunners squad featuring the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

 

The Gunners’ visit follows on from the hugely successful trips of both Chelsea and Tottenham, who took on the Sky Blues to massive crowds at ANZ Stadium earlier this year. Also, the International Champions Cup in Melbourne, featuring Real Madrid, Manchester City and Roma was a massive drawcard for fans this year while Liverpool were also in Australia playing in front of huge attendances.

It’s been almost 40 years since Gunners last visited Australia. Back then they were defeated 3-1 by the Socceroos in a “B” international as part of the “World of Soccer” tournament that also featured Celtic and Red Star Belgrade.

John Kosmina, Dave Harding and Peter Ollerton the goal-scorers for the Aussies against the Gunners. Kosmina was subsequently signed by Arsenal the following season.

In that game in Sydney, Arsenal featured the likes of Liam Brady, Malcolm McDonald and Frank Stapleton.

Football Federation Australia

Federal government knocks back Tasmanian funding requests in regional handouts round

December 8, 2015 – 6:49pm

Source : The Mercury

Are motorists and taxpayers getting the best deal on the Western Distributor?

December 8, 2015 – 6:53PM

Josh Gordon

STATE POLITICAL EDITOR FOR THE AGE

Map of Australia with Victoria highlighted

Analysis

If you ask the state opposition, they’ll tell you Labor’s Western Distributor announcement was nothing more than a cynical ploy to distract from Tuesday’s industrial protests.

If so, at $5.5 billion, it was a pretty expensive way to divert attention from a bunch of burly unionists.

The proposed new bridge over the Maribyrnong River, which forms part of the Western Distributor project.

The proposed new bridge over the Maribyrnong River, which forms part of the Western Distributor project.

Transurban’s proposal is no dud. If it is completed, the West Gate Freeway will be widened from eight to 12 lanes between the M80 and Williamstown Road. The West Gate Freeway will be connected to CityLink, the port and the city with a new tunnel under Yarraville and a second river crossing that will provide a much-needed alternative to the over-burdened West Gate Bridge.

The Monash will be upgraded, including better traffic management technology and an extra lane in each direction for 17 kilometres. Truck access to the port will be improved.

According to the business case, even using conservative assumptions, the project would involve a solid rate of return of $1.30 for every $1 invested. To put this in context, an analysis using similarly conservative assumptions for the eastern section of the East West Link estimated a return of just 45 cents for every $1 invested.

Labor (Treasurer Tim Pallas in particular) deserves credit for releasing a comprehensive business case for a major piece of infrastructure that would seem to stack up economically and address some of the challenges created by strong population growth, particularly in the west.

Yet there are still big unanswered questions. First, the funding arrangements for this project remain uncertain. If the plan is going to be completed, it will rely on a hefty contribution from the Commonwealth, with Premier Daniel Andrews saying he expects the federal government to be a “strong partner”.

Yet the Turnbull government has only had the business case for about a week. Victoria wants cash locked in at Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting. The state can rightly argue it was badly short-changed on infrastructure by the Sydney-centric Abbott government. But the Andrews government is only proposing to chip in about $400 million – or 7.3 per cent of the expected total cost – so it remains to be seen whether the Turnbull government will be prepared to make the multi-billion contribution likely to be needed.

Second, the project may stack up with a solid benefit cost ratio, but is the somewhat hazy arrangement with Transurban the best model for delivering it? Under the plan, the tolling company would contribute to the construction cost along with the state and federal governments.

In return, it would collect the tolling revenue, plus it would get to extend the existing tolling period on CityLink by up to 12 years. Exactly how much this will be worth to the company is unclear, but you can bet it won’t be delivering the project at a discount price.

Ultimately, motorists and taxpayers will pay. The question is how much, and over what period. As with the thwarted East West Link project, this remains clouded by the commercial nature of the deal.

Clearly, Transurban came up with its proposal at a point in the political cycle that was politically convenient for the Andrews government, which was desperate not to replicate the experience of the previous government by back-ending its political offering.

Whether or not a different funding model – for example a straight procurement process run by the state – might better serve the interests of the public is unclear. The government did attempt to estimate the cost to delivering the project in the traditional way by the state and concluded the funding arrangement with Transurban was in the public’s best interests.

Indeed, the government used the comparison as an argument to drive the best deal with Transurban. But as Andrews conceded, the newly created Infrastructure Victoria will not offer its own independent assessment. For the time being, we must take the government at its word.

Source : The Age

Canberra family spreads Christmas cheer with Operation Christmas Spirit

December 8, 2015 – 5:45PM

Emma Kelly

Canberra Times reporter

Map of Australia with the Australian Capital Territory highlighted

The card Canberra's Latoya Marks gave to a "well-behaved little girl" that has captured the attention of Canberrans online.

The card Canberra’s Latoya Marks gave to a “well-behaved little girl” that has captured the attention of Canberrans online. Photo: Supplied

A Canberra family is on a mission to spread a little extra Christmas cheer throughout the capital this month.

As tragic news from around the world leaves many feeling a little deflated, Ellie Marks and her partner Latoya’s “Operation Christmas Spirit” is gradually lifting the spirits of a growing number of Canberrans through random acts of kindness.

One gesture in particular has captured the capital’s attention: a Christmas card congratulating a young girl on her good behaviour at a northside cafe.

The Marks family noticed the young girl patiently waiting for her food inside Westfield Belconnen’s Max Brenner and decided to pass on the Christmas card with an enclosed $5 note and a special message:

“Santa is always watching. He sends people to let you know that you are on the ‘nice’ list. Here’s a reward for being so good!”

Little did they know the young girl who received the card had been recently separated from her birth family.

The child’s foster carer took to Facebook to thank “Santa’s Little Helper”.

The post has been shared more than 1700 times, received more than 14,000 ‘likes’ and more than 300 heartfelt comments, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Many commentators said they were brought to tears after reading the post, including the young girl’s foster family.

“I could not hold back the tears when I opened the card you left and read your thoughtful words,” the foster carer’s post read.

“You acknowledged the beautiful behaviour of my child, who sat quietly eating chocolate strawberries and chatting to me and my friend.

“What you couldn’t have possibly known, is that the child you took the time to acknowledge has recently been [separated] from their birth family.

“Life for a foster child is not easy, but through your kindness you have shown this amazing child the spirit of community.

“As a foster carer, I can’t tell you how much your gift of kind words (and $5) means to us.

“Your random act of kindness towards us complete strangers has touched me deeply. I will treasure this memory for my lifetime.”

Ellie said her family, including her four children, had been “completely overwhelmed” by the community’s response to the gesture.

“As parents you’re often judged on how your children behave,” she said.

“We thought it would be nice to recognise just how well she had been behaving.

“We didn’t ever do this with the intention of being recognised for these deeds; we just wanted to teach our kids about Christmas and how to give.”

Ellie said Operation Christmas Spirit had replaced the family’s advent calendar as a way to encourage her children to pay it forward.

“We’ve been watching all the horrible things happening around the world and have realised our kids are so lucky to have the life they have,” she said.

“We thought it was a better way of trying to teach our kids the spirit of Christmas.”

Other random acts of kindness undertaken by the Marks family have included paying for an elderly woman’s groceries, writing Christmas cards for people who “looked like they needed a little Christmas spirit” and donating change to charity.

“Just little things that don’t cost very much but make a big difference to those receiving them,” Ellie said.

“That’s our message: it’s really simple to pay it forward.”

“Santa is always watching. He sends people to let you know that you are on the ‘nice’ list. Here’s a reward for being so good!”

Little did they know the young girl who received the card had been recently separated from her birth family.

The child’s foster carer took to Facebook to thank “Santa’s Little Helper”.

The post has been shared more than 1700 times, received more than 14,000 ‘likes’ and more than 300 heartfelt comments, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Many commentators said they were brought to tears after reading the post, including the young girl’s foster family.

“I could not hold back the tears when I opened the card you left and read your thoughtful words,” the foster carer’s post read.

“You acknowledged the beautiful behaviour of my child, who sat quietly eating chocolate strawberries and chatting to me and my friend.

“What you couldn’t have possibly known, is that the child you took the time to acknowledge has recently been [separated] from their birth family.

“Life for a foster child is not easy, but through your kindness you have shown this amazing child the spirit of community.

“As a foster carer, I can’t tell you how much your gift of kind words (and $5) means to us.

“Your random act of kindness towards us complete strangers has touched me deeply. I will treasure this memory for my lifetime.”

Ellie said her family, including her four children, had been “completely overwhelmed” by the community’s response to the gesture.

“As parents you’re often judged on how your children behave,” she said.

“We thought it would be nice to recognise just how well she had been behaving.

“We didn’t ever do this with the intention of being recognised for these deeds; we just wanted to teach our kids about Christmas and how to give.”

Ellie said Operation Christmas Spirit had replaced the family’s advent calendar as a way to encourage her children to pay it forward.

“We’ve been watching all the horrible things happening around the world and have realised our kids are so lucky to have the life they have,” she said.

“We thought it was a better way of trying to teach our kids the spirit of Christmas.”

Other random acts of kindness undertaken by the Marks family have included paying for an elderly woman’s groceries, writing Christmas cards for people who “looked like they needed a little Christmas spirit” and donating change to charity.

“Just little things that don’t cost very much but make a big difference to those receiving them,” Ellie said.

“That’s our message: it’s really simple to pay it forward.”

Source : Canberra Times

Woman thrown out of bed after car crashes through bedroom window

December 9, 2015 -7:13AM

Julie Power

Reporter

File:New South Wales in Australia.svg

A 46-year-old woman was woken up with a bang and thrown out of bed early on Wednesday morning when a car crashed through the wall of her bedroom window in Sydney’s west.

Police said that initial investigations suggest a Nissan Pulsar, driven by a 50-year-old woman, was travelling on Green Valley Road, Green Valley, when she collided with a parked vehicle about 12.05am.

She then crashed into the side of the woman’s home on the opposite side of the street.

 

The 46-year-old woman was treated by paramedics. She was later taken to Liverpool Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the Pulsar was treated for minor injuries by paramedics. She was also taken to Liverpool Hospital where she was to undergo blood tests. Her car had P-plates on it, but it is not yet clear if  those were the woman’s or someone else’s.

A crime scene has been established and investigations are continuing.

 

Source : Sydney Morning Herald

Gautum Adani demanded certainty from Malcolm Turnbull

December 9, 2015 – 7:11AM

Lisa Cox

National political reporter

Map of Australia with Queensland highlighted

Billionaire businessman Gautum Adani has personally asked Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to frame a special law that prohibits activist groups from seeking judicial review of environmental approvals for major projects such as Adani’s proposed $15 billion coal mine, rail and port project in Queensland.

Mr Adani said the proposal was placed before the Australian government during an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on 4 November.

Now it is enough. They cannot continue to challenge the project.

Gautum Adani

“Now it is enough. They cannot continue to challenge the project. They cannot go for judicial review all the time. In OECD countries, you are not given approvals with closed eyes,” he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held an hour-long meeting with Gautum Adani.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held an hour-long meeting with Gautum Adani. Photo: Ben Rushton

OECD is short for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a club of rich nations of which Australia is a member.

In 2010, the Adani Group acquired the rights to develop the Carmichael coal mine in Galilee Basin of Queensland and a rail link with Abbot Point Port to ship the coal, but the project has been opposed by green groups.

“They are finding some technicality to seek review; that anyone can do. Some technical mistake here and there and they go to court. That will not help the larger interest,” Adani said in an interview in Thiruvananthapuram on 5 December.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott with mining magnate Gautum Adani.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott with mining magnate Gautum Adani. Photo: Andrew Meares

Adani said the project was “very important” from the point of view of both India and Australia.

“It’s the world’s largest coal reserve which will support a minimum 100 million people to have electricity and light and for 100 years,” he said.

“Ultimately, a decision lies with the politicians. They have to go Parliament for enacting a special law which says that once government gives approval, no one can challenge it. That is what our request is to the Australian government. You come up with a special legislation which they have done in the past also.

“The challenge we are facing in Australia right now is on the one side government is giving all approvals and on the other side, environment activists groups are seeking judicial review and that derails the whole project.”

Fairfax Media put questions to Mr Turnbull’s office on Tuesday about his meeting with Mr Adani.

The Prime Minister’s office refused to comment on what was discussed at the meeting or give a response to Mr Adani’s proposal, which is similar to the so-called “lawfare” amendments proposed under former prime minister Tony Abbott.

A spokesman for Mr Turnbull confirmed the pair had met last week.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government still planned to pursue amendments to Australia’s environment laws that would restrict the ability for green and community groups to object to major developments.

“Australia has very strong environmental laws which apply to everyone, and the government will not diminish any environmental protections or the penalties for breaking them,” she said.

“The government has sought to ensure that American style serial litigation is not adopted in Australia, and that once the stringent environmental requirements are met, projects should not be subject to continuing stalling litigation.

“The proposed legislative amendments, which are not project specific, are currently before the Senate and won’t be considered until the Parliament resumes next year.”

Cross benchers, Labor and the Greens have previously indicated they would block the amendments.

The project has been the subject of sustained debate with the Queensland Treasury describing the project as unbankable.

In August, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia role as a financial adviser ended. Several banks have also ruled out lending to the project.

Mr Adani said ongoing court cases were hurting Adani’s ability to raise money.

“Even though there is no stay, because of the judicial review, no lender will finance the project. They do not know what will be the outcome,” he said.

The controversy has delayed the project by one and half years over which time the price of coal has slumped drastically and other mines on the east coast are being closed or facing production cuts.

“In the meanwhile, coal prices have also slumped. We have to revive to the next cycle,” he said.​

 

Source : Brisbane Times

Second airport also in mix to ease traffic woes

by: DANI McDONALD

From: NT News

December 09, 2015 2:00AM

Map of Australia with the Northern Territory highlighted

As part of the draft Darwin Regional Transport Plan, which is out for comment, the government has suggested light rail as a long-term option for regional public transport.

The Federal and NT Government’s major focus on the ‘‘developing the north’’ concept has spurred on a much needed investigation into transport in Darwin.

Darwin has the highest amount of people driving to work every day – 86 per cent – compared to any other city in Australia, with a national capital city average of 82 per cent, according to 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

The report also hopes to identify future developments where ground work can be laid.

A recent transport study of the Stuart Highway corridor through Stuart Park included investigating the feasibility of using the former rail corridor through Stuart Park as a transport corridor.

Darwin businessman Harry Maschke in July called on the Northern Territory and Federal governments to fund a $5 million feasibility study into light rail between Darwin and Palmerston.

He said light rail was forward thinking and innovative, and should be planned around current developments, such as the Gateway shopping centre in Palmerston.

“We want to attract people to the Territory,” Mr Maschke said. “That alone would make it more attractive. They would say, Darwin is fantastic, it already has trains, we don’t need a second car. I’m sure people would to have a better quality of life instead of sitting in traffic.”

Along with light rail, a second airport would ease pressure on Darwin International Airport. The second airport would focus mostly on cargo and general aviation demands. The Darwin Regional Land Use Plan has identified a site on the Blackmore Peninsula to the west of Middle Arm.

The draft plan is the first of its kind and plans to integrate transport and land use for public transport, roads, cycling and walking across the greater Darwin Region.

 

NT News