Council plans party crackdownVIDEO

People spill out of the Charlestown party on Friday night. Source: SuppliedPEOPLE promoting and hosting wild house parties –like the out-of-control rave that caused chaos in Charlestown last weekend –could face substantial fines and prosecution under a new proposal from Lake Macquarie City Council.

Police were forced to close the southbound lanes of the Pacific Highway on Friday night after more than 300 people –mostly drunken and drug affected teenagers –spilled out of a party in Ida Street.The crowd–who according to revellers hadbecome “annoyed” when the party was shut down “heaps early” –pelted police officers with bottles in chaotic scenes that triggered a massive response from emergency services.Three teenagers, including two girls aged 13 and 16, were taken to hospital suffering from suspected drug overdoses and 11 people were arrested.

Lake Macquarie City Councillor John Gilbert said there were reports from party-goers that they had been charged a $4 entry fee.

He said it wasn’t the first wild party at the Ida Street house and there had been an increase, generally across Lake Macquarie, in people organising or promoting a house party and then charging their guests to get in.

People spill out of the Charlestown party on Friday night. Source: SuppliedBut Friday night’s “riot”along the Pacific Highway, and the subsequentnumerous complaints from fed-up residents, had prompted Cr Gilbert to call an “emergency briefing” with senior council staff to crackdown on party promoters.

He has since began lodging a “Safe Party Regulation” proposal for Lake Macquarie City Council toadopt.

Lake Macquarie detectives are still investigating the circumstances of thewild party and the chaotic aftermath and paid a visit to the Ida Street house on Wednesday.

Lake Macquarie Superintendent Brett Greentree–who called Friday’s party“nearly a perfect storm of a disaster”–said police would support any proposal that encouragedpublic safety.

“What we’ll be making people aware of is that the moment they charge people to enter the venue at their own private residence, they are then operating as a nightclub without a development application,” Cr Gilbert told theNewcastle Herald.

“They could face significant penalties, as well as litigation from anyone who goes in there and gets injured, or indeed even from neighbours who suffer damage as a result.

CHAOS: A still from video shot of the aftermath of a wild party in Ida Street, Charlestown on Friday night. Lake Macquarie City Councillor John Gilbert is proposing a crackdown on wild parties. Picture: Supplied

“Alcohol restrictions must also be observed and if an entry fee has been charged they are running a business that could be allowing underage drinking.”

As part of the proposal, Cr Gilbert plans to provide a place for residents to report out-of-control parties, so council can “build up a pattern of who is running them and prosecute the people who are doing it”.

It’s unclear at present how significant the fines could be for hosting a paid event at a house.

But Cr Gilbert said the council would prosecute those responsible and the penalty would be determined by a magistrate.

He said there were also plans to issue noise abatement orders against those running house parties and then fine them a maximum of $550 if they breach the order.

“Lake Macquarie is getting a lot of these happening,” Cr Gilbert said.

“It’s been a problem for a while and I think the reason it’s only come to the surface now is because this one blew up really badly.”

Police break-up a brawl after the Charlestown party on Friday night. Picture: Nine News

Cr Gilbert said he was“totally outraged”by Friday night’s“mob riot” and promised toensure thosehosting out-of-control parties in the future would feel“the full force of the law come down on them like a tonne of bricks”.

Superintendent Greentree said he plansto meet with Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser to discuss the party and any possible action in the future.

“Public safety is number one for us,” Superintendent Greentree said.

“We have a good relationship with the council and we will certainly work with them as best we can in any legislation or proposed legislation to do what we can to prevent something like this from occurring again.”

CrFraser said Friday’s wild scenes in Charlestown were“unacceptable”.

“When private functions threaten the safety of others and create fear in the community, then clearly a line has been crossed,” Cr Fraser said.“Council will work with local police to investigate this incident further with the property owner and I have arranged to meet with police to discuss how we can support them to help prevent incidents like this happening again.”

Neighbours said the Ida Street house hosted a party for about 150 teenagers a month before Friday’s rave.

PARTY HOUSE: Detectives speak to a man at the Ida Street home on Wednesday morning after hundreds spilled out of a party on Friday night. Picture: Marina Neil

QUEENSLAND LAWS STRICTER ON PARTIESDETECTIVES continue to investigate a wild house party that caused chaos on the streets of Charlestown on Friday night.

But with a lack of legislation to prosecute those promoting or hosting the raves, there may be little recourse for police.That’s not the case in Queensland.

In 2014, new laws came into effect that meant anyone who organised or was involved in hosting an event that became“out-of-control” could be charged with an offence that carries a maximum $12,000 fine and one-year imprisonment.

Further, under the legislation,if the person who organised theevent was a juvenile,and their parentgave them permission to organise the event, then theparent can be charged with the offence.

ThePolice Powers and Responsibilities and Other Legislation Amendment Billdefines an out-of-control event as a gathering of 12 people or more if three of them interfere with the public by swearing, making excessive noise or being drunk in a public place.

Peel fishers reminded to keep an eye on White Spot disease

White Spot Disease has closed all of the prawn farms in Queensland’s Logan River system. Photo: QLD BiosecurityRecreational and commercial fisherman have been asked to remain diligent in checking for white spot, as the disease continues to affect fish stocks in Queensland.

The seventh and last prawn farm on the Logan River has been closed down due to the highly contagious disease, with fishing operations throughout Queensland also being closed down to control its spread.

The disease, which can affect shellfish and is highly contagious, has lead to a strengthening of quarantine laws around the country, including in Peel’s own healthy seafood industry.

Recfishwest spokesman Isaac Tancred said while White Spot is highly dangerous and contagious, Peel and the sate’s quarantine regulations are designed for situations like this.

“Recfishwest have been informed by [the Department of Fisheries]that the disease has been detected throughout parts of Queensland’s Logan River prawn farm stocks and has made its way into wild populations,” he said.

“No reports of the disease have spread to WA yet.”

Mr Tancred said Fisheries was working closely with other organisations and agenciesto coordinate actions to prevent White Spotfrom establishing in WA.

“White Spot is a disease of crustaceans and has potential to spread and infect our valuable blue swimmer crab and rock lobster stocks,” he said.

​”Recfishwest recommends that people do not use any raw food grade prawns as bait and that any prawns from bait suppliers be inspected for the tell-talewhitespotson the inside of the shell on the head of the prawn and be sure to report anything that resembles the disease.

“Patience may be required through this time as bait prawn imports could be delayed. It is our recommendation to consider using alternative baits until the issue is resolved. Note that cooked affected prawns pose no risk for human consumption but it is important that no raw prawn material enters the water.”

More information on White Spot Disease can be found at the Department of Fisheries’ website, fish.wa.gov419论坛.

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Road works to be complete by March

SIGNIFICANT $1.7 million Alfredton road reconstruction works, aimed at improving the road’s ability to cope with high volumes of traffic, will be completed by March.

The City of Ballarat is currently undertaking road reconstruction in Learmonth Street, Alfredton between Napier Avenue and Winter Street.

More than 13,000 vehicles, including a large number of commercial trucks, use Learmonth Street daily.

The works include a new wider pavement, construction of kerb and channel on both sides, and a new underground stormwater system replacing the former open drain system; the existing road pavement had failed and there were deficiencies in the drainage system.

City of Ballarat’s director (of) infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo said works were being undertaken without detours to ensure businesses are not severely impacted.

“The City of Ballarat and its contractor, Fulton Hogan, have liaised closely with all local business proprietors to ensure access has been available at all times, and to minimise disruption,” Mr Demeo said.

The works commenced on January 9 and are scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

Mega Merch owner KatherynArmstrong said the works would create a much safer Learmonth Road that would be more accessible to residents.

“It will be fantastic once it is done but (the) impact (on our business) in the short term has been pretty detrimental,” Ms Armstrong said.

“Our side of the road is back now and open. There shouldn’t be any access issues. It may look confusing but we are open as usual.”

The cost of the project is $1,700,000, with $1,450,000 funded through the federal roads to recovery program. Council has contributed $250,000 from its annual capital works program.

ALMOST COMPLETE: The Learmonth Street upgrade will be complete by the end of next month. Picture: Lachlan Bence

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Orica’s Kooragang Island plant six years on

IT is probably fair to say that before the August 8, 2011, incident that discharged kilograms of potentially carcinogenic hexavalent chromium into the environment over Stockton, the decades-old Orica plant on Kooragang Island was part of an industrial landscape that thousands of Hunter residents drove past every day without ever paying too much attention to its presence.

But the start-up spill –and the political controversy that played out for more than a year afterwards –gave Orica the sort of public profile that no company wants for too long. Such was the impact of the controversy and the subsequent and quite serious calls for the plant to be shut, that it is hard to believe it will be six years this August that the maelstrom descended on the management of the day.

Orica Kooragang Island has had a series of management changes in the meantime, and on Wednesday it was the turn of current general manager Scott Reid to announce a major milestone in the life of the plant –a $67-million shutdown and overhaul of Kooragang’s ammonia plant that will include replacing the chromium-based catalyst that was at the heart of the 2011 incident.

Orica copped a public caning over the way it handled the 2011 problem, which was also a baptism of fire for the then O’Farrell government’s first environment minister, Robyn Parker, who was like a deer in the headlights during the early part of the controversy, seemingly unable to comprehend the significance of the situation, and apparently unwilling to take the company to task for its actions. Despite plant improvements after $750,000 in fines for environmental breaches – including those at Kooragang – residents’ groups from nearby Stockton and Mayfield remained publicly wary of the company, although it now claims to have strong relations with its residential neighbours.

The 2011 controversy also led to calls for Orica shut the plant and rebuild it elsewhere, withcritics pointing to an international record of catastrophic ammonium nitrate explosions as justification. While such a plant would not gain approval now in such a location, Orica is adamant that Kooragang is safe, and will continue to operate for years to come. Having worked hard to re-establish its community standing, Orica will be hoping it can retain the lower public profile that has come with the passing into history of the events of 2011.

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Renewable target in crosshairs

State Opposition plans to scrap the Victorian Renewable Energy Target have drawn a strong rebuke from environmental groups and the government.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy on Monday pledged if the Coalition won the next election he would scrap the Andrews government’s target of generating 25 per cent of Victoria’s energy by renewables by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2040.

In a statement, Mr Guy accused the State Government of putting Victoria “on the path to an energy security crisis” and “South Australian-style blackouts”.

His comments caused Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to accuse the Opposition leader of a “cynical attempt… to fit into Malcolm Turnbull’s agenda”.

The Department of Land Water and Planning has forecast the target will create up to 11,000 two-year construction jobs over the life of the scheme.

Ms D’Ambrosio said Mr Guy’s proposal would put those jobs at risk.

“What he’s effectively saying is he’s going to scrap 11,000 new jobs for regional Victoria,” she said.

“Eleven thousand jobs is 11,000 families who are able to pay their bills, keep food on the table and have a good life.”

The department expects the scheme to generate about $2.5 billion in direct investment in Victoria.

State Member for Morwell Russell Northe said a national target was required.

“Using the South Australia example, all it’s done in that state is cost thousands of jobs, increased electricity prices through the roof and threatened security of supply,” Mr Northe said.

“If you are going to have a Renewable Energy Target, surely it’s better to do it from a national perspective rather than having different states having completely different policies and completely different targets, especially when you work in a national market.”

But Environment Victoria campaigns director Nick Aberle disagreed with that assessment.

“They’re saying on the one hand that it’s the job of Federal Government to deal with this,” Dr Aberle said.

“But the Federal Government has been completely missing in action on climate policy for the past four years.”

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