Archive For 05/28/2019

They hit an area of low cloud. Three minutes later, four friends were dead

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All up it took just three minutes.
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A photo of the plane taken many years before the crash. Photo: ATSB

That’s how much time elapsed between a light plane entering an area of low cloud overPoint Lonsdaleand finally plunging into the water, killing all four people on board.

Experienced aviators DanielFlinn, DonaldHateley, Ian Chamberlain and Dianne Bradleywere killed on January 29 last year when a 1967 Piper PA-28 Cherokee plummeted into the ocean without making a distress call.

Nearly 18months after the crash, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released its report into what happened during the tragic flight.

But after all that timeone key fact still eludes investigators:the identity of the pilot.

While three of the people on board the plane held pilot licences, the bureausaid it failed to uncover anydefinitive evidenceas to which one was in command when it went down.

The final flight of the planeregistered VH-PXD began at 12.03pm, when it leftMoorabbin Airport forKing Island. The pilot made a radio transmission about 12.09pm reporting on cloud conditions over the suburb of Carrum.

Eighteen minutes later the plane had crashed intowater, 6.6 kilometressouth-west of Point Lonsdale.

Reduced visibility due to low cloud and rain was the likely cause of the crash, the bureaufound.

This led to the pilot experiencing “spatial disorientation”, a perilous and often fatal condition thatresults in loss ofperspective fromthe horizon.

A CCTV image from Port of Melbourne cameras facing east across the water from Point Lonsdale show the weather conditions. Photo: ATSB

According to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, spatial disorientation occurs when”your senses are telling you something that isn’t true –typically that you are flying straight and level when in fact you are in a spiral dive”.

Analysis of the plane’s final flight path shows it madeseveral sweeping turns afterpassingoverPoint Lonsdalebefore a finalsteepening and rapidly descending turn as the plane hit trouble.

Donald Hateley, who died in the plane crash. Photo: supplied

The series of left and right turns may have beenan effort by the pilot to avoid cloud and improve visibility, the safety bureausaid.However, the turnscould also have contributed tothe effects of spatial disorientation.

“The time from PXD entering the area of low visibility to impacting the water was about 180 seconds,” the report said.

A memorial image at Point Lonsdale Lighthouse for Ian Chamberlain and Dianne Bradley. Photo: Justin McManus

Witnesses fishing in the vicinity of Point Lonsdale at the time told the bureauthey heard an aircraft pass nearby at what they interpreted to be a “very low altitude”.

“Due to the low cloud and visibility in the area they could not initially see the aircraft. The witnesses recalled that, a few minutes later, they saw the aircraft just before it impacted the water,” the report said.

“It appeared to be in a nose-down, right wing-low attitude and the engine sounded as though it was producing power.”

No one on board the plane was qualified to fly using instruments like GPS and the flight was being conducted according to visual cues.

The group wasflyingas part of a loosely organised group of Royal Victorian Aero Club members attending the Festival of King Island and the final day of horse racing for the summer.

Another pilot who left for King Island before VH-PXD returned because ofreduced visibility near Point Lonsdale, believing it wascaused by nearby storms.Two pilots who left after the doomed planecontinued to King Island, although they also reported reduced visibility.

The bureau said it was unable to establish whether the people on board the crashplane were fully aware of thedeterioratingweather they were flying into.

The Age

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ATO writes to 60,000 Uber and other ride-sharing drivers asking them to get tax affairs in order

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One-third of drivers involved with ride-sharing services such as Uber are yet to register for GST or to fully declaretheir income.
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Assistant Commissioner Tom Wheeler said more than 100,000 individuals have received a payment for a ride-sharing service since the Australian Taxation Office started collecting data in August 2015, but about onethird of them still have not registered for GST and/or fully declared income.

The ATO has written to 60,000 drivers looking to make extra cash by transporting passengers on popular ride-sharing services, reminding them of their obligations.

Uberand other ride-sharing drivers must be registered for GSTfollowing an ATO ruling that took effect inAugust 2015. Before that they hadbeen able to avoid GST payments by arguing they fall under the $75,000 turnoverthreshold at which GST applies.

Uber issue: Tom Wheeler said more than 100,000 individuals have received a payment for a ride-sharing service since 2015. Photo: Ryan Stuart

Uberlegallychallenged theruling, saying they were not like a taxi service, but in alandmarkdecisionin FebruarytheFederal Courtagreed with the ATOthatUberdrivers were like a “taxi” and therebyhaveto register for and payGST evenif they fall under the threshold.

Mr Wheeler said the ATO had written to 60,000 drivers since August 2015, and would continue to write to other drivers who come onto their radar.

“We are seeing numbers of drivers growing, but there’s quite asignificant churn rate,” he said. “Our monitoring tells us that only half of these60,000 drivers received a payment for driving in the recent January toMarch 2017 quarter.”

A large number of thosedrivers were registered for GST and meeting their obligations, but some drivers were yet to register. “The ATO has more work to do in educating drivers about their tax obligations and making sure they comply,” Mr Wheelersaid.

Tracking: the ATO gets data from financial institutions and individuals using ride-sharing apps. Photo: Andrew Darby

The ATO collects more than 650 million pieces of data each year and has recently started receiving information directly from ride-sourcing facilitators – financial institutions and individuals using ride-sharing appsprovidingcredit card details to companies like Uber.

“This also means that if you misreport your income, red flags will be raised in our systems and we’ll start asking questions,” Mr Wheeler said.

Since the sharing economy was a new part of the economy, he said the ATO would give peopleextra time to”get their tax affairs in order”.

But if ride-sharing driverswere still not registered towards year’s end, and/or hiding income, the ATO may need to take compliance action including reviews and audits.

Tom Wheeler, ATO Assistant Commissioner​The story was corrected to remove a reference that saidIngogowas a ride-sharing service.

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Court short: ‘reckless’ judge shortage puts Hunter families at risk

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DANGEROUS: Retired Newcastle Federal Circuit Court judge Giles Coakes, with Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon and Chris White, president of the Hunter Valley Family Lawyers Practitioners Association. PICTURE: Max Mason-Hubers HUNTER women seeking to escape domestic violence and children subject to abuse are being placed at even greater risk of harm because of the Turnbull government’s failure to fill a Newcastle Federal Circuit Court judge position vacant since February.
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New statistics obtained exclusively by theNewcastle Heraldreveal the two judges currently serving the city’sunder-staffed Federal Circuit Court, which deals only with family law matters, have been forced to shoulder a“reckless” work-load more than double the national average.

Chris White, the presidentof the Hunter Valley Family LawPractitioners, says delays in the courts are helping to “compounda history of people believing that the system isn’t responsive to their very serious examples of domestic violence”.

“Peopleare hearing in the media that [domestic violence] is a big worry for the community, and the government says it’sdoing everythingit can,yet when peopleseek to address these issues, the court system is just not there [for them],” he said.

Figures from the Attorney General George Brandis’soffice released to Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon revealFederal Circuit Court judges in Newcastle have each dealt with a projected case-load of some 770 matters this financial yearcompared to the national average of 376.

That has helped push the time it takes for a case to reach a trial in Newcastle to almost 19 months, a situationlegal experts say is failingthe region’s most vulnerablepeopleand pushing the justice system to the brink.

“We’re talking aboutpeople who aregoing through marital breakdowns, child custody disputes, families withdrug and alcohol abuse issues,” Ms Claydon said.

“They’realready at the end of their tether by the time theyget to court, and now we’re forcing them to waityears for a resolution.

“It’s a dangerous holding pattern for some of these families to be in.”

Mr White agreed, saying that on the“coal face” it was a huge concern for the city’s legal representatives.

RECKLESS: Attorney General George Brandis has been criticised for taking too long to appoint judges to the Newcastle Federal Circuit Court. PICTURE: Andrew Meares

He said he had been involved in one case earlier this yearwhere a father withdrug abuse and mental health issues had, despite having little previous contact with his daughter,“run off” with the child to Queensland.

He sought an urgent hearing to deal with the matter, but wasn’t able to get it before a judge for almost two months.

“In the meantime alittle girl who does’t know her father has effectively been kidnapped, for want of a better word, and the court is unable to deal with that because of a lack of resources,” he said.

“It might seem like ashort period in the context of a child’s life, but the consequenceis an indelible mark left on the child that willstay with them for their rest of their lives.”

The problem dates back to when former Newcastle Federal Circuit Court judge GilesCoakes retired in June 2015 after 11 years on the bench.

Mr Brandis waited four months before appointing his replacement, JusticeSteven Middleton, allowing the case load of the two remaining judges to blow out.

Then in February this year Justice Matthew Myers left the court after beingappointed to lead theAustralian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry intoincarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Five months laterhis position has still not been filled, and Mr Coakes has accusedMr Brandisof being “reckless” and “negligent” by taking so long to make the appointment.

“It simply doesn’t need to take this long,” the retired judgesaid.

“Mr Brandis is failing in his responsibility as the primary law officer in the country, and he offers no excuses.”

Mr Coakes said the massiveworkload being handled by the two judgeshad“dangerous implications”.

“It means there is theincreased risk of anoversight, a mistake in calculations, or risk of not giving enough weight to a specific piece of evidence,” he said.

“All of those things stem from hurrying, which comes from the pressure to produce a result.

“It’s awful, quite frankly, and I’m surprised there hasn’t been mental breakdowns.”

However aspokeswoman for Mr Brandis saida permanent appointment was“under active consideration”.

“The appointment of a judge to a court is an important decision to which the Attorney General gives careful consideration, giving regard to a broad range of issues, including the expertise and background of potential candidates as well as consultation with relevant persons,” she said.

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TAFE course changes cause ‘tears and stress’ for students

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Promise: Kate Washington, Prue Car and Tim Crakanthorp said a Labor government would restore funding to TAFE. Picture: Jonathan CarrollHUNDREDS of the region’s most vulnerable TAFE students are facingan uncertain future, as their courses undergo major changes from next week.
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The federal government announced in April its contracts for two programs to improve English language and literacy skills in the Hunter would be transferred from TAFE to private firms.

TheAdult Migrant English Program (AMEP) contracthas been awarded to Navitas, which has subcontracted it to fellow training provider Max Solutions.

NSW Teachers Federation Hunter organiserRobLongsaid about 450 students attending the 510 hour course have been told they must move to Max Solutions from Monday if they want to proceed with the program.

“There has been a lot of angst and confusion,” Mr Long said. “Teachers are telling us there’s been lots of tears and students have been very stressed. A lot have been saying ‘We’ll stay at TAFE, can you help us out?’ so the teachers aremadly trying to work out what sort of different funding theycan get. Students don’t always understand how the system works and now the system is saying ‘You’ve got to go somewhere else’.”

The contract for the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) course, which allows students to complete a maximum of four blocks of 200 hours each until they find a job, has been awarded to Max Solutions.

Mr Long said the roughly 160 affected studentswould be able to stay at TAFE until they finished their next 200 hour block, but would then have to move to continue with the course.

He said the changes also endangered30 full time equivalent teacher positions.

Shadow Minister for Skills Prue Car visited the Hunter Street campus on Thursday to discuss the course changes andSmart and Skilled funding model with TAFE teachers.

She said Labor would ensure 15 per cent of work on state government construction projects valued at more than $500,000 would be allocated for apprentices, trainees, Indigenous Australians and the long term unemployed.

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Hunter trio’s common goal

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TALENTED Newcastle sportswoman Hannah Southwell says she has settled in rugby sevens as she prepares to represent Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games, alongside Hunter teammates Layne Morgan and Brydie Parker.
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THREE CHEERS: Brydie Parker, Hannah Southwell and Layne Morgan will represent Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games. Picture: Marina Neil

The trio will head to Brisbane next month for a final training camp before they fly out to the Bahamas, where the Games will be held from July 19-23.

Southwell took on a full-time contract with the Australian Rugby Union this year, after playing W-League soccer with the Newcastle Jets for two seasons, which also included selection in the national soccer side, the Matildas.

“I’m hopefully going to stick around for a long time, that’s what I’d love to do,” Southwell said. “I love the sport and wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Southwell was part of the senior Australian rugby sevensside which won the Oceania Championships in Fiji last November. Shehas based herself close to the side’s training base in Narrabeen.

Muswellbrook’s Parker will be making her competitive return at the Youth Commonwealth Games after breaking her collarbone earlier in the year.

“I’m 18 weeks post-op and haven’t played since,” she said. “It was my goal to make this team and it really worried me, I just wanted to be back as soon as possible.”

She has juggled rugby with her Higher School Certificate studies, along with Macquarie Hills’ Morgan, who is eager for the Bahamas competition. “This is the biggest tournament I’ve played in, and I’m really excited to get out there and play other international teams,” she said.

At the last Youth Commonwealth Games held in Samoa in 2015, the side claimed gold and Morgan said they will be aiming for a repeat.

“I think we’re definitely capable of winning gold,” she said.

“To do that, and to continue on and hopefully spike the growth again of rugby sevens for new girls to come through, will be great.”

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