Month: March, 2019

‘Disturbing’: CSIRO units copping cuts to ‘wear’ redundancy costs, lift revenue

Scientists analyse samples in a laboratory on board the CSIRO-run RV Investigator. Photo: Pete Harmsen Larry Marshall, CEO of the CSIRO, wants the organisation to be more profitable. Photo: Daniel Munoz
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The CSIRO divisions to bear the brunt of the planned staffing cuts are being told to increase their revenue from external sources in coming years and count the redundancy costs against those targets.

Fairfax Media can reveal that the Oceans and Atmosphere division, which is slated to lose about one-fifth of its staff, will  be expected to increase total revenue from external sources from about $42 million in 2015-16 to about $44 million by 2019-2020.

The division is home to climate modelling and monitoring teams that are likely to lose about half their 140 staff, a move that has drawn criticism from around the world.

Kenneth Lee, director of the Oceans and Atmosphere division, told staff on Monday that he hoped “corporate” would pay for at least some of the redundancies.

“I was talking to Hazel Bennett [CSIRO’s chief finance officer], but she said that the organisation does not have the money to pay for all redundancies,” Dr Lee told staff, according to a transcript of the briefing obtained by Fairfax Media.  “So all the business units will have wear some of it.”

Insiders have told Fairfax Media that the cost of the redundancies for the Oceans and Atmosphere division is about $13 million, with more than two-thirds of the sum to be carried by the division.

“It’s very disturbing,” Michael Borgas, president of CSIRO’s Staff Association, said. “It means for those who are carrying on [after the cuts] that you’re got a big debt to start with, and that’s pretty dispiriting.”

More to come?

Labor and the Greens said the strategy employed by CSIRO points to further job cuts when the depleted units failed to deliver rising returns.

“What is becoming clear is that the CSIRO management is trying to use business principles to disrupt the science-based priorities of the CSIRO,” Shadow Industry Minister Kim Carr said.

“CSIRO divisions will be hit even harder if they are forced to fund the redundancies of scientists and researchers out of their own budgets,” Senator Carr said. “This will just be a double whack for CSIRO research.”

Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the drive to make shrinking staff lift earnings would shift the onus of research on to shorter term projects that may be less critical for the nation.

“The blinkered focus on profit making is dangerous and unscientific,” the deputy Greens leader said.

“Asking our world-class climate scientists to do even more work for corporations, like the oil and gas industry, raises serious questions about the CSIRO’s institutional integrity,”  Senator Waters said, referring to plans by the organisation to help firms to improve their “social licence”.

‘Detailed’ planning

The CSIRO declined to comment on how the redundancies would be funded nor how divisions could expand the earnings they make from customers with fewer staff.

“We are now conducting our detailed budget planning covering all revenue and expenditure and taking into account the recent decisions, as we routinely do at this time of the budget cycle,” a spokesman said.

A spokesman for Science Minister Christopher Pyne said the CSIRO was an independent statutory agency. The plan to recover the 350 job losses – including also from the Land and Water, Data61 and manufacturing divisions –  by an equal number of new hires in other more promising sectors, he said.

A senior researcher in the Land and Water division, which also faces the loss of 100 full-time positions, said the lack of funds to pay for redundancies “is a massive blow to the viability of Oceans and Atmosphere and Land & Water”.

“Land and Water came up $4 million short on external earnings targets last year,” the scientist said. “If Corporate imposes this bill as well as external earnings targets, then there will be another round of massive staff cuts next financial year.”

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

Cardinal George Pell blames former bishop for letting abuse fester

Cardinal George Pell gives evidence to the royal commission. Photo: Supplied Ronald Mulkearns gives evidence at the royal commission.
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Ridsdale tells royal commission he did share meals with PellFormer Ballarat bishop Mulkearns ‘profoundly sorry’ for moving suspect priests to new parishesThe priests and brothers who preyed on children

Allegations that a priest was molesting children were flooding into the Diocese of Ballarat but Cardinal George Pell never heard such rumours, despite holding a significant role advising the bishop on the placement of clergy, a royal commission has heard.

On his second day of testimony about his knowledge of clerical sex offences in Ballarat, Cardinal Pell said complaints about paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale did not reach his ears as he was busy running the Institute of Catholic Education which had 2000 students.

“It’s not a small job,” he said via video-link from Rome. “I certainly wasn’t plugged into life at the diocese.”

The commission was told then Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns and other senior clergy had received multiple complaints about Ridsdale, including that he was living with a 14-year-old boy while in Mortlake, Victoria and had abused children across a number of parishes.

Royal commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan asked Cardinal Pell: “Given the nature of the allegations and given the number of people that we can assume have knowledge of them, it might be surprising that you didn’t hear any rumour at all?

Cardinal Pell responded: “Not necessarily, given the work I was doing.”

In an admission which drew gasps in the Sydney hearing room, the Cardinal said he didn’t have “much interest” in complaints about Ridsdale.

“I didn’t know whether it was common knowledge or whether it wasn’t,” he said. “It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me.”

When asked by counsel assisting the royal commission Gail Furness SC why the Ridsdale allegations were not of interest he replied: “The suffering, of course, was real and I very much regret that but I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of the evil that Ridsdale had perpetrated.”

Cardinal Pell told the commission he attended a 1982 meeting in his role as a consultor in which a proposal to promote Ridsdale from a Victorian parish to a more senior role in Sydney was discussed.

The commission heard there were seven senior clergy members at the meeting, three of whom knew of complaints against Ridsdale.

In his evidence, Cardinal Pell said he did not have a clear recollection of the meeting but could recall that paedophilia wasn’t mentioned as the reason for relocating Ridsdale, now serving a prison sentence for multiple sexual offences against children spanning decades.

Justice McClellan asked: “Is it reasonable for us to assume that you were told (about Ridsdale)?”

“No, that’s not my evidence,” Cardinal Pell responded. “There was no reference to paedophilia.”

Cardinal Pell told the commission that the bishop is primarily responsible for acting on sexual abuse claims.

The commission has heard evidence that Bishop Mulkearns repeatedly moved Ridsdale between parishes and dismissed the concerns of parents and other clergy members.

Ms Furness asked whether Bishop Mulkearns, now receiving palliative care for terminal cancer in a Ballarat nursing home, was just “one bad apple”.

“Unfortunately I would have to say that I can’t nominate another bishop whose actions are so grave and inexplicable,” Cardinal Pell said. “His repeated refusal to act is, I think, absolutely extraordinary.”

Ms Furness stated to Cardinal Pell: “All of your answers have been designed to exclude yourself of any responsibility.”

Cardinal Pell replied: “My answers were designed to answer your questions accurately and completely.”

Outside the Rome hotel where he is giving his evidence, Cardinal Pell told the waiting media: “It’s been a hard night, but I think the truth helped”.

When asked if he had been truthful on the stand, he replied: “Of course”.

The hearing continues.

For help or information call Lifeline 13 11 14; MensLine 1300 789 978 or the Royal Commission 1800 099 340.

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

RAISE THE ROAD: Tester himself rescued people from the hollow

LOCAL IDENTITY: Testers Hollow was named after William Tester. Picture courtesy Jenny Caller.The man whom Testers Hollow was named after used to rescue people from floodwaters on that very road.
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Born in 1848, Mr Tester lived at the Cliftleigh end of Averys Lane, a short walk from the flood-prone road.

He died in 1938 when his great-granddaughter, Kurri resident June Hirst was five years old.

But Mrs Hirst recalls family members telling her how her great-grandfather used to use a bullock wagon to pull people out of Testers Hollow when it flooded.

According to the Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder(March 17, 1936), Professor Edgeworth David was able to prove the existence of the Greta seam in 1886 from information Mr Tester gave to the Department of Mines.

Mr Tester had noticed, during a flood, pieces of what appeared to him to be coal being whirled down the creek.

“This clue was followed up and the ultimate result was the great South Maitland Coalfield,” the article said, although it also stated that there were much earlier records of indications of coal in this district.

FAMILY LINK: William Tester’s great-granddaughter June Hirst (centre) and great-great-granddaughters Narelle Dunn and Jann Bailey.

Mr Tester’s family says the hollow was named after him due to his part in Professor David’s discovery of the coal seam.

The entry road to the new subdivision Cliftleigh Meadows is named William Tester Drive, and his family believes he would be thrilled with the honour.

However, they say he wouldn’t be so happy about his namesake down the road and the continuing flooding saga – and neither are his descendants, many of whom still live in the Kurri area.

“In this day and age, something should be done,” Mrs Hirst said.

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

McCabe named NSW Senior Bowler of year

CHAMPION: Former Australian representative Terry McCabe with his NSW Male Senior Bowler of the Year trophies, awarded last week.Former Australian representative Terry McCabe (Windale/Gateshead) was named the NSW Male Senior Bowler of the Year at the annual Bowls NSW Awards night held in Sydney last Wednesday.
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McCabe,winner of three Pacific Games gold medals for Australia, claimed the title after winning the Newcastle (Zone 2) Senior Singles title and the State Senior Singles Championship. McCabe now has the honour of being the first Newcastle bowler to win the State Senior Singles Championship and the NSW Senior Bowler of the Year title.

DistrictfinalsNew Zealand International and 2012 District Pairs titleholder Richard Girvan (Nelson Bay) and new partner Chris Edmonds advanced to the 2016 Newcastle District Pairs quarter-finals with a thrilling 17/16 fourth round victory over Myles Collins and John Cole (Soldiers Point).They meet the strong Raymond Terrace duo of Jamie Minter and Lennon Scott in the quarter-finals to be played at Nelson Bay on Sunday.

Pairs at HamiltonHamilton North will host the semi-finals and final of the State President’s Pairs Championship on Sunday. There will be a new champion as no previous winners have qualified for the semi-finals.

One semi-final is an all Nelson Bay affair with David Hall and Dennis McCann opposed to clubmates Kent McCleer and Mark Hayne. In the second match, Jacques Bert and Robert Prosser (Teralba) meet Glenn Mellare and Aaron Cobbin (Catherine Hill Bay).

The quarter-finals and semi-finals of the State Senior Pairs Championship will be played at Charlestown on Sunday.

Junior winnersJesse Herbert (Raymond Terrace) and Nic Evans recovered from a 14/12 deficit after 15 ends to beat Corey Reid (Swansea Workers) and Maddison Fennell (Raymond Terrace) 21/19 in the final of the 18-25 Years District Pairs Championship. The turning point in the match came on the 16th end when they scored a five.

Masters singlesNathan Dawson (Kurri Kurri) defeated Clinton Doust (East Maitland) 31/19 last Friday to win the 63rd annual Newcastle City Masters Singles title. He dominated the later stages of the match, as the scores were locked 14 all after 11 ends.

Title defenceRaymond Terrace commenced its Newcastle District No.1 Grade Mid-Week title defence with a hard fought 62/51 victory over Hamilton North, two of the three rinks being decided by one shot. Matthew Baus edgedout Mark Casey 20/19, Ian Lean beat David Evans 18/17, and Michael Abel downed Jamie Lee 24/15.

Safety probe into hole

SIGNS OF LIFE: Bowlers play at Merewether Bowling Club on Tuesday, as work continues on the site next door. A landslip in December caused the back green, a fence, seats and a palm tree to collapse. Picture: Simone De Peak.THE quarry next to the Merewether Bowling Club, dubbed“Lake Llewellyn” by some locals, is being investigated by Newcastle City Council.
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The councilconfirmed tothe Newcastle Herald on Tuesdaythat it is conducting“an ongoing investigation into the safety of the perimeter” of the Llewellyn Streetsite.

A council spokesman said details of the investigation,such as its expected length and how much it would cost, were not available.

Work resumed in January on the mixedresidential and commercial development site, which borders the bowling club andcaved in in late December after collecting waterfor weeks.

The landslip collapseda bowling green, a fence, a rowof seatsanda palm tree, disruptedadental practice next door and prompted at least onenearby residentto leaveherhome.

Excavators continuedworkingthe site on Tuesday, and staff at thebowling club expected to recover someuse of thegreens on Wednesday after weeks ofplay beingconfined toeast-to-west.

“It’s positive from our point of view, especially since the rain has stopped,” the bowling club’s secretary Warwick Bourne said.

“The builder has retained our wall, and we’ll be able to resume [bowling] north-to-south from [Wednesday].”

ACTIVITY: Work continued on the site at Llewellyn Street, Merewether on Tuesday.

Developer John Smith of Valentine, who did not respond tocalls or texts, hadsaidpreviouslythata private certifier and engineer were responsible for the details of anyshoring up ofthe site’sexcavation.

As part of itsinvestigation ofthe site, the council has not lodged a complaint against theprivate certifierwith the state regulatorybody, the Building Professionals Board.

Mr Smith bought the site in 2012 from the supermarket giant Aldi after its planned Merewether store was rejected by the council.

Thirty-seven units, a childcare centre and commercial premises areapproved to be built there.

On December 16, a week before the collapse,the bowling club board wrote to the council requesting an urgent inspection of thesite because of the “method of excavation” used.

“This excavation has caused significant subsidence to an area adjoining our bowling green,” the club said at the time.