Talks first step to help Queenstown

Premier Will Hodgman and Braddon Liberal MHA Adam Brooks in Queenstown yesterday.THE government has announced the first step in navigating a way through the effects of Mount Lyell ceasing mining operations.

Premier Will Hodgman and several other Liberal MHAs travelled to Queenstown yesterday to talk with more than 100 locals at the council offices.

The scramble for action was taken after Copper Mines of Tasmania announced on Wednesday the Mount Lyell mine would remain closed, with only 15 staff kept on for maintenance.

The first meeting will be today and will include politicians and a government representative, a union representative and Mount Lyell’s general manager Scot Clyde.

They will choose several community members to join the working group.

The group’s chairman, Braddon MHA Adam Brooks, said the government wanted to hear from the community.

“What we want to know is what the community would like us to focus on,” Mr Brooks said.

Mr Brooks said there would be no easy solutions.

“It’s going to be tough.”

However, Mr Brooks said the mine could have a future.

The group will make its first report to government in three months, and a final report in six months, but locals are concerned people could leave before then.

Mr Hodgman said throwing money around would not solve the problem.

“I think it would be entirely inappropriate … to wave a blank chequebook around,” Mr Hodgman said.

The government will look at getting some projects moving faster on the West Coast, like the $750,000 package promised before the election.

Part of that package is $250,000 to help West Coasters access training for local industries, like aquaculture.

Queenstown Connect has written a project proposal for a skills training centre.

Retraining would be important, Mr Hodgman said.

He too warned there would be no quick fix.

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Mixed reactions to push for .02 limit

A NORTH East road safetyofficer has backed a Victoria Police push to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers to .02, arguing it would reduce the road toll.

Victoria Police are hoping to debate the issue after Monash University Accident Research Centre found drivers were influenced when they had a blood alcohol level that was less than the legal limit of .05.

RoadSafe North East road safety officer Robert Allen believed a lower limit would encourage drivers to reconsider having a drink before getting behind the wheel.

“If you’re going to drive, don’t drink at all,” he said.

But member for Benambra and former Wodonga policeman Bill Tilley said that was not the only answer.

He said he would consider the idea if “robust” research was undertaken, saying it was an important debate.

“But an investigation needs to be done into whether .02 will reduce crashes and incidents,” he said.

“We can’t just say dropping the alcohol level will be the key to saving lives.

“People are tragically losing their lives not just because of alcohol, but also because of their speed, drugs and road infrastructure.

“I support all agencies but we can’t have simple solutions to hard questions.”

EDITORIAL: Let the booze debate begin

Mr Tilley said they also could not legislate against stupidity.

Victoria Police ActingSuperintendent MartinBoorman said “in today’s community, drink-driversare very much frowned uponand there is also a social stigma” and drink-drivingwas not tolerated by the community.

With the road toll significantly decreasing, Mr Allen said he would support any initiative of Victoria Police.

“We’ve come a long way in reducing the road toll in the last 40 years,” he said.

“With all the initiatives that have been implemented, even the ideas the public has objected to, have worked to reduce the road toll.

“To reduce it even further it means we have to look at further initiatives.”

Mr Allen said he was happy to support any idea that reduced drink-driving.

VICTORIA’S two major political parties have rejected a call from police to consider lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers.

Police yesterday said thelegal blood alcohol limit should be lowered from .05 to .02 toreduce road deaths and trauma.

Inspector Martin Boorman said drivers who blew 0.05 were twice as likely to be involved in road trauma.

A .02 limit would cut fatalities and injuries while giving police some leeway on drivers who drank and drove, he said.

“We have to give up sometimes a little bit of our personal freedom to make the place we live in a better place to be,” Insp Boorman said.

He said 20 per cent of fatal crashes in Victoria involved alcohol, down from 50 per cent in the ’80s. But Premier Denis Napthine said it would be a blow to the hospitality sector.

“With regard to any proposal to alter .05, it would need a huge amount of research and science to convince the government of the need to change,” Dr Napthine said.

“We also understand that if you looked at, say .02, for example, this would have significant implications for the hospitality industry and the quality of life across Melbourne and across Victoria.”

Dr Napthine said Victoria’s road toll had hit a new low last yearand was tracking below the five-year average this year.

The Opposition Leader, Daniel Andrews, echoed Dr Napthine’s views.

“To change from .05 to .02 would be a massive change,” Mr Andrews said.

He said the focus should be on a loophole that can prevent individuals who record levels up to 0.07 losing their licence.

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Kynan Brooks carving own path as a kart wizz

IF Trinity Anglican College student Kynan Brooks continues his winning ways, he will be the Albury-Wodonga club’s next junior to make his mark on national tracks.

Following a similar path to top club juniors Jordan Boys and Jack Richardson, Brooks has time on his side — he is only 11 — but already has been racing for three years.

Unlike those youngsters who follow in the footsteps of their father — or grandfather — Brooks has always favoured karting, rather than drag or boat racing, like his dad, Came- ron, and grandfather Tony.

At eight, Brooks was junior runner-up in the club championship before taking top spot last year.

He has also won the Bob Hinde Memorial Festival of the Kids and qualified third in the Top Gun at Oakleigh this year.

Last year his dad and mum, Nyree, decided he should race against the cadet class best and it has paid off.

“Kynan loves racing his Tony kart,” his dad, Cameron said.

“No other motorsport interested him.

“He is in his third year in cadet class, but next year he may step up to rookie class or the CIK Protour.”

Meanwhile, Boys recently improved his national ranking with two more podium finishes in round six of the Rotax event at Warwick, Queensland.

After strong qualifying and heat results, he started from pole in the DD2 gearbox class and second position off the front in the tough Rotax light class.

Boys and Team Praga nailed a very fast set-up in both classes, giving him second place in Rotax light and third in DD2. The points have him sitting second in DD2 and fourth in Rotax light.

The top-three ranked drivers in each class qualify for Team Australia at the Rotax world finals in Valencia, Spain, in November.

“I’m excited at the prospect of a Team Australia spot,” Boys said.

“We have been so close for three years, so I am working very hard to get the results I need.

“There are only two more chances for points, — at Coffs Harbour later this month and the Rotax nationals at Willowbank Raceway in September.”

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Dysons gears up with buy-out of Wangaratta coaches

Don Joyce will still run school buses, despite selling Wangaratta Coachlines. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICKTHE Dyson Group of companies has bought Wang aratta Coachlines from the Joyce family.

Don and Brenda Joyce started the business in 1987, and it has grown to have about 40 staff to run a fleet of 40 buses.

The business operates 23 government contracts, school services, and an “extensive” coach charter operation.

Dysons will take over operations at Wangaratta from September.

Dysons North East regional manager Brett Drinnan said the move was positive.

“If it wasn’t going to be positive, we wouldn’t have bought it,” he said.

“It complements some services we already have in place in the region and gives us more avenues to work through.

“The only thing that will change is the colour of the uniforms — it will be status quo.

“We don’t anticipate changing anything.”

A statement from both companies said all 40 Coachlines staff would move to Dysons.

Mr Drinnan said the Wangaratta services could be expanded.

“That’s a possibility — in time,” he said.

“But we first need to absorb everything — how they do it and why they do it.

“We might be able to find some efficiencies but we don’t know yet.

“If there’s scope for expansion, we’ll pursue it.”

The Dyson Group expanded into Wodonga when it bought family business Mylon Motorways in 2008.

Dysons has offices in Kyneton, Bairnsdale and Wodonga, and a head office in Melbourne.

The business has 58 Wodonga staff and about 1100 company-wide.

The amount paid for Wangaratta Coachlines has not been disclosed.

The Joyce family will operate eight school services at Wangaratta, from a separate depot.

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Lady Bushrangers look to finish home season on a high

THE North East Lady Bushrangers will take to their home court for the last time this season when they do battle with Chelsea Gulls at the Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre on Sunday.

Riding a two-game winning streak, the Lady Bushrangers will be looking to spring a surprise and extend their winning ways.

But Chelsea will be a tough test, with the Gulls sitting second on the ladder and locked in a tight battle at the top to secure a playoff position.

Bushranger Stacey Browne has been in outstanding form during the second half of the year, averaging 17 points, nine rebounds and 2.5 assists in the past five games.

Rachel Jeffery is starting to find her rhythm again after a couple of quiet outings and will also need to fire.

Holly Bawden has been a key inside for the Lady Bushrangers, producing big defensive stops and hauling down crucial offensive rebounds, while the young brigade of Alaana Northey, Alana Sutton and Jade McCowan have provided added punch when injected into the game.

In the men, the Bushrangers face a tough challenge when they take on a redhot Oakleigh Warriors team riding a six-game winning streak.

After pushing Keysborough all the way last weekend, the Bushrangers will look to put a severe dent in the Warriors’ playoff hopes.

For that to happen, they will need to ensure the Warrior import Andrew Kaban can’t get his hands on the ball.

Kaban has been in astonishing form and in the past month has averaged an unbelievable 41.5 points at 52per cent, 8.25 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.

Jon Lindhe and Dylan Webb have lifted to lead the Bushrangers’ resurgence, while young gun Trent McMullen has provided some extra firepower off the bench.

The action tips off at the Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre at noon.

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