Sunday, December 19, 2021

How a simple house renovation left a celebrated professor with just DAYS to live

I think this is a bum steer. To develop a disease after something that happened 32 years ago is certainly consistent with mesothelioma but the principal symptom of mesothelioma is lung damage and resultant breathing difficulties. It is not reported that she suffered such symptoms. But even if she did, it is not what she is dying from. She has an inoperable cancer on her spine. Linking that to mesothelioma is tendentious. Cancer can have many causes

To declare a personal interest: 35 years ago I bought a large old house that was completely clad in fibro (Fibrous cement sheeting, where the fibre is asbestos). I took every last bit of it off and replaced it with pine chamfer boards. Neither I nor the person who helped me have any symptoms of mesothelioma. We both breathe as freely as we ever did

A loving wife and accomplished professor dying from asbestos-related cancer has pleaded for Australians to 'wake up' to the dangers hidden in the home renovations craze which has taken off during the pandemic.

Gillian North, 61, is in the final days of a harrowing mesothelioma fight and being cared for at home at home at Thirroul south of Sydney by her twin sister Jocelyn and her husband Martin.

They do not expect her to live to see Christmas.

A leading academic who had a career in law, accounting and at Deakin University, Ms North has written an incredible 18 research papers about asbestos dangers and reforms.

Ms North is convinced she developed the fatal disease after being exposed to asbestos while during home renovations in the United Kingdom 32 years ago and in Australia 25 years ago.

While Ms North admits it's not '100 per cent' certain she developed the cancer from home renovations, she said 'nobody can be certain of their exposure'.

'But I know of no other possible cause,' she said. She was diagnosed by her local GP in 2019, at 58, after developing a nagging cough.

After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery Ms North got a two-year reprieve until X-rays showed an inoperable tumour against her spine. She has been steadily deteriorating since mid-2021.

Any exposure to asbestos fibres or dust is widely regarded to be the main cause of mesothelioma, a cancer which attacks tissues around major organs.

The disease is regarded one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with 94 per cent of Australian sufferers dying within five years.

While asbestos was banned in 2003, it remains in place in public buildings, including schools, and houses and unit blocks.


China-made wind turbines crack sparking outrage they weren't made locally

Chinese-made wind turbines on Australia's biggest wind farm have cracked, sparking outrage that the project didn't use locally made machinery.

Nineteen of 40 turbines inspected at the Stockyard Hill wind farm, in Victoria's central highlands, are defective and will take months to fix, according to the Australian Manufacturing Worker's Union.

Another 109 turbines were yet to be inspected and it was feared they could also be damaged.

The massive wind farm, which is Australia's biggest, was operating for less than five months.

The AMWU, which found the damage in inspections, savaged the federal government for not forcing the project's developers to buy Australian-made turbines.

'The federal government sat on it's hands while our largest wind farm imported towers from China instead of supporting local jobs,' it said. 'Shame on the federal government for not mandating local content.'

The project was started by Windpower Australia, then sold to Origin Energy, which sold it to Xinjiang Goldwind, a Chinese-owned company, for $110 million.

Goldwind, which owns or operates nine wind and solar farms in Australia, is part of Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co, the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturer, based in Beijing.

Goldwind is listed on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges, but 40 per cent of its top 10 investors are owned by the ruling Chinese Communist Party

Origin is contracted to buy 530MW of power from Goldwind until 2030 for up to 425,000 Victorian homes from the wind farm.

It was completed in 2020 and only began operation in July this year.

The union insisted Australian manufacturers should be 'front and centre' in green energy projects.

'Earlier this year workers from local wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince met with local member [Trade Minister] Dan Tehan to urge him to mandate local content in major projects like wind farms. 'He did nothing.'

The union found the damage, which is on the 'top cover housing key mechanics' behind the blades, when it inspected the turbines.

It claims repairs will take up to 76 weeks 'and they still haven't inspected all of the towers'.

A further 109 turbines are yet to be inspected.


Queensland bush kids are falling behind in key NAPLAN test

Country kids tend to have lower IQs worldwide so this gap is to be expected

Queensland kids in the bush are falling behind in basic literacy and numeracy levels, with less than half of students in remote locations meeting the national minimum standard in key areas.

Alarming 2021 NAPLAN data released today has revealed the performance gap between students in country and city areas is widening, with experts blaming a lack of extra resources and qualified teacher shortages.

Meanwhile girls are surging ahead of boys in reading levels, though boys continue to outperform their female classmates in numeracy.

Just 39 per cent of Year 9 Queensland kids in very remote locations were recorded as meeting the national minimum standard in writing in 2021, and only 54 per cent in remote areas. By comparison, 80 per cent of kids in metropolitan areas met the standard.

In Year 7 writing just 45 per cent of students met the standard in very remote locations and 67 per cent in remote, compared with almost 90 per cent of city kids.

Year 5 bush kids were also well behind their peers, with less than two-thirds meeting the national minimum standard in reading, writing, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy compared with about 95 per cent of students located in metropolitan areas.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive David de Carvalho said the gap between remote and metro areas was “disappointing”, and it was one of the reasons why a national standardised testing regime was important.

“(NAPLAN) does actually provide this kind of information and shine a light on these kinds of issues,” he said.

“And it does provide the opportunity to do a deeper dive, particularly in the school level practices or jurisdictional practices, to find out what’s working.”

ACARA’S general manager of assessment and reporting Peter Titmanis said the gap between remote areas and metropolitan areas in particular was “really significant”, and in some cases was close to about three years of learning.

Across the country, students from major cities outperformed students from regional areas in numeracy, reading and writing, with the gap in numeracy and reading gradually widening between 2016 and 2021 for most year levels.

The gap between boys and girls in primary school was also widening, with the gender divide larger in high school than in primary school.

UNSW Professor of Education Policy Pasi Sahlberg said there were a “cocktail of reasons” why kids in the bush were falling behind their city peers, including access to extra assistance like private tutoring, and a shortage of qualified teachers in key subjects.

“There’s big issues in the number of out of field teachers in rural and remote locations teaching out of field – it’s much higher than in the cities,” he said. “For many kids, they have had these teachers for a long time.”

Professor Sahlberg said while the location divide was “nothing to be happy about”, what was occurring in Queensland was also happening in the rest of the country, and across the globe.

“Australia is becoming more unequal, including in education,” he said. “I hope more policy makers would wake up and realise how important it is to address these inequalities, it’s the No. 1 education issue to try and fix.”


Piracy and illegal fishing concerns grow as foreign boats return to marine park

The WA government is urging the Commonwealth to "step up" and halt the surge in illegal foreign fishing boats harvesting seafood in a pristine marine park.

Fresh footage obtained by the ABC shows Indonesian crews have returned to the Rowley Shoals Marine Park within weeks of a crackdown that resulted in boats being burnt at sea.

The footage, shot by a local charter operator in late November, shows Indonesian sailors waving and smiling at the camera.

Western Australian Fisheries Minister Don Punch says it is unacceptable.

"It's a serious matter, as it has a big impact on the marine ecology of the Rowley Shoals, but also on the charter boat tourism that's happening in the area," he said.

"It's a matter we have taken up with the federal government, and I've had conversations with the Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.

"But unfortunately it's still happening, and we need the federal government to step up and take control of the situation."

Wet season 'free for all'

Government data shows the number of foreign fishing boats is continuing to surge. So far this financial year, 231 boats were intercepted, with 29 seized and destroyed. That compares with just four boats in the 2019-20 financial year.

The situation is complicated by the multiple government agencies involved. The Rowley Shoals are within a WA government marine park, but the federal Australian Border Force is primarily responsible for keeping foreign vessels out of Australian waters.

Local skippers are worried the illegal fishing will intensify in coming months, due to the northern wet season.

It's understood the WA government boats that usually patrol the Kimberley marine parks have headed south for maintenance, as the monsoon season makes it dangerous to be at sea.

In a statement, the Australian Border Force said its surveillance and enforcement will continue throughout the summer.

"The Australian Border Force is actively responding to reports of foreign fishing vessels in the vicinity of Rowley Shoals," the statement said.

"Maritime Border Command operations will continue throughout the monsoon season, noting adverse conditions also impacts on illegal fishers."

Piracy concerns

But locals believe the Indonesian fishermen have the determination, desperation and equipment to continue fishing amid the wet season storms.

Kimberley Marine Tourism Association chair Jig Albert says the situation poses several risks.

"Our operators are massively concerned because the Indonesians are netting, walking on the reefs, collecting trepang, harvesting shark and — what's really disturbing — is they're taking the giant clams, which take years and years to grow," Mr Albert said.

"There's also the concern about biosecurity hazards like COVID-19.

"And these people are really desperate, so there's the risk of piracy as well."

One veteran Kimberley skipper, who didn't want his charter business to be identified, told the ABC the Indonesian crews seem organised and well-resourced. "Some of them are well set-up, with good boats, solar panels and GPS navigators," he said.

"They know what they're doing and they know what they're after. "If it's allowed to keep going, they'll realise it's open slather, and they will wipe the joint out [of marine life]."




No comments: