Is this Australia’s most festive Christmas house?

Is this Australia’s most festive Christmas house? TweetFacebookInside Mandurah’s most festive Christmas house. Video: Amy MartinEach and every corner of the house has its own themed scene, and thehome is ablaze with colour, sparkles, snow falling and lights twinkling.
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Read more:Mandurah’s community Christmas pageant 2017 brings city to life

While husband Alan says he can’t take credit for all Mary’s hard work, he’s only too happy to don the Santa suit and chat amiably to the crowds of visitors coming through their home.

The display, which includes 32 individual nativity scenes and 532 individual Christmas trees, takes three months to assemble and two months to take down.

“Everything gets packed into 700 boxes and stowed away for next year,” Mary said.

“We take care of all the decorations and people bring things for us too –perhaps decorations they can no longer use.”

And the electricity bill?

Mary Kartesz-Wardroper shares Christmas treats with the many visitors who flock to her Meadow Springs home. Alan and Mary use the season to raise money for K9. Photo by Caitlyn Rintoul.

“It triples at this time of the year,” she said.

The neighbourhood children get into the spirit too, dressing up as elves and entertaining the crowds with acrobatic displays.

But all thishard work is definitely a labour of love.

“We love Christmas and we love greeting people and welcoming them,” Mary said. “People leave here with a smile on their face and that makes us happy. It’s Christmas here every night.”

There is still time to see the display –thehome is at 8 Meadow Springs Drive, Mandurah,andis open every nightuntil January 6.

Mandurah Mail

Heighington keen to guide young Knights

HEAT’S ON: Newcastle Knights forward Chris Heighington sweats it out on his first day of pre-season training with the club on Wednesday. Picture: Max Mason-HubersTWO-TIME premiership winner Chris Heighington admits staying close to his ailing father, Tom, was part of the reason he came toNewcastle to extend his NRL career into a 16thseason.
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And at the Knights, Heighingtonhopes he can himself be a father figure to the club’s young talent in what shapes as his swansong season.

Heighington, who will be 36 when the 2018 season begins,trained with Newcastle for the first time on Wednesday in what was the squad’s final hit-out before the Christmas break.

A grand final winner at Wests Tigers in 2005 and Cronulla in 2016, Heighingtonis 12thon the all-time ARL/NRL games list with 318 but said “there wasstillfire in my belly to go around again” after his Sharks deal ended.

He said “I probably would have played somewhere else” if not for the Knights’one-year contract, but he was glad to be withNewcastle.

“It’s a good squadhere, and it works really well for me,” Heighingtonsaid. “I grew up on the Central Coast and always loved the Knights, so it’s a great way to finish the back-end of my career.”

​Heighington keen to guide young Knights TweetFacebookVeteran recruit Chris Heighington on his first day of training with @[email protected]@newcastleheraldpic.twitter南京夜网/7jWtHA17vM

— Craig Kerry (@craigkerry77) December 20, 2017

“There’s some great signings and I think we’ve got agood mix of youth and experience now,” he said. “Everyone’s bubbling out there on the field and more confident and there’s a good vibe around here.”

Heighington was open to what on-field role he would play and he was keen to offer value to the club off the park.

“It’s just good to be around young kids coming through and hopefully I can help them build their careers,” he said.“When I’m finished up or retired, they can excel.”

As for the potential of him next year joining Glenn Lazarus as a grand final winner at three clubs, he said: “There’s always a chance.

“In 2005 when we won the premiership, six or seven games into the competition we were paying $101 to win it, so it’s got that sort of feel to it, with the Benji Marshalls andRobbie Farahs, whowere young. [Now] it’s the Brock Lambs coming through, players like that,who will stand up.There’s a good mix of senior and some youth coming through, whichis very important.”

Past football, the forward plans to build a career in high-performance training which has already taken in helping back-to-back women’s world surfing champion Tyler Wright and men’s world No.5Matt Wilkinson.

As for playing on past next season, he said:“I’ll just do my best for the Knights next season and hopefully no injuries and stuff, but I’m not sure.

“A week is a long time in footy and I’ll just take it week by week.”

Heighington was confident he could bolster the three-time wooden spooners on the field, especially after his World Cup performance.

“That was a really tough game that actually, it wasone of the toughest I’ve been a part of, so to know I can still handle it at that level. I was pretty happy with that,” he said.

“I’ve played a few years now so hopefully I can bring some experience to the Knights and we can have a good year.”

As for thoughts of retirement last year, he said:“I haven’t had many injuries. I haven’t had any reconstructions and I haven’t missed many footy games and still mentally I want to do it. I love training still.

“A lot of people told me you’ll know when it’s time to retire, and I haven’t felt that yet.

“I’ve come a few days earlier than what I’mmeant to and still really enjoy it still, so that’s why I’m still here.”

‘Disappointed’ coal lobby group delivers a rebuke to BHP

The World Coal Association has hit back at mining giant BHP, saying the miner inaccurately depicted the views of the association on climate and energy policy in a BHP report released this week.
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In a written statement the world coal lobby group said it was “disappointed” by the BHP report, and that the association supported a “balanced approach” to climate and energy policy.

In a much-anticipated review of its membership of industry groups, BHP said it had reached a “preliminary” decision to dump its membership of the world coal lobby group. It said it would communicate this decision to the WCA before making a final decision by the end of March next year.

BHP attributed the move to what it said was a “material difference” between itself and the World Coal Association on climate and energy policy.

BHP said the WCA had “supported abandoning the proposed Australian Clean Energy Target because in their view abandoning the Clean Energy Target would improve the investment climate for HELE generation”. HELE stands for High Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired electricity generation.

BHP said that it believed that governments “should focus on setting policies to facilitate efficient markets”.

But the miner’s “Industry Association Review” acknowledged that the WCA had also “expressed support for technology neutrality in climate and energy policy frameworks”.

BHP also said there were “narrower activities of benefit to BHP” from membership of the World Coal Association.

In a written statement released on Tuesday night the chairman of the WCA, Mick Buffier, hit back at BHP.

“Naturally we are disappointed at the outcome of the review, we do not feel that the report accurately reflects the views of the WCA.

“The WCA has always supported a balanced approach that integrates climate and energy policy; working towards a low emission future for coal,” he said.

“A visit to the WCA website will find the first item listed as ???A pathway to zero emissions from coal, supporting the deployment of all low emission technologies’. We hope to be able to continue working with BHP on this basis in the future,” he said.

The move by the major miner to signal a willingness to depart the World Coal Association comes despite the BHP report itemising only one material difference between itself and the coal lobby group on climate and energy policy.

BHP’s report noted more “material differences” between itself and two other lobby groups. The report cited two differences with the Minerals Council of Australia, and four differences with the United States Chamber of Commerce.

BHP would not respond on Wednesday to the criticisms made by the World Coal Association.

In the 26 page “Industry Association Review” BHP released on Tuesday, the miner identified three steps it would take before reaching a final view on its membership of the coal lobby group. These measures included informing the WCA board of its preliminary decision to leave the group, and that it would invite the WCA to respond to the review’s findings.

BHP said that “following receipt of any response” from the WCA, it would make a decision about its membership of the group.

BHP also said on Tuesday that it would remain a member of the influential mining industry lobby group, the Minerals Council of Australia, but put the group on notice about its activities on climate and energy policy.

BHP highlighted two “material differences” on climate and energy policy between itself and the MCA, and said it would review its membership of the group if it advocated positions that were not aligned with its own views.

BHP expressed concern that the MCA had advocated for High Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired electricity generation.

BHP said the MCA had “publicly called for policy changes that are more technology specific and interventionist in relation to High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) coal. For instance, the MCA has called for governments to use existing or new mechanisms to fund a new baseload coal plant in the Latrobe Valley. Similarly, the MCA has suggested that the emissions intensity threshold of the Clean Energy Target recommended by the Finkel Review should be set relative to technology specific factors (i.e. to accommodate new coal generation).”

The miner said it believed that “energy markets should be both fuel and technology neutral, and should not artificially favour one type of technology over another”. And it added that government intervention in energy and resources markets should only occur “in response to a demonstrated market failure and informed by cost-benefit analysis”.

The review revealed that BHP paid a subscription fee of $1.86 million in 2016 to the MCA, equal to 17 per cent of the lobby group’s subscription revenue.

The miner also said it would consider its “future membership” of the US Chamber of Commerce, and that it had identified four “material differences” between itself and the chamber on climate and energy policy.

In comments reported by Dow Jones Newswires the United States Chamber of Commerce signalled it would discuss the issues with BHP.

“The chamber believes that the climate is changing, and that man is contributing to these changes,” the chamber reportedly said.

“We also believe that technology and innovation, rather than unachievable federal mandates, offer the best approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change,” the chamber said.

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Pyramid stadium is now one of America’s strangest hotels

The place
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Big Cypress Lodge, Memphis, Tennessee The location

North-west of Memphis’ downtown area, the Big Cypress Lodge sits on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. The lodge is the only property at the end of a long driveway leading to a cul-de-sac. Aside from the river, the only other notable landmarks are car parks, a railway line and road flyovers. The space

The Big Cypress Lodge, which opened in April 2015, is no typical hotel. It sits inside the Memphis Pyramid – a former sports stadium and concert hall that sat empty for 10 years after it was replaced by the larger FedExForum, home to the city’s NBA team, the Grizzlies. The owner of the Bass Pro chain of outdoor gear shops leased the building in 2010 and converted its interior into a giant store-cum-theme park. Inside, there are fish ponds and aquariums, hugh resident catfish, alligators and ducks, a shooting gallery, a bowling alley, giant artificial trees and all manner of outdoor gear for sale – from clothing to boats and off-road vehicles. There are also two restaurants, including one at the top of the pyramid, which is reached by “America’s largest free-standing elevator”. It’s all rather strange – more akin to something you’d find in Las Vegas than in low-key Memphis. The room

In keeping with the outdoors theme, the room has the look and feel of a hunting lodge, complete with mounted deer head on the wall and lamps made from antlers. There are timber cross beams and a large solid cabinet that houses the TV, fridge and wardrobe. The bathroom is huge, with a large, deep tub, two sinks and a separate large shower. A lighting effect gives the impression you’re bathing in moonlight. Ironically, given the theme, most of the rooms, including mine, overlook not the river but the interior of the building. As a result, there’s no natural light, making the room quite dark during the day. A weird design, perhaps related to the original structure, puts a large column just to the side of the bed, which I have to squeeze past to get in and out (this is not the case in most of the other rooms). This side of the bed also lacks a bedside table, though it does have ample power points. The food

There are two dining options, Uncle Bucks, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner and features items on the menu like “all you can eat shrimp”. It’s that type of place. The observation deck is worth a visit – entry is $10, but hotel guests receive free passes. The restaurant up here feels a little like theme-park fare. I order the redfish. It’s quite good, but it’s not quite what Australians would consider fine dining. The restaurant is circular and surrounds a large aquarium. Plastic and metal fish sculptures hang from ceiling. There’s also live music – a singer crooning to a karaoke machine. Stepping out

The lodge’s location does not make it conducive to exploring Memphis by foot (there’s seemingly no official way to exit the area and reach the town by foot without climbing a steep embankment), though the city is not a particularly pedestrian friendly one anyway. However, taxi or Uber rides to some of the city highlights are relatively short and inexpensive. The city’s National Museum of Civil Rights is a must. The museum is in the former Lorraine Hotel – the site of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King in 1968. The exhibits follow the struggle for civil rights throughout American history. See civilrightsmuseum.orgThe verdict

Big Cypress Lodge is a highly unusual property and worth a visit even if you’re not staying there. It’s popular with outdoorsy Americans but most urban Australians will find it quite a curious place. Essentials

Rooms at Big Cypress Lodge start from $US230 a night, including tax. See big-cypress南京夜网Highlight

The views over the city and Mississippi River from the observation deck. Lowlight

The out-of-the-way location means taxi and Uber rides, or having your own car.

Craig Platt stayed as a guest of Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau.

See also: 20 things that will shock first-time visitors to the US

See also: America’s top 10 music cities

Regulator cracks down on Darby Street restaurant

HOUSE RULES: Soho on Darby will only be allowed to serve drinks with meals after a NSW Liquor and Gaming Authority investigation.A POPULAR Darby Street restaurantis “considering its options” after itsliquor license was tightenedfollowing an investigation whichfound the restaurant “morphed” into a venue resembling a bar or nightclub.
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Police concerns over anti-social behaviour and assaults prompted complianceofficers to make a complaint to theNSW Liquor and Gaming Authority in July.

After an investigation, the authority announced on Wednesday it had revoked Soho’s “primary service authorisation”, which will prevent the restaurant from serving drinks without an order offood.

The authorisation allows alcohol to be served without meals provided the business’s primary purpose remains a restaurant.

The new conditions follow noise and patron capacity restrictions imposed on the venue last year.

The authority said compliance officers and police observed the first floor of the restaurantoperating with a DJ, no tables and chairs and few patrons who were eating a meal on “numerous” occasions.

Soho on Darby said it was ‘disappointed’ by the authority’s decision and was ‘considering its options’ going forward.

Police data also showed there had been 9 assaults and five patrons charged with anti-social behaviour between July, 2015, and August, 2016.

The investigation primarily relied on photographs, CCTV footage, policeand sales data.

The authority said no staff could be seen in the kitchen and the venue had a limited menu.

It was alsoalleged 95 per cent of all evening sales were for alcohol, but that figurewas disputed bythe licensee.

In its submission, the restaurant supplied 55 pages of Facebook screenshots that promoted various offers including “$4 tacos and DJ entertainment” on Wednesday and “50c wing night” on Thursday.

And the licensee argued evidence produced by compliance officers were “reached by limited observations”.

However, compliance officers alleged the venue “quickly changed from a ‘traditional restaurant’ to a ‘nightclub’ targeting a younger demographic with associated promotions of cheap alcohol drinks, particularly sweet cocktails”.

Liquor and Gaming NSW director of compliance Sean Goodchild warned:“We have investigated a number of recent cases where restaurants have effectively morphed into nightclubs or bars which have far higher risks of alcohol-related harms including violence, anti-social behaviour and disturbance.”

Soho owner Sam Luke said the venue was“considering its options moving forward”.

“Soho on Darby is disappointed…especially to the extent that the decision is based on incidents before the commencement of the current ownership and licensee,” he said.

“Soho has had security patrolling the venue since December 2016 every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8pm, when new conditions were put on the license.

“Wehave had zeroincidents relating to violence or antisocial behaviour since because of the great work our guards and RSA marshals do.

“Soho is considering its options moving forward.”

Australian accountant arrested in Bali has history of depression: lawyers

Australian accountant Isaac Emmanuel Roberts, who has been arrested in Bali on drug charges. December 2017.?? Picture: Amilia RosaJakarta: Australian accountant Isaac Emmanuel Roberts, who is being detained in Bali on drug importing allegations, has a history of depression and past trauma according to his legal team.
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Bali police claim Roberts, 35, from Queensland, admitted he bought the drugs in Bangkok paying 2500 bhat (about $100) per gram of methamphetamine and 600 bhat ($24) per ecstasy pill.

Roberts was arrested on December 4 after he was allegedly nabbed with five packets of clear crystal meth weighing 19.97 grams, which Indonesians refer to using the slang term shabu, and 14 ecstasy tablets at Bali’s international airport on December 4.

He faces charges of importing more than five grams of drugs under article 113, which carries a maximum punishment of death and a minimum of five years’ jail.

“He bought it for his personal use. (He admits) ???that he’s a user,” Joni Lay, third division narcotics chief with Bali police told Fairfax Media.

He said police did not know why Roberts had bought the drugs in Thailand and not Bali.

One of Roberts’ lawyers, Deni Sedana, told Fairfax Media that Roberts’ medical records from Australia indicated he was depressed, had suffered past trauma and had suicidal tendencies.

He said he had complained of shock after being dramatically paraded before the media wearing a balaclava and orange jumpsuit with two other alleged foreign drug felons, guarded by customs officers holding guns.

Sedana said Roberts attended a scheduled health check at a Bali hospital on Tuesday.

“He wasn’t rushed to the hospital, he didn’t faint,” Sedana said. “He was stressed. He complained??? of shortness of breath and said he can’t sleep. But it was just a check up.”

Sedana said Roberts did not need to be hospitalised after his check-up and was taken back to Denpasar police station.

He is being detained at the police station while his case is processed before being handed over to prosecutors. He is expected to soon to be transferred to Kerobokan prison.

Lay, the third division narcotics police chief, confirmed that Roberts had been returned to his police cell.

“During interrogation, he was cooperative, ???he didn’t complained of any illness, maybe just shock,” he told Fairfax Media. “There were no problems.”

Lay said he had been scheduled to have a hospital check-up yesterday and another was scheduled for next week.

In a heated outburst after he was escorted out of a media conference yesterday, Roberts said he had been set up and he was “just a f???.g addict”.

“They want to waste their resources on addicts. They want to punish addicts, this is ridiculous. What about the f???..g importers? I wasn’t going to sell it to anyone here, no one was going to use it here.”

Roberts said: “This is an embarrassment for the Indonesian police. They are parading small-time users in front of media for tiny amounts when there are kilos going through this airport. This is ridiculous.”

He claimed he was invited to Indonesia by someone who was working with the customs officer and “they knew I was going to bring something”.

In 2012, Roberts, who was then working for Pitcher Partners in Queensland, won the National Advanced Tax Dux Award.

A press release at the time said he had completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Queensland before completing the chartered accountant (CA) program and a Master of Applied Tax at Atax, University of New South Wales.

Asked at the time how his professional life ended up in tax, Roberts said: “After ‘fluking’ a top-in-class award in income tax law at UQ while studying a finance major, and then a merit in the tax module of the CA program it seems I have a talent for it.”

Roberts also stood as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the Melbourne seat of Higgins in the 2009 by-election triggered by the resignation of former Treasurer Peter Costello.

“I recall Isaac Roberts name but not much else, other than that he was our candidate in a by-election,” Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm told Fairfax Media.

“As a general comment, the Liberal Democrats are strongly in favour of decriminalising drugs (along the same lines as Portugal). However, we obviously don’t condone breaking the law.”

With Toby Crockford

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Christmas behind bars for alleged North Korean agent

A 59-year-old man who allegedly provided services to a “weapons of mass destruction program” on behalf of the rogue North Korean regime has appeared in court.
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Chan Han Choi was arrested at his Eastwood apartment at the weekend, and faces six charges related to brokering the sale of missiles, missile parts and expertise from North Korea to “other international entities” and attempting to transfer coal from North Korea to non-government buyers in Indonesia and Vietnam.

All offences allegedly relate to the period between August and December this year.

Mr Choi, from Eastwood, appeared in prison greens at Central Local Court on Wednesday via audio-visual link from Silverwater Correctional Centre.

The 59-year-old has been charged with two counts of contravening a sanction law, two counts of contravening a United Nations enforcement law and two counts of providing service for a weapons of mass destruction program.

It is the first time anyone has been charged under Australia’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995.

Federal police allege Mr Choi was acting to raise funds for the North Korean regime, which could have raised tens of millions of dollars for Pyongyang, if successful.

The attempted transactions related to the sale of coal, to third parties in Indonesia and Vietnam, and the sale of missile guidance systems and other missile componentry.

Outside court on Wednesday Mr Choi’s barrister Alex Radojev said he was on his way to meet Mr Choi for the first time.

“I don’t know how he’s going because I haven’t met him,” he said, adding that the charges “appear to be very serious”.

Mr Choi first came to the attention of the Australian Federal Police several months ago, following a tip-off by an overseas agency.

In response the AFP formed Operation Byahaut and began conducting surveillance.

Following Mr Choi’s arrest AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan stressed that there had been no risk to the Australian public.

“This is black market 101,” he said. “We are alleging that all the activity occurred offshore, and was purely another attempt for this man to trade goods and services as a way to raise revenue for the government of North Korea.

“This was his goal.”

Mr Gaughan said the South Korean-born man had been acting “to serve some higher patriotic purpose” to the rogue state.

On Wednesday the AFP announced it would be investigating itself after a social media bungle, which saw a minute-long discussion about managing media surrounding Mr Choi’s arrest accidentally aired on the live-streaming app Periscope.

“The incident occurred when testing a piece of social media broadcasting equipment,” an AFP spokesman said.

“The matter has been referred to the AFP’s Security area for review. As such, no further comment will be made at this time.”

Mr Choi will remain behind bars over Christmas, to reappear in court via audio-visual link on February 28.

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Hunter suburb the hottest in Australia

Camels from Oakfield Ranch were in the Christmas spirit earlier this week on the Birubi Beach sand dunes. Pictures: Ellie-Marie WattsTemperatures soared past the 40 degree mark across the Hunter on Wednesday as a heatwave engulfed the northern part of the state.
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By midday,Maitland, Cessnock and Singleton had all hit 40degrees, while readings at Williamtown crept to 42.5.

Nobby’s Beach pushed to 39 degrees as Newcastle cityand the region sweltered in the dry heat.

At 3.26pm, Tocal was the hottest place in Australia with a 43.8 degree temperaturereading.

TheBureau of Meteorology (BOM) said aslow-moving high in the Tasman meant hot air was being drawn south towards the coastfrom central and northern parts of Australia.

A cold front that was expected to move through on Wednesday afternoon wasenabling the hottertemperatures to continue to move the whole way down the coast.

Read more: The Hunter’s best swimming spots

“We will have some showers in the wake of that cooler change and then that shouldstart to clear off later on this week,” BOM’s Gabrielle Woodhouse said.

“We are looking at the chance of showers or thunderstorms[on Saturday and Sunday] and it does look be an afternoon feature again.”

Overnight respite is expected with the cooler change and temperatures are only predicted to be in the mid-20s on Thursday.

Weekend peaks will return to the 30-degree range, but nightly temperatures should sit at around 19-20 degrees.

Total fire ban’s are in place across the Hunter, Greater Sydney and North Western regions as fire danger ratings increased throughout the week.

The Greater Hunter and North Western regions moved from ‘Very High’ danger warnings to ‘Severe’ on Wednesday morning.

Fires in Lovedale and Patersonwere deemed to be under control as of Wednesday afternoon.


As of mid-afternoon on Wednesday, NSW Ambulance paramedics had attended 23 cases ofdizziness, fainting and entrapment acrossNorthern NSW, which was the highest call out region in the state.

Severe thunderstorms have also been predicted to role through Illawarra, Sydney and Newcastle on Wednesday evening. They are likely to produce large hailstones, damaging winds and heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding.

NSW Severe T’Storm: Large Hail, Heavy Rain, Damaging Winds. Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, Gosford, Sydney, Wollongong. #storm#NSW#hail南京夜网/JvpWJnKLXE

— Lake Macquarie (@lakemac) December 20, 2017

Electricity market in intensive care, but improvement coming

The National Electricity Market is in bad health and wholesale change is needed, but recovery is on the horizon.
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A new Energy Security Board report has found electricity prices have increased by around 80 to 90 per cent in real terms over the last decade, and ???bill shock’ is hitting both residential and business customers.

It called for widespread change in the energy market, supported by strong policy, to ensure the NEM can transition to a new energy future driven in part by increased renewables.

“The pattern of the transmission grid in the NEM must change,” the report said.

“The grid was designed in the last century to run from large coal-fired generators to the load in the cities. It must now be reconfigured so that it runs from renewable energy zones to the cities.”

The ESB outlined the National Energy Guarantee as one of the important developments in the sector but noted that it is not a panacea for all of the electricity sector’s woes.

“The National Energy Guarantee is not designed to solve all the reliability and system security issues in the NEM,” the ESB said.

“Modifications to existing tools may be needed, and new mechanisms may have to be introduced.”

Federal Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the NEM is facing the most challenging period in its history.

“The report finds the NEM faces numerous challenges as it goes through its greatest change since its development in the 1990s, including a tight supply-demand balance, a marked changed in the generation mix towards intermittent sources and rapid technological change,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“The ESB finds while there is much work to be done, the situation is improving as a result of measures put in place by the Turnbull Government, the COAG Energy Council and the energy market bodies.”

The ESB also broached the subject of ongoing carbon policy uncertainty, an issue raised earlier this week in the federal government’s climate change policy review.

The ESB put part of the blame squarely on successive federal governments’ inability to put decisive emissions policies in place.

“One reason for this unwelcome situation is a decade of uncertain policy about emissions reduction and what this means for the NEM in particular,” the report said.

“Despite international commitments to emissions reductions, no settled policy has been possible at the federal level.”

The NSW energy taskforce also released a report this week, urging the states to build their own clean energy targets.

“While further development of the National Energy Guarantee is proceeding for the COAG Energy Council, for the purposes of this report the Taskforce assumes that some form of market mechanism that addresses both dispatchability and emissions reduction will be agreed by the National Electricity Market jurisdictions,” the NSW report said.

“In any case, a mechanism will be needed and NSW should continue to advocate this nationally.”

The Grattan Institute’s Energy Director Tony Wood told Fairfax Media there was little surprising in the ESB’s report, but by setting out the major issues it puts them on the front foot to solve the ongoing energy crisis.

“Given that the ESB was a primary recommendation of the Finkel Review and one of its first tasks was to produce a Health of the NEM report, it’s hardly surprising it had this view as if it were healthy it wouldn’t need the ESB in the first place,” Mr Wood said.

“It sets out the challenges around the NEM; if the role of the NEM is to deliver affordable and reliable energy it, and now we’re imposing an emissions objective as well, it’s clearly not doing it,” he said.

“They’ve admitted the NEG need more work, although I think they’re a bit light in relation to the role of network regulations in impacting on all these issues.”

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Cemetery plan causes grave fears

Backlash: Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery has criticised a plan to introduce optional 25-year renewable interments for the state’s cemeteries. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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The families of people who die in NSW will soon be able to lease a grave site for 25 years, before the remains are dug up so the site can be used for another burial.

The state government says the optional 25-year term, which can be renewed for up to 99 years,will help free-up space at over-crowded cemeteries.

But critics of the plan argue that it could place more pressure on families during the already emotionally-testing periodof losing a loved one.

Opponents also say introducing a 25-year option could drive up the cost for families who want gravesites that remain in place forever.

Amendments to the Cemetery and Crematoria Act 2013 are open for public feedback on the Crown Lands website until Friday.

According to the new regulation, cemetery operators must disclose the relevant fees to the family of the deceased person, but it “must include a statement that the disclosed fees and charges are subject to change”.

Leesa Warren, who has about 40 family members buried at Sandgate Cemetery,fears the offer of 25-year plots would drive prices up and make perpetual graves unaffordable for many people. She was also concerned that the new regulation would create a situationlong into the futurewhere people could beblindsided byfees to keep a relative’s remains in the ground.

“It’s also going to put pressure on families as to who is going to be the person that the decision is put to,” Ms Warren said.

“It’s always emotional, because it’s your loved one.”

A Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW fact sheet about the change noted that the regulation “will not operate retrospectively – all existing graves and rights continue exactly as they were prior to the new legislation”.

“Perpetual interment rights will continue to be available and there will be no impact on existing perpetual graves or rights,” it noted.

Aspokesperson told Fairfax Media that a cemetery capacity report for the Hunter and Central Coast would be released in the first half of 2018.

The spokesperson said the renewable interment rights would be “entirely voluntary and will not impact on perpetual interment rights currently in place”.

“The introduction of a consistent regulatory framework for renewable interment is just one initiative proposed to address projected cemetery capacity shortages,” the spokesperson said.

Cemetery operators will have to contact the holder of the renewable interment right 12 months before it’s due to expire–every three months until the expiry date if they receive no reply.

Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery heavily criticised the new regulation.

“Your loved ones could only get 25 years in their grave before being dug up and stashed in a bone room under this new plan,” she said.

“We are potentially looking at a situation where families will be contacted years down the track by cemetery operators demanding additional payment or face having their loved ones dug up.

“This plan creates a situation where long-term burial would depend on someone’s capacity to pay.”