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Consistent Hutchinsahead ofAmericans

FORMER Tasmanian speedway champion Tim Hutchins was the top qualifier after the second night of the Tasmanian v USA Sprintcar Shootout at Carrick last night after a consistent run through the heats, starting on pole position for the 30-lap final.
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Hutchins won Friday night’s 20-lap final, with carried over points to last night’s racing. He also scored another heat win last night.

Victorian Tony Moule also drove consistently last night to join Hutchins on the front row, with Launceston’s Jamie Bricknell and Smithton’s Mark House starting on the second row.

American ace Paul McMahan suffered a puncture in his first heat after failing to start in Friday night’s final, despite qualifying on pole position when engine dramas robbed him of some valuable points. Last night’s issues added to his dramas and saw him starting from grid 13 in the final.

Hobart teenager Shaun Dobson also had a drama-packed weekend after crashing in Friday night’s final and failing to finish, also crashing in his first heat last night, before winning his second and starting from grid 11 in the final.

On the same program last night, Hobart’s Andy Russell claimed back-to-back state titles with a hard-fought victory in the Tasmanian Modified Production Sedan Championship.

Qualifying on outside pole position for the 30-lap final, Russell took the early lead from pole qualified Brett Tatnell, of Launceston, with former multiple state champion Craig Willliams, teenager Jake Taurian and Trent Warren battling over the minor placings in a thrilling race.

Williams soon found a way past Tatnell and nine laps into the race challenged Russell for the lead with contact between the two sending Russell back to fifth as he slowed momentarily.

Tatnell, now second, took the lead from Williams 10 laps later with Russell storming around the outside to jump from fifth to second on the next lap in a brave move.

Russell hit the lead on lap 20, only to see Tatnell snatch it back on the next lap in an exciting battle, before Russell again prevailed with five to go.

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

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BHP fells job plan for forestry workers

BHP is seeking approval for its Olympic Dam site this year.Fly-in, fly-out mining jobs suggested by the state government as an alternative for forestry workers facing redundancy appear to have flown away for good.BHP Billiton has poured cold water on the idea that it would fly Tasmanian workers in and out of the state to service its expansion at its Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.
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The proposal was first flagged last year by the government as a solution to re-employing thousands of displaced forestry workers in the North and North-West.

A company spokeswoman has now said that the $30 billion expansion at its South Australian site had not yet been approved and that the company had no fly in, fly out plans.

“The first phase of the Olympic Dam project is in the feasibility stage and its progression into execution remains dependant on the completion of all required studies and BHP Billiton board approval to be sought in 2012.

“BHP Billiton has no plans to fly workers in and out of Tasmania for the Olympic Dam project.”

A federal Education, Employment and Workplace Relations spokesman said that the department had nothing to do with the proposal either.

In September, it was reported that BHP was considering using a private aircraft to routinely fly out and back Tasmanian workers given jobs at the mine.

The aircraft was expected to depart from the Burnie, Devonport and Launceston airports flying “large numbers” of workers to northern South Australia.

Last year, federal resources minister Martin Ferguson said that 4000 to 5000 jobs could be lost as a result of the transition out of native forests in Tasmania.

BHP is aiming to develop a new open pit copper, uranium and gold mine at the Olympic Dam site, increasing copper production from about 180,000 to 750,000 tonnes a year.

In October the South Australian and Commonwealth governments approved the environmental impact statement for the project.

“We are confident that, if approved, the project will generate significant new employment opportunities for South Australia in terms of direct employment, construction jobs, and additional flow-on employment across the state for many years to come,” BHP Billiton uranium president Dean Dalla Valle said.

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

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Baddeley puts horror show behind him

Aaron BaddeleyKAPALUA, Hawaii _ Aaron Baddeley refuses to write himself off in the US PGA Tour season opener despite falling eight shots off the pace after round one.
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Baddeley battled to a two-over par 75 in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua to be tied 23rd in a 27-man field, eight behind defending champion Jonathan Byrd.

Byrd, who shot a six-under-par 67, leads by one from Webb Simpson, Steve Stricker, Martin Laird and Michael Bradley.

But despite looking to have derailed his chances with back-to-back double bogeys on the third and fourth holes, Baddeley pointed to former US Open champion Graeme McDowell as proof he could still be a factor.

McDowell almost pulled off a famous victory last year with a final-round 62, falling just one shot shy of a play-off eventually won by Byrd.

“Anything can happen,” Baddeley said.

“I was surprised I made those mistakes because my game is in good order and it’s disappointing to start slow because even just a few under would be right in it but it’s early days.

“Graeme shot 11-under last year so it’s possible. No doubt you have to play well but while the scorecard doesn’t show it today I feel like I am playing well.”

Baddeley insisted he wouldn’t change his approach and get overly aggressive, claiming solid smart play would give him the best chance of making a positive move.

“You still have to play the golf course,” he said.

“This is a place where you can go low on a good day when the weather is calm and even on a day like today with a little wind you can shoot a good score as some of the guys showed.

“I don’t feel out of it yet, I just have to get some momentum and get rid of the mental errors.

“I can take some momentum from my late birdies and I’ll be out early tomorrow so it will be about getting off to a good start and building on it.”

Byrd is on track to continue a love affair defending champions have had in the event.

Gene Littler (1955-57) and Australian Stuart Appleby (2004-06) managed three successive victories.

There were also back-to-back victories for Jack Nicklaus (1963-64), Arnold Palmer (1965-66), Tom Watson (1979-80), Lanny Wadkins (1982-83) and Geoff Ogilvy (2009-10).

“I feel good around this course and feel like I know how to play it,” Byrd said.

“You just have to make smart decisions and you have to play more break than you think on most putts so experience helps.”

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

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Jets use veterans in tag-team role

SUB: Michael Bridges at Jets training.ENGLISH veterans Francis Jeffers and Michael Bridges are set to play a tag-team role as the Jets try to crack their Wellington hoodoo tonight.
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Bridges, the 33-year-old striker who retired at the end of last season but has made a comeback, has been named to play in his second A-League match of the season.

But Jets coach Gary van Egmond said it was unlikely Bridges would partner Jeffers, 30, up front in what is expected to be a new 4-4-2 formation.

The more likely option is that Jeffers will start the match and Bridges will replace him midway through the second half, thereby sharing the role of target man with a speedster such as Ryan Griffiths, Jeremy Brockie or Ali Abbas.

‘‘I think they’re both quality players, but for us to try and impose ourselves further up the pitch I think it’s going to be a difficult one for Francis and Bridgey for a 90-minute game,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘They can definitely sustain that for periods of the game, but maybe not for the whole of the game. So to get that balance of having somebody with a good work rate with a player of the ilk of a Francis or a Bridgey is something we need to balance.’’

Asked whether that meant he would start with Jeffers then substitute him with Bridges, van Egmond replied: ‘‘Yes. Either or – one of those types of moves, then obviously we’re looking at who we play closer to them.’’

The recall of Bridges means youngster Chris Payne makes way, after playing just 10 minutes in his Jets debut in last week’s 2-1 loss to Sydney.

Van Egmond said he was not unhappy with Payne’s contribution but Bridges had shown during a youth league hit-out last Friday that he was ready for higher company.

‘‘We just felt for this game it was best to bring Bridgey in,’’ he said. ‘‘He’s been doing really, really well … we looked at it at training and Bridgey has trained well.’’

Without skipper Jobe Wheelhouse and senior player Kasey Wehrman, Newcastle will be led by Brazilian import Tiago.

Van Egmond backed Tiago to lead by example.

‘‘He sees the whole game and he’s got the respect of all the players by the way he conducts himself,’’ he said.

Despite the presence of Tiago and the availability of central defensive partner Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who returns from a hamstring injury, van Egmond indicated Taylor Regan would retain a spot in the starting team, possibly as defensive midfielder.

Midfielder Ruben Zadkovich has four yellow cards, so one more booking will bring mandatory suspension.

But Van Egmond said he did not want Zadkovich to tone down his feisty playing style.

‘‘I think if you start making him aware of it, that might inhibit his natural game,’’ the coach said. ‘‘We don’t like people getting yellow cards or getting sent off unnecessarily. That comes down to your discipline and positioning.’’

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FISHING: Santa’s in wet weather gear

FISH OF THE WEEK: Mitchell ParkinsonIT looks like being a pretty damp Christmas with showers, light east-nor-east winds and swell up to a metre forecast up to Christmas Day.
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But with water temps on the rise and plenty of fish about, it won’t rain on angling opportunities this festive season.

Brent ‘‘Hammer’’ Hancock, from Nelson Bay Tackleworld, has a few tips for holiday anglers in Port Stephens over Christmas.

‘‘I’d fish the entrance to the Karuah River or Tilligerry Creek for flathead,’’ he said. ‘‘Find some structure – racks, rock walls, pylons – and drop plastics down the edge.

‘‘There’s also plenty of good sand whiting around.

‘‘Fish the sand flats from Soldiers Point to Jimmys Beach and back into Shoal Bay. Live tube or beach worms are the go. Surface poppers will work, too.

‘‘You’ll also got bream in the estuary. Definitely check out the oyster racks at Soldiers Points, the rock walls around North Arm Cove and the racks around the Myall River entrance.’’

Local beaches, particularly Fingal Spit, are producing good bream and whiting. Again, live worms are key.

Sisterly snaps

OFFSHORE, anglers have been getting snapper around the Sisters at Broughton Island in the early morning and late afternoons.

‘‘Anchor up with a berley trail and toss around some soft plastics,’’ Hammer said.

‘‘If you head out to the wider reefs – Big gibber, V and 21 – you’ll get snapper, kingies and trag after dark.’’

Ben Doolan got some nice reds between 3kg and 7kg this week off Little Island

Out on the Shelf there’s plenty of striped marlin around, especially places like the Carpark.

The boat Anarchy got two stripes last weekend. Greg Plunkett, aboard Lone Wolf, and his son had a potential Australian record on 10kg beside their boat on Wednesday. Unfortunately it broke off.

Early risers

GREG Hayman, from Tailermade Fishing Adventures and Singleton Fly Fishing Club, reports there’s good trag on the bite early morning north of Nobbys about five or six miles off Newcastle.

‘‘They tend to shut down after a few hours. There’s been some nice tailor on the bottom, too,’’ he said.

‘‘Water temps are warm on the top [21 degrees] but cold on the bottom [18].

‘‘There’s plenty of bait fish – slimeys and yellowtail – but the cold water is putting a lot of fish off the bite.

‘‘We’re still getting a few trevally, so that means it’s cool. There’s heaps of flathead up to 60cm around, a few ‘just legal’ snapper and small nannygai.’’

On the overflow

ALL this rain has filled dams and inland waterways throughout the Hunter and NSW. St Clair and Glenbawn are just about full and fishing well around the edges for bass.

Greg had a couple of days down in Lake Eucumbene in the Snowy Mountains and reports it’s so full he could use his boat for the first time in eight years.

‘‘What was usually a two-hour walk to get to my spot took me 15 minutes,’’ he said.

‘‘We had a blinder – got a couple of hundred trout between the four of us over a couple of days. Good fat healthy trout. Let most of them go.

‘‘Jindabyne is firing too and the rivers around Mt Selwyn. Word out of Lake Windermere [down near Jarvis Bay] is that yellow belly are going good.

‘‘There’s been some nice rainbows [trout] caught up Thompson Creek Dam at Lithgow. The water is up and when it is the fish gorge and grow very rapidly.’’

Freshen up

ARRON Flitt, from Toronto Bait and Tackle, reports Lake Macquarie anglers have caught bonito and rat kings around Moon Island.

‘‘There’s good squid in the channel,’’ Arron said yesterday.

‘‘Guys have been arming up in there and heading out to chase kings.

‘‘The Yamashita jig in the pink or orange colours has been working well for squid.

‘‘Bream have been biting on fresh mullet. There’s plenty of whiting around local sandflats in the lake.

‘‘Live bloodworms are good. There’s always flathead about in the lake, and they’ve also been plentiful outside around the 46-metre depth.’’

Arron’s big Christmas fishing tip is to stick with fresh bait.

‘‘Toronto Bait and Tackle sources theirs straight from the Sydney Fish Markets,’’ he said.

Papers, Tiger

ONE of the great pleasures of Christmas holidays is going fishing with family and friends. And one of the great pains can be copping a fine for not having your recreational fishing licence.

Fisheries will be patrolling waterways through the summer ensuring paperwork is in order and rules and regulations are being followed, so do the right thing and get it all sorted.

A $200 on-the-spot fine applies for fishing without a current fishing licence, unless exempt.

In addition, a penalty of $75 applies if fishers do not have the licence in their immediate possession.

You can get your licence from most bait and tackle shops, some Kmart stores and your local Fisheries office.

They’re also available online at licence.nsw.gov.au or by calling 1300369365.

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Call to outlaw fake guns

A 16-year-old was shot by police in 1993 after using a replica gun to hold-up the Top Shop at Waverley.A former Launceston police officer who was involved in the fatal police shooting of a youth holding a replica pistol in 1993, said outlawing such toys could prevent a repeat of this tragedy.
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The retired officer of 20 years’ experience was one of five called to an armed hold-up at the Top Shop at Waverley one night on August 12, 1993.

When he arrived, a 16-year-old suspect was standing in the middle of the Tasman Highway, holding a weapon and had been in stand-off with two officers for about 15 minutes.

“After a while, he lifted up the revolver which was aimed at both of these officers,” the police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

“One of them responded, warning him to drop his weapon. They were less than 20 feet away, both pointing their guns at each other.

“It was when the young guy lifted his gun up further at shoulder-level that he was shot and straightaway fell to the ground.

“We all ran up – two officers went to tend to him but the first thing I saw was the gun which was still easily in his reach.

“When I kicked the revolver away, it looked real and had a similar weight of an older police revolver when I kicked it.”

The injured youth died the next morning in the Launceston General Hospital from stomach wounds.

“At the station the next day, we were all gutted,” the police officer said.

“It was made much worse later on when we found out he was holding a fake gun.

“This guy knew it was a replica but as far as we were concerned, it was real.

“Shooting someone with a replica pistol is the last thing a copper would ever want to do.”

A coronial investigation into the incident concluded a year after the shooting.

Coroner Peter Wilson, expressed concern that replica pistols could reach the hand of immature and irresponsible people but made no recommendations on their use.

Any realistic toy guns found in Tasmanian homes could attract $6000, two years jail – or both – if the owner does not have a firearms licence for it.

This stipulation has been enshrined in Tasmania’s firearms act for the past 15 years.

Other states have only recently moved to do the same with Victoria last year imposing a maximum fine of up to $28,000 and two years jail for toy guns that could be mistaken for actual weapons.

A Tasmania Police spokeswoman told The Sunday Examiner there was no specific definition of an imitation firearm or toy in the state’s Firearms Act.

She said the guiding principle was if something substantially replicated a real firearm then it was subject to the Act’s provisions as if it were a real firearm.

“That includes the requirement to have a genuine reason for possessing a firearm and storage,” she said.

To possess an imitation firearm, the owner had to have a category H gun licence and be a member of an approved collection club or society.

The spokeswoman said the Police Commissioner could grant exemptions to licencing requirements in some circumstances, such as in theatre productions.

“The simple act of carrying a pistol without either constitutes an offence,” she said.

The police officer in this article did not want to be identified out of respect for the officer who fatally shot the youth.

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

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Relax, 3D Tintin’s the goods

LIFELIKE: Likeable odd couple Captain Haddock and Tintin in The Adventures Of Tintin.THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (PG)
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Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: the voices of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig

Screening: general release from Boxing Day

Rating: Four and a half stars

IN the words of intrepid reporter Tintin, ‘‘Great snakes!’’

How far animated movies have come.

Wearing a pair of 3D glasses at the movies these days is as commonplace as scoffing salted popcorn and enduring the rustling of junk-food wrappers. The sense of wonder felt when watching Avatar in 3D has been replaced with expectation. The ‘‘oohs’’ and ‘‘aahs’’ are becoming rarer.

So, how can a film adaptation of a comic written in the 1940s, based on the adventures of Tintin – a young Belgian reporter – and his faithful canine sidekick, Snowy, hope to compete in the cutthroat post-Christmas movie blitz?

It will hold its own, for two reasons. One, Tintin fans are curious to see their childhood hero on the big screen. And two, The Adventures Of Tintin brings back the wow factor.

This 3D version of Hergé’s classic comic strip is technically groundbreaking, creating a believable sense of time and place as well as edge-of-your-seat action. Director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson achieve this while staying true to the comic’s original charm.

The Adventures Of Tintin fuses three adventures into one: The Crab With The Golden Claws; The Secret Of The Unicorn; and Red Rackham’s Treasure. Clean-living Tintin (Jamie Bell) and the heavy-drinking Captain Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis) join forces to seek the truth about The Unicorn (a ship), Marlinspike Hall and the Haddock family.

It’s an action-packed rollercoaster ride with a well-executed plot and effects so realistic you sometimes forget you are watching, well, a cartoon.

It is only the exaggerated features of the characters – the bulbous noses of Haddock and the twitty Thompson Twins (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost); the oversized chins and ape-like arms of the mutinous crew of the Karaboudjan; and the narrow-eyed, sharp features of the villainous Sakharine (Daniel Craig) – that remind us that these are not flesh and blood actors.

The settings are equally realistic, and the attention to detail remarkable. A cobbled street in Europe shrouded by fog is so lifelike you can actually feel the sting of the crisp morning air as it enters your lungs.

In the tradition of classic detective movies, clue after clue presents itself, a stranger warns our hero of danger and is shot dead, there are twists and turns in the plot and Tintin has his fair share of lightbulb – and life and death – moments.

He is knocked unconscious, shot at, kidnapped and held prisoner on a ship, stranded in the open ocean, flies a plane which crash-lands into a North African desert, and lands plenty of punches of his own.

Equal part action hero and sleuth.

Incorrigible drunk Captain Haddock is a constant source of mirth. In one scene, a plane is running out of fuel and he merely blows into the fuel tank, his alcohol-drenched breath bringing the engine back to life.

In another, after being rescued by soldiers in the desert, Haddock is dehydrated and – even worse – sober. When handed a glass of water he says: ‘‘What is this peculiar liquid? There’s no bouquet, no palate.’’

As a child I spent hours reading and re-reading Tintin’s adventures, and in one instance was even so bold as to write (in lead pencil) ‘‘I love Tintin’’ on the first page of a Tintin book borrowed from the library. Nerdy? Definitely. A criminal offence? Perhaps.

Tintin, with his ginger fringe reminiscent of a cockatoo’s crest, his three-quarter length trousers, long socks and blue sweater over a collared white shirt, looks as I’d imagined him. He is brave, intelligent and pursues truth and justice in the Belgian way.

This is not a film for young children. There are gunfights, fist fights, references to alcohol and drinking, and exceedingly nasty ‘‘baddies’’.

But Tintin purists will not be disappointed. I wasn’t.

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Coronation Street blog

Today, bloggers, is the first day of my annual leave, and I want to wish each of you, even Adam, a happy Christmas-New Year. Thank you all for being such scintillating company during the year, for being the characters that you are, and for sharing part of your life. I’ve written in the Herald today about the blog, and I’ll copy and paste that here. Tomorrow in the Herald, by the way, I tell how I’m going to become a better person in 2012, and hopefully that process will be underway by the time of my return on Tuesday, February 14. Cheers, and thank you again. Hey, I think I’m going to miss you! Jeff.
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AS a young teenager I was fascinated by the British soapie Coronation Street, and while I was never sure why, I think now it was that the characters were not only credible but that I’d encountered them in my short life.

I’d seen a number of perpetually disapproving women just like Ena Sharples, nervous mousy women like Minnie, stern and sneering Marthas and monosyllabic men in overalls, real characters rather than the impossibly melodramatic characters of American and Australian soap.

And that’s why I sometimes have a sense of Coronation Street when I’m on my blog.

The blog, like Coronation Street, has its own life, a life, like that of a company, that is more than the sum of the individuals who create it. But more importantly in the association with the British series, the blog has credible characters.

Not only are they credible, they’re real, because while blog contributors can disguise their identity they invariably disclose their personality and character over a series of posts. We come to know whether Honeypie is a cranky, intolerant bastard or a kindly person accustomed to being the victim, and that’s despite his best efforts to reinvent himself. Yes, attempts at gender reassignment fail too.

The day’s blog article, a shorter version of the day’s column in the Herald, provides the hook for the day, but running in parallel to the debate or mere discussion are what I like to think of as committee proceedings, perhaps blog respondents immersed in their own argument or exploring an issue that appeals to them both.

Sometimes these parallel proceedings are not as friendly as I’d like – there is no love lost, for example, between Directeur Sportif and The Real Tough Titties. They’ve quarrelled about road rules for cyclists, Newcastle street names, famous Hunter athletes and local history, and next year I’m planning to provoke an argument about the origins of lilly pilly jam.

These combatants have, also, a friendlier life on the blog. We have, for example, been part of the admiring circle as Directeur Sportif became a father for the first time and as The Real Tough Titties married. And Directeur Sportif gives us uncommonly lucid explanations of matters of medicine and science.

This life beneath the surface of the blog has, like life itself, joys and sadnesses, and one heart-wrenching episode was the struggle against cancer and death of the teenage son of the blog’s chaff and oats, who at that time and since has parted the curtains on the life of a parent involved in such an emotional challenge.

We’ve been privy to the highs and lows of life in China of a Coalfields man teaching English at a Yancheng university, of a Newcastle woman’s efforts to balance her roles as a vet and as a single mother, of a first-time Newcastle councillor’s struggle with the realities of politics.

We have a retired policeman who gives a sharp account of why we have so much antisocial behaviour, a divorced mother of adult children who rises at 4am to work a number of jobs to pay for her modest home, an artist who is revelling in being a mother for the first time, an investor and investment advisor who has given us a fascinating insight into his descent into depression and, I’m pleased to say, his recovery, a teetotal doorman at a Newcastle club who does not sing the benefits of alcohol.

There are many more characters on the blog, some who make an appearance in most blog topics, some who come and go, and some who rush across the stage unloading as they go.

Not all like me, and even more disagree with me, which is a relief, but many are ready to spring to my defence, as they did this week against Adam, who wrote: ‘‘You are the epitome of lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit and sense. I would love to have a conversation with you. I didn’t bother reading the dribble that is above. I’m sure you have not failed to uphold to the low standard of your usual written slop.’’

I hope we hear more of Adam, and indeed you, in 2012.

Please, everyone, stay safe.

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11 killed in NZ balloonaccident

People pay their respects near the site of the crash.CARTERTON, NZ – Two passengers plummeted to their deaths from a burning hot air balloon as it crashed to the ground in New Zealand’s North Island yesterday, killing nine others.
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Emergency services were at the scene, near Carterton, within three minutes but could not help any of the victims, who had been coming to the end of a scenic 45-minute flight and hoping to land in a paddock about 7.25am.

The balloon hit power lines and the sparks started a fire in the basket, Wairarapa police Area Commander Inspector Brent Register said yesterday afternoon.

Two passengers, a man and woman, appeared to have jumped from the basket, he said.

The fire then flared and the balloon dropped sharply to the ground, killing the rest of the occupants.

The pair who jumped were found 200 metres from the balloon wreckage.

The victims were five couples, all from the greater Wellington area, and the pilot, reported to be Lance Hopping.

The trip was run by the Early Morning Balloons company, which operates in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.

Some of the bodies were badly burned and disaster victim identification experts were working through the wreckage to identify them officially.

“It’s a very hard scene. Some of the bodies are very badly burned,” Inspector Register said.

Two bodies were taken to the mortuary at Wellington Hospital late yesterday, while the other nine were to remain at the scene overnight.

No names have been released as police contact next of kin.

It is not known how far the balloon fell.

Police have spoken to five witnesses to the crash so far.

Three company staff – there to retrieve the balloon after it landed – witnessed the flaming crash.

“This a huge, nationally significant event,” Inspector Register said earlier yesterday. “It’s a tragedy as bad as tragedies get.”

Resident David McKinlay could not believe what he saw when he looked up while watering his garden at 7.40am.

“There were flames licking up the basket on one side, up towards the guy ropes of the balloon itself and probably just about reaching the fabric of the balloon,” he said.

The balloon came down at speed and Mr McKinlay ran inside to alert emergency services.

“When I got back out I could just see the mass of flame where the actual balloon was on fire,” he said. “It had completely disintegrated and it was just a long – probably 10 or 15 metres long – trail of flame coming in towards the ground at colossal speed.”

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

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Newcastle airport partial sale for growth

NEWCASTLE Airport says its potential partial privatisation does not mean that Williamtown is looking to become Sydney’s ‘‘second airport’’.
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But the airport is hopeful the RAAF will lift the domestic arrival limit from six planes an hour to eight as it chases international connections with New Zealand, Fiji and Asia.

As the Newcastle Herald reported yesterday, Newcastle and Port Stephens councils voted on Tuesday night to restructure their jointly owned business.

If the plan is approved as expected by the Department of Local Government, the councils will be able to sell as much as 49per cent of the operation.

Airport chief executive Paul Hughes welcomed the restructure, but said a partial sale was unlikely ‘‘in the shorter term’’.

Mr Hughes said the restructure would take $18million of airport debt off the councils’ books and allow the airport to borrow more money on its own account.

‘‘There will not be much change from a day-to-day point of view, but it’s really important we have the right structure in place that allows us to grow when we need to, but in a way that’s consistent with the RAAF,’’ Mr Hughes said.

Paterson MP Bob Baldwin, whose electorate covers the airport, said it was time the two councils sold out completely.

Mr Baldwin said the councils had done a good job building the airport ‘‘from a tin shed when nobody wanted it’’ but the time had come to let the private sector take things to the next stage.

Businessman Hilton Grugeon, whose Hunter Lands is planning a major airport-related business park immediately south of the airport, also called for a full sale.

He said nobody would pay good money to buy into the airport while the two councils remained in control.

Newcastle Airport’s head lease is with the Department of Defence and its operations are governed by an agreement with the RAAF. A Defence spokesman said it would not be commenting on the airport restructure until the new year.

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