Grass Fire

Residents ‘at risk’ from illegal burn-offs

RESIDENTS in southeast Queensland, including here on the Gold Coast, are being put at risk by property owners conducting illegal burn-offs, authorities have warned.

Rural Fire Service Regional Manager Alan Gillespie said people who lit fires without a permit were putting their lives and the lives of others at serious risk.

“The Permit to Light Fire system is there to ensure fires are lit and managed safely,” Mr Gillespie said.

“We understand that some residents don’t understand the requirements, but those who do are unnecessarily tying up valuable resources that could be used to respond to legitimate incidents.

“It’s incomprehensible that some residents are willing to bypass a permit system designed to keep themselves and others safe from bushfire threat.

“We are anticipating another long and potentially dangerous bushfire season and prime bushfire conditions are already starting to take hold in parts of south-east Queensland.

“Under these conditions, it only takes one unauthorised burn to get out of hand to threaten lives and properties.”

Mr Gillespie said residents who didn’t apply for a permit were flouting the Permit to Light Fire system.

“There were incidents in June and now it’s flowing over into July – it’s not good enough,” he said.

“It’s occurring from Beenleigh down to Mudgeeraba and across to Grantham. It’s not prevalent to one area.

“Residents caught conducting unauthorised burns on their properties could face hefty fines or even imprisonment.”

He said residents and landholders must contact their local fire warden to obtain a free permit if they wanted to conduct a burn larger than two metres in any direction.

“A permit will detail when a burn can take place to ensure it is conducted under the right conditions,” he said.

“It’s imperative permit holders notify their neighbours and the first officer of their local RFS brigade before lighting a fire.”

Landholders can use the Fire Warden Finder tool on the RFS website or contact their area office to locate their local fire warden and obtain a permit.

Further details are available at ruralfire.qld.gov.au.

Man killed in Gold Coast crash

A MAN has been killed in a single-vehicle crash on the Gold Coast overnight.

The 64-year-old lost control of his Holden sedan on Captain Cook Drive at Parkwood just before 6pm.

Police said the man’s car smashed into a concrete gutter before colliding with a tree.

Sadly, the Coombabah man’s injuries were too severe and he could not be saved.

Police confirmed the 64-year-old was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.

coal mine

Pressure mounts in Qld over miner deaths

UPDATE at 9:20 AM | THE deaths of six Queensland miners in the past 12 months has prompted an emergency meeting of government, industry and union representatives to tackle onsite safety.

The Queensland government is facing pressure to do more on safety at the state’s mine sites after Jack Gerdes, 27, died after being injured by an excavator at the Baralaba North open-cut coal mine in Central Queensland on Sunday.

His death led to initial talks between the government, mining industry and unions on Monday and two independent reviews were ordered – one into coal mine fatalities since 2000 and the other into current health and safety legislation.

Now, a safety forum will be held in Brisbane on Wednesday to implement better short- and long-term safety protocols at mine sites, attended by senior mining executives, representatives, unions and peak bodies, The Courier-Mail reports.

State Opposition leader Deb Frecklington wants a parliamentary inquiry into ways to improve mining sector safety that would also look at work culture.

“The reason why I have called a parliamentary inquiry is to get to the bottom of each and every one of these issues, but also to ensure if there is a culture problem in the industry that it’s looked into,” she said.

Former Queensland Mining Council health and safety adviser David Cliff said prior to the last 12 months, Queensland recorded one or two mining deaths a year over the past decade.

He said the number of mining fatalities should be zero and the current figures – “the highest we’ve had in about 20 years” – fly in the face of modern standards.

“They should all be avoidable, with our current level of mature safety culture and effective systems,” he told AAP.

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said they would agitate for additional site-specific safety procedures.

“Our industry has already been working on the idea of a safety reset on top of the comprehensive safety briefings that already occur on each mine site, but it is essential that a reset focuses on the specific fatal risks at each mine site,” he said.

© AAP 2019

FIRST at 7:30 AM | THE six deaths recorded in Queensland mining over the last 12 months is “not an aberration”, a leading health and safety expert says.

David Cliff, a former health and safety advisor to the Queensland Mining Council, said the current figures – “the highest we’ve had in about 20 years” – fly in the face of modern standards.

“To get one or two may be an aberration,” Professor Cliff said.

“To get six is not an aberration.”

Early on Sunday, Jack Gerdes became the sixth mining death in the state in 12 months after he was fatally injured at the Baralaba North Coal Mine in central Queensland.

The experienced mining operator was found on the stairs of the excavator with injuries to his head, face and limbs.

It’s believed the 27-year-old got caught between the body of the excavator and the safety rails of the stairs.

His death has prompted crisis talks between the state government, the mining industry and unions, and a review into fatal coal mine incidents would be expanded to include mineral mine and quarry incidents since 2000.

Professor Cliff, from the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, believes the number of mining fatalities should be zero.

“They should all be avoidable, with our current level of mature safety culture and effective systems,” he told AAP.

But he said the industry is changing.

“We are going to ever-smaller numbers of people on mine sites, because of high degrees of automation and larger machinery,” he said.

“That means there are fewer people around to keep an eye on things.

“The people on the mine sites are required to do more and more tasks of different sorts.”

Prof Cliff said blaming the spike on the failure of the government’s Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee to meet for the last four months, due to being unable to meet its gender quota, is “drawing a very long bow”.

He was also doubtful fatigue was a factor and said a CFMEU call to stop work for 24 hours could “jar everyone back into reality at all levels of the mine site”.

“You need to be eternally vigilant,” he said.

“The key to fixing things is to predict the precursor events or situations before they become an accident.

“We need to get a really good reporting culture with no fear of blame. If someone does something wrong, we don’t want them not reporting it because they’re afraid to lose their job.”

© AAP 2019

Madam Butterfly

Opera Australia to serenade Gold Coasters at HOTA

Hear the vocal wonders of Opera Australia and a chamber orchestra in a dramatic account of Puccini’s masterpiece – Madama Butterfly – coming to HOTA on July 18 to 20.

Incorporating themes of love and loyalty versus ownership and power, Madama Butterfly tells the story of a man ashore in Japan enchanted by the beauty of the east and a woman in love with the promise of the west, who fall deep in love despite their cultural differences.

CEO of HOTA, Criena Gehrke, said Opera Australia brings this story to life with their outstanding performance that will leave audiences in awe.

“The always brilliant Opera Australia will seduce even the hardest hearts with this incredibly rich and visually stunning love story,” she said.

“This is high definition storytelling at its best – with exquisite colour, music and emotion combined to create an unforgettable live experience.”

Madam Butterfly

PHOTO: Supplied by Madama Butterfly © Jeff Busby

Directed by John Bell, the production – which is sung in Italian – features the famous aria ‘Un bel di vedremo’ and the Humming Chorus, along with Japanese and American musical themes.

The addition of a children’s chorus filled with Gold Coast singers aged between ten to fourteen years old, will perform in the production of Madama Butterfly, with some of the country’s finest professional opera singers and musicians.

Led by Choir Master and HOTA Choir Musical Director, Anthony Zambolt, twenty local singers have filled the positions of the chorus and will sing two songs in the production when it comes to the Home of the Arts later this month.

The Gold Coast is the second stop in Opera Australia and Opera Queensland’s national tour of this breathtaking production.

Madama Butterfly will take place at HOTA from Thursday 18th July to Saturday 20th July, at 7.30pm.

For more information, visit hota.com.au/theatre/madama-butterfly/.

Race record hailed as highlight of Gold Coast Marathon

IT may have rained on the Gold Coast Marathon’s 41st parade, but the conditions failed to halt a flood of inspirational performances, a race record and an exciting emerging Aussie Olympic campaign.

The biggest headline came via Japanese speedster Yuta Shitara who smashed the Gold Coast Marathon record, taking out the IAAF Gold Label race in an amazing 2:07:50.

He lowered the previous mark of Kenyan Kenneth Mungara (2:08:42), set in 2015.

However, in the backdrop to Shitara’s brilliant race plan was an event that captures accolades and attention across the globe.

This year’s eight Gold Coast Marathon races attracted a total of 26,287 entries, including 3,678 overseas competitors, as the event continues to achieve a long-term upward trend.

Last year’s numbers spiked past 27,000 on the back of the event’s 40-year anniversary celebrations and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Yuta Shitara from Japan winning the Gold Coast Marathon in race record time | Source: Supplied

Race hosts, Events Management Queensland, are predicting continued strong growth, which results in an annual injection of more than $28 million into the local economy.

Across the weekend there was an avalanche of incredible performances – from the grassroots to the elite.

Sunday’s races started spectacularly from an Australian perspective with Melbourne’s Jack Rayner reveling in the rain, kicking clear in the later stages to win the ASICS Half Marathon in 1:02:30 ahead of Japan’s Yuki Sato and Yuma Hattori.

While in the women’s ASICS Half Marathon, Sinead Diver led home an Aussie trifecta. Both performances will have positive repercussions towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Rayner and Diver secure Aussie double in ASICS Half Marathon | Source: Supplied

There was a similar story in the Wheelchair Marathon with Australian Paralympians Bill Chaffey and Madison de Rozario back on the Gold Coast and mining more gold.

From well before the 6am start of the ASICS Half Marathon, the Gold Coast’s Broadwater Parklands were awash with colour and excitement.

The trademark ‘atmosphere’ that so many elite runners and weekend warriors speak about was in play. Through the darkness emerged images of warm-up routines, excited conversations around expectation and nervous glances.

For thousands, from across Gold Coast suburbs to 57 countries across the globe, this was their one day of the year. From first timers to veterans, there was a palpable camaraderie through the preparation areas to the starting line.

Chaffey and de Rozario collect more Gold Coast gold | Source: Supplied

Numbers across all categories were again strong for this year’s 41stGold Coast Marathon including 9,830 entries in the ASICS Half Marathon, Gold Coast Marathon (6,620), Southern Cross University 10km Run (5,179), Gold Coast Airport Fun Run (3068) and a combined 1,575 in the Garmin 4km and 2km Junior Dashes.

The weekend’s events were an emotional occasion for chair of Gold Coast-based company Events Management Queensland (EMQ), Kerry Watson, who had announced that this year’s Gold Coast Marathon would be his final in the role.

Mr Watson has led EMQ – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) – since 1998 and has overseen the global success of the Gold Coast Marathon and the Pan Pacific Masters Games.

Mr Watson thanked all participants of this year’s Gold Coast Marathon events – ‘runners, walkers, wheelchair participants, volunteers and spectators’.

“To our valued sponsors and supporters, event staff, contractors and 1,200-strong volunteer team, I acknowledge your continued commitment and contribution to this event. Without you, we could not deliver the Gold Coast Marathon to such high standards,” he said.

“I congratulate all placegetters and championship winners… your performances have inspired us all and I hope to see you back in 2020.”

The fun, family face of the Gold Coast Marathon was never more evident than on Saturday.

There was still the highly competitive side to race weekend, especially in the Southern Cross University 10km Run.

See: Success for Pompeani and Barber in Southern Cross University 10km Run

However across the Gold Coast Airport Fun Run, which captured all ages and activity levels, through to the exuberance exploding in the Garmin 4km and 2km Junior Dashes the spirit of the Gold Coast Marathon shone through.