Author Archives: Admin

Thousands of Aboriginal patients at risk from health service closure, doctors say

Kiara Bloxsome and her six-month-old son Carter, whose family have been patients of the Mount Druitt Aboriginal Medical Service for four generations. “The GPs understand where you come from, because they come from the same background,” Ms Bloxsome said. Photo: Nick Moir’Dear Ministers, you are precipitating a catastrophe’ Aboriginal Medical Service to close over unpaid tax debt
Shanghai night field

​The safety of more than 11,000 Aboriginal patients will be put at risk by the closure of a specialist medical service in Sydney’s west, a psychiatrist claims.

Negotiations between state and federal health authorities and staff at the Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney (AMSWS) have not yet come up with a way to safely transfer the patients of the service to new treating teams ahead of the service’s closure next month, said Neil Phillips, the AMSWS consulting psychiatrist.

The western Sydney service is in voluntary administration and is racked by debts, and the government has said it will not fund it beyond September 30 because health funding should be used to pay for health care, not to service debts.

Dr Phillips has written an open letter to federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion and Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash accusing them of hypocrisy for convening a “round table” on Indigenous mental illness at the same time as closing specialist services for those conditions after years of underfunding for them.

“I’m concerned the decision [to close] is ideological,” Dr Phillips told Fairfax Media. “I have never been more worried for my patients in my entire career, and I have worked in very difficult and remote places. Yet here we are in the centre of Sydney and I don’t know what’s going to happen to them.”

He said many of the service’s patients had very bad experiences with mainstream health services and would not be willing to have their files moved to other clinics. In addition, the western Sydney area did not have enough Aboriginal medical staff employed to meet the demand that would occur when thousands of people suddenly found themselves needing a new healthcare provider on September 30.

“We are talking about 11,000 people needing to be referred somewhere else,” he said. “Over the years it has become very clear that if mainstream services don’t have Aboriginal workers involved, Aboriginal people just don’t go.”

Dr Phillips said the closure could lead to serious psychosis or even death for some of his patients, traumatising them and their families and costing governments more in the long term.

He said it took a long time to build rapport with patients in the service, and many of them would not come in for treatment or take their medication if they were not with a service they trusted.

“Even if you can guarantee nobody will get hurt, which you can’t … if someone ends up in hospital there wouldn’t be much change from ten to fifteen thousand dollars for the government.

“It’s agonising for the families to have someone with uncontrolled psychosis, there’s the issue of domestic violence when someone is experiencing paranoia, and there is the issue of kids observing someone with psychosis in the house – it’s scary.”

A spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health said it was working closely with the NSW Ministry of Health and others to ensure the effective transition of patients, and the government’s “primary concern” was to ensure the patients had access to high-quality, culturally appropriate services.

But she said the service was in “significant debt” and government policy was to use health funding to pay for care, not pay off debt.

“AMSWS has accepted a three-month funding extension up until 30 September to assist with the transfer of clients and services,” she said.

“The government is unable to continue subsidising the service beyond this three months because of the financial difficulties being experienced by the service.

“The Australian government acknowledges that this could be disruptive for patients, many of whom benefit by the community-controlled model of care presently offered by AMSWS, but as this service is now no longer viable, every effort will be made to transition patients to other service providers as quickly as possible.”

Eastern Creek fire: disused factory burns near M4

A major fire has ripped through a disused factory in Eastern Creek only metres from the M4.
Shanghai night field

Up to 120 firefighters from the NSW Fire Service and 80 firefighters from the Rural fire service are battling the blaze. Peter Brock Drive – Eastern Creek pic.twitter上海夜网m/vxVsXRXbwT— Chris (@CBMediaSydney) July 30, 2015

Smoke is billowing from the building on Peter Brock Drive in Sydney’s west, which is believed to have collapsed during a hail storm in April.

Up to 90 people have been evacuated from nearby factories.

Rescuers do not believe anyone is inside the collapsed building, and there have been no reports of injuries. View from 7 News helicopter of the Eastern Creek building on fire. 100 fire fighters are in attendance. #7Newspic.twitter上海夜网m/eRZrjnfGHu— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) July 30, 2015This is scary. Eastern creek. @smhpic.twitter上海夜网m/Q4djmo02av— Jennifer Duke (@JennieDuke) July 30, 2015EASTERN CREEK | #FRNSW at a bld’ing #fire on Peter Brock Dr. Multiple 000 calls. Collapsed bld’ing well alight. Fire ops underway.— Fire & Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) July 30, 2015Huge fire raging in #EasternCreek as seen from Vaucluse. Stay safe everyone! #9Newspic.twitter上海夜网m/8t31iFxzUz— Lisa (@spicyicecream) July 30, 2015

Access to water was difficult for the firefighters and multiple crews were called in to assist.

Aerial footage from news helicopters shows the collapsed roof of the Mobis Parts Australia factory building is engulfed in flames.

The smoke is billowing away from the M4, but traffic is very heavy along the motorway, especially westbound near Reservoir Road due to the fire.

Motorists have been told to expect significant delays during peak hour. EASTERN CREEK | UPDATE: 100+ f/fighters at a factory #fire on Peter Brock Dr. 90 ppl evac’d. Fire contained. Fire ops continuing.— Fire & Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) July 30, 2015EASTERN CREEK: Traffic’s very heavy on the #M4, especially w/b, due to smoke in the area from a fire on #PeterBrockDr near #ReservoirRd.— Live Traffic Sydney (@LiveTrafficSyd) July 30, 2015

NSW Fire and Rescue have asked drivers on the M4 to take care and wind up their windows.

“It’s probably tempting to do a bit of rubber-necking, but we don’t want anyone to be in an accident,” a spokeswoman for NSW Fire and Rescue said.   @7newssydney large factory fire behind twin servos on m4 westbound pic.twitter上海夜网m/r6VRJbB9Kr— Joan Caballero (@joancaballero9) July 30, 2015

A patch of grass which had caught alight, threatening nearby bushland, is now under control, a spokeswoman for NSW Fire and Rescue said.

Community drinks to demolition halt but Alexandria Hotel court battle looms

Swans fans soak up the atmosphere at the Alexandria Hotel in Sydney. Photo: Fiona MorrisFollow more Sydney news on Facebook
Shanghai night field

The Alexandria Hotel has been given a lifeline after the City of Sydney moved to stop a developer’s plan to replace the pub with apartments following community opposition.

The city received an unusually strong public response to a redevelopment plan, which had been open for comment for the last month.

The hotel had been marked for demolition.

“There’s been a very strong community campaign,” lord mayor Clover Moore said. “Around 470 submissions and comments about the development application were received by the City of Sydney.”

The City of Sydney has slapped a heritage order on the site preventing any construction for six months while it decides whether the building’s historical value should be preserved.

A “save the Alex” campaign spread on social media last month after the pub’s new owner, the publicity shy Centennial Property Group, lodged plans to build an $8 million, four-storey residential tower with 28 apartments on the site.

However, CPG has moved quickly to have its plans approved in court, where it will face a showdown with the council.

The developer has invoked a law that allows development proposals to be heard by the NSW Land and Environment Court instead of a council if they are not finalised after 40 days.

The move could be seen as a way for the developer to have the matter decided in a forum free from emotive public hearings.

CPG did not return a call from Fairfax Media on Thursday.

The question of whether the pub has heritage value is contested.

A hotel has stood on the corner of Henderson Road and Garden Street in Alexandria since the late 1870s.

The existing building was built about the late 1920s and was operated by Tooth and Co.

Documents lodged in support of the development application acknowledge the building has historical value but argue its style of architecture is relatively common and that its heritage value has been diminished by surrounding redevelopment.

However, the building is the last sign of Alexandria’s prewar industrial heritage. All the adjacent buildings were demolished in the 1940s to make way for the eastern suburbs rail line.

For the past 15 years, the pub has been leased by Darren “Harry” McAsey, a former Sydney Swans player who has forgone pokies and turned the pub into a de facto headquarters for Sydney’s Aussie Rules fans.

Mr McAsey, who continues to run the pub, declined to comment.

The pub has become a favoured spot for Swans fans to watch the team’s away games.

If the building is granted heritage protection – by the city or the court – it may still not operate as a pub. Depending on the nature of the protection granted, developers could build on the site, but might need to preserve the building.

The matter will be heard in the Land and Environment Court in coming weeks.

Women CEOs join call to scrap ‘unconscious bias’

She runs the Australian arm of global tech titan Microsoft, managing about 800 people and the needs of 14,000 software vendors – but Pip Marlow said a man was surprised she had time to make it to a recent breakfast meeting.
Shanghai night field

And it wasn’t because she was a busy chief executive.

“He said ‘thanks so much for coming, it must have been hard for you as a woman to make a 7.30am meeting’,” Ms Marlow said. “I don’t think there was any ill intent but I’m a big believer there is an unconscious bias.”

Her comments came a day after former prime minister Julia Gillard said the unconscious bias against women needs to be fought and the pay gap between the sexes was only the “start of a cycle of financial equity that becomes harder and harder to rectify”.

An ANZ study this week found women earn $700,000 on average less than men over their lifetime and one in five who are yet to retire have virtually no retirement savings.

Speaking at a Melbourne Press Club luncheon on Thursday, Ms Marlow said crushing unconscious bias would help achieve gender equality. “We have got to look for bias and tackle it everywhere it exists,” she said.

Ms Marlow participated in a discussion with Rea Group chief executive Tracey Fellows and Pandora Australia chief executive Jane Huxley.

Ms Huxley said “we need to draw a line in the sand and say we are not going to perpetuate the issue” of gender equality, so “future generations are not having this same conversation”.

She said solving the problem didn’t mean giving women more cash.

“It doesn’t have to be a financial decision that stops us from closing the gap. There’s education, there’s mentoring, there’s coaching, opportunities, benefits, balance – all of these things can be traded to close the equity gap.” Ms Huxley said.

She said Australia faced a bigger problem than maternity leave, which is often attributed at fuelling gender imbalance.

“The carer’s-leave issue will dwarf any issue around maternity leave from about 2018 onwards. We will need to completely rethink a full-time employment workforce versus a contingent workforce,” she said.

She said an ageing population meant decades-old work practices needed to change.

“We are going to bring back or rethink the sabbatical … how we put on contract workers, because this issue is going to make maternity leave and all of the subsequent impacts that we are discussing now … look like a walk in the park.”

Ms Huxley said a sabbatical could be used to have a baby – maternity or paternity leave – care for an older relative or further study, such as completing an Masters of Business Administration degree.

“We need to think about what extended periods of leave look like from work, and simply slot maternity leave into a list of things that we need to think about as the population ages.”

Ms Fellows said mothers were expected to be the “default” to care for sick children or fix family difficulties.

“If women want to have more senior positions there has to be a sharing of roles and responsibilities,” she said.

Single-fronted terrace houses pack a punch

Most inner-city suburbs have them. Often in a row, but sometimes free-standing.  They are that 19th-century architectural gem, the single-fronted terrace.
Shanghai night field

In brick or timber, with verandahs trimmed in decorative cast iron, terrace houses are as much a part of Melbourne as hot Christmas dinners and the Boxing Day Test.

From Carlton to Brunswick, Fitzroy, Richmond, Hawthorn, Malvern, Armadale and South Yarra, terraces are being transformed into glamorous, low-maintenance homes that pack a mighty punch behind their narrow frontages.

Soaring architect-designed extensions, interiors by Melbourne’s top designers,  marble and stone finishes, oak parquetry, and en suites are all part of the new terrace package.

Despite modest facades, many have staggering interiors with cutting-edge design and spaces that have to be seen to be believed.

In Brunswick, an unrenovated single-fronted terrace costs upwards of $700,000.  In Fitzroy, a rebuilt single-fronter will set you back at least $1.3 million, says Arch Staver, director of Nelson Alexander.

Single-fronted terraces with a well-executed renovation in Malvern or Armadale are incredibly popular, according to Marshall White director Justin Long.

“They are seen as a good, low-maintenance, ready-to-go proposition retaining a lot of the charm of the inner city,” he says. “People are looking for a seamless blend of contemporary and older style with quality design and fixtures.”

Melbourne terraces, typically with a five-metre frontage, have stood the test of time because they are efficient for high-density living, according to architect Kel Greenway, the principal of GHP Architects.  He says terraces can be recycled to fit in with modern ideas of sustainability.

Greenway first renovated a terrace in Hawthorn in the 1970s and estimates he has done more than 40 since.

“The challenge is getting light into the interiors and being very clever with the way you deal with the proportions of space in what is a long-narrow building,”  he says.

Light courts, extensive glazing and opening up the space to create a sense of spatial flow all require the architect to draw on a bag of tricks.

“It’s really about being an illusionist by the way you create sight lines and integrate the indoors and outdoors,” he says.

Brett Gilbert, of Gilbert Design Group, specialises in restoring heritage houses, including terraces.

“Most clients want a house that looks very simple from the front but amazing once you get inside,” he says. “The best way is to keep the front two rooms, chop the rest off and rebuild.”

Construction of terrace houses began when Melbourne was awash with money after gold was discovered in Victoria in 1851 and the city’s population trebled in three years. As gold fortunes grew architects designed great buildings, many of them elegant terraces.

The designs became grander and more ornate, with moulded ornaments, parapets and multi-coloured brickwork. In the early 20th century the middle class abandoned terraces as they sought out the leafy quiet of the new Edwardian suburbs.

Terraces got a new lease of life in the 1950s and ’60s when immigrants from southern Europe saw them as cheap first homes in Australia, often painting them blue or green, or even pink, but in the grander suburbs, often white.

Today terraces are quintessential inner-city living – the charming, compact option to high-rise.

Styling your terrace

With 18 years’ experience as a home stylist, Maree  Mursell​ shares her secrets on turning  a terrace house into a single-fronted gem. Aim to make the narrow terrace look spacious and light.Keep interior paintwork colour the same throughout. Popular colours include Antique White USA and Hog Bristle used at no more than a quarter or half strength. Forget heritage colours.Get the  wow factor and colour with scatter cushions on beds and sofas and with artwork.Invest in a good quality sofa because you don’t want to buy something every two years. Go for “conservative contemporary” when buying furniture because it won’t date.Mirrors in hallways and bedrooms reflect light and enhance the space.Use rugs on floorboards in hallways and living areas. Neutral-toned carpets make  bedrooms look bigger.Opt for plantation shutters or simple plain blinds at the windows. 

Case study

Interior architect Mairead Murphy imbues the smallest spaces with buckets of personality.

Her creative work to add functionality, style and light to a single-fronted home in Fitzroy North was a study in accentuating the positives.

Murphy calls it “playing on strengths”, which older, single-fronted homes do have, but not always in obvious abundance.

The solution can be found in simply looking up, Murphy said.

Period homes, including single-fronted addresses, often have soaring ceilings, which offers storage space – such as extending wardrobes to full ceiling height – and an airy feel, if used well.

At her easel in her Northcote-based Maike Design Studio, Murphy put pencil to paper and rejigged the Fitzroy North floor plan, which she has named in her portfolio as “C House”.

“The house had an old extension from the 1980s on the back, so one of the main challenges was how to work with that space,” she says. “A lot of detail from the original home was missing. It was crazy what people used to do.”

When tackling the makeover of any single-fronted home, Murphy says she reconfigures the layout to better suit modern families, who tend to share zones rather than splinter off into separated formal rooms.

One of the most common requests for transforming and improving single-fronted or smaller homes is adding creating an en suite for a main bedroom and enlarging the existing central bathroom.

To achieve that in C House, among other clever touches, Murphy installed a claw bath that sits up off the floor, so it didn’t feel heavy and dominant. Better still, it was an elegant nod to the home’s era.

31 Densham Road, Armadale $2.8 million+ Agent Justin Long, Marshall White 0418 537 973 Auction August 22 at 12.30pm

Mary Bishop describes herself as a “Greek girl from Brunswick who thought Toorak was another country”, so buying a rundown terrace in Armadale was a form of inner-city migration.

Mary and husband Simon enlisted Brett Gilbert, of Gilbert Design Group, to rebuild their single-fronted terrace into a stunning home with all the bells and whistles.

Gilbert gutted the place, leaving only the front two rooms.

Interior designer, the late Stuart Rattle, brought his customary flair to the interiors, which include large swaths of marble, imported fittings and fixtures. Behind the facade of this typical single-fronted terrace are now three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study, an open-plan living-dining hub with concertina doors to the back garden and swimming pool – and interiors fit for a design magazine.

“It’s like a tardis,” Mary says. “You open the front door and it just keeps on going.”

Gilbert says his speciality is rebuilding heritage houses to attract minimum attention from the street but to be mind-blowing inside.

Four-metre-high ceilings in the back allowed him to incorporate big windows and the nine-metre-wide block, rather than the typical five metres, allowed a side courtyard and storage space.

“We found an antique pair of gates, put antique glass behind it and when you walk through the hall it reflects the light,” he says.

Mary loves everything about the house. “It’s warm, it’s fresh, it’s great for entertaining. We use every room.”

Now it’s time to do it all over again, she says.

  Domain

Quickflix shares in trading halt amid takeover speculation

Quickflix said it planned to release an update regarding a potential corporate transaction with an international party. Australian streaming and DVD rental business Quickflix has ignited rumours of a takeover after entering a trading halt on Thursday ahead of a potential acquisition.
Shanghai night field

The struggling Perth-based business last traded at 0.002¢ after requesting a trading halt “pending release of an update regarding a potential corporate transaction with an international party which may result in an acquisition”.

Stephen Langsford, the company’s founder and chief executive, did not return calls.

The release does not specify if the potential acquisition would be made by Quickflix or whether the international party would purchase part, or all of the local streaming company.

However, with little cash in the bank, speculation is rife that Quickflix will be the subject of a takeover bid.

At its last quarter update in April, Quickflix had just $1.26 million in the bank, down from $2.4 million at the beginning of calendar 2015. In May, it raised a further $775,000 with the identity of the “professional” investors undisclosed.

Any sale of Quickflix may be complicated thanks to a warrant held by Nine Entertainment after it acquired around 8 per cent, or 83.3 million shares, of the business from HBO for $1 million, which entitles the broadcaster to a $10.5 million payout in the event of a merger on sale, on top of the shares in owns.

Quickflix has a market capitalisation of $4.4 million.

Quickflix has had just 123,553 million paying customers in the last quarter. However, the company does not comprehensively break down its streaming and DVD customers. Rather it states that 75 per cent of its customers have “access to streaming”.

In May, Quickflix brokered a deal to become a reseller of content for Presto, a joint venture streaming service between Seven West Media and Foxtel. It kept its pay-per-view and DVD businesses.

The local player, which listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2005 has struggled with the entry of new players into the subscription video on-demand space.

Dominated by US-based Netflix, 2015 has seen streaming services grow rapidly in popularity. Stan, which is a 50-50 venture between Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media – publisher of The Australian Financial Review, and Presto are thought to hold the second and third positions in the streaming hierarchy.

While none of the three providers publish subscriber numbers, estimates put the total figure at 2 million.

Ashes 2015: Australia must ‘find a way’ in England and quickly, says Chris Rogers

Shanghai night field

BIRMINGHAM: To see Chris Rogers in action at Edgbaston was a bit like watching a multilingual, worldly tour guide try to lead a bunch of wide-eyed Australian backpackers around some ancient ruins when all they are thinking about is the pub crawl later that night.

There is much knowledge inside the head of the 37-year-old opener in spite of the knocks he has copped to it of late. And with England now certain to prepare replica tracks to the one on which Australia were bowled out for 136 on Wednesday for the final two Tests, Rogers’ fellow batsmen would do well to listen up and try to follow his lead.

Australia’s struggles against the moving ball are nothing new – they had the same dramas on their last tour here two years ago – but he believes they must work out a way to adapt, and urgently.

“I don’t think the focus [of the batsmen] is wrong,” Rogers insisted after making 52, the only score north of 16 in Australia’s miserable first innings.

“I think everyone is desperate to do well. Finding a way, that is possibly a concern. Particularly in these conditions, which are a little bit foreign to guys. You’ve got to find a method and we’ve got to find it quickly, because I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a few more of these kind of conditions.”

Rogers’ 50, the ninth in his past 11 innings, was a characteristically gritty number made in challenging conditions that suited a rampant James Anderson, in particular, like the WACA suits Mitchell Johnson. In the face of that the Australians collapsed, only Rogers hanging in there and threatening to hold his bat until his own demise, lbw to Stuart Broad, on Wednesday afternoon. Not to make light of his on-field collapse at Lord’s, a real scare that had him in doubt for this match, but you couldn’t blame him if he was left dizzied as one after another, his colleagues departed.

On afternoons like this – the marathon partnership of Rogers and Steve Smith at Lord’s a distant memory – one can come to the assumption that the scrapping Australian innings of old is no more. Rogers, however, believes that is not fair.

“It’s hard to know. You can’t just look at it from today and that’s it,” he said. “Or just in England. I’ve been so fortunate to have a lot of experience over here, so maybe that counts for a lot and the other guys probably just don’t know the conditions as well.

“There’s been tough times when we’ve had to fight in Australia or wherever and they’ve managed to do it well. So I don’t think you can just look at today and say, no, the fight has gone, because I’m sure it hasn’t.”

Rogers also brushed off suggestions that the Australians had got ahead of themselves after their 405-run thrashing of England in the second Test.

“I don’t think so. I think we respect England and particularly their attack,” he said. ” A lot has been made of that second Test win and a lot was made of the first Test win. It’s one game, one game at a time.

“As cricketers you know the momentum can change so quickly. So I don’t think we got ahead of ourselves at all. I read a lot where people thought it was almost game over, but there’s no way you disrespect the opposition. Particularly when you get conditions like this.”

If it wasn’t already clear, Rogers’ one-out performance again reinforced a need for selectors to convince him to continue on past this series and not retire as he has indicated he would.

With captain Michael Clarke continuing to battle – if he can’t get out of his rut by the end of this series his career must be on the line – and fellow thirtysomething Adam Voges’ immediate future clouded by another poor stroke on day one, the prospect of losing Rogers is a worrying one.

He’s been asked repeatedly about the subject on this tour and is still not giving much away.

“I don’t know. It’s still a long way away,” he said. “I’m just enjoying what’s happening and I will weigh that up when we come to it.”

Hugh Bowman and Chris Waller to receive more gongs as Australian Turf Club celebrates premiership winners

WInners: Hugh Bowman and Chris Waller will be lauded for their superb seasons at Rosehill on Saturday. Photo: Tertius PickardThe Australian Turf Club will honour premiership winners and Jockeys Celebration Day as part of the opening meeting of the season at Rosehill on Saturday. Chris Waller will be presented with an award for his fifth consecutive premiership, while Hugh Bowman will be acknowledged in his absence, as he will be riding in Darwin. There will be a prayer and minute’s silence held between race four and five to acknowledge fallen jockeys, and the colours of the National Jockeys Trust will be carried in every race.
Shanghai night field

RYAN’S RUNNERS

Gerald Ryan could make the perfect start to the new season with favoured runners in the opening two races at Rosehill but he is making no predictions after the spate of heavy tracks. Ryan will have either the highly touted King’s Troop or debut winner Shacked Up in the opening race of the season. “One of them will run, which will be decided later in the week. You don’t want to run two Arrowfield horses against each other,” Ryan said. “King’s Troop was good on debut despite getting run down, while Shacked Up won at Hawkesbury but other than this race there isn’t that much for her.” Land’s End, another of Ryan’s which was produced to score on his first visit to the races, has a fair bit of upside and the trainer will use Saturday as a guide to the future. “He is a nice horse that hasn’t raced for a month but he has had a trial in the meanwhile. We will probably find out where he stands after Saturday,” he said.

FEE RISE

Racing minister Troy Grant has announced a change in the race-field fee regulation to bring NSW into line with Victoria and Queensland from the start of the new season. The maximum fee will rise up to a four per cent fee on turnover from totalisator derived odds and up to 2.5 per cent on all other odds from a maximum of two per cent under the old provision. The change could pump millions of dollars into all three codes of racing. Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys welcomed the move. “This change provides room within the regulation for Racing NSW to make effective commercial decisions, including the need to keep pace with other states who may have higher fees than NSW and for any increases to be able to be absorbed by wagering operators,” V’landys said. “Totalisator derived odds means odds derived from or contingent on totalisators operated by the various TABs. Other wagering operators using these odds [rather than generating their own odds] will attract the higher fee.”

MH370: Which conspiracy theories can be ruled in and out?

Possible MH370 debris has washed up on the shore of Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean. Photo: Video still from ReutersWhat we know after debris foundBB670 key to unlocking mysteryFamilies face agonising waitTimeline to tragedySearch for MH370: full coverage
Shanghai night field

Aviation experts say it is likely that a large object that washed up on the shore of Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, is wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that vanished more than a year ago.

In the information vacuum that surrounded the plane’s disappearance in March 2014, speculation and theories abounded about what might have happened to the aircraft and all 239 people who were on board when it dropped off the radar.

Those theories ranged from the seemingly plausible, to the downright farcical.

In light of the potential breakthrough, we revisit the theories proposed at the time by experts and online sleuths to see whether their ideas could still hold true.

1. The plane was hijacked and flown to an airport in Kazakhstan. FALSE

Jeff Wise, a science journalist and author who researched the disappearance of MH370, released an e-book this year outlining his theory that the plane was hijacked on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s instruction and flown to an airport in Kazakhstan.

Wise argued that the flight’s data could have been tampered with by hijackers, and claimed to have found a place where the plane could have landed – an airstrip called Yubileyniy, part of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Some who examined Wise’s hypothesis regarded it as fanciful – which would seem an accurate assessment if the wreckage found overnight is confirmed as coming from MH370.

2 – Pilot suicide. POSSIBLE

While no evidence has emerged that the captain of the MH370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid died by suicide, the idea has been included in possible theories.

At least seven fatal incidents are believed to have been intentionally caused by pilots since 1982, including the Germanwings loss, which investigators believe happened when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed the Airbus A320 after locking his captain out of the cockpit. Lubitz was later found to have been mentally unstable and undergoing medical treatment for depression.

3 – A catastrophic mechanical failure occurred – POSSIBLE

Some have suggested that there was a catastrophic mechanical failure on board the plane, causing it to disintegrate in mid-flight.

“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” a source involved in the investigations in Malaysia said at the time.

However, one aviation expert told the South China Morning Post at the time that it was mysterious that even if the plane had disintegrated, debris had not been detected on air traffic control radar.

The theory echoes the 2009 Air France tragedy when the plane disappeared over the Atlantic after it flew into turbulence en route to Paris.

It took five days for rescue teams to find the first bits of wreckage and another two years to find the bulk of the destroyed plane.

4 – The plane was shot down in a military exercise. UNLIKELY

One theory suggested the plane was accidentally shot down during a joint US-Thai military exercise in the South China Sea. It was proposed in a book called Flight MH370: The Mystery, by Nigel Cawthorne.

“The drill was to involve mock warfare on land, in water and in the air, and would include live-fire exercises,” Cawthorne wrote in his book.

However, the wreckage that washed up overnight was thousands of kilometres away.

5 – Plane was shot down while heading to US military base

In December, Marc Dugain, the former head of a French regional airline, suggested the plane had been shot down by the US because it was heading towards its military base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

Reunion and Diego Garcia are about 2400 kilometres apart in the Indian Ocean, but there is no evidence to suggest this theory is correct.

6 – Terrorist hijacking – POSSIBLE

The plane turned wildly off course, its communications systems were “deliberately” disconnected and it carried on flying south over the Indian Ocean on the day it disappeared, leading some to speculate that the plane had been hijacked.

Authorities have found no motive nor any evidence to say definitively that the plane was hijacked.

7 – Plane caught on fire soon after take off – UNLIKELY

New Zealander Mike McKay had been working on the Songa Mercur oil rig in the South China Sea when he saw an “orange light” in the sky on the day MH370 disappeared.

His initial statement described what he believed to be an aircraft on fire at a high altitude.

The fire burned itself out in about 10 to 15 seconds and he gave an exact location based on his position on the oil rig platform.

However, his sighting could be discounted due to the distance from Reunion, where the wreckage washed up.



Queensland Reds re-sign Japan international Hendrik Tui

Hendrik Tui in action for Japan against the All Blacks. Photo: Toru HanaiThe Queensland Reds have retained one of their marquee recruits from this season, with Japan international Hendrik Tui re-signing for 2016.
Shanghai night field

Tui had limited game time for the Reds this season, arriving from Suntory Sungoliath, playing just the final two Super Rugby games after breaking his leg with the Japanese club.

The Auckland-born number eight has 28 Japan caps after a decade-long stint in Tokyo, arriving in the Japanese capital as a 19-year-old.

His retention is a boon for the Reds, after former All Black flanker Adam Thomson signed with the Rebels.

That move is believed to be leaving the door open for an international flyhalf search, despite young 10s Jake McIntyre and Sam Greene committing on Wednesday.

With Cooper now gone, first to Toulon, then reportedly for an Olympic sevens tilt and now at the centre of an ongoing contract saga, the Reds are likely to look abroad for an experienced 10 to take the pressure off their youngsters.

Queensland are in the market for a foreign number 10, with their foreign marquee spot open following Thomson’s departure and former France International Frederic Michalak has reportedly been discussed.

Former Waratahs lock Kane Douglas is yet to be announced as a 2016 signing but is likely to be heading for the Reds and a possible Wallabies spot.

This time last year Queensland were on the verge of announcing the recruiting coups of James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt at their annual gala dinner, a time that seems far removed from their present state of flux.

Reds coach Richard Graham said it was good to have Tui signed for next season.

“He made it very clear he wanted to return to Ballymore and be involved with the squad moving forward,” he said.

“With the expansion of Super Rugby (to Japan and Argentina) and other options available, it says a lot about his character.”