Telstra repays $30m after overcharging

Telstra has begun issuing refunds of about $30 million after admitting it had been over-charging customers for global roaming services on mobile phones since 2006.

The telco has been writing to customers for the past month informing them that their data charges while they were travelling overseas had been “incorrectly calculated” and they would be given refunds.

Despite the over-charging going back to 2006 and involving tens of millions of dollars, Telstra only became aware of the issue when it conducted an audit earlier this year. It is understood the issue only affected Telstra but a spokesman for the telco blamed international carriers.

“Telstra became aware of an issue whereby some customers were charged multiple data session fees due to the way international carriers generate their data usage records,” the Telstra spokesman said.

“Once we identified the issue, we put immediate steps in place to prevent further multiple charging.”

Regulators including the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) were involved in securing refunds for affected customers.

Elise Davidson of the Australian Communciations Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said the challenge for Telstra would be getting in touch with ex-customers who are entitled to a refund but who are no longer with the provider.

“It is surprising that the inaccurate charging was undetected for six years and staggering to think of the number of bills Telstra will have had to review in order to provide refunds to consumer and business customers.” she said.

“All telecommunications customers need to be able to trust that their provider is billing them correctly.”

International carriers send data files to Telstra via a data clearing house for billing, and sometimes the carriers cut long data sessions into segments. The data files passed from the carriers have an indicator for when a data file relates to a part data session or a full data session.

It is understood that some carriers left the indicator for a part data session blank and that was interpreted by Telstra as a full data session, resulting in the data session fee being applied multiple times for a single data session.

Global roaming costs for Australians are some of the highest in the world and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman reported this month thatcomplaints about disputed roaming chargesincreased by almost 70 per cent in 2011-12 to more than 4100.

The same day the complaint figures were released, ACMA issued anew draft international mobile roaming standardthat would force telcos to warn consumers of exact charges while they are roaming and provide tools to monitor and manage their usage.

“We want the carriers to significantly lift their game on the whole transparency piece to give the consumers clear messages at the right time and the right warnings about costs, and then also to give them the tools they need to actually manage those costs,” ACMA member Chris Cheah told Fairfax at the time.

“We don’t think it’s that hard and they should be able to do it.”

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said Australian consumers were being “gouged” by telcos and slugged with “unacceptable”, “outrageous” charges.

The complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman included a consumer who bought a $129 monthly plan so she could make calls during a nine-week holiday in Europe, only to return to a bill of $75,000 bill, which subsequently increased to $147,908.

Another consumer, while on holiday in South Africa, thought his mobile phone was connected to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, so he used it to connect a laptop to the internet, but ended up with a $38,000 bill.

Mobile roaming complaints to the Ombudsman, Simon Cohen, represented about $8 million in disputed charges over the past 15 months and Mr Cohen said consumers were not being fully informed about the potential for extremely high charges and how they could protect themselves.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority said an investigation was underway into whether Telstra had breached the billing provisions of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Codes.

“The ACMA is working with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Telstra to ensure an appropriate outcome for all affected customers, including possible refunds,” it said in a statement.

“As this is a current investigation the ACMA will not be making further comment.”



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OPINION: Dreams and schemes no magic climate fix

THE recent United Nations climate conference in Doha demonstrated once again that the UN’s climate negotiations are proving too slow in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest climate science, released by the Global Carbon Project for the Doha conference, indicates the planet is on track for a rise in temperature of between 4 and 6 degrees later this century.

Unless urgent action is taken to reduce global emissions, our children and grandchildren will blame us for the volatile and dangerous climate we deliver them. The lack of progress in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is making some scientists argue that humanity needs to prepare an emergency strategy to cool the planet. This emergency strategy, so the argument goes, could be rolled out when serious climate change impacts start to bite in coming decades.

One emergency strategy that is attracting attention is geoengineering – the use of human technology to manipulate and control the climate on a large scale. It may sound like cheap science fiction, however various methods of geoengineering are being researched in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

In 2009, Britain’s leading scientific body, The Royal Society, produced a major report, Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty, on the prospects of geoengineering as a response to climate change.

Geoengineering has moved out of the fringe of climate policy discussion into the mainstream.

Stratospheric particle injection is a geoengineering technique that aims to mimic the cooling effect of volcanic eruptions by injecting sulphate particles into the stratosphere.

There, the particles act like a giant sunshade, reflecting a percentage of sunlight away from the earth.

This method of geoengineering is being investigated by a collaboration of scientists in the UK known as the SPICE project.

It has been proposed to test technology to deliver particles into the atmosphere using a hot air balloon with a hose attached.

While the technology may sound simple, the chemistry of the atmosphere is very complex. The particles would likely change the appearance of the sky by making it whiter during the day and more colourful at sunset.

The particles may also damage the ozone layer, a layer of the atmosphere that filters ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth. The particles could also significantly change global rainfall patterns that are relied upon by billions of people.

Stratospheric particle injection may cool the planet in the short term, but it is little more than a Band-Aid measure. It does nothing to address the key driver of climate change, which is the rising level of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Ocean fertilisation is a geoengineering technique that aims to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. In the same way we add fertiliser to our gardens to make them grow, ocean fertilisation adds nutrients to the ocean to encourage the growth of plankton. Plankton consumes carbon dioxide, and could draw down enough greenhouse gases to lessen climate change.

In October a US businessman dumped an estimated 100 tons of iron sulphate off the coast of Canada in an attempt at ocean fertilisation. The experiment did not have the authorisation from the Canadian government and potentially breached international bans on ocean dumping.

Ocean fertilisation could cause damage to ocean ecosystems, increase ocean acidification and deplete the ocean of oxygen. As with stratospheric particle injection, the probability and nature of the risks of ocean fertilisation are uncertain and require further scientific investigation.

Technical ability to attempt geoengineering is already here. In the coming years, it will be difficult for countries to resist experiments in geoengineering as it has the allure of being a relatively inexpensive and quick response to climate change impacts.

It is therefore essential that geoengineering technology is developed and used responsibly and that it is effectively regulated at an international level. If countries deploy geoengineering hastily, without understanding the risks involved, they will be rolling a dice on causing further damage to the atmosphere and the environment.

International regulation is also important to ensure that the interests of all countries are considered.

Finally, geoengineering must not allow countries to take their eye off reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A rapid reduction in emissions over coming decades is crucial for us to provide our children and grandchildren with a safe climate in which to live well.

Kerryn Brent is a PhD candidate at Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle; Dr Jeffrey McGee is senior lecturer at Newcastle Law School, University of Newcastle.

WASHED UP: The devastation caused by superstorm Sandy will not be checked without emission cuts.

Clubs want sporting chance over fees

Solomontown’s Shard Malchow runs on to the ball better than Central’s Samuel Carter, when Sollies won their final minor round game to claim the minor premiership. Photo: Des ParkerA former president of Spencer Gulf Football League says the league could be in jeopardy, after council voted to imposea new fee structure on Port Pirie sporting grounds.

The new fee structure, to be adopted for 2013 and 2014, has been two years in themaking.

It was adopted by council on Wednesday night.

Spencer Gulf Football League (SGL) is to be one of the worst affected, forced to pay $60,000 over three years for its use of Memorial Oval.

Former long-servingpresident Ken Jeffrey said the league’s current structure was now ‘in jeopardy’.

The fee increase, to $13,000 next year, $20,000 in 2014 and $27,000in 2015, would place a huge burden on the league’s finances, he said.

“It is likely that the SGL minor round in Port Pirie in the future, will run at a loss,leaving matches at Port Augusta to prop up the league,” he said.

“Matches at Port Augusta will not incur the huge expense of Port Pirie’s.Unfortunately the league, as it is now structured, is now in jeopardy.”

Junior soccer is tobe billed $5,000 per yearfor the use of Senate Sports Park. Other sports including cricket and baseball and softball would also be affected.

Councillor Dino Gadaleta voted against the policy, believing it wouldhave ‘severe’ repercussions on the SGL and junior sport.

“I’m very sorry that we did not have enough voices on the floor to defeat the motion,”he said.

Cr Gadaleta said he could notsee the SGL in Port Augusta subsidising Port Pirie football.

“I don’t believe gate takings will be able to support the payment of those changes,” hesaid.

But Councillor Mike Basley, who supported the move, said the process was about bringinequity in the system.

Administrative services assistant manager Peter Arnold, who spearheaded thechange, defended the fee structure in a report to council.

“The main sports affected are football, cricket, baseball, softball and soccer,” he said.

“It is common knowledge that some footballers in the SGL are paid large sums ofmoney.

“The committee believes very strongly that clubs should be contributing to theplaying fields before paying for the players.”

The new policywas moved and seconded by councillors Neville Wilson, and DebbieDevlin and was supported by councillors Garry Nayda, Mike Basley, Gerry Chivell,Debbie Devlin, Neville Wilson and John Rohde.

Councillors Dino Gadaleta, Joe Paparella and Shirley Hortin were against it.

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Dubbo residents stock up for the holidays

THE TRADITIONAL Christmas ham and prawns have topped the list as the most popular foods this festive season.

With only three days until Christmas, Dubbo residents are rushing through the doors to finish their last-minute shopping.

Midwest Foods retail manager Matthew Lambert said the store had been extremely busy the past few days.

“It has been quite slow in the lead-up to Christmas but we are making up lost ground,” he said.

“People are saying, ‘It only happens once a year, so we might as well go all out’.”

More than 2000 kilograms of the traditional Christmas ham have been sold and prawn sales had doubled this year.

“We’re running out pretty quickly,” he said. “People are stocking up big, no-one wants to realise they don’t have enough food.”

Frozen roast vegetables and pre-cooked turkey breast were popular with residents as it took the guesswork out of cooking it just right.

Mr Lambert said the advantage of Midwest Foods was most products were almost ready to go and not much cooking or preparation was required.

After a scrumptious Christmas meal, Dubbo residents liked to enjoy dessert and pavlova topped the list with the mango macadamia cheesecake at number two.

Several gift vouchers were sold this season and given as presents to family and work colleagues, he said.

“In these tough times it is a great present and people really appreciate it,” he said.

Dubbo residents were planning for the post-Christmas holidays and were stocking up on foods especially scotch fillet steak.

“They want to rest and not go out and find some food for dinner,” he said.

Mr Lambert said the store’s “pretty hard” advertising with the Daily Liberal had paid off with a much-needed retail boost.

“We expected it would help us but we never imagined it would be so helpful and make such a big difference,” he said.

His last words to residents before Christmas Day was not to leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute.

“Get in and get your ham and turkey now as supply is getting short,” he said.

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Midwest Foods retail manager Matthew Lambert has called on Dubbo residents to come in early and not leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute. Photo: Belinda Soole

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Safer streets in a roundabout way

WORKERS last night finished line marking on the roundabout at the corner of Hill and Dalton streets leaving the intersection open for traffic today.

Orange mayor John Davis thanked residents for their patience during the roundabout’s construction period.

“State government figures reveal in the five years to 2011 there’s been nine crashes at the intersection in which eight people were injured,” Cr Davis said.

“There’s been inconvenience for neighbours during construction but I’m sure drivers around Orange will welcome this new roundabout.”

The roundabout will provide two lanes for traffic moving along Hill Street and a single lane for traffic in Dalton Street.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee said the project, funded under the state government’s black spot program, was a good example of the partnership between state government and Orange City Council.

“Hill Street is the key north-to-south route from the main street to the botanic gardens and Dalton Street also has high traffic volumes from east to west in the city,” Mr Gee said.

“Local residents have reported many accidents at this intersection over the years and they’re delighted that these roadworks will improve road safety in Orange.”

The roundabout, built at a cost of $360,000, has a concrete base the same size as the one at the nearby Prince and Hill streets intersection.

As well as laying the concrete surface, an underground water main was relocated away from the intersection, drainage was improved and a new surface was added to the road in Hill Street.

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PARTNERSHIP: Orange mayor John Davis and member for Orange Andrew Gee celebrate today’s opening of the roundabout on the corner of Hill and Dalton streets. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1221roundabout3

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Centrals to focus on the little things

CRICKET is a simple game, and today’s final instalment of the Orange City versus Centrals Orange District Cricket Association first grade clash at Wade Park will come down to whichever side nails the game’s one percenters.

Those little plays that don’t often get headlines, but are the plays that win games.

The plays the can turn a season.

After the opening day’s cricket last Saturday at Wade Park, Centrals are in a commanding position after posted 198 with the bat and then striking late in the day with the ball to have Orange City reeling a touch at 2-13.

Stuart Naden (0) and Adam Cowden (two) are the Warriors already back in the shed thanks to Mark Wiegold (2-6).

For Centrals, currently in fourth place 18 points adrift from the competition’s top three, today’s equation is simple: win to remain in the hunt for a play-off berth come March.

To do that, Centrals skipper Jarrod Simpson knows exactly what he wants from his side.

“It’s just about going out there and doing the little things that wins cricket games; bowl at the stumps, take our catches and build pressure in the field,” Simpson said.

“We just need to do those simple things really, really well.”

The side’s batsmen competed hard to score 198 on day one last week.

It’s now over to the bowlers.

Simpson, however, believes today’s luck hinges on Centrals’ fielding, more so than the work of his bowling attack.

“Dan Sandford has bowled well lately but just hasn’t had a lot of luck, and that’s probably because we’ve dropped a few. Hopefully we can hang on to a few and his luck turns,” Simpson said.

The philosophy of the defending champs is easy to catch on to.

The keep-it-simple Centrals are going back to basics.

On the other hand, for City, chasing today will make their mission the toughest of the 2012-13 season so far.

“We’ve got to fight as hard as we possibly can. We want to stay at the top come Christmas,” skipper Dave Boundy said, with a win against Centrals and an upset victory by Kinross over CYMS set to move Orange City to the top of the ladder.

“We’re not out of it. Strange things happen in cricket. It’ll be a fairly competitive day of cricket.”

Boundy said one of the greatest challenges in cricket is chasing a total down.

And like Centrals did on day one around Simpson’s innings of 73, Boundy said his side needed one of its big guns to fire and the rest to chip in.

“Generally sides that are able concentrate, work hard and apply themselves with the bat are able to chase good totals,” he said.

Boundy said it was good to see the defending premiers getting a few more regulars backing, adding the competition “needs a strong Centrals team” to ensure a tough first grade premiership.

Today’s play begins at 1pm.

TIME TO STAND UP: Centrals’ spearhead Daniel Sandford will play a key role as his side attempts to dismiss Orange City at Wade Park today. The game looms as a must-win encounter for the ODCA defending champions.

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EPA says no evidence of harm after rail derailment

On December 27, 2011, a freight train owned and operated by Genesee & Wyoming Australia Pty Ltd derailed at the Edith River Bridge Crossing. About 240 tonnes of freight, a crew van, 16 containers, and an approximate total dry load of copper concentrate of 1500 dry metric tonnes overturned into the Edith River. THE EPA has found that there was no evidence no evidence ofenvironmental harm from two incidents at Edith River in December 2011.

Minister for Lands, Planning and the Environment, PeterChandler, this week received a copy of the Environment Protection Agency’sreport on the incidents.

Mr Chandler said the independent body has found thatbiological monitoring shows no evidence of environmental harm from two eventson the same day – a train derailment and a release of surface water from theMount Todd gold mine.

Mr Chandler said the report found that further considerationof a prosecution against the companies involved was not warranted.

On December 27, 2011,a freight train owned and operated by Genesee & Wyoming Australia Pty Ltdderailed at the Edith River Bridge Crossing.About 240 tonnes of freight, a crew van, 16 containers, and anapproximate total dry load of copper concentrate of 1500 dry metric tonnesoverturned into the Edith River. This was reported to the Pollution Hotlineoperated by the EPA.

Also reported on the same day was a suspected “uncontrolleddischarge” via a spillway into the Edith River from Mount Todd mine’s RetentionPond 1 (RP1). The report was made by Vista Gold Australia Pty Ltd (VistaGold). Uncontrolled discharges from the minecontinued from 27 December 2011 until 5 January 2012.

Mr Chandler said the report identified that: Copperconcentrations attributable to the accident occurred over a short time and weretherefore unlikely to have a long term environmental impact;

Reporting and monitoring of the events was adequate; therewas a significant recovery and clean up response by the companies.

Mr Chandler said the EPA had organised an independent reviewthat determined health and environmentalrisks were low from remaining small amount of debris.

Mr Chandler said the agency advised that the rail companywould be conducting a further assessment to consider whether a further clean upof freight was necessary.

“I am pleased that there was no long term environmentaldamage to the area,” Mr Chandler said.

“Accidents such as these are regrettable but there has beenextensive analysis of the effects of the spill of copper.

“I am satisfied that there will be ongoing monitoring of thearea.”

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Blues oust Red in strong performance

CYMS Hornets under-10s: Angus Boland, Lachlan Galante, Damon O’Sullivan, Mick Maher, John Hallford Jnr, Sam McGrath, Broden Konz, Ryan Boland, Hamish and Josh Burton and Ethan Maher. Photo: BELINDA SOOLERUGBY Blue defeated Rugby Red in a local derby.

Sent into bat Blues finished the first day on 4-80 thanks to Baye Wallace (11), Hayden Lew (9), Ben Wheeler (8 not out) and Will Grant (9 not out).

Red started their run chase badly, losing two early wickets but Campbell Rose and James Debus steadied the ship.

On day two Rugby Red continued their innings and soon lost Debus for 14 and Campbell Rose for 50 retired.

Campbell’s innings consisted of many fine shots all around the ground and certainly had the strong Blue attack scratching their heads on how to get him out.

Unfortunately his teammates could not cash in on his fine innings, with the strong Rugby attack taking the last six wickets for only 12 runs to be all out for 130.

Best bowling for the Blues came from Dominic Ambler (4-16) and Will Grant (3-27).

Ambler has become a great foil to the quicks consistently bowling line and length all season.

Rugby Blues set about chasing 51 runs for the win in fine style through the bats of Grant (32) and Wheeler (25 not out) and after 10 overs passed the score.

In another game CYMS scored 7-149 and defeated Macquarie 147 while no result came in for the game between Newtown and St John’s. RSL-Colts had the bye.


MACQUARIE scored 6-100 against Rugby.

A tough game against Rugby awaited Macquarie for the last game of 2012.

On a hot afternoon, Macquarie fielded first and the signs were there early that this game would be a titanic tussle.

Hayden Bax gave his all in the field taking two wickets and a catch. Jack Fuller, High Gibbons, James Fiander and Hamish Foran bowled well, restricting the runs and constantly attacking the stumps.

In the run chase, you could have sworn the KFC Big Bash had come to Lady Cutler 2.

Zach Warren hit his first six for the season, Will Skinner and Ollie Anderson swung the bat with plenty of aggression finding the boundary on numerous occasions and Jed Bruce continued his run of form, smashing his first four of the season.

A hard-fought game played in hot conditions showed we have come a long way together in nine rounds. Well done everyone, we hope Santa brings you a bag full or runs, wickets and catches for Christmas… ho ho ho.

No results from two games – St John’s v Newtown; CYMS v RSL-Colts.


RSL-Colts White finished the first half of the season on a winning note, scoring 8-88 against Rugby Blues 28.

No results were received from the game that involved RSL-Colts Red and Rugby Red; CYMS and Macquarie.

Bye: St John’s.


CYMS scored 4-89 and defeated Macquarie 6-81 but no results were received from two games – RSL and Rugby; and St John’s and Newtown.


RUGBY, Newtown Black and St John’s Green all produced winning performance in the last game of cricket before the Christmas, New Year break.

Rugby made 7-194 and defeated St John’s Gold 117; Newtown Black protected with 9-138 against Macquarie 109; and the Green machine from St John’s was far too good for Newtown Gold – Greens 3-109, Newtown 33.

CYMS had the bye.

Rugby won the toss against St John’s Gold and elected to bat first.

They got off to a good start with Mitchell Smith and Adlai Shipp. They put on 23 Before Mitchell Smith was out off Lachlan Edgar’s bowling.

After 23 overs Rugby were 3-73 with Patrick Berryman and Kel Rumble not out.

St John’s Gold batted and lost their first wicket at 23 and their second at 27. A good partnership by Lachlan Edgar and Liam Scolari put on 41 before Lachlan Edgar was out for 30.

After 23 overs St John’s Gold were 4-84.

The second day saw St John’s Gold continue to bat. Rugby’s bowlers took the honours with 6-33 to have St John’s Gold all out for 117.

Adlai Shipp took 3-4 off 5.2 overs and Mitchell Smith 3-5 off four.

Rugby resumed at 3 for 73 with Patrick Berryman and Kel Rumble at the crease. They got to 105 before Kel was out for 12. Rugby got the winning runs in the 35th over and Patrick Berryman retired on 53.

Rugby continued to bat to give everyone a bat. Issac Hogan also retired on 22.

After 46 overs Rugby were 7-194. The best of the St John’s Gold bowlers were Lachlan Edgar with 4-32 off nine overs and Leah Robins also took 1-10 off four.

This was a good game to finish 2012 off.


NEWTOWN and RSL-Colts improved their standings on the competition ladder with solid performances on Sunday.

Newtown posted 9-172 and had CYMS 9-143 in reply while Rugby could manage only 9-110 in reply to the 8-216 banked by RSL-Colts.

Unfortunately no other details are available.

Macquarie played Gilgandra in the third game but no results are available.

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Take time out in fresh air and sunshine

WESTERN Sydney has recently become a paradise for young and old cyclists, with the help of Blacktown and Parramatta councils who have provided a network of tracks to make cycling safer.

All a spokeswoman is asking for is for users to remember to wear a helmet, give way to pedestrians and obey the road rules.

“For your own safety, your bike should be fitted with a bell or warning device and white front and red rear reflectors,” she said.

Blacktown Leisure Centre Stanhope has a free program called Cycle Sunday for children up to eight years of age, 9am-11am each Sunday for four weeks from January 8.

Two car park bays at the centre will be transformed into a car-free simulated traffic environment, featuring road signs, stop signs, give way signs and roundabouts.


■ Route 1: Quakers Hill Parkway to Doonside Crescent via Breakfast Creek, finishes near the western rail line.

■ Route 2: Breakfast Creek to Rouse Hill via Hambledon Road, finishes near Windsor Road.

■ Route 3: Parramatta to Windsor. Off-road path via Old Windsor and Windsor Road.

■ Route 4: Prospect Highway to Kings Langley via Toongabbie Creek, finishes at proposed M7 cycleway.

■ Route 5: Toongabbie to Blacktown via Seven Hills via International Peace Park, finishes near Fox Hills Golf Course, Toongabbie.

■ Route 6:Prospect Reservoir to Blacktown station via Reservoir Road and Prospect Highway.

■ Route 7: M4 bicycle lane from the Cumberland Highway, Wentworthville to Penrith.

■ Route 8: Rooty Hill station to Minchinbury via May Cowpe Reserve, finishes at Berruex Reserve in Minchinbury.

■ Route 9: Rooty Hill station to Woodstock Avenue via Nurragingy Recreation Area, finishes at Woodstock Avenue and Merrina Street, Mount Druitt.

■ Route 10: Mount Druitt station to Lethbridge Park via Cleeve Close and North Parade, Mount Druitt, finishes at Bougainville Rd.

■ Route 11:Woodstock Avenue to Richmond Road and M7 via Hyatts Road, finishes at intersection of Richmond Rd and the M7.

■ Route 12:Richmond Road. On-road bicycle lane on the shoulder of Richmond Road. Starts at Rooty Hill Road North.

■ Route 13:Westlink M7 Cycleway.From Old Windsor Rd, Seven Hills to the M5, Prestons.

■ Route 14:Blacktown to Castle Hill via Sunnyholt Road via T-way route.

■ Route 15M2 to Seven Hills via Abbott Road.

■ Parramatta CBD to Meadowbank cycle path. Travel time is about 30 minutes and offers a number of transport options at Parramatta (bus, train, ferry) and Meadowbank (ferry).

■ Parramatta to the Sydney CBD is 26 kilometres, much of which is on separated shared cycle paths.

Although the ride begins with light, mixed traffic, you’ll soon leave the streets behind and head into the beautiful separated cycle ways through cutting through Eric Primrose Reserve and George Kendall Riverside Park.

For more information call Blacktown Council on 9839 6000 and Parramatta Council on 9806 5000.

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Council backs away from parking decision

Orange City Council’s scrapping of parking contributions for change of use premises has meant ratepayers have had to foot the bill for more than $240,000 worth of development applications since November.

In light of the loss council may reverse the decision and vote to reintroduce parking contributions at a discounted rate of 50 per cent.

Developers would pay $6500 per parking spot needed.

Mayor John Davis and councillor Glenn Taylor said they would put forward the motion to reintroduce parking contributions every three months until they got their way.

Cr Taylor initially voted to scrap contributions in November but voted for Cr Davis’s rescission motion at the last meeting to tax businesses at the reduced rate of 50 per cent.

The motion split the council with Cr Davis, Cr Taylor, Cr Hamling, Cr Duffy and Cr Jones supporting the motion whereas Cr Turner, Cr Munro, Cr Brown, Cr Gander and Cr Gryllis voted to maintain no parking contributions for change of use in the central business district (CBD).

Cr Taylor said soon after the policy was changed it became very clear council had done the wrong thing.

He said councillors were led to believe the amount lost would never be to this extreme.

On average parking contributions counted for about $24,000 per year.

“But since then we’ve been hit square in the eyes with over $200,000,” he said.

“It isn’t right that the developers don’t pay and the ratepayers must foot the bill.”

Cr Gryllis said he stood by the decision of council but did not realise the money lost from parking contributions would now come from general revenue, the tax payers’ back pocket.

To cover the shortfall from parking contributions, every time a development application (DA) is approved for a change of use, the money must be taken from the general funds and put into the parking kitty. He suggested that instead businesses in the CBD should pay a higher rate to cover the lost funds.

“I have never said ratepayers should pay for it,” he said.

“It should come from the CBD area perhaps a rate rise.”

Cr Davis, who was always a staunch opponent of the abolishment of parking contributions said he believed the initial intention by councillors was not to have the money come from the ratepayers. He said now that it was evident the decision was costing the “average person trying to pay their bills” he believed eventually council would rescind the policy.

“All the time I have been on council I have never had so many people come up to me and say they don’t agree with what’s happened,” he said.

“I will be putting this to council every three months until it goes through.”

A rescission motion can only be put to council once every three months.

STICKING UP FOR THE BATTLER: Councillor Taylor wants to reverse a decision on parking contributions that is costing ratepayers.

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