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Ban slapped on decorative alcohol-fuelled burners after more than 100 injuries

A 28-year-old Perth woman suffered serious burns to her face and upper body after an ethanol burner exploded. Photo: Consumer Protection WA The Perth woman suffered very serious burns. Photo: Consumer Protection WA
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Portable decorative ethanol burners have been banned from sale. Photo: NSW Fair Trading

If you’re using a decorative alcohol-fuelled burner to liven up the atmosphere this Christmas, throw it out or return it for a refund.

NSW and Victoria are among six state and territory governments that have slapped a 60-day interim ban on the sale of portable, decorative burners after a string of fire incidents and injuries – some life-threatening. The burners can be filled with methylated spirits, ethanol or bio fuel.

Federal Small Business Minister Michael McCormack has issued a proposed ban notice, the precursor to a national interim ban.

They say 113 people have been injured by these products in the past six years, including 34 in NSW. There have been 115 reported incidents in that period, but the actual figure is believed to be much higher.

“When this kind of burner is low on fuel, the flame can be difficult to see, and some injuries have occurred when consumers try to re-fuel a device that is in fact still alight,” said NSW Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe.

“Another risk is people or pets knocking over a lit burner, causing a fire. Consumers are entitled to a refund from the business that sold it.”

A 28-year-old Perth woman will be spending this Christmas in a full-head, fabric face mask, gloves and compression garments after she suffered serious burns at a friend’s party in the suburb of Safety Bay two months ago.

Her friends had carefully followed the instructions on the label, cleaning it and ensuring it was dry before pouring the recommended fuel into the canister and lighting it.

“We sat down and a few minutes later there was kind of a crackling noise, a fireball kind of came out of where the candle was sitting, heading in my direction and it hit me, setting me on fire,” she said.

“Given it was fuel it just wouldn’t go out no matter how much I kind of patted it down so I stopped, dropped and rolled …  One of the other girls got a hose and eventually I was extinguished,” she continued.

“My skin was still bubbling from the heat, I had skin falling off my hands, off my face.”

She was in an induced coma and spent three weeks in the intensive care unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital before being transferred to its burns unit.

Her doctor, the renowned burns specialist Fiona Wood, urged consumers to consider the dangers of using products such as lamps that require flammable liquid.

“When you’re looking at something that improves the ambience of your environment and involves a naked flame and a flammable liquid, then you’re in an environment where you have a significant fire risk a lot of the year,” Professor Wood said.

“You have to stand back and really ask the question: Why?”

The Perth incident was closely followed by another one in Queensland, where two people suffered burns.

Consumer Protection WA announced an interim ban on Tuesday. It was soon followed by NSW, Qld, Victorian, South Australian and ACT state and territory governments.

Mr Stowe said the interim ban means retailers and online traders, depending on which state they’re based in, must take the banned products off their shelves or delete them from online catalogues and cease sales immediately.

The maximum fines for selling banned products are $220,000 for individuals and $1.1 million for corporations.

While the interim ban is in place, the consumer watchdogs will conduct further investigations into whether the burners are safe and suitable for sale.

WA Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said the statistics were just the tip of the iceberg as he believes there have been many more incidents and injuries that haven’t been reported.

Qld Acting Attorney-General Anthony Lynham has urged people to stop using them.

Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Simon Cohen said the number of injuries justified a product safety ban.

The interim ban only applies to portable or table-top alcohol-fuelled burners. It does not include fixed alcohol-fuelled fireplaces, products used in the heating or warming of food, or products with a power output of more than 4.5 kW.

In regards to the proposed ban notice, Mr McCormack said: “If it’s determined that some products simply pose too great a risk to be on the market, we will act to protect consumers.”

Businesses have until January 20, 2017, to request a conference with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about the national interim ban. Frequently asked questions

What is an interim ban? Bans can be placed on products and product-related services if there is a risk that they may cause serious injury, illness or death.

I’ve been using my alcohol burner for years, with no problems. Can I continue to use it? No, you should stop using it, even if you have been using it for a number of years.

What should I do with my burner? You should store it in a safe place and await further information. If you have your proof of purchase, request a full refund.

Can I get a refund? Under Australian Consumer Law, most products come with automatic guarantees the item will be of acceptable quality and safe, among other things. In most cases, if these products are determined to be unsafe and are permanently banned, you will be able to return the product to the retailer for a full refund.

I bought one as a Christmas gift. What should I do? Do not give it as a gift. You should take it back to the seller with the proof of purchase to get your money back or an exchange.

I have seen these products for sale at my local store, how do I report it? Call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or lodge a complaint through the website.

(source: NSW Fair Trading) ​Latest consumer affairs storiesSavvy Consumer – Interact with us on Facebook

Bellamy’s Chinese burn causes more financial pain

It will be a difficult Christmas for Bellamy’s managing director, Laura McBain. Photo: Mark Jesser Bega’s chairman, Barry Irvin, warned of oversupply in the marketplace. Photo: Brendon Thorne
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Shareholders are right to be increasingly worried about just how financially painful Bellamy’s Chinese burn is going to be.

At its worst, the organic baby formula producer is experiencing an existential moment as the crisis it’s having with suppliers and customers drags on.

The saga of Bellamy’s demonstrates just how rapidly a company can move from being a sharemarket darling with seemingly limitless growth prospects to a sharemarket pariah with a questionable business model.

Following a trading halt and a two-week trading suspension of its shares in early December, the company has now requested its shares remain suspended from trading on the Australian Securities Exchange until January 13.

Such a delay does not not augur well for the future of the company, which is in the sights of at least one class action law firm and whose chief executive, Laura McBain, is the subject of calls for a scalping.

In the meantime, shareholders are stuck holding the stock they can be almost certain will drop precipitously when trading eventually resumes.

And such an outcome would be more favourable than the other possibility that the stock never comes back onto the market.

The suspension in the shares came after the stock was heavily sold down, wiping $544 million from the company’s market capitalisation following its 40 per cent downgrade to earnings earlier this month. The stock last traded at $6.68, compared with a high of $16.50 reached earlier in the year.

Up until the downgrade, investors and most analysts had growth expectations so high they were in nose-bleed territory and accordingly the share price had been priced around complete success.

This was despite the fact that the Tasmanian-based company had only been listed since 2014 and was riding the fashionable yet risky China export story.

It is only over the past few weeks that experts have started to dissect the Bellamy’s story and take a closer look at the pitfalls in the business, including the lack of experience of management, the supply chain shortcomings and the fickle nature of the Chinese customer.

More particularly, they have homed in on the fact that Bellamy’s misread the importance and power of the ‘Daigou’ trade – which involves intermediaries buying baby formula from Australian supermarket shelves to re-sell it into the Chinese market.

The theory is that when Bellamy’s started to discount its product earlier this year, it cut the margin for the intermediaries which in turn switched to other brands.

On the other side of the ledger, the company is now clearly attempting to renegotiate its own supply contracts with producers such as Bega and Fonterra.

Thus Bellamy’s is caught in a pincer from falling volumes and shrinking margins.

The most positive aspect to Bellamy’s financial position is that it was virtually debt free with $32 million in cash.

But the June 2016 balance sheet shows a worrying and massive increase in inventory levels from $17 million the year before to around $68 million – half of which was finished goods and half ingredients.

Still, in the October presentation to shareholders the company made no mention of any difficulties it could have been experiencing in the first three months of the 2017 financial year. Bega’s warning

This was in sharp contrast to Bega’s chairman, Barry Irvin,  who in the same month warned of oversupply and pressure on prices in the Chinese market, telling shareholders the company had a watch brief on its infant formula partnership with Blackmores.

In a frank review, he told his investors that “while this time last year supermarket shelves were empty and customers in Australia and internationally were providing ever-increasing orders, the combination of a regulation change in China, a supply response to demand signals and the evolution of supply channels to market now sees significant discounting in the marketplace and signs of short term oversupply”.

The potential lack of disclosure and transparency will be at the heart of any class action legal claims.

But the more immediate problem for Bellamy’s will be a potential cash flow crisis if sales and prices remain depressed and it cannot renegotiate supply contracts.

It will be a difficult Christmas for its management and board – and a nervous period for investors, who are waiting to see if the company has a future.

Ricciardo’s Christmas wish? A fast car by March

So what does formula one racer Daniel Ricciardo want for Christmas?
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“For Christmas, a cold beer would be enough, but for March a fast car,” the West Australian Formula One driver said on Wednesday after enjoying a kick with West Coast players in Perth during his break back home.

After finishing third in the world championship, Ricciardo has high hopes that next year’s new design regulations will further close the gap between his Red Bull and the dominant Mercedes, but he concedes he’s still winding down after a tiring 21-round season.

“It’s tiring, it’s taxing and the seasons are long; you know this was our longest season ever,” he said, acknowledging the decision of reigning champion Nico Rosberg to vacate his Mercedes seat by retiring within a week of claiming the title.

“Let’s say, at the time, it [Rosberg’s decision] surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it, but once I realised it I understood it,” Ricciardo said.

“I understand that. I mean, yeah, to have a family and do everything and to be under that stress and pressure. And he’s been doing it ??? not only is he older than me, he has been in it his whole life. His dad was a champion, so even before he was racing his life was probably heavily involved in the sport.

“And then it’s been four weeks since the last race and yet we are still talking about F1, so it doesn’t really stop, which takes its toll. So I understand it from his point of view.”

Ricciardo is comfortable that the wider tyres and lower-slung car designs will play to Red Bull’s aerodynamic strengths and, having extended his contract during the year, said he was never in the running to take Rosberg’s place at Mercedes.

“I’m sure a lot of people wanted it. Let’s be honest, it is currently the best seat in terms of speed and whatnot. I said it from once I heard the news: whoever gets that seat better know what they are getting and better appreciate it because it is not every day that someone offers the best seat in the house. So, sure, it is a very good one to be in and, whoever ends up getting the nod, hopefully they run with it. I obviously don’t want them to beat me, but hopefully they don’t take it for granted.”

Ricciardo thinks that Mercedes will be the team to beat again.

“It depends who they sign up, but obviously Lewis [Hamilton] will be hard to beat whoever they do, but it is one of those ones. Teams dominate in F1 and they sort of go through their periods, but with rule changes and that I still think that Mercedes will be quick. If the rules were the same next year then it would be a no-brainer that is the seat that everyone wants, but with a few changes it might just make it a little more questionable, but I still think they’ll be very strong.”

As for his fitness, Ricciardo knows there’s hard work ahead as extra muscle and stamina will be required with car speeds likely to increase by as much as five seconds a lap.

“It’s really just off-season time, but once January starts my trainer comes over ??? he’ll come to Perth straight after the new year and we’ll get a bit of a head start here and then head off from here,” Ricciardo said.

“The team will be in touch every now and then and maybe ask a couple of things, but more driver comfort things as opposed to design and that. I’ll be honest, in terms of design and that I’m nowhere near capable of telling the guys what shape that part should be ??? but I guess where I’m sort of strong is once we drive the car, it’s then telling them what I think we should do now.”

And his title chances?

“We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. You definitely need everything to fall into place, but I personally feel ready. Definitely hungry enough that’s for sure.”

# An extended interview with Daniel Ricciardo will be published in the Saturday Age.

Brenton Avdulla has narrow escape from stewards as Wyong Magic Millions in focus

Near miss: Brenton Avdulla bagged an early treble at Warwick Farm. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网南京夜生活NSW premiership leader Brenton Avdulla can further Chris Waller’s hopes of a first Magic Millions success after stewards admitted they were hoping the state’s hottest jockey won a controversial photo finish that prevented a serious charge at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
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Avdulla, who will be legged aboard Madame Moustache in the $200,000 Wyong Magic Millions Classic on Thursday, bagged a quartet of winners at Warwick Farm that had him under the microscope of stipes for his riding late on Good Time Charlie, the second leg of his four-timer.

Fearing Joe Pride’s three-year-old was shifting ground over the final metres, Avdulla’s vigour relented for a “stride and a half” as Good Time Charlie had just a half-head to spare in a photo from the fast-finishing Gauguin wide out on the track.

“Watching the race live we were hoping the photo finish would go your way,” acting chief steward Phillip Dingwall told Avdulla. “All’s well that ends well.”

Avdulla explained to stewards he could hear yelling behind him and was concerned a runner might have been to his outside, but Dingwall said there wasn’t a rival within “cooee” and his explanation “wouldn’t be a successful defence against a charge and you’re fortunate you got the bob in”.

“I didn’t go 100 per cent on him because I could feel him shifting,” Avdulla said while explaining the horse was hanging the entire race.

The in-form hoop had earlier ridden Waller’s Oklahoma Girl to victory in the first race and will be hoping the winning combination can be preserved for 24 hours on Madame Moustache, who is already a Saturday metropolitan winner in Sydney.

Subsequent Golden Slipper and Magic Millions hero Capitalist won the Wyong race en route to the Gold Coast last year when beating Niccolance, who was the first big money-spinning ride for then apprentice Koby Jennings.

Jennings has been booked for Gary Portelli’s smart trialist Single Bullet ($5.50), who is on the third line of betting behind Madeenaty ($2.10).

“It was really good to stick with Niccolance until then and it was the first horse I had ridden that was in the market [in a big race],” Jennings said.

“[Single Bullet] is a laid-back bugger and he showed a lot more [last] Saturday morning because he worked alongside Falconic.

“He looks really sharp, but on [Tuesday] morning he just did his own thing before a horse came up alongside him and then gave me a good feel.

“He feels like a natural speedy two-year-old and a few of his workers have had a bit of an opinion of him.”

Meanwhile, Tony Hodgson has been appointed deputy chairman of Racing NSW as the governing body prepares for boss John Messara’s retirement at the end of the month.

Acting racing minister David Elliott extended Hodgson’s term by another three years and elevated him into the role, which was previously occupied by Russell Balding who will take over from Messara.

“During his tenure on the board Mr Hodgson has played a significant role in helping establish the Championships, a destination event to reinvigorate the Sydney autumn carnival as the state’s premier racing event, increasing prize money to over $200 million per year and introducing stronger integrity measures,” Elliott said.

Nick Kyrgios is a ‘great, great player’, says Roger Federer

Roger Federer says it’s important to know where the boundaries are. Photo: Joe ArmaoNick Kyrgios is a “great, great player” according to Roger Federer, but the Australian has to be willing “to work at it” if he wants to have a successful career.
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Federer, who is preparing for his comeback at the Hopman Cup and Australian Open in January after a six-month layoff with a back injury, says he’s been impressed with Kyrgios ever since he first trained with him in 2014.

“What I know is he’s an exciting player to watch. He’s a great shotmaker, got a massive serve and with those capabilities come great potential for great results,” Federer told The New York Times.

“The question is, the mind, the body, how much is he willing to work at it? And he seems to check in and out of that sometimes, but ever since he came to Zurich to train with me a month before he beat Rafa [Nadal] at Wimbledon, I’ve thought he was a great, great player. And he still is going to stay that way for years to come.

“The question is how much does he want it? I think it’s all going to boil down to that, and that’s going to determine how much success he’s going to have.”

Kyrgios, who will also begin his 2017 at the Hopman Cup, is returning to competition after serving a ban following his suspension for “conduct contrary to the integrity of the game” during a tournament in Shanghai.

Kyrgios was initially suspended for eight weeks and fined $3200 following his behaviour on court during a 48-minute loss to Mischa Zverev after appearing to put in no effort at various stages of the match – even walking to the change of ends before one of his opponent’s serves had landed. Chair umpire Ali Nilli told Kyrgios: “You can’t play like that, OK? That’s not professional.”

His ban was reduced to three weeks after he underwent a number of sessions with a sports psychologist.

Federer, who is regarded as not only one of the greatest players of all-time but also one of the most respected, said it was important that the next generation of players behaved well on and off the court.

“I think it would be good to have because our game sort of creates that, like golf. We have usually classy players, classy attitudes. But at the same time, I don’t believe everybody has to be exactly like that. I like different attitudes, different characters, different talk, different behaviour,” Federer said.

“Obviously, if you step outside the box, it’s like a kid, you tell them, ‘no, you’re not allowed to do that’. And that’s why you have rules, but you can stretch the rules. I’m cool with that. Nick I’m sure knows what the boundaries are more now because of what happened.”

Federer, who along with Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have dominated the men’s circuit for more than a decade, said the old guard were looking over their shoulders at the next generation of stars such as Kyrgios, Milos Raonic and Dominic Thiem.

“I think next year we’ll know again better who is going to be that next player, and I think it’s going to be an exciting year as well with the youngsters and with us coming back, Rafa and me, and Andy and Novak fighting for what they are fighting for.

“I think Raonic is on the doorstep. Can Stan [Wawrinka] win another slam this next year? There are some great storylines. I’ve always been a big fan of young players coming up and there seems to be some talent there now, which I like to see.”

Brenton Avdulla has narrow escape from stewards as Wyong Magic Millions in focus

Near miss: Brenton Avdulla bagged an early treble at Warwick Farm. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网南京夜生活NSW premiership leader Brenton Avdulla can further Chris Waller’s hopes of a first Magic Millions success after stewards admitted they were hoping the state’s hottest jockey won a controversial photo finish that prevented a serious charge at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
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Avdulla, who will be legged aboard Madame Moustache in the $200,000 Wyong Magic Millions Classic on Thursday, bagged a quartet of winners at Warwick Farm that had him under the microscope of stipes for his riding late on Good Time Charlie, the second leg of his four-timer.

Fearing Joe Pride’s three-year-old was shifting ground over the final metres, Avdulla’s vigour relented for a “stride and a half” as Good Time Charlie had just a half-head to spare in a photo from the fast-finishing Gauguin wide out on the track.

“Watching the race live we were hoping the photo finish would go your way,” acting chief steward Phillip Dingwall told Avdulla. “All’s well that ends well.”

Avdulla explained to stewards he could hear yelling behind him and was concerned a runner might have been to his outside, but Dingwall said there wasn’t a rival within “cooee” and his explanation “wouldn’t be a successful defence against a charge and you’re fortunate you got the bob in”.

“I didn’t go 100 per cent on him because I could feel him shifting,” Avdulla said while explaining the horse was hanging the entire race.

The in-form hoop had earlier ridden Waller’s Oklahoma Girl to victory in the first race and will be hoping the winning combination can be preserved for 24 hours on Madame Moustache, who is already a Saturday metropolitan winner in Sydney.

Subsequent Golden Slipper and Magic Millions hero Capitalist won the Wyong race en route to the Gold Coast last year when beating Niccolance, who was the first big money-spinning ride for then apprentice Koby Jennings.

Jennings has been booked for Gary Portelli’s smart trialist Single Bullet ($5.50), who is on the third line of betting behind Madeenaty ($2.10).

“It was really good to stick with Niccolance until then and it was the first horse I had ridden that was in the market [in a big race],” Jennings said.

“[Single Bullet] is a laid-back bugger and he showed a lot more [last] Saturday morning because he worked alongside Falconic.

“He looks really sharp, but on [Tuesday] morning he just did his own thing before a horse came up alongside him and then gave me a good feel.

“He feels like a natural speedy two-year-old and a few of his workers have had a bit of an opinion of him.”

Meanwhile, Tony Hodgson has been appointed deputy chairman of Racing NSW as the governing body prepares for boss John Messara’s retirement at the end of the month.

Acting racing minister David Elliott extended Hodgson’s term by another three years and elevated him into the role, which was previously occupied by Russell Balding who will take over from Messara.

“During his tenure on the board Mr Hodgson has played a significant role in helping establish the Championships, a destination event to reinvigorate the Sydney autumn carnival as the state’s premier racing event, increasing prize money to over $200 million per year and introducing stronger integrity measures,” Elliott said.

Black lung rears its ugly head

New research pointing to a resurgence of black lung disease among US coal miners has raised concerns about the potential for the disease to reappear in the Hunter.
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A case study published in theDecember 15 edition of the US-basedCentres for Disease Control and Prevention journalfocused on 60 patients at a radiographic practice in Kentuckywho had symptoms ofblack lung, also known as progressive massive fibrosis.

“Surveillance data have indicated a resurgence in PMF in recent years, but the cases described in this report represent a large cluster not discovered through routine surveillance,” the journal article said.

The disease is caused by overexposure to respirable coal mine dust and leads to inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs.

The incidence of black lunghas fallen in recent decades with the introduction of stringent safety measures.

While several instances of the disease have been reported in Queensland in recent years, no detections have been made in NSW.

It was suggested Kentucky black lung cluster may have reflected the reluctance to investigate early symptoms.

“Some miners might have chosen to not seek radiographs or other health-related information during the earlier stages of their career to avoid threatening their ability to continue working in the industry,” the journal said.

The potential for the disease to occur in NSW was the subject of the NSW Minerals Council’s 2016 Health and community conference.

An updated version of the Protecting Against Airborne Dust Exposure in Coal Mines was also launched.

Coal Services chief executive Lucy Flemming said NSW standards relating to black lung were set by four state government standing orders that were designed to minimise dust, enforce control techniques and monitor worker health.

“The robust nature of the legislation and diligence of the dust monitoring and environmental standards in NSW coal mines has allowed us to help protect mine workers’ health and keep lung diseases such as pneumoconiosis at bay,” Ms Flemming said.

Matt Stieger bounces back from Japan Tour Q-School disappointment with win at The Jack

NARRABRI’S Matt Stieger had the pain of narrowly missing qualification for the Japan Tour eased with victory at theJack Newton Celebrity Classic on Wednesday at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.
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Stieger hits back at The Jack | Photos TweetFacebook Jack Newton Celebrity Classic 2016 | PHOTOSThe 25-year-old shot back-to-back rounds of 69 for four under and a one-stroke win over Charlestown’s Jake Higginbottom, who led with a 67 after day one. Next best was Waratah’s Leigh McKechnie at one under.

Jack Newton and tournament winner Matt Stieger on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied

Stieger said the $10,000 first prize on Wednesday was “a greatChristmas present and would help pay for a few” after hisdisappointment at the Japan Tour Q-School just two weeks ago.

“I played on the Challenge Tour over there this year and then went to qualifying for the main tour and missed out by two shots, which when you playsix rounds, it’s tough to take,” Stieger said.

“But that’s golf, I guess. I came here with no expectations, so it was nice to get the win.”

It was Stieger’s fifth appearance at the Jack Newton tournament, which doubles as an end-of-season party for many of Australia’s professional golfers,but it was thefirst time he has been in the mix for the victory.

“I’ve only just come back from the Japan Tour school, so it was good to come here,relax andcatch up with everyone,” he said.

The 2011 Australian Amateur champion and 2012 NSW PGA winnerplanned toheadback to JapanforChallenge Tour events in June-July.

The celebrity section winners were former world longboard surfing champion Josh Constable and rugby league caller Frank Barrett on plus seven.

Wellington interim coach Chris Greenacre is focused on their next game, against Newcastle, rather than retaining his job.

Wellington interim boss Chris Greenacre insists there’s nothing but Newcastle on his mind as he enters his third game in charge.
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Wellington co-coaches Des Buckingham, left, and Chris Greenacre.

Greenacre, alongside co-coach Des Buckingham, has obtained four points from six in his two A-League games against Central Coast and Western Sydney. Replacing ex-boss Ernie Merrick a fortnight ago, the British duo are both being considered for the permanent top job, as a pair and individually.

Greenacre, whose side will travel to Newcastle on Christmas Day for their Boxing Day clash with the Jets, said he had no interest in speculation about the job.

He and Buckingham were simply keen to get their side in shape for a tough match against the fifth-placed Novocastrians.

“The media circus surrounding it, I’m fully aware of it but it’s just not me and I’ve got a job to do alongside Des,” Greenacre said. “It’s the Jets on the horizon, and that’s the nature of it.”

Recent reports from New Zealand have also linked at least three unnamed European coaches to the Nix job.

Others in line for the role, which is now unlikely to be filled before Christmas, include Auckland City boss Ramon Tribulietx, Mark Rudan and Luciano Trani.

The coaches’ decision to both change team formation and re-sign striker Shane Smeltz suggests they’ve been given a chance to stamp their own mark.

Greenacre said it was always in the club’s plans, including during the reign of Merrick, to hold funds over for January acquisitions.

Smeltz will be eligible to play for his new side, where he previously scored 21 goals in 39 A-League games, from January 5 against Perth.

“If I was a coach coming in, signing Smeltz would be a welcome addition, I think,” Greenacre said.

“You always need goalscorers in your team.”

The 35-year-old Smeltz, for his part, said he didn’t need any assurances about the future Nix coach before signing on the dotted line.

He was keen to contribute to the side’s A-League run-in after a short stint in Malaysian football for Kedah FA.

“Going forward, I’m signing with the football club,” Smeltz said.

“I wasn’t too concerned with what’s happened in the past.”

Hunter pools more likely to be unsafe than safe

NOT COMPLIANT: Hunter pool fences are overwhelmingly failed on first inspection. Common reasons for failure are gates that don’t self-lock or self-close, climbable objects outside the pool fence and not clearly displaying a CPR sign.More than half of Hunter pools are failing their first safety inspection, a survey of local governments has shown.
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Figures obtained by theNewcastle Heraldshowthat Maitland pools are the least compliant in the region, with 86 per cent of pool fences failed after first inspection sinceJuly, 2016.

The rate remains high in Cessnock, with more than 71 per cent of inspected fences foundnon-compliant during the 2015/16 financial year.

Non-compliance rates were significantly lower in Lake Macquarie, where there was an even split between pass and fail rates.

However, Royal Life Saving has named Lake Macquarie as a NSW “blackspot” for backyard pool drownings in the 0-5 age bracket.

Mayor Kay Fraser said Lake Macquarie was“proactive” in pool safety, with “a range of awareness and safety campaigns” being rolled out across the local government area. She said council wasworking with Royal Life Saving to help reduce backyard pool drownings.

Newcastle was the only council that returned a positive compliance rate, with more than 57 per cent of pools being passed.

Port Stephens Council were unable to provide conclusive figures, but said in a statement that a high percentage of pools were failed.

All councils provided mostly the same reasons for non-compliance, with faulty gates being the most common reasonfor failing, including latches that did not self-lock or self-close.

Other pools were found non-compliant because of climbable objects, such as pot plants or barbecues near the outside of the fence. A CPR sign not clearly displayed in the pool area was another common reason for failure.

When told about high rates of non-compliance, Kids Alive –Do the Five founder Laurie Lawrence said he was “shocked”.

He reminded pool owners that“the gate is the weakest link, that’s why you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the very best hardware”.

Despite the Hunter’s high failure rates, they were still lower than anecdotal evidence from Royal Life Saving, which suggested up to 90 per cent of pools across NSWwere failed on first inspection.

However, Mr Lawrence said the emphasis on fencing legislation and compliance would not remove the risk of drownings.He called for more pool safety education programs and for owners to take responsibility for pool safety.

Michael Ilinsky from Royal Life Saving has urged pool owners waiting to have their pools reassessed to keep kids away from the area.

He said owners who have had their pool found non-compliant needed to have it fixed as soon as possible.