A young girl and her grandmother have died, and her sister is fighting for her life, after a crash on the NSW mid north coast, police say.
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Jane Garay, 75, was driving north on Coomba Road, Whoota, near Forster in a Daihatsu Sirion when the car left the road and crashed into a tree about 2pm yesterday, police said.

Tabitha Garay, 10, died in the accident and Madelyn Garay, 12, was critically hurt with severe internal injuries, Inspector Tony Power of Manning/Great Lakes Local Area Command said.

Madelyn was flown to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle for surgery and remains in a critical condition in the intensive care unit, Inspector Power said.

Her grandmother, from Cammeray on Sydney’s north shore, was also taken to the hospital but later died, police added.

Inspector Power said police, with the assistance of the Port Macquarie Crash Investigation Unit, were trying to find out why the crash happened.

He said investigators believe the sisters, from Baulkham Hills in north-west Sydney, were visiting a holiday home with their grandmother during the school break.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner. Police urged witnesses to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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PRIVATE SYDNEY
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KIRSTY THATCHER is only 13, but standing at 178 centimetres in full professional hair and make-up, the aspiring model talks about issues like ”positive body image” with the sort of conviction most 21-year-olds would find hard to muster.

Occasionally the Brisbane teen reverts to speaking in the language of her peers: ”It’s soooo amazing. I loved the dresses and getting the hair and make-up done. It was just soooo cool.”

Yesterday on the rooftop of the Museum of Contemporary Art overlooking the harbour, Kirsty was named the 2012 Dolly Model Search winner, unleashing a storm of controversy.

She was the youngest of six finalists selected from thousands of teenage girls around the country who hoped the competition would launch their careers as it did for supermodel Miranda Kerr, who was also just 13 when she won in 1997.

Kerr’s win also caused a media furore. Years later she reflected on the controversy: ”In the media at the time they were trying to cling on to anything remotely to do with paedophilia. Dolly is a magazine for teenage girls, not for old men.”

Yet it was the former Dolly editor Mia Freedman who axed the model search a decade ago, not just because she thought 13-year-olds were too young to enter a ”very adult industry”.

”It was a bad commercial decision for me, but I was compelled to make it because ultimately, you are putting a child into an industry that’s all about rejection,” she said.

”Even Miranda Kerr gets rejected, and I don’t think winning the competition at 14 was a great thing for Kate Fischer either.

”Let’s not dress it up, modelling is all about being told you are too fat, too short, have the wrong teeth.”

Freedman is disappointed the competition has been resurrected this year. ”It sends the wrong message,” she said.

Not so, according to current Dolly editor Tiffany Dunk, who said yesterday: ”We intentionally didn’t ask the girls what their dress size was or how much they weighed. We asked them to tell us something about themselves. We are not just looking for a fashion model, but also a role model who can be a positive ambassador for Dolly.”

Dunk enlisted the advice of body-image specialists from The Butterfly Foundation, who conducted workshops with the finalists on issues such as eating disorders.

Yet among the finalists yesterday, the competition’s clear attraction was its prize, the potentially lucrative modelling contract with the high-profile Sydney modelling agency Chadwicks.

Kirsty’s mother, Debbie, beamed with pride. She was ”nervous” about her daughter entering the modelling industry, but added ”it really has been her dream for a long time, so I’m happy to support her”.

Kirsty will soon fly to New York to meet agents.

Travelling with her will be the Chadwicks managing director, former model Martin Walsh, who likened the industry to the world of elite sport.

”If a kid shows a great talent as a sportsman, you don’t ignore it, you recognise it and you guide it properly,” he said.

”There isn’t much she can really do until she reaches about 15 or 16. If nurtured properly, these girls can go on to not just be ordinary models, but good businesswomen too.”

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Artist impression of the Gungahlin Mosque.ACT planners have been told that women in burqas will scare children in Gungahlin if Canberra’s Muslim community proceeds with plans to build a mosque in the area.
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The ACT Planning and Land Authority has received more than 50 submissions in response to the proposed development on The Valley Avenue.

It follows a campaign by a group called the ”Concerned Citizens of Canberra” that urged residents to object to the development because of its ”social impact” and concerns about traffic and noise.

The Canberra Times revealed on Saturday that the group’s spokesman, Irwin Ross, is a Christian fundamentalist activist who describes himself as a pastor with Olive Tree Ministries.

More than 30 submissions lodged with ACTPLA object to the development on grounds including traffic, parking, design, lack of consultation and, according to one anonymous submission, claims the mosque is not ”compatible with Australian values and Australian law”.

But a further 20 Canberra residents wrote to the government in support of the development, some complaining about the anonymous anti-mosque flyers that were delivered to their homes.

One objection to the mosque asks the ACT government if it can ”assure the citizens of Gungahlin that this centre will not be taken over by extremists, bent on bringing chaos to our immediate community”.

Another claims the sight of women wearing burqas will be ”perturbing” for children in the area.

One Gungahlin resident complains Muslims have to: ”obey the Koran and therefore Sharia law. This means that Sharia law will always come first and Australian law second”.

”I am particularly worried about the women and girls,” the resident’s letter states.

”In the DA [development application] several rooms are allocated for weekend classes – which means that all the girls from early age on will have Koran lessons and therefore will have no real chance to get integrated in Australian society.”

A number of objections use template letters supplied by the Concerned Citizens of Canberra, while several others complain the mosque will create too much traffic congestion.

However, 20 letters urge the ACT government to approve the development, with one submission stating it will ”complement the two existing churches”. ”As a resident of Gungahlin town centre I would be materially affected by this development,” the submission states.

”As such I strongly support this development.

”It is appropriate to the town centre, an appropriate design and the road network is designed to handle the surges in traffic.”

Another resident complains about the flyer they received from the Concerned Citizens of Canberra and says the group’s objections to the mosque are ”flimsy at best and outright bigoted at worst”.

”Though I am not a religious person I feel that someone should be just as free to build a mosque as a church and having it near Gungahlin town centre seems as good a location as any in the area,” the submission states.

A spokeswoman for the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate said additional submissions were still arriving by post and were being accepted, provided the letter was stamped before the deadline for comment.

Meanwhile, the Australian Motorists Party candidate for Ginninderra Chic Henry said he believed the development would create traffic congestion.

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Rain is spreading across such a large area of eastern Australia that it is likely to drench the Murray-Darling Basin with its biggest falls since March.
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By the weekend virtually all of the catchment will have received some rain, about 25 to 50 millimetres on average, Weatherzone senior meteorologist Brett Dutschke said.

This will make it the heaviest, most widespread rain the Murray-Darling catchment has had since March, when La Nina was still a major influence.

The wettest areas look like being on the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range, from about Goondiwindi in Queensland to about Wangaratta in Victoria, where 50 to 100mm is likely. Some places along this stretch may gain more than 100mm.

Not only will this be the biggest rain in four months, it will also be significant for July. Much of the region will gain near or above their monthly average in about three days.

It may turn out to be the biggest July rain in decades, giving many farmers what they need to get winter crops thriving after a fairly dry start to the season, Mr Dutschke said. Soil moisture will increase and some dams will fill.

This is quite an important event, given we are trending towards an El Nino. During an El Nino, large parts of the country typically see drier than average seasons.

In the 24 hours to 9am today Broken Hill and Menindee gained more than 30mm each, 10 to 15mm more than their monthly average. This is the heaviest July rain in 96 years for Broken Hill and 126 years for Menindee.

Even though we are no longer in a La Nina, a warmer-than-normal Coral Sea is supplying plenty of moisture, which is being carried inland by easterly winds.

A low pressure trough over the inland is tapping into this moisture to bring the substantial rain. A front will bring colder air into the mix later in the week to bring a final burst of rain and storms. A high pressure system will then dry out the region over the weekend.

Unfortunately for some parts of the catchment, the South Australian stretch of the Murray River, less than 10mm is the likely rainfall this week. It will be too far from the major source of moisture.

Despite the lack of rain in the southern part of the catchment, there will be some flows from upstream in the coming month or so.

As of June 26, the Murray-Darling was at 92 per cent capacity.

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Sydney weather statistics can be seen here.

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IT’S taken more than two decades to complete, it’s almost finished and it’s expected to be the solution to Bathurst’s flooding woes.
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When new levees are completed in the Alpha and Carlingford streets area in coming months, it will be the culmination of efforts dating back to 1991.

Residents in that low-lying district to the south of the city have been constantly inundated when the Queen Charlotte Vale Creek bursts its banks.

That should be a problem of the past when local company Hynash – which won the tender for the $1.4 million project – completes the new levees by Christmas.

The 660-metre levee system will run from land adjacent to the railway line across Alpha Street, extend through Proctor Park along the banks of Queen Charlotte Vale Creek and end behind Vale Road.

Signs that work on the levees are underway have started to appear – as have huge mounds of earth and a stock of massive drainage pipes along Carlingford Street at the edge of the Police Paddock grounds.

Elizabeth Neil, who has lived in the Carlingford Street area for more than half a century, said yesterday she is over the moon that the work is finally going to take place.

“Council’s been down here doing a lot of work lately,” she said.

“All this has taken place in only three days. Hopefully it will be over before August or September when we generally get the floods.”

Bathurst mayor Greg Westman said yesterday that completing the levee system would be a significant achievement for the region.

He said the first step is to move the stormwater drainage system that passes under the railway line so that it sits outside the new levee.

“There is a substantial amount of work involved to get that done,” he said.

“There also has to be some alterations to the high voltage powerlines before work on the actual earthen and concrete levees can start.”

Bathurst Regional Council general manager David Sherley said the next step, after this project, would be to focus on the villages.

Perthville will be first in line.

Mr Sherley said council has approved more than $400,000 worth of land acquisitions in the Perthville area so a levee can be built.

“This whole program is one of the highest priorities for the council and the community and is the major flood protection plan for the city,” Mr Sherley said.

Council has bought more than 90 properties on the local floodplain as part of its 20-year flood mitigation program.

Georges Plains and Sofala are also included in future flood mitigation plans.

AT LAST: Elizabeth Neil can see, from her back fence, the earthworks that are the start of a project to finally solve Bathurst’s flooding problems. 070912flood1

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