The Northern Territory news Sat 12 Dec 2009
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
www.ntnews.com.au Northern Territory News, Saturday, December 12, 2009 21 P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 1 2 -D E C -2 0 0 9 P A G E : 2 1 C O L O R : C M Y K Call 1300 727 706 | flightcentre.com.au or SMS your postcode to 131 600 and well call you. Applies to genuine quotes from airlines and Australian registered businesses and websites for travel that originates/departs from Australia. Quote must be in writing and must be presented to us prior to booking. Fare must be available and able to be booked by the general public when you bring it to us. Fares available due to membership of a group or corporate entity or subscription to a closed group are excluded. Must be for same dates and f light class. We will beat price by $1.00 and give you a $20 voucher. *Travel restrictions and conditions apply. Please ask us for further details. Prices and taxes are correct as at 10 Dec 09 and are subject to change without notice. Prices quoted are on sale until 17 Dec 09 unless otherwise stated or sold out prior. Prices are per person and are subject to availability. Accommodation (if included) is based on twin share. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply depending on date of travel. Prices shown are fully inclusive of taxes, levies, government charges and other applicable fees. Airfare not included unless otherwise stated. Where airfare is included, additional taxes specif ic to your f light routing may apply and/or may not include checked luggage (which can incur additional charges). Payments made by credit card will incur a surcharge. Prices shown are for payments made by cash in store. Advertised price includes any bonus nights. Minimum/maximum stay restrictions may apply. Vanuatu: $100 Meal Credit is per room. Australia Airfares: Prices based on fares that include carry on luggage only please call for details. Sale Airfares based on sale fares valid for sale until 13 Dec 09. Travel restrictions and conditions apply and may not be available on all f lights or at peak times. Car/Motorhome Hire: Price based on a minimum of 2 people. FROM DARWIN. Flight Centre Limited (ABN 25 003 377 188) trading as Flight Centre. Licence No.008. ntn_12dec_20x4_fc_R HolidaysInternational Airfares Australia Airfare Sale New Zealand 7 Days Motorhome Hire from $289 * ADD Powered site usage from $34*. Bangkok 4 Nights INCLUDES Breakfast daily, late check-out and 1 FREE night. ADD A side-trip to Chiang Mai with return airfare from Bangkok, 4 nights accom and breakfast daily from $311*. from $135* Phuket 8 Nights INCLUDES Breakfast daily. UPGRADE To the 4 Star Centara Karon Resort from an extra $76*. from $115* Singapore 4 Nights INCLUDES 1 FREE night. UPGRADE To the 5-star Pan Pacific Orchard from an extra $162*. from $235* Vanuatu 7 Nights INCLUDES 3 FREE nights and breakfast daily. BONUS $100* meal credit. from $315* Vietnam 6 Nights INCLUDES 3 nights accom in Ho Chi Minh City, 3 nights accom in Hanoi and breakfast daily. ADD A half-day Cu Chi Tunnel tour from $60*. from $239*from $239* ON SALE NOW one way from Adelaide $159* Brisbane $119* Melbourne $119* Perth $149* Sydney $149* Hurry, sale ends tomorrow. Bali Return from $397 * Economy return from Auckland $804* Bangkok $628* Kuala Lumpur $519* London $1477 * Los Angeles $1672* Phuket $633* Singapore $299* blow houses to bits DEFIANT: An injured survivor of Cyclone Tracy stands in front of the wreckage of a building in Darwin in December, 1974 Many hundreds and perhaps thousands would die if acyclone having the intensity of Cyclone Monicas peak 360km/h wind gusts were to strike Darwin The wind code committee still ranks Darwin as a city with a relatively low wind hazard. Darwin is classified within Region C, being a 50km-wide cyclone-affected strip that extends for 8000km around the northern coastline. The only place which demands much more stringent building codes is Western Australia, where its special Region D takes in Carnarvon, Onslow, Roebourne, Karratha and Port Hedland, home of major oil and gas projects. The researchers claim the cyclones that hit Region D are less intense than the NT coast, but are more frequent. WA engineers have been proactive in exerting influence on the code and require that all buildings withstand Category 5 winds. Mr Nicholls thinks Darwin needs to be rated in Region D, which would mean residential housing should be required to withstand winds speeds of 320km/h. Mr Nicholls says it is not just scientists and university representatives who sit on the wind standards committee and decide whats best for Darwin, but associations which represent building supply companies. The people who make the decisions to drop wind codes are the same people who will profit from it if theyre wrong, says Mr Nicholls. Its like putting a funeral director in charge of the health department. He says that in his opinion there is hostility to cyclone issues because these committees have in the past and continue to make miscalculations about what is best for Darwin. Working separately, but together with Standard Australias wind codes committee, is Building Codes of Australia, which is tasked with ensuring buildings follow the wind code guidelines. They also look at risks, such as fire, snow, earthquake and wind loads. They require that houses be built to sustain a wind gust that would only come along, on average, once in every 500 years. Mr Nicholls believes both organisations should work together so that houses in Darwin, Nhulunbuy, Maningrida, Galiwinku, Port Keats and elsewhere were able to withstand 320km/h winds rather than the current 250km/h. Many hundreds and perhaps thousands would die if a cyclone having the intensity of Cyclone Monicas peak 360km/h wind gusts were to strike Darwin, he says. Melbourne-based Dr John Holmes is chair of the wind standard committee and an internationally recognised expert on wind loads. He acknowledges that the American Meteorological Society journal is an esteemed publication but dismisses Mr Nicholls and Dr Cooks study. I dont think much of their work, Dr Holmes says. I dont understand why the American Meteorological Society published such a paper. They couldnt get it published here and went to America. Im not losing sleep about Darwin being able to resist another Tracy. Its more a question whether buildings have been built properly constructed and inspected. Its not about rezoning Darwin to a new level. Dr Holmes also questioned whether Thelma, Ingrid and Monica really were genuine Category 5 cyclones. There are issues with the weather bureau overcalling categories. If youre asking me whether wind standards for Darwin are adequate, Id say they are. Upgrading to Region D will introduce a whole cost penalty and there will be a lot of resistance to it and there is no justification for it based on scientific evidence. We are going to review all the zones next year, and we will take account of (the report). But if I really thought Darwin was at a high risk, I would do something about it. The report notes that Darwin is partially sheltered from the impact of intense cyclones because the Tiwi Islands to the north and the Cobourg Peninsula to the northeast provide some protection. While most cyclones track from the east, the most intense cyclones to have visited Darwin since settlement including Tracy came from the west. My basic premise is that Darwin should be designing its infrastructure and its emergency planning for highlevel Category 5 cyclones but instead we only design for mid-level Category 4 cyclones, says Mr Nicholls. I have been on this case off and on since 1974 when I was co-author of an Engineers Australia report titled, Is Darwin prepared for a cyclone? which reached the (then) Minister for Northern Territorys desk about a month before Tracy demolished my house, along with 80 per cent of the other houses in Darwin. Standards Australia claims that a cyclone equalling or exceeding Monicas intensity should only impact any given point on the Northern Territory coastline on average once every 600,000 years. Yet Mr Nicholls says weve had three in the past 11 years. Mr Nicholls says the gradual downgrading of Darwins wind risk is baffling. The human, psychological explanation is that people are born optimists. It just comes back to the need to accept that cheap and nasty is better than safe and expensive. It happens after every disaster. There are reports and then theyre forgotten.
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