Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

THURSDAY TOUGH CUSTOMER: How would Sam Thaiday and his Maroons mates go against the White Walkers and other nasties from Game of Thrones?

RUGBY league media south of the border are conducting the annual post-Origin inquisition after last night’s capitulation in the series decider.

Do we need a new coach?

Do we need a complete cleanout of players?

DUMB AND DUMBER: Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson.

Is there something inherently flawed in our team culture?

Should we just forfeit for the next five years until we are sure that Thurston, Smith, Cronk and turncoat Inglis are safely retired?

All seem like reasonable propositions to Seven Days.

But the real reason for our dismal failure should be no secret. As Gus Gould pointed out during Channel Nine’s broadcast, the boys in blue simply couldn’t match those dirty, rotten Cane Toads on the Telstra Tracker.

I mean, what hope did they have?

Even if you make more attacking metres, complete more sets, make fewer errors and tackle everything in a Maroons jumper, if you don’t measure up on the Telstra Tracker, there can be only oneoutcome.

What exactly is the Telstra Tracker? Apparently it’s an intensity-meter.

How it works, I have no idea. But Gus says it’s important, so it must be.

FRIDAYIT’Salmost three years since he left town butWayne Bennett clearly still has a soft spot for Newcastle.

Today he does his old clubafavourby announcing they have signed Brisbane prop Herman Ese’ese.

“He’s going to Newcastle. He’s going,”Benny confirms.

“He’s done great but that’s how the salary cap works. He was looking for a little bit more income and we couldn’t match that.”

Good old Benny. He’s saved the Knights’ media staff the hassle of typing up a statement and posting it on the club website.

Newcastle officials no doubt appreciate the kind gesture.

Mind you, there are some narks on social media pointing out that only a few months ago the Broncos took umbrage when Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan revealed Brisbane had signed Jack Bird.

At the time, Brisbane formally complained to the NRL.

This case is obviously a bit different. Flano is a premiership-winning coach but, unlike Wayne, he’s not a law unto himself who is bigger than the game.

SATURDAYSADLY I miss out on a reunion with the aforementioned master coach when I travel with my mate Mick the miner, former lower-grade enforcer at Lakes United, to Olympic Parkto watch mighty Arsenal in action against Western Sydney Wanderers.

We arrive early and find a TV in the local pub, where we monitor developments as Newcastlehost the Broncos.

It’s all looking good for the Knights at 6-all, but my heart sinks when the siren soundsfor half-time and they are leading 12-6.

We all know what’s comingnext.

Sure enough, for the eighth time in nine games this season, they let their first-half lead slip and cop a 34-22 beating.

SUNDAYA SUNDAY newspaper carriesa front-page headline that declares NRL “creeps” will soon be facinglife bans if they are found guilty of treating women disrespectfully.

Presumably it’s just coincidence that this yarn surfaces within 24 hours of a sex scandal that costs two high-ranking AFL officials their jobs.

At Brookvale, the Silvertails’ hot form continues with a 28-16 trouncing of the Tigers. The highlight is a runaway try from the Fijian flyer, Akuila Uate, wearing what appears suspiciously like a beanie.

MONDAYDARCY Lussick is facingperhaps the most embarrassing sanction of the season after being charged withpulling Aaron Woods’hair in a tackle during the win againstthe Tigers.

Lussick is busted for draggingWoods down with two handfuls of his long, flowing locks, an offence that is set to cost him a$1350 fine.

It is a further reminder of the laughing stock that rugby league has become.

No longer allowed to stiff-arm, speartackle, shoulder charge or punch an opponent in the face, players are resorting to cheap shots straight from the pre-school playground. It’s only a matter of time before someone is suspended for giving a rival a Chinese burn.

Meanwhile, veteran Sam Thaiday appears unconcerned about reports that Brisbane will not re-sign him when his contract expires at the end of next season.

“I might go into acting …season eight of Game of Thrones, maybe,’’ Thaiday jokes.“Who knows?

“There’s many, many things I can do. I’ve got a lot of tricks in my bag and we’ll see.”

Personally I’d love to see Slammin’ Sam get a run in Game of Thrones, along withCameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, JT, GI and all the rest of the Maroons.

Hopefully they’d all be eaten or barbecued by a fire-breathing dragon and give the Blues some hope of winning next year’s series.

TUESDAYNEWS breaks that notorious duo Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson embarked on an eight-hour drinking bender on the Friday before Origin III, prompting an official investigation by the NSW Rugby League.

Dugan argues: “We were with two of our good mates having lunchanda fewbeers. We were home at a respectable hourandthere’s nothing more to it — it was six days [sic]out from the game.”

It’s hard to decide if this is a disgrace or, as some are saying, a storm in a schooner glass. I’m entitled to think the latter. The whole episode suggests Dumb (Dugan) and Dumber (Ferguson) have matured …I mean, at least they were drinking beer, instead of Vodka Cruisers.

WEDNESDAYI am concerned that the TAB’s “most losses” market appears to have disappeared. Surely all bets aren’t off in the race for this year’s spoon?

After contacting head office, I am relieved the market is still active. The Knights are paying $1.05, but the Tigers, at $8, might be worth a speculative flutter.

New Liberal line-up firms

New Liberal line-up firms MAYORAL RUN: A Liberal party internal document names David Compton, pictured left,, as the party’s lord mayoral candidate. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

‘THINKING ABOUT IT’: Newcastle communications consultant Kath Elliott is considering running for Newcastle council. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

INCLUDED: Stalwart Liberal party Newcastle councillor Brad Luke is tipped to run again at the local government elections in September. Picture: Peter Stoop

TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald.

The sitting ward four councillor and owner of construction firm Compton Projects failed to make inroads contesting the safe federal Labor seat, losing by 18 per cent of the vote.

Butwith high-profile Hunter conservatives such as former lord mayorJeff McCloy and former Paterson federal Liberal MPBob Baldwin declining to enter the race so far as independents, the Liberals mayconsiderit worthwhilerunninga mayoral candidate.

The Herald madeattemptsto contact Cr Compton on Wednesday. Also among the apparent Liberalnominees areLachlan Stronach, the son of developer Keith Stronach, party stalwarts Brad Luke and Sharon Waterhouse, and younger members Taylor Wright, Blake Keating and Hannah Eves.

Missing isformer Shortland federal candidateJohn Church,anex-NBN newsreader and nowhead of marketing at Newcastle real estate firm PRD whowas said to be favouredby senior party figuresforhis name recognition and policy nous.

Communicationsconsultant Kath Elliott also confirmed she isconsidering running for council.

“Of course I’m always thinking about it, I’ve done it before, but I haven’t made up my mind,” she said when contacted.

Ms Elliott contested the ward three byelection as an independentin 2015and was defeatedby Labor’s Declan Clausen byabout four per cent of the vote.

Controversy hit that contestwhen a pamphlet authorisedby the Labor party and widely distributed on the eve of the election questioned Ms Elliott’s political ties and included a photo of her superimposed with then Prime Minister Tony Abbott and MrMcCloy.

A phone survey conducted this month forthe Australian Hotels Association polled Newcastlevoters aboutfigures it framed as being tied to the upcoming elections.

The poll canvassed opinion onGreens councillor Michael Osborne, state Labor leader Luke Foley, former NBN presenter Mike Rabbitt,independent councillor Allan Robinson,lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes,Newcastle nightlife campaigner Tony Brown, former Liberal state and federal candidate Karen Howard, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Cr Luke,Mr McCloy and Mr Baldwin.

Oxborrow set to roar back into A-League

OPPORTUNITY: Mitch Oxborrow is set to receive an A-League lifeline at the Roar. Picture: Max Mason-HubersBROADMEADOW Magic midfielder Mitch Oxborrow is set to resurrect his A-League career at the Brisbane Roar.

Oxborrow flew to Brisbane on Wednesday night, missing Magic’s friendly against the Jets, and, pending a medical, is expected to be signed as an injury-replacement for Daniel Bowles.

Bowles tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in round 19 last season and is not expected to return until late January.

Oxborrow will train with the Roar for the next week, before a final game for the fifth-placed Magic against Maitland on July 30.

Released by Perth in May, the 22-year-old was lured to Broadmeadow by coach and former teammate Ruben Zadkovich with the aim of reviving the play-maker’s A-League career.

“I’m over the moon,” Oxborrow said. “When I first came over [from Perth] I doubted whether I would get back to the A-League. The biggest thing for me was playing for Ruben. He has motivated me on and off the field. I can’t put into words how much I appreciate what he has done for me. Broadmeadow as well and the players. I’m stoked and can’t wait to get up there.”

Oxborrow, who made his A-League debut for the Jets as a 17-year-old in 2012,has been a revelation in five appearances for Magic.

Oxborrow set to roar back into A-League TweetFacebook Mitch OxborrowPictures: Fairfax FDC“I just have to keep going the way I am going,” he said. “My motivation and hunger is stronger than ever.When you fall out of the professional environment, you work twice as hard. Hopefully it works out and I get a contract.”

Oxborrow’s likely departure is a major blow to Magic’s premiership hopes, but Zadkovich said the player’s interest wasparamount.

“Everyone at the club is super happy and proud of what Mitch has been able to do,” Zadkovich said. “The purpose of him coming to us was to get back in the A-League. It is huge for our club and shows that we want to help people. I spoke to Craig Moore (Roar football manager) about how well Mitch has been doing and how good his attitude and work ethic has been.”

Meanwhile, Charlestown coach Shane Pryce has been appointed assistant coach at Lambton Jaffas for 2018.

When your South American trek goes off the rails, literally

We’ve all had a holiday experience that didn’t turn out exactly as planned. Spare a thought for the Maitland quartet of Kath and Dean Lawrence and Joy and David Agnew whose train ride through the picturesque Peruvian jungle was cut short –when protesters ripped up the rail line they were travelling on. Their only option …a three-hour trek with bags on their backs. Off the beaten track: Kath and Dean Lawrence and David and Joy Agnew at Machu Pichuu ahead of their jungle trek. Photo: contributed.

A group of Matiland holiday-makers’ South American journey literally went off the rails when they were caught in the middle of rowdy protests in Peru earlier this month.

East Maitland’s Kath and Dean Lawrence and Joy and David Agnew were among the hundreds of tourists left stranded when the railway tracks they were due to travel on were torn up by protesters.

The quartethadfinished a four-day trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and were preparing for a train ride back to the city of Cusco when word came through that protests had erupted throughout the region.

“It was abit of a shock as we went out to celebrate finishing the trek,” Dean said.“We were looking forward to a rest day andthetrain back,only to find out we had to strap on the hiking shoes and backpack.”

WATCH YOUR STEP: Tourists walk along railway tracks through the Peruvian jungle after PeruRail suspended services last week. Photo: supplied.

The group were forced to walk for three hours from the small townofAguas Calientes to the nearest vehicle accessible point. They followed the train tracks through the Peruvian jungle, with Dean describing the walk as “quite difficult” as they traversed rocky, unstable surfaces and river crossings.

There was little respite after their trek, with the quartet boarding a minibus for a seven-hour drive on winding jungle tracks back to Cusco.

Dean said the unrest was a bit wild compared to home, but they never felt unsafe.

“Other travelers had expressed it being scary. We personally didn’t. It does present as a bit wild compared to protests as home.”

Maitland Mercury

Hunter suffer midcourt loss

Ellie McVey

Hunter United will be out to bounce back from the loss ofNatasha Robards for the season on Thursday night against St George District.

Metro League division one leaders Hunter United play sixth-placed St Georgein round 13 fresh from news Robards has succumbed to a disc-related back injury.

“It’s been ongoing this year but she’s been managing it,” Hunter United coach Traci Baber said.“But she really hurt it quite badly at the Uni Games.It’s just overuse. She’s had an MRI and now she’s out for the season.”

Baber coached the hosts to victory at the Eastern Uni Games this month in Newcastle.

Robards, a circle or wing defence, has been part of an injury-hitmidcourt.

“She’s been like a lot of the girls, we’ve been managing them through,” Baber said.“We’re really struggling with injuries and illness, like we did last yearthrough the middle of the year, but the girls are really tough.

“Our defensive end and attacking end are intact, which is great, but we’re just having to manage our midcourters.”

Kim Williams and Sophie Buckley (both foot injury) are being rested when possible.Laura Nolan and Karlie Robards have also been on restricted minutes and are regainingmatch fitness. Nolan is coming back from Achilles surgery and Robards from a lay-off with an ankle injury. To cover the injuries, Ellie McVey was added to the squad and she has played the past two games.

“She’s doing a great job and has really hit the ground the running,” Baber said.

An understrength Hunter drew 49-all with St George in round four.

“We’d be confident of doing well tomorrow night and turning it around,” Baber said.

“The girls are playing really well and had a good training session last night.”

Treasure hunts are rocking parks

Treasure hunts are rocking parks Madeleine Lougoon, Violet Liddell and Sebastian Lougoon show off some of their rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Madeleine Lougoon with a collection of painted rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Nigel and Lachlan Lougoon with some of their rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Sebastian Lougoon and some of the rocks that can be found. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Violet, Hattie, Rebecca and Pearl Liddell enjoy painting, hiding and finding rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Hattie Liddell with one of her rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Madeleine Lougoon with a collection of painted rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Madeleine Lougoon with a collection of painted rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Sebastian Lougoon with one of the rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Madeleine Lougoon, Violet Liddell and Sebastian Lougoon show off some of their rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

An assortment of painted rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

A hidden rock. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

TweetFacebookMr Lougoon came upon the idea after seeing a story on the WA Rocks Facebook group, reportedly one of the largestgroups in the country with more than 44,000 members.

He and his six children started out by painted about a dozen rocks and hiding them at Bendigo Botanic Gardens, then inviting friends and other families in the local homeschooling community.

Mr Lougoon said his children had always enjoyed art and they had most of the supplies on hand when they started out, with their first rocks leftovers from a landscaping job.

It was also good to get people in the community doing something together, he said.

Rebecca Liddell is another parent who has become involved with her children.

An assortment of painted rocks. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

The family was at the botanic garden when the Lougoons made their first drop of rocks andMrs Liddell estimates her family has painted about 150 rocks since then.

“I think I enjoy that it gives the kids and I a shared interest,” she said.

Mrs Liddell said it was also nice to know their little pieces of art were potentially putting smiles on the faces of others.

For the children, she said, the fun lay in hiding the rocks and finding them.

A hidden rock. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

“The kids usually hide them in very obvious places; I think they want the other kids to find them,” Mrs Liddell said.

For the Lougoon family, the rock project has also held an educational element.

The children are homeschooled, and Mr Lougoon said this had been their main art project for the past month.

The older childrenalso helped set up the Facebook page, he said.

People are urged to purchase landscaping rocks or use ones from their own gardens, rather than take them from public spaces.

For more information on how to get involved and tips on creating durablerock artwork, visit the BendigoROCKS Facebook page.

Bendigo Advertiser

Halal certification ‘unnecessary’ for cereal says Kellogg’s, Sanitarium

General Manager of Sanitarium Australia Todd Saunders. Fairfax file image.Two large companies that produce some of Australia’s most popular breakfast cereals have stopped paying third-party organisations for halal certification.

Both Kellogg’s and Sanitarium have made national headlines this week after their decision to stop paying for the certification on Australian products came to light.

The term “halal” means lawful and is used to signifyproducts permissible to be consumed by those of the Muslim faith. In particular if those food itemscontain meat or animal byproducts, that they have been prepared according to Islamic law.

However, the requirement to pay a fee to third-party Islamic groups in order to have products certifiedhalal draws plenty of, often toxic,criticism from anti-Muslim groups and on social media.

Both Kellogg’s and Sanitarium say their products are inherently halal and able to be consumed by Muslims as they aren’t produced using any meat or alcohol.

For that reason they said they have made a commercial decisionto stop paying for the certification on its Australian products as it is unnecessary.

In response to questions from the Bega District News this week, Sanitarium said does not use, nor has it ever needed to use, halal or kosher certification symbols for its local Australian or New Zealand markets “as it is unnecessary to do so”.

They said whether or not the symbol was on their packaging didn’t change the fact their products “are suitable for people choosing halal or kosher foods”.

“Sanitarium has previously obtained halal certification in order to comply with the requirements of some of its more than 35 export countries around the world. However, Sanitarium does not currently hold either halal or kosher certification although it may choose to do so in the future depending on the requirements of our export markets.

Meanwhile, aKellogg’s spokesperson told the BDN its decision not to renew certification in 2016 was “part of a regular review of all certifications for our foods”.

“As most of our cereals are plant-based, they’re inherently halal, so we chose not to renew our certification…This was a commercial decision, not the result of any public pressure or backlash,” they said.

Other, non-religious, certifications that require third-party inspections and fees include organic certification, the National Heart Foundation “tick”, and the “Australian made” green and gold triangle logo.

What’s permissible?According to the Australian Food and Grocery Council, for a food or beverage to be halal, it must be:

free from any substance taken or extracted from a haram (prohibited) animal or ingredient (e.g. pigs, dogs, carnivorous animals, animals not slaughtered in compliance with Islamic rites);made, processed, manufactured and/or stored by using utensils, equipment and/or machinery that has been cleaned according to Islamic law (e.g. not cleaned with alcohol); andfree from contact with, or being close to, a haram substance during preparation, manufacture, processing and storage (e.g. blood, alcohol, poisonous and intoxicating plants and certain insects such as worms and cockroaches).Many foods and drinks, particularly those that do not contain meat or alcohol, are inherently halal. Other products can be halal if care is exercised in selecting and sourcing ingredients and by the adoption of appropriate manufacturing and handling procedures.

Global marketsAccording to the Australian Parliament, the global halal market has beenestimatedat1.6 billion consumersand may be worth up to US$1.6trillion per annum by 2018. Food certified as halal by an Australian certifying organisation is able to compete in the overseas market and so create export opportunities.

Contrary to anti-halal campaigners’ belief, a Senate Economics ReferencesCommittee noted, in a 2015 report on third party certification of food, that “evidence indicates that there is no direct link between halal certification in Australia and terrorism funding”.

Ryan eyes 2020 vision after worlds win

COAL Point sailor Will Ryan will weigh up his push for Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold in the coming weeks after securing a fourth 470 world title.

RIO: Mat Belcher and Will Ryan celebrate their silver at the 2016 Olympics. Picture: AP Photo/Bernat Armangue

Ryan and London 2012 gold medallist Mat Belcher won the world championshipin Thessaloniki, Greece, on the weekend withvictory in the deciding medal race.

It was Belcher’s seventh title and his fourth with Ryan. The pair were third last year at the world titles beforeclaiming Olympic silver in Rio.Ryan made his Olympic debut in 2016 along with his sister, Jaime, who was 15that the Games and 22ndon the weekendwith Carrie Smith in the women’s 470.

Will, 28, said the win in Greece was “very special” given he and Belcher had a light program this year, they trailed throughout the regatta and his parents,Mandy and Frank, were on hand for the first time at a world titles.

Ryan said the victory was a boost as he and Belcher considered their future.

“Post Rio, we each had different thoughts on what this and the coming years ahead could hold, but ultimately we felt there were elements of our past program that were yet to be fully developed and that could be done better,” Ryan said.“We haven’t yet committed as a team towards Tokyo 2020, but rather have used this year just to keep our hand inwith the racing and maintain our spot within the federation system.

“At the end of the year we wanted to be able to see if some of the changes we wanted to implement were feasible and if we could be in the position to be in contention for gold in three years.

“It’s good to know we can still be competitive, and in the coming weeks wewilltake the chance to sit down and talk through things.”

In the meantime, Ryan is looking to gain more experience in big boat racing with a view to one day joining the likes of fellow Coal Point sailor, good friend and Oracle Team USA wing trimmer Kyle Langford in the America’s Cup.Ryan will next compete in the World Match Racing Tour, featuring 32-foot catamarans, with Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar team.

“Hopefully thiswillall increase the learning,and fingers crossed lead to further racing opportunities towards America’s Cup and similar like some of the other Lake boys,” he said.

Ryan, who returns to Australia late this week,was still on a high from the world title win on Wednesday.

“I think each world title win is unique, but having not really focused on this worlds too much in the lead up, and being behind for the majority of the event,itwilltake a little while for this win to settle in,” he said.

“The conditions in Greece were not considered our most favourable, but the physical conditions of the open pumping rule, which came into effect here, is what I enjoy in this type of boat.

“A lot of new faces are popping up in the results as younger teams are pushing hard with trainingto try to close the experience gap to some of the teams who competed in Rio and have had some time off.

“It has made the racing quite refreshingand challenging as you begin to learn the race styles of most of your close competitors,so a few new teams and a few new surprises.”

The mesh, the legacy and future unknowns

Unknown: Robyn Ramster had pelvic mesh surgery in 2005, and surgery last week to “scrape the mesh” off her bladder. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.ROBYN Ramster is 63, a Wickham business owner and a woman who has lived with the consequences of pelvic mesh surgery in 2005 –including an operationlast week which a doctor described as “scraping the mesh off your bladder”.

For a decade she has lived with chronic urinary tract infectionslinked to how the mesh has constricted and contorted her bladder.She has repeatedly asked doctors if the infections might be linked to the 2005 surgery with a Johnson & Johnsonmesh tape for incontinence.

The responseshave been the same. Because the mesh was known to have worked so well for so many women,that couldn’t be the reason, she wastold.

“I was going to doctors to get antibiotics. I went to any doctor I could walk straight into after work, for years. But no one mentioned the mesh. No one tried to find out why I had these infections all the time, for all these years,” Mrs Ramster said.

“I kept telling myself, I’m all right. There was always discomfort, but you sort of get used to it.”

Then she reached a point where chronic infections, low-level pain, years of antibiotics and trying to run a business and maintain the appearance of living a normal life took its toll.

The surgeon last week removed the mesh that he could, but an unknown amount remains in her body, and recovering from the operation has been much harder than she had hoped.

“I just feel like I could sleep for the next three weeks and hopefully, I’ll wake up and feel better,” she said.

Mrs Ramster trusted the Hunter specialistwho implanted the mesh in 2005.

“I remember being told the tape was just this beaut new thing. ‘Just wait for a phone call and we’ll slot you in’. It sounded really good, and I’m no doctor. You trust the doctor who’s telling you they can fix your problems.”

A Senate inquiry established in February after a campaign by women implanted with mesh is expected to hear ofdifficulties faced by patients when they try to investigate a doctor’s history, including settlements after patient injury claims.

The inquiry is also expected to hear of the limitations of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency in providing patients with information about the doctors treating them.

Mrs Ramster, like many other Australian women, was horrified to read about the experiences of women who had had mesh surgery, but also relieved.

“It was like a light went on because what they were saying was what I’ve experienced all these years.”

She tries not to worry about the future but “I don’t know what other complications I’ll have. None of us know.”

The Herald, Newcastle

No experience needed: QR opens train driver recruitment

Queensland Rail is yet to open recruitment for drivers externally who have no prior experience with the operator. Photo: Jorge BrancoQueensland Rail has trained 28 of the 200 new train drivers it needs to restore reliability to the beleaguered operator.

But Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Jackie Trad announced in budget estimates that external recruitment would open next month for drivers without prior QR experience.

The Citytrain Response Unit’s latest report reveals 28 drivers had been trained and 107 selectedout of a target of 200.

Seventy-seven guards hadbeen trained and 263 selected, out of a target of 200.

QR is expected to have completed recruitment by 2018,training for drivers by 2019 and guards’ training by 2018.

The issues at QR, including a shortage of staff, an over-reliance on overtime and culture issues, came to light following hundreds of service cancellations, with aninquiry led by Phillip Strachanmaking 36 recommendations to fix the problems.

Setting up the Citytrain Response Unit was one of the recommendations.Another was opening up recruitment externally to people with no prior experience.

QR previously called forapplications for new train drivers,with a requirement that they hadworked as aQR driver in the past.

The Citytrain Response Unit’sFixing the trainsreport, released on Wednesday, said the process for opening external recruitment to drivers with no previous QR experience was “ongoing”.

Ms Trad said opening recruitment to all applicants was the final step in securing 200 trainee drivers.

“Queensland Rail has been focused on recruiting trainees with prior rail experience, to speed up training and get more drivers onto the network sooner, which is the key to increasing future service levels,” she said.

She said targeting internal employees and former QR drivers resulted in shorter training time frames.

Out of the 36 recommendations, seven have been completed, one is in planning, 26 are in progress and two are partially complete.

Ms Trad said tangible progress was being made to get QR back on track.

“Customers will see this around the network in the form of stabilised reliability, improved station amenity and more proactive customer engagement,” she wrote in the report.

QR has conducted stress testing on the timetable and advised it could remain in place.

“This is a good outcome, as it means that customers can be assured that their services will continue to be operated,” Ms Trad said.

“However, the Queensland government acknowledges there will be a number of defined periods over the coming 12 months when isolated changes to the timetable may be required to ensure the availability of train crew and reliability of services.”

The report saidQR haddeveloped a model to forecast long-term train crew availability and service requirements to better predict timetable stress points over a rolling five-year period.

QR hadalso developed an eight-week train crew management plan.