A timeline of Hazelwood power station

THE BEGINNING AND END OF THE HAZELWOOD COAL-FIRED POWER STATION:

* 1960s – Hazelwood is built and mine excavated.

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Parliament approves expansion of another two generating units to the station in 1965

* 1970 – The final two generator units come online in March and December

* March 12, 1971 – The station is officially opened at an event with thousands of visitors coming to the Latrobe Valley for the event

* 1973 – State Electricity Commission announces coal deposits under the flood plain of the Morwell River will be used earlier than intended

* 1977 – Morwell River Diversion Project starts with the building of a 3km tunnel to carry the base flow of the river and a 3.7km tunnel for floodwaters

* November 4, 1977 – A spark from a vehicle lights a fire in the mine

* December 9, 1978 – Three employees are killed in an explosion due to an incomplete hydrogen purge in the unit 3 generator

* 1986 – The three-year plant life extension project starts

* February 11, 1992 – An estimated 150,000 tonnes of earth collapses into the mine, pushing a dredger, conveyor and hopper 20m. No one was injured

* 1995 – State government takes first steps in privatising the State Electricity Commission

* 1996 – The state government announces the sale of Hazelwood Power Corporation to the Hazelwood Power Partnership, a consortium led by the British National Power, for $2.35 billion

* 2003 – Hazelwood Power Corporation is rebranded as International Power

* September 14, 2008 – Another fire starts in the mine. More than 170 firefighters get the blaze under control in three days

* 2009 – A $10 million carbon capture pilot plant is opened

* 2010 – Part of the Morwell River diverted through a concrete pipe it returned above ground

* February 4, 2011 – International Power merges with GDF SUEZ. That same day torrential rain creates a sink hole near the Morwell Main Drain and the freeway is closed for seven months

* February 2014 – A mine fire comes within 200m of the power station and it took more than 7000 firefighters 45 days to extinguish it. The Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry is set up and its report made six recommendations and 17 affirmations for GDF SUEZ

* November 24, 2014 – Hazelwood marks 50 years of operation

* April 18, 2015 – GDF SUEZ becomes Engie

* November 3, 2016 – Engie announces it will shut all eight generating units by March 31, 2017

* March 27, 2017 – The first three generators are shut down

* March 28, 2017 – The next three generators are shut down

* March 29, 2017 – The final two generators are shut down

* March 31, 2017 – The business closes for good.

SOURCE: Engie

‘Catastrophe,’ residents prepare for long Cyclone Debbie clean-up

The Insurance Council of Australia has declared the situation a ‘catastrophe’ and thousands of claims are expected.

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Mr Turnbull called on the private sector to “pull together” to assist with the aftermath.

“Particularly the banks and insurance companies pull together, to provide support for the people of North Queensland who have had a very tough day and night in this,” he said.

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Mr Turnbull said Treasurer Scott Morrison and Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had reached out to the insurance and banking sectors.

“The treasurer and assistant treasurer have been in touch with the insurance and banking sectors to ensure they understand the how important it is to the government and indeed to all Australians that the banks and insurance companies are seen to be very supportive and responsive, compassionate, considerate and supportive in making sure that claims are met, that businesses are supported,” he said.

Watch: Malcolm Turnbull pledges support for Queensland residents

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Fears for the sugar industry

On Tuesday night Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk predicted “shock and awe” in the state when the full extent of the devastation wrought by the cyclone is revealed.

The premier said Debbie had caused vast losses, particularly in the farming and tourism sectors, with resorts on the Whitsunday Islands suffering severe damage.

There are serious concerns for the region’s 2017 sugar cane crop which is estimated at $1.1 billion.

Queensland’s tourism and farming sectors have taken a body blow and it will be some time before authorities can count the damage to homes and businesses from cyclone Debbie.

A palm tree is fallen behind a motel at Airlie Beach, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. NO ARCHIVING (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Heavy rain is continuing to hit flattened cane fields in north Queensland, in a region that supplies around half of Australia’s $2 billion sugar industry.

Growers in the Mackay and Proserpine regions have been the worst-affected and there are fears the industry will take a severe financial hit from the storm.

Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan says it’s still been raining heavily today in some of the affected areas and flooding is occurring, and there are also serious concerns about the fate of the Wilmar-owned mill at Proserpine.

Watch: Cyclone Debbie leaving a trail of destruction

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Slipper reveals toll of intense scrutiny

Peter Slipper has spoken of attempting to take his own life twice and the toll on his family following the intense scrutiny he endured during his time as Speaker of parliament.

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Mr Slipper, who stepped down in 2012 amid separate allegations of fraud and sexual harassment, opened up about his struggle on Wednesday as he was immortalised in a portrait unveiled at Parliament House.

He told those gathered he knew there would be a price to pay for quitting the Liberal Party to become Speaker in a deal with the Gillard Labor government.

But he was no Judas, did not take the job for 30 pieces of silver, and would have served in the role for free.

“Little did I know, however, what a heavy burden awaited me and those close to me,” he said.

Mr Slipper wryly thanked those who “so publicly attempted to destroy my family and me”, saying he’d spent more time with loved ones in recent years than during all his time in parliament.

“I learnt what it was like to be admitted to a mental health facility and the perceived stigma of mental illness and depression, having been driven to attempt to take my own life twice by the overwhelming stresses I faced,” he said, choking back tears.

“I also learnt how strong and resilient I can be.”

Mr Slipper described having the streets around his home lit up like a sports stadium with media lights and being forced to crawl around in torchlight to avoid detection by low-flying helicopters.

“Not to mention all of those stares I attracted wherever I went,” he said.

“Family members were harassed and abused and vilified in ways too numerous to mention.”

He sought to be a reformist as Speaker, balancing tradition and modernity with fairness and consistency.

“History of course will be my judge, as it is of all of us,” he said.

“My deepest regret is that I did not have the opportunity to complete the task.”

Federal Labor MP Michael Danby said the Paul Newton painting of his friend was validation of Mr Slipper’s service to parliament and the struggle he and his family went through.

“I hope it is an atonement for some of the bile he endured during his tumultuous Speakership,” Mr Danby said.

“When all of the people who denigrated you, Peter, are long gone, you’ll be here haunting this place, making sure your role in public life is remembered.”

Mr Slipper was cleared of the fraud charges and the sexual harassment case against him was dropped.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.

Heavens open to give South Africa series

A very good series with one very, very bad day in Wellington.

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New Zealand’s brave effort to stave off a home series defeat against South Africa ended with rain abandoning play on the final day of the third and deciding Test in Hamilton.

The Black Caps were in a strong position to level the series with the visitors 5-80 in their second innings, after leading by 175 runs in the first innings.

New Zealand needed to win the match after losing the second Test in Wellington, with the first clash also rain-affected and ending in a draw.

“Against one of the best sides you can’t afford to have an off-day like the day we had in Wellington, because you give a team like South Africa an inch and they run with it – that was perhaps a little frustrating,” Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson told reporters.

“We did try to look at it a little bit holistically and see it as a bad day, which it was, a game-defining day, but it was one day so it was important we put that behind us.”

Williamson lauded his troops’ performances with South Africa on the ropes, particularly those of second-string bowling trio Neil Wagner, Matt Henry and de Grandhomme, but admitted there’d be plenty of what-ifs in the week ahead.

“A very good side and great series to be a part of, they deserve the win but it’s unfortunate to not see how this day unfolded,” Williamson said.

“(We had) a relatively inexperienced bowling attack and the guys were superb for a long period of time, and very demanding.

“Adding all those things up, and adding one of the best sides in the world into that mix, I thought it was a really good series with a bad day’s cricket.”

With the rain showing no signs of abating and due to the atrocious day-five conditions at Seddon Park, umpires Bruce Oxenford and Rod Tucker called an early draw on Wednesday.

Proteas linchpins Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock remained at the crease at the end of a sunny day four, but the early removal of either batsman on Wednesday would’ve further strengthened the Kiwi cause.

And the South Africans knew that.

There was a lot of rain predicted for this game but I wasn’t expecting it today,” du Plessis said.

“I was ready to come out and play my block-a-thon.

“It’s fair to say New Zealand outplayed us in this game … and they can count themselves very unlucky.

“They outplayed us in every department and we got saved by the rain.”

The series loss means the Black Caps also lose their world No.5 Test ranking.

Sweden ready to help probe Congo deaths of UN workers found in shallow grave

Sweden’s prime minister has paid tribute to a United Nations worker who died in Democratic Republic of Congo, saying those responsible must be brought to justice.

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The remains of two UN investigators, Swedish national Zaida Catalan and US citizen Michael Sharp, and their Congolese interpreter – who went missing in March in an area engulfed in a violent uprising – were found on Monday, Congo’s government said.

“Zaida Catalan worked tirelessly for peace and justice, and risked her own life to save others,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in a statement on Wednesday, adding the country was prepared to assist in the investigation.

“Sweden is naturally ready to assist in this work,” he said.

The investigators were part of a group monitoring a sanctions regime imposed on Congo by the UN Security Council when they disappeared in Kasai Central province.

In a statement issued in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres confirmed that the remains of the two investigators missing since March 12 had been found in Congo and said the world body would conduct an inquiry.

DR Congo: Bodies of 2 UN Experts Found. HRW’s deepest condolences to the families & colleagues of Zaida and Michael 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/5WabbnQN6R pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/5t12Pc21xN

— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) March 29, 2017

Villagers found the bodies of two Caucasians and one Congolese not far from where the experts group vanished, according to the government.

Police informed the authorities in the capital Kinshasa on Monday and a team including the provincial police commissioner was sent to the scene to identify the bodies.

“It’s now a certainty. It is the two investigators. We identified the third body in the grave with them as their Congolese interpreter,” Communications Minister Lambert Mende told Reuters.

John Sharp, the father of Michael, posted on his Facebook page that the bodies of two Caucasians had been found in a shallow grave, saying that there was a “high probability” that it was the UN officials.

“This is a message I hoped never to write,” he wrote, adding that DNA tests and dental records would be used to confirm the identities of the bodies.

Guterres said the United Nations would cooperate with Congolese authorities in searching for the four Congolese nationals who accompanied the UN officials.

“In case of criminal acts, the United Nations will do everything possible to ensure that justice is done,” the UN chief said.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry said it would not comment on the incident as it was being handled by the United Nations.

Congo’s Kasai Central region is the epicenter of the Kamuina Nsapu insurgency that has now spread to five provinces in the loosely governed Central African country.

The Kinshasa government said earlier this month the two UN officials had fallen into the hands of unidentified “negative forces” along with four Congolese who were with them near the village of Ngombe in Kasai Central.

“Going to places where few people go, asking questions that few people ask, finding out the truth, this is the work of United Nations experts,” said Emilie Serralta, a former coordinator of the UN Congo group. “This is how the reports and recommendations (guiding) the Security Council are written.”

Kamuina Nsapu militants pose an increasingly serious threat to President Joseph Kabila, whose decision to stay on beyond the end of his elected mandate last December has sent ripples of unrest across the vast mining powerhouse.

UN figures indicate that over 400 people have been killed in violence in which militants have been blamed for atrocities and government forces are accused of targeting civilians.

Local officials said on Saturday militiamen decapitated about 40 police officers in the deadliest attack on the security forces since the uprising began last year.