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It was calm and still the day an Albany woman driven by instinct swam out to save the life of a fellow surf club member who had been attacked by a shark off Western Australia’s south coast.

Joanne Lucas’ bravery in doing so has earned her the Star of Courage, a bravery award which will presented by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

The 54-year-old mother of three had arrived at Middleton Beach, Albany, early on May 10 last year, ahead of a surf club event.

“It was very still and calm, and the sun was shining, and there were dolphins flipping about, a whole pod of dolphins …” Ms Lucas said.

But a short time later, a woman ran up the beach telling her a man had been attacked by a shark.

“I said: `No, no, it’s the dolphins’ and she said: `No it’s a shark’,” Ms Lucas said.

Ms Lucas said running down to the beach, driven by instinct and adrenalin, she stripped off her tracksuit pants and swam 80 metres to where fellow surf club member Jason Cull was critically injured, barely able to swim or tread water.

“It was a completely instinctive thing. I didn’t think: `There’s a shark out there maybe I shouldn’t go out there’,” she said.

“I just thought I’ve got to get this guy out and I’ve got to get him back in.”

All the while, the shark manoeuvred around the scene, with Ms Lucas fearing the frantic splashing of two nearby swimmers trying to scare it away would steer the shark toward her and Mr Cull.

She said she kicked harder and made it to shore where Mr Cull was treated for his injuries.

His leg was completely ripped open from his ankle right up to his knee and he had been “nipped” on the other knee, Ms Lucas said.     Article_shark-200x0

Ms Lucas said she was happy to see Mr Cull now back on his feet and cycling around the place.

Being awarded the star of courage was humbling, she said.

“I’m very honoured and humbled to receive this.”

Ms Lucas said she was quickly back on the beach after the attack.

“It hasn’t turned me off the ocean at all,” she said.

“I actually scan the ocean before I go in now …”

The governor-general is expected to present the star of courage to Ms Lucas at a ceremony early next year.

Source www.watoday.com.au

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THREE people have been injured and five luxury boats engulfed by flames after an explosion at Newport Marina in Sydney this afternoon.   marina sydney 

One person was seriously injured, while another two were treated at the scene following smoke inhalation.

The fire started when one boat caught alight while moored. The flames quickly spreading to two other boats which were moored nearby.

Two of the burning craft were dragged to nearby sand flats and extinguished, but one drifted to nearby Sirsi Marina, and set another two boats alight.

NSW Fire Brigades spokesman Norm Buckley said the boats were dragged out into open water to prevent further damage.

“We pushed those crafts that were actually on fire out into the water so they don’t pose any danger to the actual wharf itself or any part of the structures or indeed any of the other boats,” he said.

 “We’re also using one of the Rural Fire Service’s fire boats, and they’ll be putting those fires out on those boats that are floating in the bay.” 

Plumes of smoke from the blazing boats have reportedly been seen from as far away as Gosford on the Central Coast.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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pensioners

Bet and Bob Poole, Coogee

Healthcare and getting by are key concerns for Bet and Bob Poole, who are war veteran pensioners courtesy of Bob’s service as a merchant marine in World War II.

The retired, married couple receives $957.80 a fortnight in pension payments from the Federal Government.

“We’ve been married for 62 years – you don’t get that for murder – and I’ve felt like murdering him a few times,” Bet quips.

“If we have a banana, we’ve got to share it, because we can’t afford two.

“Because you get about $75 extra each if you’re a single pensioner, we know a few of them who are living together and saying they’re separated, which is all well and good as long as you don’t get caught.”

Bet has a heart condition that needs four prescriptions costing $21.20 per month to treat. Bob relies on two prescriptions for another ailment, which cost him $10.60. The couple’s income includes a combined monthly rebate of $10 for prescriptions.
Bet and Bob say any decrease in their combined $11.20 prescription gap would be most welcome.

The couple has private health insurance, which they say they will have to surrender if Treasurer Wayne Swan cuts the 30 per cent private health insurance subsidy.

“If the Government wipes that 30 per cent, I won’t be able to be in it,” Bet says.

“Sooner or later, I am going to have to have my main (heart) valve replaced, and even if I have got private insurance that will cost thousands and thousands to replace.”

Bet says a push by the Pensioners’ League for an extra $30 per week income for single pensioners would not help her or Bob.

“We’re not going to get anything because we’re married, so if I divorce him, I’ll get $30,” she says.

Regardless, she resents that a pay rise for pensioners is even in question when federal politicians have just received one.

“They’re going to give themselves $90 per week and they’re trying to lower that $30 right down to nothing, and that stinks,” Bet says.

Electricity, gas and water prices are going through the roof.

“If we don’t get something in the budget, it means a lot of the pensioners are not going to eat.”

Bob says there should be greater health support for his former comrades injured in war.
www.watoday.com.au

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