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Ambos issue timely advice

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 31 Desember 2012 | 19.55

No one wants to spend the new year in the back of an ambulance.

THINK before you drink is the resounding message from Ambulance Tasmania chief Dominic Morgan as the state prepares to ring in 2013.

Mr Morgan said ending up in the back of an ambulance was never the ideal end to an otherwise fun night.

"So many accidents that happen over the summer festive period are preventable," he said in a statement.

"By planning in advance, many people can not only have a fun night but a safe night as well.

"Much of the ambulance workload, especially on New Year's Eve, involves alcohol-related illness or injury -- whether it be falls, excessive consumption or accidents on the road.

"I particularly urge Tasmanians not to mix drinking and driving -- the potential consequences are too high and entirely preventable.

"It's easy to have a discussion about a designated driver or taxi in advance.

"It's also important to drink plenty of water when consuming alcohol and try to alternate drinks with something non-alcoholic. Eating regularly is also a good idea.

"Our message to the Tasmanian public is have a happy New Year and hopefully one that happens without a hitch or the need for paramedics."

Mr Morgan also reminded the public that calling 000 should be reserved for true emergencies.

The latest figures from the Tasmania Police festive road blitz show 67 motorists have been picked up for drink driving since December 23, with another 20 testing positive for drugs.

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Our own instant millionaire

A DEVONPORT man will enter 2013 as a millionaire after winning $1.4 million in TattsLotto's $30 million Megadraw at the weekend.

The man was one of two Tasmanians to collect winnings in the Megadraw. The other lucky man was from the Launceston suburb of Newstead.

The Devonport man bought his winning unregistered QuickPick entry from Centre Newsagency and Lotto in the Woolworth's Arcade in his home town.

He told Tatts officials it would change his life.

"When I checked the TattsLotto results in the newspaper, I just kept crossing the numbers off one by one. I started thinking 'well, this looks promising'," he said.

"Now I will be able to buy a lot of things I couldn't afford before."

He also intends to travel.

In the 2012 calendar year, 10 Tasmanian have scored division-one prizes totalling more than $11.5 million.

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One dead in Bay of Fires crash

ONE person is dead and two are trapped after a head-on collision at a popular holiday spot in Tasmania's north-east.

Police said the crash happened this afternoon on Gardens Rd, The Gardens, near Swimcart Beach.

The area, near St Helens, is a popular destination over the Christmas and New Year period.

Emergency services are at the scene.

The road is closed and police have advised motorists to avoid the area.

It is Tasmania's third road death over the festive period and takes the 2012 road toll to 32 -- eight more than at the same time last year.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury.

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Anti-Rebels push anger

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 30 Desember 2012 | 19.55

A CRIMINAL barrister says the Tasmania Police decision to air concerns over the purchase of local real estate by the Sydney-based national boss of the Rebels bikie gang is part of a push to get the State Government to introduce anti-association legislation.

Greg Barns yesterday took issue with police concerns over the purchase of several Tasmanian properties by Rebels Motorcycle Club national president Alessio Emmanuel "Alex" Vella, revealed in the Mercury.

Police drug squad boss John Arnold, who is Tasmania's representative on the Australian Federal Police's anti-Rebels taskforce Attero, said the Rebels played a key role in the distribution of methamphetamine in Tasmania.

Detective Inspector Arnold said the acquisition of Tasmanian properties by Mr Vella was concerning and he encouraged the public to make reports about Rebels' activities to the Crime Stoppers hotline.

Mr Barns, an Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman who has acted for a number of bikies, said the comments by Inspector Arnold were worrying.

"The comments by John Arnold, a police officer involved, are extremely disturbing. He is effectively saying to the public that if you see people who you think are members of bikie gangs, ring Crime Stoppers," Mr Barns said.

"It reminds us of the days when ASIO used to tell us to dob in a communist. It's an outrageous statement on his part.

"John Arnold and Tasmania Police seem to be saying there is some criminal conduct involved in the purchase of the real estate."

Mr Barns said Inspector Arnold's comments about the Rebels were part of a Tasmania Police campaign to get "draconian" anti-association laws introduced in Tasmania.

The controversial laws introduced in other states allow organisations such as bikie gangs to be classed as illegal and make it an offence for members to associate with each other.

However, in a number of instances the laws have been overturned by the High Court after they were found to be in breach of the Constitution.

"The laws are draconian ... they can be used against environmental groups or against any group that the Government doesn't like," said Mr Barns, who is a Mercury columnist.

"There's no evidence to suggest that Tasmania has a problem with major crime, or no evidence to suggest that bikies are responsible for major crime.

"The comments of Inspector Arnold are outrageous and completely undermine the right to the presumption of innocence that all members of the community have, including bikies."

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Burma crash duo vow to return

THEY escaped the burning wreckage of a plane crash in Burma, but Tasmanian Stuart Benson and South Australian girlfriend Anna Bartsch plan to return to the country to complete their unfinished holiday.

The couple arrived in Australia yesterday morning, greeted by relieved family and friends, four days after they walked away from the charred ruins of a flight that crash-landed in a paddock in Heho in central Burma, killing two people and injuring 11.

Speaking at Adelaide Airport, they said they were eager to go back and see the sights they missed when their two-week getaway was cut short on Christmas Day.

"There are a few more sights we're keen to see and we had a great time it's an amazing country," Ms Bartsch said.

"It certainly hasn't put us off going back and we hope it doesn't put other people off exploring the region."

Ms Bartsch, 31, and Mr Benson, 32, said they were thankful to arrive in Adelaide and excited by the prospect of some home comforts.

"I was a bit nervous boarding the flight from Singapore but I'm just glad it's all over," Mr Benson said.

"The tail-end of the trip (in Burma) was meant to be three days on a beach, so I'm looking forward to taking up that opportunity in the next trip."

The couple left Adelaide on December 18 and had been scheduled to return to South Australia tomorrow.

They were sitting at the back of the plane that crashed about 3km short of Heho airport.

Ms Bartsch escaped with a few minor sprains and Mr Benson sustained back pains.

"I don't think I've ever really had an experience when I've thought 'this is about it'," Mr Benson said.

"We were stuck inside for a bit while the plane was burning, at which point things were not looking great.

"The back injuries I've got are very common to what we'd see in the rollover of a Targa car.

"The wings coming off show what an impact it was."

Officials in Burma are investigating the cause of the crash, which happened when the Air Bagan Fokker 100 jet tried to land in heavy fog.

On Friday the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade revised the number of Australians in the plane crash from five to six. They included three Queenslanders and one dual-nationality citizen who did not live in Australia, a department spokesman said.

Mr Benson said the crash had replayed in his mind since Tuesday and that talking to other survivors about the ordeal had helped him cope.

"It was in the days following that it really hit home," he said.

"We were seeing all the photos come through and realised how bad it actually was."

The couple's luggage was destroyed. They have received some compensation and expect further reimbursement.

Mr Benson plans to return to Hobart to see his family in coming weeks.

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City gets Taste of traffic jam

TOP TASTES: Joe Bennett of Get Shucked Oyster Farm and Will Bignell of Tasmanian Highland Cheeses enjoy their fare. Their combined stall, which also included Craigow Wines/Tap Barley Beer/Belgrove Estate Highland Whisky was named best stall for 2012.

TASTE Festival organisers were unapologetic about parking problems yesterday when a perfect storm of multiple events created traffic snarls in and around Hobart's Salamanca precinct.

Tens of thousands converged for the Taste's second day, which coincided with the weekly Salamanca Market plus the Sydney-Hobart yacht race and the annual Antique Fair at City Hall.

The events bonanza created city traffic jams and along Sandy Bay and Hampden roads.

Long queues at the carparks, toilets and ATMs were inevitable because of the huge crowds.

Hobart City Council festival co-chairman Peter Sexton urged patrons to use common sense when travelling to events by organising shared transport and abandoning ideas of parking next to the venue.

"Parking is always an issue because people want to park at the front door," Ald Sexton said.

There were 800 free carparks in council's Argyle St and Centrepoint parks plus 700 at the Park and Ride in the Domain.

But he admitted there were signage problems with the Domain carpark, which was hidden behind the Moscow Circus.

Much of the Domain remained empty yesterday. He said more car parking and better communication would be a feature of next year's Taste.

He said a fraction of Taste patrons needed transport because many stayed in or close to the site.

"At any major event in the world, it's not possible to get there you have to use the bus or walk," he said.

Southern District Police Inspector Grant Twining said anyone who thought they could park close to such a big event was naive.

Insp Twining said the council had done a great job with Taste's traffic.

"It's congested simply because there's thousands of people here," he said. "You can get a park in Barrack Street five minutes away."

Police also received a number of queries from tourists unable to hail taxis yesterday.

The Salamanca taxi rank had been relocated to Kirksway Place and outside Customs House during the Taste.

More roads will be closed today between 9.30-10.30am for the Race to The Taste Fun Run.

Police have advised motorists to avoid Upper Domain Rd, Davies Ave, McVilley Drive,Tasman Highway, Davey St, Argyle St, Morrison St and Castray Esplanade.

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Rink gets its skates on

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 29 Desember 2012 | 19.55

From left, Charlie Connor, Lily Chadwick, Elsie Anderson and Thomas Cooper, all 15 of Hobart, enjoy the re-opened Mawson's Skate. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

PUT your skates on, Hobart, the rink is back in action.

Hobart's newest tourist attraction, Mawson's Skate, reopened yesterday after the delivery of new skates from Italy. The rink, which opened next to Mawson Pavilion last Saturday, shut one day later because temporary skates were not up to scratch.

Mawson's Skate manager Kate Whitehouse opened the rink an hour after the new skates arrived -- to the delight of children and teenagers.

"We're very happy," Ms Whitehouse said.

The owners hope the rink will attract used by 40,000 people each year.

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Energy honeymoon over

THE honeymoon period for Aurora customers is to come to an end, with electricity disconnections set to more than double in Tasmania in the next 12 months.

Aurora had given Tasmanian customers a four-month amnesty on disconnections as they rolled out a new billing system in the last half of this year.

However, the company has warned it will soon be operating like energy companies in other states, which have been disconnecting customers at a growing rate.

In Victoria, 24,000 households had their power cut off in the past year -- a 33 per cent increase from 2011. Disconnections in South Australia have grown by 38 per cent, Queensland 20 per cent, and New South Wales 25 per cent.

Aurora spokesman Richard Wilson said the company expected 2000 disconnections next year -- double the average of 1000 disconnections a year for the past two years.

Only 226 Aurora customers lost their power in 2011-12 because of the four-month amnesty on disconnections to allow a new billing system to be installed, Mr Wilson said.

Disconnections dropped from 998 in 2010-11 to 226 in 2011-12. Of these, 178 were residential customers and 11 were businesses.

Mr Wilson said making regular payments through a payment plan was the best way to avoid a disconnection.

"Disconnections are the worst outcome for everyone but especially for the customer," he said. "It affects their credit rating and they lose their electricity supply."

Mr Wilson said the company had arranged 2490 payment plans in the last quarter.

The increased disconnections will come as a blow to the State Government, which is set to sell Aurora customers at the end of the year into a full retail contestable market.

Energy expert Frontier Economics director Danny Price told the Mercury in late October concerns about the credit ratings of Aurora customers and Aurora's market monopoly were scaring off energy retailers.

He said the sale of energy customers on the mainland had generated about $1000 to $1500 per customer but Aurora would be lucky to get $300 per customer.


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Bikie boss in Tassie buy up

THE boss of one of Australia's most notorious bikie gangs has been buying up property across Tasmania.

The Mercury can reveal Sydney-based Rebels Motorcycle Club national president Alessio Emmanuel "Alex" Vella has bought several properties in the state and owns real estate in Hobart, Launceston and Sorell.

Police say the Tasmanian branch of the Rebels has high-level links to the operation and control of the national motorcycle gang.

Apart from Mr Vella's properties, his son, Alex Jr, is listed as the owner of waterfront land at Triabunna.

That land, which locals say has only ever housed a large shed, was previously owned by the parents of a Tasmanian Rebels president.

The Tasmanian properties owned by Alex Vella house Rebel clubhouses at Letitia St in North Hobart, Merino St in Kings Meadows and in suburban Sorell.

Mr Vella has drug convictions.

"It's of concern that someone with a criminal history such as Mr Vella has close ties with Tasmania and comes to the state quite frequently," said Tasmania Police drug squad boss John Arnold, who is Tasmania's representative on the Australian Federal Police's anti-Rebels taskforce, Attero.

Detective-Inspector Arnold said it was a serious issue for Tasmania.

"The Tasmanian Rebels try to abrogate themselves from the illegal activities of the club interstate, when Mr Vella's property interests make it clear they have strong links with those activities at the highest level," he said.

With eight chapters in Tasmania comprising 50 patched members, police say the Rebels have long tried to paint a positive picture of the club with their participation in charity events such as the Christmas Toy Run and by saying that they are a community-friendly group of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts.

But the PR campaign hit a hurdle when a dozen members and associates were arrested in Launceston last year in an alleged $450,000 methamphetamine trafficking ring bust.

And police say the Rebels continue to play a key role in the distribution of methamphetamine in this state.

"The Launceston experience would tell us some of the members are heavily involved in the manufacture and distribution and they certainly are interstate, so it would be naive to think they're not still involved here," Insp Arnold said.

The AFP and police in all states and territories have a task force Attero, whose purpose is to eradicate the Rebels.

Police in Tasmania are asking Tasmanians to provide information on the Rebels' locations and activities.

"What we're saying is ring Crime Stoppers where your anonymity can be protected, because any information about their presence in the state and their movements is of value to us," Insp Arnold said.

The Mercury sought comment from the Rebels but none was received.

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Gusto takes the treble

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 28 Desember 2012 | 19.55

VICTORIAN yacht Gusto has claimed a historic treble by taking line honours in the Melbourne to Launceston event -- smashing the race record in the process.

The Brian Pattinson-skippered Open 66 took just 18 hours 44 minutes and five seconds to win the race across Bass Strait, bettering the mark of 19:55:43 set by Cadibarra 8 in 2003.

Having won the Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster and Eastcoaster races in the preceding two years, Gusto became the first yacht to claim the treble.

Goldfinger was leading the Eastcoaster race this morning, with the fleet racing into 20-knot south westerlies to the south of Flinders Island.

Goldfinger was looking well placed to claim the golden double of handicap and line honours.

The Westcoaster race was much closer, with Extasea seven miles clear of Bandit.

Tevake II, Cadibarra 8 and Spirit of Downunder were in a tight cluster behind the leading two yachts, with the race for handicap honours wide open.

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Arrest over road rage attack

A 63-YEAR-OLD man is in police custody and a 37-year-old man is in hospital with stab wounds after a road rage incident at Glenorchy this morning.

Police say an altercation between the two men unfolded after both drivers pulled up side by side at the intersection of Main Rd and Lampton Avenue about 10am.

The 63-year-old allegedly failed to turn left despite apparently being in a turning lane.

Both drivers then pulled up in the car park of nearby Supercheap Auto and the younger man was allegedly stabbed by the older man in the back and head after a verbal stoush.

One of the men pushed the other, according to police.

Police will allege the older man then produced a knife and stabbed the 37-year-old before leaving the scene.

"As a result of investigations conducted, detectives attended an address in Montrose where a 63-year-old male person was taken into custody without incident," Detective Inspector David Plumpton said.

The alleged offender was taken to Hobart Police Station, where he was awaiting interview this afternoon.

"While this matter has still to go before court in general terms, police would like to remind people that no matter what the reasons such behaviour will not be tolerated," Det Insp Plumpton said.

He said this was "an extreme example" of road rage and asked drivers to exercise patience on the roads at this busy time of year.

"Police ... are still appealing for witnesses to come forward who may have witnessed two Ford Falcon vehicles stationary at the intersection of Lampton Avenue and Main Rd prior to them both driving south on Main Rd," he said.

Witnesses can contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000 or the Glenorchy CIB 6230 2821.

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Hungry hordes storm Hobart

The crowd at day one of this year's Taste, which will be open until 11 tonight. Pictures: SAM ROSEWARNE

THOUSANDS of Tasmanians, tourists and wave-weary yachties have surged into the Taste Festival, which opened at 11am today on Hobart's waterfront.

Christmas dinners apparently long forgotten, the hordes could not get enough of fish and chips, wine and extravagant berry and ice cream desserts.

More stalls and more space have been provided this year, but there was still not enough seating for some.

Stalls were set up on the lawns of Salamanca Place and activities were held on Parliament lawns as the seven-day event, formerly the Taste of Tasmania, sprawls out from its traditional base at Princes Wharf No 1 shed.

There are 88 sites at the Taste in its 24th year.

Three members of the Yaizu-Hobart Friendship Association and a Yaizu City staff member are preparing traditional Yaizu food and drinks including deep sea water tofu, onigiri and genmai cha for today and tomorrow. They will offer free samples for visitors to taste.

Festival judges have picked their top wines from the 140 entered. Every stallholder put their wines up for judging.

Wine writers and critics Louise Radman and Winsor Dobbin, winemaker and consultant Nav Singh and Taste wine convenor Phil Laing were judges.

"The judging was conducted with immediate enjoyment over the week of the Taste in mind," Mr Laing said.

"The top and runner-up wines in each category are all wonderful wines.

"The sparkling, chardonnay and pinot noir classes are particularly strong, with three, four and six wines respectively of gold-medal quality."

All winning wines will be available for tasting and purchase at the Cascade Taste Festival bars.

Glasses -- supplied by Riedel thanks to its partnership with the festival -- cost $12 and can be reused throughout the festival.


Winner: 2007 Bream Creek

Runners-up: 2009 Spring Vale Salute, 2008 Home Hill Daisy Rosé

Sauvignon Blanc

Winner: 2012 Bream Creek

Runner-up: 2012 Devils Corner


Winner: 2012 Milton Riesling

Runners-up: 2011 Laurel Bank Riesling, 2012 Pipers Brook Gewurztraminer

Pinot Grigio

Winner: 2012 Holm Oak Pinot Gris

Runner-up: 2012 Ninth Island Pinot Grigio


Winner: 2009 Bream Creek

Runner-up: 2011 Spring Vale Reserve


Winner: 2012 Milton

Runner-up: 2011 Bream Creek

Pinot Noir 2009 and younger

Winner: 2010 Derwent Estate

Runner-up: 2010 Kelvedon Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir 2009 and older

Winner: Craigow 2009

Runner Up: Spring Vale 2009

Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon

Winner: Holm Oak Merlot 2008

Runner-up: 2010 Stefano Lubiana Merlot


Winner: 2011 Milton Iced Riesling

Runner-up: 2011 Tamar Ridge Botrytis Riesling

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Firies pedal for cancer cure

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 27 Desember 2012 | 19.55

Charity ride organisers Tim McKay and Emma Weitnauer at Hobart Fire Station today. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

TEN Tasmanian firefighters are preparing to cycle from Brisbane to Hobart to raise money for cancer research.

The Headin' South for a Cure group will leave Brisbane on New Year's Day and spend 14 days on the road, averaging 175km per day, before arriving back in Hobart on January 14.

Co-organiser Tim McKay said they had raised $40,000 so far, with all proceeds going to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

To donate, click here.

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Oats could smash race record

Wild Oats is potentially still on target for a new Sydney to Hobart race record as she enters Bass Strait this morning. Picture: BRETT COSTELLO

WILD Oats XI is steaming towards Hobart ahead of record pace in the 68th Rolex Sydney-Hobart.

The Sydney supermaxi could cross the finish by as early as midnight to 2am overnight, which would smash the race record of 1 day 18 hours 40 minutes 10 seconds Wild Oats set on debut in 2005.

The Oats already broke the record for the fastest exit through Sydney Heads on Boxing Day, and -- barring mishap -- has line honours in the bag.

Being positioned so far ahead of the race record, and the 76-strong fleet, also has the 100-footer leading the race for the Tattersalls Trophy as overall winner on handicap.

Last year's winner Ragamuffin Loyal is second on the water, followed by Lahana and Black Jack.

However, Ragamuffin could face a time penalty when she arrives in Hobart as punishment for jumping the start on Sydney Harbour.

That will be determined by an International Jury, which gathers annually to judge infringements of the rules and protests during the Sydney-Hobart.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Howard Piggott confirmed Ragamuffin's infringement.

"Ragamuffin broke the start -- her bow was over the line when the gun went," Piggott said.

"Under the sailing instructions [race rules] the recall advice has to be given out five minutes after the start.

"However, the signal to the boat at the five minute mark appears not to have been given to notify the skipper of Ragamuffin that he'd broken the start.

"For the reason the race chairman has decided to record him as over at the start but put an application for redress to the international jury."

That means the race committee's failure to notify the skipper could be Ragamuffin's escape clause from copping a penalty.

Hobart yacht Cougar II is the best-placed of the Tasmanian boats, placed 17th in the fleet, while fellow Tasmanians Helsal 3, Martela and Dump Truck have all spent time in the top three of their divisions on handicap.

Five-times line honours-winning skipper Mark Richards this morning described the opening day to the 68th Rolex Sydney-Hobart as a rough start.

"It was a pretty challenging night for the guys," Richards said.

"We've had a lot of sail changes and a lot of different conditions happening but we got through it pretty nicely.

"We actually got a bit of damage to one of our centreboards.

"We hit a log, I think, in fairly high seas and did a bit of damage there.

"But we've got that under control."

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Woman, 70, missing again

DELORAINE police are searching for a 70-year-old Westbury woman who has been missing since Christmas Eve.

Police said Patricia Marion Manners was last seen at Dunorlan, a tiny township near Deloraine.

She is described as about 158cm tall, with grey shoulder-length hair and a stooped posture.

Ms Manners was also reported missing in September, when police expressed concern she could be in a "confused state of mind".

Anyone who believes they have seen Ms Manners should call 131 44 or contact the Deloraine Police Station on 6362 4004.

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Survivor tells of fiery crash

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 26 Desember 2012 | 19.55

A security guard walks past the remains of an Air Bagan jet that crashed Burma yesterday. Picture: AFP

A TASMANIAN man who survived a fiery Christmas Day plane crash in Burma which claimed three lives says he was surprised to walk away alive.

Long-time Targa Tasmania executive Stuart Benson, 32, was one of 63 people aboard the Air Bagan Fokker 100 jet which crashed on a road after clipping trees near Heho airport in central Burma.

Two people on board were killed, along with a motorcyclist on the ground. Another 11 people were injured.

"I don't think I've ever really had an experience when I've thought 'this is about it'," he said today from a hotel in the capital Yangon.

"We were stuck inside for a bit while the plane was burning, at which point things were not looking great."

Mr Benson, who was on holiday with girlfriend Anna Bartsch, 31, said there was no hint of the impending disaster before the crash.

"It seemed like a pretty standard sort of approach, it was coming down reasonably quickly," he said.

"There were seven or eight very severe impacts.

"My initial thought was, with the impact so severe, that we were crashing into a mountain range.

"The only way to describe the initial impact was like a car rolling over.

"The back injuries I've sustained are very common to what we'd see in the rollover of a Targa car."

Mr Benson said as soon as the plane stopped moving, his first instinct was to get off quickly.

"The plane was very quickly engulfed by flames," he said.

"I looked around all the windows and I could see there were flames.

"My first thought was to get out as quick as I could.

"I think it was a bit of survival instinct kicking in.

"We looked out the window to see what to do and there were flames down the entire length of the plane. It was quite phenomenal."

Mr Benson said despite some panic among passengers, the evacuation was fast and orderly.

He praised the efforts of airline staff, the Burmese government and Australian consular officials in the wake of the crash.

The couple have lost all their luggage -- including their passports, phones, cash and credit cards.

Mr Benson, who has been living and working in Adelaide in recent months, said they would cut short their trip and head home to Australia but hoped to return to Burma one day.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury.

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Bird strikes early on debut

JACKSON Bird has made an instant impression in his Australia Test debut at the MCG, grabbing two impressive top-order scalps against Sri Lanka.

The 26-year-old struck in the fourth over of the Boxing Day Test when Dimuth Karunaratne lunged forward and was caught behind for five.

He took his second wicket just after lunch when Thilan Samaraweera played a dreadful shot and spooned a catch to David Warner at mid wicket.

Former Australian swing bowler Damien Fleming likened the impressive Bird to Australian bowling legend Glenn McGrath.

With a habit of uprooting top-order batsmen and a wicket-taking stock delivery, Fleming said Bird showed more than enough today to prove he will be a long-term Test bowler.

Fleming coached Bird in his time at the Australian Cricket Academy and said the subsequent improvements to his technique were the building blocks of a promising international career.

Bird, 26, showed few nerves in picking up 2-32 in 13 overs, maintaining his outstanding first-class strike rate at the MCG.

More importantly though, five maidens highlighted control that not only claimed two key early breakthroughs, but that Fleming says will be critical in English conditions in next year's Ashes series.

"I think it's important for all bowlers to know that your best ball can get out the best batsman," Fleming said.

"And from what we've seen, he already knows that if he bowls enough of his good balls, he'll get enough wickets at Test level.

"He doesn't look like one of these guys who goes on an emotional rollercoaster, he's pretty laid back.

"It's very early days for him, but he's not unlike (Glenn) McGrath and Stuart Clark in that they've got a nice, bouncy, accurate stock ball.

"And it's shown over the history of Test cricket that those types of bowlers get wickets ... and he's probably got a more natural outswinger than those two."

Bird hit the spot early, beating opener Dimuth Karunaratne with the first ball of his second over and having a big LBW shout turned down the next ball.

Again using his stock delivery that swings into the left-hander, Bird almost forged a path between bat and pad with the third ball of the over, then showed nous beyond his experience to slant one across with his fourth ball to find the edge and shove Sri Lanka on the path to its meek demise.

The lithe Tasmanian then rushed on to the dangerous Thilan Samaraweera with a shorter ball that he could only spoon to David Warner at mid-wicket.

"What we're seeing here from Birdy is that there are now enough attributes to be a good international bowler," Fleming said.

"Back (at the Academy) he was very inconsistent with his wrist releases, so I reckon a majority of times he pushed the ball in.

"He was working on trying to get that outswinger and that's what you've seen from him not only today, but for the last two years -- consistent outswing.

"What we like is that he's got a nice run-up that goes towards off stump, his action is aligned and he has a high release.

"I don't think any action is bulletproof, but it doesn't look like it puts any strain through him.

"And talking to domestic players, they reckon his big strength is he hits high on the bat and that he makes you play.

"They're qualities you love in an into-the-wind bowler, you can take that anywhere in the world -- particularly England -- and you should have a good success rate."

Fleming said the only knock on Bird in English conditions was that he bowled marginally short during the mid-year Australia A tour.

"You should be about a metre fuller in England anyway, but with his fundamentals, you'll hope he's able to adjust his length just a little bit.

"If your line is good and the action of your run-up is good, you should be able to adjust your length, whether you're looking at the pitch, the stumps, or the keeper's feet, there's got to be something there to focus on and he's been impressive enough that he should be able to do that without a problem."

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Blaze threatens Dolphin Sands

A SCRUB is burning out of control at Dolphin Sands, north of Swansea, on Tasmania's East Coast.

Residents of Dolphin Sands Rd have been urged to activate their bushfire plans, with the Tasmania Fire Service sending 10 units to tackle the blaze.

The TFS has enacted a "watch and act status" for the fire, which means conditions are changing and residents need to start taking action to protect themselves and their families.

Anyone wishing to leave the area has been advised to do so now but only if the path is clear.

The football club at Swansea will be the evacuation point if required.

A Tasmania Police spokesman said officers had been sent from Swansea and Bicheno to help the TFS.

The blaze was reported about 3.30pm today.

Non-residents are advised to stay away from the affected areas.

There may be embers, smoke and ash falling on Dolphin Sands Rd and Cambria Rd is closed.

For up-to-date information, listen to ABC Local Radio and visit the TFS website.

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Ho-ho Hobart turns on a feast

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 25 Desember 2012 | 19.55

ALMOST two tonnes of Tasmanian goodwill has been delivered to North Hobart's Hellenic Hall, just in time for Christmas.

SecondBite, which redistributes surplus fresh food to community food programs, was in full flight yesterday, preparing and delivering food and hampers for Colony 47's Christmas Day lunch.

"We have had a great response," SecondBite food program manager Pat Burton said.

"It is amazing and we are really happy."

He said SecondBite was delivering 1.8 tonnes of food to the hall in Federal St.

"We are expecting an increase in numbers for the Colony 47 Christmas Day lunch," Mr Burton said.

"We will possibly feed about 400 people.

"Not only are we contributing food for the lunch, but also preparing and delivering about 165 food hampers so those who missed hampers can take one home."

Each hamper weighs on average 9kg.

Mr Burton said Tasmanian suppliers -- including Coles, Harvest Moon, Premium Fresh, Southern Fields, Huon Valley orchardist Robert Parkes, Bandicoot Blue, Lion milk, and SRT Transport -- had all made significant donations to get fresh food to the right places.

For many Tasmanians who may not be lucky enough to have all the trimmings of Christmas, Colony 47's lunch offers festive fare and great company to boot.

"We aim to make it a fun day where people can come together and enjoy the day with others," a Colony 47 spokeswoman said.

"Given our work within the community, we know that Christmas can be a difficult time for some due to a large number of reasons."

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Bruny delays likely

Long queues for the Bruny Island ferry at Easter.

COMMUTERS bound for Bruny Island are advised to expect delays during the busy festive period.

Shane Gregory, from the Department of Infrastructure, said motorists traditionally had a longer wait in Kettering from Boxing Day through to December 28 and again on New Year's Eve.

He said a contingency plan had been developed to manage the possibility of queuing on the Channel Highway.

"We're encouraging motorists to consider travelling during non-peak times, for example catching one of the first two sailings of the day, at 6.35am or 7.45am," the general manager of traffic infrastructure services said in a statement.

"If you do decide to travel during peak times, try to allow enough time for your journey and remember there could be delays of at least two hours.

"Make sure you carry enough water, especially if you are travelling with pets or children, and try to be patient and respectful of others.

"Motorists should only stop in Ferry Rd where it's possible for local traffic to pass."

To check out the ferry timetable, click here.

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Santa visits tree sitter

Santa helps environmental activist Miranda Gibson celebrate her second Christmas in a tree in southern Tasmania.

WHILE most Tasmanians will gather around a Christmas tree today, conservationist Miranda Gibson will still be up one – a 400-year-old eucalypt to be precise.

The 31-year-old began her tree sit in the state's Styx Valley on December 14, 2011, as part of a protest against logging in Tasmania's high conservation value forests.

Perched on a platform 60m above the ground, the former school teacher is now spending her second Christmas in the Observer Tree.

"This time last year I had hoped that I would not have to spend another Christmas here, and that this forest would be securely protected by now," Ms Gibson said in a statement yesterday.

"Sadly, after a year, I still need to be here watching over this forest that remains under threat.

"I hope that I will not be here for a third Christmas."

She said the Federal Government would have an opportunity in 2013 to nominate the surrounding forests for World Heritage protection.

"What a wonderful Christmas gift it would be for all of Australians … to have these forests protected for future generations," Ms Gibson said.

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Bonus a slap in face for public

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 24 Desember 2012 | 19.55

SENIOR public servants from the Department of Premier and Cabinet will head into Christmas with bonuses worth a total of more than $170,000.

Seventeen directors and managers have received $171,349 in bonuses, equal to 5 to 15 per cent of their annual wage up to early December.

Deputy Opposition Leader Jeremy Rockliff, right, said the bonuses were a slap in the face for Tasmanian workers.

"Premier Giddings talked tough when she imposed a 2 per cent cap on wages growth for some of the lowest-paid public servants, yet she's prepared to secretly hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses through the back door to the top bureaucrats in her own department," Mr Rockliff said.

"It's just further evidence you can't trust Labor to look after Tasmania's finances."

The bonuses were revealed by the Liberals, who discovered the figures through a right-to-information request.

But the State Government said the payments were incentives, not bonuses.

The bonuses for 2012-13 are already up by more than 7 per cent on last year the bonuses bill for last financial year was $160,266.

The biggest bonus went to one of the department's policy directors, who got a 15 per cent payment of $20,630, taking his annual wage to $158,162.

Five staff members from the department's telecommunications unit received bonuses totalling more than $70,000.

Other staff to receive bonuses included the manager of strategic communications and marketing, $11,661, the director of community development, $8301, and the director of the social inclusion unit who has received $6877 worth of bonuses this financial year.

The bonuses come as many of the state's public servants, including teachers and healthcare workers, agreed to a 2 per cent pay increase over two years, after the State Government wage policy was tightened during the 2011 Budget to keep a lid on out-of-control spending.

A Government spokesman said yesterday the executives who received the $170,000 of "incentives" were on contracts instead of an award.

"They don't receive incremental pay rises each year, like other public servants," the spokesman said. "Each year, SES staff are assessed against an annual performance plan, and may receive performance payments.

"Those are not 'bonuses', and not given automatically." The spokesman said the DPAC staff were experienced people who often took on significant extra duties and workload.

The Opposition has vowed to reduce the number of senior executives in government departments.

"We will reduce the number of senior executives and save taxpayers $2 million a year," a spokesman said.


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Tragic start to holiday period

The vehicle at the crash scene in East Bagdad Rd yesterday. Picture: MATT THOMPSON

A MAN in his 70s is dead, after his ute hit an embankment and turned onto its side at Bagdad yesterday.

The victim, the sole occupant of the grey Ford utility, is understood to have been close to his home on East Bagdad Rd when he lost control of the vehicle.

Accident investigators believe a medical condition may have caused the crash.

"It's too early to say at this stage but that's certainly something we're looking at," Sergeant Rod Carrick said at the scene.

He said speed, inattention and drugs or alcohol had been ruled out as factors.

An examination of the crash site yesterday showed the driver had crossed to the wrong side of the road just before 1.45pm while travelling north and had driven into the roadside table drain. The ute continued for a short distance before rolling onto the passenger side.

Another motorist saw the accident and stopped to provide assistance but the man died at the scene.

With Operation Crossroads now in full swing nationwide, police are urging drivers to do what they can to make themselves and their passengers safe over the Christmas and New Year period.

The official 12-day holiday period got off to a terrible start with six road deaths around the country.

Two women and one man died in three separate road accidents in Victoria, a young woman died after her car crashed into a tree in South Australia and an elderly woman died near Wollongong in NSW.

Tasmania's road toll currently stands at 30 compared with 23 for the same period last year.

The national holiday road toll period ends on January 3.


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Drive to survive this Christmas

Tasmania Police officers have detected 11 drink drivers after conducting almost 2000 random breath tests.

MORE than 60 motorists have been caught speeding and 11 have been picked up for drink-driving offences in the Tasmania Police Christmas blitz.

Inspector Shane Lefevre today released the latest results of Operation Crossroads, which aims to keep the state's roads safe over the busy Christmas and New Year period.

Tasmania has already recorded one fatality for the holiday period, with an elderly man killed in a single-vehicle crash at Bagdad yesterday.

The Operation Crossroads figures show that 11 drink-driving offences have been detected after 1995 random breath tests, with three drivers testing positive for drugs.

A total of 83 traffic infringement notices have been issued and 65 motorists have been caught speeding.

Drivers are reminded to:

  • Slow down and drive to weather and road conditions.
  • Plan their trips and take a break every two hours to avoid fatigue.
  • Make sure everyone in the car is wearing a seatbelt.

The SES also issued a reminder that many volunteers would be mobilised in the coming days to perform a range of duties, including road accident rescue and traffic management.

The would also be manning driver reviver stations across the state in January.

SES assistant director George Cretu said volunteers, when in uniform at traffic incidents, were authorised to participate in roadclosures and give traffic signals and directions.

He said motorists should follow the directions they were given.

'Whilst the overwhelming majority of motorists comply with the directions of volunteers with patience and understanding, now and again some people don't accept the directions or make inappropriate comments to the volunteers," he said in a statement.

"It could be that some don't understand the SES role or it could be that people are in too much of a hurry.

"As with its other partner emergency services, the SES urges all motorists to be patient on the roads this summer."

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War against toy guns

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 23 Desember 2012 | 19.55

A SEMI-AUTOMATIC toy gun rated the most popular toy for boys this Christmas has raised the ire of a global peace movement.

The rapid-fire Nerf gun, which makers promise will "deliver a semi-auto barrage of darts as fast as you can pull the trigger", is the top-rating boys' toy on a list released by the Australian National Retailers Association.

But the gun, along with a field of similarly sophisticated toy weapons, has triggered concern among child safety experts, the anti-gun lobby and the Tasmanian branch of an international peace movement.

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom has renewed its campaign against toy guns, in response to the growing popularity of the high-powered imitation arsenal for children.

Its Tasmanian branch president, Linley Grant OAM, urged families to resist buying toy guns this Christmas.

"Toys are for fun, not for fighting," she said.

Mrs Grant has written to the Education Department about the league's concerns and has compiled a flyer, about the dangers of war-like toys for schools, to hand out to parents.

"War toys create the impression that 'might is right' rather than helping children to learn kindness and generosity, reconciliation and acceptance of others," the flyer says.

Education Department deputy secretary Liz Banks said the flyers had been distributed to all schools, government and non-government.

Hi-tech Nerf guns, which shoot foam darts or discs and are intended for eight-year-olds and above, have been high on lists of popular Christmas gifts for several years.

They have become so popular that the national Toy and Game expo in Sydney next year is planning a 20m by 10m Nerf Arena, which organisers expect will be one of the top attractions.

Gun Control Australia has raised concerns about the popularity of such realistic toy guns. Spokesman Roland Browne said there had been a resurgence in toy guns in recent years but it was a "trend we shouldn't be accepting".

"We should be trying to move away from an American gun culture," he said.

Kidsafe Tasmania chief executive Jenny Branch said toy guns seemed more powerful each year and posed a potential physical danger.

She said long-range toy guns could cause eye injuries and she urged parents to include safety goggles with any gun gifts.

Mrs Branch said the toys should not be used near children under eight or left around for young children to access.

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Action plea on light rail

SUPPORTERS of Hobart's proposed light-rail system have renewed calls for action following the release of the business case review yesterday.

Aecom's review of ACIL Tasman's 2011 business case found it was an essentially fair and sound appraisal of the project but likely optimistic in terms of capital and operating costs.

The review also forecast low commuter numbers.

Describing the review as "disappointing", Hobart Northern Suburbs Rail Action Group president Ben Johnston said action, including genuine community consultation, was needed.

"We really haven't progressed over the past two and half years," he said. "There needs to be more stakeholder engagement and genuine community consultation to build an effective business case.

"We're keen on action beyond words and flawed reports."

Mr Johnston also raised some concerns about the independence of the review.

"As the major community stakeholder, we are concerned that the mainland-based consultants were selected without going through an open tender process," he said.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown said he would convene a meeting of people and organisations who had shown an interest in the project on February 15 next year at MONA to help push it forward.

"I think the light rail is a fabulous opportunity but it needs co-ordination from the wider community," Mr Brown said.

"The Hobart light rail is a sign of whether our city is going to zing into the future or languish."

And Tasmanian Sustainable Transport Minister Nick McKim said he remained firmly committed to the light-rail project.

"I do think it's in the best interests of public transport in Hobart and, in fact, in the best interests of Hobart and Tasmania," he said.

"We will now conduct a separate business case on Stage One from Hobart to Glenorchy on the basis we believe we can get a significantly improved outcome that will allow me to make application to the Commonwealth Government for funding next year."

Opposition spokesman on sustainable transport Matthew Groom said the public was tired of reviews.

"Nick McKim releasing yet another review is a bit like Groundhog Day," he said. "What we need is a clear strategy and plan of action rather than these endless reviews."

He said the Liberal Party was not prepared to give up on the prospect of a light-rail system.

"We support additional public transport options in the northern suburbs and the light rail needs to be assessed in that context," he said.

To access the full report, go to www.dier.tas.gov.au


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Festive real estate boom

WITH fewer open homes and active agents, Christmas and New Year can be a tricky time to buy or sell a home.

But with a slight market improvement across the state over the past three months, Real Estate Institute of Tasmania president Adrian Kelly says the current climate could translate to a spike in sales.

"The interest rate reductions have put more confidence into the market so I do think it is a good time to be selling," he said.

"Personally, I think we'll have a pretty good run of sales right through to Easter. And then we may see the usual winter slowdown that we've experienced over the last few years."

With Hobart the country's most affordable capital city with a median dwelling price of $305,875, there are many bargains to be had for serious local buyers or those coming from interstate or overseas for a summer holiday.

"It tends to hot up [the market], particularly in Hobart because you've got the Sydney to Hobart, the Wooden Boat Festival and the Taste Festival," Mr Kelly said.

"The agents that do actually work over Christmas and New Year's tend to do OK while we've got lots of mainlanders here.

"It might be a little bit different this year with the market being the way it is. Nevertheless they'll be here and many will look for properties."

Last summer there were 1712 sales across the state and with more than 9000 houses and units for sale, real estate agents and industry professionals are hopeful for even higher sales figures this summer.

Of the properties on the market, around 130 come with a price tag of more than $1 million but Mr Kelly believes prospective visiting buyers may target the cheaper end.

"A lot of them are looking for a little investment property," he said.


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Meet our white knight

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 22 Desember 2012 | 19.55

Warwick Rule (centre) and his wife Helen have bought several busted companies in recent years, turning them around and employing locals.

A WEALTHY Sydney businessman is breathing new life into struggling Tasmanian businesses in a bid to create much-needed jobs.

Warwick Rule and his wife Helen have bought several busted companies in recent years, turning them around and employing locals.

Their latest acquisition is a linen cleaning company at Goodwood that went into receivership in June, owing more than $1 million to creditors and putting 45 people out of work.

Mr Rule is the founder and managing director of Imatech, a mining tool and product supply company.

The couple restored the old Savings Bank in Murray St and are well known for their battle with the heritage council over striking red awnings they used on the building, some of which were recently ordered removed.

They live in Sydney and spend much of the year travelling overseas, but have fallen in love with Tasmania during the past 20 years.

Mr Rule said they were on a river cruise in Europe when they received an email to say Southern Linen Services had gone into receivership.

He said they had been considering acquiring a linen company after buying a number of accommodation properties in Tasmania.

Mr Rule said by the time they bought the linen company in September it had been shut down and old customers had signed on with new contractors.

It provided linen rental and laundering services to commercial, healthcare, hospitality and food processing industries.

Re-named Linen Services Tasmania and extensively renovated, the business has re-employed 20 staff who had not been able to find work since the company's collapse.

"We've recruited a lot of the labour [force] from the old business," he said.

"They were owed so much money [by the previous owners], they hadn't been paid things like superannuation."

Mr Rule said his Tasmanian businesses now employed more than 50 people and his companies Australia-wide employed more than 200 people.

He owns Engineering Supplies Tasmania and Joinery Supplies Tasmania, and last year bought a second Tasmanian joinery company that had gone into receivership, renaming it Imatech Joinery Services, based in Glenorchy.

Before the joinery business went bust Mr Rule had hired it to carry out detailed woodwork and restorations at his Murray St property.

"I knew them very well [and] when I found out they had gone into receivership I said we can't lose all of those skills," he said.

He went to an auction organised by administrators, bought all of the company's assets and re-established the business.

Mr Rule said he wanted to create new jobs by investing in Tasmanian businesses and considered this more important than donating to charities.

"We would rather put money into businesses that employ people because that's what Tasmania needs," he said.

"We're learning more about Tassie as we go."

The couple are building up a holiday accommodation portfolio and own serviced apartments at Battery Point, historic property Gattonside in Sandy Bay Rd and Amberley House near the casino.


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Flowing with festive cheer

Revellers packed Salamanca Place last night.

THOUSANDS of Hobart revellers started putting the "merry" into this year's Christmas holiday period last night.

There was a bumper and boisterous crowd at Salamanca for the traditional Christmas break-up drinks.

Police estimated about 10,000 people took advantage of the mild weather and clear skies to converge on the Hobart waterfront.

Check out the gallery

The Salamanca lawns were transformed into a street party, with live music, barbecues and vans serving alcohol.

Police Inspector Glen Woolley, officer in charge of Hobart, said it was a lively but orderly crowd.

"Overall the crowd is well behaved, considering the large number of people," he said.

"So far it's a jovial crowd and we just hope it stays that way," he said.

Insp Woolley said the good behaviour was partly because of the strong police presence, with 22 police patrolling the waterfront last night.

Police had made four arrests for disorderly conduct up until 9.30pm.

Insp Woolley said it was the largest gathering he had seen in the three years he had been patrolling Salamanca pre-Christmas Friday nights.

The holiday drinks have been a tradition in Salamanca for nearly 30 years, with thousands gathering on the lawns across from Knopwoods Retreat.

While the outside drinking area was still enclosed by a 1.2m barrier fence last night, the area was less fortress-like than the past seven years when a 1.8m "cage" had been erected.

Knoppies licensee Kate Cawthorn praised the lower barriers.

"It has more of a festival feel, we're really happy with it," she said.

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Snapshot shows healthy state

THE latest snapshot of Tasmania is in, and the news is mostly good.

We are richer and smarter than two years ago. We call ourselves optimists, but we can be a little tight with the purse strings. We don't trust governments, but we reckon we lead full and busy lives.

Every year leading advertising company Clemenger puts together a comprehensive snapshot of the habits and mood of the nation.

Based on quarterly Roy Morgan surveys of more than 50,000 people, it identifies the traits we share and the things that set us apart from each other.

Clemenger's report, The State of Tasmania, reveals locals are generally upbeat about their lives, particularly in Hobart, where the proportion of people counting their glass as half-full approaches 80 per cent. But drill down deeper and the picture becomes more nuanced.

While Tasmanians are more likely than other Australians to feel financially stable and are less likely to have cut down on their spending, a strong and growing majority believe the gap between rich and poor is growing.

And despite the global financial crisis receding in the rear view mirror, the number of people believing the economy is in freefall is growing.

Far more than Australians elsewhere, Tasmanians don't trust governments. Only a small minority in each region report that they trust the current Federal Government and distrust is significantly higher in the state's North-West, something that may spell trouble in the key marginal seat of Bass.

And we are more likely to believe corruption is a major problem, with up to 60 per cent agreeing.

The Clemenger report revealed distinct differences between the state's three regional centres of Hobart, Launceston and Burnie/Devonport.

"The Hobart region showed optimism in terms of the economy and the future of Tasmania, despite a feeling of financial instability. The Hobart demographic is characterised by older households of white-collar workers, managers and professionals who value social interaction, new opportunities and knowledge," the report concluded.

Interestingly, Launceston emerged as a more liberal, health-conscious, environmental hub.

"The Launceston region showed an increase in income and a shift towards a more health-conscious consumer," the report said.

"This involves the consumption of organic and additive-free foods, as well as increasing concern for the environment.

"The Launceston demographic is characterised by the mid-life households of skilled workers who value security, reliability and family.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the state's North-West emerged with its own distinct identity too.

"The Burnie/Devonport region showed increasing disregard for their health, as well as a large degree of distrust and dissatisfaction with the Government," the report said. "[The] demographic is characterised by young-parent households of skilled workers who value security, reliability and family."


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Tarkine mine lease approved

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 21 Desember 2012 | 19.55

ANOTHER mining project earmarked for the Tarkine has moved a step closer to development.

The State Government has granted Venture Minerals a mining lease for its Riley Creek iron ore mine, west of Tullah.

The Riley Creek proposal is one of three major mines Venture plans to develop in Tasmania.

The company has already been granted a lease for its Livingstone project, also near Tullah, and is finalising plans for its massive Mt Lindsay tin and tungsten mine.

All mines would need Commonwealth approval before they could proceed.

The Riley Creek mine, when developed, would create 60 jobs and generate revenue and mining royalties worth tens of millions of dollars.

Resource Minister Bryan Green said the granting of the lease was another sign that mining investment was being encouraged in Tasmania.

Mr Green was heckled when he tried to tell the 3000 people who attended a pro-mining rally in Burnie in November that the government was doing its bit to promote new mineral developments.

"I think people will now realise that criticism of the Government is baseless," Mr Green said yesterday.

"Nothing has changed in relation to the processes for developing new mines and each project will be dealt with on its merits under some of the strictest environmental conditions in the world."

The granting of the lease to Venture Minerals follows news this week that Shree Minerals' $20 million iron ore project had received its final Commonwealth tick of approval.

Development of the open cut mine, near Temma on the west Coast, should begin in March or April.

Conservationists have vowed to blockade the site.

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Abuser's jail term increased

A MAN involved in one of the most horrific cases of sexual abuse to come before the Tasmanian courts has had his sentence increased on appeal.

The Court of Appeal today added another three years to his jail term, describing the initial sentence as inadequate.

The 35-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person under the age of 17 years, eight counts of producing child exploitation material and two counts of possessing child exploitation material and a jury found him guilty of three counts of rape.

The offences were committed between 2008 and 2001 when the victim was aged between 14 and 17. She was his stepdaughter.

He made video and audio recordings of the abuse and threatened the girl he would put the images on the internet if she reported him.

Justice David Porter sentenced the man to seven years in jail with a minimum term of four.

But in his decision on the Crown appeal, Chief Justice Ewan Crawford said the sentence was too lenient.

"Rapes on 21 different occasions alone demanded a much more severe sentence," he said.

"Their nature and circumstances cried out for a much longer term of imprisonment by way of general and personal deterrence, retribution and denunciation.

"The gross breach of trust by the respondent and the harm he caused the complainant also demanded a much more severe sentence."

He quashed the original sentence and ordered the man serve 12 years in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of seven years.

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Help at hand for injured boys

A BROAD cross-section of the Tasmanian community has banded together to set up a trust to help two little boys who were severely burnt in a car explosion in Burnie earlier this month.

Family friends, groups of mothers, service clubs and churches have joined forces to form the Fletcher and Spencer Support Committee to co-ordinate fundraising activities and other aid for the eight- and five-year-olds.

Police are still waiting to speak to the boys' father.

He is expected to be charged with attempted murder.

The 49-year-old man and his sons received burns to more than 25 per cent of their bodies in the car fire which happened in the backyard of their Shorewell home a fortnight ago.

The boys remain in a critical but stable condition in intensive care in the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

Their father is being treated in the ICU of the Royal Hobart Hospital and his condition has been downgraded from critical to serious.

However, police expect it will still be weeks before they can interview him about the incident.

The Vice-District-Governor of Lions Tasmania, George Bugeja, will chair the committee, which has already received offers of help from local businesses, individuals, entertainers and celebrity chefs.

Tins will be placed on the counters of some businesses to collect money for the appeal and donations can also be made at the ANZ bank.

The Fletcher and Spencer Trust has been set up to administer the donations received to ensure all money will be spent in the best interests of the boys.

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Movie highs and lows for 2012

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 20 Desember 2012 | 19.55

The Dark Knight Rises has been rated the best movie of 2012.

MOVIE reviewer Leigh Paatsch looks back at the most exciting, shocking, and awe-inspiring cinematic moments of 2012, as well as those that made audiences cringe.

Best 10 Films of 2012

1. The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan ended his consistently brilliant, forever game-changing Batman trilogy on sustained notes of elation, exhaustion and deep contemplation. If every blockbuster event picture was a third as good as this, our faith in mainstream filmmaking would be unshakeable. Here's hoping these excellent works were not just an exception to the rule, but an example others will follow.

2. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Not often a film will have you repeatedly thinking "I have never seen anything like this before". Sure, this lyrical, yet cryptic crawl through a community devastated by a hurricane was an acquired taste for many. However, no-one could deny the raw power coursing through every frame.

3. Argo
Less than a decade ago, Ben Affleck was considered a hack actor, and getting hackier by the minute. Now he is one of the best directors in the business. And no-one sledges his performances no more, either. His take on the 1979 Iran hostage crisis was thrilling, funny and flawlessly staged.

4. The Sessions
A disarmingly frank and surprisingly heart-warming tale about a virginal paraplegic poet who just wants to get laid? Could have been a train wreck, yet never once went off the rails. Superb acting from John Hawkes and Helen Hunt revealed an intimate bond between two people that had nothing to do with sex.

5. Looper
An ambitious, adrenalised sci-fi thriller that is all brains and all brawn, almost all the time. An imposing, multi-directional plot about time-travel converges at a place where you will be engrossed and even moved by what comes to pass. Certain to be a big influence on emerging filmmakers in years to come.

6. Moonrise Kingdom
Two 12-year old runaways scamper about an idyllic island, with a cop (Bruce Willis) and a Scout leader (Edward Norton) in not-so-hot pursuit. Look past the enjoyably absurd chase scenario, and there are wise emotional truths and beautifully rendered tinges of sorrow expertly woven throughout.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
A rare case of a Hollywood adaptation surpassing the original foreign production. Director David Fincher didn't settle for a mere remake. With the aid of sterling performances from Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, Fincher dragged us deeper into Stieg Larsson's bleak Millennium universe than ever before.

8. Magic Mike
Those who thought they'd be getting an American re-tooling of The Full Monty were horribly wrong. Instead, master filmmaker Steven Soderbergh served up a soulful drama about male strippers where everything went brilliantly right.

9. The Avengers
After many years in the works, Marvel Entertainment's master plan to conquer the world box-office with their stable of thoroughbred superheroes went off without a hitch. A truly epic action picture positively pulses with panache, wit and excitement throughout.

10. The Artist
A French-made silent set in 1920s Hollywood. Starring two actors no-one had ever heard of. A longshot bet that came up trumps, taking our traditional love for the movies and making it feel like a brand new romance. Deserving winning of the Best Picture Oscar.

And the Next 10:
11. Margaret
12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
13. Skyfall
14. Bully
15. Prometheus
16. Searching for Sugarman
17. Les Miserables
18. The Raid
19. Margin Call
20. Bernie

Worst 10 Films of 2012

1. That's My Boy
If it were possible to contract Irritable Bowel Syndrome from a movie, this bummer of a comedy calamity from Adam Sandler would be the culprit. Contains literally hundreds of jokes that go straight through the bottom of the barrel into an endless void of unfunniness. Out now on DVD, thrillseekers.

2. Mental
In what was hardly a champagne year for Australian cinema, this flamboyantly unamusing comedy about psychiatric illness was the flattest, most tasteless concoction of all.

3. John Carter
It's like Cowboys & Aliens! On Mars! So went the excitable pitch for a botched blockbuster that had audiences yawning before the opening credits finished.

4. Housos Vs Authority
Aussie not-so-funnyman Paul Fenech discounted his cheap laughs more heavily than ever before. Viewers paid the ultimate price.

5. American Pie: Reunion
A final, desperate flogging of a horse that had expired many years ago. Wobbled between the groan-worthy to the grotesque with gormless abandon.

6. Iron Sky
A "zany" sci-fi action comedy about Hitler in space? What could possibly go wrong? Everything.

7. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Sadly, all plans for a franchise end here. Even more sadly, this means the world will never get to see George Washington : Werewolf Whacker.

8. Fun Size
Kiddie-friendly movies haven't been this kiddie-unfriendly since the days of Yu-Gi-Oh. Search party still looking for laughs in comedy about a pre-schooler lost after midnight.

9. The Darkest Hour
This was the alien-invasion movie where the aliens were mostly invisible. Must have saved a stack on special-effects. Nothing off the top on ticket cost, though.

Equal 10. Resident Evil: Retribution and Underworld: Awakening
Who looks more bored, tired and over it all? Milla Jovovich? Kate Beckinsale? Or you?

Top 10 Movie Moments of 2012

1. The bomb blast at a packed football stadium in The Dark Knight Rises
2. Alfred bids farewell to Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises
3. The raid in The Raid
4. The Shanghai skyscraper skirmish in Skyfall
5. Veteran superheroes fighting together for the first time in The Avengers
6. The Albanian airport terminal shootout in The Expendables 2
7. The Iranian airport terminal checkout in Argo
8. Brad Pitt's closing monologue in Killing Them Softly
9. Channing Tatum misplaces his clothing to music in Magic Mike
10. Reaching the absolute end of the Twilight Saga in Breaking Dawn - Part 2

Bottom 10 Movie Moments of 2012

1. The 114 minutes and 59 seconds before reaching the absolute end of the Twilight Saga in Breaking Dawn - Part 2
2. Tom Cruise misplaces his clothing to music in Rock of Ages
3. Adam Sandler and Vanilla Ice squabble over the affections of a 93-year-old nymphomaniac in That's My Boy
4. Toni Collette holds a naked flame to her naked bottom in Mental
5. Johnny Knoxville abduct a five-year-old kid for laughs in Fun Size
6. A drug cache is retrieved from the backside of a sheep in A Few Best Men
7. Sharks attack a supermarket in Bait
8. Discovering Nazis are alive and well on the moon in Iron Sky
9. Any instance of vampire hunting in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
10. Billy Crystal is hit in the groin, then vomits on a child in Parental Guidance

Read more of Leigh Paatsch's movies highlights and lowlights at news.com.au

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Man charged over murders

A MAN has appeared in a Hobart court charged with two counts of murder over the deaths of a couple at Mountain River, south of Hobart.

Nicolau Francisco Soares, 27, of no fixed address, appeared before Magistrate Michael Daly shortly before 4pm today.

The West Australian man did not enter a plea or apply for bail.

The magistrate adjourned the case until 9.30am on January 7.

Mr Soares was remanded in custody.

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Two dead on rural property

Dr Del Weston was found dead. Inset: Officers at the scene of the alleged double murder in Bennetts Rd, Mountain River, this morning.

THE nation's leading health economist and his academic partner are dead after being murdered at their idyllic Mountain River property, south-west of Hobart.

Professor Gavin Mooney, 69, and Dr Del Weston, 62, were found dead in their Bennetts Rd home early today after their alleged killer rang 000. They had severe blunt force injuries to their heads.

The 27-year-old man charged with the murders is Dr Weston's son by a previous relationship, Nicolau Francisco Soares. He did not enter a plea when he appeared in the Hobart Magistrates Court today and has been remanded in custody.

Prof Mooney and Dr Weston moved to Tasmania from WA last year to enjoy semi-retirement and were enthralled by the beauty of their new surroundings.

Their alleged killer arrived in the state three weeks ago, sources say, and had been staying at their home.

It is the second double murder in the state's South in four days and the third this year. A Hamilton couple was shot dead on Sunday and a man and a woman were stabbed to death in Launceston in August.

Police say the latest horror was a particularly gruesome crime. A hammer and sledgehammer used to inflict the fatal wounds was found next to the bodies. The alleged killer was waiting in another room when police arrived early this  morning.

"The only person who really knows what occurred in that house now is the man we have in custody," Detective Inspector Peter Powell alleged.

"There was some sign in the room of a disturbance, some furniture overturned.

"But as to who was attacked first or how the altercation commenced, we don't know."

He said there was no obvious motive at this stage.

"We hope to discover it as we go through the investigation," he said.

 "Certainly, we would like to know more about his movements.

"The area where they lived is a remote area and there are no houses close to the location but obviously we're making inquiries in the area to see what people know of this couple and this young man.

"We've been doorknocking down there this morning and making inquiries in the Kingston area too."

Although police asked neighbours not to comment publicly yesterday, it was apparent those living close by were deeply shocked.

Det Insp Powell said it was a terrible thing to have two double murders within days of each other  and both allegedly committed by people known to the victims.

The man believed to be responsible for the Hamilton shootings remains in a medically induced coma in hospital after shooting himself in the head on Sunday.

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My sister didn't have to die

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 19 Desember 2012 | 19.55

A COUPLE might still be alive today if police had acted to impose a family violence order against their alleged killer, says Melissa Wilton, right, the sister of the dead woman.

The family of the woman slain in a double killing and attempted suicide at Hamilton on Sunday, demanded answers yesterday after they said the dead woman reached out to Tasmania Police months ago.

Meagan Wilton, 31, and popular Ouse cricketer Ben Eyles, 34, were yesterday named as the couple killed early on Sunday morning.

Meagan's sister Melissa, 30, of Claremont, says her much-loved sister, a mother-of-three, went to police late last year after her then-de facto partner, 59, assaulted her, leaving her with black eyes and bruising to her body. Ms Wilton has photographs of her sister's injured face saved to her phone.

"I am very angry," she said. "[Tasmania Police] never put the family violence order that should have been in place through -- and if they had done [the alleged shooter's] guns would've been taken off him and my sister would still be alive. I want something done about this. I demand an investigation."

Detective Inspector Colin Riley said there was no record of any such violence being reported.

"If the sister has any evidence to suggest there was family violence it is recommended she bring that information to police to investigate rather than providing it to the media, and once we have that information we will obviously include it as part of the investigation," he said.

"[Ms Melissa Wilton] was in the presence of investigators yesterday and none of that information was provided to those investigators."

He said this was "clearly a traumatic set of events for the family and extended family" and said if there was any further information that could assist police in "clarifying what has occurred" then "we would appreciate it if they came to police with any such information".

Ms Wilton said her sister Meagan left the older man, the father of her 19-month-old son, in April this year.

"That's why she got out. She didn't want the kids to grow up and see violence," Ms Wilton said.

"She lived for her kids. She was struggling but she lived for them and she was a lovely girl."

Meagan Wilton formed a relationship with Mr Eyles a few months ago and the couple moved into a rented home at Hamilton.

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Accessory's sentence stands

A MAN who helped a killer hide the body of a murder victim has lost an appeal against the severity of his jail term.

Sean Timothy Hudson, 37, of Ravenswood, was convicted in May of assault and being an accessory after the fact in the murder of 43-year-old father-of-six Scott Rock in Launceston on March 29 last year.

Neville Lindsay Whiting, 32, stomped and jumped on Mr Rock's head and left him to die before dumping his body near a bush track and setting it on fire.

Whiting was sentenced to 20 years' jail.

Hudson punched Mr Rock to the ground. After the fatal attack, Hudson helped load the victim into a car that he later cleaned when the body had been dumped.

Defence lawyer Adrian Hall told the Court of Criminal Appeal in Hobart that Hudson's 7 1/2-year jail sentence was excessive.

He said Hudson's crime was limited and did not aid the killer ultimately to escape detection.

But Justices Alan Blow, David Porter and Helen Wood disagreed, handing down their decision today.

They said Hudson had been imprisoned before and had breached the conditions of suspended sentences and probation, warranting an extended non-parole period.

They said the sentence could not be described as manifestly excessive.

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Trial over teen's road death

A NEW Norfolk man will face trial next year over the road death of a schoolgirl in the Derwent Valley last February.

Bradley John Chaplin, 27, has pleaded not guilty to negligent driving, driving without due care and attention, speeding, and driving with an illegal drug in his system.

The charges were laid after the death of Glenora High School student Ashley Edmonds on February 29.

The 13-year-old was killed when she was hit by a utility after getting off a school bus on Gordon River Rd at Karanja.

The Hobart Magistrates Court today heard the case would take up to five days and involve a number of young witnesses.

Defence lawyer Chris Gunson said he was discussing with the prosecution ways to take evidence from those witnesses without causing additional trauma.

He said he had also sought a reconstruction of the crash from an accident expert and would be calling into question evidence of his client's reading for tetrahydrocannabinol -- the active ingredient in cannabis.

Magistrate Olivia McTaggart said she would conduct a visit to the scene of the crash as requested by the defence before a further mention of the case on February 26.

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Tarkine iron ore mine approved

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 18 Desember 2012 | 19.55

FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke has given an Indian mining company the green light to develop an iron ore project on Tasmania's West Coast.

The mine, one of a handful of proposals being fiercely opposed by Tarkine conservationists, is expected to create 125 jobs over its predicted decade of operation.

The National Tarkine Coalition said protesters would barricade the site as soon as work started.

TNC's Scott Jordan said Mr Burke had folded to pressure from the Australian Workers' Union which organised a loud and very angry pro-mining rally in Burnie last month.

'What the AWU wants, Tony gives, it seems," Mr Jordan said yesterday.

"We will monitor the situation and as soon as they start works on site we will be there."

Mr Burke has imposed 29 conditions on Shree Minerals' project including the development of plans to protect threatened species and the Tasmanian devil.

Shree Minerals said the Federal Government approval was a major milestone in its bid to start production at Nelson Bay -- near Couta Rocks -- and the ghost mining town of Balfour.

The company will now seek funding partners.

The Nelson Bay River project has already been approved by the State Government.

Shree Minerals chairman Sanjay Loyalka said the project's development would include measures to stop acid drainage and minimise the risk of road kill.

Mr Loyalka said the mine's footprint would be small compared to the social and economic benefits it would bring.

He said the project would also boost the state's finances through royalties and payroll tax.

Shree Minerals will commission a research program to understand orchid biology in the North-West and support the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

Federal Braddon MP Sid Sidebottom said Mr Burke's decision was welcome news for the region.

"Mining has a long history and ongoing importance to the economy and I am pleased that it will continue to do so," Mr Sidebottom said.

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Students receive finals marks

MORE than 3000 students have achieved their Tasmanian Certificate of Education this year.

Among them are about 100 students whose mark of 98.45 or more put them in the top 1.5 per cent of their age group in Australia.

They were among 12,605 students given results this week by the Tasmanian Qualifications Authority, which runs exams and assessment for years 11 and 12 and vocational subjects.

The 3085 who achieved a TCE was up from 2715 last year.

"There have also been more Qualifications Certificates issued to Year 12 students, up from 4740 in 2011 to 4973 in 2012," Education Minister Nick McKim said.

And 2290 students received an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) this year, making them eligible to apply for a place at university, up from 2287 last year.

"The positive trend continued with 1676 Year 10 students also receiving a result in one or more TQA accredited courses -- up from 1459 last year.

"I am sure that many students are now relieved and can start making decisions on their future.

"The good results are a testament to their hard work and the dedication of their teachers."

Students receiving an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 98.45 or above:
(in alphabetical order - only students who chose to release their names to the media).

ABETZ, JEREMY, Calvin Christian School
ALLENDER, MIRANDA, St Michael's Collegiate
BADCOCK, CHLOE, The Don College
BAKES, EMMA, Leighland Christian School
BARNETT, NINA, Launceston Church Grammar
BASSETT, ALICE, Launceston Church Grammar
BEASLEY, HERMIONE, The Friend's School
BLACKWOOD, ISOBEL, Scotch Oakburn College
BLEATHMAN, FREYA, St Michael's Collegiate
BOHMER, MATTHEW, The Friend's School
BOWEN, SCARLETT, The Friend's School
BROWN, DANIELLE, Elizabeth College
BURGESS, NICOLA, Guilford Young College
BUTLER, PATRICK, The Friend's School
CALLAWAY, LIAM, Rosny College
CHUNG, OLIVIA, The Friend's School
CONNELLEY, NICHOLAS, Launceston Church Grammar
CONNOLLY, GEORGE, Guilford Young College
CREWS, ANNA, Scotch Oakburn College
CROFTS, SAMUEL, Hobart College
DAMBACHER, BROOK, Hobart College
DAVIE, CAITLIN, The Friend's School
DAVIS, KATHERINE, The Friend's School
DAVY, KATELYN, Elizabeth College
DELPORT, DOMINIC, Scotch Oakburn College
DODDS, BENJAMIN, St Brendan Shaw College
DUB, NIKITA, Hobart College
EADIE, LAUREN, Launceston Church Grammar
FEI, HAOXIANG, Launceston Christian School
FIELD, RAYMOND, Newstead College
FOSTER, ALICE, Rosny College
FU, CHAU WA, Rosny College
GRAY, RYAN, Hobart College
GUNN, JAMES, The Friend's School
GUPTA, MEHR, The Friend's School
HAMILTON, SAM, Marist Regional College
HENRY, CLARE, Elizabeth College
HOLLOWAY, DONALD, The Hutchins School
HUNN, NICHOLAS, The Friend's School
ILLINGWORTH, JOSHUA, St Patricks College
JEANNERET, RUTHIE, St Michael's Collegiate
JOHNSTON, SAMUEL, The Hutchins School
JOHNSTON, THOMAS, The Hutchins School
KEENOO, AKSHAN, Launceston College
KIM, JUE WAN, Newstead College
KUNASEGARAN, KARTIK, Launceston Church Grammar
LADLOW, OLIVER, The Friend's School
LI, SHARNNA, The Friend's School
LORD, WILLIAM, The Hutchins School
LUCAS, AMY, Calvin Christian School
MACKAY, DUNCAN, The Friend's School
MACKEY, LUCY, The Don College
MAHER, WILLIAM, Elizabeth College
MANTHEY, MICHAEL, Hobart College
MARSHALL, LACHLAN, Elizabeth College
MARSHALL, MADELINE, Marist Regional College
MCGUINESS, PETER, Hobart College
MCMENIMAN, JOHN, The Hutchins School
MCNAMARA, THOMAS Launceston Church Grammar
MCPHAIL, TESS, St Marys College
MCVILLY, NICHOLAS, The Hutchins School
MILNER, JAMES, The Friend's School
MOLLROSS, IMOGEN, St Michael's Collegiate
MURPHY, ELIZA JO, Elizabeth College
NANKERVIS, BRODIE, Launceston College
NGUYEN, HA, Newstead College
NOLAN, JESSE, The Friend's School
NOTHROP, REBECCA, Launceston College
O'DONOVAN, LIAM, Hobart College
OTLOWSKI, MONICA, St Michael's Collegiate
PALMER, SAMUEL, Guilford Young College
POLGLASE, LOUISA, St Michael's Collegiate
REMASH, DEVIKA, Elizabeth College
ROBERTS THOMSON, IAIN, Leighland Christian School
ROPER, DARIEL, The Friend's School
RYAN, GEORGIA, Guilford Young College
SCOTT, EMILY, St Michael's Collegiate
SMITH, ROBERT, Leighland Christian School
STENNARD, ELSPETH, Guilford Young College
SUDHAKARAN, AISHWARYA, Scotch Oakburn College
SUMMERS, ELEANOR, St Marys College
TENNI, ELLA, Hobart College
VAN DONGEN, ALISON, The Friend's School
WALDHAUSER, GEORGIA, Marist Regional College
WESTBURY, DANIEL, The Hutchins School
WOOD, OLIVER, The Friend's School
YANG, JEREMY, The Hutchins School

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Worker hurt in Bicheno blast

A MAN in his 60s has been badly injured in an industrial accident near Bicheno, Tasmania Police say.

Officers were sent to the scene on the state's East Coast this afternoon after reports of an explosion.

The incident occurred about 2pm in a quarry on a farming property about 5km south of Bicheno, police said in a statement.

The injured worker, who is in a critical condition, has been flown to the Launceston General Hospital by the Westpac Police Rescue helicopter.

No one else was injured in the incident, with police forensics officers and a mines inspector set to examine the scene this afternoon.

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Stolen money used to gamble

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 17 Desember 2012 | 19.55

A 25-year-old bank employee's gambling addiction led him to embezzle $27,000 from the accounts of friends and family and from the staff footy tipping competition, a court has heard.

Joshua James Bailey pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in Hobart to three charges of using a computer with intent to defraud, three charges of dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage, and one charge of stealing.

Justice Peter Evans said Bailey worked at MyState Financial from 2007 and had access to the bank's core banking system and access to customer accounts.

In 184 transactions between April 2009 and July 2011 he transferred $24,088 from the accounts of family members and friends into his own accounts.

Between June 2009 and September 2009, Bailey made 17 unauthorised transactions from the MyState employees' football tipping competition.

He repaid the missing funds with money fraudulently transferred from other customers, the judge said.

In September 2010 Bailey found a MyState Visa debit card and tried to use the card to withdraw funds and attempted to use it to purchase goods from a shop.

Justice Evans said the criminal conduct involved some 230 transactions totalling $27,000 over 16 months, which he said Bailey blamed on a gambling problem he had since overcome.

"By some standards, the loss caused by the defendant's criminal conduct is not substantial," the judge said.

"However, his conduct amounts to a clear breach of trust by an employee in a financial institution and involved many transactions over an extended period.

"In these circumstances, I conclude that the only appropriate penalty is one of immediately effective imprisonment."

He jailed Bailey for six months.

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Police suspect parental dispute

Police officers are continuing to search a home at Hamilton after a double murder yesterday. Picture: KIM EISZELE

POLICE believe a 59-year-old man suspected of a double murder at Hamilton was motivated by a dispute over his one-year-old child.

The only suspect in the killing remains in a critical condition in a medically-induced coma after undergoing surgery this morning at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

The two victims -- the 31-year-old mother of his child and her 34-year-old de facto partner -- were allegedly shot dead as they tried to flee when the alleged shooter entered the woman's Hamilton home about 5am yesterday.

The woman's nine-year-old daughter is understood to have witnessed the incident and called police on a mobile phone.

The suspected gunman was found next to his ute at Lachlan, about 40km from the murder scene.

The one-year-old infant was inside the vehicle.

Police today revealed officers had phoned the man, identified as the suspect by the nine-year-old, and were talking to him on his mobile phone moments before he shot himself in the head an hour after the double murder.

The New Norfolk, Ouse, and Hamilton communities were still in shock, locals said today, after learning of the couple's death yesterday via social and mainstream media.

The dead man's family lives in Ouse, while the woman is believed to be from the New Norfolk area.

Police officers remained at the Hamilton house today, searching the property and vehicles parked in the driveway for clues.

They are also trying to piece together the timeline leading up to the suspected shooter's arrival at the isolated homestead.

Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators on 1800 333 000.


Read the full story in tomorrow's Mercury.

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Body found in Howrah dunes

SES volunteers comb the Howrah site where the body of a man was found by a member of the public earlier today. Picture: LUKE BOWDEN

THE body of a man believed to be in his 60s has been found in sand dunes at Howrah, on Hobart's Eastern Shore.

Police said the body was found about 10am today in dunes adjacent to Wentworth Park at Salacia Ave.

The man's death is not believed to be suspicious and his identity has not yet been established.

"At this point there is no evidence to lead us to believe there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death," Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Bessell said in a statement.

"Police are inquiring into the circumstances. A thorough examination of the scene, including a line search, is being undertaken.

"Until we can determine the cause of death … we will continue to examine how the body came to be in the location and attempt to establish how the man died."

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Adoption hits low

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 16 Desember 2012 | 19.55

ADOPTION is fast becoming a thing of the past, with just six Tasmanian families successfully adopting a child in the past year.

National adoption rates are at the lowest level in 25 years, with 333 adoptions Australia-wide in 2011-12, the latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show.

It's a drop of almost 80 per cent from the 1500 adoptions that took place in 1987-88.

The head of the AIHW child welfare unit, Tim Beard, said foster-care alternatives, contraception, changing social attitudes and welfare support for single parents had contributed to the drop in adoptions.

The six Tasmanian adoptions contrast with the 1000 Tasmanian children in foster care last year.

They were removed from their families because of neglect or abuse.

State Government figures showed the number of children in foster care doubled in the past eight years.

Two of the children adopted in Tasmania last year were from Australia, while four were from overseas countries, including the Philippines, Ethiopia and South Korea.

Nationwide, 184 of the 333 children adopted were Australian, marking the first time in 12 years that Australian adoptions outnumbered adoptions from other countries.

Mr Beard said this reflected changing international attitudes towards adoption, with many countries now seeking to have children adopted within their own country.

Despite this, eight Tasmanian families were among the 203 applicants to register their interest in inter-country adoptions last year.

"Despite social changes and medical advancements, we're still seeing the number of people looking to adopt go up every year," Mr Beard said.

"However, the numbers would probably be even bigger if we didn't have people looking at options like IVF or surrogacy."

The AIHW report showed most Australian birth mothers were unmarried and their median age was 22 nine years younger than the median age of all mothers who gave birth in 2010.

The age range for birth mothers was 15 to 43.

Relationships Australia Tasmania chief executive Mat Rowell said forced adoptions in the 1950s to 1980s had contributed to a shift in government policy about adoption.

He said there was now a stronger focus on keeping children in their family unit or supporting extended family members to care for them.

"We've seen the Government apologise for past policies and now we've seen the Tasmanian Government apologise to parents affected by [forced] adoptions," Mr Rowell said.

"This has changed the way society thinks about adoption, [and] now of course there is a whole stack of government support and practical support for people when they have children unexpectedly.

"Socially it's much more acceptable for people to raise children in a range of different circumstance we see single parents and gay couples raising children, and blended families."

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