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Mundine's apology of sorts

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 20 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

Anthony Mundine faces the media over his remarks. Picture: BRETT COSTELLO

CONTROVERSIAL boxer Anthony Mundine has apologised for offending Tasmanian Aborigines but stopped short of saying sorry to Tasmania's world champion Daniel Geale.

Mundine held a press conference after widespread condemnation over his comments on Thursday that he thought all Tasmanian Aborigines had been wiped out, and questioned Geale's Aboriginal heritage.

He also said: "He's got a white woman, white kids."

Yesterday he said he had not meant to cause harm.

"I'd like to apologise if my comments have offended some Aborigines in Tasmania," Mundine said.

"I know there are a lot of Aborigines in Tasmania that are proud of their heritage, just like me.

"My comments weren't directed at anybody but the system that in my opinion doesn't reflect the first, second or third-generation Aboriginals."

Geale, a double world champion, said he was not surprised Mundine stopped short of a direct apology. He said his wife was insulted by the comments.

"When he didn't come through with the apology, I wasn't surprised at all," he told Fox Sports. "It just goes to show what sort of bloke the guy is. He made some statements today which I believe didn't really help.

" He just changed the topic."

The pair will fight in January for Geale's IBF middleweight title. At the promotional event Mundine had questioned Geale's heritage.

"I thought they wiped all the Aborigines from Tasmania out, that's all I know," Mundine said. "I don't see [Geale] representing us black people or coloured people. I don't see him out in the community doing what I do with people."

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre legal director Michael Mansell said the comments about Tasmanian Aborigines having been wiped out were ugly and racist and an embarrassment to Aboriginal people.

"Racist comments such as those made by Anthony Mundine have no place in Australia," he said.

"Mr Mundine must be relying on history books written by whites 100 years ago to form his opinion.

"The theory in those days was that any inter-marriage between Aborigines and whites led to an 'impurity' of race and thereby extinction."

"Imagine if a white person came out and said that. It's not less hurtful that it was made by a black person and no less racist."

He said he appreciated that Mundine had shifted a little by coming out and making the apology yesterday afternoon, but that he must have deep-seated prejudice.

"He would do well to sign himself up to learn some basics about human rights and what makes up a person's cultural identity."

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Republic push reborn

David Morris has given up his diplomatic job to lead the Republican movement. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

THE Australian Republican Movement today starts its national campaign to elect an Australian head of state.

Leader David Morris and members will ask visitors to museum and art gallery MONA about Aussie values and their support for another referendum.

Mr Morris resigned from his diplomat job to take on the task.

"It's a big ask and it's time to start the conversation again," Mr Morris said.

"The first step is to find what we agree on as a nation rather than what divides us."

Mr Morris grew up in Tassie and worked for the late premier Jim Bacon.

He served as a diplomat in Dublin and Brussels before devoting his energy towards an Australian republic.

He said Australians voted 55 per cent to 45 per cent against a republic 13 years ago but recent polls showed between 60 and 70 per cent support for a republic. The Tasmanian vote was slightly more than the national tally.

Mr Morris said it was well-recognised former prime minister and staunch monarchist John Howard who divided the republican cause by convoluted wording on the referendum ballot.

"It was meant to confuse people and it worked," he said.

In a speech last month, Federal Liberal Party MP and Republican Movement founder Malcolm Turnbull labelled the Howard and Liberal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott referendum campaign "utterly dishonest".

Mr Turnbull, Tasmanian lawyer Greg Barns and author Thomas Keneally started the republican movement 20 years ago.

Mr Morris said an Australian Republic was not a campaign against the British royal family.

"Every Australian should have the possibility of becoming the head of state," he said.

"It belongs to an Australian, not to a person who lives on the other side of the world."

Mr Barns said a republic was a true reflection of a confident and independent Australia.

MONA owner David Walsh said Australia did not need another referendum on the republic.

"We just need to ask Australians 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' " he said.

"We are children in our empire's arms; it's about time we struck out on our own."

Anglicare chief Chris Jones said his main concern for the future of Australia was for those affected by poverty, not the questions of a republic or monarchy.

Former Telstra Tasmania chief telecommunications consultant Noel Hunt said a republic reflected Australian heritage.

"British heritage is extremely important but so is Aboriginal and multicultural heritage," he said.

"Australia does the most business with Asia, China and India. A lot of people want to stick with the status quo. They say there are no compelling reasons to change it. Business and cultures are compelling reasons."

State Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said Australia should have an Aussie head of state.

"It's the next step in our progress as a proud independent nation, That's as simple as it gets," he said.

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MONA owner's tax truce

David Walsh says he's entered into a confidential settlement with the ATO under which all of his tax disputes are completely resolved.

DAVID Walsh's $37 million dispute with the Australian Taxation Office is over, ensuring the Tasmanian entrepreneur can continue to develop his ground-breaking museum.

The founder of MONA, the state's most popular tourist attraction, had faced a massive tax bill on gambling profits the ATO alleged he made between 2004 and 2006.

The ATO launched Federal Court action against Mr Walsh but the issue was settled yesterday.

The news was a huge relief for the tourism industry after fears the dispute would lead to Mr Walsh moving overseas, curtailing the expansion of the highly successful Museum of Old and New Art.

Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said MONA had changed the face of the state's tourism forever.

Mr Martin said the museum had been the most significant development in Tasmanian tourism since the Wrest Point Casino in the 1970s and it was setting new standards for the industry.

He welcomed the resolution and hoped it meant MONA would go "onwards and upwards". It is the state's biggest attraction, with more than 450,000 visitors a year.

"Its contribution, not just through the museum, but through events such as MONA FOMA, is driving a lot of optimism," Mr Martin said.

Mr Walsh funded his large art collection and the building of MONA mostly from the profits of gambling, traditionally not taxable under Australian law.

He issued a statement yesterday to confirm the tax dispute had been settled.

"I have entered into a confidential settlement with the Commissioner under which all of their tax disputes are completely resolved," Mr Walsh said.

He said no more comment was possible under the terms of the settlement. The object of contention centred on Mr Walsh's involvement with a gambling syndicate called the Punters Club, headed by his friend Zeljko Ranogajec, and whether its earnings were windfalls or business profits.

Mr Ranogajec left the country after he was sent a tax bill reported to be many tens of million of dollars. He was seen as the world's biggest punter, with an operation which employed more than 300 people.

When it became public that Mr Walsh faced a multi-million-dollar retrospective tax bill earlier this year, it triggered an outcry from Tasmanians fearing he would move overseas and deprive MONA of his drive and inspiration.

A "Save MONA" Facebook campaign attracted thousands of supporters.

Independent MP for Denison Andrew Wilkie said he believed the retrospective bill was unjust and former Greens leader Bob Brown called for Federal Government intervention. The Government said politicians had no authority to interfere in the work of the Commissioner of Taxation.

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State acts on fake Bryant page

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 19 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

THE Tasmanian Government has lodged an urgent complaint over a fake Facebook page purporting to belong to Port Arthur mass murderer Martin Bryant.

The page includes several photos of Bryant, who killed 35 people in a 1996 shooting rampage, and distasteful comments attributed to him.

Tasmanian Attorney-General Brian Wightman has asked Facebook to remove the page and expects it to be taken down soon.

"The Tasmanian Government strongly condemns this behaviour," Mr Wightman said in a statement today.

"It's offensive and insensitive towards people affected by the Port Arthur tragedy, and the Tasmanian community in general."

Mr Wightman said three similar pages were removed last year when the government contacted Facebook.

"I'll be following up this issue personally by writing to Facebook," he said.

"Our sympathies go to any families and individuals upset by this offensive and unacceptable page."

Bryant is serving 35 life sentences in prison.

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Mansell slams 'racist' Mundine

ANTHONY Mundine is echoing the views of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis and hurting the entire Aboriginal community by saying boxer Daniel Geale is not black enough, Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell says.

Mr Mansell took a swipe at the notorious trash talker -- who says he wants a "cut off point" for Aboriginality and that his boxing opponent Geale doesn't deserve to wear the Aboriginal flag on his shorts -- calling him "racist", "embarrassing", "stupid" and "hypocritical".

Mundine said yesterday that he thought they'd "wiped all Aborigines from Tasmania out".

"I don't see him representing us black people, or coloured people. I don't see him out in the communities doing what I do with people ... he got a white woman, white kids," he said.

Given the chance to clarify his comments today, he dug himself in deeper, saying the Government should decide a cut-off point for being Aboriginal.

Hawthorn star blasts Mundine

The backlash has been swift and strong and Mr Mansell said the Aboriginal community was deeply hurt by the comments and that Mundine was not welcome in Tasmania until he apologises.

"This extreme view is like the Ku Klux Klan, it's a neo-Nazi type of thought that's still around," he said.

"It says that, particularly with black people, if a black person has intermarriage with anyone outside the black community those offspring are not pure, so therefore they are not part of the race.

"It doesn't matter who makes the comment, the comment is racist ... it's really embarrassing that the very people who these race arguments were used against are using it against themselves.

"He's talking about 80 per cent of the population in Australia, including himself. It's hypocritical and it's stupid."

Mr Mansell said re-education was needed to fix Mundine's ignorance.

Rubgy league personality Matty Johns said Mundine sold himself short with his racial attack.

"He's trying to sell the fight, but he's selling himself short," Johns said.

"He's terrific bloke, I really like him...but bringing up that stuff is crook, it's disrespectful. That is racist."

Richmond AFL star forward Jack Riewoldt took to Twitter to declare his support for Geale.

"Not much of a boxing fan but.... Can't wait to see Tasmania's own #RealDealGeale give mundine a good old fashioned touch up!" the Tasmanian wrote.

The official 2011 census Twitter account even weighed in to dispel one of Mundine's claims.

"There are 19,626 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people in Tas - 4% of the state's population," they wrote.

At yesterday's press conference, Geale said: "I've shown the Aboriginal flag on my trunks for a lot of my fights. I am very proud of my heritage from down in Tasmania.

"It's stupid what he says, but that's the role he plays and that's why most people these days, when he starts off with his rants, they switch off. I know I switch off.

"A lot of people wanted me to take this fight because they're sick of him, they want his career to be finished and they want him to stop saying stupid things."

Read more at news.com.au

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Help! My honey's gone funny

A French beekeeper shows some of his multi-coloured honey. Picture: www.escapistmagazine.com

BEEKEEPERS in France are seeing red after their colonies began producing unsellable blue and green honey.

The mystified apiculturists did some detective work and found the bees were returning to their hives smeared in unidentified coloured substances, which turned out to be the coating from chocolate M&Ms.

They then realised that the brightly coloured sweets were being processed at a factory a few miles away. The bees were gorging on the plant's waste products and it was this that was turning their honey funny.

But this story does have a serious side. Blue honey is a bitter blow for the beekeepers around Ribeauville, in Alsace, who have already been dealing with high bee mortality rates and dwindling honey supplies after last year's harsh winter.

The company operating the factory has now taken steps to stop the bees gaining access to the site and beekeepers are once more hoping to taste sweet success.

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Chickenfeed crisis grows

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 18 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

TASMANIA'S retail union believes 12 Chickenfeed stores will close in the next two weeks, with the loss of more than 100 jobs.

Eight of the discount stores have already closed in the past few months.

If the union's fears are realised, there will be just eight Chickenfeed stores left operating in the state.

Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association state secretary Paul Griffin said union members and employees had told him of the latest closure plans.

The stores at George Town, Prospect, Claremont, Shoreline (Howrah), New Norfolk and Bridgewater are expected to close on Saturday.

Stores at Centrepoint (in Hobart's CBD), Kingston, Sorell, Glenorchy, Launceston and Devonport are expected to close the following Saturday.

Mr Griffin said the union was concerned about the community impact of the closures.

Retail Adventures, which comprises about 300 Chickenfeed, Go-Lo, Sam's Warehouse and Crazy Clarks stores, lost about $35 million last year.

Comment has been sought from Retail Adventures.

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WA devils remain on the run

Hand-reared Tasmanian devils Itchy and Scratchy, pictured here in August last year, are among the three escapees. Picture: THEO FAKOS

WEST Australian zoo owner David Cobbold says he feels like a "pining parent" as he continues to search for his three runaway Tasmanian devils.

The feisty trio escaped overnight on Tuesday after a tree crashed into their enclosure at Peel Zoo at Pinjarra, about 80km south of Perth.

Mr Cobbold spent today scouring paddocks around Pinjarra as he followed up on snippets of information about the runaways.

He said he felt like a pining parent who had lost a child.

"I just want them to be safe and warm and fed. Two were hand-reared and I am desperate to locate them," he said.

The juvenile devils -- called Itchy, Scratchy and Genghis -- are offspring from animals bought from East Coast Natureworld, at Bicheno, in 2010.

Paw prints were found behind the zoo shortly after the breakout.

Then, at 7am today, a truck driver reported seeing "two little bears" crossing the road.

There has also been an unverified sighting of a devil at a nearby golf club.

This afternoon a report came in that a devil had been sighted about 70km south of the zoo.

"Devils can travel 20km a night," Mr Cobbold said.

"My gut feeling tells me they are closer to home.

"I don't want to discount anything, so we will follow up on any tip."

Traps were laid last night in a desperate bid to catch the devils.

"But there was not so much as a nibble on the meat inside," Mr Cobbold said.

"We didn't even catch a possum."

Like any worried parent, Mr Cobbold said he couldn't wait to give the three "amigos" a good talking to when they were found – hopefully safe and well.

He said the local community had been very supportive of the zoo's efforts to recapture the devils, with regular posts on the zoo's Facebook page providing useful clues.

The search will continue tomorrow.

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Green bid for Sorell mayor

GREENS mayoral candidate Sharon Prior is hoping her anti-dump stance will  win the support of Sorell voters in a by-election later this month.

Ms Prior, 53, today said she believed the council could reverse its decision to approve a planning permit for the controversial contaminated waste cell at the Copping landfill.

"I believe that the whole process was flawed from the beginning," Ms Prior said.

She said the Liberal and Labor parties made their position on the project clear by refusing to back a Greens motion in Parliament on Wednesday. The motion asked that the matter be reviewed by the Environment, Resources and Development Committee.

The two parties accused the Greens of attempting to undermine development approval processes and the Environmental Protection Authority, which assessed the Southern Waste Solutions project.

The Sorell by-election comes after long-serving mayor Carmel Torenius quit amid bitter divisions over council mergers and new $4.5 million council chambers.

Ms Prior has lived in the area for 40 years and was a Sorell councillor from 2002 to 2007. She works as a tour guide and team leader for a conservation group.

The other mayoral candidates are incumbent councillors Kerry Degrassi and Kerry Vincent, as well as local identity John the Duke of Avram.

Candidates for councillor are Rob Leach, John the Duke of Avram, Judy Young and Ms Prior.

Postal ballot packs for the by-election will be delivered between Tuesday and Wednesday next week, with the poll closing on November 6.

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Chickenfeed closure fears rise

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 17 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

THREE more Chickenfeed stores are believed to be under imminent threat of closure, including Cove Hill at Bridgewater.

It is understood that Kingston, Bridgewater and New Norfolk stores could soon follow eight others closed in the past few months as Jan Cameron's Retail Adventures struggles with tough retail conditions.

Stores in Wynyard, Derwent Park, Moonah, Eastlands, North Hobart, Sandy Bay, Mowbray and Kings Meadows have progressively closed since July. The Centrepoint store, in central Hobart, is expected to close after Christmas.

Retail Adventures has also closed a number of interstate stores -- including Warrnambool, South Yarra, Abbotsford and Frankston in Victoria -- and is expected to close the Preston store next week.

Retail Adventures spokesman Grant van den Berg has been contacted for comment.

The Mercury has reported that Retail Adventures, which comprises Chickenfeed, Go-Lo, Sam's Warehouse and Crazy Clarks, lost $35 million last year.

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Remote home lost in fire

AN ISOLATED house has been destroyed by fire in the hinterland behind Penguin, on the state's North-West Coast.

The owner of the house, on Loyetea Peak Rd, was home when the fire took hold earlier today.

He suffered minor burns and was treated by ambulance officers at the scene.

Five fire units battled to put out the blaze, which was reported at 10.30am, but the house was consumed by flames.

The damage bill is estimated at $150,000.

Fire investigators have been unable to determine the cause of the fire. It was still smoldering late today, with firefighters leaving the scene about 4.30pm.

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Devils escape from WA zoo

Two devil joeys, Itchy and Scratchy, at Peel Zoo in August last year. Picture: THEO FAKOS

THREE Tasmanian devils at large in Western Australia were last seen heading towards a golf course.

The devils, all male, were among seven males living at Peel Zoo in Pinjarra, near Perth.

They escaped early on Tuesday after a falling tree damaged their enclosure, the zoo said late today.

Zoo employee Narelle MacPherson said a woman had called last night to say she had spotted the runaways very close to the zoo.

"They were heading towards the golf course," Ms MacPherson said.

"I just hope they don't cross the main road there.

"She rang after hearing about them and said 'Now I know what that was that I saw'."

She said the devils had already crossed one road but it was not a major one.

Public appeals are being broadcast on the radio and online, asking the public to keep an eye out for the escapees.

Traps have been set in the area to try to recapture the devils.

People have been urged not to approach the devils, which are usually shy but can be aggressive when cornered.

The privately owned zoo took delivery of four devils from East Coast Natureworld, at Bicheno, in 2010.

At the time, the zoo said it had taken more than seven years, reams of paperwork and $80,000 to get the breeding pairs to Perth.

The escapees are the offspring of the Bicheno devils.

The zoo said the missing devils were only about 18 months old.

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Call for upkeep on plantations

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 16 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

PREMIER Lara Giddings will write to Gunns' administrators requesting they maintain plantations on private property following requests from the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.

Ms Giddings said in Parliament this morning she will write to administrators today to remind them of their commitment to plantation maintenance and lease obligations, particularly in relation to fire management and pest control.

Plantations need to be maintained to hold their value, Ms Giddings said.

She said the Government were still advocating for a pulp mill in the state.

The calls came as Deputy Premier Bryan Green, following a question from the Tasmanian Greens, confirmed Forestry Tasmania has purchased the Southwood timber mill in the Huon Valley.

Mr Green said he was told of the purchase after the deal between the Government Business Enterprise and the timber mill was struck.

He said the mill, which harvests regrowth forests, was an important part of the timber industry in the region.

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Jail term for drugs in undies

A SYDNEY man caught with half a kilogram of crystal meth in his undies has been jailed for at least 13 months.

John Layoun, 34, pleaded guilty to trafficking a controlled substance and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ewan Crawford said Layoun caught a commercial flight from Sydney to Launceston with around a kilogram of the drug -- also known as ice -- on January 18.

Despite it being about 59 per cent pure, the local purchaser rejected half of the shipment and would only pay for half.

Layoun was caught at Launceston airport the next day with 467 grams of the drug and $133,633 in cash.

Chief Justice Crawford said the tiler was in financial difficulties and was not a drug user himself.

He said the drugs had a street value of up to $934,000.

"The accused was involved in a drug deal of considerable value, at least as far as this court is concerned," he said.

He sentenced Layoun to two year in jail, with a minimum term of 13 months. He ordered the cash be forfeited to the crown.


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Raid finds guns, drugs, cash

TWO men involved with the Rebels motorcycle gang have been charged after a raid of a Devonport property uncovered drugs, firearms, tasers and stolen goods.

Another Devonport man has also been charged in relation to today's search.

Police found amphetamines, cannabis, cash, two sawn-off shotguns and two tasers in the raid in Devonport Rd.

The shotguns were not licensed or stored properly.

Police said it was illegal to possess or import the tasers, which looked like flashlight torches, into either Tasmania or Australia.

Three men, aged 31, 32 and 33, all from Devonport, will appear in court later this year.

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