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Hats off to our top attractions

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 10 November 2012 | 19.55

The Port Arthur Historic Site won the Major Tourist Attraction category.

EAST Coast and regional tourism stole the spotlight at last night's Tasmanian Tourism Awards at Wrest Point in Hobart.

All five accommodation categories were bagged by East Coast businesses, and 19 of 25 categories were won by enterprises from outside Hobart.

"With a lot of focus rightly on Hobart at the moment after the Lonely Planet announcement, [last night] proved to be a fantastic celebration of Tasmania's regional tourism heart," Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said.

"This is a stunning result for the East Coast that will have flow-on benefits for the whole region, as [last night's] winners will represent Tasmania at next February's national tourism awards to be held in Hobart, putting the East Coast up in lights on the national stage."

See today's Saturday Mercury for the full list of winners.

Bicheno's Sandpiper Ocean Cottages won Best Standard Accommodation and also took out the People's Choice Award.

For the second year in a row, the Port Arthur Historic Site won Best Major Tourism Attraction and Best Heritage and Cultural Tourism Experience.

Pennicott Wilderness Journeys' Bruny Island Cruises also cemented its status, winning Best Tourism Attraction for the fourth year in a row.

Bruny Island Cruises also entered the Tasmanian Tourism Hall of Fame for winning the Sustainable Tourism category three years in a row.

Hobart's Taste Festival won Best Major Festival or Event on its debut in the competition. The Festival of Voices, also held in Hobart, won the Festival and Events section.

John Hamilton, founder of Tasmania's longest-operating wildlife sanctuary, Tasmanian Devil Park at Taranna, was recognised for his outstanding contribution.

Richard Davey, playwright and performer of The Ship that Never Was on the West Coast, was named Tourism Minister's Tourism Champion.

Jump Tours founder Greg Price was named the Minister's Young Achiever of the Year.

The University of Tasmania's Emily Bremner was named the Skal International Hobart Club's Tourism Student of the Year.

Tourism Minister Scott Bacon said the state's $2.2 billion industry supported 35,000 Tasmanians.

Premier Lara Giddings said the results showed that Tasmania's reputation as a world-class tourist destination continued to grow.

"With many of this year's award winners based in regional areas, it's also a reminder that the importance of tourism to our economy spreads well beyond our city centres," Ms Giddings said.

Last night's winners will represent Tasmania in their categories at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards national finals.


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Retail reprieve for mussels

THEY say timing is everything, and the timing of Spring Bay Mussels' algal toxin discovery and global product recall could not have been worse.

It follows an export ban on diseased Tasmanian abalone earlier in the year, and comes in the same week authorities raised fears over the safety of wild oysters from the Tamar estuary and allegations that Seafish Tasmania may have polluted the waters off Triabunna.

The discovery also came just weeks after Spring Bay Mussels secured a deal to supply supermarket giant Coles with a new gourmet homebrand bagged product range.

Coles Cooked Mussels in Tomato and Herb Sauce and Coles Cooked Mussels in Cream and White Wine sauce had only been on the shelf for two weeks when Spring Bay was forced to notify customers of the toxin discovery and recall all of its exported product.

Deputy Premier Bryan Green said the State Government took the situation very seriously.

Mr Green said comprehensive analytical testing had been undertaken to better understand the extent and impacts of the recent naturally occurring algal bloom.

"Industry and government have and will continue to work closely together to protect and grow our aquaculture industry, including by determining whether any additional measures need to be put in place," he said.

"We hope to have the testing results over the next few days."

Coles says it will stick with the Tasmanian seafood company despite its "horrible luck".

Coles merchandise director John Durkan said the company would continue to stock the line when it was again available.

"These things happen. The algae which caused the problem is naturally occurring and nothing to do with the company," Mr Durkan said.

"It has not changed our perception of Tasmania as a place producing clean, green and safe food."

Neil Stump, chief executive of the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council, said shellfish were filter feeders that could be the "canary in the coalmine" in regard to waterway conditions.

"It is reassuring to hear a major customer like Coles is staying with Spring Bay Mussels," Mr Stump said. "It would be unfortunate if Tasmania's reputation was tarnished.

"But hopefully the quick response of Spring Bay Mussels to their situation and the rigorous testing being undertaken in the wake of the event will reassure customers that there are strict, quality assurance systems in place here."


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Twisters, hail, rain hit Hobart

TORNADOES, torrential rain and thick hail rampaged across the state yesterday.

The wild weather forced the evacuation of a childcare centre and a call centre but most of the state escaped relatively unscathed.

The South and East were hardest hit, with conditions worsening on the East Coast last night but the Midlands and the North also reported dramatic weather.

At least three tornadoes were reported -- and photographed -- by stunned onlookers as thunderstorms swept across Hobart and its outer suburbs.

Check out the wild pics

Do you have a photo or video?
Send it in here

Flash flooding forced children to be evacuated from CareBears Cottage Childcare at Mornington.

The storm also caused evacuation of 570 workers from the Vodafone call centre at Kingston.

Vodafone spokeswoman Karina Keisler said rain came through overhead light fittings and flooded the building.

The tornadoes provided a once in a lifetime experience for many of those who spotted them.

Cambridge office worker Colin Hepher said his colleagues went to their window when rain started bucketing down mid-morning.

"We were there for four or five minutes watching the tornado coming towards us," Mr Hepher said.

Acton Park resident Imogen Norris, 17, and her family were also lucky enough to witness the event.

"It suddenly got really dark and started pouring with rain and then it started hailing," she said.

"Then the rain started to subside a bit and we looked up in the sky and there was a weird-shaped cloud and all of a sudden it started spinning and we thought 'no, it can't be a tornado'."

Luckily the tornadoes -- two out towards the airport and one above the tip at South Hobart -- do not appear to have caused any significant damage.

But the torrential rain caused flooding in areas including Kingston and Mornington, largely because of overflowing drains, said State Emergency Service southern regional manager Mark Nelson.

Heavy hail blanketing roads also caused problems for motorists across suburban Hobart.

The Bureau of Meteorology cancelled its severe thunderstorm warning just after 3pm yesterday.

Senior forecaster Tim Bolden said tornadoes were not that unusual in terms of weather events but said he could not remember the last time there were twisters over Hobart.

The bureau reported 7mm of rain in Hobart city to 3pm with 9mm at Hobart airport.


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Laptop recovery a snap

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 09 November 2012 | 19.55

Constable Cassandra Lowe, left, and Detective Constable Anna Lang with a laptop that was recovered through hi-tech tracking software. Picture: MATT THOMPSON

HI-TECH "Robocop-style" tracking software has helped police track down an alleged computer thief and led to the return of a laptop containing treasured photos.

The laptop security software took a snapshot of the alleged thief as it was opened, the photo was then emailed to the owners who forwarded it to police who used it to track down the man and lay charges.

Rovsen and Adrian Giffard's Macbook Pro laptop was stolen, among other items, when a thief targeted their home in late August.

Police charged a male over the burglary but last month the alleged thief and others returned to the house and stole more items including the new Macbook Pro replaced by the couple's insurance.

More people were charged after the second burglary but none of the couple's items were returned until yesterday.

"It was extremely upsetting in the case of the first laptop," Mrs Giffard said.

"We were married in January and it had our wedding photos on it as well as a book I'd started writing.

"We were devastated and yes, we felt violated."

Working full-time, the travel agent and her retail manager husband had not had time to install a security system after the first burglary but Mrs Giffard took time off work to install a top-of-the-line security system after the second break-in.

Then last week, and more than two months after the first break-in, Mrs Giffard was at a restaurant when she received an email from the MacKeeper Anti-Theft software the couple had bought just a month before the first burglary.

"The email told us someone had logged on to the computer and the program had taken photos of that user and emailed them to us, along with GPS co-ordinates, which we immediately provided to police."

Police acted on the information, which pointed them to a suburb neighbouring the couple's Oakdowns residence.

"We conducted searches of several properties within the location provided and as a result seized the computer from a Rokeby home this morning," Detective Inspector Colin Riley said yesterday.

"This type of software is certainly helpful from our perspective and you would hope that those who might consider committing burglaries were deterred by the knowledge they can be tracked and photographed using the stolen item."


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Drunken dispute led to murder

The Stainforth Court public housing units at Cornelian Bay.

THE bashing murder of a man at a public housing estate was not premeditated but appeared to have sprung from a sudden drunken dispute, the Supreme Court in Hobart heard today.

Jamie Peter Smart, 32, of Glenorchy, and Rhys Louis Gardner, 19, of Bellerive, went to Shayne Anthony Waller's Stainforth Court unit at Cornelian Bay on February 18 last year after a night of drinking.

While they were there, a fight broke out. Michael David Williams, 39, of Kingston, was killed and Mr Waller, 52, was seriously injured.

Smart and Gardner were found guilty of murder and assault by a Supreme Court jury in September.

Gardner's lawyer Greg Richardson today said his client had been deserted by his mother when he was seven months old and had been raised by his strict father -- a violent alcoholic ex-sailor who suffered from depression.

He said on the night of the attack, Gardner had consumed a large quantity of beer and spirits.

"He was intoxicated, there can be no doubt about that at all. How we was still standing up is difficult to understand," he said.

Through a series of chance encounters in the early hours of the morning, the accused men ended up in Mr Waller's unit.

Mr Richardson told the court Gardner had joined in an assault started by his co-accused on Mr Waller and was unsure how Mr Williams came to be attacked.

"Mr Gardner says he doesn't have the faintest idea why he jumped in, he just did.

"What happened was totally unplanned."

He said Gardner had written a letter of apology to the families of both victims.

Smart's lawyer Todd Kovacic said his client had not gone to the unit with the intent of harming anyone and was also affected by alcohol.

"There was no intention of doing any harm to anyone in the unit. They went up there for a drink, a fight started and it got out of hand," he said.

He said his client had taken steps to beat his alcohol problem and urged the judge to show some leniency.

Justice David Porter will sentence the men on November 23.


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Party passion ends in mayhem

A MAN who filmed his topless girlfriend kissing another woman flew into a drug-fuelled rage when she kissed another man, the Supreme Court in Hobart has heard.

Garry James Brody, 28, of Snug, pleaded guilty today to five counts of assault, destroying property, cruelty to animals, driving offences and car theft.

Prosecutor Heather Mannering told the court that Brody had been drinking and taking amphetamines when he and some friends went to a party at Kaoota, near Sandfly, on September 12 this year.

Later, the partygoers all had their tops off and Brody filmed his girlfriend kissing another woman.

But when she kissed another man he became angry. Brody assaulted his girlfriend after striking the man with an iron bar.

When another woman tried to intervene, Brody attacked her, punching and choking her before stomping on her head and turning on another man.

He then picked up his girlfriend's dog and threw it across the room, kicked in a bathroom door where another party-goer was hiding and smashed a mobile telephone on which someone had called police.

Brody left the party, smashing a car window with a log and punching a passenger trying to flee his rampage.

The party-goers suffered injuries ranging from black eyes to bruising, Ms Mannering said.

Brody was arrested nearby and told police that he became aggressive when he combined amphetamines with alcohol.

Defence lawyer Tim Mills said Brody -- the father of two young children -- had suffered a difficult upbringing and struggled with drug abuse.

He said his client saw red when his girlfriend kissed another man and was remorseful for his actions.

Justice David Porter remanded Brody in custody for sentencing on November 14.


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Flower power for Camilla

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 08 November 2012 | 19.55

IT was hardly the crown jewels, but the Duchess of Cornwall was clearly delighted when presented with a simply daisy chain at Richmond today.

Camilla and Charles, the Prince of Wales, wowed the crowds in the historic southern Tasmanian town shortly after touching down at Hobart airport about noon.

Gallery: Royal visit

Tasmania Police Inspector Glen Woolley said about 8000 people turned out to welcome them.

Many started lining the streets early, including 92-year-old Audrey Johnston from Lauderdale.

It's the second time Mrs Johnston has met Prince Charles.

She arrived at 9.30am in the hope of scoring poll position to wish the couple "a happy life".

Their royal highnesses kicked off the tour with a visit to The Woodcraft Shop.

Woodturner Darryl Freestone was excited to show the couple his work.

He said AFL coach Mick Malthouse was the only other famous person he had met.

The prince was impressed by a 2500-year-old slab of Huon pine, marked with important dates like the signing of the Magna Carta and the Battle of Hastings.

The walk along Bridge and Edward streets took longer than officials had planned, with Charles and Camilla happily shaking hands and greeting locals.

People proudly waved Tasmanian flags, many chanting "Charlie, Charlie!" as the prince approached.

One lady gushed that the Duchess of Cornwall "looked a million dollars".

Inside the Richmond Arms Hotel, Charles had a schooner of Cascade Draught while meeting with local farmers and agricultural scientists. Camilla was content with a glass of water.

The build-up was too much for one little girl, who'd lined up early in a tiara.

By the time the royals stopped to greet her mum, she was fast asleep in her pram.

Local schoolchildren were among those who turned out for their first glimpse of the royal family in real life, while others proudly admitted it was their second and third sighting.

Eighty-one-year-old Dulcie White can remember greeting the prince at Hobart airport, back when he still had "a full head of black hair".

Irene Brown, 72, from Lauderdale, proudly showed Charles the front page of a newspaper bearing both their images from his visit to Sydney in January 1994.

Veteran media royal watchers said it was one of the longest public walks they've known the royals to take, lasting more than an hour.

Their visit to Richmond ended with a tree planting at St Luke's Anglican Church, to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The sun was out as they arrived, but patchy rain didn't dampen spirits. The couple left just before a major downpour hit crowds still lining the streets.

The Duchess of Cornwall's warmth and good humour was later on show at a luncheon hosted by Premier Lara Giddings at the historic Mill House in Richmond, one of the area's most prominent homes.

About 50 women from rural groups including Tasmanian Women in Agriculture, the CWA and Rural Help at Hand met Camilla in a marquee in the magnificent grounds of the 1856 residence.

Arriving in the rain, the Duchess greeted every guest and joked about the weather.

She also met the owners of the Mill House, George and Heather Vozar, and two of their daughters.

The Mill House -- next to Australia's oldest bridge that's still in use today -- was originally built as a steam-powered flour mill.

Renowned Tasmanian landscape painter John Eldershaw, whose work is part of the royal family's private collection, owned the property from 1920.

The current owners have extensively restored the home and garden.

Read more about the royal visit in tomorrow's Mercury.


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Woolly times for royal heir

PRINCE Charles threw a fleece today as he got a feel for some of the world's finest wool on a sheep stud near Hobart.

With a little help from wool handler Lucy Byers, he gathered the newly shorn fleece off the floor and tossed it on the rack to be classed.

"He went quite well for a beginner," said Ms Byers, who throws up to 600 fleeces a day.

The prince took an interest in all aspects of Leenavale Stud near Sorell, just half an hour's drive but a world away from the city.

Charles lingered for some minutes, admiring the lovely setting of the farm and its lush spring pasture, watching kelpie Ziggy and his mates work the sheep and talking with farm manager Brent Thornbury, whose family had farmed in the area for four generations.

Inside the shearing shed, the prince chatted to the wool classer and handlers and shook the hand of each shearer.

Later Mr Thornbury described the prince as "very laid back" and "very interested" in the stud, which produced the soft, super-fine merino wool used in suits and designer clothing.

Wool is close to the prince's heart.

Two years ago he initiated the worldwide Campaign for Wool, to encourage consumers to use this sustainably produced natural fibre.

While at Leenavale, he had afternoon tea with some of the country's leading wool producers and promoters at a function hosted by Australian Wool Innovation, owners of the famous Woolmark Company, which promotes the Australian product and has one of the most recognisable logos in the textile business.

Australian Wool Innovation CEO Stuart McCullough said the prince's visit to Leenavale was a big deal for the industry.

"Prince Charles has been into sustainability for 20 years and we're just catching up. He's also a wool grower and he wears woollen clothing.

"Most of the world's apparel wool comes from Australia and Tasmania is at the pinnacle of the fashion triangle.

"It's a wonderful, natural, biodegradable and sustainable fibre."

Mr McCullough said the number of sheep in Australia had dropped from 180 million in 1991 to 70 million today and there was a need to get more growers into the business.

philip.heyward@news.com.au


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The fire that never was

THE Tasmania Fire Service has been left red-faced after transmitting an emergency bushfire warning in error to media outlets across the state.

According to the "Watch and Act" media alert â€" issued about 2.30pm today in rainy conditions -- the faux fire was burning out of control near the Midland Highway and threatening homes in the tiny township of Melton Mowbray, about 55km north of Hobart.

Residents were told to activate their bushfire plans. If they planned to leave, they were advised to do so immediately. Residents away from home were told not to return.

Tasmanians were also warned to expect potentially dangerous conditions on the state's major arterial route, with embers and smoke on the road.

The warning was, however, part of a training exercise.

At 2.50pm, TFS chief Mike Brown issued an urgent alert cancelling the warning and advising there was, in fact, no fire.

"A recent Watch and Act message transmitted during a media training exercise approximately 2.30pm referring to a bushfire out of control on the Midland Highway, Melton Mowbray, was transmitted in error," Mr Brown said in a statement.

"There was no such incident.

"I ask that any further transmissions by media channels, both radio and print, cease immediately."

But the TFS admitted the warning had already been transmitted via the designated radio stations and calls had been received from concerned members of the public.

"It's disturbing to think an error of this magnitude could occur," a Melton Mowbray resident told the Mercury.

"We know how to respond if there's a bushfire. In this case it was quite obvious there was not.

"If they'd told us Melton Mowbray was flooding, we'd have believed that given the weather.

"But anyone hearing that message would have rightfully been worried by what they heard."

 


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State queries Etter's claims

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 07 November 2012 | 19.55

SOME of the claims in a lawsuit brought by former Integrity Commission chief Barbara Etter did not amount to "a hill of beans", the Supreme Court was told today.

The former West Australian assistant police commissioner is suing the State Government after she unexpectedly quit her $173,000-a-year job in October last year, just one year into her five-year contract as the inaugural CEO of the state's Integrity Commission.

Ms Etter claims the State Government repudiated her employment contract when it failed to address the stress and anxiety caused by the role, failed to bring perceived performance issues to her attention in a timely fashion, undermined her ability to do her job, and encouraged Integrity Commission employees to reject her authority.

The State Government's lawyer Frank Neasey today opposed sections of a revised statement of claim lodged on Ms Etter's behalf.

He told the Supreme Court in Hobart that some of the claims of poor working relationships within the commission could not support a finding against the state, because there was no evidence they were authorised or carried out on behalf of the state or were a breach of her employment contract.

"It is one thing for a workplace to deteriorate to such an extent where it is difficult or impossible to work in it happily. It is quite a different thing to say that from such a state of affairs the defendant -- the State of Tasmania -- has repudiated her contract of employment.

"None of the paragraphs singularly or collectively constitute a base on which it can be said that the state repudiated the plaintiff's contract of employment.

"The fundamental problem is that they don't amount to a hill of beans."

Ms Etter's lawyer Daniel Zeeman said the statement of claim was intended to show a pattern of behaviour which left Ms Etter unable to continue in her role.

But Mr Neasey said the allegations should not be allowed to stand because they were vexatious, frivolous, would waste court time and were oppressive, prejudicial and embarrassing to the defendant.

Mr Neasey said some of Ms Etter's claims -- such as having her name wiped off a whiteboard which detailed commission staff -- were insignificant.

"They can all be met with the same response, and that is: 'So what?'," he said.

"At best all they do on one view -- if they are proven to be true -- is to show that the Integrity Commission wasn't a very happy place to work for the plaintiff; in fact, it was a horrible place.

"So what if her name was rubbed off a whiteboard? We don't know when, we don't know why and we don't know who did it.

"It is simply a meaningless and vacuous allegation."

The case has been adjourned until a date to be fixed.

david.killick@news.com.au


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Gambling help for schoolkids

STUDENTS will be educated on the risks of problem gambling as part of a program targeting schools.

The two-pronged attack will support teachers to help students whose families are affected by gambling, whether by poverty or anger and distress at home.

Videos would also help students understand how gambling works, amid growing exposure to advertising and encouragement to gamble.

The State Government launched the program today.

Human Services Minister Cassy O'Connor said the new videos would help teachers and support staff.

"It's more than just an individual who is affected by problem gambling. It often also affects their families and their communities, with children and young people often the hardest-hit," Ms O'Connor said.

"The impacts of problem gambling can ... put a significant strain on family relationships, leading to anger and family violence.

"School social workers, teachers and school community leaders are ideally placed to identify students affected by problem gambling and to provide them with the help they desperately need.

"These DVDs and web videos will be an invaluable resource in helping teachers and support staff to identify those students and respond appropriately."

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Skills, Paul O'Halloran, said the videos would also help youths get a better understanding of the dangers of problem gambling.

"While it's illegal for people under 18 to gamble in Tasmania, some do find ways to take part," he said.

"This resource will help students better understand the risks involved, through classroom resources that help explain complex concepts like the 'house edge' in ways that students can relate to.

"This will help ensure they're less susceptible to some of the myths surrounding gambling."

The videos and support information are at knowyourodds.net.au/for-schools.

The Gambling Helpline is 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelponline.org.au


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Four more years, tweets Obama

Supporters of President Barack Obama cheer as they wait for Obama to appear on stage during the Obama election night watch party at McCormick Place in Chicago. Picture: GETTY

PRESIDENT Barack Obama has retained the presidency in a resounding and historic victory that has left Mitt Romney and the Republican Party in tatters.

The Democrat headquarters in Chicago are celebrating wildly, while the Republican watch party in Boston is in stunned silence.

The President claimed the 270 electoral college votes he needed to win when the key swing state of Ohio, always predicted to tell the story of the election, carried him over the line.

President Obama declared victory tweeting: "Four more years."

Counting has not yet ended and it seems the President will gather more than 300 votes to stamp this as an emphatic victory.

Perhaps most remarkably, President Obama appears to have a good chance of winning Florida, which carries 29 votes and was widely expected to be carried by Mr Romney.

Counting has not yet concluded in key urban areas of Florida, which are known to be Democrat heartlands. A loss in Florida would be humiliating for Mr Romney.

The Democrats will also retain their majority in the US Senate, and the Republicans will hold the lower house, meaning no changes to the status quo.

It seems, at the early stage, Mr Romney may also carry the overall majority of votes in the election, but the swing states were what mattered.

For comprehensive election coverage, visit news.com.au.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury.


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Vincent wins mayoral race

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 06 November 2012 | 19.55

Kerry Vincent, Sorell's new mayor, campaigning for a Bendigo Bank branch in the sprawling south-eastern town in 2010.

SORELL has a new mayor, with local businessman Kerry Vincent to head the council until the 2013 poll.

The results of the recent by-election were announced today by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission.

Cr Vincent replaces Carmel Torenius, who held the position of mayor for 17 years before making a surprise exit from local government in late September amid a bitter dispute about plans for new $4.5 million chambers and council mergers.

At the time, Cr Torenius told the Mercury she resigned because she no longer had the respect and support of fellow councillors.

Cr Vincent, who has served on the council for three years, received 2823 votes to finish well clear of his closest rival, incumbent Councillor Kerry Degrassi, on 707.

Rob Leach was elected as a councillor ahead of other hopefuls Sharon Prior, John the Duke of Avram and Judy Young.

A total of 4759 electors voted in the poll, representing a return of 48.51 per cent.


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Informal forest talks continue

PREMIER Lara Giddings has vowed to stay out of forest peace negotiations as industry leaders and environmentalists continue to hold informal talks.

Ms Giddings said she and Deputy Premier Bryan Green had been given briefings on the informal talks between the warring parties but would not be intervening.

"I have had conversations with all parties, ENGOs [environmental non-government organisations] and those from industry to get a handle on where they are at and what the next steps are," she said this morning.

"Talks are still continuing. But let me be very clear, the Government is not in the middle of those discussions negotiating an outcome.

"That has never been our intention. It is not the process and that is not what is occurring."

Signatories to the forest peace plan declared the talks dead more than a week ago.

Informal discussions continued, however, a few days later, despite a self-imposed deadline expiring last Wednesday.

Ms Giddings said she remained optimistic but she was no more confident today than she was last week, when she stated the talks were "not over until they are over".

"Until I see ink on paper, I don't know," she said.

matthew.smith@news.com.au


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Basher free after time served

A MAN who kicked an elderly stranger in the face has walked free from court after a judge ruled the three months he had already spent in custody was an adequate sentence.

Luke Ashley Woods, 26, of Devonport, had earlier pleaded guilty to assaulting the 72-year-old man.

Supreme Court Justice David Porter said Woods approached the victim at the Rosny bus mall, on Hobart's Eastern Shore, about 5pm on July 17, 2010, and called him a "f...ing wog, dirty dog, paedophile".

As the man tried to call police, Woods kicked him in the face. When he fell to the ground, Woods kicked him another four or five times.

The attack caused a spinal injury from which the victim had not yet recovered, the judge said.

Woods was spoken to by police soon after the incident but failed to appear at court. He was arrested in Devonport in August.

Justice Porter said Woods had suffered a difficult life because of his mother's drug addiction and had developed his own drug problem.

He also suffered from psychiatric difficulties but was remorseful and did not have a criminal record.

"The assault was a quite brutal one, unprovoked and unjustified," the judge said.

"It has caused ongoing symptoms of some significance to the complainant. Notwithstanding the lack of prior convictions, a term of imprisonment is appropriate."

Justice Porter imposed a seven-month jail sentence, but suspended the rest of the term on the condition Wood did not commit an offence punishable by imprisonment for the next two years.

david.killick@news.com.au


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Union warns on jobs, service

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 05 November 2012 | 19.55

A FULL retail market for Tasmanian electricity will lead to inferior service and job losses, the union representing call centre workers has warned.

The Australian Services Union has warned the State Government's plan to privatise the retail arm of state electricity sector will lead to job losses.

ASU assistant secretary Igor Grattan said the experience from other states swapping to retail contestability had not been good for workers or consumers.

"If we can learn anything from the other states that have gone down this path, it is that this move can only lead to massive job losses and lesser services, with little if any savings to the consumer," Mr Grattan said.

"With the down turn in jobs in Tasmania, we cannot afford to export hundreds of call centre jobs to the mainland.

"Since privatisation in South Australia and Victoria, the two states have risen to become the proud title holders of the third and fifth highest-priced electricity consumers in the world."

Mr Grattan said electricity companies won't compete to lose money in a small marketplace, and if something has to give it will be at the expense of services to the consumer.

"If there really are problems with the way the service is being run, maybe we should cast our eye on those running it.

"If the privatisation of the retail arm of the electricity sector goes ahead we will all be paying for it through the loss of Tassie jobs, inferior services and higher prices."

Mr Grattan's comments follow calls from energy expert Danny Price, the managing director of Frontier Economics, who told the Mercury last week energy retailers were being warned not to enter the state due to a wholesale market monopoly and concerns over the credit ratings of Aurora customers.

matthew.smith@news.com.au


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State cheated of $120m tax

AUSTRALIAN businesses avoided paying so much GST in the past year that Tasmania missed out on $120 million -- equivalent to half the state's Budget deficit.

Tasmania's share of the overall GST take was undermined by shonky businesses across the nation which under-paid tax and claimed false rebates, the tax office says.

A new analysis of the likely "gap" between GST that should have been paid, and GST that was actually paid, has been released by the tax office.

A crackdown has seen the gap narrowed in the past decade, but the difference -- worked out by comparing national accounts consumption data with actual GST paid -- is still as high as $3.3 billion.

Analysis shows the state should be getting an extra $120 million.

A State Government spokesman said the figure could equate to about 1000 frontline staff such as nurses, teachers, police and ambulance officers.

Tax Institute senior tax counsel Robert Jeremenko said the lost money was a concern for Tasmania because it placed "a greater strain on the budgets for schools, roads, law and order".

The money due to Tasmania, calculated by the Tax Institute based on Tasmania's share of the tax pie, could have allowed hundreds of nurses and police officers to keep their jobs.

The State Government this year slashed $100 million from the health department and $16 million from the police budget, resulting in the loss of more than 250 full-time nurses and about 75 police officers, plus 60 police service staff.

The Tasmanian Council of Social Service said an extra $120 million in state coffers could make a dramatic difference to the state's poorest residents.

"It's very concerning to learn that the proper amount of GST is not being collected, because community-sector organisations ... are stretched beyond breaking point," TasCOSS chief Tony Reidy said.

He said more than 30 per cent of Tasmanian households were at least partly dependent on welfare and many families had this year been forced to seek emergency charity "for the first time in their lives".

"Agencies are reporting that demand is on a scale they've never seen before," he said.

"Those organisations providing emergency relief -- whether it's food parcels or shopping vouchers or help paying for electricity -- they cannot meet demand, people are being turned away. Send $120 million our way and we would do more good with it than possibly anyone else in the state."

But Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Phil Bayley questioned the size of the reported GST shortfall.

"It's a bit misleading to make an accusation that businesses aren't paying their share," he said. "The ATO has such extensive compliance programs and I doubt if the ATO is missing $3 billion in revenue."


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Melbourne Cup preview

MERCURY racing writer Damien Seaton takes a look at your best Melbourne Cup options.

Melbourne Cup top five tips:

(20) LIGHTS OF HEAVEN (Luke Nolen) she looked very dour in Caulfield Cup after settling seventh. She was held-up at a vital stage at the top of the straight and it took her a while to wind-up when she got into the clear. Her best part of the Caulfield Cup was the final 70 metres of the race when she just started to extend fully. This is her first try beyond 2400m, however being by Zabeel and the way she found the line in the Caulfield Cup I believe that she has slipped under the guard of many. She is at $21 and $6 and at those odds I'm more than happy to back her each way.

(2) AMERICAIN (Damien Oliver) drew barrier 19 in the Caulfield Cup and couldn't get in from the draw settling three-wide for the trip. He had trouble trying to keep the back of Dunaden when the sprint came on but was very good over the concluding stages and has been very solid in betting. He's second-up going into the Melbourne Cup which suits his pattern of racing and is certain to finish top 4. He handles all types of track conditions and he's foolproof at the distance. With Oliver going on it's a huge bonus and he has been rock solid at the $6.50.

(1)DUNADEN (Craig Williams) was simply awesome in the Caulfield Cup and displayed an amazing turn of foot to run down Alcopop, who has since franked the form by winning the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday. His only other start at 2 miles was when winning last year's Melbourne Cup. He is unbeaten at three starts in Australia and I would love to tip him on top, however weight can stop a train and with 59kg I can only see him finishing third or fourth.

(4) RED CADEAUX (Michael Rodd) was beaten a flared nostril in the Melbourne Cup last year and can certainly go one better in this year's version of the race. He meets Dunaden 2.5kg better that he did last year and his form since has been just as good. He has the services of Australia's best distance jockey in Michael Rodd and a bet of $3500 was taken by Tattsbet at $9. Watch for him late in the race and he's another that has to be included as a serious chance.

(5) WINCHESTER (Jamie Mott) has yet to be tested beyond 2400m, however his Caulfield Cup effort was good enough to suggest that is capable of running the two mile journey. He settled near the rear and was three wide and got back to second last at the 1800m. He followed Dunaden in the Caulfield Cup, but like many he couldn't go with the impressive turn of foot by Dunaden and was spotted doing his best work over the final 100 metres. Winchester again settled at the rear when sixth to Alcopop in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday and all four Australian starts have seen him cover extra ground. I expect him to drift marginally from his $51 quote and he could well be the bolter that most have overlooked.

LUKE'S TIP: (14) Green Moon (Brett Prebble)

BEST BETS FOR FLEMINGTON:

Race 3 No 6 Verdant (Dwayne Dunn) each way forever @ $6 and $2.25 as this race appears perfect for him.
Race 5 No 3 Magnier (Vlad Duric) is ready to win his first city race and what a day to do it.
Race 8 No 6 King Diamond (Nick Hall) at double figure odds you could do worse than back him at the odds.
Race 9 No 14 Altar (Kerrin McEvoy) at $7 and $2.50 I'm all over that quote.

Weekend Winners tasted success on Saturday when we tipped Appearance (50/1) as one of our three best bets of the day.

That followed up our best bet the week before when Freereturn won at 8/1.

Tuesday's best is Verdant in race three at Flemington.


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