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Dive team joins kayaker search

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 28 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

THE search for missing Adelaide kayaker William McCallum is continuing today, with little hope of finding him alive.

The police dive team is being briefed and will join the search in Port Esperance in the state's far south.

The 27-year-old was last seen on Sunday afternoon when he set off from Dover jetty, 80km south-east of Hobart, to photograph the coastline.

His sea kayak was found upturned near Hope Island in Port Esperance about 8pm on Sunday.

Two police vessels are today searching the coastline from Gordon to Southport on both sides of the river.

Mr McCallum's family and his girlfriend Cordelia Dravitzki have travelled to Dover from Adelaide and have been briefed on the search by police.


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Truck crash causes delays

The rolled truck on the Midland Highway at Bridgewater. Picture: LEIGH WINBURN

A CRANE has been called in to clear a truck roll-over on the Midland Highway at Bridgewater.

The truck rolled at the Weily Park roundabout -- on the East Derwent Highway intersection north of McDonald's -- before 8am today.

Police said there would only be one lane operating in each direction while the crane was in place.

Officers are directing traffic at the accident site.

Motorists could experience delays in the area until early afternoon, with the removal operation expected to take up to four hours.


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Abbott's Tassie sweetener

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has defended the Coalition's $16 million pledge to a privately owned Hobart business, saying "Tasmania is a special case".

An Abbott-led government would make the co-investment in the Cadbury chocolate factory as part of a $66 million redevelopment that will allow popular tours at the facility to restart, after they were scrapped in 2008 amid health and safety concerns.

"Occasionally I think it is necessary to offer some judicious help," Mr Abbott told reporters.

He said the island state has the nation's highest unemployment rate and low income levels.

Mr Abbott made the announcement to factory workers today in the electorate of Denison.

The seat is held by independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who is tipped to retain it.

Mr Abbott said the "modest but significant" funding contribution would create more than 300 new jobs and secure 1000 existing positions, while boosting north Tasmania's dairy industry.

"It's quite unusual for a national government to co-invest with a profitable private business, but this co-investment is going to dramatically increase production, dramatically increase exports and dramatically increase employment," Mr Abbott said.

He had a brief tour of the facility, owned by food giant Kraft, watching as the ever-popular Freddo frog chocolate rolled off the production line.


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Ten guns stolen in North

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 27 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

POLICE are investigating two separate burglaries where firearms were stolen in the past 24 hours.

Officers were called to the Mitre 10 hardware store at Longford, in northern Tasmania, early this morning after management discovered the business had been burgled.

At least four rifles were stolen after thieves broke in by smashing a hole in the rear wall of the building. Nothing else was stolen.

In another incident, the residents of a house in Poplar Parade, in the Launceston suburb of Youngtown, returned home yesterday afternoon to discover their shed had been burgled.

A gun safe had been forced open, with six rifles and some ammunition stolen.

Police said the firearms had been stored correctly at both locations.

Anyone with information about the thefts is urge to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury


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Greens focus on devil peril

The Tarkine is one of the last homes to populations of devils free of the deadly facial tumour disease which has wiped out as much as 80 per cent of the population.

PROTECTING the contentious Tarkine region and its disease-free Tasmanian devils is at the centre of the Australian Greens threatened species policy.

The party has launched a $135 million national plan, declaring the Tarkine, in Tasmania's rugged North-West, needs protection as a vital habitat for endangered devils.

Former Environment Minister Tony Burke rejected a World Heritage listing for the entire region earlier this year and federal approval has since been granted for the first of several mining proposals.

The Tarkine is one of the last homes to populations of devils free of the deadly facial tumour disease which has wiped out as much as 80 per cent of the population.

"A vote for Labor or the Coalition is a vote for extinction of the Tasmanian devil," Greens leader Christine Milne told reporters at a devil sanctuary at Brighton today.

"Both of them have said they would prefer to mine the Tarkine than protect it."

The policy includes money for carers of injured wildlife, the revitalisation of threatened species and the mapping of habitats.

"Without question, under the Greens plan the Tarkine would be a priority region for this assessment," Queensland Senator Larissa Waters said.

The Greens say 20 per cent of Australia's mammals are threatened with extinction.

They have attacked Federal Government cuts to the biodiversity fund and say the Coalition plans to hand environmental approvals back to the states.


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Award for science star

Hobart geoscientist Dr Jo Whittaker, of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, has won the L'Oreal Women in Science fellowship. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE

HOBART geoscientist Jo Whittaker has discovered chunks "left behind" about 100 million years ago when India began moving away from Australia.

Dr Whittaker has been named a L'Oreal for Women in Science fellow, one of three women in Australia and New Zealand, for her work.

As an Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies scientist, she is the first University of Tasmania researcher to win the award, worth $25,000.

Dr Whittaker is reconstructing how the Indian, Australian and Antarctic tectonic plates separated, forming the Indian Ocean and the continents as they exist.

The "move" of India began about 130 million years ago.

``What I do is like taking a big jigsaw puzzle and fitting it back together,'' Dr Whittaker said.

She was on maternity leave when the Southern Surveyor vessel pulled up rocks from the two knolls together half the size of Tasmania about 1400km off Fremantle.

"We knew from satellite data that they were on the sea floor," Dr Whittaker said.

"I'll have $25,000 to spend on research. I'm doing some more analysis on the rocks."

She said the knowledge was important for oil and gas exploration and for climate research.

Melbourne University's Kathryn Holt, who is studying the genome of deadly bacteria, and Misty Jenkins, from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, who is learning about killer white blood cells, were the other recipients.

Awards were given in Melbourne tonight.


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Big Red Car heading south

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 26 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

GET ready to wiggle -- superstars of the pre-school set The Wiggles are coming back to Tasmania this year.

The Wiggles will perform their brand new live show, Ready, Steady, Wiggle, in Hobart and Launceston in December. The tour also shares its name with the group's first new TV series in six years, which starts on ABC TV next month.

Over the past 21 years, The Wiggles have sold 7 million albums, 23 million DVDs and 8 million books and performed to more than a million fans around the world. Along the way they have picked up 11 ARIA Awards for Best Children's Album.

Late last year three quarters of the original Wiggles line-up stepped aside to let a new cast take over, with new Yellow Wiggle Emma, Red Wiggle Simon and Purple Wiggle Lachy joining remaining original Blue Wiggle Anthony.

"We have a new energy that's quite contagious," Anthony says.

"It's been such an exciting year so far, and we're playing to a new generation of Wiggle fans."

The Wiggles and their friends Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword will perform Ready, Steady, Wiggle at the Derwent Entertainment Centre on December 4 and Launceston's Princess Theatre on December 5.

Tickets go on sale next Friday, September 6, from www.ticketmaster.com.au (Hobart) and www.theatrenorth.com.au (Launceston).

kane.young@news.com.au


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Primrose house fire 'suspicious'

AN overnight house fire in the coastal hamlet of Primrose Sands is being treated as suspicious.

The Tasmania Fire Service was alerted to the blaze, in Tasmania's south-east, about 2.15am today.

Crews from Primrose Sands, Dodges Ferry, Midway Point and Dunalley arrived to find the two-storey brick house in Grevillia St well alight.

"The structure was fully involved on arrival, so it must have been burning for some time," Dodges Ferry fire brigade chief Adam Hall said.

"Fire crews used breathing apparatus and conducted an external attack on the fire after establishing no one was home."

Police and TFS fire investigators examined the scene today and have determined the blaze was deliberately lit.

Inquiries are continuing, with the damage bill estimated about $220,000.

alice.claridge@news.com.au


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Collins in penalty rate push

FEDERAL minister Julie Collins has taken her campaign to the doorstep of Liberal Senator Eric Abetz's office in an effort to highlight the rights of shift workers.

Ms Collins has taken her campaign into enemy territory, conducting her media doorstop outside the Opposition workplace relations spokesman's Hobart office.

She called on the Coalition to rule out changes to penalty rates and accused Senator Abetz of leaving the door open for a return to Work Choices-style policy.

"Disability workers, aged-care workers, hospitality workers, hairdressers, workers who are out there ... day in day out doing these unsociable hours and getting penalty rates have got a right to know what the Liberal Party will do," Ms Collins said.

"We saw Work Choices. We know what the Liberal Party's capable of."

There was no sign of the Tasmanian Senator, who was campaigning in South Australia today, with Ms Collins suggesting he'd been silenced.

"I certainly am hoping that Senator Abetz comes out of hiding," she said.

"I'm hoping that he comes out and that he's honest with workers."

In a statement, Senator Abetz said the Coalition had been up-front by pledging the Fair Work Commission would continue to determine awards.

He accused the ALP of running a scare campaign.

"The complete desperation by the Labor campaign was highlighted today when Labor candidates were reduced to holding a demonstration to try to run another dishonest campaign on penalty rates," he said.

The Senator challenged Labor to release its workplace policy after the Coalition's was released in May.

Liberal Party officials dismissed any suggestion Senator Abetz had been hushed up, saying he'd conducted up to five interviews most days of the campaign.

Ms Collins says Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Senator Abetz have used different words during the campaign to those in the Coalition policy.

The newly promoted cabinet minister faces a tough battle to hang on to her seat of Franklin, according to polling published over the weekend.

Labor holds Franklin by 10.8 per cent but a ReachTEL poll published in the Mercury showed Liberal candidate Bernadette Black opening up a 9 per cent lead over Ms Collins.

The poll suggested Labor could lose all four of its Tasmanian seats.

"We're fighters in the Labor Party," Ms Collins said.

"We'll keep fighting."


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Honouring huts of high country

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 25 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

THERE are hidden jewels scattered among the mountains, valleys and plateaus of Tasmania's central highlands.

They are the unique huts crafted of wood, brick and stone built by past generations to shield today's highland travellers from the harshest of weather conditions.

Author and historian Simon Cubit believes the huts are a vulnerable, finite and valuable resource.

"They are going to need continued care and attention if they are to survive," he said.

Mr Cubit and illustrator Des Murray last week launched their second book aimed at protecting and preserving these architectural gems for future generations.

Tasmanian High Country Huts: From the Central Plateaus to Cradle Mountain tells the stories of 26 huts including those at Lake Meston, Dixons Kingdom (Walls of Jerusalem), February Plains and Cradle Mountain (Kitchen).

"Many of the standing huts today are cultural relics," Mr Cubit said.

"Across the board, there are less standing huts. Fire and neglect have taken a toll. Only a small number remain," he said.

One such hut is Kitchen Hut at Cradle Mountain, which Mr Cubit regards as an "artefact of our historical attraction" to the mountain.

"When Gustav Weindorfer, and the Connells who succeeded him at Waldheim, guided people to the summit of Cradle Mountain, they would pause at a spot on the Cradle plateau beside a little creek," Mr Cubit said.

"There they would have a cup of tea, drop any unwanted gear and climb the summit.

"On the return journey, they would similarly pause for another cup of tea, collect their gear and head back to Waldheim. That spot became known as the Cradle Kitchen."

Over time, a shelter was built there and following a fatality in 1950 near Waterfall Valley on the Overland Track, the shelter was closed in and made into a hut.

"Given the heavy snowfalls that typically fall in the area (Parks) built a second storey on top of the existing structure with its own external door so that access to the hut was assured," Mr Cubit said.

He said the two-storey hut that emerged was rare in Tasmania and in mountain huts elsewhere in Australia.

Mr Cubit said maintenance of the historic huts could be expensive, and hopes the book will create connections between people and the huts.

Mr Cubit also hopes to publicise the work of the Mountain Huts Preservation Society Mountain Huts Preservation Society.

The book and a companion calendar will be in bookshops early next month and a range of other hut merchandise is available online.


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Reggie still smiling

Reggie Sorensen, with children Lucas, 4, and Mia, 6, is trying to stay positive despite health problems. Picture: RICHARD GOSLING

HER positive nature on Big Brother made her much loved, and Reggie Sorensen (nee Bird) is using that same attitude to get through life every day.

Reggie has lost much of her vision over the past few years, suffering from an eye disease called retinal pigmentation.

"My eyes are deteriorating really badly," she said.

"There is nothing that can be done about it."

The former Cambridge fish and chip shop owner, now based on the Gold Coast, is also a single mother to Mia, 6, and Lucas, 4, who suffers from cystic fibrosis.

Lucas has been in and out of hospital for the past few years.

Despite all this, Reggie, 39, still can still laugh and crack a smile.

"I went through my stages of being really depressed from it all. I went through a really bad spell a couple of years ago.

"But now I'm feeling really good. I think I've just got to make the most of each day and that's exactly what I'm doing."

Two years ago this Christmas, she split from her husband Dale Sorensen .

He still has an active part in the children's lives.s

Reggie said if there ever was a Big Brother All Stars, she would jump at the opportunity.

The Tasmanian became a national celebrity when she won Big Brother in 2003 and Chrissie Swan was runner-up.

"People always ask me if I would do it again and of course I would," she said.

"It was really good fun."

luke.dennehy@news.com.au


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Workers leave a lasting trail

Three Capes Track construction supervisor Albert Thompson with the view over Arthurs Peak to the Tasman Peninsula. Pictures: SAM ROSEWARNE

LOGAN Higgins reckons he has got the best job in the world.

The 27-year-old from West Hobart also says he has the world's best office -- the ocean-side bushland of the spectacular Tasman Peninsula where he is helping construct the Three Capes Track.

Billed as the new Overland Track, the six-day guided trek is expected to become a global eco-tourism attraction hosting up to 10,000 walkers a year when the last duckboards are put down in late 2015.

Until then, Mr Higgins will continue clearing the scrub and hauling gravel in work he described as "enjoyable but back-breaking".

"I've never really had to grow up," he said.

"I spent my childhood playing in the mud and stacking rocks and it's exactly what I do now."

Mr Higgins admitted his work roster with the Mt Trails company, which involves nine nights camping in a tent city with his colleagues before a five-day break, was not for everyone.

On the Three Capes Track

But he said the scenery and permanence of the track his team was building meant that the life of a track worker had pleasures city folk never know.

"And when you get to the top of the hill and look out over the ocean it is amazing.

"It's just exceptionally rewarding work, which is why I've stuck at it for so long.

"You get to the end of a day and think that part of the track is going to stay there for the next few hundred years.

"There's been a few times I've gone up to the lookout in the middle of the night, with a bright moon, and just sat with a hot chocolate watching the shooting stars and the Aurora [Australis]. Just an amazing spot to be."

Working alongside Mr Higgins on the Three Capes Track is experienced landscaper and part-time Port Arthur ghost tour guide Andrew Holmes.

The 53-year-old Boomer Bay resident was offered work with Mt Trails after last summer's Tasman Peninsula bushfires, in which his immediate neighbours lost their homes and his family was relocated because of asbestos fears.

"The fellows at Mt Trails gave me a go, and it's definitely hard, physical work," Mr Holmes said.

"But the good thing is that the work that we do here will be here in 100 years. So that means a lot to me.

"And it's fun to work out here. It's a beautiful part of the world."

Mr Holmes said being in the bush for long stretches took its toll, saying time away from his wife and children was difficult.

On his days off he looks after his kids and provides some "sanity time" for his spouse.

Opera singer Phillip Joughin, of South Hobart, traded a career on stage in Sydney for a return to Tasmania to pursue his other passion -- the great outdoors.

The 40-year-old father described track work as "good for the soul", saying as soon as he finished the track he wanted to bring his son to see it.

"I'd definitely like to bring the young fellas through to show him the walk, but also just show him the area," Mr Joughin said.

"I really enjoy this work. There are times when it is hard and it's obviously very physical. But the flip-side is that you can see real progress every day."

Mr Joughin said that working outside in Tasmania meant taking his jumper on and off 15 times a day, but to make up for the weather he and his workmates witness sea eagles and "wedgies" (wedge-tailed eagles) flying overhead.

He said that while he was yet to spot a whale off the coast, many of his colleagues had.

"The beautiful things about the weather here is that when it rains the smells come out of the wood, and when you get mottled cloud you get these wonderful bands of sun down over the ocean," Mr Joughin said.

Track boss Peter Guiver understands that despite the obvious upsides, working in the bush isolated for long periods with a small team in variable weather conditions presented unique challenges for his Mt Trails employees.

The company principal has developed a well-trained eye for signs of worker weariness, and had contingencies in place to lift sagging spirits.

"If you see someone's looking a bit down, you might let them head back home for a few days, or just take the next shift off. The problem is that it's pretty hard to get out of here quickly. It's a two-hour walk back to Fortescue then a car ride.

"But it's a lovely life. It's great just being outside."

Mr Guiver also has back-up plans for the inevitable inclement days working in the Tasmanian bush.

Particular work is left aside for wet days -- including clearing vegetation or rehabilitating track edges -- with difficult stonework given a wide berth.

Parks and Wildlife Service acting regional manager Shane Breen has helicoptered in to inspect progress on the track and said he was not only impressed by the product, but by the dedication and the work of the track crews.

"Their professionalism is ensuring the longevity of the track, and one that will require little maintenance."

duncan.abey@news.com.au


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Fly by the seat of your pants

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 24 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

FLY LIKE A FOX: Ewan Ferrier, 15, of Launceston, takes a ride on the flying fox to be used in the Cataract Gorge Challenge. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN

HAVE you ever wanted to participate in an event such as the Mark Webber Challenge, but weren't sure if you would cut it?

The Launceston Eye Institute Cataract Gorge Challenge on October 27 aims to make thrilling adventure sports accessible to ordinary people aged 13 and up.

The challenge includes mountain biking, road biking, running, kayaking and rope climbing.

The ropes course was the brainchild of the late Bob McMahon, an adventure guide and anti-pulp mill campaigner who died in April.

It includes a flying fox ride from a cliff on one side of the gorge to the Cataract Walkway on the other side, and a monkey climb along the edge of King's Bridge.

Participants can choose to do all of the legs, or just some.

The event's co-founders, former colleagues of Mr McMahon Ian Ferrier and Cade Smith, are also aiming to promote Launceston, and its Cataract Gorge, as Australia's adventure capital.

"The Gorge is so accessible and under-utilised," Mr Smith said.

"The event is designed to capture the attention and imagination of the local and regional community and highlight Launceston's natural assets to a much wider audience."

Visit www.launcestoncataractchallenge.com.au.


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Chance to quiz candidates

RESIDENTS of the federal seat of Denison will get a chance to grill the main candidates for the hotly contested seat at a forum organised by a national organisation devoted to increasing political engagement.

OurSay and the University of Melbourne are running the Citizens' Agenda forum at the University of Tasmania on Tuesday night.

The event will be moderated by the Mercury's editor, Andrew Holman.

The evening is expected to be attended by incumbent independent Andrew Wilkie, Labor candidate Jane Austin, Australian Greens Anna Reynolds and Liberal Tanya Denison.

A swing of 1.2 per cent is needed to unseat Mr Wilkie, who broke Labor's hold on the seat when he was elected at the federal election in 2010.

But recent polling shows he has a good chance of retaining the seat.

People are being asked to nominate questions for candidates online and vote on what the candidates should be asked.

The forum for the Hobart-based seat is one of 10 being run around the country in the approach to the federal election on September 7.

OurSay is an independent organisation launched in 2010 with the ambition of connecting ordinary citizens with people in charge.

See and vote on the questions: oursay.org/citizens-agenda


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The promise of good, clean fun

SLIP, SLOP, SPLAT: Nick Gill gets down and dirty. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

MUD, glorious mud.

That's what Nugent farmer Lindsay White is promising by the tractor-load at the inaugural Raw Challenge event at his Redbanks property on November 2, and he wants everyone to join in the fun.

Competitors will face down more than 30 obstacles over the sodden 8km course, including giant A-frames, a 25m waterslide, floating-log challenge and rope hurdles, on a day of music and food that Mr White said would be one big party.

"It's going to be awesome," he said.

Mr White said he expected more than 3000 entries for the November event (there is another planned for Saturday, February 22, at the same location) and at least as many spectators.

Local vineyards and food vendors will be catering and two planes will offer joy flights over Maria Island.

"There'll be camping here overnight and we're looking at putting on some live music too."

More information at www.rawchallenge.com.au


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The promise of good, clean fun

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 23 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

SLIP, SLOP, SPLAT: Nick Gill gets down and dirty. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

MUD, glorious mud.

That's what Nugent farmer Lindsay White is promising by the tractor-load at the inaugural Raw Challenge event at his Redbanks property on November 2, and he wants everyone to join in the fun.

Competitors will face down more than 30 obstacles over the sodden 8km course, including giant A-frames, a 25m waterslide, floating-log challenge and rope hurdles, on a day of music and food that Mr White said would be one big party.

"It's going to be awesome," he said.

Mr White said he expected more than 3000 entries for the November event (there is another planned for Saturday, February 22, at the same location) and at least as many spectators.

Local vineyards and food vendors will be catering and two planes will offer joy flights over Maria Island.

"There'll be camping here overnight and we're looking at putting on some live music too."

More information at www.rawchallenge.com.au


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Fly by the seat of your pants

FLY LIKE A FOX: Ewan Ferrier, 15, of Launceston, takes a ride on the flying fox to be used in the Cataract Gorge Challenge. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN

HAVE you ever wanted to participate in an event such as the Mark Webber Challenge, but weren't sure if you would cut it?

The Launceston Eye Institute Cataract Gorge Challenge on October 27 aims to make thrilling adventure sports accessible to ordinary people aged 13 and up.

The challenge includes mountain biking, road biking, running, kayaking and rope climbing.

The ropes course was the brainchild of the late Bob McMahon, an adventure guide and anti-pulp mill campaigner who died in April.

It includes a flying fox ride from a cliff on one side of the gorge to the Cataract Walkway on the other side, and a monkey climb along the edge of King's Bridge.

Participants can choose to do all of the legs, or just some.

The event's co-founders, former colleagues of Mr McMahon Ian Ferrier and Cade Smith, are also aiming to promote Launceston, and its Cataract Gorge, as Australia's adventure capital.

"The Gorge is so accessible and under-utilised," Mr Smith said.

"The event is designed to capture the attention and imagination of the local and regional community and highlight Launceston's natural assets to a much wider audience."

Visit www.launcestoncataractchallenge.com.au.


19.55 | 0 komentar | Read More

Chance to quiz Denison candidates

RESIDENTS of the federal seat of Denison will get a chance to grill the main candidates for the hotly contested seat at a forum organised by a national organisation devoted to increasing political engagement.

OurSay and the University of Melbourne are running the Citizens' Agenda forum at the University of Tasmania on Tuesday night.

The event will be moderated by the Mercury's editor, Andrew Holman.

The evening is expected to be attended by incumbent independent Andrew Wilkie, Labor candidate Jane Austin, Australian Greens Anna Reynolds and Liberal Tanya Denison.

A swing of 1.2 per cent is needed to unseat Mr Wilkie, who broke Labor's hold on the seat when he was elected at the federal election in 2010.

But recent polling shows he has a good chance of retaining the seat.

People are being asked to nominate questions for candidates online and vote on what the candidates should be asked.

The forum for the Hobart-based seat is one of 10 being run around the country in the approach to the federal election on September 7.

OurSay is an independent organisation launched in 2010 with the ambition of connecting ordinary citizens with people in charge.

See and vote on the questions: http://oursay.org/citizens-agenda


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Youth handed gift of detention

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 22 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

A YOUNG offender has marked his 17th birthday with an appearance in the dock of the Supreme Court and two-month detention order.

The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, was being dealt with for breaching the terms of a suspended detention order.

Chief Justice Alan Blow heard the youth has a 19-page criminal record and faces further charges in the Magistrates Court.

Crown Prosecutor Jane Ansell said in October 2012 the boy was sentenced to 12 months' jail for aggravated armed robbery.

In February last year the boy -- then 15 -- threatened to stab a security guard with a fish-filleting knife when he was caught stealing baby clothes at Big W at Rosny for money to buy cannabis.

Three months of his detention order was suspended on the condition he be of good behaviour for 12 months on his release.

But Ms Ansell told the court the boy committed numerous offences within two months of getting out of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

In January this year he drove a stolen motor vehicle while disqualified, while under the influence of cannabis and evaded police during a chase which reached speeds estimated at 130km/h.

A few days later he drove an unregistered vehicle while uninsured and while disqualified and took off when police approached him.

His lawyer Amber Mignot said the boy was emotionally damaged by the poor relationship he had with his mother and driving was a way of escaping when his emotional difficulties became too great to bear.

She said spending yet another birthday in custody was an unpleasant experience for the boy.

"It is for him a very disappointing thing and not something he wants to continue for the rest of his life, spending his birthdays in a custodial setting," she said.

Chief Justice Alan Blow told the boy the purpose of the suspended sentence was to make him think twice about reoffending.

"You were meant to think 'I'll stay out of trouble otherwise I will have to serve those three months'. But you didn't stay out of trouble," the judge said.

The judge said he would be "a tiny bit lenient" and ordered the boy serve two months of the three months suspended detention order.

Members of the boy's family present in court wished him a happy birthday as he was led off to serve his sentence.

david.killick@news.com.au


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Arson spree hits Gagebrook

ARSONISTS are believed to be responsible for three separate house fires in Gagebrook overnight.

The Tasmania Fire Service was called to the first fire, at Briar Crescent, about 12.45am today.

The building sustained major damage as a result of the blaze.

The occupants of the property were not home at the time, but two dogs trapped inside died.

Minutes later, a second fire was reported at Tottenham Rd, Gagebrook.

The unoccupied house has previously been subjected to arson attacks.

While fire investigators were conducting inquiries at the fire scenes a third blaze was discovered in Deak St, Gagebrook. The property sustained only minor damage.

Anyone with information in relation to the fires is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Bridgewater Police Station on 6268 4100.


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State first for Lubiana Wines

Steve and Monique Lubiana in their vineyard and winery. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

IT has been 12 years in the making, but small family-owned Stefano Lubiana Wines vineyard at Granton is now the state's first certified biodynamic producer.

Derwent Valley couple Steve and Monique Lubiana today launched the property's biodynamic food and wine interpretation centre.

"Being biodynamic has been a dream of ours, and now we can share our story for others who choose to follow the philosophy and we have the resources here for them to do that," Mrs Lubiana said.

The centre's specially designed interpretation displays, media resources and learning activities have been established to complement a tasting and dining facility to be completed later this year.

After arriving in 1990, the couple developed their Granton vineyard, near Hobart, to create handcrafted Tasmanian wines.

Biodynamics philosophy, based on ancient farming practices, allows the pursuit of connectivity between the elements, aiming for better soils by adopting a holistic, regenerative management approach. The vineyard is free of herbicide and fertiliser use.

"We have fought against the odds and our wine is now allowed to evolve in the bottle for higher quality."

The property's certification, carried out by Australian Certified Organic, took about three years.

Fifth-generation winemaker Steve Lubiana said Australia lags behind the rest of the world in adopting genuinely sustainable farming and viticultural practices.

"We believe working sustainably with the land can be achieved by anyone who is committed to the environment, either a commercial vineyard or working at home on your own vegetable patch," Mr Lubiana said.

The centre was co-funded with $110,000 from the Federal Government under the T-QUAL grants program.


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Second 'sorry' from Lyons

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 21 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

A TASMANIAN Labor MP who questioned an opponent's military record has admitted he incorrectly listed his own medals in election material.

Member for Bass Geoff Lyons has issued his second public apology in as many weeks after claiming he held the prestigious Emergency Services Medal.

He has corrected the listing on his website to the National Medal, which he received in 1997 for services to surf life-saving.

"It's a disappointment that I had the name wrong," Mr Lyons told reporters.

"I thought that's what it was, for service in an emergency service, surf life-saving.

"It's been corrected and I apologise for that."

Last week Mr Lyons apologised to Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic after suggesting the Iraq veteran had spent most of his defence career as a bureaucrat.

The Federal Opposition seized on his latest mistake, pointing out the Emergency Services Medal had been awarded only 280 times to the National Medal's 175,000.

"A clear pattern of deceit is emerging here from Mr Lyons," Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz said.

The error was reportedly spotted by a voter who checked on Mr Lyons' record.

Polling suggests the incumbent faces a tough battle to hang on to the northern Tasmanian seat, which Labor holds by a margin of 6.7 per cent.

Mr Nikolic, who rose to the rank of Brigadier, has said he does not want his military career to be the focus of the campaign.


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Dons' charge sheets released

THE AFL has sensationally today released its summary of charges against Essendon, coach James Hird, senior assistant Mark Thompson, club doctor Bruce Reid and football manager Danny Corcoran.

AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick has also called a special meeting of the 18 club presidents for tomorrow.

League boss Andrew Demetriou will front the media at 2pm today.

The Herald Sun last Friday exclusively revealed details from the charge sheets.

The charge sheets include revelations that:

ESSENDON players were to receive 1500 injections of AOD-9604 and Thymosin and more than 16,500 doses of Colostrum and 8000 doses of Tribulus.

THE program was to push the legal limits.

THE program involved the use of allegedly "beneficial" and "exotic" compounds.

THE program's fitness strategy and use of supplements varied sharply to previous practices at Essendon.

IT involved injecting players with abnormal frequency.

THAT club figures were aware that the implementation of the program was determined without meaningful input from appropriately qualified people.

Which type of Thymosin – banned Beta 4 or permitted Thymosin Alpha is not specified in the charge sheets.

Last night, a former member of the AFL's Anti-Doping Tribunal claims he was told in February that AOD-9604 was safe and not prohibited.

Essendon champion Tim Watson today called on AFL chief Andrew Demetriou to explain why the AFL did not reveal the information earlier.

Read more at news.com.au.


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Police officer stood down

A POLICE officer from the state's south has been suspended on full pay over allegations of inappropriate conduct.

Tasmania Police said the Constable is alleged to have made inappropriate comments to and physical contact with colleagues while on duty.

He is also alleged to have accessed information to which he was not entitled.

Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard said police are investigating and there would be no further comment.


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Coroner issues heater warning

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 20 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

THE death of a 78-year-old man in a house fire has prompted a warning from a coroner about the risks of placing flammable material near heat sources.

Walter Charles Bakes, of Burnie, died of smoke inhalation in a house fire in Reid St, Burnie, on February 23, 2011.

Coroner Don Jones found it was highly probable the fire had started in the corner of Mr Bakes' kitchen, within a half metre radius of a portable radiant heater.

The coroner said Mr Bakes' son Grahame said his father often felt cold and would sit in a chair in the kitchen in front of a wood heater or an electric heater.

"Grahame had expressed his concerns to his father as to the risk of the heater being left unattended, or leaving his chair too close to the heater," the coroner said.

"Mr Bakes would express his annoyance saying he did not like his heater turned off, or people interfering with his way of life."

Coroner Jones found Mr Bakes' cause of death was asphyxia due to smoke inhalation as a result of the house fire and that severe atherosclerotic vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic pancreatitis, and emphysema were contributing factors.

He recommended people be made more aware of the risks of placing flammable objects near fires or electric heaters.

"It is recommended the public be informed of the dangers of placing furniture, or any combustible material, in close proximity to heaters or fires generally," the coroner said.

"Frequently, material used in furniture, or blankets, or clothing are susceptible to absorbing heat from heat sources, smouldering, and then spontaneously combusting.

"Many older people frequently resort to keeping warm by sitting over, or too close to, fire sources not realising the potentially dangerous situation they are placing themselves in."


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Sheep die amid big wet

THE record-breaking deluge across northern Tasmania has waterlogged poppy crops and claimed the lives of newborn lambs and older sheep.

Tasmania's peak farming body said some farmers had reported losses of newborn lambs in the extreme conditions.

Some "off-shears" sheep have also been lost in situations where producers did not have enough room to keep all the animals under cover.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association CEO Jan Davis said the heavy rain had also caused some damage to poppy crops.

Farmers will assess the crop damage as the weather clears this week.

The rain has also held up pea planting because farmers cannot access already ploughed paddocks.

But Ms Davis said potato planting should go ahead on schedule if the ground dried out quickly.

She said August rains were usually welcomed because they ensured livestock feed would grow in spring.

"That said, up to 220mm in August is on the high side," Ms Davis said.

"But there were quite large variations in rainfall over relatively small distances in the north and the south of the State.

"Much of the big rain was in the North-West which has created extremely slushy pasture conditions but not losses.

"Of course feed value deteriorates is such conditions -- temporarily."

Ms Davis said Tasmania had experienced minor flooding every August for the past four years.


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Man accused of NW break-ins

A 33-YEAR-OLD man has been charged with a string of offences after a spate of business burglaries on the North-West Coast.

Police allege the burglaries took place between last Friday and yesterday.

The man, who has been remanded in custody, has been charged with 10 counts of burglary, seven counts of attempted burglary and nine counts of stealing.

Police allege businesses in Devonport, Spreyton and Ulverstone were broken into between August 16 and 19.


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Rural speed cut plan dumped

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 19 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

The State Government has dropped plans for a blanket speed limit reduction from 100km/h to 90km/h on rural roads. Picture JAMES KERR

THE State Government's backflip on a plan to reduce rural road speed limits to 90km/h has been welcomed by the RACT.

Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne today announced the default limit would not be dropped from 100km/h, despite his earlier argument that the cut would save lives.

Mr O'Byrne said an education campaign would be continued instead.

The decision pre-empts a Legislative Council inquiry into the speed-cut plan.

"While the original recommendation from the Road Safety Advisory Council was for a blanket reduction, instead we've been working and consulting with communities about the Safer Roads Strategy and looking at roads on a case-by-case basis, using proven criteria," Mr O'Byrne said.

"It is, however, clear that overwhelmingly the community does not support a reduction in the default speed limit on our rural roads."

Mr O'Byrne said speed limits on gravel roads would still be reduced to 80km/h and the confusing "END" speed limit signs would be removed as planned later this year.

A public campaign to alert motorists to always drive to the conditions, particularly on rural roads, would start this year as planned.

"We've achieved a 33 per cent reduction in serious casualty crashes over the last five years, however too many crashes continue to occur on rural roads."

The state's peak motoring body commended the move, noting it was a "significant change to the Government's earlier intent".

When a virtual blanket rural speed limit reduction proposal was first raised by the Government in late 2010, RACT described it as a "one-size-fits-all" approach to a complex issue and called for a case-by-case assessment methodology.

RACT chief Harvey Lennon congratulated Mr O'Byrne on "refining his thinking".

"Many councils were opposed to the proposed widespread speed limit reductions, and a majority of RACT members told us in two separate surveys (2011 and 2012) that they thought a 100km/h default limit was reasonable," Mr Lennon said in a statement.

"The Government deserves credit for both listening to the community and finally adopting a practical solution.

"Rural crashes occur because of a variety of reasons.

"A reduced speed limit is not the silver bullet – but it can and should be applied sensibly, and quite appropriately, on a case-by-case basis."

"RACT members also look forward to the removal of the "END" speed limit signs as soon as possible."

So far in Tasmania this year 20 people have died on public roads, compared with 16 last year, and 155 people have been seriously injured, up from 141.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury ...


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Austin dark on Wilkie 'deal'

THE Liberal Party's support for Denison independent MHR Andrew Wilkie should send shivers down the spine of progressive local voters, says Labor candidate Jane Austin.

Responding to revelations in today's Mercury that the Liberals will preference Mr Wilkie ahead of Labor in September 7 poll, Ms Austin said there was too much at stake for Denison to risk casting a vote for Mr Wilkie or the Coalition

"Labor's Better Schools plan, the continued roll-out of the National Broadband Network and protecting Denison from (Opposition Leader) Tony Abbott's harsh cuts are just some of the critical issues confronting our community."

The ALP candidate, who has been campaigning for the southern Tasmanian seat since July last year, said the Abbott-Wilkie deal meant Denison voters now had a clear choice.

"They can stick with Labor progressive policies or throw them out the door to Mr Abbott and Mr Wilkie," she said

Mr Wilkie, meanwhile, today began distributing his how-to-vote cards, showing he will be running an open ticket.

"My decision to run an open ticket reflects my numerous statements that I would not engage in preference negotiations or do preference deals with any political party," Mr Wilkie said.

"I have also said that I will not enter into an agreement to support any political party after the election.

"I note that the Liberal Party has chosen to place me above Labor and the Greens on their how-to-vote card.

"Obviously I'm asking all Denison electors to give me their number-one vote.

"But I'm also grateful to any political party supporters who choose to give me their second or third preference."

Liberal Party state president Sam McQuestin told the Mercury yesterday his priority was getting the party's candidate, Tanya Denison, elected.

"Our electoral system is compulsory preferential, so we need to give guidance to Liberal voters about the other candidates," Mr McQuestin said.

"As far as the Liberals are concerned, it's Tanya Denison first, daylight second, and then Mr Wilkie as the best of a bad bunch."

matthew.smith@news.com.au


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Volcano Land blog, week 3

Andrew is frequently greeted by delighted smiles and hands reaching out to say hello as he paddles around PNG. Picture: ANDREW HUGHES

BETWEEN the dogs, pigs, chickens and children there's never a quiet moment in a New Britain village.

Here at Takis, on the northwestern corner of Papua New Guinea's Gazelle Peninsula, I have just explained what the Volcano Land project is about, and can only imagine how extraordinary and ridiculous it must sound.

The people here, unlike much of modern coastal PNG, are not covered by the mobile phone network, do not have a road to Rabaul and earn -- a very little -- cash exclusively from copra and cocoa.

The rhythm of life is governed by the garden, the fishing grounds, the family and the church. Here it is a Catholic domain.

Raphael, who waded out to greet me on arrival, buried his mother this morning. Two weeks ago it was his brother -- murdered most foully by a bush knife -- for whom they mourned.

Despite this turmoil, Raphael made me welcome because he had the best English, and my grasp of tok pisin is still very poor.

After a wash and a lengthy discussion over nautical charts I've retreated to write the daily report for dispatch by satellite phone.

Village noises swirl about in snatches of probably three or four languages. Some of the commotion is undoubtedly due to the strange fellow with zinc cream on his lip, who says his task is to teach students about distant places.

But the dogs brawling, the mothers yelling instructions to kids, and the happy laughter from young and old alike, I think that's fairly normal.

Expedition Class is a program of the Bookend Trust. This project is supported by the Tasmanian Department of Education, Pennicott Foundation, UTAS SET, Mercury NIE, IMAS, Sea to Summit and friends. Follow Andrew's daily reports at www.expeditionclass.com


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Growth pledge wins support

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 18 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

TONY Abbott's plan for Tasmania has been given a tentative thumbs up by the Sunday Tasmanian's citizens jury.

The Coalition's growth plan for Tasmania, which includes $38 million of funding for an extension of the Hobart International Airport runway, a $25 million boost for a new Antarctic study centre in Hobart and new Commonwealth offices in the North and North-West, gained mainly positive vibes by the team put together by the Sunday Tasmanian to go over the political announcements of the week.

North-West farmer Mike Badcock said there was plenty in the plan that could benefit rural communities in Tasmania such as Forth were he lives and works.

"There are some very positive points in the plan," Mr Badcock said.

He liked that some of the projects would involve joint government-industry working groups.

"A major problem in the past has been that many decisions are being made without industry input."

Howrah retiree Peter Bailey said the extension of the Hobart Airport runway could help alleviate some of the state's freight issues.

"It could help to avoid our continued reliance on the waterfront to ship our stuff around."

At this stage Mr Badcock and Mr Bailey say they are likely to vote for their local Liberal candidates.

First time voter Jessica Walch, of Blackmans Bay, has remained committed to the left side of politics.

Ms Walch did see some virtues to the Liberal plan this week -- but was sceptical.

"There are certain aspects of the plan that I think would benefit my community, though, such as the expansion of the airport, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean research grant," she said.

"The rest seems to all be a bit 'wishy washy' with committees and councils popping up all over the place."

Scottsdale parents Tamieka and Daniel Monson were happy with plans for the Liberal Party to look into freight and investment in agriculture.

"Our community has such a strong background in farming, so any promotion and expansion within the fruit and vegetable industry by creating a 'fruit and vegetable industry taskforce' could only be of benefit to hopefully boost employment," they said.

Triabunna-based small business owner Mike Davis said he liked the idea of greater co-operation between the Federal and State governments but felt there were still aspects missing from the plan.

"There is also no mention of assisting Tasmania's health sector," he said.

matthew.smith@news.com.au


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Tall ships in voyage of history

Tasmanian Sail Training Association chairman Rob Thomas, on board the Lady Nelson, is looking forward to the tall ships spectacular along the Hobart waterfront. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

THE spirit of high seas adventure will descend on Hobart's waterfront next month with the arrival of the biggest fleet of tall ships since the Bicentenary celebrations.

Seven tall ships will sail in on September 20 for Tall Ships Hobart 2013, which is being held in association with Sydney's International Naval Fleet Review in celebration of 100 years of the Royal Australian Navy.

Tall ships festival director Paul Cullen said the September 20-25 event would be a once-in-a-generation chance to see a fleet of tall ships on Hobart's waterfront.

"It paints a picture of what Hobart used to look like 150 years ago, when we were exporting apples to the world," he said. "It reminds people that we are still connected to the sea. These ships bring back some of the romance of running away to sea.

"Some of the vessels are 50-60m vessels carrying up to 80 crew."

The seven visiting international ships that will join local ships Lady Nelson and Windeward Bound are Lord Nelson, Europa, Dewa Ruci, Young Endeavour, Oosterschelde, Soren Larsen and Tecla.

One of the most spectacular sights will be the parade of sail on September 25 when all seven visiting tall ships will line up by the Tasman Bridge and leave Hobart together.

Mr Cullen said it would be free to view the ships from the wharf, and a $20 ship's passport could be bought to tour the ships throughout the festival.

Princes Wharf No. 1 shed will be home to Tasmanian food and wine stalls and exhibits from local maritime organisations during the festival, and Constitution Dock will host 15 of Tasmania's oldest historic vessels.

For details, click here.


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Geale loses tight title fight

Daniel Geale lost his world tight defence fight in a split points decision. Picture: News Corp

A SPLIT-second and a split decision cost Tasmanian Daniel Geale his world boxing title in his US debut.

Stricken Englishman Darren Barker barely beat the referee's 10 count after being poleaxed by a vicious Geale left to the body in the sixth round.

But somehow he recovered to lift the IBF middleweight crown, extending his country's great run of sporting success over Australians in 2013.

One judge scored the fight in Atlantic City 114-113 to Geale, but the other two had Barker ahead 114-113 and 116-111.

Promoter Gary Shaw admitted he was stunned that the resilient Barker, looking in tremendous pain, was able to beat referee Eddie Cotton's count and he backed Geale to win another world crown.

"That was a vicious liver shot, I was really shocked that Barker survived it," Shaw said.

Geale 32 (29-2, 15 KOs) tried furiously to finish the job immediately, tagging the challenger with some more shots and a stoppage looked imminent.

But Barker, 31, (26-1, 16 KOs) survived the onslaught and produced a real-life version of the Rocky story as he ended the round raining blows on Geale.

Barker shaded most of the remaining rounds, bar the 12th, with Geale unable to reproduce the late fight surges that were a trademark of his previous four title defences.

The Englishman dedicated the win to his brother Gary, who was killed in a car accident in 2006.

Geale was left pondering how the title was lost.

"I thought I caught a lot (of punches) on the gloves, and a lot were glancing, missing," Geale said.

"I did feel in control. It wasn't my best performance but Darren is a great fighter.

"He's a very skilful guy. I knew I had to be on my game throughout.

"I knew it was going to be tight. It was a close fight. I'm very disappointed."

Right from the early rounds, third-ranked challenger Barker showed he was going to be a formidable opponent, landing more power punches than the champion and sometimes beating him to the punch.

Geale responded in the middle rounds, teeing off with some good right-hand shots, but didn't seem to throw many shots to the body after the knockdown.

"I thought Daniel won it by a round. I had the score 114-113, but obviously the two other judges didn't see it that way," Shaw said.

"We'll fight our way back and I'm sure Barker will give us the same opportunity as we gave him."

Barker may first have to make a mandatory defence against German Felix Sturm.

Shaw said he was sure Geale could win another world title.

"Daniel Geale is a real warrior, someone that the Aussies should be very proud of," Shaw said.

"Those are the types of fighters that television needs, so he's a fan-friendly fighter.

"He came forward, he fought and didn't back up, so I'm pretty proud of him."

On the undercard, Australian featherweight Joel Brunker (27-0, 15 KOs), who is top 15 rated by all four major boxing bodies, scored an eight-round unanimous points win against veteran Mike Oliver.


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QC fights Neill-Fraser verdict

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 17 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

HIGH-PROFILE Melbourne lawyer Robert Richter has called for a commission of inquiry into the conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser for the murder of her partner, Bob Chappell.

The Victorian Queen's Counsel said yesterday he believed an inquiry would recommend Neill-Fraser's 2009 conviction be overturned.

The Hobart woman is serving 23 years for the killing of the former Royal Hobart Hospital radiation physicist, who disappeared from his yacht on the River Derwent on Australia Day 2009.

Mr Chappell's body has not been found, and Neill-Fraser's conviction has caused supporters to compare it to that of Lindy Chamberlain.

The case has ignited interest around the country as Neill-Fraser's family protests her innocence.

Appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeal and the High Court have been rejected and a coronial inquiry has been requested by Neill-Fraser's family.

Mr Richter said an inquiry chaired by an experienced criminal lawyer was needed to get to the truth.

"Having surveyed the material which is now available, we are quietly confident that a commissioner would report to the Government that the problems are so significant that it will be then appropriate (for the Attorney-General) to apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal, using the findings and evidence from the inquiry, for the conviction to be quashed," he wrote.

Former Integrity Commission chief Barbara Etter is leading the push for the reopening of the case.

"I feel confident in saying, after my 30 years in policing, that an inadequate police investigation failed to properly inform the court and the jury about the full circumstances surrounding the events of Australia Day 2009," Mrs Etter said.

"It is now time to review the matter and put community unease and concern to rest. It is essential that as Tasmanians we have the utmost confidence in our criminal justice system."

Attorney-General Brian Wightman said the Tasmanian Criminal Code provided mechanisms for criminal convictions to be referred back to the courts.

"The exercise of this power is generally only considered where there is new or fresh evidence which is compelling," he said.

"Ms Neill-Fraser has not sought to invoke any of those mechanisms," he said.

"There would need to be exceptional circumstances to warrant a commission of inquiry ... especially when options to seek to have the matter re-examined by the courts have not been pursued.

"However, it is important to note that the case has gone through a Supreme Court trial and an appeal in the Court of Criminal Appeal, in which there was no challenge to the jury verdict, nor was the sufficiency of evidence appealed."

david.killick@news.com.au


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Corporal given 21-gun salute

HARRY'S MATE: James Dunsby became mates with Prince Harry when they served in Afghanistan.

TASMANIAN soldier James Dunsby has been laid to rest with hundreds of people paying respects in a service at Trowbridge in England.

The reservist, who grew up in Tasmania but had been living in the UK, died during SAS selection training in Brecon Beacons.

Corporal Dunsby, 31, was born in Solihull in England but moved to Tasmania, attending St Virgil's College and the University of Tasmania.

He later moved back to Britain and had been living in Trowbridge with his wife, Bryher.

His coffin was covered by a Union Jack flag during the military service on Thursday which was attended by family, friends and fellow servicemen.

His wife spoke at the service.

"I shall miss you more than words could ever convey. What a truly wonderful adventure we had together. You have enriched my life more than I could ever imagine," Mrs Dunsby said.

Brother Joseph Dunsby also paid his respects.

"There was not one person who was influenced more by James than me, I absolutely idolised him," Mr Dunsby said.

"I feel like a huge part of me is gone in the wind. Pull up a pew next to grandad, Churchill and the rest of them and enjoy."

At the end of the service, as Cpl Dunsby's coffin left the churchyard, there was a 21-gun salute.

Cpl Dunsby became friends with Prince Harry while the pair were serving together in Helmand Province, in Afghanistan, in 2008.

He collapsed on July 13 during a hike in extreme heat.

Lance Corporal Craig Roberts and Edward Maher also died on the exercise.

An investigation into their deaths is under way.

emma.hope@news.com.au


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Bring it home, Danny boy

PREPARATIONS: Daniel Geale in training for the IBF middleweight title fight.

THERE are 13 restaurants inside the plush Revel resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but Tasmania's Daniel Geale is still hungry.

He defends his IBF middleweight title against Englishman Darren Barker there tomorrow afternoon (Tasmanian time) and says his huge appetite for success will make all the difference against his toughest opponent yet a slick, clever and well-schooled challenger.

"I still have so many more goals," Geale said.

"There are many more big fights out there for me and more world titles that I want to win. I've only just started the journey and Darren Barker is going to face a very hungry fighter this weekend."

The Launceston boxer (29-1, 15 KOs) and Londoner Barker (25-1, 16 KOs) have been on a collision course since both won gold in different divisions at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

Yesterday Geale, 32, could hardly contain his enthusiasm.

"To all my fans, please tune in because I'm going to bring that title home." 

-- GRANTLEE KIEZA


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Wilkie in poll position

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 16 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

INDEPENDENT MP Andrew Wilkie has received a boost in his bid to retain the marginal Tasmanian seat of Denison at the federal election.

Already considered the favourite, Mr Wilkie has been drawn ahead of major rivals Labor and the Greens at number two on the ballot paper.

His name will appear below the Liberal Party, although their candidate Tanya Denison is only considered an outside chance in a seat held by the ALP for 23 years before 2010.

Greens candidate Anna Reynolds is third on the 10-candidate list.

The independent's greatest threat, Labor's Jane Austin, will be listed ninth.

Mr Wilkie was elected from third place on preferences in 2010 and holds the seat with a margin of just 1.2 per cent over the ALP.


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Corporal given 21-gun salute

HARRY'S MATE: James Dunsby became mates with Prince Harry when they served in Afghanistan.

TASMANIAN soldier James Dunsby has been laid to rest with hundreds of people paying respects in a service at Trowbridge in England.

The reservist, who grew up in Tasmania but had been living in the UK, died during SAS selection training in Brecon Beacons.

Corporal Dunsby, 31, was born in Solihull in England but moved to Tasmania, attending St Virgil's College and the University of Tasmania.

He later moved back to Britain and had been living in Trowbridge with his wife, Bryher.

His coffin was covered by a Union Jack flag during the military service on Thursday which was attended by family, friends and fellow servicemen.

His wife spoke at the service.

"I shall miss you more than words could ever convey. What a truly wonderful adventure we had together. You have enriched my life more than I could ever imagine," Mrs Dunsby said.

Brother Joseph Dunsby also paid his respects.

"There was not one person who was influenced more by James than me, I absolutely idolised him," Mr Dunsby said.

"I feel like a huge part of me is gone in the wind. Pull up a pew next to grandad, Churchill and the rest of them and enjoy."

At the end of the service, as Cpl Dunsby's coffin left the churchyard, there was a 21-gun salute.

Cpl Dunsby became friends with Prince Harry while the pair were serving together in Helmand Province, in Afghanistan, in 2008.

He collapsed on July 13 during a hike in extreme heat.

Lance Corporal Craig Roberts and Edward Maher also died on the exercise.

An investigation into their deaths is under way.

emma.hope@news.com.au


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Bring it home, Danny boy

PREPARATIONS: Daniel Geale in training for the IBF middleweight title fight.

THERE are 13 restaurants inside the plush Revel resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but Tasmania's Daniel Geale is still hungry.

He defends his IBF middleweight title against Englishman Darren Barker there tomorrow afternoon (Tasmanian time) and says his huge appetite for success will make all the difference against his toughest opponent yet a slick, clever and well-schooled challenger.

"I still have so many more goals," Geale said.

"There are many more big fights out there for me and more world titles that I want to win. I've only just started the journey and Darren Barker is going to face a very hungry fighter this weekend."

The Launceston boxer (29-1, 15 KOs) and Londoner Barker (25-1, 16 KOs) have been on a collision course since both won gold in different divisions at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

Yesterday Geale, 32, could hardly contain his enthusiasm.

"To all my fans, please tune in because I'm going to bring that title home." 

-- GRANTLEE KIEZA


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Power prices to drop

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 15 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

POWER prices in Tasmania are set to drop by 5.23 per cent next year in line with retail contestability.

The drop could see the average Tasmanian household save about $140 a year.

The independent Tasmanian Economic Regulator has this morning approved a State Government proposal to see a drop in power prices for Tasmanian households and small businesses from January 1.

"The approved standing offer prices represent a 5.23 per cent price decrease compared to the prices applying for the period 1 July 2013 to 31 December 2013," Tasmanian Economic Regulator chairman Glenn Appleyard said this morning.


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Tassie weather plays havoc

Carmen Shaw, 21, of Launceston braves the elements. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN

TORRENTIAL rain, hail and high winds have caused havoc across the North with businesses and homes flooded, roads closed and the state's rail network shut down.

The severe weather hit across the North, North-West and West of the state on Tuesday night and early yesterday.

About 18 businesses in the Launceston suburb of Kings Meadows were affected by flash flooding.

Kings Meadows Seafoods owner Dimitrios Amerikanos said staff took about three hours to mop brown mud from the shop's floors.

Mr Amerikanos and signwriter Alan Dinsmore said past floods had taught them to leave anything of value well above floor level.

Mr Dinsmore said the high water mark yesterday reached about 15cm above his workshop floor.

The low pressure system that brought overnight rainfall of between 50mm and 80mm across northern areas triggered moderate flood warnings for the North Esk, South Esk and Meander rivers.

Conditions were milder in the south, with 8mm of rain at Hobart to 9am yesterday and a further 10.2mm to 8pm.

Mostly showery days are forecast for the rest of this week.

The State Emergency Service received 12 call-outs in the North-West on Tuesday night.

Most involved roof and water damage and blocked and overflowing drains.

In the South, the SES received two call-outs for leaking roofs.

TasRail closed its rail network just after midnight Tuesday after the conditions hampered service crews from establishing the extent of any damage to the lines. A landslip at Kimberley Bank cut the Western Line.

"To make the rare decision to close the entire track is an indication of the significant safety risk we believed was present on the main line," TasRail CEO Damien White said.

Several roads were closed including the northbound lanes of the West Tamar Highway, Youl Rd, Winkleigh Rd at Winkleigh and Nile Rd.

In Launceston, 52mm of rain fell between 9am Tuesday and 9am yesterday.


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Farmer seeks case review

A FORMER Redpa dairy farmer, who was last month found guilty of animal cruelty, has applied for his case to be reviewed in the Supreme Court, the Launceston Magistrates Court heard today.

In his sentencing submission defence barrister Greg Barns did not dispute the prosecution's arguments regarding the cruelty and severity of offences committed by Roderic Neil Mitchell, involving as many as 188 cows.

Mr Barns also did not dispute evidence regarding Mr Mitchell's repeated refusals to comply with advice and directions given to him by animal welfare officers, police, dairy advisers and other farmers.

He said Mr Mitchell, 33, had arrived in Tasmania aged in his 20s, over-confident after earning quick profits from a sale of irrigation water rights in Victoria.

Mr Barns said Mr Mitchell had been out of his depth.

"This is a young man who has not stuck to his knitting. A snowball effect, of a young person who thinks they have the answers, and who are not prepared to listen to those with knowledge," he said.

Mr Barns said it had been suggested, in evidence, that Mr Mitchell's behaviours and lack of insight had been consistent with a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"That doesn't say that this means he wasn't able to understand directions, it's simply context," he said.

Mr Barnes said Mr Mitchell's offences were not among the worst forms of animal abuse, because they did not involve the sadistic torture or killing of animals.

Prosecutor Harry Virs said a custodial sentence was appropriate, given Mr Mitchell's actions in prolonging the court action against him which had begun in 2007, his lack of remorse and repeated refusal to follow directions and advice.

Mr Virs said Mr Mitchell had admitted, while under cross examination, that he had been actively engaged in efforts to have animal welfare officers removed from investigations because "they were sabotaging my farm".

He said when police and animal welfare officers arrived at the Redpa farm to seize cows on July 21, 2007, their path was blocked by Mr Mitchell's tractor.

Mr Virs said when asked to move the tractor, Mr Mitchell told them it was inoperable.

"When they went to another part of the property ... he started up the tractor and parked it in front of a livestock truck, to transfer stock to Cressy station," he said.

Mr Virs said Mr Mitchell had been asked in cross examination, "Is it justifiable in your view to starve a cow".

He said Mr Mitchell had paused for as long as 10 seconds before answering, "It depends on what your definition of starve is".

Mr Barns said Mr Mitchell now operated a profitable fencing business in Victoria, but still had debts of about $1 million in relation to the Redpa property.

Magistrate Reg Marron yesterday extended Mr Mitchell's bail until sentencing on September 18.


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Fire destroys historic tavern

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 14 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

The historic Campania Tavern was destroyed by fire early this morning. Picture: CAROLYN MEREDITH

AN early morning fire has destroyed the historic Campania Tavern in the state's south.

Fire crews were called to the Coal River Valley tavern just after at 4.30am to find the building in the centre of town ablaze.

Campania fire brigade chief Robin Howlett said crews used two fire hydrants and six hoses to try to contain the blaze in the 1877 weatherboard building.

Residents from two houses across the road from the hotel were evacuated as strong winds fanned thick black smoke through the tiny rural town.

Despite the best efforts of four brigades the building was gutted.

Hobart CIB detectives and fire investigators are on the scene.

The tavern was the scene of an armed robbery on Saturday night.

Police are refusing to draw a link between the two events.

"We are not closing our mind to any possibilities," Acting Inspector Craig Joel said.

The tavern was originally a railway hotel, built by P.J. Nichols and opened in June 1877 with Thomas Workman as the first licensee.

Local resident Alex Green said the building had been one of the last timber railway hotels, which were sadly disappearing from the landscape around Tasmania.

"It was an important part of the local development following on from of the main line railway which opened in 1876," Mr Green said.

"There was no town at Campania before the railway, just a farm. They built the railway station and the people followed.

"The hotel is an important part of Tasmanian history which has sadly gone up in smoke."


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Gay back in court

THE Crown has told a Supreme Court Judge today it is not pushing for a full-time jail sentence for former Gunns chairman John Gay.

John Eugene Gay, 70, of Clarence St, Launceston, pleaded guilty on August 5 to one count of insider trading.

Gay sold more than 3.4 million Gunns shares between December 2 and December 10, 2009, while in possession of inside knowledge from the company's October management report.

Justice David Porter heard sentencing submissions from prosecution and defence this morning.

Commonwealth prosecutor David Staehli, SC, said the unusual circumstances of the case meant the Crown accepted that a sentence not involving full-time custody may be justified.

Defence counsel Neil Clelland, SC, also submitted that punishment did not require a sentence of imprisonment.

He outlined Gay's history of prostate cancer and his "uncertain" prognosis to Justice Porter.

He said that after his cancer diagnosis Gay had resolved to sell shares to address his $14 million debt to the ANZ Bank.

The decision to sell was made before he saw the October management report which detailed the company's plummeting fortunes.

Mr Clelland said the defence was aware that Gunns divided public opinion.

He said the Gay family's pet dog had been poisoned and the family was threatened and vilified, especially during the pulp mill debate.

The court heard last week that Gay sold shares at 90 cents each, yielding $3.09 million, before they fell by 19 cents a share after the half-year result was released in February 2010.

The hearing continues this afternoon.


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State's north awash

RESIDENTS of the Launceston suburb of Newstead are being warned that their properties are at risk of flooding by rising river waters in coming hours.

Launceston City Council and State Emergency Service officers have begun doorknocking residences in Hart St and Birch Avenue, which have been threatened by the swollen North Esk River.

SES spokeswoman Mhairi Revie said at least 24 homes had been affected by flash flooding in Newnham, Newstead, Prospect, Evandale and Perth.

At least 18 businesses in the Kings Meadows shopping strip have been inundated -- the first time in eight years that flooding has been reported in that area.

Ms Revie said sandbagging and water pumping operations were being carried out in affected areas of Northern Tasmania.

She said Launceston's flood levy system, which is still under construction, was unlikely to be breached, but SES was watching closely for any escalation of rainfall or flooding.

A cold front brought overnight rainfalls of between 50mm and 80mm over Northern Catchments including the North Esk, South Esk and Meander.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued moderate flood alerts for those catchments.

In Tasmania's south, the Styx and Tyena Rivers are running high after rainfalls as high as 38mm over the Derwent River catchment areas, but flooding is not expected in the lower Derwent River.

Tasmania Police reports that most affected roads are passable at this stage. Some including the West Tamar Highway, Youl Rd and Winkleigh Rd, have flood-warning signs.


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FFT plans $9m soccer hub

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 13 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

The proposed layout of the soccer hub at Cambridge.

A $9 MILLION hub for senior, youth and junior soccer is being proposed for Cambridge Memorial Oval.

Football Federation Tasmania today announced the plan to add one full-sized natural turf pitch, two junior and five small-sided artificial turf pitches to existing small-sided pitches.

FFT said it will be seeking money from federal and state governments for the development.

"Our available infrastructure for junior and youth football is stretched, and the situation is especially poor in the South of the state," FFT president Sean Collins said.

-- by SIMEON THOMAS-WILSON


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Wind whistles across state

Carmen Shaw, 21, of Launceston, braving today's wild and windy conditions. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN

TASMANIA is being buffeted by strong wind, with gusts forecast to hit 100km/h later in the day.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning earlier today.

It said a low-pressure system would pass just to the south of Tasmania this afternoon, with an associated cold front to cross the state from the west this evening and overnight.

Damaging winds about 50 km/h, with peak gusts of 100 km/h, were forecast for the entire state

Speaking just before 2pm today, State Emergency Service regional duty officer Mark Dance said no calls had been received yet but conditions were expected to intensify.

He said householders should secure any loose items around their homes and keep well clear of any fallen trees or downed power lines.

Drivers are advised that wind gusts will make driving conditions dangerous this afternoon and evening on many roads around Tasmania.

For emergency help in floods and storms, ring the SES on 132 500.


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Call to reveal same-sex stance

FAMILY First Senate candidate Peter Madden has urged Liberal Party candidates, Andrew Nikolic (Bass) and Eric Hutchinson (Lyons) to reveal their feelings on same-sex marriage or his party's preferences will be going to their political opponents.

"The people of Tasmania deserve to know where candidates from both major parties stand concerning family values issues," Mr Madden said today.

"Though Family First is very focused on Tasmania's economic restoration, family values are essential to who we support.

"Our support will go to family values candidates, not to any specific party."

The calls came as Labor MPs Geoff Lyons (Bass) and Dick Adams (Lyons) told the Mercury they had not changed their position to vote against same-sex marriage legislation.

Mr Madden said Mr Adams and Mr Lyons had proven their support for family values.

"The overwhelming majority of Liberal candidates uphold family values and will be supported by Family First," Mr Madden said.

"However Brigadier Nikolic and Eric Hutchinson have not made it clear where they stand on this important issue and this is not acceptable.

"Consequently we are calling them out, to make their position clear in the next 24 hours, otherwise preference deals may be finalised."

The Liberal Party have been contacted for comment.


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Volcano land, week 2

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 12 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

Andrew was greeted by dancing villagers dressed in palm fronds when he arrived at Karapi in Papua New Guinea.

LIFE abounds five degrees below the equator. As week two of Volcano Land draws to an itching conclusion, I can report that the grid dimensions of the mesh inner of my tent are greater than the girth of the average-sized sand fly and the occasional flying ant.

Casual observers would think I've contracted adult measles, but that's the trade-off for the flying fish, saucepan sized butterfly and edible nuts that just fall willy nilly out of trees.

The folding sea kayak has transported me nearly 200km along the coast from Walindi to the foot of Mt Ulawun, a 2334m giant volcano.

Along the way, at Karapi village, I pulled in at the black sand beach to be mobbed by about 100 people. It was a local holiday to mark the death of a former provincial governor.

Dorothy Herman, a widowed teacher, put her hand up to house me for the night. As fast as the dry bags were pulled from beneath the skin of the kayak they were whisked away by eager hands. I was left with nothing to carry but the paddle.

Manuel Mauda led me away to the men's washing area of the creek and then on an extended tour of the village. It sprawls along the rough highway that continues to the Bialla oil palm plantations and beyond.

Manuel's great uncle came down from his pole frame house and explained that he'd been to Brisbane on joint training with the Australian Defence Force. As a PNG Defence Force member he'd been a soldier during the transition to independence in 1975. He receives about 60 Kina ($28) a month as a pension.

Young men dressed in palm fronds like the storybook Grug, come charging out of nowhere with whippy sticks to chase the young children from the galip trees, which are now bearing the tasty galip nut. It's a traditional game that part-delights and part-terrifies the children.

The next morning I depart with a ripening paw paw in the front hold and two drinking coconuts tied to the back. Just in time - the afternoon storm is rumbling in from the mountains to cool the itches.

Expedition Class is a program of the Bookend Trust. This project is supported by the Tasmanian Department of Education, Pennicott Foundation, UTAS SET, Mercury NIE, IMAS, Sea to Summit and friends. Follow Andrew's daily reports at www.expeditionclass.com


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Welcome U-Turn on funding

THE State Government has done a U-turn on its decision to scrap a highly successful youth justice program.

Designed to divert at-risk young people from crime, Mission Australia's U-Turn program is today back on track after receiving a $600,000 funding injection from the State Government.

Tasmania Police announced earlier this year it could no longer afford to fund the U-Turn program because of savage cuts to the police budget.

But Mission Australia state director Noel Mundy says the $600,000 funding will save the program, which has involved about 450 young people restoring and giving away 49 cars in the past decade.

"First and foremost we are celebrating about Mission Australia being able to help 40 young people every year into the future, keeping them out of the youth justice system," Mr Mundy said in a statement.

"We are celebrating being able to give these young people life skills, being able to make them job-ready in the car and other mechanical industries.

"It's not the $860,000 that was first cut from the Tasmania Police budget, but we are confident that continued corporate support from around Tasmania will assist us.

"We may have to cut our cloth a bit but we aim to provide the best program we can."

Mr Mundy said the next full U-Turn program would start in September.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury


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Candidate a rural voice

WELL-KNOWN Central Highlands agribusinessman Geoff Herbert says by running for election he will give voice to the rural sector.

From Bothwell, Mr Herbert's interests reach into the heartland of the highlands community and beyond. His business includes food, fuel, fishing and hunting supplies.

"Like the rural community I am fed up with the unnecessary bureaucratic red tape which goes government to government -- it's nonsense and is getting worse. This has inspired me to run," Mr Herbert said.

About six weeks ago he decided to stand for Katter's Australian Party in the Senate.

The Central Highlands lost $12 million of retail value when the forest industry closed.

"The state has 200,000 hectares of plantation timber with farmers left out to dry, they are not getting any answers.

"The whole industry has disappeared, and then you look at what the district got out of the $100 million peace deal money, absolutely nothing."

High on the agenda is freight equalisation, funding to complete the Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme and why the NBN roll out has come to grinding stop.

He said the community had gone to government seeking answers about the key issues plus sealing the Highland Lakes Highway, which has tourism potential.

"We have been fobbed off. People in the country are not treated fairly, and governments just want us to go away," Mr Herbert said.

Katter's Australian Party hopes to run two candidates in the Senate, with party leader Bob Katter in Tasmania next week.


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Community's heart beats on

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 11 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

TUCKED away in suburbs across the state, Tasmania's network of 34 neighbourhood houses are on the front line of the state's financial crisis.

Most of the houses are under increasing pressure to meet demand and staff say promised extra funding can't come soon enough.

Risdon Vale's Neighbourhood Centre is a typical example of the many ageing, cash-strapped houses that are still managing to make a positive impact in their community.

Centre co-ordinator Ann Harrison is the only full-time paid staff member at the centre.

The centre's annual budget from the Department of Health and Human Services is about $112,000 a year.

More funding is sourced from a patchwork of grants and the houses rely heavily on a pool of volunteers.

The humble brown brick house next to the Risdon Vale shopping area was opened in 1985.

"Because of the increased demand now on neighbourhood houses and the cost of living pressures we're doing much more and there's just not enough space," Mrs Harrison said.

Young mum Danielle Clifford, of West Moonah, grew up in Risdon Vale. Her parents still live there and she attended playgroup at the community centre when she was a child.

Now she brings her own son Riley, 1, to playgroup and is learning new skills by volunteering at the centre.

"It gets us all together, and we're getting things organised and getting things done," Ms Clifford said.

Mrs Harrison said the centre was an empowering place for young mothers.

"Sometimes the young ones have babies and they become isolated at home and they get lost. When they are young they want to have a baby and then they realise it's not the be-all and end-all ... with everything that they do here, they are learning skills and it gives them confidence and self esteem," she said.

With charities buckling under rising demand, neighbourhood houses are now providing food aid daily. Staff also connect locals with financial counsellors and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Cooking classes are offered to local mums who struggle to afford healthy food and who lack a sound knowledge of cooking and nutrition.

Mrs Harrison said the Federal Government's decision to transfer some single mums from the single parenting payment to Newstart was having a big impact at Risdon Vale.

"Some [single mums] have lost $100 per fortnight and that's their food money. I don't think things are going to get any easier. Kids have poor diets in these high-needs communities," Mrs Harrison said.

As one of the few winners from this year's State Budget, neighbourhood houses will be making the most of every cent.

A total of $4 million will be allocated over the next two years to pay for infrastructure upgrades across Tasmania's 34 neighbourhood houses.

In addition, $580,000 has been provided for preventative health programs to be run through the houses.

Mrs Harrison said the Tasmanian Association of Community Houses had been lobbying the Government and MPs for extra money for some time.

"They know it's money well spent, we save the government a lot of money through the work we do, it's the community doing work to help the community."

For more information, go to www.tach.asn.au

blair.richards@news.com.au


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Forestry funding in balance

AS the fate of the final $100 million of the $420 million Tasmanian Forestry Agreement hangs in the balance, Deputy Premier Bryan Green has launched a blistering attack on his Liberal Party opponents, describing their plans to thwart the deal as the "biggest act of political bastardry in Tasmania's history".

The Liberals, for their part, say they will do nothing to stop the cash from flowing, saying it is only Labor that has made the funding conditional.

Where the money goes

Money promised by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last month is contingent on the state's Upper House giving its final blessing to the forest peace deal.

The ongoing crisis in forestry has caused the state's biggest company -- Gunns -- to go belly-up and Forestry Tasmania to teeter on the brink of insolvency.

Mr Green said the federal money was vital to building a post-forestry economic future for timber communities.

"Funding from the Tasmanian Forest Agreement is extremely important for Tasmania's economy and the people who have been impacted by the downturn in the forest industry," he said.

"The TFA is about helping the industry to restructure, for businesses to transition and to support forestry workers and communities through these difficult times."

Mr Green has hotly denied repeated accusations from the State Opposition that the money is payment to shut the forest industry down.

"The Liberals have the one-liners and policy slogans but no answers. It is the Liberals who pose the biggest threat to the forest industry and money flowing from the TFA," Mr Green said.

"If the Liberals succeed, it would be the biggest act of political bastardry in Tasmania's history."

The state Liberal Party has long vowed to tear up the forest peace deal should it win office at the next state election, expected in March next year.

That pledge would mean that forests placed in reserves would again be open for logging.

Liberal MP Peter Gutwein condemned the conditional nature of the forestry funding.

"Tasmania deserves its fair share of regional development money to grow industries across the state," he said.

"This money should not be linked to shutting down forestry.

"We don't support paying to shut down the forestry industry, close businesses and buy out jobs."

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told ABC radio the forestry funds would still flow if the Liberals won the federal election.

"What I said was that I was not going to begrudge hard-pressed businesses the federal grant that they were recently given by Mr Rudd," he said.

"I also said that as far as I am concerned, Commonwealth money spent in Tasmania should be to keep industries going and to boost industries, not to close them down.

"But those grants that were announced by the Commonwealth a few weeks ago, they will be honoured."

david.killick@news.com.au


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Submarine on a vital mission

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 10 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

Dr Alex Forrest with the autonomous underwater vehicle at the AMC. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN

DRIVING the Australian Maritime College's new torpedo-like toy is as easy as sitting on a wharf.

Alex Forrest, a lecturer at AMC and handler of the $800,000 UBC-Galvia autonomous underwater vehicle, said the vessel was a "semi-intelligent machine".

It was capable of looking after itself under water, Dr Forrest said.

Pre-loaded instructions provide the submarine with the locations, depths and speeds it needs to complete a mission.

It carries an arsenal of cameras, sonars and environmental sensors to guide it and survey large tracts of water column and seabed.

"We sit on the dock and it tries to achieve its mission," Dr Forrest said.

When finished, or if it runs into difficulty, the submarine rises to the surface and notifies supervisors of its location by text message.

The submarine was delivered to AMC, part of the University of Tasmania, two weeks ago from Canada's University of British Columbia -- the former stamping ground of Canadian-born Dr Forrest.

It is headed for the east coast to survey the extent of barren seabed areas created by the centrostephanus sea urchin pest. It will later survey eastern waters to look for the algae responsible for the toxic blooms which last year caused shellfish farm closures.

bruce.mounster@news.com.au


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Welfare agencies overrun

TASMANIA'S welfare and charity operators are overwhelmed with demand as more Tasmanians are pushed into poverty.

The need is so great agencies are turning people away.

Paying the power bill or even just putting food on the table is becoming a challenge for a growing a number of Tasmanians -- new data showing more than 21,000 people in the state are out of work.

Hobart City Mission has reported a 43 per cent increase in demand.

"The situation is dire. We have had to turn people away, which we have never had to do before," spokeswoman Sharn Hitchins said.

A national poverty survey last October, found up to 25 per cent of Tasmanians live in poverty or are on the brink.

Tasmanian Council of Social Service chief executive Tony Reidy said the effect of the unemployment and low employment rates combined with increased cost of living was worse than he had experienced in more than 30 years in the community welfare sector.

The cost of water, electricity and sewerage was beyond the means of thousands of Tasmanians, he said.

Hobart City Mission's crisis was exacerbated by a 20 per cent decrease in funding.

"The money is being channelled elsewhere by governments. We are not seeing as much cash but more goods, which was great but the people we are seeing need help to buy food," Mrs Hitchins said.

The Salvation Army also is turning away people in need.

"We have had a 30 per cent increase in the last financial year," spokesman Captain Craig Wood said.

alice.claridge@news.com.au


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