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Track to the future

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 16 Februari 2013 | 19.55

Bob Brown addresses the light rail forum held at MONA yesterday, which won a State Government commitment to push for a Glenorchy link. Pictures: SAM ROSEWARNE

THE State Government will create a high-powered taskforce to push the case for a light rail link through the city's northern suburbs.

Sustainable Transport Minister Nick McKim yesterday told a forum of backers gathered at MONA he had ordered a new business case for the link, which he wants to put before the Federal Government's funding process by May.

But in a letter to the meeting, Mr McKim said he would be pushing for a Hobart to Glenorchy link, rather than the proposed Hobart to Bridgewater line.

Mr McKim said shortening the route would increase the cost-to-benefit ratio, which would make it easier to attract critical federal finding.

Participants at yesterday's forum released a joint statement saying light rail had the potential to transform the city and revitalise real estate development, including housing in the northern suburbs, and improve transport options along the corridor.

A delegation is expected to visit Canberra in mid-March to lobby for funding for the project.

Ben Johnston, from the Hobart Northern Suburbs Rail Action Group, believes it will cost $100 million to convert the existing rail corridor to be able to take passengers from Bridgewater to Hobart in under half an hour.

"At the moment your options are bus or car and it's slow, uncomfortable and inefficient," he said.

The state's three major political parties, as well as Denison independent Andrew Wilkie and his Labor and Green opponents at the upcoming federal action, have backed the proposal.

Mr Wilkie said the availability of the rail line gave Hobart the chance to develop a new mass transit system.

"If we do not take this opportunity, the line will quickly deteriorate and the corridor soon disappear, even though it's the obvious route for a light rail system which would take the pressure off the road network, kick start an urban renewal and connect the communities and facilities along the length of the electorate in a clean and affordable manner," Mr Wilkie said.

Liberal party sustainable transport spokesman Matt Groom said the government had dragged its feet on getting the project off the drawing board.

"We consider this to be an important project, it's one which the government needs to make sure it properly assesses," Mr Groom said.

"We are committed to ensuring the northern suburbs have better public transport options".

Dr Gary Glazebrook, from the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology in Sydney, said the development had the potential to increase land values along the route.

"The experience from around the world is that light rail projects cause an uplift in land values along the land corridors."


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Time for another party

HOBART sizzles this weekend with a mid-summer fiesta of singing, dancing, music, and films in the streets -- and a run across the Tasman Bridge.

Events include Festa Italia for Italian food and wine lovers, the Clarence Jazz Festival for jazz aficionados, Tropfest for film buffs, the Hobart Flamenco Festival for students of dance and music and the B&E Run The Bridge for those who want to pull on the running shoes.

Perfect weather conditions are forecast on a weekend where city dwellers can venture out to the Bushy Park Show or the Kempton Festival.

The B&E Hobart Run The Bridge

IT'S not too late to register for tomorrow's race.

Last year's run attracted more than 2100 participants including elite runners, joggers, walkers and people of all ages and fitness levels.

The course takes in some of Hobart's notable landmarks starting at Bellerive Oval, travelling through Bellerive and Clarence, then across the Tasman Bridge to Salamanca.

Anyone can compete and run 2km, 5km or 10km in the road race.

All children under the age of 18 must be entered by their guardian.

The run starts at 9am. Entry is $17.50. Enter online at www.hobartrunthebridge.com.au

The Kempton Festival

Join the fun of the fair with yummy food and wine, plenty of stalls, rides and music in the middle of Kempton Recreational Showground tomorrow.

Half of the gate proceeds and fundraising events will go to the Tasmanian Bushfire Appeal.

There is a free bus for children and their families from the Tasman Peninsula to attend as guests.

The Kempton Sheep Races will be run for the first time with finalists vying for the Kempton Cup.

Former local Gloria Martens will have copies of her book, The Families of a Colonial Coaching Inn, and $5 from every sale will go to the appeal.

Gates open at 9am. Adult entry $2, children free.

The Bushy Park Show

The show is one of the oldest continuously running shows in Australia.

Started in 1865 as a garden show, it now attracts people from all over southern Tasmania as an authentic country show in an idyllic setting next to the Styx River.

Woodchopping, equestrian events, cattle and sheep showing, handler contests, a ute competition and sheep dog trials are included, as well as arts, crafts and homemade preserves and jams.

Open at 9am. Adult entry $6, children $3.

Clarence Jazz Festival

Held in beautiful outdoor, riverside and historic locations, the week long Clarence Jazz Festival is one of Tasmania's most popular music events.

It is set in parks and gardens on the Eastern Shore and culminates in three days and nights of concerts on the Bellerive Boardwalk.

There's fresh Tasmanian food and bars serving local wines and drinks.

The intimate and unique atmosphere of the Jazz Lounge in the old Rosny Barn is a confirmed favourite.

All outdoor concerts are free but some concerts in the Jazz Lounge are ticketed.

It starts tomorrow at the Cremorne Beach reserve from 6-8pm with two swing jazz bands, bar and barbecue.

Festa Italia

WHEN the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie you know it is Festa Italia time in North Hobart.

Large crowds are expected at Festa Italia this year to see headline act -- the famous Italian flag throwers from Faenza.

Committee secretary Carmel Brazendale said the six-strong team, backed by an eight-piece brass band, won the recent flag throwing tournament in Italy.

The flag throwers will provide a taste of the ancient tradition on the lawns at Parliament House today at 11am.

"They are unbelievable," Mrs Brazendale said.

"They throw flags on big poles really high and then catch them."

Italian pizza, pasta, seafood, cakes, biscotti, polenta, coffee, wine, beer, soft drink and gelato will be sold from stalls on Federal St and in the grounds of the Australian Italian Club.

Other highlights this year will include traditional dancing, music and last year's big hit -- frittelle (Italian doughnuts).

Frittelle are small pieces of pizza dough cooked in hot oil and dusted with icing sugar, sugar, Italian wine syrup and honey.

There will also be spaghetti and watermelon-eating competitions for children and adults.

The festival will be held from 11am-5pm.

Entry is free.


A BALMY evening is forecast for Tropfest film festival tomorrow night, unlike last year when 2500 film lovers sat in the rain.

The 16 finalist Tropfest films will be shown on a screen four times the size of the model used in 2012.

The finalist films will screen live across Australia to tens of thousands of people.

Hobart's 30m2 screen will be set up in the chessboard area of Salamanca Square.

Tropfest starts at 7pm with the first finalist film broadcast at 8pm.

The award ceremony starts at 10.30pm and there is an audience prize of a trip for two to Movie World on the Gold Coast, with all flights, transfers and accommodation for four nights and entry included.

TasIVF are the Tropfest screening sponsors and entry is free.

See tomorrow's Sunday Tasmanian for the full running order.

Hobart Flamenco Festival

PASSIONATE flamenco comes to town with two shows by Flamenco Australia at the Peacock Theatre at 8pm today and 6pm tomorrow.

Flamenco percussion and dancing workshops will be held today and tomorrow at the Salamanca Arts Centre and there is a limited number of free tickets for children affected by bushfires. A Spanish for Kids course will be held from 2.30-3.30pm on both days.

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Tropical species moving in

DIVERS and fishermen along Tasmania's East Coast have started to find green rock lobsters.

Until recently Tasmania's rock lobster population has always been the red-coloured southern rock lobster species.

It appears that rapidly warming waters off Tasmania's East Coast have enabled members of the green-coloured eastern rock lobster species to muscle in.

University of Tasmania Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) senior research fellow Greta Pecl said the green lobsters had been visiting Tasmanian waters for some years.

But Redmap, an IMAS initiative that invites the public to report and send in photos of unusual marine life sightings, last year turned up the first evidence that the eastern lobsters had made Tasmania's East Coast seabeds their home.

A green lobster community with at least 35 individuals of various ages was found occupying an East Coast den.

They, along with the pest centrostephanus rodgersii sea urchin species, are among the first in a new wave of emigrants to Tasmania, consistent with climate change predictions.

Dr Pecl and colleague Neil Holbrook said more scientific study would be needed before it was proven that climate change had a hand in such colonisation.

They say it is beyond doubt that the East Australian Current has extended south by about 350km during the past 50 years to reach Tasmanian waters.

The powerful current pushes seawater south from the tropics at speeds of 5km/h. Its southerly extension has created one of the world's fastest-warming ocean hot spots along Tasmania's East Coast.

The current was made famous in the animated film Finding Nemo. It helped the characters Marlin and Dory to complete their long swim south, from the tropics to Sydney Harbour, where they were reunited with the wayward Nemo.

In real life, the current has enabled fish such as marlin, yellow-tailed kingfish, snapper, yellowfin tuna and dolphin fish to swim all the way to Tasmania.

But most of those fish have been strays, or visitors. Their species haven't yet made a permanent move to Tasmania.

Copula Sivickisi, a close relative of the box jellyfish, appears to be the state's most recently discovered visitor. A single jellyfish was last month dropped off alive at the CSIRO in Hobart.

Dr Pecl said there was also growing evidence that the gloomy octopus were setting up homes in Tasmanian waters.

The East Australian Current is providing East Coast divers, fishers, as well as armchair enthusiasts who visit the Redmap website, with a "preview trailer" on what climate change could bring to Tasmania.

Also beyond doubt, says Nathan Bindoff, an IMAS research program leader and a Climate Futures for Tasmania project author, is the fact that climate change exists.

Professor Bindoff said that since the 1960s temperatures had been rising at about 0.1 of a degree a decade, and rising greenhouse gas levels could account for all of that.

He said the warming rate was forecast to accelerate, to make Tasmania as much as three degrees warmer by the end of the century.

Will there be invasion forces of land-based insect, bird and mammal species lined up along the Victorian coastline to stage D-day-style assaults on Tasmania as the state warms?

At this stage scientists have identified just a few potentially hostile invaders. An obvious candidate is fruit fly, which could stow away in incoming fresh food or vegetable matter.

Fruit fly has the potential to wipe millions of dollars off the value of Tasmanian fruit industries simply by landing here.

"There are still some years before fruit fly can settle permanently in Tasmania," Prof Bindoff said. "They could land here, but would be unable to get through the cold winters."

Models used by the Framework for Action on Climate Change have mapped out an area of Tasmania's far North-East that could support fruit fly during some winters starting about 2036.

The model shows that semi-permanent zone spreading south and west along the coast during the century's second half, and by 2071 the far North-East and Flinders Island could become permanently fruit fly-friendly.

Prof Bindoff said termites were another potential -- and unwanted -- emigrant later this century.

University of Tasmania School of Zoology professor Chris Johnson said many of the exotic species with the greatest potential to make their mark on Tasmanian landscapes as climate change progressed could have already arrived.

Prof Johnson said the change that Tasmanians would probably notice most, as the state's climate warmed, would be an increased frequency of extremely hot days, and associated catastrophic fire risks.

He said there were no guarantees that habitats such as wet eucalypt forests could revert back to their original states as fire pressure increased.

Prof Johnson said there could be opportunities for exotic animals such as deer to trample or eat down regrowth, which could radically change the look and feel of the forest that grows back.

He said increased disturbance could also favour animals such as feral cats and rodents at the expense of native marsupials.

Prof Johnson said exactly how landscapes, and the animals within, would respond to increased fire as well as rain and flooding pressure was impossible to predict without studies and models, but there was a high probability that a lot of Tasmania's natural vegetation types could be permanently changed.

"It is hard to see how something like that is not going to happen," he said.

Aedes camptorhynchus is another little-known critter already in Tasmania with the potential to attract a lot more attention in the long term.

It is a mosquito species that carries the Ross River virus.

Climate change models foreshadow more extreme rain events, associated with increased evaporation from oceans.

In coastal Tasmania such soakings could be favourable to the mosquitoes. It could create ideal conditions for virus spread, if the mosquitoes are a short flying distance away from areas populated by people and native animals which act as virus reservoirs.

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Inside the pod in the sky

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 15 Februari 2013 | 19.55

TOP SIGHT: The city view from one of the bedroom windows. Picture Leigh Winburn

ROOFTOP celebrations were the inspiration for tourism entrepreneur Brett Torossi's latest venture.

The Mercury had an exclusive preview of Hobart's Avalon City Retreat, ahead of the official opening today by federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson.

The pod was built in a warehouse and lifted by crane into position on top of a seven-storey Macquarie St office block last month.

"I used to sit on this roof on a chair on New Year's Eve and that's how I learnt to love the view," Ms Torossi said.

She is in the running for Best Unique Accommodation at the Australian Tourism Awards tonight, for her property Rocky Hills Retreat in Swansea.

She worked with award-winning architect Craig Rosevear on the East Coast development and revived the partnership for her latest project.

"When we did Avalon (Retreat on the East Coast) it kind of pioneered top-end accommodation in Tasmania," Ms Torossi said.

"People said we were crazy for charging $500 a night.

"Now Tasmania has places like the Henry Jones Art Hotel, the Islington (Hotel) and Saffire, and a reputation for top-end accommodation."

The $800-a-night city retreat has almost 360 degree views. The entire front wall is floor-to-ceiling glass with a full-length veranda overlooking St David's Park and Hobart's waterfront.

It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms -- one with a custom-made Huon Pine bathtub, and a panoramic outlook of the southern end of Mt Wellington, South Hobart and Tolmans Hill from one room, with a large northern deck taking in the CBD and beyond.

There's a 10-seater table and fully stocked custom-made kitchen.

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Push for light rail link

TRACK TO THE FUTURE: A light rail service, such as the one through Sydney's Haymarket area, pictured, could make Hobart feel more like a big city.

A GROWING list of heavyweights is throwing support behind a northern suburbs light rail development.

Transport experts, business and community groups and politicians will take part in a roundtable discussion today to look at ways of funding the project.

They say a light rail link with Hobart's CBD will boost the economy by generating investment and development opportunities in the northern suburbs.

One of the state's leading investors, MONA owner David Walsh, is also throwing his support behind the proposal.

While a stop at MONA is proposed for the railway, Mr Walsh said his support for the project was a matter of social justice.

He wants the line to extend from the Hobart CBD to Bridgewater and Gagebrook, which he said were "rights-denied" communities with limited access to city services.

Mr Walsh said it took an hour to travel by bus from the far northern suburbs to the CBD, which was too long.

He said the light rail project would reduce travel times and give residents in the area which has about 20 per cent unemployment a greater chance to find work.

Consultants who have worked on light rail projects around the country will speak with about 40 locals, including representatives from Glenorchy and Hobart councils, the Derwent Entertainment Centre, Northgate shopping centre, transport union, UTAS, RACT, commerce and tourism groups, architecture firms and disability advocates.

Mr Walsh said there had been major growth in northern suburbs along the rail line in recent years, which would underpin the project's success.

He said it would also take pressure off the congested Brooker Highway and decrease the need for costly upgrades, while reducing the need for inner-city parking.

"A working railway is a thing that makes a city feel like a city," he said.

Greens Denison candidate Anna Reynolds and Dr Bob Brown organised today's roundtable meeting, which will be held at MONA.

"We expect from this meeting that a delegation will be formed to lobby for funds for this project in Canberra and locally," Ms Reynolds said.

Dr Garry Glazebrook, from Sydney's Institute of Sustainable Futures, will explain about how light rail developments have benefited Sydney, Canberra and the Gold Coast.

He said the northern suburbs project could push up real estate prices along the rail corridor by 15 to 20 per cent.

Dr Glazebrook said the railway could transport several thousand people every hourand spur affordable housing, business and tourism developments along the line.

It would also connect entertainment venues and tourist spots, such as the Botanical Gardens, Derwent Entertainment Centre and MONA. Dr Glazebrook said the railway could be delivered in stages with popularity increasing as new sections came online.

He expected the project to be relatively affordable.

"Given the corridor already exists, it's a relatively low-cost exercise. It's a matter of [developing] stations, buying trains and provide the necessary facilities," he said.


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Cock-a-doodle stew

MONA chefs want to stop roosters from being dumped on roadsides -- by turning them into lunch.

Mona Market (MoMa) food curator Michelle Crawford said the move would stop unwanted roosters dying from dehydration or dog attacks.

MoMa stallholder Stuart Addison hoped it would challenge people to think about food production.

Mr Addison will hold a demonstration class at the markets on February 23, on how to clean and pluck the roosters, before making a coq au vin with Moorilla Pinot Noir.

"You almost want them [customers] to find it macabre, to encourage them to think about their relationship with food," he said. "I think people are so removed from their food and where it comes from."

A sign was recently erected on the Southern Outlet at a known dumping spot near Kingston, telling people to take their unwanted roosters to MONA instead.

MoMa curator Kirsha Kaechele said the move fitted with the market's theme "Eat the Problem", which focused on foods made with invasive species such as sea urchin roe, rabbits and starfish.

"I can't help but be suspicious that the rooster owners are releasing their creatures on the way to Coles, where they will buy gross, factory-farmed chicken," she said.

But anti-battery hen campaigner Pam Clarke said dumped roosters, including those on the Southern Outlet, often had happy lives.

"[MONA] are just looking for a bit of cheap publicity," she said.

Brightside Sanctuary founder Emma Haswell said there was an unwanted rooster problem in Tasmania due to the growing number of people who kept chickens to get eggs.

But she wasn't convinced MONA had the right solution.

"It's just bizarre," she said.

Roosters can be dropped at MONA after 10.30am on Saturdays from February 23 until the end of March.


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Our world-beating wave rider

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 14 Februari 2013 | 19.55

TASMANIAN surfer Marti Paradisis has beaten a daredevil line-up to win Surfing Life's Oakley Big Wave Awards.

His breathtaking ride off Pedra Branca rock, off South-East Cape, also earned prizes for Andrew Chisholm,who photographed the feat, and Mikey Brennan, who filmed it.

The wave was deemed the biggest to be ridden in Australasian waters in the past year and earned Paradisis $20,000.

"It's a huge thrill.

I'm so stoked to be able to represent the (Tasmanian) crew up here.

I wouldn't get to ride waves like this without a lot of help so this isn't just for me," Paradisis said.

He edged out fellow Tasmanian Danny Griffith,who also rode at Pedra Branca that day.

The other Tasmanian finalist was Tyler Hollmer-Cross for his Shipstern Bluff wave.

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Timber workers face log jam

Contractors Nick Bennetto, left, and Jason Weller inspect the logs being stored at the Port of Burnie that have now split. Picture: CHRIS KIDD

THOUSANDS of tonnes of logs, including blackwood, myrtle and sassafras, have been left to split on the Burnie wharf for up to 18 months as frustrated Tasmanian timber merchants clamour for supplies.

Hobart contractor Nick Bennetto, Launceston furniture maker Ken Pugh and Burnie contractor Jason Weller say they desperately wanted to buy some of the Forestry Tasmania timber but their offers were refused.

Mr Weller said he offered five times the rate Forestry Tasmania charged a Smithton sawmill for the logs and he could take 40-50 cubic metres a month.

The 15,000 tonnes of logs are due to be exported to China next week where they will be processed into pulp and veneer products.

Forestry Tasmania would not say how much the Chinese customer had paid for the timber.

Mr Weller, who has customers in the US and Japan, said he could only access timber at Island Speciality Timber yards.

He said that product was far inferior to the logs in Burnie.

"We are struggling to get enough for our customers, who make guitars, boardroom tables and other high-end goods," Mr Weller said.

"Why would Forestry Tasmania rather sell at a loss to China than to locals?" Mr Bennetto said.

Forestry Tasmania forest manager Craig Butt said the logs had been stockpiled in the yard because they carried some kind of defect.

Mr Butt said the contractors who inspected the log stockpile yesterday had not made any formal approaches to buy the logs.

Greens forestry spokesman Kim Booth said Forestry Tasmania was wasting public money while speciality timber merchants could not fill customer demand.


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New push for sea highway

Bass Strait forces an extra impost on travel and export that no other state has to deal with. Image: Google Maps

A 20-YEAR fight to have Bass Strait treated as part of the national highway system will play out on the national stage next month.

Denison Independent MP Andrew Wilkie will present a motion to Federal Parliament on March 18 for the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation scheme to be extended to include all people, freight and trade.

Veteran sea highway campaigner Peter Brohier said the cost of extending the scheme was "trivial" compared with the billions spent on interstate road links.

Mr Brohier said the parliamentary motion was a significant step forward and put the sea highway debate in the context of the federation of colonies and the national economy.

Mr Brohier said Bass Strait was Commonwealth water and the cost of the initiative should not be borne by any one state.

The Australian Greens say they will now submit a proposal to the Parliamentary Budget Office to estimate the costs of extending the TFE scheme.

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the costs associated with Bass Strait freight had plagued Tasmania since before federation and successive state and federal programs had failed to provide a sustainable long-term solution, such as a self-funding model.

The Bass Strait freight equalisation scheme cost taxpayers more than $100 million last year alone.

If that continued the bill for freight subsidies would top $1 billion dollars during the next decade, Mr Whish-Wilson said.

Foot passengers, passengers in vehicles, some vehicles, southbound consumables and international exports from Tasmania are not covered by the existing equalisation scheme.

Mr Wilkie's formal notice of motion was seconded by Queensland Independent Bob Katter.

It includes a call for Canberra to acknowledge that transport across Bass Strait is currently disproportionately expensive and was a disincentive to the movement of both people and freight.

The proposed extension of the TFE scheme would include the affordable movement of all trade intended for both domestic and international import and export.

Mr Brohier, who is based in Melbourne, first started his campaign for transport justice for Tasmania in 1992.

"The existing federal Bass Strait equalisation schemes are not delivering comprehensive equalisations or the equivalent of even the worst road in Australia," he said yesterday.

Mr Brohier said a new sea highway would give Tasmania the ability to more effectively contribute to the Commonwealth.

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Safe return for missing woman

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 13 Februari 2013 | 19.55

POLICE found a missing 66-year-old Blackmans Bay woman alive and well last night several hours after she was last seen.

The woman, identified only as Helen, suffered from dementia, police said, and was reported missing after last being seen at 5.30pm.

She was found before 11pm at Blackmans Bay.

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Students back at burnt school

The Dunalley Primary School was razed on January 4 as the devastating bushfires tore through the region. Picture: TOBY ZERNA

THIS morning the bushfire-ravaged community of Dunalley made a major step on the road to recovery as children returned to the rebuilt local primary school.

A temporary school has been rebuilt on the site of the former school, which was destroyed in the January 4 bushfires. The school has been rebuilt in just four weeks with construction crews working around the clock.

Elizabeth Knox from the school association said parents had gathered for a morning tea to celebrate the occasion. She said there was a sense of joy at the school's reopening.

"It's been a very important part of the recovery process for the community to see the school being rebuilt," she said. "It's just a real relief that things are back on track."

Volunteers have played a significant role in ensuring the school has been ready to receive students, by collecting and distributing learning materials and other school essentials.

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Man denies sexual assaults

A DERWENT Valley man has denied raping a woman and indecently assaulting a woman and a child in a home at New Norfolk last year.

The 63-year-old man -- who cannot be named for legal reasons -- is accused of rape and two counts of indecent assault.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

The Supreme Court in Hobart today heard the alleged incidents happened after a night of drinking at the home on January 21 last year.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates SC told the jury that the two women, the girl and a young boy were sleeping in a room at the house.

He said the accused man entered the room and touched one of the women on the breast and indecently assaulted the 13-year-old girl.

After they left he then raped a 35-year-old woman on a bunk nearby, he said.

During the attack, the man allegedly said "Third time lucky" to the woman, Mr Coates said.

In his opening address, defence lawyer Steve Chopping said his client denied all of the allegations.

He said his client admitted having intercourse with the second woman, who he said had consented.

The trial, before Justice Shan Tennent, is expected to continue for three days.


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Inquiry hears of altercation

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 12 Februari 2013 | 19.55

WITNESSES have told a coronial inquest how Westbury man Nicholas Whiteley had been chased around his home by a police officer before he was shot in November 2010.

The Launceston inquest before Coroner Robert Pearce heard that Longford Constable Ian Blake had been at the residence to supervise the removal of property belonging to Mr Whiteley's former partner Sheena Button.

Ms Button's mother Karen Button, who had arrived at the property with her daughter, told the inquest that the situation escalated after Constable Blake attempted to open a front gate.

Mr Whiteley forcefully pushed back the gate.

Mrs Button said Mr Whiteley also threw a punch.

Mrs Button said Constable Blake had responded with capsicum spray and had told Mr Whiteley "kneel down, you are under arrest".

Mr Whiteley had been walking away from Constable Blake up a driveway when Constable Blake hit him three times with a baton.

She said Constable Blake had followed Mr Whiteley around the house about three times, and that Mr Whiteley had appeared increasingly angry.

Mrs Button said the final confrontation, which took place inside the home, involved extremely loud banging and yelling for about three minutes followed by a gun shot.

She said Constable Blake had later staggered out, his head covered with blood, and had collapsed over a gate.

The inquest also heard from a GP that Mr Whiteley had shown symptoms consistent with depression and anxiety shortly before the incident.

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Man pleads guilty to assaults

A YOUNG father-of-two was affected by drugs when he stabbed, punched, stomped on and choked his partner and bashed her with a baseball bat in repeated attack over a number of days, the Supreme Court has heard.

Michael Jason Hinds, 20, of Rokeby, today pleaded guilty to four counts of assault, two counts of wounding and one of attempted wounding.

Crown Prosecutor Allison Shand told the court the charges related to a series of attacks by Hinds on his partner at their home in September last year.

The court heard that early on September 1 Hinds was angry about his welfare payments being cut off.

He picked up a knife and threw it at his partner, hitting her above the knee.

Shortly afterwards he attacked her with a metal baseball bat, striking her 10 times in the shins and subsequently hitting her in the genitals.

Later the same day he punched the young woman repeatedly in the face because she had told a neighbour about the abuse.

He started hitting her in the arms and back with the baseball bat and threatened to stab her with scissors if she tried to fend off the blows.

When she did, he stabbed her in the left thigh and tried to stab her in the left shoulder, the court heard

Hinds called her a "dirty, cheating slut" and pushed her into a wall and tried to strangle her before telling her he was going to kill everyone she loved.

A few days later, after accusing the woman of cheating, Hinds pushed her head into a brick wall repeatedly, threw her on a bed, choked, punched and stomped on her before again attacking her with a baseball bat.

Ms Shand said the woman suffered significant bruising and two stab wounds from the assaults.

Defence lawyer Amber Mignot said her client had an unstable upbringing and had started smoking cannabis at the age of nine, drinking at 11 and had used "all manner of drugs" since.

She said at the time of the offences he was under the influence of ice and amphetamines which made him paranoid and aggressive.

He had stopped taking drugs since going into jail, she said.

Justice Shan Tennent will sentence Hinds on February 22.


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Ringleader's theft competition

A YOUNG man went on a car stealing spree to demonstrate to a friend he was a better thief, the Supreme Court has heard.

Shayden James Cohen, 18, of Moonah, pleaded guilty to 26 charges including multiple counts of car theft, unlawfully setting fire to property, stealing and driving while disqualified.

Crown Prosecutor Yolanda Prenc said Cohen drove a stolen bobcat into a shed at Southern Waste Solutions at Derwent Park in March last year causing $15,000 worth of damage.

He then stole a front-end loader and drove it into a cribroom, causing $40,000 worth of damage.

Cohen was the ringleader of a quartet of youths who went on a spree stealing and torching cars in July last year.

Over the course of a single night, the youths stole cars from Hobart, Claremont, New Town, Glebe, Moonah and Lenah Valley, stealing from some and setting fire to those they were able to drive away.

When arrested on July 19, Cohen admitted being "the boss" of the gang and admitted all of the offences.

He said he had been in a competition with one of the other men to demonstrate he was a better thief.

Defence lawyer Tim Mills said his client's offending was largely as a result of alcohol and boredom.

Justice Shan Tennent will sentence Cohen on February 22.

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Cup fans vanish in the crowds

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 11 Februari 2013 | 19.55

Fashions on the field finalists line up for judging. Pictures: RICHARD JUPE

A SIGNIFICANTLY reduced racetrack crowd, down 5000 on last year's Hobart Cup, has been blamed on a weekend "crowded" with events.

Tasmanian Racing Club chief executive Mike Wisby said while 7000 people enjoyed the day, it was disappointing more people did not attend.

"The weekend was just crowded with activity," he said, referring to the Wooden Boat Festival, Royal Hobart Regatta, Wrest Point 40th birthday celebrations and Festivale in Launceston.

"It's ridiculous to have so much on one weekend and then next weekend there's nothing on," he said.

Fashion feast: Hobart Cup crowds

Mr Wisby said people who flew down for the Cup had trouble securing accommodation or they would have stayed longer.

Victorian horse Hurdy Gurdy Man took out the Hobart Cup in a thrilling finish, just beating local favourites Geegees Blackflash and The Cleaner.

Strong winds in the afternoon wreaked havoc with hats and fascinators.

However, as the main race got under way, the winds calmed to provide perfect racing conditions.

Fashions on the Field was dominated by tribal prints, vintage looks and bright colours.

Alex Hecker, of Geelong, won the day with her tribal print frock and elaborate headpiece.

"I love tribal print so I thought I'd go for something like that, and being summer I wanted something bright," she said.

"My hat is by Rebecca Share Millinery who won the Oaks Day millinery award. I just wanted something to match the dress, something unique."

Sportsman-turned-model, Myer ambassador and Fashions on the Field judge Kris Smith said Ms Hecker's outfit stood out.

"Digital prints have been in all through last season and it's going through into tribal," he said.

Runner-up Meg Farquhar, from Launceston, grabbed the judge's attention with her vintage-inspired outfit.

Meanwhile second runner-up Lisa Wellings, from NSW, looked dazzling in an orange outfit with blue accessories.

General manager of TOTE Tasmania Michael Edwards said that while crowd numbers were down, interstate bets had boosted overall takings.

"We were marginally up on last year's figures and we're very happy with that," Mr Edwards said.


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Blaze baffles firefighters

THE unpredictable nature of the Molesworth fire -- suspected to have been deliberately lit -- has confounded firefighters.

Residents have been warned it will continue to burn out of control in steep terrain for the next few days.

The fire has threatened Transend lines that power all of Hobart.

It was one of a series of fires being fought around Tasmania, fuelled by extreme dryness.

Visit the Tasmania Fire Service website for the latest updates.

The Molesworth fire in pictures

About 150 people were told at a community meeting in New Norfolk yesterday that firefighters -- more than 40 crews last night -- hoped to control the fire in the next few days but the blaze had already confounded experts.

Other meetings were held at Mountain River -- now just a few kilometres from the fire front -- and Collinsvale.

Today a meeting will be held at 10am at Fern Tree.

"In some cases the fire has spotted and run into the headwind, which is very unusual.

All the predictions are saying it should not be doing what it's doing [and that's] because we have had no significant rain since December," Tasmania Fire Service senior station officer Phil Douglas said.

The TFS believes the Molesworth fire was deliberately lit, with the exact spot pinpointed on Glen Dhu Rd.

Mr Douglas said people must be emotionally prepared and that 80 per cent of those who successfully defended their homes in Victoria's 2009 fires said they would not do it again.

One couple were praised for their preparation, although Lee McLean found herself shaking yesterday after four days of vigilance.

She and husband Andy live within sight of where the fire started and saw it race to within metres of their house.

"We lost everything bar the house. The cars exploded and lifted clean into the air and did a complete circle," Mrs McLean said.

"There were 50-foot flames coming up at us. We had three or four helicopters landing here, taking water from our dam to save the neighbours' houses. It was like a war zone.

"Our phone lines were burnt, we had no power. We can't thank the emergency services enough."

Mr McLean said: "One sleeps, the other watches."


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Gotye grabs three Grammys

Gotye has won three Grammys today, for Record of the Year, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Picture: AFP

AUSTRALIA'S global chart-slayer Gotye has won an historic hat-trick of Grammys -- but seemed more overwhelmed that his childhood idol Prince loved his song.

The Purple One presented Wally "Gotye" de Backer and his duet partner Kimbra with the coveted trophy for Record Of The Year for the unstoppable viral hit Somebody That I Used To Know.

It is the first time an Australian has won the prize since Olivia Newton John with I Honestly Love You in 1975.

"I have got to say I felt a bit delirious; it was a surreal experience; he had his typically wry smile on," Gotye said.

Grammys red carpet

The down-to-earth pop star, who said he wouldn't be celebrating with champagne as he is suffering a stomach virus after touring India, used his acceptance speeches to pay tribute to all musicians.

And while he has spent much of the past 18 months touring the globe, he also wanted to thank the loyal Australian fans who have supported his career from its early indie days.

"It's a long, long way from that Los Angeles stage but I have really felt a strong sense of goodwill from Australia and not felt any sense of backlash," he said.

For those who aren't on Team Gotye and never want to hear the song again, de Backer said he had thought about retiring it from his live set.

"Maybe I could drop it from the set from now on -- or send a hologram," he joked.

De Backer heads home in a couple of days and said the experiences of the past year had fuelled his excitement for his next musical endeavour.

"I am so energised to play with the instruments I've found and push myself to do something different," he said.

"I feel similar to when I was working in a cafe in my early 20s when I couldn't wait to get home and get stuck into songs."

Among the other multiple Grammy winners were imminent Future Music festival tourists fun., rockers The Black Keys, country pop crooner Carrie Underwood and rap kings Jay-Z and Kanye West.

While there was plenty of action on the stage with a plethora of performances, it was the front-row couples who caught the cameras, with Chris Brown and Rihanna stealing plenty of air-time.

Read more and select your favourite red carpet fashion at news.com.au

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Hunt on for star nurses

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 10 Februari 2013 | 19.55

THE search is on for Tasmania's top nurses and midwives.

Nominations for the 2013 HESTA Australian Nursing Awards are open now and will close on February 28.

Categories include Nurse of the Year, Team Innovation and Outstanding Graduate with a prize pool of $30,000.

HESTA chief executive Anne-Marie Corboy said the awards were a chance to recognise outstanding nurses for their tireless dedication and the care they provide every day.

To submit a nomination visit hestaawards.com.au.

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Single life rules OK

MY Kitchen Rules' Ali and Samuel, of Tasmania, have not wasted time coming clean on their relationship status.

The Hobart contestants are seriously single and claim they are just friends.

They say they are waiting for "the one" to share the kitchen with.

Meeting the other contestants on Thursday night's show Ali, 28, was quick to deny suggestions they were "together".

Ali recently separated from her partner of 14 years.

"That was our big decision, before we had kids," she said recently.

"Being on your own for the first time, when you've been with someone since you were 13, is very painful."

Samuel is also single.

"I'm 34 and a lot of close friends are engaged, married, have children, so the next girl I am with, I will be looking for those things," he said.

Meantime, they are content to "cook with each other".

For Ali, the love of food came from travelling with her academic parents.

"We travelled all through Europe for months on end and mum and dad were really passionate about food."

Samuel says his nan taught him to cook.

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Rockers' barnstorming show

BARNSTORMING: Jimmy Barnes on stage yesterday. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN

HOBART is set for a red-hot injection of classic tunes today, as the Aussie Rock Extravaganza rolls around Tasmania.

The Red Hot Summer Tour's Aussie Rock Extravaganza featuring Australian music icon Jimmy Barnes, his Cold Chisel bandmate Ian Moss, April Sun in Cuba hitmakers Dragon, and '90s stars Chocolate Starfish drew thousands of fans to Launceston's Country Club Tasmania lawns yesterday, with tickets to the afternoon gig selling out weeks ago.

The bands will also perform on the lawns at Wrest Point from 1pm today.

Tickets are still available for $85.60 at tixtas.com.au.

Meantime, hundreds of politicians, academics, former state leaders and industry heads celebrated the 40th anniversary of Wrest Point Casino at a gala reception last night.

It was a night of nostalgia and celebration with tributes paid to the Tasmanian people who in 1968 voted for the construction of Australia's first legal casino.

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