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Swim thumbs-up for asthma

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 09 Mei 2013 | 19.55

NEW Tasmanian research has revealed swimming has no adverse effects on asthma but has measurable benefits.

The research was conducted by medical students at the Breathe Well Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Tasmania's School of Medicine.

Asthma is a common condition among children and adolescents and causes intermittent wheezing, coughing and chest tightness.

It is the number one reason why Tasmanian children present at emergency departments or are hospitalised.

Royal Hobart Hospital Paediatric Education director Dr Sean Beggs, who assisted in the research, said concerns that physical exercise such as swimming could worsen asthma were incorrect and had the potential to reduce participation, resulting in reduced physical fitness.

"Our research contradicts this belief, finding swimming training is well tolerated in children and adolescents with stable asthma, and increases physical and cardio-pulmonary fitness as well as lung function," Dr Beggs said.

Centre chief executive Cathy Beswick said the outcome of the project would ensure swimmers with respiratory problems achieved the best health outcomes.

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Forestry chief steps down

FORESTRY Tasmania's chief executive of six years has stepped down.

Bob Gordon said this morning that now was the right time for a change in leadership.

"Forestry Tasmania faces significant challenges to implement the Tasmanian Forests Agreement and adjust to a new operating environment," he said.

"The board and I have come to a mutual agreement that now is an appropriate time for me to move on."

He said he had been proud to lead the organisation through difficult times.

Mr Gordon's period included the collapse of woodchip market, a downturn in native forest logging and reduction in employee numbers.

"My departure will allow the board to select a long-term leader that can take the organisation forward into what I believe is a challenging but exciting future," he said.

Mr Gordon joined the Forestry Commission in 1978, was later appointed to the Pulp Mill Task Force in 2004 before being appointed managing director of Forestry Tasmania in January 2007.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury

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State's unemployment up

TASMANIA's unemployment rate has increased again despite strong employment in the mining industry and on the NBN rollout.

The trend unemployment rate jumped from 7.2 per cent to 7.4 per cent while the more volatile seasonally adjusted measure increased from 7.3 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

Nationally the unemployment rate was stable at 5.5 per cent.

Tasmania has the more people unemployed, 18,400, than any time since April 2003.

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Ushering in old and new

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 08 Mei 2013 | 19.55

TASMANIA'S Upper House has rolled out the welcome mat for two familiar faces and one new one.

Incumbents Pembroke MLC Vanessa Goodwin and Nelson MLC Jim Wilkinson -- along with new Montgomery MLC Leonie Hiscutt -- were today officially declared the winners of Upper House elections held at the weekend.

In a small ceremony outside Parliament House in Hobart, Mr Wilkinson and Dr Goodwin thanked their supporters.

Unsuccessful Nelson candidates Tom Baxter and Hans Willink were also on hand to congratulate Mr Wilkinson on his win.

Mr Wilkinson said it showed that although everyone was concerned about social issues, Nelson electors were mainly concerned about jobs, a drop in home values and securing a good future for their children.

He again said he would put his hand up for the Upper House presidency -- a role which has been left open by the retirement of former Montgomery MLC Sue Smith.

Ms Goodwin said her campaign showed Pembroke electors were keen on a Liberal majority government.

She congratulated Upper House veteran Mr Wilkinson and thanked him for his guidance during her first term in parliament.

"He has been a great support in showing me the ropes," she said.

Tasmanian Electoral Commissioner Julian Type said early indications showed voter turnout was about 85 per cent in the three electorates – about 5 per cent above recent participation rates.

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New mission to re-use e-waste

TASMANIANS are finally able to do something positive with unwanted TVs, phones and computers after the opening of a new E-Waste centre in Launceston.

Operated by Launceston City Mission, the Youngtown facility breaks old televisions and computers down into much smaller parts to be shipped interstate for recycling.

It is part of National TV and Computer Recycling Scheme, paid for by electrical goods importers, and is fed by recently opened collection points at southern Tasmanian tips.

Opening the centre today, Environment Minister Brian Wightman urged the community not to swamp the network by dropping off all of their unwanted waste at once.

E-Waste Tasmania is partnering with a number of councils across Tasmania, including Launceston, Devonport, Burnie, Huon Valley, Kingborough, Hobart, Glenorchy and Clarence

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Calls to safeguard biosecurity

TASMANIA needs safeguards for regional differences to protect its valuable brand, say primary producers.

State's producers today delivered powerful submissions to the most far-reaching review of Australian biosecurity law changes in more than a century.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, chaired by Senator Lin Thorp at Parliament House in Hobart, is considering draft legislation to supersede the Quarantine Act of 1908.

A diverse group of 18 primary producers, the Primary Industry Biosecurity Action Alliance (PIBAA) , formed in 2010, says regional differences must be recognised.

PIBAA spokesman Terry Brient said Australia respects the rights of foreign countries to set regional zones based on quarantine status.

"In Tasmania a primary industry can be the mainstay of a regional community," Mr Brient said.

David Sanderson, from Wine Tasmania, said biosecurity is not about protection of trade.

"The Tasmanian brand is an intergenerational national asset which is under threat without safeguards for regional differences," Mr Sanderson said.

Co-owner and director of Huon Aquaculture Group Frances Bender said biosecurity is the key issue facing all primary industries and the natural environment in Tasmania.

"We are in a special environment that needs to be supported by appropriate mechanisms to protect and keep it safe for future generations," Mrs Bender said.

"Quality is not a minimum standard."

Senator Thorp said there is significant support for reform to bring biosecurity protections into the modern age.

"The resulting legislation will be responsible for protecting primary industries, the environment and local economies from pest and disease risks for many years to come," Senator Thorp said.

The inquiry heard from representatives from Australia's peak vegetable growers group AusVeg, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Cherry Growers Australia and Brand Tasmania.

Senators Richard Colbeck and Christine Milne are the other Tasmanians on the eight-person committee. Findings should be passed down in six weeks.

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Jeremy Rockliff said an updated biosecurity bill is vital to primary industries.

One in six Tasmanian workers is employed directly or indirectly in primary industries with a farm gate value of $1.2 billion.

Find more rural stories in Tasmanian Country, out every Friday.

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RBA surprises with rate cut

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 07 Mei 2013 | 19.55

THE RESERVE Bank has surprised many this afternoon after it decided to cut the cash rate to a record low 2.75 per cent.

In 2012 the central bank cut the cash rate four times, but this is the first reduction in 2013.

In a statement accompanying the decision, RBA governor Glenn Stevens said economic growth was below trend this financial year.

"Employment has continued to grow but more slowly than the labour force, so that the rate of unemployment has increased a little, though it remains relatively low," Mr Stevens said.

"The global economy is likely to record growth a little below trend this year, before picking up next year.

"Among the major regions, the United States continues on a path of moderate expansion and China's growth is running at a more sustainable, but still robust, pace."

Mr Stevens said the RBA board noted the inflation outlook would afford scope to ease the cash rate further.

"At today's meeting the Board decided to use some of that scope," he said.

"It judged that a further decline in the cash rate was appropriate to encourage sustainable growth in the economy, consistent with achieving the inflation target."

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Tassie tour real bottler

A "PADDOCK to bottle" single-malt whisky experience -- the only one of its kind outside of Scotland -- has been launched at Redlands Estate Distillery in the Derwent Valley.

A partnership between Tasmanian whisky identity Bill Lark, estate owners Peter and Elizabeth Hope and the Hopes' son-in-law James Reid, the tours will allow visitors a hands-on experience of every stage of the whisky making process, including turning the barley and firing barrels.

"For people that are interested in whisky, the opportunity to see the whole process at the one location is pretty exceptional. For Tasmania, this represents a great opportunity to attract whisky drinkers from all around the world," Mr Lark said.

The establishment of "The Complete Whisky Experience", which has resulted in the renovation of historic building that had been used for 50 years, was part-funded by a $100,000 tourism grant from the Federal Government. This was matched dollar-for-dollar by Redlands.

"The grant meant the difference between us being a true paddock-to-bottle distillery, or just being a distillery that does two or three components," Mr Reid said.

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Prisoner's freedom short-lived

AN inmate at the Hobart Remand Centre allegedly escaped custody for about 20 minutes this afternoon.

Police said the 24-year-old absconded about 2.10pm while being escorted from the Royal Hobart Hospital back to the Remand Centre.

Police recaptured the man about 2.30 on the Hobart Domain.

He will face court later this evening charged with one count of escape.

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Ex coach on child-sex charges

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 06 Mei 2013 | 19.55

A FORMER teacher and football coach has been remanded in custody after facing court today over multiple sex offences involving teenage boys.

The 61-year-old Hobart man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested on Friday.

Police have charged him with five counts each of indecent acts committed with a young person under 17 and sexual intercourse with a young person under 17.

The man has also been charged with three counts of indecent assault, aggravated sexual assault, attempted sexual intercourse with a young person under 17, producing child exploitation material and possessing child exploitation material.

He appeared in an out-of-hours hearing in the Hobart Magistrates Court on Friday night and was remanded in custody over the weekend to reappear before the court today.

The accused did not enter a plea to the charges, which are indictable and must be dealt with in the Supreme Court.

The police prosecutor told the court the investigation was ongoing and it was likely further charges would be laid.

The man's lawyer did not apply for bail and asked Magistrate Olivia McTaggart to adjourn the case for plea via video-link in the same court on May 29.

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Summer boost for hotels

HOTEL prices in Hobart rose 10 per cent this summer in a sign that demand for accommodation in Tasmania's capital is getting stronger during the event-packed warmer months.

The average cost of staying overnight in a hotel in Hobart last summer was $177.61 - 10 per cent above the rate charged in summer 2011-12.

The cost of staying in Launceston was also higher this year but the price hike was a more modest 2 per cent ($137.66 up from $134.98 in 2011-12).

Anecdotal evidence from Hobart's hospitality sector backs up the HotelsCombined data released today.

In early January it was reported that visitors looking for a bed in Hobart were heading out to the suburbs because there were no available rooms left in the city.

The Old Woolstore and the Grand Chancellor in Davey St were both fully booked for weeks as visitors lingered after the Taste of Tasmania and New Year's celebrations.

Hobart currently boasts between 3000 and 5000 rooms and the cost of sleeping in one rose more here this summer than in Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

However, the tourism spoils are not being shared equally around the nation.

While hotels were in demand in major cities this summer, non-metro destinations fell out of favour.

Four of the five cities recording the biggest price falls were in Australia's regions.

The cost of a hotel room in Newscastle in summer this year was down 15 per cent on the year before.

The Australian Hotel Price Trend report shows that globally, Dubai recorded the biggest increase in the amount hotels charged for an overnight stay in summer 2012-3 (33 per cent).

Los Angeles, Nha Trang in Vietnam, Honolulu and Nadi in Fiji also recorded price rises of more than 25 per cent.

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Drive-by shootings continue

GLENORCHY police investigating a string of shootings in the Gagebrook and Bridgewater areas in recent weeks have revealed yet another drive-by attack was carried out three days ago.

The same branch that attracted heavy criticism from residents last month for failing to warn the public of an escalating turf war between gun-wielding offenders, which saw half a dozen residential drive-bys carried out before a man was shot on a public highway.

Police only then admitted they were investigating a string of firearm attacks when the Mercury was tipped off to the situation.

When approached by the Mercury this afternoon for a response to rumours of a new drive-by shooting at Gagebrook on Friday night, police issued a statement confirming a gun was fired through the window of a home in Aloomba Place at 10.46pm on Friday.

"The projectile, believed to be a small calibre, has gone through the front lounge room window and caused damage to the ceiling," the statement read.

"No persons were injured as a result of the firearm being discharged."

Police say this is not believed to be related to the previous attacks however they are yet to identify the person or people responsible and are now appealing for witnesses.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Glenorchy CIB on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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North flags future forays

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 05 Mei 2013 | 19.55

JOEYS: Young Roos fans Oscar Willink, 10, left and James, 10 and Alex Hamilton, 13, all of Hobart.

THE action will move from the on-field to the off-field after North Melbourne completed the second year of its three-year deal with Hobart with a 10-point win over Port Adelaide yesterday.

Hobart will be without live AFL games for about 15 months as Blundstone Arena to receives a $30 million-plus redevelopment to increase capacity and spectator facilities.

North Melbourne chief executive Carl Dilena said the club would continue to build its relationship with the state via junior clinics, community camps and visitations.

Then the hard work will be done at the board table by the club, the AFL and financial partners TT-Line, Hobart City Council and the RACT.

Mr Dilena had the ears of AFL deputy chief executive Gill McLachlan and AFL strategic planning manager Sam Graham at yesterday's luncheon, but he said the governing body was being very tight-lipped.

"There were a lot of people in the room today keen to frame up what it looks like for Tasmania going forward, but I think a whole lot of different views need to come to the table during the year," Mr Dilena said.

Kangaroos president James Brayshaw said he had been impressed by the level of support for the club from the Hobart community and that North would be interested in discussing an extension of its deal to play in Hobart when the redevelopment of Blundstone Arena was finished.

And with 13,223 fans attending game one against Sydney and 10,265 at Blundstone Arena yesterday, Mr Dilena also had nothing but praise for the club's Hobart reception.

"This year we've got a bit [of] experience in promoting the game in Hobart and connecting with the right people," he said.

"Down the main street in Hobart we've got flags up and just keeping that vibe going.

"We are obviously keen to explore more games, but there has been nothing really discussed about if it is three games or a possible four or what the term might be.

"We see it as a great market for us and we've made a good connection, so we are keen to explore it at the end of this year."

Kangaroos coach Brad Scott praised his players for rising to the occasion.

"The boys played . . really well and like a winning side," he said.

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Wintry chill sets in

HOBART can expect to rug up for another few nights, a day after the temperature barely reached double figures in the capital and police issued a snow warning for central plateau roads.

Hobart topped 11.8C at 12.57pm yesterday after an overnight low of 6C, with similar lows forecast for the next three nights.

Police also issued a frost warning for the Midlands and central north districts, the same day as Highland roads were restricted to 4WD vehicles.

A break in the cold spell should arrive later in the week, with temperatures above 20C forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Hobart.

Launceston's temperature will plunge to just 1C tonight and stay low throughout the week.

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Big night for Liberals

THE Liberal party has gained a seat and a long-serving independent has survived a campaign to unseat him in the Legislative Council elections.

Tasmanians went to the polls yesterday in the Greater Hobart seats of Nelson and Pembroke and the North-West seat of Montgomery.

In Nelson, Jim Wilkinson looks to have retained the seat with about 49 per cent of votes.

Mr Wilkinson was challenged by Greens candidate Tom Baxter (25 per cent), and independents Helen Richardson (17 per cent) and Hans Willink (8 per cent).

In Pembroke, Liberal MLC Vanessa Goodwin seems assured of victory with 51 per cent of votes.

Independent candidate and former Labor MLC Allison Ritchie had 36 per cent of votes, while Greens candidate Wendy Heatley had 13 per cent.

Liberal candidate for Montgomery Leonie Hiscutt looks set to gain the North-West seat vacated by retiring Legislative Council president independent Sue Smith.

At the end of counting last night, Mrs Hiscutt had 45.5 per cent of votes.

Her nearest rival was independent and Central Coast Deputy Mayor Cheryl Fuller.

Independents Kevin Morgan and Ed Vincent had secured 14.5 per cent and 10 per cent of votes respectively.

View the progressive results in full on the Electoral Commission website.

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