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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Model ambassadors to the United Nations

The Mercury: Model ambassadors to the United Nations [30sep05]

FOUR young Tasmanians are heading to Europe in January to take part in the world's largest Model United Nations conference in The Hague.

They are part of the Australian delegation of 17 students who will travel to the Netherlands.

Former Tasmanian delegate Claire O'Halloran, 21, of Sandy Bay, is heading to the Hague conference again, this time leading the delegation as director.

The other three members are James Walker, Hannah Stevens (both of Elizabeth College) and Clara White (Hobart College).

The delegates will leave Australia on January 9 and meet up with the rest of the Australian team in Europe.

The group will then go on a two-week bus tour to meet the Australian ambassadors to a number of European countries before arriving in The Hague for the week-long conference.

"We don't know which country we will be representing yet," Miss O'Halloran said.

"Last year it was Namibia, previously it's been Ireland."

The delegates will need to write and present resolutions on various topics to the model UN which could cover anything from acts of aggression to illegal fishing.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself will read the resolutions.

One of the major challenges for the young delegates is accurately representing the views of a country other than their own.

"You can't go as a country and then act in a way that's completely contrary to the way that country thinks just because you don't believe in it," Clara, 18, from Kettering, said.

"It's about realising that different countries come from a different point of view."

Hannah, 17, from Lauderdale, said the trick was to do lots of research.

"You need to know a bit about the country, know the history, how they came to be where they are," she said.

"If you read enough about it and put yourself in the right mindset you can justify it, and it's great to debate some issues that are a bit controversial and that you might not necessarily stand for."

James, 17, from New Town, said he had always been fascinated by European history and politics and was looking forward to exploring the workings of the UN from the inside.

The Tasmanian delegates are busy fundraising for the $5000 needed to make the trip and will be holding a quiz night next Wednesday. For more information, call Claire on 0407 420 164.

Interlude for Premier

The Mercury: Interlude for Premier [30sep05]

PREMIER Paul Lennon is to fly to Japan for a commercial and cultural visit including major concerts by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

Spokesman Matthew Rogers said the concerts in Osaka and Tokyo were the main reason for the trip.

The trip comes on the heels of the Coalition of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra this week.

It also coincides with a call by the Tasmanian Chamber of commerce and Industry for the Premier to get involved in Tasmania's rail crisis.

Infrastructure Minister Bryan Green said yesterday the Premier had not taken up the issue of the rail crisis with the Prime Minister John Howard while in Canberra.

TCCI'S no-smell verdict on mills

The Mercury: TCCI'S no-smell verdict on mills [30sep05]

THE Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has concluded that any pulp mill modelled on a Finnish mill would not smell.

Chief executive Damon Thomas said a TCCI trip to Finland last week had examined three pulp mills.

"The only opposition to mills in Finland is concerned with forest practices and the sources of wood and nothing to do with pulping technology," he said.

He said that smell was not a problem in the Finnish city of Lappeenranta.

The trip, facilitated by the State Government's Pulp Mill Task Force, also included representatives from the University of Tasmania and Brand Tasmania

Mr Thomas said that Finns demanded high environmental standards.

"Finland has signed the Kyoto Protocol and they have gone all out to have good technology," he said.

The TCCI has produced a DVD from the trip, compered by State Government communications manager Rod Wallis.

The Wilderness Society, responding to the TCCI's comments, said the mills visited in Finland were not comparable to the one proposed by Gunns Ltd in the Tamar Valley, particularly as they used softwood as feedstock.

"The TCCI has an onus of responsibility to make a balanced assessment of the impacts of the mill on all issues relating to community, economy and environment." the society's forest campaigner, Vica Bayley, said.

Tamar Residents Action Committee coordinator Les Rochester said the TCCI endorsement was predictable.

He said the delegation should have investigated Scandinavian research on totally chlorine-free mills.

"Major research funded by the governments of Finland, Sweden and Norway and pulp mill operators has put to bed the myth that elemental chlorine-free pulp is of better quality than totally chlorine-free," he said.

Two northern groups, Northern Tasmania Development and the Launceston Chamber of Commerce, will travel on an independent trip early next year.

Pratt's future vision

The Mercury: Pratt's future vision [30sep05]

AUSTRALIA must ramp up immigration and aim for a population of 50 million by 2050, billionaire Richard Pratt told a Hobart audience yesterday.

The "cardboard king", chairman of Visy, was speaking at the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry lunch at Wrest Point Casino.

Mr Pratt, whose company owns a pulp and paper mill in Tumut, NWS, said a plantation-based pulp mill could be a good thing.

The Visy mill uses pine plantation and makes mostly brown-paper packaging.

He said agriculture and environment could coexist.

Rail pressure builds

The Mercury: Rail pressure builds [30sep05]

PREMIER Paul Lennon must get involved in the rail crisis, Tasmania's peak business group said yesterday.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Damon Thomas's call comes as the Federal and State governments scrap over Auslink -- a national road and rail funding arrangement.

Mr Thomas said it was a critical issue for Tasmania which should be dealt with by Premier Paul Lennon.

"Mr Lennon has the influence and needs to have input," Mr Thomas said.

He said industry was willing to join a task force including state and federal politicians aimed at thrashing out the problems

Rail operator Pacific National Tasmania has announced it will cease services on the Hobart-to-Burnie route unless track upgrading is funded.

Such a move is expected to result in 2000 more truck movements a week on major highways.

t is understood newsprint maker Norske Skog is particularly concerned about having to transport logs, coal and newsprint by road.

The rail issue appears to have been subsumed in an ongoing battle between the Federal and State governments over Auslink funding.

While the Federal Government has demanded the State sign a bilateral agreement, the State has refused to do so unless $100 million due to be spent on a replacement Bridgewater Bridge can be diverted to the construction of a southern road bypass.

Infrastructure Minister Bryan Green said yesterday he had received a proposal from Pacific National yesterday which required a response in a fortnight.

But he said: "We are not going to be forced into making any deals when Auslink discussions are at a point where it is crucial we get a good deal for Tasmania."

It is understood the Pacific National proposal would include federal and state contributions, with the rail operator also providing funding.

Mr Green said the Federal Government was unfair in its approach to rail funding.

"Why is it that the Australia Rail Track Corporation own or lease rail tracks in other parts of Australia and not here?" he said.

"We deserve fair treatment and the Federal Government are holding a gun at our head."

Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck said Mr Green had to sign the Auslink bilateral agreement by today to have a chance of receiving funding.

The Rail Tram and Bus Union called on the Federal Government to release Auslink funds so that rail infrastructure could be upgraded -- a call echoed by the TCCI's Damon Thomas.

"The Federal and State governments spend $100 million a year on Tasmanian roads but nothing on the rail network," he said.

Deadly flu plan call

The Mercury: Deadly flu plan call [30sep05]

TASMANIA faces a year of intense preparation before it is ready for a global flu epidemic, the state's health chief says.

Public Health director Roscoe Taylor yesterday said thousands of cases and several hundred deaths were predicted in the state alone.

"I'm told by experts it's a matter of when, not if," Dr Taylor said.

"We're anticipating the need to cope with tens of thousands of excess doctor consultations, thousands of additional hospital admissions and hundreds of deaths over a two-month pandemic period."

Dr Taylor said local authorities needed to follow the lead of Kingborough, which will convert its sports centre to a triage and referral centre.

The risk of bird flu mutating into a virus that could spread between humans looms.

The state plan to combat a flu epidemic includes:

Temporary infection hospitals like motels or country hospitals to keep patients isolated and protect major hospitals.

School and major-event closures.

Holding areas for people arriving at hospitals with symptoms.
Dr Taylor said there had been three pandemics -- or widespread infectious diseases -- in the last century, including the Hong Kong and Spanish flus, which killed millions.

He said the World Health Organisation advised a new flu pandemic was expected within 10 years.

"There is only so much the Government or healthcare system can do and it's my belief that the battle with pandemic flu will in many ways need to be fought at the local level using basic quarantine measures and back-up strategies to maintain essential services," Dr Taylor said.

He said there needed to be many more centres such as the Kingborough Sports Centre being converted to a fever clinic.

"We'll be putting in place similar plans across as many of Tasmania's local government areas as possible."

Talks with GPs have been ongoing and nursing resources are being studied.

He said it was important the community learned about how disease spread and what could be done to minimise it.

The Tasmanian Action Plan for Pandemic Influenza, prepared two years ago, was being monitored and updated with help from national authorities.

A stockpile of anti-viral medication is held by the Federal Government.

Greens senator Bob Brown said the Australian Government should give the UN the $100 million it needed to fund its three-year plan to halt the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus, saying it would be a wise investment by wealthy countries.

"A bird flu pandemic could cause a global economic depression as well as the deaths of millions of people," Senator Brown said.

Wreidt blasts school critics

The Mercury: Wreidt blasts school critics [30sep05]

EDUCATION Minister Paula Wriedt yesterday launched a spirited defence of Tasmania's controversial new Essential Learnings curriculum and blasted critics who suggested it was not teaching the basics.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Mercury, she says she does not accept the state's bottom-of-the-class ranking by a Federal Government education report released on Wednesday.

The report rated the Essential Learnings (ELs) curriculum the worst primary school education system in Australia.

Benchmarking Australian Primary School Curricula blasted aspects of ELs as being "vague and lacking academic rigour".

ELs received the lowest ranking in all three subject areas the report assessed

But Ms Wriedt says the report was based only on opinion.

"We are not at the bottom of the pile. We are highly competitive with other states. It's not all going wrong down here," she said.

"It makes me cross that people are putting weight on this report when it's based on personal judgment and not results because the results don't show that same sort of ranking."

Ms Wriedt hit back at criticism that ELs was not teaching Tasmanian children the basics.

"I mean, what minister in their right mind or what government or education department would actually put in a curriculum that doesn't teach kids to read and write?" she said.

"We're just not that stupid. Nobody would be."

Ms Wriedt said report author Kevin Donnelly and his three co-authors had looked at curriculum documents from across the country and then made a judgment.

"They haven't looked at how that translates into results for students," she said.

"Dr Donnelly is like a book reviewer who is reviewing a book and writing an article about it by only reading the back cover and not actually reading the book and understanding the content of it. That's what he has done with his assessment of the ELs."

Ms Wriedt said the latest available National Benchmark results showed that in 2003 Tasmanian students were not underperforming in relation to children in other states.

Sixty Tasmanian state schools were associated with ELs in 2003, with all state schools adopting the curriculum this year.

"The most recent 2003 national literacy and numeracy results put Tasmania's Year 3 and Year 5 students first and second respectively in reading," Ms Wriedt said.

She said more than 96 per cent of Tasmanian students achieved the Year 3 reading benchmark and more than 95 per cent the Year 5 benchmark.

"Tasmania also performed well in Year 5 numeracy with 92.4 per cent of students achieving the benchmark, ranking Tasmania second," Ms Wriedt said.

Meanwhile, a recently released Australian Council of Educational Research national Year 6 science assessment report showed the average score for Tasmanian students was the third highest of all states and territories, she said.

Ms Wriedt said Dr Donnelly had not done his research well.

"He talks about how terrible outcomes-based education is and how it has been tried in other parts of the world and failed miserably," she said.

"Finland outranks every country in the OECD on the way their 15-year-old students perform and their system is outcomes-based."

Ms Wriedt said while she did not accept the report's criticism, she had accepted recent local criticism about Education Department jargon and was acting on it.

Parents, teachers, students, language experts and the business community have ridiculed the Education Department's use of jargon, in particular its confusing "jargon buster".

Ms Wriedt ordered the jargon buster be removed from the Education Department website.

She said she had since taken further steps to ensure ELs was communicated to parents clearly.

Ms Wriedt met Tasmanian State School Parents and Friends Association representatives yesterday.

"They've presented ideas to me and we've agreed on nearly all of them. That's really constructive and some of them were just simple things," she said.

Liberal education spokesman Peter Gutwein called on Ms Wriedt to start listening to national education experts and take immediate action to address curriculum concerns.

"The State Liberals have expressed, on a number of occasions, our support for the principles of a new, improved curriculum," he said.

"Community sentiment and yesterday's damning assessment of ELs demand that changes be made."

Mr Gutwein said Ms Wriedt had to stop treating ELs as an experiment.

Ms Wriedt said describing ELs as an experiment was an outrageous and laughable statement.

"I'm the parent of a child at a government school. I've got my own child's future at stake as well and I'm not going to experiment on him or anybody else's children," she said.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

a government health warning

who says tasmanians have pointy heads?

Deadly fungus threatens platypus population.

Deadly fungus threatens platypus population. 27/09/2005. ABC News Online

Scientists fear a fungus killing Tasmanian platypuses will become impossible to control if funds are not committed for research.

The fungus attacks the animal's organs and causes skin lesions.

It is estimated half the state's platypus population is now infected with the disease.

Scientists know very little about the fungus and there has been no organised research in six years.

Tasmanian-based zoologist Nigel Forteath says funding is needed from the state and federal governments to revive research programs aimed at finding a vaccine.

"We hope when we do get an outbreak in an area we can catch as many platypuses in that area and inoculate them," he said.

The Tasmanian Government is working to recruit a wildlife disease biologist, who will develop a monitoring and research strategy for native species including the platypus.

The Federal Government is yet to decide whether it will contribute funds.

Tas Govt defends primary school standards.

Tas Govt defends primary school standards. 29/09/2005. ABC News Online

The Tasmanian Government has dismissed a Federal Government-commissioned report that found the state's primary school curriculum ranks poorly compared with other states and international syllabuses.

The Opposition believes it reinforces widespread criticism of the Essential Learnings curriculum.

The report ranked Tasmania's curriculum lowest in early years reading, chemistry and maths, equal lowest in physics and second lowest in literature.

The Minister for Education, Paula Wriedt, has criticised it as a "Liberal mate" report and says the State Opposition's position on the curriculum is contradictory.

But Liberal Peter Gutwein says it is a diversionary tactic.

"The one thing I'd expect Paula Wriedt to do is shoot the messenger. Warning bells should be ringing," he said.

The report found a big variation in standards Australia-wide and recommended changes, particularly in the teaching of maths and English.

endangered species

Pin-up girl for local design [

The Mercury: Pin-up girl for local design [29sep05]

MEET Lara Giddings -- the pin-up girl of Tasmanian politics.

Well, the Arts Minister certainly held the mantle last night when she wore a Tasmanian-designed outfit to help showcase local designers at the Design Island launch.

The outfit included an elegant skirt and top designed by Leonie Struthers, red velvet and silver jewellery crafted by Natalie Holtsbaum and a hand-sewn clutch purse by Tim Buckley.

Design Island is a new three-year program of exhibitions, conferences and workshops aimed at raising the profile of the state's established and emerging fashion and furniture designers.

It will aim to build and strengthen industry partnerships and Ms Giddings said the vision extended internationally to partnerships with countries that shared a similar design focus, including New Zealand and Singapore

Design Island will start next year with a program called Beneath the Surface, focused on emerging designers across a broad spectrum, including clothing, jewellery and fine furniture

Rail plea rebuff by Canberra

The Mercury: Rail plea rebuff by Canberra [29sep05]

A TASMANIAN request for the Federal Government to take over the Tasmanian rail line has fallen on deaf ears.

Infrastructure Minister Bryan Green yesterday discussed with federal Transport Minister Warren Truss the decision of Pacific National to cease container transport in Tasmania.

Road safety organisations are alarmed by the PN decision because it means an extra 2000 trucks a week will use the state's highways, including 30 B-doubles.

Mr Truss's spokeswoman said Mr Green had floated the idea of the Australian Rail Track Corporation taking over the track.

"We believe that discussion is premature and that the operation of the railways is for the operator and the Tasmanian Government, not the ARTC," the spokeswoman said.

The ARTC manages 5861km of rail track interstate and sells access to operators.

Mr Truss and Mr Green are at odds over Auslink National Transport Network funding with Mr Green declining to sign a bilateral agreement, citing a sticking point over the Bridgewater Bridge.

But Tasmanian Liberal senator Richard Colbeck said yesterday some rail funding might be allocated from Auslink upon signing.

Also yesterday Mr Green attacked PN, a joint venture between Toll Holdings and Patrick Corporation.

"The disappointing thing from my point of view is that this company only purchased the assets a short while ago," he said.

"They have increased the volume of freight travelling by rail and now have made what I believe is an unreasonable decision."

Opposition infrastructure spokesman Brett Whiteley said Premier Paul Lennon had failed to live up to a commitment in 1999 to boost rail investment.

"Tasmanian roads are already at breaking point and there will also be impact on current rail freight customers and on the operations of ports and surrounding areas," Mr Whiteley said.

He urged Mr Green to sign the Auslink agreement.

The Tasmanian Greens urged the state and federal governments to co-operate to solve the rail crisis.

Greens leader Peg Putt said she was concerned about 200 rail workers' jobs.

Newsprint firm Norske Skog faces "substantial" extra costs to transport about 500,000 tonnes of materials and product by road.

Logistics manager Arnold Willems said the move was critical because newsprint had to be delivered daily.

"It is our intention to meet with the state and federal governments and Pacific National to clarify their intentions," Mr Willems said.

Tasmanian Transport Association executive officer Robin Phillips said there would not be enough trucks or drivers when rail closed down.

And the Rail, Tram and Bus Union demanded the Howard Government release Auslink funding to secure the future of Hobart-to-Burnie rail freight.

Hot Topic: Page 16

Blunnies boot boost for Tassie

out of the red?

The Mercury: Blunnies boot boost for Tassie [29sep05]

THE humble gumboot is giving the state's economy a kick-start, with footwear maker Blundstone moving its gumboot-manufacturing operation from Victoria back to Tasmania.

The move has created 16 full-time jobs at the company's Moonah factory, and the spin-offs to local businesses providing goods, services and raw materials are expected to total about $13 million a year.

Blundstone gumboots were made in Moonah from 1990 until 2000, when Blundstone bought another company with a gumboot-making facility in Victoria.

Now after five years the machinery has returned to where Blundstone CEO Steve Gunn says "it should have been all along".

Mr Gunn said the decision to move the machinery back to Moonah was based on several factors, including the higher skill level of the company's Tasmanian staff.

A big incentive for the move is our skill base that exists in Hobart," he said.

"By moving the machine from Laverton in Victoria to Hobart, we will benefit from lower staff turnover, reduced overheads and significant savings on raw material.

"If the moulding machine were to stay in Laverton, it would probably last no more than two more years, because of low labour skills affecting our ability to properly maintain the machine.

"But backed by our maintenance division in Hobart, we will have properly trained employees to adequately maintain the machine until the time is right to invest in a newer model in about five or six years."

The State Government contributed $96,000 to meet the costs of relocating and installing the equipment in Moonah, where it is expected to produce up to 200,000 pairs of gumboots a year.

Economic Development Minister Lara Giddings said Blundstone's decision was a reflection on the state's growing economy and a strong indicator of business confidence.

"The move sends out all the right signals about the confidence that business has in Tasmania's future," she said.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Q: how many spots on an atlantic salmon ?

A: ask John West

Tassal expects sharp rise in performance

Tassal expects sharp rise in performance - Breaking News - Business - Breaking News

Australia's largest producer and exporter of Atlantic salmon, Tassal Group Ltd, is expecting a sharp increase in its performance this year after a major acquisition during 2004/05.

Tasmanian-based Tassal swallowed rival Aquatas, Australia's third largest salmon operation, in March and is on the way to achieving $9 million in cost savings.

In a message to shareholders in the company's annual report, chairman Allan McCallum and chief executive Mark Ryan said Tassal is slashing costs as it grows.

"Tassal has substantially reduced both its growing and processing costs with the benefits of the cost reductions to be reflected in the 2006 and 2007 financial years," Mssrs McCallum and Ryan said.

"Tassal is focused on marine infrastructure and process consolidation, together with improved fish husbandry and feed management practices to drive improved fish size and survival, underpinning a reduction in the cost of production."

Tassal is also looking for new markets and products here and overseas.
Tassal is marketed nationally under brands such as Royal Tasmanian, Tasmanian Smokehouse and Tasmanian Supreme and its products are sold in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.

Shares in Tassal were steady at $1.05 by 1420 AEST.

Trains services off track: union.

Trains services off track: union. 26/09/2005. ABC News Online

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union says Tasmania's rail system is worn out.

The union says a lack of funding from governments and other major players has left the state's rail system a long way from national standards.

Rail operations in the state are being reviewed and services have already been cut.

Industrial officer Rex Neil says railway tracks and locomotives are needing constant maintenance.

"Since privatisation ... bigger trains have been amalgamated and made bigger and heavier, the second hand locomotive fleet that they imported from New Zealand was worn out before it got here and they're progressively breaking down more frequently," he said.

Operator Pacific National Tasmania is seeking an urgent meeting with the State Government to discuss services

Zinc producer wants greater rail capacity

The Mercury: Zinc producer wants greater rail capacity [27sep05]

ZINC producer Zinifex wants to carry more of its product by rail but is constrained by the lack of capacity in Tasmania.

Company stakeholder relations officer Cathy Limb said Zinifex produced 250,000 tonnes of zinc a year.

"It is an issue for us because there is limited rail to Bell Bay and we have to carry about 10-15 per cent by road," Ms Limb said.

"We would prefer to be able to carry it all by rail because it is more efficient, more economical and more environmentally friendly."

Zinifex's concerns come as rail operator Pacific National Tasmania meets Infrastructure Minister Bryan Green today.

It is understood the firm wants the Government to contribute to the maintenance of the 780km of track.

Rail users are concerned about a cutback in services due to a lack of maintenance of the track and of locomotives.

PNT is conducting a review of its services and it is feared cutbacks would result in a massive increase in trucks on Tasmanian roads, particularly the Midland Highway.

Ms Limb said each truck carried 36 tonnes of zinc -- meaning up to 1000 trucks a year which Zinifex preferred to be on the railways.

Freight forwarder Toll Tasmania has bought more trucks because of fears it may not be able to get enough rail capacity to service customers.

In May a PNT submission to a House of Representatives standing committee on transport and regional services said the company's container freight business could not be sustained.

Tasmania imports and exports 424,000 containers a year.

"Poor rail alignments, difficult terrain, the high cost of infrastructure maintenance and the need to service three ports on the north coast mean PNT's container freight business is marginal," chief executive Neil MacKinnon said.

Mr MacKinnon said the replacement value of the narrow-gauge rail network was $1 billion.

"Rail operations currently generate revenue of less than $35 million a year," he said.

Neither federal nor state government funding had been made available despite the line having been made part of the national rail network last year, he said.

PNT is a 50/50 joint venture between Toll Holdings and Patrick Corporation.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

is thomas tasmanian?


an alderman, a mare and a donkey

Tas Minister pans move toward standard exams.

Tas Minister pans move toward standard exams. 25/09/2005. ABC News Online

The Tasmanian Education Minister has slammed his federal counterpart's plans to compare the performance of year 12 students across Australia.

Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson's plans would see a move toward standard English, maths and science exams.

But Tasmanian Education Minister Paula Wriedt says the scheme is too simplistic.

Ms Wriedt says Tasmanian high-school students are performing well.

"In fact what we do get is a lot of positive comments about the experiences students have in year 11 and 12, particularly when they're going into different trade areas," she said.

"They've already done vocational training in years 11 and 12, there's overwhelmingly positive feedback."

Broadband trial boon for doctors

The Mercury: Broadband trial boon for doctors [26sep05]

HOBART suburbs New Town and South Hobart have been selected as the first sites for a ground-breaking optic-fibre ultra-broadband trial.

The Tasmanian Collaborative Optical Leading Testbed (TasCOLT) trial will be open to 850 houses and businesses in the New Town area and 200 in South Hobart in November and December.

A further 200 houses in Devonport will follow early next year.

The technology, which includes ultra-high-speed internet access 400 times faster than at present, can also carry high definition and interactive TV, home security and power and gas metering.

Among its more important scientific advantages could be instant sending of X-rays and other medical information between medical practitioners

Economic Development Minister Lara Giddings said the areas were chosen for their mix of health and education facilities and because the demographics of the population closely fitted the profile for likely broadband customers.

She said the $10 million project trial, which received $3 million in funding from the State Government, was a first for the southern hemisphere.

John McCann, chief executive officer with the Tasmanian Electronic Commerce Centre, said it was not possible to predict how soon the new technology may become part of everyday life for Tasmanians.

The trial has been developed through his organisation and CEOS Pty Ltd and also involved global IT leaders such as Hitachi, Corning, Intel, Cisco and Acer, along with local support from Aurora Energy, TasTel and Protocol Information Technology.

Team leaders, Ms Giddings and visiting Japanese IT expert Professor Ken Sakamura yesterday visited St Ann's Nursing Home in Davey St to discuss how TasCOLT could be used to the home's advantage.

"St Ann's, in association with After Hours Doctors, is looking at using the TasCOLT technology to better manage and monitor its residents who become unwell, particularly outside normal working hours," Ms Giddings said.

"Doctors and other health care providers will also be able to use this technology for video conferencing, sharing information and for quickly and easily discussing diagnostic images such as X-rays."

The trials will run for two years.

Three-way mayor (mare) race

The Mercury: Three-way mayor race [26sep05]

THE battle for the position of Hobart lord mayor is now a three-horse race with long-serving alderman Jeff Briscoe announcing his candidacy yesterday.

Ald Briscoe will run for the post at next month's local government elections against incumbent Lord Mayor Rob Valentine and colourful councillor and restaurateur Marti Zucco, who announced early last week he would stand.

Ald Briscoe, who has been on the Hobart City Council for 11 years, said he had "seen incredible opportunities missed in the last seven years" under the leadership of Ald Valentine.

"This election is all about leadership, the vision, the future and the means to achieve it," he said.

"Since 1994 I have had the privilege to be an alderman of the city of Hobart and observed the styles of three council leaders and have seen incredible opportunities missed in the last seven years.

Hobart's guernsey in don't-visit book

The Mercury: Hobart's guernsey in don't-visit book [26sep05]

HOBART scores a dishonourable mention with places such as Kosovo, Tehran and Rabbit Flat in a new travel guide of places not to visit.

British author Adam Russ rubbishes Hobart in his book 101 Places Not To Visit: Your Essential Guide to the World's Most Miserable, Ugly, Boring and Inbred Destinations.

Russ also awards guernseys to Fallujah, "the most violence-prone town in the most war-torn country on earth", and Kosovo, "a travel destination perfect only for those who lack motivation for continued living".

He dismisses Hobart as "a bin for British societal dregs" and slaps us with a three-star rating for boredom.

Russ also takes issue with much of Hobart's architecture:

Hobart has two main building types: wheat-stoned, imposing buildings whose construction was overseen by foremen who carried bullwhips where today they'd carry a mug of tea, and nasty sub-suburban pre-fabs that look unlikely to make it through a heavy rainstorm."

Even Tasmania's renowned scenery is not to the author's liking.

"Wherever you go on the coast you'll be greeted by vertiginous cliffs that you'd be wise to stay well away from, particularly if you've already eaten your lunch, which for Australians comes in a handy plastic holder with six circular compartments," he writes.

Hobart does not do too badly in the category "Likelihood of Fatal Visit" with Russ awarding us only two stars.

He nominates "bad-mouthing the rugby/cricket team" as the most likely cause of death, implores visitors to pack industrial-strength sunblock and recommends avoiding Hobart's traditional Australian bars and restaurants.

Tourism Minister Paula Wriedt was not impressed by Hobart's mention in 101 Places Not to Visit.

"Mr Russ's book will no doubt be available for sale from the humour section of bookshops, as any book that denigrates one of the world's best tourist destinations must be joking," Ms Wriedt said.

"It sounds like Mr Russ hasn't even visited Hobart. Perhaps he could join one of the many cruise ships that visit, or the thousands of international tourists who vote with their feet every year when they visit Hobart."

Ms Wriedt said it was fortunate Hobart residents had a sense of humour.

"They would be happy to have a laugh with the author in one of our many great pubs or restaurants," she said.

"A more credible judgment of the state's attractions is that of the Association of British Travel Agents, which in 2004 named Tasmania as one of the world's top four travel hot spots."

101 Places Not to Visit, published by ABC Books, will be available at ABC shops and selected bookstores from October 14.

The other Australian destinations the book recommends avoiding are Brisbane, Byron Bay, Darwin and Rabbit Flat.

Rail crisis hits Tassie

The Mercury: Rail crisis hits Tassie [26sep05]

TASMANIA'S rail freight crisis has sparked fears for safety on Tasmania's roads.

Rail operations in the state are being reviewed and services have already been cut.

The high cost of maintaining railway tracks and competition from road transport have been constant problems for operator Pacific National Tasmania.

But recent track damage caused by floods and locomotive breakdowns has caused disruption to services and brought the situation to a head.

Rail users fear further cuts to services would force them to use road transport

Ending rail services would result in millions more tonnes of export products being transported on Tasmanian highways, especially the Midland Highway.

Container traffic between major towns would also increase substantially.

PNT chief executive officer Neil MacKinnon confirmed services had been reduced and a review was under way.

"We are seeking a meeting with Premier Paul Lennon as a matter of urgency to discuss services," Mr MacKinnon said.

Newsprint producer Norske Skog has 20,000 tonnes of pine logs brought by rail annually and has newsprint delivered to Burnie.

RACT chief executive Greg Goodman said Tasmania's roads would struggle to cope with extra freight.

Mr Goodman said traffic on the state's roads was expected to triple in the next decade and adding rail freight to the equation did not make economic sense.

He said roads were under pressure from heavy vehicles and transferring freight to avoid the cost of rail upgrades was not the answer.

Instead Mr Goodman urged the State Government to sign up to the Federal Government's Auslink program, which earmarked $11 billion to set up road and rail networks between Australia's capital cities.

Norske Skog logistics manager Arnold Willems said road transport to Burnie would cost the company more than rail.

Lloyds North, which contracts PNT to transport pine to Norske Skog, stopped services for two weeks because of track damage.

General manager Philip Molineux said road transport could be an option if PNT's review ended log transport.

State rail services have lost money for decades under Tasmanian Government and then private ownership.

PNT is a 50/50 joint venture owned by transport giants Patrick Corporation and Toll Holdings, which employs about 200 people.

It bought the operations from the Australian Transport Network for $40 million in February last year. They include a 50-year lease of the 780km of railway track, 39 locomotives and 668 wagons.

PNT recently closed the line west of New Norfolk for safety reasons and lines in the North-East and the North-West have been closed by previous owners.

It is understood poor returns have led to deferred maintenance of track, locomotives and rolling stock.

Other rail customers believed to have been affected are pine supplier Rayonier Tasmania and zinc producer Zinifex which transports product from Hobart to Bell Bay.

In May 2005 PNT hinted at a rationalisation of container services in a submission to the House of Representatives inquiry into the integration of regional rail and road freight transport.

Interstate rail infrastructure has received nearly $2 billion in funding under the Auslink program but Tasmania has gained little more than a rail underpass on the Midland Highway.

Factors contributing to the lack of profitability of Tasmanian railways include the relatively short hauls, hilly terrain and the layout of a 130-year-old track.

Rail has been cited as a way to reduce the volume of woodchip trucks travelling to the proposed Bell Bay pulp mill.

Rail is also critical to transport of mineral concentrates from West Coast mines to Burnie and of Goliath cement from Railton to Devonport.

Mr MacKinnon said the problems did not relate to Toll's hostile takeover bid for Patrick.

Toll Tasmania general manager Tony Stewart said his firm was buying extra trucks because of a 30 per cent reduction in rail service.

"Our preferred method is to use rail but if services are to be reduced it will mean more trucks on the road -- and that becomes a social issue for Tasmanians," he said.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

an in-depth look at asthma

AMA issues asthma warning for Launceston.

AMA issues asthma warning for Launceston. 23/09/2005. ABC News Online

Some people in Launceston reaching their mid-50s are developing the symptoms of asthma for the first time, possibly due to air pollution from wood smoke, according to the president of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical Association.

"We don't know really the direct link between air pollution, in particular, particulate pollution from wood smoke to asthma, but we suspect the mechanical irritation of these particles is a factor in the development of asthma," president Michael Aizen said.

Environment Minister Judy Jackson has told the House of Assembly that more needed to be done to fix air pollution in Launceston after saying smoke pollution is responsible for around eight deaths in Launceston each year.

Tasmania's Department of the Environment believes air quality is one of the most significant environmental issues facing the state.

The department maintains it is doing all it can to reduce air pollution in Launceston, primarily caused by smoke from wood heaters.

Dr Aizen also says people who are moving to Launceston to retire are developing the condition.

"I guess its disturbing, from a Launceston point of view, is that with the increasing number of people moving to Launceston to retire, we are seeing these people, at least in some of them, develop asthma for the first time," he said.

He also says people could harm themselves by doing exercise on days of high air pollution.

Environment Department's director Warren Jones says an air quality strategy has been released, whereby the community and the three levels of government are working to improve air quality.

Mr Jones says there has been a reduction in the number of days where Launceston's air quality has been outside the national standard.

He says there were 50 such occasions per year in 1997, whereas "this year we're down to 13".

"So there's been a very significant impact on reducing the levels of particles in the air in Launceston," he said

Minister denies Hydro sale breaks election promise.

Minister denies Hydro sale breaks election promise. 23/09/2005. ABC News Online

The Tasmanian Government says the sale of half of Hydro Tasmania's wind farm business does not break a pre-election promise.

An Asian energy company has paid $110 million for a half-share in Hydro's wind energy arm, Roaring Forties.

In return, China Light and Power will become part-owners of Hydro's wind farms, including the Woolnorth project.

Before the 1998 election, the Labor Party promised not to sell any hydro-electric generation assets.

Energy Minister Bryan Green says this promise only applied to water-based energy generation and the State Government has not reneged on its promise.

"That is simply not true - I've already indicated that the Woolnorth project was but a twinkle in our eye when we were first elected in 1998," he said.

The Greens support the partial sale of Hydro's wind assets, but say they want to see the detail of the deal that has been struck with China Light and Power

lil mermaid

fish scales are big this year

Beautiful fairytale lends itself to ballet

The Mercury: Beautiful fairytale lends itself to ballet [23sep05]

THE Queensland Ballet's production of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid opens tonight at the Theatre Royal.

Principal dancer Rachael Walsh, who has the title role, says the story of love, loss and yearning appeals to all ages.

The production has been so popular with Queensland audiences the company has performed three sell-out seasons in Brisbane.

"People just love this story and they keep wanting us to return," Walsh said.

"It's a very touching fairytale with beautiful costumes, scenery and lighting."

Orchid passion a shared joy

The Mercury: Orchid passion a shared joy [23sep05]

PHYL and Chris Nicholas have been together for 58 years and have grown orchids for 47 years.

They say there is no rivalry between them when showtime comes around -- but Mrs Nicholas was wearing a special smile yesterday at the 2005 Orchid Show at the Hobart Town Hall.

She had just nudged her husband out of the major prize, grand champion, with a South-East Asian variety, Dendochilium rhonbophorum, which the judges could not resist.

Mrs Nicholas said it was not the first time she had grown a grand champion and her partner had enjoyed many successes over the years.

Between them they picked up about 20 prizes this year, with Mr Nicholas winning the reserve champion award.

wombats are a big hit as pets in japan

wombats big hit as pets in japan

Japan Tassie's best market [

The Mercury: Japan Tassie's best market [23sep05]

JAPAN is Tasmania's biggest export market, says Austrade chief economist Tim Harcourt.

Speaking at the Strategy Group Mid-Market CEO Symposium in Hobart yesterday, Mr Harcourt said the Japanese economy was contributing to driving Tasmania to its best economic performance relative to the mainland in terms of economic growth per capita.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Japan accounts for 23 per cent of total Tasmanian exports.

In the 2003-04 financial year Tasmanian exports to Japan totalled $604 million.

The closest rival to that is the US with $346 million.

To maintain this excellent performance by Tasmania, small to medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] should concentrate on highly differentiated goods and services, with high intellectual content, strong customer services and at premium quality," Mr Harcourt said.

"Tasmania has a number of natural strengths and SMEs are urged to build on advantages to capitalise on strong export capacity in sectors such as marine engineering, environment management, tourism, sport and recreation and associated leisure activities, aged care, premium food and beverage, education and niche industries in manufacturing and personal services."

Tassie lifestyle makes census

The Mercury: Tassie lifestyle makes census [23sep05]

MORE people are living in Tasmania than ever before, with the state recording its 14th consecutive quarter of population growth.

Tasmania's population rose by 926 or 0.19 per cent in the March quarter, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released yesterday show.

There are now a record 484,739 people living in Tasmania.

Tasmania's population also increased in the year to March 31, with a gain of 2963 or 0.62 per cent.

The increase included a net interstate migration gain of 260.

Mr Hidding to move

390 Mr Hidding to move—That the House:—
(1) Congratulates Greg and Lynette Lynd of Lyndcraft Boats and Georges Bay Marine Pty Ltd in St Helens for:—
(a) being granted a multi-million dollar contract to construct three 13.5 metre patrol boats for the Australian Federal Police to be used in the Solomon Islands; and
(b) the successful ongoing export of fast 24 seat jet-boats around the world.
(2) Notes the benefit to the Break O'Day region of the resulting new factory construction for Lyndcraft Boats and the local employment spin-offs from this substantial Federal contract. (20 September 2005)


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tas boat firm looks to build on police contract.

Tas boat firm looks to build on police contract. 21/09/2005. ABC News Online

A Tasmanian company which has won a contract to build three patrol boats for the Australian Federal Police expects it will lead to more international business opportunities.

Georges Bay Marine at St Helens on the state's east coast has won a multi-million dollar contract to build the 13-metre long patrol boats for the police to use around Solomon Islands.

The company's owner, Greg Lynd, says it means it will have to boost its 10-member work force.

"It's just opened up a huge door which has allowed us to go ahead and build an 800 metre square factory specifically to build these boats and ... with our other workload at present, which is some thrill-seeking jetboats, we're looking for more and more staff and more benefits for the whole Break O'Day municipality," he said.

Eight die annually from Launceston air pollution.

Eight die annually from Launceston air pollution. 22/09/2005. ABC News Online

Tasmania's Environment Minister says up to eight people die each year in Launceston due to air pollution.

In response to the Premier's State of the State address, Judy Jackson told State Parliament there were several areas in her portfolio that needed improvement.

One of those was the continuing problem of air pollution, particularly in Launceston.

"The number of days in which Launceston has not met national standards for air pollution has fallen by 75 per cent but its still 26 days a year, which is not good. There's room there for more improvement," she said.

Ms Jackson says while the draft Tasmanian Air Quality Strategy aims to address some of the problems, more steps could be taken.

Risdon Cove is the mouth of the Risdon Valley an area historically important to two cultures during the 200 year period.

Bowen Media Release

Risdon Cove is the mouth of the Risdon Valley an area historically important to two cultures during the 200 year period.

Council comes to defence of memorial

The Mercury: Council comes to defence of memorial [22sep05]

A NEW tack is to be taken by Clarence City Council to protect the Bowen monument and improve public access at the Risdon Cove site.

Council general manager Andrew Paul will approach the manager of the Risdon Cove site, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, to discuss ways of improving public access to the monument and to protect it from vandalism and maintain it.

The council has also expressed its "disappointment" over Premier Paul Lennon's recent response to a request to take action.

Ald Doug Chipman said the Tasmanian Aboriginal land Act clearly required the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, through the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, to manage the area "in the interests of reconciliation with the broader Tasmanian community".

He said the monument continued to be vandalised and access was impeded by a lack of signs and a proper pathway.

Cultural focus on new Tasmanians

The Mercury: Cultural focus on new Tasmanians [22sep05]

THE Glenorchy Library was buzzing yesterday as Tasmanian Governor William Cox opened an exhibition which tells the story of Sudanese women who came to Tasmania as refugees.

The exhibition of photographs is the culmination of a collaborative project involving the Sudanese women, Centacare and TAFE students and evolved over several months.

The exhibition, Weaving a Trail of Cultural Threads, tells of the willingness and struggles by the women to learn English, their daily undertakings of adjusting to modern western lifestyles and their joy and involvement in Centacare's Stitch program, a sewing group, at New Town.

The words on the back of a photograph by Malissa Richards of Jacqueline Befu tell of the problems for a young mother struggling with a new language.

"I can't read, so I do not know which bus to get on. This is not a fault, it is the experience of not being able to go to school because the country I come from is in constant war," it reads.

40� South PODCAST

40� South Referral

A Letter from Tasmania ...


40 Degrees South talks to...
Gardening guru, Peter Cundall discusses the potential significance of Tasmanian organically grown vegetables on the world market.
[Note: Peter Cundall is in no way part of, commenting for or being paid by 40 Degrees South.]
Approximate File size: 1.993 MB

Copy this podcast url into your iPodder or iTunes:

Alternatively, to directly download the current 40 South Podcast click here. [MP3 file 2.27MB]


The next Podcast coming soon ...
The facial tumours afflicting the marsupial Tasmanian Devil.

Lieutenant John Bowen and party arriving at Risdon


Tassie news just a podcast away [22sep05]

The Mercury: Tassie news just a podcast away [22sep05]

EXPATRIATE Tasmanians around the world will be able to listen to audio letters from home while jogging or walking the dog -- thanks to new cutting-edge technology.

A Letter from Tasmania, officially launched by Tasmanian magazine 40 Degrees South yesterday, claims to be the first professional podcast to be produced in Tasmania.

The revolutionary podcast concept -- an audio recording that can be downloaded free from the internet and heard on an MP3 player or iPod -- has taken the world by storm since being launched in the US in May.

Each monthly, five-minute Letter from Tasmania features interviews with iconic Tasmanians and explores topical Tasmanian issues. The first podcast features renowned Tasmanian gardening expert Peter Cundall talking about organically grown food and the issues facing the state's vegetable farmers.

Other topics in the pipeline include the Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease and the Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race.

Tasmanian 40 Degrees South editor and owner Warren Boyles said he immediately saw the value of podcasts when marketing consultant Richard Gerathy approached him with the idea.

"The idea of the podcast, directed to expatriate Tasmanians, is to give them an idea of what was happening in the state, and it was too good to pass up," he said.

"We're always trying to think up innovative ways of marketing. Because we're very small we don't have a huge publicity or advertising budget, so we're always looking to make the most of new technology.

"This is only limited by the imagination."

Downloading the podcast for the first time at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery yesterday, Arts Minister Lara Giddings said podcast technology had the potential to change the listening habits of a generation.

"This is exciting and cutting-edge information technology being embraced by a forward-thinking Tasmanian publisher," she said.

"This new, free podcast provides a new medium for creating awareness of local issues among Tasmanians, as well as taking Tasmanian stories to the world."

The podcast can be downloaded free from: www.fortysouth.com.au

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tassie has WORLD's best TEA COSY

Mrs Brenda Wilson – TASMANIA


An SOS ( State of the State) from the Premier

play spot the differences

Premier outlines plans for Tasmania

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon has outlined his vision for the state but the opposition parties have criticised it as lightweight and lacking in any real plan.

The one-hour State of the State address focused on gains already made in the economy and population.

Mr Lennon announced money for farmers, a leadership program, youth and an East Timor eye clinic but the centrepiece was $12 million over four years for a Public Housing Trust.

"It heralds a new era in the way government responds to the community's housing needs," Mr Lennon said.

But the Tasmanian Council of Social Service has suggested the Government is drip-feeding social policy announcements.

Spokesman Mat Rowell has welcomed the Public Housing Trust but is disappointed there was no announcement on the next stage of the Affordable Housing strategy.

"We are supportive of the model that's been provided by in relation to the Housing Trust that was announced," he said.

"But we're concerned that there's not been a commitment to funding the other initiatives in stage two that we were told would come after the review process, so we're concerned that they're drip-feeding those particular social policy initiatives."

Opposition Leader Rene Hidding says the address was mostly empty rhetoric.

"Absolutely lightweight," Mr Hidding said. "At the end of that speech you could have thrown it in the air and it wouldn't have come down for 24 hours."

Greens leader Peg Putt agrees.

"It's very light on for new initiatives," she said. "It's mostly an extensive self-congratulatory checklist of things they're already doing."

The Premier did not outline any new initiatives to solve the health crisis.



Jargon bust, says Wriedt

The Mercury: Jargon bust, says Wriedt [21sep05]

EDUCATION Minister Paula Wriedt has admitted the Education Department's jargon buster was "completely unhelpful" for parents.

Ms Wriedt told Parliament yesterday she had requested that the department remove the jargon buster from its website.

"There is no doubt that documents for parents which use complex language are of little use and as a result the jargon buster has been removed from the department's website," Ms Wriedt said.

"The manner in which it was written was completely unhelpful in demystifying any of the terms."

The Education Department published the jargon buster to explain its new Essential Learnings (ELs) curriculum to parents.

have you seen one of these in Tassie?

`That's a tiger' -- expert ramps up riddle of the lake footprint

A TASMANIAN tiger hunter says a possible fox paw print found in snow in the Central Highlands last week is more likely to have been made by a thylacine.
Col Bailey, who has spent his life searching for thylacines and believes they are not extinct, said the two people who reported seeing a fox near Arthurs Lake and then photographed the print had probably witnessed the presence of a thylacine.

Mr Bailey, who operates a Tasmanian Tiger Research and Data Centre at Maydena, said the photograph of the paw print released by the Fox Taskforce last week was not that of a fox.

"The print displays little or no resemblance to either the front or rear footprint of the red fox," he said.

"It can most likely be described as canine in make-up, but there is a telling difference.

"It is not from a wombat, or any other native Tasmanian animal -- other than the distinct possibility that it could be from the thylacine."

The taskforce has sent copies of the photographs to interstate and overseas experts, but none have said for certain that it was made by a fox.

Taskforce manager Chris Parker said it was unlikely anyone would ever say it was definitely a fox print, although it had fox characteristics.

Mr Bailey, who has long claimed to have found evidence of thylacines in remote areas of the state, including footprints, said the photographed print had all the hallmarks of a thylacine's hind paw.

"I have come across this type of print before in wilderness country, usually in damp mud or sand along creek beds and mud flats," he said.

He said the print in the snow matched a thylacine print photograph taken just 15 years ago which he says Oxford University verified as being a tiger print.

Last week's find happened when a group of five people were on their way to a fishing trip, with two of them reporting seeing a fox run across the road in front of them in broad daylight at a distance of just 30m.

One man, who once lived in NSW where he regularly hunted foxes, digitally photographed the print after the animal disappeared, and passed it on to the taskforce in person a day later.

The taskforce has mounting remote cameras in the Arthurs Lake area in a bid to obtain further evidence.

However, there has since been no further evidence of a fox in the Arthurs Lake area.

The taskforce will look for a range of evidence, including footprints and scats.


Monday, September 19, 2005

no tilting in tassie

North-west Tas to get hi-tech wind farm

Another wind farm is to be developed at Woolnorth in Tasmania's far north-west.

The Studland Bay wind farm will be funded through a deal in which Aurora Energy purchases Renewable Energy Certificates from Hydro Tasmania.

The farm will have the latest technology, with 25 three-megawatt turbines.

The chief executive of Hydro Tasmania, Geoff Willis, says it is the first time the new technology will be used in the southern hemisphere.

"The tower height is 80 metres, the blades are 44 metres each, that's the radius," he said.

"The windswept area is 27 per cent bigger than the machines we used at Cathedral Rocks."

The Ever-Renewable Don

Hydro Tasmania deal to fund wind farm

It is hoped 5 per cent of Tasmania's energy needs will be fulfilled by wind power by the middle of next year.

Yesterday Hydro Tasmania announced that construction of a new wind farm in the state's north-west would begin within months.

The Studland Bay farm will be funded through a deal in which Aurora Energy buys renewable energy certificates from Hydro Tasmania.

The chief executive of Hydro, Geoff Willis, says it is great to be able to get backing for a wind farm proposal.

"Last year 2.5 per cent of Tasmania's load growth was met by wind farm development at Woolnorth and with this arrangement in place, we'll expect that 5 per cent of Tasmania's load will be meet by wind by the middle of 2006 onwards," he said.

"This is really important for us when water storages are at such a low level."

The construction of the wind farm will create 100 jobs in the region.

The new farm will overlook a bay south of the Woolnorth farm and have 25 three-megawatt turbines.

The chief executive of Aurora, Peter Davis, says it will be a 14-year partnership.

"Aurora has made a large commitment in terms of its forward requirements for those renewable energy certificates."


The Frankenfood Myth : How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution

ABARE fears GM crops farmer costs

Australia's leading economic forecaster says the country's stance on genetically modified (GM) crops could result in significant losses for farmers.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) says all state and territory governments except Queensland and the Northern Territory have banned the use of GM technology.
ABARE says failure to use GM cropping could see farmers lose out on up to $3 billion during the next 10 years.
Stephen Apted from ABARE says Australia risks being left behind as other countries embrace the practice.
"GM crop developments in Asia and the Americas indicate that Australia's grain and oil seed farmers will continue competing with lower cost GM crops, thus reducing the competitiveness of Australian farmers in world markets and that is where Australia risks being left behind," he said.
Julie Newman from the Network of Concerned Farmers says ABARE's claim that Australia's failure to adopt GM technology could cost $3 billion is misleading.
Ms Newman says the modelling is based on the assumption that GM crops will yield 10 per cent more, but actual trials of GM canola have produced yields of up to 20 per cent less than non-GM varieties.
"The only way farmers can actually make a loss is if this is going to be better and it is very clearly not correct for Australian conditions," she said.


Cave again rock-solid ---- underground wonders?

THE Gunns Plains Cave has reopened to the public following stabilisation works.Parks and Wildlife Service general manager Peter Mooney said the cave had been closed for several months while a boulder in the cave ceiling was stabilised.

"This has now been completed by the installation of a steel beam and rock bolts on the surface above the cave, which have secured the boulder," Mr Mooney said.

"While the cave was closed we took the opportunity to improve the site with works that include a new office roof and two new picnic shelters."

Cave lessees Geoff and Trish Deer said the walkways and electrical system had been upgraded and the cave never looked better.


Approximately 30 kilometres inland from Ulverstone, the first of the region's must see natural attractions are the spectacular caves at Gunns Plains. Guided tours to the cave's many underground wonders leave on the hour between 10am and 4pm everyday. While in the Gunn Plains area, animal lovers can check out the cold-blooded collection and farmyard menagerie at the Wings Creek Farm and Reptile Centre. Directly south of Gunns Plains near the township of Nietta, the stunning wilderness and breathtaking scenery of Leven Canyon is also well worthy of exploration.


Sunday, September 18, 2005



Tasmanian Truffle Enterprises
Growers of Australia's first black truffle

..... The price of black truffles is expected to exceed the 1,000 euro (£680) per kilo mark for the first time in France after an exceptionally poor harvest.
Truffle experts say that none will be left for Christmas when demand for the pungent ingredient is at its highest




who we are
arts@work is an arts agency established to develop employment, commissioning and export opportunities in the arts and cultural sector within Tasmania.
arts@work is an initiative of the Department of Tourism, Parks, Heritage and the Arts and Arts Tasmania.
what we do
arts@work works with arts and cultural organisations around the state to position Tasmanian cultural products in wider markets.
arts@work develops opportunities to showcase and promote all art-forms to gain heightened local, national and international recognition and media coverage for the arts in Tasmania.
arts@work manages the state's public art program and looks to extend commissioning opportunities for artists to create works for the public and private sector.
arts@work develops partnerships with the tourism, local government, health welfare industry and education sectors.
arts@work actively promotes employment in arts and culture based industries and provides agency services to promote linkage of arts and cultural providers to the local government, commercial and non-government sectors.
arts@work provides information about arts industry issues, innovations and opportunities.

Living Tasmanian artists to make way for writers

A new Tasmania-wide cultural event is on the books - Living Writers Week will replace Living Artists Week in 2006.

This year, Living Artists Week showcased more than 700 painters and sculptors in schools, studios, shop fronts and galleries around the state.

The acting head of Arts at Work, Lisa Singh, says the change is still in the planning phase.

"It will be obviously a different kind of an event," she said.

"Living Writers Week will have to take on a different focus but we do have a number of fantastic artists in Tasmania and they are also worth showcasing."

Ms Singh says dozens of paintings and sculptures have been sold and new works commissioned during this year's Living Artists Week.

"It puts the arts right in the spotlight and brings all kinds of benefits, economically and socially, that flow from that," she said.

"Also this has been the quieter period of the year for Tasmania and to have a statewide event exposed during that quieter time of the year I think is a real positive because it gets everyone out no matter how cold it is."


if you are a snoozer you are a loser

.... Mr Green said Mr Latham's attack was "rubbish" and accused the former leader of falling asleep during a pre-election briefing on forestry practices in Tasmania.
"I took him on a helicopter flight to look at forest management and he went to sleep," Mr Green said.
"That is the absolute truth." ....


Gunns denies controlling Tasmanian Premier

The head of the Tasmanian timber company Gunns has rejected claims that his company has control over the State Government and Premier Paul Lennon.

The claims were made by former Labor leader Mark Latham in an interview with ABC TV's Lateline program.

Mr Latham accused the Tasmanian Government of being run by the timber industry.

But Gunns chief John Gay says the Government does Gunns no favours, and is actually a major competitor of the company.

"Most certainly Gunns has to deal with the Government and we'll always have to deal with the Government when we have to take part of the resource from them," he said.

"Most certainly Forestry Tasmania is a major competitor to us and it's very unusual when you get a government organisation as a competitor of private enterprise and I think that's more questionable than Gunns and the Government's relationship."

Mr Latham also accused the State Government of not being prepared to negotiate a forest policy with him in the lead up to the federal election.

But Tasmanian Forestry Minister Bryan Green says Mr Latham would not listen.

"The bloke went to sleep while we were trying to show him from the air over the Styx Valley and the Weld Valley," he said.

Mr Lennon has refused to comment.


In other developments:

Claude the Crayfish

The one that didn't get away

Expert wants more action over lobster recovery plan

A Tasmanian giant freshwater lobster expert has called for transparency in the State Government's plans to implement a recovery plan for the endangered species.

Public submissions on the recovery plan closed in late June.

Todd Walsh, who was on the Government's initial lobster recovery team, says the plan is flawed because it does not require a 30 metre buffer zone between forestry activity and the habitat of threatened lobsters.

Mr Walsh says it has now been almost three months since the submission period ended and it is time for results.

"I would take a guess, if I was a gambling man, to say that the majority of people would be very disappointed with the whole process and the way this plan's come out," he said.

"Basically the plan does nothing more for the lobster than what's been in place for the last five or six years and its self serving to the forestry industry."


Call for urgent traffic action

A TRAFFIC management plan is urgently needed in Battery Point before someone is killed, two residents say.
Henry and Margaret Reynolds say too much attention is given to occasional noise at night rather than pedestrian safety on a daily basis.

And they criticise the Hobart City Council for its "abject failure" to effectively manage traffic in the suburb, particularly the main through road, Hampden Rd, and Colville and Runnymede Sts.

Henry Reynolds is Honorary Research Professor in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Tasmania. Margaret Reynolds is executive officer of the National Industry Association for Disabality Services' Tasmanian division.

"Noise and disturbance is one thing, but safety has a much higher level of importance," Ms Reynolds said last night.

Wetland may get new life as park

A $550,000 plan to transform New Town Bay's failed estuarine wetland into parkland goes before Hobart City Council this month.

The four-stage plan aims to transform the foreshore into "a prime waterfront recreational asset for Hobart".

The first stage proposes the wetland canal be sealed, emptied, filled with earth and stone and levelled.

The plan was considered by the council's parks and customer services committee last week.


ELs of a job for teachers

TEACHERS filling in Essential Learnings report cards say faults in the computer system they are using have left them in tears.
The teachers tell of typing in remarks about students, only to have them vanish from the system when another teacher inputs additional remarks.

The teachers asked that their names not be published for fear of losing their jobs.

They said they had broken down when dozens of remarks that had taken them hours to write disappeared from the Student Assessment and Reporting Information System (SARIS).

Teachers said most of their colleagues now referred to SARIS as SARS, having renamed the system after the deadly virus.


Friday, September 16, 2005

An artists view



a brilliant blog from Linden Langdon -- which shows the moods of THE MOUNTAIN.

Mount Wellington is an ever-loomimg presence behind the city Hobart

You only have to move a few hundred metres around town , to get a different perspective. The light and weather changes from minute to minute , day to day and season to season. Hobartians are blessed with views of the Mountain. Scenes with endless appeal

Somedays you can almost hear a cantata and fugue issuing from the ORGAN PIPES -- those columnar dolerite cliffs that mark its eastern --Hobart facing -- brow