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Monday, December 26, 2005

International visitors flock to Tasmania.

International visitors flock to Tasmania. 26/12/2005. ABC News Online

The ABC journo converts an anecdotal report of increased international toursim numbers into "FLOCKING"

Where's the hard numbers to back up such a bullish headline?

Tasmania's boost in international visitor numbers is being offset by fewer domestic tourists.

Tourism Australia says 2005 has been a bumper year for tourism in Australia and could end up as a record year for international visitor numbers.

The chairman of the Tourism Industry Council in Tasmania, Daniel Leesong, says the state's overall visitor numbers have reached a plateau.

But he says Tasmania's international tourist numbers anecdotally appear to have risen for the first time in a number of years.

"We have had some significant declines off a relatively low base in that market segment over the past couple of years but it looks like that trend has reversed," Mr Leesong said.

"But what is interesting now is we're seeing people travelling overseas on their holidays much more frequently and that obviously has an impact on Tasmania's domestic tourism."
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Double docking a tourism bonanza

The Mercury: Double docking a tourism bonanza [27dec05]

ASMANIA'S cruise ship season was more obvious than usual yesterday with the rare arrival in Hobart of two ships on the same day.

Tied up at Princes Wharf was the luxurious Silver Shadow, while the Artemis docked across Sullivans Cove at Macquarie Wharf.

Together they brought about 1000 visitors to the city.

Among them were Sydneysiders Jane and Stuart Kennedy.

The retirees are cruise-ship veterans and were full of praise for their ship, the Silver Shadow.

"The staff are unbelieveable," Mrs Kennedy said.

She said the smaller ship, which carried about 350 passengers, had a more intimate feel than larger ships.

"That's why we chose it," she said.

Mrs Kennedy said Christmas Eve and Christmas Day brought rough sailing.

She said they were warned as they left Melbourne about the wild weather.

On the way down the coast on Christmas Day they hit big swells and gales.

But the captain did his best to give everyone as smooth a passage as possible.

The Kennedys had been in Hobart before and planned to spend their day looking at the city's historic buildings.

The Silver Shadow and the Artemis arrived in Hobart from Melbourne, with both sailing for New Zealand last night.

The Hobart Ports Corporation is expecting a bumper 2005-06 cruise ship season.

Passenger numbers are expected to swell to 33,500, up 10,000 on last season, with crew numbers set to top 13,000 from 9500.

They are expected to inject more than $4.5 million into the local economy.

The Mercury: Skippy salad sparks Mary snub [27dec05]

The Mercury: Skippy salad sparks Mary snub [27dec05]

AN Australian wildlife welfare group has ditched a plan to install Danish Crown Princess Mary as its patron.

The Australian Wildlife Protection Council found out kangaroo meat was served at a Danish royal wedding function last year and no longer wants anything to do the the former Hobart girl.

The charity was planning to ask Princess Mary to be its third patron, alongside philosopher Peter Singer and former NSW MP Richard Jones.

The princess has often told the media she and the heir to the Danish throne bonded over their shared love of animals.

AWPC president Maryland Wilson discovered recently that kangaroo was on the menu at an exclusive pre-wedding dinner at the royal palace in Copenhagen in May last year.

The revelation effectively killed the patron plan.

"It certainly seemed like a good idea at the time, but not if she eats roo meat," Ms Wilson said.

"I think it would be the most appalling, disgraceful thing I can think of. I am so disappointed that she would be so insulting to the natural emblem of our country."

Sydney celebrity chef Luke Mangan said he had been personally asked by Crown Prince Frederik to include kangaroo salad in the pre-wedding feast.

Mangan marinated the kangaroo in red wine and served it with curried chick peas, Persian fetta, beetroot and curry dressing.

"That's what he wanted for that night and that's the only night we served it," Mangan said.

Earlier this month, Prince Frederik shot three deer to take a starring role at a hunt attended by royals and nobles from across Europe.

Princess Mary did not take part, preferring to spend the afternoon in a museum.

Summer's treat for gourmets

The Mercury: Summer's treat for gourmets [27dec05]

HE premier event of Hobart's Summer Festival kicks off tomorrow with the start of the Taste of Tasmania.

The Taste is a chance for Tasmania's restaurants and cafes, wineries and breweries to show off the best of their wares.

Complementing them will be entertainment for all tastes, from music to international street performers to wannabe rock stars competing in the air guitar competition.

Today will see 70 stall holders feverishly working in the Princes Wharf shed, turning it into a food lover's paradise.

Work has been under way since the beginning of the month to get the shed ready, with electrical fittings, gas and hot water facilities and waste water treatment systems all going into place.

Each year there are almost 200,000 visits made to the Taste.

Last year saw 38.4 tonnes of glass, 5.5 tonnes of cardboard and three tonnes of cooking oil recycled.

One of the new features at this year's Taste is the Gourmet Taste.

Four stalls will bear the Gourmet brand for their promotion of innovation in the use and preparation of Tasmanian produce.

There are also 12 new stalls featuring tasty treats such as wine, Asian vegetarian dishes, African food and seafood presented in new ways.

Outside the shed, Taste-goers will be entertained by street performers from around the world.

The Taste opens officially with the male and female winners of the Hartz Race to the Taste cutting the ribbon with Lord Mayor Rob Valentine and Alderman Eric Hayes.

Last year 226 runners took part in the 6km run from the Domain to Princes Wharf.

The Taste runs from tomorrow to January 3.

Gates open every day at 11am and close at 11pm except on December 31, when they close at 3.45pm for a ticketed New Year's Eve bash.

The Taste is a smoke-free zone except for designated areas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Whaling a diplomatic incident: Brown.

Whaling a diplomatic incident: Brown. 23/12/2005. ABC News Online

Whaling a diplomatic incident: Brown

It is claimed the Japanese killing of whales in Australia's Antarctic waters is tantamount to a diplomatic incident.

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown says Australia should have sent a surveillance ship to the area to document what he describes as the bloody carnage.

The whaling ship Keiku Maru is heading to Hobart with a sick sailor.

Senator Brown says the Australian Government should detain the ship and call in the Japanese ambassador

"This is a diplomatic incident and our diplomacy has failed," he said.

"It must be ratcheted up as there are many ways in which that can be done.

"The Prime Minister needs to ensure that he's responding to public feeling on this, he's way behind the game at the moment."
Protest widens

Greenpeace has said it will not hinder the medical transfer but it will try to prevent the refuelling and the ship's return to whaling in the Southern Ocean.

Spokesman Steve Shallhorn says the crew member may be transferred and the ship refuelled well out to sea, because of the likely protest action.

"Our latest information is that it would refuel for about four hours Saturday morning," he said.

"But we have to assume that their plans may change as public protest grows, so we'll just have to wait and see, we'll keep our eyes and ears open and see what happens."

Stuart Lennox, from Tasmanian protest group Eco-Fleet, expects many people will be out on the water tomorrow to show their opposition.

"We'd just like to see that ship not go back to the Southern Ocean and be kept here in Tasmania, so if it does there is going to be less whales killed in the Southern Ocean," he said.

Japanese Fisheries Agency spokesman Hideki Moronuki says the protests are counter-productive.

"I have to ask them to refrain from doing such dangerous activities, including disrupting our research facilities in the port," he said.

Greenpeace boats have tried to come between the Japanese harpooners and minke whales.

Mr Moronuki says accidents are the fault of Greenpeace.

"It's quite dangerous, any collision would not have occurred if Greenpeace were not there," he said.

Mr Moronuki says the use of by-products of Japanese scientific work on whales should not be confused with traditions of eating whale.

"Actually we have a tradition to eat whale meat and in order to harvest in sustainable manner we have to get enough scientific information for this purpose," he said.

According to Greenpeace, Japan is doubling its take of minke whales to more than 900 this year.
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Lesbian bus driver wins harassment payout.

Lesbian bus driver wins harassment payout. 23/12/2005. ABC News Online

Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Tribunal has awarded a woman $1,200 compensation for sexual harassment she received while working as a Metro bus driver.

But the tribunal found Metro did not discriminate against her because she was a lesbian.

The former employee, whose name has been suppressed, attributed her nervous breakdown in early 2000 to harassment by co-workers.

Last year she told the tribunal a culture of homophobia existed within the bus company and she would often hear co-workers make jokes about her sexuality.

The complainant argued she had been treated differently by management because she is a lesbian, but none of the claims could be substantiated by the tribunal.

It did agree that sexually-explicit graffiti found in at least three Metro terminus toilets was directed at her and should have been removed by Metro.

It awarded the woman $1,200 compensation for the "distress, humiliation and indignity she would have endured".

The tribunal ordered Metro forward a written apology to the complainant, which it would consider.
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Wharington tips big things for Skandia.

Wharington tips big things for Skandia. 23/12/2005. ABC News Online

Recently launched hi-tech carbon fibre supermaxis Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats are favourites to take out line honours in the Sydney-Hobart race starting on Boxing Day, but a yacht that failed to finish last year could upstage them both.

Under a major rule change for the 2005 race, there will be no upper speed limit, enabling boats unrestricted use of sail area, water ballast, canting or swinging keels and mast heights.

In the past, a speed limit was imposed for safety reasons, but with improvements in yacht design race officials have dropped restrictions on the use of new technology.

Under the new rules, boats with canting keels will no longer be restricted in the degree of cant, allowing them to swing their keels to design limits from the vertical and enabling yachts to heel over further as they put more sail to the wind.

Grant Wharington, the skipper of canting-keel Australian supermaxi Skandia, has rejected suggestions canting-keel boats are dangerous, with critics worried swing keels may become stuck.

"I see canting keels as a thing of the future and we are having some teething problems," said Wharington, who abandoned his yacht in Bass Strait while leading the 2004 race, after its canting keel broke and the boat capsized.

"I wouldn't be sailing with one if I thought it was too dangerous. I want to come home and see my family."

Bookmakers have named Alfa Romeo, a canting-keel 30-metre supermaxi with carbon fibre in its hull, mast, boom and working sails, as favourite for the notoriously tough 628 nautical mile race down Australia's south-east coast.

Second favourite is another carbon-fibre supermaxi, Wild Oats, followed by Skandia, an older-style supermaxi which won line honours in 2003 and was rebuilt after its 2004 mishap.

"We are substantially faster than we were last year, so it will be very interesting to see the difference in performance," Wharington said.

"I think we will be able to give the other boats a run for their money. I think the boat will be very, very fast and will be hopefully fast enough to be able to get line and handicap honours."
Light winds

A total of 86 yachts are scheduled to start the 61st Sydney-Hobart, one of the toughest bluewater classics. In 1998 six sailors died and dozens were rescued after a terrifying storm slammed into the fleet.

Meteorologists are forecasting light winds for the race which will see yachts race down the mainland's south-east coast and cross the notoriously dangerous Bass Strait to the river port of Hobart, on the southern island state of Tasmania.

The race record of one day 19 hours, 48 minutes and two seconds was set by Danish downwind flyer Nokia in 1999.

Forecast light winds may rob the 2005 hi-tech supermaxis of a chance of breaking the record, but skippers and crews are optimistic technology will beat the weather.

"If these boats have reasonable breeze for the whole race they will beat the record. If they have the breeze that the record was set in, they will absolutely smash the record," said Mark Richards, sail master on Wild Oats.

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Japanese fleet suspends whaling, Greenpeace says.

Japanese fleet suspends whaling, Greenpeace says. 23/12/2005. ABC News Online


Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2005.. Home

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2005.. Home

..Start search
. Lone sailor delighted to be back with the pack
Nick Moloney arrives to join Hugo Boss assault on Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
. Small boats, Big ambitions
"Our expectations is to win the race," says Robert Hick, owner/skipper of the 31-footer Toecutter.
. Lone sailor delighted to be back with the pack
Solo sailor Nick Moloney arrives to join Hugo Boss assault on Rolex Sydney Hobart.
. Rolex Sydney Hobart Website to interface with Google Earth
Watch the 2005 Rolex Sydney Hobart in Google Earth, with yacht positions and standings updated every ten minutes.

Parents mystified by new school reports

The Mercury: Parents mystified by new school reports [23dec05]

PARENTS have been dumbfounded by their first look at school reports under the new Essential Learnings curriculum, the State Opposition says.

And parents of Year 10 students are concerned the new final year certificate will not be of any use to leavers seeking employment.

Liberal education spokesman Peter Gutwein said the Year 10 certificates were a disgrace and a number of irate parents had contacted his office.

He also said the certificates provided no real assistance to potential employers deciding whether or not to hire young Tasmanians.

"I can't see any possibility of any employer obtaining any useful information from the new Year 10 graduation certificate," Mr Gutwein said.

"All it contains is a few lines of Education Department generic rhetoric attempting to explain each learning area and then three scales supposedly measuring a student's progress."

The certificate shows each student's final assessment represented as black dots on three scales for Being Literate, Being Numerate and Maintaining Wellbeing.

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry employment education training unit manager Jodie Stevenson also criticised the report and certificate formats.

She said the format and language could only be understood by those who'd studied education at uni.

Ms Stevenson said the first impression for anyone applying for a job was the CV and educational documentation, and employers did not want to have to buy a manual or take a course to be able to interpret them.

"The Essential Learnings does reflect the valuable skills that employers are looking for, but we can't tell that from these reports and certificates," she said.

One complaining parent said all the hard work done by their child was ignored by the Year 10 certificate.

"Twelve years of schooling are summed up in three miserable lines that indicate nothing," the parent wrote.

But Education Minister Paula Wriedt said the certificates had been developed after wide consultation with employers.

"More than 40 employers, as well as the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, apprenticeship centres and group training authorities have either been briefed or individually consulted on the Year 10 certificate," she said.

Intelligent Island's $33m kiss of life

The Mercury: Intelligent Island's $33m kiss of life [22dec05]

ASMANIA'S trouble-prone Intelligent Island program is getting another chance, with a decision being made about how to spend the remaining $33 million in funding.

The new plans include the development of a $30 million CSIRO Information Communications Technology Centre in Hobart and $18 million in grants to other local ICT businesses.

The Intelligent Island program was launched by the Federal Government in 2000, using $40 million raised from the part-sale of Telstra.

The cornerstone of the project was to be a bio-informatics centre but that project collapsed in April, following deadlocks in the negotiations.

Yesterday, Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz and state Economic Development Minister Lara Giddings jointly announced the new funding arrangements for the remaining $33 million.

The CSIRO will receive $15 million and match it with $15 million to create an ICT research centre in Hobart, which is expected to create 40 full-time positions.

The remaining $18 million will be allocated to assist Tasmanian ICT companies in development or marketing.

CSIRO's proposal for the ICT centre will be delivered in February next year and Ms Giddings said she did not expect there to be any problems with its approval.

Considering the program's past problems, both levels of government had moved as quickly as possible to get Intelligent Island back on track, said Senator Abetz.

Ms Giddings said she expected to receive the first round of funding applications in March next year.

Whale ship showdown

The Mercury: Whale ship showdown [23dec05]

A JAPANESE whaling ship will sail into a political storm and a flotilla of protesters when it unloads a stricken crew member in Hobart tomorrow.

The Keiko Maru's skipper is expected to try to avoid protesters by transferring the sick crew member to a police boat in Storm Bay.

However, it may need to sail up the Derwent River to refuel at Self's Point.

News that the vessel would dock in Hobart fuelled outrage against whaling in the Southern Ocean.

The ship's agent refused to comment yesterday and Hobart Ports would not release details, referring inquiries to the agent.

There is also no mention of the vessel in today's shipping list supplied to The Mercury.

A police spokesman said Tasdhmania Police would help with the transfer of the stricken sailor but he would not comment further.

Environmental group Eco-Fleet spokesman Stuart Lennox said the group's inflatable rafts "will be out there" to meet the Keiko Maru.

He said he expected other vessels from concerned Tasmanians would also motor, sail and paddle out to meet the ship tomorrow morning, particularly if it had to refuel.

"It will use most of its fuel getting to Tasmania," he said.

"Or it could meet its refueling ship halfway."

Greens senator Bob Brown and Greenpeace are calling on the Federal Government to impound the boat to prevent its return to the whaling fleet.

Senator Brown, who will be in Hobart for the protest, said federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell had made an art-form of talking-up Australia's anti-whaling stance.

"He can't allow it to go back to the killing," Senator Brown said. "The ship is part of a fleet harpooning our whales in our territory off Antarctica.

"The Government should impound the ship as it does Indonesian fishing boats and the pirate Portuguese Patagonian toothfish ships. It should give the sick whaler medical aid but ensure the ship does not return to the kill."

Greenpeace CEO Steve Shallhorn said his group would not interfere with the medical evacuation of the crew member but he backed Senator Brown's call.

"This is a perfect opportunity for the Australian Government to walk its talk on its opposition to whaling and ensure that this ship does not return to the fleet, which is on a killing spree in Australia's Antarctic Territory waters right now," he said.

Greenpeace has released graphic images of whales hanging from the ships and one of its two boats was involved in a collision with a whaling ship.

Greenpeace said the collision happened when its vessel Esperanza was trying to block access to a processing ship.

A harpooning vessel carrying a dead whale tried to nudge the Esperanza out of the way.

Senator Campbell said Australia was legally powerless to stop Japan killing whales.

"If I thought I could bring an end to the slaughter that is occurring in Australian territory in Antarctica by sending a lawyer to a court somewhere, I would have done it," he said.

But he said graphic images filmed by Greenpeace of Japanese whaling would be likely to horrify the Japanese public.

And he said: "They are doing this under the scientific clause of the whaling convention but there is no science involved in slaughtering animals, seeing them drown in their own blood, dragging them on to a vessel and slicing them up into pieces and sending them back to Japan."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ruralco takeover on track.

Ruralco takeover on track. 20/12/2005. ABC News Online

A takeover by the New South Wales rural group Ruralco of the Tasmanian agribusiness Roberts Limited now seems more likely.

In June this year, Roberts pulled out of merger deal two weeks after an agreement was drawn up.

Last week Ruralco offered five of its shares for every eight Roberts shares and the offer appears more likely to succeed.

Ruralco has informed the Roberts chairman that his company's biggest shareholder, Neale Edwards Pty Ltd, supports the merger and intends to accept the Ruralco bid.

The Edwards Group has a 31 per cent share in Roberts.

Ruralco's chairman Richard England has previously said the two companies have a common interest in real estate, fertilisers, wool and livestock.

Thinking big stirs devil of a parks row

The Mercury: Thinking big stirs devil of a parks row [20dec05]

A NORTHERN wildlife park owner's plans to build a 19m-tall Tasmanian devil has sparked outrage from another park owner who planned a similar development last year.

Trevor Cuttriss, who owns Zoodoo at Richmond, was angry Dick Warren, who owns Launceston Lakes, had taken up the idea of a big devil while Zoodoo's project was jumping hurdles to get planning approval.

He said he had considered Mr Warren a friend and had even suggested for him to build a giant thylacine to complement the big devil Zoodoo was planning.

But Mr Warren could not understand the reaction and said Mr Cuttriss knew of Launceston Lakes' plans months ago.

"Whatever I do at my park won't have any effect on his business whatsoever," he said.

"He's in the South, I'm in the North and this has been on the drawing board for a long time."

Mr Cuttriss's plans stalled last December after residents objected to a proposed 17m devil. The size was reduced to 13.5m but it narrowly failed to gain council approval and two appeals also failed.

But Mr Cuttriss, who spent $20,000 trying to get approval, intended moving it to the rear of the park and would re-submit plans in the New Year.

He said Mr Warren knew of the revised plans and he was disappointed the northern park owner had not told him of the Launceston Lakes plan.

"He told me he needed to do something big and I'd already suggested that he build a big thylacine," he said.

Something Wild owner Ray Green said although all the parks were effectively in competition, they had a spirit of co-operation and kept others informed of their plans.

He said Mr Cuttriss's plans had been discussed at meetings of a parks representative body, Wildlife Institutions Tasmania, but Mr Warren quit the organisation about six months ago.

Mr Green said WIT park owners agreed to work openly with each other and he said he was disappointed Mr Warren had chosen to build a big devil.

Mr Warren's devil is set to cost more than $2 million and would be one of the biggest "big things" in Australia.

He said his plan had nothing to do with the WIT.

"Trevor's plans were public well before they were discussed at any WIT meeting," he said.

Railway rescue package on hold

The Mercury: Railway rescue package on hold [20dec05]

RAIL operator Pacific National is unlikely to consider a $118 million federal and state government rescue packages for Tasmanian rail services until February.

The Pacific National board met for five minutes in Sydney yesterday to consider a Patrick Corporation resolution that Pacific National commence a $500 million claim against Toll Holdings over Queensland rail operations.

The resolution was voted down and Tasmanian rail services were not considered.

PN decided early this year to shut down operations between Hobart and Burnie and Bell Bay and needs a board meeting to reverse the decision.

Meanwhile, the federal and state governments' rescue package for Tasmanian rail has won the conditional approval of Toll Holdings.

Subject to examination of points of detail the proposed package can provide the means to upgrade Tasmania's rail network in ways that can secure the survival of competitive rail transport in Tasmania," a Toll spokesman said.

Toll Holdings has made a $4.6 billion takeover offer for Patrick, sparking a war of words and mass departures from PN.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Owner thinks big with devilish wildlife park plan.

Owner thinks big with devilish wildlife park plan. 19/12/2005. ABC News Online

A Tasmanian wildlife park owner wants to establish a big tassie devil.

The owner of the Launceston Lakes Wildlife Park on the West Tamar, Dick Warren, is pursuing a $2 million plan to create what he describes as Australia's largest tasmanian devil.

The aim is to develop an attraction to bring more people to Launceston and raise awareness about the facial tumour disease which has cut the number of devils in the wild.

Mr Warren says 'The Big Devil' would be quite impressive.

"This animal is 19 metres to the tip of the ears, 35 metres long," he said.

"It's got an interpretation centre in the centre of it that you can walk out through its neck and up onto its tongue and look down through the Valley."

Outages cost Aurora $2m

The Mercury: Outages cost Aurora $2m [19dec05]

TASMANIA's electricity reliablility has improved but Aurora paid $2,094,960 for poor service under the Guarantee Service Level scheme last financial year.

Extreme weather on February 2 and 3 resulted in 17,390 customers being without power for 12 hours or more, which may have been eligible for exemption. But Aurora elected to make payments of $1,391,200.

Under the scheme, a customer enduring frequent or prolonged outages receives $80.

There were another 1149 outages lasting 12 hours or more, with payments totalling $91,920.

There were also 806 payments for reliability failure in urban areas and 6842 in non-urban areas.
Releasing his fifth annual review of the state's energy industry yesterday, Tasmanian Energy Regulator Andrew Reeves said that, overall, the electricity industry's performance was positive for consumers and average prices had decreased. Customers experienced an average of 314 minutes without supply, compared with 376 minutes in the previous year.

"Queensland and ACT customers generally experienced marginally cheaper rates than Tasmania, but other states and territories paid the same or higher costs for their domestic electricity," Mr Reeves said.

"Business customers in Tasmania enjoy electricity prices at or close to the bottom end of the current range of publicly available Australian prices."

The review also found:

Transend Network's capital program was behind schedule, prolonging a high level of risk in the network in some areas.

A total of 63 residential gas customers were connected, paying in the mid range compared to other jurisdictions.

The most unreliable region for electricity supply was the Tamar West area, where customers experienced outages averaging 28 hours.


Warner weighs up devil disease role

The Mercury: Warner weighs up devil disease role [19dec05]

A FRESH round of talks between cartoon giant Warner Bros and the State Government is under way, offering new hope to the disease-plagued Tasmanian devil.

Secret talks with the US-based entertainment giant -- which has earned millions from its Taz cartoon character -- have been held in recent weeks, with more to come this week.

A deal could result in publicity and funding to boost research into the devastating facial tumour disease which has now been recorded across more than 65 per cent of Tasmania and could eventually wipe out the species.

A love-hate relationship between Warner Bros and the State Government began almost a decade ago when the Government decided Taz would be good for marketing the state.

Taz, who is widely recognised for his ravenous appetite and whirs like a tornado, ranks with Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner in the three most popular Warner Bros characters.

The cartoons -- and merchandising spin-offs -- have given Tasmania global exposure as a distant and mysterious island destination.

But a Tasmanian marketing deal couldn't be done as Warner Bros -- which has trademarked versions of the names Taz, Tassie, Taz-mania and Tasmanian Devil since the 1950s -- said the state could only use the devil if it was prepared to pay the right price, reportedly in the millions. The State Government refused.

The discovery of the devil disease sparked a renewal of talks in 2003 with hopes the renowned character could spin to the aid of his stricken namesake.

The Mercury alerted Warner Bros to the disease -- which causes cancerous lesions and leads to eventual death -- and Warner Bros spokeswoman Barbara Brogliatti said the company would consider supporting the Tasmanian devil in its plight.

Ms Brogliatti said the Taz image would be off limits for a possible awareness or fundraising campaign.

"But we are major contributors to environmental issues. And if someone did come to us and say 'We're at a desperate time' we would possibly consider it," she said.

"And because of the link, we might care a little more."

By mid-2004 talks had progressed, with speculation in August that a deal had been clinched -- but again nothing eventuated.

Taz made his Warner Bros debut in 1954 as a playmate for Bugs Bunny but, despite his instant success, a studio manager scrapped the devil because he was "too nasty".

He was later reborn and went on to become a major force in Warner Bros animation.

The Warner Bros website describes Taz as "a strong murderous beast, jaws as powerful as a steel trap" who "slices through trees like a rotary saw" and "feasts on an entire ecosystem of jungle creatures".

Ironically, the devils' habit of biting each other as they compete for food is thought to be spreading the disease.

Cable car now has majority backing

The Mercury: Cable car now has majority backing [19dec05]

SUPPORT for a cable car on Mt Wellington is growing, with a new survey revealing a majority back the controversial development.

Independent MLC Jim Wilkinson surveyed residents in his electorate and found more than 60 per cent of respondents supported a low-impact cable car.

He said yesterday the result was surprising considering Hobart's vehement rejection of a cable car when it was last mooted in 1995.

But it appeared people now realised there was scope for environmentally sensitive cable cars and were aware of the tourism potential for Hobart.

"I believe if we could have a low-impact, aesthetically acceptable cable car it would be good thing for Hobart," Mr Wilkinson said. "It would add to our package of tourist attractions."

Mr Wilkinson sent his survey to about 9000 residents of the Legislative Council division of Nelson, which includes Bonnet Hill, Dynnyrne, Fern Tree, Kingston, Kingston Beach, Leslie Vale, Lower Sandy Bay, Mt Nelson, Neika, Ridgeway, Sandy Bay and Taroona.

Almost 1000 people returned the survey and 63.4 per cent supported the proposal of a "low-impact, lightweight tourist cable car" for Mt Wellington.

Mr Wilkinson said investment in a cable car would also mean a suitable development at the top of the mountain, such as a restaurant or cafe, would need to be considered.

"There is no reason why a clever, innovative architect couldn't design an appropriate complex to be built at the pinnacle of the mountain," he said.

But Greens leader Peg Putt said there was no scope for development on the pinnacle because of the sensitive alpine environment. Ms Putt said the Wellington Park Management Plan clearly stipulated there could not be development at the top of Mt Wellington.

"He [Mr Wilkinson] wants to overthrow 10 years of community consultation and planning that has gone into the management plan," she said.

Ms Putt also said there was no place for a cable car on the mountain.

"There is no such thing as a low-impact cable car," she said.

Ms Putt said any cable car would require unsightly clearing of vegetation to reduce the bushfire potential.

Liberal deputy leader Will Hodgman threw his support behind a cable car for Mt Wellington in October and said yesterday it was clear enthusiasm was growing.

The Wellington Park Management Plan 2005 prohibits shops, restaurants and retail outlets in the pinnacle zone.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Baker, mill reject Weston takeover bid.

Baker, mill reject Weston takeover bid. 15/12/2005. ABC News Online

Cripps Nubake and Tasmanian Flour Mills have rejected a takeover bid from baking giant George Weston Foods.

Yesterday the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved the proposal from the company, which owns the Tip Top Brand.

But the directors of the holding company for the two Tasmanian businesses have decided they are happy with the current performance of the organisations.

Paul Gadomsky, from Cripps Nubake, says the company wants to maintain and grow its business relationships in Tasmania.

"If an interested party comes along in the future we'll look at it but we're not proactively seeking a buyer at this stage," he said.

Northern Tas set for pilot poppy processor.

Northern Tas set for pilot poppy processor. 16/12/2005. ABC News Online

A new poppy processor is expects to have a pilot processing plant operational in northern Tasmania by next april.

TPI Enterprises expects to invest many millions of dollars in poppy processing, as a part of a three to five-year program.

The expansion comes at a time when Tasmania's poppy industry has been undergoing a contraction, driven by a world oversupply of opiates.

TPI Director Jarrod Ritchie says the company will use new extraction technology.

"We're very excited about some of our novel extraction techniques," he said.

"As part of our application, we've outlined that we will be doing an extraction and concentration step without the use of organic solvents."
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Veteran yachtsman calls for Sydney-Hobart changes.

Veteran yachtsman calls for Sydney-Hobart changes. 18/12/2005. ABC News Online

Veteran Australian yachting identity Lou Abrahams says super-maxis are damaging the profile of the Sydney to Hobart race.

Abrahams, 78, has won the event twice and will skipper his 11-metre Challenge in this year's bluewater classic, which starts on Boxing Day.

He said with new 30-metre maxis Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats XI tipped to smash the race record, the public's interest would be lost once they cross the line.

Abrahams said dramatic changes were needed for future races.

"Somehow or other, the boats have got to be split up into three races, or what ever it is in size of boats or something, so that you've got three major prizes instead of one," he said.

"This year certainly is going to highlight the problem very greatly I think."

Tas scores mining exploration boost.

Tas scores mining exploration boost. 18/12/2005. ABC News Online

With metal prices at an all time high, a new wave of mineral exploration on Tasmania's west coast is turning up encouraging results.

Allegiance Mining's nickel deposit discovery has resulted in an eight-year mining commitment, and Copper Mines Tasmania is also looking at further development.

Allegiance Mining will construct its $60 million plant in the west coast wilderness near Zeehan.

Exploration manager Lindsay Newnham says the company did not expect to detect high nickel grades on the west coast but will now spend $2.5 million on a six-month exploration program.

"You never know what you're going to find on the west coast, it's just such a wonderful area to be exploring in," he said.

General manager Paul Richardson says the company never expected to find high-grade nickel on the west coast.

"It is geologically different to practically any other deposit in the world," he said.

"It is basically a nickel sulphide ore body that is in what people thought is rocks that shouldn't host such an ore body."

Copper Mines Tasmania general manager Scot Clyde says his company has plans to spend $250,000 on exploration.

"At present we've drilled out in the order of five years ahead of us, but it's open below that, so potentially it's open for years beyond that," he said.

"At the moment we're looking at doing further drilling to bring our confidence levels up to something in the order of eight to 10 years in front of us."

The Allegiance nickel mine will create 125 jobs on the west coast.
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Triabunna developers appoint consultant.

Triabunna developers appoint consultant. 18/12/2005. ABC News Online

A $20 million marina and residential complex planned for Triabunna on Tasmania's east coast is a step closer.

The developers have appointed a Tasmanian environmental and tourism planning consultancy, Inspiring Place, to develop a master plan and oversee the project through planning approvals.

A representative of the consortium behind the project, Michael Kent, says it is hoped a full development application will go before the Glamorgan/Spring Bay Council by the middle of next year.

Mr Kent says the final plan could include a range of amenities.

"There will be approximately 50 townhouses built around the marina and boardwalk and that will be the first stage," he said.

Final approval is expected in early 2007.

Ida Bay Railway project commended -

Ida Bay Railway project commended - Scott Gadd, Secretary - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

The nation?s last original bush tramway reopened for business today in Tasmania?s far south.

The Ida Bay Railway, which originally hauled limestone and later operated as a tourist railway, has been reborn after an intensive restoration program by Meg Thornton and a dedicated team of supporters.

Opening the attraction today, Department of Tourism, Parks, Heritage and the Arts Secretary Scott Gadd commended Ms Thornton for her dedication to and investment in the project.

He said the railway had the potential to be a highlight of the diverse suite of tourist attractions in the Huon Valley and far south.

?This project comes at a time of significant tourism development and investment in the region,? Mr Gadd said.

?This includes Forestry Tasmania?s successful Airwalk, ongoing trackwork and the building of a new visitor shelter by the Parks and Wildlife Service in the Hartz Mountains National Park, improvements at the Hastings thermal pool and the major tourism accommodation and visitor centre development at Cockle Creek.

?The Tasmanian Heritage Council believes the railway is the last original bush tram in Australia.

?The council has also noted the outer terminus is the southernmost railway station in the country.

?It is hoped the Ida Bay Railway eventually becomes a ?must see and do? attraction.?

This initiative is part of the State Government?s commitment to progressing Tasmania Together Goal 21 ? Value, protect and conserve our natural and cultural heritage.

Hobart Council a Recycling Backwater -

Hobart Council a Recycling Backwater - Doug Parkinson, MLC - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Doug Parkinson MLC, today called on the Hobart City Council to stop being grubby and to introduce a worthwhile recycling system for Hobart ratepayers.

?This council has lost its way, after promising to be recycling cardboard by October this year it has failed again.

?For a Capital City, this Council has the worst record in the Country on recycling and is now lagging far behind the Glenorchy City Council.

?Many of Tasmania?s regional councils even have a better record and the Hobart Councillors need to pick up their act and follow suit.

?In Glenorchy there is a second wheelie bin with a yellow lid to take mixed recyclables such as plastics, glass, cardboard, paper, aluminium and steel containers, etc, Hobart needs the same.

?The Glenorchy system is geared for the major corporate recycler Colex and its ?state of the art? sorting and baling facility at Lutana.

?It?s high time the HCC got its act together and got serious about recycling,? said Mr Parkinson.

Further information: Tasmanian Government Communications Unit
Phone: (03) 6233 6573

Liberals on Drugs -

Liberals on Drugs - David Llewellyn, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Deputy Premier David Llewellyn said yesterday?s statement by Brett Whiteley shows the Liberal Party is prepared to put Tasmanian lives at risk in the pursuit of a cheap headline.

?The attack by Mr Whiteley on the Needle Availability Program is quite extraordinary and calls into question the Liberal Party?s commitment to this life-saving program.

?The Director of Public Health warned as recently as August that dragging the Needle Availability Program into the public debate about drug usage could put at risk one of Australia?s greatest public health successes.

?Dr Taylor made a number of points:

� The NAP is absolutely critical to limit the spread of blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis C and HIV;

� The Program has been so successful that Australia has among the lowest incidence of these diseases anywhere in the world;

� We need to keep the Program going for the sake of every Australian;

� There were many reasons for needle numbers fluctuating, including the timing of bulk order payments at either the start or the end of the year;

� The Program had never been presented as an indicator of drug use and the way it worked made it a very poor indicator;

� The aim of the Program is to ensure drug users do not share needles or other equipment and pass on infections to other users and the broader community;

� The sharing of needles and syringes has declined by three quarters since the mid-1990s;

� However, that means more needle usage for the same number of users ? in other words, higher needle numbers is a sign of success rather than a problem; and

� Any restriction in availability - which led to an increase in needle sharing would be an absolute disaster.

?Dr Taylor asked that the Needle Availability Program not be used as a weapon in the political debate about drugs.

?Mr Whiteley has chosen to ignore that request and in doing so has called into question the Liberal Party?s commitment to the Program.

?Mr Hidding needs to spell out whether this vital public health initiative will be safe from the Liberals, who vandalised the health system last time they were in Government.?

?Mr Whiteley has also conveniently forgot about Road side Drug testing, the 2005 ? 09 Drug Strategy and the further strengthening of the misuse of Drugs Act.

?In the 2004/05 Financial Year - 496 serious drug offenders were also charged by Tasmanian Police.

?If it wasn?t so serious an issue, you would nearly have to think it was April Fools day not Christmas for this incompetent Grandstander,? Mr Llewellyn said.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Construction Starts At North Esk Rowing Club

Construction Starts At North Esk Rowing Club - Jim Cox, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

The North Esk Rowing Club?s new clubrooms project has been helped with a State Government grant.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Jim Cox today presented North Esk Rowing Club President Kerry Dawkins with a cheque for $150,000 to assist with the construction of new club premises.

?I?m delighted to present the club with $150,000 under Sport and Recreation Tasmania?s 2005-06 Facilities Grant Program,? Minister Cox said today.

?The money will go towards bulding a new, bigger clubhouse, which will also cater for people with disabilities.

?The North Esk Rowing Club is a very successful Northern Tasmanian Sporting Organisation, having won the State Pennant and Hydro Cup in the 2004-2005 season, when its rowers competed successfully at the National Championships.

?The Club has 155 members across all age categories, and the improved club facilities should help attract new members,? Mr Cox said.

Mr Cox said that the Facilities Grant Program provides financial assistance to eligible organisations to develop quality facilities that meet the sport and recreation needs of the community.

?The Facilities Grant Program will distribute in excess of $1.1 million to 58 projects throughout the State during 2005-06.

?The Facilities Grant Program provides grants of up to $200,000 for new and existing facility developments, with funds made available through the Community Support Levy.

?The State Government is committed to the development of a strong and vibrant sport and recreation industry that is capable of supporting Tasmania?s physical activity needs now and well into the future,? Mr Cox said.

Historic Partnership To Deliver New Affordable Housing -

Historic Partnership To Deliver New Affordable Housing - Paul Lennon, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

At least 700 new affordable houses will be built in Tasmania under a new $130 million partnership between the State Government and the community sector, the Premier announced today.

Mr Lennon signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding between the State Government and six key community organisations to form a new Affordable Housing Organisation.

The State Government will contribute $24 million to the AHO over the first four years as well as making $35 million worth of public land available for community housing developments in the South, North and North-West.

The arrangement will lever $105 million worth of investment in public housing by private developers to help ease existing shortages ? also creating work for 1,000 construction industry employees.

Mr Lennon said the first parcels of land would be released in February and the State Government was close to completing bilateral agreements to build affordable housing with community groups Onecare and STEPS, which was expected to see construction begin almost immediately.

?This is the biggest-ever single affordable housing program in Tasmania?s history,? Mr Lennon said.

?The new approach to public housing will provide homes for more than twice as many Tasmanians who are already on the category one, or most urgent, waiting list.

?This is a sustainable way of increasing the stock of affordable housing in Tasmania into the future.

?The partnership we have formed with the community sector delivers a system that moves away from the short-term focus on one-off capital programs and provides an ongoing strategic approach.

?It is a long-term, forward-thinking innovative solution that builds on the successes of the Affordable Housing Strategy.?

Mr Lennon said the State Government would increase its commitment over time as demand required.

He said the new approach represented better value for taxpayers and more public housing for Tasmanians most in need.

The $95 million Affordable Housing Strategy had delivered more than 300 new public houses, whereas under the AHO, the State Government would invest $24 million to create at least 700 new homes for vulnerable Tasmanians.

?This is clearly a better deal all round and it will help secure a better future for Tasmanians in greatest need,? Mr Lennon said.

?We have to keep thinking outside the square and looking at what is the best way of meeting community needs while spending taxpayers? money responsibly.

?The new Affordable Housing Organisation will lever off private sector developers to boost Tasmania?s public housing stock in a way that we couldn?t hope to achieve by the State Government building and owning all new properties itself.?

Under the partnership deal, the AHO will enter into head lease agreements with the private sector to build new affordable housing stock.

Developers would have guaranteed rental income for at least 10 years, with the AHO to sub-lease to families on the Housing Tasmania waiting list.

The State Government?s funds to the AHO would be used to underwrite leases to tenants, providing the security needed to make the AHO attractive to investors.

Non-Government organisations that have today committed to the Community Housing Organisation MoU are Anglicare, STEPS, Southern Cross Care, Onecare, Centacare Tasmania and the Salvation Army.

This group, to be led by Rev Chris Jones from Anglicare, has been tasked with setting up the AHO.

Mr Lennon said the State Government took its core social responsibility of providing public housing very seriously.

The Premier said Government officials had been working closely with the community sector on the best way of moving forward since the announcement of a $3 million-a-year public housing injection in his State of the State speech.

Today?s announcement doubles that commitment.

?This year, we have spent a record $112 million on public housing in Tasmania ? that?s up 44 per cent on when we came to office,? the Premier said.

?However, we recognise more needs to be done to meet the need in the community and I?m confident that by working with our community partners and the private sector, we can deliver better results into the future.

?We have done a lot of work on how best to deliver sustainable long-term affordable housing in Tasmania.

?We?ve worked with the Macquarie Bank on possible solutions and we gained valuable insight into how best to tailor an affordable housing partnership to suit Tasmania?s needs.

?We need a sustainable way of increasing the stock of affordable housing into the future.

?The new system that I announce today moves away from the short-term focus on one-off capital programs to an ongoing, strategic approach.?

Mr Lennon said the public land to be made available would be spread across the State in areas such as Glenorchy, New Norfolk, George Town, Newstead, East Devonport and Ulverstone.

He stressed that the AHO would not oversee a return to ?broadacre? housing developments.?The Affordable Housing Organisation will deliver a permanent, sustainable approach, drawing on the combined resources of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors for years to come,? Mr Lennon said.

More Big Salmon For Lake Barrington -

More Big Salmon For Lake Barrington - Steven Kons, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Primary Industries and Water Minster Steve Kons has overseen the release of 300 mature Atlantic salmon into Lake Barrington.

Mr Kons said that today?s release of fish in the 2 to 3 kg range was one in the latest batch of stockings by the Service.

?The Service has boosted its stocking of public inland waters over the past couple of years,? he said.

?Since early 2005 the Service has stocked our public inland waters with more than 63 tonnes of adult and yearling fish, including brook, rainbow and brown trout as well as Atlantic salmon.

?The increased stocking program has largely been made possible through the support of the State?s private fisheries.

?This has allowed the Service to capitalise on generous and timely donations such as these fish today, which are from 1200 salmon donated by Saltas from its surplus broodstock.

?Apart from Lake Barrington, the Service stocked 150 into each of Bradys and Brushy Lagoon yesterday, and will release a further 300 into each of Craigbourne and Meadowbank Dams over the next few days.

?Given the efforts by the Service to improve the inland recreational fishery, I encourage anglers to get the best value for their licence money and go trout fishing over the summer.

?This latest stocking effort will be timely for those people lucky enough to find some fishing gear under the Christmas tree to try out their new rig on an attractive target species.

?And who knows they, could be even luckier and bag a fish that will fit in well with the dining fare over the festive season.?

For more information, contact Rob Freeman, Inland Fisheries Service on 0419 123 733

Angel gas project starts on NW Shelf -

Angel gas project starts on NW Shelf - Breaking News - Business - Breaking News: "Woodside Petroleum says development is due to begin immediately at the $1.6 billion Angel gas project on the North West Shelf.
'The NWS Venture participant companies are excited to proceed with this new field development, which will underpin current gas contracts and future sales,' Woodside Petroleum director of North West Shelf Ventures, Jack Hamilton, said.
The company said that drilling would begin at the site between the third quarter of fiscal 2006 and the second quarter of fiscal 2007, with the platform due to be fully operational by the end of 2007/2008.
'The 7,500 tonne Angel jacket substructure and 7,000 tonne topside are expected to be fully operational by Q4 2008,' Woodside said.
'The Angel development will include three production wells which are scheduled for drilling between Q3 2006 and Q2 2007.'
A third major offshore production platform will be built off the North West shelf under the gas and condensate project.
It will include a new 50km subsea pipeline, which will link the platform to the venture's existing North Rankin production facility.
The platform will have a capacity of up to 800 million standard cubic feet of gas a day, and up to 50,000 barrels of condensate.
Partners in the project include the operator Woodside Energy Ltd, BHP Billiton (North West Shelf) Pty Ltd, BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd, Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, Japan Australia LNG Pty Ltd, and Shell Development Pty Ltd.
? 2005 AAP
Brought to you by "

Commonwealth Marine Reserves Disgust -

Commonwealth Marine Reserves Disgust - Steven Kons, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

The Tasmanian Government says it?s disgusted at the proposed new marine reserves in Commonwealth waters.

Primary Industries and Water Minister Steve Kons says it?s particularly galling that the Federal Government had not consulted the State over its plans.

?The Commonwealth with one fell swoop is intent on destroying the iconic Tasmanian fishery by wiping it off the face of the map.

?The philosophy of absolute power corrupts absolutely is evident in this bizarre move that will throw hundreds of fishing families into the lines at Centrelink.?

Mr Kons said nothing has incensed him more during his time as Minister as this move that will destroy Australia?s premier sustainable fishery.

?Canberra has had confidence to vest the management of fisheries like rock lobster and scallops in the State, including in Commonwealth waters, yet it hasn?t bothered to ask how these closures will impact on them.

?The map shows areas off limits to commercial fishing or open to only restricted fishing totalling two and a half times the size of Tasmania.

?And it is disproportionately closer to Tasmania than any of the other states.

?It is interesting that the Commonwealth is prepared to barely touch their mates in the petrochemical and sea mining industries but don?t care about our fishers.?

Mr Kons said he would seek meetings with Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell and Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald as soon as possible to try to have the proposals reviewed.

?Closing these vast areas for commercial crayfishing and scallop fishing will put more pressure on those remaining open, yet the fishery is being managed on a completely sustainable basis.

?In fact research clearly shows stocks are improving since the introduction of the quota management system.?

Mr Kons said the new reserves proposed east of Bass Strait had the potential to halve the rebuilding scallop fishery.

?Again Tasmania?s scallops fishery, in contrast with that based in Commonwealth waters, is being well managed with the introduction of state-of-the-art technological aids.

?Fishermen for the first time in a decade have had confidence to negotiate export orders for our scallops invest heavily in state of the art equipment, which are deservedly an icon of our primary industries sector.

?The reserves completely undermine Tasmania?s management strategy for the fishery and we?ll have to go back to square one.?

Mr Kons said Tasmanian-based Commonwealth fisheries like the trawl sector targeting species like blue eye trevalla would also be severely affected with flow-ons to processing jobs.

Any offer by the Commonwealth for structural readjustment would have to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars to be acceptable.

Mr Kons said the publication of the Federal plans puts Tasmanian Liberals in a tricky position only days after announcing a premature plan for wholesale relocation of crayfish from the South to the North West.

?I would urge Jeremy Rockliff , Rene Hidding and Senator Richard Colbeck to start banging on doors in Canberra to have this over-the-top proposal recast.

?But at the end of the day it will be the State Government that will have to do the work with industry to resolve this issue as these members have invariably squibbed the hard decisions to support local industry.?

Further information: Tasmanian Government Communications Unit
Phone: (03) 6233 6573

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Greens Wrong on Giant Lobster -

Greens Wrong on Giant Lobster - Judy Jackson, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Minister for Environment and Planning, Judy Jackson, today refuted comments made by the Greens Nick McKim.

?Mr McKim is fully aware of the process for developing a recovery plan under the Threatened Species Protection Act.? Ms Jackson said.

?The submission to which he refers is being considered along with approximately one hundred submissions received on the draft recovery plan from experts, industry and the general public.?

In addition, comments have been provided by the Threatened Species Community Review Committee, the independent statutory body established under the Act.

The period for public comment on the draft Recovery Plan closed in late June this year and the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment and Inland Fisheries Service are now considering the draft plan in light of the many and varied comments received.

The content of the recovery plan is not yet finalised.

?At this point I have only seen the comments made by the Committee as these comments are made directly to me as the Minster for the Act.? Ms Jackson said.

?All other submissions, including Dr Hamr?s report, are being reviewed by the Department and, once completed, the amended plan will be presented to me for my consideration before February next year.?

?How Mr McKim can make these accusations on the strength of a plan that hasn?t yet been released is beyond me.?

Tassie trio for NIDA

The Mercury: Tassie trio for NIDA [15dec05]

THREE young Tasmanians are about to start at the most prestigious drama institute in Australia.

Brad Kannegiesser, 18, Holly Woollard, 18, and Thomas Brickhill, 19, who have been accepted into the National Institute of Dramatic Art, leave for Sydney next month and hope to move in together.

Brad, a Rosny College graduate, auditioned last year for the acting course and, although unsuccessful, he was short-listed.

"It encouraged me to work harder and try again this year," said Brad, of Rose Bay, who was with the Helen O'Grady Children's Drama Academy for ten years.

"I have always enjoyed acting and it's always been a big part of my life.

"I never thought I'd get this far so soon."

He said he chose Rosny College because "it has a great acting department and it has a history of students who have gone on to NIDA and then bigger things".

Hobart College graduate Holly and Launceston College graduate Thomas, are preparing to study technical production.

Thomas, of Trevallyn, said: "It's been a life-long obsession that's finally paying off.

"I'm really excited because it's tough to get in NIDA, it hard to believe I'm in."

Thomas will study sound design.

This year NIDA had 1824 applicants -- 39 from Tasmania. Last year they had 1979 applicants -- 59 were Tasmanians, and only one of them was successful.

The most well-known Tasmanian NIDA graduates are Freya Stafford, who graduated from the acting course in 2000, and Essie Davis, who graduated from the acting course in 1992.

Deal saves sawmill

The Mercury: Deal saves sawmill [15dec05]

THE Branxholm sawmill has saved it future by becoming the first company to sign a softwood contract with Taswood Growers.

From 2007 the Branxholm sawmill will be supplied with 30,000 tonnes of pine logs.

Mike Claridge, regional manager of Rayonier Tasmania, which manages Taswood Growers' plantations, said the deal was part of a tender process for 600,000 tonnes of pine logs.

Mark Clydesdale, general manager of sawmill owner Aspect Packaging, said the deal ensures the ongoing viability of the mill and future employment.

The new deal represents an increase from the 22,000 tonnes of small pine logs presently being processed.

It produces 11,000 cubic metres of timber for cases, pallets and bins to transport apples, potatoes and squash in Tasmania and Victoria.

The sawmill also sells woodchips to the Carter Holt Harvey medium-density fibreboard plant at Bell Bay.

Taswood Growers is a joint venture between Forestry Tasmania and international forest industry investor GMO Renewable Resources.

Mr Claridge said negotiations were continuing with other tenderers, including Auspine.

Tassie's energy stand backed

The Mercury: Tassie's energy stand backed [15dec05]
TASMANIA'S refusal to sign an energy efficiency scheme has been welcomed by the forestry industry and the state's construction industry.

Infrastructure, Energy and Resources Minister Bryan Green said yesterday he would not sign the Five Star Energy requirements proposed by the Australian Building Codes Board.

Mr Green said concerns about cost implications for consumers and doubts about the rating system used for timber materials had to be weighed against the energy efficiency benefits of the new scheme.

"A number of states have agreed to implement new energy efficiency requirements next year but I am not yet satisfied that the concerns of all industry sectors in Tasmania have been fully considered," he said.

National Association of Forest Industries CEO Catherine Murphy welcomed the announcement, saying the Five Star system discriminated against using timber as a building material.

Master Builders Association of Tasmania executive director Chris Atkins said the additional building costs flowing from trying to achieve a five-star rating would cause housing affordability to deteriorate.

Huge sea reserve attacked

The Mercury: Huge sea reserve attacked [15dec05]

TASMANIAN fishermen have slammed plans to lock up 171,000 square kilometres of southern seas in a network of marine protected areas.

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the proposal highlighted Australia's status as a world leader in marine conservation.

But Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association CEO Rodney Treloggen said it was not acceptable that commercial fishermen would be kicked out of the areas.

"This is a blatant attack on commercial fishing in waters off Tasmania and the repercussions for the local industry will be horrendous," he said.

He said it would cost jobs and millions of dollars for the lobster, fin fish and shellfish industries.

The regions off southeastern Tasmania, Victoria, eastern South Australia and far south New South Wales are the first major network of deep water marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world.

"The proposed MPA network covers an area 2 1/2 times the size of Tasmania and four-fifths the size of Victoria," Senator Campbell said.

It is designed to protect undersea mountains and canyon systems and a wide range of unknown species.

But Mr Treloggen said the move was devastating considering the local fishing industry's commitment to environmentally responsible fishing.

"We were part of the consultation process for the first two years of this project but about six months ago they changed the rules and cut us out of the loop," he said.

"I really don't think the senator is aware of the significance of this."

The network's launch follows years of research and consultation with the commercial fishing, oil and gas industries and the conservation movement.

Forty per cent of the proposed MPAs is to be highly protected, with a further 40 per cent protected in areas where commercial fishing is prohibited.

The boundaries and zoning of the proposed MPA network will be open for public consultation next month.


Airwalk threat from logging, say activists

The Mercury: Airwalk threat from logging, say activists [15dec05]

LOGGING on the doorstep of the Tahune Airwalk could destroy Tasmania's fastest growing tourist attraction, say protesters who moved into the area yesterday.

A small group of activists held up logging on a coupe near the Arve Rd from about 6am.

One protester attached himself to an excavator, while others blocked the road until just before 3pm, when they left at the request of police.

Peter Ruggieri, from the Huon Valley Environment Centre, said the independent activists were highlighting the continued destruction of high conservation value forests.

"Today the achievement was to highlight the logging occurring on the doorstep of the fastest growing tourist attraction in Tasmania," Mr Ruggieri said.

He said protesters had moved out once Forestry Tasmania and police had declared an exclusion zone and threatened $20,000 fines.

"The logging is no more than five kilometres from the Airwalk, and shows Forestry isn't serious about eco-tourism," he said.

"The Airwalk is fine by itself at the moment, but in 10 years' time, when there are four times the people coming, what will there be to see?

"Will it just be an island in the plantation?"

Forestry Tasmania's Huon district manager, Steve Davis, said the protest was simply misguided.

"Ninety-five per cent of the old-growth forest in the Huon area is already protected," Mr Davis said.

"Headline seeking protests like this are unproductive and costly to the community and do nothing to promote tourism."

He said the environment centre's suggestion that Forestry Tasmania lacked commitment to ecotourism was at odds with the fact Tahune Airwalk had achieved advanced ecotourism certification from Ecotourism Australia, and was certified under Green Globe 21.

"Protesting near the Airwalk, which a recent report by economist Dr Bruce Felmingham has shown contributes 77 new jobs and generates $1.57 for each $1 spent, is simply pointless," he said.

"These coupes are not being clear-felled.

"They contain a mixture of old growth and regrowth timber and are being harvested using non-clearfelling to keep a selection of old growth trees for shelter, habitat and seed sources."

Cray logging buffer call

The Mercury: Cray logging buffer call [15dec05]

THE international scientific expert on Tasmania's unique species of giant freshwater crayfish has weighed into the controversy surrounding protection of the threatened species.

Premek Hamr, a scientist with of the Upper Canada College who studied the crayfish for many years while in Tasmania, has written to the State Government arguing that the small creeks and rivulets where the juvenile crayfish grows must be protected by 30m buffer zones.

This would be a considerable toughening of the regulations which protect creeks only from immediate logging where the crayfish larvae have been shown to live, not across the entire region of their known habitat.

Even then, on the headwaters of these permanent creeks where tributary rivulets are often very small and frequent, logging buffer zones need only be 10m wide.

Bur Dr Hamr's submission to the State Government's Draft Recovery Plan for the giant crayfish, calls for all streams and habitats to be protected from logging, agricultural activities, chemical use and disturbance.

"Based on international and Australian studies, it is recommended that the width of buffers should be kept at least 30m for all stream [sizes]," his submission argues.

"The reservation of habitat will have some negative impacts on resource harvesting.

"However the positive aspects of overall biodiversity preservation, water quality, preservation of habitat for native fish and trout fisheries which promote tourism, as well as the opportunities for eco-tourism based on [the crayfish's] high profile internationally must be taken into account as positive outcomes."

Greens environment spokesman Nick McKim said it was clear the Draft Recovery Plan was designed to protect forest industry profits rather than look after the freshwater crayfish.

He accused the State Government of pandering to the interests of logging companies such as Gunns and called on Environment Minister Judy Jackson to ensure Dr Hamr's recommendations were reflected in the final recovery plan.

"The choice is now clear for Mrs Jackson. She can either protect one of Tasmania's threatened species, or protect the profits of the woodchip industry," Mr McKim said.

"But she can't do both."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Behind the train tangle

The Mercury: Behind the train tangle [14dec05]

TASMANIANS could be forgiven for wondering what on earth is happening behind the scenes in the continuing wrangle between the Lennon Government and the Federal Government over funding to fix the State's rail network.

On the face of it, Monday's $78million capital funding pledge by the Federal Howard Government to fix, upgrade and modernise the rickety railway track linking Hobart, Launceston, the Bell Bay and Burnie ports and the West Coast mines would appear both pragmatic and generous.

Here on offer is $78 million -- much of it available immediately -- the exact amount estimated by the railways' sole commercial operator, Pacific National, to bring the 780 kilometres of rickety track up to scratch.

All else that is required, under the tripartite Save-the-Rail deal, is for the Tasmanian Government to come up with a mere $4 million a year over the next 10 years to maintain the new track, and for Pacific National to fund $38 million in new rail trucks, rolling stock and locomotives.

Most importantly, the deal would save all of Tasmania's threatened railway services -- which are limited to vital freight trains these days -- from being axed early in 2006, as Pacific National had already deemed necessary.

And once railway lines are closed, they never re-open, as the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned all along.

So why isn't the Federal Government's rescue bid being greeted with delight by the State Government? Why hasn't the saving of the rail network been acclaimed as a fantastic offer from Canberra?

And just what is Infrastructure Minister, Bryan Green, so angry about, declaring it all a "dud" deal for Tasmania, which he thinks is "very, very unfair"?

The answer to all these three questions lies embedded deep in both the intricacies of State-federal relations. And politics is being played out too. A Liberal federal government and a Labor state counterpart are rarely going to agree on much -- especially when the issue involved may have implications in an approaching election.

There is no doubt the Lennon Government wants the rail network saved. It was hopeful that the Commonwealth would come up with the bulk of the capital improvement funding necessary to modernise the track, while it was always prepared to make a contribution.

All fine so far. The stumbling block came with the news that the $78 million rail rescue package would be funded using $100 million of national road funding already promised to build a new bridge at Bridgewater over the Derwent River.

This money was allocated from the $12.7 billion set aside for funding of road and rail infrastructure projects of national importance around Australia under the Auslink program.

The problem for Mr Green and the Tasmanian Government was that six months ago it changed its mind about what it wanted to use this $100 million for.

Discovering that there were height problems associated with the new bridge, heritage issues if the old one was demolished, and an extra requirement for $50 million to be funded by the State, the Lennon government decided it could make do with the old bridge for a bit longer.

Instead it lobbied the Federal Government to transfer the $100 million Auslink bridge commitment to its new and preferred road priority.

This was the so-called Hobart Northern Approaches project which planned to turn the substandard single-lane Midland Highway from Bagdad to Bridgewater into a four-lane freeway, bypassing the historic towns of Pontville and Brighton, at a cost of about $87 million.

Perhaps too conveniently, the State Government was keen to start its high-profile Northern Approaches highway plan, incorporating a new rail-to-truck transport hub outside Brighton Midland next year, in time for the lead-up to the 2006 State election.

But the Federal Government would not play ball. Mr Green was told many times that it was not so simple to switch Auslink funding from project to project at whim.

For Mr Green the last six months have turned into high-stakes play. His agenda is multiple -- to save the railways at not too much cost to the state, build the Northern Approaches highway as quickly as possible, get funding for a $20 million upgrade to the old Bridgewater Bridge, and streamline the Granton roundabout bottleneck where the Lyell and Midlands Highways join on the west side of the Derwent.

Even more integral, secure federal funding for the Brighton rail-truck intermodal hub, the key Hobart container and freight depot now that no freight arrives in Hobart by scheduled ship services.

This then allows the State Government to close the railway from Brighton to the port and sell off more than 12 hectares of prime dockland to developers -- perhaps keeping some for public projects -- right in the heart of Sullivan's Cove on Hobart's waterfront.

"Don't forget the waterfront land in all this equation," wily federal Liberal senator Eric Abetz said yesterday. "Once the railway into the port has gone and the freight terminal moved to Brighton, it's going to deliver pots of gold to the State Government because it owns all that land."

On all of these grounds, Bryan Green and the State Government should have been pretty happy with the rail rescue deal announced by the federal Government on Monday.

It saves the trains with a $78 million grant at a cost of just $4 million a year to the State. It includes $22 million to upgrade the historic Bridgewater Bridge. And there is a promise of $5 million matching funding for the Brighton intermodal freight terminal, thereby freeing up the valuable Hobart port land for sale.

So when Mr Green says he feels dudded, he means it as much as a local Labor politician as a proud Tasmanian.

For a start, he hates the appearance that the federal Liberal Government has saved the railways with a plan almost identical to that first proposed by State Liberal leader Rene Hidding two months ago.

He also hates the way the federal Liberals have "stolen" the State Government's promised $100 million, which it was hoping to use in an electorally-useful way on the Hobart Northern Approaches road project.

And he despises the feeling that he has been tricked on a deal he thought he had won over federal Transport Minister Truss, which saw Mr Green sign the protracted Auslink agreement on behalf of Tasmania on October 30, only after insisting that his signing was linked to the Commonwealth switching its $100 million Bridge promise to the Brighton by-pass option.

"This isn't what we agreed at all," Mr Green insists. "Rail was never mentioned as part of all this."

Now Mr Green fears Tasmania must wait two years before the Howard Government will consider finding another $90 million for Hobart's northern approaches upgrade. That's not politically palatable to either him or the Government.

Particularly when the pragmatic way the federal Government went about saving the rail system seems to have met with the approval of the Tasmanian public, including the unions, who couldn't care less about Auslink promises, broken or otherwise, when the future of their railway was at stake.

Worst of all, the beautiful harbour-front land that can now be sold may not prove such a pot of gold after all.

"There's huge environmental liability issues associated with that site," Mr Green muttered yesterday. "Then look at how much we might get back."

They're true-blue giants, by gum

The Mercury: They're true-blue giants, by gum [14dec05]

TWO giant Tasmanian blue gums have joined the ranks of Australia's largest trees.

The humble blue gum, or Eucalyptus globulus, had never before featured on Tasmania's list of giant trees.

The two blue gums, which are 85m and 92m in height, are the tallest of their type in Australia.

The two trees are immediately adjacent to a logged and burnt coupe in the Huon Valley.

University of Tasmania zoologist Wally Herrmann, who searches the state for giant trees, first measured the trees in September and nominated them for inclusion on Forestry Tasmania's Giant Trees Register.

The trees were officially measured by Forestry Tasmania last week and have been added to the list.

The 92m specimen is ranked the 5th largest tree in Tasmania, behind four Eucalyptus regnans.

Most of the trees on Forestry's register of 69 giants, which must be at least 85m tall, are regnans.

Mr Herrmann has discovered many trees on the list, including the 350-year-old "El Grande" which was accidentally torched by Forestry in 2003.

He yesterday said the recent find was extremely significant and meant the blue gum had joined the world's "big league" of tall trees.

But Mr Herrmann said the trees' close proximity to a logged coupe was worrying.

"It's disturbing that these trees were found immediately adjacent to a logged and burnt coupe," he said.

"There could well have been trees equally big or bigger in the logged area adjacent to these giant blue gums.

"These trees themselves could still be destroyed by wind or disease because the adjacent protective forest has been flattened."

But Forestry Tasmania said the group of blue gums in question had already been recognised three years ago and protected in a reserve.

Forestry's Giant Trees Consultative Committee secretary Graham Sargison said the two trees had been saved intentionally.

Mr Sargison said the group of trees was placed in a 15ha reserve because it was unusual to find blue gums at such high altitude.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Rural Women?s Award 2006 Announced -

Rural Women?s Award 2006 Announced - Steven Kons, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Outstanding examples of innovation and skill by six Tasmanian rural women are shown in this year?s Rural Industries Research Development Corporation Rural Women?s Awards, the Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Steve Kons, said.

Mr Kons announced the winner of the Tasmanian RIRDC Rural Women?s Award for 2006 is Heather Chong.

Her prize is a bursary of $10,000 and the opportunity to attend an Australian Institute of Company Director?s Course. Ms Chong will also represent Tasmania at the National Finals in Canberra in March 2006.

Mr Kons said Ms Chong was the CEO of Qew Orchards in the Coal River Valley.

?It is less than four years since Heather and her husband Christopher moved to Tasmania and they are poised to become Tasmania?s biggest producer of apricots for the domestic and international markets.

?Heather?s project involves researching seasonal agricultural worker programs in various countries to consider addressing the labour shortages experienced in Tasmania and Australia.?

Runner up for the RIRDC Rural Women?s Award for 2006 and winner of the Development Award is Cheryl McCartie, who will be able to attend the National Rural Women?s Award Network Conference and the Australian Institute of Company Director?s Course in Canberra in March 2006.

Mr Kons said Ms McCartie is a partner in a dairy farming business with her husband Theo at Ringarooma.

?She has a strong belief in sustainable farming systems and balancing this with quality of lifestyle within a farm family environment.

?Cheryl is an executive member of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture among a number of other board and committee commitments.

?Her project involves researching once-a-day milking systems as a strategy to improve farm productivity, sustainability, profitability and lifestyle.?

Mr Kons said the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women?s Award was in its seventh year of recognising and encouraging the vital contribution that women make to rural Australia.

?Over time the Award has attracted applications from a significant number of Tasmanian rural women showcasing outstanding examples of skills and innovation across a diverse range of projects,? Mr Kons said.

?This has continued this year, with our judges highlighting the excellent proposals from our six finalists.?

The finalists were Anne Ashbolt, Allison Clark, Cheryl McCartie, Annette Reed, Heather Chong and Elizabeth Mann.

RIRDC is the major sponsor of the award with other sponsors being The Australian Women?s Weekly, Rural Press and ABC Local Radio. In Tasmania, the Award is supported by the Tasmanian Government and coordinated by DPIWE.

For further queries contact Caroline Brown on 03 63365383 or 0400 927 989 or caroline.brown@dpiwe.tas.gov.au

This initiative/program is part of the State Government?s commitment to progressing Tasmania Together Goal 19: Have an internationally focused business culture that creates business investment and growth and encourages enterprise, innovation and excellence.

Optimism Over Taiwan Trade Mission

Optimism Over Taiwan Trade Mission - Steven Kons, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Primary Industries Minster Steve Kons is optimistic about the outcome of a trade delegation he led to Taiwan last week.

Mr Kons said the delegation, including representatives from Fruitgrowers Tasmania, held discussions with senior Taiwanese Government and departmental officials in a last-minute attempt to resolve outstanding issues regarding Taiwan?s new Queensland Fruit Fly (Q fly) legislation that will bring Australia?s (and therefore Tasmania?s) fruit trade to Taiwan to a halt from 1 January 2006.

?Unless there is a quick resolution of these issues, Tasmania stands to lose its cherry exports to Taiwan worth more than $2 million a year, with the potential to also impact on apple exports worth more than $5 million.

?At meetings with Taiwan?s Director of Plant Quarantine and the Deputy Minister, Council of Agriculture, I requested an extension of the current implementation date of 1 January 2006.

?This would allow exports to continue while Taiwan undertook the necessary legislative processes to implement Australia?s Q fly protocols.

?The meetings were friendly and constructive with a genuine understanding of Tasmania?s situation being shown.

?It was also evident that the Taiwanese were generally accepting of Tasmania?s Q fly area freedom status at a technical level.?

Mr Kons said the success of the trip highlighted the strong and growing economic links established since a 1980s visit to Tasmania by Taiwanese quarantine officers.

?It serves as a clear vindication of the Tasmanian Government?s strong focus on biosecurity and the budget initiatives to further strengthen quarantine efforts.

?The fact we have a good story to tell on biosecurity was accepted and acceptance by Taiwan of Tasmania?s Queensland fruity fly freedom indicates to the world that Tasmania is a leader in this area.?

Mr Kons said Deputy Minister Hu expressed his appreciation of the delegation?s visit to Taiwan, and gave a clear indication the 1 January date could be extended to allow continued trade, although it would be premature and irresponsible to confirm any positive outcome.

?To support the request from the Tasmanian delegation, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and the Australian Commerce and Industry Office (ACIO) will undertake further initiatives to encourage Taiwan to grant an extension of time.?

Mr Kons said he was grateful for the efforts of ACIO in helping the delegation during the visit.

The delegation included the head of Tasmania?s quarantine service, Danny Reardon, and Tim Reid and Ken Bell from Fruitgrowers Tasmania.

Fuel Cell Works Supplemental News Page

Fuel Cell Works Supplemental News Page

Quarterly Report
ITEM 2. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The following risks and uncertainties could cause actual results, and actual events that occur, to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements:

? our revenues are derived primarily from General Motors and our business depends to a great extent on our relationship with General Motors;

? our second stage assembly agreements and our bi-fuel and compressed natural gas fuel systems agreement with General Motors extend through July 2006. If General Motors were to cease doing business with us or significantly reduce or delay its purchases from us, and we are unable to replace the potential lost sales with agreements with other Original Equipment Manufactures ("OEMs"), our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected;

? General Motors has publicized its interest to put significant pressures on its suppliers to reduce costs, including General Motors' intention to change suppliers if suppliers do not comply;

? we have a history of operating losses and negative cash flow that may continue into the foreseeable future without growth in the hydrogen economy and growth in our TAG business;

? we expect our merger with TAG to result in benefits to the combined company, but we may not realize those benefits due to challenges associated with integrating the operations and employees of the companies, which potentially could lead to an impairment of goodwill;

? we may not be able to achieve profitability of the combined company;

? our financial results could suffer if the goodwill and other intangible assets acquired in our merger with TAG become impaired, or as a result of costs associated with our merger with TAG;

? we could become subject to stockholder litigation associated with our merger with TAG;

? our second stage vehicle assembly operations are primarily focused on SUV and pick up truck vehicles which are dependent on the automotive and specialty vehicle markets in the United States. These markets are influenced by and our sales may be negatively impacted by a number of factors including the level of disposable consumer income, OEM plant shutdowns, model year changeovers, atypical weather for any sales region, interest rates, gasoline prices, and OEM programs affecting price and supply;

? our business depends on the growth of the hydrogen economy and the fuel cell market, which in turn is dependent on government regulations, hydrogen availability, consumer adoption of our technologies, and refueling technology advancements;

? our business depends upon General Motors' and other OEMs' commitment to the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles;

? the cyclical nature of automotive production and sales, particularly those of General Motors, could adversely affect our TAG business;

? variability in our operating performance may impact our ability to meet certain financial covenants required by our Amended and Restated Credit Agreement with our financial institution;

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? we may never be able to introduce commercially viable hydrogen products and systems;

? a mass market for hydrogen fuel cell products and systems may never develop or may take longer to develop than anticipated;

? users of gaseous alternative fueled or fuel cell powered vehicles may not be able to obtain fuel conveniently and affordably, which may adversely affect the demand for our products;

? our ability to design and manufacture fuel systems for fuel cell, hydrogen and hybrid electric vehicle applications that can be integrated into the products of OEMs will be critical to our business;

? our financial results can be impacted by our ability to estimate engineering and material costs associated with development programs;

? we depend on third-party suppliers for the supply of materials and components for our products;

? we may experience delays in the delivery of high-strength fiber from our suppliers due to shortages of this material;

? evolving customer design requirements, product specifications and testing procedures could cause order delays or cancellations;

? we depend on relationships with strategic partners, and the terms and enforceability of many of these relationships are not certain;

? the market for fuel cell vehicles, hybrids and other alternative fuel vehicles may be sensitive to general economic conditions or consumer preferences;

? we currently face and will continue to face significant competition;

? we depend on our intellectual property, and our failure to obtain, protect, and maintain the right to use certain intellectual property could adversely affect our future growth and success;

? we have limited experience manufacturing fuel systems for fuel cell and hybrid on a commercial basis, and as a result, we may experience process and technical difficulties that cause product shipments to be delayed;

? we may need to raise additional capital in the future to achieve commercialization of our products and technologies and to develop facilities for mass production of our products and systems, and to take advantage of strategic opportunities;

? our ability to raise capital in the future may be difficult due to operating losses;

? we may not meet our product development and commercialization milestones;

? our business could suffer if we fail to attract and maintain key personnel;

? we may be affected by skilled labor shortages and labor disputes at OEM facilities;

? we may be subject to warranty claims, and our provision for warranty costs may not be sufficient;

? our insurance may not be sufficient;

? our business may be subject to product liability claims or product recalls, which could be expensive and could result in a diversion of management's attention;

? our business may become subject to future product certification regulations, which may impair our ability to market our products;

? new technologies could render our existing products obsolete;

? failure to comply with OEM vehicle requirements, safety standards and applicable environmental and other laws and regulations could adversely affect our business and harm our results of operations;

? changes in environmental policies could hurt the market for our products;

? the development of uniform codes and standards for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and related hydrogen refueling infrastructure may not develop in a timely fashion;

? future sales of substantial amounts of our common stock could affect its market price;

? our future operating results may fluctuate, which could result in a lower price for our common stock;

? if we fail to maintain adequate internal controls we may not be able to produce reliable financial reports in a timely manner or prevent financial fraud;

? the market price and trading volume of our common stock may be volatile;

? provisions of Delaware law and of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws may make a takeover or change in control more difficult.

This list of factors above is not intended to be exhaustive. Reference should also be made to the factors set forth from time to time in our SEC reports, including but not limited to those set forth in the section entitled "Risk Factors" in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended April 30, 2005. All forward-looking statements in this report are made as of the date hereof, based on information available to us as of the date hereof, and we assume no obligation to update or revise any of these forward-looking statements even if experience or future changes show that the indicated results or events will not be realized.

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We provide powertrain engineering, system integration, manufacturing and assembly of packaged fuel systems and specialty equipment for automotive applications including fuel cells, hybrids, alternative fuels, hydrogen refueling, new body styles, mid-cycle vehicle product enhancements and high performance engines and drive trains for OEMs and OEM dealer networks. We believe we are well positioned to integrate advanced fuel system and electric drive system technologies for fuel cell and hybrid vehicles based on our years of experience in vehicle-level design, vehicle electronics and system integration. We also design, engineer and manufacture hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

We classify our business operations into three reporting segments: Quantum Fuel Systems, Tecstar Automotive Group, and Corporate. The reportable segments other than Corporate represent strategic businesses that are managed separately and offer products and services that can be differentiated. Corporate consists of general and administrative expense incurred at the corporate level that is not directly attributable to any of the other operating segments.

The Quantum Fuel Systems business operations primarily consist of design, manufacture and supply of packaged fuel systems for use in fuel cell, hydrogen and alternative fuel vehicles. This segment generates product revenues through the sale of fuel cell-related fuel storage, fuel delivery, and electronic control systems to OEMs, and the installation of its fuel cell products into OEM vehicles. Product revenues are also generated through the sale of compressed natural gas (CNG), and hydrogen fuel storage, fuel delivery, and electronic control systems for internal combustion engine applications. In addition to product sales, the Quantum Fuel Systems segment generates contract revenue by providing engineering design and support to OEMs so that its fuel storage, fuel delivery, and electronic control systems integrate and operate with their fuel cell and alternative fuel applications. Prior to the acquisition of TAG, the Quantum Fuel Systems business was reported in three separate segments that were aligned consistent with how previous operating performance was tracked. The segment disclosure amounts reported for the first six months of fiscal 2005 have been restated to reflect the new presentation.

The Tecstar Automotive Group segment is comprised of virtually all of the business activities acquired via the merger with TAG, which was completed in March 2005, and primarily consist of second stage manufacturing of specialty equipment for General Motors' pick-up trucks and SUVs, engineering and design capabilities for concept vehicles, and distribution of automotive accessories through OEM dealer networks. This segment engineers and validates appearance items and performance packages to OEM standards and completed systems carry the full OEM warranty and are distributed directly by the OEM to automotive dealerships.

The merger with TAG expands Quantum's OEM 'one-stop-shop' capability with expanded resources in terms of vehicle system design, powertrain engineering, systems integration, validation, and second stage manufacturing and assembly for all future fuel cell, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicle programs. Our expanded OEM capabilities facilitates our participation in early stage development, production and second stage assembly of fuel systems and performance packages for fuel cell, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles. Through the integration of the two companies, we are starting to use Tecstar Automotive Group's second stage assembly capabilities in several of Quantum Fuel System's programs involving assembly and production.

The Tecstar Automotive Group product portfolio coupled with its service and assembly capabilities positions Quantum as a specialty vehicle designer, integrator and assembler for low-volume programs with the military and public and private fleet operators. We have existing programs with the military and other government agencies wherein we are providing specialty and hydrogen-hybrid vehicles using our expanded resources to design, integrate and assemble the vehicles and fuel systems in a more cost-effective, efficient and timely manner.

The merger has allowed us to strengthen our customer relationships as well as to build new OEM relationships within the combined business as a result of a heightened profile as a leader in the specialty vehicle design and assembly industry coupled with our technology in the hydrogen vehicle industry.

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The chief operating decision maker allocates resources and tracks performance by the three reporting segments, and evaluates performance based on profit or loss from operations before interest and income taxes.

Quantum Fuel Systems Segment

Our Quantum Fuel Systems segment supplies our advanced gaseous fuel systems for alternative fuel vehicles to OEM customers for use by consumers and for commercial and government fleets. Since 1997, we have sold approximately 18,500 fuel systems for alternative fuel vehicles, primarily to General Motors, which in turn have sold substantially all of these vehicles to its customers. We also provide our gaseous fuel systems and hydrogen refueling products for fuel cell applications to major OEMs through funded research and development contracts and on a prototype and production intent basis. These fuel cell and hydrogen refueling products are not currently manufactured in high volumes and will require additional product development; however, we believe that a commercial market will begin to develop for these products over the next five years. We believe that these systems will reach production volumes only if OEMs produce fuel cell applications and hydrogen refueling products using our systems on a commercial basis.

A number of automotive and industrial manufacturers are developing alternative clean power systems using fuel cells or clean burning gaseous fuels in order to decrease fuel costs, lessen dependence on crude oil and reduce harmful emissions. Our products for these markets consist primarily of fuel storage, fuel delivery and electronic control systems, as well as system integration of our products into fuel cell, hybrid, and alternative fuel vehicles, and hydrogen refueling products, which includes the complete design of fuel cell and hybrid vehicles to demonstrate our advanced fuel systems expertise.

Our Quantum Fuel Systems segment revenues and cash flows are dependent on the advancement of OEM fuel cell technologies and our OEM customers' internal plans, spending levels and timing for pre-production development programs and commercial production. This segment depends on the industry-wide growth of the fuel cell and alternative fuel markets, which in turn is dependent on regulations, laws, hydrogen availability and refueling, technology advancements, and consumer adoption of alternative fuel and fuel cell technologies on a commercial scale.

Our fuel storage systems must be able to withstand rigorous testing as individual components and as part of the fuel system on the vehicle. The fuel system as a whole, including the tank, regulator and fuel lines, need to comply with OEM vehicle requirements and applicable safety standards. Our systems are generally designed, validated and certified for short-term life, approximately three years, and are produced in accordance with requirements specified by our OEM customers. We currently have programs with OEMs to design, validate and certify systems for longer durability and for vehicles designed for commercialization. Our hydrogen storage and delivery systems may encounter technology and design challenges, durability constraints and issues with technology application into the vehicles. In early September 2005, Toyota Motor Company announced a grounding of 14 fuel cell prototype vehicles containing our hydrogen fuel storage systems due to the discovery of a hydrogen leak in the system in one prototype vehicle. We worked with Toyota to evaluate these systems and have determined that the subject system had leaked hydrogen as a result of a combination of certain manufacturing process conditions coupled with isolated operating conditions. Overall, the design and validation of these prototype systems met the OEM and certification requirements, but the systems for these 14 prototype vehicles were approaching their three-year service life and were scheduled for replacement in the near future. Toyota has elected to begin phasing in their next generation fuel cell prototype vehicles to replace the 14 initial prototype vehicles and has equipped the new prototype vehicles with Toyota designed and produced hydrogen fuel storage systems.

A significant portion of our Quantum Fuel Systems business is generally related to fuel cell, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicle development programs and product sales, which vary directly with the program timing and production schedules of our OEM customers. The market for these vehicles is sensitive to general economic conditions, government agency and commercial fleet spending and consumer preferences. The rate at which our customers sell fuel cell or alternative fuel vehicles depends on their marketing strategy, as well as company specific inventory and incentive programs. Any significant reduction or increase in production of these vehicles by our OEM customers may have a material effect on our business. Our CNG program with General Motors extends through July 2006 and may not be renewed by General Motors as a second stage General Motors-marketed program. If not renewed under its current contractual structure, we would plan on continuing this program under a dual-invoice program. A dual-invoice structure would allow us to assemble the CNG fuel system and directly sell our systems in conjunction with the General Motors vehicle to General Motors' customers under a QVM-Quality Vehicle Manufacturing arrangement without utilizing their marketing network.

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Our industry is also dependent upon a limited number of third party suppliers of materials and components for our products. Any quality problems or supply shortages with respect to these components could negatively impact our business. In the past year, we have experienced pressure on the availability of high-strength fiber from our primary supplier, and we are looking for alternative suppliers to fulfill our needs in the event of any potential shortages. Any issues with respect to the availability of raw materials such as high-strength fiber could negatively impact our ability to develop and manufacture fuel storage systems for our customers.

Tecstar Automotive Group Segment

Our Tecstar Automotive Group segment engineers and integrates specialty equipment products into motor vehicle applications, primarily pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles. Our accessory packages are typically designed for new OEM body styles, mid-cycle enhancements, specialty products, and high-performance engines and drivetrains. We also have engineering and design capabilities focused on powertrain projects and complete vehicle concepts, such as high-performance and racing engines for cars, boats and motorcycles, and complete race cars.

We engineer and validate certain appearance items to OEM standards, primarily for pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles. We receive vehicle chassis from the OEM and add these parts through a process called "second stage manufacturing." The chassis are provided by the OEM on a drop-ship basis and are not included as part of our product sales. After completing the final appearance assembly work, the vehicles are placed back into the normal OEM distribution stream. The vehicles carry the full OEM warranty and are marketed directly by the OEM through its dealerships. We engineer and design concept vehicles and distribute automotive parts and OEM-quality automotive accessories through a dealer network.

The sales of specialty equipment and second stage manufacturing services are directly impacted by the size of the automotive industry and the relative market share of the major OEMs. Second stage assembly programs typically range from two to five years over the life of the OEM chassis and are fulfilled under short-term purchase orders, as is standard in the industry. We provide a limited product warranty to the OEM, which is substantially the same as the OEM warranty provided to the OEM's retail customers. OEMs periodically reduce production or close plants for model changeovers that adversely affect operating results of industry participants. Sales may be adversely affected if OEMs perform such second stage manufacturing programs themselves and do not outsource the business. Approximately 90.4% of Tecstar Automotive Group's sales for the first six months of fiscal 2006 was made to General Motors.

Most of our second stage assembly programs with General Motors extend through April 2006 for model year 2006. The 2007 model year vehicles produced by General Motors represent a model changeover and may not include our specialty equipment products until future model years. We are in discussions with General Motors on targeted second stage vehicle platforms, programs and introductory timing. Any discontinuance of a specialty vehicle program or an extended transitional period in redesigning a performance package for these new model year vehicles by General Motors would likely have a material adverse effect on our business if not replaced with other OEM programs or revenues from aftermarket programs, dealer network programs, dual-invoice programs or other strategic initiatives. We are in discussions with other OEMs for OEM-level second stage assembly programs and have initiated several aftermarket and dealer network programs. We are currently evaluating the feasibility of initiating certain dual-invoice programs enabling us to assemble a specialty equipment package on a new vehicle and directly sell our system in conjunction with a vehicle sale from the OEM to high-volume customers or dealerships under a QVM-Quality Vehicle Manufacturing arrangement but without utilizing the OEM marketing network.

In September 2005, we acquired a 51% interest in Empire Coach Enterprises, LLC ("Empire Coach"), a second stage limousine manufacturer, for $600,000 cash. Among other business opportunities, Empire Coach will pursue "qualified vehicle modifier" status with Ford Motor Company ("Ford QVM") in order to modify Lincoln Town Cars to limousines. Empire Coach will also be able to offer alternative fuel limousines using Quantum's advanced fuel system technologies for compressed natural gas, propane, and hydrogen applications.

The Tecstar Automotive Group is also involved in other special programs such as designing and constructing second stage production and assembly operations for other companies involved in non-traditional consumer automotive markets. In August 2005, we were contracted by Force Protection Industries to assist in a second stage assembly program for special military vehicle assembly.

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In September 2005, we sold substantially all the assets of our production paint facility, Tarxien Automotive Products Ltd., to Concord Coatings, Inc. in exchange for a 20% equity interest in Concord Coatings, $250,000 in cash, and a promissory note with a principal amount of approximately $1.2 million. Our investment in Concord Coatings is included in the Tecstar Automotive Group segment and accounted for under the equity method.

Financial Operations Overview

In managing our business, our management uses several non-financial factors to analyze our performance. For example, we assess the extent to which current programs are progressing in terms of timing and deliverables and the success to which our systems are interfacing with our customers' applications. We also assess the degree to which we secure additional programs or new programs from our current or new OEM customers and the level of government funding we receive for hydrogen-based systems and storage solutions. We also evaluate the number of new second stage manufacturing programs we obtain and the units shipped as part of current and new programs.

For the second quarters of fiscal 2005 and 2006, consolidated revenue related to sales of our products to and contracts with General Motors represented 58.3% and 90.0%, respectively, of our total revenue for these periods. For the second quarters of fiscal years 2005 and 2006, revenue related to sales of our products to and contracts with Toyota represented 18.6% and 0.6%, respectively, of our total revenue for those periods. For the first half of fiscal 2005 and 2006, consolidated revenue related to sales of our products to and contracts with General Motors represented 56.6% and 88.7%, respectively, of our total revenue for these periods. For the second quarters of fiscal years 2005 and 2006, revenue related to sales of our products to and contracts with Toyota represented 19.9% and 0.4%, respectively, of our total revenue for those periods.

We recognize revenue for product sales when goods and systems are assembled on the vehicles and prepared and deliverable to our customers in accordance with our contract terms and collectability is reasonably assured. Contract revenue is recognized based on the percentage of completion method.

We expense all research and development when incurred. Research and development expense includes both customer-funded research and development and company-sponsored research and development. Customer-funded research and development consists primarily of expenses associated with contract revenue. These expenses include application development costs we funded under customer contracts. We will continue to require significant research and development expenditures over the next several years in order to commercialize our products for fuel cell applications.

General Motors Relationship

Our strategic alliance with General Motors became effective upon our spin-off . . .