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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Toll pledge to sell off vessels
� Bass Strait shipping shake-up looming

examiner.com.au : Toll pledge to sell off vessels
� Bass Strait shipping shake-up looming


Bass Strait shipping services could be set for a shake-up, with the possible sale of Patrick's cargo vessels Searoad Mersey and Searoad Tamar.

In an attempt to appease the concerns of the competition regulator, transport giant Toll Holdings said this week it would sell Patrick's Bass Strait shipping and freight forwarding operations if it succeeded in its hostile takeover bid for Patrick.

The ACCC is seeking an injunction against Toll in the Federal Court to block the takeover, saying the merger would reduce competition in the transport market.

In a series of undertakings to the Federal Court, Toll also said it would preserve the joint venture structure of the Pacific National rail operator by introducing a new equity partner to the operation should it succeed in winning over Patrick's shareholders.

Toll and Patrick, which each have a 50 per cent share in Pacific National, are engaged in a bitter dispute over the future of the rail operator, with Patrick chief Chris Corrigan recently starting legal action to dissolve the joint venture, describing the Pacific National board as "dysfunctional".

Pacific National is yet to respond to a $120 million offer from the State and Federal Governments to secure the future of Tasmania's intermodal rail services.

Despite requesting a Government bail-out of its Tasmanian operation, Patrick said yesterday Pacific National would likely post an annual profit of $77.7 million.

But even on this, the joint-venture partners could not agree.

Toll expects the profit will be even higher at $97.8 million.

The company said in September last year it would shut down the service in the absence of a Government handout to upgrade infrastructure.

Patrick still wants to break up Pacific National, but Toll is resisting.

Hospitals top voter concern. 01/03/2006. ABC News Online

Hospitals top voter concern. 01/03/2006. ABC News Online

The issue of hospitals has hit the top of the election agenda in Tasmania, with the Government fending off doctors' claims of pork-barrelling at the expense of patients.

Voter surveys also show it is the electorate's major concern.

Tasmania has some of Australia's longest surgery waiting times and the highest incidence of several diseases.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says the Government misdirects funds to hospitals in marginal northern seats at the expense of the major tertiary facility the Royal Hobart in the south.

It wants a study into the hospital's future released publicly, but the Government says it is incomplete.

It says the preliminary report supports its policies.

The AMA has called for a policy overhaul, possibly including a new Royal Hobart Hospital.

None of the parties will commit to that in the next term.

Talk about maximum exposure! [01mar06]

The Mercury: Talk about maximum exposure! [01mar06]

UPMARKET Salamanca bar The Quarry is building a strong regular clientele and a reputation for its classy design, but the feature that has the town talking is the toilet.

The wall of the men's urinal is a one-way mirror to the courtyard outside, allowing the user to see the punters on the other side, but they cannot see in.

Quarry licensee Justin Parr said the idea came from a toilet in a Hong Kong bar.

"It's a bit of a laugh and it's also a design feature," he said.

"To a degree it's created a big talking point around the town and it's been very well received in a positive tongue-in-cheek way."









Some guys have reported feeling initial stage fright when they see people sitting on the other side of the glass, but the novelty usually overrides the anxiety.

And some women have also been surprised to learn that on the other side of the mirror they had been using to check their make-up was a man looking back at them.

But Mr Parr said the intention was simply to create fun, a talking point and an unusual feature.

"We're a talking point at the moment because we're a new venue and we'll enjoy that while it lasts," he said.

"The point of difference, we would argue, is our service, our menu, our drinks menu and our fitout -- and part of that fitout includes the toilet.

"There's been many surprised faces coming out of there."

The new venue, formerly Zum Cafe, opened just before last Christmas after six months of redevelopment.

Fox taskforce to be slashed [01mar06]

The Mercury: Fox taskforce to be slashed [01mar06]

TASMANIA'S Fox Taskforce is due to be slashed to just four full-time employees in the coming months, despite fears that foxes might be breeding in the state.

Just a day after the taskforce revealed a young fox had been found as roadkill at Lillico on the state's North-West Coast, the State Government confirmed it planned reducing the taskforce by more than half next financial year.

The taskforce, which faces trying to determine whether a fox den and other young foxes are in the Lillico area, has just nine staff, seven of which are in the field.

Come July 1, there could be as few as three field staff left to deal with reported sightings and fox evidence statewide.

In 2002, when fox sightings were at fever pitch, the taskforce had 23 employees.









While admitting it was planned to reduce the taskforce, Primary Industries and Water Minister Steve Kons said the remaining staff would be supported by contractors as required.

He also did not rule out the possibility of changing the planned cutbacks.

"The issue of funding is always open to review at any stage to allow us to revisit funding and resource requirements as part of ensuring we do everything possible to eradicate foxes from the state," Mr Kons said.

He said the funding was designed so that expenditure was more in the early years and gradually reduced.

The Government has spent $4.4 million on fox eradication, where an ongoing 1080 baiting program, now being done by an unknown number of contractors, has been its main focus targeting hotspot areas based mainly on where sightings were more commonly reported.

Former taskforce consultant Tim Bloomfield has criticised the lack of resources given to the eradication effort, warning that Tasmania needed to act immediately to prevent an ecological disaster where foxes establish, wiping out at least a dozen species.

DPIWE wildlife biologist Nick Mooney has also described the discovery of the juvenile fox carcass as "catastrophic".

Mr Kons said evidence still pointed to a small population of foxes and that eradication remained the aim.

He said while more testing was still to be done on the most recent find, there was no evidence beyond that that foxes were breeding in the state. * It is understood two other people came forward yesterday saying they had seen the Lillico fox dead on the side of the Bass Hwy just after Christmas -- when it was first seen by an interstate tourist who took six weeks to report the find -- but had not reported it.

Labor rejects new hospital [01mar06]

The Mercury: Labor rejects new hospital [01mar06]

THE State Government says building a new Royal Hobart Hospital is too expensive -- but it refuses to release its review into a greenfield site.

Health and Human Services Minister David Llewellyn said yesterday the report would not be ready until mid-year -- but pre-empted it by saying a new centre would cost $500 million.

His comments came as medical groups said the Royal was being destroyed by politicians' fear of backlash in marginal electorates.

"It is a massive waste of money to propose a new site," Mr Llewellyn said.

"A report is being prepared but the consultation I have had already makes it clear the best plan is the one we are pursuing.









"We are not going to take the axe to health services in the North, the North-West or anywhere else in the state."

Also yesterday:


The Greens' plan for a new Royal envisaged building to begin in three to five years.

The Liberals didn't rule it out and called for the Government to release its study.

GPs said waiting times at Royal specialist clinics would get even worse with rising private health bills.
Mr Llewellyn said the Government had injected an extra $450 million.

But a national Productivity Commission report last month said Tasmania spent close to the least per capita on public hospitals.

Australian Medical Association science and public policy chair Haydn Walters called on the Government to release the Royal report for debate before the March 18 election.

"The Royal Hobart Hospital must not be allowed to fester for the next four years," Dr Walters said.

"If you spend more than you need to for purely political reasons, the end result will be a run-down hospital which cannot provide tertiary-level services for all Tasmania.

"If it's spread thinly, everything ultimately will fall over. There is no real advantage for people in the North-West.

"None of the political parties are taking this seriously enough -- they're all trying to cop out for votes in marginal constituencies."

A health department adviser told The Mercury to speak with AMA North-West representative, vascular surgeon Philip Lamont, at Latrobe.

Dr Lamont said the local AMA supported the Government's North-West hospital over two campuses and said the Royal had to face its dwindling status.

The Greens pledged to begin the process of finding and developing a new site in southern Tasmania, with $500,000 for planning and $100,000 for consultation.

"The Lennon Labor Government acknowledges the current site is too small, crowded and outdated," Greens health spokesman Tim Morris said.

"It has ruled out setting aside any money now or in the future for a new hospital. With health the burning issue at this poll, that's simply unacceptable."

Liberal Royal spokesman Will Hodgman said the Liberals would consider a new hospital but would look at all options and wanted to see government findings.

"We won't be making any rash promises ... but we won't rule it out either," Mr Hodgman said.

Northern suburbs GP Graeme Alexander said waiting lists for specialist clinics at the Royal were hidden.

"I've rung 12 GPs and we do everything we can not to send our patients there, so all the figures are flattering beyond belief," Dr Alexander said.

He said parochialism was being fostered by the Government.

"If the politics which runs throughout the health department was taken out, the medical profession could easily deliver quality health care for all Tasmanians at far less cost," Dr Alexander said.

He said the hospital was so past its use-by date doctors couldn't get onto a computer.

"I can email through patients' records but they can't read the email," Dr Alexander said.

Denmark's royals enjoy a skiing trip in Switzerland

Denmark's royals enjoy a skiing trip in Switzerland

Denmark's Crown Prince Frederick and his wife Princess Mary enjoyed a skiing trip in Switzerland recently - showing the world they are still madly in love.

Having recently come out on top in Hello magazine's 'most romantic' poll, Frederik lived up to his prince charming reputation by carrying his wife's skis for her during the winter break.

The handsome royal made the gentlemanly gesture as he and Australia-born Mary set out for the slopes together.

He and the crown princess, who became parents last October with the arrival of Prince Christian, were enjoying some quality time together in the upmarket resort of Verbier.

The couple are keen sports enthusiasts, and the pretty brunette revealed to Britain's Hello magazine that when it comes to sports, 'there's always an underlying competitiveness' between them.

The former Tasmania girl added: 'Frederick is much better at skiing than me, but he's been doing it for a long time.'

Copyright 2006 BANG Media International

Sunday, February 26, 2006

PLEDGE TO CREATE NEW RESERVES AND UPGRADE MANAGEMENT EFFORT

Tasmanian Greens ...Media Release

Win Win For Environment and Economy
The Tasmanian Greens today launched their Protected Areas policy on the occasion of the celebration of the rescue of the NE peninsula of Recherche Bay, making a commitment to protect other places of outstanding natural and cultural values, saying the Recherche Bay example illustrates that conservation can be a win win solution which contributes to economic development in tourism whilst acquitting our obligations to safeguard our tremendous natural assets for the future.

Greens Opposition Leader, Peg Putt MHA, said the Greens would also put increased resources into on ground management of reserves, create new marine reserves, and refocus development in reserves towards interpretation facilities, nature education and eco-tourism and away from resorts.

“Tasmania’s extraordinary natural assets are highly regarded internationally and the Greens stand for the best possible protection of those wild places of high conservation and heritage values which are still unprotected and under threat,” Ms Putt said.

“We believe it is of the highest priority for this generation to create a management system which provides enduring protection in the interests of nature itself, and in the interests of all future generations.”

“While our reserves are created primarily for ecological reasons, they will, with sensitive management, also be an enduring economic asset.”

“A key threat to the integrity of our reserves and wilderness is attrition of natural values through creeping development, particularly under policies of government which allow private resort development inside rather than locating these in nearby towns and in areas adjacent to reserves.”

Key points of the Greens' Protected Areas, World Heritage and Wilderness Policy are:

þ Create new National Parks and reserves to protect the Tarkine, threatened forests fringing the World Heritage Area including the middle Weld, Styx, Great Western Tiers, also protect Blue Tier and north-east highlands, Weilangta, Leven Canyon and Black Bluff, and Ralphs Bay

þ Incorporate all areas with identified world heritage values within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

þ Prioritise reserves management towards protection of natural and cultural values

þ Focus development inside reserves around interpretation facilities, nature education, and eco-tourism, rather than resorts and large scale accommodation

þ Create new marine reserves utilising the Tasmanian Marine Protected Areas Strategy, to eventually secure representation of all marine bioregions

þ Increase funding and resources to reserves management and employ additional on ground staff, including rangers, including creation of a marine reserves management unit.

“As the example of Recherche Bay illustrates, we can do the right thing by protecting our superb wild places, forests and landscapes, keeping them secure for future generations, and this can be a win win outcome as regional tourism blossoms and local employment and economies benefit.”

“Tasmania’s extraordinary natural assets must be acknowledged as the fundamental resource which underpins our clean, green image and future economic direction,” Ms Putt concluded.

Tasmanian Greens ...Media Release

Access To Employment, Education, Health
Tasmanian Greens lead candidate for Braddon, Paul O’Halloran has announced the Greens election initiative to invest $500 000 into funding a feasibility study into the introduction of light passenger rail services on the North West Coast.

“Today’s election commitment to invest $500 000 for a feasibility study into the development of light passenger rail on the north west coast is an example of practical solutions to overcome some of the access problems faced by many in the community, and which will also boost our economy,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“Should a light passenger rail service be considered feasible by the study, the Greens believe that such a development will allow people to get to the services they need, to attend the educational institution they choose, and to open up their ability to take up jobs.” promised Mr O’Halloran.

“Potentially the economic benefits for the North West Coast will be enormous.”

“Employers will be able to select from a wider pool of job applicants, allowing them to better match skills to employment needs. It will allow businesses to trade their wares to a wider coastal market, and hospitality and recreational sectors would also benefit from increased market size.”

“You could hop on the rail to visit nanna in hospital, you could take the job in the next town, and you could take the kids to the footy - this will enable people to participate more fully within their community.”

“The environment would also benefit from this initiative with lower greenhouse gas emissions combined with the lower number of vehicles on the roads will have a dramatic impact on road safety.”

“The household budget would also save from this initiative given that the oil prices are on an upwards trend, public transport also allows families to lower their fuel bills.”

“Community agency groups such as TasCoss have also identified the need for accessible and affordable public transport options around the state as an investment into breaking the poverty cycle and breaking down the barriers preventing people from participating fully in their communities,” Mr O’Halloran said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tas election about 'managing economic prosperity'. 20/02/2006. ABC News Online

Tas election about 'managing economic prosperity'. 20/02/2006. ABC News Online

The ANZ's chief economist has told a gathering of business leaders in Hobart that this Tasmanian election campaign will be unlike any other in terms of the economy.

Saul Eslake says the state's economy has done remarkably well, due in part to good economic management.

He says that management began in the last year of the Rundle government and was then carried on by the Bacon and Lennon led Labor Governments.

He says this election should be about how to manage and sustain Tasmania's improved economic performance.

"The last four or five elections have been about how to manage adversity ... this election on the other hand ought to be about how to manage prosperity and how best to sustain the much improved economic performance," he said.

Meanwhile the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TASCOSS) has released a list of election demands worth $115 million, calling on the parties to make written commitments to fund them.

The 16 demands involve affordable housing, electricity concessions and transport, through to appointing an employment minister.

Chief executive Mat Rowell says there are two Tasmanias - one benefiting from an improved economy and the other worse off now than eight years ago when Labor came to power.

"There's quite a large divide between those two groups, so we still have over 3,000 people on public housing waiting lists, we still have over 10,000 Tasmanians who've been out of work for over one year," he said.

"So we know that there's a range of Tasmanians who, despite the increased economic prosperity the state's experiencing are really struggling to make ends meet."

TASCOSS has given the political parties two weeks to respond to its demands.

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Cost of roadkill damage hits $1m [23feb06]

The Mercury: Cost of roadkill damage hits $1m [23feb06]

SURGING numbers of collisions with animals on Tasmanian roads has seen the RACT faced with insurance claims of almost $1 million and rising.

The RACT's insurance wing has seen the number of claims due to "roadkill-type incidents" increase five-fold in the past six years, and now deals with 350 such claims in a year.

RACT insurance manager Peter Eaton said the claims related to damage caused by cars striking an animal, as well as damage caused when cars were damaged trying to avoid an animal on the road.

He said the RACT data showed 80 per cent of roadkill claims involved wallabies or kangaroos, followed by wombats, cats, cows and possums.

Mr Eaton said claims also included dogs, horses, deer, devils and sheep.









"Our data shows the number of claims has been increasing continuously each year for the past six years," he said.

Mr Eaton said most claims related to incidents occurring on the outskirts of cities, but other hotspots were New Norfolk, Bicheno, Coles Bay, Triabunna, Bothwell, Campbell Town, and Deloraine.

Mr Eaton said more than half the collisions occurred between 6pm and midnight, with 4am to 7am accounting for 10 per cent of such crashes.

The average cost of each claim was $2800, he said.

He said the RACT's advice was for motorists to slow down in known animal hotspots.

"Unfortunately, trying to avoid colliding with an animal on the road can actually lead to a worse incident, particularly if a motorist loses control of the vehicle and hits a guidepost or a tree, and the reality is something like that could be a fatal crash," Mr Eaton said.

"Our advice is for people to just slow down to give themselves a better chance of avoiding an animal on the road."

Last year, Tasmanian researchers found that three animals were hit by cars every 10km during a 15,000km study on the state's roads.

They estimated more than 113,000 animals were killed by traffic every year, although with the study not focusing on country roads the actual figure is thought to be much higher.

Calls to Tassie beckon for PBL

The Mercury: Calls to Tassie beckon for PBL [23feb06]

A BIG boost for local employment is likely with giant entertainment, media and gambling corporation Publishing and Broadcasting Limited likely to shift its entire national telephone call centre business to Tasmania.

The move by PBL to centralise its diverse sales and booking agencies in Hobart comes on top of the $10 million investment in its new Betfair joint venture based at Technology Park in Hobart's north.

PBL business development director Anthony Klok confirmed yesterday that more than 300 call centre jobs in PBL's assorted business divisions may be relocated soon to Hobart.

"We are doing a study of ways we can consolidate different parts of our business," said Mr Klok, who comes from Tasmania.

" Hobart comes up very favourably on many counts, but mostly because we have an existing relationship there with the government."









Mr Klok said the entire call centre operations of PBL's Ticketek theatre, sports and entertainment ticket sales business, Australian Consolidated Press' magazines circulation and sales area, and even its casino and hotel bookings may be brought together in Hobart.

Ticketek operates the largest ticketing distribution network in Australia and New Zealand, selling more than 12 million tickets a year.

This move would add to the Asian Pacific base of the Betfair betting agency, half owned by PBL, in Glenorchy. It will employ about 40 to 50 operators taking phone bets.

Qantas already operates a national call centre in Technology Park, next door to Betfair's new headquarters.

In negotiations late last year to encourage the Tasmanian Government to pass the new controversial betting agency laws that have allowed Betfair to operate in Australia, PBL promised it would look at other investments in the state.

The main attraction for PBL, besides its good relations with the Lennon Government, is that call centre salaries are slightly lower and staff turnover much less than in Sydney or Melbourne.

Lennon's $30m icon

The Mercury: Lennon's $30m icon [23feb06]

PREMIER Paul Lennon yesterday pledged to spend $30 million dollars to create a Hobart icon to rival the Sydney Opera House.

He said the money would be spent over the next two years restoring, preserving and redeveloping the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG).

In his first big ticket spending item for the 2006 election, Mr Lennon said the early colonial buildings that now form the hidden back entrance of the museum more than rival Port Arthur in historical importance.

The Premier said the museum was built on the site of the first settlement of Hobart in 1804, and included the very early 1808 Commissariat's building, the 1813 private secretary's cottage and the 1824 Bond Store.

"Very few people realise this is the most significant set of early colonial buildings not only in Tasmania but in Australia and they must be conserved and restored ," Mr Lennon said.









"It's time we looked to this site to become the icon site of Hobart and one of the state's, but we don't want that to happen until its colonial buildings and early Aboriginal history has been properly preserved."

As part of his announcement of a bold new vision for the museum and waterfront precinct, Mr Lennon also said it was inappropriate that Hobart's showpiece waterfront was little more than a public car parking space.

He promised the Dunn St carpark adjacent to the museum between Davey and Macquarie Sts would not be sold to developers and would remain public space.

But he did not commit to it becoming a park, leaving the option open for the area to be incorporated into the existing museum site with the addition of a startling new building fitting in with the overall vision for Hobart's waterfront precinct.

The entrance to the TMAG is likely to be shifted to the north side of the museum, leading into the colonial courtyard surrounded by its collection of nearly 200-year-old buildings.

Mr Lennon, acknowledging that elements of his museum and waterfront development had been announced in late 2003 by former premier Jim Bacon, also said the ugly 1966 TMAG annexe on the corner of Argyle and Davey Sts would be demolished.

"This is the most significant announcement for the development of cultural enrichment ever made in Tasmania's history," Mr Lennon said.

"We are determined to make this a site that Tasmanians can look on with pride, and which can make a greater economic contribution than it already does," Mr Lennon said.

The museum has about 300,000 visitors a year, with 45 per cent interstate and overseas tourists.

The Premier pointed out that the central museum building, built in 1863 by renowned colonial architect Henry Hunter, was also the first museum and art gallery purpose-built in Australia.

Mr Lennon said $15m would go towards restoring the colonial buildings on the TMAG site, so they could become a central focus.

Extensive archaeological digs -- which, amazingly, have never been undertaken before on the historic site -- will be conducted, sifting through up to five metres of dirt and rubble that covers the original land surface.

The Bond Store and 1901 Customs House face what was once the earliest shoreline of Hobart, while the Dunn St carpark is on land reclaimed from Hobart's earliest port.

The director of the Tasmanian Museum and Art gallery, Bill Bleathman, said that over the past three years there had come a new awareness of the historical importance of not just the museum's collection, but its heritage buildings.

Hobart Lord Mayor Rob Valentine welcomed the Government's announcement, especially the $15 million to properly preserve and restore the colonial buildings that once served the early port.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Radio Cassy PODCAST

http://www.cassyoconnor.com/podcasts/RadioCassy_Episode01_19FEB2006.mp3

cassyoconnor.com

A COASTAL POLICY WHICH PUTS COMMUNITY AND CONSERVATION FIRST


On the shores of beautiful Ralphs Bay near Hobart yesterday Nick McKim and I launched the Greens Coastal Protection Policy. Our plan for the careful management of one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines is something I’m very proud to be part of. At last, a vision for Tasmania’s coast which appreciates the fragile wonder that it is!

Download the Greens Coastal Protection Policy 2006 HERE

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Rosebery Exploration Welcomed - Bryan Green, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Rosebery Exploration Welcomed - Bryan Green, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Resources Minister Bryan Green has welcomed plans by Zinifex to increase its exploration program around the Rosebery zinc mine.


“The $6.5 million Zinifex has committed to spend exploring near and north of its present mine adds to a flurry of activity in Tasmania, particularly on the West Coast.


“It’s true that improved metal prices have encouraged the increased levels of exploration.


“But the Government can also claim some credit for the resurgence through a sustained effort to highlight the State’s mining potential.

“We have provided competitive geo scientific information to the industry, promoted Tasmania’s prospectivity interstate and overseas, working with the Tasmanian Minerals Council and created the Centre of excellence in Ore Deposits at the University of Tasmania.”

“The value of mineral exploration in Tasmania has increased more than five fold in two years.”

Mr Green said Mineral Resources Tasmania data show exploration expenditure in Tasmania has gone from $5 million in 2002-2003 to $25.8 million in 2004-2005.

“That’s the second highest level of expenditure in over 15 years.

“The example offered by Zinifex can only help the mood of confidence on the West Coast, where Allegiance mine is preparing to start operating and Bluestone is planning to re-open the Renison mine as well as considering an operation at Mt Bishcoff.


“New exploration is important to maintain the mining sector’s contribution to the State and particularly regional economies.

“Mining contributes 40 per cent of Tasmania’s export income so the importance of finding new mines and extending the lives of existing ones can’t be overstated.”





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Further

New Burnie Shipping Service - Bryan Green, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

New Burnie Shipping Service - Bryan Green, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Infrastructure Minister Bryan Green says the rationalisation of Tasmania’s ports administration has helped secure a new export freight service.


Mr Green welcomed the announcement by MSC, Mediterranean Shipping Company Australia, that its weekly “Kiwi Service” would include a call at Burnie starting tomorrow.


“The forecast growth of export trade was the consideration that drove the decision to merge Tasmania’s four-ports system into the single Tasports which started operation from the beginning of this year.


“The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics has estimated that the national freight task will double over the period 2000 to 2020.

“Largely because of our island status Tasmania’s ports are already handling ever-increasing volumes of freight and it is expected our freight task will exceed the national forecasts in the next 15 years.

“Certainly the move by MSC is a fantastic vote of confidence in the future of our State economy, which has been resurgent under this stable majority Labor Government.

“The company’s choice of Burnie as a terminal for general containerised cargo service also reinforces the Government’s belief and commitment to the continuation of our four operating ports.

“It is vital that our ports are able to negotiate from a strong base to maintain a competitive environment for Bass Strait trade.

“This new service being offered by Mediterranean can only encourage that outcome.”

The schedule for the Kiwi Service is:

· Sydney: Depart Monday AM

· Burnie: Arrives PM Tuesday and Departs AM Wednesday

· Melbourne: Arrive AM Thursday and Depart AM Friday

· Auckland: Arrive PM Tuesday and Depart AM Wednesday

· Tauranga: Arrive PM Wednesday and Depart AM Thursday

· Sydney: Arrive PM Sunday.


The Managing Director of MSC Australia, Kevin Clarke, said including Burnie in the rotation highlighted the importance of Tasmania in Australia’s overall export market.


“Not only do we provide a direct link between Tasmanian and New Zealand – we also connect Tasmania to the world through our global relay services,” Mr Clarke said.


Mr Green said the Kiwi Service would provide Tasmanian exporters with an important alternative to get their products to New Zealand along with markets anywhere in the world.

Gas Rollout To Benefit Public Housing Tenants - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Gas Rollout To Benefit Public Housing Tenants - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Around 2,300 Housing Tasmania properties could be connected to Powerco’s natural gas network within the next 18 months.


Minister for Economic Development Lara Giddings said the Tasmanian Labor Government through Housing Tasmania and Powerco have agreed to the connection of public housing homes to natural gas at no cost to tenants.


“This is great news for thousands of Tasmanians on low incomes who by using natural gas can save around $100 or more each year in hot water costs alone.


“Around 4,300 of Housing Tasmania’s 11,500 properties are located in areas where natural gas is currently being rolled out by Powerco.


“Besides delivering real energy savings for Housing Tasmania tenants this decision will give Powerco another opportunity to demonstrate to the Tasmanian community the benefits of using clean and cheap natural gas.”


Ms Giddings said Housing Tasmania will write to all of their tenants with details of the natural gas rollout, and advise tenants what they need to do should they decide to connect to natural gas.


“Housing Tasmania will install natural gas hot water heaters to replace existing appliances as they reach the end of their life cycle.


“Based on current maintenance cycles, it is expected that around 650 new natural gas water heaters could be installed over the next 18 months.


“A further 450 public housing properties could be connected to the natural gas supply as they fall vacant between tenancies, and it’s expected up to 1,200 additional homes will be connected by tenants choosing to take up this great offer.


“The cost of connecting public housing homes to the natural gas supply will be shared between Housing Tasmania and Powerco, with 2,300 connections expected to cost Housing Tasmania around $700 000.”


Housing Tasmania will advertise for tenders for the supply and installation of natural gas water heaters in its homes on 25 February 2006.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Danes seek Tassie sister

The Mercury: Danes seek Tassie sister [20feb06]


THE birth of Christian to Tasmania's own Princess Mary and Prince Frederik of Denmark seems to have sparked Danish interest in Hobart.

The mayor of the municipality of Viborg, Johannes Stensgaard, is proposing the establishment of a sister city relationship and a Danish city which rejected overtures from Hobart in 2004, Aarhus, seems may be willing to reconsider a formal relationship.

Little interest was displayed in a sister city relationship with Hobart by three Danish cities in mid-2004 despite massive publicity associated with the May 2004 Danish wedding of Princess Mary and Prince Frederik.

Hobart City Council sought feedback then from Copenhagen, Aarhus (which has a population of 285,000 and is Denmark's largest city) and the smaller Frederikshavn, which has a population of only 34,853.

Hobart Lord Mayor Rob Valentine said yesterday he could only assume the interest flowed from the publicity given to the royal couple and the birth of their son, Prince Christian.









Indirectly the council has received a report that Aarhus Mayor Louise Gade has a different position to her original view on the establishment of a formal relationship with Hobart.

A 12 member delegation from Viborg, including the mayor and deputy mayor will visit Hobart on March 2 and 3. Ald Valentine will meet them on March 2.

On December 23 last year Mr Stensgaard wrote to Ald Valentine to discuss the establishment of a sister city relationship with his city.

He said Hobart and Denmark had a royal connection (Princess Mary grew up in Taroona in the City of Hobart) and Viborg had a history of links with the Danish Royal family.

Mr Stensgaard said Viborg had many similarities with Hobart and was Denmark's second oldest city.

His trip to Australia was through his role as chairman of a European Union-sponsored e-learning development project -- teaching and communication via the internet, and he was with a delegation of about 20 people working in education in Viborg.

He said both cities could inspire each other in a large number of areas -- creating closer links between the respective residents, especially between young people, associations and businesses.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Parties highlight economy, health in first campaign day. 19/02/2006. ABC News Online

Parties highlight economy, health in first campaign day. 19/02/2006. ABC News Online

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon has used the first day of election campaigning to highlight the strength of the state's economy.

Mr Lennon was in George Town yesterday to illustrate what he describes as a turnaround in the town's fortunes since Labor came to power.

He pointed to the State Government's decision to invest in the Spirit of Tasmania ferries as one reason why the number of tourists visiting George Town has increased.

Mr Lennon also focussed his emphasis on the importance of stable majority government.

"I'm concerned that if we don't have a majority government after an election on the 18th of March, that Tasmania will turn back and that confidence will fall away and investment will fall away and therefore unemployment will increase," he said.

Both the Greens and Liberals made health announcements yesterday in their first day of campaigning.

Liberal Leader Rene Hidding and the party's health spokeswoman, Sue Napier, launched the $3 million grants program as part of their "Health Solutions Plan" in Hobart yesterday.

The program would see $3 million made available to non-government organisations like Diabetes Australia to run preventative programs.

Ms Napier says the program is part of a broader "Health Solutions Plan" that encompasses many of the party's already announced health policies.

"There's a need for a comprehensive plan to tackle the issues that are impacting on ordinary Tasmanians every day," she said.

"It's about losing nurses and doctors who find it almost impossible to work in such a stressed and basically poorly managed and resourced system."

But State Health Minister David Llewellyn says the Liberals continue to attack health workers and have nothing new to offer.

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Mr Lennon has hit back at Liberal Party advertisements, which he says are part of a campaign against him and his family.

But Mr Hidding says that is not true.

"I would say to Paul Lennon stop raising your family - we're not, you shouldn't," he said.

Mr Lennon was also forced to respond to concerns about the state's workers compensation laws.

It seems that Mr Lennon is not phased by advertisements being run by lawyers and some unions who say workers compensation laws are unfair.

Mr Lennon does not want the ads withdrawn and says it is up to unions whether they support them.

"My door is open to them to discuss these matters out," he said.

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Overseas-trained doctors targeted in new cultural program. 19/02/2006. ABC News Online

Overseas-trained doctors targeted in new cultural program. 19/02/2006. ABC News Online

Medical educators are attempting to break down the cultural barriers between overseas-trained doctors and their patients.

Tasmania has Australia's highest ratio of foreign-trained doctors, with 30 per cent of all public hospital doctors coming from overseas.

The state's Postgraduate Medical Institute (PMI) is holding a bridging course for foreign doctors this weekend to help them prepare for their registration exams.

Project manager Dr Geoff Couser says Australia is increasingly attracting doctors from regions other than the traditional recruitment bases such as the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan.

"Now we're seeing doctors coming from another range of areas such as the Middle East and also Africa and also eastern Asia, such as China," he said.

"So we're seeing a wide range of doctors coming from different systems and I think the public are starting to realise that these are doctors who are competent, who are trained and who are receiving ongoing training - just as all doctors are really."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tungsten plan unveiled for King Island

Tungsten plan unveiled for King Island

FAMOUS for its dairy products, King Island in Australia's Bass Strait is set to re-establish a place on the mining map with King Island Scheelite lodging a development proposal for its tungsten project with government departments.



KIS is looking to bring the project online early next year and has submitted a development proposal and environmental management plan with the King Island Council and Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

The company is looking to start construction around mid-year and envisages a mining rate of around 600,000 tonnes or ore per annum over a mine life of ten years. KIS said there is the potential to extend the mine life to 20 years with an underground operation.

Resource estimates are being finalised by Australian Mining Consultants and are expected to be complete this quarter.

A pre-feasibility study completed in December 2004 indicated the project had a resource of 4.1Mt at 0.91% tungsten trioxide and estimated it would cost $15 million to develop.

MiningNews.net was unable to reach KIS chairman Ray Soper.

Tungsten is commonly used in light filaments, electrical and electronic contacts, and wire and rods.

Shares in KIS hit a 52-week low of 40c in May before gaining ground and hitting a 52-week high of $1.55 in October. The stock remained unchanged during morning trade at $1.40.

Click here to read the rest of today's news stories

Grant funds oyster breeding program. 15/02/2006. ABC News Online

Grant funds oyster breeding program. 15/02/2006. ABC News Online

A Tasmanian company specialising in breeding stock for oysters has been awarded a Federal Government grant of almost $1 million.

Shellfish Culture is working to develop new types of oysters and mussels whose meat and taste are not subject to seasonal variations.

The quality of oysters and mussels deteriorates during the warmer months when the shellfish spawn.

Shellfish Culture has used chemicals to breed shellfish which are sterile and whose quality therefore does not change but the process has a low success rate.

General manager Richard Pugh says the grant will allow his company to concentrate on producing the sterile fish, called triploids naturally.

"Doesn't require any chemicals, it's a completely natural spawning process, but the best advantage is that it gives you 100 per cent triploiding," he said.

Can a blogger take a week off?


7 days at Swansea on the East Coast of Tasmania, waking up to this view each day





Daily Postings --- were on slo mo -

but I did get NewsGator feeds happening on my Sony-Eric S700i thru GPRS courtesy of Opera Mini -- a great little java app -- no thanks to telstra ( my carrier) --

Thursday, February 09, 2006

MAYDENA HAULER UNDERWAY AT LAST

The Tasmanian Greens today welcomed the long awaited commencement of the Maydena Hauler, which will provide the Derwent Valley with a significant new tourism experience when completed, but pointed out that the State Government has still not provided a commitment to the Derwent Railway which is currently unable to run trains on the Derwent Valley line.

Greens Member for Lyons, Tim Morris MHA, said that Derwent Valley Railway is a vital part of regional tourism in the Valley, and would be an integral part of the rail theme, upon which the Maydena Hauler is based.

“While the Greens support the Hauler concept, I note that the price tag for the Maydena Hauler has gone from $6 million to $8 million but apparently not a cent is available for the Derwent Valley Railway Preservation Society to run trains,” Mr Morris said.

“I call on the State Labor Government to provide interim funding to the Derwent Valley Railway Preservation Society in order for them to maintain their existing programs at New Norfolk until the state-wide issue with Pacific National is resolved.”

“The commencement of the Hauler gives Derwent Valley residents some hope that the Government will recognise the importance of the Railway Line to tourism, and potentially freight, and come to its senses and provide some funding to ensure trains can start operating again.”

“The Greens recognise that a restored Derwent Valley railway to Maydena will complement the state investment into the Hauler project, and in our Alternative Budget we identified an additional $250 000 to go towards ensuring the railway’s viability.”

“The construction of the Hauler will provide an economic boost to the Valley with the arrival of contractors who need local accommodation and hopefully will employ a number of locals in the immediate and long-term,” Mr Morris said.

HEALTH MINISTER CLEARLY NOT IN CONTROL

The Tasmanian Greens today described the resignation of Dr David Jackson, Clinical Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service as unnecessary, saying that it is an indictment on the Health Minister, David Llewellyn’s inability to provide proper oversight of his department, and have called for urgent talks to be held to persuade Dr Jackson to resume his position.

Greens Opposition Health and Human Services spokesperson Tim Morris MHA said that it is of critical importance that the serious problems at the Alcohol and Drug Service are resolved, and that the Minister must seek an urgent meeting with Dr Jackson to see whether he would be prepared to resume his position and under what circumstances.

Mr Morris also called for the Minister to pull the blatant political advertising currently running designed to convince Tasmanians that all is well in the public health system, a PR image now in tatters, and to instead redirect those funds where they are desperately needed such as the Alcohol and Drug Service.

“The loss of Dr Jackson is a disaster for the Alcohol and Drug Service and he will be difficult to replace, as are all good staff, so I am now calling on Minister Llewellyn to swallow his pride, meet with Dr Jackson as a matter of urgency and negotiate the terms under which Dr Jackson could be convinced to resume his position,” Mr Morris said.

“The shocking revelations about the state of our Drug and Alcohol service demonstrate that the Health adverts currently being shown on TV are blatantly misleading and should be pulled immediately, with the money redirected to the desperately needed public health services.”

“Just what are Minister Llewellyn’s priorities?”

“This disaster is of the Minister’s own making, as he has either not acted, or he has allowed himself to be shielded from concerns being raised with his office about the dire situation at the Alcohol and Drug Service.”

“ I met with Dr David Jackson last Wednesday morning, when he told me of the problems he was having in attempting to provide an adequate service and that he was due to meet with the Departmental Secretary, Mr Martyn Forrest the next day, so we know he was trying to get the situation addressed but obviously now feels that he can no longer be associated with a system which is failing its duty of care to vulnerable Tasmanians.”

“Minster Llewellyn had plenty of time last week to address the concerns of Dr Jackson, and if he was doing his job properly he would be having regular meetings with key people within his own department such as Dr Jackson, instead it appears he was too busy preparing media releases to convince a sceptical public that all is well in health.”

“Had the Minister’s door not been closed and if Dr Jackson was not banned from speaking out publicly, then he may still be at work, saving lives.”

“It should be David Llewellyn contemplating a job change, not David Jackson,” Mr Morris said.

Wool Industry Needs Market Share, Improved Profitability

Primary Industries Minister Steve Kons says the State Government is determined to build on the value of Tasmania’s wool clip.


He said this week’s Tasmanian wool sale confirmed the world-wide reputation for the quality of the fleeces on offer.


“The Government is keen to support growth and international export opportunities with the aim of increasing the $70 million annual farm gate value of the industry.


“The adoption of ongoing technological improvements and techniques by all in the industry will be critical for the industry’s survival.”


Mr Kons said efforts were being made through DPIWE and the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research working in partnership with Australian Wool Innovations Ltd and the Tasmanian wool industry over the past three years through the 8x5 Wool Profit Program.


“The 8x5 Wool Profit Program has set a goal of a profitable industry returning 8% on assets managed for wool production, to be achieved over a five-year period and has successfully concluded its first three years with strong approval from wool growers.”


Mr Kons said DPIWE and TIAR have agreed to continue the program for another three years and are negotiating with AWI regarding their level of support for ongoing projects.

He said it was proposed that the 8 x 5 program be expanded to be more inclusive of other farming operations including sheep meats, feed management and supply trials.


“In early April, DPIWE in conjunction with TFGA wool council, TAFE Tasmania and AWI will hold a workshop for shearers and producers.

“One of the latest developments in shearing practices, the upright shearing platform, will be on display.


“This is one of several prototypes soon to be available commercially.


“These types of technical improvements are designed to ensure occupational health and safety issues are pro-actively managed into the future.


“Other training initiatives the DPIWE has supported include the successful Working in Wool Program now entering its third year.


“The program showcases career opportunities in the wool industry to year 11 and 12 students.”







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Eddystone Point Lease Agreement

A 40 year lease has been signed by the Tasmanian Government and the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania for land at Eddystone Point in Tasmania’s north east.


The leased area includes three houses but not the Eddystone Point lightstation. Public access to the lightstation will continue under the lease agreement.


The lease will ensure that the Aboriginal community is able to continue its close connection with this culturally rich area.


Minister for Parks and Heritage, Judy Jackson said the lease agreement recognises that the site is an area of significance to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.


“This long-term lease agreement recognises the significance of this site and is an important step in the Government providing the Aboriginal community a further management role in national parks,” Ms Jackson said.


“Eddystone Point is within the Mt William National Park and the Parks and Wildlife Service will continue to work cooperatively with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community in managing both Eddystone Point and Mt William National Park.


“It is important that some catch-up maintenance be undertaken as a matter of priority to ensure that the historic integrity of the houses is retained and for health and safety reasons.


“I am therefore pleased to be able to confirm that the State Government will provide funding to ensure that maintenance work will be undertaken over an appropriate period of time. The timing of this work will be negotiated with the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania through an agreed schedule of works.”





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.

Almost four full years of Employment Growth

Tasmania is on the verge of recording 4 full years of uninterrupted jobs growth.


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released today show that employment in Tasmania has increased in each of the 45 months to January 2006 (in trend terms).


Minister for Economic Development Lara Giddings said the figures show that over the past year employment in Tasmania grew by 4.4 per cent meaning 9,500 more Tasmanians are in jobs than in January 2005.


“These figures show the Lennon Labor Government is still on the job of creating jobs,” Ms Giddings said.


“All up, more than 31,000 jobs for Tasmanians have been created since the jobs resurgence began in January 1999.


“We now have 225,700 Tasmanians in jobs, and at 4.4 percent a jobs growth rate of nearly three times the rest of Australia, Ms Giddings said.


“Based on current trends we can expect that in just three short months Tasmania will record four full years of jobs growth.


Ms Giddings said Tasmania’s participation rate, which indicates how many people are now actively looking for work reached 61.8 per cent in January 2006.


“Tasmania’s participation rate is the highest it’s been since December 1990 which means more and more Tasmanians who had previously given up looking for work now feel confident enough to start looking for a job again, Ms Giddings said.


“While unemployment rose from 5.9 per cent to 6.7 per cent, this has been driven by the growth in Tasmania’s participation rate.


“According to ANZ Chief Economist Saul Eslake, if Tasmania's participation rate had remained at its January 2005 level, the trend unemployment rate last month would have been just 2.4%,” Ms Giddings said.


“This continued jobs growth is a great indicator that Tasmania’s economy continues to be strong and stable.


Ms Giddings said this latest good news on employment came on the heels of a swag of data showing the Tasmanian economy continues to be strong.


“Recent ABS data show the growth in Tasmania’s retail expenditure during December 2005 was the largest of any state or territory and that the nominal value of overseas merchandise exports from Tasmania grew by 11 per cent reaching $2.7 billion in the year to December 2005.


“And only yesterday ICT firm Etech announced it will expand its Hobart-based Global Support and Development Centre to provide 42 new full-time high-skill jobs over the next 18 months, as a result of a major contract with Apple Computer Corporation and assistance from the Tasmanian Government.


“Tasmania is able to create so many jobs because our businesses and our workforce are amongst the most innovative in the world.


“Our strong jobs growth is also due to the strong economic management of the Lennon Labor Government and the fact that having a stable majority government gives business the confidence to invest in Tasmania.” Ms Giddings said.

New Strategic Plan for Mental Health Services

Deputy Premier David Llewellyn today officially launched a new Statewide blueprint to frame development of Tasmania’s mental health services for the next five years.


Mr Llewellyn said the Mental Health Services Strategic Plan 2006 – 2011 partners … towards recovery was an important milestone in the Government’s aim to make Tasmania the benchmark for mental health service development in Australia.


“The Government has committed an additional $100 million over four years for mental health, including $47 million for service expansion and reform to implement the findings of the Bridging the Gap review.


“The Strategic Plan will ensure that these additional resources are used effectively and efficiently to deliver more and better services for Tasmanians living with a mental illness.


“The plan will deliver a model of care that is centred on consumers, promotes their recovery, and is available to all Tasmanians wherever they live.


“There will also be an increase in support services provided by the non government sector and better coordination between Mental Health Services and other organisations such as housing, Centrelink, employment and training providers, emergency services, and other counselling services.


“Implementation of the plan over the next five years will put Tasmania at the forefront of Australian mental health services.


“For consumers it will mean:


Ø More and better services delivered where they are needed;

Ø A new partnership between government and the non-government sector to deliver client services;

Ø Integrated, cohesive services with no more gaps;

Ø Consumer-focused services aimed at recovery, not just treatment; and

Ø Individual service plans for all consumers, tailored to their individual needs.


“For mental health staff, the Strategic Plan means increased recognition and greater job satisfaction.


“It’s an exciting vision, and the task in front of us now is to put it into action.


“I am confident that if we continue to work together as partners … towards recovery will make a huge difference to the lives of Tasmanians living with a mental illness.”






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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Unique Forest Tourism Development

A unique tourism development tapping into Tasmania’s forest heritage will provide a spectacular window into Tasmania’s South West wilderness.

The Maydena Hauler – an $8 million development, will add a new component to the range of forest experiences available to Tasmanian tourists.

It’s expected to attract 75,000 visitors in its first year alone.

Premier Paul Lennon says the Hauler will be a world-class development in one of the world’s most scenically-spectacular areas.

“The Tahune Airwalk in the Southern Forests, the Scottsdale Forest Eco-Centre and the brilliant Dismal Swamp slide in the far North West are all major contributors to local tourism.

“When the Airwalk was opened in 2001, sceptics were lining up to predict its failure. In fact, half a million people have now enjoyed the experience.

“That provides clear evidence that there is a strong appetite for attractions such as this, providing visitors with a window into the forest experience.”

The Maydena Hauler development will take visitors on a spectacular four-wheel-drive guided journey to a funicular railway through rugged, steep alpine landscape to an “Eagles eyrie” look-out.

The view will allow visitors a panoramic outlook across the rooftop of Tasmania.


“It’s an experience which has never before been available, except to a very few privileged people.

“The eyrie looks out over a wide area of forest. Eighty per cent of it is protected but it also contains smaller areas which are used for sustainable timber production.

“Visitors will be able to see for themselves how our forest industries fit into a wild and spectacular landscape.”

Mr Lennon said the Tasmanian Government had contributed $4 million towards the cost of the project.

“This development means jobs and opportunities and – even more importantly – jobs and opportunities in a regional community.

“And from a wider, State-based perspective, too, the project means benefits, with six of the seven contractors appointed to the project being Tasmanian.

“The hauler will be very attractive for visitors who want to see our tall trees, mighty forests and dramatic wilderness.

“At a local level, it will bring considerable benefits to the local and regional communities of the Derwent Valley in terms of new opportunities and more tourist dollars coming into the area.

“For instance, it’s estimated that for every dollar spent by visitors to the Tahune Airwalk, $1.57 was also spent in the Geeveston community.”

Mr Lennon said the Maydena Hauler would add enormously to the Tasmanian tourist experience.

“This development is simply unique. I have no doubt it will capture the imagination of everyone who becomes aware of it.

“Its development is another strong indicator of confidence that Tasmania’s economy is growing strongly.”

GREEN AND PROUD OF OUR ACHIEVEMENTS ON THE TASMANIAN ECONOMY

Fear and Smear from Vested Interests is Predictable Self Interest
The Tasmanian Greens today challenged a ‘fear and smear’ campaign which claims adverse effects on Tasmania’s economy if a balance-of-power Parliament is returned, and reminded of the important role of the Greens in contributing to Tasmania’s economic renaissance, particularly in allowing the debt reduction strategy to occur.

Greens Opposition Leader Peg Putt MHA said that the Greens stand for open, honest and accountable government with an end to secret backroom deals and scandalous involvement of decision makers in receiving free hospitality, such as the Crown Casino upgrade, whilst negotiating on behalf of Tasmania.

Ms Putt said that the Greens were proud of their responsible approach to Tasmania’s economy, both in the past and going forward, mentioning in particular:

Clean and Green

The Greens push over two decades to diversify Tasmanian’s economy, as a result now built largely on our natural assets and our ‘clean green’ brand and much more resilient than in the late 1980s when resource exploitation by a few was the focus;
Debt Reduction

The Greens enabled and supported the Field government, and the subsequent minority Liberal government in 1996-98, to undertake belt-tightening to reduce massive state debt – this could not have happened without Greens support of those Budgets during Balance-of-Power periods;
Open, Honest, Accountable Decisions

The Greens would end secret back room deals with corporate mates, which treat Parliament like a rubber stamp and shut small business out of the running, and would insist on Ministerial standards which end scandals like the Crown Casino upgrade and the consequent misleading of Parliament;
Responsible, Reasonable Budget Management

The Greens have demonstrated their capacity to deliver a fully costed and funded Alternative Budget which funds vital areas in health, housing, primary industries, and protected areas management which went begging under Lennon Labor.
“The Greens did all the hard yards to secure a diversification of the Tasmanian economy to become clean and green and we can rightly take credit for an economy which is now much more resilient and largely built upon appreciation of our natural assets rather than their destruction.” Ms Putt said.

“Our responsible approach to Tasmania’s economy is also demonstrated by our role in enabling the debt reduction strategy to occur, because it would not have happened without our continued support for each and every Government Budget during two different balance-of-power Parliaments.”

“Looking forward, you can count on the Greens to restore honesty, openness and accountability to government decision making and to do away with the cronyism involved in secret backroom deals with a select few corporate mates which is the hallmark of Labor under Lennon.”

“We will make sure that there is a level playing field in access to government which does not shut out worthy small business, that Parliament is not treated simply as a rubber stamp, and the sickening spectacle of Ministers with their snouts in the trough whilst doing deals on behalf of Tasmania is ended.

“We have clearly shown our competence in Budget Management by producing our fully costed and funded Alternative Budget which shows that the sky would not fall and that battlers would be better looked after by the Greens.”

“The bleating about the evils of balance-of-power government, which deliberately use the emotive and negative term ‘hung parliament’, can be seen as a rearguard action by vested interests who are on a good wicket with their mates deals with Lennon and fear greater public accountability.”

Monday, February 06, 2006

Cassy O'Connor -- A Voyage to Green Land

The story so far

PART IV -- Fallacies & Fantasies


1. Committed Greens draw ALP salaries?

Drawing a salary as a wonk in a Fed ALP-MHR's office and presumably working for Duncan's re-election. This is the mark of a committed Green? More like a touch of the Cheryl's and Julian's.



2. Trail Blazing Ralph's Bay Campaigner?


Single-handedly running Walker Corpse out of town --- whoops -- they didn't even have an office in Hobart; now THERE was a committed developer who wilted when faced-down by a lay-down misere nimby campaign; especially when you have a Hodgman [et fils] concurrence



3.Representative Democracy or Absentee Opportunist?


Talking about backyards, it's a shame Cassy's is in Franklin and not in Denison --- it will be a long commute in the Caprice – but then again you can get your driver to do the shopping as is Ms Peggy's want.


4.Look to The Hobart Mercury for your political guidance, insights, (& friends?)

Is it a particular Hobartian delusion, that sees people believing all political news & commentary in Tas ( south of 43 degrees latitude at least) starts and ends in the Mercury? This sad little rag is populated by NewsCorpse no-hoper journos who can't (or won't) write beyond a rehashed media release.

Recherche Bay Discussions - Paul Lennon, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Recherche Bay Discussions - Paul Lennon, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Premier Paul Lennon has confirmed the State Government is negotiating to protect the historically-significant Recherche Bay area.

Mr Lennon said today he had become involved more than a week ago in discussions with businessman Dick Smith, the Vernon family, which owns the land, and Tasmanian Land Conservancy.


“Today, I took recommendations to Cabinet aimed at resolving the outstanding issues."


Mr Lennon said the Government recognised that the community wanted a balance between sustainable development and protecting our natural and historical heritage.


“We recognise that this site has historical importance and, if possible, should be preserved.


“All of the people involved in the discussions are showing a great deal of goodwill, and I’m confident we will be able to announce a conclusion within days.”

LABOR DROPS BALL ON HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND CHILD PROTECTION

Tasmanian Greens ...Media Release

Re-Prioritisation Critical for Sustainable Economy
The Tasmanian Greens today said Tasmania’s poor results released by the Productivity Commission for Tasmanian Health funding and waiting lists, education, and child protection services reveals the full extent to which the Lennon government failed to focus and prioritise these vital areas and instead has allowed itself to be distracted by racetracks and flawed dam proposals.

Greens Opposition Health and Education spokesperson Tim Morris MHA said that turning around these health and education figures, especially the school retention rates, is critical to driving the turn-around to a long term sustainable economy.

Mr Morris said that the government’s response that the Productivity Report used out-dated figures was an unacceptable tired and deceptive excuse, as well as being sadly predictable.

“The Labor government has been in power for the last eight years, and over that time these national reports keep reiterating that our hospital and dental waiting lists are longer than the national average, our dental services are suffering, our children requiring urgent help are have to wait, and that our education standards also do not reach national standards in key areas,” Mr Morris said.

“It is critical that the government prioritises addressing numeracy and literacy standards in all age groups, and turns around our school retention rates from being the second worst in the country to leading the way.”

“Economic analysts such as Saul Eslake have identified that prioritising education resourcing and standards is the most critical thing to turn around and drive a long term sustainable economic renaissance – and the government has not met this challenge.”

“People don’t want to be told to ignore these trends, they want to hear what the government is going to do about turning them around so the point we meet, if not lead, the national benchmarks.”

“The Health Minister, David Llewellyn, has once again relied on confusing the situation by releasing different statistics, and complaining that the Productivity Report has used old figures.”

“Minister Llewellyn is well aware that the Productivity Commission can only use the figures which are provided to it and need that current information to be collated in a consistent manner, but the government has chosen to either not provide the full information or have not done so in the appropriate format.”

“We need a consistent and nationally comparable system of collating and presenting this data, to assist in identifying priority areas, but that will only work if the government participates and is then open to receiving the results instead of merely dismissing them.”

“Tasmanians cannot afford for the Lennon government to go into a state of denial over their health, education and child protection services,” Mr Morris said.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Yeah, right Zygo

Yeah, right Zygo ... You’re making things up, or maybe - like Graeme Sturges - just regurgitating a Greg Barns’ spray from November last year.

Possibly you didn’t read my subsequent mercuryedletter response to the series of untruths he published about my pre-selection.

I went through the same pre-selection process as every other hopeful Tasmanian Green candidate. I handed in my nomination form on September 30. In it I answered a series of questions - the same as every other hopeful Green candidate.

Because there is a rigorous process to be followed - one that has to satisfy the party executive - I was given no assurances by the Tas Greens. Having, also on September 30, left a great job with Duncan Kerr MP, I felt deep uncertainty about the future.

I was interviewed by a panel of six people, and asked the same questions as every other Green member who was seeking pre-selection. Our answers were graded on a scale of, I think, one to four. I had to prove my Green credentials and commitment beyond question, and I knew it.

A committee made the decision on the Denison Green ticket. I was pre-selected to the number 2 spot on merit and I am extremely honoured by the Greens’ faith in me - a faith I plan to repay.

A trail of loyalist grassroots Greens in my wake? Find them for me. I’d be keen to put their minds at rest. So far I’ve experienced enormous warmth and support from my fellow Greens.

If there’s to be a wake on election night, it won’t be mine. No matter what the result, if I campaign to the best of my capacity, I’ll hold my head high. Like life, politics is a punt ... this time, I don’t mind the odds.

Let’s argue on the substance, Zygo. It might suit your politico purpose to shoot the messenger, but you should get your facts straight before you print… pork pies.
Posted by Cassy O'Connor on 02/04 at 04:58 PM
Your Comments

Go Zygo Go

Wethinks Ms O’C protesteth too much

If you are looking for solid GreenGoss you’d be a fool to rely on Greg “Sad Sack” Barnes, or the S&M Master from the Chamber [a.k.a. St...Urges The Pious], let alone EdLtrs and EdOp from the Tart of Macquarie Street (aka The Murc).

Harringtone St HQ itself is the best font of Green Knowledge these days.

The self-acknowledged chronology of Cassy’s rite of passage says it all ... out Duncan’s door on a Friday & into the boughs of green-ness on the Monday. That must have been one hell of a 48 hour epiphany. It’s amazing the amount of commitment one can develop over a weekend.

That’s ZYGO’s point I guess. Nouveau arriviste greens bring nothing but machine-driven politico-pragmatism to a party which once prided itself on principles.

Excuse the cynicism, but even green lifers get a bit russet around the edges, when these stunts are pulled.

Once the Rev Bob would have lent his guiding hand, but now the future of panda welfare at the WWF seems to be his pre-occupation.

Bon Chance
Posted by Dada Dave on 02/05 at 04:37 PM
Your Comments

Dada Dave and Zygo - those who lurk behind psuedonyms to sledge - you know zip about me, my Green cred, or my commitment.

Far from undergoing some 48 hour conversion, I have been a member of the Tasmanian Greens for more than three years. There is nothing inconsistent in working for the good Duncan, and holding green beliefs. I was never, have never been, a member of the ALP.

Beautiful Ralphs Bay and what the Lennon Govt would’ve allowed to happen to it were the catalyst for my decision to run for the Greens.

I’m tired and you are both very boring.

Print your fallacious twaddle in the Mercury. Under your real names. I dare you.
Posted by Cassy on 02/05 at 10:38 PM

An Economy going from Strength to Strength - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

An Economy going from Strength to Strength - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

In yet another sign of a buoyant economy, Tasmania has outperformed every other State and Territory for retail trade growth in December 2005 according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Economic Development Minister Lara Giddings today said Tasmanians remained confident in an economy which continues to outshine the rest of the nation.


“The latest figures show retail trade in trend terms in Tasmania rose by 0.4 per cent in December 2005 to $383.4 million, which is 6.6 per cent above the level recorded one year earlier,” Ms Giddings said.


“The 0.4 percent increase in December was the largest of any state and territory.”


In December 2005, growth was recorded for all components of retail trade in Tasmania except for department stores and other retail (down 0.1 per cent in Tasmania and down 0.4 per cent nationally).


The largest increase was for recreational goods (up 1.3 per cent in Tasmania but down 0.1 per cent nationally), household goods(up 1.0 per cent in Tasmania and 0.2 per cent nationally), hospitality and services(up 0.7 per cent in Tasmania), clothing and soft goods (up 0.5 per cent in Tasmania but down 0.6 per cent nationally), and food retailing(up 0.1 per cent in Tasmania).

Ms Giddings said the growth in retail trade shows that Tasmania’s economy continues to be strong.

“The high level of retail activity shows that consumers remain confident enough in the Tasmanian economy to maintain their level of expenditure.

“And it shows that retailers are prepared to invest in Tasmania and create jobs for Tasmanians.

The ABS have also released great results for Tasmania in international merchandise exports for December 2005

“The nominal value of overseas merchandise exports from Tasmania grew by 11% to $2.728 billion in the year to December 2005 compared with the previous year.

In terms of Tasmania's export markets, the largest increases over the past year by country and nominal value has been to India (up $100m), Korea (up $65m), Singapore (up $60m), Hong Kong (up $57m), Taiwan (up $44m), Thailand (up $24m), Indonesia (up $18m), Malaysia (up $16m), South Africa (up $13m) and New Zealand (up $10m).

“The growth in Tasmania’s retail trade and export data is also a result of the good economic management of the Lennon Labor Government which has created an environment where business is willing to invest and consumers are able to spend.”

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dead Elephant Seal Found On South Bruny - Mike Pemberton - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Dead Elephant Seal Found On South Bruny - Mike Pemberton - Tasmanian Government Media Releases
Surfers are advised they may chose to avoid Lighthouse Bay at South Bruny after a dead elephant seal was found at the high tide mark.



It is possible the large seal carcase may attract sharks.



Mike Pemberton, the acting head of the Biodiversity Conservation Branch of DPIWE, said the 4.1metre seal, which was found yesterday, is estimated to weigh 2.5 tonnes and is about three metres around the girth.



“Officers of the Marine Conservation Section of DPIWE inspected the carcase of the middle aged adult and said there appeared to be nothing suspicious about its death,” Mr Pemberton said..



“In a joint operation with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, samples were taken for analysis.



“There is a slight possibility the carcase, which is being washed over at high tide, may attract sharks.”



Lighthouse Bay is in the South Bruny National Park and is difficult to access by vehicles.



The carcase will left to decompose naturally.

Friday, February 03, 2006

& all this from the annointed one who didn't have to go thru pre-selection

& left a trail of peed-off loyalist grass-roots greens in her wake

& a wake -- thats what it will be on election night

greens & pork pies - enough to make a vegetarian puke

A DOUBLE HELPING OF PORK PIE
Denison Labor MP Graeme Sturges’ claim of a ‘bitter factional fight’ among the Tasmanian Greens is laughable, and entirely dishonest. Do we detect a whiff of desperation emanating from the Government Propaganda Unit?

I counted seventeen untruths in an eleven paragraph media release issued on Tuesday this week. It is one whopper of an attempted smear. And Tasmanian taxpayers are paying for this tripe.


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Smokers fail to come to the party. 04/02/2006. ABC News Online

Smokers fail to come to the party. 04/02/2006. ABC News Online:


The push to form a smoker's party in Tasmania has been extinguished.
The southern Tasmanian pensioner who would challenge the state's new anti-smoking laws has given up in disgust.
Dover man Andy Devine, 65, received a flourish of publicity when he placed a small newspaper ad three weeks ago.
He called on disgruntled smokers, affected by the pubs and clubs smoking prohibition, to band together into a political party to lobby for change.
He along with friends distributed 300 statutory declarations in pubs around the state.
He needed 100 signed and returned forms to establish his party.
He received three.
Andy Devine declined to be interviewed, only to say he was disappointed with the lack of response and would abandon any plans to form a political party.
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Basslink cable wrangle

The Mercury: Basslink cable wrangle [04feb06]

HE parties involved in the $780 million Basslink project are disputing the progress of the project.

Contractor Siemens says 630 megawatts of electricity had been transmitted across the undersea cable and it was "technically completed" by January 26.

However, owner National Grid says there are still technical issues with the equipment.

"The independent project inspector needs to tick off on it and until then it is not fully operational and has not been commissioned," corporate affairs director Jon Richards said.

Siemens spokesman Brad Voss said 630 megawatts had been transmitted for six hours on January 16.






Hydro Tasmania spokeswoman Helen Brain said the organisation was still working to take over operation of Basslink from April 29.

The dispute over the completion date is of keen interest to both Siemens and National Grid, which are liable for liquidated damages because the project was not completed by the original target date of November 30, 2005.

Damage to six of the 200-tonne transformers during shipping set the project back by six months.

The damages, likely to run into millions, are payable for every day the project is late under the Basslink Development Agreement.

As a result of the lateness, Hydro has missed out on the chance of selling highly priced electricity to Victoria and South Australia during the summer.

As well, the State Government was forced to spend $39 million on the Bell Bay gas-fired power station.

Mr Richards said there was no set or anticipated date for completion.

"We are still saying April 30 but we hope it will be before," he said.

The project inspector, Robert Cooper of Evans Peck, will sign a certificate of completion when he is satisfied the project is finished.

Hydro Tasmania is expected to pay about $92 million a year over 25 years for the use of Basslink.

Pressure on to fix rail woes

The Mercury: Pressure on to fix rail woes [04feb06]

NEGOTIATIONS aimed at resolving a problem surrounding the future of Tasmanian rail operations will continue in Melbourne over the weekend.

Pacific National, State Government officials and the Australian Rail Track Corporation began negotiations yesterday.

The ARTC has been called upon by the State Government to recommend the fees Pacific National should pay for access to the state's rail lines, if PN hands back its 45-year lease on the track.

The resolution of the access fees would enable Pacific National Tasmania managers to make a recommendation to the next PN board meeting scheduled for February 21.

The Federal and State Government's have pledged about $80 million over 10 years for track maintenance, if PN invests $38 million in locomotives and rolling stock.






"At present, ARTC is negotiating with Pacific National all weekend on behalf of the Tasmanian Government," ARTC chief executive David Marchant said.

"They are in negotiation on the total of the package, including maintenance and capital contribution."

PN Tasmania chief executive Neil MacKinnon said it was hoped a resolution could be reached by the middle of next week.

The negotiations have come against a background of corporate turmoil between PN 's joint-venture partners Toll Holdings and Patrick Corporation.

Patrick has applied to the Federal Court to break up the joint venture.

Meanwhile, Toll Holdings has been in a standoff with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over legal aspects of its $4.6 billion takeover bid for Patrick.

The negotiations come during a week in which PN told staff it would have to cancel two trains because of problems with traction motors in locomotives.

Tassie role in health revolution

The Mercury: Tassie role in health revolution [04feb06]

TASMANIAN scientists are part of a team behind a world first that could revolutionise human health.

It has developed plants which produce a substance called DHA, a component in omega-3 oils.

Omega-3 oils, which are found in seafood, are vital to human health. The research could mean the commercial growing of plants containing DHA.

However, that could be up to seven years away and, because the plants are genetically modified, there are political, legal and consumer issues still to deal with.

Tasmania, for example, has placed a moratorium on GM crops, saying there is a market advantage in promoting Tasmanian produce as clean, green and GM-free.






The Tasmanian members of the CSIRO team are based at the organisation's laboratories in Hobart.

The local research is being conducted by micro-algae biologist Sue Blackburn, molecular geneticist Stan Robart and research chemist Peter Nichols.

They are teaming with scientists from Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

The team has isolated the gene in micro-algae which produces DHA and transferred it to a plant called arabidopsis, a member of the cress family.

Seeds produced by the plants were found to contain DHA.

"We are now trialling with other crops such as canola, cotton seed and linseed and will know the results within six months," Dr Nichols said.

Although scientists started recognising the components of fish oils as early as the 1930s, it wasn't until the 1960s and 1970s research in the area took off.

It was triggered by health experts recognising that Eskimos, whose staple diet is fish, had an incredibly low incidence of heart disease.

They also found the Japanese, another fish-eating people, had lower levels of heart disease and were living longer than their counterparts in other nations.

The known and suspected health benefits of DHA give the CSIRO's research global significance.

Not only is the breakthrough the first step toward improving human nutrition, it will lead to reduced pressure on declining fish resources and provide Australian grain growers with new high-value crops for global markets.

Fed Govt criticised over pulp mill funds. 04/02/2006. ABC News Online

Fed Govt criticised over pulp mill funds. 04/02/2006. ABC News Online

The Federal Government is under fire for paying $2.5 million to Tasmanian timber giant Gunns for its proposed pulp mill, after the funds promised before the 2004 election were tied to a plan with higher environmental standards.

Gunns dumped its plan for a totally chlorine free plant after the election.

It now includes contentious chlorine-related compounds for bleaching native timber.

The Government has revealed it recently made the payment.

Minister for Forestry Eric Abetz says a chlorine-free mill was not viable.

"That, of course, then was changed to an environmental best practice pulp mill, we looked at that and said fine," he said.

The Wilderness Society says the Government is funding broken promises.

The Tasmanian Greens' Peg Putt alleges it is a repayment for $70,000 donated by Gunns to the Liberals - revealed in electoral commission disclosures this week.

"This is the best investment Gunns ever made," she said.

"A $70,000 campaign donation to the Liberal Party and the Liberal Government in Canberra gives them $2.4 million."

Gunns has not returned calls.
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

The value of a good EDUACTION is self evident

THE CRISIS IN TASMANIA'S EDUACTION SYSTEM


Date : Friday, 3 Feb 2006

Subject : THE CRISIS IN TASMANIA'S EDUACTION SYSTEM

Author : Peter Gutwein MHA


Shadow Education Minister, Peter Gutwein, said today that there was hard evidence pointing to a crisis occurring in Year 6 and 7 classrooms in Tasmania with reading, writing and literacy standards at national lows and on the decline.
Mr Gutwein said that the most concerning aspect was that Tasmanian Year 7 students were, on average, older than Year 7 students tested in other States and Territories and had been at school for a great deal longer.
"Something is going seriously wrong in the Tasmanian education system and is getting worse with Year 7 standards slipping," Mr Gutwein said.
"Hard evidence, shows that Tasmanian students are performing worse than Year 7 students in any other State in the nation, yet are older and have been at school longer, on average, than anywhere else in Australia pointing to a major crisis in the Tasmanian education system.
"On average, Tasmanian Year 7 students are 13 years of age at the time of standards testing, four months greater than the national average and up to 10 months older than in other places in Australia.
"Further, they have been at school longer with their years of schooling by the time they have been tested in Year 7, being 7 years and 7 months. This is 5 months extra schooling than the national average and up to one year greater than anywhere else in Australia.
"With the additional months of schooling that Tasmanian Year 7 students have received, combined with their higher age levels, you would expect that their standards of reading, writing and numeracy to be much higher, but, in fact, the reverse is true.
"In all three areas, that is, reading, writing and numeracy, the proportion of Tasmanian Year 7 students able to pass the basic national benchmark is at the bottom of the class, and only compares favourably to the Northern Territory.
"In short, Tasmanian Year 7 students are older and have been at school longer than anywhere else in Australia, but are achieving much worse results.
"And the latest figures show that in all three areas, the proportions of Tasmanian Year 7 students able to pass the basic benchmarks are declining. Things are going from bad to worse, potentially resulting in a crisis.
"In fact, we have now reached a low point where almost one in every five Year 7 student cannot pass the basic numeracy standard."
Mr Gutwein said that this damning data from the Productivity Commission's national Report on Government Services 2006 followed concerns raised by the Evatt Foundation, by leading ANZ economist, Saul Eslake, by the Australian Council for Educational Research as well as a Federal Government curriculum report which all rated Tasmania as bottom of the class when it comes to education.
"Mr Eslake believes that this failure to gain reasonable or even average standards in Year 7 classrooms will have a very detrimental effect upon the ability to recruit skilled workers, to increase workforce productivity and, ultimately, ensure a sustainable, healthy Tasmanian economy."
Recently, Mr Eslake commented that: "Tasmanian kids do pretty well in the early years of schooling, suggesting that they are as innately smart as kids from anywhere else in the country but that by the time they get to Year 7 they have slipped below the national average."
"Tasmanian students are, regrettably, near the bottom of the class" "Clearly, Minister Wriedt, who has been Education Minister for eight years now, has failed on implementing effective strategies to improve the standards in Tasmanian schools, where, by the time Tasmanian students reach Year 7 they can achieve results equal to or better than the national average," Mr Gutwein said.




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Taikotecture: Taiko drumming - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

Taikotecture: Taiko drumming - Lara Giddings, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

The first performance of Taikotecture, a spectacular performance of taiko drumming will open tomorrow at the St Michael’s Collegiate Performing Arts Centre.

Arts Minister Lara Giddings said the performance features internationally acclaimed taiko artist Art Lee.

“Mr Lee has been delivering taiko drumming workshops during January in Hobart and Burnie, Ms Giddings said.

“I was pleased to approve an Arts Tasmania grant to assist Burnie Arts Council to bring Mr Lee to Tasmania.

“This has been a great opportunity for Tasmanian musicians to learn from a great master, and to present some fantastic performances to the Tasmanian people.

“Taiko drumming has grown significantly in Tasmania over the last few years, and this performance will feature some of the finest Tasmanian players. ”

Also featured in Taikotecture are Taiko Drum, the original taiko troupe; Matsuriki, a new group of leading Tasmanian taiko performers; and Taiko Chan, the new youth taiko ensemble.

Hobart performances will be held on 4 February at 7.30pm and Sunday, 5 February at 4pm.