Tuesday Zedlines, February 8th

The main road in Grantham will be reopened today for the first time since January floods devastated the Lockyer Valley region and killed twenty three.

After discussion with Grantham residents, the Lockyer Valley Regional Council decided to reopen Gatton-Helidon Road with a forty kilometre per hour speed limit.

The road connects Gatton to Toowoomba. Local roads in Grantham will remain closed.

Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott has criticised the Gillard government’s flood recovery process as being overly bureaucratic.

Prime Minister Gillard yesterday announced a watchdog committee would oversee the allocation of all flood relief funds. Mr Abbott said this shows the Labor party can’t be trusted with money.

Legislation to secure finances for the rebuilding will go before parliament on Thursday.

South Sudan became the world’s newest country by referendum this morning, with over ninety eight percent of southerners voting for independence.

After a twenty two year civil war ended in two thousand and five, the South will formally declare independence on July ninth.

Human rights groups are concerned Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will be “rewarded” for allowing the referendum. Al-Bashir is currently facing charges of war crimes in international court.

Premier Anna Bligh has confirmed the next Queensland election will be held in twenty twelve, with the coming year to be focused on rebuilding efforts.

Recent polls put Bligh’s approval rating for her handling of the floods at seventy nine per cent, however polls for her general performance as Premier is still only at thirty eight percent.

Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek has only polled a twenty four per cent approval for his handling of the floods.

Dr Matthew Large of the University of New South Wales has claimed to have found conclusive evidence of a link between marijuana use and psychotic illnesses.

A study using data from 20,000 patients and drawing on more than 80 international studies has concluded the young are most at risk, with regular cannabis users 5 times more likely to develop schizophrenia.

However, head of Psychiatry at NSW University Philip Mitchell has criticised the findings, saying the report can’t distinguish whether regular use causes an illness or simply exaggerates it’s affect on susceptible users.

Bomb squad officers were called to a Cairns police station last night to detonate a suspicious device left on the driveway.

Police say the device was a hoax and the station did not need to be evacuated.

They are urging anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers or the Cairns police station.

An association of Northern Territory politicians will today appear in Canberra to rally support for the territory to become a state.

The group has met with representatives from Prime Minister’s office, however the Gillard government has said they are yet to receive an official request.

A nineteen ninety-eight referendum for stateship for the Northern territory failed by a margin of roughly fifty-two to forty-eight percent.

The federal government have announced two projects to combat long-tern unemployment.

The programs, implemented in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, aim to overcome the barriers faced by the mentally ill and homeless when seeking employment.

The move is part of the Innovation Fund, a grants program aiming to assist the disadvantaged find stable careers.

Roughly sixty per cent of ginger crops grown in the Sunshine Coast have been ruined due to the outbreak of the pythium soft rot fungus.

The Sunshine Coast is responsible for 80 per cent of Australia’s total ginger production.

Conventional chemical treatments do not appear to be having any effect.

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