Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tuesday Zedlines, March 29th

Homeowners in flood-affected areas will be allowed to raise their houses and build a metre beyond the current roof line limit, say new Council guidelines to be finalised today.

The rebuilding effort for thousands of homes that were damaged or destroyed in the floods will allow houses with a height of up to nine and a half metres.

Brisbane developers will also be forced to protect infrastructure for water and electricity in preparation for another flood.

Newly elected NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has started an independent audit of the state’s finances, after claiming a four and a half billion dollar deficit was left by the Keneally government.

The former government was voted out of power over the weekend, with O’Farrell’s Liberal National Party taking more than two thirds of parliamentary seats.

However, Greens MP John Kaye has accused the LNP of overstating the deficit in order to cut back on state spending. Mr O’Farrell denied he would back out of any election promises.

The Australian Dollar has hit one dollar and three cents US, it’s highest since 1982.

Investors are predicting a boom for the Australian iron ore and natural gas industries in the wake of Japan’s earthquake disaster.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both rose point five of a percent yesterday.

One of Brisbane’s best-kept secrets, The Elizabeth Street Laneway, will be shut down to make way for a driveway for a new one hundred and eighty million dollar office tower.

The cultural hub, home to cafe The Coffee Suppliers and popular gig space The Alley, is the first victim of the Council’s pause on the Vibrant Laneways Project.

The sixteen-storey tower will be home to the new Australian Tax Office. The Coffee Suppliers will shut its doors today.

Government representatives have refused to comment on speculation that hackers have accessed the computers of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and other government ministers.

Allegedly hackers found away into the Parliament House email network, but not the departmental accounts used for sensitive communication.

News Limited reports this morning suspect foreign intelligence agencies may be behind the unconfirmed breach.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has faced court for the first of four criminal charges brought against him. Mr Berlusconi claims they are political ploys.

The controversial billionaire media giant and politician is alleged to have embezzled and fraudulently represented prices of television stations his company, Mediaset, acquired.

Mr Berlusconi faces another two charges of corruption as well as a charge for having sex with an underaged prostitute.

The Australian Defence Force have announced an investigation into soldier drug abuses in Townsville.

The Australian Defence Association, who oversee the ADF, said allegations of serious drug abuse were misleading.

Investigations have also been carried out in Cairns and Sydney, but an ADA spokesman said they were not related.

Julia Gillard’s suggestion for a regional processing centre has been rejected by East Timor, who deem it ‘unimportant’ to the solution for people smugglers.

Diplomats and senior officials have gathered in Bali to discuss solutions for processing asylum seekers.

While they expect to come to an agreement at the conference tomorrow, it will not be binding on anyone’s government.

 

The Brisbane Coroner’s Court this morning heard a girlfriend of a convicted paedophile lied to police about his whereabouts on the day of Daniel Morcombe’s abduction.

The woman says she was blinded by love and agreed when her boyfriend told her to tell the police he had spent the day at home with her.

She now admits the man left for most of the day, and drive a car similar to the suspected abduction vehicle. She says she didn’t know he was in jail for offences to children. The inquest resumed today.

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Tuesday Zedlines, March 22nd

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman is expected to announce this morning he is quitting Council to run for a seat in State Parliament.

The announcement will come after four days of speculation that Newman will soon replace John-Paul Langbroek as leader of Queensland’s Liberal National Party.

Newman is expected to contest Dr Bruce Flegg for the seat of Moggill.

Emergency services have concluded their nine week body search of the Lockyer Valley.

Three people are still officially listed as missing, although police have said periodic searches of surrounding areas would still be maintained.

The Lockyer Valley was one of the worst affected during the Queensland floods, with the majority of flood related deaths occurring in the region.

The Fijian Ministry of Health have announced a previous virus outbreak has been contained.

The virus, which was identified as a strain of influenza, infected roughly fifty Fijian students, leading to six hospitalisations.

A spokesman for the Ministry said better understanding of basic hygiene was needed to prevent future outbreaks.

A prominent Queensland mining identity has told the Brisbane District Court he made a payment of sixty thousand dollars to former Beattie Cabinet Minister Gordon Nuttal.

The court heard yesterday the minister approached Harold Warner Shand about cash to buy houses in April 2002 and the payment was made over a two-month period.

Mr Shand is on trial on charges of making a corrupt payment.

Prime Minister Gillard has given her support for the new draft national curriculum.

Parliament Question Time was given over yesterday to discussion of the draft’s coverage of culture as a complex system of concepts, values, norms, beliefs and practices”.

Ms Gillard, who identifies as an atheist, said she supported the right of children to choose their own values.

Western air strikes on Libya are said to have made impact on Moamar Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound and Southern strongholds.

The air strikes, led by the United States, France and Britain are coming under some international criticism for going beyond the United Nations no-fly zone resolution.

US President Barack Obama said the ultimate goal of Western air strikes is to force Gaffafi from power.

 

 

Protests are continuing in the Victorian region of Lake Tyers. A small group of Indigenous women are currently blocking the region’s administrator from entering from the town.

The protesters are demanding to be allowed elect their community leaders. Currently, the government appoints an administrator, after it disbanded the previous council for a breakdown of authority.

Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jeanette Powell said she will not talk with the community until the protest is disbanded.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has announced that he will run for LNP pre-selection for the state seat of Ashgrove.

After days of speculation, Newman has formally contested a switch to state politics, although many expected him to run for the seat of Moggill.

Newman says if successful he will resign as Lord Mayor. The announcement was made from Suncorp Stadium this morning at ten thirty.

High levels of radioactivity have been found in seawater near the Fukushima plant in Japan, leading to further concern about food contamination.

Vegetables and milk exports from Fukushima have already been recalled, although government spokespeople claim it is just a precaution.

There are also concerns over radioactive substances in local tap water.

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Zedlines, Tuesday 15th

Protestors have rallied in the Queensland town of Tara against a planned sixteen kilometre pipeline by the Queensland Gas Company.

The QGC said more than half of the pipeline, which begins construction later in the week, will run through their own land, and that compensation deals had already been made with other landowners.

Premier Anna Bligh noted the opportunity for economic growth from gas mining, but said the protestors had the right to voice their opinion.

Floodwaters in Cardwell, south of Cairns, are expected to drop today as torrrential rain finally eases in the region.

Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon said that many towns in far north Queensland were still isolated, with many roads either blocked or washed away completely.

The state of the roads cannot be assessed until floodwaters ease.

Christmas Island administrator Brian Lacy has assured local residents the protests on Christmas Island have been peaceful and are under control.

The detention facility saw two mass break-outs and a riot over the weekend, with police being forced to use tear gas to restrain around three hundred detainees.

Queensland’s Deputy Commissioner has ruled six officers involved in the Palm Island death in custody investigation will not face disciplinary action.

Last year the Crime and Misconduct Commission called for charges against police involved in a flawed investigation.

The 2004 death of Mulrunji Doomadgee while in custody has been the subject of three coronial inquests and elicited comments about a culture of self-protection within the Queensland police.

Electrical Trades Union Secretary Peter Simpson has been granted a twenty four hour reprieve from his expulsion from the Labor party.

Mr Simpson has been among those opposed to the Queensland Asset Sale for the last two years. An ALP disputes tribunal recommended expelling Mr Simpson a fortnight ago.

However, an Administrative Committee was unable to enforce this last night following a dispute over voting. A second meeting has been scheduled for tonight.

A motion has begun to increase the penalties for animal cruelty following a recent spike in Queensland.

The proposed revisions broaden the scope of the protection laws, as well as tripling the maximum jail time for those found guilty.

The motion is expected to be introduced around June, with the law passed by the year’s end.

The Transport Workers Union will today meet with the Transit Australia Group, following five protest strikes since last December.

The meet is to settle a pay dispute over the Sunshine Coast Sun Bus service, which recently undertook a new bargaining agreement.

Negotiations are expected to be finalised by today’s end.

The Federal Coalition Energy Spokesman has warned Australia shouldn’t be intimidated by nuclear power because of multiple Japanese meltdowns triggered by Friday’s earthquake.

Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources Ian MacFarlane said he is still in support of nuclear power, and the country needs an honest, science-based discussion of the issue.

The crisis in Japan had intensified debate about nuclear power plants, with supporters noting its relatively clean by products, and detractors noting its risk of contamination.

The Fijian Government have announced plans to provide electricity to the island nation’s northern region.

Fiji’s north, which is a strong source of sugar cane and pineapple farming, is being developed as part of a plan to open the region to foreign investors.

Further infrastructural developments, including improving roads and communication, is also planned.

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Tuesday Zedlines, March 1st

 

The Wivenhoe dam release is expected to be extended another day following heavy rainfalls last week.

Wivenhoe’s drinking water levels were expected be at seventy-five per cent by today, however an extra forty thousand megalitres of dam flow have left levels around eighty-two per cent.

Dam officials have advised designated viewing areas have been closed for safety reasons, and that spectators should not attempt to view the dam release.

Brisbane doctor Rolf Homes has petitioned the Gillard government for one point five million dollars to fund cardiac services in rural areas.

Under the program, a mobile unit would travel to regional towns to provide assistance. Cardiac related illness is the largest contributor to middle aged Australian mortality.

The service is planned to begin next year.

Two Queensland oil workers have been evacuated from Libya, after they were stranded for ten days on an oil rig south of Benghazi.

Left by their contractors, Gary Nicholls and Terry Hinz were part of a team evacuated on Sunday by the British navy.

Hinz said as anti-Gaddafi rebel movements began taking over the area, it was the local Libyan people, not his employers, who helped his team escape.

A former Japanese delegate to the International Whaling Commission has criticised the Japanese whaling fleet for returning early following activist obstruction.

The para-legal activist group Sea Shephard have been blamed for reducing the fleet’s seasonal catch to a fifth of its usual total. Supporters say whaling fleets are abiding by the IWC code, while Sea Shephard is not.

However, anti-whaling groups have noted a current stockpile of six thousand tonnes of unwanted whale meat.

Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades has called for more support from the federal sector to support local road networks receiving significant traffic from freight services

The Gillard Government last week announced its draft National Freight Strategy, which would increase the number of roads available to trucks transporting goods across Australia.

However, Coffs Harbour Shire Association President Bruce Miller said focus should instead be put on increasing rail line transport. The draft strategy is currently open for public comment.

China may relax its strict one-child policy, after it was yesterday announced the country’s massive population has made a modest jump to 1.34 billion people.

The census was conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, and showed China added almost 6.3 million people to its population last year.

Experts say the slowing growth rate is due to the generation-old one-child policy, combined with the country’s increasing wealth and urbanisation.

State Government is set to reintroduce cattle to the Victorian Alpine National Park, in a trial intended to lessen fuel for bush fires.

Greens MP Adam Bandt has labelled the act “environmental vandalism”, and said keeping the four hundred cattle in the national park puts many endangered species at risk.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has also condemned the move, and said an investigation is under way as to whether any federal laws have been breached.

Kenilworth residents are on alert after it was discovered an application has been lodged to explore the area for the metal manganese.

State Government last week advised the community that Adelaide-based company Monax Mining has applied to search for manganese, a metal used in stainless steel, over a 304sq km area.

The Sunshine Coast Environment Council said it was concerned by the proposal, and said environmental and social issues need to be further considered before the exploration went ahead.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences have announced predictions of 2.3 billion dollars in farming losses due to recent natural disasters.

The coal industry is also expected to face losses of two billion dollars due to lost production times.

The proposed flood levy is still in negotiations, with independent Senator Nick Xenophon refusing to approve the bill until Queensland agrees to acquire disaster insurance.

A former Japanese delegate to the International Whaling Commission has criticised the Japanese whaling fleet for returning early following activist obstruction.

The para-legal activist group Sea Shephard have been blamed for reducing the fleet’s seasonal catch to a fifth of its usual total. Supporters say whaling fleets are abiding by the IWC code, while Sea Shephard is not.

However, anti-whaling groups have noted a current stockpile of six thousand tonnes of unwanted whale meat.

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