Tuesday Zedlines, Feb 22nd

Liberal backbencher Judi Moylan has criticised the Liberal National party’s immigration policy, following a move by the coalition to limit the number of asylum visas granted.

LNP immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said 96 per cent of Afghani boat immigrants were granted asylum, and that the limit would restore balance to those waiting in detention camps.

A spokesman for the Gillard government accused the LNP of wanting to politicise the debate surrounding immigration policy.

A spate of Aborginal suicides in the Kimberly region has led West Australian authorities to call for better management of services to remote Indigenous communities.

In the last month, seven Aboriginies, all under the age of thirty, have taken their own lives.

The region suffered a similar spate of suicides in 2006. A coronial inquest from this time recommended regional alcohol management and more prevention services.

Western Australian authorities have given the federal Immigration department the go-ahead to build a new detention facility in Northam, near Perth.

The planned site has been declared environmentally suitable, despite some concerns over a local endangered cockatoo species.

Over 700 Northam residents protested the detention centre plans when first announced in November.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Lawrence Springborg has given his support for a community group opposed to the development of a residential estate in Greenbank, Logan.

The Save Greenbank group are challenging the approval given by the Urban Land Development Authority, saying current legislation fails to allow residents to object to proposed developments.

A public meeting will be held tomorrow night at the Greenbank Community Centre for members of the public to voice their concerns.

Roughly fifty thousand homes lost power in last night’s storms.

Ipswich and Brisbane’s north were among the worst hit areas, however response crews were able to restore power to around eighty per cent of homes before midnight.

Two thousand houses are still without electricity, with the Sunshine Coast being the worst affected.

Violence in the Libyan capital of Tunisia continues this morning, as several high-ranking authorities publicly deride the regime of dictator Moamar Gaddafi.

A Libyan ambassador to the UN has declared that Gaddafi is guilty of genocide against the people, while the country’s justice minister has quit his post.

Libyan diplomats in China and India have resigned, and the embassy in London is today flying the flag of the protest movement. Two hundred and thirty five people have died in protests.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has demanded the Gillard government implement legislation requiring all states to purchase disaster insurance.

Senator Xenophon said he will not give his support for the controversial flood levy, a one-time tax designed to raise funds for flood relief, unless his requests are met.

However Queensland Finance Minister Rachel Nolan said there is no guarantee the state can be insured, and that the scale of recent disasters is unprecedented.

Papua New Guinea has appointed its first tribunal to investigate a serving Prime Minister.

PNG PM Sir Michael Somare will face three retired judges from Australia, New Zealand and England on charges of alleged misconduct in office.

Prime Minister Somare was first referred to public prosecution in 2006, but has fought the matter in PNG courts for the last five years.

A flood relief centre has been flooded, following last night’s downpour.

The centre, which was located on the lower levels of the RNA show grounds, has had roughly a third of its stock lost to water damage.

Volunteers have been asked for to help with clean up efforts.

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60,000 Protest Anti-Union Law In Madison, Wisconsin

Workers in the US state of Wisconsin have been protesting in the capital, Madison, for seven days now, with at least sixty thousand rallying on Saturday. They are protesting a planned law that would ban public-sector unions from trying to negotiate about anything except basic wage rates, and would also ban them from even asking for wage increases above the consumer price index.

Protesters near the Wisconsin Capitol on Saturday February 19. Photo by flickr user _kristy_

The law would also make it legal to sack any state government employee who takes part in any industrial action, and force those employees to pay more for their health and pension funds. The law has been proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker, who received donations for his campaign from the right-wing billionaire activist Koch brothers.

Protesters occupy the Wisconsin Capitol. Photo by flickr user pchgorman.

Protesters have occupied the state capitol building over the weekend, while Democratic state senators have left Wisconsion so a vote cannot be held on the law.

Click here to download the full text of the planned law (pdf file)

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Zedlines, Thursday 17th Feb

Whaling Season Ends Early

The Australian Greens have expressed approval of the news that Japan will end their Antarctic whaling season early due to constant harassment from Sea Shepard

To ensure the safety of their crew, Japanese whalers have suspended their annual hunts in the region, a result which Greens leader Bob Brown says, “will have Australians putting champagne on ice – coast to coast.

Indigenous Police Program

NSW Police have introduced a fresh program to see more Indigenous Australians enter the police force.

As a way to address the imbalance between the Aboriginal population of Australia and the percentage of those in prison compared to the police force, a training program has been developed to put Aboriginal students from regional towns on the path to a career in the force.

An 18-week course run by NSW Police and TAFE helps students from regional communities prepare for the grueling training of the academy. Steve Bradshaw, Assistant Commissioner of the NSW Police says, “If we can produce role models of police from these communities, that is going to encourage other young people to join the police.

Flood Looters Face The Music

Brisbane flood looters faced court yesterday with three men appearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with looting during last month’s floods.

25 year old Nick Jarrod Barbeler, and his 26 year old brother Brendan David Barbeler, are accused of stealing a variety of items including a fire extinguisher and chair at Pinkenba.

A warrant has been put out for the arrest of Brendan Barbeler after he failed to show in court while his brother was granted bail and remanded to a further court appearance next month.

Two more men, Bradley James Deacon, and Neil Stephen Petterson, also appeared in court, each charged with stealing a boat at Pinkenba. They have also been remanded to further court appearances next month.

Good Vibrations Slash Ticket Prices

In music news, the Good Vibrations Festival has yesterday announced a ticketing deal that is going to help fill the remaining Gold Coast and Perth shows.

The price of tickets to the events has been slashed by to half-price while if you already have a ticket, you can now bring a friend for free by arriving together at the gate.

Good Vibes CEO Justin Hemmes says that with additional capacity, they want to share the festival with as many people as possible. However much like the poor ticket sales for the second Sydney Big Day Out in January, this very much could be a sign of festival congestion and the fact that punters simply don’t have enough money to sustain all the events now offered on the party calendar.

The Gold Coast festival will go ahead on Saturday the 19th where a solid line-up including the likes of Phoenix, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Erykah Badu will take to the stage.

South Bank Bouncing Back

South Bank is returning to its former glory after the devastating floods that ripped through Brisbane last month.

Although the pools and beaches are still closed, most retailers and restaurants have reopened as well as parts of the Parklands. And as of yesterday, The Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum and the State Library of Queensland are all re-opened.

However please be advised that the Cultural Centre Car Parks, including the Queensland Art Gallery and State Library car park remain closed. As such, public transport is recommended to visit the Galleries with both the CityCat and CityFerry back up and running again

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Zedlines, Tuesday Feb 15th

 

Telstra has announced upgrades to its wireless service which may put it in direct competition with the government’s planned National Broadband Network.

Liberal Party spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said the move undermines the need for a federal broadband system.

However NBNCo, the company behind the NBN, said the network will ensure a single internet provider will not monopolise the country.


Funeral ceremonies for victims of December’s boat wreck off Christmas Island will be held today in Sydney.

The Federal Government has organized the services, which will include both Christian and Muslim ceremonies.

Some families are upset traditional Muslim rituals will not be followed. The Federal Government deemed it inappropriate for the bodies and that to explain why would be traumatic for the victims’ families.

Leaked documents have revealed three of Britain’s largest energy companies have hired private investigators to monitor activist organisations.

This comes after it was revealed last month an undercover police officer spent seven years as an undercover environmental activist.

A spokeswoman for one of the security firms denied spying on any group, saying all the information gathered came from public sources, such as group emails and announcements.

A statewide fishing ban will come into effect today and run until the end of March, in a government effort to regenerate snapper numbers.

The government is also consulting with the industry to introduce more concrete laws in the future to ensure long-term sustainability.

The ban does not apply to traditional owners catching fish for personal consumption.

The Bligh government has approved a petition to lower the Wivenhoe Dam levels to seventy five per cent over the next month to avoid future flooding.

However, concerns have been raised over the effect the release may have on the Brisbane River.

No state predictions for how the move will affect Queensland water ways have yet been released.

A Syrian blogger has been sentenced to 5 years in prison, charged with spying for a foreign country. Tal al-Mallohi has been held since December 2009, after allegedly leaking state secrets.

It is uncertain whether her arrest was associated with her blog, which focuses on Palestinian suffering.

Both the United States and international human rights groups have called for her immediate release.

Dozens of Iranian protesters have been arrested in Tehran for participating in a banned rally supporting the recent uprisings in Egypt, despite government support for the Egyptian revolt.

Police in riot gear fired teargas at thousands of protestors, while security militia surrounded the houses of opposition leaders, preventing them from joining the march.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the Iranian regime as being hypocritical and said the US supports universal rights for Iranian people.

Australian wool exports have hit a twenty year high, following a strong global demand.

Recent economic factors have led many farmers to switch to meat production, but shortages are expected to increase suppliers.

Currently, Queensland only produces roughly seven percent of Australia’s total wool exports.

The Australian Human Rights Commission have found long-term detention in remote facilities may have a particularly bad effect on children.

A report released today focuses on the Leonora immigration detention centre in Western Australia and highlights effects to mental health and other specialised medical needs of detainees.

The Commission is urging governments to begin the use of community detention as quickly as possible.

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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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Tuesday Zedlines, Jan 25th

 

Concerns have been raised regarding the mental health of Queensland’s farmers, following recent flooding which devastated hundreds of properties

Mental health expert and 2010 Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry visited the town of Theodore, to help cotton farmers deal with the mental impact of the floods.

Professor McGorry says he is concerned the government will direct resources at fixing damaged infrastructure, at the expense of important mental health services.

Community nurses have rallied in Coffs Harbour to protest their exclusion from proposed changes made to hospital nurse working conditions.

The New South Wales Nurses’ Association were recently offered new workload agreements, however the offer only extended to nurses serving in hospitals.

Community nurses, who must travel to their patients, have asked for mandatory patient to nurse ratios, and greater inclusion of travel and administrative times in their schedule.

Retired talk show veteran Sir Michael Parkinson has reignited monarchy debates, following comments made at a Sydney event.

Sir Parkinson said it was only a matter of time before the move to become a republic took form.

The most recent referendum on the matter, held in 1999, defeated the motion with 54 per cent of the country against.

Interstate tourist hotspots have been accused of capitalising on Brisbane’s Flood crisis.

Occupancy rates in backpacker hostels around Brisbane are down up to 60 percent. Industry commentators have blamed deliberate misinformation spread by rival businesses.

The state government announced last week a six hundred and sixty four thousand dollar campaign promoting Queensland tourist destinations unaffected by flooding.

Community television station QCTV has returned to broadcast, following damage from flooding last week.

However the network, formerly known as Briz31, is still only able to broadcast six hours of original programming a day.

No date has been set for a return to full broadcast.

Queensland has introduced an online application form for one-day liquor licenses.

The license, which gives community groups the right to serve alcohol at public events, was made available online in response to increased demand on the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.

The move was implemented following a successful trial in Brisbane earlier this year.

Federal Greens Leader Bob Brown has called for low income households to be excluded from a proposed flood levy to assist clean up efforts.

Opposition Treasurer Joe Hockey has criticised the levy, saying the Gillard government could instead cut funding to the National Broadband Network.

Prime Minister Gillard is yet to announce whether the levy will be implemented.

Residents of the New South Wales town of Collector are protesting the installation of 80 wind turbines.

Though the findings of the National Health and Medical Research council saw no adverse health effects from wind turbines, the possibility of noise pollution and aesthetic degradation has been raised.

The proposed wind far is currently waiting on New South Wales Government planning approval.

The internet will run out of IP addresses, which identify computers on the net, in the next few weeks.

Lorenzo Colitti, a Google engineer, says the solution is to switch to another IP system that allows for trillions of internet addresses, compared to the four billion currently provided.

Google, Facebook and other major websites will trial the new system on June 8.

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Tuesday Zedlines, February 18th

 

Queensland community television station QCTV is still unable to broadcast, following last week’s floods.

The station, formerly known as Briz31, shut down last week when flood waters rose into the station’s West End headquarters.

Key power supply features have been damaged, although the broadcast machinery was not. No return date has been given.

Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Mike Spence has engaged two separate web security organizations to deal with a breach of the university’s web site last week.

The site was infiltrated a total of three times, with disparaging comments left on the front page. A spokesperson for the university said the matter had not been reported to the police.

Although an investigation is planned, no one has yet been named as a possible source for the breaches.

News South Wales Treasury officials will today face questioning over the sale the state’s electricity assets.

Premier Kristina Keneally has said she believes the sale was fair on taxpayers.

Eight power company directors who resigned before the deal went through will be questioned later in the month.

Premier Anna Bligh is enjoying a new popularity following her handling of the Queensland flood crisis.

The Premier, who the week before was facing a seventy four per cent disapproval rating, has polled eighty three per cent approval for her handling of recent flooding.

Leader of the Opposition John-Paul Langbroek has also praised worker efforts for assisting flood clearing.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has maintained that deals made regarding the National Broadband Network will be exempt from Freedom of Information laws.

As a joint public and privately-owned company, NBN Co does not fall into the jurisdiction of the FOI, which only covers government held documents.

A Greens spokesman has criticised the move, saying twenty seven point five billion of the thirty six billion dollar program comes from tax payer money.

An Adelaide court has ruled in favour of Native Title claimants in a case for the exploration of mineral resources at Lake Torrens.

The region, located in the north of South Australia, was requested by mining company Straits Exploration for drilling after negotiations with the traditional owners failed.

The site was found to have a genuine significance to the people and was protected by the court.

Coal prices are expected to face increases of up to sixty six per cent after mines in Bowen Basin were flooded last week.

The Central Queensland mines provide the world with roughly half its coking coal, which is used in the production of steel.

Prices are expected to reach five hundred US dollars a tonne, with the previous record being three hundred dollars a tonne.

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