Three boats reach Australia in past week (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Three boatloads of suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted by authorities in the past week.AAP Three boatloads of suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted by authorities in the past week.

Three boatloads of suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted by Australian authorities in the past week, and 128 people have been sent for offshore processing in line with the government’s new measures to combat people smuggling.

The first vessel was found on Tuesday carrying 18 people from India, who are being interviewed in Darwin, Operation Sovereign Borders acting commander Air Marshall Mark Binskin told reporters on Monday.

The group is expected to be returned to India.

Seven West Papuans were dropped off on an Australian island in the Torres Strait on Wednesday.

“All seven persons were returned to Papua New Guinea on Thursday,” Air Marshall Binskin said.

On Thursday, 70 people from a third boat were transferred to detention on Christmas Island.

Air Marshall Binskin was giving an update on border protection operations on Monday where he said 128 asylum seekers had been transferred to offshore processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru during the week.

He made only brief reference to a vessel intercepted overnight on Sunday, which carried 78 people, but was detected outside the weekly reporting period.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the arrivals for the latest period included two nationality groups, which were subject to a different process to asylum seekers automatically taken to Manus Island or Nauru.

“A first group of Indian nationals is currently being interviewed by their own consular officers in Darwin and they will be removed directly back to India,” Mr Morrison said.

“A second group of West Papuans were transferred back to PNG on Thursday within 24 hours of arrival under a concession provided by the PNG government under a 2003 memorandum of understanding put in place by the Howard government, to enable returns in these circumstances.”

The group of seven West Papuans, believed to be a family including one child, arrived on Boigu Island on Wednesday by speedboat and said they feared persecution after being returned to PNG.

Mr Morrison said he had reached a formal agreement with his PNG counterparts to ensure the prompt return of other asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by similar circumstances.

During his visit last week to Manus Island, Mr Morrison delivered a “clear message” to detainees.

“They will not be getting what they came for,” he said.

“They would remain there at that centre until they went home, or were settled in a country other than Australia.

“I confirmed that the new government had implemented a more comprehensive and strengthened set of measures that we would not be putting up with people coming to Australia illegally by boat and that they should warn others not to follow them.”

Under the government’s policy, asylum seekers are moved from Christmas Island to offshore detention facilities within 48 hours of their arrival.

Mr Morrison said the target was being achieved and “working well”, and health checks were being undertaken.

“The most important for their welfare is their fitness to fly,” he said.

Asked about vaccinations, Mr Morrison said it was his understanding these were being done on Manus or Nauru.

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Monday, September 30, 2013 0 comments

RBA defends Stevens over corruption claims (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

The RBA says its governor has always answered questions about a note-printing scandal truthfully .AAP The RBA says its governor has always answered questions about a note-printing scandal “truthfully”.

The Reserve Bank has rejected claims governor Glenn Stevens has not told the truth about his knowledge of allegations of corruption against the bank.

The central bank has also admitted a visit to Iraq by staff of one of its note-printing subsidiaries – the subject of the corruption allegations – was “ill-advised”.

But the RBA says the company’s effort to sell plastic banknotes to Iraq, in violation of United Nations sanctions, was suspended and no notes were ever provided.

Mr Stevens has previously told a House of Representatives’ economics committee the RBA board didn’t learn of allegations of corruption involving Note Printing Australia (NPA) until they were made public in 2009.

Brian Hood, a former NPA executive, has told the ABC and Fairfax that Mr Stevens’ testimony “wasn’t the truth”, and the RBA knew of the allegations in 2007.

“The governor has always answered questions in parliamentary proceedings fully and truthfully,” the RBA said in a statement on Monday.

“There have been lengthy hearings on these matters at which the relevant committees have been able to thoroughly examine the issues.”

The RBA also said on Monday the reports of NPA staff visiting Iraq have been public knowledge for four years.

“The visit in 1998 was, in the opinion of the bank, ill-advised,” the RBA said.

The project was suspended after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade raised concerns with NPA, it said.

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Live coverage: Julia Gillard at the Sydney Opera House (ABC) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Julia Gillard is making her first major public appearance since Labor dumped her as prime minister in June.

Australia’s first female prime minister will discuss her time in office in an interview at the Sydney Opera House with feminist author Anne Summers.

Ms Gillard has maintained a low public profile since she was ousted by Kevin Rudd in the last of Labor’s leadership challenges.

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Australian boat response timely: commander (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

The acting head of Australia’s border protection operation has defended the response of authorities to the sinking of a boat off the coast of Indonesia.

Operation Sovereign Borders acting Commander, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, said 31 people died and 22 survived following the incident off Java on Friday.

However, Indonesian authorities say the death toll has risen to 36 and concede the search operation is now about recovering the dead rather than finding anyone else alive.

The federal coalition government had been under fire for its alleged delayed response to the distressed vessel after some survivors said the tragedy could have been prevented.

Air Marshal Binskin on Monday praised the “professional and timely” response of authorities, saying “Australian authorities took every step available to them in responding to this incident”.

“Australian authorities conducted extensive work to attempt to locate the vessel, providing highly capable search aircraft and diverting up to four merchant ships,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“Despite these efforts no searching ships or aircraft ever sighted the vessel.”

Air Marshal Binskin disputed claims authorities had delayed their response by 26 hours.

“I would like to just clarify that at no point did AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) indicate that assistance would be provided in two hours, as has been reported to the media,” he said.

“Nor was AMSA aware of the vessel for 26 hours prior to the vessel foundering, as has also been reported.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013 0 comments

Labor leadership contenders visit Perth (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Bill Shorten came to a Labor party members’ forum sausage sizzle in Perth dressed in a smart-casual shirt and trousers, while Anthony Albanese wore a Rip Curl shirt and jeans.

Perhaps that says something about their different approaches to tackling the federal Labor leadership contest.

Despite their differences, the pair have kept their rivalry friendly and as each addressed the 500 people gathered at Hyde Park on Monday – a public holiday in Western Australia – both agreed to work with whoever won the leadership battle.

For the first time, rank and file party members will have their say in choosing Labor’s leader and both contenders were given 10 minutes to convince members why they should be leader.

Mr Albanese said he believed he could unite the party, reminding members that he was leader of the house when it was a “fairly difficult” parliament that still managed to pass 596 pieces of legislation.

“I think I’m in a very strong position to advance Labor’s cause, to defend our legacy, hold the Abbott government to account, but also help develop Labor’s new agenda,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

Mr Albanese also used part of his speech as an opportunity to remind Western Australians that the new coalition government had slashed the amount of federal infrastructure funding going to the state.

He said Prime Minister Tony Abbott had left a $ 500 million hole in the WA government’s plans to build a light rail network through Perth’s northern suburbs and a new rail line to the city’s airport.

Mr Abbott had also withdrawn funding for other projects including $ 140.6 million for three new interchanges along the Tonkin Highway, $ 307.8 million for upgrades to the Great Northern Highway between Muchea and Wubin, and $ 174 million for improvements to the North West Coastal Highway, Mr Albanese said.

Mr Shorten was more impassioned during his address, telling members he wanted to make Mr Abbott history and present a brave Labor party.

“We need to be a party who people want to vote for because they like us, not because they just don’t like the other mob,” he said.

“We need to make it clear that we’re not anti-mining.

“I just don’t confuse people who own mining companies with miners. The miners do the work.”

Mr Shorten said he also wanted to tackle domestic violence and promised that factions would not run Labor.

The former union boss also drew applause when he said Australia should be pro-immigration.

“We should not shy away from saying the refugees are a legitimate part of the Australian population,” he said.

Among the attendees was WA Labor leader Mark McGowan and opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt.

Mr McGowan told reporters the event gave people a feeling of empowerment and made sure leadership aspirants were in touch with members.

The leadership contest will be decided by a nationwide ballot of party members before the caucus meets for a vote on October 10.

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Truck on fire in the Norfolk Road Tunnel (Yahoo!7) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Truck on fire in the Norfolk Road TunnelYahoo!7 Truck on fire in the Norfolk Road Tunnel

The M2 Motorway is closed in both directions at Epping after a semi-trailer burst into flames in the Norfolk Road Tunnel.

Emergency services are on the scene.

Drivers are advised to avoid the area.

Eastbound motorists are being asked to exit via Pennant Hills Road, and those heading west should use Epping Road.


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More wait for public housing in NSW (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

The NSW government is under fire for overseeing a blowout in the public housing waiting list, with almost 2000 more applicants in the queue than last year.

By June this year there were 57,451 public housing applications in the pipeline, the government said on Monday.

That compares with 55,479 at the same time last year.

Opposition housing spokeswoman Sophie Cotsis says the figures come as almost 40 per cent of Western Sydney areas have experienced an increase in waiting times to more than five years and some families in Western Sydney being forced to wait more than 10.

“The explosion in the public housing waiting list is a direct result of the O’Farrell Government’s cuts – and its failure to meet the demand for new housing stock,” she said in a statement.

She said this year’s state budget had $ 22 million ripped from new housing construction and $ 37 million from maintenance.

This meant many existing properties would continue to be plagued by mould, rising damp, peeling paint, blocked drains, rusted gutters, asbestos and leaking, she said.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward said the waiting list is much shorter than anticipated after the Auditor General warned there would be 64,500 on the waiting list by this time.

“The reforms introduced by this Government are on track to arrest the spiralling growth projected by the Auditor General,” Mrs Goward said.

But she admitted there was still much to be done to “reform the broken social housing system” the government had inherited from Labor.

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Bikie brawl was a cry for help, court told (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A man sparked a brawl outside a Gold Coast restaurant so police would realise his life was being threatened by up to 60 bikie gang members, a court has heard.

Jason Trouchet, 39, is applying for bail in the Southport Magistrates Court after being charged with affray following a brawl with several members of the Bandidos motorcycle gang.

Trouchet’s lawyer Jason Jacobson told the court his client started the brawl in a bid to attract police attention after he was threatened by up to 60 members of the bikie gang.

Mr Jacobson said Trouchet had been told “this is it” by the lead member of 20 Bandidos who surrounded him while he dined at Aura Restaurant.

After saying “Really? Not in the restaurant, let’s take it outside”, Trouchet panicked when he saw a group of about 40 Bandidos waiting outside.

“It put him in a very precarious situation,” Mr Jacobson said.

He told the court his client is not, nor has he ever been, a member of a motorcycle gang.

He said the matter was a personal one between his client and one of his assailants, and was not a gang feud.

Trouchet’s co-accused, Matthew Sward, 25, is also seeking bail after being charged with affray.

In opposing bail, prosecutors suggested both men were a threat to public safety.

Trouchet was also in danger of further attacks and being remanded in custody would offer protection, the prosecutors said.

The hearing has been adjourned until 11am.

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Underestimate Clive Palmer at your peril, critics say (ABC) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Clive Palmer, who made headlines for installing dinosaurs at his Coolum resort and rebuilding the Titanic, is a skilful media operator whom politicians underestimate at their peril, observers say.

The tycoon’s fledgling Palmer United Party is poised to wield a significant amount of political power in Federal Parliament after an election which saw it winning more votes than many expected.

Mr Palmer may even yet be elected as MP for the seat of Fairfax on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, depending on a recount.

More significantly, his party appears likely to hold the balance of power in the Senate.

“I told everyone we’d win seats; I told everyone that we would address any concerns of the Australian people,” he told the ABC’s Australian Story.

“And they all said I was a fool, right, that I was kidding myself, right?”

Mr Palmer has demonstrated that he intends to be taken seriously.

“I think having the balance of power in the Senate does make us significant in the decision-making process,” he said.

“Nothing can be passed unless we vote for it. That’s the reality.”

Don’t get sucked in, Beattie warns

Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie told Australian Story that Mr Palmer is not a man to be underestimated.

“Clive’s no mug. People should be very careful they’re not snookered or sucked in by Clive’s tomfoolery,” Mr Beattie said.

“Don’t underestimate Clive. He’s got the greatest diversionary psychology going of any politician in Australia.

“Clive believes the best form of defence is attack.”

Mr Beattie described the party’s performance at the federal election as “extraordinary”.

“No first-term party like the Palmer United Party could be expected to get the sort of vote he got,” he said.

“If he ends up with three senators, he will be controlling the Senate.

“He will have the balance of power.”

Palmer party in name and in practice

And the former premier believes Mr Palmer will continue to dominate the party’s direction.

“Clive will run the agenda and his senators will do exactly what Clive asks or dictates,” Mr Beattie said.

“This will be Clive’s party not just in name, but in practice.”

“He will be a player in Canberra. He will be front and centre to the passing of legislations, and Clive will love every minute of it.”

Mr Palmer appears to be well aware that his public statements will continue making headlines if he does win Fairfax.

“I’ll be saying whatever I like. There’s no restrictions on me,” he said.

“They might throw me out of parliament! That would be good, wouldn’t it?

“I’d spend more time up here at the resort.

“But I’d still get media coverage for whatever I said.”

Public ‘wanted outrageous comedy in parliament’

Some of Mr Beattie’s concerns are echoed by Sunshine Coast-based playwright David Williamson.

“I think in some senses we are being played for fools,” he said.

“We’ve been sucked in by the vaudevillian entertainment side of Clive, but in so doing we’ve given him enormous power.”

He says Mr Palmer’s policy platform is ridiculous, but that the party leader is “the ultimate showman”.

“Comedies do four times better at the box office than dramas, and I think the public just wanted to see a bit of outrageous comedy in our parliament,” he said.

“We’ve given him enormous power to shape the direction of the country and I don’t think he’ll be shaping it in the direction of the common man, or what’s good for the common man.”

Major parties noticed Palmer’s success too late

Mr Palmer’s biographer, Sean Parnell, says the LNP made the mistake of underestimating the man who was once a life member.

“Many people were fed up with the major parties and Clive was able to capitalise on that, running positive ads where the major parties were going negative, drawing a protest vote from the left and the right,” he said.

“He really snuck in where the major parties weren’t expecting it.

“It wasn’t until the final days of the campaign when the major parties had polling that, hang on, the Palmer United Party was actually doing really well… by then it was too late.”

Parnell says it will be up to Prime Minister Tony Abbott to keep Mr Palmer under control.

“Tony Abbott is smart enough to know that he needs to keep Clive on side,” he said.

“At the drop of a hat, someone with his profile and his knack of dealing with the media can take attention away from the Coalition or can draw attention to negative aspects of the Government.

“So they’ll really have to manage him carefully.”

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Two men critical after Sydney garage fire (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Police are continuing their inquiries after two men were critically injured in a house fire in Sydney’s south.

About 8pm (AEST) on Sunday, emergency services found the garage of a Barden Ridge house well alight, police say.

Two men, aged 40 and 37, were inside the garage at the time and suffered extensive burns.

They were driven to Sutherland Hospital by another man before being flown to Royal North Shore Hospital where they remain in an induced coma with life-threatening injuries.

Forensic officers are examining the garage to establish the cause of the fire, which is being treated as suspicious.

Police say they have spoken to the 41-year-old man who drove the two victims to hospital.

The man was at the home at the time of the blaze but was not injured.

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Study ‘major step’ towards finding MS cure (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A major milestone has been reached on the path to finding a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), researchers believe.

A group of international scientists, including an Australian contingent, has discovered 48 previously unknown genes that influence the risk of developing MS.

MS, which attacks a person’s central nervous system and can impact mobility, balance and sensation, affects 23,000 Australians.

The new discovery is a big step towards finding a cure and further treatment for the debilitating condition, says University of Sydney Associate Professor David Booth, who led the Australian and New Zealand component of the study

“The exciting thing about this is we have doubled the number of genes that we now know are associated with MS,” he told AAP.

“What that means is every one of those new genes is potentially providing us with a new way to understand the disease and to come up with new therapies for the disease.”

Researchers believe the findings underline the central role the immune system plays in the development of MS.

The results also show an overlap with genes found to be linked to other autoimmune diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and coeliac disease.

The team of scientists, working under the umbrella of the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, has its findings published in medical journal Nature Genetics on Monday.

As part of the study, the largest investigation of MS genetics to date, DNA from blood samples from 80,000 people with and without the condition were examined, including 1800 from Australia and New Zealand.

Prof Booth said the “milestone” provided specific research targets.

“So going forward we will try and find out why all of these genes affect MS,” he said.

“And particularly finding which processes are tagged by groups of genes and that will give us specific information on immune processes that are not functioning as they should.”

As a result of the new findings, there are now 110 genetic variants linked to MS.

MS Research Australia’s chief executive officer Matthew Miles said the work was a huge contribution to understanding MS.

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Tragedy mars Abbott’s maiden foreign trip (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Tony Abbott’s first prime ministerial overseas trip takes him to Indonesia, where the survivors of an asylum seeker boat tragedy blame his government for dozens of deaths.

Mr Abbott is due to jet from Sydney to Jakarta on Monday for an overnight visit where he will meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Atop the leaders’ agenda is likely to be ideas to crack down on people smuggling as the two nations reel from the latest tragedy at sea which left more than 50 people dead or missing.

“This is because of the Australian government. I want them to know that,” said one survivor from the boat, which broke up in heavy seas off the coast of Java on Friday.

Mr Abbott will be joined on his trip by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who will take part in discussions on trade and investment.

Before coming to power Mr Abbott indicated that all future Australian prime ministers should make Jakarta their first port of call overseas, acknowledging Indonesia as a growing economy in the Asia Pacific region.

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Vic woman’s death suspicious: police (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A man is assisting police with their inquires after the suspicious death of a woman in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.

The body of the 37-year-old woman was discovered at a property at Yarra Junction about 4.45pm (AEST) on Saturday.

Police are treating the death as suspicious, pending the results of an autopsy.

They say a 39-year-old man is assisting them with their inquires.

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Two men in hospital following Sydney fire (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Two men are in hospital following a fire in Sydney’s southwest.

Emergency services were called to Australia Road at Barden Ridge at 8pm (AEST) on Sunday after reports a house was on fire.

A garage at the rear of a property was well-alight, police say.

Two men are being treated at Sutherland Hospital for significant injuries.

It’s understood the pair drove themselves to the hospital.

The fire has been extinguished but there is extensive damage to the garage.

Police have established a crime scene.

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Gillard to speak at public Sydney forum (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Julia Gillard will be quizzed on being the first female PM during a live interview in Sydney.AAP Julia Gillard will be quizzed on being the first female PM during a live interview in Sydney.

Julia Gillard will be quizzed on her achievements as the country’s first female prime minister and her defeat during a public interview with journalist Anne Summers in Sydney on Monday.

Ms Gillard has kept a quiet profile since she was ousted as prime minister in June.

Australia’s first female prime minister has agreed to be the inaugural guest of the Anne Summers Conversations, which will be held at the Sydney Opera House on Monday night.

The event will run for 90 minutes including an hour long interview and 30 minutes of questioning from the audience.

A similar event will be held at Melbourne Town Hall on Tuesday.

Tickets to both events sold out within hours of going on sale.

Dr Summers told AAP earlier this month she wanted to give Ms Gillard the opportunity to share her proudest achievements in office, how she dealt with the media’s harsh treatment and her feelings on being voted out of the job.

“I’ll ask her about her plans for the future,” she said at the time.

Ms Gillard revealed this month she was writing her memoir to be published in October 2014.

The former Labor leader conducted an interview with Random House about her book and said it would describe her “political and personal journey”.

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Motorcyclist among three dead on Vic roads (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A motorcyclist has died near Wodonga in the third fatal crash on Victorian roads in less than 24 hours.

Police say the motorcycle with a pillion passenger collided with the utility which was towing a trailer and travelling in the same direction at Leneva at about 2.30 pm (AEST) on Sunday.

Paramedics performed CPR on the 40-year-old male rider from Baranduda, but were unable to revive him.

His pillion passenger, a 12-year-old Baranduda girl, received serious injuries and has been airlifted to hospital.

The ute’s sole occupant, a male driver, was uninjured.

On Saturday, two women were killed within two hours in separate crashes on Victorian roads.

The first died after a head-on collision at Brucknell in Victoria’s southwest at about 3pm on Saturday.

The second woman died in the Geelong suburb of Leopold, when a utility lost control and struck her car at about 5pm.

Victoria’s road toll stands at 173 compared with 197 at the same time last year.

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Melbourne death suspicious, police say (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

The death of a man whose body was found at a home in Melbourne’s east is being treated as suspicious, police say.

The 28-year-old’s body was found in a home at Narre Warren just after 4pm (AEST) on Sunday.

Police say the cause of his death is yet to be determined, but the death is being treated as suspicious, pending the result of an autopsy.

Homicide Squad detectives are heading to the scene.

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Two in hospital after police car crash (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A man and woman in their 60s were taken to hospital after their car and a police vehicle collided in Sydney southwest.

NSW police officers were responding to an urgent domestic-related incident at about 3pm (AEST) on Sunday when their marked car and a Holden Cruz were in collision at an intersection in Bradbury.

A woman and a man, both aged in their 60s, who were in the Holden, were taken to Liverpool Hospital.

Police said the man was taken to hospital as a precaution.

The woman, who sustained chest injuries, is still in hospital and her condition is stable.

Two police officers suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.

Police initially said a critical incident team would investigate the crash.

However on updated information on the condition of the woman the crash would now be investigated by the Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit, police said.

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Urgent need for NSW guide dog raisers (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is urgently calling for volunteer puppy raisers ahead of a spike in pup births over the next few months.

The not-for-profit organisation expects to see about 60 puppies born over the coming months and is searching for Sydneysiders to help raise them.

Up to 800 people attended Wet Nose Day in Parramatta on Sunday to learn about what it takes to be a volunteer puppy raiser.

A puppy raiser adopts an eight week pup into their home for 12 months, with all vet and food costs covered by the guide dogs organisation.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT spokeswoman Sally Edgar said the need for guide dogs was increasing with an aging population and rising incidents of vision loss.

“The reason we are looking for more in particular is the need for guide dogs is increasing so we need to breed more,” she told AAP.

“The number of people with vision conditions in NSW/ACT that cannot be corrected will increase by 20,000 by 2020.”

The increase will take the number of state and territory residents with vision loss to about 120,000 by 2020, Ms Edgar said.

Vision 2020 Australia projects the number of people across Australia with vision loss aged 40 and over will rise to 801,000 by 2020.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT aims to double the number of guide dogs trained each year by 2015.

Ms Edgar said puppy raising required time, a fenced yard, a car and a residence in the Sydney metropolitan area.

“And lot’s of love,” she said.

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‘Big switch’ paying off for homeowners (Yahoo!7) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Big switch paying off for homeownersYahoo!7 ‘Big switch’ paying off for homeowners

South Australia households who’ve joined a people power movement to drive down electricity prices say they’ve been shocked by the result.

For the first time ever, many have seen bills drop – and it’s prompted a new push for discounts.

The quarterly electricity bill has always filled the King family with dread.

With three sons they’ve struggled to reign in their power use.

“There’s always something on”, says Roy King. “They walk out of rooms and leave lights on computers on.”

But their hip pocket stress has recently been cut by 14 per cent, since they took advantage of a group discount deal negotiated by One Big Switch last year.

“It’s lowered our quarterly electricity bill by about a hundred dollars.”

SA’s average power bills have doubled over the past seven years.

“South Australia might just be the new home of bill stress in Australia,” says Joel Gibson from One Big Switch.

Despite market deregulation, a quarter of SA households are still paying the standing, or “regulated” rate.

Gibson says “that means they’re not getting any discount at all, and they’re doing themselves out of what could be a double digit discount.”

The energy regulator predicts there’ll be 10,000 power disconnections in SA this year because of unpaid bills – that’s double the rate of a decade ago.

One Big Switch says that can be avoided if consumers use people power.

A new campaign runs until the 18th of October.

For more information visit the website.

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Qld grandmother in carjack ordeal (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A Brisbane grandmother has described the terrifying moment she was carjacked while her baby granddaughter was in the back seat.

The 54-year-old was in a dark car park of an inner city unit complex waiting to pick up her son about 9.30pm (AEST) on Saturday night when the thief struck.

He tapped on the window with what she believes was a pistol.

The woman, who did not want her name published, said she opened the car window thinking it was her son.

“He said, `get out of the car. This is true, it’s a hold-up. Just do as I say and you’re going to be OK’,” the shaken woman told AAP.

“All I could think of was our little grand-daughter.

“I said, `please, whatever you do don’t take off, I’ve got my grand-daughter in the back’.”

The man in his 20s let her take the seven-month-old from the car and even helped her unclip the baby seat.

He warned her to keep quiet and said the police were after him.

“He said, `keep it quiet and you’ll be fine but if you mutter a word you’re going to be in trouble’,” the woman said, adding that she’d felt sick with fright.

“He definitely had something which I thought was a little gun, a pistol…I thought oh my god, he’s holding me up, I’ve got to do what he says.”

The woman said the man, who was wearing a black beanie and dark clothes, drove off as soon as she had the baby out of the car.

She alerted passersby who came to their aid.

The woman, from Brisbane’s east, said the horrible ordeal had made her paranoid about being held up again.

She hopes police find the thief and her son’s car, a silver 2002 Nissan Patrol station wagon with registration 168 GWV.

It was last seen on Main Street at Kangaroo Point, in Brisbane’s inner south.

Police are investigating and urge anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.

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Crowd praised despite 35 MCG evictions (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Police say 35 people were evicted from the AFL grand final in Melbourne.AAP Police say 35 people were evicted from the AFL grand final in Melbourne.

Police say 35 people were evicted from the AFL grand final, but they have praised overall crowd behaviour.

From the crowd of more than 100,000 at the MCG on Saturday, police evicted 19 people and issued them with infringement notices.

Police say the evictions were mostly due to poor behaviour, with three for ticket scalping.

The ground’s security staff evicted an additional 16 people.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013 0 comments

Thousands march in memory of Jill (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Some carried flowers, others carried signs, but the thousands of people who marched through Melbourne in memory of Jill Meagher had one thing in common – they were there to say `no’ to violence.

Artist Philip Werner, whose Facebook post last year sparked a 30,000-strong march to honour Ms Meagher and other victims, was not surprised thousands again turned up to honour victims of violence.

“I’ve called it a peace march and I believe people are here because they want to express the opposite sentiment to the things that led to the murder,” Mr Werner said.

Sasha Chambers carried a defiant sign with a message for Ms Meagher’s killer Adrian Bayley and Steven James Hunter, who murdered Sarah Cafferkey.

“Two off our streets a fair few to go. This is for the voiceless, we will love you always,” it read.

Ms Chambers said she had decided to march because more needed to be done for the safety of the community.

Christian Vega, from sex worker organisation Vixen, was there to honour his friend Tracy Connelly who was found murdered in St Kilda earlier this year.

“On a policy level we should be doing so much more,” Mr Vega said.

The murder of 29-year-old Ms Meagher as she walked home last year, sparked a successful push to change Victoria’s parole laws.

Bayley, currently serving a life sentence, on Thursday had his application to appeal his sentence denied.

Lizzie Marks and 15 friends carried white flowers to protest violence.

They bought their sons and daughters to “make them aware”.

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George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce deny wrongdoing over travel expenses claims (ABC) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Coalition frontbenchers George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce have denied any wrongdoing after reports they used taxpayer funds to attend a wedding.

Fairfax Media says the men claimed over $ 3,000 in travel expenses to attend the wedding of radio presenter Michael Smith in 2011.

Senator Brandis has confirmed he claimed nearly $ 1,700 on flights, accommodation and a hire car, but says he attended the wedding primarily for work purposes.

He told Fairfax that he used the wedding as an opportunity to collaborate with Smith over his work covering the Health Services Union scandal involving former MP Craig Thomson.

Senator Brandis says to resolve any uncertainty he will pay the money back.

“It is clear that the relevant criterion is the purpose of the travel, not the nature of the event. However, I accept that there can be uncertainty about the circumstances in which attendance at a private function for work-related purposes is within the entitlement,” he said.

Fairfax newspapers reported that the cost of flights, hire cars and incidental expenses were among travel expenses lodged with the Department of Finance.

Mr Joyce rejected the Fairfax report, saying he may have used a Commonwealth car on the day, but that he did not claim flights or accommodation.

“The only thing I can see in this, and it was two years ago, was the use of a COMCAR on the same day as the wedding,” Mr Joyce said.

“I will now dig back and do what I can to find out about that and if there’s some ambiguity I’ll pay it back, but the idea I claimed thousands of dollars is just wrong.”

Shorten calls for investigation

Federal MP Bill Shorten told ABC’s Insiders program there should be an investigation into the politicians’ use of taxpayer funds.

“It is not normal to say that the reason why you get the taxpayer to support you to go to a wedding is so that you can network with journalists,” he said.

“There may be an explanation. I don’t know all the facts, but should there be an explanation? Yes.”

Meanwhile, Smith defended the actions of the politicians on his website and said he and his wife paid for the politicians’ limousine to the wedding.

He says any expense claims were justified because both men engaged with journalists at the wedding and their attendance at the celebration “did not demur in any way from their paid elected role as prominent federal parliamentarians”.

Smith asked of Fairfax: “Is it your interpretation of the [guidelines] that where an expense is incurred in speaking with local media that cost should be personally borne by the member?”

According to the federal Department of Finance and Deregulation’s entitlements handbook, expenses for official business such as “meetings of a government advisory committee or taskforce” or “functions representing a minister of presiding officer” are allowed for.

Meetings with journalists and other members of the media are not sanctioned under the handbook’s guidelines.

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Missing Qld ten-year-old found safe (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A ten-year-old girl who went missing on Saturday afternoon has been found.

Police had held concerns for Moana Fraser after she went missing from her home at Kallangur north of Brisbane about 5pm (AEST).

However, police say she was found safe and well on Sunday morning.

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Nurses threaten bed closures at Dubbo (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Six beds at a regional NSW emergency room will be shut down until all nursing vacancies at the hospital are filled, the nurses’ union says.

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) at Dubbo Hospital have voted to close the beds from Monday afternoon and ban unreasonable overtime in the emergency department from next month.

The NSWNMA says the six beds – which make up the hospital’s Emergency Medical Unit and are among a total 20 emergency department beds – will be out of action until new staff are recruited to all nursing vacancies and are actively working in the emergency department, or the empty spots are filled by agency nurses.

The union’s Brett Holmes says staffing levels are dangerously low, with 32.21 full-time equivalent (FTE) full positions trying to cover an emergency department that should have 41.05 FTE staff members.

“It is unsafe for patients and staff and the ED nurses are right to act decisively,” he said on Sunday.

“This Dubbo staffing shortage is also further evidence of the need for mandated, minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in all clinical areas, including EDs, in our hospitals.”

The nurses’ fight for minimum ratios to be rolled out statewide prompted mass walk-outs in July.

Nurses want the government to guarantee a ratio of one nurse to every three children and emergency department patients, one nurse per single patient in intensive care units and one nurse to four patients in all other wards.

They are also demanding a four-hour cap on patient contact time per eight-hour shift in community health services

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Darryl Gerrity dies (ABC) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

The West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity has died.ABC The West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity has died.

The West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity has died aged 70.

It is understood he died in hospital overnight.

He was diagnosed with cancer about a month ago.

Councillor Gerrity was born in Queenstown in 1943 and joined the council in 1999.

The Premier Lara Giddings paid tribute to the West Coast Mayor.

“Darryl was an amazingly passionate West Coaster and a fierce advocate for municipality and the people who live and work there,” she said.

“His shoot-from-the-hip style of politics was always framed by a remarkable wit and colourful sense of humour,” Ms Giddings added.

“These traits made him a truly likeable person and a genuine character.”

The Deputy Mayor Peter Reid says Cr Gerrity will be remembered for his quick wit.

“He was quick on his feet and passionate about the West Coast,” he reflected.

Cr Gerrity championed many causes including the West Coast Railway and opposed fly-in fly-out mine workers.

“He had quite the personality, a very big one,” Cr Reid said.

“He didn’t feel we were getting a good enough deal from the Federal Government and he led a move to put us back into Braddon.,” Cr Reid said.

“It was good because it got a few things because it was a more marginal seat than Lyon was, he was just passionate and tried to do his best for the West Coast.”

Cr Gerrity is survived by his wife Robin and three children.

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Suspected arson attack at Sydney Salvos (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A fire that ripped through a Salvation Army centre in southwest Sydney was deliberately lit, say police.

Emergency services were called to the corner of Bathurst Street and Memorial Avenue, Liverpool, about 6.15am (AEST) on Sunday after a trolley full of rubbish was set alight at the back of the building.

The fire then spread into the building itself.

NSW Fire & Rescue said the blaze was extinguished later on Sunday morning but 50 per cent of the building had been damaged.

A crime scene has been established and investigators are waiting for the scene to be declared safe before forensic examinations can begin.

The intersection remains closed and police are appealing for anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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New test for motor neurone disease moves closer (ABC) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A new test to diagnose motor neurone disease could be available next year thanks to research being conducted at the Flinders Medical Centre, in Adelaide’s south.

There is currently no known cure for the debilitating condition and the average life expectancy after diagnosis is between two and three years.

Researcher Mary-Louise Rogers says her team has identified a protein that is released by damaged nerve cells and is found in urine and blood.

Dr Rogers says currently it can take years to identify motor neurone disease and early diagnosis will enable more effective treatment.

“We’ve been able to detect this protein in people with motor neurone disease and this will hopefully help in those people for example who have a known cause in the family, have a known genetic risk in the family,” she said.

“If we could actually get them earlier then it actually may be more effective, because what often happens is they get it [diagnosed] when it’s a little bit too late to have a big effect.

“So if they were getting it [diagnosed] earlier who knows they may actually live a bit longer.”

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Motorcyclist dies in NSW highway crash (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

A motorcycle rider has been killed after being hit by three cars in northern NSW.

Police say a motorcycle and car collided as the motorcycle was turning on to the Pacific Highway at South Grafton about 7pm (AEST) on Saturday.

Two other vehicles are believed to have struck the motorcyclist after the initial collision.

The rider died at the scene. He has not yet been formally identified.

All of the drivers were taken to hospital to undergo mandatory blood and urine testing.

Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the crash or the events leading up to it to contact investigators.

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29 Lebanese missing after asylum boat sinks off Java (AFP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Beirut (AFP) – At least 29 Lebanese asylum-seekers are missing after their boat capsized off Indonesia on its way to Australia, the Lebanese foreign ministry said Saturday.

Indonesian police have said 28 people were plucked from the water but around 70 — including many children — are still unaccounted for.

The Australia-bound boat carrying asylum-seekers from Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen sank off Java Friday, Indonesian police said.

“There were 68 Lebanese on board,” Haytham Jomaa, who is in charge of immigration affairs at the Lebanese foreign ministry, told AFP.

He said 18 of the Lebanese survived the ordeal while 21 bodies were retrieved from the sea.

Lebanese mother Nazime Bakour, 32, spoke of the tragedy to AFP after she was rescued by fishermen along with her son. She lost her husband and two other children, a 3-year-old and a 7-year-old.

Bakour, speaking in broken English, said the boat was struck by a massive wave and broke into pieces.

“I have to swim. My husband swim very well, but the boat break and hit his head,” she said, adding that she saw her surviving son in the water and managed to grab him.

Outgoing Prime Minister Najib Mikati said family members of the doomed Lebanese would be travelling to Indonesia to reunite with survivors and identify bodies.

Most of the Lebanese asylum-seekers hail from the town of Kabiit in Akkar, an impoverished and remote district in northern Lebanon across the border from Syria.

Thousands of Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country have trekked across the border to Akkar since the conflict erupted in March 2011.

Local officials in Akkar said many of the Syrians have been lured by exploitative travel agents into making the high-risk sea trip to Australia in search of asylum.

Impoverished Lebanese from the Akkar region have also signed up for the treacherous voyages, hoping for a better life in Australia, the officials said.

Thousands of asylum-seekers have travelled by boat to Australia this year, and scores have died trying to make the journey in unseaworthy vessels over the years.

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Jill’s march to show ‘peaceful defiance’ (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )


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