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Our ally from the west

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 03 November 2012 | 19.55

ONE of Australia's wealthiest women, WA businesswoman Janet Holmes a Court, has championed Tasmania's arts sector as a potential saviour of the local economy.

Ms Holmes a Court, who is in the state to lend support to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, also has emerged as an unlikely ally against the fight by other WA heavyweights to strip Tasmania of part of its GST share.

The respected corporate leader, known for both her business acumen and generosity, said MONA was a "classic example" of how the arts and tourism sector could lift the state out of the doldrums.

"This is my fifth trip to Hobart to go to MONA and every time I come I meet people from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth or Queensland," she said yesterday.

"They stay a couple of days, put some money in the economy and they come back, and I think something as visionary as MONA is a perfect example of what can happen if someone with imagination puts their money into something as creative as that venture.

"I don't know what it's actually done for the Tasmanian economy in terms of dollars but it must be huge," Ms Holmes a Court said.

The praise for MONA and Tasmania's natural beauty and heritage was in stark contrast to the opinions of fellow WA businesswoman Gina Rinehart, who recently lashed out at the island state's apparent anti-development attitudes.

Ms Holmes a Court defended Tasmania's share of GST revenue.

"We are all Australians and we're a federation and we need to work together to make sure that all Australians have the opportunity of a decent life, and if that means giving Tasmania a little bit more of the GST then so be it," she said.

While Ms Rinehart criticised Tasmania's dependence on mining in other states, Ms Holmes a Court bemoaned the impact of the mining boom on her home town.

"I've always thought Hobart was a very lucky town not to have had a mining boom because you still have the bulk of the early beautiful buildings, where in a place like Perth where we had a mining boom, most of the beautiful buildings have gone," she said.

The renowned philanthropist, who chairs the WA Symphony Orchestra, yesterday addressed more than 100 people at a TSO lunch aimed at securing more donations and sponsorship.

While Ms Holmes a Court encouraged local businesses and individuals to invest in the orchestra, she also described philanthropy as "a double edged sword".

"Philanthropy does let governments off the hook a bit," she said.

"In an ideal world you would have a sort of cake and icing situation where the government provided the cake to keep arts companies afloat and running along and healthy and philanthropy and sponsorship can be the icing on the cake."

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Shades pulled on awnings

THE fight is over today for some of Hobart's most controversial window furnishings.

The battle to save the red awnings placed on a heritage-listed building has been lost, for four of the coverings at least.

Early today a crane will pull down the ground-level awnings from 26 Murray St, following a long-fought battle by the Heritage Council to axe all of the awnings.

The removal order affects only the round-shaped awnings, which means the remaining 12 flat awnings will stay on the former Savings Bank.

The building's caretaker, Kerry Faulkner, said it was an unfortunate day. "This is ridiculous," he said last night.

Mr Faulkner said the crane had been hired at the expense of the building's owners, and the street would be blocked off while the work was carried out from 7am.

Hobart Deputy Lord Mayor Ron Christie, who is a red awnings supporter, said he was "dumbfounded" .

"This is bureaucracy gone crazy," he said. "We have more important issues to deal with in the city than an item like this."

Ald Christie said the awnings gave character and colour to Hobart, and the round ones were his favourites.

He said the round awnings were more in the character of similar awnings popular on heritage buildings in Paris, while the flat ones were more modern.

"I'm really dumbfounded as to why they have a bee in their bonnet over this one," he said.

A majority of Hobart City Council aldermen voted in favour of the red awnings last year but the awnings were rejected retrospectively by the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

Building owners and restorers Warwick and Helen Rule appealed that decision in the Resource Management Planning and Appeal Tribunal.

The tribunal ruled that all but the four round awnings could stay, on the basis the flat ones did not affect the cultural and heritage significance of the building.

The bright-red awnings divided public opinion last year.

Hobart businesses set up window displays supporting the awnings and a rally was organised at Parliament House by the Save the Red Awnings Group.

Mr Rule is overseas and could not be contacted last night.

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Mussel woe triggers recall

THE discovery of toxins in mussels from a Tasmanian seafood company has prompted a worldwide recall of the shellfish.

Spring Bay Seafoods has been forced to close temporarily and has recalled its award-winning blue mussels from its Asian customers.

The mussels, sold in their shells, have also been taken off Tasmanian and interstate shelves.

Primary Industries and Water Minister Bryan Green said he was extremely disappointed about the spread of the toxin, which was the result of a naturally occurring algal bloom.

"This is devastating for Spring Bay Seafoods and its workforce and we will keep the public up to date with information as it comes to hand," Mr Green said.

"Tasmania has an excellent reputation for high-quality, safe shellfish and it is hoped this is a short-term event and will have no lasting impacts. Public health is a priority and the closure is a precautionary measure."

Public health director Roscoe Taylor said the recall was prompted by the discovery of unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish toxins in the mussels, which are farmed near Maria Island.

Authorities have also stopped more than 10 nearby seafood farms from harvesting their shellfish. Dr Taylor said shellfish farms in Little Swanport, Georges Bay, Great Oyster Bay and Ansons Bay had been closed as a precaution.

The outbreak has also prompted extra testing of East Coast scallops. Although there is no ban on eating farmed scallops at this stage, the public has been warned against eating wild scallops.

Dr Taylor said symptoms of poisoning from the shellfish could occur within hours of consumption.

"I strongly stress people should not harvest or eat any wild shellfish from these affected areas as it could result in potentially fatal paralytic shellfish poisoning," Dr Taylor warned.

"No reports have been received of mussel or other shellfish-related illness, but high levels of paralytic shellfish toxins can be fatal in extreme cases and children are more susceptible."

Dr Taylor said poisoning symptoms included tingling in the mouth and extremities, pins and needles, unsteadiness on the feet, weakness of the arms or legs and nausea.

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Bold border bid breaks down

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 02 November 2012 | 19.55

The vehicle is seen stuck atop the US-Mexico border 4.2-metre fence as it reportedly tried to cross into the US illegally. Pictures: AFP

MEXICAN immigrants have failed in their bold bid to cross the US-Mexico border fence when their car got stuck on top of makeshift ramps they placed over the fence.

Two people fled back into Mexico after US border guards spotted the bold attempt to scale the 4.3-metre high fence in the early hours of Tuesday, said the US Custom and Border Patrol agency.

"Agents patrolling in the Imperial Sand Dunes area encountered a silver Jeep Cherokee attempting to drive over the International Boundary fence using a makeshift ramp that was not quite up to the task," said a CBP statement.

"When the vehicle made it to the top of the ramp, it became high-centred ... As agents arrived on scene, two subjects fled into Mexico. After removing the Jeep from the fence, agents seized both the vehicle and the ramps," it added.

US authorities have long battled to contain illegal immigration and smuggling across the southern border with Mexico, and the region is plagued by violence linked to traffickers of drugs and humans.

In 2007 a border patrol agent was killed near the area where the car got stuck on ramps, when he was deliberately struck by a vehicle as he tried to deflate its tires.

Tunnels underneath the border are regularly unearthed, some of them with highly sophisticated equipment and ventilation systems, and entrances typically concealed in warehouses or other structures near the frontier.

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Rhodes Scholar's medical mind

TASMANIA'S newest Rhodes Scholar is heading to Oxford to research Alzheimers and Parkinsons diseases.

Ben Hunn is in his final year of studying medicine at the University of Tasmania.

The Rhodes scholarship is awarded for academic and sporting achievements as well as leadership.

In 2010 Ben and girlfriend Katie worked in war-torn Sudan for a medical relief project.

Alzheimers disease was also the subject of Ben's honours thesis.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury.

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Geale stripped of WBA title

A FURIOUS Daniel Geale is demanding the WBA give him the belt he earned by defeating Felix Sturm after being stripped as the sanctioning body's champion.

Geale has lost his WBA middleweight title for choosing to fight Anthony Mundine over mandatory challenger Gennady Golovkin, but it can be revealed the WBA has not even sent Geale the belt all championship winners receive as a memento of their achievement.

Geale (28-1, 15KO) was handed the IBF belt for his unification victory over Felix Sturm in Germany last September, but the WBA has made a number of excuses -- including that it was lost in transit -- in explaining why their belt wasn't delivered to the Australian.

"We will make sure we get that belt, trust me," Geale told thetelegraph.com.au. "I earned that belt, I travelled to a pretty imposing place and won, so I think I deserve it."

What are your thoughts on this decision?
Tell us your message to the WBA via the comments box below.

The WBA's decision to strip Geale of the title is bureaucracy at its best.

Geale has been punished for Sturm's refusal to fight mandatory challengers when he was champion. When Geale won the title, the WBA gave him four-and-a-half months instead of the regular nine months to defend against the mandatory -- in this case Golovkin (24-0, 21KO).

Their reasoning was that their mandatory challengers had been ignored for too long.

"What Felix Sturm did by not defending against the mandatory had nothing to do with me," Geale said.

"If I had taken the mandatory with the WBA, then I'm quite sure the IBF would have stripped me so I was in a no-win situation.

"As I said I have no problem fighting Golovkin anywhere, but things have to be right. My management aren't stupid, we're not going to put ourselves in a situation where we're being exploited.

"I want titles, I want to unify titles."

The WBA's drastic move means Geale and Mundine will fight for the IBF middleweight title only, in a bout to take place close to Australia Day in January next year.

Read more on this story in tomorrow's Mercury.

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Mayor slams new policing plan

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 01 November 2012 | 19.55

THE West Coast Council is preparing to fight plans to pull the region's police inspector out of Queenstown and cut one officer each from Rosebery and Strahan stations.

Under the planned Tasmania Police restructuring program, Inspector Matthew Richman will be based in Ulverstone and the West Coast police district will be managed from the North-West town.

West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity met with authorities yesterday but described the talks as "demoralising".

"Again, regional Tasmania will pay the price for poor government decisions made in Hobart," Cr Gerrity said.

The proposed cuts will leave just 17 police officers on the West Coast beat.

"Inspector Richman has played a big role in recent community work, which is seeing the West Coast become a better place in terms of crime and other social issues," Cr Gerrity said.

"We have seen time and time again outposting decisions which have not worked, so why would policing be any different?

"This decision should not be based on population. The West Coast is such a big area, with an hour's travelling between each of the major towns, and a long way from Ulverstone."

Tasmania Police Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard said Inspector Richman would take on extra responsibilities if he was relocated to the North-West.

But he would retain responsibility for the West Coast and still be available to address local concerns and issues.

Deputy Commissioner Tilyard said there were no plans, at this stage, to close any of the police stations on the West Coast.

"It is important to note that no decisions have been made. The [restructuring] project team is continuing to consult with stakeholders and is due to submit its final report to the Commissioner late next month," he said.


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Sorell poll reminder

SORELL ratepayers have been urged to have their say in the council by-election.

Deputy Electoral Commissioner Andrew Hawkey today encouraged all Sorell electors to take the time to record their votes and post them ASAP.

As of today, 36.91 per cent of postal votes for the Sorell Council by-election have been returned. This compares with 40.18 per cent at the same stage of the ordinary election last year.

"Consider your vote right away so that you don't miss the deadline," Mr Hawkey said in a statement.

"You can post them to the Tasmanian Electoral Commission or hand deliver them to the Sorell Council office, located at 12 Somerville Street,  Sorell, before the close of the poll."

Votes must be received by 10am on Tuesday – Melbourne Cup Day.

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Rock lobster season looming

Tasmania's recreational rock lobster season opens on Saturday, November 3.

AS authorities today heralded the start of recreational rock lobster season this weekend, one man's plans to bag a few delicious "cray" had already come to an abrupt end.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called to Pieman Heads, on the West Coast, yesterday to rescue a Wynyard man, 68, who broke his leg while trying to free a stranded 4WD vehicle on a remote track.

He was airlifted to hospital, where he was today in a stable condition.

The man was setting up camp with a group of fishermen to get ready for rock lobster season, which opens on Saturday.

MAST recreational boating manager Peter Hopkins said the first weekend of the season was always a busy one.

He urged anyone planning to venture out on to the water to check their safety gear first.

"Life jackets only save lives when they are worn," Mr Hopkins said.

"You are legally obliged to wear them at all times on boats that are 6m and under, but we recommend that life jackets are worn on larger boats as well."

Tasmania Police will be patrolling waterways around the state, focusing on safety and rock lobster fishery quotas.

Police Marine and Rescue Services Sergeant John Pratt said officers would provide up-to-date advice to fishermen and recreational boaters.

"Everyone loves a day out on the water, but alcohol and boating are a potentially lethal combination," Sergeant Pratt said.

"Just like when driving a car, a boat skipper's blood-alcohol level must not exceed .05.

"Fishers must be aware of bag limits and requirements around licences.

"Ignorance will not be a reasonable excuse for anyone found not adhering to the rules and regulations."

Mr Hopkins also urged boats to keep an eye on the weather.

"If you are in any doubt about the upcoming weather forecast, postpone your day out until you are sure that weather conditions are good."

For a full rundown on licensing information and bag limits, visit the State Government website.

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Tassie kids mighty mobile

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

TASMANIAN children have the highest rate of mobile phone use in the country.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures out today show that 31.9 per cent of Tasmanians aged 5 to 14 have a mobile -- higher than the national average of 29 per cent.

The next highest jurisdiction was Australian Capital Territory, on 30.1 per cent, and the lowest were Victoria and Northern Territory, both on 28 per cent.

But Tasmanian children are less likely to have accessed the internet.

The study shows that an average of 90 per cent of children across Australia have accessed the web this year -- a dramatic increase from 79 per cent just three years ago and 65 per cent six years ago.

In Tasmania, the rate is 87.2 per cent.

The ABS offered the caveat that the figures are based on only a sample of the population, and a study of every child may give different rates.

But earlier studies have shown Tasmanian children have a high rate of mobile phone ownership.

Just over one in 50, or 2.3 per cent, of Australian children aged five to eight have a mobile, a proportion that jumps to 21.5 per cent for children aged 9 to 11 and 73.4 per cent for 12 to 14-year-olds.

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Tuesday's daily double

TASMANIAN punters can vie for two jackpots next week, when Oz Lotto will offer a record $100 million prize pool on Melbourne Cup Day.

That means long queues can be expected on Tuesday -- not just at betting agencies but also at newsagencies.

The previous highest guaranteed division-one pool offered in Australia was $90 million in June 2009, which grew to $106.5 million because of  "heightened player interest".

The booty was shared between an Adelaide man and a Queensland couple.

But Tuesday's jackpot presents the opportunity for a single player to become the biggest lottery prize winner in Australian history.

The nation's record to date is the $58.7 million won by a Victorian syndicate in 2008, Oz Lotto customers relations manager Lauren Halliday said today.

While the 2012 Melbourne Cup race will finish just after 3pm, gamblers can buy their Oz Lotto tickets up until 7.30pm.

But don't break out the champagne yet -- the chance of winning a division one prize is one in 45,379,620.

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One hurt in Broadmarsh crash

A MOTORIST has been injured in a single-vehicle accident at Broadmarsh, near Brighton.

Police closed Elderslie Rd to all traffic about 4.45pm today to deal with the crash.

The driver of the vehicle was trapped and had sustained leg injuries, police said in a statement.

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Lawyer remains in limbo

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 30 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

TASMANIAN lawyer Sarah Armstrong could remain stranded in Mongolia for some time yet, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said today.

Sarah Armstrong, originally from Rosebery on Tasmania's West Coast, was stopped at Ulaanbaatar airport earlier this month because authorities wanted to question her about corruption allegations.

The 32-year-old is a mining lawyer for Rio Tinto subsidiary SouthGobi Resources. She has not been arrested or charged and still has her passport.

Ms Armstrong faced lengthy questioning at the weekend but Australian officials were prevented from being present.

Asked today if he was concerned about that, Senator Carr said: "Not on the face of it."

Mongolian authorities found it "unsatisfactory" that Consul-General David Lawson be present, he said.

"We hope for a satisfactory outcome but it may take some time," he said.

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Woman dies in Swansea crash

A WOMAN has been killed in a two-vehicle crash on the Tasman Highway near Swansea, on the state's East Coast.

Police said the woman was the driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, which collided about 8km north of Swansea.

The male driver and female passenger in the other vehicle were taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital for treatment. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

Police were called to the crash about 3pm today, with the northbound lane of the highway temporarily blocked by one of the vehicles.

Two people were reportedly trapped and the Westpac rescue helicopter was sent to the accident scene.

Investigations were continuing late today into the cause of the crash, which brings the state's road toll for 2012 to 26.

Last year's road toll was a record low of 24.

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Daylight robbery alarm

A bracelet stolen in the Rosny burglary. Pictures: TASMANIA POLICE

ANTIQUE jewellery and other valuables have been stolen in a wave of daylight robberies on Hobart's Eastern Shore.

Bellerive police today urged the public to report any suspicious offers of jewellery for sale.

In one crime last Friday, a thief entered a Rosny home when the owner was present, Detective Senior Constable Michael Bobrowski said.

The woman did not realise but later noticed a large amount of her treasured jewellery had been taken.

Among the collection were distinctive heirloom and antique pieces.

"There are rings, bracelets, brooches, treasured family items," " Snr Constable Bobrowski said.

"She was, naturally, distressed.

"There have been a number of similar incidents on the Eastern Shore in the last four to six weeks."

He said goods being targeted by thieves included laptops, PlayStations and jewellery -- anything easily transportable that would fetch money.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Bellerive detectives on 6230 2685.

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Calling all royal-watchers

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 29 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit Tasmania next Thursday.

TASMANIAN royal-watchers are being urged to line the streets in Richmond and Hobart next Thursday to catch a glimpse of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Premier Lara Giddings today said the royal couple would walk along Richmond's Bridge and Edward streets on November 9 and would also visit Salamanca Place.

Members of the public are encouraged to gather at Richmond from 10.30am for the couple's 12.10pm arrival, and at Salamanca Place from 2.30pm for the 3.55pm walk.

"The two public walks are in addition to several functions, including a reception with women in Tasmania's agricultural sector in Richmond and a State Reception at PW1," Ms Giddings said in a statement.

"The Prince of Wales will also make a private visit to witness sheep shearing and wool classing at a family owned sheep stud at Sorell and will be briefed on a range of Antarctic and marine research programs."

The six-day royal visit to Australia from November 5-10 is part of a two-week tour that will also include Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

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Burglars hit Banjo's Margate

POLICE believe an overnight burglary at a Margate bakery may be linked to a spate of similar business break-ins in the municipality earlier this month.

Thieves entered Banjo's bakery in Margate via the roof some time between 8pm yesterday and 2.30am today, police said.

They stole a small safe containing a "substantial amount" of cash.

The Kingston CIB is investigating whether the break-in is linked to several other business burglaries in Kingston overnight on October 22-23.

Properties in Hobart and on the Eastern Shore have also been targeted by thieves.

Anyone with information on the Margate burglary is urged to contact Kingston police on 6211 8000 or 131 444.

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Industry toasts lift in flights

IT was lift-off today for a much-anticipated boost in flights to and from Tasmania.

Qantas launched an extra 1700 seats per week to and from Melbourne. They form part of an extra 400,000 seats on flights in and out of the state this financial year.

Tourism industry officials celebrated at an official launch at the IXL Atrium in Hobart.

QantasLink executive manager John Gissing said the extra flights would give travellers more flexibility.

"Launceston and Devonport will also benefit with more seats now available to and from Melbourne though an increased flight schedule and upgrades to the larger Q400 aircraft," Mr Gissing said.

Extra flights added by Virgin, Jetstar and Qantas will come on line in coming weeks, coinciding with the return of Tiger Airways to Tasmania at the start of November.

The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania has estimated the extra flight capacity can deliver up to 200,000 more tourists to the state, worth a potential $312 million to the local economy.

It also gives travellers a greater chance to snare cheap flights in and out of the state during the busy Christmas period.

Premier Lara Giddings said the extra capacity would allow the tourism industry to cash in on interest in the state – particularly after Hobart was last week included in travel bible Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2013.

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Penalty rates cut push

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 28 Oktober 2012 | 19.55

CALLS are growing for a review of penalty rates for hospitality workers, amid fears Tasmania's tourism credentials are being tarnished by a "ghost town" appearance.

Western Tiers MLC Greg Hall will move a motion in the State Parliament next week calling for a review of penalty rates legislation.

Mr Hall said there were widespread concerns in the tourism industry about the cost of keeping doors open on public holidays and Sundays.

His calls follow the Hobart Show Day public holiday on Thursday when the Hobart CBD resembled a ghost town, with many businesses choosing not to open their doors.

"I am not talking about the complete abolition of all penalty rates, but about striking a better balance to allow more businesses to open their doors and employ more people," Mr Hall said.

Hobart City Council alderman and long-time restaurateur Marti Zucco said that the issue needed to be taken up by politicians immediately.

"It seems that our leaders are quick to jump on the Lonely Planet guide bandwagon but they fail to understand the disadvantages facing the hospitality industry and Tasmanian tourism," Ald Zucco said.

"If we are to capitalise on this we must restructure the old five-day mentality when it is in fact a seven-day industry," he said.

"Tourism should not be closed down on public holidays."

Tasmanian Hospitality Association industrial relations manager Ben Walker said that some businesses were losing thousands of dollars to stay open on public holidays.

"We need rates of pay that are sustainable both for workers and for employers," Mr Walker said.

"No one wants to see a return to a harsh wage regime but just something that is balanced."

The hourly pay rate doubles for many hospitality workers who work on public holidays.

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New setback hits Chickenfeed

The Chickenfeed store in New Norfolk. The chain's parent company, Retail Adventures, has entered voluntary administration.

A CLOUD hangs over the remaining Chickenfeed stores in Tasmania after the parent company went into voluntary administration on Friday.

Retail Advenutres Pty Ltd, Australia's largest discount variety store operator, is now fighting for its survival, with 270 stores and thousands of jobs in jeopardy nationally.

In Tasmania there are nine remaining Chickenfeed stores, employing about 120 people, that are in limbo.

In a shock announcement on Friday night, Deloitte Restructuring Services Partners Vaughan Strawbridge, David Lombe and John Greig said they had been appointed Joint Voluntary Administrators of Retail Adventures.

The company, owned by Tasmanian entrepreneur Jan Cameron, operates nationally under four brand names: Crazy Clark's, Sam's Warehouse, Go-Lo and Chickenfeed. Mr Strawbridge said the stores were losing money and closures were inevitable.

"Retail Adventures has tried to restructure, but due to the cost of achieving this and time pressures, this has not been possible," Mr Strawbridge said. He said administrators would immediately review the financial position of the company, including the performance of the Chickenfeed stores.

"Employees are being advised of developments and will be offered support as needed," he said.

A first creditors' meeting will be held on November 7.

Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association state secretary Paul Griffin said he hoped the administrators would find a way to keep the stores trading.

Retail Adventures chief operating officer Penny Moss said all terminating employees would be paid their entitlements in full.

"We guarantee that staff who do not retain employment in the business will receive their full entitlements," she said.

Chickenfeed has closed eight stores and 12 stores are expected to close today at George Town, Prospect Vale, Claremont, Shoreline, New Norfolk, Bridgewater, Centrepoint, Kingston, Sorell, Glenorchy, Launceston and Devonport.

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No forest peace in our time

NO UPSIDE: Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and Deputy Premier Bryan Green talk to the media about the imminent failure of the forestry peace deal in Tasmania. Picture: MATT THOMPSON

THE future of what was once one of Tasmania's most thriving industries was in tatters yesterday, after marathon forestry peace talks were finally felled by warring parties.

Even a $120 million assistance package to be used for industry restructuring and economic diversification, that was still sitting on the table, could not induce co-operation between forestry and conservation groups.

The breakdown left a weary and visibly upset federal Environment Minister Tony Burke with the task of telling Tasmanians there would be no end to the decades-long conflict over the forests.

"Signatories could not reach agreement between the conservation reserves and a minimum sawlog volume," Mr Burke said.

Predictions of a dire economic downturn were put into stark perspective by rumours of Malaysian veneer company Ta Ann's potential withdrawal from the state, with the collapse of the peace talks now leaving thousands of forestry jobs and contracts in limbo.

An industry source said Ta Ann, which employs 160 workers at its Smithton and Huon Valley mills, had warned the Government that the mills would close if the talks failed because it was not willing to operate in an environment of controversy and conflict.

Dr Jonathan West, the head of the six-member scientific panel that advised signatories, said the failure of the talks was "a tragic and disastrous outcome for Tasmania".

"This agreement made it possible to protect the forests and industry; both sides could win, now both sides will lose everything because of a stubborn refusal to budge," Dr West said.

The loss of Ta Ann would cost the state millions, with the Malaysian timber giant last year injecting $45 million into the Tasmanian economy.

Mr Burke and Deputy Premier Bryan Green said they were "deeply pessimistic" about any resolution in the near future.

"No amount of goodwill can bridge the gap between the signatories," Mr Burke said. "I looked around the table and I looked at each party and I couldn't see an upside to any of them."

Premier Lara Giddings refused to comment on the collapse of the peace talks, but Mr Green put it in perspective.

"They have represented their constituents the best they possibly can," he said. "We can't see how there could possibly be agreement between them."

After the talks broke down, it didn't take long for the knives to come out.

The collapse of the IGA, established in August last year, was welcomed by pro-industry lobby group Give It Back.

"The Tasmanian Government now needs to legislate, if need be, to allow Tasmanians to work without the threat and danger of radical groups coming into their workplace and disrupting it," Give It Back spokeswoman Dimity Hirst said.

"We now need to rally together and support what is left of our timber industry and mining industry and allow them to rebuild and get Tasmanians working again."

Forestry Industries Association chief Terry Edwards yesterday claimed he was bullied by the state and federal ministers to lower the industry resource quota.

Mr Edwards said that the sticking point was the incompatibility between the claimed forest reserves and industry resource volumes.

"Conservation groups have consistently refused to meet resource guarantees that were given at the outset by both the federal and state governments," Mr Edwards said.

Wilderness Society boss Vica Bayley blamed the collapse solely on FIAT and old-growth sawmillers who refused to stop logging World Heritage forests.

Mr Bayley said that products sourced from old-growth and high conservation-value forests were no longer acceptable in today's market.

He said conservation groups would concentrate their efforts on the domestic markets to convince the timber industry of the need to change.


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