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Ben the ambassador

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 06 April 2013 | 19.55

MASTERCHEF finalist Ben Milbourne has a new role promoting high standards in Tasmanian tourism.

The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania has appointed the popular local cook, one of the stars of the MasterChef Australia TV series, as the state's first "accreditation ambassador".

His job is to promote good customer service, urge businesses to be accredited with the national T-QUAL scheme and encourage visitors to seek out places with the T-QUAL tick of approval.

Milbourne said Tasmanian tourism was riding a wave of success, thanks to MONA and an acclaimed new marketing campaign, and it was important to back this up by ensuring visitors were satisfied by their experiences.

"Tasmania has a great window of opportunity," he said. "Tourism is going to be huge in the next five years. We have to take away the hurdles that prevent people coming to Tasmania and make it easy to come.

"Accreditation means TICT can be their travel adviser."

TICT chief executive Luke Martin said Tasmanian tourism already had the highest rate of voluntary accreditation in the country.


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Cost cuts hit bins

HOBART city streets and parks are set to lose 100 public rubbish bins in a bid to save money.

Hobart City Council's infrastructure committee has recommended their removal in a six-month trial to reduce rubbish-collection costs.

Many of the bins will disappear from bus stops.

Acting Lord Mayor Ron Christie said bins placed on bus routes for the disposal of tickets were now redundant.

The changeover from paper to electronic ticketing meant the bins remained empty, Alderman Christie said.

Bins clustered around the city were also on the council's hit list.

"There are six bins on the corner of Argyle and Collins streets and eight bins in Cornelian Bay Park," Ald Christie said.

"We don't need that many bins in the one spot."

The review also recommended a six-month trial of halving weekend waste collection from city bins to one day.

Ald Christie said council staff would monitor the amount of rubbish left during the six-month trial.

He said the council would save $300,000 by reducing its kerbside rubbish collection from weekly to fortnightly but that move was described as a "highly emotive issue" and too costly to implement.

Under that arrangement, all 120-litre bins would be upgraded to 240-litre if a fortnightly collection went ahead, Ald Christie said.

"The council would not even entertain it because it would cost us $1.2 billion," he said.

As well, larger families had concerns about the fortnightly collections.

"You leave rubbish out for two weeks it tends to go off a bit," he said.

The recommendations will go before the council for consideration at its meeting on Monday, April 15.

Public litter bin and weekly kerbside collection costs the council $2.4 million a year.

Meanwhile, Hobart City Council is monitoring neighbouring Glenorchy City Council's fortnightly rubbish collections.


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Lowndes happy with 90

CRAIG Lowndes is on the verge of a record-equalling 90th V8 supercar win today but he has something bigger on his mind at Symmons Plains today - don't stuff up the start.

After setting the fastest time in official practice yesterday, Lowndes is the man to beat going into qualifying for the opening race of round two of the Australian V8 Supercar championship today and tomorrow.

Lowndes lapped Symmons in 51.3794sec yesterday, with Red Bull Racing teammate Jamie Whincup's Commodore and Fabian Coulthard's Lockwood Commodore a blink of an eye behind.

If Lowndes continues his sizzling pace and grabs pole today, he believes the rolling start the first in V8 supercar history will be a challenge in itself.

"It could easily be stuffed up," he said yesterday.

"We had a practice at Eastern Creek and that was a bit of a calamity.

"And that was with only 16 cars, because some teams didn't want to take part."

Race one today is a 25-lap sprint race, with only a 15-minute break before race two, which will get away under a rolling start.

The RBR drivers have been studying the rules and running through the scenario given they are two contenders for pole.

"The rules are unbelievably clear, so if someone stuffs it up they should get a penalty," Whincup said.

The top 10 in practice were all Holdens, except for Mark Winterbottom's Ford Falcon in seventh place.

Only two Fords were faster than the best of the newcomers Mercedes-Benz and Nissan - Lee Holdsworth's Mercedes E63 AMG in 15th.

The other Mercedes and Nissans struggled on the time sheets because they could not match the Commodores and Falcons down the long main straight.

Should Lowndes win this weekend he will join his former Bathurst-winning teammate Mark Skaife on 90 race victories.

"I'm more excited about it than nervous," he said.

"But everyone's been talking about it, so it would be nice to get it over and done with and get on with it.

"It would be fantastic to do it here, but if it doesn't happen this weekend I'll look toward New Zealand next weekend."

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TasRail may sue crash driver

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 05 April 2013 | 19.55

A car and a train collided at the Hopkins St crossing about 5am this morning. / File photo

TASRAIL is considering taking legal action against a motorist involved in a collision with a train at a crossing at Moonah early this morning.

TasRail said the locomotive was damaged in the crash and the train driver had been shaken by the incident.

The motorist involved in the collision -- at 5am at the Hopkins St level crossing -- walked away with minor injuries.

The train driver will receive counselling and other support, TasRail said.

TasRail CEO Damien White said warning bells and flashing lights at the level crossing had been working at the time of the crash.

Today's collision is the first recorded in the 2012-13 period but follows a number of recent reports of reckless behaviour at level crossings, the train operator said.

"In recent weeks our train drivers have reported a number of serious near miss incidents," Mr White said.

"These included two separate reports of motorists being impatient waiting for trains and taking a deliberate decision to pull out of a queue to overtake waiting vehicles and drive through a level crossing in front of an approaching train."

TasRail has also reported that youths in Devonport and Hobart have played "chicken" with an approaching train in recent weeks.

The train driver was forced to make an emergency stop during both incidents.

In 2011-2012 TasRail reported a 41 per cent reduction in the number of reported near miss incident at level crossings -- 69 down from 118 the year before.

There were two level crossing collisions in 2011-12 compared to seven in 2010-11.

A survey of Tasmanian train drivers conducted by TrackSAFE last month named level crossings at Conara and several in Glenorchy as the state's most dangerous.

TrackSAFE has now contacted state and federal transport ministers asking for upgrades to be funded and for level crossings to be phased out and replaced with bridges or underpasses on busy roads.

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Accused pleads not guilty

NOT guilty pleas have been entered on behalf of a man charged with two murders at Hamilton in December.

Patrick Stanley Daley, 59, is accused of the murders of Meagan Wilton, 31, and Benjamin Samuel Eyles, 34, in their Hamilton home in December.

Daley was conscious but did not speak and was unable to enter a plea during a bedside court hearing at the Royal Hobart Hospital this morning.

Not guilty pleas were recorded on his behalf.

Magistrate Chris Webster has ordered a report into Daley's fitness to plead to the charges.

The case will return to the Magistrates' Court on June 17.

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Push for new island abattoir

KING Island's beef producers are speaking to financial experts about setting up a new "green" abattoir on the island which will allow them to finally own the whole meat chain from paddock to plate.

The island's 140 beef farmers were rocked last year when the world's biggest meat producer JBS Swift closed its Currie abattoir leaving thousands of cattle stuck on the island with no other processing option.

Almost 100 workers also lost their jobs.

Ken Fleming, head of research at investment bank Willard Greening, went to King Island recently with Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and Tasmanian Greens MHA Paul O'Halloran.

Mr Fleming said every producer he spoke to was willing to put their hand in their pockets to invest in a new independently owned abattoir.

"The farmers on the island produce great cattle but have been poor at owning their brand and garnering a premium from that," he said.

He said the proposal stacked up financially.

"People have been looking at what producers could do to re-establish an abattoir but the idea involved government funds," Mr Fleming said.

"We see it more as a commercial venture with private investors and the numbers appear to stack up."

A State Government feasibility study into re-establishing a meat plant on King Island as a locally run operation is expected to be finalised by the end of May.

But JBS Swift has already made it clear it will not sell or lease its old meat plant to new processors.

Under the JBS Swift system, 180 head of cattle a day were processed locally.

Producers received 40 per cent of the return and the abattoir pocketed 10 per cent.

The other 50 per cent was picked up at the retail end of the food chain.

Having to ship their cattle off the island since October last year has also hurt farmers both financially and in terms of good agricultural practice.

Mr Fleming said farmers acknowledged live shipment was not the best animal husbandry and saw off-shore processing as a short-term solution only.

He said a new meat plant could involve new technology such as bio-digesters, making fertiliser from blood and bone and even bio-fuel for tallow.

"It is easy to build an abattoir, a killing station, but this idea will add exclusivity of the King Island brand and is a marketable on the clean and green front," Mr Fleming said.

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Expert for road-death trial

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 04 April 2013 | 19.55

A QUEENSLAND road crash expert will be called to give evidence over a collision which claimed the life of a Derwent Valley teenager last year.

The Magistrate's Court has heard John Ruller from the private Road Accident Investigation Service has prepared a report on the crash on Gordon River Rd at Karanja on February 29 last year.

Glenora High School student Ashley Edmonds, 13, died at the scene.

New Norfolk man Bradley John Chaplin, 27, has pleaded not guilty to negligent driving, driving without due care and attention, speeding and driving with an illegal drug in his system over the incident.

Defence lawyer Chris Gunson told Magistrate Olivia McTaggart Mr Ruller's report would be part of the defence case.

Mr Chaplin will stand trial on June 24.

The magistrate and counsel involved in the case have already visited the crash scene as part of preliminary proceedings

Around 250 family and friends attended Ashley's funeral at St Andrew's Anglican Church at Ellendale amid calls for increased safety measures on rural roads.

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LegCo reform push goes cute

A GROUP pushing for Upper House reform is using kittens to change the public's mind about the powerful house of review.

The Transform Tasmania Alliance has launched an online campaign "A Compelling Case for The Reform of Tasmania's Legislative Council brought to you by Kittens" on Facebook.

The web booklet features pictures of kittens with a range of issues being raised about the Upper House.

"Kittens are the most popular thing on the internet so we figured if you can't beat them, join them," Transform Tasmania Alliance spokesperson Brian Mitchell said.

"Reforming the Legislative Council is an important issue, but there's no reason you can't read all about it while looking at pictures of kittens."

Mr Mitchell said the campaign urges voters to support candidates who promise to reform the Legislative Council so it is more attuned to Tasmania in the 21st century, promise to be full-time MLCs and promise to open an office in their electorate.

"It beggars belief that many MLCs do not have local offices," Mr Mitchell said.

"Last year the Legislative Council sat just 50 days, and with all that spare time on their hands, many MLCs choose not to work full-time, instead doing other things like practising law.

"The TTA urges voters in those electorates to support candidates who will reform the Legislative Council so it stops being a 19th century drag on the state."

The call comes as candidates for the seat of Nelson are set to face off in the first public debate of the campaign next Wednesday at the Dr Syntax hotel on Sandy Bay Road in Sandy Bay at 7pm.

Sitting member Jim Wilkinson will debate Greens candidate Tom Baxter and independent candidate Helen Richardson.

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Woman goes missing again

A LAUNCESTON woman who went missing for four days before being found on a busy roadside dazed and confused in late 2011 has disappeared again, leaving police with grave concerns for her welfare.

Kathy Barbara Lindner was reported missing on Monday but police fear she may have been missing for up to a week before anyone realised.

She is described as short and slim with a fair complexion and short, light brown hair.

She usually wears prescription glasses.

Police do not know what she may have been wearing at the time she disappeared.

"Ms Lindner may be in a poor physical condition and may need medical attention," Const Duffy said.

The 55-year-old from Newnham sparked a large-scale search in September 2011 before being found on a city roadside minutes before a police press conference was to be held.

Information can be given to Launceston police on 6336 3945 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Hopes high for devil history

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 03 April 2013 | 19.55

EXCITED wildlife authorities will know by the end of the week if two female Tasmanian devils sent to Denmark will create history.

Copenhagen Zoo has confirmed that both females sent from Mole Creek to Scandanavia in 2009 have mated and are displaying signs they are pregnant.

Director of research and conservation at Copenhagen Zoo, Bengt Holst, said both females had mated with their male partners in late February.

Mr Holst said the zoo would know by the end of the week if the devils are set to become the first of their species to breed outside of Australia.

"Since mating both females have changed their behaviour considerably, having become much more aggressive towards the males," Mr Holst said.

"After three weeks they both started building nests - behaviours characteristic of pregnant females.

"We don't know yet if the matings have resulted in pregnancies, and in births three weeks ago, since we don't physically check the pouches but await other signs to occur naturally.

"But we know that if they are not pregnant the females will come into estrus again at the end of this week which will then be obvious.

"Right now everything looks like two pregnancies but there are no guarantees until we see the actual results."

The four captive-bred devils from Trowunna Wildlife Park, which landed in Denmark in 2009, followed two others sent in 2006 to mark the birth of Prince Christian, the first child of Crown Prince Frederick and Tasmanian-born Crown Princess Mary.

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Gas main ruptures

FIREFIGHTERS are on site at Patrick St, North Hobart, after the smell of gas was detected shortly after 11.30am.

Senior station officer Andrew McGuinness said crews had located a broken gas main and were working to determine what had caused the rupture.

There is no immediate threat to surrounding homes or businesses but people are advised to stay clear of the area until the situation is resolved.

Workplace Standards is investigating.

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Man dies in farewell surf

A Hobart man died while surfing at Greens Beach yesterday afternoon, the day before he was due to leave for a job in Western Australia.

A HOBART surfer who took a farewell surf with a local mate yesterday failed to make it out of the water.

The 30-year-old had been staying with a friend in Smithton and was due to leave Tasmania for Western Australia today.

Tasmania Police said the man got into difficulty while surfing off Greens Beach at Marrawah about 5pm.

A Greens Beach resident said he had spotted the man floating face down in the water.

He and his son got the surfer out of the water and tried to revive him but to no avail.

"We live right on the beach," said the resident, who did not want to be named.

"We saw the guy face down and got him to shore to try and revive him.

"We did all we could -- what anyone would do in the situation -- but sadly it was too late."

Tasmania Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious and a report was being prepared for the Coroner.

Marrawah is renowned for its wild surf but Greens Beach is regarded as one of the safest spots to surf in the area.

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Tassie vineyard for sale

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 02 April 2013 | 19.55

WINEMAKER Brown Brothers is putting one of its three Tasmanian vineyards on the market as it restructure in the face of dropping sales in Europe.

The White Hills Vineyard in the Tamar Valley is the smallest of Brown Brothers' assets in Tasmania, which it took over from troubled timber company Gunns in 2010.

Pinot noir and chardonnay grapes are grown on the 84ha enterprise.

Brown Brothers also owns Hazards on the East Coast and Kayena in the Tamar Valley.

Brown Brothers chief executive Ronald Wahlquist said the sale was part of a broader restructure and he hoped the six permanent employees at White Hills, which the winemaker took on from Gunns, would retain their jobs under any new owner.

"We have asked the permanent employees to stay on and run the vineyard until it sells," Mr Wahlquist said yesterday.

Until now the vineyards, which were bought as a package from Gunns, had been tied up as part of a managed investment scheme.

But Mr Wahlquist said they were now unencumbered and could be treated as separate businesses.

Mr Wahlquist said the company planned to hold onto its two other Tasmanian operations.

"We are expecting strong interest in White Hills," he said.

"We are still selling grapes from that operation and the vineyard market is sound," Mr Wahlquist said.

The news comes just weeks after Premier Lara Giddings announced the Government would pour $1.2 million in grants into the state's wine industry in a bid to quadruple wine production in the next decade.

The vineyard and orchard expansion program aims to support the planting of an extra 200ha of vines this year to help create 370 full-time jobs and an estimated 100 short-term jobs during the planting season.

Brown Browns has shed 18 jobs from its national workforce of more than 200 since it started its restructure.

The winemaker is also looking to sell its Whitlands vineyard in Victoria.

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Boost for state's police force

TASMANIA Police is reopening its doors to new recruits with Police Minister David O'Byrne today confirming the Government will pay to boost frontline numbers.

The surprising move comes just a fortnight after the police union staged an event at the Rokeby police academy to mark two years since the last recruitment course graduated.

Now Commissioner Darren Hine has confirmed police expect to have at least 20 to 25 new recruits in the academy before Christmas.

"It's good news," Commissioner Darren Hine said.

Mr O'Byrne said after examining the Budget, the State Government could afford to boost numbers to 1120, with the current total workforce sitting just below 1100.

Budget suts imposed two years ago resulted in a 9 per cent reduction of police officers.

But Mr O'Byrne was unable to rule out cutting numbers again if Labor wins next year's State election.

"If there's another significant reduction in GST receipts, we'd have to have another look at the Budget," he said.

Both he and Mr Hine denied the announcement was prompted by the union condemning the Government and personally targeting Mr O'Byrne.

"It's something we've been looking at for about six months," Mr O'Byrne said.

Mr Hine said he was unaware of the budget boost until now.

The police union said it found out about the new intake of recruits via the Mercury.

The State Government would not say how much the recruit course would cost and said the details still need to be worked out with police management, but Mr O'Byrne confirmed the bonus would likely be in the millions.

A recruitment website will be set up soon.


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Tigers name their new coach

Dan Marsh, seen here in action for the Tasmanian Tigers in 2009, has been named the new coach of the team, replacing Tim Coyle.

SON of a gun Dan Marsh has been appointed coach of the Tasmanian Tigers for the next three years.

The son of Australian cricket legend and Test selector Rod Marsh, 39-year-old Dan will steer the Tigers until 2015-16.

Marsh replaces Tim Coyle, who walked away as the state's most successful coach and one of the best in the country over the past seven years

Cricket Tasmania had 25 applications for the job, with applicants from Australia and New Zealand as well as India and South Africa.

"We made this decision following a very thorough process," said CT chairman Tony Harrison.

"We advertised the position throughout the cricket network and we received applications from around Australia and overseas.

"We believe the appointment we have made is the right appointment to continue the great culture of Tasmanian cricket which has rewarded us substantially over the past six years.

"Dan is the man that will continue the job Tim Coyle has done here.

"We are very pleased about that and we congratulate Dan on his appointment."

Under Coyle's tenure, Tasmania won three Shield titles and triumphed in two one-day cup deciders, while also reaching another two coloured clothing finals and last year's Shield loss to Queensland at the Gabba.

"Dan has been part of that success, firstly as a player and captain of the Tigers, and latterly on our coaching staff," Harrison said.

"But it was never a foregone conclusion.

"We were very confident we had quality coaches in our system, like Allister de Winter and Michael Di Venuto who are now coaching in the national system, and before them Troy Cooley.

"So we are developing very professional and competent coaches.

"We were confident we had the right coach in the system but we wanted to be sure and the board wanted to go through a proper due diligence process.

"Dan came out on top and that's fantastic."

Marsh started his new job immediately after today's announcement at Blundstone Arena.

"I'm very excited and honoured to be given the role and I can't wait to get started," he said.

The Hurricanes coaching role is still vacant, and Marsh will also be considered for that job.

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Plea to drivers after deaths

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 01 April 2013 | 19.55

Police at the site of a road fatality at Otago Bay yesterday morning. A 51-year-old Old Beach woman was killed in the single-vehicle crash. Pictures: SAM ROSEWARNE

MOTORISTS returning home from Easter holidays are being warned to take extra care after a horror 12 hours on Tasmanian roads.

A 25-year-old Huonville man and a 51-year-old Old Beach woman were dead yesterday after separate road crashes in the state's South.

The deaths took the state's road toll to eight – up from six at the same time last year.

Tasmania Police Southern District Supervision Inspector Adrian Bodnar said police were devastated by the fatalities after a fatality-free Easter last year.

The senior officer urged drivers to take a break today and tomorrow as they returned from Easter trips.

"It is really important people slow down, that they obey road rules and they drive to the conditions," Insp Bodnar said.

"Tomorrow there will be driver reviver stations around the state.

"If people on long journeys are starting to feel a bit tired, pull over and take that 15 minutes to have a break."

He said the Operation Crossroads police blitz would continue today and tomorrow.

"I would encourage people not to take the risk.

If you have had too much to drink – simply don't drive," he said.

About 6.30am yesterday the Old Beach woman lost control of her Hyundai Tucson on the East Derwent Highway in Otago Bay with police indicating the vehicle rolled at least once.

The woman, the sole occupant of the vehicle, died at the scene.

Nine hours earlier the Huonville man, riding an unregistered motorcycle without a helmet in the rain, lost control at speed and hit a concrete bridge at Lonnavale in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart.

Operation Crossroads statistics yesterday showed more than 50 people had been nabbed in the Easter blitz for alcohol-related offences including 17 on Saturday night.

Tasmania Police Inspector Darren Hopkins said younger motorists appeared to be behaving themselves more than their elders when it came to drink-driving.

Police were yesterday seeking witnesses for both fatal crashes.

Insp Bodnar said speed and alcohol appeared to be factors in the motorcycle crash on a secluded dirt road in Lonnavale, near Geeveston.

Insp Bodnar said people with the man at the time had spoken to police.

Speed did not appear to be a factor in the Otago Bay crash, he said.

"At this stage there are a number of scenarios," he said.

Police believe the woman lost control while negotiating a right-hand bend north of Murtons Rd.

State Emergency Service volunteers will run Driver Reviver stations today at Parramatta Creek north of Elizabeth Town, St Peters Pass north of Oatlands, Fossey River on the West Coast and Franklin River on the Lyell Highway.

The national Easter road toll is already well above last year's total.

By late Easter Sunday afternoon, 15 people had died on the roads.

The deaths push the road toll higher than last year's total of 11 and equal to the final 2011 Easter toll.

In Victoria there have been three Easter road deaths, four in Queensland, three in South Australia, two in NSW and one in Western Australia.


• Total random breath tests conducted: 18,820 (14,503 last year)
• Persons charged with alcohol-related driving offences: 53 (52 last year)
• Drug tests conducted: 36 (26 last year)• Positive drug tests: 5 (6 last year)
• Infringement notices issued (speeding): 486 (534 last year)
• Vehicle confiscated/clamped: 6 (8 last year)


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Top cruise complaints revealed

COMPLAINTS by cruise ship passengers include one by a woman who moaned about the sea being "too loud", it has been revealed.

And a couple accused a captain of being "rude" for sailing off when they had left a note saying they needed more sightseeing time in port, according to cruise travel agency bonvoyage.co.uk.

One woman, having seen that Take That star Gary Barlow had been on her ship on an earlier trip, demanded an explanation as to why the singer was not on her voyage.

Then there was the man who complained about not getting "an impressive tan" and being unable to swim in the pool each day ... while on a trip around Alaska.

A woman travelling with the company called Celebrity Cruises asked for a refund as there were "no celebrities on board", while a couple wanted compensation after forking out "a lot more money than planned" on staff tips due to the excellent service.

The woman who complained about the loudness of the sea said she had not been able to sleep well on her Mediterranean cruise.

She demanded cabins be "better sound-proofed against the sounds of the sea".

Another female traveller, having booked an inside cabin, then complained about not having a view of the sea and asked for a window to be installed.

Bonvoyage.co.uk cruise development manager Steph Curtin said: "From time to time we come across a few quirky complaints that we can do little to help.

"I'm afraid we can't be held responsible for the sea being too loud or the lack of celebrities on board."

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YouTube to shut for judging

IN an elaborate April Fool's prank, YouTube announced it was going dark for a decade, and that the site was merely an eight-year contest to find the best video.

"It's finally time to pick the winner," YouTube representatives announced in a 3:32 minute video posted on its homepage.

The message was simple: the world's most popular video-sharing website would close at the end of the day to review all the video submissions it has received over the years, and would announce the best one in 2023.

"We are so close to the end. Tonight at midnight, youtube.com will no longer be accepting entries. After eight amazing years, it is finally time to review everything that has been uploaded to our site and begin the process of selecting a winner," said Tim Liston, named as "competition director".

YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar said that "we started YouTube in 2005 as a contest with a simple goal: to find the best video in the world."

Users have uploaded more than 70 hours every minute to the site, YouTube estimated.

"I encourage everybody to watch as many videos as possible before YouTube deletes everything tonight," said Antoine Dodson, who became an internet sensation when a musical version of his 2010 TV interview about a house intrusion was posted on YouTube.

"Distinguished" film critics, YouTube celebrities and some of the site's "most prolific" commentators are on the judges' panel, according to Liston.

The Google-owned online video sharing venue said less than two weeks ago that more than a billion people now use YouTube each month, with viewing on smartphones helping drive growth.

The YouTube team noted that nearly one out of every two people on the internet visits the website, which has grown into a global hit since its launch.

Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $US1.65 billion and has yet to disclose whether the service has turned a profit.

YouTube has gradually added professional content, such as full-length television shows and movies to its vast trove of amateur video offerings in a bid to attract advertisers.

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Blast at gay nuptial law bid

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 31 Maret 2013 | 19.55

OPPONENTS have slammed moves to revive the Same-Sex Marriage Bill in the Legislative Council.

Guy Barnett of the Save Marriage Coalition said it was further evidence that Tasmania was being used as a social experiment.

"Whether you agree or disagree with same-sex marriage, euthanasia, abortion and other social and moral issues, Tasmanians are telling me the priority for our Government should be the economy," he said. "Why waste more parliamentary time when the budget needs fixing, the forest industry is on its knees and our productive construction and retail industries are doing it tough?

"The Parliament must get its priorities right."

With three Legislative Council electorates going to the polls on May 4, same-sex marriage activists yesterday were busy distributing more than 40,000 how-to-vote cards to households, targeting independent MLC Jim Wilkinson and Liberal Vanessa Goodwin, who both voted against the Bill last September.

Mr Wilkinson was unapologetic about his decision.

"People who look at my record would know I'm not anti-gay but the constitution says that marriage is a federal issue," Mr Wilkinson said.

"It is no coincidence that South Australia, New South Wales and the ACT have considered similar legislation but haven't proceeded.

"I think social issues are important but the biggest social issue we face is the fact that Tasmania's unemployment rate is 30 per cent more than any other state and we don't want to be waving our kids away for good."

The other target of the letter-box campaign, Liberal Vanessa Goodwin, did not respond yesterday but Liberals questioned the legality of the campaign and suggested it could be in breach of Section 159 of the Electoral Act.

Activist Rodney Croome said Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality had legal advice that it was not in breach of the Act and he questioned why the Liberals were seeking to stifle free speech.

Greens candidates yesterday said same-sex marriage was a key issue in the Legislative Council elections.

"We've got to seize the opportunity," said Tom Baxter, contesting Mr Wilkinson's seat of Nelson. "With Legislative Council terms lasting six years, we can't afford to wait."

Wendy Heatley, Greens candidate in Pembroke, said she was celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary and appreciated the fact that she had a chance to marry the man she loved.

"I can't understand why anyone would begrudge others the chance to be happy," she said.

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Wildlife disaster action plan

THE loss of wildlife in Tasmania's summer bushfires is driving the push for a statewide emergency response unit.

Over the past 12 months, Southern Wildlife Rescue & Care has been working with emergency organisations and government departments to create a standard operating procedure in line with Victorian protocols.

Group secretary Rachel Meyers said the devastation caused by fires at Dunalley and Molesworth has proved the need for a strategy that will allow wildlife carers to work in a response, rather than recovery, category.

Rather than waiting until weeks after the event, the protocols would allow rescuers to respond much earlier, working alongside other emergency personnel.

The unit has more than 150 volunteers from a variety of backgrounds including retired nurses, wildlife carers and vets.

"With properly trained personnel and the right tools, we feel the wildlife emergency response unit will assist the emergency services to do their job," Ms Meyers said.

"It makes our effort easier by treating animals quickly and handing on to vets for specialised care."

The group is developing a mobile triage unit that it hopes will be ready before next summer. The trailer will be the first of its kind in the state and will act as a first-aid station for the rescuers.

"This trailer will help to rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife with a safe, efficient and timely response that will ensure a higher rate of survival," Ms Meyers said.

When not in use in a disaster the trailer will be used as an educational tool.

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Men answering the Avon call

AVON is still calling but not as you might once have known it.

Avon has been delivering cosmetics to Tasmanian homes for 50 years.

In the early days, Avon representatives were almost exclusively women or "Avon ladies" as they were affectionately known.

But today husbands are teaming up with wives to run Avon businesses and few people raise a plucked eyebrow when a man delivers the goods or catalogues.

In fact, the first "Avon lady" to knock on a door to sell cosmetics was a bloke.

It was 1886, and struggling New York door-to-door salesman David McConnell decided he would do better selling perfumes than selling books.

Avon started operating in Australia in 1963 and is still the top direct-selling company in the nation.

Hobart Avon representative Frayne Higgins teamed up with his wife Jo-Anne to sell cosmetics 11 years ago.

He enjoys the job and says he has never been ribbed by other men for selling cosmetics.

"Also, I never run out of shampoo or deodorant," he said this week before making deliveries in Hobart.

"The No.1 sales team in Australia is a husband and wife.

"There is another man selling Avon full-time in Southern Tasmania and a number of smaller operators starting out around the state."

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