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Market celebrates top drops

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 27 Juli 2013 | 19.55

IT'S whisky a go-go in Tasmania with the liquid gold quickly gaining an international reputation.

The state's thriving whisky industry will be showcased at Hobart's CBD farmers' market tomorrow.

Farm Gate Market will pay homage to the spirit as part of a mid-winter event featuring tastings, special food dishes using whisky, and Irish music. The market will host four of the seven Tasmanian whisky producers -- Lark Distillery, Belgrove Whisky, William McHenry and Sons Distillery and Heartwood Malt Whisky.

The producers will be on hand to speak to customers about the craft and bringing Tasmanian whisky to the world stage.

Farm Gate manager Madi Seeber-Peattie said the market was all about putting the best Tasmanian produce in the spotlight.

"There has been a lot of talk lately about our whisky industry and how well it is doing internationally, so we thought it would be a great product to feature," she said. "We have 10 stalls doing whisky dishes like whisky-cured pumpkin soup, hot waffles with a whisky cream sauce and whisky-cured smoked ham hocks."

Farm Gate Market is held every Sunday from 9am-1pm.

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Bell Bay in fight for survival

A DARK cloud hangs over the future of Bell Bay Aluminium smelter, with an economic storm looming similar to the one that flattened the state's woodchip industry.

About 500 workers' jobs are in jeopardy, despite the smelter benefiting from a generous power contract signed with Hydro Tasmania this year.

The smelter cut 12 jobs this month, making the announcement in the same week the state reached its highest unemployment rate since May 2003, at 8.1 per cent.

Low prices, increasing costs of production and a high Australian dollar have hit Bell Bay hard and contributed to a national industry meltdown since 2008.

UBS industry analyst Daniel Morgan says pressure on Bell Bay and the Australian industry is rising. "The aluminium industry is beset by oversupply," Mr Morgan said.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes has described Australian aluminium smelting as a "huge disaster zone".

Bell Bay plant manager Ray Mostogl has described market conditions as "extremely challenging", saying recent job cuts were part of an efficiency drive to make the smelter competitive.

But workplace efficiencies and cheap power may not be enough to save the smelter in a global market awash with cheap aluminium.

Even recent devaluation of the Australian dollar may not be enough to secure its future.

In the past two years smelters have closed in the US, Spain, England, Italy, Netherlands and Norway. The global storm hit Australia last year with closure of the Kurri Kurri smelter near Newcastle.

There are now five Australian smelters, including Bell Bay and all are struggling.

Revenue from Australian smelters has dipped 10 per cent a year since 2007-08.

The Bell Bay smelter, part of Rio Tinto's Pacific Aluminium group, is the smallest in the nation, producing about 177,000 tonnes a year compared to Boyne Island in Queensland, which produces 556,000 tonnes a year.

Rio Tinto has been reviewing the performance of Pacific Aluminium, which controls smelters in Australia and New Zealand, for the past year -- and the numbers do not look good, with a loss of about $500 million looming.

The big contributor to widespread aluminium woes is the emergence of China as an economic powerhouse willing to throw its weight around.

While smelters worldwide consider scaling back or closing in the face of the glut, China is ramping up production. It increased its capacity from 4.3 million tonnes in 2002 to 18.1 million last year and is now the world's biggest producer and consumer, raising its share of world production from 16.5 per cent in 2002 to 42.3 per cent last year.

China's expansion is set to accelerate with exploitation of a big deposit of cheap thermal coal in the country's northwest expected to drive construction of more smelters.

Mr Morgan said China consumed much of its own production and expansion of its export capacity would create even more difficult market conditions.

"China's growth in production has been spectacular, but it's not currently a headwind for the Australian producers," Mr Morgan said. "China's production is immense, but it is currently contained in their domestic market. Trade flows of primary metal are insignificant, both import and export.

"The rest of the world supply glut is hurting Australian producers more."

The centralised Chinese government provides big power subsidies for smelters to insulate their capacity against low prices. With smelters worldwide turning to government largesse and power subsidies, it could become a competition between smelters in a command economy, with both feet in the world's free markets, and those from market economies dependent on taxpayer aid.

The defining factor of survival could be whose pockets are the deepest.

Mr Morgan said governments were keen to keep smelters, and stand-alone economics did not drive where they were sited.

"Politically, an aluminium smelter is a high-profile source of jobs," he said.

"But also for the broader economy, a smelter facilitates economies of scale in power production and is a big, stable user of the power grid. This benefits everyone in the community indirectly.

"So any announced closure leads to the government taking a carrot-and-stick approach, explicit subsidies or enforcement of long-term contracts."

Mr Morgan said although the centre of aluminium production globally was moving to China and cheap energy centres like the Middle East, there was still hope for the Australian industry.

"If Australia can compete on energy costs and technology, then there is a future," he said.

"However, Australia's competitiveness is being eroded on energy costs, from the combination of gold-plating of transmission infrastructure, renewable energy schemes and carbon policy."


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Disaster data made easy

KNOWN as "ERIC", a new computer tool that will help authorities react better to emergencies was officially launched yesterday.

Developed by the CSIRO, the Emergency Response Intelligence Capability collects data and displays it on a map-based interface and helps generate reports showing who might need help and where.

ERIC pulls together data from the Bureau of Statistics, departmental regional profile data and live and historic data feeds to generate situation reports to help the Department of Human Services Emergency Management team respond faster and more efficiently as emergencies unfold.

Federal Human Services Minister Jan McLucas, who launched the tool, said an early prototype was tested last summer and will be fully operational for the coming summer disaster season.

"ERIC provides staff with information on current emergency warnings combined with the demographic information of a particular community," Senator McLucas said.

"This allows the department to quickly pull together relevant information to make informed service-delivery decisions."

The CSIRO's Mike Kearney said: "One of the aims of this project is to use innovative technologies and practices to provide a more efficient and effective national service delivery system."

Senator McLucas also used the visit to thank Department of Human Services staff in Sorell for their work to help bushfire-affected communities.

"Staff were already on the ground when the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment was activated on January 6, providing support to those affected and a human face to Australian Government assistance," she said.

"They worked tirelessly including across weekends in service, recovery and evacuation centres and from the department's Mobile Service Centre at Sorell, Dunalley, Murdunna, Bicheno, Taranna and Ellendale, helping residents get back on their feet."

More than 7000 claims for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment have been granted since the payment was activated, worth more than $7.9 million.

Claims closed for this payment on July 8 in the Glamorgan-Spring Bay, Tasman and Sorell local government areas and will close in the Central Highlands on September 9.


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Woolstore buys Hadleys Hotel

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 26 Juli 2013 | 19.55

HOBART'S grand old Hadleys Hotel has been bought by the operators of the award-winning Woolstore Apartments.

Receivers were appointed in January last year, not long after Hadleys completed a $30 million extension including luxury apartments, conference facilities, restaurant and cafe.

The company owed Bankwest $60.45 million and the hotel was placed on the market in April last year.

The hotel and the Grand Mercure Hobart Central Apartments had been operated on a business-as-usual basis by chartered accountants Korda Mentha.

Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel managing director Jon Lister said the purchase of Hadleys was an exciting opportunity and an endorsement of the Tasmanian tourism market.

"This purchase is part of our team's strategic vision and we intend to invest significantly in the restoration of Hadleys Hotel back to the iconic business that Tasmanians have known for over 150 years," he said.

"Building on the success and reputation of The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel, the new management team will implement a similar structure at Hadleys and foster the same culture.

"Providing genuine, friendly customer service while upholding the highest standards of professionalism and quality product is a tried and tested formula and one which we intend to maintain."

Hadleys was built by convicts in 1848. Its first owner was ex-convict John Webb, who was transported to the state for house-breaking.

After Webb died in 1881, the new licensees -- John and Mary Hadley -- changed the name to Hadley's Orient Hotel and the Hadley family operated it for 55 years.

Doherty Group bought Hadleys in 1999. The group has been a major hotel and accommodation owner in Tasmania for some years.

Completion of the sale is scheduled for September 18.


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Record haul for Give Me 5

HOBART radio duo Kim Napier and Dave Noonan are "over the moon" after raising a record amount for sick kids at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

The Heart 107.3 team's month-long Give Me 5 for Kids campaign raised $255,077.33. The impressive tally was for 2013 was revealed earlier today.

'We are so overwhelmed with the generosity of Tasmania, especially after the horrific bushfires that affected so many this year," Noonan and Napier said in a statement.

"We are both over the moon today and are so proud of this state and the way it always bands together -- an amazing day."

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Protest hits Spirit of Tasmania

ABOUT 100 dock workers and supporters blockaded the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne tonight to protest against staff sackings.

The protesters successfully stopped freight trucks loading cargo onto the Spirit of Tasmania, with the boat setting sail from Melbourne's Station Pier at 8.30pm -- one hour later than scheduled -- with little freight onboard.

Passengers were still able to board the vessel, which is expected to arrive in Devonport at 6.30am tomorrow.

David Schleibs of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) said the community members wanted stevedore company QUBE, which employed the workers, to negotiate their return to work.

"The company has terminated them and they believe it's been unfair," Mr Schleibs said.

A QUBE spokesman said only one worker had been dismissed and the action taken by the union was illegal.

QUBE will take the MUA to court over the protest, the spokesman said.

Spirit of Tasmania communications co-ordinator Soniya Fernandez said the boat left Melbourne an hour behind schedule at 8.30pm yesterday.

She said some freight already inside the shipping yard was able to be loaded on to the boat, but the blockade had stopped new deliveries being loaded.

She said it was not yet known when the remaining freight would be shipped to Tasmania.

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Missing man found

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 25 Juli 2013 | 19.56

A GLENORCHY man feared missing has been found safe and well in the Mt Wellington area.

Earlier today police issued a public plea for help to find Geoffrey Alan McIntyre, 57, who went missing yesterday.

He was last seen in the Merton area of Glenorchy and was believed to be travelling on foot.

In a statement issued about 2pm today, police said Mr McIntyre had been found a short time ago and was in good health.

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Gifts from sublime to ridiculous

WHAT more could a future king of England want?

The Northern Territory's gift to the newborn Prince George of Cambridge is a baby crocodile named George, while Tasmania is sending some leather booties and making a donation to charity.

NT Chief Minister Adam Giles says George the crocodile will stay in Darwin, but he's encouraging George the prince -- and his parents -- to visit the territory and his reptile namesake.

The croc was hatched on the same day the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced their pregnancy.

It's not the first time the Northern Territory has given royalty a crocodile.

Prince William and Kate have had crocs named after them.

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings, meanwhile, has revealed the island state's present plans via Twitter.

The official gift will include two pairs of Tasmanian-made Baby Paws booties and a $3000 donation to the Smith Family for children's education.

-- with AAP

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Cop accused of lying sacked

A POLICE officer accused of making a false statement over a 2011 triple shooting in Devonport has been sacked.

The 45-year-old Launceston constable had been suspended on full pay since October 2011 pending an investigation into allegations he gave a false statement to detectives investigating the shooting.

A statement from Tasmania Police today said the investigation found the constable had breached the Police Service Act Code of Conduct and that the officer was advised of his dismissal on June 14 this year.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury.

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Greens push Two Valleys link

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 24 Juli 2013 | 19.55

A map showing the route of the Two Valleys link road.

A SEALED forestry road linking the Huon and Derwent valleys would create a 140km visitor loop and inject valuable tourism dollars into regional Tasmania, the Greens said today.

Rosalie Woodruff, the party's federal candidate for Franklin, has called for a federally funded feasibility study into linking New Norfolk and Huonville and forming a three-hour round trip around Mt Wellington.

She said the project would not only create jobs through construction and tourism but provide a more economic route for the transport of produce for the agriculture, aquaculture and viticulture industries.

Bike lanes facilitating multiple-day rides would also be a key component of the Two Valleys Tourist Drive, said Dr Woodruff, who is taking on Labor incumbent and Cabinet minister Julie Collins for the southern Tasmania seat at the upcoming election.

"This 140km drive would highlight the Derwent and Huon valleys by giving Hobart-based tourists a scenic circuit that encapsulates much of Tasmania's diversity of attractions," Dr Woodruff said.

"It includes wild mountain and forest scenery, riverside farmlands and excellent opportunities to sample the region's foods, wines and heritage.

"At the moment the forestry roads are just sitting there, and are a missed opportunity."

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury ...

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Services limited by flood

THE Service Tasmania shop in Hobart will reopen for limited operations at 9am tomorrow after being shut for several days because of flood damage.

The Macquarie St shop was inundated at the weekend.

DPIPWE information and land services manager Kate Kent said an assessment of the Lands Building had been made today, with the Service Tasmania and the Government Contact Centre to reopen tomorrow.

"Unfortunately, three services will not be available -- the driver knowledge testing system, boat licence testing and public access telephones," Ms Kent said in a statement.

"There is still water damage to this area of the shop but these services will recommence as soon as it is safe to do so.

"Again, we apologise for any inconvenience but the safety of our employees and our customers is paramount."

Ms Kent said the Lands Titles Office, on level 1 of the building, would remain closed to customers tomorrow.

"An assessment will be undertaken on Thursday afternoon to determine whether the Lands Titles Office can reopen on Friday," Ms Kent said.

"Unfortunately there is still extensive water damage on level 1 and further work, such as ensuring electrical equipment is safe, needs to be completed."

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Brown warns on devil impact

Green group Save The Tarkine, which took the court action that halted the project, held a mock funeral for the Tasmanian devil to coincide with the minister's visit. Pictures: CHRIS KIDD

FORMER Australian Greens leader Bob Brown is demanding new Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler heed advice that Tasmanian devils will be at risk if a new mine is approved in the Tarkine.

Dr Brown said Mr Butler should act on departmental advice warning of the likely spread of the deadly facial tumour disease into the North-West region if mining goes ahead.

Former environment minister Tony Burke's failure to consider advice on the devil when he approved Shree Minerals' $20 million iron ore proposal caused the Federal Court to block the project last week.

Mr Butler must now decide whether to re-approve the mine with conditions that could withstand another legal challenge.

"[Mr Butler's] own departmental advice, which predecessor Tony Burke ignored or didn't see, is that this will have an injurious effect on the Tasmanian devil," Dr Brown said.

"The extension of mining into the Tarkine, which is the stronghold of the Tasmanian devil, is going to kill devils."

The Tarkine is considered one of the last areas with a devil population free of the tumour disease, which has wiped out as much as 80 per cent of the iconic species.

Dr Brown's comments came as Mr Butler met supporters and opponents of the mine in Burnie.

Pro-mining rallies have brought thousands to the streets in the North-West and Mr Butler's decision will come at a time the ALP-held seat of Braddon is considered vulnerable in the looming Federal election.

Local member Sid Sidebottom and the Labor members of the Tasmanian Government support mining in the region, arguing it will affect just 1 per cent of the Tarkine.

Green group Save The Tarkine, which took the court action that halted the project, held a mock funeral for the Tasmanian devil to coincide with the minister's visit before threatening another legal challenge.

Mr Butler said he was confident he would make a decision by the end of the week but denied the election would influence it.

"The overriding pressure on me is to make sure that I consider all of the information I'm required to consider in the legislation," he told ABC radio.

Mr Butler said the State government, other federal ministers and Shree would then have 10 days to respond.

Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell, who also met Mr Butler, said a more thorough statement on Aboriginal heritage needed to be produced.

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Heartfelt congrats from GG

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 23 Juli 2013 | 19.55

GOVERNOR-GENERAL Quentin Bryce has sent Australia's heartfelt congratulations to the royal family on the birth of the new prince.

The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy overnight, Australian time.

Prince William was present for the arrival of his son, who is third in line to the British throne.

"The birth of a baby is an experience to celebrate and cherish," Ms Bryce said in a statement.

"On behalf of all Australians, I send heartfelt congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on this joyful occasion.

"We wish the new parents every happiness and send warm greetings of welcome to the little prince."

The Australian Republican Movement also sent its best wishes to the people of the United Kingdom on the birth of "their future monarch".

"We look forward to a future day when an Australian Head of State can stand beside the British monarch as friends and equals, cheering for our team just as the British Head of State cheers for the British team, in friendly rivalry," national director David Morris said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says all Australians will share the royal family's joy.

Mr Rudd says it's a happy day for the nation's close friends in Britain and across the Commonwealth.

"On behalf of all Australians, Therese and I extend our warmest regards to the new parents, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge," he said in a statement.

"We share in the joy of the royal family, particularly Prince Charles, on the birth of his grandson and Queen Elizabeth II on the birth of her great-grandchild."

Mr Rudd said Prince William held a special place in the hearts of many Australians given his first visit down under as a baby himself.

"In more recent times, Prince William demonstrated deep compassion when he met with families in Victoria who had lost everything during the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009," Mr Rudd said.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's son would be the happiest day of their lives.

He and wife Margie sent their congratulations and best wishes to the royal couple.

The long-time monarchist expects all Australians would share their joy in the birth of the new prince.

"While there will come a time to contemplate the constitutional duties that await the young prince, today we simply welcome a baby boy into the world and share the joy of this young family," Mr Abbott said in a statement.

"I am sure that over the course of his life, the prince will, like the rest of his family, develop a deep affection for our country, as we already have for him."

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Found: one fan-forced ferret

ANIMAL rescue officers are looking for the owners of a ferret that popped out of an overhead kitchen exhaust fan in a Sydney home.

The owner of the Bondi unit had initially called a pest removal company yesterday, thinking a possum was stuck in her roof.

But when workers found the ferret in the rangehood they refused to go near it, leaving the astonished resident to call the RSPCA.

The feisty ferret was eventually prised free by RSPCA inspector Flett Turner.

The resident of the flat said she didn't know of any ferret owners in the complex.

"She's just so friendly, so she's obviously someone's lost family ferret," Mr Turner said of the furry friend.

"We really hope that her owners come forward so that they can be reunited with their missing pet."

The ferret is being cared for at the RSPCA animal shelter at Yagoona.

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Man denies tourist sex attack

A 35-YEAR-OLD man has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a Victorian tourist after New Year's Eve celebrations.

Mathew Luke Johnson, of Hobart, is facing one count of aggravated sexual assault over the alleged attack in the Parliament House car park in the early hours of January 1 this year.

The prosecution alleges the 27-year-old complainant was so intoxicated there was "no way she was remotely able to give consent".

Crown prosecutor Tony Jacobs told the jury the woman -- a school teacher who was here on holiday -- "was completely helpless".

But defence lawyer Kim Baumeler asked the woman if she had consensually kissed Mr Johnson outside a nightclub before the alleged assault.

The complainant said she could not remember but agreed that that was what she had told police.

Ms Baumeler suggested it was the complainant who led the accused into the car park and at that stage she was still able to provide consent.

The trial, before Justice Alan Blow, is continuing.

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'Jesus weeps' over policy

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 22 Juli 2013 | 19.55

A SENIOR Anglican bishop has told the Prime Minister "Jesus weeps" over the Papua New Guinea asylum seeker policy.

The Bishop of Tasmania, John Harrower, has taken to Twitter to question Kevin Rudd's decision to refuse boat arrivals a chance of settling in Australia.

"Mr Prime Minister, Jesus weeps. Whatever you do for the least of these..." Bishop Harrower wrote.

The Bishop told ABC Radio Mr Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott should be finding a more compassionate solution.

"(I'd like to) bang two heads together in a good and godly way," he said.

"I'm appalled at both of our major parties and the two men leading them, who are Christian men, who are making these decisions."

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Rains bring welcome relief

Farmers have welcomed recent heavy rains.

FARMERS have stretched out their arms and may have even danced in the rain.

The welcome rains have topped up dams, moistened dry soils and might even have a positive effect on livestock markets.

Dave Jones, a dairy and mixed cropping farmer from Hamilton, said rain over the past few days will help break down dry soil for pasture and crops.

"It will help put moisture into the soil profile," Mr Jones said.

He resumes milking on September 1 after drying off 400 cows because of the lack of rain over winter.

Tara Mendham, who has a PhD in agriculture and welcomes visitors to her Taras Richmond Farmstay, said about 60mm rain had fallen over the weekend.

"We had to irrigate in June, and we have never done that before, so this rain is really good," Dr Mendham said.

"Up to now we have had hardly any rain, we have been forced to feed out hay to the sheep."

Dr Mendham, a member of the Coal River Sustainable Living Group, said it is good for lucerne hay growth and pasture for her merino super-fine wool sheep.

Forcett farmer Brad Grattitdge sowed 50 hectares of poppies last week.

"This rain is fantastic, and is great for any crops just sown," Mr Grattitidge said.

"It might even help the livestock market and with the rain topping up dams puts us in a good position for spring.

"Even my lambs born weeks ago are loving it."

• Read more rural stories in Tasmanian Country, out every Friday.

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Royal baby on the way

Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. Picture: AP

THE Duchess of Cambridge has gone into labour.

Palace officials say Prince William's wife, Kate, has been admitted to the hospital in the early stages of labour.

Royal officials said that Kate travelled by car to St. Mary's Hospital in central London. Kate is expected to give birth in the private Lindo Wing of the hospital, where Princess Diana gave birth to William and his younger brother, Prince Harry.

The news that what had been dubbed by bored journalists 'the Great Kate Wait' was finally over was announced in a brief statement from Kensington Palace at 7.30am after rumours she had been spotted began circulating.

The statement read: "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted this morning to St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London, in the early stages of labour.

For the latest updates visit News.com.au

"The Duchess travelled by car from Kensington Palace to the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital with The Duke of Cambridge.''

The baby will be third in line for the British throne - behind Prince Charles and William - and is anticipated eventually to become king or queen.

The medical team will be led by royal gynecologist Dr. Marcus Setchell.

The child will be the first for William and Kate, who married in 2011 after a long courtship.

It is not clear if Kate will have a natural birth or deliver by a planned cesarean section.

Royal watchers must wait to be told of the baby's arrival from the palace, which is planning to reveal the news through a mixture of tradition and social media.

Palace officials have said that the first hint will come when a royal aide emerges from the hospital with a signed bulletin carrying the Buckingham Palace letterhead. The bulletin will be given to an official who will be driven to Buckingham Palace, where it will be posted on an easel in public view in front of the building.

At the same time the bulletin is posted, there will be an official announcement on Twitter and the media will be formally notified. The document will give the baby's gender, weight and time of birth.

It could be some time before the baby's name is made public. When William was born, a week passed before his name was announced. Charles's name remained a mystery for an entire month.

But it is the baby's gender that is of particular interest because the prospect of Kate's pregnancy prompted a change to laws of succession to ensure a daughter would not be passed over for the crown by a younger brother. Boy or girl, the child will be third in line to the throne and the prospective future monarch.

The birth of a new heir to the throne has been breathlessly anticipated since William and Kate wed on April 29, 2011, in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

When news of a royal pregnancy was announced, there was rejoicing in many households in Britain and throughout the world.

Despite a rough start to the pregnancy, when she was taken to hospital for acute morning sickness, the 31-year-old Kate made a number of public appearances that were halted only near the end of her term.

Since the duchess has cut back on her royal duties, media outlets have been clamoring for position outside of the hospital in anticipation of the birth, jockeying to secure the best vantage point for filming William and Kate emerging, babe in arms.

Officials have said that William plans to take two weeks' paternity leave and then return to his military duties as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in Wales.

His tour of duty is scheduled to wrap up around September, and he and Kate are expected to move from their isolated cottage on the island of Anglesey off the coast of Wales to Kensington Palace in central London.

But major refurbishment works at the palace likely won't be finished until at least a month or two after the infant is born - meaning that William and Kate will most likely have to make do with their current temporary home in London, a two-bedroom property at the palace.

Come autumn, however, the family will be able to move into their permanent London home, Apartment 1a at Kensington Palace - a four-story house with a nursery, 20 rooms and a private garden.

- with wires

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Embrace wisdom of the ages

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 21 Juli 2013 | 19.55

TASMANIA needs to shake off the idea that an ageing population is a problem, says the curator of the Disruptive Festival of Ideas.

The four-day event -- part of the Festival of Voices -- finished yesterday with an "unconference" that gave the audience a chance to talk about what they want to happen in the state.

"We have the largest concentration of wisdom in Australia," curator Bill Aronson, of the Scala Institute, said. "Yes, there are some practical issues that we have to take care of around health, but we're talking about how we can take that wisdom of thousands and thousands of years and use it as a resource."

Encouraging Tasmanians to speak up and get involved in discussions about how we can, and should, shape our state for the future, the new festival has been packed full with a host of engaging and provocative speakers leading the discussions.

Mr Aronson said the Festival of Ideas had exceeded his wildest expectations and plans were already progressing well for the future.

The four-day event will be followed by a 12-month program to bring people together to find solutions and outcomes for the state.

"The Step Up program will be about what we want the future of Tasmania to be and what are the practical steps we're going to have to take to get there," Mr Aronson said.

"We're putting together a group of 500 people who will be a powerhouse of creativity. Imagine you're an organisation with a challenge and you want to rethink something and don't know how to do it, you'll be able to throw that into this group and get 500 different opinions and ideas."

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Hopes to salvage Viking boat

ONE of the biggest drawcards from February's Australian Wooden Boat Festival is now languishing at Franklin in need of some TLC.

The 11-tonne pine and oak Viking boat Rusich made a 13,500 nautical mile journey from the Volga to the Derwent for the festival.

But the adventurers who brought it to Tasmania on a journey of goodwill have reluctantly gone back to Russia without it because it is unseaworthy for open ocean sailing without about $25,000 of repairs.

The Russians who built the boat as a non-profit venture cannot afford it.

A consortium of local marine heritage enthusiasts hope to convince federal authorities to waive hefty import-export fees in the interests of acquiring the vessel as a tourist attraction for Southern Tasmania.

Ship broker Laurence Burgin, of Franklin Marine, said it was difficult to value the boat, but a couple of experts had estimated it at around $80,000.

Franklin resident James West, 62, who has Russian heritage and speaks the language, has been keeping in touch with the Rusich's owners on behalf of the would-be buyers.

The boat is currently under a Customs Control Permit that expires in October. For the boat to be able to be sold it must be officially "imported" to Tasmania and be subject to significant federal taxes.

Mr West said import taxes, GST and other fees could amount to more than $15,000.

He said supporters of the Rusich had been lobbying MPs and were in contact with Customs hoping the fees could be waived.

"It would be a magnificent gesture by the Australian Government if this could be the case, as it would save the intending purchaser [significant funds] which could be put towards the cost of repairs and the restoration of the magnificent vessel," he said.

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Fading snaps tell migrant tales

FOR the past 38 years, Nicola Goc has been enchanted by her mother-in-law's tales of migration from Poland after World War II.

A cherished biscuit tin full of old black and white photographs offers a pictorial essay of the emotion-charged pilgrimage, which began the day the war started, when the 16-year-old was taken by Nazis and separated from her family.

The series of well-thumbed snapshots offer a precious reminder of life in Poland and new beginnings in Tasmania.

And they give a remarkable insight into a bygone era, especially for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of migrants who want to learn more about their heritage.

Which is what spurred Dr Goc to start a research project centred around the photographs and stories of migrant women in Tasmania.

The University of Tasmania senior lecturer in journalism and media studies has received a grant for the study "Snapshot Photography, Female Subjectivity and the Migrant Experience", which will culminate in a photographic exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery next year.

She is calling on migrant women to come forward and share their stories as part of the project.

Dr Goc would like to hear from Tasmanian women from English and non-English speaking backgrounds who migrated to Australia in the post-World War II period.

She is also interested in speaking to women who have snapshots that were sent to them from family and friends in their country of origin.

"Snapshot photographs play a central role in recording our lives and in this project I am particularly interested in the ways in which family snapshot photographs have helped migrant women both to maintain connections with the lives they left behind and to make meaning of their new lives in Australia," Dr Goc said.

"Migration is a fundamental feature of our times and it always involves displacement and loss.

"At the most intimate level this sense of displacement and loss is often expressed through the importance placed on faded family snapshots, arguably one of the most revered material objects to be found in a migrant's home."

Dr Goc has already amassed a selection of old photos, which offer an insight into post-war life.

Flicking through the faded, often coffee-stained images at her Sandy Bay home, she recounts the tale of an American nurse who fell in love with an Australian man in Saigon during the Vietnam War and later came to Australia with him.

Other shots include a family portrait taken in France during the 1930s; numerous funeral portraits of Eastern European families; seaside antics of a family from Argentina enjoying a trip to the beach; and an image of a baby with his Bulgarian grandmother just days before he migrated to Tasmania with his parents in the early 1950s.

The problem is that most of the photos she has are anonymous - they were collected from car boot sales, garage sales and auctions, leaving Dr Goc to rely solely on the brief descriptions handwritten on the back.

"The anonymous ones tell me something but not what I really want to know ... which is why I'm very keen to talk to the women themselves," she said.

She has collected albums full of old photographs as well as collecting the old snapshot cameras used to take them.

Dr Goc said women who migrated to Australia after World War II had been largely ignored in migration research, so her project aims to redress this.

She said while most migrant men got jobs and worked hard to build a name for themselves in their new homeland, migrant women often worked away quietly in the background for little recognition, despite being the backbone of the family.

Anyone interested in participating in the research project can contact Dr Goc on 6226 2473 or email Nicola.Goc@utas.edu.au

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