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Submarine on a vital mission

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 10 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

Dr Alex Forrest with the autonomous underwater vehicle at the AMC. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN

DRIVING the Australian Maritime College's new torpedo-like toy is as easy as sitting on a wharf.

Alex Forrest, a lecturer at AMC and handler of the $800,000 UBC-Galvia autonomous underwater vehicle, said the vessel was a "semi-intelligent machine".

It was capable of looking after itself under water, Dr Forrest said.

Pre-loaded instructions provide the submarine with the locations, depths and speeds it needs to complete a mission.

It carries an arsenal of cameras, sonars and environmental sensors to guide it and survey large tracts of water column and seabed.

"We sit on the dock and it tries to achieve its mission," Dr Forrest said.

When finished, or if it runs into difficulty, the submarine rises to the surface and notifies supervisors of its location by text message.

The submarine was delivered to AMC, part of the University of Tasmania, two weeks ago from Canada's University of British Columbia -- the former stamping ground of Canadian-born Dr Forrest.

It is headed for the east coast to survey the extent of barren seabed areas created by the centrostephanus sea urchin pest. It will later survey eastern waters to look for the algae responsible for the toxic blooms which last year caused shellfish farm closures.

bruce.mounster@news.com.au


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Welfare agencies overrun

TASMANIA'S welfare and charity operators are overwhelmed with demand as more Tasmanians are pushed into poverty.

The need is so great agencies are turning people away.

Paying the power bill or even just putting food on the table is becoming a challenge for a growing a number of Tasmanians -- new data showing more than 21,000 people in the state are out of work.

Hobart City Mission has reported a 43 per cent increase in demand.

"The situation is dire. We have had to turn people away, which we have never had to do before," spokeswoman Sharn Hitchins said.

A national poverty survey last October, found up to 25 per cent of Tasmanians live in poverty or are on the brink.

Tasmanian Council of Social Service chief executive Tony Reidy said the effect of the unemployment and low employment rates combined with increased cost of living was worse than he had experienced in more than 30 years in the community welfare sector.

The cost of water, electricity and sewerage was beyond the means of thousands of Tasmanians, he said.

Hobart City Mission's crisis was exacerbated by a 20 per cent decrease in funding.

"The money is being channelled elsewhere by governments. We are not seeing as much cash but more goods, which was great but the people we are seeing need help to buy food," Mrs Hitchins said.

The Salvation Army also is turning away people in need.

"We have had a 30 per cent increase in the last financial year," spokesman Captain Craig Wood said.

alice.claridge@news.com.au


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The rise and fall of John Gay

JOHN Gay first came to the public's attention when he fronted the Royal Commission into the Edmund Rouse bribery scandal in 1991.

The brash, no-nonsense boss of Gunns Kilndried Timber Industries was ordered to present his 1989 work diary, but turned up to the commission to explain he could not find it.

He instead provided his 1990 diary, which was next to useless for the commission's purposes.

Gay was mercilessly grilled by the commission's senior counsel Richard Chesterman over the diary, and about a phone call he took from then premier Robin Gray, two days before the bribery scandal broke in June, 1989.

The timber boss said he remembered little of the phone call, and so Mr Chesterman reeled off chapter and verse of the conversation.

"Obviously you've had my phone tapped," Gay retorted.

The phone bugging accusation made big news.

Gay had been ordered before the commission as a witness because Rouse's company had a stake in Gunns.

The commission built the case that Rouse feared a hung parliament, with Greens MPs in power, would threaten his timber interests, and so he posted Labor MP Jim Cox $10,000 in a bid to get him to cross the floor to the Liberals.

Rouse was jailed for two years for the bribery attempt.

Gray was found to have acted "deceitfully and dishonestly" and his conduct was described as grossly improper but not unlawful.

For Gay, the inquiry gave the public its first taste of a gruff timber boss who would become arguably the state's most powerful man.

Born in Deloraine, Gay is the son of a sawmiller. His first job on leaving Hobart private school Hutchins was as a benchman in his dad's mill.

Gay liked a beer and a round of golf but rarely indulged, preferring to work seven days a week. He was a hard man who called a spade a spade.

A Mercury reporter wrote in 2001: "Gay responds to questions more like a block splitter than a sawmiller's blade -- his style is blunt and direct."

He joined Gunns in 1973 as manager of its Waverley sawmill. The business was set up by John and Thomas Gunn, sons of a Scottish farmer who emigrated to Tasmania in 1840.

In the late 1980s, Gay oversaw the merger of Gunns with Kilndried Timber Industries, resulting in the company being listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, and the acquisition of Hobart sawmiller Kemp and Denning.

However, it was after the bribery scandal that Gay began an ambitious expansion strategy. With the state economy in the doldrums, and residential building at its lowest level in 10 years, he went hunting.

Gunns bought North-West hardwood producer Kauri Timber in 1993. The next year it paid $7 million for Tasmanian Veneers and $1.7 million for French's Pine World.

Then, in 1994, Gunns was granted a licence to export woodchips.

The massive expansion was reflected in the 1994 profit of $5.7 million, compared with $740,000 the year before.

Heads turned, and premier Ray Groom appointed Gay to the Tasmanian Development and Resources Board in 1995.

In 1996, ex-premier Gray joined Gay on Gunns' board.

Gay's expansion strategy exploded in 1999 with Gunns' first overseas acquisition, buying the New Zealand wood-veneer industry for $6.5 million.

It also bought Boral's Tassie sawmill interests for $23 million, with mills at Austins Ferry, Western Junction and Killafaddy, and Luck Brothers Investments, and its Mitre 10 stores in Devonport, Ulverstone and Port Sorell.

In 2000, it bought Boral's forestry assets in a $72 million deal, including a woodchip export facility at Long Reach.

Gunns' profit for the year was $8.7 million.

But it was in 2001 when Gay made his most audacious move, outbidding Kerry Packer to grab control of Tassie's biggest chip exporter, North Forest Products, for $335 million. North once held more than 40 per cent of Gunns.

With the acquisition came chip mills in Burnie, Triabunna and the Tamar Valley, and 175,000ha of land.

Gay was now driving one of the world's largest hardwood chip exporters.

In 2001, it made $18 million profit, and was in the ASX's top 200 companies.

In 2002, with $53 million profit, Gunns was named the nation's second-best performing company in a survey that showed it returned 577 per cent over the past three years.

The spoils were great and Gay's salary rose to $686,000 in 2002, from $364,000 the year before --prime minister John Howard was on $284,000.

But Gay's empire was under attack.

Acclaimed Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan said Gay was selling Tasmania's soul and Planet Ark spokeswoman Olivia Newton-John said Gunns was "cruel and evil" to poison animals.

Critics fumed when Gay, interviewed on Jana Wendt's Sunday, agreed Gunns poisoned protected species, saying there were "too many".

Nine Network's A Current Affair and the ABC's Four Corners aired damning exposes of Gay and Gunns.

Gay, under pressure to drop one of his roles as chairman and CEO, was compelled to write to shareholders to defend the firm's logging.

But Gay fought on and in 2003 Gunns bought Tamar Ridge Wines for $14 million, and three WA sawmills for $11 million.

Gay was now seriously rich, worth $51 million on paper.

In June 2003, he was seen with deputy premier Paul Lennon at Sisco's restaurant in Hobart. On the table was a document, "Gunns Pulp Mill".

So began Gay's bid build a Tamar Valley pulp mill.

As Gay was being named an Australian Export Hero at an awards ceremony at Government House in Melbourne, British MP Norman Baker urged tourists to boycott Tasmania for logging old-growth forests.

Tasmanians also had concerns. Tasmania Together, a social program based on the aspirations of locals, tried unsuccesfully to stop old-growth logging by 2001. It wanted to phase out old-growth logging by 2010.

Gay was furious, saying it would cut Gunns' sawmilling operations by half.

Mitsubishi Corporation, a Japanese firm that imported 400,000 tonnes of woodchips a year, condemned Gunns' old-growth logging.

But the money kept flowing and in 2004, Gunns unveiled a profit of $105 million -- earning Gay a $1.3 million dividend windfall. Gunns was exporting more than five million tonnes of chips a year.

However, contractors -- log truck drivers and forest workers -- were unhappy with their share of the spoils.

Gay then went to war with sawmillers Auspine and French Enterprises after they suggested more jobs could be created by stopping old-growth logging to focus on plantations.

Gay fired back: "Their comments have been extremely damaging to themselves and their future in Tasmania."

Gunns then took legal action against protesters and environmentalists, claiming $6.3 million in damages.

Known as the Gunns 20, the group included Greens MPs, a doctor and members of the Wilderness Society.

But a rising Australian dollar was a tougher opponent and, to compound matters, Mitsubishi Paper Mills stopped buying old-growth chips.

In 2005 contractors' harvest quotas were cut by 20 per cent, just before Gunns announced an annual profit of $101 million.

Gay raised concern about the high dollar and called for Forestry Tasmania to drop its prices. Woodchips from Ecuador, Uruguay, Vietnam and Brazil were winning market share, and Gay was forced to temporarily shut chip mills.

By 2006, most contractors had business cut by 40 per cent. They complained they had subsidised Gunns' $87 million profit. Woodchip sales fell from 4.4 million tonnes to 3.5 million.

Sydney businessman Geoff Cousins slammed Tasmanian logging practices, and Gay hit back, threatening to review any business he had with any board on which Cousins sat.

Cousins suggested Gay was unfit to be a CEO.

Gay's personal fortune continued to grow, receiving a $200,000 increase in salary in 2007 to take it to $1.4 million.

His shares, worth $66 million, kept him entrenched in the BRW Executive Rich List.

After a profit of $67 million in 2008, Gunns shed 129 jobs, closed a sawmill and put plantations on the market.

The company's shares took a belting and by 2009 it was looking at redundancies.

Gay sold 3,404,178 shares in December 2009, yielding $3.09 million, before the shares fell dramatically after the half-year result was released in February 2010.

The Crown alleged Gay knew the profit would fall radically as a result of a downturn in chip prices in 2009 -- Gunns' profit fell from $56 million in 2009 to $28.5 million in 2010.

Under intense market pressure, Gay was forced to cut all ties to Gunns in May, 2010.

Gunns went into receivership in September last year.

After pleading guilty to insider trading last week, Gay is now waiting to be sentenced.

simon.bevilacqua@news.com.au


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Charges over police assault

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 09 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

ANOTHER Tasmanian police officer has been assaulted in the line of duty - the fifth attack in the past two weeks.

A 41-year-old Hobart man appeared in the Hobart Magistrate's Court this morning charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer and breaching the peace.

Police were called to a block of units late last night in relation to a noisy party.

Not long after, police returned to the units after a report of unruly behaviour at the address.

Two people, a 41-year-old woman and the man who appeared in court, were arrested for breach of the peace when they refused to comply with police directions.

During his arrest the man is alleged to have spat on the officer and punched him in the face, breaking his nose.

Assistant Commissioner Phil Wilkinson said the officer was treated at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

"The officer is recovering and will return to work in a day or so," Mr Wilkinson said.

"While we know policing can be dangerous, it is unacceptable that an officer is assaulted while undertaking their duties."

The latest assault follows another on a Hobart policewoman last week.

The officer was bashed unconscious and sprayed with capsicum spray at Risdon Vale.

In late July two officers were assaulted while on the beat on Hobart's waterfront and a lone officer was assaulted at Derby.


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Fair trade to help our farmers

THE push for a shift from free trade to fair trade has been given the nod of approval from Australia's peak body for vegetable growers.

AusVeg public affairs manager William Churchill said all new trade negotiations should contain mechanisms that reflect costs Australian farmers incur in meeting.

"In comparison to many of our trading partners, Australian farmers must meet some of the highest environmental and labour standards in the world, and because of this, mechanisms that reflect these costs," Mr Churchill said.

AusVeg has welcomed several initiatives outlined in the Greens' Plan for Australia's Food Security, released by Senator Christine Milne.

The Leader of the Greens launched the plan via an interactive online release, the first of its type undertaken in Australia.

"The plan contains several initiatives which would allow Australian growers to remain productive and competitive in what is becoming an increasingly challenging global market," Mr Churchill said.

The Greens' plan also outlines an increase of 7 per cent a year for Commonwealth funding into agricultural research and development.

The plan features a $300 million boost for agricultural research and development and other measures designed to keep farmers on the land, put good food on every table and protect land and water.

The Greens' also call for reforms to food labelling to provide clearer information on Country of Origin labelling by making origin and manufacturing claims clearer.

"When you see a tin of tomatoes on a supermarket shelf, which has come all the way from Italy, being sold for less than 70 cents, it is easy to see why the local industry is struggling to compete."


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Greens predict gas conflict

THE Greens are warning of a new environmental conflict in Tasmania over shale gas and oil exploration.

Energy company Petratherm has applied for a licence to explore 3900 square kilometres of central Tasmania.

"It's a very bad idea for this company to parachute into Tasmania and start what will be a major conflict," Greens leader Christine Milne said.

Senator Milne delivered her warning alongside livestock farmer Brett Hall, who said details about how the company would proceed were scarce.

Mr Hall said he feared for his water supply if aquifers were affected.

"I'd like people to imagine if a mining company came along to their home, their land, and decided to do some mining," he said.

"And there was absolutely nothing you could do about it."

The Greens say Tasmania should be aiming to increase its 86 per cent renewable energy use to 100 per cent, rather than turning towards more use of fossil fuels.

Petratherm subsidiary PetraGas says it will consult extensively with local communities if a licence is granted.

But Senator Milne said farmers should be able to veto exploration on their land.

It's the second pitch the Greens leader has made to rural voters in as many days after the online launch of her $600 million food security policy yesterday.

"Farmers are under enough pressure as it is, rural communities are under enough pressure," Senator Milne said.

"Why would you want to add to that?"

The company says it expects a decision on its application within three months.

Its proposed 3900sq km tenement extends from the Oatlands and Orielton areas, to Bothwell, Hamilton and Westerway.

Petratherm has been contacted for comment.


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Abbott to reveal jobs policy

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 08 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has met supporters in Launceston ahead of a Tasmanian jobs policy announcement.

Mr Abbott told a crowd of supporters that a Coalition government would support unlocking Tasmania's forests and oceans for economic development.

"Your forest industry needs to be part of a clean green future," he said.

"I say to the people of Tasmania that your fishing industry and aquaculture industry should be part of a clean green future.

"We will not lock up your forests, we will not lock up your oceans. Tasmania needs to be an economy as well as a national park."

He was joined in Launceston by former immigration minister Philip Ruddock.

Mr Abbott denied he had ever spoken to News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch about the National Broadband Network.

"I do from time to time talk to Rupert Murdoch. My discussions with Rupert Murdoch are so secret I wrote about it in my spectator diary a year ago," he said.

"Have I ever spoke to Rupert Murdoch about the NBN? No, I haven't."

Mr Rudd has alleged that News Limited newspapers are favouring Mr Abbott because Mr Murdoch fears the effect of the NBN on Foxtel.

Mr Abbott said it was further evidence that Mr Rudd was becoming thin-skinned and had a glass jaw.

He said he had never spoken to News Corp executives about the NBN.

Mr Abbott said the GST would not change.

He said to expect a lie a day from the Labor Party.

Mr Abbott said that Peter Beattie was a "flim-flam man" who would add to leadership instability in the Labor Party.

Mr Abbott went to Launceston Toyota to talk about the fringe benefits tax.

"The only way to stop the $1.8 billion fringe benefits hit on the Australian car industry is to change the government," he said.

Mr Abbott will launch a Tasmanian employment policy in Devonport at 11.30am - about the time the latest labour statistics are due from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


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Unemployment rises again

TASMANIA'S unemployment rate has jumped again with a 0.2 per cent rise to 8.4 per cent in July.

The trend term figure comes as Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott launches an employment policy for Tasmania in Devonport.

The ABS corrected the June trend figure to 8.2 per cent - up from previously published 8.1 per cent.

In seasonally adjusted terms the unemployment rate is 8.2 per cent in July - down from an adjusted rate of 9.0 per cent in June.

The increase comes the day after a crisis jobs forum in Launceston and in weeks after the announcement of a loss of about 200 jobs in the Launceston area.

The figures reveal a fall in the number of people employed from 230,800 to 230,500.


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Abbott's plan for Tassie jobs

Tony Abbott, centre, with State Liberal leader Will Hodgman, left, and Braddon Liberal candidate Brett Whiteley announces his jobs plan for Tasmania. Pictures:CHRIS KIDD

DOLE recipients will be given a hand up by the Coalition after Tony Abbott announced a plan to encourage businesses to hire the long-term unemployed.

The Opposition Leader unveiled a scheme to create 2000 jobs in Tasmania within his first term of government by paying businesses $250 a week for six months after they kept a previous dole recipient on for more than six months.

The plan would be available to people who have been on the Newstart Allowance for six months or more.

"It will cost $6.5 million," he said.

But Mr Abbott couldn't confirm exactly how the scheme would be funded.

"The full list of saves and spends will be out there for public to consider in good time before the election," Mr Abbott said.

The Opposition Leader said the scheme was the first instalment of his jobs package for Tasmania, which is expected to be fruitful for the Coalition at the September 7 election.

Mr Abbott said he would announce the second part of his economic plan next week.

The plan was unveiled at a fish processing factory in Devonport.

It came on the same day as unemployment data showed Tasmania was still struggling with the highest rate across the country at 8.4 per cent.

Earlier in the day the Opposition Leader said he wanted Tasmania to be a "special economic zone" but just several hours later he crabwalked away from his statements.

"I know that there are some circumstances in which that is a term of art, what I am talking about is a special effort recognising Tasmania's special circumstances to make sure we have a much stronger economy here in the future," he said.

Mr Abbott also had an opportunity to cuddle up to a different kind of voter on the hustings in northern Tasmania.

After his announcement he stopped outside the fish factory to give Boo, a pomeranian dog, a pat.

Boo's owner Anne Jordan was delighted Mr Abbott made the effort to come over and see her.

"He was about to get into his car and I yelled out, 'Oi, Mr Abbott, come and say hello to Boo'," she said.

"I couldn't believe he came right over. Boo just lapped up all the attention.

"It was lucky he was a good boy and didn't growl or bite."

Ms Jordan, 48, from Devonport, would not reveal who she would vote for at the next election.

"I support anyone who looks after the pensioners," she said.

-- LANAI SCARR and REBEKAH CAVANAGH


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Hobart Airport evacuated

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 07 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

HUNDREDS of passengers had their travel plans disrupted this morning after a fire alarm forced the evacuation of Hobart Airport.

A faulty sensor set off the alarm just after 9am.

Hobart Airport chief executive officer Rod Parry said the airport terminal was evacuated briefly as part of normal safety procedures.

The alarm was activated at 9.27am and the airport fire fighting service quickly responded. It was ascertained that it was a false alarm and the terminal was reopened at 9.48am.

Mr Parry said there had been short delays to two flights - one Jetstar and one Virgin.

"We apologise to any inconvenience to our customers," he said.

Do you have any photos of the evacuation?
Send it in here


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MyState drops interest rates

MYSTATE will pass on the Reserve Bank's 0.25 per cent rate cut in full across its variable lending products.

MyState's standard variable rate will reduce to 5.89 per cent with the discounted Special Residential Home Loan rate reducing to 4.94 per cent for loans over $100,000 and with a maximum loan to valuation ratio of 80 per cent.

Chief operating officer Tim Rutherford said the decision had taken into account funding costs and other economic factors.

"We believe that in this economic climate, passing on these rate cuts is not only in the interest of our customers, but the local economy in general," he said.

"Following these latest rate reductions from MyState, a borrower with a $300,000 mortgage will be paying around $2700 per annum less in interest on a standard variable home loan compared to this time 12 months ago."

MyState joins a wide range of banks and financial institutions to pass on the cut including NAB, CBA and the Bank of Queensland.

Westpac exceeded the official drop with 0.28 per cent decrease to 5.98 per cent.

The new interest rate takes effect from August 14 for new loans and August 30 for existing loans.


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Body find 'not suspicious'

A MAN'S body found in the Launceston suburb of Mowbray displayed no signs of foul play, Tasmania Police said today.

Inspector Mick Johnston said the man's body was found about 5.15pm on Monday about 20 metres off a well-formed walking track.

He said police would consult families before speculating on the identity of the missing person.

There were a couple of missing persons who may fit the timeline.

The body would be delivered to the State Pathologist today who would look for a cause of death and use dental records to identify the body.


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A-League tickets up for grabs

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 06 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

GET in quick or miss out -- that's the message for Tasmanian soccer fans keen to watch Melbourne Victory take on the Western Sydney Warriors next month.

Tickets for the blockbuster clash at the Kingston Twin Ovals will go on sale at 9am tomorrow.

The two A-League heavyweights will go toe to toe at 2.30pm on September 29 after a Tasmania state squad battles it out with a second Victory side at noon.

Football Federation Tasmania chief executive John Boulous today said nearly 8000 tickets would be available from Optus stores in Hobart, Rosny and Launceston as well as the FFT office and the Kingborough Council.

"Tickets will be limited, so I recommend football fans get in quick or they may not get in at all," he said.

"Contingents from Melbourne Victory's and Western Sydney Wanderers' strong supporter bases have indicated their desire to attend and ... tickets could be snapped up very quickly."

Ticket prices are $15 for an adult and $7 for a child.
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Youths sought after house fire

POLICE are searching for two youths suspected of stealing guns from a house in northern Tasmania which was later destroyed by fire.

Tasmania Fire Service and police were alerted to the fire in Rookery Rd at Winkleigh, near Exeter, late yesterday afternoon.

No one was home at the privately owned weatherboard house at the time of the fire and the dwelling was gutted.

While the cause of the fire is still being investigated, police are concerned guns may have been stolen from an open safe found inside the smouldering remains of the house.

Fire scene examiners are at the scene this morning trying to determine the cause of the blaze.

Police believe the fire and possible gun theft could be linked to another incident at nearby Flowery Gully Rd earlier in the day.

A house was broken into at 4.40pm and jewellery was stolen.

The offenders were disturbed when the owner returned home and fled in a white, early-90s bubble-shaped Ford Laser hatchback.

Police are looking for two male youths aged about 16-17, of slim to medium build.

Both of the suspects were wearing grey hoodies at the time of the offences.

Anyone who saw a white Laser in the Winkleigh or Flowery Gully area yesterday afternoon are asked to contact Northern CIB on 6336 3911 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


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RBA cuts rates to new low

THE Reserve Bank board has cut rates by a quarter of a percentage point to a record low of 2.5 per cent.

The cut, widely tipped by the majority of economists, comes after low June quarter inflation figures were followed with bearish rhetoric from Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens last week.

Mr Stevens said subdued business confidence was a concern and needed to improve in order to help rebalance Australia's economy as the mining investment boom winds down.

"There are clearly signs of policy working in this respect, though not, to date, by so much that we see a serious impediment to further easing, were that to be appropriate from an overall macro-economic point of view," he said.

Mr Stevens' comments indicated a cut was on the cards at the RBA's August meeting, HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said.

"The first critical piece of information he gave us was that the RBA's interpretation was that inflation is low enough to leave them with scope to cut rates further," Mr Bloxham said. "The other part of the story was a fairly downbeat take on the rebalancing that's happening in Australia's economy."

RP Data national research director Tim Lawless said the further reduction in the cash rate comes at a time when the housing market is already responding to the low debt servicing environment.

"Since the housing market reached a recent low point in May last year we have seen dwelling values rise by 6.5 per cent. That equates to a gross profit of around $30,000 for the average home owner.

"Transaction numbers are up by almost 18 per cent compared with the same time last year which highlights that home buyers, particularly investors and upgraders, are moving off the sidelines and into active buying mode."

Mr Lawless said the difficulty for the RBA going forward will be how to keep a lid on excessive housing market growth while also providing sufficient stimulus for the broader economy.

Lower mortgage rates are likely to provide further motivation for buyers to become active, however with values rising it is going to be more difficult for prospective owners, particularly those without equity behind them, to come up with a deposit.

This affordability challenge is likely to be most felt by the first home buyer segment and it may be the factor that continues to prevent prospective first time buyers from entering the housing market, he said.

-- with AAP


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Robbery at TOTE

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 05 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

A 38-YEAR-OLD Moonah man is currently assisting police with their inquiries in relation to a robbery that occurred at the TOTE, Main Road, Moonah, earlier today.

Police say the man threatened a female attendant at 10.40am before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The man was captured on CCTV footage as he conducted the daylight robbery.

Police say no weapons were seen or threatened to be used during the hold-up.

Anyone with information about the hold-up is asked to call Glenorchy CIB on 6230 2881 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


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Cyclist dies in Channel crash

A 57-YEAR-OLD man from Pelverata has died as the result of a collision between a ute and a bicycle on the Channel Highway south of Huonville today.

The accident occurred about 10.30am.

The cyclist was riding a black and silver bicycle north on the Channel Highway when a white Holden utility travelling in the same direction collided with the rear of the bicycle on the exit of a right-hand corner.

The cyclist died while being transported to the Royal Hobart Hospital by ambulance.

The cyclist was riding with a 64-year-old man from Huonville. The utility driver, a 49-year-old Ranelagh man, was the only occupant of his vehicle at the time of the crash.

Investigations into the crash are continuing and police would like to hear from any person who may have seen the cyclists or the utility before the collision, or witnesses to the collision itself. Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


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Volcano Land blog, week 1

Sulphurous gasses billow from Garabuna volcano in Papua New Guinea. Picture: ANDREW HUGHES

A NARROW isthmus joins two equally small outcrops of tropically draped rock to form Wulai Island, Papua New Guinea.

From my tent doors I can see out both sides to the ocean just a few metres away. The south-easterly trade wind is blowing in a storm, and we're off and paddling for the seventh expeditionclass.com program, Volcano Land.

The week began with a very soft landing at Walindi Resort, just outside Kimbe, West New Britain. A renowned scuba diving location, I flew in to skim above the water - not below it.

Cheyne Benjamin, a friend who filmed part of the 2010 Tassie Tiger Hunt in remote PNG, has tentatively put down the camera and taken on the family business at Walindi. His Australian-born parents, Cecilie and Max, came to New Britain before independence as agricultural field officers and have been here since.

I had good reason to linger in the waterfront bungalow for a few extra nights. Apart from buying supplies, there is an active volcano, Garbuna, right behind the resort.

A local landowner guide took us steeply through gardens that quickly gave way to pure rainforest. The dense canopy hid a wild assortment of bird life. Two that we spotted among the screeching were the whooshing thornbill and a deftly camouflaged male (green) eclectus parrot.

The whiff of sulphur preceded a dead band of trees and then we were standing before a barren moonscape of hissing vents and bubbling thermal springs. Garbuna exploded unexpectedly in October 2005 and shows potential to be a growing feature of the local landscape.

With our first volcano inspected I've now hit the water. After two days of blighted headwinds I'm sporting some new blisters and have random sun burns where the I missed with the zinc and cream.

Students have been piling into the online adventure portal, especially the interactive forum. Over the next week I'm aiming to paddle to Ulawun, a towering strato volcano. Along the way we'll drop in at villages and maybe a few more deserted islands too.

• Expedition Class is a program of the Bookend Trust. This project is supported by the Tasmanian Department of Education, Pennicott Foundation, UTAS SET, Mercury NIE, IMAS, Sea to Summit and friends. Follow Andrew's daily reports at www.expeditionclass.com


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Senator hits out at green-mail

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 04 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

HEALTHY CHOICE: Salamanca Market stall holder Jonathan Cooper says more people are choosing to buy organic produce. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE

THE proliferation of green labels, stamps and logos is leaving grocery shoppers baffled.

Apart from compulsory nutritional labels, front and backs of packs are cluttered with paid-for endorsements, green ticks and sustainability stickers.

Even health organisations, which fought to have labelling improved, now see the need for clarity.

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia has raised concern some manufacturers and food service providers continue to ignore the demand for food label standardisation.

Coeliac Australia, which has a fee-based tick of approval logo, said it would prefer labelling to address medical issues rather than "lifestyle choices".

Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell says "green-mail" stamps by organisations such as the Marine Stewardship Council are unnecessary and force producers to bear the cost, despite government authorities carrying out similar research.

The West Australian Government has committed $14 million to have its fishing industry MSC-certified.

"The green aspects are strictly controlled, the Government is getting paid to do it," Senator Boswell said.

"So why does the Government do it and then ring up [a third party organisation] for another 5 per cent [cost] and you get a green tick. I call it green-mail and I don't retract from it.

"This idea that a government spends all this money on research and science, and everyone says, 'That's nice but let's get a green tick', I just can't understand it."

While the labels attract a premium price, do shoppers get what they pay for?

In a recent ACCC decision, seven bottled water brands were told to remove the word organic from their labelling and the Federal Court recently found Baiada Poultry, owner of Steggles, engaged in false, misleading and deceptive conduct in claiming its meat chickens were "free to roam" in large barns when stocking densities were less than the size of an A4 sheet of paper.

Food labelling is an important aspect of Jonathan Cooper's Hobart business.

The organic grocer has operated his stall at Salamanca Market for the past 10 years and seen the public interest in food origins grow.

"More and more people are becoming aware of their options around food and they are choosing organic, but also local food," he said.

"People are much more aware of the benefits of fresh, clean products, but they want to support robust economic practice which offers fair prices for farmers."

For this reason, Mr Cooper uses a labelling system on his stall which indicates price, what the product is, its origin and its certification.

"We use third parties to certify our product. There's about eight or nine different ones these days. It's a quality assurance system for customers.

"Some smaller growers aren't certified, but we have built up relationships with them over the years. We know them and have been to their farms, so we can verify them," he said.

On a broader level, he said labelling was also a high priority as the GMO debate heats up.

"People should have the opportunity to make informed decisions. Labelling should be stringent, we need strong laws."

Branding expert and industry stalwart Austin Begg of Traffic, who launched famous labels such as SPC Baked Beans and Spaghetti and Sorbent toilet paper, says the final say on compliance and labelling should be with the major supermarkets as they have the expertise and a corporate responsibility to uphold the law and honesty in packaging to protect consumers.

While icons and devices can be helpful in winning client trust and loyalty, some manufacturers use tricks to lure customers -- but such deception is uncovered more quickly today, Mr Begg said.

"Just look what happened to the Heart Foundation Tick. The credibility and integrity of the tick was questioned by many consumers when it went to McDonald's," he said.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council says the labels products carry are closely regulated.


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Digger's view of life in trenches

A REMARKABLE collection of 180 photographs depicting a Digger's eye view of life in the trenches during World War I has surfaced almost 100 years later.

The pictures were taken on a Kodak vest pocket camera and vividly illustrate conditions at Gallipoli in 1915 and the stark contrast with more relaxing times for soldiers in Egypt between campaigns.

In one photograph, a group of six soldiers poses on the beach at Anzac Cove in front of a barge with a large shell hole in it.

In another, a rum flask washes up on the rocky shore behind them as several Diggers bathe naked in the clear water of the Mediterranean Sea, oblivious to the camera and seemingly to the death and destruction on the hills above.

Yet another shows dozens of troops relaxing on the hillside above the cove away from the hell of the trenches.

A striking image features two soldiers relaxing on sleeping platforms cut into the side of a trench. Their faces show the strain of war as a book lies closed in the trench.

Digger's view of life in trenches

Private George (Eric) Cherry served with the 6th Field Ambulance at Gallipoli from August 1915 until the Australians retreated in December of that year.

When he returned to Melbourne to resume studying for a medical degree, the collection of films from his camera that survived five months in the trenches was in his kit.

The collection remained in the possession of his older daughter Lois until the mid-1980s when she handed them to Michael Lean, a photographic expert at Queensland University of Technology.

Lean produced some proof sheets for her, but she never returned to collect the negatives and they remained with him until this year when he gave them to the Maroochy RSL Museum at Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast.

Museum volunteer Drew Wall couldn't believe his eyes when he examined the negatives and the powerful, grainy images depicting life on the frontline and the tourist spots of Egypt, including the sphinx.

"When I first saw them I was quite emotional, they reflected a soldier's view of the world," the ex-CMF artilleryman said.

One person who was as surprised as anyone about the collection's existence was Dr Cherry's second daughter, Elizabeth Skerman, who lives in Brisbane.

"I never saw the photos until Drew Wall printed them out," she said.

"They are amazing but my father never spoke about them or about the war."

Mrs Skerman, whose husband Douglas was a member of bomber command during World War II and died in a plane crash in South America in the 1970s, said her father was a quiet man.

Dr Cherry joined the Repatriation Department in the late 1930s and he died in his mid-70s, taking the story of his photographs to his grave.


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It's on: Rudd calls election

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has visited the Governor-General and has called for a federal election for September 7.

Mr Rudd said in a statement to supporters that he believes the nation faces a clear choice when it goes to the polls.

"A few moments ago I saw the Governor-General ans asked that she dissolve this parliament and call the Federal Election for September 7, "the Prime Minsiter said in a statement to supporters posted on Facebook.

"Australians now face a choice. And the choice couldn't be starker."

Mr Rudd - who travelled to the national capital in his official VIP plane earlier this afternoon - drove to Yarralumla to meet with Quentin Bryce.

Yesterday, Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said the Coalition is "election ready".

Senator Abetz said Liberal candidates would not take anything for granted as they prepared for one of the most significant election campaign battles in recent memory.


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