Monday 31 October 2011

Qantas takes aim at Prime Minister Julia Gillard

stranded qantas passengers

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made phone call to PM Julia Gillard but was ignored

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce would have abandoned his decision to ground the airline had Prime Minister Julia Gillard returned his call and promised to intervene directly in the union standoff.

Qantas sources confirmed yesterday Mr Joyce waited until five minutes before his decision to ground the fleet to hear from Ms Gillard, after attempting to contact her three hours earlier. It is understood that all it would have taken for Qantas to cancel the grounding was for Ms Gillard to declare all future industrial action illegal.

Sources said Qantas group executive Olivia Wirth called Ms Gillard's chief of staff at 2pm on Saturday and told him that Mr Joyce was standing by to talk to the Prime Minister. Mr Joyce had intended to give Ms Gillard advance warning of his intention to announce that he was grounding the airline's entire fleet and leaving almost 70,000 passengers a day stranded.

Ms Gillard was in an executive session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and was not available by phone. She was however informed of Qantas's decision. It has also been revealed that Mr Joyce went to the Marrickville electorate office of Transport Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday, October 21, to warn of the crisis looming. He opened the books to Mr Albanese to demonstrate the urgency of the company's financial position if the unions continued their industrial campaign.

Mr Joyce's office was then in almost twice-daily contact with senior ministers' offices providing updates until the annual general meeting last Friday. With the engineers' union warning of extending their industrial action into next year, Mr Joyce called an meeting of executives to consider options for negotiating with the unions.

On Saturday morning, Mr Joyce convened another meeting with key executives to discuss lock-out options and a risk assessment for grounding the airline. At 10.30am the Qantas board gave unanimous approval for his plan to give 72 hours notice of a lock-out of striking unions and to ground the airline at 5pm. At 2pm Mr Joyce called Mr Albanese, followed by Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson and Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans. Mr Albanese was reported to have told Mr Joyce the move was "aggressive". At 3pm, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority was notified.

After the announcement Mr Albanese and Mr Evans, Ms Gillard and three other ministers called a crisis cabinet phone hook-up where it was decided that instead of calling an immediate termination of the dispute, as allowed under the Fair Work Act, a request for termination or suspension would be taken to Fair Work Australia. That termination has now been upheld by Fair Work Australia as of 2am today.

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Sunday 30 October 2011

'One Nation' in a Hat | Katter to spoil the party

Exclusive: MP Shane Knuth has defected from the Liberal National Party
Shane Knuth
Shane Knuth has defected from the LNP. Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

The Liberal National Party faces a bombshell this morning, with the defection of another MP and threats of more to come.

LNP heavyweights holed up at the Gold Coast for state council will learn of the defection of Shane Knuth (pictured) to Bob Katter's Australia Party in today's Sunday Mail. Tension between National and Liberal MPs is reaching fever pitch as discipline within the merged party deteriorates, threatening Campbell Newman's clear run for premier.

It comes as more LNP members are making "overtures" to join Katter's fledgling party. Mr Knuth, the MP for Dalrymple in inland northern Queensland, said he could no longer stomach being forced to vote against National core values or watching the poor treatment of former Nationals. "It has been clearly seen that many of the long-term, experienced MPs have been thrown out of the backbench and have little to no say in shadow cabinet," Mr Knuth told The Sunday Mail.
Mr Knuth said his decision was accelerated after learning that the LNP paid a former Labor staff member for dirt files on ALP MPs.Mr Katter, the Federal MP for Kennedy, said he was not surprised "Shaney" had jumped ship because he had the choice of "ratting on his party or ratting on his mates" as Labor and the LNP were bound to privatise passenger rail services.

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Saturday 29 October 2011

Julia Gillard will have to use all of her negotiating skill

Prime Minister moves to end Qantas grounding

291011Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard defends the rare decision to make application to Fair Work Australia to intervene in the dispute Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper Source: The Sunday Times

Julia Gillard has declared she is proud of her industrial relations laws after the government dramatically intervened in the Qantas dispute.
In a dramatic move, after the company grounded all flights and proceeding with plans to lock out its workforce from Monday, the government tonight sought an order from Fair Work Australia. It comes after the airline's chief executive Alan Joyce announced this afternoon it had grounded its planes in a bid to bring the long-running dispute to a head. The Qantas move sparked chaos in the nation's airports and tourism industry warnings it would disrupt tourism-related events, including Tuesday's Melbourne Cup.

As Ms Gillard tonight rejected Tony Abbott's accusation she should have acted earlier, she defended her Fair Work Act, which replaced the previous Howard Government's controversial WorkChoices laws. Howard  minister Peter Reith has attacked Tony Abbott for suggesting that Julia Gillard intervene in the worsening Qantas dispute. “Looking at the Fair Work Act and the tests for having Fair Work Australia deal with the dispute I do not believe we reached the appropriate point in its dispute for Fair Work Australia to intervene until we saw the escalation of the dispute today,” Ms Gillard said.“I take absolute responsibility for the Fair Work Act. I am incredibly proud of it. It introduced fairness into Australian workplaces.”

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce's announcement of the planned lock-out came out of the blue early this afternoon, promoting Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to accuse the businessman of having acted in bad faith.

Mr Joyce said unions were attempting to  destroy the Qantas brand and that he had been forced to act. He  said the dispute was costing the company $15 million a week and that unions were becoming more hard-line, leading to his decisions to lock out all members of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Union (ALAEA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian and International Pilots Union (AIPA) from Monday.“Yesterday two unions declared their intention to escalate industrial action further and over an extended period,” Mr Joyce said.“As one said earlier they want 'to bake Qantas slowly'.” “The pilots’ union has also said they are considering escalating their industrial campaign. They talk about job security, but the unions are on a path that would diminish the job security of their own members.”

The move meant that from 5pm tonight there have been  no further Qantas domestic departures or international departures anywhere in the world. Jetstar flights, QantasLink flights and Qantas flights across the Tasman operated by Jetconnect will continue to operate as will Express Freighters Australia and Atlas Freighters. The Victorian Government also commenced legal action under the Fair Work Act, with Premier Ted Baillieu warning of  “severe economic consequences” for his state. “Along with the inconvenience and disruption to many thousands of passengers travelling across Australia and around the world, the dispute  is causing significant economic harm to Victoria especially its tourism and hospitality industries,” Mr Baillieu said.“The economic damage at the time of the Spring Racing Carnival, one of  Australia’s biggest annual sporting festivals, is significant.“Increased disruption will impact profoundly on incoming visits for the Melbourne Cup and Spring Carnival events.”

As Fair Work Australia began prepared fro the hearing Melbourne, the Opposition Leader said Ms Gillard's handling of the issue had highlighted her incompetence. “This is a crisis which could have been avoided but the government has been procrastinating for weeks about this and now it's urgent that it be solved immediately,” Mr Abbott said. “Qantas is an essential service. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that essential services operate and that brand Australia is not damaged. “This is, in the end, a test of competence for the government. It's a test of who is really in charge, the Prime Minister or the faceless men.”

Ms Gillard said Mr Abbott would say anything to promote a return to WorkChoices. But she agreed she was concerned about the effects of the dispute, noting that many Australians had been inconvenienced and that 15 commonwealth heads of state attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth were booked to go home on Qantas flights. She said the government was working on contingency plans but would not say whether she was considering using charters or military aircraft.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese accused Qantas of a breach of faith, noting Mr Joyce had advised the government of its intentions at only 2pm this afternoon. “This is quite extraordinary action for Qantas management to take,” Mr Albanese said. “I find it particularly extraordinary that one day after their Annual General Meeting at which they’re accountable to all their shareholders they would make this decision.
“I’m extremely disappointed.  What’s more, I indicated very clearly to Mr Joyce that I was disturbed by the fact that we’ve had a number of discussions and at no stage has Mr Joyce indicated to me that this was an action under consideration.”

Mr Albanese said Qantas would need to justify  its actions, inviting people to make their own judgement on whether the decision had been planned well before yesterday.“But I think it is certainly a breach of faith with the Government, the fact that there was no advance notice of this action being taken by Qantas and I indicated that very clearly to Mr Joyce this afternoon.”

Greens Leader Bob Brown sided with the unions, demanding Ms Gillard press Qantas management over the strike. “This lock out is also a sell out of the spirit of Australia,” Senator Brown said today. “It is a multi-millionaire’s lock out of responsible decent pilots, crew and other staff whose work gives Australia the world’s best airline. “This lock out is about exporting Qantas to a world of lower cost, lower services values and lower safety.  The Government should stand up to Qantas’ selfish top brass,” Senator Brown said.
But Australian Hotels Association chief executive Des Crowe said warned of devastating effects on the tourism industry at one it its busiest times.

“The provisions for Government intervention under the Fair Work Act exist to deal for the very purpose of dealing with a crisis such as this,” Mr Crowe said “The Government simply must act and it must do so immediately. “Already this afternoon, tens of thousands of travellers have had their Spring Carnival travel plans thrown into chaos.  The hotels and other businesses relying on this peak tourism period will now miss out as a result.” Industrial Relations Minister Chris Evans said  section 424 of the Fair Work Act allowed Fair Work Australia to issue   an order for termination of all industrial action penning an urgent hearing.
If granted the parties will have at least 21 days to negotiate a settlement. “No industrial action can take place during this period,” Senator Evans said.

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Joyce gets $5 million while workers forced to strike for $1 per hour

Cairns leads Qantas protest

Laura Packham
Saturday, October 29, 2011
© The Cairns Post

No confidence: Qantas ground crew in Cairns, including Tony Nucifora, Ian Brooke, and union negotiator Janine Aitken have led a vote of no confidence in chief executive Alan Joyce.

QANTAS ground crew in Cairns are leading the way in a protest against the airline's boss.

Staff in Cairns put forward a vote of no confidence yesterday over the way the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce had handled pay negotiations with unions.

Transport Workers Union negotiator Janine Aitken said the unanimous decision was made during a one-hour stop work meeting. The vote was in response to an ongoing dispute between the airline and unions over pay and conditions. "It’s very significant for Cairns considering this airport hasn’t taken action in 20 years prior to this," Ms Aitken said.

The no confidence motion was tabled at Qantas’ annual general meeting yesterday. Ms Aitken said she was confident other workers would join the call for Mr Joyce to step down from  negotiations. "The workers are just incredibly frustrated and disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be any willingness to come to the table," she said.

Tony Nucifora, an airline operator with 15 years’ experience said he had never seen strike action on this scale before. "I would like to have job security for starters," Mr Nucifora said.

Qantas yesterday revealed the national strikes from engineers, pilots and ground staff had cost the company $68 million since August.

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Queen Elizabeth's blood line is Germanic but is she proud of her heritage?

The Houses of Windsor and Hanover

Is British Royalty Really German Royalty?

It is not at all unusual for European royal families to have bloodlines and names from foreign nations. After all, it was common for European dynasties over the centuries to use marriage as a political tool for empire-building. The Austrian Habsburgs even boasted of their talent in this regard: "Let others wage war; you, happy Austria, marry."* (See

The House of Windsor

The Windsor name now used by Queen Elizabeth II and other British royals only dates back to 1917. Before that the British royal family bore the German name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha in German). Why the drastic name change?

The answer to that question is simple: World War I. Since August 1914 Britain had been at war with Germany. Anything German had a bad connotation, including the German name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Not only that, Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm was a cousin of the British king. So on July 17, 1917, to prove his loyalty to England, Queen Victoria's grandson King George V officially declared that "all descendents in the male line of Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than female descendents who marry or who have married, shall bear the name Windsor." Thus the king himself, who was a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, changed his own name and that of his wife, Queen Mary, and their children to Windsor. The new English name Windsor was taken from one of the king's castles.)
Queen Elizabeth II confirmed the royal Windsor name in a declaration following her accession in 1952. But in 1960 Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip announced yet another name change. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, whose mother had been Alice of Battenberg, had already Anglicized his name to Philip Mountbatten when he married Elizabeth in 1947. (Interestingly, all four of Philip's sisters, all now deceased, married Germans.) In her 1960 declaration to the Privy Council, the Queen expressed her wish that her children by Philip (other than those in line for the throne) would henceforth bear the hyphenated name Mountbatten-Windsor. The royal family's name remained Windsor.
Queen Victoria and the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Line

The British House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha) began with Queen Victoria's marriage to the German Prince Albert of Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha in 1840. Prince Albert (1819-1861) was also responsible for the introduction of German Christmas customs (including the Christmas tree) in England. The British royal family still celebrates Christmas on December 24th rather than on Christmas Day, as is normal English custom.
Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, the Princess Royal Victoria, also married a German prince in 1858. (See Wedding March(es) for more.) Prince Philip is a direct descendent of Queen Victoria through her daughter Princess Alice, who married another German, Ludwig IV, Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.
Victoria's son, King Edward VII (Albert Edward, "Bertie"), was the first and only British monarch who was a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He ascended to the throne at the age of 59 when Victoria died in 1901. "Bertie" reigned for nine years until his death in 1910. His son George Frederick Ernest Albert (1865-1936) became King George V, the man who renamed his line Windsor.
The Hanoverians (Hannoveraner)

Six British monarchs, including Queen Victoria and the infamous King George III during the American Revolution, were members of the German House of Hanover:
Austria Today for more.) But few people are aware of how recent the British royal family name "Windsor" is, or that it replaced very German names.
  • George I (ruled 1714-1727)
  • George II (ruled 1727-1760)
  • George III (ruled 1760-1820)
  • George IV (ruled 1820-1830)
  • William IV (ruled 1830-1837)
  • Victoria (ruled 1837-1901)
Before becoming the first British king of the Hanoverian line in 1714, George I (who spoke more German than English) had been the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneberg (der Herzog von Braunschweig-Lüneberg). The first three royal Georges in the House of Hannover (also known as the House of Brunswick, Hanover Line) were also electors and dukes of Brunswick-Lüneberg. Between 1814 and 1837 the British monarch was also the king of Hanover, then a kingdom in what is now Germany.

 New York City's Hanover Square takes its name from the royal line, as does the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and several "Hanover" communities in the U.S. and Canada. Each of the following U.S. states has a town or township named Hanover: Indiana, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia. In Canada: the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba. The German spelling of the city there is Hannover (with two n's).

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Friday 28 October 2011

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Windsor) Royal family know what side their bread is buttered

Commonwealth leaders strike deal on royal succession changes

Kate and William
Commonwealth leaders are set to strike a deal that would ensure that any daughter born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would inherit the throne ahead of her younger brothers. Source: Getty Images

Commonwealth nations today approved changes to the rules of succession to allow first-born daughters to inherit the British throne, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron announced.

The changes would also allow heirs who marry Roman Catholics to inherit the throne.
"We will end the male primogeniture rule so that in future the order of succession should be determined simply by the order of birth," Cameron said after talks with the 15 other realms with the Queen as head of state.

"We have agreed to scrap the rule which says that no one that marries a Roman Catholic can become monarch," Cameron added at a press conference. Cameron has the political support to make the changes in Britain but required the agreement of the 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and smaller nations in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Speaking before the Commonwealth summit, where he will host the meeting, Mr Cameron said: "These rules are outdated and need to change. The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man just isn't acceptable any more." Mr Cameron added: "Nor does it make any sense that a potential monarch can marry someone of any faith other than Catholic. The thinking behind these rules is wrong. That's why people have been talking about changing them for some time. We need to get on and do it."

Mr Cameron said that all political parties in Britain were already convinced of the need for reform. "But of course the Queen is not just Queen of the UK. There are 15 other countries where she is head of state. And the Queen expects to receive advice from all her realms. So it's absolutely right that we should all discuss this together."

Successive British governments have avoided tackling the issue because of the complexity involved both in persuading other countries of the need for reform and in actually changing the laws. But the British Prime Minister believes that the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this year makes tackling these "historical, anomalous and discriminatory" rules urgent. That is why he wrote to the 15 leaders this month, urging them to consider reform.

"We espouse gender equality in all other aspects of life and it is an anomaly that in the rules relating to the highest public office we continue to enshrine male superiority," he wrote. He also hopes to tidy up the rules which say that any descendants of King George II require the monarch's consent before they marry. The Prime Minister said he was "very hopeful" that today's (Friday) meeting would have a positive outcome, and Downing Street officials are "confident" of a deal.

The issue has been discussed before; in 1964, Henry Brooke, the Home Secretary, said that the time was not right for change because of the challenge of achieving agreement.
And in 2005, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, then Lord Chancellor, admitted that the change would be complex, including amending the Bill of Rights and the Coronation Oath Act, both from 1688.

But Mr Cameron wants to bring Britain into line with monarchies such as Sweden, where a change in the law of succession took effect in 1980. Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway have also followed suit. It is now more than half a century since a Civil Service brief prepared for the Prime Minister in 1955 concluded that "it is inherently unsatisfactory that personal and constitutional questions of such high importance should still depend on the operation of an 18th-century statute".

Baldwin Spencer, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that there was unlikely to be a problem in persuading his fellow heads of government about removing the discrimination against daughters.

On the question of Mr Cameron's proposed reform concerning an heir to the throne marrying a Catholic, Mr Spencer said: "I would have absolutely no problem with that. People should have the freedom to practise their faith uninhibited."

The Times, additional reporting: AFP

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Queensland Reconstruction Authority goes missing in action

Mission Beach misses out on firm's cyclone shelter offer

Natalie Dixon
Friday, October 28, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Mission Beach has lost out on a category 5 cyclone shelter just days before the start of the storm season amid claims the Cassowary Coast Regional Council failed to cut red tape and was too slow to find land to build it on.

Brisbane-based company Force 10 offered to donate the materials to build a 30m x 12m facility in the weeks after cyclone Yasi hit the Far North, exposing the region’s lack of shelters.A Mission Beach builder was in place to construct the shelter on the condition it was built on public land.

But Force 10 this week withdrew the offer, saying it had not heard from the council for nine months and "the horse had bolted". Chief executive Adrian Murphy said the process had been drawn out and the company had donated materials to projects in other cyclone
Yasi-affected areas when the council did not make contact.

The builder who offered to complete the work was no longer available, Mr Murphy said.
"I don’t want to embarrass anyone. "But we are talking nine months later and we hadn’t heard anything from anyone since we put the offer on the table. "To me, the horse has bolted because it took far too long to find land and get things moving. "Our buildings go up extremely quickly and the builder was free to do the work just after Yasi.  "We thought things would just happen but it appears the red tape got to them and really, the opportunity has been lost."

Mr Murphy said the company was no longer in a position to make the offer and the builder was now working in Papua New Guinea. When asked to comment on Wednesday, Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon dismissed the notion the region would not be getting the shelter. But yesterday he wrote a letter to Force 10 asking if the offer had been withdrawn and said the council had communicated with the company  many times regarding the shelter.

Two sites at Mission Beach had been selected as options after consultation with Emergency Management Queensland and the community, Cr Shannon said. "There has been no red tape and certainly no lack of effort on council’s behalf," he said. "I will be chasing this up at the highest levels. It is completely out of the blue and frankly, bizarre."

Mission Beach residents were furious they had lost the shelter which local community groups hoped to use outside of the cyclone season.Tully State School has been earmarked as a site for one of 10 State Government shelters being built along the Queensland coast. Weipa, Port Douglas and Edmonton are other locations in the Far North. "I guess this is fairly typical of most councils in this country," Wongaling Beach resident Kirsty Boyd. "They let red tape stop progress when they should just push things through while they have the chance."
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The financial politics of a dysfunctional Council | they are a weird mob

Public to get first look at cost files for Cairns Entertainment Precinct

Daniel Strudwick
Friday, October 28, 2011
© The Cairns Post

THE affordability of the Cairns Entertainment Precinct will be known to residents next month when the council releases the final version of its business case and a financial health check by the Queensland Treasury Corporation.

When the documents are published on Cairns Regional Council’s website on November 11, it will be the first time residents have had access to the data.A draft copy of the business case – which was needed to secure $57.3 million from the State Government – was submitted to councillors and Arts Queensland yesterday.

Councillors were briefed this week by the Queensland Treasury Corporation, which had almost finalised an independent assessment of the council’s finances. The review will determine whether the region can afford the $155 million project without burdening ratepayers. Earlier this month, Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane led a vote to stop progress on the project until councillors had seen the business plan and the results of the Treasury Corporation’s financial sustainability review.

"The review and the business case will spell out whether it’s affordable or not and that’s always been my major concern," Cr Cochrane said. "If it’s affordable, councillors should be able to make a decision about moving on to the next phase of planning." But other councillors said the matter should be decided by residents at the March council election.

Cr Rob Pyne, who had regularly voted in favour of the precinct, tried unsuccessfully on Wednesday to raise a motion that would put the project off until after the March 31 poll. And Cr Paul Gregory yesterday said the community should have a say over the precinct after the business case was made public. Cr Gregory, who is not standing for re-election next year, said he resented calls from other councillors who said the vote to delay progress was politically motivated. "Something that has a very significant impact on future budgets needs to have a mandate from the people – I’m not hearing anything other than that out in the community," he said.

The council expected to receive feedback from Arts Queensland and other State Government agencies on the draft business case soon.

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Thursday 27 October 2011

Leigh Dall' Osto challenges Cr N Lanskey on Cairns Entertainment Precinct jobs prospects


Councillor for Division 2 is ignoring the needs of the area

Leigh Dall’Osto, who has announced her intention for local election in Division 2, expressed her disappointment today in the current Councillor Nancy Lanskey for once again speaking in opposition to the Cairns Entertainment Precinct.

“If you speak to the residents of Bentley Park and Edmonton the overwhelming majority will tell you that their primary concerns are for their jobs and their children,” Mrs Dall’Osto stated.

“Voting to stall a project which will provide jobs on such a large scale to an area in need of employment options is a big mistake. Knowing it also means the potential loss of a venue for these residents to see their children perform at Awards Nights, school productions and Eisteddfods makes these past few weeks a real disappointment.”

Mrs Dall’Osto said that the area is still unsure of the venue itself and a cohesive vision of the Precinct from the entire Council is the only way to address those concerns.

“There are many people still needing assurances that this is affordable and is in the right position but the majority of those concerns are due to the conflicting reports coming out of Council offices. Many are unaware that the financial details have already been scrutinised and assurances made that those numbers would not change when converted to the Business Case.”

“Councillors opposing need to visit the homes of the many tradespeople and families in Division 2 and tell them why they think a piece of paper with no additional information on it is more important than jobs.”

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Leigh Dall’Osto
26th October 2011
0435 450 783

Amy Winehouse | Inquest

LONDON (AFP) - Singer Amy Winehouse was more than five times over the British drink-drive limit when she died, an inquest heard Wednesday, as a coroner delivered a verdict of death by misadventure.

The inquest heard that Winehouse, 27, who was found dead at her London home on July 23 following years of alcohol and drug addiction, repeatedly ignored her doctor's warnings about the effects of prolonged bouts of drinking. The hearing in London was told that the "Back to Black" singer had suddenly drunk heavily after abstaining for three weeks and was poisoned by alcohol.

Police recovered three empty bottles of vodka, two large and one small, from her home.
Winehouse had 416 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood at the time of her death. The legal drink-drive limit is 80mg.

Coroner Suzanne Greenway said: "She had consumed sufficient alcohol at 416mg per decilitre (of blood) and the unintended consequence of such potentially fatal levels was her sudden and unexpected death."

Her father Mitch Winehouse has said that his daughter made repeated attempts to quit alcohol but without any medical supervision.Her doctor, Christina Romete, said the singer's behaviour just before her death fitted a pattern in which Winehouse would abstain from alcohol for weeks on end only to hit the bottle again for weeks at a time. Romete said she had repeatedly warned the star of the dangers of her lifestyle. "The advice I had given to Amy over a long period of time was verbal and in written form about all the effects alcohol can have on the system, including respiratory depression and death, heart problems, fertility problems and liver problems," she said.

Winehouse, who was taking medication to cope with alcohol withdrawal and anxiety, was assessed last year by a psychologist and psychiatrist about her drinking but "had her own views" about treatment. "She had her own way and was very determined to do everything her own way," said Romete. "Including any form of therapy. She had very strict views."
Winehouse's family issued a statement after the verdict, saying: "It is some relief to finally find out what happened to Amy.

"The court heard that Amy was battling hard to conquer her problems with alcohol and it is a source of great pain to us that she could not win in time."She had started drinking again that week after a period of abstinence." The family has set up a foundation in her name to help disadvantaged or disabled children. Following her death, the "Back to Black" album -- first released in 2006 -- has become Britain's highest-selling album of the 21st century.

Winehouse rocketed to fame after winning five Grammy awards off the back of that album and famously sang about her refusal to seek treatment for her addiction in her song "Rehab".

She was discovered in bed in her flat in the trendy north London neighbourhood of  Camden.The inquest heard that a post-mortem examination found her vital organs in good health and with no traces of illegal drugs.But the high level of alcohol in her system probably stopped her breathing and plunged her into a coma.

Winehouse is believed to have come close to death four years earlier, in August 2007, following an overdose. She was admitted to a London hospital after taking cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and marijuana. Her weight plummeted and she was regularly pictured drunk emerging from pubs in London. Throughout her battles with addiction, Winehouse has a tempestuous marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil, but the pair split up in 2009.

There were hopes that Winehouse could be returning to full health after she spent eight months on the Caribbean island of St Lucia, but her comeback soon fizzled out amid reports of shambolic performances at low-key concerts.
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Cairns CBD another plan | another revamp

Green light given for $80m makeover of Cairns central business district

Daniel Strudwick
Thursday, October 27, 2011
© The Cairns Post

PLANS for an $81.5 million overhaul of Cairns' tired CBD have been given the green light by Cairns Regional Council.

And councillors are adamant that work should begin immediately on the inner-city transformation so the master plan "doesn’t sit on a shelf gathering dust".Priority projects in the 15-year master plan include the greening of Grafton St and the creation of the Shields St "heart", which both propose a series of pedestrian-friendly parks along the popular CBD corridors.

The master plan, which was fast-tracked in response to The Cairns Post’s CBD Revive campaign, was endorsed unanimously by councillors yesterday after going out for public consultation in July. As well as reviving the drab and patchwork appearance of public spaces in the city centre, the master plan aims to lure investors back to the CBD, which has battled low occupancy rates since the global financial crisis.

The council will recruit an "economic development champion" to negotiate positive incentives for major companies to set up shop in Cairns. It will target sectors such as medical tourism, government agencies and mining and logistics companies to boost economic development in the region. The champion will also lobby State and Federal governments to help fund the makeover, which has an estimated cost of $81.5 million.

CRC has allocated $490,000 to scoping and design works this year and it is likely that money will be committed for capital works next year. According to early costings, two blocks of Grafton St could be transformed for $5 million and the first stage of the Shields St overhaul could be done for $4.7 million.

The state’s Department of Transport and Main Roads is finalising its plans for City Place on Lake St and will brief councillors about the future of the site next week. Cr Alan Blake, whose division takes in the CBD, said master plan construction should get started as soon as possible. Cr Blake and Mayor Val Schier urged councillors not to scuttle the project over concerns about a loss of parking in the city centre. Almost 60 carparks would be lost on Grafton St once the shaded parks are constructed. "I’m always concerned about taking carparks out of the city, but I think green space is just as important," Cr Blake said. "We’re going to build highrise carparking on Grafton St so we’ll be retaining as many carparks as we can."

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Wednesday 26 October 2011

A cheap stunt or a genuine public policy stance

Fiery scenes in Queensland Parliament as same-sex union bill introduced

Same sex civil unions may be a step closer in Queensland following the introduction of a new bill amid fiery scenes in State Parliament this evening.

Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser introduced the Civil Partnerships Bill, which if passed will legally recognise the relationships of gay and lesbian couples. “I introduce a bill tonight that will declare the end of the legal fiction of human relationships, and give fuller meaning to the relationships that many of our fellow Queenslanders hold as their most important and significant,” he said. “We live in a modern, diverse society. Our community shares many different views, many different beliefs, many different attitudes. "It is a step towards equality, towards inclusion, towards truth and towards the realisation of the legitimate aspirations of thousands and thousands of Queenslanders, their partners, their families and their friends."

A handful of MPs from both major parties were absent for the vote. The bill has been referred to the Parliamentary Health and Disabilities Committee before being further debated further in parliament.

Premier Anna Bligh has indicated she will allow her MPs a conscience vote on the issue while the LNP has labelled the proposed changes a “political distraction”.

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Parliament has eight sitting days left this year and the private members Bill has to be also examined by a parliamentary committee. If the stae election is held early next year (some observers say at the same time as the local government election on the 31st March 2012), there is the real possibility that parliament will not reconvene before the election. 

When parliament is prorogued any legislation left on the parliamentary agenda lapses and will need to be introduced into the new parliament. This then brings into play the option that the 'Civil Union Bill'  may not be a priority of any new government. Therefore, if the Bligh Government is genuine  it will have to pass the legislation during the last eight sitting day of 2011 parlimentary year.

Ross Parisi
26th October 2011

Monsoon at our doorstep | another year of deluge

La Nina to bring cyclones and floods but it won't be as bad as last summer

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
© The Cairns Post

The horror weather system responsible for Queensland's deadly summer floods is on the way back, promising more floods and cyclones, but it won't be as fierce as in the last wet season.

The weather bureau updated its summer forecast yesterday, warning the La Nina system associated with above-average rainfall will return but probably not to the degree that swamped Queensland last summer.

At least 35 people died and whole towns were evacuated when more than 70 per cent of the state flooded in December and January. Cyclone Yasi crossed the Far Northern coast in February, leaving a trail of destruction. The bureau’s Queensland regional director, Jim Davidson, said the rainy summer ahead would not be as strong or widespread as last year’s.
"Above-average rainfall across the state is more likely than not," he said. He said there was an increased likelihood of four or five cyclones for Queensland this summer, with one possibly coming close to the coast before New Year’s Day.

Mr Davidson could not say how many storms might make landfall but he did not believe cyclone preparations should be any different from past years. He would not be drawn on whether the advice should prompt the State Government to lower the level of Wivenhoe Dam, west of Brisbane, which it failed to do last summer.

The delay over the decision on the dam level was criticised in the interim report of the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry, as well as by Brisbane and Ipswich flood victims.
Premier Anna Bligh said it could take a couple of weeks to decide whether to release the dam’s water in anticipation of more rain. LNP leader Campbell Newman said the Opposition was yet to determine its position on the dam levels.

Emergency Management Queensland’s Bruce Grady said authorities would be ready if the worst  eventuated. "We prepare for the worst and hope for the best," he said.

 Laura Harding and Kym Agius, AAP Brisbane 

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Tuesday 25 October 2011

Cairns Botanic Gardens

$6.2m centre awaits Botanic gardens visitors

Cait Bester
Monday, October 24, 2011
© The Cairns Post

THE state-of-the-art $6.2 million visitor centre at the Cairns Botanic Gardens will throw open its doors this weekend and everyone is invited to attend the grand opening.

Its "stunning" reflective exterior has already been the focus of photographs by visitors walking past the site but with construction now finished the inside is also sure to impress. Servicing the Cairns Botanic Gardens and Tanks Arts Centre, the new Cairns Regional Council building will be open to the public from 10am on Saturday. "It features interpretive displays, a gift shop and you can even get an up-close look at some native snakes," Mayor Val Schier said. "This new centre opens up many possibilities for both educational activities and recreation."

Opening day will feature activities including art workshops, guest speakers and presentations. And wildlife enthusiasts were eagerly waiting to see how birds would view the reflective exterior. Many fear birds may fly into the exterior causing them to die. The visitor centre will open from 9am to 4.30pm weekdays and 10am to 2.30pm on the weekend.

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Cairns Institute

Construction to start on JCU's $25m Cairns Institute

Laura Packham
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Research centre: The Cairns Institute, designed by Woods Bagot and RPA Architects, is scheduled for completion by the end of December 2012 and will be opened in January 2013.

Construction of the new $25 million Cairns Institute will begin at James Cook University Cairns in the coming weeks. 

The centre will become an authority in the tropics for social science and humanities research across 20 study disciplines. Local and Pacific region researchers will meet to explore issues such as poverty, criminology, governance and sustainability.

Cairns Institute director Hurriyet Babacan said about 105 staff would be employed at the new centre."The centre is about enhancing human life in the tropics," she said. "Humanity is facing global challenges from climate change to food security and this is about trying to bring together all of our expertise and enact transformational change."

The centre will have state-of-the-art research facilities and a range of public spaces that include conference, seminar and exhibition rooms and a lecture theatre.About $19.5 million in federal funding was awarded to the project. A further $5.5 million was then contributed by James Cook University.

Woods Bagot and RPA Architects was granted the contract to develop the building after winning a design competition last year. Designer principal Mark Damant said it had been designed to be a tropical research centre of excellence.  ‘‘JCU wanted a research building and also wanted at least half the building to be available for conference and teaching," he said.
The centre is scheduled for completion by the end of December 2012 and will be opened in January 2013.

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Monday 24 October 2011

Beautifull Inperfections

The importance and value of family bonding

 "Funeral" is a new TV commerical launched by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) which looks at relationships in a different light, through a woman at her husband's funeral. Ultimately, the TVC celebrates the beautiful imperfections that make a relationship perfect. This is fresh off MCYS latest Viewers' Choice 2008 win for last year's Family TVC which promotes the importance and value of family bonding."

This featured in Cairns Blog when it was first released and I still find it perfectly beautiful, particularly when one is in a reflective mood.

There are things that never age and in fact like a good wine they get better with age. Therefore, I would like to share this with click on the below link and brace yourself for an emotional interlude. Cheers Ross

Sunday 23 October 2011

What it means to have Mayoral candidate Cr Cochrane on your side

A planning permit, a litany of broken promises, a derelict building and a community taken for granted. 

While Cairns waits patiently for the much vaunted employment surge caused by the construction of Cairns Adventure Water Park the site continues to be a blot on the landscape. Located adjacent to the Captain Cook Highway it is not a pleasant and inspiring visage to the passing tourist let alone the Marlin Coast residents that travel this road daily.

The above are not the only problems that arise from a litany of broken promises.  The state of the derelict condition of the building located on the site is of greater concern in particular to the school children of Caravonica School, the residents of Smithfield Heights and to the nearby adjoining residents.

The community is constantly reminded by the authorities nonetheless, the Cairns Weather Bureau and the Cairns Post, of the impending more intense than normal monsoonal wet season and the potential extra cyclonic activity. The region is already experiencing the consequences of such increased activity.

The loose iron roof cladding, the general disrepair of the building is a disaster waiting to happen. Mr Paul Freebody has had ownership of the site for in excess of 3 years and no maintenance/removal to the vandalised and graffiti ridden structure has taken place.

I understand that Mr Paul Freebody is having difficulty putting together the finance to make his Water Park happen. The much publicised starting date as reported in the Cairns Post has come and gone.  All the promised jobs have not eventuated. The principal reason for approval has proved to be a false premise.

This does not surprise me due to the fact that the proposed facility is located within the Barron River Delta and bisected by an old river bed. Any Financier would be reluctant to fund a potential non performing loan. While the community might be sympathetic with his bad investment predicament the community nevertheless should not be burden with a derelict site.

Therefore, I find it incredulous that Cairns Regional Council can condone a $ 35 million development approved site to remain a cyclonic borne threat to the surrounding community. What I find more disturbing is that Mr Paul Freebody and his development company are showing contempt for the community by their arrogant demeanour. His action or lack thereof is synonymous with an errant corporate citizen.

My challenge to Mr Paul Freebody is to rectify this situation forthwith and to show the Cairns community that he is indeed interested in the well being of the local community. Perhaps, Mr Paul Freebody could begin to create the promised employment opportunities by hiring unemployed people to clean up the site.

As a resident of the Cairns area for over 50 years and a keen advocate of positive community action, I find it abhorrent that Mr Paul Freebody allows such a situation to exist and continue unattended. Using the excuse that construction work is imminent will not wash with the community. It is unlikely that the project will go ahead and even if it did go ahead it will not happen before this years’ monsoon.

On behalf of the community, I hereby call on Mr Paul Freebody to clean up the site of all loose material that is a potential threat to the well being of the Smithfield Heights residents. Bring back the old Excavator and put it to work. Furthermore, if the site is not remedied satisfactorily by the end of November then Cairns Regional Council serve Mr Paul Freebody with the appropriate notice/s to make the site safe from potential aerial debris.

The Cairns Regional Council representative for Division 8 is Cr M. Cochrane. It is imperative of her to take a personal interest in this matter until it is satisfactorily resolved. The time has come for action, not more promises.

Ross Parisi
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Paul Freebody, this is a montage of disgrace. Your rants of victinisation are a veil for your lack of respect for the community you were prepared to represent. My suggestion to you is that you put your own house in order before you want others to do the same and treat you with respect. Now go too it and clean up this mess!

These photos show you the internal perspective of Freebody's building of shame. Alcoholic containers, bongs and herion shooting aides are shrewing all over the ground.  
Cr Cochrane this is in the heart of your electorate and you seem to close your eyes to it while the children you represent are up to no good. Are you waiting for a fatality to occur before you choose to intervene and have the Council you control take action?