Opposition spoils the dinner for Bligh with ad ambush

THE Queensland Opposition ambushed Premier Anna Bligh’s profile-enhancing appearance on Celebrity MasterChef, running ads attacking her Government during the TV program.Featuring an unflattering black and white close-up shot of Ms Bligh, the ad asks viewers: ”Can you think of just one thing Labor hasn’t lied about?”As the camera moves in closer on Ms Bligh’s face and the sound of a ticking clock is heard, the voiceover continues: ”Just one thing Labor hasn’t lied about? No? No amount of spin will cover up what Labor is doing to Queensland.”The ad was designed to negate any feel-good factor Ms Bligh’s appearance on MasterChef on Wednesday night might engender in voters.Yesterday the Acting Premier, Paul Lucas, described the Liberal National Party’s spoiling tactics as ”smart and tricky”.”It speaks volumes that they didn’t advertise [the LNP leader] John-Paul Langbroek up against the Premier because it wouldn’t be a very good comparison,” he said.But the LNP treasury spokesman, Tim Nicholls, said it was important to prompt voters to consider what Ms Bligh had told them before her March election and what had occurred since.Labor is trailing the LNP in opinion polls, amid voter anger about the scrapping of a petrol subsidy, increased car registration fees and the $16 billion sale of public assets.”I think it’s an appropriate time for Queenslanders to be asked the question when they are seeing her cooking on TV, to ask the question whether she has not been cooking the books,” Mr Nicholls said.”I think it’s going to take more than an extreme makeover in Queenslanders’ eyes to rehabilitate Anna Bligh and Labor.”Ms Bligh, who is now overseas on a trade trip, justified appearing on the celebrity version of Network Ten’s popular cooking show as a way to promote Queensland produce.But senior media advisers for the Government reportedly encouraged her television appearance in order to soften Ms Bligh’s image and boost her appeal among women.
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Breath-test kid’s father speaks out

Alex Sunderland in his car last week. His father Dennis has called for breath-testing devices to be more available.A call to make breath tests available to the community has been knocked back by NSW Roads Minister David Borger.
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The call came from Dennis Sunderland, the father of one of four P-platers refused a breath test the day after an 18th birthday in Narromine.

The boys tried the police station, pubs and the hospital but were unsuccessful.

A spokesperson for Mr Borger said a preliminary breath-testing device could be inaccurate and blood-alcohol limits could rise for up to two hours after consuming alcohol.

“I thought I was doing the right thing telling them to call the police to get a breath test to see if they could drive,” Mr Sunderland said.

“Then when they couldn’t get one I told them to wait a few hours.”

Mr Sunderland said he thought breath tests should be made available to the public, “not necessarily at the police station”, but somewhere people could access them.

Narromine barman Mark Johnson backed Mr Sunderland’s call for a breath-test service as a safety measure.

“There could be something at a community centre or something where you put money into a machine,” he said.

“These boys were trying to do the responsible thing.

“A lot of the time people don’t know if they are still over the limit the next day unless they are breath tested.”

But a spokesperson for Mr Borger said there were issues with offering a preliminary breath test to the public.

“Measuring your blood-alcohol level with an Australian Standards approved breath-testing device can be inaccurate,” the spokesperson said.

“A person’s blood-alcohol limit will rise for up to two hours after drinking so the safest option is to find an alternative way home.”

NSW Police traffic services commander, assistant commissioner John Hartley said earlier this week police roadside devices were only a screening device and the scientific device, the breath analysis instrument, was the only sure way to determine the exact level of alcohol in somebody’s system.

The spokesperson for Mr Borger said the answer was making alternative arrangements for travelling.

“Alcohol is a factor in approximately one in five fatal crashes,” she said.

“The chances of having a crash at a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05 is double that of a zero blood-alcohol concentration.”

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Liberal MPs vow to block Turnbull

MALCOLM TURNBULL will enter climate change talks at a disadvantage after Liberal backbenchers said they would resist a deal, no matter how generous an offer the Government made.He and his spokesman on emissions trading, Ian Macfarlane, pushed ahead with trying to amend Labor’s bill yesterday by meeting Government officials to seek more information about the impact on electricity generators.Mr Macfarlane said the meeting, with officials from the energy and climate change departments, was next to useless.Nonetheless, he would have all the amendments ready to present for approval at Sunday’s partyroom meeting, including one demanding more compensation for power stations. ”We will collect the facts that we have and have a stab at it,” he said.The Opposition will also seek a better deal for agriculture and food processing, an exemption for the coal industry, and 100 per cent free emissions permits for energy-intensive industries such as aluminium and cement.Rebel Liberals told the Herald yesterday they were unlikely to oppose the amendments but there was no way they would allow Mr Turnbull to make a deal with the Government before the international climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.”There will be no deal before Copenhagen, I can almost assure you of that,” a backbencher said.The Australian Conservation Foundation warned yesterday that such demands could add $1.8 billion a year to the budget bottom line.Analysis released by the group found the foreshadowed amendments would blow out the budget deficit, as opposed to Treasury estimates that the scheme would contribute $777 million to the budget in the first year of full operation.The Government has previously stated it wanted to keep the emissions trading scheme budget neutral by compensating industry and households with money raised from the sale of carbon credits. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, reaffirmed yesterday that Coalition amendments must be financially responsible.The ACF also found that the Opposition’s proposal to hand out 100 per cent of carbon permits free to heavy emitters would equate to $18 billion in free permits for the country’s six largest companies over the next five years.The Australian Industry Group urged the Coalition to agree to a deal before the conference in Copenhagen. Its chief executive, Heather Ridout, said businesses were postponing investments because of the lack of certainty.There were risks for Australia but ”I am doubtful that waiting until after Copenhagen will make all that much difference”.
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AWB case may drag in trade officials

OFFICIALS from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade could be drawn into an investor class action against AWB Ltd after a Federal Court judge yesterday ordered lawyers be given a list of bureaucrats who received intelligence reports about Australia’s trade with Iraq under the United Nations Oil for Food program.The order follows last month’s decision by the suing shareholders to call the former foreign minister Alexander Downer to give evidence in the case beginning on November 30.Mr Downer and the department have become involved since AWB told the court on September 10 that part of its defence would be proving that the Howard government knew the grains exporter was paying transport fees to a company associated with Saddam Hussein’s regime. AWB denies the payments were bribes.Yesterday Justice Lindsay Foster ordered a federal intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments, to produce a list of departmental officers who received seven intelligence reports created between 1998 and 2004.”I think that the parties are entitled to consider whether they wish to take steps to interview those persons or involve those persons in some way in the present proceedings,” Justice Foster said.The judge placed a confidentiality order on the list, which was compiled in 2006 for inclusion in a statutory declaration to the commission of inquiry into AWB’s payment of kickbacks to Saddam’s regime that was headed by Terence Cole, QC.The shareholders allege they suffered investment losses when Mr Cole’s inquiry exposed AWB’s misconduct.Part of their case is a claim that AWB concealed from the department and the UN the fact it was paying artificially inflated inland transport fees to a Jordanian company, Alia, a ”front company” for the Iraqi government. The alleged motive was to induce Mr Downer to give the ministerial approval needed for wheat shipments under the oil-for-food program.AWB’s barrister, Matthew Darke, told the court last month that the department knew about the nature and extent of the payments to Alia and ministerial approval ”was granted anyway”.In his final report Mr Cole concluded that Mr Downer ”did not know and was not at any time aware during the period from about 1999 to 2003 of anything about” AWB’s payment of transport fees to Alia.Mr Darke said Mr Cole’s inquiry ”may have been somewhat limited because he concluded it was outside his terms of reference to consider whether any officer of the Commonwealth or the Commonwealth itself had contravened any law”.Justice Foster also decided to deny AWB’s lawyers access to 15 intelligence reports that he ordered the ONA to produce to the court last month.Having now read the reports, the judge said their contents were unlikely to be admissible in the case.”Further, I do not think that the 15 reports will provide any useful train of inquiry in respect of the alleged knowledge on the part of DFAT of the relevant payments,” he said.In a separate ruling, Justice Foster allowed the lawyers for both sides to read transcripts of examinations of AWB’s former chairman, Trevor Flugge, and nine former AWB executives.The examinations were conducted by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission using its powers of compulsion.After objections by the 10 people who were examined by the commission, the judge imposed confidentiality orders on the transcripts.
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Man faces charges over sexual assault

Christopher Henry Pearce did not apply for bail yesterday when he faced charges of aggravated sexual assault in Dubbo Local Court.
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The 45-year-old appeared before Magistrate Howard Hamilton via audio visual link from Wellington Correctional Centre.

He will remain behind bars while forensic biologists continue processing evidence and is scheduled to reappear in court on August 18.

According to facts previously tendered to the court, Pearce was invited to a barbecue at the home of the alleged victim.

After others attending the gathering left Pearce and the woman continued to talk and listen to music until about midnight when the woman asked him to leave as she wanted to go to bed.

Pearce is alleged to have refused. The prosecution allege the woman was then pushed, held down and sexually assaulted.

Police said the woman fought back before escaping through the front door yelling for help.

A neighbour responded and ran out with an axe handle. He allegedly confronted Pearce and a scuffle ensued. Police said the neighbour sustained bruising and lacerations.

Police alleged Pearce ran to a motor vehicle and fled the scene. He was pulled over by officers 500 metres down the road, arrested and conveyed to Wellington police station.

Pearce was charged with aggravated sexual assault, inflict actual bodily harm and drink driving.

He yesterday pleaded guilty to the driving offence and was placed on a two year good behaviour bond and disqualified from driving for five years.

Pearce has been in custody since May 14.

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Smoking, food ban for mother

A MOTHER has failed in her bid to quash court orders relating to access visits with her daughter, including that she not smoke around the girl and refrain from giving her too much junk food.The orders were among several imposed by the Children’s Court last year after the woman’s daughter, then aged four, was removed from her care in 2007.For legal reasons the girl can be known only as Allegra. Her parents cannot be identified.In January last year the girl was placed in the care of the Department of Community Services, with her father to assume sole responsibility for her care after 12 months. At the time the mother gave undertakings that, until Allegra turned 18, she would not see the girl while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, allow her to be exposed to domestic violence, or denigrate or criticise Allegra’s father or his family in her daughter’s presence.She agreed to further court orders in September last year, including that she refrain from smoking around Allegra and ensure she was given healthy food, rather than ”excessive junk food including sugary foods”.The mother is seeking to appeal to the District Court against the previous court orders and be granted shared parental responsibility for Allegra. She also applied to the Supreme Court to quash the orders she agreed to in September.But Justice Robert Forster yesterday dismissed her application, saying there was a discretion not to intervene when another adequate remedy, such as an appeal, was available.
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Red is the new black in Angus beef society’s opinion

SEEING RED: Stuart Hobbs from ‘Tullatoola’ Stud at Molong. Photo: BELINDA SOOLEPrime Minister Julia Gillard may be the most important redhead in the Australian Parliament, but in the world of cattle this breed holds its own.
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Red Angus Society executive officer Colin Rex has predicted a bright future for the big red cattle breed, chosen by many Dubbo region graziers.

Speaking at the National Red Angus Show and Sale in Dubbo yesterday, Mr Rex was reflecting on a successful event, where a bull from Molong stud ‘Tullatoola’ was awarded grand champion.

“There was a great line up of bulls, there was a high standard and good presentations,” he said.

“There were lots of people here watching who were not necessarily (Red Angus) society members.”

Mr Rex said the show and sale was held at Dubbo because it was a central location with the right facilities.

Dubbo had good clientele in a 200km radius, Mr Rex said and the cattle leader believes Red Angus’s future will exist long after its 40th anniversary, celebrated in Dubbo this week.

“The beauty of Red Angus is it is a versatile breed and complementary to other breeds,” he said.

“I see the future as quite strong.

“Red Angus is one of the strongest red options in the market.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Principal faces eight years’ jail

A FORMER school principal who sexually abused a student, and who told a court yesterday that he believed he was in love with her, faces up to eight years’ jail.But Hazel Bell, the teacher who first raised concerns about Frank Bailey’s behaviour towards the 16-year-old girl, has been denied her job back. Two students, Sarah Johnson and Bec Gavan, who also complained about their former headmaster’s conduct with the girl at St Andrew’s Christian School, near Grafton, were expelled and unable to complete their HSC.Bailey, 44, pleaded guilty in March to five charges of sexually abusing the teenager over a four-day period while she was staying at his home.Giving evidence during his sentencing hearing in the Sydney District Court yesterday, Bailey said he had thought he was in love with the student and that she had loved him back.”I felt as though I was making love, but I know that is not right,” he told the court.Mr Bailey had told a psychiatrist that he did not have romantic feelings for the student, but yesterday said he still cared for her.”My wife … really showed me how much she loved me by staying with me and when [the psychiatrist] asked me that I didn’t want [my wife] to feel that I didn’t love her,” he said.The Bailey case was adjourned until November 20.Outside court the victim’s mother said she was disgusted that a school principal could abuse his position in such a way and label it love.”Perhaps he needs to have a lesson in what love is … I’m sorry I find that a real joke.”Mrs Bell was made redundant after making the allegations and approached the school about getting her job as a teacher back following an investigation by the NSW Ombudsman’s office into her allegations against Mr Bailey.”The answer was, ‘That is never going to happen,” Mrs Bell said.Ms Johnson and Ms Gavan had insufficient units to go to another school, so were unable to complete their HSC.The Herald was unable to contact St Andrew’s school last night.
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Rising push for maternity housing

Health boss Danny O’Connor thinks a home in Dubbo for expectant mums from across the region is a project that could benefit from community involvement.
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“If we all chip in we’ll get there soon rather than later,” the chief executive of Greater Western Area Health Service said yesterday.

This week Dubbo MP Dawn Fardell confirmed to the Daily Liberal that she was making phone calls and organising a meeting in a bid to pursue Cobar mayor Lilliane Brady’s idea of setting up a “maternity hostel” in the city.

Last month Cr Brady raised the issue at a meeting between the Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) and Mr O’Connor.

She told of pregnant women having to fork out to stay for lengthy periods in Dubbo motels and called for action.

The closure of maternity units in country hospitals has made Dubbo Base Hospital a birthing hub, a fact confirmed by Mr O’Connor yesterday after he revealed that the Greater Western had been “for some time” investigating the “best way” of supporting planned and unplanned deliveries.

“We have been speaking to people and vice versa,” Mr O’Connor said.

They included Mrs Fardell, who the chief executive said had been interested in the purchase of a particular home that was no longer on the market.

Mrs Fardell has told the Daily Liberal that she has a “commitment of $100,000” towards the establishment of a home-away-from-home for women waiting in Dubbo to deliver, and is seeking $50,000 from another source.

Yesterday Mr O’Connor declined to comment when asked if the commitment came from the Greater Western Area Health Service.

But he said it would “press” NSW Health on the issue and “alone or with partners” try to bring the mooted project to fruition.

Dubbo mayor Allan Smith yesterday said the proposed maternity home would be a “very good facility to have within our community”.

Asked if OROC might put its hand in its pocket for the home, Cr Smith said: “I would hope that that could be a possibility. But that’s a discussion that they have to have.”

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Fresh deal for workers taken to the cleaners

BIKASH BASNET said his mother would cry if he told her the truth about what he did in Australia. In Nepal he worked in marketing. Now he is a toilet cleaner, and has to clean 23 toilets a night.”When I go into the male toilets everything is on the floor. The hand towels are on the floor … it is hard to get it done in four hours,” he says.Mr Basnet said most cleaners in his building are Asian, and cannot speak English well enough to negotiate as they come under pressure to complete more work in less time.Mr Basnet, 27, said cleaning was the only work he could find when he moved to Australia with his wife, Rojinnpradhan, 23, who is studying business.Mrs Basnet wants to run her own office one day, but for now works evenings emptying bins, tidying desks and wiping the coffee spills of Sydney office workers.She says people are encouraging. Her husband wishes office workers were a little tidier. He wants to remind them ”someone is doing toilets to get paid”.A breakthrough deal by 18 big cleaning companies, covering half the commercial building space in the Sydney CBD, will increase wages and conditions for more than 3000 cleaners in the city.The Clean Start agreement, negotiated by the Liquor, Hospitality & Miscellaneous Union, was triggered only after a majority of cleaning companies signed up.The minimum shift will be increased to four hours. Pay rates will rise by 4-8 per cent a year over four years. A toilet cleaning allowance of $4 a shift will be paid.”It is about trying to create a living wage for cleaners to give them dignity and respect,” said the LHMU’s national secretary, Louise Tarrant. ”The reputable companies want to compete on quality cleaning, not just who’s got the cheapest and most exploited workforce.”The NSW president of the Building Services Contractors Association of Australia, Terry Corby, employs 250 staff at his cleaning company.Major building owners had been receptive to the argument that a quality cleaning service may cost a little more, he said.Mostofa Tareque, 25, was once a human resources officer for a mobile phone company in Dhaka. ”That was a good job and good money,” recalls Mr Tareque, who clocks on at 6pm to vacuum a Clarence St office tower. ”Cleaning is hard work.”
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