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Vic mine, govt 'didn't do enough' re fire

Written By kemala yuspita on Selasa, 02 September 2014 | 21.31

Premier Napthine has welcomed Justice Bernard Teague's (pic) report into the Hazelwood Mine Fire. Source: AAP

NOT enough was done to prevent Victoria's $100 million coalmine fire and residents should have been told earlier to get out of the town blanketed by toxic smoke and ash for 45 days, an inquiry says.

A REPORT found the Hazelwood mine fire was foreseeable and could have been mitigated, if not prevented, if operator GDF Suez had taken better precautions.

"We know that GDF Suez didn't take as many precautions as they might have done to mitigate and reduce risk," board of inquiry member John Catford said on Tuesday."Whether those measures could have absolutely have avoided the fire taking hold in the mine is uncertain but certainly it could have mitigated the risks and perhaps it could have been brought under control faster."The report said health authorities had enough information about the poor air quality to warn residents to relocate a week after the February 9 fire started, when the peak reading for a particular coal fire pollutant reached 28 times the advisory level."That first weekend was probably the weekend you could argue was a trigger for more active management and advice to consider relocating," Professor Catford said.Vulnerable residents were not told to consider leaving until February 28 which the inquiry board said was too late.The report said the basis for limiting advice to groups living south of Commercial Road was poorly explained and was perceived by the community as arbitrary and divisive."Empathy was also often lacking, particularly from some government spokespeople," it added.The State Control Centre's request for advice and support from the Environment Protection Authority came too late and the agency was ill-equipped to respond rapidly, the report said.Latrobe Valley Support Network president Simon Ellis said the recognition the health response was too slow was a vindication of residents' fears but the health department still wasn't moving quickly enough."They're still being slow on the preparing of the long-term health study, they're still being slow on testing the kids," Mr Ellis said.The report said mine operator GDF Suez failed to take reasonable measures to eliminate or reduce the health and safety risks associated with a fire in the worked-out area of the mine.It also failed to carry out a risk assessment that may have avoided or reduced the severity of the blaze.GDF Suez said it has already undertaken a number of measures including removing vegetation and improving back-up power supply."We have identified a number of future actions from this incident and we are committed to working with all stakeholders to minimise the risk of a repeat of the unprecedented fire in the mine early this year," spokesman Jim Kouts said.Voices of the Valley president Wendy Farmer said the government should have done a better job regulating the mine and the report didn't go far enough to address community concerns."The government has clearly failed in its duty of care to the community through a lack of oversight and regulation of the mine," Ms Farmer said."We need to know precisely what is being done to ensure that this disaster can never happen again."Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the report noted the government's emergency management changes generally functioned well during the fire."However, the government acknowledges that elements of the response could have been implemented more effectively," he said.

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Qld rapist arrested for alleged breach

A NOTORIOUS Queensland rapist described as a "violent recidivist" will soon be back before a judge after he allegedly breached his supervision order.

BUT the exact nature of the incident involving Robert John Fardon, 65, remains unclear.

Queensland Corrective Services would not go into detail about the allegations but said Fardon was arrested in Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon."He is in custody and the matter will be listed for an initial hearing in the Supreme Court at a date to be determined," the department said in a statement.A police spokesperson said they could not provide further details and referred questions to corrective services.Fardon was released into the community in December 2013 after a protracted legal battle with the Queensland attorney-general's department.In 2003, he became the first person to be jailed indefinitely under the state's Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act.He had a fleeting taste of freedom in October 2013 after a review of his sentence.But Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie scrambled to appeal the order granting his release and within hours, Fardon was back behind bars.Mr Bleijie attempted to enact a "plan B" which involved passing contentious legislation giving him the ultimate say on the state's most dangerous sex offenders.The "invalid" law was later struck down by the court of appeal.Upon his release, Fardon was required to wear a tracking device at all times and was subject to a 24-hour curfew.On Tuesday evening, Mr Bleijie reiterated that Queensland's dangerous sex offender laws were currently under review."Queensland now has the strongest anti-sex offender legislation in Australia following extensive reforms," he said in a statement.Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said news of the alleged breach wasn't surprising."I hope though that it is enough to highlight to the court that he is a danger and he needs to be kept behind bars," she told AAP.

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Caro defends housewife remarks

SOCIAL commentator and feminist Jane Caro insulted generations of women when she compared marriage to prostitution, a women's advocate says.

CARO said her comments on ABC TV's Q&A on Monday night were not aimed at modern wives, but she was speaking about the institution of marriage in the past.

"I wasn't calling them prostitutes; I was merely saying that old fashioned marriage from that period is uncomfortably close to an economic transaction," she told AAP."I have been married for 39 years, I was at home with small children for five years."Why would I say such a thing?"Caro said on the program: "I would argue that traditional marriage which included conjugal rights, particularly when women were not able to go to work or were fired when they first got married, and were basically selling their bodies and their reproductive rights to their husband - he bought them by giving her room and board in return - was a form of prostitution."Australian Christian Lobby spokeswoman on women's issues, Wendy Francis, said the comments were offensive to women, including her mother, who she said was a feminist in her time."My very first thought when I first saw it was `I really hope my mother isn't watching this'," Ms Francis told AAP."It definitely was an insult to previous generations."Caro said it wasn't until 1882 that women were able to retain their own money when they married.She said in some professions women were fired when they got married in Australia until the 1970s."These days because women earn their own money and make their own choices and have lots of economic opportunities ... marriage is a really much better institution now than it was," Caro said.

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Lazarus told he'd amount to nothing

IN Year 10, Glenn Lazarus was told he'd amount to nothing.

THREE decades, a trio of NRL grand final wins and a seat in parliament later, Senator Lazarus used his maiden speech to parliament to prove his teacher wrong.

"Perhaps I wasn't the best maths student in his class," he said.But he reminded that teacher: "Firstly, if you work hard you can achieve anything you want. And secondly, people are influenced by the people they meet."Some of those who influenced Senator Lazarus were rugby league greats Wayne Bennett and Tim Sheens - who were both watching at Parliament House on Tuesday. Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart couldn't make it due to coaching commitments.It's through NRL Senator Lazarus met Palmer United Party (PUP) leader, Clive Palmer.The former prop-forward and father of three was recommended to Mr Palmer by a mutual friend, NRL great, Ron Coote.Being asked to join PUP was a "surreal and life-changing moment" and the decision wasn't taken lightly.But as his former coach Bennett once told him: "You have a choice in life. You can sit back and criticise or you can try to make a difference."His focus in parliament will be Queensland and regional and rural Australia."If regional and rural Australia is doing well, so is the rest of the country," he said.The Queensland senator - known in the NRL community as The Brick With Eyes - has previously admitted feeling more pressure in the Senate than he ever did playing State of Origin."I am not afraid to tell you that I am scared," he told parliament."But I am prepared to put this fear aside and say the things that must be said and do the things that must be done."

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Palmer denies MRRT conflict of interest

Mining magnate Clive Palmer has denied any conflict of interest over the axing of the mining tax. Source: AAP

MINING magnate MP Clive Palmer denies any conflict of interest in his party's decision to vote in support of killing off the mining tax.

THE government reached a deal with six crossbenchers, including Palmer United Party senators, to repeal the tax on Tuesday.

Mr Palmer insists the move makes no difference to his coal mining interests in Queensland.He's "retired" and is not the chairman of any company, he says."We all pay tax. Does that mean that members of parliament don't vote on income tax bills?" he told reporters in Canberra.Mr Palmer hailed the axing of the tax, saying foreign mining investments would now return to Australia and create jobs."(The MRRT has) done a lot of damage to Australia and hasn't raised any money," Mr Palmer said."This is a very sad day for the Canadian mineral resources minister and a worse day for the South African resources minister."He defended delays to increased compulsory super contributions that will come as a result of the move and denied he'd helped the government break an election promise.He believes it's more important for Australian families to have access to those funds now, not in 50 years."We know as a statistical fact that over 50 per cent of Australians will be dead by the time they get access to their super," Mr Palmer said.Australians would be able to bargain stronger for wages as a result of delays to the super increases, he said.Superannuation contributions will remain at 9.5 per cent until 2021, despite politicians receiving 15 per cent super."Get rid of politicians' super, don't pay them anything," Mr Palmer said, adding he gave his salary away to charity.

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WA man 'speeding' before Indonesia crash

An Australian man was speeding before a fatal motorcycle crash in Indonesia, a court has heard. Source: AAP

A WEST Australian man was speeding when his motorbike collided with another in Indonesia, killing a local mother, a court has heard.

JAKE Drage, 23, has appeared in court for the first time since the June 30 crash and says he has converted to Islam while in custody.

The former personal trainer is charged with "reckless" driving causing the death of a West Java woman who was riding pillion on a motorcycle with her teenage daughter.A smiling Drage arrived at court on Tuesday, clean shaven and wearing black pants and a white shirt.He told reporters he felt fine, and thanked them for paying attention to his case.Asked to state his religion by the judge, Drage answered in Indonesian: "Learning Islam."Prosecutor Eka Aryanta is pressing charges that could see the Australian spend up to six years in jail if he's found guilty.He told the court Drage was heading for a surf when his speeding bike collided with the other motorcycle."Because of the high speed, the accident was unavoidable," the prosecutor said."The victim was thrown and hit the asphalt, and there was blood everywhere."Jake screamed, `Oh my God!' while the victim was helped by bystanders."Drage's family has said he will plead not guilty.His mother, Tiena Drage, who rushed to her son's side soon after the crash, was in court on Tuesday.Drage's lawyer, Michael Hartono, told reporters his client had converted to Islam during his long detention in the police cell and attended weekly Koran recitals."His family, in this case his mother, hasn't made a big deal of Jake becoming a Muslim," he said."What matters most is that he's healthy, he's fine and he's on the right path."Regarding the case, Jake tells me that he just wants this to be over soon."The trial continues next week with the prosecution calling its witnesses.A spokesman for the Drage family, Chris Gabelish, says Jake is doing well despite the long ordeal.The family is happy that the matter is now before the court, given the time it has taken to get to this stage," he said in a statement."We look forward to Jake having the opportunity to present his case."Jake sends his thanks to the many people who have sent him love and support."

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Vic healthcare staff protections broadened

Written By kemala yuspita on Rabu, 20 Agustus 2014 | 21.31

The VIC government says it will broaden new laws designed to curb attacks on healthcare workers. Source: AAP

NEW laws designed to curb assaults on Victorian healthcare workers will be broadened to include more professions, and house calls.

LEGISLATION will be introduced to parliament this week to create two new offences - for assaulting a registered healthcare practitioner in a hospital, or anywhere they are providing care to a patient.

Health Minister David Davis said it would build on law changes earlier this year, which set out tougher penalties for assaults on doctors or staff in hospitals or healthcare facilities."The Victorian coalition government is already demonstrating it is committed to improving safety and security in our hospital and healthcare services, and will not tolerate violence against hospital staff and healthcare practitioners," Mr Davis said in a statement on Wednesday."Our new legislation further extends this commitment to all registered healthcare practitioners going about their normal duties including GPs, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and psychologists."The new offences will also extend the protection to healthcare practitioners during house calls.People who attack a healthcare professional in Victoria will face up to six months in jail - double the penalty for a common assault.

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Chilling out for charity - Becks and Gaga

DAVID Beckham did it topless. Lady Gaga performed it in her signature quirky style. Bill Gates did it in slow motion. And Vin Diesel put the challenge to Vladimir Putin.

THE #IceBucketChallenge is the latest charity craze continuing to take the internet by storm, with people pouring iced water over their heads in a bid to raise money for charity.

Sport stars, international celebrities and it seems, everyone else, are posting videos of their chilly challenge on social networking sites and the trend has raised thousands for cancer and motor neurone disease charities.Macmillan Cancer Support said 85,000 people have donated so far and about STG250,000 ($A456,329) has been raised, and while the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association was not able to give a figure at this stage they said they had received "a lot" of donations and the total so far is believed to be in the thousands.Meanwhile, in the US, the ALS Association - a motor neurone disease charity network - said it had received $US22.9 million ($A24.78 million) in donations compared to $US1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 19).Golfers Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods did it together, taking it in turns to pour the iced water over each others' heads.McIlroy challenged fellow sports star Wayne Rooney to do it, and Rooney's wife Coleen posted a picture of a bucket full of ice on Twitter this morning.The Irishman also challenged George W Bush to take part, while Woods challenged tennis player Rafael Nadal.A giggling Simon Cowell appeared to be on a boat in a sunny destination when he did the deed, and through his giggles he nominated X Factor judges Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Louis Walsh and Mel B.Other big names to have stepped up to the challenge include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, Oprah Winfrey, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber, with the latter nominating US president Barack Obama.Sally Light, chief executive of the MND Association, said the craze was an "unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of what is a devastating terminal disease"."The amazing sums of money being donated across the world and with sister organisations in the USA and Australia too will go a long way towards finding out more about the disease for which there is no current cure."To take part, people need to have their experience filmed and then share it via sites such as Facebook and Twitter, challenging others to do it within 24 hours, before donating money to charity.

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Heineken reports sales, profit drop

HEINEKEN NV, the Amsterdam-based brewer, has reported first half earnings showing a small drop in both revenues and profits - but says its underlying performance was good.

NET profit was 631 million euros ($A946.45 million), from 639 million euros in the same period a year ago.

Sales were down 1.4 per cent to 1.2 billion euros, which Heineken, the largest brewer by sales within Europe, said was due to the strong euro.Stripping out currency and acquisition effects, Heineken said its sales prices were up 1.5 per cent, and sales volumes rose 3.9 per cent.Chief Executive Jean-Franois van Boxmeer said on Wednesday the company's operations grew on a like-for-like basis in almost all regions in the first half but warned that growth in underlying profit and revenues would "moderate" in the second half.Meanwhile Danish brewer Carlsberg says uncertainty in its eastern European and vast Russian market continued to weigh on its financial performance during the second-quarter of the year.Carlsberg said on Wednesday net profit grew slightly to 2.2 billion kroner ($A42.63 million), up from 2.1 billion for the same period a year ago, on a modest revenue increase to 19.2 billion kroner for the three-month period ending June 30 against 19.06 billion kroner.The group said its eastern European markets are "increasingly challenging and uncertain", and expects them to deteriorate further in the second part of 2014 especially with consumption declines in Russia and Ukraine.Carlsberg's full-year net profit was expected "to decline by mid- to high-single-digit percentages".

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Baird heading to China in September

NSW Premier Mike Baird is off to China next month to spruik the state's tourism destinations, education and financial services.

THE three-day trip through three cities in early September is Mr Baird's first international tour as premier.

"China has already overtaken New Zealand as our biggest tourist market with more than 400,000 Chinese visitors arriving in NSW each year," he said in a statement."Chinese students account for about 30 per cent of all international enrolments in NSW and while in Guangzhou I will look at ways to further promote our world-class education sector."Mr Baird will also speak to the Shanghai business community and in Beijing he will push for progress on a 2013 deal to further trade, investment, education, culture, science and technology between NSW and China.

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