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Council group slams `vested interests’

The Local Government Association of Tasmania has rejected the forced amalgamation campaign, saying it benefited vested interests and was unlikely to deliver savings to ratepayers.
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Chairman Cr Barry Easther said Tasmanians for Reform, which is spearheading the campaign, was just a front of vested interests ``masquerading as a group that has community interests at heart''.

Tasmanians for Reform has rejected the criticism, claiming that it is the largest group of its kind in Tasmanian history, with members ranging from butchers to real estate agents.

Cr Easther criticised its claims that 80 per cent of Tasmanians backed amalgamations.

``If this was the case, we would have communities marching on town halls across the state demanding change,'' he said. ``Community members tell me that they are sick of being used as part of this grab for cash by the big end of town.''

Barry Easther

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New Warrnambool recruit’s seen it all

NEW Warrnambool police crime scene officer Senior Constable Fiona Reid still shudders when she thinks about her involvement with the Black Saturday bushfires.
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The 35-year-old officer is trained in disaster victim identification, skills that saw her sent to badly affected areas including King Lake and Marysville for several days after the fires.

“It was pretty tough,” she said. “Not a lot of crime scene officers were offered the chance to do the disaster victim identification training — a few in the city, just in case.

“At the time I was doing it I supposed they would never need me.

“I identified quite a few people. You had to go in there physically, find the people and transport them out. You had to pick them out of the scene.”

That experience still affects her to this day.

“If I see or hear something about Black Saturday I shudder a little bit.

“It was like landing on another planet. Everything was burnt, we were knee-deep in ash, there was not a leaf on a tree,” she said.

“We got people back to their family so they could say goodbye.

“It was about treating people with dignity.”

Senior Constable Reid has spent 10 years in the police force, starting at Melbourne East before time at the busy Sunshine and Werribee stations.

“Sunshine was a busy station, crazy busy, that really opened my eyes.

“It is very multicultural and a lower socio-economic demographic with a lot of problems relating to drugs and gangs.

“We were always very busy. There was lots of work relating to photographs which had to be of professional standard to be submitted to court, as well as DNA and fingerprints.”

Senior Constable Reid said there were also problems with Indians being the targets of robbery in Sunshine and in the city.

“Indians were targeted because they often carry the latest iPods and iPhones on trains.

“They are seen as easy targets and I spent a lot of time processing those scenes and taking photos of injuries at Sunshine especially,” she said.

“With the assistance of the media and targeted operations, things have improved.

“People are becoming more educated and aware. People assume nothing will happen to them but it does.

“It’s best to pop expensive items out of sight and remain in well-lit areas.”

The crime scene officer said when she went to Werribee it was one of the fastest growing areas outside Melbourne.

“There was a population boom and it was a challenge in relation to police numbers.

“It was a struggle. All crime categories were going up.

“Police numbers were stretched. There were many burglaries.

“We also attended car collisions and took measurements of the scenes, attended serious assaults and suicides and took photos.”

Senior Constable Reid also assisted during the Queensland floods in a more general capacity to help stop looting.

“There was a bit going on unfortunately. That was more about community policing and proactive policing.

“I was glad to be of help for two weeks,” she said.

“I saw water as high as a Bunnings store roof and a caravan tipped upside-down on a double-storey roof.

“I’ve seen a few natural disasters and I’ll definitely volunteer for that sort of role again.”

The officer grew up on a farm at Pooncarie, New South Wales, about 130 kilometres north of Mildura.

“I’ve always loved the country and decided it was time for a sea change,” she said.

“I’m single, very single, but I am looking forward to meeting new people.

“The work here is different and we cover a huge area.

“I visited Warrnambool growing up and I’ve been very pleased to be able to move here.”

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Senior Constable Fiona Reid is joining Warrnambool’s crime scene investigation team.

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Pupils get a taste of poverty 

JUST rice and water was on the menu at Riverside Primary School this week as 75 pupils had a slight taste of what the world's poorest people experience every day.
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About 300,000 Australians will take part in World Vision's annual 40 Hour Famine this weekend, which this year is centred around raising funds for Ethiopia.

Seventy per cent of the African country's population live in severe poverty and Riverside Primary chaplin Libby Bailey said the school's aim was on creating awareness among the pupils, rather than making fund-raising the main focus.

``Because the kids are a bit little to go without food altogether, the kids came up with three ideas to famine throughout the week,'' Mrs Bailey said.

``One of them was that we replaced our meals with boiled rice and plain water between 9am and 3pm each school day throughout the week, but they could eat their meals at home.

``Another lot started a furniture famine today and will go on to tomorrow (today) where they go without furniture by sleeping on the floor at home and sitting on the floor at school.

``While others went without technology for 40 hours.''

Riverside Primary pupils Jesse Price, 8, Chelsea Wing, 8, Skyra Preist, 12, and Monique Schouten, 10, watch Elijah Basalto, 9, tuck into some rice. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

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Author NJ Cameron unlocks the secrets to book series

THE imaginations of several south-west children were unlocked when NJ Cameron took her Silver Key series to Warrnambool West Primary School for Book Week yesterday.
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The Melbourne-based author introduced the second instalment in the series, The Guardians of the Key, to grade three to six pupils and Warrnambool mayor Jacinta Ermacora as part of a country Victoria tour.

Cameron, a former Warrnambool woman, said she was experiencing “second book nerves” and hoped it would be as well-received as its predecessor, The Beginning.

The five-part series follows Max Moon, who discovers he possesses the super powers of the Silver Key, and his adventures with sister Bea and friend Corky.

Plot, setting and character ideas were inspired from a short story Ms Cameron wrote in year seven at Brauer College called Blue Streak and the Leech.

A trip to Scotland several years later cemented her passion for writing and she left a position as an IT contractor to take it up full-time.

“I had so many stories buzzing around in my head,” she said.

“It was so much fun writing them all down.

“I realised that’s actually what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Cameron developed the pseudonym “NJ” to disguise her gender and develop credibility writing about super heroes in order to appeal to a wider range of readers, particularly boys.

“And I always wanted to have a fancy pen name,” she laughed.

The book tour, also stopping at Princess Hill, Beaumaris, Moonee Ponds West and St Monica’s primary schools, was part marketing angle, part chance to receive “instant feedback”, Cameron said.

“I wanted to see if the audience actually liked the product,” she said.

Warrnambool West Primary School principal Gavin Arnott helped Cameron, whom he taught when she was in grade four and five at Woolsthorpe Primary, organise a writing competition for the pupils.

Silver Key, available from Warrnambool Books, is a junior fiction series aimed at primary school-aged readers.

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Nicole Cameron, author of the Silver Key children’s books, chats with Warrnambool West Primary School pupils Alissa Holmes, 12, and Katie Roberts, 10.

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European odyssey helps bring a family, and the world, closer 

ANKARA to Athens was the latest epic bike ride undertaken by Dartmoor’s Greenham family in its support for the humanitarian medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
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Michael Greenham, 53, his daughter Maggie, 19, and son Jordy, 15, completed the 2100-kilometre odyssey in about 30 days during April to June.

Epic bike rides are nothing new to the Greenhams, who rode 2400 kilometres from Rome to Rotterdam in 2007 to raise awareness of MSF. The family also completes a 450-kilometre ride from Mount Gambier to Melbourne each March for the organisation.

However, the family are not cycling zealots and didn’t spend every day on the road during the latest epic ride, stopping to enjoy the sights such as the Greek islands and spread the message about MSF during the two-month trip.

Mother Elly Greenham does not ride and travels on buses to the family’s next destination, acting as a support member.

Mr Greenham said he liked what MSF did, getting professional people to volunteer to work in crisis situations throughout the world. MSF not only provided support, it was also “the voice of the disenfranchised,” speaking out about the problems it encountered.

“They deserve our support,” Mr Greenham said.

Since he did not have a skill himself to contribute, Mr Greenham decided instead to raise awareness and funds for MSF’s work.

The annual Mount Gambier to Melbourne trip by the family, which began in 2007, have so far raised $15,000 for MSF.

The rides began with just Mr Greenham and a son and have since grown to about 20 people riding various stages of the trip this year.

Some of the highlights of the family’s latest trip included giving Auskick clinics at Turkish schools, being at Gallipoli for Anzac Day and working at an archeological dig in Albania.

Mr Greenham said the awareness raising campaign for MSF often involved chatting to locals who were intrigued by the unusual sight of a family dressed in lycra taking on the hilly terrain.

“We were a novelty.”

Teachers would often approach them at the family’s wayside stops and ask them to address pupils.

In Turkey, locals already had some understanding of MSF’s work because the organisation worked there helping people affected by the present crisis in Syria and during an earlier Turkish earthquake.

They received a friendly reception in most countries, particularly in Greece.

“In Greece they are very pleased to see any tourists,” Mr Greenham said.

“Tourism has dropped a lot. The locals are fearful the country is perceived internationally as having riots and food shortages.”

In Albania, which had only been a democracy for 15 years, people had been especially welcoming.

Mr Greenham said the overseas rides had been a great bonding experience for his family and had been timed for when one of the children had finished secondary school and doing a gap year.

The first odyssey in 2007 from Rome to Rotterdam was during a gap year taken by their son Billy and this year’s trip was during Maggie’s gap year.

More overseas forays are planned, with south-east Asia or North America possible destinations for the next trip.

As part of its awareness raising campaign for MSF, the family has a website: cyclingacrossborders.wordpress南京夜网

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Michael (left), Jordy and Maggie Greenham with the Cinar family, organic olive growers at Adatepebasi in Turkey.

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Outrage over apology letter

AN APOLOGY letter was the only punishment handed down on a Launceston man who punched a police officer outside a Prospect hotel earlier this year.
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The 25-year-old man pleaded guilty in the Launceston Magistrates Court this month to assaulting a police officer, resisting a police officer, failing to comply with the directions of a police officer and possessing alcohol in a public place.

Magistrate Reg Marron ordered him to provide a written apology to the police office involved.

Police Association president Randolph Wierenga said to demand an apology as the only sentence was ``pathetic''.

``To assault a police officer and only have to sign the bottom of a letter . . . the sentence is pathetic,'' Sergeant Wierenga said.

``This sends entirely the wrong message to people in society who choose to assault our members.''

The assault occurred outside the Olde Tudor Motor Inn on January 19.

Sergeant Wierenga said the male police officer only received slight injuries from the drunken man.

He said the sentence showed that the court did not consider the assault of a police officer a serious matter.

The association is campaigning for mandatory minimum sentences of 12 months' jail for people convicted of assaulting police or an emergency service worker.

``It's difficult enough for police in volatile situations such as this, and to have this slight a sentence for the assault of a police officer is really a slap in the face to police out there trying to keep the streets safe,'' Sergeant Wierenga said.

``It seems to assume that being assaulted is all part and parcel of the job,'' he said.

He said police did not charge people with assault for trivial altercations.



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Game on as Kathryn Ross goes for gold

KATHRYN Ross watched with interest as Australia’s Olympic rowers paddled down the waters at Eton Dorney, waiting for her chance to do the same.
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The Warrnambool athlete put herself through an arduous training regime as she counted down the days to the London Paralympic Games.

Ross and her trunk-and-arms mixed double scull partner Gavin Bellis have been training up to six hours a day in Canberra and will fly to London on August 22.

With a Beijing Paralympics silver medal already in her keeping, Ross would love to return home with gold around her neck.

“We hope to do quite well but it depends. You don’t know what can happen on the day,” she said.

“The New Zealand (Olympic) quad had an oar break halfway through, that kind of thing can happen.

“You can only control what you can control.”

The competition will be tough, something Ross is looking forward to.

Twelve boats have qualified for the trunk-and-arms mixed double scull.

Heats will be held on August 31, with finals on September 2.

“There are definitely a couple of real threats,” Ross said.

“The top six boats will make an exceptional race. It’s going to be so tight.

“China won the world championships last year and France was second and we beat France at the World Cup.

“It will be game on from start to finish.”

Ross heads into her second Paralympic Games campaign confident.

She has built a strong foundation with new partner Bellis, with whom she teamed up to win gold at the World Rowing Cup III in Germany in June.

Ross’ 2008 silver medal was won with John Maclean, with whom she claimed bronze at last year’s world rowing championships in Slovenia.

Bellis, 38, has spinocerebellar ataxia, a hereditary disease which affects co-ordination and balance.

The former army diesel mechanic and father-of-two was diagnosed in 2004. This will be his first Paralympic Games.

Ross, who has a right leg deformity as a result of a childhood accident, said Bellis was an inspiration.

“He is fantastic. He’s one determined person,” she said.

“He really has proved to himself and family he can do anything he puts his mind to. He’s on a mission.

“Gavin and I won the World Cup a month or so ago and that was very exciting. It was one of the most exciting races I have raced in.”

Ross, speaking to The Standard from Canberra, said she felt fit and ready to go.

“My preparation is going really well, really fantastic,” she said.

“At the moment it’s a heavy load, up to five or six hours a day.

“It consists of a couple of hours rowing, then core strength for an hour and weight training for an hour-and-a-half and then a recovery session after that to prepare for another day.

“I am loving every minute of it.” Ensuring her body is in peak physical condition is paramount.

“For us Paralympians, our class is trunk-and-arms, which limits the use of our legs,” Ross said.

“Because we don’t have sliding seats, our backs and upper bodies take the brunt of what we do.”

For Ross, rowing is just as much an outlet as it is a sport.

It’s a chance for her mind to unwind, particularly on training days.

“It’s a freedom feeling for someone who can’t run,” she said.

Ross is grateful for the Warrnambool community’s continued support. She said representing Australia was an honour but she found it difficult to see herself as an elite sportswoman.

“Rowing is an elite sport and elite sport is an amazing thing, but I don’t see myself as that,” she said.

“I challenge myself to try and do the best I can do.”

While Ross’ immediate focus is on London, a third Paralympic Games in 2016 is on her radar.

“We are looking at Rio. I will see how my body holds out and the mind,” she said.

The London Paralympic Games start on August 29 and run until September 9.

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Crime Stoppers column hurting crooks

In recent months thieves have stolen credit cards, jewellery, GPS systems, clothing and games in Ballarat.
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Thanks to readers of The Courier – those crimes have now been solved.

Police say 80 per cent of the offenders who have appeared in the regular Ballarat Crime Stoppers column have been identified by members of the public.

Ballarat Police Inspector Bruce Thomas said the Crime Stoppers column was proving a huge success.

“I’m very happy with the partnership between Crime Stoppers, The Courier and Ballarat Police,” he said.

“We’re running at about 80 per cent success rate, so we’re certainly happy with that result.”

Inspector Thomas said the fortnightly column had allowed police to identify offenders who were previously unknown to police.

“I think the best case study was after we ran the first column, one of the kids involved (in a theft) texted another suspect, telling him his picture was in The Courier,” he said.

“Then the suspect’s mother saw it, made him get dressed and marched him into the police station.”

Offenders are snapped by the Ballarat “City Safe” street cameras and also internal CCTV footage from businesses.

“If you don’t commit a crime, you’ve got nothing to worry about,” Inspector Thomas said.

The Courier editor Andrew Eales said community safety continued to be a major issue for residents and visitors to Ballarat

“The Courier is pleased to be partnering Victoria Police through Crime Stoppers to assist in this area,” Mr Eales said.

“The feedback from our readers has been very positive and has assisted in solving many cases.”

The Courier Editor Andrew Eales and Acting Superintendent Bruce Thomas discuss the Crimestoppers column.

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Only changing vote can solve problems

I’ve followed the debate over the last few months about the ongoing management of the Mildura Base Hospital quite closely. Like many others, I believe that the hospital should be returned to public hands, but in my opinion who manages the hospital is not the main issue.
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As a general principle, I do not support the concept of the privatisation of community services and infrastructure, but since the late 1990s there has been a push by governments of all persuasions to privatise a whole range of things. There are many examples across Australia today that clearly show that the supposed benefits of privatisation have never been realised and never will be.

In my view, privatisation of community services and infrastructure is simply a means whereby governments can abrogate their responsibilities to taxpayers by “passing the buck”. Private companies, over-paid executives and shareholders may have benefited from privatisation, but certainly not the average citizen. I could go on for some time about the issue of privately managed community services, but that’s not the purpose of my letter.

In my opinion, the real issue with regard to the Mildura Base Hospital is not whether it is managed by a private company, or returns to government control, but of the facility itself. The Mildura Base Hospital is a disaster that was foisted on the people of Mildura and district by a government hell-bent on privatising everything.

From the beginning, the hospital was never big enough, it was poorly designed and badly sited. We now have a hospital which after a relatively short period of time is totally unsuitable to the needs of this community. It was built on a shoestring budget with apparently no thought to the future growth of the Sunraysia district and as a result, regardless of who manages the hospital into the future, it will remain totally unsuitable to the community’s needs.

I should point out that in making these comments I’m not being critical of the staff at the MBH as I have the greatest respect for them. I think that they should be congratulated for their efforts in delivering quality care and services to the people of Sunraysia in a facility that is totally inadequate for the purpose for which it was supposedly built. How they work in the place is beyond me!

So what is the answer to our dilemma? If you follow my argument, the only answer is a totally new hospital, built with the future in mind and in a location that would enable it to be expanded as the need arises.

However, the only way that this can be achieved, in my opinion, is to change the political dynamics of the Mildura region. In other words we have to marginalise both the state seat of Mildura and the federal seat of Mallee. What I’m saying is that the electors in this region have to change their voting patterns, at every election if necessary, if we are to have any hope of achieving the things we need and deserve.

It’s clear from the past that neither major party is going to improve hospital services to the region, or passenger rail services for that matter, because the coalition parties know that, under the current voting patterns, they will never lose the seats and Labor knows that they can never win them.

When Labor was in government in Victoria for a decade, did we get our passenger rail back? No because their was no electoral incentive for them to do so. I fear that the same fate will befall our hospital services if we don’t change our ways.

Robert Mutton,

Mildura.

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$20m for levee property 

NEARLY $20 million has been spent buying property to make way for the Launceston Flood Levee project.
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The final figure for the land acquisitions on Lindsay Street is unknown with the most costly payout likely still to come.

Two of the 27 compensation claims, that stemmed from 15 compulsory acquisitions, are still to be settled.

This includes compensation to Boral for the acquisition of their land at Northbank.

The cement maker still occupies the site and one local developer said he understood it could be up to two years before the company left.

The Launceston City Council remains prepared to buy Boral a new environmentally friendly concrete plant in a strategy designed to lower the final payout cost.

All up the Launceston Flood Authority has spent $35 million on the levee project.

Several levees are still in progress or yet to be started including the levee at Inveresk.

The authority has extended the deadline for the project out to March next year.

Initially an earthen levee was planned for Inveresk but Launceston aldermen have opted for a concrete one to free up room for an anticipated student accommodation block.

One of the other levees also needs its height increased after it sunk more than expected.

A remedial design is expected to be submitted to the council next month for funding.

The flood authority was set up in 2009 to construct levees in the city that would withstand a 1-in-200-year flood.

It has since taken over responsibility for dredging the Tamar River.

Work on the flood levee backing on to Lindsay Street.

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