New hope surfaces in war on Tamar silt

ANSWERS on cleaning up the Tamar River may surface soon with a trial hopefully starting this year on a new process to tackle the silt problem.
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Launceston Flood Authority chairman Alan Birchmore said yesterday that he hoped a process called raking, where the riverbed silt was disturbed by a rake towed behind a boat and washed away by the tide, would be tested this year at locations between the yacht basin at the head of the Tamar to the Tailrace at Riverside.

Mr Birchmore said the authority was working with the Parks and Wildlife Service and the Environment Protection Authority for approval for a trial and he expected results within six months of starting the trial.

Mr Birchmore, who was asked for his view on comments this week by Seaport developer Errol Stewart that dredging was a waste of time but raking was promising, said the authority's emphasis was on raking.

``We have funding for the trials and I believe something useful will come out of it,'' Mr Birchmore said.

``Dredging is not out of the question but needs to be affordable.''

He said the authority had a vessel for the work and the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania would be involved.

``We are trying to establish a cost-effective way of doing work that will restore better amenity to the Tamar.''

Launceston City Council general manager Robert Dobrzynski said the council was working with the authority, the AMC, Tamar NRM and others to establish a viable long-term silt plan.

Low tide and the silt is showing in the Tamar.

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STUCK IN JAIL: tourist unable to post bail

A 29-YEAR-OLD Irish traveler working in Australia will remain in jail unless someone he has met in the Trangie district comes forward with $500 bail surety.
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Alan Richard Roche, 29, was arrested after an alleged assault at Gin Gin, near Trangie.

He appeared handcuffed in Dubbo Local Court on charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault, affray, entering a building with intent to commit an indictable offence and stalking and intimidating with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm.

Not guilty pleas were entered by a Legal Aid solicitor. Police allege Roche instigated a fight after losing his job and made threats that ended in a “punch-up’’.

The prosecution opposed bail and described Roche as a flight risk.

“He is no longer employed and is wanted on arrest warrants in Queensland,’’ the prosecutor said.

Legal Aid said Roche was expecting a tax return and could lodge $1000 as bail security.

He was prepared to surrender his passport, remain in NSW and not approach any point of international departure.

“He could enter into an agree-ment not to drink alcohol and would report to police daily,’’ Legal Aid said.

Magistrate Eckhold said Roche was entitled to bail “if he could meet certain criteria’’.

“The prosecution case is strong and police have presented a very detailed fact sheet,’’ Magistrate Eckhold said.

“The ultimate penalty may well be jail. Your ties to the community are limited and there are concerns about whether you would come back to court.

“I would require an independent person to lodge $500 surety, with security, in addition to $1000 surety from yourself, without security.

“If bail conditions can be met you would be required to hand your passport to NSW police within 12 hours of release. You would be required to report to police daily at Trangie, be of good behaviour and not approach the alleged victim or witnesses.’’

Magistrate Eckhold ordered the prosecution to complete a brief of evidence by September 12.

All charges were adjourned to September 26.

A 29-YEAR-OLD Irish traveler working in Australia will remain in jail unless someone he has met in the Trangie district comes forward with $500 bail surety.

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Live Riverina sport scores

Can't make it to the game this weekend? Don't worryThe Daily Advertiserhas you covered with our live sports blog giving you an update of sport scores from across the Riverina.
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You can also join the conversationby tweeting using the hashtags #RFL2012 #FFL2012 #SIRU2012 #gp92012 #gp202012.


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Forecast forces event indoors

A CHANGE in the weather has resulted in a location change for the Dubbo Sustainable City Expo.
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The expo will be staged in the Dubbo Convention Centre and offers Dubbo and regional businesses the opportunity to benefit from expert tips to reduce their overheads.

With a number of information sessions running from 10am to 4pm, the expo will be of particular interest to businesses, according to Dubbo City Council manager environmental control Debbie Archer.

"With the price of electricity continuing to increase, many business owners are looking to reduce this ever-increasing overhead," Ms Archer said.

"An information session held at 10am and again at 2pm will address ways in which this can be achieved.

"The session covers things such as the benefits of solar for businesses, how the system works, and how to negotiate through the process successfully."

At 11am and 1pm, there will be a session about energy efficiency and carbon management, conducted by Carbon Training International.

"This session will cover what a low carbon economy means to your business and how you can minimise the impact," Ms Archer said.

"It will explain how you can make the most of Dubbo's natural gas supply, and demystify carbon management, energy efficiency, Carbon Farming Initiative, and carbon accounting."

Ms Archer said the information sessions would provide great opportunities for local businesses of all sizes to get the facts from an industry expert.

"With more than 30 exhibitors, several information sessions and workshops, local food and kids activities, the Dubbo Sustainable City Expo is a valuable experience for the whole community," she said.

Catherine, Rory, Freya and Eva Stein pack salvaged items ready for today's Waste to Art workshop at the Dubbo Sustainable City Expo. Photo: AMY MCINTYRE

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Sex accused fails to appear in court

A FORMER boarding school house master accused of sexually assaulting a student at Dubbo almost 30 years ago is expected to be arraigned in district court in coming months.
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The 58-year-old, formerly employed by All Saints' College at Bathurst, cannot be named for legal reasons.

A medical certificate was tendered to Dubbo Local Court by a legal representative when the accused man failed to appear before Magistrate Andrew Eckhold on Wednesday.

Charges of homosexual intercourse and attempted homosexual intercourse with a male under 18 were withdrawn by the Department of Public Prosecutions.

The prosecution said it would be proceeding with three charges of sexual assault commit act on indecency on a person aged under 16 years and two charges of sexual assault knowing no consent was given.

All charges were adjourned to Wentworth Local Court on September 4 for the purpose of a committal.

The prosecution said the man would be arraigned at Dubbo District Court on a date to be fixed. Bail was continued.

The alleged sexual assault victim approached police in February last year.

The former student, now living in the metropolitan area, made further statements to police in April 2011 and January 2012. The accused man was arrested at Wentworth on January 12.

According to prosecution facts tendered to the court, the accused accompanied a group of students to Dubbo for a sporting event in the early 1980s.

The former student, then aged 14, told police he was asleep in bed at a Dubbo caravan park when he was woken by a sexual act allegedly taking place.

The prosecution alleges the student was petrified and pretended to be asleep as more alleged sexual acts were perpetrated.

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Notes from deck hands

Robert Upe enjoys martinis and anecdotes on a South China Sea voyage whose guests include author Bill Bryson.
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Bill Bryson is grateful to have an audience of more than five. "Thank you for turning up on a Sunday morning for my little talk," the softly spoken American author and travel writer says on board Silver Whisper. "I'm still finding my sea legs," he confesses.

"It wasn't all that long ago that I did a bookstore reading to an audience of five people in Stratton, Pennsylvania. They only put out six chairs, so it was a good turnout. Of the five people, one was the manager of the bookstore so he didn't really count; two others were friends of my parents who had retired to Pennsylvania and just wanted to know how my mom was; the fourth guy was someone also named Bill Bryson who had driven a great distance from West Virginia so we could stand there and look at his driver's licence with the same name; and the fifth person was his wife who didn't seem to want to spend the evening with anybody named Bill Bryson."

With that, 100 people in Silver Whisper's lounge chuckle and give the self-deprecating writer a warm welcome. Silver Whisper is gliding in open sea on its way from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, the next port of call on a 115-day around-the-world voyage patronised by countesses, earls, playwrights and authors. The cruise director, Fernando de Oliveira, sidles up: "You know, many people on board earn nine figures a year. But they don't flaunt it, none of them shows off. We always have a good crowd on board and 90 per cent of them are repeat passengers." Still in hushed tones, he says. "One lady has arrived with 36 suitcases. Her husband only has eight!"

Bryson, the author of more than 20 books, including A Walk in the Woods, Notes from a Small Island and, more recently, the best-selling A Short History of Nearly Everything, is part of the talent recruited for the Singapore-to- Shanghai segment of this voyage. There's also flamboyant flautist Jane Rutter, who gives night-time concerts, and cabaret singers, pianists and experts who speak on world affairs. De Oliveira, who seems to know everyone by name and addresses them with honorifics, even steps in to offer "gentle" Spanish lessons.

I plump for a martini appreciation class. It's about 11am and I have four martinis in front of me at the ship's dimly lit main bar. Another dozen or so people are taking this class and we sit on a line of stools as the head barman starts the tasting with a dirty gin martini mixed with vermouth and olive juice.

There is an intimacy on the Silver Whisper, and it's not just from the warm inner glow of martinis or the European and art deco styling and original artwork that help create a glamorous club-like atmosphere. The vessel has a good passenger-staff ratio: 382 are served by 302 staff. Every passenger has a butler who, among other things, offers to unpack bags. (Pity the one assigned to the woman with 36 suitcases.)

The Italian-owned Silver Whisper competes in the boutique ships' stakes (generally regarded as fewer than 500 passengers) against Regent Seven Seas, Oceania and Seabourn, the latter having just been named by Travel + Leisure magazine for the fourth consecutive year as the world's best small-ship line. Silver Whisper, though, may have it over the others for the number and size of its balcony accommodation. About 85 per cent of the ship's suites have six-square-metre or bigger private balconies with a table and chairs and the rest have, at least, sea views through picture windows. There are no "inside" cabins - sorry, suites (the term cabin is frowned on). Suites include a pillow menu (including buckwheat to ease aches and snoring), wood panelling, a flat-screen television with movie channels, lounge and coffee table, writing table with stationery and walk-in wardrobe. The bathrooms are finished with marble tiling, a full-size bath, double wash basins and Bulgari or Ferragamo toiletries.

There's wi-fi in the suites, though it costs 50¢ a minute (or $250 for 1000 minutes). Almost everything else is covered in the cruise fare, including lectures by the likes of Bryson, transport into town in most ports, and meals and drinks (the minibar is replenished daily to personal preference, including with French champagne). It costs extra to dine at Le Champagne restaurant, the only Relais & Chateaux wine restaurant at sea.

There are no set dining times in Silver Whisper's five restaurants, which include the Italian-leaning La Terrazza, the French-influenced The Restaurant and a poolside grill.

Captain Angelo Corsaro, a Sicilian and the most senior employee in Silversea's six-ship fleet (soon to be seven), suddenly gives the ship's horn two blasts as we enter Saigon River, on approach to Ho Chi Minh City. There's maritime traffic and hazards such as heavy barges perilously low to the water and full to the brim with cargo. The captain's blast is for them, specifically for the bare-chested cargo-boat crews whose vessels are powered by the current and "steered" by smaller boats.

"It's very stressful along here," Corsaro says. "There are strong currents on the bends and a vessel can drift 10 degrees. The potential for collisions is there." Indeed a collision, described as a "minor" incident, between Silver Whisper's sister ship, Silver Shadow, and a Vietnamese vessel, occurred earlier this year.

Silver Whisper shore excursions are well orchestrated. As soon as we dock in Ho Chi Minh City, passengers disembark and board tour buses to see the city's sights ($89 a ticket) or go further into the Mekong Delta ($169) to see floating markets and lush rice fields. There's also a line of rickshaws dockside to take passengers around city streets.

Bryson opts for a long city bus tour. "I'm often reluctant to go on that type of tour and I prefer to explore freelance but because I had not been here I thought I'd give it a go," he says afterwards. "I'm glad we went along. We had a good tour guide and saw places we wouldn't have seen otherwise."

The next time I see Bryson we're at sea again. We're the only ones in the ship's observation lounge, a bow space with floor-to-ceiling windows where reading and snoozing come easily in big armchairs. I'm reading his 2000 travelogue about Australia, Down Under. Opposite me, he is writing his next book.

"I intend to always keep writing," he tells me. "As part of our 'sad' new regime [he's only 60 but on the verge of what he calls semi-retirement], I get up early and write at my desk from 6.15 to 11 in the morning; that works well in terms of getting both books and the gardening done ... plus I am completely knackered by night and don't drink as much."

Bryson and his wife, Cynthia, live in an old rectory on almost two hectares in Norfolk, England, where they share a passion for gardening. "It [the next book] looks at the summer of 1927, especially in America. There were lots of really big, pivotal, popular cultural events in the United States. The first 'talking picture', The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, was shot, and Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II were doing Showboat. It was when Lindbergh flew the Atlantic; and it was the year that Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs, which in baseball terms was really big.

"He single-handedly hit more home runs than most teams - this guy who didn't look like an athlete at all, and would eat 16 hot dogs for breakfast." Bryson says this with some admiration. But I bet Babe Ruth never had a martini for breakfast.

Robert Upe travelled courtesy of Silversea.


Cruising there

Silver Whisper embarks on a 115-day world voyage from Los Angeles on January 5, visiting 52 destinations in 28 countries. Fares cost from $47,925 a person, twin share, in a Vista Suite ($150,943 for the Owner's Suite), and include all meals and drinks. The voyage's 21-day Sydney- to-Hong Kong sector costs from $8899; the 11-day Hong Kong to Singapore sector from $5899. Guest speakers include hostage negotiator Terry Waite, military historian and writer Nigel West, and the author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Lynne Truss. See silversea南京夜网.

While on board

Meals served between Singapore and Shanghai included shrimp salad, caviar, roasted quail, porcini mushroom risotto, ravioli with walnut sauce, Berkshire pork chop and tiramisu.

Silver Whisper has a swimming pool, library, casino, spa and beauty salon, gym, walking-running track and golf net.

The dress code is neat, casual resort wear during the day. Evening dress codes vary from casual (trousers and shirt for men) to informal (jacket for men) to formal (tuxedo or dark suit).

There are no disco balls or raucous nights with beer games. Think whisky tumblers, a piano bar and well-travelled passengers mainly aged 50-75 in a club-like atmosphere. Children are allowed but their numbers are usually small; there is no kids' club.

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Old retail will rule the web: Myer boss

Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes has warned that bargain websites such as catchoftheday, graysonline and dealsdirect have ‘‘had their moment in the sun’’ and Australia’s traditional retailers will start to dominate online as they get ‘‘fair dinkum’’ about the web and integrate it with their stores as an omnichannel offering.
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Mr Brookes said these ‘‘flash sites’’ all faced the same problem in terms of consistent availability of product while lacking the brand trust of traditional retailers.

‘‘They’ve been there when there has been no effective competition,’’ Mr Brookes said. ‘‘If we produce a list in three years time of the top internet sellers in Australia, it will be dominated by the Myers, the David Joneses, the KMarts ... the existing bricks and mortar retailers. That’s exactly what’s happened in the US and UK.’’

One critical advantage for traditional retailers is the geographic coverage of their physical stores. Once this is integrated with their digital service as an omnichannel offering, it will be hard for pure online players to compete with the convenience and service, according to Mr Brookes.

But he admitted that global price harmonisation - to ensure local prices are competitive with what overseas sellers can offer - is one of the last pieces of the puzzle needed to make all this work.

Surveys of in-store customers indicate that these clients rate convenience, fashion/style, service and price in that order, but it is a different story for online.

‘‘When we survey our customers online, price is number one,’’ he said.

Mr Brookes said the 20 per cent of the company’s range is house brands and these are unaffected by price harmonisation. Another 40 to 45 per cent of the department store’s sales are globally price competitive.

‘‘However we’ve probably got 20 to 30 per cent of the range which is not competitive on a world scale,’’ he said, naming cosmetic companies and mens apparel as two of the main culprits.

These price drops may help make our traditional retailers more competitive but it will also be painful with the lower prices feeding through to lower sales revenue at a time when consumers are already reluctant to spend and costs are rising.

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European shares rise on Merkel’s ECB backing

European stock markets have ended the week on a high note, with Frankfurt’s blue-chip DAX 30 index breaking above the 7000-point level on a eurozone defence by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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The DAX gained 0.64 per cent to close at 7040.88 points after already breaking briefly through the key level on Thursday for the first time since early April.

Banking stocks led the German gains after Merkel said in Canada on Thursday that she backed European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi’s position on making sure the euro would not fail.

Commerzbank jumped 3.27 per cent to 1.26 euros and Deutsche Bank was 3.53 per cent higher at 26.72 euros.

As head of Europe’s biggest economy, Merkel is key to the success of any plan to save the 17-member eurozone.

‘‘Her backing of the ECB’s crisis fighting strategy revived the expectations that policymakers will actually get together to sort out the problems the eurozone has been facing in an efficient way and helped the markets to shake off the painful low volatility and improve the risk sentiment,’’ Gekko Markets analyst Anita Paluch said.

Elsewhere, London’s FTSE 100 index was up 0.32 per cent at 5,852.42 points on Friday, while in Paris the CAC 40 added 0.23 per cent to 3,488.38 points.

Despite weak sessions on Monday and Wednesday, the DAX posted a five-day gain of 1.39 per cent, while the FTSE 100 rose by a modest 0.09 per cent.In one-day trading on Friday, Milan climbed by 1.30 per cent, while Madrid rallied 1.94 per cent on comments by Spanish officials that it will soon request a first payment for its deeply troubled banks from an emergency eurozone rescue line.

‘‘Markets continue to drift higher on expectations of the prospect of additional central bank easing, with trading volumes remaining well below seasonal averages,’’ said Michael Hewson, senior analyst at trading group CMC Markets.

‘‘The absence of any good news has failed to dampen expectations; if anything it has reinforced the expectation that the authorities will take the necessary action to mitigate any problems in the coming weeks.’’

On the downside, shares in Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, slid in London as violence at a Lonmin mine in South Africa resulted in the killing of at least 44 people. Lonmin shares lost 1.62 per cent to 637.48 pence on London’s second tier FTSE 250 index.

Violence has pitted workers against police following a wildcat strike at the platinum mine.

The illegal walk-out began a week ago and quickly descended into deadly clashes, first between rival unions and then between workers and police.

As the death toll mounted on Friday, President Jacob Zuma cut short a visit to neighbouring Mozambique for a regional summit and flew to Rustenburg, the town nearest the mine.


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Aitken inducted into racing hall of fame

STAN Aitken, the only Tasmanian jockey to have won the W. S. Cox Plate, was last night inducted into the Tasmanian Racing Hall of Fame.
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His induction was one of the highlights of racing's gala night held at the Elwick racecourse.

Aitken, now a member of the track staff at Ballarat, flew in for the occasion and said he was deeply humbled by being chosen.

``I live in Victoria but I'm still a Tasmanian at heart and I consider this a great honour,'' he said.

Aitken grew up at Penguin and left home as a 14-year-old to chase his dream of becoming a jockey.

Aitken twice won the Victorian apprentices title and in 1973 won the Cox Plate and the George Adams Handicap on brilliant three-year-old Taj Rossi.

Considered to be the heir apparent to champion jockey Roy Higgins, Aitken's career took a downward turn after a fallout with Caulfield trainer Angus Armanasco.

He was one of six inductees into the Hall of Fame along with Claude Best (trainer), Dick Bertram and Michael Hodgman (associate) and racehorses Conquering and El Moxie.

The late Thomas Lyons was upgraded to become Tasmania's fourth racing legend joining jockey Max Baker (2009), trainer Len Dixon (2010) and Melbourne Cup winner Malua (2011).

Lyons was a prominent breeder and owner with his horses winning the Hobart Cup six times. He was chairman or deputy chairman of the Tasmanian Racing Club for nearly 20 years. The Listed Thomas Lyons Stakes carries his name today.

Champion jockey Craig Newitt was the recipient of a recognition award for his achievements in the racing industry.

Tasmanian-born Newitt won the Australian jockeys premiership this year.

Premiership winners Stephen Maskiell (jockey), Rasit Yetimova (apprentice) and David and Scott Brunton (trainer) were presented with their awards.

For Maskiell it was his eighth premiership with his first coming in 1986.

Turkish-born apprentice Yetimova has been one of the success stories of Tasmanian racing.

The Brunton training partnership won its third consecutive trainer's premiership with David and Scott preparing 70-1/2 winners as well as several interstate.

Outstanding mare Lady Lynette took out the Tasbreeders award for the outstanding performance by a female, West Quest took out the title as leading juvenile sire while Savoire Vivre won the leading sire award for the first time.

The leading broodmare award went to La Quita.

Stan Aitken

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Sewell: club moves play on player minds

THERE are AFL footballers who already know they will be at another club next year. They can dodge it or deny it as much as they like.
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The fact is players get spoken to at this time of the year by opposition clubs. Technically it is not allowed, but it happens.For sure.

Others might not have decided, but they are thinking about it. Either way, it has to effect them and the way they play. The amount of time and energy, and the stresses and consideration about who they should play with can have an impact. That's where the issue lies for the player in question.

Travis Cloke's form, as has been well publicized, isn't as good as it has been in the past. If he hasn't made his decision yet, I'd guess he is thinking about it. If we end up playing Collingwood in the preliminary final and Cloke is lining up, perhaps we might just ask him about.

The focus has been on Cloke, of course. Others I'm not sure about.Kurt Tippett, for example has been subject of talk but he hasn't played for about a month because of his concussion.

And sometimes it's harder to tell.I played alongside Campbell Brown and we don't know at what point he made his mind up. In regards to his form and demeanour around the club there was no sign his mind was elsewhere.

We had no idea when Gary Ablett was playing his last year at Geelong, either. His football did not drop off as far as we could tell from outside.

There are players who might also know their ticket is punched at a club and their careers are likely coming to a close. Cam Bruce, for example, has already retired but there are others out there not doubt. There is often a change in demeanour here as well but probably in the opposite way. If guys are on the outer they might actually play like it's their last game because it actually might be.

Besides that I don't know if there is anyone obvious at Hawthorn, unless someone has made a conscious decision themselves. As for myself, well, if anyone is in any question about what jumper I will be wearing next year, let's just say brown and gold brings out the colour in my eyes.

Brad's blog

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