Bring back work contracts

TONY ABBOTT has defiantly flagged the reintroduction of individual workplace agreements and given notice the Coalition will oppose the Rudd Government’s next big reform – the federal takeover of public hospitals.Mr Abbott also said Federal Parliament should have the same power to override state parliaments as it has to override the territories, and the states should be able to raise taxes to cover spending requirements.In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Mr Abbott indicated he would not be cowed by Government attempts to link him with a return to Work Choices.The Rudd Government banned individual Australian Workplace Agreements when it abolished Work Choices but made interim arrangements that allowed existing agreements to continue for up to five years. Mr Abbott said these agreements should be made permanent.”If it’s good enough for the Labor Government on an interim basis, I don’t see why they can’t continue,” he said.”Whatever they are called, if it’s good enough for the Labor Government to have an individual, non-union statutory contract, I don’t see why it can’t continue.”Labor was wrong to ”re-regulate the labor market” but he rejected he would re-embrace Work Choices.”Our policy will be to have freer, more flexible and fair labour markets without going anywhere near that dreaded policy that must not speak its name.”As Mr Abbott spoke to the Herald, the Senate defeated the emissions trading scheme, handing the Government a double dissolution election trigger.Next week, Kevin Rudd will put to the premiers his draft proposals for greater federal control of the public hospital system, including a financial takeover. If the states do not accept his plan by March, he will seek an election mandate.But Mr Abbott, who supported a federal takeover of hospitals when he was health minister, said the policy would be ”another fudge” and it was highly unlikely the Opposition would support it.”The Rudd Government will never do it,” he said.”There are too many state Labor governments, there are too many public sector unions that rely on the current arrangement, too many local politicians are dependent on those unions.”I think it is hugely improbable he is going to come up with a policy we are going to support.”Mr Abbott defended his combative style. ”Our job is not to make the Government’s life easy, our job is to make the Government’s life hard,” he said.He said the policy about-face that killed the emissions trading scheme was necessary to rally the party’s base. ”What we were previously asked to do was to go against every instinct of politics and that was agree with your opponents on a really contentious piece of legislation where your heartland supporters were extremely anxious or angry. That’s always a problem.”He was disappointed the Liberal senators Sue Boyce and Judith Troeth defied his leadership and crossed the floor but was prepared to forgive.”I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t stick to the last man and the last woman, but nevertheless I understand how they felt and I respect their position.”Mr Abbott promised that now he was leader, he would respect the party’s processes and not unilaterally set policy.He said the many policy ideas proposed in his book Battlelines, published this year, were OK to advance as a frontbencher but not as leader.However, Mr Abbott maintained the system of federation was dysfunctional and he was keen to explore two ideas in his book. One was to give Federal Parliament the power to override the states like it can the territories and another was ”giving the states taxing powers commensurate with their spending responsibilities”.
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An hour is a long time when waiting at the RTA

A lot can happen in an hour – or not.
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Take the RTA service centre in Dubbo for instance. We’re ready when you are, the poster says.

It doesn’t take long to read everything within eyesight, and that doesn’t include the eye test chart, which you only get to see if your number is up.

We – the growing queue of customers – were perfectly ready.

But there were only three busy-looking workers behind the counter. And spots for 7 more of them.

The mid-morning crowd was edgy, especially one woman who had been there 50 minutes. A bloke grabbed an auto ticket and was immediately called to one of the counters. The lady in waiting waited, with an armful of old number plates, fuming. She’d been there since 10:05am and it was now 10:55am.

As I said, a lot can happen in an hour.

Have you waited a long time at the RTA? Vote in our poll.

For instance:

In one hour Americans throw away 16,000 mobile phones.

In an hour you can travel 100km at the highway speed limit.

An hour in front of the TV can push up the risk of heart disease by 7 per cent, so UK researchers say.

In every hour during 2009, the world’s airlines lost 3000 pieces of luggage.

Every hour in India, seven children go missing.

Happy Hour in most pubs leaves one feeling merrier, if that is what one seeks.

But in Dubbo, at the RTA despite the efforts of the staff, not much happens and people sure aren’t merry.

For the third time, I called it quits and decided to come back another day.

Catherine Edmanson,


Longing for ancient craft to come back

Gender equality still a little way off

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Act and protect the castle: science chief

AUSTRALIA’S Chief Scientist has warned that a failure to act on climate change immediately will place the country at an economic disadvantage.On the same day the Government’s emissions trading scheme failed to pass the Senate for the second time, Penny Sackett said the economy was dependent on the environment and that there were genuine opportunities for countries wanting to be leaders in ”a new global green economy”.Professor Sackett said she had ”serious concerns” that Australia would be at ”an economic disadvantage if we don’t act now”.”By acting now we are learning how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are learning the technologies that we need to do it … by starting now we can be leaders in the global green economy,” she said. ”That’s where I would like to see Australia.”While stressing she was not a politician – Professor Sackett is a physicist by training and an astronomer by profession – she said Australia not having a legislated agreement before the Copenhagen climate talks would be ”one of the challenges” at the global meeting.Yesterday’s defeat of Labor’s emissions trading scheme means Australia will arrive in Denmark with a 2020 target for an emissions cut of between 5 and 25 per cent below the country’s 2000 levels.Like the world’s leading climate scientists, Professor Sackett argues that there are about five years to avoid the dangerous damage generated if average global temperatures increased by more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.As it stands now, she said, a 1.3 degree temperature rise is all but ”locked in”.”To meet the 2 degree target, we must halt increases in global emissions by about 2015, and then decrease them dramatically and steadily thereafter.”
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Attempted robbery of club foiled by officer

A “vigilant” Dubbo police officer and detectives have foiled a raid on the cash boxes of a bowling club.
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Two Dubbo men were yesterday remanded in custody and a third person is in hospital under guard pending charges after police moved in on the alleged break and enter at Dubbo Railway Bowling Club just hours earlier.

Wayne Anthony Stewart, 44, and Joshua Robert Stewart, 18, appeared before Dubbo Local Court yesterday charged with aggravated break and enter and commit serious indictable offence in company.

Wayne Stewart’s application for bail was refused and he will re-appear in court on April 20.

Joshua Stewart will make a second application for bail next week after Magistrate Andrew Eckhold denied him yesterday.

Orana command crime manager Detective Inspector Rod Blackman yesterday had praise for the officers who brought about the charges against the men.

“Shortly after midnight last night one of our vigilant officers managed to observe a male acting suspiciously near the

Dubbo Railway Bowling Club and more particularly around one of the Telstra boxes out the front,” Det Insp Blackman said.

Police observed three people break into the Railway Bowling Club through the roof and will allege that the Wayne Stewart, Joshua Stewart and another person were apprehended within the premises having broken into a number of cash boxes.

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Sesquicentenary for ‘good place to pull up and camp’

WPCC manager Andrew Glassop in front of the exhibition dedicated to the town of Warren and its sesquicentenary. Photo: AMY GRIFFITHSWhat would explorer John Oxley think about Warren reaching its sesquicentenary?
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The town’s mayor of the past 23 years, and a resident of the district for 65 years, Rex Wilson thinks he knows.

“He’d say ‘Gee, I picked a good place to pull up and camp’,” the mayor said.

Hundreds of people will trek back to the “wool and cotton capital of Australia”, north-west of Dubbo, to celebrate its 150th anniversary at a series of events, including Back to Warren on the June long weekend.

Among the visitors will be NSW Governor Marie Bashir, who will officially launch the sesquicentenary celebrations at a lawn party and art exhibition on April 17.

Her trip to Warren is 193 years behind that of John Oxley, the first white man to travel the district in 1818, followed by Charles Sturt in 1828.

Both moved along the Macquarie River in search of a rumoured inland sea, instead finding the Macquarie Marshes.

It was the late 1850s before a building took shape in the district, serving as a rest spot for coaches travelling from Dubbo.

On June 30, 1861, a government gazette notice declared: “A site has been fixed upon for a town to be called Warren.”

From then until now the town and shire, with a total population of 3000 people, have experienced the best and the worst, including high commodity prices and devastating drought.

Rex Wilson says Warren has survived because of its resilience and versatility, particularly when it comes to agriculture and livestock production.

“We’re also pretty flaming determined,” he said.

The challenges ahead, including resolution of the national row over water allocations from the Murray-Darling Basin, has not dissuaded the mayor from an optimistic view of the future he will not live to see.

“In 50 years time I think Warren will be a vibrant town … catering to the needs of a sustainable and profitable agricultural industry,” Cr Wilson said.

An exhibition at Dubbo’s Western Plains Cultural Centre, charting the history of Warren, has kicked off the sesquicentenary party.

A cocktail party and art exhibition is set down for the night of April 16 at Warren Sporting and Cultural Club, with profits going to the Warren Children’s Sensory-Motor Program and Calara House, a residential aged care facility.

Calara House will also benefit from the lawn party and art exhibition on April 17, supported by quality market stalls, musical entertainment and children’s activities. The Warren Show, a combined church service, street parade and gala day feature on the Back to Warren itinerary.

A sesquicentenary ball will be held on October 22.

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Stun guns in police cars despite concerns

POLICE began issuing thousands of electric stun guns for use by front-line officers yesterday despite more than a dozen reports of ”joking around” and misuse of the weapons made to the NSW Ombudsman.A Taser stun gun will be placed in every first-response police car in the state over the next 13 months, a total of 2000, at a cost of $10 million.In October the Police Minister, Michael Daley, said the weapons had been shown to be an ”invaluable tool in hostile situations” for a group of senior officers who were given the devices for a 12-month trial.But the NSW Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, told a parliamentary committee this week that his office had received about 14 complaints about the use of the Tasers.The Committee on the Office of the Ombudsman heard that most of the complaints were from police officers reporting incidents where their colleagues pointed them at each other or inappropriately used the weapon.”The very fact that police are joking around with them suggests a real risk they can be misused in the field,” Mr Barbour said.The Ombudsman had previously called for a two-year freeze on the issuing of the devices to general duties officers, citing evidence from other states of ”mission creep”. This is where they are increasingly used by officers to gain compliance in relatively low-threat situations, rather than being reserved for the high-risk situations for which they were designed.However, police had rejected the bulk of his recommendations on policies, procedures and training.”There has been positive progress but it doesn’t take away our residual concerns there is a real risk that there will be creep in their use and misuse,” Mr Barbour said on Monday.Tasers have been used a total of 440 times since they were introduced for general duties police. In 256 of these instances, or 54 per cent, they were not fired.Mr Barbour said in about 4 to 5 per cent of incidents there had been some obscuring of the in-built audio and video recorders that are activated as soon as a Taser is taken from its holster.
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Commonwealth career opportunities open

Applications are now open for the Australian Government’s Human Services Graduate program, a national employment opportunity that provides the “first step” to a commonwealth career.
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The program allows graduates to work in a number of roles across the human services portfolio, including Centrelink, Medicare and the Department of Human Services.

General Manager Hank Jongen said opportunities exist in a wide range of fields, including allied health, information technology, law, human resources, communication, accounting/finance and generalist roles.

Applications for September 2011 and February 2012 intakes close on April 26.

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High staff turnover is hampers intervention

THE practice of flying city doctors and other health professionals into and out of remote indigenous communities under the Federal Government’s intervention in the Northern Territory has been criticised by a parliamentary committee.The committee, set up by the Senate last year to report on the intervention, has called on the federal and territory governments to work out a better way to solve the problem of a shortage of workers providing services to people in remote indigenous communities.In its latest report it has complained that assault rates remain high, ”safe places” for people fleeing violence are open only during the day, and there has been a failure to recruit workers to help the extra children reported to welfare authorities since the intervention began.The availability of more health professionals to provide primary care through the Remote Area Health Corp is welcome, but ”this is not addressing the longer term needs of communities to build a sustainable workforce to address the very high rates of staff turnover”, the report says.The Select Committee on Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities also accuses the two governments of taking an ”ad hoc” approach to workforce shortages, including in child welfare, the original reason for the intervention.Because of a national shortage of child protection workers, the territory government has reported difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff for its mobile team meant to relieve an investigations backlog and increased workloads in remote communities, its report says.However, the workers are offered short-term contracts when longer term funding is available, it says.It expresses concern at the federal indigenous affairs department’s intervention monitoring report’s failure to acknowledge problems in filling staff positions.”A failure to report on the number of positions that are currently occupied has the potential to disguise the level of access people have to drug and alcohol services,” it says.The monitoring report also got it wrong when it said that children identified during primary care health checks as needing specialist attention were only getting that follow-up at a slow rate because of indigenous living conditions, the committee says.The department’s report said that many ear, skin, physical growth and oral health problems resulted from poor living conditions, poverty, overcrowding and lack of adequate nutrition, which required broader changes.”The failure to deliver follow-up services does not relate to how hard it is to prevent or ameliorate chronic conditions,” the new Senate report says.The number of confirmed reports of child abuse in communities targeted by the intervention rose from 66 in 2006-07 to 227 last financial year, but notifications have also risen in the territory’s non-indigenous population, the Senate report says.It quotes a Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission QC, Susan Cox, who told a Darwin hearing of the committee: ”Most of our cases recently are non-indigenous and to do with sexual abuse in the community.”It should not be just targeted in the indigenous community. It is a real problem across the board.”
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Nothing half-baked about tasty ambition

Rowan Campbell is learning all she can in the job she loves from pastry cook Brad Wilshire. Photo: AMY GRIFFITHSPastry cook Brad Wilshire and his dedicated team of bakers made 1000 hot cross buns yesterday, churned out between 3000 and 5000 loaves of bread and baked up to 3000 cakes.
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It’s all in a day’s work for Brad and the team at the Earlyrise Baking Company; a third generation family-run business in Dubbo.

It’s a big operation at Earlyrise with a production team of about 50 people who are exposed daily to the overwhelmingly good smell of bread.

But the aroma of freshly baked pies, sausage rolls, chocolate tautes, lamingtons, slices, meringues and custard tarts doesn’t tempt Brad because after more than a decade in the industry he’s almost immune to the smell.

“When I first started I thought I would be eating everything I made but it’s not like that,” he said.

“Although our chocolate mudcake is to die for – we have been making that one for many years and it’s our best seller.”

One loaf of bread takes three hours to make from preparing the dough through to bagging the finished product.

As much as125 kilograms of flour will make about 250 loaves of bread.

But it’s the creative side of baking that Brad loves best.

Test baking and creating new flavours of cakes and slices is his passion.

“We have created a Turkish delight slice, cookies and cream cake and different flavours of hedgehog slice

like honey and macadamia nut,” he said.

“The Turkish delight slice took five or six tests and it’s really good.

“We have used recipes from my grandma and other people’s grandmas … however commercial cooking is very different to cooking in the kitchen at home so we do a lot of test baking and modifying recipes.”

Brad has been a pastry cook and baker for 15-and-a-half years and says his love of food started young.

“I used to do a smoko run with my grandma as a kid and I got to know all the bakers and decided that was what I wanted to do,” Brad said.

He said “motivation” is the key to a successful career in the industry.

Brad’s passing on his skills and knowledge to six young apprentice bakers and pastry cooks including

19-year-old Rowan Campbell who dreams of a career decorating wedding cakes.

“It’s my main aim to do wedding cakes, I just love decorating all different types of cakes like chocolate tarts, coffee tarts, mud cakes and sponges,” she said.

The second year apprentice pastry cook’s duties include decorating octopus meringues with royal icing.

“I’ve got to decorate a fair few trays of these yet,” Rowan said.

“Thursday and Friday are cake decorating days where I would decorate up to 20 cakes … I love what I do.”

Like Brad, Rowan’s love of food was passed down through the family.

“I used to cook and decorate cakes with my grandma, I also really enjoyed food tech and hospitality courses at school,” she said.

Picking a favourite from the plethora of cake she bakes was difficult.

“That’s a hard one .. I would say the marble cake is my favourite,” said Rowan.

The Earlyrise Bakery Company supplies a number of bakeries including the Village Bakery, Robertson’s Bakery and Franklin’s and IGA supermarkets.

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Fuming voters take petrol woes from bowser to ballot box

FEDERAL politicians who think they are above the grubby business of late-running trains and buses that never turn up – free instead to concentrate on such weighty issues as global climate change and national defence – should think again.Public transport will be a key issue in next year’s federal election, say the authors of a study that tracks the effect of oil prices on voting patterns.The VAMPIRE – or Vulnerability Assessment for Mortgage, Petroleum and Inflation Risks and Expenditure – report by Griffith University researchers finds that voters in areas starved of public transport are more restive, mainly because they are the most vulnerable to sharp rises in oil prices.”The outer suburbs are feeling the pain because they do not get enough public transport,” said Dr Neil Sipe, who co-authored the study with Dr Jago Dodson and Rick Evans.”The price of oil may fluctuate, but we believe that it is on an upward trend, and voters who are forced to outlay more on petrol will feel the effect.”Our view is that once the economy recovers globally, we will see a run up in petrol prices.”In the US the Energy Information Administration shows that over the past three years the price of oil has fluctuated between $US59 a barrel and $US76 a barrel today, with troughs of $US42 a barrel in January and peaks of $US126 in May last year.Dr Sipe’s research on Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne was so detailed that it broke down the results of the 2007 election in each polling booth and compared the figures with census data on car ownership and public transport use.The biggest swings to the Labor Party were in car-dependent fringe suburbs.”Sydney contains very large zones of oil and mortgage vulnerability, especially the southern and western areas, including the north-west and south-west growth corridors,” the report found.”Many booths within the high and very high oil- and mortgage-vulnerable areas of Sydney saw strong swings to the ALP. The north-west and south-west corridors and the western suburbs around Blacktown and Bankstown saw many booths that swung between 10 and 20 per cent to the ALP.”Dr Sipe said the trend would continue at the next election, partly explaining comments by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, that the Federal Government needed to get involved in funding public transport. ”The Commonwealth government was not particularly interested previously,” Dr Sipe told the Herald, ”but it is now being widely discussed in Canberra.”His analysis echoes a presentation at a recent conference in Sydney by Elliot Fishman, director of the Institute for Sensible Transport, in Melbourne, who warned that Australia’s demand for oil already outstripped supply and declared a ”code red” for a ring of car-dependent suburbs from the north-west to the south.”There is really nothing that governments can do about oil prices other than provide some token subsidies from time to time,” Dr Sipe said. ”But they can provide alternatives in the form of public transport, which is why you’re going to see this register, increasingly, as an election issue, whether it is state or federal.”
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