Wye River blaze: firefighters’ union calls for inquiry

January 14, 2016 – 1:40PM

Richard Willingham


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The firefighters’ union has demanded a coronial inquiry into the devastating Wye River fire after revelations of a backburning operation in the Otway Ranges before Christmas Day.

On Wednesday Fairfax Media revealed leaked files showed that a controversial backburning operation, carried out despite warnings of potential catastrophe, may have led to the destruction of more than 100 houses in Wye River and Separation Creek.

Thick smoke rises from the flames.

Thick smoke rises from the flames. Photo: Tom Jacobs

Officials have admitted that fires were lit in the area in an attempt to control the fire, which was initially sparked by lightning on December 19.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley has revealed he was initially opposed to backburning and was only convinced after thorough risk assessments from experts.

The United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall said only an inquiry by the State Coroner could establish any connection between a backburning operation and the loss of homes.

A firefighter inspects a burnt-out car in Wye River.

A firefighter inspects a burnt-out car in Wye River. Photo: Chris Hopkins

The union said it was not unprecedented for the Coroner to investigate non-fatal incidents.

The union wants the Coroner, whose remit involves investigating fires, to look into the blaze because the office is independent of government and the events have major implications for future firefighting and fuel management strategies.

The Inspector-General for Emergency Management is examining the fire, but Mr Marshall said that would not go far enough.

“It is clearly not appropriate for a government body to inquire into a fire for which government agencies may have some liability,” he said.

The union believes the Coroner would be able to look at such questions as:

  • Why was the fire not extinguished earlier, like a similar small fire in similar terrain at Delaney’s Track?
  • Why was the decision made to add fire to fire – to increase the size of the initial fire – despite forecasts of high temperatures and strong winds.
  • Does firefighting culture need to change to attack fires faster and sooner with all available resources, rather than waiting for the fire to approach or trying to draw fire to accessible lines by deliberate burns?

Mr Marshall said: “The government has told the forestry industry that the Inspector-General for Emergency Management will hold an inquiry into the fire. This is unprecedented, and beyond the resources and powers of this position.

“Wye River residents are entitled to an independent coronial inquiry.”

Mr Lapsley told a press conference on Thursday morning a review by the Inspector-General was independent of the agencies involved in the fire fight.

“The Inspector-General of Emergency Management has got continuity of other fires,” he said. “They’re currently reviewing things that go right back to 2009 from Black Saturday fires. They have been involved heavily in the Hazelwood fire … we believe they’re very competent.”

Mr Lapsley said he personally did not support the dangerous and difficult tactic of using fire on fire, but in this case, all other options had been exhausted.

“We have to stand by those decisions,” he said. “We went through the process over multiple days to work out what is the best tactic to be deployed. The tactics employed in the first couple of days were not working.”

He said the three spot fires that leapt over containment lines on Christmas Day were from the original fire in a deep gorge that was inaccessible and could not be extinguished.

Mr Lapsley said he would wait for the independent review to learn how successful the burn-out tactic was.

“It’s easy in hindsight to say what you would and wouldn’t do,” he said.

Environment Minister Lisa Neville backed the operational decisions of fire authorities and emergency services.

“I absolutely have confidence, and I know the government has confidence, in all our chief fire officers and the emergency services commissioner,” Ms Neville said.

She also said there was no need for the Coroner to investigate because the Inspector-General of Emergency Management was already looking at the Wye River fire.

“They are always difficult decisions but … in an emergency situation, we’ve got to back these people that are making very difficult decisions,” Ms Neville said.

“This could have been much worse without the backburn.” 

The opposition emergency services spokesman Brad Battin demanded the government get to the bottom of the operation.

“[Premier] Daniel Andrews must investigate this and tell Victorians the truth about the fire,” Mr Battin said.

Source : The Age

Canberra’s unemployment rate steady at 5.2 per cent in December

January 14, 2016 – 5:30PM

David Ellery

Reporter for The Canberra Times.

Flag of the Australian Capital Territory

154,200 people were in full-time work in Canberra in December.

154,200 people were in full-time work in Canberra in December. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The ACT’s unemployment rate remained steady at 5.2 per cent in December figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday show.

This is in line with the seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate which held steady at 5.8 per cent.

Canberra tied with NSW for the second lowest unemployment rate of any state or territory.

The Northern Territory, with just 4.1 per cent of its population unemployed, had the best result while South Australia was the worst on 7.3 per cent.

Seasonally adjusted figures are not provided for the territories.

Canberra Business Chamber chief executive officer, Robyn Hendry, welcomed the figures, saying they reflected the significant growth in the strength of the private sector since the last major round of public service job cuts in 1996.

“This is good news, coming as it is off the back of the contraction in public sector employment [in recent years],” she said.

“The private sector has held its own and this indicates just how much stronger it is than in 1996 [during the Keating/Howard public service cuts].”

Ms Hendry said the positive statistics followed recent ABS reports showing Canberra was the best place in Australia to be looking for a job in November 2015.

“In November we had 1.7 unemployed people  for each job vacancy [in the ACT],” she said.

This compared to a national average of four unemployed people per job advertisement and was well ahead of NSW with 3.3 per job advertisement.

Tasmania fared worst on this basis with 6.2 per job advertisement and South Australia was second worst with 5.9.

Canberra has improved from second place on this metric in November 2014 when the city had 2.3 unemployed people per job vacancy.

In December Canberra men continued to have a higher unemployment rate than women with 6.7 per cent of men unemployed.

This was up from 6.5 per cent the previous month.

Unemployment for women in Canberra in the ACT fell from 4.9 per cent to 4.8 per cent in December.

Of the 211,200 workers in Canberra in December 154,200 were in full-time work.

There were 314,000 Canberrans above the age of 15 and eligible to be considered in the labour force participation rate calculations in December, 2015.

Ms Hendy said the Chamber was excited and confident about the year ahead even though the “rhythm” would be rocked by the ACT and Federal elections.

“We have been experiencing export successes, there are new entrants into the retail market including Ikea and regional tourism has been positive,” she said.

“There is also a full events calendar which will attract visitors to Canberra during the year ahead.”

The strong national employment result has been welcomed by economists who said the result had come as a surprise to analysts, some of whom had predicted a fall of up to 12,500 jobs.

With 130,000 created around the country over the month the net loss of jobs only totalled 1,000.

Ms Hendry said she expected employment in the ACT to continue to grow.

“With the Christmas [holiday] period now behind us I would expect job opportunities to increase,” she said.

Total employment in the ACT in December rose from 210,500 in November to 211,200, an increase of 700 overall.

This was an increase of 3000 people in employment on the 208,200 recorded in January 2015.


Source : Canberra Times

JMA Entertainment: the star-making factory behind our pop stars

January 14, 2016 11:00am

Source : Daily Telegraph

Queensland unemployment level drops below 6 per cent

January 14, 2016 – 4:33PM

Cameron Atfield


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Acting Premier Jackie Trad says Queensland's falling unemployment rate was a "big tick" for the Palaszczuk government.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad says Queensland’s falling unemployment rate was a “big tick” for the Palaszczuk government. Photo: Chris Hyde

Queensland’s unemployment rate has dropped to below 6 per cent for the first time in two years, leading the state’s Labor government to spruik its performance since taking power almost a year ago.

But the state opposition would not have a bar of that, saying Queensland was simply following a national Australian trend.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Thursday showed Queensland’s trend unemployment rate at 5.9 per cent last month.

That was a drop from 6.6 per cent in December, 2014.

Deputy Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek.

Deputy Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek. Photo: Bradley Kanaris

“Trend employment in Queensland rose by 6200 persons (up 0.3 per cent) in December 2015,” a Queensland Treasury analysis said.

“This was the 13th consecutive monthly rise in employment.

“Part-time employment increased by 2400 persons in December and full-time employment increased by 3800 persons.”

Queensland had the second-strongest annual growth in the nation, behind New South Wales.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad said the jobs figures were a “big tick” for the Palaszczuk government.

“The two-year low for unemployment showed the state government’s pro-business, pro-jobs economic plan was working,” she said.

“This is an outstanding result that shows our government’s economic agenda is building business confidence and creating jobs for Queenslanders.

“Unemployment has fallen by 0.7 points from the high 6.7 per cent rate left by the previous LNP government.

“An average of 2010 full-time jobs have been created every month since we took office. That compares to the 330 full-time jobs lost every month under the previous government.

“Consumer confidence is up, business confidence is up and companies now have the confidence of a stable economy to put on new workers and explore new commercial opportunities.”

Deputy opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek welcomed the figures, but said Queensland was merely following a national trend.

The ABS data showed the national unemployment rate had dropped from 6.2 per cent in December 2014 to 5.8 per cent last month.

“It’s encouraging to see what we’re seeing in Queensland is something that’s being reflected nationally,” Mr Langbroek said.

“It is something that’s been happening since the start of 2015, but in three areas, there are still areas of concern.

“Whether it’s to do with property and infrastructure, today we’re seeing independent groups asking the government to come up with some infrastructure planning and property certainty and also in retail trade, the pattern in Queensland is not growing at the same level as other states.

“Finally, there are regional parts of Queensland where they are not feeling the joy of jobs.

“In Townsville, the unemployment rate remains stuck at over 8 per cent and in Cairns we still have youth unemployment being at unacceptably high levels and that’s Curtis Pitt’s home town.”

Source : Brisbane Times

Northern Territory police stage operation at John Stokes Square in Nightcliff

37 minutes ago

Source : NT News

Street rubbish dumpers nabbed in covert surveillance operation in Adelaide’s south

January 14, 2016 4:02am

“All of these efforts have brought about a significant reduction in customer complaints for illegally dumped rubbish,” Mr Sowerby said.

“We encourage all members of the public to report these matters to both the council and police as soon as possible, which gives us the best possible chance for us to catch and prosecute people who are showing a total disregard for our environment.”

To report illegal dumping, contact the EPA’s pollution hotline on 8204 2004.


Source : Adelaide Now

Perth road rage: footage emerges of man’s mirror kicked in Canning Vale

January 14, 2016 – 1:38PM

Simon White


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Only a day after video of a Mandurah road rage incident was posted on social media, new footage has surfaced of an angry driver booting the mirror of another car in Canning Vale.

In the Mandurah incident, a couple were terrorised by a furious driver, who allegedly threatened to throw a lit cigarette into their car, verbally abused them and punched and kicked the side of the four-wheel-drive.

The Canning Vale incident was first reported to Radio 6PR by caller Rob, who spoke of an alarming scene in Canning Vale on Thursday morning, at the corner of Ranford and Warton roads.

Thongs and all, the driver's mirror is on the receiving end of a hefty kick.

Thongs and all, the driver’s mirror is on the receiving end of a hefty kick. Photo: Radio 6PR

Rob said a young man driving a white car was followed by “buffoon” in a Landcruiser after a traffic indiscretion.

“He [the Landcruiser driver] proceeded to kick at the door and side mirror and knocked the whole thing off,” Rob reported.

“I stopped at the intersection and blew my horn and he [the Landcruiser driver] took off. We followed the young guy and he was very shaken up and it’s been reported to the police.

“He [the young driver] admitted he made a mistake on the road, but to follow someone around Canning Vale for 10 minutes?

“My five-year-old daughter has witnessed this whole thing.”

WAtoday.com.au asked WA Police about the incident but was told more specifics were needed, such as the time of the event, otherwise it was like “looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Source : WA Today