Hey big spender? ACT wages more than other states and territories

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Workers in the ACT earn more than any other state or territory, with women in the capital outstripping their counterparts around the country by a significant margin.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the median weekly pay in Australia was at $1019, but in the ACT it’s at $1281 per week.

The median weekly wage in the Northern Territory comes in after the ACT, while Tasmania has the lowest weekly median wage.

While the national increase in weekly wages was just 1.9 per cent from 2016 to 2017, in the ACT it was 4.9 per cent.

Men in the capital earn more than women, but the gap between the median male full time weekly wage of $1527.10 and the median female full time weekly wage of $1440.40 was just 6 per cent.

Men in the ACT earn 16 per cent more than the national median, which sits at $1200 per week. Women in the ACT however, earn 27 per cent more than the national median.

The median hourly wage in the ACT has steadily increased over the past 10 years, with the year on year increase between 2016 and 2017 of 2.7 per cent.

The data, which was taken in August 2017, shows that in the past 10 years, the median weekly income has risen from $1000 in 2007 to $1281 last year, a rise of 28 per cent, slightly above the inflation rate over the same period.


Source :  The Canberra Times

Court blocks South Perth tower as fourth design waits in wings

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FEBRUARY 27 2018 – 6:36AM

Emma Young

Two private citizens who won the latest court battle over $60 million South Perth tower development Lumiere appear to have lost the war as the developer is ready with a new version.

South Perth ratepayers Karyl Nairn and Ric Hawley’s court appeal last week overturned planning approval for the 34-storey tower proposed for 74 Mill Point Road.

Since the Metro Central joint development assessment panel (JDAP) first approved it in 2015, the tower has been subject to three Supreme Court cases, two State Administrative Tribunal appeals and numerous further JDAP hearings.

Developer Edge Visionary Living has been forced to redesign it three times from its original 29 storeys, to 44 storeys including 147 serviced apartments, to 34 storeys, and once again to reduce the building footprint, losing $26 million of its original pre-sales along the way.

The court upheld two of the residents’ grounds for appeal. First, that the JDAP failed to determine Lumiere justified high density through a predominantly commercial land use to encourage local employment.

 Second, that the JDAP should not have relied on its own previous approval of the nearby Civic Heart building as a justification to approve Lumiere, given Civic Heart was also predominantly residential and had itself been approved in “erroneous” understanding of the law.

The City of South Perth in 2012 introduced planning regulations that created a “train station precinct” on the Peninsula allowing developers to build to unlimited heights if they met certain design criteria.

The result was a rush of applications for high-rise apartment blocks, causing backlash from residents in much smaller blocks who were facing some highly-unfortunate amenity impacts.

The council has since rewritten planning policy, trying to safeguard residents by reintroducing height limits and setbacks.

But then-planning minister Donna Faragher intervened, approving a watered-down amendment that kept unlimited heights and removed the commercial requirement.

The chances of South Perth becoming a second CBD, with office towers and a train station, now seem remote, though the city did succeed in reintroducing street and side setbacks.

We hope the Labor Government will now take this opportunity to re-examine the JDAP process and overhaul the planning scheme in South Perth.

Edge Visionary Living director Gavin Hawkins said the court decision, while frustrating, ultimately confirmed there was no legal issue with Lumiere’s fundamental height, bulk or scale and had little to no impact moving forward.

“Our preferred development, and one entirely consistent with feedback received through the recent public consultation processes, is one where there is not a requirement for a predominantly commercial component,” he said. 

He said Edge would bring a new proposal to the JDAP in March for a 34-storey mix of apartments, commercial offices and a significantly reduced number of serviced apartments (down from 67 to 16).

There would be a four-metre setback as well as a thinner bottom half of the building, improving view corridors for neighbours.

He was confident sales would recover.

“When we initially took the project to market in August 2015, we achieved $84 million of pre-sales within the first few months,” he said.

“Currently we have circa $58 million of these buyers still there, though we have a significant list of “new” buyers who have indicated that they will be buying once it comes back to the market.”

Appellant Karyl Nairn said the JDAP must start from the correct baseline in future decisions.

Vicki Redden, president of the local action group “in favour of more proportionate development”, said private citizens should not have to spend a fortune taking public action to ensure planning officers abided by the law.

“We hope the Labor Government will now take this opportunity to re-examine the JDAP process and overhaul the planning scheme in South Perth,” she said.

Neither Perth residents nor councils share the right to appeal JDAP decisions via the State Administrative Tribunal; the courts are their only recourse.


Source : WA Today


Deutsche Bahn pilots illuminated platform in effort to improve train punctuality

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Deutsche Bahn pilots illuminated platform in effort to improve train punctuality
Passengers boarding a train at an illuminated platform in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA
With the goal of helping suburban trains in Stuttgart to run on time more often, Deutsche Bahn (DB) on Monday introduced a platform with colourful flashing lights at one of its S-Bahn stations.

On platform two at Bad Cannstatt station in the Baden-Württemberg capital, a stop-off point for trains on three S-Bahn lines, lights of varying colours on the floor now flash when trains arrive.

These lit-up LED symbols show passengers where arriving trains are meant to stop and where the train doors are going to open.

This will encourage passengers to stand at the appropriate place on the platform so that boarding will be quicker and trains can depart more punctually, states DB.

From Monday onward, the state-owned railway company will be testing the six-month pilot project, which has been named a “dynamic, illuminated guidance system” and is unique across the country.

Further features of the project include the fact that passengers should also be able to find a seat on the train more easily, according to DB.

A colour scale comprising of LED signals shows passengers how many seats are available in carriages. Photo: DPA

During the pilot phase the carriages of three trains will contain cameras which will capture the availability of vacant seats. This information will then be displayed in real time to passengers waiting on the platform.

DB cites that millions of euros in fines which have to be paid by Stuttgart’s S-Bahn each year – predominantly due to chronic tardiness – as one of the major reasons behind the development of the project.

Since the end of 2013, S-Bahn employees have been deployed at the main station in Stuttgart during peak periods to help ensure that departures are not delayed by passengers jumping in at the last moment. This has proven to be useful and will be expanded, DB said.


Source :  The Local Germany

Sitting Frankfurt mayor just misses out on outright election victory

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Sitting Frankfurt mayor just misses out on outright election victory
Peter Feldmann. Photo: DPA
Peter Feldmann, the current mayor of Frankfurt, won 46 percent of the vote on Sunday’s mayoral election – not quite enough to avoid a second round.

Feldmann of the Social Democrats (SPD) considerably improved on his vote tally in the 2012 election, but would have needed 50 percent of the ballots to be immediately reaffirmed as Frankfurt mayor.

Instead he will face Bernadette Weyland of the Christian Democrats in a second round on March 11th after she won 25.4 percent of the vote.

In total 12 candidates put themselves forward for the mayoral race and around half a million people had the right to vote, including 80,000 non-German EU citizens.

Official estimates put election participation at 37.6 percent.


Source :  The Local Germany

Meet the gay-rights champion gunning for Merkel’s job from the right-wing of her party

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Meet the gay-rights champion gunning for Merkel’s job from the right-wing of her party
Jens Spahn and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday. Photo: DPA
He’s 37 years old, openly gay yet staunchly conservative and one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s loudest critics within her own party. Meet Jens Spahn, the ambitious “anti-Merkel” tapped to become Germany’s new health minister.

Spahn’s promotion is widely seen as an attempt by Merkel to placate the conservative wing of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, which felt left behind as she charted an ever more centrist course in recent years.

By offering the outspoken Spahn a cabinet post, Merkel is also bringing a key rival into the fold at a time when her leadership has been weakened by her lengthy struggles to form a coalition government after a disappointing election.

“In the autumn of her reign, the pressure on Merkel was too big,” Der Spiegel weekly wrote. “Had the CDU leader overlooked Spahn, there would have been trouble.”

Seen as the flag bearer for the right wing of the CDU, deputy finance minister Spahn has made a name for himself slamming Merkel’s centrist policies, particularly on immigration.

Fiercely opposed to her open-door refugee policy, Spahn has advocated a sharp conservative shift to coax back voters from the far-right AfD, which garnered nearly 13 percent in the September election.

He has called for a cap on migration, a burqa ban and has railed against imams in Germany funded by “foreign actors”.

Fresh young faces

For the highly driven Spahn, the health ministry job will likely be considered a mere stepping stone on the path to clinching the country’s top job, observers say, with Merkel expected to bow out after serving a fourth term.

But as the party’s attention turns to the post-Merkel era, Spahn could face a strong opponent in Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who on Monday was appointed as the CDU’s new secretary general.

By installing the popular female premier of tiny Saarland state in the top party role, Merkel is — as with Spahn — responding to calls to renew the CDU with fresh, young faces.

But the move was also interpreted as Merkel essentially anointing loyalist Kramp-Karrenbauer as her heir apparent.

“The question of who will lead the CDU into the future — after some 22 years of Merkel at the helm — will likely be decided between the socially conscious Catholic Kramp-Karrenbauer and the conservative Spahn,” said Spiegel.

Courting controversy

The tall, bespectacled Spahn was born in the western town of Ahaus and trained as a bank clerk before gaining a master’s degree in political science.

In 2002, he became Germany’s youngest member of parliament when he was elected to the Bundestag aged just 22.

At the time, he said his goal was “not to end up as a backbencher, but to actively help shape policies, muscle my way to the front”.

He first courted controversy in 2008 when he lashed out against plans by the Merkel-led government to raise pensions, slamming an “election gift to the elderly” that he said would cost future generations dearly.

In 2009, Spahn was named the CDU’s spokesman on health policy.

In 2014, he made it into the party’s executive committee where major decisions are made.

A year later, the self-described “liberal conservative” became a deputy to hardliner Wolfgang Schäuble at the powerful finance ministry.

He grabbed the national spotlight in 2016 when he openly defied Merkel at a party congress by arguing against the right to dual citizenship — and winning the debate.

Never one to bite his tongue, he became the target of online mockery last year after he complained in an interview about “elitist” Berlin hipsters who speak too much English.

A gay Roman Catholic, he played a vocal role in the fight to legalize gay marriage in Germany and tied the knot with his journalist partner Daniel Funke in December.

With a self-belief that some observers say borders on arrogance, Spahn has never hidden his ambitions.

One oft-quoted anecdote recalls how a high-school French teacher once asked a teenage Spahn what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“Chancellor,” he replied.


Source :  The Local Germany

Russia to hand over 2,000 seed specimens to ‘doomsday’ Arctic Seed Vault

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The Global Seed Vault on Svalbard was created ten years ago

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

© AP Photo/John McConnico

MOSCOW, February 26. /TASS/. Russia plans to transfer about 2,200 specimens of food plant seeds to the Global Seed Vault located on Norway’s Arctic island of Svalbard, Dr. Nikolai Dzyubenko, the director of the Nikolai Vavilov All-Russia Institute of Plant Genetic Resources [VIR] told TASS on Monday.

The Global Seed Vault on Svalbard was created precisely ten years ago. Its commissioning took place on February 26, 2008. The Norwegian government shelled out $9 million for its construction.

“We have an agreement with the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which operates the vault, to transfer for deposit there the doublets of seed plant collections,” Dr. Dzyubenko said. “We’ll transfer 2,200 specimens of seeds there to mark the 10th anniversary of its foundation.”

 Most of the doublets to be delivered to Svalbard are those of food plants – wheat, barley, oats and grain legumes.

“[VIR is sending there] only the plants that help maintain food security,” Dr. Dzyubenko said. “The global vault is meant for keeping up the diversity of cultivated plants that could be used in the situations of climate calamities, space and/or thermonuclear wars. That’s why the seeds are kept there only for foods and agriculture.”

The Global Seed Vault on Svalbard has about 900,000 specimens of seeds from plant collections of more than 70 depositaries of genetic materials from around the world.

FAO assessments say this deposition amounts to 40% of all the unique specimens of seeds worldwide.

Any gene bank, either a government-controlled or private one, as well as institutes, NGOs or companies that have collections of seeds of their own can join the project.

The All-Russia Institute of Plant Genetic Resources boasts of having one of the most grandiose collections, which includes among other things the seeds of plants that are believed to have become extinct out in the wild.

Source : TASS

Early voting in Russian presidential election to begin in US on March 5

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Anatoly Antonov mentioned the attention to developments in Russia on the part of the Russians holding US passports

WASHINGTON, February 26. /TASS/. Russian nationals living or staying in the US will have an opportunity to cast ballots in the early voting for the next Russian President as of March 5, the Russian Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov told NTV America channel.

The Russian embassy uploaded the full-length recorded interview at its official homepage on Thursday.

Russian nationals across the world go to the polls to elect the next President on March 18.

The early voting will begin with Denver, CO, Antonov said, adding that the polling stations would be open on Election Day the Embassy in Washington, DC, and in the Russian Consulates General in New York City, Seattle, WA, and Houston, TX.

“We’re also organizing supplementary polling stations in fifteen cities,” the Ambassador said. “Early voting will be held on March 5 in Denver, CO; on March 7 in Kansas City, MO; on March 10 in Orlando, FL, and Sacramento, CA; on March 11 in Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Minneapolis, MN, Albany, NY, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Philadelphia, PA, and Chicago, IL.”

“In all, Russian citizens will have an opportunity to vote in 19 cities,” he said.

Antonov mentioned the attention to developments in Russia on the part of the Russians holding US passports, saying: “[…] they do care.” He said the fellow-Russians living in the US were asked him to give details on where they could come and vote.

“The Embassy is doing everything in its power to help every [Russian] citizen implement his or her constitutional right and come on an appointed date [to a polling station] and voted, thus expressing their electoral will,” he said.

Under the current regulations, the Russian nationals who plan to vote abroad do not need to register for the voting in advance, Antonov said. All they have to do is to come to a polling station and present their domestic or international passports.

Source: TASS