Monthly Archives: July 2019

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Taxi assistance package: Laws being debated in Queensland parliament

A bill that will allow compensation to taxi licence holders is being debated in Queensland. Photo: SuppliedMotorists will face heftier fines for stopping in taxi zones under new measures designed to shield the taxi industry from the rise of Uber.
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Debate has begun on the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, which features a $100 million taxi and limousine assistance package.

Uber became legal in Queensland from September 5, with the government’s assistance package for taxis and limos designed to help ease the strain on the traditional industry.

Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he would urgently move to increase the fine for illegally stopping in a taxi zone from $48 to $243.

“This change builds on recent increases to fines for related offences of soliciting and touting, and providing an unlicensed taxi service and will support effective enforcement of illegal activity by ride-booking services,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

The Transport and Utilities Committee made 30 recommendations, including increasing the $100 million assistance package and reviewing the limit of two licences per holder for assistance payments.

The payments would include $20,000 per taxi licence and $10,000 per limo licence.

Mr Hinchliffe said the total funding for the assistance package of $100 million would not increase as it “would be at the taxpayers’ expense”.

The two licence cap for taxis would also not be lifted.

But Mr Hinchliffe said all ownership structures would be eligible for the payments, including individuals, trusts, companies and superannuation funds.

Mr Hinchliffe said payments would be made to industry as soon as possible, with invitations expected to be sent to eligible taxi and limo holders in December.

Opposition Transport spokesman Andrew Powell said the bill was “flawed and botched” and described it as “kick in the guts” to taxi and limo operators.

“The LNP also welcomes competition but there must be fair compensation and a fair and level playing field for the personalised transport industry,” Mr Powell said.

Mr Powell said it was unfair to cap compensation on two licences per holder.

Debate on the bill continues on Thursday afternoon.

The government will introduce a second stage of industry reforms with legislation to be implemented from August 2017.

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Queensland storms: south-east hit with more wild weather as heatwave looms

The Brisbane CBD copped a soaking when a storm hit south-east Queensland on Wednesday. Photo: Jorge BrancoHailstones the size of tennis balls have lashed the Sunshine Coast hinterland, as severe thunderstorms batter south-east Queensland.
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Imbil and Peachester recieved the brunt of the hail, while parts of the Gold Coast including Mermaid Beach dealt with a deluge of smaller hailstones.

Senior meteorologist Rick Threlfall said the storm cell over the hinterland was still “very dangerous”, and could even continue north as far as Fraser Island.

“We’re still quite concerned about that cell,” he said.

Meantime the storms further south have eased, and Mr Threlfall said there’s a “pretty small” risk of Brisbane being hit with the wild weather.

EARLIER

More wild weather is due to hit south-east Queensland, with a severe storm warnings issued on Thursday afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorology said very dangerous thunderstorms were detected near Woodford and Mount Mee heading north east, and are forecast to hit the Sunshine Coast hinterland and the Sunshine Coast before 4.30pm.

Other severe thunderstorms were detected in the Southern Downs, and were tracking towards Ipswich and Scenic Rim.

The bureau said very large hailstones, damaging wind and heavy rain which could lead to flash flooding are likely.

A more general warning has been issued for the south-east coast and parts of the Darling Downs and Granite Belt district. #QLD Golf to tennis ball sized hail has been reported from the #Peachester area. These storms are very dangerous. https://t.co/N59BNlLkjrpic.twitter苏州美甲培训/cw6wonUnxG— ABC Emergency (@ABCemergency) December 1, 2016Severe to extreme heatwave conditions over parts of #QLD and #NSW. More info at https://t.co/IhAOZx3OkApic.twitter苏州美甲培训/Yzw75Xu8BT— BOM Australia (@BOM_au) December 1, 2016

Queensland Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick said Queenslanders needed to “be vigilant” and make sure they were prepared for heatwave conditions over the coming weekend.

“Heat related illness can be very, very serious, and it can be potentially life threatening. So what we need to do is look after vulnerable people in particular in our community,” he said.

“Please think about dropping in to see your friends, your neighbours and your family to check that they’re OK.”

Particularly vulnerable are the elderly, pregnant women, young children, the sick and pets, but Queensland Ambulance clinical quality and patient safety director Tony Hucker said everyone needed to make sure they looked after themselves.

“The community can really help us out by just being careful on those really hot days,” he said. If you notice any signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek medical treatment immediately. Call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) December 1, 2016

Mr Hucker said heat related illnesses can “really sneak up on you”.

“Heat related syndromes are really quite insidious, unless you’re watching what you’re doing and watching others, all of a sudden you’re starting to feel very unwell and if you don’t recognise [the symptoms] you can get sick very quickly,” her said.

Symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion could include headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate.

The QAS and all public hospitals have extra staff and crews ready to go in anticipation of an increased workload over the next week.

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Search for true bee-lievers

Honey engineers: Anna Scobie and Kelly Lees,co-founders of Urban Hum, examine one of their newer supers in Mayfield. Pictures: Simone De PeakKelly Lees and Anna Scobie, the co-founders Urban Hum, a Newcastlecommunity-based beekeeping operation, are on a mission. They want more people to appreciate how good bees are for the planet, and they want to do it more of it in Newcastle.
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While they began keeping bees for their own veggie gardens seven years ago, they have only been running the small Urban Hum business for two years.

But the business, which sees them tending to 115 hives -most of them in the backyards of enthusiastic beefans throughout Newcastle’s suburbs, has grown to the point where it needs a financial boost just to take care of its current needs.

“We were both avid veggie gardeners and had to hand pollinate our zucchinis and thought that was a bit ridiculous because humans aren’t very good at pollinating zucchinis,” Scobie said. “So we went and did a beekeeping course ourselves. Got one hive, that turned into two hives, then it was a full blown obsession.”

They had more than 70 people respondwhen they did their first call-out for people to host hives ($45 a year will get a host 4 kilograms of honey from the hive on their block and the benefits of a healthy swarm pollinatingflowering plants within a 5-kilometre range of the hive).

Now, Urban Hum has a waiting list of more than 200 people who want to host or buy hives.

We are family: A single colony can have 50,000 to 80,000 bees with only one queen bee. Urban Hum focuses on single-origin honey from each colony.

More urgently, Urban Hum has begun a Kickstarter fund-raising drive to raise $20,000 in pledges to purchase more boxes and hives to service their existing swarms and obtain more extraction equipment.

“We literally don’t have enough boxes to keep the bees happy and healthy, so they need more space,” Lees said. “European honey bees collect a lot of honey. The more boxes you can give them the more honey they can collect.”

Kelly Lees and Anna Scobie of Urban Hum tell why they love bees. pic.twitter苏州美甲培训/U24Xbq9aDJ

— Jimmy (@JimmyKellar) November 28, 2016

Scobie said Urban Hum services about 7.5million bees. A hive will produce 30 to 80 kilograms of honey a year. Every jar of raw honey Urban Hum sells is from a single hive, with the suburb of origin noted. The firm sells through markets, selected retailers and online.

“Each hive is unique, the taste is different,” Lees said. “You are tasting one suburb, one hive. That’s what you miss out on with supermarket honey, it’s all blended.”

Urban Hum isincreasingly askedto remove unwanted hives from difficult places, like chimneys, ceilings or wall cavities. Leessalvages the swarm, settles it down and triesto find a home for it.

Novocastrians arekeen to care for their own hives, so Lees is offeringworkshops and mentoring classes. She willhosta questionsession at Estabar on Sunday, December 4, at 2pm.

End of the peer for ‘amazing’ riverside art exhibition council ‘wouldn’t back’

Artist Bruce Webb, centre, came with friends and relatives to view his and other artists’ work at the the Art at Burnley Harbour exhibition under Citylink freeway at Burnley. Photo: Simon Schluter Freeway of art: the annual Art at Burnley Harbour exhibition, on under the Citylink freeway and beside the Yarra River at Burnley, is to close due to lack of funds. Photo: Simon Schluter
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A popular annual art exhibition held under the Citylink freeway is to fold, with organisers blasting an alleged lack of support from the City of Yarra.

Increased security costs and difficulty finding $6000 to run the event mean the 2016 Art at Burnley Harbour, which opened on Thursday and runs until Sunday beside the Yarra River, will be the last.

Robert Lee, president of the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria that runs the free, not for profit event, said he is bitter at its demise.

He said it had supported hundreds of artists since it opened in 2004, and given the public access to affordable art.

He called on fans to view the “wonderful hidden gem” while they still could.

He said aside from grants of $3000 and $3500 in its first two years, Yarra council had rejected subsequent applications for financial aid.

He said the council had declined to place Art at Burnley Harbour flyers at libraries and town halls, and wouldn’t post it on its social media, saying it would only promote council-run, or funded, events.

The volunteer-run exhibition stretches for 300 metres beside the Capital City bicycle trail, and is accessible off Mary Street, Burnley.

Customer Helen Kelly, of Kew, who came early on Thursday to bargain-hunt, said the closure was “awful”.

She said last year she paid $250 for a Graham Duell stone sculpture of a whale’s tail that is now a cherished part of her garden.

“Why buy a print when you can come here and get an original painting?” she said. “It’s amazing art, available to everyone, that’s what’s beautiful about it.”

Artist Emily Levin, of Malvern, said she is “devastated” at the closure, saying selling a piece was an incentive to keep painting. The display was “an outlet to exhibit, to show our talent. It’s therapy for a lot of us, an expression of who we are.”

Artist Bruce Webb, of Eltham, was thrilled that his 1.2m welded steel abstract sculpture Yellow Totem sold for $350, hours after the exhibition opened on Thursday.

Mr Webb, 56, who has two sculptures and two abstract paintings in the exhibition, is getting back in to art after decades running a wedding reception venue and doesn’t presently exhibit in galleries.

Yarra Mayor Amanda Stone said: “We are sad to hear that the Art at Burnley Harbour exhibition will not be continuing”, but said organisers had not applied for a council grant in the past two years.

She said council spent more than $500,000 annually on arts and cultural projects. It would love to support all programs requesting, funding but it was highly competitive.

Cr Stone said community programs not funded by Council can be listed on Yarra’s Community Noticeboard website.

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Victoria’s plea to fix mobile phone black spots gets poor reception from Turnbull

The Andrews government is in a funding stoush over mobile phone black spots. Photo: Louise KennerleyThe Andrews government has been accused of “childish and pathetic” tactics after complaining it is being ripped off under a federal plan to eliminate mobile phone black spots.
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday announced a second round of funding under the flagship Mobile Black Spots Program, with $60 million set aside to build and upgrade 266 mobile towers nationwide.

But in an escalating stoush, almost half of the upgrades requested by Victoria have been rejected by the Turnbull government as a “waste of money” providing little or no benefit.

But the latest carve-up – targeting 1400 black spots – has left Victoria fuming and accusing Mr Turnbull of short-changing Australia’s most bushfire prone state.

Out of 266 new and upgraded mobile towers, 32 are in Victoria, about 12 per cent of the total, and less than half the state’s 25 per cent population share.

An assessment by Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley handed to the Commonwealth requested upgrades for 63 areas still suffering from poor coverage.

The submission was backed by a May 2016 state budget decision to set aside $11 million as part of a joint pitch with Telstra and Opus to upgrade the areas of concern.

But the submission appears to have fallen flat, almost eight years after Victoria’s Black Saturday disaster claimed 173 lives.

While Victoria will get funding to upgrade or build 32 towers, Queensland will be given funding for 76, Western Australia 78 and NSW 39.

Victoria remains riddled with black spots, creating risks on high fire-danger days when mobile phones are relied upon to issue warnings and keep track of local residents.

Innovation Minister Philip Dalidakis accused a “Sydney-centric” Mr Turnbull of playing political games and ignoring Victorian communities identified as priority areas.

“The Federal government refuses to advise us how these decisions were made and what data was used,” Mr Dalidakis said. “They are simply asking us to trust them, and since Prime Minister Turnbull was elected in July ‘trust’ is not a word he should be using with Victorians.”

But in yet another row, Regional Communications Minister Fiona Nash hit back, saying the “whinging” was “childish and pathetic”.

“Rather than thank the Coalition for 32 towers it would never have received under Federal Labor, Victorian Labor chooses to spin new mobile phone coverage into a negative,” Ms Nash said. “The political tactic of screaming ‘Not enough!’ instead of saying ‘Thank you’, is childish and pathetic.”

Ms Nash said the other 31 tower upgrades proposed by Labor were rejected because they were deemed a waste of taxpayers’ money, providing  little or zero benefit in terms of coverage.

As it is, Victoria’s relationship with the Commonwealth has been stretched to breaking point.

The Andrews government has long complained it is being denied a fair share of infrastructure funding. The state was particularly livid following a decision by the Turnbull government to deny it the full payment under the asset recycling scheme following the $9.7 billion Port of Melbourne lease.

The latest stoush also follows a row over the first round of black spot funding, in which Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield refused to change the guidelines to allow Victoria to use federal cash to upgrade phone coverage on V/Line, which can be patchy even in areas with a good signal because of the interference created by the moving train.

An analysis by Fairfax Media shows the seat of Indi – held by influential Independent Cathy McGowan – has been a big winner under the second round of funding, receiving eight out of the 32 planned upgrades.

The federal Labor seat of McEwen, which was badly affected by the Black Saturday disaster, will get three new or upgraded towers, with the remaining 21 in Liberal or National seats.

In a joint statement, Mr Turnbull, Ms Nash and Mr Fifield said the combined impact of the two-funding rounds so far under the program had provided coverage in 4400 of 10,000 black spots identified nationally.

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