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Archive for June, 2019

June 30th, 2019 by admin

Hail pelts nation’s capital

The wild weather left hail drifts up to one metre deep around city streets.

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Bulldozers were being used to clear ice in the city centre, causing traffic chaos and very long delays for commuters.

The city remains on alert with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing a road weather alert because of ice and fog.

Canberra’s major retail precinct, The Canberra Centre, has been forced to close as has the Australian National University’s city campus, as crews check buildings are safe.

Schools including Canberra Grammar and Campbell High, near the Australian War Memorial, also have been closed.

Government offices affected by the storm include the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

“We have had some flooding … it was an enormous electrical storm,” a spokesman for the Canberra Centre said.

ACT State Emergency Service (SES) chief officer Tony Graham said the SES had received about 100 calls for assistance with 40 officers working through the night.

“The majority of jobs have been for flooding and hail damage with a number of residential properties sustaining collapsed ceilings,” he said in a statement.

Numerous roads were closed overnight including Parkes Way and Vernon Circle in the city, he said.

Bunda Street in Civic was shut this morning as emergency crews worked to clean up.

Fire fighters from the ACT Fire Brigade and crews from Roads ACT worked to clear hail and debris off roadways.

Mr Graham said the storm struck late last night causing widespread damage from Civic through to Belconnen in Canberra’s north.

He said the ACT SES expects more calls for assistance to come in later this morning as people wake up to discover damage to their properties.

Canberra’s commercial centre of Civic, experienced unspecified but extensive damage as hail blocked gutters which then overflowed into shops and offices.

Nature strips across the city’s inner northern were pounded by the hail, leaving little more than mud in places where drought had stripped away top soil.

A spokesman for the territory’s water authority, ACTEW Corporation, was unable to confirm if any rain had fallen over the Canberra catchment area because the ACTEW building has been flooded.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

PM won't name nuke locations

Mr Howard said to name possible locations of any nuclear reactors would harm the prospects of a sensible debate on the issue.

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The opposition party meanwhile released a list of government MPs it says have publicly declared they would not want a nuclear reactor in their electorates.

Those listed are Greg Hunt, Kevin Andrews, Peter McGauran, Russell Broadbent (Victoria), Joanna Gash (NSW), Julie Bishop (WA) and Warren Entsch (Queensland).

But Mr Howard says there's no point in the government indicating where power stations might be located.

"I do not intend … to engage in an exercise in saying nuclear power stations won't be here or won't be there," he said.

"I do not intend to engage in the game of ruling out the location of nuclear power stations in any particular part of this country because that will take with us a sensible debate about this issue."

The government says Australia cannot overlook the use of electricity generated by nuclear power because of its low greenhouse gas emissions.

Row over timing of inquiry

As the debate over nuclear energy heated up, the opposition also challenged the government to reveal what talks it had with a company promoting nuclear energy, which was co-founded by a former Liberal Party treasurer.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd says the opposition can be excused for being suspicious about government links with the nuclear energy company.

The prime minister and Treasurer Peter Costello confirmed that Liberal powerbroker Ron Walker told them of his decision to register a company promoting nuclear power in the middle of last year.

That was about the same time that Mr Howard called an inquiry into the feasibility of an Australian nuclear energy industry.

But Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane yesterday told parliament that he had not held any discussions with anyone involved with Australian Nuclear Energy (ANE) Pty Ltd.

Mr Rudd said the opposition had been trying to establish when the government had conversations with ANE and where that sat with the commissioning of the Switkowski inquiry into the nuclear industry.

Mr Howard earlier denied setting up the inquiry into nuclear power to benefit Liberal Party powerbroker Ron Walker.

Mr Howard conceded that he called the inquiry into nuclear energy's feasibility about the same time that Mr Walker told him he had registered a nuclear energy company.

But he said he had not been influenced by Mr Walker's decision to start Australian Nuclear Energy (ANE) Pty Ltd.

"There was absolutely nothing riding on my conversation with Mr Walker," Mr Howard told Sky News.

"I didn't decide to have an inquiry into nuclear power in Australia because Mr Walker told me that he and a couple of his business associates (were registering a company).

"I decided to have the inquiry because I thought it was in the national interest to do so."

ANE was registered on June 1, 2006 – five days before Mr Howard announced his prime ministerial taskforce to review the feasibility of a nuclear energy industry.

Mr Howard pointed out that then science minister Brendan Nelson had proposed an inquiry in November 2005.

"The idea that I thought gee, let's have an inquiry as a result of my conversation with Ron Walker is just ridiculous," the prime minister said.

"They didn't seek any assistance. They don't need the permission of the prime minister to incorporate a company."

Mr Howard also denied discussing possible government subsidies to make nuclear power economical with Mr Walker.

" Southcott simply repeated that it was too early to discuss that aspect.

Watch a debate on the pros and cons of nuclear energy with anti-nuclear campaigner Helen Caldicott and the head of the government's taskforce on nuclear energy Ziggy Switkowsky.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

Underworld figure confesses

Victorian police, charged with investigating Melbourne's underworld, have warned the war is not over despite claiming a major scalp, gangland kingpin Carl Williams.

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On Thursday Williams pleaded guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court to the murders of Lewis Moran, 58, his son Jason, 36, and a third man who cannot be named.

The confessions were a major breakthrough for the Purana gangland taskforce charged with investigating Melbourne's underworld wars.

But the taskforce's head, Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland, said today the battle was not over and can never be won.

"No, they never end actually and I've never really liked the term war, it sort of suggests that it is something we can win," he told the Nine Network.

"The point is this is entrenched organised crime that we're dealing with; we know that it never goes away.

"It became pretty public down here, obviously that's put a lot of pressure on us to be seen to deal with it, I think we're now doing that.

"But it's not going to go away and neither are we."

Jason Moran, 36, and his bodyguard Pasquale Barbaro, 40, were shot dead as they sat in a car watching a children's football clinic in Essendon in June, 2003.

Lewis Moran was shot dead in the inner-city Brunswick Club on March 31, 2004.

Details of the third murder are suppressed.

Williams faces spending the rest of his life in jail following the guilty pleas.

He is already serving at least 21 years for the 2003 murder of Michael Marshall, who was gunned down outside his South Yarra home in front of his five-year-old son on October 25, 2003.

The outcome of that trial had been suppressed until yesterday.

Mr Overland said Williams' confessions were a great victory for police and he thanked the officers and law enforcement agencies involved.

"It is a great day for our people, it's a vindication for their efforts and the work they've done," he said.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

Rudd defends Burke meeting

Labor leader Kevin Rudd says he's guilty of nothing more than good manners and bad judgment in his dealings with disgraced former WA premier Brian Burke.

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As the Burke scandal derailed Mr Rudd's dream start as opposition leader, the federal Labor leader said he was unaware of a ban on state Labor MPs contacting Mr Burke when he met him three times in 2005.

But Mr Rudd rejected as "an absolute lie" government claims that he went to Perth to enlist Mr Burke as his numbers man for his leadership challenge against Kim Beazley a year later.

Mr Rudd was subjected to a bruising parliamentary attack on his honesty today over his links with Mr Burke, whose activities as a lobbyist are under scrutiny by WA's Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).

He later called a press conference and said: "Would it have been better for me not to have met with Mr Burke, had I known what Mr Burke was up to at the time? Of course.

"Did I have the faintest idea that Mr Burke was engaged in activities which are now the subject of the CCC? Of course I did not.

"So therefore, with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, of course I would not have met with Mr Burke. I had no knowledge of those matters then."

Mr Burke, a convicted fraudster, has already brought down three ministers in the WA Labor state government, sacked during the inquiry into his lobbying activities and those of his business partner Julian Grill.

Mr Rudd admitted meeting Mr Burke three times in Perth in 2005 – once at breakfast, once over coffee and once at dinner – through federal Labor backbencher Graham Edwards, a close friend of both men.

But he said he had done nothing wrong, other than suffering a lapse in judgment.

Mr Rudd said he felt an "obligation of friendship" to meet with Mr Burke because of their strong mutual friendship with Mr Edwards.

"Sometimes we do things out of friendship and politeness," he said.

But he rejected the chance of a fourth meeting when Mr Burke offered to organise a dinner for him with journalists when he was next in Perth.

"I thought it was going a step too far," he said.

"Having a discussion with someone at a social gathering is one thing, then taking someone's assistance to organise a meeting with journalists in Western Australia I thought was going too far.

"I felt uncomfortable about that and in this business you make judgments about whether that level of assistance is appropriate."

Mr Edwards and a second Labor backbencher, Mark Bishop, have been "counselled" for remaining in contact with Mr Burke since last November, when then Labor leader Kim Beazley banned all MPs from dealing with Mr Burke.

But Treasurer Peter Costello said Mr Burke was a convicted criminal and Mr Rudd should be tainted by his association with him.

"Those who understand politics in this house will say that it was no coincidence in 2005, when the leader of the opposition was looking for numbers for his leadership bid, that he happened to be going regularly to Perth and meeting with Mr Brian Burke," Mr Costello told parliament.

"Mr Brian Burke never does something for nothing. Mr Brian Burke has now been fingered by the crime commission in Western Australia and four (sic) ministers have lost their jobs because of their contacts with him, because anyone who deals with Mr Brian Burke is morally and politically compromised."

Labor tried to turn the attack back on the government, asking Prime Minister John Howard about coalition MPs' dealings with former Liberal Party powerbroker Noel Crichton-Browne, who has also been implicated in the CCC inquiry.

Mr Howard said the two cases were not comparable because Mr Crichton-Browne had not been jailed for fraud and the Liberals had expelled him from the party more than a decade ago.

"Anybody who has any understanding of Australian politics would suspect that what the leader of the opposition was about was touting for preferment and favour from a man of influence in the Labor Party in Western Australia," Mr Howard told parliament.

June 30th, 2019 by admin

Thorpe service 'no rock gig'

Sunday's memorial service in Sydney for rock legend Billy Thorpe will be open to the public but won't be a tribute concert, manager Michael Chugg says.

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Details were still being worked out today for the memorial service at Sydney's Entertainment Centre on Sunday afternoon, which is also expected to be televised live.

VIDEO: Glenn A Baker pays tribute

Titled "Over The Rainbow", after Thorpe's cover of The Wizard of Oz trademark tune "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", the March 4 service will begin at 3.45pm (AEDT).

Thorpe, 60, died at St Vincent's Hospital yesterday after a massive heart attack.

Tickets to the hour-long memorial service will be made available to the public from tomorrow.

As tributes poured in for Thorpe, Chugg made it clear the event would be a memorial service, not a rock concert.

"We are working through all this and locking it all in stone, we will release the details on various websites over the next few days," Chugg told the Nine Network.

"Again, I must stress it is not a concert, we want you to come along because we want you to pay your respects to a great person.

"We have been very, very conscious of how Billy would have seen it."

The memorial service is expected to feature tributes and performances by some of Thorpe's closest friends and family.

A spokeswoman for Chugg Entertainment said the service would be telecast live on one of Australia's major networks – Ten, Nine, Seven or ABC – and an announcement would be made later today.

Australian pop star Olivia Newton-John today joined the tributes to Thorpe.

"I was shocked and still am," Newton-John told Nine.

"Billy was so full of life, it's just so hard to imagine. He was always so energetic and alive, it's incomprehensible yet.

"I have lots of fond memories of Billy."

A decision is also expected soon on the release date of Thorpe's last album, Tangier, which was in the final stages of mixing before he died.

Thorpe is survived by his widow Lynne and daughters Rusty and Lauren.