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01.03.11 12:00 am

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VEDANTA AGM: ANGRY PROTESTS in INDIA, AFRICA AND LONDON

Miriam Rose, Foil Vedanta http://www.foilvedanta.org
01.08.15 7:27 pm

  •  Boxing match between company execs will be staged during major protest at Vedanta’s London AGM.

  •  Parallel protests in Zambia, and Hyderabad, Udaipur, Delhi and Korba in India, on Global Days of Action against Vedanta.

  •  Vedanta shares slip to 377p as their merger attempt with oil and gas subsidiary Cairn India tries to grab cash reserves to pay $9.1 bn net debt.

Six global locations in India and Africa(1) will hold angry protests opposing the activities of British-Indian mining company Vedanta(2) over the 1st and 2nd of August. Vedanta’s AGM at Ironmongers Hall, Barbican, London at 2pm on Monday 3rd August will also be mobbed by a loud rally organised by Foil Vedanta(3), accusing the company of pollution, human rights abuses and financial mismanagement. The protest will include a comical staged boxing match between Vedanta’s 69.6% owner and Chairman Anil Agarwal and new CEO Tom Albanese, revealing the company’s debt problems and internal dynamics. Vedanta’s share price has slipped 61% this year to 377p, and continues to dive as Q1 results show increased debt, and Cairn India minority shareholders oppose their attempt to merge with the oil and gas subsidiary to gain access to its $2.6 billion cash reserves for debt servicing.

In the Zambian copperbelt, communities living around the mines and smelters of Vedanta’s copper subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines will stage two days of protests in Chingola town on 1st and 2nd August. They will decry KCM’s continued pollution of the River Kafue and local streams, which have left the water devoid of life, and communities with long term health problems and without clean water. Most of the protesters are also victims of the major pollution of the river Kafue by Vedanta in 2006, which affected up to 40,000 Zambians. KCM was finally confirmed as guilty by the Supreme Court of Zambia in April this year, though $2 million compensation earlier awarded to the victims was retracted under pressure from company lawyers.1 The claimants have accused Vedanta of corruption and bribery in the case.2

Joseph Sibezulu, one of the protesters, from the Mambwe tribe in Northern Province of Zambia, says:

“Zambia’s environment has been polluted and destroyed by the so-called foriegn investors including Vedanta. People are suffering health problems and the companies don’t even help us with medical expenses. We as Zambians say no to these looters.”

KCM was earlier indicted in Zambia when evidence emerged of major tax evasion and transfer mispricing.(4)

A parallel event will also take place in the capital Lusaka, organised by the pressure group Power Zambia, who will issue a press statement highlighting the poor working and health conditions of KCM’s workforce, including the impacts of high arsenic-tainted copper concentrate, which was recently being imported by KCM from Chile, but was banned from processing in Zambia by the government in July 2015, as it endangered workers and the environment.3

Protesters at Vedanta’s AGM in London will focus on the company’s $9.1 billion net debt4 crisis and desperate attempt to merge with oil and gas subsidiary Cairn India to gain access to its $2.6 billion cash reserves.(5) Vedanta’s Q1 financial results released on 29th July revealed $500 million increased debt and impairments. The share price has now slipped to a historic low of 377p. Dissident shareholders will warn Vedanta’s shareholders inside the AGM that the company may follow the pattern of Indian energy corporate, Essar - bleeding subsidiaries of their assets, de-listing them, and incurring huge debt write-downs,5 if they continue on their current trajectory.

Miriam Rose from Foil Vedanta says:

“Vedanta has been increasingly restructuring its toxic debt into Indian public banks, putting the taxpayer at risk of major losses if the firm goes bust. The high risk, high debt operating style also puts its 82,000 employees in a very insecure position, as jobs that were touted as ‘developing’ their communities are being lost overnight, leaving communities polluted and devastated without livelihoods.”

Vedanta recently announced ‘drastic’ job cuts across its Indian aluminium business, which it claimed was due to cheap imports from China and low aluminium price.6 7

In Rajasthan, India, retrenched miners from Matoon Mines Mazdur Sangh (Matoon Mines workers union) will protest alongside local villagers polluted by phosphate dumps on 3rd August in Matoon. Ninety miners were dismissed by Vedanta subsidiary Hindustan Zinc Limited in December 2014 with only 1 month’s advanced pay. Berulal Meghwal, Dalit farmer and Matoon mines trade union activist said:

“Vedanta have flooded this area with money and bribes, and flooded my fields with phosphate mine-waste. They have acquired grazing land for phosphate dumps which is illegal under Rajasthan law as of April 2014. No-one was compensated for loss of grazing land.”

Kumari Bai, a local resident living beside the phosphate dumps in Matoon said:

“I have been sitting in & protesting & going to meetings but nothing happens. They tell us to leave and say they’ll close the mine and then within a few hours they start again. They got scared that women are gathering to complain so we took our kids as well. See it with your own eyes and then you’ll know. There are cracks in my house now and our animals can’t graze. Dust is flying in. Every time you have to sweep the house.? We can’t afford to build another house. We want compensation for the loss.”

In Korba, Chhatisgarh, India, a rally will take place on 2nd August, demanding accountability from Vedanta’s aluminium subsidiary BALCO for constructing a boundary wall and expanding ashponds without permission, as well as several other illegal construction plans which are encroaching on common land and destroying livelihoods.

Ramayan Singh from Rukbahari, Chhattisgarh, said:

“We are protesting on behalf of the ten villages where BALCO is trying to set up an ash pond for its power plant and acquire our 30.68 acre of fertile land. Vedanta officers have tried to allure in the past and taken land by promising jobs. We have not received any fair compensation nor jobs. Now we are hearing that they are cutting jobs for low price of aluminium. Why would we believe them?”

Chamra Singh from Rukbahari, Chhattisgarh said:

” Forest and land is our life. How many days this compensation will last? We have been using this land since generations. It is our source of life and we wont give it at any cost. Company is spreading lies that outsiders are instigating us.”

The protesters will also demand justice for the victims of the 2009 chimney collapse which killed between 40 and 100 people.8 Last year the Sandeep Bakshi Judicial Commission report which holds Vedanta guilty of negligence in the incident, and was suppressed by Vedanta in India, was released by activists.9

In Delhi a ‘funeral of Vedanta’ rally will take place on 3rd August outside the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) headquarters, warning the Indian taxpayer and the public banks that they may lose loans and investments in Vedanta due to its high debt and high risk operating style.

A statement from the protesters said:

“We stand in solidarity with affected communities around the world and call upon the Ministry of Finance and the RBI not to extend life support to floundering Vedanta by refusing to approve any public credit or bid to bail out Vedanta. This is in line with RBI Governer Raguram Rajan’s own warnings about the major crisis of bad debt facing India today and his resolute call for punishing defaulting corporations that “freeload”.

At Hyderabad University on 3rd August up to 60 students are expected to attend a rally in solidarity with Adivasis, Dalits and Bahujans who lost land for the refinery at Lanjigarh. Students from Odisha Scholars for Social Justice released this statement:

“The demands of the Land Looser Association for compensation for their agricultural lands taken away by Vedanta in 2002 have yet to be fulfilled. They were promised Rs 3 lakh compensation, but given only 25k to 1 lakh rupees. They have petitioned to the Chief Minister, the Governor, and Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Modi. Their lives are destroyed and not one villager has been given a job in the refinery.”

Indigenous groups stopped bauxite mining at the Niyamgiri hills behind the refinery in 2013, and are now campaigning to decommission the refinery, which Vedanta still plans to expand sixfold according to their 2015 Annual Report10, despite lack of raw materials. Lingaraj Azad, General Secretary, Samjawadi Janparishad and Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti says:

“Pollution from the plant has affected both the size and quality of fruits growing in these hills. They have shrunken in size and don’t taste the same anymore. Sound and air pollution and the glow of halogen lights have driven out birds and animals from these hills and leaves are covered with a thin film of ash and other pollutants released into the air by the refinery. Since it hasn’t got mines, the factory here should be shut down. We are mobilising this August 9 for a “Quit Vedanta” rally.”

Sammi Sikoka, a Dongria woman member of Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti (Niyamgiri Protection Council) says:

“The factory should go. Niyamgiri is our heart. We wont allow him (Vedanta) to take it. Why do not you understand what we said before? Refinery amoro dorkar nahin. (We do not want your refinery)”

Vedanta have thus far failed to get bauxite from other sources, but were awarded a prospecting license at Malimunda-Kanhai hill, where adivasis (indigenous people) and farmers recently demonstrated against the company11 issuing this collective message from the villagers of Masipur, who have formed Malimunda-Kanhai Hill Surakshya Samiti (MKHSS):

“No company can take a handful of soil from this mountain while we are alive. If government creates rift amongst the villagers, then the consequences would be detrimental and the government would be responsible for it. The government should have taken the opinion of the villagers before awarding the mining lease to the company. But, nobody has come to us till date. The government is trying to sell our Danga Deulo hill without consulting us. We would starve if our Danga Deulo hill would be sold. Where would our cattle graze and drink water?”

Meanwhile, Vedanta boss Anil Agarwal has re-launched his contentious plans for a Vedanta University in Puri, Odisha,12 which were stopped in November 2010 due to illegal land acquisition.13 In another publicity stunt Agarwal told The Times he wants to give away £1.4 billion of his personal wealth to charity, though the Sunday Times Rich List 2015 assesses he is only worth £1.1 billion, and another industry estimate suggests he may have lost his billionaire status altogether as Vedanta’s share prices have fallen more than 61% in the last year.14

In Goa, India Vedanta is hoping subsidiary Sesa Goa (now part of Vedanta Ltd) will be able re-start iron ore operations under the rules of India’s new Mining Ordinance after a four year ban due to revelations of large scale illegal mining. But activists and local residents claim the companies are yet to pay their due for environmental, social and financial losses to the state by illegal mining during the iron ore boom years and note that no-one has been tried or arrested for the Rs35,000 crore ($5.5 billion) scam in which Sesa Goa (Vedanta) is one of the main culprits.1516 Ramesh Gauns, Advisor to Bicholim Mines Affected people, who have issued a list of demands for the AGM(6), notes that Rs14,000 crore ($2.2 billion) is owed to the state by Vedanta. He said:

“Vedanta was found by the Supreme Court to have been mining illegally in Goa from 2007 to 2012, thereby destroying people’s livelihood and environment. Instead of retrospectively regularising its mines, the Government should ask the company to pay compensation for loss to the people of Goa and India, and Anil Agarwal should personally be brought to trial for breaching the laws of a foreign country.”

Surendra Velip, a farmer from Caurem, Goa, claims mine waste dumps, are still being looted by companies as they are auctioned off:

“They are auctioning 1 lakh and taking 2 lakh. All the dumps and ore have now been proven to be illegal but the companies continue to claim it as their property. Mine dumps should be reclaimed using some of the money mining companies looted and owe to us.”

In Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, trade union leader M.Esakkimuthu (Diver Coordinator for Anna Sea Divers Association), claims Vedanta subsidiary Sterlite Copper (now Vedanta Ltd) have been toxic waste into the sea near their plant.

“Sterlite is dumping waste into the sea. When you dive near the coast you see a yellow layer covering the coral reefs. Up to 10km away from the coast the fish are contaminated. People are eating that fish and I suspect a lot of birth deformities we see in this area are caused by this.”

  1.  Details of the demonstrations taking place as part of the Global Days of Action against Vedanta:

Chingola, Zambia: 1st and 2nd August. Marching to office of District Commissioner and area Members of Parliament with a petition on KCMs ongoing water pollution of surrounding villages. Please contact James Nyasulu 00 260 955541613

Lusaka, Zambia. Please contact Gasto Mugande from Power Zambia at 00 260 976004438

Matoon, near Udaipur, Rajasthan, India: 3rd August.
Please contact Berulal Meghwal on 00 01 9829184196.

Hyderabad University Central Campus, 3rd August. https://www.facebook.com/groups/567427593371025/

Korba, Chhattisgarh, 2nd August. Please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more details.

Delhi, India, 3rd August, 12 midday outside RBI office in Delhi. Contact Devangana Kalita 00 91 8130414606. See https://www.facebook.com/events/110028396011286/

  2.  Vedanta is a FTSE 250 diversified oil and mining company, who have been named the ‘world’s most hated company’ by the Independent newspaper for their long list of environmental and human rights crimes for which they are being opposed all over the world17.

  3.  Foil Vedanta are a London based international solidarity group focusing on the activities of British mining company Vedanta. We link up global communities affected by Vedanta, and hold them to account in London. We are currently aiming to make the case for Vedanta to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for their human rights and corporate governance abuses.

  4.  A case in the London Court of Arbitration on 2nd July revealed that Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) (Zambia) has been using transfer mispricing (by undervaluing ores sold to a hidden subsidiary Fujairah Gold in Dubai) to evade tax in Zambia18. The judgement also concluded that Vedanta had transferred much of KCMs liabilities to Zambia, and may be planning to abandon the mine, leaving the Zambian taxpayer to pick up $1.5 billion in debt and liabilities. Earlier, a video released by Foil Vedanta had revealed Vedanta boss Anil Agarwal bragging to investors that he makes between $500 million and $1 billion at KCM, contrary to claims made by the company that they are making a loss in Zambia and therefore cannot pay tax19.

  5.  Vedanta is the second most indebted corporate in India(3), with a net debt $9.1 billion20, more than 2.3x EBITDA21, and ‘insufficient operating cash flow to fund capital spending and dividend payments’ according to analysts.22 $2.4 billion in debt servicing payments are due in FY 16/1723, and Vedanta is desperate to get hold of cash reserves from it’s wealthier subsidiaries to meet the demands.24The targets are Cairn India’s $2.6 billion cash reserves, which it could access by merging newly named conglomerate subsidiary Vedanta Ltd (formerly Sesa Sterlite) with the oil and gas business, and Hindustan Zinc’s $4.6 billion cash reserves, for which it has long been trying to buy the state’s remaining 29.54% share in the subsidiary, mired by opposition by trade unions.25

Cairn India’s major minority shareholders Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) (9.06% stake) and UK oil and gas firm Cairn Energy (9.82% stake) are opposing the deal claiming their shares are undervalued and cash will be depleted, though this is denied by Vedanta’s Tom Albanese.26 27 28Minority shareholders are still smarting from the $1.25 billion related party loan to parent company Vedanta Resources in July 2014, which was not agreed by shareholders and is being questioned for corporate governance and cash utilisation issues.2930

According to one analyst report viewed by Foil Vedanta, which compared return on equity and assets over the last four years; Vedanta Ltd (formerly Sesa Sterlite) and Vedanta Resources, both have negative return on equity, at - 24.69% for Vedanta Ltd, and -64.08% for Vedanta Resources, compared to Cairn India which has positive return of 7.70%. On assets Vedanta Ltd and Vedanta Resources are also negative on return at - 5.62% for Vedanta Ltd, and -9.20% for Vedanta Resources, compared to Cairn India which has positive return of 6.76%. In other words, the merger with oil and gas subsidiary Cairn India is crucial for Vedanta’s survival.

  6.  Bicholim Mines Affected People have issued this list of demands regarding Vedanta Ltd (previously Sesa Goa and then Sesa Sterlite) in Goa:

a) That all those mines which obtained Environmental Clearance (ECs) during the EIA Notification 1994, should not be allowed to operate until the final hearing in MS Talaulicar v Union of India in the Supreme Court.

b) That it is not lawful to grant ECs to mining companies which have obtained them through fraud, or have breached their conditions.

c) That the Mining Ordinance 2015 regularising leases and nullifying the Goa Foundation case, is illegal and companies should pay compensation for damage caused by operating the mines illegally.

1http://www.lusakatimes.com/2015/04/03/the-supreme-court-upholds-kcms-high-court-guilty-verdict-of-water-pollution-which-poisoned-more-than-2000-people-in-2006/
2http://www.foilvedanta.org/articles/zambia-evidence-of-corruption-and-miscarriage-of-justice-in-kcm-water-poisoning-case/
3http://www.lusakatimes.com/2015/07/08/government-rejects-toxic-imported-copper-concentrates/
4Onesource Report, 31 July 2015
5http://www.tehelka.com/how-they-milked-the-system-dry/
6http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-07-21/news/64683041_1_aluminium-association-aluminium-prices-aluminium-industry
7http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/metals-mining/vedanta-may-cut-jobs-at-aluminium-unit-as-prices-tank/articleshow/48158989.cms
8http://www.d-sector.com/article-det.asp?id=1103
9http://londonminingnetwork.org/2014/08/the-killing-fields-of-korba/
10See p.71 http://www.vedantaresources.com/investor-relations/results-and-reports/annual-interim-reports.aspx
11http://odishasuntimes.com/135099/odisha-villagers-put-up-sign-boards-protesting-vedantas-mining-plans/
12http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/Vedanta-revives-Puri-varsity-plan/articleshow/47137334.cms
13http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/ex-orissa-chief-secy-helped-vedanta-get-land-for-univ-now-gets-top-job-there/#sthash.0reSZfzL.dpuf
14http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/naturalresources/article4218277.ece
15http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-arrest-former-goa-cm-for-involvement-in-mining-scam-dayanand-narvekar-1975236
16http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/centre-not-goa-to-recover-rs-35-000-crore-mining-loss-cm-115032601280_1.html
17 ‘http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/vedanta-resources-the-worlds-most-hated-company-2037977.html
18http://www.foilvedanta.org/articles/kcm-hides-profits-in-zambia-by-transfer-mispricing/
19http://www.foilvedanta.org/uncategorized/video-reveals-agarwals-500-million-a-year-profit-at-kcm/
20Onesource Report, 31 July 2015
21http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7b101156-f310-11e4-a979-00144feab7de.html#axzz3gnkslW3x
22https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/sell-anglo-american-plc-bhp-153417597.html
23http://wap.business-standard.com/article/companies/cairn-india-s-merger-with-vedanta-may-fall-through-115072300336_1.html
24http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d05b759c-0e7c-11e5-9ae0-00144feabdc0.html
25http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/pil-filed-for-scrapping-hindustan-zincvedanta-deal/article6126504.ece
26http://wap.business-standard.com/article/companies/cairn-india-s-merger-with-vedanta-may-fall-through-115072300336_1.html
27https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/cairn-energy-set-vote-against-151252908.html
28http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d0bd19fa-3069-11e5-8873-775ba7c2ea3d.html#axzz3h2XT8JDm
29http://indianexpress.com/article/business/companies/cairn-indias-1-25-billion-loan-offer-to-vedanta-group-raises-concerns/
30http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/what-next-for-vedanta-after-barmer-114091001362_1.html

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Public submissions on PNFEP review

Paul Harriss, Minister for Resources
01.08.15 5:34 pm

The Hodgman Liberal Government is rebuilding the forestry sector to create a vibrant, jobs rich and sustainable industry operating to the world’s highest environmental standards.

Last year, we announced a review of the Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy in conjunction with the third five-yearly review of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA).

The PNFEP restricts clearing in Tasmania so a minimum of 95 per cent of our native forest, present as at 1996, is retained across the State.

At the start of the year, a ban was to come into effect reducing private properties to clearing up to 20 hectares over any five year period. Prior to that, clearing of 40 hectares of native forest per year was allowable. At current clearance rates, Tasmania is not expected to reach the 95 per cent target until 2016.

We deferred this additional restriction while the review of the PNFEP takes place. As part of this commitment the government is now inviting members of the public to comment on the Tasmanian Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy, and any issues relevant to the ongoing implementation of this Policy.

We have a plan for our forest sector and we are getting on with the job and delivering it.

Submissions close at 5pm on Friday 28 August 2015 and can be made at http://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/forestry/native-forest

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Questions to Answer over AFL Sponsorship Deal

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader
01.08.15 3:36 pm

The Premier needs to explain to Tasmanians whether he sought advice from the tourism industry on the best brand marketing spend to promote Tasmania in light of the $20 million Hawthorn sponsorship deal.

It is now clear that almost half the $20million deal is the sponsorship component, which effectively pays to have the word ‘Tasmania’ printed on a footy jumper.

Without question, the Tourism Industry Council and its statewide members could have come up with a more effective, creative way to promote the state for almost $10 million over five years.

Did the Liberal Government ask Hawthorn negotiators whether the team would still play at Aurora stadium - generating economic activity in Launceston - without the hefty sponsorship fee?

Or did it, in its cynical desire to shore up votes in Bass, simply roll over at the negotiating table and give Hawthorn everything they asked for?

On behalf of Tasmanian taxpayers and those who’ve lost their jobs or been denied services under this government, we will be asking these questions when Parliament resumes later this month.

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Dawkins must stand up to O’Connor on Hawks deal

Sarah Courtney, Liberal Member for Bass
01.08.15 3:16 pm

The Greens Member for Bass, Andrea Dawkins, should stand up for the North against her Hobart-centric leader Cassy O’Connor over the Government’s new deal with the Hawthorn Football Club.

Ms Dawkins has expressed her support for the agreement with Hawthorn, giving notice of a motion that “notes the importance of the Hawthorn Football Club as a regular fixture at Aurora Stadium . . . in particular with regard to the local hospitality, tourism and retail sectors”.

But in her typically kneejerk response to anything positive, Ms O’Connor issued a statement yesterday criticising the new deal.

Ms Dawkins needs to stand up for her region against the cynical politics of her leader and demand better.

In her motion, Ms Dawkins referred to Tasmania being “the second home of the Hawks” and called on the Premier to “negotiate the best possible deal with the Club, securing at least four Premiership Season games at Aurora Stadium each year”.

That is exactly what the Hodgman Liberal Government has delivered, so it is now beholden on Ms Dawkins to condemn Ms O’Connor’s remarks.

The fact is the latest modelling shows the total value of the Hawks deal, including the direct economic impact of games, as well as national brand exposure, to be nearly $30 million per year.

That’s an almost eight-fold return on our annual investment for Tasmania.

Clearly this is a great deal for Tasmania and particularly the North, and will be well received by football fans and small businesses.

Ms O’Connor should also be reminded that the Government is investing a record $1.44 Billion in education and training and is making the biggest ever investment in Tasmania’s health system with $100 million in additional funding, and a total budget of more than $6 Billion over four years.

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Extra $4m Lost During 2014-15 Financial Year on Pokies

Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens Racing & Gaming spokesperson
01.08.15 1:18 pm

Tasmanians lost almost $194m in the 2014-15 financial year, which equates to nearly $4m more than the previous financial year.

And this is despite the number of machines around State dropping by 39, and the number of venues, including casinos, reduced to 97 statewide.

Our population is facing even further hardship, and with heartless reforms and job losses en masse under this government, the strain being put on some households must be at breaking point.

If people are out there gambling more and also paying more for essential services, but no further or better paying employment is available, then something has to give.

The Liberal government cannot continue to keep taking without offering up sensible policy reform to see a balance, or at least an offset, for harm minimisation and the Greens are intent on continuing to lobby for poker machine reform. 

Tasmania needs a $1 poker machine bet limit, a pre-commitment policy, as well as significant industry reform in the long term if we are to ever see the cycle of poverty in this State begin to shift.

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A STATEMENT ON BRONWYN BISHOP’S LATEST TRAVEL OUTRAGES

Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for Denison
01.08.15 12:45 pm

The latest revelations about Bronwyn Bishop going to Nowra and Young are surely the final straw. Tripping all over Australia for political fundraisers and who knows what else at taxpayers’ expense is patently wrong.

The Member for Mackellar is undoubtedly a serial abuser of parliamentary travel arrangements and entirely unfit to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. She must step down immediately from the position and repay every cent.

Just as quickly the investigation into Bronwyn Bishop’s travel claims must be taken up by the Australian Federal Police. Yes, parliamentary travel arrangements should be tightened. But that in no way alters the fact that Mrs Bishop has been certifying, as official travel, trips that any reasonable person would understand to be principally of a private nature. In my opinion this is fraud and should be dealt with as a possible criminal matter.

The AFP should also investigate the questionable business dealings between Bronwyn Bishop and her office, and aircraft charter companies.

I remain firmly committed to moving a no confidence motion in Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker in cooperation with Clive Palmer when the Parliament resumes.

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Tasmania, Hawks strike new five-year deal

Will Hodgman, Premier Minister for Sport and Recreation
01.08.15 7:40 am

The Tasmanian Government and the Hawthorn Football Club have reached a new deal which will see the Hawks play five games per year in Launceston until 2021.

Despite being into its 14th year, the popularity of the Hawks hasn’t waned, with some of the biggest attendances ever for Hawks games being recorded this season.

This new deal is fantastic news for Tasmania, Hawks fans, and the broader economy.

The total Tasmanian Government investment in the new deal is $19 million plus CPI, or $3.8 million per year.

For this investment, the latest modelling shows the total value of the Hawks deal, including the direct economic impact of games, as well as national brand exposure, to be nearly $30 million per year.

In total, the agreement provides for 20 fixture matches and five pre-season matches at Aurora Stadium in Launceston, over the period 2017 to 2021.

Importantly, the Tasmanian Government has negotiated the removal of finals and grand finals bonus payments, meaning a saving of up to $1 million on the current contact (already $750,000 in bonus payments have been made under the current contract, which climb to more than $1 million if the Hawks win the Grand Final this year).

The new deal has all the benefits of naming rights sponsor and includes an additional community or junior football initiative within Tasmania.

The new deal also retains arrangements in the current contract that allow the purchase of a fifth game, subject to AFL and participating teams’ agreement.

The deal remains subject to final ratification from the AFL.

It is expected negotiations around the North Melbourne deal, which currently sees three games per year in Hobart, will commence late this year, or early next year.

While our ultimate goal is for Tasmania to have our own AFL team, given the position of the AFL this is clearly not achievable for the foreseeable future, which means renewal of the Hawks’ deal is the best outcome available at this time.

For the longer term, we remain absolutely committed to seeing Tasmania take its rightful place in the AFL and we are working closely with the AFL on how this can be achieved.

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Farewell Louise Crossley

Vica Bayley Tasmanian Campaign Manager The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc.
31.07.15 8:32 pm

The Wilderness Society today paid tribute to Dr Louise Crossley, who passed away yesterday after a brave battle with cancer.

Louise has been a passionate environmental leader and long-time conservation campaigner in Tasmania, spearheading work to protect the forests of Bruny Island and highlighting the plight of threatened species such as the swift parrot.

Louise had a distinguished career, both as a scientist and a leader. She was one of the first women to be appointed as station leader in Antarctica and spent extensive periods working and travelling in the Southern Ocean and on the Antarctic continent. Louise was an intrepid traveller and passionate supporter of the arts and music.

“Louise was a much-loved leader of the conservation movement in Tasmania who has made enormous contributions to progressing environmental awareness, achieving conservation outcomes and mentoring young campaigners,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.

“Louise was a regular participant in movement-wide forums discussing environmental issues, contemporary conservation campaigns and the political challenges that need to be overcome to achieve protection for wild places in Tasmania.

“Louise possessed a formidable intellect and was a person whose advice was always sound and canny. She will be sorely missed and our thoughts go out to Louise’s family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.”

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One Health System vital to improve poor health performance of the past decade

Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health
31.07.15 5:21 pm

The case of Lois Sheridan demonstrates exactly why the Liberals’ Plan to fix the broken health system is needed.

The unacceptable wait times which are a feature of the current broken health system are a key reason for our One Health System reforms, the improvements outlined in the White Paper, and the additional $100 million for frontline health services.

We’ve presented our Plan to fix the broken health system and work is underway to implement it.

Labor were in Government for 16 long years and in that time there were tens of thousands of patients who waited years for elective surgery or even to be seen by specialists.

Under Labor the wait times for outpatient appointments were actively hidden from public view. We published these hidden waiting lists so Tasmanians had a real picture of the broken health system and what needs to be done to fix it.

Labor’s whingeing has demonstrated that they have no plan at all to fix the broken system, let alone admit that this broken system is Labor’s legacy gift to Tasmanians.

What is Ms White’s plan to help patients who are waiting too long? They didn’t have one through 16 years of Government and Rebecca White has again confirmed that they still don’t have one now.

Everybody knows about the problems with the broken health system we currently have in Tasmania. My challenge to Ms White and Labor is to do what the Liberal Government has done and actually put forward constructive solutions.

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Early Childhood Professionals Networking Forum

Kelly Sims. First published July 20
31.07.15 4:45 pm

Don’t miss the chance to secure your place at this exciting event …

Education and Care Connections Professional Development is led by experienced and qualified Education and Care Consultants whose goal is to support quality outcomes for educators and children which are central to the NQF.

An Early Childhood Professionals Networking Forum

This forum has been developed for Educators, Leaders and Community Advocates to explore the importance of the ever expanding Education and Care sector from top to bottom.

Due to be held in Hobart on Friday the 14th of August 2015, 8.45am - 4.45pm at the Sustainability Learning Centre Mt Nelson (5 mins from Hobart city).

Don’t miss the opportunity to attend this exciting event and network with other leading professionals!

The forum is designed to provide a ‘birds eye’ view on how the sector is driven, its influences as well as offers the chance to explore a diverse range of topics which directly affect our future generations and general social development.

The day will be a combination of;

·      Leading facilitators delivering short and powerful talks (including Q&A’s) 
·      A selection of afternoon workshops to choose from
·      Facilitated networking opportunities
·      A choice of fun and inspiring lunchtime experiences (activities) for participants to choose from

I.e Yoga session, bush walk, live music, media challenges and much more…

·      Lunch, morning/afternoon refreshments, competitions and prizes
·      Fun and learning with the chance to make and explore new local connections

Sessions will be delivered in a short, inspiring and informative way by industry leaders and have been intentionally developed to engage, enlighten and promote practical application as well as to optimise each participant’s information intake. Practical examples of how to link everyday tasks and decision making directly to sustainable business strategies as well as the National Quality Framework will be provided throughout the sessions. Everyone is working together to bring a practical array of experience, knowledge and skill sets to the overall forum.

Lunch, morning tea and afternoon beverages will be provided, along with the opportunity to explore a variety of afternoon workshops and lunchtime fun such as; yoga, bush walking & live music.

The Aim:
•    To provide an opportunity for Leading Professionals, Educators and Community Advocates to network and gain a further understanding for the early childhood sector holistically through…
•    Unpacking the ‘different ways’ our community groups and advocates impact our children’s future by…
•    Exploring a range of subjects and linking these to practical examples, national, state and sector legislation and initiatives/strategies - in a way that’s relevant and makes sense.

Download the Forum Program and E&CC PD information:

ECC_Forum_Aug_2015_-_V1_Final.pdf

ECC_PD_information_2015.pdf

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$2 million boost to community sector

Jacquie Petrusma, Minister for Human Services
31.07.15 4:34 pm

The Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to assisting our most vulnerable Tasmanians.

This week, we have delivered a $2 million boost to community sector organisations that we know are so important in the lives of so many people.

The additional funding was paid to around 230 community sector organisations that every day provide about 440 vital on the ground services and support to disadvantaged Tasmanians, in every region of the State.

Together, these organisations are this year sharing in a record $255.28 million investment in the community services sector.

The second instalment of our $9 million election commitment to provide additional funding to the sector, the $2 million paid this week is on top of indexation payments to help organisations meet increasing operational expenses and demand for services.

The Government, meanwhile, is also moving to ensure that Tasmanians have ready access to information on discounts and concessions, with today’s release of the 2015-16 Tasmanian Government Discounts and Concessions Guide.

This year, the Government will provide around $300 million worth of concessions to Tasmanians.

The 2015-16 Tasmanian Government Discounts and Concessions Guide details the 88 concessions that help not only with the cost of living, but also assist Tasmanians to fully participate and be involved in community life.

The 2015-16 Tasmanian Government Discounts and Concessions Guide is available online at http://www.concessions.tas.gov.au

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Waiting times completely unacceptable

Rebecca White MP Shadow Health Minister
31.07.15 4:13 pm

The waiting time to see a gastroenterologist in the public health system in the south of the state is unacceptably long.

Lois Sheridan has been on the waiting list as an urgent patient waiting to get an appointment at the gastroenterology clinic since the 3rd of September 2014.

On the 11th June Ms Sheridan rang again and was informed that while a time frame could not be given for when an appointment might be arranged, there were 488 people in front of her on the list.

“Imagine my shock when hearing this. If and only if they took 2 new patients each week I would still be waiting in four and a half years to receive treatment,” Ms Sheridan said

“It is deplorable that I and others like me have to wait so long for an appointment to be seen by a specialist, let alone any potential treatment be advised.”

Ms Sheridan’s health is not just a matter of priority to her but also to her 22 year old son who has Down Syndrome and relies on Ms Sheridan as his full-time carer.

“The wait for a patient regarded as urgent is 654 days. This is just to have an initial appointment with a specialist to assess future treatment options,” Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said.

“The wait for someone regarded as semi-urgent is 992 days and for those regarded as non-urgent the wait is 1161 days.

“There are just two FTE specialist gastroenterologists who perform a total of six outpatient clinics a week.

“There is no doubt that the service is chronically under-resourced and the waiting lists will not improve until more staff are employed and more clinics provided.

“The situation needs to be addressed urgently so patients can be seen in a timely manner and get appropriate treatment for their health problems.”

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Homelessness Prevention Week

Meg Smith Publication & Information Officer I Shelter Tasmania
31.07.15 4:10 pm

Homelessness Prevention Week (HPW) will be taking place across Australia starting on the 3rd August 2015. Shelter Tasmania, the peak body for housing and homelessness in the State, is pleased to promote the events and activities around Tasmania as part of HPW 2015. This year’s theme is ‘Step Up to End Homelessness’. 

‘The aim of HPW is for everyone in the community to work together to raise awareness and identify solutions around the problem of homelessness in Australia, and in particular Tasmania. One of the significant ways we can ‘step up’ is to combat the stereotypes and stigma of homelessness’, Shelter Tas Executive Officer, Pattie Chugg said. 

‘It is important to remember that homelessness can be hidden from the wider community and is much more prevalent than people might think. A common misconception is that homelessness just means sleeping rough, but in fact this is true of only 6% of the homelessness population.  It goes far beyond these stereotypes, people who become homeless are just like you and me – they can be young or old, they might be working or in school, they might be families’, Ms Chugg said. 

The last Census in 2011 reported that 1,579 people were experiencing homelessness on any given night in Tasmania. The major causes of homelessness include financial issues, unaffordable rent, job loss, health issues, domestic violence and family breakdown. ‘These are challenges that can happen to anyone, and sometimes they push people into homelessness. Staying with friends or ‘couch surfing’ is a really common experience for people, but it isn’t secure accommodation, and it isn’t a stable base to build your life on’, Ms Chugg said.

To mark HPW 2015, a number of organisations around Tasmania will be holding events to raise funds or awareness for homelessness, including:  The H.E.L.P film festival (a film competition for high school students, 16 films with the theme ‘Who is Homeless?’ will be screened) to be held in Devonport on Monday 3rd August.  An event with Australian of the Year and family violence campaigner, Rosie Batty. Organised by Anglicare, this event will be held in Launceston on Monday 3rd August.  ‘Step Up with us to end homelessness’ is a walk to raise awareness about homelessness and support HPW. Housing Connect have organised the walk from North Hobart to Franklin Square on Monday 3rd August. 

For more information on these events and other activities planned during the week, see the HPW edition of Shelter Tas eNews, which will be released today. 

Shelter Tas congratulates all the organisations involved in HPW 2015 as well as the valuable work services in Tasmania undertake every day to help prevent homelessness.

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Bald Hill Mine First Shipment

Paul Harriss, Minister for Resources
31.07.15 4:05 pm

The Hodgman Liberal Government is backing our mining and minerals processing sector to drive economic growth and create jobs.

I was extremely pleased to visit Australian Bauxite Limited’s Bald Hill Mine near Campbell Town today, which is preparing to export its first shipment of bauxite by early September.

Works started in December and ABx is currently producing over a thousand tonnes a week as it continues to ramp up to full production, which will be around 6,000 tonnes a week. The ore will be exported from Bell Bay with the first shipment expected to be around 30-thousand tonnes.

Importantly, this project has already created a dozen direct jobs and further indirect jobs. ABx is also looking at other prospective sites in Tasmania, which has the potential to create even more jobs.

The success of the Bald Hill Mine comes at the perfect time for our state. The demand for our bauxite is high and the Australian dollar is low, giving us the opportunity to become a long-term player in the market place.

We need to capitalise on that momentum and that’s why in our mining and minerals processing sector, we are embracing new technology and innovation, sending a message to investors that Tasmania is open for business in mining and working with industry to cut through the barriers and get new projects off the ground.

We are seeing positive signs across the economy, with the highest business confidence in the nation and a booming construction sector, but we need to do more.

That’s why we’ve invested $24 million in the Budget to facilitate exploration and mining development while fostering and encouraging responsible land management in Tasmania.

We are also investing in promoting Tasmania nationally and internationally to prospective mineral exploration and mining companies through targeted and strategic marketing.

I congratulate ABx on its success with the Bald Hill Mine site. We will continue to support and work with our mining sector to capitalise on the industry as one of our state’s key strengths to create jobs and grow the economy.

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Strategic direction given the tick by owners

Chairman of the TasWater Board Miles Hampton
31.07.15 11:42 am

As TasWater begins its third year of operations, the company has finalised its Corporate Plan for the next three years.

Chairman of the TasWater Board Miles Hampton says “the Corporate Plan lays out a targeted programme of investment intended to drive better customer outcomes, improve compliance of water and sewerage infrastructure and significant economic benefits for the state.” 

“I am also pleased the new Corporate Plan has been fully endorsed by our Owner Councils following a meeting with local government representatives earlier this week.”

Brighton Mayor, Tony Foster, who is the Chairman of the Owners Representative Group says “councils across the state have welcomed the new TasWater Corporate Plan and offer a vote of confidence in TasWater.  Not only for its work over the last two years but we are looking forward to the ongoing management of water and sewerage services into the future.”

Tony Foster says “while the process of water and sewerage industry reform has been at times difficult, there is now clear evidence of the benefits extending across the Tasmanian community.”

Coming after the determination of a second Price and Service Plan by the Economic Regulator, the new Corporate Plan does face challenges given our preferred pricing mechanism was significantly adjusted by the Regulator.

Miles Hampton says “this has forced TasWater to review plans and re-assess our trajectory. But while it may constrain our rate of performance improvement, we will continue to build on the progress made so far.”

The Corporate Plan sets out to achieve water and sewerage pricing parity across the state and cost savings due to productivity improvements totalling $11 million since formation. 

The number of towns experiencing water quality below Australian Drinking Water Guidelines will drop from 26 to eight, and the number of non-compliant water storage dams down to five from 13.

TasWater will commit $330 million over the next three years on capital spending programmes, delivering significant employment and economic benefits, state wide.

Our development framework with no headwork charges where existing capacity exists, will also act as a key driver of economic activity. A reduction in sewerage spills impacting on the shell fish industry also remains a key target.

Miles Hampton says “while this Corporate Plan spans the next three years, at TasWater we are looking much further ahead.”

“We will use the period to further develop our understanding of how Tasmania’s $640 million backlog of essential infrastructure upgrades will impact on the delivery of a sustainable and affordable water and sewage system.”

Miles Hampton says “a full review of our current regulatory framework and the sourcing of external funding options will be necessary if we are to address this shortfall in infrastructure. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build an affordable, fit for purpose and compliant water and sewerage system, and I believe with the backing of our local government owners this can be achieved.”

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Labels finally getting it right

TFGA president Wayne Johnston
31.07.15 11:41 am

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has been a loud advocate of consumers being entitled to know as much as possible about their food provenance: where it comes from and, in particular, whether it is Australian.

We know that people are unhappy with current labelling, because it really doesn’t tell them what they want to know.

For years consumers have demanded changes so that origin claims on food labels are clear and unambiguous. What we all want to know is where a product is made and packaged. Most importantly, whether the ingredients were grown in Australia.

The Australian Government, at last, has made a move in the right direction after consulting with the state and territory governments (which have to agree to any changes in labelling). Its proposed country of origin labels have new standard phrases and a kangaroo and bar-chart graphic as shown below.

There is only so much information you can put on a label so the Government says it will work with industry groups to ensure that consumers will also have access to online information and smart phone apps.

The first part of the label shows whether the food was grown or made in Australia. The second shows the percentage of the product that was made or grown in Australia.

If a product is packed or wrapped in a country but the food originated in another, the label has to show that, even if it says “Packed in Australia from imported ingredients”.

There will be a staggered phase-in period of between three and 24 months once all governments have legislated for the new labelling regime. That is expected by mid-2016.

The TFGA believes the new labelling will enable consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions and will encourage them to look for Australian products first and foremost, which will promote domestic agriculture.

That should reinforce the reputation of the Australian brand, one built on high quality, safe and sustainable food.

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN THE TAS COUNTRY ON 31ST JULY 2015.

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Which ‘facts’ about gay parenting did the ABC check?

Mrs Roslyn Phillips, BSc DipEd National Research Officer FamilyVoice Australia: a Christian voice for family, faith and freedom
31.07.15 11:40 am

“Some days ago the ABC published what it calls a ‘Fact Check’ on whether a father and a mother are better than same-sex parents ,” FamilyVoice Australia research officer Ros Phillips said today. 

“It purports to be an independent review of international research, but its analysis is far from even-handed.

“For example, the Fact Check reports that a 2004 study (by Wainwright et al) found that children raised by same-sex parents were no different from those raised by opposite-sex parents in terms of depression, anxiety and self-esteem.  But that grossly overstates Wainwright’s conclusion.  The study involved so few couples that it lacked the statistical power needed.

“In fact, a comprehensive review of 59 same-sex parenting studies by Dr Loren Marks in 2012 found serious methodological flaws in almost all studies that purport to show that parental genders do not matter.  The flaws include small samples, ‘convenience’ samples of volunteers, inadequate, unmatched or missing controls, and self-reporting.”

Marks chose the 59 studies for analysis after they were cited by the American Psychological Association (APA) to support its claim that no study has found any disadvantage suffered by children raised in same-sex couple families.  The ABC Fact Check cites a similar (2007) review by the Australian Psychological Society, including many of the APA studies – but fails to mention Marks’s critique.

The Fact Check also fails to mention the study by Dr Paul Sullins, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Education, Society and Behavioral Science in February this year.  Sullins analysed reports on 512 children raised by same-sex parents, drawn from a pool of over 207,000 respondents who participated in the US National Health Interview Survey between 1997 and 2013.

He found that, on eight out of 12 measures, children raised by same-sex couples had nearly double the risk of emotional, mental health or developmental problems compared with children raised by their two natural parents.  Bullying and “homophobia” are often cited as the cause of such problems, but the analysis found no difference between the two groups in their self-reported experience of having been bullied.

But Fact Check did favourably mention an Australian study of same-sex parenting by Dr Simon Crouch et al, whose methodology is seriously flawed.  The 315 mostly lesbian couples volunteered for the study after being recruited by friends and advertisements.  They would have known in advance that their answers could be used to further a political agenda – unlike the control group, drawn from a general parenting study, who would not have known how their answers could be used.

The children were not independently assessed – those raising them answered questions about their children’s health and well-being.  An analysis of the study showed that its finding (that children raised by same-sex couples did slightly better than others on some measures) was based on two highly subjective questions: Is your child healthy? and Is your family happy?

“The ABC Fact Checkers should be more careful with their ‘facts’!” Ros Phillips said.

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Queenstown festival a fitting recipient of inaugural scholarship

Roger Jaensch, Liberal Member for Braddon
31.07.15 6:50 am

Tonight’s Cradle Coast Tourism Awards are important in not only recognising excellence and innovation in the local hospitality and tourism industries, but also in encouraging operators and staff to raise the bar.

As a local Member of Parliament and a former chief executive of the Cradle Coast Authority, I am very pleased to personally support the awards this year by presenting the inaugural Roger Jaensch MP Tourism Scholarship.

This award is aimed at providing assistance with the cost of study or other professional development that enhances the winner’s career in, and contribution to, tourism in the Cradle Coast region.

The judges have exercised some creative thinking in awarding the scholarship for this year to the Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival.

The festival organising committee will match the $1000 scholarship to provide for two of its members to attend the famous Deni Ute Muster.

One of the committee members will be Leigh Styles, a West Coast councillor who serves as the festival’s secretary and part-time marketing and social media officer.

Their aim will be to “pick the eyes” out of the event and then bring the expertise back home to build upon the Queenstown Ute Muster, which was first held last year.

Quality events are important if we are to grow our visitation, so the awarding of this scholarship is very fitting.

I was also pleased tonight to announce that the scholarship with be made available again next year to assist in building further on our greatest strength – our people.

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White Ribbon Night

Will Hodgman, Premier
31.07.15 6:24 am

Tonight (Thursday), men across Australia are being called upon to unite in a stand against family violence as part of the White Ribbon Night.

I will join the Commissioner of Police Darren Hine and together we will again take the White Ribbon oath to “never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women’.

Importantly, we will be joined by representatives from local high schools, business leaders, sporting codes who all share in our commitment to address this dreadful social ill.

As a White Ribbon Ambassador and Premier of Tasmania I am determined to address the causes of family violence, and our efforts to eradicate it.

This is a whole of community issue, but as Premier I am personally leading the response of the Government, which includes a Family Violence Action Plan to be released next month.

The Action Plan is being developed with service providers, those affected by family violence and Government Agencies.

The Government is also pleased to work with White Ribbon Australia, a cause that shares in our dedication to ending violence against women.

Through primary prevention initiatives and an annual campaign, White Ribbon Australia seeks to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to and perpetuate men’s violence against women by engaging boys and men to lead social change.

The Government is committed to doing everything it takes to address the very serious problem of family violence, and ensuring there is a cultural change in attitudes towards this social ill.

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Government needs to be open about Spirit refurbishment

Bryan Green MP Labor Leader
30.07.15 7:49 pm

Labor Leader Bryan Green believes Tasmanians have a right to know who’s doing the work on the $30 million Spirit of Tasmania refurbishments.

“This is a big project being paid for with the money of Tasmanian taxpayers,” Mr Green said.

“People have a right to know if the work is being undertaken by local, national or international crews.

“The Government is obliged to be up front with Tasmanians about the employment arrangements of the refurbishments.

“It’s not a big ask to confirm how many foreign workers are employed on the ship in Sydney.

“The Liberals’ claims of xenophobia are ridiculous, this is simply about knowing how taxpayers’ money is being spent and who’s benefitting from it.

“Will Hodgman and Rene Hidding made a big deal out of promising to employ Tasmanian workers on this project and they need to tell Tasmanians whether they’ve broken that promise.”

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Volunteering has changed, and now, so has the official definition

Volunteering Tasmania
30.07.15 4:41 pm

Volunteering Australia announced a new definition of volunteering earlier this week: Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain. The way volunteering is defined has a critical impact.

The new, wider definition will help improve the understanding of the magnitude of the volunteer community; and aid in appropriate acknowledgement of the total economic contribution of volunteering to society.

“We are delighted to see that the definition now falls much closer to what has constituted volunteering in recent state-based research such as our State of Volunteering: Tasmania 2014 Report, and the Economic, Social and Cultural Value of Volunteering to Western Australia report 2015,” said Adrienne Picone, CEO of Volunteering Tasmania.

“The previous definition was developed 19 years ago in a time when our assumptions and ideas of volunteering were quite different,” she said.  “The new definition casts the volunteering net wider and broader than ever before.  It challenges some long held stereo types and encourages people to recognise the many and varied forms of giving they do as important and valued,” she said.

The change in the definition may also impact on future legislation and policy, and lessening the distinction between profit making and not for profit entities in the growth of social enterprise in Australia.

Volunteering Australia will need to continue to work with some of our major partners such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Social Services to work together to implement the change. At the State level the State and Territory peak bodies will be working within their jurisdictions to support volunteer involving organisations to adopt the new definition and embed it into the vision and mission of their volunteer program.

Volunteering Tasmania welcomes questions from the sector via phone on 6231 5550, or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) The new definition, the supporting explanatory notes and comprehensive FAQs can be found on the VA website. 

Feedback can be directed to Volunteering Australia .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Merger sets the path for a new $6.5 billion Tasmanian superfund

Peter Gutwein, Treasurer
30.07.15 4:36 pm

The Hodgman Liberal Government’s number one priority is jobs.

Following a review of the Retirement Benefits Fund, started under the Labor-Green Government, it became clear that, due to declining membership, and a lack of scale in terms of funds under management, costs would rise over time and it would become increasingly difficult for the RBF to continue to provide the same high quality service to members.

As a result it was recommended to the Government that we should exit the role of providing superannuation through the RBF and that consideration should be given to seeking a merger partner that, in all likelihood, would see the assets and management of the fund be transferred to a mainland based superannuation fund.

The decision to take this course of action, in the Government’s view, needed to be weighed against the risk that the other major Tasmanian Superannuation fund providers TasPlan and Quadrant (who have agreed to merge separate to this process) would also in time come under similar pressures in terms of scale and the possibility that they too could exit the state, taking jobs with them to merge with larger funds on the mainland in the medium term.

This would mean that potentially over time Tasmania would not have a major locally based superannuation fund in the State and jobs and expertise would be lost to the mainland.

In the Government’s view, this would not be in the State’s best interests.  Therefore I asked the RBF to hold discussions with TasPlan & Quadrant – to consider and develop a business case on the feasibility of a single Tasmanian superannuation fund.

That business case concluded that a merger would be in the best interests of their respective memberships, and the Government has today entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with RBF, TasPlan and Quadrant to go through a process of due diligence under the standard national rules, and subject to it being in the best interests of members, create a single Tasmanian superannuation fund.

The creation of the new Superfund will secure Tasmanian jobs and ensure that Tasmanians continue to benefit from the presence of a competitive and viable superannuation fund in their state. The merged entity also will promote job growth, provide opportunities for local businesses through Tasmanian investments, and support the expansion of the Tasmanian financial services sector.  Having a Tasmanian-based superannuation fund will provide a stronger likelihood that Tasmanian investment opportunities will be on the radar, by comparison to these three funds being absorbed into a large mainland superannuation operation.

This new Superfund will be the largest business by size of balance sheet in Tasmania, servicing around 165,000 members and managing over $6.5 billion. It will be in a strong position to compete in the wider Australian superannuation industry and attract new business and new jobs to Tasmania.

Subject to due diligence, confirmation by the respective Boards and enactment of enabling legislation, it is anticipated that the merged entity will be created by the end of 2016. This merger will follow the completion of the already announced merger of TasPlan and Quadrant expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Once it is up and running, the new Superfund will become the default fund for Tasmanian public sector employees, and importantly, members will retain their choice of superannuation fund.

The RBF’s Defined Benefit Schemes will continue to be the ongoing responsibility of Government and will continue to be administered under an outsourced model with a new tender for the service to commence at the completion of the current contract. There will be no change to the design or entitlements of any of these schemes.

Today’s decision is an important step towards securing and creating Tasmanian jobs, driving investment and attracting business to our State.

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Invenio ... News from Deakin Research

Deakin Research
30.07.15 4:33 pm

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Read more here

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SETFIA:How does my bottom look?

South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association
30.07.15 4:23 pm

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Read more here

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Statement from Franklin Candidate

Dr Rosalie Woodruff, Greens candidate for the seat of Franklin at the 2014 state election
30.07.15 3:33 pm

Dr Rosalie Woodruff, Greens candidate for the seat of Franklin at the 2014 state election, has confirmed that she will inform the Tasmanian Electoral Commission of her willingness to nominate for the recount on Nick McKim’s seat.

“I congratulate Nick on his selection as the next Greens senator for Tasmania. He will be a fantastic representative, and has the skills and energy to work on the challenges of this role”, she said.

“I will not be commenting any further on my current candidacy until the Electoral Commission process is completed, said Dr Woodruff.

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Archibald painting of Lambie still generating some media interest

Rob Messenger
30.07.15 3:29 pm

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Download the Archibald entry ...

PastedGraphic-1.pdf

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Burnie International Tennis Classic worth a fight for funds

Rob Messenger
30.07.15 3:20 pm

Media Statement and Letter to the Editor

“Finally, after reading his public comments, I’m struggling to understand exactly what kind of support Mr Whiteley has given to the Burnie International Challenger. Has he written a letter or made a phone call – or has he been caught out making excuses for his laziness again?

In one breath Mr Whiteley admits the Burnie International Tennis Challenger is important to our local economy. Yet in the next breath he says the iconic sports event is not the responsibility of the federal government, despite the fact it generates $850,000 each year for the local economy!

I don’t think Mr Whiteley has taken the time to even write a letter - or make a phone call to Senator Eric Abetz and ask for a share of the promised $16M of federal funds. The $16M has clearly been earmarked for Tasmania. It’s very disappointing that a public campaign was needed to shame the federal government into releasing Tasmanian funds.

My advice to the federal government after they come to their senses, is to divide the money equally between the five Tasmanian Federal electorates.

Each Tasmanian Federal Member of Parliament should consult with their electorate and come up with a plan to spend that money fairly. The Burnie International Challenger, is an important part of Tasmanian sporting culture. Both the state government, Burnie City Council and Tennis Club have contributed $670,000 towards the court’s upgrades.
So No Mr Whiteley - it’s not beyond comprehension that the federal government contributes. The Burnie International Challenger is worthy of a letter and a serious fight for funds from its federal government representatives.” said Senator Lambie.

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Tasmanians to have their say on Tariff 41

Bryan Green MP Labor Leader
30.07.15 3:10 pm

Tasmanians can voice their outrage at the threat of skyrocketing power bills with the launch of a petition in support of retaining Tariff 41.

The Liberal Government’s own energy adviser has warned that scrapping the discount tariff could increase power bills by as much as a $1000 a year.

Labor Leader Bryan Green said the Opposition is against scrapping the tariff and has invited energy users to speak up.

“The petition will give people a chance to send a clear message to Matthew Groom,” Mr Green said.

“Tasmanians deserve to understand the consequences of removing Tariff 41, which provides a discount for hot water and installed heating like heat pumps.

“Many households have invested with Tariff 41 specifically in mind.

“And we know that some people are delaying building projects due to the uncertainty around its future.

“I encourage Tasmanians who want to see Tariff 41 remain intact to sign the petition.”

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‘BUY LOCAL’ CAMPAIGN BLOWN OUT OF WATER BY SHIP REFURBISHMENT

Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens infrastructure and small business spokesperson
30.07.15 1:58 pm

The Liberals’ ‘buy local’ campaign has once again been blown out of the water with claims that a significant number of workers employed on the Spirit of Tasmania refurbishment have been sourced from overseas.

Last month Adam Brooks claimed that jobs were the Hodgman Liberal government’s number 1 priority, and that this project was a major part of seeing that promise through.

After failing to deliver, again, we now see Minister Hidding running the line that questioning the percentage of foreign workers employed on the project is ‘xenophobic’.

Is this a line we are expected to be hearing more frequently, with the loosening of labour laws under international trade agreements currently being negotiated under a veil of secrecy by the Federal Liberal government?

It is well known that Tasmanians are underemployed and the Spirit refurbishment agreement clearly stated that 50% of work had to be carried out by Tasmanians.

Even if that that requirement has been met, sticking to a minimum number of local contractors and employees is not the way to deliver on a promise of jobs growth for the State.

We need to ensure that the contract is not broken, that Tasmanians are being given first priority where possible, and that conversations around nationality of outsourced labour do not degenerate into name calling without sincere investigation into the claims.

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