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Nova radio host sacked over 'rigged' competition, caller revealed

hans bruechle ashlea reid

PRESENTER AND CALLER: Hans Bruechle and Ashlea Reid.




IN FOCUS: Nova presenter Hans Bruechle (right) at
the Eating WAVIPCardLaunch alongside Ella Reweti.

THE Nova 93.7 disc jockey and the female caller who cost him his job have both deactivated their Facebook accounts in a bid to distance themselves from the public.

Hans Bruechle, who allegedly rigged a $10,000 competition so his friend Ashlea could win, has removed his profile picture and other photos and limited the access of Facebook users on his account.

Similarly, the woman accused of calling the show, Ashlea Reid, also restricted access to her page on the social networking site and removed photos.  The pair are still Facebook friends.  They duo allegedly met at the Guinness World Record Bikini Attempt after party at Metros City on April 17, which Bruechle had hosted.

The blonde 20-year-old from Mandurah describes herself on a account as "a fun loving girl who enjoys the outdoors. I love surfing, sports, wake boarding, sky diving and anything else adventurous.

COMMENT: This is a totally outgrageous incident on Nova Radio.  This pair
of crooks has defrauded the public and should be jailed for their deception.

Premier talks growth management with the world's best

Premier and Minister for the Arts

The Honourable Anna Bligh


Premier talks growth management with the world's best

Premier Anna Bligh has kicked off the first leg of a trade mission to North America with a strong focus on growth management and gaining expertise from world leaders in urban planning and mass transit in Vancouver, Canada.

Ms Bligh today met with the Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, and agreed to work towards an exchange of senior planning staff to grow expertise in this area.

"Vancouver has been consistently ranked as the world's most liveable city over the past decade," Ms Bligh said.

"The planning challenges here are similar to those we face in Queensland, particularly in the South East corner.

"With more than 2,100 extra people calling Queensland home each and every week we have to stay ahead of the game on this issue.

"This is about learning from the best planning minds in the world and using that to our advantage locally."

Tomorrow, the Premier will sign a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell, which also focuses on exchanging ideas between the two states on growth management.

Ms Bligh said the talks at the highest levels of state and local government in British Columbia would build on last month's Growth Management Summit held in Brisbane.

Greater Vancouver and SEQ face similar challenges as a result of strong population growth.

"SEQ is expected to grow from 2.8 million to 4.4 million by 2031 - an increase of 57 per cent," Ms Bligh said.

"Over the same period, the greater Vancouver region is expected to grow from 2.2 million to 3.1 million - an increase of 41 per cent.

"This is a massive issue for both of our Government's and we have everything to gain from sharing knowledge and expertise with Vancouver's best planning minds."

The Memorandum of Cooperation being signed by the Premiers includes a specific clause on

"Planning, Development Assessment and Growth Management".

Ipswich dog owners face fines as Springfield woman fined $1600 for dog attack

IPSWICH City Council has warned that dog owners who let their pets stray and bite people or other animals will face heavy fines.

Two cases heard in Ipswich Magistrates Court recently highlighted the consequences dog owners face if their unconfined pets attack.

On April 19, a Springfield woman whose German shepherd inflicted severe wounds on a Jack Russell was fined $1600.

Magistrate Donna MacCallum heard the German shepherd was in the front yard of a Scenic Crescent house in July, 2009, when the occupant's Jack Russell ran out at it.

The larger dog took the Jack Russell in its mouth and ran off, inflicting wounds that resulted in the little terrier having to be put down.

In addition to the $1600 fine, the owner was ordered to pay court costs of $73.80.

A Karalee man was hit with a $2000 fine after his rottweilers attacked an English pointer, a dalmatian and their owner as they walked along the street on November 23 last year.

The court heard two of the man's rottweilers ran through an open gate and on to Diamantina Circle, where they bit a man on the leg and set upon his two pets.

The dalmatian and the English pointer required antibiotics and pain relief, with one of the dogs also needing stitches.

The owner of the rottweillers also paid a $314 veterinary bill on behalf of the victims' owner.

Ipswich City Council Health and Regulation Committee chairman Andrew Antoniolli said the majority of dog-bite cases dealt with by council could be put down to the owner's momentary lapse in attention.

"More often than not it's a case where, for whatever reason, the owner forgets to pay attention to what their dog is doing," Cr Antoniolli said.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said it was the pet owner's responsibility to ensure their dogs did not attack.

If you or your pet is attacked by a dog you should contact council on 3810 6666.

Redbank Plaza race preview prompts call for raceway upgrade

QUEENSLAND Raceways CEO John Tetley has agreed with criticism  levelled at his event from leading V8 driver Craig Lowndes.

Craig Lowndes at Redbank Plaza shows a young fan
what the V8 Supercar drivers wear when racing.

QUEENSLAND Raceways CEO John Tetley has agreed with criticism levelled at his event from leading V8 driver Craig Lowndes.

Lowndes said there was a cloud hanging over the future of the race and the Willowbank track needed urgent facility upgrades.

"Race drivers love tracks with character, altitude change and corners that are difficult to drive. At the moment there is not much character at Queensland Raceway," Lowndes said in his Courier Mail column.

"The circuit must be upgraded with facilities for the fans such as better shade, seating and catering.

"It's not the most technical track to drive, but at least it gives the spectators a view of the whole circuit."

Tetley said he would love to implement Lowndes' proposed changes, but the V8 race did not generate enough money to justify it.

"Last year we lost money on the V8 race, so where would the money to make these changes come from?" he said.

"There's no doubt it needs an upgrade and it is a safe track which means it can be boring.

"But our main business is the 'V8 Experience' which we have running on all the time here and the track suits that program.

"The V8s are only here once a year and unless the State Government helps out we don't have the money to extend the track.

"I have been to the tracks in Europe which are like palaces and I'm very envious."

Lowndes said race drivers found the Queensland Raceways track unsatisfactory.

"I would like to see the circuit resurfaced and lengthened, preferably with more than just two left-hand corners," he said.

"It's a very basic circuit and there are really only two or maybe three places you can overtake."

Rival V8 driver Jason Bright agreed with Lowndes' comments and said the controversy could have been resolved when the track was built ten years ago.

"They had a big area to build a track and that's what they came up with and now they are stuck with it," Bright said.

"There's no doubt it needs an upgrade as it's not the most exciting track to drive on."

Speaking at last night's meet and greet with drivers at Redbank Plaza, race fan Trevor Green said while the track was up to scratch, the facilities weren't.

"As far as views go, the track is great. Obviously the drivers see it from a different perspective, but fans love it because you can see everything," he said.

"The facilities are pretty ordinary and there's not much shade, especially if you have young kids and are sitting around in the sun all day."

Historic Ipswich milk factory to relocate to Logan City

Jobs go with factory closure

One hundreds jobs will be lost at Ipswich after National foods decision to close its Booval factory.

The business has offered to relocate staff to Logan but Ipswich council wants them to stay.

Chandini Khan reports.


More than a century of production in Ipswich will come to an end when the Jacaranda Factory ceases operations early next year.

The decision comes a year after Japanese owned company National Foods took over from Australian owned Dairy Farmers.

Coun Paul Tully, Ipswich City Councillor: "Well we didn't expect that this would happen. This has come as a complete surprise when it was taken over by the current owners. I'd like to see it stay in Ipswich."

However that is unlikely that'll happen.

Mark Toomey, Operations Manager: "The board's decision was made on Friday to the Lion Nathan National foods board and we won't be reversing the decision."

Coun Paul Tully, Ipswich City Councillor: "We've indicated to them over a year ago that we would facilitate the redevelopment of this site if necessary but unfortunately it looks as though we've lost this development to Logan."

The Creastmead plant will become the sole factory in the region once expansion on the site is completed.

National Foods has promised to provide staff impacted with full entitlements offering them either redundancy or relocation to the Brisbane plant.

Workers aren't too happy about the closure but have accepted the decision despite the inconvenience it will cause.

Vox one: I'll have to buy a car to go to the job I only live up the road."

Staff willing to relocate to Logan will make the move early next year.

Mark Toomey, Operations Manager: "It's 30 minutes from the Booval site so we see it as a opportunity for people to grow with our business as well."

Chandini Khan, QUT News

Five reasons the iPad will fail in Australia

There's just not enough information yet to know whether the iPad will succeed or fail yet in Australia.
But here's five reasons why it might.

Like many of you reading this article, I got up at a ridiculous hour of the morning on January 28 to witness the public birth of the latest fruit of Steve Jobs' fertile mind. I speak, of course, of the iPad.

Since that time there has been countless debate about how Apple's latest device will fare in Australia when it hits our shores in late May. What kind of mobile access plans will telcos like Telstra and Optus launch to support it? We don't know. How much will it sell for? We don't know. How big will the catalogue of iBooks in Australia be? Again, we don't know.

If you're detecting a trend here, it's because we don't know much. Gizmodo might be leaking Apple news in the US left right and centre (hello, next-generation iPhone), but in Australia it's rare that any real nugget of information escapes the company's all-encompassing reality distortion machine.

There's just not enough information yet to know whether the iPad will succeed or fail yet in Australia. But here's five reasons why it might.

1. The need to sign up for an additional mobile plan

Unlike the iPhone, you won't be able to make calls on your iPad. But if you want to be able to browse the web and work on your emails when you're away from your home or work Wi-Fi networks, you'll need to sign up for an additional monthly mobile plan. If you already have a mobile phone plan and a 3G data plan for your laptop, you might not be that keen on your wallet getting hit again each month.

So far there has been no indication that Australian telcos will offer a bundle package where your iPad data costs could simply come out of a merged plan with your mobile. Instead, they appear to be treating the device as just another laptop-style 3G device that will connect to their networks and suck up expensive data.

2. The Australian technology tax

Many technology vendors charge Australians significantly higher prices for the same products than US residents. Apple has been guilty of this over the years — the US$199 iPhone 3GS (on a 24 month plan) ended up costing Australians significantly more.

The iPad starts at US$499 in the US, with the top-end model going for US$829. When the Australian technology tax is applied, you can expect to be paying more than a grand for that top-flight edition — more than some laptops. And the low-end models will likely go for $600 or more.

At US$279 for the international edition, Amazon's Kindle begins to look competitive. Do you really need a colour screen if you just want to read eBooks?

3. The predicted lack of Australian iBooks

Speaking of eBooks, Apple has been decidedly reticent about disclosing whether and to what extent its iBookstore application will be available in Australia when the iPad launches here. Although it has advertised for an an executive to manage the provision of iBooks (Apple's name for eBooks) locally, it can be expected that it will take several years for the company to negotiate the complex international book publishing agreements that still hamstring the sale of eBooks in the Australian market.

4. The smaller Australian publishing market

Internationally, newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times have been going ga-ga over the potential for the iPad to rejuvenate their print revenue models — which are shrinking as consumers gradually migrate to digital offerings.

But in Australia, there is a vastly reduced publishing market compared with the US, with much smaller numbers of newspapers and magazines. Sure, large publishers such as the ABC and News Corporation (publisher of The Australian) will roll out iPad applications. And even smaller publications such as SmartCompany are eyeing off the device.

But ultimately there likely won't be enough publishers using the device to incentivise vast numbers of Australians to migrate to the platform. Will we see massive Australian magazines like Women's Day on the iPad? Probably not.

5. Existing competition and apathy

Don't get me wrong. There isn't really much existing competition in Australia when it comes to the iPad — at least on paper. There are various Windows-based tablet PCs (usually used in hospitals) and there is the Amazon Kindle and other eBook readers, which are seeing steady adoption.

But, of course the iPad does so much more than the Kindle — and its user interface and form factor is dramatically better than existing tablets. The real competition for the iPad comes from Apple's own existing mobile offerings in the space.

Australians are a highly mobile race, due to our geographical dispersion around the continent. We have adopted smartphones such as the iPhone and wireless broadband connections in record numbers, and already conduct much of our digital life on the road. The incoming wave of Android-based smartphones such as the HTC Desire is only fuelling that trend.

If you already have a smartphone (which can also function as a rough eBook reader) and a thin and light laptop, do you really need a third device to sit in between the two and take up space in your carry bag? That's the question many Australians will be asking themselves about the iPad — particularly with a new model of the iPhone expected out shortly.

It's this likely Australian apathy towards the iPad (especially outside its early technology adopter heartland) that Apple will be facing with its iPad launch in Australia. After all, it's not as if all of Apple's products have succeeded in Australia — the Apple TV being a prime example.

Final words

Of course, ultimately there is so much we don't know yet about how the iPad will go on sale in Australia. Everything that Steve Jobs touches has a little sheen of gold about it, and there are many Australians who have already gone to great lengths to buy an iPad and speak very highly of it. So it's possible sales of the device will blow everyone away and that by this time next year, cafes around the nation will be filled with Australians getting their content via an iPad while they sip their latte.

But we're not holding our breath.

The great Indy cover-up as Miss V8 Supercars entrants face fashion police!

The V8 Supercars girls will show a little less flesh and a little  more class this year.

The V8 Supercars girls will show a little less flesh and a little more
class this year.

Former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins rose to national fame in a chequered, bottom-skimming get up.

But the skimpy, figure-hugging jumpsuits of the former Miss Indy grid girls are now a racing relic of the past.

The scant kits have been ditched in favour of a conservative uniform.

Brisbane's Miss V8 Supercars hopeful Kaitlin Hawkins, 22.

Brisbane's Miss V8 Supercars
hopeful Kaitlin Hawkins, 22.

This year's Miss V8 Supercars will be covered from head-to-toe, in a move to coincide with a plan to tame the Gold Coast event.

Contestants in the Miss V8 Supercars competition will now wear long black pants, a light-coloured t-shirt, and a baseball cap.

But long-time competition organiser Leanne St George has denied the new gear was designed to appease a more conservative crowd.

"This is not about political correctness, because I'm not a great fan of it," she said.

"It's a new design, just like thigh-high boots are in one year, and ankle boots are in the next.

"We were looking for something that was different and classy."

First-time contestant Kaitlin Hawkins - a project manager in the family business, Brisbane's Hawkins Garden Centre - said she would not have entered the competition had the revealing jumpsuits not been replaced.

"I was really concerned about the outfits. I only agreed to enter once I heard that V8 Supercars wanted to clean up its image and make it an event that caters to more than what it has catered to in the past," Ms Hawkins, 22, said.

"I am so happy the new outfits are fun and sporty, yet are still not all about the flesh.

"I am more interested in being a businesses ambassador."

The new outfits will debut at this weekend's Ipswich 300.

Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke supported the move, saying the motorsporting event should not be characterised by scantily-clad women.

"It signifies a move to dignify the event. It was regarded too much as a 'boob exhibition', with the very skimpy outfits of the grid girls and the [displays] by female spectators from the balconies," Cr Clarke said.

"The race is the most important thing, not the spectators."

But Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully disagreed, saying the decision was too prudish for Australian racing.

"We're not prudes in Ipswich," Cr Tully said.

"The girls will look like athletes in tracksuits at the Olympic Games opening ceremony, not V8 Supercar girls."

Ms St George said the decision was a practical one.

"It could be 48 degrees in Darwin, it could be 38 degrees on the Gold Coast ... or it could minus three in Bathurst. So we need a uniform that goes across all the temperature extremes," Ms St George said.

"We do not want the girls to get burnt; we don't the girls to freeze either.

"We also need the girls to feel comfortable and empowered when they are wearing the uniforms, as corporate ambassadors to one of the largest sports in Australia.

"We are searching for the feminine face of V8 Supercars and she will have a very important role."

Twelve girls will contest each round of the V8s held throughout the country, with the winner of each competing for the title at the Sydney Telstra 500 in December.

Auditions for the Gold Coast round will be held in coming months.

Springfield USA votes to ban red light and speed camera enforcement

Imagine this happening here - the State Government would lose too much money!

Missouri Senate Votes To Ban Photo Enforcement

Missouri takes a step toward becoming the sixteenth state to ban automated ticketing machines.

Sen. Jim  LembkeThe Missouri state Senate on Monday voted overwhelmingly to ban the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. The measure's champion, state Senator Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis), had failed in previous efforts to convince his colleagues to end the use of automated ticketing machines. This year, however, he was emboldened by the state supreme court's decision last month to strike down Springfield's photo ticketing as illegal (view opinion). Lembke successfully attached the red light camera prohibition to a broader, 106-page transportation measure that included a number of miscellaneous provisions. The vote was 23 to 8 in favor of the ban.

"No county, city, town, village, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision of this state that is authorized to issue a notice of violation for a violation of a state or local traffic law or regulation, shall use or employ an automated photo red light enforcement system at any intersection within its jurisdiction," Lembke's amendment stated.

State Senator Timothy P. Green (D-St. Louis) received unanimous support for his companion amendment addressing speed cameras. Photo radar is rare in Missouri with Charlack, a tiny city of 1431 residents, deploying cameras to trap drivers passing through on Interstate 170.

"Notwithstanding section 304.120 or any other provision of the law to the contrary, no county, city, town, village, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state may use photo radar speed detection to determine compliance with any speed limit imposed by this chapter or by any local ordinance on any state highway," Green's amendment stated.

Green and Lembke were bolstered in their bipartisan effort by rising grassroots concern over the proliferation of automated ticketing machines in Missouri. Activists organized by the Liberty Restoration Project and supported by various Tea Party groups have held several anti-camera protests in Columbia, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis (view video). Last year alone, three states -- Maine, Mississippi and Montana -- joined four cities in voting to ban photo enforcement.

The underlying transportation legislation containing the Lembke and Green amendments, House Bill 2111, has been referred to the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. As the measure has already passed the state House, differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed bills must be worked out in a conference committee. The compromise bill would then require a final vote in both chambers before being sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Queensland to outlaw smoking displays


Queensland is to outlaw all displays of smoking and related products at general retail stores.
The new ban will be introduced through proposed amendments to the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998.
Retailers will have until mid 2011 to remove displays, Acting Premier Paul Lucas said on Thursday.
Banning the point-of-sale displays for smoking and tobacco products was recommended by a parliamentary report into chronic diseases in January 2010.
Mr Lucas said the measures will be introduced to complement the federal government's announcement on Thursday to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes and increase the tax on cigarettes by 25 per cent.
Mr Lucas also warned big tobacco companies that the state government will also back the federal government if the issue came to the courts.
"I want to make the message to big tobacco very clear. If they want to use their billions (of dollars) to pull on a court challenge we will stand united with the federal government on this," Mr Lucas said.
"If there is any doubt about federal constitutional power, Queensland will offer full legislative support to counter any legislative challenges by big tobacco."
Mr Lucas said the billions of dollars smokers cost Queensland each year would far outweigh the cost of any court action.
"Smoking kills an estimated 3400 Queenslanders each year, with more than 30,450 people admitted to Queensland hospitals each year for smoking-related illnesses," he said.
"The total cost of smoking to Queensland society - including loss of productivity, premature death - is $6.3 billion per year.".
Heart Foundation CEO Cameron Prout welcomed the move, saying putting cigarettes out of sight will protect children from tobacco advertising and stop undermining the resolve of smokers to quit.
"Banning displays is an excellent public health initiative which will not only save lives, but also reduce the burden on the health system with less smokers presenting with cardiovascular disease and cancer," he said.

Palmer considers 'cash cow' port purchase

ABC News

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer says he is concerned another private company would hike up charges to use the port once it has been leased.

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer says he is
concerned another private company would hike up
charges to use the port once it has been leased.

The Maritime Workers Union (MWU) says private investors will be lining up to buy the Port of Brisbane - but it should not be for sale.

Bids are open for the 99-year lease of the port as part of the Queensland Government's privatisation plans.

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer says he is concerned another private company would hike up charges to use the port once it has been leased.

Mr Palmer says that could prompt him to make a bid.

Mick Carr from the MWU says the government is giving away a "cash cow".

"I think anybody who put in a bid including Mr Palmer would be a very smart business person on the basis that's a very lucrative business to buy," Mr Carr said.

"There's no competition whatsoever.

"But we do have a real view that the port should not be put up for sale in the first place."aritime Workers Union (MWU) says private investors will be lining up to buy the Port of Brisbane - but it should not be for sale.

Bids are open for the 99-year lease of the port as part of the Queensland Government's privatisation plans.

Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer says he is concerned another private company would hike up charges to use the port once it has been leased.

Mr Palmer says that could prompt him to make a bid.

Mick Carr from the MWU says the government is giving away a "cash cow".

"I think anybody who put in a bid including Mr Palmer would be a very smart business person on the basis that's a very lucrative business to buy," Mr Carr said.

"There's no competition whatsoever.

"But we do have a real view that the port should not be put up for sale in the first place."

Call for school asbestos to be removed from Queensland

ABC News

The Member for Hervey Bay, Ted Sorensen, says the Queensland Government should remove all asbestos identified in the region's schools.

Six schools in the Hervey Bay electorate have been listed as having presumed or confirmed asbestos on the State Government Schools Register.

In a reply to question on notice from Mr Sorensen, Education Minister Geoff Wilson says any asbestos classified as being in poor condition is programmed for removal.

Mr Sorensen says all asbestos should be removed.

"It's a little bit disappointing, his answer," he said.

"There's still asbestos in some of the schools in Hervey Bay and especially some of the old vinyl floor coverings which contain asbestos and I believe that should be removed as quickly as possible."

Fears motorway sale will drive up tolls prompts call for CPI limit


AUSTRALIA'S leading motoring body fears Ipswich residents could be slugged with higher tolls to use the Logan Motorway if the state-owned Queensland Motorways is privatised.

The RACQ said the sale of the government-owned corporation would condemn motorists to paying increased tolls on the motorway for the next 50 years.

Queensland Motorways has been put up for sale by the State Government along with parts of Queensland Rail and other state assets under Premier Anna Bligh's privatisation plan.

RACQ general manager for external relations Gary Fites said his group would fight for Queensland Motorways Limited (QML) to remain in public hands.

"There is a sound economic argument to show that the state's road infrastructure should be managed as a single integrated network for the benefit of all," Mr Fites said.

"And the decision to dispose of the tolling rights held by QML through a 50-year franchise arrangement would effectively condemn motorists to the payment of tolls on key south-east Queensland roads through to 2060.

"The entity that buys QML can make money only one way, and that's through toll revenue."

He said if it remained government owned, the tolls on the Logan Motorway could be reduced or done away with completely within the 50-year period.

Ipswich City Councillor Paul Tully, whose electorate borders on a stretch of the Logan Motorway, said QML should only be sold if the government retained control of toll prices.

Cr Tully said price rises should only go up in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), otherwise thousands of Ipswich residents would be disadvantaged.

"It's the gateway to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane Airport for the majority of Ipswich residents," Cr Tully said.

"People don't mind paying a reasonable toll for the motorway, but if it increases above the CPI rate it would affect a lot people.

"You could then have a situation where people avoid the toll road, which will lead to other roads becoming more congested."

Acting Premier Paul Lucas said it was unlikely the State Government would have removed the toll on the Logan and Gateway motorways.

Mr Lucas told reporters the tolls would have stayed in place because the revenue was used to fund infrastructure.

"Queensland Motorways Limited has a long-term franchise in any event that it has under public ownership," he said.

"The RACQ's position on toll roads is well known – they don't support the Gateway being a toll road full stop – so that's been their announced position."

LNP Leader John-Paul Langbroek said the RACQ was standing up for Queensland motorists who already paid the highest vehicle registration fees in the nation.

What a croc: Australia Zoo 'disrespected' Anzacs - Throw the book at these clowns!


Open for business ... Terri Irwin at Australia Zoo, which has been  criticised by the Queensland RSL for remaining open to the public all  day on Anzac Day.

Open for business ... Terri Irwin at Australia Zoo, which has been
criticised by the Queensland RSL for remaining open to the public
all day on Anzac Day. 

RSL Queensland says Australia Zoo should face the full weight of the law after it remained open for business on Anzac Day.

State branch chief executive Chris McHugh today slammed the decision as a display of "crass commercialism".

"We are exceptionally disappointed in what they have done," Mr McHugh told

"The law is quite explicit ... they have thumbed their nose at a convention which all other businesses accept.

"You have to question what they thought they would achieve by doing that."

The Department of Justice is investigating why the Sunshine Coast zoo was open all day despite a ban on places of amusement operating before 1.30pm.

The home of the late Steve Irwin faces a maximum penalty of $20,000 if found to have breached trading hours laws.

But a spokeswoman for the park has defended its actions, saying it held a commemorative service in the Zoo's Crocoseum, including a minute's silence.

"Australia Zoo is a proud Australian business and on Sunday joined Australians around the country, marking their respects by hosting an ANZAC Day commemorative service in the Zoo's Crocoseum," the spokeswoman said.

"Patrons were up standing and acknowledged a minute's silence as ex-service veteran Alan Wilcocks, from Beerwah RSL Sub Branch, read out The Ode and bugler Sam Robb played The Last Post."

However, Mr McHugh said the zoo's decision to hold a memorial service at 11am did not make it exempt from the law.

"It is drawing a very long bow. They opened at 9am. They are not supposed to open until 1.30pm," Mr McHugh said.

Beerwah RSL Sub Branch president John Rouhan said he was not aware Australia Zoo did not have a permit to open early on Anzac Day.

"We didn't realise that they did not have the approvals this year," he told the Sunshine Coast Daily.

"We will have to look into doing things differently."

Department of Justice inspectors are making inquiries with Australia Zoo.


COMMENT: Terri Irwin is coming across as an American smart ass over this issue.  Australia Zoo obviously considers itself above the law.  The suggestion that because they held their own Anzac Service at 11.00am - two and a half hours before they could legally open - somehow justifies their illegal conduct is totally outrageous.  They are treating the Government and the public as dills. The Queensland Government should throw the book at them.  And as an apology to the people of Queensland for their illegal opening on Anzac Day in 2010, they should be forced to close all day on Anzac Day in 2011.

WORLD FIRST: All Australian cigarette packets to have completely plain packaging from 2012


The Australian government is expected to announce compulsory plain packaging for cigarettes tomorrow.

It is understood the new laws would make plain packaging compulsory tobacco products by January 1, 2012.

The new laws would make it illegal for cigarette packets to print brand colours or logos on cigarette packets, which would still carry health warnings.

Cigarette packets in Australia already contained graphic health warnings about the risks associated with smoking, which cover 30 per cent of the front and 90 per cent of the back of the packets.


COMMENT: This initiative by the Australian Government is another step towards the outlawing of tobacco and cigarettes except by consenting adults in private.

Google legal threat: Groggle boggled by Google mean spirit as law suit threatened against Australian entrpreneur


A screenshot from the Groggle site, which is currently in private  beta.

A screenshot from the Groggle site, which is currently in private beta.

An Australian web entrepreneur says draconian legal threats from Google could force him to pour two years of work and tens of thousands of dollars down the drain.

Cameron Collie, from Brisbane, has spent several years working part-time with a mate on Groggle, a location-based alcohol price comparison website service allowing consumers to search for the cheapest price on liquor products in their area.

After obtaining all of the relevant Groggle domain names for each country and registering the business, Collie applied to register Groggle as a trademark. His site was already in the beta test phase and Collie, 36, was planning a formal launch within weeks, as well as an accompanying iPhone app.

Cameron Collie.

Cameron Collie.

The trademark application was accepted by IP Australia but, with just days left for other companies to launch an objection, Google's lawyers sent Collie a cease and desist letter.

The letter, seen by this website, demands that Collie withdraw his trademark application, change the company name and transfer all domain names to Google.

Google argues that Groggle is "substantially identical with and deceptively similar to" its own trademarks.

It said that if Collie did not comply with its demands it would "make an urgent application to the court seeking interlocutory injunctions restraining Groggle and its directors".

"We don't have the financial backing to fight them on this, we just want them to reconsider because it's just crazy," Collie said in a phone interview, adding he was "completely shattered" when he received the letter..

He said he understood Google was simply trying to protect its brand but queries where Google would draw the line, emphasising that Groggle is simply a play on the word grog. Collie said he decided on the name after finding was taken.

"We want Google to reconsider and realise that we're not a threat and never will be," said Collie.

"We're certainly not typosquatters - nobody's going to type in Groggle thinking they're going to reach Google, that's just insane."

Google Australia declined to comment.


COMMENT: Only a fool or a drunk could mistake Groggle for Google.  Is Google too big for the world when it makes threats of legal action against little Aussie battlers over such petty issues.  The mind boggles at Groggle's need tgo defend itself against Google's outrageous claim.  Groggle should fight it all the way.

Remember the Love Springs water purifier scam in Brisbane and Ipswich last year: They're at it again in New Zealand!

Commerce Commission stops door-to-door sellers claiming sewage in tap water

The Commerce Commission has gone to court to stop companies selling water filters door-to-door making false claims, including that tap water is dangerous and contains sewage.

Three companies involved in selling 'Love Springs' branded water filters have been restrained by an interim injunction obtained by the commission in the Auckland High Court last Thursday.

The injunction prevents the companies, and any individual acting on behalf of them, from making false or misleading representations to consumers under the Fair Trading Act.

These include that tap, or bottled water is poisonous, dangerous, sourced from sewage, contains sewage, or is sourced from toilets.

The companies are also not allowed to claim that tap, or bottled water causes cancer, leukaemia, miscarriages, deformities in babies, asthma, or other health problems, is kept standing for weeks or months before being provided, is of a quality or grade other than that determined by the Ministry of Health, contains giardia, or is in any way unsafe or unhealthy to drink.

The injunction also prevents representations being made that the Love Springs filter would offer health benefits that it does not, such as improving asthma.

The injunction is against Auckland-based companies Love Springs Ltd and Tiny Terms Ltd and Palmerston North-based Successcorp Ltd.

The companies can continue to promote and market water filters but must not make false claims.

Love Springs featured in a TV3 news story earlier this month. A woman said she was told Porirua water came from recycled sewage water and wasn't safe to drink. She made an initial payment of $29.95 for a filter system that costs $1500.

Porirua Mayor Jenny Brash was outraged at the false claims and said Porirua was proud of the quality of its water.

The water in Porirua is supplied by the Greater Wellington Regional Council. It comes from the Kaitoke weir, not a sewer.

Love Springs was fined last year for breaching Queensland law. Residents in Ipswich were told they could develop cancer from drinking unfiltered water.

In New Zealand, companies found guilty of breaching provisions of the Fair Trading Act may be fined up to $200,000 and individuals up to $60,000. Only the courts can decide if a representation has breached the Fair Trading Act.

COMMENT: I had the pleasure of exposing these scammers last year in Ipswich.  They were showing women pictures of cancerous breasts and other diseased body parts claiming that the local town water was causing the problem.  Love Springs and its Managing Director were booth fined in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court for misleading consumers.  Now, they are preying on the decent people of New Zealand with the same trickery.  Injunctions, fines and other legal proceedings will not work against this company.  The only real remedy is for the directors to be jailed, if the company or its representatives are ever gain caught engaging in this sort of chicanery.

'No Muslims allowed' - Pauline Hanson sells her house to a select group

Pauline Hanson, who recently announced she's quitting Australian for Britain, has fired a parting shot at Australia's Muslim community – they're not welcome to buy her house.

The controversial former One Nation leader's Queensland house is on the market, as she says "goodbye forever" to Australia, a country she says is "no longer the land of opportunity".

"I think we are going to have problems with them in this country further down the track," she told morning TV show Sunrise this morning. "I have no intention of selling my home to a Muslim."

Hanson's fame stems from her former party's strong anti-immigration and far-right policies, which were criticised by many as being xenophobic and racist.

She was convicted and sentenced to three years' jail for electoral fraud in 2003, but the conviction was later overturned.

COMMENT: Pauline Hanson's house - on the outskirts of Ipswich in Queensland - should be available to all purchasers. It is outrageous that Ms Hanson is again peddling her regrettable brand of racist, un-Australian views after she was soundly rejected by the people of Queensland and Australia.  Her comments need to be investigated by the Australian authorities to determine if she has committed any offences relating to racism or vilification.  She got out of her last jail sentence by the skin of her teeth but this time, she might not be so lucky.

Professionals' first choice to work in the US, UK and Australia

The new 2010 Hydrogen Global Professionals on the Move Report has found that almost all senior professionals around the world are either working abroad or want to in the future.

Some 94 per cent agreed that working abroad is something they are either doing already or would like to do in the future, while 60 per cent said the recession had no bearing on this desire.

This counteracts arguments that people only want to work abroad to escape the recession in their own country. It seems, in fact, that they want to work in the UK, the US, Australia and Europe simply to gain experience.

The preference among these highly skilled professionals is for temporary work placements rather than permanent relocation, which reflects the greater choice they face.

The survey found that the US work visas are most in demand, followed by UK visas and Australian visas.

Although 94 per cent are keen to move abroad, more women are already doing so. Among those asked, 34 per cent of women were already working overseas, compared with 26 per cent of men. This compares with 40 per cent who said they 'definitely' wanted to work abroad, while only 30 per cent of women agreed with this statement.

China ends entry ban for foreigners with HIV/AIDS

China has revoked a ban on people with HIV/AIDS entering the country, softening a decades-old policy that drew sharp criticism this year when an Australian writer was blocked after declaring himself HIV-positive.

Until now, China's regulations formally banned foreigners entering the country with "psychiatric illness, leprosy, AIDS, sexually-transmitted diseases, active pulmonary tuberculosis or other infectious diseases."

The State Council, China's cabinet, issued amended rules late on Tuesday removing the explicit ban on people who have developed AIDS or are infected with the HIV retrovirus, as well as anyone with leprosy, while leaving authorities leeway to decide which diseases could trigger an entry ban.

The amended rules issued on the central government website ( still block foreigners "with serious psychiatric illness, infectious pulmonary tuberculosis or other infectious diseases that may constitute a major threat to public health."

The amended rule did not say whether AIDS/HIV would be among the infectious diseases that people seeking Chinese visas must declare when applying, possibly leaving officials some leeway on how to apply the rule.

But an unnamed legal affairs official for the State Council indicated that AIDS/HIV would not be a bar to entry.

"Restricting foreigners with these diseases from entering the country has played an extremely limited role in our country's disease prevention and control work, and instead has repeatedly become an impediment to our hosting a variety of international events," the official told the Legal Daily.

In March, more than 90 Australian authors signed a letter decrying China's refusal to grant a visa to one of the country's most celebrated writers, Robert Dessaix, who is HIV-positive.

On Friday, Shanghai opens its World Expo, a multi-billion dollar exhibition that is China's latest effort to promote an image as a forward-looking and open country.

The HIV virus can be spread through unprotected sex, sharing of infected needles and blood, and -- without preventive drugs -- to children in the womb of infected mothers or who take milk from an infected woman.

If untreated, the virus attacks the immune system, leading to full-blown AIDS, a deadly condition.

China has 560,000 to 920,000 people infected with the HIV virus and 97,000 to 112,000 AIDS patients, according to 2009 Ministry of Health and United Nations estimates.

Australian visa holders required to sell homes uopn leaving

The Rudd government in Australia has reinstated a rule that requires foreign people temporarily living in Australia to sell their homes when they leave.

The rule has been reintroduced in response to concerns that the influx of temporary Australian visa holders living in the country has driven up house prices. The change is intended to help the government to claim back capital gains made by foreign investors in Australian property.

The problem has been highlighted recently when a group of locals were outbid by a group of Asian investors who were buying homes for their children who were studying in Australia on Australian student visas.

Assistant Treasurer Nick Sherry explained why the rule is necessary: "The Rudd government is acting to make sure that investment in Australian real estate by temporary residents and foreign non-residents is within the law, meets community expectations and doesn't place pressure on housing availability for Australians."

The introduction of the law could actually be a positive thing for foreigners who are looking to move to Australia permanently. It is likely to keep house prices within reach and will improve relations between immigrants and locals.

Cancer Council’s million-dollar morning tea backed by Ipswich City Council

Cancer Council's million-dollar morning tea

The Cancer Council hopes to raise $12-million as part of Australia's Biggest Morning Tea.

Ipswich is once again contributing greatly to the cause and encouraging other cities to get on board.

Vanessa Fuchs reports.


Now in its 17th year of operation, Australia's Biggest Morning tea has raised more than $70-million.

This year the Cancer Council held a competition to design the 2010 mug, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale presented with the winning mug to add to his world record collection of short black coffee cups.

The mayor says Ipswich is on target to raise more funds than last year.

Paul Pisasale, Ipswich Mayor: "For a city like Ipswich you're only as good as the people you support you know we wanna be a city that's big enough to make a difference but small enough to care."

The Cancer Council says all sorts of groups can take part in the event, including cafes and childcare centres.

Erin Davies, Qld Cancer Council: "Workplaces are also a great opportunity to hold a morning tea where everyone can cook and donate money and have some fun with some raffles and some games."

An extraordinary $10-million was raised last year, which all goes towards research, education and patient support.

The biggest morning tea is Australia's largest and most successful event of its kind. Each year groups around the nation support the one in three men and one in four women diagnosed with cancer before the age of 75.

This year the aim is to raise a record $12-million.

Erin Davies, Qld cancer Council: "We have people like Paul Pisasale and the city of Ipswich that supply us with the support that we need to fundraise more and more."

The official date for the biggest morning tea is on the 27th of May, but groups can host an event any time during the month.

Paul Pisasale, Ipswich Mayor: "So get online, support it, I'll be supporting it and look, you'll have a lot of fun in the workplace."

Carbon offsets: Australia leads the pursuit of 'greenwashing'

Consumer authorities say "greenwashing" scams in the carbon offset market – such as the Papua New Guinea tribe leader who says he was kidnapped over carbon rights to tribal lands – are proliferating.

GreenSwitch: The name was instantly appealing, and Australians handed over tens of thousands of dollars to offset their emissions with "green power" certificates from the company.

This six-part project is the result of a four-month, global multimedia investigation by The Monitor and The New England Center for Investigative Reporting. The project was funded, in part, by The Deer Creek Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Assistance in video production was provided by students at Emerson College and Boston University.

But GreenSwitch executives, says the Australian government, didn't bother to purchase all the renewable energy for the certificates they sold. When the government told them to stop, they kept at it for two more months.

In January, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) ordered GreenSwitch's parent company, Global Green Plan, to buy 4,000 certificates at a cost of about US$128,000. Then the agency took offsetter Prime Carbon to court over false claims it was affiliated with the National Stock Exchange and approved by the Australian government.

The two cases were the result of a crackdown on "greenwash" marketing in the voluntary carbon offset industry, a consumer protection effort that puts Australia far ahead of other countries.

"It's a new market, so it's in its formative stage, and consumers don't know much about it," says Graeme Samuel, the ACCC chairman. "But they're emotionally tugged towards buying products with sustainable attributes. All this means that the market is potentially open to abuse."

His agency has taken Saab Australia to court over suggesting that the planting of 17 native trees would offset the lifetime emissions of a new car. It has also warned consumers to "hang up" if they get calls from a Japan-based offset promoter.

The federal government recently set minimum requirements for the verification and retirement of voluntary carbon credits. And parliament passed legislation in March allowing restitution for duped consumers and fines of up to $1 million.

Australia's offset industry has grown at a ferocious pace, says Leonardo Ribon-Tobon, a project officer at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Just 13 carbon-credit retailers were here in early 2007 and 85 by last year.

Mr. Ribon-Tobon estimates that the Australian carbon offset industry does US$40 million of business a year, but says only a third of the companies would disclose information.

So the real figure could be much more, he adds. "I think a lot of the companies are selling larger volumes of offsets than they're disclosing."

Australia's northern neighbor, Papua New Guinea, has the world's third-largest rain forest, which has drawn the attention of Australian offset developers.

In January, the head of a group of landowners, Abilie Wape, told the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), an Australian TV network, that he was kidnapped after balking at signing over to an Australian businessman the carbon rights to tribal lands.

"We've put a lot of effort into this area," Mr. Samuel says of carbon offset abuses. "Once you see it starting to appear on the edge of your radar screen, you know it won't be long before it moves right to the center."

It's unclear if Australia is doing enough, says Jeff Angel, director of Total Environment Centre, an environmental group. "The industry is certainly open to [cheating]."

Consumers, says John Taberner, an environmental lawyer, should ask what exactly is being traded? "To my mind, the answer is nothing. It's like buying a car, as opposed to a promise of a car," he explains. "The former is the real thing, the latter is something that may or may not happen."

'Flu jab death': AMAQ warns against making doctor a scapegoat in Australia-wide investigation

The Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association has warned against making a Brisbane doctor a scapegoat in the death of a toddler who had received the seasonal flu vaccine.

Two-year-old Ashley Epapara was found dead in her cot on April 9, a day after she and her twin sister were given the flu shot by private general practitioner Dr Amir Eskandari.

The state's chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young yesterday referred Dr Eskandari to the Medical Board of Queensland for not reporting the girl's suspected adverse reaction to the vaccine, as required by law.

AMA Queensland president Dr Mason Stevenson said focus needed to remain on determining the cause of death and not the doctor's conduct.

"Let's resolve the issue about how this child died because the parents need closure," Dr Stevenson said.

"Secondly we all need to know if [there is], or if there's not, a link with the seasonal flu vaccine."

Infectious diseases expert from the Australian National University, Professor Peter Collignon, says early tests showed there were problems with the vaccine.

The early warning signs were in the original studies by the vaccine manufacturer, CSL, in children, that was published in January in a journal called JAMA and this looked at about 370 children who were vaccinated last October with the swine flu vaccine.

And what was surprising is particularly young children under the age of three. About 35 per cent of those developed a fever when they were given the lower dose of the vaccine.

He has called on the government to conduct more stringent testing.

"I think we needed to do a better job than what has been done with this vaccine so that we keep the confidence in the public," Professor Collignon told ABC Radio.

Dr Eskandari has welcomed the Medical Board review, saying he did nothing wrong.

He did not report the death because Ashley seemed fine after receiving the shot, and he followed strict procedure before giving the vaccine, he said.

He believed people should wait for further results before jumping to conclusions.

"You've got to get consent before any injection. Everything was under control and I don't know exactly what happened," he told reporters outside his Mt Gravatt practice.

Initial results of an autopsy released yesterday found there was no sign the seasonal flu vaccine was to blame for Ashley's death. Further tests will be carried out.

This season's flu shot has been linked to adverse reactions in scores of children, mostly in Western Australia and Queensland.

Federal authorities have suspended the vaccine for children under five, however they are still urging older people, particularly those in risk groups, to continue to be inoculated.

The Queensland coroner is investigating the cause of Ashley's death.

RACQ says sale of Queensland Motorways means tolls for the next 50 years


The Bligh government's plan to sell off Queensland Motorways will condemn motorists to paying tolls on key roads for the next 50 years, the RACQ says.

Queensland's peak motoring body is the latest organisation to campaign against the government's controversial assets sell off.

It wants the planned sale of toll roads scrapped, saying motorists will face a long-term financial hit.

It says those in the southeast will be worst off because they're the biggest users of roads controlled by the government-owned company, including the Gateway and Logan motorways.

"Brisbane's major bypass system should not be controlled by a private operator obliged to maximise returns to shareholders," RACQ spokesman Gary Fites says.

"And the decision to dispose of the tolling rights held by QML through a 50-year franchise arrangement would effectively condemn motorists to the payment of tolls on key southeast Queensland roads through to 2060.

"The entity that buys QML can make money only one way, and that's through toll revenue."

Mr Fites says that if Queensland Motorways remains in government hands, tolls on the road system could be reduced or abolished well within the 50-year period.

The RACQ says the government wants to sell the company so it can retire billions of associated debt despite economists challenging the rationale of the sale.

Griffith University Professor of Economics, Ross Guest, who investigated the planned sale for the RACQ, concluded that the tolling rights should not be transferred to the private sector.

Mr Fites said the government should retain ownership of Queensland Motorways and focus on securing more federal road funding under the Nation Building Program.

Australia’s Inflation Rate Almost Doubles to 0.9%

Australia's inflation rate almost doubled in the first quarter to 0.9 percent, making it more likely that the central bank will keep raising borrowing costs.

The increase in the consumer price index from the previous three months followed a 0.5 percent gain in the fourth quarter and was more than the median 0.8 percent expected by economists. Prices rose 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the most since late 2008, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today.

Traders raised bets on the likelihood that central bank Governor Glenn Stevens will next week extend a world-leading round of interest-rate increases. Inflation pressures are building as surging investment in resources projects such as Chevron Corp.'s Gorgon gas field in Western Australia worsens a skills shortage that threatens to stoke wage growth.

"Inflation is overshooting the bank's forecast" that consumer-price growth will fall to an annual rate of 2.5 percent by mid-year, said Annette Beacher, an economist at TD Securities Ltd. in Singapore. "The pressure on interest rates remains firmly to the upside."

The Australian dollar rose to 91.90 U.S. cents at noon in Sydney from 91.78 cents just before the report was released. The two-year government bond yield jumped 7 basis points to 4.92 percent. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

Next Move

Investors are betting there is a 30 percent chance of a quarter-point increase in the overnight cash rate target to 4.5 percent at the central bank's next meeting on May 4, according to Bloomberg calculations based on interbank futures on the Sydney Futures Exchange at noon. Prior to today's report, the rate was 20 percent. The likelihood of a quarter-point move by early July stands at 92 percent.

Gasoline costs rose 4.2 percent in the first quarter and pharmaceutical prices advanced 13.3 percent, today's report showed. By contrast, fruit fell 5.7 percent.

Stevens has led Group of 20 policy makers in raising borrowing costs, increasing the Reserve Bank's benchmark rate by 125 basis points to 4.25 percent between early October and this month amid evidence economic growth is rebounding to what the governor calls its "trend rate."

Stevens said last week that it "doesn't seem very likely" inflation will slip below the bank's target range of 2 percent to 3 percent, as forecast a year ago, because of rising raw- material costs, employment and fears about skills shortages.

'Reasonable Case'

    Reserve Bank of Australia Assistant Governor Guy Debelle said today that the central bank's current target range for inflation had coincided with "strong economic outcomes over the last decade or so."     "It seems a reasonable case to continue" it at that level "going forward," Debelle told an audience of mortgage industry professionals in Sydney.

Economic growth in Australia, one of few nations to skirt last year's global recession, will accelerate to 3.5 percent in 2011 from 3 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said last week.

Consumer-price growth has fallen from its peak of 5 percent in 2008 to about 2 percent last year, a "figure that flatters us a bit as it was partly a result of some temporary factors," Stevens said in Toowoomba on April 23.

Underlying inflation was about 2.75 percent, annualized, in the second half of 2009, according to the central bank.

"Our forecast a few months ago for 2010 was that inflation, measured either in headline or underlying terms, would be in line with our 2 percent to 3 percent target," Stevens said.

The central bank is due to publish revised forecasts for growth and inflation on May 7.

Core Inflation

The Reserve Bank's core inflation measures, which exclude the largest price increases and declines, were also published today.

The weighted-median gauge of inflation advanced 0.8 percent in the first quarter for an annual increase of 3.1 percent. Economists forecast gains of 0.7 percent and 3 percent respectively.     The first quarter's "uncomfortably high rate of underlying inflation" means policy makers will increase borrowing costs in May, said Brian Redican, a senior economist at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Sydney. "It seems clear that the inflation momentum is shifting even higher."

Australian technology tax is a golden rip-off

Our friendly overseas IT suppliers must think that the currency is around US$0.63, or are bashing Australia with the greed stick.

At the moment, the lucky country is luckier than most. With the Aussie dollar around the US$0.93 mark, its buying power is greater than the days before the Hawke/Keating government floated the dollar.

However, our friendly overseas IT suppliers must think that the currency is around US$0.63, or are bashing Australia with the greed stick.

Let's look at the poster child of overprices: Apple. A 21″ iMac has a base iPrice of A$1599. The US price for the same computer is US$1190 (or A$1,285.91, based on conversion rate from yesterday).

Ok, there is GST, which works out at A$145.37). And there are other compliance costs like superannuation, payroll tax, withholding tax et al. However, the Australian price without GST still adds up to A$1453.63, A$167.72 more than the equivalent US price in Australian dollars.

Now, Delimiter has also ranted previously on the price of Adobe Creative Suite 5. Here is another breakdown based on the exchange rate yesterday, 27 April.

US Price A$756.00
GST (10 percent) A$86.94
Total A$842.94

Aust RRP A$1168.00

Aussie premium $325.06


Remember, the prices I am quoting are US retail pricing, which already has a profit margin built in. Even being generous and granting half of the Australian premium to cover compliance, shipping, staff and marketing costs in Australia, there can be little argument supporting the overcharging that the Australians are paying.

So what is to prevent you buying overseas? With software, almost nothing. Amazon will ship CS5 here for US$29.99, making it a total cost as priced yesterday of A$787.77 (a saving of A$380.23). When you add to this the fact there is no import duty payable on software, overseas buying becomes very attractive.

For hardware, it is more difficult. Australia uses 240v alternating current or AC (technically 230v with a +/- varience of 10 percent) and has a national standard plug that only Argentina and New Zealand also use (to see the wide plethora of electrical plugs, check out this Wikipedia article). Anything that plugs into a USB port (for example, an iPad) will work fine out of the box. But otherwise, some money will have to be spent getting power converters and plugs. Finding a retailer willing to ship overseas may also be an issue.

Can companies charge an Aussie technology tax? Yes. There is nothing illegal setting a high price here.

However, companies need to be aware that we are approaching a global market via the internet, global/bilateral trade agreements and common markets (Europe, NAAFTA and AUS/NZ for examples). Soon it will be harder to justify gouging for software, as competition from Amazon and online software retailers compete with Australian sellers with a better rate, and the age of digital downloads makes location meaningless.

Importing hardware will be harder, but not impossible. An easy example is that someone goes to the US, buys 10 computers and ship them home via freight/post. Assume a A$200 premium on each computer. Looking at Flight Centre, the cheapest Sydney to Los Angeles flight is A$1034 (plus taxes and charges). So you could still save approximately $100 on each computer. This will be even more attractive if Apple goes Aussie iGouging™ and makes the price of the iPad stupidly high compared to US prices.

Another unintended consequence of an Aussie premium will be piracy. When you can see a product being sold cheaper in another market, people may be less willing to pay the Aussie price. So piracy in this case acts as a market correction, supplying the demand not being satisfied by the market price.

This, of course, will add to the cost of software (and despite what software manufacturers say, a pirate copy does not equal one sale. There will always be people unwilling to pay for software, and people willing to purchase software at lower prices who chose not to pay the price set by sellers. This is first year economics).

What is your view on the Aussie technology tax? Have you found a way around it? Or do you pay it without any issues? Post your comments below, it will be interesting to see your thoughts on this matter.

Darryl Adams is a government worker and internet tragic. A former IT worker, he still pines for the days of IBM keyboards that go CRUNCH and the glow of green screens. He can be found on on Twitter or on Facebook. The views expressed here do not reflect the views of his employer, the ATO.

McDonalds suffer as California County Bans Toys With Fast-Food Meals to protect children's health

For county officials in the Silicon Valley, it turns out that Happy Meals are not so happy after all.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, tackling the problem of childhood obesity, voted today to ban restaurants from offering toys with children's meals unless the food meets specific nutritional standards.

The measure is the first in the nation to restrict fast-food restaurants' marketing strategy of using toys to entice children to buy high-fat, high-sugar and high-calorie meals.

"This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes," said board President Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure. "It imposes commonsense nutrition on meals linked to toys. We hope that other municipalities, counties and states will follow suit."

The ordinance applies only in the unincorporated parts of Santa Clara County, a largely suburban region south of San Francisco. County officials say there are just 50 restaurants that would be affected by the law, and only a few are fast-food restaurants that might offer toys as incentives.

Nevertheless, the measure was strongly opposed by fast-food franchise operators and other restaurant owners who fear the idea might spread to other jurisdictions. Santa Clara County was one of the first to require that restaurants provide calorie information on their menus, a requirement incorporated in the federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.

Dozens of opponents of the ordinance attended the meeting and at times applauded loudly when their representatives spoke.

"We do agree that there is a childhood obesity problem," Amalia Chamorro, local government director of the California Restaurant Association, told the board. "Getting rid of the toys is going to do nothing to solve this problem."

The board, granting a small concession, agreed to give opponents 90 days to come up with an alternative plan before the ordinance takes effect.

Supporters of the measure say toys offered with high-calorie meals entice children to choose high-fat, high-sugar items that can be addictive and lead to obesity.

County Public Health Director Dan Peddycord told the board that childhood obesity has become an epidemic and that nearly 25 percent of the children in the county are overweight or obese. One in every three children born today will grow up to be a diabetic, he said. The odds are even worse for Hispanic children: One in two will become diabetic.

"Childhood obesity is the public health issue of our era," he told the board. "We have a collective responsibility to right-size the environment we live in."

Children who become obese at a young age are likely to be obese as adults and have a significantly higher risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer, said acting county public health officer Sara Cody. A 2006 study found that obesity costs the county $420 million annually in health care expenses and $496 million in lost productivity.

The ordinance sets limits of 120 calories for a beverage, 200 calories for a single food item and 485 calories for a meal for any item sold with a toy.

Restaurants will be fined $250 for the first violation and $500 for the second.

Peddycord said a check of restaurants in the county found few children's meals under 650 calories.

Offering toys with the lower-calorie items could create an incentive for children to make healthier choices.

The issue brought out emotional, if not always well-informed, opposition. Some critics accused the board of banning all toys with meals.

Stephen Hazel, who brought one of his own favorite toys to show the board, says he collects them and sends them to children in the Philippines. He called Supervisor Yeager "head Grinch Ken Yeager" and angrily asked, "Do you want to be the one who bans toys?"

Kevin Kettila was equally heated. "I take this personally that you are trying to take away our freedom of choice," he said. "Parents have enough good information without you having to legislate this. You are going to deprive the little kids of a toy."

But Joanne Seavey-Hultquist, the mother of a 3-year-old and coordinator of a nonprofit for children called FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, said parents need help in countering the fast-food restaurants' marketing strategy.

"Research shows that parents are at a disadvantage when children are offered a reward for selecting a high-fat, high-calorie meal," she said. "I appreciate a policy that helps me as a parent to do my job."

And Nicole Kohleriter, communications director for the Health Trust, another Silicon Valley nonprofit, said fast-food marketers know that parents can be worn down when their children plead for a toy.

"The toys are in the food because the toys sell the food," she said. "I think this ordinance is not about taking away parental choice but about leveling the playing field."

New internet scam hits Australia - They are getting more sophisticated all the time

This is the latest internet scam to hit Australia:


From: Miss Ngene Egodimkpah

Dear Friend

How are you today,I do hope that you are in good health, I am Miss Miss Ngene Egodimkpah From Gambia in west Africa. I want to inquire from you if you can handle this Investment for mutual benefits/life opportunity for you and me.

The Investment is about seeking your consent to Help Me Invest In Your Country, I Work With Mobile Nig. LTD In Abuja, I am A Mechanical Technician With The Company

I and My Director Made Away With The Sum OF Twenty Five Million Dollars (US$12.5 Millions United States Dollars) After We Ascape With The Money The Police Trace Us And Capture My Director, To God Be The Glory I Escape With The Money To Near By Country In Ouagadougou Burkina Faso also in West Africa.

Due To The Fear Of Huge Amount , I Kept The Money In Security Company Since Then The Money Has Been There For Long Time, I Want To Use This Opportunity To Ask Your Help To Invest The Money In Your Country

Note/ That This Investment Should Keep As a Top Secret Between You and Me, I will Give You The Security Company Email Adress To Contact in your next mail.

Please treat this business proposal with utmost confidentiality and send me the following

2,Phone Num.....................
4,International Passport,...........

Miss Ngene Egodimkpah


It's time for the Australian Government to take immediate action against these sorts of spam emails.

Innocent internet users are being constantly defrauded by these Nigerian-type scammers who seek their personal and financial details to completely strip their bank accounts.

As with other objectionable internet material, the Australian Government has the clear constitutional power under section 51 of the Australian Constitution to force ISP's to stop these bogus emails at the border.

Internet users and their families are being hurt financially - sometimes losing their entire life savings to these internet predators.

It's time for the Government to act on behalf of all Australians.

Contact your Federal Member today and call your local state or territory police if you are a victim of these callous fraudsters.

A current list of Members of Federal Parliament is available at -



To let the Federal Government know that you want them to ban these scams, email the Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy at:

Warn your friends about these scams, especially new internet users who may not be aware that these types of sophisticated frauds are operating in Australia.

You can circulate this consumer update by clicking the Email Post button below to warn your family and friends.

Goodna murder revelation may help Stafford compensation bid


Graham Stuart Stafford and friend, Deborah, outside court after  his murder conviction was quashed on appeal.

Graham Stuart Stafford and friend, Deborah, outside court after
his murder conviction was quashed on appeal.

Revelations that one of Queensland's most senior crown prosecutors declined to prosecute Graham Stafford could assist his compensation claim against his jail sentence, a legal expert said last night.

Mr Stafford served nearly 15 years for the September 1991 rape and murder of 12-year-old Goodna schoolgirl Leanne Holland, but his conviction was quashed on Christmas Eve last year.

Yesterday, The Australian newspaper reported that crown prosecutor Vishal Lakshman declined to prosecute the trial in 1992 because he was unconvinced of Mr Stafford's guilt. understands the claim, which would be delivered to Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick, is in the process of being formulated by Mr Stafford's legal team.

Bond University professor of law Eric Colvin said the revelation could help in Mr Stafford's compensation claim.

"In a compensation claim, there are no legal criteria, it's an ex gratia payment if it's awarded, and really any relevant information might be taken into account," he said.

"On a compensation claim it might be that they might wish to draw attention to this in the sense of suggesting the original decision to prosecute was ill-advised and, in a compensation claim, there's no reason why that couldn't be taken into account by the government."

Mr Stafford told he thought the revelations would strengthen his compensation claim.

But Mr Stafford said he hoped a cold case review into Leanne's death would be launched before any compensation claims were made.

"We had hoped that everything else would be put in order before a compensation claim is placed and I still hope everything else is in order before that happens," he said.

"But if not, someone of [Mr Lakshman's] calibre coming out and saying he had deep reservations about it from the get-go has got to raise a few eyebrows."

Mr Stafford said he wished Mr Lakshman had come out with his concerns about the case earlier.

"Given [Mr Lakshman] had deep reservations about it, it may have given us the impetus to have someone take a much closer look at it," he said.

"That would have been enough for one of the judges to say `gee, we have to look at this one more closely'."

But Professor Colvin said it would have been unlikely to assist Mr Stafford's trial defence, or his appeal.

"The fact that particular prosecutor took that particular view is of no legal significance at all - the considerations that lay behind the view expressed by that prosecutor would be the relevant thing on the appeal," he said.

"I don't think it could have helped if that information was in the public arena - it's interesting and fascinating information, but it's not information that would be of any legal significance."

Bond University criminologist Paul Wilson said compensation should be a given for Mr Stafford.

"It would be appalling if the state government does not compensate him for the nearly 15 years he spent in jail," he said.

"The Queensland Government have been very reluctant to pay compensation in these types of cases in the past and it would be the most mean-spirited move if they did that in this case."

Professor Wilson said a Royal Commission needed to be set up to get to the bottom of the case once and for all.

He said the relationships between investigating officers and a police informant, whose daughter last month suggested may have been Leanne's killer, had to be examined.

"These are Fitzgerald-type questions, they're not minor questions," Professor Wilson said.

"The case has gone well beyond the Stafford case now and well beyond the issue of Stafford himself."

But Professor Wilson said he thought any such inquiry was unlikely to get off the ground.

"I don't think they want it. Governments don't like these investigations and I would have to say I'm appalled that the opposition haven't said anything about this," he said.

"They say they're concerned about justice, but why have they not gotten involved in asking the tough questions of the government in this case?

"The case is not going to go away - that is apparent - it's not going to disappear. It hasn't done for 15 years and it's not going to go away now."

New Laws to End Financial Planning Rip-Offs in Australia

CANBERRA—The federal government has moved to restore trust in the financial services industry and protect life savings, by banning kickbacks for financial planners.

Financial Services Minister Chris Bowen on Monday released the government's response to a parliamentary inquiry into Australian financial products and services.

It was set up in the wake of the Storm Financial and Opes Prime collapses.

The package contains three key changes: financial planners will no longer be able to receive commissions; they'll be legally required to act in the best interest of clients and affordable financial advice services will be expanded.

Mr Bowen said the Future of Financial Advice reforms would tackle conflicts of interest that threaten quality advice.

"Commissions ... distort the market and need to go," he told reporters in Sydney.

"Over the years thousands of Australians have had their life savings wiped out through inappropriate financial advice.

"They have a right to be angry and we have an obligation to act."

Some collapses were due to poor business models, recommended by financial planners because they provided commissions of up to 12 per cent, Mr Bowen said.

He accepted some financial planners would leave the industry due to the changes, but denied fees would skyrocket as a result.

"Some people used to the old ways, used to the commissions ... won't be comfortable but others will be encouraged by the fact there is more transparency in the industry," he said.

He predicted financial advice would become more popular with more fee options available, but the opposition says low-income earners will be disadvantaged, as they won't be able to afford upfront fees.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said small business could also be hurt.

"It would be wrong to entirely scrap commissions," he told reporters in Sydney.

"If the commissions are up-front and transparent I don't necessarily have a problem with that."

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown backed the changes, but shared the concern that low-income earners would be discouraged from seeking professional advice.

"Financial planning is an increasingly popular service and consumers need to be confident that the advice they are receiving is in their best interests," Senator Brown said.

Investment and Financial Services Association (IFSA) chief John Brogden said the changes were a win for consumers.

"While investors must take responsibility for informed investment decisions, the regulatory structure must support the provision of appropriate financial advice in the best interests of the client," he said.

IFSA wants the government to go further, and make financial advice tax deductible, so it is accessible to everyone.

But it's unlikely to happen, with Mr Bowen saying it would be too expensive.

The Australian Workers Union estimates union members stand to gain $50,000 in their retirement funds under the new rules.

The union says financial planners pocketed $1.3 billion of workers' money from for-profit superannuation funds last year.

Most of the changes will apply from July 1, 2012.