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Wild Oats XI wins Sydney - Hobart

Channel 7 Sunrise and ABC News 24 are reporting the win live.

Meanwhile, over at Channel 9's Today program they are reporting the race is likely to be over within an hour.

The horrors of no daylight saving in Queensland!

Has the RACQ's Steve Spalding gone mad?

Steve Spalding
PARENTS should drive old bombs themselves and give teen drivers the keys to their newer and safer cars, the state's peak motoring body says.

RACQ executive manager of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding told The Courier-Mail younger drivers were typically given older cars to drive but were more likely to survive accidents in cars with better safety features.

In the 12 months to October this year 32.5 per cent of deaths on the road involved motorists aged 16-24.

"I think with young drivers and cars it's always better to put them in the safest car, which often isn't your first thought," Mr Spalding said.

"You put them in the older car because of a few knocks and scratches. People still tend to think bigger is better but it's not the case.

The RACQ's online buyer's guide lists some of the safer second-hand small and light cars, including the Mazda2 (07-10), Honda Civic (06-10), Peugeot 307 (01-09), Volkswagen Golf/Bora (99-04), Volkswagen Golf/Jetta (04-10) and Volvo S40/V40 (97-04).

The Courier-Mail has joined forces with the Queensland Police Service in the Below 300 campaign to try to keep the 2012 road toll under that figure.

The road toll yesterday stood at 274, which was 14 more deaths than at the same time last year.

The official national Christmas-New Year road toll period begins tomorrow and police yesterday pleaded with motorists to pay attention on the roads and drive to the conditions.

Inattention was this month added alongside speeding, drink-driving, not wearing seat belts and fatigue as one of the "Fatal Five" major causes of road deaths.

"What police would really like to see over this break is that they do not have to issue one single ticket," State Traffic Operations Inspector Ray Rohweder said.

"Contrary to popular belief police don't enjoy catching people breaking the law.

"If that occurred that would mean that everyone has obeyed the road rules and that would guarantee that people in Queensland would arrive at their destination safely."


Masters lets down the people of Queensland

While every responsible retail outlet in Queensland has graffiti spray paint in locked cabinets, Masters at Springfield Central has cheap and nasty 98 cent cans of spray paint openly for sale or for easy shoplifting.

No wonder there is so much graffiti around Ipswich and Brisbane's western suburbs.

Come on Masters - you are not being responsible corporate citizens by taking this approach to this major community problem.

Rhys Holleran gives terrible performance

Rhys Holleran

Rhys Holleran

CEO at Southern Cross Austereo


The most disgraceful media conference I have ever seen. 

Prevarication, hesitancy, failure to answer questions - Today FM and Rhys Holleran have let down the people of Australia. 

The two clowns on Today FM who caused this tragedy in London should never be allowed on air again. 

Congratulations to Coles for pulling the pin on their advertising on this disgraceful radio station. 

The Courier-Mail wants YOU!

The Courier-Mail Funeral Notices
Monday 26 November 2012

The Courier-Mail uses "fillers" in its classified advertising columns to avoid leaving small gaps when the individual ads don't quite fit.

They usually consist of 3 or 4 lines of text and ensure there are no excessive blank spaces.

Imagine the unappealing filler in The Courier-Mail of 26 November 2012 in the Funeral Notices which declared "OUR TRAINED STAFF are waiting to help you with your advertising needs".

Just what you want to know at 7 o'clock in the morning as you browse the details of all of the recently departed souls from around Brisbane!


RACQ push for mobile phone blocking in cars

CHAT-happy Queensland motorists could have communication cut off behind the wheel, with calls for new phone-blocking technology to be fitted to cars.

More than one-third of the 270 fatal car accidents in Queensland last financial year were linked to mobile phone calls, texting and other distractions.

Experts say tackling the explosion in smartphones on the roads will require smarter technology, not more police crackdowns.

Queensland and overseas researchers are developing technologies to either block mobile phone signals in cars or encourage sensible driver behaviour.

One product dubbed the "black box" is available overseas and marketed to parents and employers who own car fleets.

Founder and CEO of the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) Russell White said that new cars should be built with phone-blocking capabilities, while older cars could be fitted.

"Without a doubt, if it comes through the production line it's easier to do," Mr White said.

 "It should be part of the standard equipment, another part of the design of cars."

He said some car manufacturers were investigating two-key systems so children driving their parents' cars could not operate phones.

Professor Simon Washington, from the Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, said about 40 per cent of Queensland drivers admitted to flouting the law - it is illegal to have a phone in your hand while driving - on a daily basis.

Prof Washington said Queensland researchers were exploring the possibilities of an app that could monitor driver behaviour and be available within two years .

The product could potentially check driver speed, fatigue and phone use and could be linked to rewards such as discounts on vehicle registration.

"Imagine a future where you get feedback on how you drive and you get points if you're a good driver, sort of like frequent flyer points," Prof Washington said.

He said only a small percentage of drivers were caught by police, which was why it was necessary for technology to step in.

RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding said drivers should put their phones entirely out of reach because even a ring tone was a distraction.

The RACQ will launch a YouTube video on driver distraction before Christmas, as it pursues a campaign to have the Fatal Four expanded to include driver distraction as No.5.

"We are very much of the view that it is a driver's responsibility to stay safe and not be distracted by phones of activity," Mr Spalding said.

"You need to discipline yourself not to look at the phone or take a text.

"Phones are always with us and for many people, it's just too much."

Steve Spalding
COMMENT: RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding is quite unrealistic in his comments.  Why should passengers be prevented from taking or making calls while in a car?  You can be sure that current technology cannot differentiate as to whose phone it is.

The RACQ has weighed-in on a very serious issue but it deserves more than just the usual glib comments the RACQ regularly serves up.

And if a ring tone is a distraction Steve, what about car radios or raucous stereo systems?  What is the RACQ doing or saying about those?  Or backseat drivers -  which can be the biggest distraction of all!


Weather bosses lose important forecast tool for sake of $100 - BOM Brisbane boss Rob Webb refuses to ask for more

VITAL DATA: A file picture of the release of a
Bureau of Meteorology hydrogen-filled weather balloon.

 WEATHER bureau bosses have robbed their forecasters of vital data-gathering flights by weather balloons to save less than $100.

The balloons, which record and transmit information on temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure as they soar for kilometres, are a key tool when preparing forecasts.

They are considered especially important in stormy climates such as Queensland's, but in a cost-cutting move, the bureau has halved the number of weather balloons at 40 locations across Australia from two to one per day.

Seven of the sites are in Queensland, including Brisbane Airport.

The bureau's Queensland director Rob Webb admits data from a balloon could have helped forecasters to predict the intense storm cell that struck inner-Brisbane last Saturday morning.

The bureau has been criticised for not issuing a specific warning until 20 minutes after the storm hit, even though other forecasters had tipped the severity.

The bureau had launched an extra balloon on Friday night but a computer card failure meant vital temperature readings were lost.

Another launch was abandoned on Saturday morning.

Mr Webb said: ``I'm not going to say we would not have liked that extra information.''

He said it was ``not for me'' to request additional funding to restore the second daily flight.

A bureau spokeswoman yesterday would not say how much the cuts are saving the organisation's $323 million annual budget.

But The Courier-Mail has learned that each flight would cost less than $100 including the technical equipment and staff time.

In the absence of balloons, forecasters rely on data from the upper-atmosphere from sources such as planes.

The Federal Government allocated $4.8 million to recruit and train up to 40 meteorologists and flood forecasters around the country but cut $13 million from the bureau's overall budget this year.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability Don Farrell, who has responsibility for the bureau, has ruled out extra money to reintroduce second daily flights.

Senator Farrell said: ``Weather balloons are only one method of obtaining observations. The Bureau has winds and temperature measuring equipment on a large number of domestic aircraft, which provides a significant contribution to weather observations in the Brisbane region and nationally.''

He said other technology included the bureau's network of radars.

But industry experts say weather bureau flights were a small price to pay for the information they delivered.

Weather Channel forecaster Dick Whitaker said: ``Weather balloons are tremendously important. The information from weather balloon flights is very valuable especially in predicting storms.''

Weatherwatch meteorologist Don White said: ``Satellite imagery has improved but it's not the same as a weather balloon for finding out what's happening in the atmosphere at a a particular time in a particular location.''

Alistair Waters, deputy national president of the Community and Public Sector Union which represents Bureau staff, said: ``Certainly forecasters would prefer as many different mechanisms to gather information on climate conditions as possible. They would prefer more sources than less.''

Liberal Senator Sue Boyce told The Courier-Mail: ``It's not just about extra people but resourcing them so they can do the job in a way that keeps Queenslanders safe.

``It just seems crazy as we come into summer and given the sort of summers we've had recently that there would be cuts like this.''

And Greens Senator Larissa Waters said with climate change expected to bring more frequent and more intense severe weather ``we need a better resourced bureau''.

Farmers' group AgForce is also concerned.

``We wait to hear more detail of any cutbacks to the use of weather balloons, however (we) must point out that accurate and regular weather information is vital to running farm businesses,'' said a spokeswoman.

``Key decisions relating to day-to-day on farm activities including stock movement, irrigation, harvesting and crop treatments are based on regular and concise weather observations communicated to primary producers via the Bureau.

``Any reduction to weather services puts at risk best practice within our industry.''


COMMENT: The Courier-Mail reports BOM's Queensland director Rob Webb admits data from another balloon could have helped forecasters to predict the intense storm cell that struck inner-Brisbane last Saturday morning.  Mr Webb said: ``I'm not going to say we would not have liked that extra information'' and then he drops one of the biggest clangers of all time: He said it was "not for me'' to request additional funding to restore the second daily flight.

If it's not for you Rob, who the hell is it for?  You are the one complaining about the issue, you are one suggesting the extra resources would have been of benefit to your office but it's not for you to ask for additional funding!  You are supposed to be running an elite weather forecasting service.  If you don't have the full resources to undertake that role, you should be hammering the head office of the Bureau of Meteorology demanding those extra resources - day and night.  If there can be improvements in the way in which you and your staff do your job, you should be relentless in demanding additional funding. 

By saying it's "not for me" to do anything about it is clearly not the right way to go about solving this problem.  Rob: Get some testicular fortitude and demand what you need because it is your responsibility to do something about your funding shortfall.  Remember, God helps those who help themselves!

Long sought-after Kelly Gang gun hid in Rocky for 112 years

This memorial stands at the site in the Ipswich cemetery
where Dan Kelly, Ned's brother, is thought to be buried.

A LONG sought-after gun belonging to a member of one of Australia's most infamous bushrangers, has been hiding in a Rockhampton home for 112 years.

 But a private collector has just paid $122,000 for the muzzle-load single-shot pistol, believed to belong to the Kelly Gang's Dan Kelly.

 Bidding at Charles Leski Auctions in Hawthorn started at $75,000 with six phone bids made, up to the successful bid of $100,000. Auctioneer's commission brought the price to $122,000.

 For Charles Leski Auctions' Max Williamson, the historical journey to discover the origin of the pistol, has been a career highlight.

 And it began at The Morning Bulletin.

 The gun was brought to the auctioneers by a descendant of Rockhampton's Hansen family, claiming the East India Company Cavalry Pistol belonged to Ned Kelly's younger brother.

 Mr Williamson says the story behind the gun was revealed in an article in The Morning Bulletin on Wednesday October 17, 1900, and re-published in The Northern Miner and the Warwick Examiner and Times.

 "A memento of the once notorious Kelly Gang was found in Rockhampton recently, in a rather curious way," the article reads.

 According the article, Rockhampton gunsmith H. P. Hansen bought a lot of "old and rusty firearms" from a townsman.

 Amongst the firearms was an old horse pistol, about 46 centimetres long. Mr Hansen told The Morning Bulletin at the time, the person he bought the pistol from found it years beforehand on the bank of the Murrumbidgee River.

 "The stock is of walnut, and the weapon is brass mounted, with a ramrod," reads the newspaper description.

 "On the stock, where held by the hand, was found cut, apparently with a knife, '1876', and underneath 'Dan Kelly'.

"There seems to be no doubt it was at one time owned by one of the Kelly Brothers."

 Mr Williamson says further research and interviews with noted Kelly Gang historian Ian Jones suggests the Kelly Gang took 17 weapsons to the siege at Glenrowan.

 "And there's only one that wasn't retrieved," Mr Williamson says.

 "The pistol was with Dan at the siege of Glenrowan in 1880 where he was killed by police.

 "I love my job because every so often something like this comes along.

 "We've sold Phar Lap's saddle, the very first Brownlow Medal, Shirley Strickland's collection, and now this."

 Mr Williamson says the gun's discovery is not just remarkable because of its rarity and link to one of Australia's most intriguing historical events, but also because it has stayed with the Rockhampton family for so long.

 "Being a gunsmith, Mr Hansen obviously sold hundreds of guns in his lifetime," Mr Williamson says.

 "But he obviously treasured this one, kept it and it has been handed through the Hansen family through three or four generations."


BOM Alert - Rob Webb seems to have learnt a big lesson from last Saturday

Take a look at the first radar image showing a relatively puny storm near Warwick at 2.00pm yesterday. 

This triggered the following urgent BOM alert:


For people in parts of the 
Darling Downs and Granite Belt and Southeast Coast Forecast Districts.

Issued at 1:47 pm Thursday, 22 November 2012.

Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and large hailstones in the warning area over the next several hours. Locations which may be affected
include Warwick, Toowoomba, Stanthorpe, Boonah, Allora and Clifton. 

Now take a look at the second radar image which appeared on the BOM website at 10.12 am Saturday depicting a massive 40km storm front which hit Ipswich and Brisbane but did not trigger an official BOM alert until 20 minutes AFTER it had hit the heart of Brisbane. 

It seems BOM's regional director Rob Webb - despite his public posturing - must have put a bomb under his troops to issue alerts when considered prudent and to err on the side of caution - irrespective of all the claptrap regarding size of hailstones and other usual indicative criteria. 

It's taken a week but the tirades of criticism against BOM seem to have jolted them into a renewed sense of reality.

Now, all we are still waiting on is for Rob Webb to say sorry for last weekend's fiasco.

But on reflection, yesterday's initial warning which was followed by numerous updates, fresh alerts and new warnings was probably Rob Webb's own way of saying "sorry". 

Unfortunately, his tenure in the Brisbane office will always be remembered for last weekend's mighty clanger. 

BOM Alert for SEQ

BOM Brisbane at last giving timely warnings. They must have learnt from last Saturday's debacle. Well done Rob Webb.


For people in parts of the
Darling Downs and Granite Belt and
Southeast Coast Forecast Districts.

Issued at 1:47 pm Thursday, 22 November 2012.

Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and large hailstones
in the warning area over the next several hours. Locations which may be affected
include Warwick, Toowoomba, Stanthorpe, Boonah, Allora and Clifton.

Police warning on ATM skim scam

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay -
"the most-proactive anti-fraud cop in Australia".

HIGHLY sophisticated bankcard skimming devices have been found attached to ATMs in Brisbane's Queen St Mall, for the first time in Australia.

The devices are installed over the top of ATM card slots in just seconds and have put thousands of shoppers at risk ahead of Christmas, police warn.

"It's a perfect time to strike because of the high volume of turnover in the ATMs," Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the fraud squad said.

"We know cards have been compromised over the days prior to the discovery and we know money has been withdrawn from accounts.

"We also know the fraudsters have had possession of these devices, we suspect, for the last five months."

The devices target specific ATM models and were found in two adjacent machines in Queens Plaza last week.

A customer noticed something amiss with an ATM belonging to one of the big four banks and contacted the fraud squad.

A second device was discovered in a machine connected to another major bank.

Almost-undetectable pinhole cameras record customers entering PINs while the devices simultaneously record card data in the all-in-one devices.

"We've heard of them in Europe but it's the first time we've seen them in Australia," Supt Hay said. "The concern is how many other machines have these been on over the last three or four months.

"Once upon a time it would have taken them longer because they had to fit a camera up the top. This is all in one. That would take them five seconds to fit," he said.

Police are searching for a man (pictured below) they believe is linked to the discovery of two ATM skimming devices over the weekend. They have released images of a man in a suit who police say "may be able to assist them with their investigations".

Anyone with any information is being asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Even if ATM customers conceal their hand as they enter PINs, criminals can still use skimmed card data to purchase goods online.

The devices are equipped with memory cards that can store extended video footage and the details of thousands of cards at a time.

This man is wanted for questionning
over the ATM card fraud in Brisbane.

Two separate micro-USBs also allow criminals to retrieve video recordings and data and then reuse the devices.

"When they go back to retrieve it they pull it off, plug it into their laptop then and there and it downloads all the data for them. They recharge, reset, clear the memory and go again," Supt Hay said.

Organised crime gangs based in eastern Europe have made a fortune using skimming devices.

"They will go and buy an ATM. Then they will engineer precisely the mould for how they're going to put it on top so it looks good.

"There's even been circumstances where they will go and secure the exact same paint that's on the ATM from the same paint factory so they match everything perfectly."
However despite their detailed design, the devices rely on double-sided adhesive and can come loose.

"Beware of anyone acting suspiciously around ATMS and report it. Always give the card entry point a bit of a wiggle to make sure it's firmly and completely attached," Supt Hay said. "It's going to look flush but you've got a seam line on the outside which is not normally there."


COMMENT: Det Supt Brian Hay is undoubtedly at the forefront of fraud investigation and detection in Australia.  He regularly exposes the cons and scams which have proliferated since the advent of the internet.  Whether its Nigerian bank scams, lonely hearts ripoffs or ATM fraud, Brian is relentlessly hot on the trail of the fraudsters and scammers who are a blight on our society.  He is without doubt the most-proactive anti-fraud cop in Australia. The Queensland Police are at the forefront of this work, leaving the various other state and territory police services and the Australian Federal Police way behind.  Brian Hay and his team deserve full congratulations for their commitment, persistence and vigilance in both their educative and investigative roles. -

Could Mr Magoo do better at the Brisbane Bureau of Meteorology?

With all the hype regarding the failure of Brisbane's BOM to see the wild storm last Saturday lashing Ipswich and about to hit Brisbane, it has been suggested the near-sighted Mr Magoo might have done a better job.
This is the storm they missed on their own radar:

Could Mr Magoo have done better?

Almost certainly!

BOM backs off promised review after claim late storm call 'not first' for Bureau of Meteorology, according to Brisbane City Council's Early Warning Network

FEELING HEAT: Weather Bureau Queensland
Regional Director Rob Webb.

EXPERTS say the weather bureau's failure to warn of the severity of a storm that pounded Brisbane last Saturday morning is "not an isolated event".

Early Warning Network, a weather watch service that sends messages to more than 65,000 residents for the Brisbane City Council, yesterday said its staff were becoming increasingly concerned about late warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology.

"This is far from an isolated occurrence," EWN alert operator Scott Anderson said. "The BOM did a good job for the rest of the weekend ... but that is not good enough.

"All the warning signs were there to issue a severe thunderstorm warning for this cell.

The bureau promised to review the events of last Saturday but last night reneged. The bureau's Queensland regional director Rob Webb said he and other staff would "have a chat about how they made their decisions and the warnings (that) were issued".

EWN sends SMS messages to more than 65,000 residents for Brisbane City Council and other local authorities. The service was launched after the super-cell storm which devastated The Gap and surrounding suburbs in November 2008.

EDITORIAL: Bureau's failures need explanation

Mr Anderson said warnings needed to be issued before storms reached severe tolerances. From now on, EWN would issue "potential storm alerts" as a heads-up, rather than a formal warning.

Mr Webb has defended his forecasters, saying the storm did not reach the parameters needed to trigger a severe storm warning - such as wind speed, hail and rain - until it was over the city.

STORM TRACKER: Tracking storm movements
across southeast Queensland on Saturday and Sunday.

He had no plans to change the parameters.

The bureau yesterday confirmed the deluge was a one in two to five-year rainfall event. Wind speeds peaked at 90km/h in Moreton Bay.

BOM's first specific warning of the storm that smashed inner Brisbane suburbs on Saturday morning was not issued until 20 minutes after it hit, despite other forecasters and amateurs spotting the severity well in advance.

The bureau said its more general warnings of severe storm activity for the region over several days leading up to the weekend's wild weather was "about the best you will ever get". "I'm still comfortable that (with) what we did over the course of the last week, very few people would have woken up in Brisbane on Saturday morning not knowing there was severe weather coming," Mr Webb said.

Premier Campbell Newman yesterday leapt to the bureau's defence, saying residents had ample warnings of the storm cells and should have been prepared.

"I think people need to give them a fair go," he said.

COMMENT: Things are going from bad to worse in the Brisbane Bureau of Meteorology. The Regional BOM Director Rob Webb had promised a  review of the decision on Saturday not to issue a storm warning despite the fact a major damaging storm event had already hit Ipswich on a 40km front and was moving quickly towards Brisbane. 

According to The Courier-Mail, Rob Webb has "reneged" on his promised review, opting instead to "have a chat about how they made their decisions and the warnings (that) were issued".  Is he for real?  BOM's own radar image at 10.12 am on Saturday clearly showed a massive storm to the west of Brisbane yet it took BOM another 38 minutes to issue an alert - after the storm had already wreaked havoc on the heart of Brisbane. 

Now, instead of having an all-encompassing review to see if BOM can do better in the future, Rob Webb will presumably be bringing in cream buns and doughnuts for a morning tea chit chat with the troops presumably to tell them that all's well in paradise and The Courier-Mail exposures of their performance will soon dry up.  The problem for Rob Webb is that he has put himself at the forefront of defending the indefensible and The Courier-Mail, the Early Warning Network, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of storm chasers and amateur meteorologists will continue to closely monitor his performance in a way no other BOM regional director in Australia has ever experienced.  One more slip and he can expect a deluge of criticism. Such is the power of the internet.

The main concern about Rob Webb is his about-face on this issue and his declaration there will be no change to the criteria used by his office to decide if a storm alert is to be issued.  This means that if exactly the same situation occurs this weekend as occurred last weekend, the Brisbane Bureau would NOT issue an alert to the people of Ipswich and Brisbane.  And therein lies the core of the problem.  If Rob Webb truly believes his office was 100% right in what they did by not issuing an alert last Saturday, then we can expect more of exactly the same in the future. 

Why can't Rob Webb learn from this situation?  Why can't he genuinely review all of the issues to see if BOM can do better in the future?  By continuing to declare "we got it right", Rob Webb seems to leave no scope for change or betterment.  And that is a real pity. Maybe he should bring along some humble pie to eat at the morning tea, as well as those cream buns and doughnuts!

Weather bureau under pump over staffing as funds dry up

Brisbane BOM chief Rob Webb has staunchly defended
the decision not to issue a storm alert on Saturday
morning despite the fact that a 40km storm front -
depicted in red and black on the Bureau's
own radar - had already hit Ipswich.
QUEENSLANDERS should brace for further rough weather as forecasters predict more storms later this week and a turbulent storm season ahead.

Authorities have stressed the importance of being storm-ready this season as the weather bureau yesterday defended itself against criticism over tardy warnings ahead of Saturday morning's storm which lashed the southeast.

Forecasters are expecting showers and storms on Thursday and weather bureau chief Rob Webb said more bad weather was predicted "coming into the 'peak' of the storm season".

People should be prepared for the worst, he said.

About 4500 insurance claims have been lodged for hail damage, flash flooding and falling branches while 48 SES groups answered 650 requests from Toowoomba to Brisbane.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said it appeared the bureau had not been able to keep up with storms on Saturday but did a good job on Sunday.

The Federal Government defended the bureau, insisting the agency has enough staff.

But it came under attack from Opposition MP Teresa Gambaro, who said her Brisbane electorate was not given sufficient warning.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would take the issue of resourcing to her federal colleagues.

"People need up-to-date information. More and more people are clicking on to the bureau site," she said. "If there are things that can be done to improve the situation, then they should be undertaken."

Parliamentary Secretary Don Farrell, who has responsibility for the bureau, said forecasters had to follow rules before issuing warnings or the public would not take predictions seriously.

Mr Webb said the bureau was adequately staffed and a new forecasting system being fitted would have no bearing on how storms were read.

One additional staff member had been rostered on, meaning six forecasters were working on Saturday and Sunday. Two of those were on the severe weather desk.

An independent review of the bureau last year warned it was at its limit in providing extreme weather forecasting.

Senator Farrell said the Government spent $5 million on 20 meteorologists from overseas and a further 20 locals to be trained up around the country.

He said he had been advised that additional staff would not have helped on Saturday.

Emergency Management Minister Nicola Roxon said the bureau was often asked to do the impossible in predicting unpredictable weather.

"You can't assume that we are going to be able to always beat Mother Nature," Ms Roxon said.

Mr Webb stuck by staff who issued the late warning on Saturday, saying it was at the bottom end of severe and not to be confused with massive supercells that developed later in the day and Sunday.

"There was no evidence on radar to anyone that it was severe until it got to the CBD when we put out a warning ... in a perfect world we would have preferred to have it out earlier," he said.

Yesterday, bright sunshine could not melt the hail that lingered on Lyn and Dennis Ryan's fig and lychee trees at Wamuran, more than 18 hours after storms swept through.

COMMENT: BOM Brisbane chief Rob Webb still says there "was no evidence on radar to anyone that it was severe until it got to the CBD when we put out a warning".  You must be kidding.  Have another look at your own weather radar at 10.12am on Saturday:
A cursory look at your own radar image shows a massive 40km storm front from Wivenhoe Dam in the north to Harrisville in the south depicted in yellow and bright red, with a black centre southeast of Marburg.  The storm was about to hit Ipswich as it moved on its highly destructive path towards Brisbane.
This one radar image is damning evidence in its own right that the Brisbane Bureau of Meteorology let the people of southeast Queensland down very badly.
No one one is blaming you or your staff at a personal level.  Things can always go awry when trying to accurately predict storm events.
Instead of defending the indefensible, why haven't you adopted the smart Peter Beattie approach which would have seen a simple apology followed by a promise to do better in the future.
The people of southeast Queensland expect no more - and no less.

BOM Shell: Brisbane Bureau Chief Rob Webb says Saturday's storm warnings were adequate

THE Weather Bureau's Queensland chief says Saturday's superstorm didn't meet warning parameters after complaints it failed to issue timely alert - but they'll review weekend decisions.

Regional director Rob Webb said because it was an unusual event that happened early in the morning and that they didn't think it was going to be a severe event.

"It just blew up on the city," he told The Courier-Mail after the press conference.

Mr Webb said as the storm was approaching it didn't meet the Bureau's parameters for issuing a storm warning.

"You aim to put out warnings ahead of the weather but it's not always possible. The forecaster made a call that this one would stay under the parameters and pass through".

Mr Webb denied staffing was an issue and that they had six staffers on both Saturday and Sunday.

Lightning over Brisbane City from Ascot hill.

Cr Quirk said the forecasting was either a feast or a famine with few warnings issued on Saturday while dozens were issued on Sunday.

Mr Webb told ABC breakfast radio this morning he had full confidence in the team but would be reviewing the weekend's forecast decisions to learn from them.

"We review those decisions so we can learn to make best decisions for the next one. What we don't want to do is reach for the warning trigger for every thunderstorm" he said.

"We focus more attention on the point when a storm gets to the point where it gets to the point where it causes damage."

"We will go back and look at those decisions we made and we won't just be moving on. We'll be watching it closely."

Mr Webb said the Bureau watches the weather every six minutes, and would have been weighing up whether to issue a message "as the community [was] prepared already".

"There is a lot of messaging out in the community that the weather would be bad; we don't want to warn for every thunderstorm that would lead to complete complacency in the community," he said.

He said that the message he wanted to get out was that, even without the warnings from BOM, thunderstorms can be very dangerous.

"Once we are forecasting thunderstorms, people should be aware that they can change in their structure fairly quickly and really need to be keeping an eye on the environment, as well keeping an eye on our website for warnings," he said.
COMMENT:  On their first day of lectures, any student of Meteorology 101 would have known from the radar image below there was a massive storm approaching Ipswich and Brisbane.  Have a close look at this radar image released by the Brisbane Bureau of Meteorology at 10.12 am on Saturday:
It clearly shows a massive storm front stretching from Wivenhoe Dam to Harrisville which was about to hit Ipswich before moving quickly towards Brisbane.
It was published on Paul Tully's Facebook and Twitter sites at 10.21 am to his 2500 followers.
But the Weather Bureau did not issue a warning until 10.50 am - AFTER the storm had hit the heart of Brisbane.
Rob Webb
Rob Webb can sugar-coat the Bureau's hopeless efforts all he likes but at the the end of the day, it was a pretty poor performance.
He denies the Bureau was short-staffed, so what was the root cause of the problem?
The above image is proof positive that the Bureau failed to act when it should have.
Come Sunday after BOM was caught short by The Sunday Mail's revelation of its terrible performance, it started issuing numerous alerts recommending the use of the Standard Emergency Signal across all Brisbane media outlets.
Rob - much too late, but at least it was a start!
Even Kevin Rudd was prepared to say sorry - maybe you could do the same to try to win back the hearts and minds of the people of Queensland.

The Weather Bureau Brisbane Director Rob Webb says the Bureau's warning on Saturday morning was "adequate". How can you say NO warning was an adequate warning. I am establishing the "Rob Webb Award" for hopeless weather forecasting. Guess who gets the inaugural 2012 Award?

Is Brisbane BOM chief Rob Webb answerable to anyone? - Apparently not!

 THE Federal Government was warned a year ago the Bureau of Meteorology was "at the limit of its human capacity" to provide an extreme weather forecasting and warning service.

But it has so far provided less than $5 million in this year's Budget to boost frontline staff numbers, which have fallen by almost 42 per cent in a decade, according to an Environment Department-commissioned review of the bureau.

It is not known if staffing levels were the reason the bureau failed to issue any specific warning about the freak storm that smashed into Brisbane's inner suburbs late morning on Saturday - but calls continued yesterday for a proper please-explain.

The front of Saturday's freak storm smashed into the inner northern suburbs about 10.30am. Twenty minutes later, the bureau issued its first specific storm warning.

By then the front of the storm had passed over the inner-western suburbs and the central business district and was almost at the coast.

The Courier-Mail yesterday contacted the bureau's Queensland regional director Rob Webb direct on his mobile phone, but he referred the inquiry to a spokeswoman - who first complained about having to work on the weekend - and then reissued a statement issued Saturday.

Lightning over Brisbane City from Ascot hill.

That statement said it was "difficult to predict in detail" what would happen with particular storm cells, and that the freak event had only started to show signs of severe storm characteristics as it approached the central business district.

It said: "The Bureau of Meteorology doesn't aim to issue warnings for every thunderstorm, but uses thresholds to ensure there isn't complacency in the community due to over-warning."

That threshold includes expected winds over 90km/h, hailstones bigger than 2cm, and very heavy rainfall.

Nevertheless, following the criticism of its lack of action on Saturday the bureau was in warning overdrive yesterday - issuing dozens of warnings throughout the day as storms rolled across the southeast.

Despite nobody from the bureau being willing to talk to The Courier-Mail yesterday, Dr Richard Wardle from the bureau managed to make himself available to speak on-camera to Channel 7 last night.

Dr Wardle said: "(On Saturday morning) we were tracking the system well out to the west and Darling Downs and it just - I won't use the word exploded - but it developed rapidly over a few minutes."

Ipswich city councillor Paul Tully accused the bureau of having been "asleep on the job" on Saturday morning. He had managed to warn of the storm on his Facebook page at 10.21am - nearly 30 minutes before the bureau's warning.

Other critics inundated the bureau's Facebook page on Saturday asking why there had been no warning until after the event. The bureau did not respond to their concerns.

Weatherwatch's Anthony Cornelius yesterday said it was "unfortunate" there had been no specific warning issued, and that he would have issued a warning when it hit Gatton, just before 10am." In my opinion there was definitely grounds for that storm to be warned," Mr Cornelius said.

Jeff Higgins from Higgins Storm Chasing said the bureau's strict adherence to its warning "threshold" made it difficult for residents to be alerted in time.

The bureau came under fire during last year's floods after it failed to issue a flood warning for the hardest-hit town of Grantham until 4.16pm, more than an hour after the disaster.
A second top priority flash flood warning came at 5pm.

Mr Cornelius, a meteorologist, had predicted devastating flash flooding hours earlier and at the time questioned why the bureau had failed to make a similar prediction.
COMMENT: What a disgraceful display by the Brisbane Weather Bureau in the past 2 days.  We're not talking about their monumental blunder in failing to issue a storm alert for Brisbane until the violent storm had already hit on Saturday morning.  No, the unacceptable display was 3-fold:
1.  The Queensland regional director Rob Webb refused to speak to The Courier-Mail who dodged their questions and referred The Courier-Mail to BOM's media people.  So much for accessibility, responsibility and accountability in a weekend of crisis.  Who does Rob Webb think he is?
2. When contacted by The Courier-Mail, BOM's media spokeswoman "first complained about having to work on the weekend - and then reissued a statement issued Saturday".  So much for her role as an active, helpful and enthusiastic BOM team member.
3. Yesterday, no one from BOM was available to speak to The Courier-Mail but Dr Richard Wardle arose like Lazarus on Channel 7 to wax lyrical on-camera about the storms over Brisbane and Ipswich.  So much for BOM working hand-in-hand with the local media in difficult times.
It was a truly appalling weekend for BOM's Brisbane office.  There needs to be a complete shake-up starting at the top.  BOM's Head Office needs to launch a full investigation into this gigantic stuff-up.  And Rob Webb needs some urgent media training in crisis management because his role in the future - following this debacle - will be under close and continuing scrutiny .


Brisbane Bureau of Meteorology “asleep on the job” as super storm cell hit Brisbane and Ipswich: Call for public apology

BOM weather radar image published on Cr Paul Tully’s Facebook page at 10.21am yesterday, 30 minutes before the official warning came, clearly showing a violent storm front over Ipswich.

The Brisbane Bureau of Meteorology was asleep on the job as yesterday’s massive super storm cell passed across southeast Queensland, according to Ipswich councillor Paul Tully.
Cr Tully has called on the Bureau to apologise to the people of Brisbane and Ipswich for its “monumental failure” to issue a timely storm warning.
Yesterday’s storm saw 11,000 homes lose power with violent winds uprooting trees and causing millions of dollars damage across the two cities.
“They must have been enjoying a long morning tea or an early lunch not to realise the intensity of the approaching storm.”
Cr Tully has called on the Bureau’s head office to launch an inquiry into yesterday’s fiasco which saw more than a million people in Brisbane and Ipswich with no advance warning of the approaching super storm.
Cr Tully issued his own alert to his 1600 followers on Facebook at 10.21am:  “It’s coming.  Moving now towards Ipswich’s eastern suburbs” after observing a line of storms on a 50km front from Wivenhoe Dam south to Harrisville.
Cr Tully’s alert, 30 minutes before the Bureau’s official warning, included a weather bureau radar image taken at 10.16am showing the highly intense storm centred between Amberley and the Ipswich CBD, moving east towards Brisbane
At 10.35am, Cr Tully issued another alert that lightning had hit a crane at the Ipswich Hospital in the heart of the city which prompted several fire units to attend the scene.
As the violent storm moved across Ipswich into Brisbane’s western suburbs, the Bureau had still not issued an official warning when the storm hit inner-city Brisbane at 10.45am.
At 10.50am, the Bureau finally issued a severe thunderstorm warning to Brisbane’s media outlets for damaging winds in Brisbane, Redland, North Stradbroke Is and parts of Logan, Gold Coast and Moreton Bay council areas.
Cr Tully said this was too little too late with residents given no time to batten down before the storm hit.
“The Bureau’s claim they were caught by surprise is completely inconsistent with their own radar image in the hour before the storm struck Brisbane.
“Blind Freddy could have seen what was happening but the Bureau completely failed the people of southeast Queensland.
“My own Facebook alert was based on BOM’s own radar images on their website.
“Social media seem to be doing a better job than the weather bureau in predicting major storm events.
“If this performance was anything to go by, the public can have no faith in the Brisbane Bureau of Meteorology in the lead-up to summer which officially commences in 13 days.
Cr Tully likened yesterday’s fiasco to the April 14, 1999 hailstorm in Sydney which caused $1.7 billion damage when the Sydney Bureau of Meteorology failed to issue a storm warning for the Sydney metropolitan area, wrongly believing the storm would head out to sea.
“There must be something seriously wrong at the Brisbane weather bureau office.
“They are either understaffed or overworked.
“There have been reports of major staff cuts at the Brisbane Bureau in the past couple years and this is the result.
“A year ago, their annual report revealed the Queensland office of the bureau lost 15 ‘professional’ and ‘technical’ staff from June 2010 to June 2011.
“The Bureau now has a duty to reveal how many staff were on duty on Saturday morning and why they made their greatest botch-up for decades.

RACQ goes from dumb to dumber over Queensland's speed cameras

QUEENSLAND'S peak motoring body has condemned
moves to outsource speed camera operations as a
"shameless grab for cash at the expense of driver safety".
The Courier-Mail revealed extra speed cameras would be rolled out across Queensland and operated by civilians instead of police in State Government changes aimed at cutting costs and boosting revenue.

 RACQ Executive General Manager Advocacy Paul Turner said the State Government had lost sight of the purpose of the cameras.

"The Queensland Police manage speed cameras as a way to improve road safety and outsourcing their operation to a private company can only mean that profit is the number one priority,'' Mr Turner said.

"It appears that in their attempts to raise revenue, the State Government has forgotten that speed cameras are there to make our roads safer, not their budget fatter.''

His comments follow confirmation from the Police Minister's office that a review of speed camera operations is underway in partnership with Transport and Main Roads.

A spokesman for Minister Jack Dempsey said a number of service delivery models were being looked at, including outsourcing the operation to a private company, civilianising speed cameras or moving the function to another department of government, as has occurred in New South Wales and South Australia.

COMMENT: Below is an extract from an earlier article describing the exorbitant amounts Queensland Police earn from "speed camera" overtime:
"POLICE officers who sit in mobile speed camera vans pocket a total of $26,210 in overtime payments every day.

Figures provided by the Queensland Police Service show $9.567 million was paid to the 600 officers trained to operate the vans in 2011-12.

The hefty sum averages out to an extra $15,945 a year for each trained operator. Under current police service protocols, virtually all mobile speed camera operations are conducted as overtime, outside an officer's normal rostered hours."
Paul Turner
It defies logic why Paul Turner from the RACQ sees the need for professionally-trained police officers to sit in a car to oversee the operation of speed cameras.  Just as traffic controllers have replaced police on key duties over the years and security guards now do police-type work, there is no reason civilians could not be responsible for speed cameras. 

Let's face it, a couple of days training would be more than adequate - and at a lot lower cost.  The Police Minister Jack Dempsey is 100% right to do something about the $9.567 million paid to officers to operate speed camera vans last financial year.  The  RACQ is still living in the ice age if it believes the police can do the job more cheaply than civilians or private companies.
The money saved could be used for greater road safety initiatives in Queensland or for more speed cameras which would actually improve road safety - the exact opposite of what the RACQ is claiming.
Paul Turner should get his head out of the sand and open his eyes and stop bagging the State Government over this issue.
Thanks to the efforts of ther Queensland Police Union, the cops are now well paid in this state and don't need the extra cream for doing overtime speed camera work.
Maybe Paul Turner's bosses at the RACQ should be vetting his work more-closely before he comes out with any more clangers.

RACQ's Steve Spalding mouths off against the Federal Government in pathetic show

The Bruce Highway following a car crash.

RACQ calls for Federal Government to
give more to Bruce Highway

THE RACQ has called on the Federal Government to provide additional funding to fix the Bruce Highway to prevent further unnecessary road carnage.

RACQ's executive general manager for advocacy Paul Turner said the Bruce Highway Action Plan Out of the Crisis, released yesterday by the Queensland Government, relied on the Federal Government fulfilling its national highway obligations.

Mr Turner said the 10-year plan incorporated the motoring club's top priorities to address critical safety, flooding and capacity issues on the highway.

"Recent comments by the Federal Government that roads funding may be cut to a 50/50 basis would decimate this plan and condemn Queenslanders to another decade of unnecessary road deaths and injuries on our major highway," Mr Turner said.

 "The Bruce Highway is one of the most dangerous highways in Australia, accounting for more than 17% of deaths while representing only 7.5% of national highway length.

 "It also accounts for approximately 40 fatalities and 400 serious injuries every year.

 "The Bruce Highway also consistently appears in the club's Unroadworthy Roads Survey. In fact, all six sections of the Bruce Highway from Brisbane to Cairns featured in the Top 10 worst state and national network roads in 2011.

 "RACQ has been campaigning for urgent upgrades to the Bruce for many years and just when we see action from the Queensland Government, the Federal Government threatens to reduce its contribution.

 "We can't allow that to happen."

 The Queensland Government formed the Bruce Highway Crisis Management Group after being elected in March this year, and undertook to release its report within six months.

 Mr Turner said the Queensland Government plan would result in safer roadsides, safer intersections and additional overtaking lanes to improve safety and freight efficiency.

It also addressed critical flood locations that every summer closed the highway for days at a time, to the detriment of the local and state economy.

RACQ figures showed the Bruce Highway was cut by flood waters more than 500 times in two years between 2009 and 2011.

RACQ advocated the use of the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) rating system for the Bruce Highway to ensure the elimination of all one and two-star sections over the next decade, with all new works to achieve a minimum four-star standard.

 Highlights from the plan are

 Mass action treatments across much of the highway
Wide (1 metre) centre line
Sealed shoulders
Formation widening where a seal >10m is not possible
Safety barriers
Additional overtaking lanes
Audible line markings

Cairns to Townsville

Cairns Southern Access Corridor - Stages 2 and 3 (capacity, safety)
Edmonton to Gordonvale duplication (capacity, safety)
Cattle and Frances Creek Upgrades (flooding)
Ingham to Cardwell Range deviation (including Gairloch floodway) - construction listed in High Priority 2.

Townsville to Mackay

Haughton River & Pink Lily Lagoon upgrade (flooding, safety)
Yellow Gin Creek Upgrade (flooding)
Sandy Gully Bridge Upgrade (flooding)

Mackay to Rockhampton

Mackay Northern Access Upgrade (capacity, safety)
Mackay Intersection Upgrades - Stage 2 (capacity, safety)
Sarina Northern Access Upgrade (capacity, safety)
Duplication of Mackay to Sarina not expected to be funded (capacity, safety)

Rockhampton to Gympie

Yeppen floodplain south upgrade (flooding)
Rockhampton North Access Upgrade - Stage 1 (capacity, safety)
Childers Bypass Construction works not listed

Gympie to Sunshine Coast

Cooroy to Curra Upgrade - Section A (safety, capacity)
Cooroy to Curra Upgrade - Section C (safety, capacity)
Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway - Stage 1 (safety, capacity)
Cooroy to Curra Upgrade - Section D not expected to be funded (capacity, safety)

Sunshine Coast to Brisbane boundary

Managed motorways - Gateway Mwy to Caboolture - (capacity, safety)
No significant safety/capacity improvements.


Steve Spalding
COMMENT: Will the RACQ's Steve Spalding ever stop complaining against the Federal Government?  In this article, he gives the LNP Campbell Newman government all the praise in the world but when it comes to the Julia Gillard Labor government, there is not one iota of congratulations for the millions of dollars poured into Queensland over the years by the Federal Government to improve our road system.  One example is the $2.8 billion upgrade of the Ipswich Motorway.  It is well known that the RACQ is a right wing anti-Labor organisation but this is ridiculous.  Money doesn't grow on trees and it's time the RACQ adopted a more-conciliatory approach to the affairs of state.