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Archive for September, 2009

The Kwinana Freeway extension and Forrest Highway has officially opened three months ahead of schedule.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Senator for Western Australia, Chris Evans, said the new 70.5 kilometre road was one of the largest road infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Western Australia.

Representing the Federal Government at today’s opening ceremony, Senator Evans said the opening marked the culmination of more than five years of work, including almost three years of construction, to deliver this vital piece of infrastructure.

‘It’s a great day for the south-west,’ Senator Evans said at the opening.

‘In particular, I congratulate the Southern Gateway Alliance, as well as the 3000 workers and more than 1000 local suppliers and subcontractors involved in building this road, on a job well done.

‘I would also like to acknowledge the former Federal and State governments for getting the work started on this vital piece of infrastructure for the people of Western Australia.

‘For the first time ever, motorists will be able to travel on a continuous dual carriageway from Perth to the fast-growing communities in the state’s south-west, bypassing the heavily populated areas of Mandurah and Dawesville.

‘The new road will provide better driving conditions and cut travel times by up to 30 minutes for the 30 000 motorists expected to use it each day. It will also take the pressure off other routes, including the Old Coast Road and South Western Highway.

‘Over the longer term, it will promote economic development across the region – which in turn will create even more job opportunities within local communities.’

The $705 million project was jointly funded by the Federal ($330 million) and Western Australian ($375 million) governments.

The Rudd Labor Government is investing $3.4 billion over six years to modernise and maintain the State’s road and rail infrastructure – an investment that will deliver significant benefits for both the Western Australian and national economies.

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The Notices of Legislative changes effective 14 September 2009, published on the website, do not come into effect till 12:00am AEST (GMT + 10) Monday 14 September 2009.

 See: All Notices of Legislation Changes at  :   http://www.immi.gov.au/legislation/amendments/

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A Perth man has become the first person in Australia to contract a strain of swine flu which is resistant to the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

WA Health confirmed the 38-year-old man, who has a weaken Australia to contract a strain of swine fled immune system, initially responded to the drug but developed a resistant strain of the virus when his illness relapsed.

There have been 13 cases of Tamiflu-resistant infections reported around the world.

WA’s Chief Health Officer Dr Tarun Weeramanthri said in a statement this was a rare and isolated case and did not pose a risk to the public.

“There is no evidence that the virus has spread to other people – none of the patient’s family or hospital staff caring for him have contracted the virus, and he has not been in contact with the wider community,” he said.

“Experience from overseas shows us that these cases tend to be confined to individual patients and it is not uncommon for it to occur in people who have weakened immune systems.”

Dr Weeramanthri said the man had been treated with an alternative antiviral drug that was active against the resistant virus and was no longer infectious.

However, he remains in a critical condition in intensive care.

“When it becomes available, the human swine flu vaccine will offer the best protection against the virus and I would encourage people to seriously consider getting vaccinated,” he said.

The first people to be offered the vaccine will be pregnant women in their second and third trimester, those with underlying medical conditions including morbid obesity, Aboriginal people, children in special schools and frontline healthcare workers, WA Health said.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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Some of WA’s finest restaurants are offering five-star meals at cafe prices in a bid to ensure cash-strapped customers still enjoy their pleasures despite the recession.

Top chefs and restaurant owners say they are keen to show punters top food is not only for special occasions.

Margaret River’s Vasse Felix and Must Wine Bar, Bistro Felix in Subiaco and Villa D’Este in West Perth are some of the hotspots offering set menus where customers can enjoy two or three-course meals, sometimes with wine, for $37-$55 a head.

Vasse Felix proprietor Paul Holmes a Court said the winery had made the decision to offer a standard set menu – two courses for $45 and three for $55 – for the first time this winter and it had worked so well it would be continued through spring.

“The idea stuck when I was in France with my family,” he said. “There were set menus everywhere we went and it worked well.” Mr Holmes a Court said he was keen to ensure as many people as possible could enjoy the world famous winery’s restaurant, without compromising high standards.

He said the decision to cap prices was also driven by a belief that top food should be affordable.

Vasse Felix executive chef Aaron Carr said the new spring menu boasted Asian and Indian influences, with highlights including roasted barramundi with sweet potato dhal and hot and sour soup with shredded chicken and coconut.

Bistro Felix owner Jeremy Cariss said although his set menu was dubbed the “recession concession”, it had been on offer for more than two years and was enormously popular.

Villa D’Este owner Enrico Morichetti said his business lunch menu allowed people to enjoy three courses for $36.80. He said it encouraged people to come out for lunch and enjoy the delights of the restaurant.

Source  :   www.thewest.com.au

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Sprinklers will be permanently switched off during winter from next year after the State Government today to retain this year’s trial sprinkler ban.

Yesterday’s decision follows a two-month trial ban during July and August, which Water Minister Graham Jacobs said saved about 2.2 billion litres of water, equivalent to filling 880 Olympic-sized pools and enough to supply towns the size of Manjimup or Collie for a year.

The permanent ban will apply from June 1 to August 31.

 The trial ban – for most scheme users south of Kalbarri – was introduced after water usage earlier this winter was running at 800 million litres a day, 300 million litres above average.

Dr Jacobs said today that the ban saved 50 million litres a day, while an independent survey last month indicated 93 per cent of residents supported the move.

“This is an outstanding community achievement because while there has been reasonably consistent rain, we are still well below the long-term annual rainfall average,” Dr Jacobs said

Dams were now at 45.5 per cent of capacity, their second-highest level this decade. They are holding 19 per cent more water than the same time last year.

Water Corporation figures show rainfall in all but one of the catchments for dams supplying Perth are below their historical averages for the year-to-date.

Dr Jacobs said the exact area of the permanent ban, and any adverse impact for industry and local government users would still have to be worked out.

This would occur “soon”, and some areas that took part in the trial ban – which ran from Kalbarri to Esperance and east to Kalgoorlie-Boulder – could have a case to be excluded.

These users were asked to voluntarily stop using bores during the two-month ban period, while garden bore users were allowed to turn them on for maintenance reasons.

“A lot of people say garden bores are not pulling on the scheme, but we all realise our underground water resources are all related,” Dr Jacobs said last month.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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Swan Valley winemakers have vowed to boycott the coming Spring in the Valley festival, saying the two-day event has become too unruly and overcrowded.

Little River Winery and John Kosovich Wines said they would have nothing to do with the popular festival when it was staged on October 10 and 11 because it was a “debauch”. Other wineries said they would hold their own separate events to coincide with its running.

It comes as the Swan Valley Tourism Council, which organises the event, confirmed it would introduce a $5 entry fee for the first time in the festival’s history. The fee will apply to all people attending the event, with 40 per cent of proceeds to go to Ticketmaster and the rest to the council. With as many as 70,000 people expected to attend, the fee could net the council $200,000. Swan Valley Tourism Council executive officer Geraldine Riggir said patrons would need to show their tickets at all participating venues.

The cost of the ticket will not entitle patrons to entry into all venues, with many set to charge their own admission prices. Ms Riggir said the council’s $5 fee would help cover the cost of staging the event, while it would also allow organisers to better manage crowds. She defended the festival in the face of criticism from some Swan Valley businesses, arguing it was the best way of showcasing local products to a broad market.

“It’s not a terrible festival, it’s a fantastic festival,” she said. “It’s just a small element of it that is a problem. All the valley is trying to do is showcase the region and what it has to offer.”

Upper Reach Winery owner Laura Pearse said she would sell a limited number of tickets privately to ensure crowd numbers were kept under control. She backed the festival as a going concern, saying it was predominantly a “lovely day out”. But Little River Winery owner Jan de Tastes said she would close her winery in protest because she no longer felt the festival represented the best interests of producers in the valley.

“If it was a quality festival you could be proud of it but at the moment you’ve got the drunkenness taking over to such as degree that the whole thing is a debauch,” she said.

Mrs de Tastes threatened to sue the council and event sponsors if anything happened to her winery during the event.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Parents of children at private WA schools should brace for fee rises up to four times the inflation rate next year, with new figures showing education costs leapt 37.5 per cent in the past five years.

Elite colleges said it was too early to set next year’s fees but they predicted rises between 5 and 8 per cent.

Principals said big pay rises to State schoolteachers last year in a three-year agreement were driving up fees at private schools because they competed for staff.

Scotch College principal Andrew Syme said fees at private schools had to go up at least 6 per cent to keep pace with teachers’ pay rises before any improvements in service.

Anglican Schools Commission chief executive Peter Laurence said fee rises at low-fee church schools would be similar to last year’s increases of between 6 and 9 per cent.

“Teachers’ pay is the number one driver that’s going to keep increases higher than they used to be a few years ago,” he said.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show education costs in Perth, comprising school fees and other miscellaneous costs, have jumped 37.5 per cent since 2004 – the biggest increase registered by any capital city. Canberra had the second biggest leap, with 29.4 per cent.

The rise was driven by a 55.9 per cent lift in fees associated with pre-schools and primary schools. By contrast, pre-school and primary school education costs in Sydney rose almost 23 per cent.

Pre-school and primary school fees have grown faster than the average wage of West Australians which, between 2004 and today, jumped 44 per cent – the biggest rise of any capital city.

The State Government has held down public primary school fees so the increase is mainly for private schools.

A private education in WA costs between $3000 a year for Year 12 tuition at low-fee Catholic schools and $17,000 a year at high-fee independent schools. Many private schools in Sydney and Melbourne charge more than $20,000 a year.

Association of Independent Schools of WA executive director Valerie Gould said the recent teacher pay rises and rising construction costs in the building boom two years ago may have been the big contributors to increased education costs.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist John Nicolaou said the fact fees were going up so much in the private sector reflected poorly on the public school sector.

He said people were voting with their feet and going to the private sector even while fees were rising, which said something about what parents thought of Government schools.

WA Secondary School Executives Association president Rob Nairn said students in Years 8 to 10 could get an education at a State school for a voluntary contribution of $235 a year. Costs were higher in Years 11 and 12 but much less than in private schools.

Source  :   www.thewest.com.au

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