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Australia has its first female Prime Minister after Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd at a partyroom meeting this morning.

In an unprecedented move, Ms Gillard will replace Mr Rudd less than six months out from this year’s federal election.

Once she is sworn in by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Ms Gillard will become Australia’s 27th prime minister since Federation.

Ms Gillard, a Victorian who represents the Melbourne seat of Labor, will be joined by Treasurer Wayne Swan as her deputy. Mr Swan is from Queensland, like Mr Rudd.

After the caucus meeting this morning, Ms Gillard emerged with Mr Swan by her side.

She said she was honoured to be Australia’s first female PM.

“I feel very honoured and I’ll be making a statement shortly,“ she said.

A smiling Mr Rudd emerged from the partyroom 20 minutes later with Senator John Faulkner by his side. He refused to comment to the throng of reporters which chased him back to his office.

After it became clear that Mr Rudd’s support in the ALP was evaporating, he decided against standing for the PM position this morning.

All elements of the Labor Party swung behind Ms Gillard in the face of opinion polls which show the Government still in a winning position but with dire satisfaction ratings for Mr Rudd.

The Labor Party’s returning officer for the meeting, NSW senator Michael Forshaw, said Mr Rudd, Ms Gillard and Mr Swan had given gracious speeches.

Declaring Ms Gillard would lead the Labor Party to victory at the next election, Senator Forshaw conceded the events of the past 24 hours had been tough

“This has been a difficult time for the Prime Minister and has been a difficult time for the party,” he said.

A visibly tired Senator Forshaw paid tribute to Mr Rudd.

“He led us to victory in 2007, a victory that was achieved when many people thought we still would be spending more years in opposition,” he said.

“That was a great achievement.

“We now have a new team and I’m looking confidently forward to the next election.”

Brand MHR  Gary Gray, who according to a recent Westpoll would lose his seat despite sitting on a 6.1 per cent margin, said ahead of the poll that a change was needed to turn around the Government’s electoral chances.

“It’s necessary to have both a fresh pair of hands, fresh eyes and a different approach to the management of government,” he told ABC radio.

It is understood Mr Swan will remain in the Treasury portfolio.

Source : www.thewest.com.au

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A juvenile humpback whale has died after beaching on Cable Beach near Albany.                                                                                                    humpback                               

The 7m whale was found on the beach about noon on Sunday.

Albany Department of Environment and Conservation officer Peter Collins said there was nothing the department could do to help it back out to sea.

“There was limited access to the area where it was beached and the whale was lodged behind the reef,” Mr Collins said.

“It probably weighed around five or six tonnes and, unfortunately, we couldn’t do anything.”

Mr Collins said whale had been badly “scratched up” by the reef but otherwise, at least on the surface, seemed in good condition.

He said that there were no plans to move it as it was believed the current would eventually shift it out into the ocean.

“The public are welcome to go have a look at it but remember, dead whales attract sharks,” Mr Collins said.

“So I would warn anyone against swimming at Cable Beach for a while.”

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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There are a number of changes being made to the citizenship test. The key changes are:                                                                                                    citizenship

  • the test questions will be rewritten in plain English
  • the test will not contain any mandatory questions
  • the current pass mark will increase from 60 per cent to 75 per cent
  • the test will be based on the Pledge of Commitment that new Australians make when becoming citizens.

The new citizenship test is planned to begin in late September 2009. The revised citizenship test resource book, which will contain all the information needed to prepare for the test, will be available from late August 2009.

You will be able to sit the new citizenship test in the same locations as with the current test including all 13 department offices, 30 Medicare offices and 4 Centrelink offices across Australia.

Will the new test be easier?

No. The test will continue to assess whether clients have an adequate knowledge of Australia and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship and possess a basic level of English.

Will the test only be in English?

Yes. The government is committed to the citizenship test being delivered in plain English.

If I have already passed a test will I have to sit another one if there are any changes?

No. You will not have to sit another test if you have already passed a test.

Can I make a booking to sit the new test now?

No. Appointments for the new test will not be available until the revised resource book is released in late August 2009.

Can I get a copy of the new test questions?

No. As with the current test questions, the new test questions will be confidential. However, practice questions will be available in the revised resource book and on this website.

Will assistance to complete the test still be available?

Yes. If you have difficulty reading or are unable to operate a computer you will be able to request help from a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) officer during a standard 45 minute test. The department officer will be able to assist you by reading aloud the test questions and answers or by operating the computer. Please ensure you request assistance at the time you make your test booking.

Source  :  http://www.citizenship.gov.au/test/changes/

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WA’s only confirmed case of swine flu has been cleared after a week in quarantine, Ten News has reported, while the nation’s swine flu tally has passed 400.

The  man, who tested positive last week after going to hospital with mild flu symptoms, was in home quarantine with his wife and their eight children.

Australia’s Eastern States has been particularly hard-hit by the flu and Victoria has recorded a massive surge in cases, most of them children.
 
By this afternoon the number of confirmed cases in the State had risen to 306, a rise of 94 in 24 hours.

Most of the new cases in Victoria also involved young people aged five to 18, prompting a twelfth Victorian school to be closed today.
 
According to Federal Health Department figures, there were 64 confirmed cases in NSW, 18 in Queensland, six in South Australia, four in the ACT, and one each in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
 
However, Queensland Health officials say the State now has 22 confirmed cases, the latest being teenage girls.
 
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the Government was assessing whether to elevate the nation’s response to the disease from the contain to the sustain phase.
 
Victoria is already preparing to move into the sustain phase, under which quarantining is limited to those who share a home with a confirmed swine flu patient.
In the contain phase, anyone who has had contact with a swine flu patient is quarantined voluntarily and given antiviral drugs for a week.
 
The nation’s chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop, said the advice to people with flu-like symptoms may change as swine flu evolved.
 
At present, people who come down with flu-like symptoms, especially if they have recently travelled to an affected country, are being advised to seek medical advice.
 
Professor Bishop said in the future, fit and healthy people may be told to stay at home and only those in at-risk groups, including those with seek medical advice and asthma, will be advised to visit their GP.
 
“A lot of people that have these sorts of symptoms of course will, as this thing progresses, stay at home and not necessarily seek medical advice if in their own case it is a at-risk groups— and that we expect to see more of,” he said.
 
“As we move along in this marathon race, what we will need to do is obviously identify those people that we’re concerned about.
 
“If there is large numbers involved, we want to make sure the system is looking after people we most want to look after.”
 
The swine flu-affected ship Pacific Dawn docked in Sydney this morning after NSW Health authorities gave it the all-clear.
 

The P&O ship was forced to cut short its trip to the Barrier Reef last week when three crew tested positive for the virus.
 
A senior NSW Health doctor and 25 nurses boarded the ship in Brisbane on Saturday, testing all 2500 people on board during the two-day voyage to Sydney.
 
While disappointed the cruise didn’t go to plan, passengers said they still enjoyed the journey.
 
David Geers, from Brisbane, joked it was the perfect place to be quarantined for seven days.

 “If you had to be quarantined somewhere I couldn’t have thought of a better place … because we got fed, the drinks tasted the same and the staff were fantastic,” he told reporters at Darling Harbour.
 
More than 15,000 people in 53 countries have tested positive to swine flu, with deaths totalling 99.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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