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Perth fair-lovers have taken advantage of the city’s trains being back on schedule, with thousands turning out to the Perth Royal Show this morning. 

The show’s organisers have reported strong crowds so far on the opening day of the Show and, with the day expected to stay sunny and topping 26C, between 50,0000 to 60,000 are expected to flow through the gates. 

“It was fantastic that the trains were running on schedule and we’ve had a lot of people entering through the train entrance, so they are obviously taking advantage of the public transport,” Royal Show spokeswoman Maryanne Shaddick said. 

A pay dispute between train drivers and the Public Transport Authority threatened public transport to the Show when drivers called in sick in their masses yesterday, drastically reducing train services. 

However, a deal was reached last night when drivers agreed to an interim wage rise of 5 per cent on the condition that the industrial action stopped immediately.

 The show runs until October 2 but more than half of all show-goers attend over the long weekend, with Monday traditionally the busiest day. 

The weather is expected to stay mostly sunny tomorrow, with a maximum of 23C, and a partly cloudy 25C on Monday. Those attending the Show today will be treated to a shearing and wool-handling competition.

Source  :   www.thewest.com.au

 

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PERTH is to become a vibrant waterfront city, says Premier Colin Barnett, who today unveiled plans for a massive redevelopment featuring an inlet connecting the CBD and the river.

Mr Barnett plans to create a vibrant new area for the city and ‘finally’ connect the waterfront to the CBD.

The centrepiece will be a 2.8ha inlet that will bring the river back to near its original shore line. 

The inlet will be surrounded by landscaped terraces, boardwalks and promenades, and fringed by shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and other activities.

 “The Swan River – our greatest natural asset – is effectively cut ff from the city by Riverside Drive and by an expanse of lawn,” said Mr Barnett at today’s unveiling.

“Other major Australian cities have done far more with much less.  This will assist Perth to mature as a vibrant, sophisticated capital city, providing an attraction for locals and tourists.” By removing a section of Riverside Drive, the development encourages the use of public transport, taking advantage of the nearby Esplanade train station, Busport and commuter ferry services. Some changes to existing roads will be made to create more pedestrian-friendly routes.

Mr Barnett was joined by Planning Minister John Day,Tourism Minister Liz Constable and Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi at the unveiling.

The development will cover nearly 10ha, focused between Barrack and William streets.

“The development is designed for pedestrians and cyclists – not cars,” said Mr Barnett:.

“It will be an attractive destination for families, young people, city workers, national and international tourists and seniors to gather and enjoy.

“The State Government will take the lead on this development, along with Perth City Council, and we will be looking – indeed asking – the private sector to join with us.  I am also confident the Federal Government will be supportive.”

Mr Barnett said there was significant work to be done on road realignment, drainage and dredging but preliminary works would begin as soon as possible, with major construction starting in 2012.

The plans signal a new era of city building, as a logical and seamless extension of the city.  Together with The Link, major works to the Cultural Precinct and other CBD projects, the city’s axis will be redefined through the strengthening of the Barrack and William streets links.

In addition, Howard Street and Sherwood Court will provide direct links between St George’s Terrace and the waterfront, enhancing the capacity for these laneways to become vibrant places with shops, cafes and small bars.

The inlet, designed to reflect the historical characteristics of Perth Port, will have room for public boat mooring facilities.

At the heart of the new inlet will be an island, a landscaped parkland offering a unique experience for visitors. This family-focused destination will provide opportunities for relaxation in sheltered open spaces with 360 degree views of the surrounding city.  It may also include a safe, child-friendly beach and swimming areas.

Land at the foot of William Street has been preserved for a significant public building.  The Government’s preference is that this building be a national centre for indigenous art and culture, providing a major focus for the project.

Event spaces will be dotted throughout the waterfront, including a public square next to the Esplanade train station, the promenade, the island and a new road which can be closed to accommodate events.  Larger events will be held at the Supreme Court Gardens, which will be improved under the plan.

 There is also the potential to include a swimming pool, which could be an attractive recreational asset for city workers.

Full details of the Perth Waterfront concept plan can be found on the PlanningWA website at http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/waterfront 

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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There’s more pain on the way for Australia’s borrowers with the Reserve Bank today raising interest rates for the third time in as many months.

As widely tipped, the central bank lifted its key cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.75 per cent following its monthly board meeting. It’s the first time the RBA has lifted rates three months in a row. (Click here for economists’ reaction, including Michael Pascoe and Peter Martin.)

”In Australia, the downturn was relatively mild, and measures of confidence and business conditions suggest that the economy is in a gradual recovery,” RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said in a statement accompanying the rates verdict. The central bank’s ”gradual” increases in rates will ”work to increase the sustainability of growth in economic activity,” he said.

For a typical mortgage holder on a $300,000 mortgage, today’s rate rise will add about $47 to monthly repayments, assuming commercial banks match the RBA’s move. Officials for most of the major banks this afternoon said their rates policies were under review.

The Reserve Bank has made regular public comments in recent weeks that it sees no need to keep interest rates at ”emergency” levels as the economy rebounds from a slowdown during the past year. Ric Battelino, the RBA’s deputy governor, last week said the economy’s growth is likely to extend ”for a few more years yet.”

More to rises come

Still, the economic data continue to provide mixed readings. A measure of manufacturing activity in November out today showed the sector continues to grow with companies adding jobs, although the stronger Australian dollar slowed the pace of expansion.

Overall building approvals, meanwhile, surprisingly fell 0.6 per cent in October, according to other figures out today. A 5 per cent gain in approvals for private homes was countered by a 19 per cent drop in permits for flats and townhouses.

Even with today’s rate increase, the Reserve Bank’s efforts to tighten monetary policy are likely to be far from over.

”The big change in this statement was their reference to the increases so far as being material,” ANZ’s head of Australian economics Warren Hogan told Reuters.

”I read that as implying that they’re ready to now sit back and watch how these increases affect the economy. And the hurdle for further rate hikes will be much higher than we have seen so far.

“So I think our view that they’re going to 4 (per cent), 4.25 then sit there for much of the year is the right one. There’s every chance they’ll do it in February and March, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s dragged out over a number of months.”

JP Morgan’s Chief Economist Stephen Walters agreed that the RBA may make it four rate rises in a row: “With inflation likely to creep up, and the worst in the economy having passed, there is no need to keep rates at very expansionary levels.”

“We think they will again lift rates in February,” Mr Walters

said. ”The RBA does not meet in January, but I think they will hike when they return after the break. The word ‘gradual’ is still there in the RBA statement and I think they will start going slow in lifting after February.”

Before today’s move, investors were betting that rates would rise to at least 4.75 per cent in a year’s time – equivalent to four more rate rises over the period. Three weeks ago, however, the betting was for rates to rise to 5.25 per cent, indicating confidence in the economy’s strength has recently diminished.

The RBA’s board is not scheduled to meet again until next February.

Political view

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the rate rise would pinch household funds.

”This is tough for families…when rates go up it has an impact on the family budget,” Mr Swan told reporters.

He took aim at old comments from new Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that the government’s billion-dollar stimulus had led to interest rates rises.

”That is laughable and it comes from a political leader who is prone to making erratic statements,” Mr Swan said.

”Mr Abbott is in denial of the fact that this country has performed well in the global recession.”

Even with the latest jump, these rates were last seen in 1967, Mr Swan said.

Mild downturn

A year ago, the Reserve Bank was in the midst of a series of deep interest rate cuts as Australia joined other countries in attempting to limit the damage from the global financial crisis.

Last December, the RBA sliced one full percentage point from its cash rate, lowering it to 4.25 per cent on the way to a fifty year-low of 3 per cent by April. After a pause, the central bank has started to lift rates back towards more normal levels as fears of an economic crunch abate.

”The effects of the early stages of the fiscal stimulus on consumer demand are fading, but public infrastructure spending is starting to provide more impetus to demand,” Mr Stevens said in his statement today.

The jobless rate has been one of the surprises, with Australia’s unemployment holding well below 6 per cent when many had predicted a level in excess of 8 per cent. Business investment has also held up well in large measure due to the sharp rebound in China and India – leaving Australia as one of the few countries to start raising rates.

”Prospects for ongoing expansion of private demand, including business investment, have been strengthening. There have been some early signs of an improvement in labour market conditions,” Mr Steven said. ”The rate of unemployment is now likely to peak at a considerably lower level than earlier expected.”

The RBA believes economic growth ”is likely to be close to trend (in 2010) and inflation close to target.

Market response

In the aftermath of the rates news, the Aussie dollar initially dropped before recovering to about 91.5 US cents in recent trading, close to its level before the RBA statement.

Shares, also turned mildly lower before recovering to be about 0.2 per cent higher for the day with less than an hour of trading left.

Source :   www.theage.com.au

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The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is urging the media and the public to ignore hoax emails circulating on the internet about government benefits provided to asylum seekers and refugees permanently settling in Australia.

Some of the hoax emails also falsely claim Australia accepts terrorists and other criminals under its international obligations.

“The text in these emails has many gross inaccuracies,” a DIAC spokesman said.

“Irregular maritime arrivals are subject to thorough security and identity checks and must satisfy the character test before being a decision is made about protection.

“Only those who engage Australia’s international obligations receive refugee status; indeed, the government has already returned people who were not refugees.

“Figures quoted in these emails also bear no resemblance to income-support payments to asylum seekers and refugees settling in Australia.

“Asylum seekers in Australia who have not yet had their protection claims decided have no access to Centrelink benefits.

“In Australia, refugees granted permanent visas have access to benefits on the same basis and at the same rates as other Australian permanent residents.”

The spokesman said refugees received no cash payments under Australia’s Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy. He said any claims that refugees are given free houses were ridiculous.

“DIAC helps eligible refugees with English-language lessons and settling-in assistance including basic goods to start a household, as well as subsidies for rent and utilities for their first four weeks in the country,” the spokesman said.

“We would strongly encourage anyone who receives an email claiming asylum seekers or refugees are treated more favourably than Australian permanent residents to hit the delete button and ignore these ridiculous claims.”

Media Enquiries: (02) 6264 2244

Source  :  http://www.newsroom.immi.gov.au/media_releases/750

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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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Adult criminals sentenced to outdoor community work will from today wear bright yellow vests emblazoned with “Repay WA” as part of a Government repay wacampaign to increase public confidence in community service as a punishment.
   
Corrective Services Minister Christian Porter claimed community work had not been used as a sentencing option as often as it could be because there was a perception among the public, and sometimes the courts, that it was becoming “a joke”.
   
“For the public to view community work as an appropriate sentencing tool, they need to see the work carried out as ordered by the courts,” Mr Porter said.
   
The State Government has adopted the tougher stance after statistics showed more than 40 per cent of offenders sentenced to community work in 2007-08 did not finish their programs.
  
WA’s completion rate of 56 per cent, 14 per cent below the national average, confirmed it as the worstperforming jurisdiction in Australia.   
   
Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan had suggested the vests after seeing them used in Britain this year.
   
“These vests will go a long way towards providing reassurance to the community that justice is in fact being done with these sorts of offenders,” Mr O’Callaghan said. 
 
Mr Porter said a crackdown on breaches had resulted in 55 per cent of offenders complying with their orders by attending work sessions, up from 40 per cent in June last year.
   
The rules will be tightened further in the next year, with offenders hauled back to court if they miss work on any two occasions. The existing scheme allows for three consecutive breaches before action is taken.

Australian Lawyers Alliance WA president Tom Percy said in February he was appalled by the idea. He said it was designed to humiliate offenders.

But Corrective Services community and juvenile justice deputy commissioner Heather Harker said yesterday she did not think offenders would be taunted or abused. “Many people out working in the community wear high-visibility vests and in many respects this is no different,” she said.
   
The vests will be worn by adult offenders working outside — such as in maintenance, repairs and gardening.
   
Juveniles will not be forced to wear the vests, which have been printed by inmates at Casuarina Prison.
   
More than 5500 adults and 770 juveniles are completing community justice orders of between 10 and 240 hours with punishments such as cleaning, gardening, administration, recycling, kitchen duties or sorting donated clothes for charity.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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The public are being asked not to approach whales during their annual migration.

Several whales have been spotted near Perth, off Ocean Reef over the weekend.

Whales often seek out protected waters close to shore and if people harass them they are likely to leave the area.

Whales are not accustomed to people, and may defend themselves when approached.

People who get up close on surfboards and boats are at particular risk, as these whales may react violently, which can result in serious injury or death.

In Western Australia, boats must be within 100m of a whale by law.

You need to keep your distance so they can continue their journey without interference.

People should be able to enjoy the spectacular sight of  whales off Perth’s shores for the next few weeks.

If boats and surfers keep their distance, we can all get a view of these creatures from the beach as they pass through our waters.

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