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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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 Seal on Floreat Beach

Dog walkers on Floreat Beach had the pleasure of sharing the sand with a sleeping seal this morning.

An early morning walker reported the seal was taking a nap on the beach about 8.30am when she came across the discovery.

Last month, several migrating sub-Antarctic fur seals were sighted at beaches in Hillarys, Fremantle and Jurien

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A woman from Melbourne has said she has no connection with missing British toddler Madeleine McCann after a friend in Sydney reported her to police.rt_maddy_mccann_090501_mn

The search for Madeleine swept across Australia with a string of sightings after private detectives revealed they were looking for a Victoria Beckham lookalike.

A picture of the woman was released by British police.

Ms Aron, who actually lives in Madeline Street, the Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris.

She has said she was shocked that anybody may have thought that I have some connection to this case. I can’t understand how it may have happened. I can honestly say I have no connection to the little girl.

She also announced that she has not been out of  Australia since 2000.

A neighbour said she thought the link might have been made because Ms Aron spoke Spanish and had a fair-haired child.

An elderly Sydney woman went into Burwood police station and filed a report claiming that a friend she had met in Spain, and travelled with in Portugal, was the woman in the identikit.

NSW Police said: ”NSW Police Force detectives have received information about a woman who is similar in description to the woman being sought by private investigators investigating the disappearance of British child Madeleine McCann.

An Australian-registered cruiser that was in Port Olimpic marina in Barcelona at the time the mystery woman was asking the new witness if he had brought her new daughter.

Reporters from London yesterday speculated that it was a $12 million powerboat belonging to a wealthy West Australian family. A spokesman for the family said: ”This is the most ridiculous speculation I have ever heard. It’s ludicrous.”

Investigators working for the McCanns said they had received more than 600 emails after issuing the Posh Spice lookalike appeal.

A spokesman for the family said most of those responses had come from Australia.

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Last night’s tsunami warning for south-eastern Australia, may have come to nothing, but it did demonstrate the worth of the motsunaminitoring system, says one expert.

The warning was announced soon after an earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, occurred off the south coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Chief Meteorologist Dr Chris Ryan, of the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, says the epicentre was located in the closest earthquake source zone to Australia, a region known as the Puysegur seduction zone.

He says, despite being close to Australia, the region is far enough away that a tsunami would take more two hours to reach the coast.

Ryan says the tsunami that followed only warranted a ‘marine threat’ warning with waves rising 30 centimetres at Port Kembla, near Wollongong and no significant damage has been reported.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Seismologist David Jepsen, of Geoscience Australia, says it took two hours for waves from New Zealand to get to Tasmania.

He says the Puysegur seduction zone is a region where Australia’s tectonic plate pushes underneath the Pacific plate.

Although the Australian tsunami warning system is one of the best in the world, the system is still pretty new.

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Retailers are boosting staff numbers in anticipation of an improvement in consumer spending, according to the Australian Retailers Association.                 retail

The industry group’s executive director, Richard Evans, said surveys of association members showed a 12 per cent jump in employment for small and medium-sized retailers this month, painting a much more positive picture than figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this month.

The number of people employed in the retail sector fell by less than 0.1 per cent last month compared with February, on a seasonally adjusted basis, but the ABS also reported an increase in underutilisation—the proportion of the workforce that is either unemployed or not working as many hours as it would like.

The rate of underutilisation among female workers was 9.1per cent last month, compared with 6.4 per cent for men, which the ABS attributed to the larger proportion of women working in industries with high levels of casual employment, such as retail.

However, Mr Evans said most retailers were holding on to skilled staff in preparation for rising demand, with 68 per cent reporting no change in employment levels in the past quarter.

“A further 16 per cent of retailers actually increased their number of staff during the same period,” he said.

“Retailing works in cycles, and although the sector has experienced a downturn, good retailers are doing their best to hold on to skilled staff as consumer confidence continues to grow and a new type of consumer emerges.”

The same trend was in play among the bigger retailers, with David Jones boosting staffing levels around the Mother’s Day shopping period after the delivery of the federal government’s fiscal stimulus package in April led to a sharp rebound in sales.

Mr Evans said the stimulus package and lower interest rates meant most consumers had more cash available to spend, but “negative and fear-filled commentary” had fuelled a tendency among consumers to cut discretionary spending in favour of saving or paying off debt.

This meant shoppers would be in a better position to spend when confidence picks up again—with the ARA forecasting an improvement as soon as the September quarter.

Source  :  www.careerone.com.au

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THE Rudd Government has dumped one of its key election promises, the Grocery Choice price monitoring website, after supermarkets failed to provide enough information to make the site reliable.

After a meeting today with major supermarkets, Competition Minister Craig Emerson announced that the measure – an election promise that was aimed at keeping grocery prices low – would not proceed, The Australian reported.

“Upon close examination of the data requirements for reliable price information, I have formed the view that it is not feasible to generate that information in a timely manner, “ Dr Emerson said.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    website cost of living in oz

The scheme had been due to be up and running next week.

The dumping of Grocery Choice comes after the Government last year abandoned FuelWatch after it was defeated in the Senate.

Mr Rudd campaigned heavily prior to the election on easing the cost-of-living pressures on working families and increasing competition in the petrol and grocery sectors.

Both FuelWatch and Grocery Choice were criticised for not putting downward pressure on prices.

Earlier this month it emerged that the consumer advocate Choice would be forced to go it alone on the website as the major supermarket chains continued to drag their feet over supplying price data.

Choice took over the running of the website from the Rudd Government, which launched it after campaigning on easing cost-of-living pressures before the election.

The $13 million site, which originally launched last August, was heavily criticised for displaying information that was too general and outdated to be useful.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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THREE Malaysian tourists have been charged for allegedly purchasing more than $90,000 (about RM255,000) worth of jewellery and electrical goods with fake credit cards across Perth.

The two women, aged 21 and 26, and a 31-year-old man, had apparently travelled from the eastern states of Australia to Perth earlier this month and made the Jewellery purchases at various shopping centre stores using altered credit cards and false identification. 

Australian news agencies reported that police major fraud squad detectives apprehended the trio following a probe into the use of the counterfeit cards after shop owners alerted them. They are due to appear in the Perth Magistrate’s Court today.

Detective first class constable Rulan Carr from the Police Fraud Squad told ABC News that the suspects  were  traced to the Perth Airport where they were about to board a plane on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old woman was first to be arrested and was in possession of a suitcase allegedly containing a large quantity of jewellery and laptop computers, estimated worth more than $90,000.

The two others were found by police, also at the airport, and taken into custody on suspicion of being involved in the scam.

Debit cards and other documentary evidence were also discovered.

“The items were seized and the persons were charged with various fraud offences,” said Carr. “Investigations are still continuing into those items.”

Further charges are expected to be laid against the three.

Source  :  http://www.mmail.com.my/content/3-malaysians-nabbed-perth-a90000-fake-credit-card-purchases

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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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Wall StreetTHE share market has opened marginally stronger the morning after the federal budget was handed down, and following a mixed lead from Wall Street.
At 10.15am (AEST), the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 12.1 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 3889.3, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 8.7 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 3872.3.

The four major banks were mostly higher at the open.

ANZ gained 4cents to $16.01, NAB was up 14 cents at $22.00 and Westpac was up 10 cents at $20.48.

The Commonwealth Bank, which reported cash earnings for the March quarter of about $1.15 billion, generating a cash return on equity of over 15 per cent, was down 20 cents at $36.40.

Resources weren’t as lucky, opening lower in morning trade.

Mining giant BHP was down five cents at $34.26, while rival Rio Tinto lost 4.41 per cent to $65.46.

Wall Street wobbled to a mixed finish on Tuesday as investors paused to assess gains from a long rally and mulled the new efforts to raise capital by banks and other firms.

The markets also digested better-than-expected data on the US trade deficit and reassuring comments from Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, about the health of the banking system.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 50.34 points, or 0.60 per cent, to settle at 8,469.11.
The tech-dominated Nasdaq dropped 15.32 points, or 0.88 per cent, to 1715.92 while the broad-market Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 0.89 point, or 0.1 per cent, to settle at 908.35.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the June share price index contract was trading 17 points higher at 3885 on volume of 4900 contracts.
www.news.com.au

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budget 09TONIGHT’S Federal Budget will be about three things – jobs, nation building and a path back to surplus.

That was the message from Treasurer Wayne Swan this morning as he again repeated the Government’s mantra that there would be “difficult decisions” and “no easy answers”.

Just hours from delivering a in Budget ravaged by a $200 billion writedown revenue, Mr Swan said he was working in the “most difficult set of circumstances in 75 years”.

But he dodged questions about the likely impact on Labor in the polls, saying: “What we have to do is the right thing in the nation’s long-term economic interests”.

Wealthy retirees emerged as the latest group to pay the price for that stance today.

The Daily Telegraph reported they could have their pensions cut to help fund a $30-a week increase for almost one million single age pensioners.

The Government is expected to tighten the taper rate on the age pension, a method by which it claws back the welfare payment from retirees with an independent income.

It is just one of a number of cutbacks the Government is expected to outline as it tries to rein in an expected almost $60 billion Budget deficit.

The 30 per cent tax rebate for private health insurance coverage will be means tested, payouts for obstetric and IVF services under the Medicare Safety Net will be cut back and the increase in the first-home owners grant will be wound back.

Wealthy Australians will have their tax break on superannuation contributions cut in half and government superannuation co-contributions for low income earners will be slashed from $1500 to $1000 a year.

The “sin taxes” on alcohol and cigarettes could be increased.

But the Budget will announce an 18-week paid maternity leave scheme.

And it is expected to include a big-spending jobs package to combat an expected increase in unemployment to 8.5 per cent as a result of the global financial crisis.

The Opposition said the Budget cutbacks were made necessary by the Government’s irresponsible big-spending stimulus packages in response to the global financial crisis.

The $30-a-week rise in the pension will go only to single age pensioners and will see the weekly pension rate rise from $284.90 to $315 a week.

It will answer criticism that the payment left in poverty those who relied solely on the pension.

The rise is also expected to be extended to single veterans and disability pensioners but will not go to single mothers.

The pension rise will cost more than $3 billion, and to help pay for it, the Government is expected to tighten means testing of pensions.

Currently, single pensioners can earn up to $41,000 and still receive a small pension payment.

They also qualify for a range of concessions on medicines, council rates, electricity bills and telephone allowances worth up to $10,000 a year.

Couples can earn up to $68,000 and still get access to these valuable concessions.

http://www.news.com.au

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