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Fake ANZ Facebook profile removed as ANZ launches internal investigation

A FAKE Facebook profile set up to track down missing ANZ debtors has been removed from the social networking site.

"Max Bourke", described as a single guy who enjoyed footy, poker and running on the beach, was created to contact customers with bad credit histories who had not updated their address details.

Fairfax newspapers reported on Wednesday that a large number of ANZ customers may have accepted Max Bourke as a "friend".

The profile originated from the bank's unsecured debt collections team in Melbourne, ANZ spokesman Stephen Ries confirmed.

"This sort of activity we believe was isolated but it certainly wasn't sanctioned or authorised by ANZ," he told AAP.

An investigation launched on Wednesday will determine how many employees are responsible for creating the profile.

It is unknown at this stage how long Max Bourke had been a member of Facebook, Mr Ries said.

"We're taking this matter very seriously and we'll take appropriate disciplinary action when the internal investigation is concluded.

"We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to inappropriate use of our internal systems."

Ladies of Australian Politics.mpg

Facebook is "King" according to Google

AFP

Google on Friday released Web traffic data indicating that Facebook is king when it comes to online visitors despite criticism about privacy at the social-networking service.

Facebook.com is visited monthly by 540 million people, or slightly more than 35 percent of the Internet population, according to Google Ad Planner worldwide data gathered using recently-acquired Double Click.

Approximately 570 billion pages are viewed monthly at Facebook.com, more than eight times as many pages as are viewed each month at second-place Yahoo.com which gets 490 million visitors, according to Google.

The figures support word from Facebook that it has not been abandoned by members despite carping by politicians, consumer groups and privacy advocates that want tighter safeguards on personal information at the website.

Only 23,515 people had signed up as of Friday at a "We're Quitting Facebook" website as "committed" to dump the social-networking service as part of a campaign to stage a mass protest on May 31.

That number represents less than .006 percent of Facebook's more than 400 million members.

Facebook is overhauling privacy controls in the face of a barrage of criticism that it is betraying the trust which has made it the world's biggest social network.

Facebook redesigned its privacy settings page to provide a single control for content and "significantly reduce" the amount of information that is always visible to everyone.

Facebook also said it is giving users more control over how outside applications or websites access information at the service.

"This is a pretty big overhaul to the system we already have," Zuckerberg said while outlining the changes during a Wednesday press briefing at the social network's headquarters in the California city of Palo Alto.

"Now we are making it so there is less information that has to be public. People want a simple way to control the way information is shared with third parties, so that is what we are doing," he said.

The revamped privacy controls began rolling out Wednesday.

Facebook last month sparked criticism from privacy and consumer groups, US lawmakers and the European Union by adding the ability for partner websites to incorporate data regarding members of the social-networking service.

Critics continue to call for Facebook to make all user information private by default and then let people designate what they want to share case-by-case in an "opt-in" model.

Facebook has rejected such a model, saying the service is based on a premise that people want to connect and share with friends and people around them.

Facebook's Privacy Reboot: Is That all You've Got for Us?



http://www.pcworld.com

Facebook's Privacy Reboot: Is That all You've Got for Us?

After examining the new options and procedures Facebook offers to address users' privacy concerns, we're still a bit confused.


The new-and-improved privacy settings which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday have landed in my Facebook account. When I read Zuckerberg's description of them, I was cautiously optimistic. Having spent a bit of time exploring them, I'm way less enthusiastic.

Facebook privacy is such a complex topic that you could write a book about it. (Seriously.) But most gripes fall into two general, seemingly contradictory categories:

  • Facebook doesn't give users enough control over privacy!
  • Hey, Facebook provides such a dizzying array of privacy controls that it's hard to figure out what's going on!

Making privacy easy while providing lots of control is a fundamentally thorny challenge. If Facebook has failed to nail it, it's not because the company is stupid, evil, or careless -- it's because this stuff is hard. Its response seems to be based in part on the philosophy that privacy is to a great extent about what you want shared with which types of people.

So the centerpiece of the new settings is a grid that shows three kinds of people ("Everyone," Friends of Friends," and "Friends Only") and a bunch of types of information you store on Facebook, from your status to your snail-mail address. But there's no explanation of what the grid is showing you. It's just not that obvious whether it indicates your current settings, or ones you might want, or what.

It turns out that the first thing you see are your current settings. (Click on the image at right for a closeup of the page where this process starts.) By choosing another tab and then clicking "Apply These Settings," or selecting "Customize settings," you can control who sees what.

If you choose "Everyone," then everyone gets to see all these items. If you choose "Friends Only," then only friends can see them. Very logical so far.

But if you choose "Friends of Friends," only some items (such as your status, relationships, and photos you've been tagged in) are visible to friends of friends. Others (such as your religious views and birthday) show up for friends only. I can't figure out the inconsistency with the other "Everyone" and "Friends Only" options. And while you can choose custom settings for everything it defeats the purpose of this supposedly easier new interface.

Illustration: Lou BeachThe grid isn't comprehensive. It's labeled "Sharing on Facebook," but much of what folks do on Facebook involves third-party apps, and there's no mention of them.

Another Everyone/Friends of Friends/Friends Only setting, covering app activity such as your name showing up on game leaderboards, is salted away on another page in Privacy Settings. Putting it in the grid would have made it easier to find, and would only have required one additional one row.

Even then, I'd probably be confused by the thing. I applied the "Everyone" settings to my profile. Facebook retroactively made some of my photo albums completely public-but not all of them. How'd it choose? Darned if I know.

Here's a summary of the options you'll get once you have access to the new interface (click on the image to see a large reproduction of the succession of screens you'll encounter):

One of the major changes that sparked the recent ruckus was Facebook's new "Instant Personalization" feature, which provides information about you to Yelp, Pandora, and a new Microsoft service called Docs.com to help them customize your experience.

When Facebook announced it, it was on by default, and there were no options relating to it in the's privacy settings -- if you didn't like the idea, you were supposed to go to each third-party service individually to block it.

Instant Personalization is still turned on by default, but at least you can turn it off completely with one click.

You don't, however, get settings that let you pick and choose -- to approve Yelp, for instance, but deny access to Pandora and Docs.

Actually, I can't figure out how to turn these settings off or on individually once you've seen an alert that shows up the first time you visit an Instantly Personalized site.

Nor does Facebook explain what it's sharing or how the third-party sites use the information. Which makes it impossible to come to any informed conclusions about whether you're comfortable with the concept.

I was hoping that this privacy makeover would offer at least two features, neither of which are present:

  • Ultra-easy settings for various levels of privacy that would span everything that has anything to do with Facebook-the service itself, Facebook apps, and other sites. They'd let you choose from a minimum of three privacy levels: extreme privacy, extreme openness, and something in the middle.
  • The ability to opt in to opting out-by telling Facebook you never want new features it might add to share anything about you with anyone without your explicit permission. Zuckerberg's blog post talks says that control "will also apply to settings in new products we launch going forward. So if you decide to share your content with friends only, then we will set future settings to friends only as well. This means you won't have to worry about new settings in the future." But it's not clear what will happen with new offerings if I've chosen different settings for different current features. Once Facebook starts letting me check in to real-world locations, for instance, how will it decide how I want that information shared if I'm currently sharing my status with everyone but hiding all my photos?

Bottom line: Managing your Facebook privacy is still a remarkably convoluted process which isn't explained clearly enough.

Did you check out that succession of screen caps? Whew. That's incomplete, too -- I didn't show the photo album-by-photo album settings, which let you block specific people from seeing your snapshots if you choose.

I'm not arguing that Facebook should do away any of this granularity. Kudos to it for offering it for people who want it. And I'm not a Facebook paranoiac-in fact, I just went in and loosened up my settings.

But when Zuckerberg titled his introductory blog post "Making Control Simple," I hope that didn't mean that the thinks he job is largely done...

Government urged to 'bring Schapelle home' from Indonesia

Schapelle Corby

Schapelle Corby's family wants her to be
transferred to Australia.

An Australian man who has arrived home after five months in a Bali jail for drug offences has called on the Government to bring Schapelle Corby home.

Corby is serving a 20-year jail term after she was caught at Bali's airport in October 2004 with 4.1 kilograms of marijuana in her boogie board bag. She was convicted the following May.

Robert McJannett, a prominent trade unionist and former political candidate, urged the Federal Government to intervene in the Corby case when he arrived in Perth on Friday night.

"I call on the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in this election year to bring Schapelle home, before it's too late," he said.

Mr McJannett also hit out at at Indonesian authorities.

"For the past five months, I have witnessed blackmail, bribery and corruption on an unprecedented scale," he said.

"It is clearly not possible to receive a fair trial in the Bali justice system."

Earlier this year Corby applied for presidential clemency, saying she was suffering from depression that could endanger her life.

Clemency decisions in Indonesian can take months.

Last year Corby's family said she had regressed to a child-like state in Bali's Kerobokan prison.

Corby's family has asked the Federal Government to lobby Indonesian authorities to allow her to be transferred to Australia.

Mr McJannett was arrested at Bali's airport on December 28, 2009 with 1.7 grams of marijuana in his luggage.

The 48-year-old was released from jail on Friday after serving five months.

Creationism to be taught in Queensland classrooms as a "controversy"

HeraldSun.com.au

CREATIONISM and intelligent design will be taught in Queensland state schools for the first time as part of the new national curriculum.

Creationists dismiss the science of evolution, instead believing that living things are best explained by an intelligent being or God, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.

The issue of creationism being taught in schools has caused huge controversy in the US, where some fundamentalist religious schools teach it as a science subject instead of Darwin's theory of evolution.

In Queensland schools, creationism will be offered for discussion in the subject of ancient history, under the topic of "controversies".

Teachers are still formulating a response to the draft national curriculum, scheduled to be introduced next year.

Queensland History Teachers' Association head Kay Bishop said the curriculum asked students to develop their historical skills in an "investigation of a controversial issue" such as "human origins (eg, Darwin's theory of evolution and its critics").

"It's opening up opportunities for debate and discussion, not to push a particular view," Ms Bishop said. Classroom debate about issues encouraged critical thinking – an important tool, she said.

Associated Christian Schools executive officer Lynne Doneley welcomed the draft curriculum, saying it cemented the position of a faith-based approach to teaching.

"We talk to students from a faith science basis, but we're not biased in the delivery of curriculum," Mrs Doneley said. "We say, 'This is where we're coming from' but allow students to make up their own minds."

But Griffith University humanities lecturer Paul Williams said it was important to be cautious about such content.

"It's important that education authorities are vigilant that this is not a blank cheque to push theological barrows," Mr Williams said.

"I would be loath to see it taught as theory.

"It's up there with the world being occupied by aliens since Roswell."

Ms Bishop said there were bigger problems with the national curriculum.

History teachers are planning to object to repetitive subject matter, such as World War I being a major part of the Year 10 course and repeated in Year 11.

Some Queensland MPs embrace Twitter, others don't

TheSundayMail.com.au

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama embraced it and won office, Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey is a fan, as is Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

But while some of the state's politicians are actively blogging their daily thought-bubbles on Twitter, many more have shunned the social media site as a means of communicating with the masses.

It comes as at least one of the major parties grapples with its social media policy – with the LNP U-turning on plans to centrally control the party's federal election candidates' Facebook pages after criticism of the move.

There is also division within the Labor Party over the effectiveness of "tweeting".

While Ms Bligh and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd are regular twitterers, with a combined following of almost one million users, other Labor politicians, including several State Cabinet ministers, have ruled out using the site.

Federal Labor MP for Longman, Jon Sullivan, ruled out using it now or in the near future, despite an upcoming election campaign.

Bob Katter, the Independent MP for Kennedy in north Queensland, has been the most scathing critic, saying he could never "face the boys at the Garradunga pub" if they found out he was on Twitter.

"I would be finished. I would be gone," he said. "It has the effect of dehumanising it all.

"Using it is just not my form of communication."

Mr Katter also warned of the "grave dangers" of Twitter, such as being set-up online and a fall in work output as well as the tendency for politicians to punch out "hurtful", off-the-cuff comments in the heat of the moment.

A survey of Queensland politicians has revealed most do not have Twitter accounts.

Of those politicians on Twitter, many have fewer than 100 followers watching their pages.

MPs including Margaret May, Michael Crandon, Jann Stuckey and Vicky Darling can count their fans on one hand.

That compares with the huge 921,906 followers of Mr Rudd and 4488 followers of Ms Bligh, who last month re-opened debate on daylight saving via Twitter.

In contrast, state Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek has just 418 followers.

That is just more than the over 300-strong following of Ipswich City Councillor Paul Tully, who wins the award as the state's most prolific blogging machine, tapping out up to 16 "tweets" some days.

Federal Member for Dickson Peter Dutton is also a Twitter user, entertaining his 1210 followers with comments such as: "Prince Philip is definitely my favourite royal."

A page has been started on Twitter urging more politicians to take to the site.

Real estate agents accused of price inflation scam

ABC.net.au

Gold  Coast real estate agents are accused of being involved in a scheme to  profit off distorted sale prices.

Gold Coast real estate agents are accused of
being involved in a scheme to profit off distorted
sale prices.


Queensland's Office of Fair Trading is investigating allegations that some Gold Coast real estate agents may have been involved in a scheme to make quick profits by creating bogus inflated sale prices.

Fair Trading Minister Peter Lawlor says he has received a complaint that parties have colluded to inflate property prices and distort their values.

Mr Lawlor says he has referred the allegations to the Office of Fair Trading.

"If there's any irregularity in relation to the agents involved, they'll be investigating that," he said.

"If it's an issue of fraud, that is, as I understand it, being investigated by the police."

Bernie Ripoll's Hot Chips on sale in Ipswich

Bernie Ripoll's Hot Chips!

The St Augustine's College Fete is underway at Augustine Heights today.

And Bernie Ripoll's Hot Chips are proving more popular than Kevin Rudd at a miners' meeting in WA!

It's open till 4pm.

Lawmaker seeks cooperation from Google and Facebook

AP

The head of the House Judiciary Committee is asking Google Inc. and Facebook to cooperate with any government inquiries into privacy practices at both companies.

Michigan Democrat John Conyers sent letters to Google and Facebook on Friday amid mounting concern in Congress that the two online companies are not adequately protecting personal privacy on the Internet.

Facebook has come under fire for sharing user information with a handful of other online services as part of its new "instant personalization" program, which is intended to let Facebook members share their interests in everything from music to restaurants with others in their social network. The program draws information from a member's profile to customize several other sites, including the music service Pandora.

Facebook simplified its privacy controls this week in response to the backlash among users. As part of the changes, it added a tool to make it easier for members to turn off the instant personalization service.

Conyers asked Facebook on Friday to provide details about its sharing of member information with third parties and about its privacy policies. Several privacy watchdog groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have already filed a complaint against Facebook with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has been reviewing the privacy policies of Facebook and other social networks.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the company looks forward to meeting with Conyers' staff to explain its privacy practices and policies.

Conyers stopped short of saying the Judiciary Committee will begin its own investigations into Facebook and Google.

Google recently admitted that it had sucked up fragments of e-mails, Web surfing behavior and other online activities over public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries while it was photographing neighborhoods for its "Street View" mapping feature. The company said it discovered the problem following an inquiry by German regulators.

Conyers is asking Google to retain the data collected by its Street View cars along with related records until any federal and state inquiries are complete. At least two House members, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., have already asked the FTC to look into the matter and are seeking more information from Google about the incident.

Google said it is not deleting U.S. data.

The FTC has yet to say whether it is investigating Google.

Corporate investigation collapse: ASIC gives up on Offset Alpine mystery

Graham Richardson

TheAustralian.com.au

THE corporate regulator has given up the fight to uncover the mystery of who owned a secret parcel of Offset Alpine shares that soared in value after a fire at the company's printing plant in 1993 - one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent history.

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission has decided to end overseas court cases and its wider investigation into deceased stockbroker Rene Rivkin, businessman Trevor Kennedy and former Labor politician Graham Richardson.

After the death of Rivkin in 2005, Mr Kennedy, a former Qantas director, and Mr Richardson, an ALP powerbroker, became the focus of the legal pursuit.

In recent years, ASIC had tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain documents which may have linked offshore companies to Mr Kennedy.

ASIC's decision to end its legal actions leaves Mr Richardson and Mr Kennedy in the clear. Both have always denied ownership of the parcel of shares.

ASIC will not recommend any criminal charges be laid and no fines will be imposed.

The backdown comes after ASIC spent millions of dollars on a global hunt in countries such as England, Switzerland, the Bahamas and the Isle of Man in a bid to determine whether it could gather enough evidence to lay charges of perjury or other civil charges relating to the shareholding. But in a recent court judgment obtained by The Weekend Australian, ASIC was criticised in one legal action for changing its position, which was described as "at best, highly confused, inconsistent and deeply unsatisfactory on the papers".

Last November, ASIC was knocked back by Swiss authorities when it sought help on obtaining a large number of documents, but the corporate regulator continued its fight in courts in England and the Isle of Man.

ASIC begain its investigation in 2003, following revelations in The Australian Financial Review that Rivkin had told Swiss authorities that he, Mr Kennedy and Mr Richardson were the owners of a secret 38 per cent shareholding in Offset Alpine Printing Group worth $27 million.

The 1993 fire in Sydney had triggered a massive $54m insurance payout on equipment worth $3m, resulting in a windfall for shareholders. Two Swiss banks had until then been named as the holders of the shares, with the ultimate owners unknown.

The public fallout was swift, with Mr Kennedy, a board member of Qantas, forced to resign from the board of seven companies. Both he and Mr Richardson denied owning the shares, but the Australian Taxation Office hit them both with multi-million-dollar tax bills, and both ultimately settled for undisclosed sums. The tax office also issued a $29m tax bill against Rivkin's estate, forcing it into bankruptcy.

Rivkin died in 2005 but ASIC's investigation continued, focusing on a criminal investigation into possible perjury charges against Mr Kennedy, according to documents filed in the Isle of Man.

ASIC has been involved in numerous court stoushes around the world, most recently in England and the Isle of Man, where it has been trying to gain access to documents linked to offshore companies that could have provided the crucial missing link for its investigation.

ASIC did not respond to calls, and neither Mr Kennedy nor Mr Richardson would comment.

Minister Stephen Robertson can, but won't, veto Queensland power hike

BrisbaneTimes.com.au

Queensland Energy Minister Stephen Robertson says he will not act to reduce a 13 per cent rise in electricity prices, despite having the power to overrule the record hike.

The rise will push the average quarterly electricity bill up by nearly $50, to $397.

The hike was approved by the Queensland Competition Authority, which yesterday ruled the price rise was necessary to balance "customer acquisition and retention costs" for electricity retailers.

An initial 9 per cent price rise was approved by the Australian Energy Regulator, which in May signed off on more than $12 billion for infrastructure works plans for the two state-owned electricity providers over the next five years.

The QCA decided the additional cost of supplying power should see prices rise 13.29 per cent.

The price rise will account for a 17 per cent increase in transmission and distribution costs, according to the QCA.

It has estimated that retail operating costs will also increase to $83.19 per customer next financial year.

Mr Robertson told reporters he was disappointed in the decision by the QCA.

"Our government knows the huge impact that electricity price hikes will have on the average household," he said.

"Many people in our community are doing it tough and the price increase announced by the independent QCA today will place additional strain on their weekly budget."

Despite declaring his disappointment, Mr Robertson said he would not exercise his power to veto the decision.

"If I were to intervene and reduce these prices then it would mean a reduction in investment in our electricity system," he said.

"We would return to the days of blackouts and brownouts - an unreliable electricity system that caused so much angst and anger in the early part of this decade.

"I know that a 13.3 per cent increase in electricity bills will hurt average Queenslanders.

"But if this is what is needed to ensure that we have a reliable electricity system in this state then that is what is behind QCA's decision."

Mr Robertson rebuffed suggestions the deregulation of the state's electricity industry in mid-2007 had driven a 40 per cent rise in costs over the past four years.

"It was never said that deregulation would decrease electricity bills," he said.

"We said it would moderate future increases, by having a retail sector that was run more efficiently."

Queensland Council of Social Service president Karyn Walsh said electricity concessions should be reviewed in order to held those most vulnerable in society.

"We know the government is looking at the possibility of health-related energy rebates in the coming budget but we'd like them to go further than that," she said.

"It is no coincidence that Queensland consistently has one of the highest disconnection rates in Australia.

"Current concessions are simply not hitting the mark and need to be extended to all people currently unemployed, and not just those with pensioner concession cards."

iPad frenzy continues its global march after Australia

BrisbaneTimes.com.au

Thousands of die-hard Apple fans have mobbed shops in parts of Europe and Asia on Friday after the iPad, touted as a revolution in personal computing, began its global launch.

Long queues of customers snaked outside Apple shops in Australia and Japan hours before the opening and similar huddled masses of gadget lovers turned out at stores in six European countries including Britain and France.

The iPad - a flat, 25-centimetre black tablet - was also going on sale in Canada as part of a global roll-out that was pushed back by a month due to huge demand in the United States.

One million iPads were sold in 28 days after the product's US debut in early April, forcing the firm to delay its foreign launch.

At Apple's flagship store in Paris, set in the prestigious underground mall of the Louvre museum, 24-year-old engineer Audrey Sobgou beamed as she walked away with one of the prized tablets.

Sobgou travelled 205 kilometres from her home town in Lille, northern France, and waited nearly two hours before stepping inside the busy Apple store to make her purchase.

"I'm not a victim of hype," she insisted. "I know Apple products and it's about the quality, the interface, how it's designed and what it can do. With elegance and style."

Hundreds of people had already queued outside of the Paris Apple store hours before it opened at 8am and the launch made the front page of major newspapers.

The freesheet Metro daily in Paris showed a full-page picture of the tablet under the polemical question "iPad: gadget or revolution?".

About 40 enthusiasts were already waiting outside the flagship Apple store in central London, at 3 am Friday to get their hands on the iPad when the store opened at 8:00 am.

Most of them were sitting on deck chairs and some were wrapped in sleeping bags and blankets.

Staff escorted the first group of customers one by one up to buy their iPad after they opened the doors, whooping, chanting and cheering.

"I queued overnight for about 20 hours since midday yesterday but it was very, very worth it," Jake Lee, a 17-year-old student from Essex, told AFP, clutching his treasured iPad.

"I wanted the iPad since it was announced, I'm just really excited about it," he told AFP.

The iPad also went on sale in Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland and will be followed in July by a launch in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

About 30 people waited under a driving rain in Frankfurt outside the Apple store while 19-year-old student Claudio Roccario was among some one hundred customers waiting to buy his iPad in Milan.

"I wanted to be among the first," he said, echoing the sentiment of most die-hard Apple fans who turned out for the first day of the launch.

Many Apple aficionados in Zurich camped out overnight in front of the store to be among the first to buy the tablet and download some of the 5000 available apps.

Prices in Japan and Australia for the basic 16GB iPad are comparable to US prices, once sales tax is included, although a significant markup by Apple in Britain and continental Europe has triggered some grumbling.

In France, wifi models sell for between 499 and 699 euros ($A725 and $A1,016) with the 3G models going for between 599 and 799 euros ($A870 and $A1,160)

The multi-functional device is tipped by some pundits to revitalise media and publishing, with many major newspapers and broadcasters launching applications.

Newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch has said the iPad has the potential to save the newspaper industry but in France, that enthusiasm is not shared by President Nicolas Sarkozy's minister for the digital economy.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet last month dismissed the "marketing frenzy" surrounding the iPad launch and declared that it was "a bit heavy" compared to the Archos tablet, made in France.

Other than the five other European countries, California-based Apple plans to bring the iPad to Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky estimated that Apple is selling more than 200,000 iPads a week - more than estimated Mac computer sales of 110,000 a week, and vying with iPhone 3GS sales of 246,000 a week.

Apple has declined to reveal the number of pre-orders received for the iPad internationally, but Abramsky put it at around 600,000.

CMC a 'disgrace', say police union

Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers.

Queensland Police Union
President Ian Leavers.

BrisbaneTimes.com.au

The Queensland Police Union has slammed the Crime and Misconduct Commission's investigation into former police officer Adam Magill, who was yesterday acquitted of lying to a magistrate to get murderer Bevan Meninga out of prison for a day.

Moments after a Brisbane District Court jury returned a not guilty verdict on a charge of making a false statement which had been laid against Mr Magill following a CMC investigation, union president Ian Leavers said the body was "failing Queenslanders every day".

Mr Leavers, who was a spectator during the trial and was present for yesterday's verdict, said the CMC "should be ashamed of themselves".

"This is a shoddy investigation, the way it was conducted is nothing short of disgraceful," he said.

"If police conducted an investigation like this the CMC would have them charged for failing to do their job."

Mr Leavers said it was quite clear the CMC was "anti-police" and "insistent in destroying decent people".

He said the CMC had wasted millions of dollars conducting "substandard investigations".

"Because they have an agenda trying to justify their own existence," Mr Leavers said.

"The CMC is becoming a rogue organisation with limited or no success and really [they have] no one to answer to. They are failing Queenslanders every day."

However, when Mr Leavers was asked if he believed it was appropriate that convicted murderers get a day out of prison to see their family at a police station, he said police had to do many things "to keep murderers and rapists and those who really threaten our community behind bars".

"It is not possible to interview people in a prison environment at all times when they want to confess or provide other information. Police have to be given discretion and latitude to do their job," he said.


iPads Downunder: Australians snap up 30,000 iPads on day one

IT'S one of the most hyped new technology products ever, hailed as either the future of computing or an expensive toy.

in onAustralians yesterday voted with their wallets, with an estimated 30,000 iPads being sold on the nationwide launch of Apple's latest product.

And sales are expected to continue, with another 20,000 to fly off the shelves on the weekend.

In Sydney, the first iPads were sold to the more than 300 customers who camped out overnight in the cold outside the flagship George St store.

After a frantic night of final work that finished only an hour before the 8am opening, the doors of the new Bondi Apple store were thrown open to those who had spent the night outside.

According to a survey on The Daily Telegraph's website, the wait was worth it, with 65 per cent of respondents saying the iPad lived up to the hype. The survey revealed the top of the range 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G model, costing $1049, was the most popular, followed by the entry level 16GB Wi-Fi model ($629). Men made up 68 per cent of buyers, with 44 per cent aged between 35 and 49.

The survey also showed the most popular uses of the iPad were surfing the web, email and reading newspapers.

At the George St store, applause and cheering rang out when Rahul Kodari, who'd arrived at the store 30 hours earlier, was the first iPad buyer.

"It's fantastic," Mr Kodari said.

Another couple in the line, Keith Walker and Melissa Reeve, are getting married on September 25 and wanted to buy an iPad for each other to exchange as wedding gifts.

"We were scared they'd go out of stock and we've decided we're not going to put them away, we're just going to use them," Ms Reeve said.

But it wasn't all smiles for some iPad customers, with reports TNT was struggling to deliver more than 20,000 pre-orders yesterday - 7800 of those just for Sydney.

Many customers who jammed TNT switchboards were told they may have to wait until next week to receive them.

The iPad, which is already being embraced by software developers and publishers, is designed to bridge the gap between a smartphone and a laptop computer and offers a way for users to stay connected to their favourite content on the go.

Apple sold more than 500,000 iPads in the first week of release in the US and a million after 28 days.

Insurers refuse to pay for Queensland flooding

kim ruru

Roma resident Kim Ruru, who had insured with two different agencies for his business and home,
was paid for his home but not for his business.

CourierMail.com.au

HUNDREDS of western Queensland residents have been hung out to dry because insurers are refusing to pay up to $6 million in claims from March's record-breaking rainfall.

Three months after 80 per cent of Queensland was declared a disaster zone, residents in the worst-hit towns of Roma and Charleville are still sleeping on the floor of rotting homes after being knocked back by insurers.

Eight insurers identified by The Courier-Mail have refused claims because a hydrologist report said homes were inundated by flood- water rather than stormwater.


For more on this issue and case studies of flood victims, see Saturday's Courier-Mail print edition


Floods aren't covered under their policies.

Maranoa Regional Council has commissioned a second hydrologist report to dispute the findings while law firm Slater & Gordon is planning a "group action" against insurers.

The owners of more than 40 properties in Roma and 11 in Bollon, outside St George, have contacted Slater & Gordon but lawyer Peter Long says that's "just the tip of the iceberg".

"There could be literally hundreds more residents affected but many couldn't get to a meeting we held last week," Mr Long said.

"Others are shy and think they have to settle for their lot.

"Insurers have a duty to their clients and they can't treat them like second-class citizens." More than 270 of Charleville's 504 properties were declared inundated by the State Government's Storm Recovery Task Force in March. Up to 130 of Roma's 324 houses were also flooded.

Residents are livid at the inconsistencies of insurers.

Streets are divided between those who have been paid out and those still waiting for money to rebuild.

Bollon and District Community Group chairman Ian Bateman successfully claimed from QBE after threatening legal action while neighbours on lower ground and insured with CGU were knocked back.

Both insurers relied on the same hydrology report.

Roma resident Kim Ruru received money from AAMI for damage to his house but is still $100,000 out of pocket after Capricorn Mutual refused to insure his business assets – an extensive tool shed under his house.

March's Big Wet broke all records. On one day, a region larger than Victoria was covered by massive falls – the most rain recorded in a single day anywhere in Australia.

The Queensland Infrastructure Association said the water may have caused more damage than Cyclone Larry in 2006, which cost $550 million not counting an additional $586 million in insurance claims and disaster aid.

Mr Long said several insurers are relying on the hydrology report of WRM Water, based at Paddington in Brisbane. He said claims averaged $60,000 but some were more than $100,000.

Most insurers ignored requests for comment. CGU spokeswoman Iwona Polski said the company had paid 95 per cent of the 920 claims from the March storms. Spokeswomen for QBE, Elders Insurance and Capricorn Mutual said policyholders could apply for a review with the Industry Ombudsman while Lumley Insurance said the company was still reviewing claims.

Consumer group Choice said the insurance industry was trying to come to a definition of floodwater as opposed to stormwater.

"The sad thing is that hasn't happened yet," spokesman Christopher Zinn said.

"The average person doesn't differentiate between the two so while it's not important to the consumer it is crucial to the policies. Don't just renew your policy blindly. Do a bit of work to look at how they pay out."


........................................................................................................................................
COMMENT: The insurance companies are proving themselves to be rogues again.
The State Government should legislate to require minimum insurance cover standards
to enssure it covers flood and all other natural hazards.  Spreading the risk would
eventually be for the benefit of policyholders and insurance companies.  Meanwhile,
the insurace companies and their overpaid directors are fattening their profits as the
expense of ordinary Queensland battlers.

PaulGTully@gmail.com

Ipswich City Council says Planning Minister back-flipped over Ripley Valley

QT.com.au

IPSWICH City Council is outraged over what they say is a back-flip  by Infrastructure and Planning Minister Sterling Hinchcliffe.

A rift has developed over the proposed Ripley Valley.


IPSWICH City Council is outraged over what they say is a back-flip by Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe.

The dispute arose from the State Government's announcement that the Ripley Valley would be one of three new communities master-planned by the Urban Land Development Authority.

The councillors say Mr Hinchcliffe assured them that would not change the council's development application (DA) powers for the Ripley Valley.

However, in a letter to The Queensland Times (see page 25) Mr Hinchcliffe claimed that was not the case.

Ipswich deputy mayor Victor Attwood, who manages the Ripley Valley Master Planning Group, said he was "very angry about the whole thing".

"I was talking to Stirling the other day and he told me all the master planning had already been done and what they were doing was fast-tracking infrastructure development. He said words to the effect of: 'It's nothing for you to worry about'," Cr Attwood said.

"He gave the impression we would be doing all the development applications. I thought they were just trying to bring it forward. Then he came out yesterday and said that's not what he meant. I think it's outrageous.

"I mean, the Ripley Valley master plan was signed off by the State Government a year-and-a-half ago. We got the Ripley Valley to the stage where it's all ready to rock and roll and then he's taken it all off us.

"I think they are trying to take credit for everything the council has done. It's grandstanding.

"We have a very good planning staff who do a great job and it's a real slap in the face to them."

Council planning chairman Paul Tully said he was "very disappointed the Government has back-flipped over this".

"It's essential the local community has a say in the development application process, with the council being the decision-maker," Cr Tully said.

"We have a very good track record with DAs; Springfield is a very good example. Almost all the planning for the Ripley Valley is complete and there isn't any logical reason that we shouldn't be involved in determining every development application."

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said yesterday he was seeking urgent talks with Mr Hinchcliffe.

"Let's put politics aside. All I want to do is work with the Government to find the most expeditious way of getting this project going," Cr Pisasale said.

"The council has a very good record of getting development applications through. We work very hard to get our planning done, and if there is any delay it's with the State Government."

Gold Coast firm Classic Concrete Australia Pty Ltd and its director Emma Louise Taylor cop hefty fines for breaking Queensland consumer laws

Minister for Tourism and Fair Trading

The Honourable Peter Lawlor

28/05/2010

Gold Coast firm Classic Concrete Australia Pty Ltd and its director Emma Louise Taylor cop hefty fines for breaking Queensland consumer laws

A Coomera company was fined $16,000 and its director $2,000 at the Southport Magistrates Court today as a result of an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Fair Trading Minister Peter Lawlor said Classic Concrete Australia Pty Ltd and its director Emma Louise Taylor copped the penalty and conviction for breaching the Fair Trading Act 1989.

"The company broke the door-to-door trading laws under the Act which are in place to protect people who are approached at home unsolicited by salespeople," Mr Lawlor said.

Mr Lawlor said door-to-door traders needed to give consumers a proper contract clearly stating the breakdown of costs and including relevant consumer warnings.

"And if the goods or service are worth more than $75, they must give the consumer a 10-day cooling-off period and can not take money or start work in that time," he said.

"Evidence was heard about several instances in 2008 and 2009 across Southport, Burleigh Waters, Biggera Waters and Upper Coomera where Classic Concrete Australia did not follow the rules.

"It copped a significant $16,000 fine as a result. This is a warning to all traders who do business this way to abide by the law and respect the rights of consumers."

Mr Lawlor said door-to-door traders must:

· only contact customers between 9am and 6pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am and 5pm on Saturdays. Calls on Sundays or public holidays are prohibited

· provide a written contract clearly stating the breakdown of costs, including GST and the total price, with the sale of goods or services valued at more than $75

· produce an identity card with the dealer's full name and address

· provide a 10 day cooling-off period in the sale of goods and services valued at more than $75. During this time no payment, including deposits, can be accepted and no work can commence

· provide a form outlining the consumer's right to cancel a door-to-door contract

· provide a form to cancel a door-to-door sales contract during the 10-day cooling-off period.

Classic Concrete Australia was fined $4,000 in 2008 for similar breaches of the door-to-door laws under the Fair Trading Act.

The maximum penalty for breaching the Act is up to $54,000 for individuals and $270,000 for companies.

Mr Lawlor said Classic Concrete Australia director Emma Louise Taylor also received a $2,000 fine today for providing false and misleading information to the OFT during its recent investigation.

Qantas Club Lounge Mackay voted worst in Australia



Its single, unisex toilet smells.

It's as cramped as an Ipswich school bus.

Its food is as un-appetising as a Queensland boarding school dining room.


Its liquor bar regularly opens well after the advertised hour of 2pm.


It doesn't have any staff checking the credentials of supposed members, creating the feeling of a sardine sandwich as non Qantas club members sneak in.

Its computer stations consist of two tables with a double power point.

In fact, the Qantas Club Lounge at Mackay Airport - Gateway to the Barrier Reef - is nothing but an unmitigated embarrassment to Tourism Queensland.

A survey conducted by Consumer Watch has revealed Mackay as the worst Qantas Club Lounge in Australia.

It should be immediately revamped by Qantas or closed.

If you know of a worse Qantas Club Lounge in Australia or overseas, email details today.


Meanwhile, Mackay remains at the top of the pile of Qantas Third-Class Customer facilities.

PaulGTully@gmail.com

iPad hits Southern Hemisphere: Apple milks Australian iPad obsession to the max

TheAustralian.com.au

Rahul Koduri

Passionate Apple collector Rahul Koduri is first in the iPad queue at Apple's George Street store in Sydney yesterday.

IS the iPad launch manufactured hype or an organically grown obsession driven by Apple fans?

The march of hundreds of hopeful iPad buyers through the doors of seven Apple stores around Australia today marks the culmination of a marketing campaign that could have come only from the world of Apple founder Steve Jobs, accentuated by the curious obsession Apple fans have with the brand.

While Apple has done everything in its power to make the hype surrounding the launch seem spontaneous and consumer-driven, marketing experts say it has been a carefully calculated campaign managed in minute detail by Apple executives.

The devices will be widely available in stores across Australia, but Apple has worked to distil the hype of the launch by releasing the names of only seven Apple stores that will have the iPad, including a new store opening in Sydney's Bondi today; other outlets will not be revealed until after Apple's own stores have opened.

Experts say the move is designed to focus the hype and media attention around Apple's branded stores.

Last night, cold, wet weather in Sydney appeared to be counteracting the hype at the city's George Street store, with only a dozen or so die-hards huddled outside waiting for today's release of the device.

One fan who was not to be deterred, however, was engineering student Rahul Koduri, 22, who was first in line after arriving at 2am yesterday.

Mr Koduri said he already owned an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPod Classic, iMac, MacBook and MacBook Air, and could not wait to have the "revolutionary" iPad among his Apple arsenal, which he will carry everywhere and use for email and internet.

"It's an amazing product, revolutionary in many ways, because five years from now that's the only kind of device you will have in your hand," Mr Koduri said.

"It might not be an Apple brand but it will be a tablet device; this is just the first stepping stone."

Mr Koduri planned to buy two iPads when the shop opened at 9am today and already had a list of newspaper apps he planned to buy, which meant he no longer had to buy the "dead tree edition".

"The first app that I will probably buy will be a newspaper app, because I love news -- The Australian, Bloomberg, New York Times, things like that."

The Australian launches its iPad app today, while news group Fairfax also said it was launching apps for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, although it declined to reveal pricing or when the app would be available.

Sources close to Apple told The Australian that while Apple fans' passion for the brand was real, there was nothing left to chance with such launches.

"It's all very carefully managed," the source said.

"Steve Jobs turns the product into a celebrity. It gets a glamour launch and is surrounded by lots of gossip, and people eat that gossip up which helps drive the hype."

Locally, Apple's ad agency WhybinTBWA/Tequila in Sydney has a small team locked away with not even senior executives of the agency privy to the campaign.

Matt Eastwood, creative director of DDB, which is launching Australia's $180 million tourism campaign, said Apple was a master of taking people's passion for the brand and amplifying it out to the wider community.

Beer drinking in Australia at 60-year low

HeraldSun.com.au

BEER consumption has slumped to a 60-year-low as Aussies opt for quality over quantity when it comes to the nation's favourite drop.

The Herald Sun said today national consumption of the amber brew sank to 4.49 litres (9.5 pints) per person in the year to June 30, 2009, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

That's the lowest since the 1950s. Per-capita beer consumption has been steadily dropping off since its peak of 6.4 litres (13.5 pints) per year in 1979 - partly thanks to the introduction of tighter drink-driving laws.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said Aussies were cutting back on mainstream beers in favour of fancy imported and craft brews.

"Australians have switched from quantity to quality," he said.

"Over the past three years, apparent consumption of low-strength beers has slumped by 25 per cent, whereas consumption of mid-strength beer has been constant and consumption of full-strength beer has edged higher."

Wine had also encroached on beer's territory, he added.

"Wine hasn't yet overtaken beer, but the gap has certainly narrowed," Mr James said.

"In 2009, 63 million litres (133m pints) of alcohol was available in the form of wine, compared with just over 79 million litres (167m pints) of beer."

This was despite a plateau in wine consumption in recent years.

"Wine consumption consistently increased from the 1930s to the mid-2000s, but has since shown signs of flattening out," Mr James said.

James Tait, corporate affairs director at brewer Lion Nathan, said Aussies were tailoring the types of beer they drank to different occasions.

"Ten years ago, the average drinker drank about three brands of beer," he said.

"These days, the average drinker drinks about seven brands of beer on a regular basis.

"They might drink a premium beer if they're out on a date, or a traditional beer if they're out watching sport with their mates."

Consumer Slug: Cost of Australian postage stamps to rise across the board: ACCC decides

ABC.net.au

The competition watchdog has given its approval for Australia Post to raise the cost of a basic stamp from 55 to 60 cents.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it will not object to Australia Post's proposed price increases because the Government-owned company is facing a loss in its mail services this year, despite efforts to cut costs to meet falling demand for traditional snail mail.

The ACCC has statutory powers to assess proposed Australia Post price increases in areas where it has a monopoly: mail collection, mail distribution and the issue of postage stamps.

The price rises in letter services are proposed to take effect from June 28 and will apply to small, large and pre-sort letter services.

However the ACCC has also warned Australia Post not to expect further price rises to be allowed over the next two years.

"In 2009 the ACCC objected to Australia Post's proposed price increases due to concerns Australia Post's costs were not falling in response to declining volumes," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said in a statement.

"However based on the current forecasts of letter volumes and costs, the ACCC considers no changes to the basic postal rate should be required for the next two years beyond those proposed for June 2010."

The competition watchdog says further reforms may be needed in Australia Post as mail volumes continue decline in order for it to keep meeting its community service obligations while remaining profitable overall.

Australia's greenhouse emissions rising again

BT

Australia's greenhouse gas emissions have started creeping up again after a dip caused by the global financial crisis, a trend that would see the nation overshoot its Copenhagen Accord commitment by a large margin.

Emissions fell last year by 2.4 per cent on 2008 levels as steel and aluminium production was hit by the financial crisis, but began rising again in the last few months of the year.

The country generated an estimated 537 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2009, the largest amount per person of any developed country, three-quarters of which came from the energy sector.

The federal government said yesterday that Australia remains on track to meet its emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol.

But that target allows for an increase of 8 per cent on its 1990 level - an unusual allowance which means that, so far, the nation has had to do less work on reducing carbon dioxide output than most other countries.

A significant reduction in land clearing, particularly in Queensland, has allowed Australia to meet the Kyoto goal.

''We know that a price on carbon will be necessary to meet our targets and to reverse the climbing trend of emissions growth,''' the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, said in a statement. ''We remain committed to the carbon pollution reduction scheme as the most effective and cheapest way of meeting our targets.''

The government recently postponed its scheme until 2013 at the earliest after failing to get it through the Senate.

The head of the Department of Climate Change, Martin Parkinson, told a Senate estimates committee hearing yesterday that either an emissions trading scheme, which would require heavy polluters to pay for each tonne of greenhouse gas they release, or some form of carbon tax was essential to bring emissions under control.

''If you're asking the question, can Australia meet even its 5 per cent target without the introduction of a carbon price, the answer is no,'' Dr Parkinson said.

Australia has pledged to cut its emissions by between 5 and 25 per cent over the next 10 years, with the minimum target endorsed by both major parties. In theory, Australia could meet a large portion of its target by buying carbon offsets overseas, but this would be costly and would transfer the cost of actually cutting Australian emissions to a later date, when it is likely to be more expensive. ''The longer you delay, the more international units you have to purchase, or the higher the domestic cost,'' Dr Parkinson said.

The national emissions report shows that Australia's economic strength is still tightly shackled to ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions, because most of the country's energy is produced by burning coal.

About 37 per cent of the country's total emissions came from power stations, although a slight shift in the use of gas instead of coal as a fuel meant the trajectory of rising emissions has levelled off a little.

''Our economy currently relies on a polluting foundation and without policies to make polluting companies responsible for the damage they cause, and to make clean energy cheaper, Australia will continue to fall behind other countries that are building low pollution economies,'' said Erwin Jackson, the deputy chief executive of The Climate Institute.

Green groups said that with the postponement of the emissions trading scheme, neither of the major political parties had a plan to reverse the rising trajectory of emissions.

''We all know what we've got to do but at the moment we don't seem to have the political will to do it,'' said the executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry.

''We urgently need to put a price on carbon.''

More browsing than buying at Brisbane iPad launch

BT
An Apple employee shows customers how the iPad works.

An Apple employee shows customers how the iPad works.

It may be magical and revolutionary but the new iPad failed to seduce more than a few Brisbane punters at the Chermside Apple Store this morning.

When brisbanetimes.com.au visited the store at 10am this morning, most of those present said they were merely "browsing" rather than buying despite the enormous hype surrounding the new product.

Despite the best efforts of upbeat staff - resplendent in blue iPad t-shirts - to drum up excitement and "educate" shoppers, it seemed to be more curiosity than consumption that was enticing customers.

A shopping mall security guard said they had been advised to prepare for large crowds but the turn out was much smaller than experienced at Boxing Day sales.

Chermside local Bronwyn Steadson said she had "pretty much just swung by to see what all the fuss was about."

"I was thinking about getting one for my son because his birthday's coming up soon," Mrs Steadson said "But they're so expensive and I don't really understand what the point is to be honest.

"I am interested in maybe getting him a laptop or something because they seem to be a little bit more practical."

Meanwhile, devout Apple fan and serial i-product purchaser Chris Harper, expressed a mixture of joy and nervous anticipation before entering the store.

The Tarragindi resident said he'd been waiting to get his hands on "the pad" since Apple chief Steve Jobs revealed the tablet to the world in January.

"I'd thought about trying to get my friend to buy one from America but it was too complicated so I decided to wait," he said. "My friend [in Sydney] has got his already – this morning.

"I'm glad that it's not as busy here as it sounds like it was down there."

Reports of overnight queues and large crowds across Sydney's central shopping district this morning seemed at odds with the enthusiastic but comparatively subdued reception the Apple gadget garnered in Brisbane.

"We were really busy this morning," said a salesperson at Apple resale store Next Byte,in Brisbane's CBD said. "It's settled down now but we're still doing well.

"And the good news is we've still got a few left," he said, indicating to a pile of boxes stacked in the bustling back store room.

Apple staff and store managers said they were not at liberty to answer questions about how many gadgets had been sold or what models were most popular among customers.

The iPad comes in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with 3G in Australia and begins at $629 for a basic 16GB model.

It's Official: Power prices to rise 13% in Qld

SMH.com.au

Electricity prices are set to rise in Queensland by 13.29 per cent on July 1.

The Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), which announced the rise on Friday, said it was due to an increase in the cost of transmission, distribution and coal and gas.

The QCA said in its report transmission and distribution costs had rise by 17.4 per cent as "significant investment" in the distribution networks is rolled out.


...............................................................................................
COMMENT: And Premier Peter Beattie said electricity prices
would not rise in Queensland as a result of privitisation.


PaulGTully@gmail.com

It's Official: Google-AdMob Deal Approved

http://www.pcmag.com

Several days after the Federal Trade Commission closed its investigation into Google's acquisition of AdMob, Google said Thursday that it has also closed its acquisition and is the proud new owner of a mobile ad network.

0diggsdigg

"We'll now begin the process of bringing our products and teams together in the best way, and building new products and features together," Google wrote in a blog post. "We're working to make this integration happen as fast and as seamlessly as possible. We'll actively keep our clients up-to-date as we bring our businesses together -- stay tuned!"

With this acquisition, mobile advertising is "now a central part of our business," Google said.

Mobile search volume has grown fivefold in the past two years, Google continued, and people searched the Web on "full" WebKit browsers (like those on iPhones, Android phones, and the Palm Pre) 62 percent more in the first three months of 2010 than they did in the last three months of 2009.

"We want to unleash agencies' and advertisers' creativity on all mobile devices and deliver them better results from their campaigns, drive better returns and more choice for publishers and developers, and help people get better ads and more free mobile content," Google concluded.

AnnaBligh is tough, Julia Gillard is talented enough to become Prime Minister: Peter Beattie

BrisbaneTimes.com.au

Peter Beattie with his wife at his home in Wilston, in Brisbane's  inner north, this morning.

Peter Beattie with his wife at his home in Wilston, in Brisbane's
inner north, this morning.

Queensland's most famous salesman has "faith" his anointed successor will carry the ALP to victory at the next state election.

Former state premier Peter Beattie reiterated his support for Anna Bligh as he announced his retirement as Queensland's Trade and Investment Commissioner for the Americas.

However, he reserved his greatest praise for Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Mr Beattie, who led the state from 1998 to 2007, is leaving the job one year before his three-year contract expires.

At the time he was appointed to the position, based in Los Angeles, Ms Bligh said he could "sell ice to Eskimos".

With a treasure chest boasting $462 million of trade and investment earned in the past financial year, Mr Beattie said he had exceeded this expectation.

"That's a lot of ice to a lot of Eskimos," he said outside his Brisbane home today.

Mr Beattie said he had no intentions to return to public life, but did not rule out taking up a plum private sector job.

"Once you go and you leave the scene, you leave the scene," he said.

"I'm not interested in public life. I've got the scars and bruises of outrageous fortune to prove that those years [are] well behind us.

"There would be a state funeral if I went back to that."

His wife Heather confirmed: "There will be no comeback tour."

Nor will there be any Beattie political dynasty, with Heather ruling out any tilt for the role of Brisbane Lord Mayor.

"I'm grateful for the opportunities we had, but our time has passed," she said.

Mr Beattie declined to comment on the state of the ALP in Queensland, only to say he had faith in the current party leader.

"Anna Bligh is a tough individual and I have faith in her," Mr Beattie said.

"It's tough being a leader in the middle of the global financial crisis and even though we're coming out of it, it's bumpy.

"It doesn't matter whether you're Kevin Rudd, or Anna Bligh, or President Obama.

"It's about as ugly a time as ever to be in politics."

Mr Beattie then went on to heap praise on the Deputy PM.

"Julia Gillard is one of the most talented people in Australian politics, full stop," he said.

"She would be a great Prime Minister if that ever happens."

Mr Beattie can now enter the private sector having served two years in an academic posting, upon the advice of Queensland's independent Integrity Commissioner.

"Two years was the time and I've been retired two years and eight months," he said.

"I'm not going to say to you that we haven't received offers.

"Of course we have, but now it's appropriate for us to seriously think about those and we will.

"Heather and I will spend time both in the US and in Australia. We've got a lot of friends both in the US and here."

MP wants Cat Stevens banned from Australia

Singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens

Ban call: Singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known
as Cat Stevens.


ABC.net.au

A Victorian state MP is lobbying to have musician Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, banned from Australia.

Islam is touring Australia next month but DLP upper house member Peter Kavanagh says the singer should be denied a visa because he once supported a "fatwa" against author Salman Rushdie.

Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued the religious decree calling for Muslims to kill Rushdie for alleged blasphemy in his novel The Satanic Verses in 1989.

"Cat Stevens seemed to support those threats against Mr Rushdie, he now says he was joking," Mr Kavanagh said.

"But I think, before he comes into Australia, he should be required to say that he does not support threats against people for the expression of their opinions.

"What he said was he was he was exercising his dry British sense of humour," he added.

"It needs a clear repudiation of the threat. What he said might be true but he hasn't clearly repudiated a threat to kill on the basis of expressing an opinion.

"He has not said I do not support killing anybody for the expression of their beliefs. I think that statement should be made otherwise, I think it's contrary to everything that's Australian and democratic."

"I think it he's not prepared to do that then I think it would be better if he didn't come to Australia, and make millions of dollars that he will take out of the country in the next few weeks."

Swan uses emergency powers to plan advertising blitz against miners on resources super-profits tax

Mining tax

A Rio Tinto iron ore mining operation in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

TheAustralian.com.au

WAYNE Swan is preparing to escalate his pitched battle with the mining industry over the resource super-profits tax, obtaining a special exemption under national emergency powers to waive the government's own advertising rules for a campaign against the miners.

The exemption granted this week to the Treasurer by Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig will allow the government to rush out an advertising campaign to counter a mining industry blitz against the new 40 per cent super profits tax.

Mr Swan on May 10 sought permission from Senator Ludwig, in his role as Cabinet Secretary, to mount a tax reform advertising campaign.

"Given that co-ordinated misinformation about the changes is currently being promulgated in paid advertising, I accept the need for extremely urgent action to ensure the Australian community receive accurate advice about the nature and effect of the changes," Senator Ludwig said in a special statement granting Mr Swan permission for the campaign.

"As the changes also affect the value of the capital assets and impact on financial markets, I am satisfied that a compelling reason for an exemption exists, particularly given the nature and extent of misinformation against a backdrop of continuing market volatility."

The exemption from the government's advertising rules will enable the Treasurer to avoid the need to seek the approval of the Indendendent Communications Committee which vets all government advertising.

It will free the campaign from constraints under the guidelines prohibiting campaigns run for party political purposes and releasing materials that "directly attack or scorn the views, policies or actions of other such as the policies and opinions of opposition parties or groups".

As Cabinet Secretary Senator Ludwig can exempt a campaign from compliance with the guidelines on the basis of a national emergency, extreme urgency or other compelling reasons.

In granting the exemption, Senator Ludwig said: "I note and accept the Treasurer's advice that there is an active campaign of misinformation about the proposed changes and that Australians are concerned about how these changes will affect them.

"I further note and accept the Treasurer's advice that, as tax reform involves changes to the value of some capital assets, they impact on financial markets."

Striking fashions set to make their mark on Ipswich Cup

Striking fashions set to make their mark on Ipswich Cup

Svetlana Musson is looking forward to the Ipswich
News Fashions on the Field at the Ipswich Cup.

http://ipswich-news.whereilive.com.au

REGISTER now for the Ipswich News Fashions on the Field for your chance to share in more than $5000 in prizes.

The event will be staged in little more than three weeks' time at the city's biggest annual party the Ipswich Cup.

Contestants can pre-register at Booval Fair centre management, or at Ed Harry Menswear and Heather's Accessories within the complex.

Pre-registration will also be accepted at Redbank Plaza centre management and the customer service desk.

The first-placed female wins a weekend in Sydney for two as well as $600 in Redbank Plaza gift vouchers.

The best-dressed male wins a Wii console, a $200 Priceline Pharmacy gift pack and $150 in Redbank Plaza gift vouchers.

Ed Harry manager Amanda Thomas-Wilson said fine pinstripes were definitely in this season, matched with purple and exotic blue ties.

Australian motorists to win as fuel wars ramp up

DailyTelegraph.com.au

MOTORISTS, rejoice - supermarket behemoths Woolworths and Coles finally have a strong independent competitor that will put much-needed downward pressure on petrol prices.

Convenience store empire 7-Eleven will become Australia's biggest independent fuel retailer after buying 295 petrol stations from Mobil Oil Australia, lifting its stores to 650.

The global brand, operated in Australia by Peregrine Corporation, said yesterday it expected to convert the Mobil stores by the end of 2011 and share an industry dominated by Woolworths-Caltex and Coles Express-Shell.

While the sale creates a major sector stakeholder, it also continues the local demise of the Mobil brand, which late motor racing king Peter Brock helped build through its association with motorsport.

"This is not simply complementary to our business, it is our business," said 7-Eleven Australia chief executive Warren Wilmothe.

"Similar acquisitions in the past have delivered significant per-store merchandise sales growth, demonstrating the strength of the brand's consumer appeal."

The company would not comment on the price it paid for the stores but analysts believe the final sum was well under the $300 million Caltex had offered to purchase the sites last year.

That generous offer was dismissed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in December because of fears it would erode competition in a competition-starved marketplace.

Independent petrol analyst and University of NSW professor Frank Zumbo told The Daily Telegraph yesterday the purchase was a win for motorists, who were still being short-changed by Australian refineries, with only 4 per cent of the recent 12 per cent slide in global oil prices being passed on at the pump.

"Motorists should be very happy that these service stations have gone to an independent player rather than one of the major retailers," he said.

"If they had ended up with Caltex, we would no doubt have seen higher prices at the pump. There is now hope of greater competition in the marketplace."



Australia to launch whaling action against Japan in International Court of Justice in The Hague

The body of a minke whale and its calf are dragged  onto a whaling ship

ABC.net.au

The Federal Government has announced it will launch legal action against Japan over whaling in the Southern Pacific Ocean.

Formal proceedings will be lodged at the International Court of Justice in The Hague next week.

Liberals' Pacific Solution too expensive, says PM

SMH.com.au

Kevin Rudd has dismissed as "very expensive" a coalition plan to reinstate the so-called Pacific Solution for processing asylum seekers.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced on Thursday a coalition government would negotiate with other countries to process offshore the claims of asylum seekers, a move the coalition says will stem a "tsunami" of unauthorised boat arrivals.

The previous Howard government used Nauru and Manus Island for what Mr Rudd described as a stopover for six to 12 months before 70 per cent of asylum seekers were accepted to Australia.

Australia's ABC Learning Centres files for Chapter 15 in United States

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Australian education and childcare services provider A.B.C. Learning Centres Ltd (ABLCF.PK) filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court Wednesday, more than 18 months after the company went into administration in Australia.

The filing comes after an Arizona jury ruled against the company earlier this month in a lawsuit over certain development contracts and ordered it to pay more than $47 million in damages to RCS Capital Development LLC.

"While judgment has not yet been entered against ABC Learning and ABC Delaware, RCS has already sought to commence enforcement and collection efforts," the company said in court filings.

The company filed under Chapter 15 of U.S. bankruptcy law, which deals with cases involving more than one country and allows U.S. courts to recognize the actions of insolvency proceedings in foreign countries.

ABC Learning listed both assets and debt of more than $100 million each in court papers.

The filing also listed A.B.C. USA Holdings Pty Ltd as an affiliate.

Before it went into administration in November 2008, ABC Learning operated about 1,045 childcare centers and had 15,000 full time employees in Australia alone.

The case is In re: A.B.C. Learning Centres Ltd, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 10-11711.