Refugees set to join teen on hunger strike

MORE asylum seekers could join in a hunger strike at Pontville detention centre unless they are lifted from the “bureaucratic nightmare” of uncertain detention, a Tasmanian refugee advocate has said.
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A 16-year-old Afghani boy at the centre has been on a hunger strike since Friday.

The boy told the ABC on Sunday he was acting in protest against being held in detention for seven months because he believed some people he travelled to Australia with had been released.

It is the first reported hunger strike at the centre and comes just two weeks after six detainees were hospitalised in a brawl over a game of pool.

That incident was just a week after a detainee and a detention centre worker were injured in another reported fight.

Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support founder Emily Conolan said all the incidents could be traced to the uncertainty caused by longer periods in detention, after funding to community detention programs was cut.

Ms Conolan said everyone she visited at the centre said they could cope better if they knew how long they would be detained for and could look to the future.

Ms Conolan said tensions at Pontville had been mounting in recent weeks and she would not be surprised if other residents joined in the hunger strike.

“It’s an act of desperation and a cry for help of people that feel that they have no other option to express themselves but self-harm,” she said.

A spokesman from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said the boy was being closely monitored.

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Rogers, Watson to open in Test

Chris Rogers will finally shed the one-Test wonder tag when he opens the batting for Australia in the Ashes, leaving Ed Cowan to scrap for another spot in the order.
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New coach Darren Lehmann announced in his typically direct way that Rogers would strike a new opening combination with Shane Watson at Trent Bridge from July 10.

”They’ll play the first Test,” Lehmann said after training in Worcester, where Cowan will have one last chance to seize a spot down the order in the tour game starting on Tuesday.

“We’ll wait and see with the rest,” Lehmann said in regard to Cowan. “All the rest are in the frame. But Rogers has obviously been picked for a reason from the previous selection panel and we’re really comfortable with that. He’s had a great summer here with Middlesex and got two big hundreds.”

The news is a long-awaited reward for Rogers’ phenomenal scoring in both Australia and England over the past decade. He has amassed almost 20,000 first-class runs, half of them in county cricket, and is coming off an exceptional season as captain of Middlesex, with 790 run at 65.83

Since playing a solitary Test as a replacement for the injured Matthew Hayden against India at the WACA Ground in 2008 – a disorienting experience in the immediate aftermath of the infamous “Monkeygate” Test – Rogers had been ignored by the selection panel led by Andrew Hilditch. A phone call from his successor John Inverarity in England last winter gave him reason to hope that he might not be finished as an international player.

“I’m naturally excited. It’s a huge thrill,” he said after Lehmann gave him the news. “Anyone who has been selected doesn’t want to be a one-Test wonder. I had probably given up hope at times but I guess with the new selection committee and retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey it gave me a bit of hope that they would pick an older head.

“I can just enjoy it and really see that there is nothing to lose. I didn’t expect this opportunity and hopefully I can play well. If that happens hopefully we can win a few games as well.”

Rogers said his experience of batting in England should help him set a platform for the middle order, while the right-handed Watson could be the more aggressive partner. “I’ve been playing well and have been selected to score runs. At the top maybe that’s a combination that Boof wants but my job is to score runs now and make that position my own,” Rogers said.

“I was fortunate enough that the [Ashes tour] selection happened a couple of months ago. Every time I have gone out to bat I have been putting myself under as much pressure as I can, trying to lift the intensity because I remember what it was like in that first Test and it’s far different to what you experience in domestic cricket. I know that is going to be as big a challenge as anything.

“The thing I try to do as a captain [of Middlesex] is lead from the front and that is the role as an opener anyway, but if I can do that for Australia hopefully I can set the game up for the middle order who can play expansive games and take the game away from the opposition. For that to happen, we need a solid start.”

Cowan needs to make runs against Worcestershire to play at Trent Bridge and No.3 seems the most natural alternative for the left-hander, who last made a first-class century against South Africa in November.

Suspended batsman David Warner is in contention to bat in the middle order in the Test team, and Lehmann said Usman Khawaja was not out of the reckoning despite being left out for the tour match at New Road.

“I wouldn’t be reading too much into the tour game,” Lehmann said. “It’s a case of giving everyone in our squad a chance to impress for the first Test and make sure everyone in the squad is available. We can’t pick Davey but the other 17 will be given a chance to play some cricket so I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

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Children inspired to put pencil to paper

Award-winning children’s book illustrator Peter Gouldthorpe with the subject of his sketch, Scottsdale Primary School pupil Zoe Cairns.SCOTTSDALE Primary School pupils have learnt to sketch from one of the best.
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The school received a visit from award-winning children’s book illustrator Peter Gouldthorpe last Tuesday as its prize for winning the illustrator for a day competition in the Premier’s Reading Challenge.

Gouldthorpe, who is shortlisted for a children’s book Council of Australia Award for his illustrations in Lyrebird by Jackie Kerin, spent the day working with pupils from grades 2-4, teaching them the process of creating a book and demonstrating how to make a good sketch.

He also set up his easel in the school yard during lunch and sketched grade4 pupil Zoe Cairns.

School teacher librarian Jill van den Bosch said the visit was great to get the kids thinking creatively.

“He gave them some hints about not being worried about getting it right the first time because you can often hide the mistakes later,” Mrs van den Bosch said.

“The grade 2s went back and said they were very inspired and spent the rest of the afternoon sketching.

“So it’s definitely been worthwhile.”

Gouldthorpe, of Hobart, left four sketches at the school which will be framed and hung in the library.

The Premier’s Reading Challenge is about encouraging children to develop a love of reading to improve literacy standards.

It runs until August 18 and involves 167 schools.

Premier Lara Giddings said during the challenge she hoped children would read 10 books in 10 weeks.

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Council cooking up school holiday fun

Lachlan Harris, 12, of Beaconsfield, participates in the Masterchef school holiday program. Picture: supplied.THE West Tamar Council’s school holiday program is open for registrations.
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The program is open to West Tamar residents aged 10 to 16 and offers four activities throughout the two-week break: Laser tag at Zone 3 Laser, a skateboarding workshop, a trip to Village Cinema in Launceston and a Masterchef-style challenge at the Tailrace Centre.

West Tamar Council youth development officer Stewart Bell said the program attracted interest from a diverse range of young people throughout the municipality.

“We are always planning new and exciting things and often ask young people what they want to do and then try and facilitate this,” Mr Bell said.

“Activities are fully supervised and subsidised by council. The program takes pressure off parents and allows young people to hang out with their friends and have fun in a safe environment.

“The activities are always a lot of fun and provide an opportunity to do something you haven’t tried before or make some new friends.”

Mr Bell encouraged those interested to book early as spaces are limited.

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US reacting typically to Snowden’s leaks

THE story has everything except the shaken martini.
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A massive security breach, an international escape and chase, a betrayed girlfriend and plenty of political intrigue.

You can even throw in a bit of Moscow-Washington Cold War tension for the good old days.

No – it’s not the next Bond film, this is the incredible true story of American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Mr Snowden collaborated with top global newspapers to leak classified American intelligence showing unprecedented surveillance of American and foreign citizens.

While denied by American authorities, a leaked presentation suggests the National Security Agency has accessed the servers of Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, AOL, Skype and YouTube to “datamine” information.

That would mean your data – what you say, who you’ve said it to, what you’ve seen online – is sitting on a US government computer, ready to be accessed if they should ever need to.

How comfortable are you with that prospect?

The revelations keep coming as Mr Snowden, believed to be hiding out in a Moscow airport en route to legal sanctuary, drip feeds the media with new leaks.

Mr Snowden’s justification is simple, telling The Guardian, “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things”.

The NSA counters with the security line; it stops crime and terrorism in its tracks.

NSA director Keith Alexander said the surveillance programs had helped prevent more than 50 “potential terrorist incidents” including plots on the New York stock exchange and subway.

In the US, the issue has dominated domestic politics, as representatives grapple with an age-old question; to what extent should our civil liberties be wound back in the name of national security?

Mr Snowden is a traitor to some, a whistleblower to others.

The US government has been unequivocal, laying three charges of theft and unauthorised communication of classified intelligence, each carrying a penalty of a decade’s jail, and calling for Mr Snowden’s immediate return to US soil.

A decade ago, Australian law enforcement was kinder on intelligence whistleblower and now Denison MHR Andrew Wilkie, who exposed trumped up claims on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, calling the war “not ethical, not necessary and not legal”.

Mr Wilkie resigned his job and was cut off by fellow spooks, despite two decades’ service to the infantry and intelligence community.

He believes Mr Snowden’s actions are for the best, but he should have known what to expect.

“I think Edward Snowden acted in the public interest,” Mr Wilkie said.

“But in the absence of any effective whistle-blower protection in the US Mr Snowden should have understood that he’d need to deal with the legal ramifications of his actions.”

Mr Wilkie said the US’s actions to conduct surveillance on foreigners, including Australians, should not shock, and were justified as long as “appropriate privacy protection regimes are in place”.

A proposal to retain every Australian’s telephone and internet data for up to two years, described as the most significant expansion of the Australian intelligence community’s powers since the September 11 attacks, was last week recommended against by a Parliamentary committee.

Australians might argue we get the balance between privacy and security right, but how are we able to make that choice if intelligence programs are hidden, denied and obscured?

To quote Timothy Garton Ash, “In a democracy it is for us to judge where to place the balance between security and privacy, safety and liberty”.

Traitorous or not, Mr Snowden’s actions have given Americans a better place to gauge whether they have that balance right.

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June slowly cools off as winter sets in

Jon Parsons and son Josiah, 3, of Launceston, enjoying a mild winter evening in the Brickfields. Picture: GEOFF ROBSONTHE harsh reality of winter in Tasmania may have taken longer than usual to make its presence felt this year, but once winter set in, it did so with a vengeance.
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June temperatures started off on the mild side, with Bicheno recording its warmest June day for 11 years, with 19.7 degrees on June 3.

The second half of June was notable for its run of cold days and even colder nights, with the mercury plummeting to a teeth- chattering minus 11.2 degrees overnight on June 23 at Liawenee.

Mount Wellington’s maximum of just 0.1 degrees on June 18 was the coldest maximum of the month.

Despite the run of cold days, maximum temperatures were generally up to 1 degree above average, but Smithton had a run of 10 days from June 15-24 where the minimum temperature dropped below 2 degrees, something that had never happened before.

Marrawah recorded its driest June on record.

Smithton again saw people reaching for the record books as it had 13 consecutive days, from June 13-25, when 0.2 millimetres or less was recorded each day, something that has only occurred once before in June, in 1950, when no rain fell in 13 days.

Tasmania and Antarctica Climate Services Centre climatologist Lorien Martin said that temperatures had been warmer than usual for the first six months of 2013, by between 1 and 2 degrees for maximum temperatures, and up to 1 degree for minimums.

Rainfall totals had been below average in all areas except for pockets of the central north and east coast, she said.

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World Vision’s youth ambassador shares passion to help

World Vision Youth Ambassador for Victoria and Tasmania Soreti Kadir with Riverside Primary grade 6 pupils. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLERCREATING connections was the aim for the state’s World Vision Youth Ambassador when she spoke at Riverside Primary School yesterday.
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Eighteen-year-old Soreti Kadir rallied grade 6 pupils to participate in the 40 Hour Famine by speaking of her experience travelling to Malawi last year.

The Melbourne woman focused on the stories of Malawian children Dorothy and James.

She said six-year-old James had shown her the ground he slept on and told her he wanted to sleep “where you sleep”.

“The poverty was overt,” she said.

Miss Kadir became World Vision’s youth ambassador after raising more than $300 during the 40 Hour Famine last year.

She said her passion for assisting people in developing countries came from visits to her birthplace, Ethiopia, where she witnessed the different course her life could have taken.

One Riverside Primary pupil spoke to Miss Kadir for half an hour after her speech yesterday.

“He said it was so unfair and we’re here taking our lives for granted,” she said.

“It’s not often that what you said is taken so seriously.”

Miss Kadir will speak at schools throughout the state this week.

For more information on the 40 Hour Famine visit 40hourfamine南京夜网.au.

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Wolveschildren Art Space: the revamped mechanical garage

Luke Matheson, Erin Bond MathesonWHEN Erin Bond Matheson saw an old mechanical garage in Humffray Street North, she knew it had the potential to be something great.
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With an artistic background, the Ballarat illustrator decided to take the building and turn it into a space for artists in Ballarat and beyond.

Mrs Bond Matheson and her husband started Wolveschildren Art Space, allowing artists around the community to showcase and sell their work.

The art space features rooms which can be hired out as studios, a shop which showcases and sells the work of local, national and international artists, as well as a common area to be used for miscellaneous purposes.

“My aim is to listen to what the Ballarat arts community needs and provide them with that,” Mrs Bond Matheson said.

“Some people need a studio and some need a couple of nights where they can meet with artists and inspire and motivate each other.”

Having worked as a teacher for several years, the 32-year-old said she was excited to immerse herself in her art again.

She said she hoped other artists in Ballarat would similarly feel encouraged to pursue their talents.

“I want to do this because I want art to be accessible as a career and to be a realistic choice,” she said.

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Extra rail gate delays off agenda

ADDED delays at Adamstown and Islington level crossings are off the agenda for now after the state government’s decision to abandon the planned Cobbora coalmine near Mudgee.
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The former Labor government had planned to rail-haul coal from Cobbora about 350 kilometres to the Central Coast – by going through Newcastle.

The Adamstown gates are already closed to motorists for an average of 7.2 hours a day, while the Clyde Street, Islington, gates are down for 7.7 hours.

Cobbora trains to Vales Point and Eraring power stations would have added almost an hour a day to the closures.

John Hayes, whose Correct Planning and Consultation for Mayfield Group has campaigned on the impacts of coal trains, welcomed the decision as far as it eased the impact on suburban Newcastle.

Argenton resident Milton Newall, whose house backs on to an area of track where coal trains are parked on their way to the power stations, said fewer coal trains was a good thing.

“If they’re still going to source the coal from the Hunter Valley, we’re still going to have the trains,” Mr Newall said.

The O’Farrell government has terminated coal-supply contracts for the proposed mine but still considers it a valuable coal asset and has not ruled out a future sale or lease.

Eraring sells for bargain price

SNAPPED UP: Eraring Power Station has gone for a bargain price to Origin Energy.ERARING power station has sold to Origin Energy for just $50 million in a controversial deal aimed at cleaning up the state’s tangled electricity industry.
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In the other half of yesterday’s announcement, the state government has put the planned Cobbora coalmine on hold, meaning an end, for the time being, to extra coal trains running through Newcastle to and from the Central Coast.

Eraring’s $50 million price tag has been slammed by unions as a bargain basement price for the state’s biggest baseload power station.

Electrical Trades Union state secretary Steve Butler said the government negotiated with a single buyer instead of going to tender.

But Greens MP John Kaye said the government had little choice because the former Labor administration’s “gen-trader” contracts had “ripped all of the value out of the station itself”.

Origin paid a reported $609 million for the rights to Eraring’s electricity back in 2010, meaning it has effectively paid $659 million for the 2880-megawatt station.

Treasurer Mike Baird said the O’Farrell government had “unwound the dud deal of the century . . . executed in Labor’s dying days in office”.

Mr Baird said the government would pay Origin $300 million to terminate its coal supply contract from the Cobbora mine. He said building Cobbora would have cost the state $1.5 billion.

“Overall, at a net cost of around $75 million, taxpayers will avoid liabilities of over $1.75 billion, which were part of Labor’s disastrous legacy,” Mr Baird said.

He said Cobbora contracts with two government-owned agencies, Macquarie Generation and Delta Electricity, would also be terminated, although there was no mention of termination payments. But Cobbora was “nevertheless a large coal resource” and the government would still sell or lease it.

Lake Macquarie independent MP Greg Piper said the $50 million fire sale was “the latest inevitable chapter in a sorry story of bungled privatisation”.

Even if the gen-trader contracts had taken much of the value out of baseload power stations, Eraring still made $137 million profit in the 2011-12 financial year.

“They won’t even recoup the cost of the $200 million upgrade to the station only recently completed,” Mr Piper said.

He said consumers were already reeling from big power bill increases and private interests should not have a monopoly over the power network from the point of generation to the point of sale.

Mr Baird said Eraring workers moving to Origin would do so on terms consistent with other privatisations.

He said negotiations on Delta West’s Mt Piper and Wallerawang power stations were continuing.