Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Julia Gillard is pushing for Labor to dump India uranium ban

JULIA Gillard wants Labor to dump its ban on selling uranium to India. In a dramatic policy reversal, PM Julia Gillard is urging Labor to allow uranium exports to India.

The Prime Minister will today announce her plan to change the party's platform on uranium exports at the ALP national conference next month, the Herald Sun reported. This would mean the Government could send nuclear material to India, a position advocated by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Labor has rejected selling uranium to India in the past as it has not signed the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the PM's proposal is expected to get a fiery response.

The US has been sending uranium to India for years, as have Japan and Canada, after striking agreements that it would be used only for peaceful purposes.

The PM will argue Labor should break from tradition because it would boost jobs and economic growth. India could reduce its emissions by increasing nuclear power options.

Allowing new exports to India would increase ties with the Asian powerhouse - an economy growing at almost 8 per cent.

Australia is the world's third-biggest supplier of uranium, pumping more than $750 million a year into the economy. Some Labor heavyweights have publicly called for the party to rethink its uranium exports policy ahead of its national conference, in early December.

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has argued nuclear power will become more important as the world moves to cleaner energy sources. India's nuclear power supply is expected to increase significantly in coming years.

The PM's plan is likely to prompt outrage from the Greens, who argue sending uranium to India could have negative global repercussions.

It is likely that a move to change Labor's platform would ensure appropriate safeguards were in place to ensure uranium was not used for arms.

Bilateral agreements, which include assurances on the separation of civilian and military activities, are in place for countries to which Australia exports uranium


Red tape warrior given tiny budget

THE man charged with slashing government red tape in Queensland starts in his new job today amid widespread scepticism about how much difference he can make. Former Taxi Council chief executive Blair Davies will have only a $1 million budget in his role as Business Commissioner to drive a reform agenda.

Small business owners and peak industry groups complain that the cost of complying with state regulations has exploded 30 per cent in the past five years to $7 billion despite previous government attempts to curb the growth.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland president David Goodwin said yesterday he was "very much looking forward" to a meeting with Mr Davies today. "The Government doesn't have a great record at reducing regulation but they are very good at producing it. We hoped a renewed focus on reform could deliver relief for businesses," Mr Goodwin said. He said there was an urgent need to overhaul laws on workplace health and safety, building approvals and land use.

But Chamber members are not optimistic that much will change. A recent survey of the state's 400,000 small businesses found only 13 per cent believed the new office would succeed in rolling back stifling regulation, which now fills more than 90,000 pages.

The Government argues that its Office of Business Commissioner is part of an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to roll back red tape which has been backed by the Business Council of Australia.

The changes include subjecting all new laws to a "regulatory assessment statement" to ensure that compliance obligations are not too onerous and the fast tracking of environmental approvals.

But Opposition small business spokesman Jann Stuckey said yesterday the Government's move was an implicit "admission of failure" to wind back costly and burdensome laws. "What does this tell you about the Queensland Office for Regulatory Efficiency? Is this an admission that this was a complete failure? Do they now believe that adding another bureaucrat is the answer to cutting red tape?" Ms Stuckey said.

The appointment of Mr Davies, who will earn $180,000 a year, comes as The Courier-Mail promotes a "Back Off Small Business" campaign aimed at alleviating red tape pressures affecting thousands of businesses.


Third inquest opens into 20 year-old murder-suicide cold case

Atherton is a small town and police didn't want to rock the boat. Hence their absurd claims and utter negligence

JULIE-ANNE Leahy had her "bags packed" to escape an abusive marriage just days before she disappeared and was found dead with her best friend in a car up a disused bush track, an inquest heard.

Police almost immediately ruled Atherton accountant Vicki Arnold killed her friend and then shot herself in a bizarre murder-suicide pact in a 20-year-old north Queensland cold case that has baffled investigators.

State Coroner Michael Barnes opened an unprecedented third coronial inquest into the Arnold and Leahy deaths and will explore the possibility a third party killer may have escaped justice after police botched the crime scene.

Friends told the inquest how the two women were "chalk and cheese" with Arnold, 26, a depressed loner aching for a family life while Leahy, 27, was a "strong and outspoken" mum housewife trapped in an abusive relationship with financial problems. "She (Leahy) had her bags packed. She was leaving," friend and police sergeant Bernard Wilce said.

He said he was still astounded by the thought gentle-natured Vicki killed her friend and then herself.

He told of an anonymous call to police alleging a white van was spotted driving out of the Cherry Creek track murder scene about the time the women disappeared on a midnight fishing trip on July 26, 1991.

Ex-husband Alan Leahy, a carpet layer who was having an affair with his wife's 16-year-old sister at the time, has been subpoenaed and is due to give evidence in the second week of the inquest in December.

Leahy had been bashed with a rock the size of a grapefruit, her throat cut and was shot twice in the head. Arnold had a gunshot wound in the thigh and fatally another gunshot wound behind the right ear.

Atherton businessman, blacksmith and Australian representative target shooter John Wilkinson told how he obtained the .22 semi-automatic Ruger rifle for his former book-keeper two weeks before the women were found dead. He said Arnold told him she wanted it for a friend who lived on a cattle station but he vehemently denied cutting down the barrel.

"Sure, I've got the knowledge and the ability. But I absolutely deny I cut it down. "Whoever cut it off knew what they were doing. "I just hope you find whoever did it."

A video re-enactment shown to the court found it was physically possible to put the sawn-off gun behind the right ear and pull the trigger.

Officers used a white 1984 Nissan Patrol, same make and model, and a female police officer of the same build as Arnold holding a sawn-off .22 Ruger rifle sitting in the footwell of the passenger seat. Arnold's body was found slumped in the seat with her hand resting on the rifle.

Counsel assisting the coroner Ralph Devlin, SC, said the inquest would examine the possibility of any third party in the killing. But Mr Devlin admitted the odds are against them given the fog of time, faded memories of witnesses, a contaminated crime scene and an almost complete lack of scientific and physical evidence.

"It is hard to exaggerate the failures (in this case)," Mr Devlin told the inquest.

He said only two bloody fingerprints were taken from the butt of the rifle, none from the knife, none from inside the car, and critically, no tests for gunshot residue were done on the hands of Arnold. "It was a missed opportunity at the outset. "And it would have been determinative in this case."


Costly bureaucratic delay

Jarrad Quinn knows he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair but believes he has spent 112 days longer than necessary in the Princess Alexandra spinal unit as a result of state government bungling.

Rather than fund modifications to his mother and stepfather's home at Woombye in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, the government has left the 36-year-old former carpenter in limbo in a hospital bed that costs taxpayers more than $1000 a day.

When he is released on weekends to give him respite, his bed takes up the entire lounge room of his parents' modest home and he has to be taken outside and showered in the garden because his wheelchair does not fit into the bathroom.
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"I'm over [hospital]. I'm depressed. I'm the second longest in the spinal unit. It's a depressing place. I want to start rehab," Mr Quinn said.

Disability Services Minister Curtis Pitt said this was not a "straightforward case" but officials were close to finalising arrangements to house Mr Quinn in modified accommodation at his parents' property.


1 comment:

Paul said...

This Atherton case is still an open sore up here. Not least because of the f**up that was the police investigation, which had parallels in incompetence with the initial Morecombe investigation.