Phones may soon be used as Go Cards

The next generation of transit ticketing is set to arrive in Queensland. Photo: Michelle SmithSouth East Queensland public transport users could soon be using their smart phones as Go Cards.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson said the “next generation ticketing project” would be opened to government tender from Tuesday.

He told the Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee budget estimates hearings that 30 potential respondents had already been identified.

“Given the complicity of the system because SEQ, South East Queensland,  is one of the largest integrated ticketing networks in the world and the significant revenue it collects on behalf of the state, the mobilisation of the project through to delivery needs to be carefully procured and delivered to mitigate failure of any new ticketing options, particularly one of this magnitude,” Mr Emerson said.

The current Cubic ticketing system expires in late 2016.  Mr Emerson said he wanted to look towards the future and examine “all of the exciting options out there”.

Mr Emerson’s estimates appearance also put a figure to the Queensland Rail retrenchment figures – one in every five employees has been let go in the past two years, resulting in about a 20 per cent reduction in staff.

Queensland Rail now has about 5800 full-time equivalent positions.

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St Columba’s survey reveals desire for radical change in church

A LANDMARK survey conducted by a Ballarat Catholic parish has shown parishioners are open to radical change.

Support for the inclusion of homosexuals, gay and lesbian marriage and couples using alternative means of conceiving are just some of the findings of a recent survey conducted by St Columba’s Parish.

Hundreds ofpeople were surveyed by the church as part of a worldwide review on Catholic families being conducted by the Vatican.

St Columba’s is one of 51 parishes that make up the Diocese of Ballarat.

The survey found almost 50 per cent of parishioners supported gay and lesbian couples getting married in a civil ceremony, almost 50 per cent were supportive of homosexual people having sexual relations and about 80 per cent of people were in favour of couples using alternative means for birthing a child including IVF and surrogacy.

Parish leadership team member Derek Streulens supported the results and said members of the parish were not surprised by the findings.

“I’ve always found the Catholic Church to be a rather broad umbrella in which a multitude of views are contained,” he said.

“It seems to me that some non-Catholic commentators see Catholics as unthinking automatons blindly following decrees from the top. I don’t think it’s ever been like that, to be honest. People have always made up their own minds and continue to do so.”

The survey found more than 65 per cent were in favour of de facto relationships and more than 70 per cent were in favour of people remarrying without an annulment.

The survey also revealsthat 60 per cent desired a more rapid rate of change in the church.

“In the parish community, we need tocareabout everybody,” Mr Streulens said. “That includes the people who are uncomfortable with the speed of change happening within the church. We have to look after them as well.

“It doesn’t mean we change direction, it just means that we ensure that they are cared for as well and that they feel heard.”

Mr Streulens said the results seemed to indicate a grassroots change within the Ballarat community, which is part of shift in broader Catholic thinking, reflected in recent comments by the pope.

Mr Streulens said a watershed moment in the church had been the election of Pope Francis, who had shown a softer stance on core issues since being elected last March.

Last July, when asked about homosexual priests, Pope Francis said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”

Mr Streulens said his hope was the survey results would spark conversations about sexuality and other topical issues that could beincluded in parish priest Father Barry Ryan’s future discussions and mass services.

“The reality is a lot of people, as we become more educated, are accepting of the modern realities of life,” Mr Steulens said.

“It’s not enough to say you’ve done this wrong and we don’t agree. It’s about how we continue to include people who are part of our family or part of the church regardless of their differences. Its acceptance, not cutting them off because of their sexuality or decisions in life.”

Of the respondents, 168 were women and 58 were male. More than 60 per cent of respondents were aged 55 and over, 31 per cent were aged 35 to 54 and 8 per cent were aged 18 to 34.

The Courier contacted the Bishop of Ballarat’s office for comment, but he could not be reached before the paper went to print.

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Toxic cigarette butts may get the flick

Australia’s waterways contain an estimated 7 million cigarette butts.Australia could be set to follow in New York’s footsteps by introducing eco-friendly, biodegradable cigarette filters.

The current plastic, chemical filters are Australia’s biggest litter scourge, with an estimated seven billion dumped each year, according to litter prevention body Keep Queensland Beautiful.

Chief executive David Curtin said an estimated 7 million of those end up in the country’s waterways, leaching chemicals into the water, as well as killing marine and wildlife, such as turtles, fish and birds.

Queensland LNP members at the party’s state conference supported a motion to urge the federal government to mandate a move towards biodegradable filters by 2020.

It was the subject of debate on the second day of the three day annual talkfest.

Prior to the vote, LNP Environment and Heritage Protection Policy committee chairman James Mackay urged party members to support the motion, describing it as a small step that would have enormous positive impacts.

“Cigarette filters are made of 12,000 tiny plastic fibres and they don’t biodegrade, which means they can stay in the environment for more than 10 years,” he said..

“Cigarette butts are everywhere, despite the best efforts of council to clean them up.”

Mr Mackay said there had been similar moves mandated internationally in recent times.

“It has come to my attention that the New York Senate and the Senate of the Philippines have both, in the past month or so, brought bills forward to do exactly what we are proposing,” he said.

Mr Curtin said cigarette butts were Queensland’s biggest rubbish headache.

“It’s the size people don’t consider. When you are throwing a bottle its very visible whereas cigarette butts, people won’t think about,” he said.

“They don’t completely break down and they also leach the toxins into the soil and which then, when it rains, leaches them into the waterways.

“In waterways, the marine life eat them and because they can’t digest them, they stay in their stomachs, they feel like they are full and they don’t eat.”

He said in a 20 day litter sweep across the Brisbane City Council and Redlands Counil last year, more than 14,000 were collected.

“It’s very time consuming, we have groups out on the ground doing clean-ups every day and doing litter audits and cigarette butts are far and away above everything else we find,” he said.

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South Australia Brekkie WrapWednesday, July 16, 2014

The iconic Lochiel Hotel, north of Port Wakefield on National Highway One, was destroyed by fire on Tuesday.TOP STORIESGALLERY: Lochiel Hotel destroyed:The Lochiel Hotel was destroyed by a fire on Tuesday.Deal boosts abalone, lobster:Therecently signed economic partnership agreement between Japan and Australia is set to significantly benefit the abalone and rock lobster industries.Gerard Baden-Clay guilty of murder:Former prestige Brisbane real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay has been found guilty of murdering his wife Allison.Pichi Richi society honours Joy:The Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society has honoured the contribution made to them by late Port Augusta mayor Joy Baluch by naming their local operations centre after her.Investigation released into rescue helicopter emergency landing at Port Pirie:Australian Transport Safety Bureau rules out mechanical and system faults for emergency helicopter landing.TODAY’S FRONT PAGES South Australia Brekkie Wrap | Wednesday, July 16, 2014 TweetFacebookWEATHERYour local weather: Murray Bridge, Victor Harbor, Barossa Valley, Clare, Naracoorte, Kingston, Bordertown, Kingscote, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Roxby Downs, Whyalla, Port Lincoln, Cleve, Ceduna

DAILY POLLSupport among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote in the Coalition has reached an all-time high, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. What do you think? Have your say in our same-sex marriage poll below.

PHOTO OF THE DAYWow! Victor Harbor even looks beautiful on a cold, grey day. Check out this beautiful shot taken [email protected] from Granite Island.

BIRTHDAYS1967 Will Ferrell, 1971 Corey Feldman, 1989 Gareth Bale.

ANNIVERSARIES1914:Maurice Guillaux leavesMelbourneto fly toSydneyin the first delivery of airmail.

1969:Apollo 11, the firstmissionto land astronauts on theMoon, is launched from theKennedy Space Center.

1999:John F. KennedyJr.diedafter his plane crashedinto theAtlantic Oceanoff the coast ofMartha’s Vineyard.

Texts gr8 4 grammar skills

Twelve-year-old Mia Schuemaker, of Riverside, sends a text to a friend. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGSTEXT messaging and social media lingo cannot be blamed for bad spelling and grammatical errors.

Parents have raised concerns that mobile phone texting could ruin a child’s ability to spell, and impact on their understanding of grammar, including word structure, capitalisation, punctuation and use of apostrophes.

A study jointly led by University of Tasmania language psychologist Professor Nenagh Kemp and a fellow leader in the field from Coventry University in the UK, Clare Wood, gathered data over five years to see whether texting or “textism” had destroyed the English language.

Professor Kemp said the research clearly showed that it was not ruining spelling or grammar ability, and in some cases was actually doing the opposite.

“Sometimes we found a positive relationship, especially with younger children, where the ones who made the most grammatical errors in text messages performed better in grammatical texts,” Professor Kemp said.

“We asked about 250 primary, high school and university students to provide us with samples of their recent text messages and then we gave them formal spelling and grammar tests. A year later we came back to those same people and repeated the process.”

Professor Kemp said people deliberately made grammatical errors while texting or on Facebook to find shortcuts in communication.

She said this tech-language, including emoticons, was a new form of expression, used not just by children but also adults.

“They are working out the best ways in which they can miss out words so their friends can still understand what they mean,” she said.

“Some kids, who might not have been interested in writing at all, are actually being forced to engage with writing and it is giving them more practice.

“If you asked, `would you write like this in your school work?’ most kids would laugh and say no.

“Rather than detracting from their standard writing skills, it is an added skill; a third form of language. So you have normal speech, formal writing and this written speech where you add facial expressions and don’t worry about capitals or apostrophes.”

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Former coach tips podium finish for Porte

Richie PorteTHE coach who set Richie Porte on the road to cycling stardom has no doubt where he is heading in this year’s Tour de France.

“I expect to see a Tasmanian on the podium in Paris,” said Andrew Christie-Johnston as his star pupil surged up to second in the world’s biggest bike race.

“He’s doing very well. There’s only one guy in front of him.

“I’m sure he would love to finish on the podium, but he’s second so why not shoot for the win?”

On the first rest day of the three-week Grand Tour, the Launceston rider sits 2 minutes 23 seconds behind stage 10 winner Vincenzo Nibali.

With two-time winner Alberto Contador joining reigning champion Chris Froome among the high-profile withdrawals, Porte has narrowed to a $6.50 second favourite, having begun the Tour as a $67 outsider.

Christie-Johnston helped Porte transition from a triathlete when he joined the Tasmanian-based Praties team before breaking into the pro ranks in Europe and remains in daily contact with the 29-year-old.

“We exchange emails or texts at the end of each stage and he sounds very calm about it all,” he said.

“It’s nice to hear how he is feeling after each stage. He is confident.

“He’s in great form. I think he’s handling it very well.”

Christie-Johnston said it had been a tough season for Porte who was expected to lead Team Sky into the Giro d’Italia but was forced to withdraw through illness.

This left him fresher for the Tour de France and in better shape to fill Froome’s shoes as lead rider.

He believes Porte has what it takes to beat Nibali as well as third-placed Alejandro Valverde, American hope Tejay van Garderen and reigning world champion Rui Costa and suspects the result may be determined by the penultimate stage 54-kilometre individual time trial into Perigueux.

“The way it’s going I think it will come down to the time trial to decide the podium.

“Richie has not done a time trial for a while but he’s always been very good at them.

“He’s lighter than he’s ever been and when they come later in tours he is at his best, but it’s hard to say whether he can out-time-trial Nibali.

“It’s amazing when you look at his time trials, how many times Richie has been in the top few riders. He’ll be strong and will need to be.

“I do think he will finish on the podium because the other people he has to content with I don’t think are as good at the time trial. I don’t think Valverde has even beaten Richie in a time trial.”

With some 1700 kilometres still to ride, Christie-Johnston said anything could happen and consistency would be pivotal to the result.

“At the moment it seems that something major is happening every night,” he said.

“It’s not so much about necessarily having super days just making sure you don’t have bad days when rivals can put a lot of time into you.”

Despite being on holiday in Queensland with his family, the 41-year-old manager of the renamed Avanti Racing Team said he was glued to his television each night cheering on Porte.

“He will always be part of our team. He always wants to be part of our training camps, he stays with us at nationals and is a part of our family.

“It’s a team sport and he remembers where he came from and we’re very grateful for that.

“If he were to finish on the podium it would be massive for Tasmanian cycling but also for Australian cycling.”

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Chicken on the path to world domination: OECD

Free range chickens laying eggs Photo: Jessica Shapiro The taste for chicken in growing. Photo: Marcel Aucar

The art of cooking of cooking the perfect roast chicken

Once, pork could do no wrong. It was cheap, plentiful and versatile. Now its day is done.

The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2014 report has revealed that the world’s insatiable appetite for chicken is surging to new highs.

“Currently, pork accounts for the greatest share in world total meat production,” the OECD report said. “However, a comparatively slower growth rate through the next decade will result in it being surpassed by poultry by 2020.”

Increasingly pork and beef are being left behind by consumers more interested in the cheaper poultry alternative.

Australia consumption habits mirror the global trend. A report from Griffith University released in 2013 shows that chicken is king in the Australian market.

Out of the 111 kilograms of meat consumed per capita by Australians each year, 43 kilograms of that was chicken.


By comparison, Australians are spending nearly twice as much on beef as they are on chicken – for half the amount of consumption.


Worldwide, chicken remains the cheapest and most accessible meat.

The OECD report found that unlike pork, which is not eaten by Jews or Muslims, “poultry faces few cultural barriers related to its consumption across geographical areas”.

However there remain lingering concerns over the welfare of chickens bred for their meat on Australian farms.

“More than 85 per cent of meat chickens in Australia are raised in conventional systems,” said the RSPCA in a statement. “These sheds can hold up to 60,000 birds. This high stocking density results in lack of space, which can increase the risk of lameness and even death from heat stress. Chickens can also suffer feet and hock burn and breast blisters.”

“The low space allowance, inadequate lighting and barren environments can lead to serious welfare issues, even death.”

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LETTERS: Driving lessons not learnt

I WRITE regarding the sad death of Mitchell Powell and the ongoing “hoon activity” in the Newcastle area (“Devastated parents call for car checks” Herald 12/7).

Firstly, let me say that as a former supervising sergeant of both Lake Macquarie and Newcastle local area police commands I believe the current police traffic enforcement strategies have gone off the rails.

It looked promising when the powers-that-be finally decided to put highway patrol strengths back under the command of experienced traffic officers and not to be used as a back-up to general duties strengths.

That sounded like very smart thinking to me in combating our road toll.

On speaking with current serving traffic police, it apparently could be better.

Penalties imposed by the courts are continuing to be a complete disgrace.

In the case of the sad death of Mitchell Powell I believe that is clearly the case.

I am sure the young driver would be remorseful but it seems to be a very inadequate determination by the courts, particularly on licence suspension.

Perhaps police school lecturing, a section I also worked in for a short time in the late 1970s, needs to be re-introduced on a constant basis?

Finally, the hoon” activity on both Kooragang Island and the Nobbys car park area.

This has been going on for decades and the entire article I read in the Herald could have been written back in the 1990s or even further.

These young drivers need a licensed/supervised area where they can vent their driving skills without endangering the public and themselves.

Authorities, other than the police force, just want it left to police to solve. Well, as you can see it hasn’t been solved.

It cannot be left to the police to eradicate the problem. Get serious please.

2633 students suspended

STATE schools dished out suspensions to an average of 13 students a day across last year’s four terms.

While suspension figures in the state have declined in the past six years, Victoria University education Professor Roger Slee criticised the overuse of suspensions.

The method has been described by some academics as a violation of a child’s human rights.

Professor Slee will speak at today’s national summit in South Australia that will look at the management of student behaviours and will be overseen by National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell.

Professor Slee said the 2633 students suspended in 2013 _ representing 4.8 per cent of Tasmanian students _ was high.

“Suspension tells us not so much about student behaviour but more about the organisational climate and policies of schools,” Professor Slee said.

“If you want to affect student behaviour, the more you work on improving the quality of teaching, learning and engaging with the curriculum, and have decent surroundings for young people to be working in, there will be a much better effect than using punitive disciplinary sanctions.”

Students have previously been suspended mostly for physical abuse of students and teachers, followed by disobedience, verbal abuse, drug use, and sex or weapon-related issues.

Education Department secretary Colin Pettit said safety was a high priority in all schools, with suspension being a method to combat inappropriate behaviours.

“It is an unfortunate fact of life that serious inappropriate behaviour can occur in all parts of society, including our schools,” Mr Pettit said.

“We have in place a number of strategies to help combat unacceptable behaviour, of which suspension and exclusion are last resorts,” Mr Pettit said.

Last year, acting Children’s Commissioner Elizabeth Daly reviewed student suspensions and found they were ineffective because they failed to address underlying issues in children.

Her report states a majority of suspensions were given to males, of low socio-economic status, aged 14 to 15, and that the method increased anti-social behaviours and lowered academic achievements and retention rates.

National Summit organiser Dr Anna Sullivan said suspension could be viewed as a breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Dr Sullivan said the aim of the summit was to re-examine what happens in schools to see what can be done differently.

“If you respond with interventions like time-out, exclusions or suspensions, it isn’t going to help fix that problem and if you continually remove kids from their learning we are wondering if that breaches their right to an education,” Dr Sullivan said.

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OPINION: Charged with relativity

WHILE I promise to return to Earth – and possibly even to matters pertaining directly to the Hunter – tomorrow, an email from reader Eric Aitchison compels me to spend a final day on Saturn’s polar hexagon.

“I know you cannot keep this going indefinitely,” Aitchison wrote to me on Tuesday morning.

“But the phenomenon is electrical, as diagnosed by Australian physicist Wal Thornhill, of Canberra.”

My initial response was to think this sounded more sensible than winds running in straight lines for 14,000 kilometres and before turning 60 degrees and running for another 14,000 kilometres, and so on, until they joined up again, but Thornhill’s theories, as I soon learnt, are not exactly mainstream.

His material is set out on two websites – holoscience苏州美甲美睫培训学校 and – and his main thesis is the “electric universe”, which astronomers and others are “unable to see that stars are simply electric lights strung along invisible cosmic power lines that are detectable by their magnetic fields and radio noise”.

Thornhill says the Big Bang – the idea that the universe appeared instantaneously – is dead, and that his model of an electrically charged universe explains spiral galaxies and other repetitive patterns of star clusters far better than “theoretical inventions” including “dark matter” and “dark energy”.

Pointing out – correctly as far as I know – that science has no real explanation for the generation of lightning in our weather, Thornhill says that craters on the moon and other planets are the result of “electrical arc scarring” rather than impact craters from meteors and that stars are “electrical transformers not thermonuclear devices”.

Now I don’t know how much of this stands up to rigorous analysis. Most scientifically trained people will probably say very little.

But it’s our propensity, as conscious beings, to question what goes on around us, and the history of science is littered with once certain theories that have turned out to be wildly wrong.

I am stating the obvious but the internet is full of websites like Thornhill’s, postulating all sorts of different belief systems across the full spectrum of human belief.

Indeed – in another snippet I learnt from Radio National’s Science Show – the United States-based Australian science writer Margaret Wertheim, a University of Sydney-trained physicist, wrote about them at length in her recent book Physics On The Fringe.

As it happens, Newcastle house painter Norman Vallejo – who painted the inside of our place and did a sensational job, by the way – has published his own book, Trans-dimensional Evolution, which he says contains formal disproofs of both Darwin’s theory of evolution and Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Since 2010, he has offered a $10,000 cash prize – details at normanchristophervallejo苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au – to anyone who can disprove what he says.

It is easy to dismiss things like this but it is hard to deny a group-think when it comes to science and the various enthusiasms that grab academia, and the funding bodies, from time to time.

While the data should always rule, so much of science is experimental and theoretical that the data may not be found – or found missing – until a lot of time and money has been allocated.

In The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity (Hachette, $32.99), physicist Pedro G. Ferreira traces the rise and fall of various specialities as they raced each other both for recognition – all those Nobel prizes – and funding, including battles between warring camps of academics insisting that their way was right, and everyone else was wrong.

As Ferreira observes in the closing chapters of the book, the conventional wisdom at the moment is that 96 per cent of the universe is made of “dark matter” that we haven’t found yet because that’s what the maths tells us must be there.

But if the science is so obtuse, and so contested that even paragons of academia don’t accept – or perhaps even understand – the implications of each other’s work, who’s to say that science outsiders like Thornhill and Vallejo aren’t right, or even right enough to merit consideration?