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Liberals name ACT prison 'white elephant'

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Shadow minister for corrective services Zed Seselja is worried that ACT’s new 128m prison is in danger of becoming a ‘white elephant’

Prison numbers released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show there are 173 ACT prisoners as of June 2007. If this number doesn’t rise before the prison opens, it will mean taxpayers are spending just under 740,000 for each occupied bed.

Corrections minister, Simon Corbell was not available for comment on the matter, however, Chief Minister Jon Stanhope believes the prison will provide a significant economic boost for the ACT.

‘I expect this will be sustained through local business supplying various resources to the Centre including energy, food, employment opportunities, education and social services, which are essential in the operation of this best-practice facility’ he said in a statement earlier this year.

According to the chief minister, the prison, which is to be named the Alexander Maconochie Centre will include a 139 bed remand centre, 175 bed facility for sentenced prisoners and a 60 bed transitional release centre for low risk prisoners.

He believes it will be ‘a facility in which community pride will be justified’.

ACT U Film Fest Review: Next Try Wins

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A short film featuring Australia’s favourite sport, rugby league, has taken out the top award at this year’s ACT U Film Fest Final.

‘Next Try Wins’, a film by Brent and Scott Holgate, won the Grand Fester Award at the final, which was held at the Australian National Museum on September 14.

The film tells the story of two young brothers trying to escape their unhappy home life through the game they love.

Dylan and Toby (portrayed by talented brothers Tyson and Eli Cottam), and their father (Kieran Phillips) are a struggling Australian family. There seems to be no mother around and the father is struggling to support his two kids.

The film is well edited, with great cinematography. Music from Strong Like Sam is used effectively throughout the film to emphasise what rugby league means to Dylan and Toby – that it gets them through the difficult times by creating an escape.

Like all brothers, they fight, and when their ball is accidentally kicked onto the road during a fight and is destroyed, Dylan yells at his brother, saying “it’s just a stupid game anyway”. But in the end, they “call it even” and agree to a re-match later.

All in all, this is a great film and a deserving winner.

‘Next Try Wins’ will now represent the ACT at the upcoming National U Film Fest Final, to be held on November 8 at the Canberra DENDY in Civic.

ACT U Film Fest Review: Where the Light Won't Fall

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‘Where the Light Won’t Fall’, a short film by Ehran Edwards, has won the Producer’s Choice Award at the recent ACT U Film Fest Final.

The film follows a man trying to track down his parents’ murderer, a cause which brings him into contact with his past flame, a singer called Sophie, and a secret desire he must overcome in order to find the answers he is searching for.

Filmed in black and white and set in the 1940’s, ‘Where the Light Won’t Fall’ is reminiscent of a classic detective thriller.

Featuring gothic and film noir elements, it looks at the lives of people who live low and will do anything to survive; lies, betrayals and dirty tricks no exception.

U Film Fest is an annual short film festival for university and TAFE filmmakers.

History will have the last say!

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HISTORY WILL HAVE THE LAST SAY!

I’ve been trying to figure out what history, in fifty years; will say about the achievements of the Howard Government during its 11 years in power. I can’t remember any achievement or anything else that they did which could be regarded as a legacy to future generations.

Nevertheless history will remember the Howard Government; and history will judge them, for the loss of opportunities, and the billions of dollars they had wasted.

No doubt they will also be remembered for the divisions created among the people of Australia, and the resurgence of bigotry and racism in the 11 years of their government

We will have an inside of the responsibility if any, of the Government in the AWB affair.

And the close to $2billon they spent to promote the government and the Liberal Party in the past 11 years. Approximately $500.000 a day for 4,000 days! And still there is more to come before elections.

Memorable too will be the lack of humanity in the treatment of refugees, and the squander of public moneys on the so-called “Pacific Solution”. Approximately Another $2billion until today!

Who can forget the waterfront dispute, dogs and balaclavas belong to a dictatorial regime. Hundred of millions was the cost to taxpayers.

There will be a long chapter about Howard’s Industrial Relations law, which they brought in without the people’s mandate. Approximately $600million cost to promote “Work Choices”

For sure they will be noted for the illegal invasion of Iraq, executed against the wishes of the majority of the people of Australia and the World. As a consequence, hundred of thousands of innocent people were killed, the infrastructure and cities were destroyed, creating millions of refugees, leaving thousands of people homeless, and millions in poverty and unemployed, etc.

I’m sure History won’t be kind to this government.

I hope that in the coming elections, the people of Australia, will not forgive them this time around!

Saving Albert Hall

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Albert Hall as it stands now

Albert Hall
By Jade McNabb

The Albert Hall stands on the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Kaye Street in Yarralumla. Solemn and unassuming it waits. Unaware of the controversy that surrounds it or the plans to expand it into a commercial tourist focal point.

In February, The National Capital Authority (NCA) released plans that transformed Albert Hall into a tourist’s playground.
“It’s proposed that this area be zoned to allow a high level of tourist entertainment and leisure use and to build Canberra as a Waterfront city.” (Todd Rohl, NCA, Managing Director)

Understandably, local residents are at odds with the idea. Many Canberrans avidly unhappy with the thought of changes being made to the area believing, “Albert Hall has deep social meaning and links with early Canberra residents.” (John Mulvaney, ACT Heritage)

It doesn’t seem fair to expect residents to accept commercial change in what is obviously a prominent and meaningful area. Is it possible to achieve a balance between recognising and maintaining cultural values while expanding to fill the commercial demands?

Since 1999, community use of Albert Hall has declined 90%. (library.act.gov.au)
Funnily enough, it was in 1999 when the ACT government withdrew it’s insurance subsidies for community hire of Albert Hall. Leaving potential hirers with a hefty bill. Today, the hall will on occasion host a modest function or a weekend clearance sale, but for the most Albert Hall sits empty.

Albert Hall is a solid part of Canberra’s history. Ceremonies and events relevant today were originally hosted in the Albert Hall. Including Australia’s first citizenship ceremony, which was conducted by Ben Chifley in 1949. A fundraiser for the local unemployed by the Canberra Relief Society was staged during the great depression in 1931 and in the 1960’s it was the tally room for federal elections.

Despite formally being listed on the ACT Heritage Register in 1997, the ACT government has considered expansion plans since 2005. When it called for expressions of interest in the hopes of revitalising the area.

Locals were immediately opposed to the development and have since formed a committee called ‘Friends of the Albert Hall,’ dedicated to the withdrawal of the development plans.

The Hall being listed on the Trust requires the government to make any future plans in accordance with a Conservation and Land Management Plan (CMP), which it then commissioned. This plan was arranged for the government by an independent team that then suggested the Albert Hall precinct, (including the Hyatt Hotel, Albert Hall, Canberra Croquet clubhouse and lawns,) be registered on the National Heritage Trust.
“It had played a central role in the growth and evolution of the federal capital and was important to the past and present community of Canberra.” (Canberra.yourguide.com.au)

The ACT Heritage Trust requires, “The Hall in it’s landscape setting is to be conserved and appropriately maintained consistent with it’s heritage significance.” (heritageact.gov.au)

Despite plans to introduce outdoor cafes and leisure centres Mr Rohl assured the ABC, “The proposed change certainly looks at protecting the significant heritage values of Albert Hall.”

Included in the controversial development plans are:
. 2 four story buildings
. 1 eight story building placed, fronting Commonwealth Avenue and
. Removal of a pine plantation and the plantings along Flynn Drive.

ACT Planning and Land Authority, (ACTPLA) is another government organisation unhappy with the NCA’s development plans. ACTPLA is, “responsible for planning for the future growth of Canberra in partnership with the community. (actpla.act.gov.au) ACT Planning and Land Authority assessed the development plans and produced an official review.

Yet something is amiss when a government agency questions the motivations of a government funded development.
“The current design, density and sitting of the buildings appear primarily designed to maximise the commercial potential of the site . . . the development could be carried out more sympathetically with fewer and better designed and suited buildings, and with increased attention to open space and garden development.” (actpla.act.gov.au)

ACTPLA accurately details many flaws in the Albert Halls development proposals, paying particular attention to the traffic suggestions. “Commonwealth Avenue currently carries 7,850 vehicles during peak hour, the proposed changes will, “. . . increase the demand at this intersection by another 1,000 vehicles during peak period. This will have the effect of imposing excessive delays and queues.” (actpla.act.gov.au)

ACT Heritage believe Albert Hall in it’s current state is a valuable communal icon that, “continues to have social and cultural values as a venue for a range of different purposes attracting large gatherings and aesthetic value in it’s lakeside setting.” (heritageact.gov.au)

Todd Rohl appears to agree. “The heritage values at the Albert Hall . . . were foremost in the planners’ minds and any development would need to demonstrate design excellence appropriate for such a prominent site.” (Canberra.yourguide.com.au)

Yet, opposing the ACT Heritage commitment to conserve the building, Pine trees immediately to the west and north of the hall have been listed for removal. This leads me to believe the NCA seem to have no regard for Heritage laws regarding listed sites.
At the insistence of the public, Friends of Albert Hall and no doubtedly the awkward CMP and ACT Planning and Land Authority report. The NCA altered the original plans and finally agreed to remove the eight story “landmark” building. Yet there still remains an obvious commercial interest.

To both the public and the professionals, Albert Hall expansion plans appear impractical and without any long term considerations. Why hasn’t the government simply considered subsidising the Halls insurance once again, as it did in it’s most popular years.

Human Rights Torch Relay Coming to Canberra

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The opening ceremony of the Human Rights Torch Relay in Athens, Greece.
Inspired by the Olympic torch relay, a Global Human Rights Torch Relay is now touring around the world to raise the awareness of human rights violations in communist China. The Human Rights Torch was lit in Athens on 9 August, one year before the scheduled 2008 Olympics. It has now traveled several European countries. It will come to Australia in late October, and arrives to Canberra on Tuesday December 11.

In 2001 Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games with the expectation that China would improve its human rights record. The 2008 Games are now fast approaching. However, recent reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders express grave concern for serious human rights violations taking place in China, and the situation has become worse.

The purpose of the Human Rights Torch Relay is to remind us that the forthcoming Olympic Games cannot succeed in all regards if the Chinese communist regime is engaging in serious crimes against humanity at the same time. It encourages China to make human dignity a priority in the Olympic preparations. The Olympic Spirit is based on human dignity, and the Chinese communist regime’s human rights abuses are against the Olympic Spirit.

Amnesty International, in a statement released September 21, 2006 said: “In its latest assessment of the Chinese government’s performance in four benchmark areas of human rights ahead of the Olympics, Amnesty International found that its overall record remained poor. There has been some progress in reforming the death penalty system, but in other crucial areas the government’s human rights record has deteriorated.”

An untold number of dissidents suffer in China’s forced labour camps without any legal protection. They are brainwashed and tortured, and many of them are exploited as slave labour for over 12 hours a day. The labour camp population consists of democracy and environmental activists, lawyers, Christians, Tibetans, Uighur Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners, among others.

A recent independent investigation report “Bloody Harvest (http://organharvestinvestigation.net)”, by Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour, concludes that the Chinese communist regime is systematically harvesting organs from living Falun Gong prisoners of conscience to support the billion dollar organ transplant trade.

In the course of the year before the Olympic Games, the Torch will tour in more than 35 countries and 150 cities. Many athletes, jurists, journalists, politicians, artists, companies and non-governmental organizations have joined the supporters of the Torch to promote its journey around the world. People in Canberra can support this worthy cause in December when the torch comes. To participate in the relay, please call 0421-348 698 or email hrtorch@fastmail.fm, and visit the website: www.humanrighstorch.org.

Hey Kids – Turn Off the Lights

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Got Kids??

Canberra Electrician has and is forever at them to turn of the lights in their rooms. Of course as busy pre-teens they obviously don’t have the time to pause at the door and flick the switch.

Now problem solved…….. We have installed Ringgrips 36 minute timer bulbs in each of their rooms.

These bulbs are 60W incandescent bulbs that will automatically turn themselves off after 36 minutes.

While we generally use CFLs in our home, the break even point for electricity consumption for these timer lights compared to an 11 watt CFL, is about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Much less than a school day.

So in our house, using these lights in the kids rooms saves our power usage and helps do our bit for the environment.

We are so pleased with the results that the Canberra Electrician team will give you one to try out for free with any service call we make to your home. Just mention this article.

Visit the Canberra Electrician website (http://canberraelectrician.com) for contact details and sign up for our free Energy Saving Hints and Tips Newsletter. We will also be offering subscriber only specials – so don’t miss out.

Focus for West Belconnen

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The Mental Health EXPO being held at St.Barnabas Church, Charnwood will put the focus on the development of mental health services for residents in the West Belconnen area.
The event forms part of the Mental Health Week official program and will be held from 10am to 1pm on Saturday, 13 October. There is also a prayer service on the Mental Health Week theme which will be held from 7.30pm on Monday, 8 October.
Exhibitors at the EXPO include the organisers of the West Belconnen Community Health Centre initiative who will give feedback on plans for its establishment and enrol people who wish to join as members.
Other organisations likely to be represented are Alzheimers Australia (ACT), Bungee – a youth initiative of Belconnen Community Services, Cyclops – an Anglicare program, Carers ACT, and GROW (ACT).
O2C, a training initiative to assist people with depression through their workplaces will also display literature.
Organisers are hoping to attract families from the Charnwood/Dunlop area and prizes will be given for posters by primary and secondary school students based on the theme – :Welcome to Mental Health – Accepting Culture and Diversity”.

Open Day at The Shepherd Centre

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One child in every 300 is born deaf.
Brumby hero & tighthead prop for the Wallabies, Guy Shepherdson supports the work of The Shepherd Centre.

The Shepherd Centre teaches deaf and hearing impaired children how to listen, understand language and speak.

We are holding an Open Day on Saturday 20th October at our new centre at Nealie Place, Rivett ACT.

We welcome the opportunity to show community members around our centre, observe a lesson, to hear from a past graduate about deafness, what’s new in technology and lots more.

The aim of The Shepherd Centre is to integrate deaf and hearing impaired children into the mainstream school system with their hearing peers. We charge no fees for our services so rely very much on fundraising through events and bequests. We have five centres throughout NSW and the ACT, as well as a world renowned correspondence program.

To reserve a place please call (02) 9351 7884

rostrum information

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ROSTRUM “CLUB 6” IS ACCEPTING NEW MEMBERS

Does the thought of speaking in front of people cause you to feel anxious or stressed?

Could you use some confidence-building practice in a supportive group where all are committed to helping each other improve their speaking skills?

Are you required to organise meetings or perform secretariat duties at your work or social club?

Would you value being encouraged by experienced people who have learned how to do these things in a professional way?

HERE’S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU!!

ROSTRUM is a well respected social club where you can learn keys to effective public speaking or improve your existing skills in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

Part of the ROSRTUM PROMISE states “I will try at all times to think truly and to speak clearly. I promise not to be silent when I ought to speak up”

If this appeals to you, please accept our invitation to join one of our lunchtime meetings and experience the benefits of membership.

HOW: Just come along – attendance is free to visitors

WHERE: Eastlakes Football Club, 3 Oxley St. Kingston (free parking)

WHEN: Each Wednesday lunchtime, 12.35 – 1.35pm

Joining process is simple & first semester is free. Then it’s $30 for 6 months.

For further details call Sid Drury on 62957531 or Helen Storer on 0412 612760

Losing Care's Role Can Be Stressful

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Placing a relative or spouse in a high care residential situation can be one of the most heartbreaking decisions a family makes.

When a family can longer cope with the needs of a loved one at home, they lose the role of carer and reluctantly pass that burden to others. This often involves a life altering judgment about the future of an elderly relative or child with severe disabilities.

It can be emotionally difficult knowing that others are now responsible for parent or child or your best friend or close neighbour. The decision is often accompanied by a sense of guilt or grief that your role as an active carer has largely gone.

Families also face the need to make complex financial, legal, property, personal and other arrangements as their loved ones move into higher dependency care.

Sadly families in the ACT often face this situation alone – there is no single source of support to help many of them through this difficult transition.

The Council of the Ageing ACT (COTA), supported by the Lions Club of Lake Burley Griffin, is exploring the need for a support group to help Canberra families whose loved ones are in high dependency care facilities.

On Thursday 18 October 2007 from 2:00pm – 4:00pm at the Hughes Community Centre, COTA and Lions are holding an information session to explore the issues facing families in this situation and hopefully to touch on some of the answers.

From this meeting, it is hoped a families’ support group will emerge to offer support, information and a sympathetic ear to those who face these painful circumstances.

The session will take the form of a “Geoffrey Robertson hypothetical” drawing upon people with experience in this situation to share their views. The five person panel taking part will be made up of:

. A facilitator.
. Someone with personal family experience of placing a loved one in care.
. A professional who helps families navigate from “carer to visitor”.
. A former director of nursing in a high residential care facility.
. An expert familiar with the legal, administrative and other issues.

Call 6282 3777 or email contact@cota-act.org.au for more information and to reserve your place.

SingAustralia Choir at October Lions Tuggeranong Market

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The Canberra Lake Tuggeranong Lions Club will be holding the Lions Tuggeranong Market on Sunday 14 October 2007, at the historic Tuggeranong Homestead in Johnson Drive Richardson, from 9 am to 2 pm.

The ‘SingAustralia’ Choir, comprising representatives from all Canberra’s choirs will be performing a medley of songs at 11.30 and this month trash and treasure stalls are being introduced to the market for the first time. There is a gold coin entry fee that helps fund Lions projects. New stallholders are most welcome. For details please contact Ian on 62921540 or 0417 436 614.

Canberra and District Historical Society Meeting

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“RAMBLINGS OF A SILLY OLD FOOL LIVING IN THE PAST”.

Born in 1934 Val Jeffries grew up in frugal circumstances as the family store at Tharwa struggled through the depression and World War II. At fourteen his father passed away and Val soon learnt to “pull his weight”, and he has been doing so for his family and the community ever since.

Val Jeffries will be the guest speaker at the October meeting of the Canberra and District Historical Society to be held 7am on October 9, at the Menzies Room, National Archives of Australia. Enquiries: 6281 2929 or 0419469620 or email admin@canberrahistory.org.au

Scouts prepared for anything

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Scouts ready with First Aid
Winter gets boring but 14 12-14 year-old Scouts mainly from Lake Tuggeranong Sea Scouts spent a recent weekend learning the basics of First Aid with lots of practical. Now watch out, these Scouts qualified to Senior First Aid level are ready if there are any falls, splinters, snake-bites or drownings.
Anyone attending activities at the hall or on the water should be confident that these Scouts are prepared and looking for casualties to practice on. Lake Tugeranong Sea Scouts run regular First Aid courses for youth and adults to ensure that First Aid skills stay a key part of the program and leaders stay qualified to take the Scouts away.
Scouts – having fun – serious fun.