Nats go for Cobb

Former NSW Farmers Association president John Cobb emerged victorious from the National Party preselection bout for the seat of Parkes.
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The 51-year-old farmer defeated three contenders during a secret ballot of 149 delegates at Dubbo’s Wesley Centre on Saturday.

Just moments after being told he would carry the party’s hopes into the next federal election, Mr Cobb urged voters to stick with the Nationals vowing the good times were just around the corner.

“We are so close to, I think, at least five years of good stuff,” he said.

“We cannot afford a change of government at a time like this.

“We just cannot afford to have a change of government and we won’t have a change of who’s holding this seat I can assure you of that.”

The father of seven daughters, Mr Cobb – who lives with wife Gai on a property 100 kilometres west of Condobolin – said he would base his electorate office in Dubbo and “possibly” commute home on weekends.

Last month he stepped down from the farm lobby group, after almost three years at the helm, to take a second stab at federal politics. In 1992, he lost a preselection tussle with then-member Michael Cobb (no relation) who held the seat for 12 years.

Parkes MP Tony Lawler described Saturday’s outcome as a “relief” that took him one step closer to his own political exit. He will retire after just one term.

“I’ve got no doubt John’s got the credentials and the experience and the knowledge of the electorate,” Mr Lawler said soon after the vote.

“I would have been very anxious if we didn’t have such quality candidates. So certainly, this has made my decision a lot clearer.”

Despite its National Party pedigree Mr Cobb said he had no intention of taking the “seat for granted”.

“They can choose between a local who has held a number of important leadership positions and will hit the ground running to deliver for Parkes, or an ALP candidate who will be told what to do by his union masters in Sydney and Canberra,” he said.

“What I think we’ve got to do is make sure everybody knows what the National Party has done over the past few years – it’s done an awful lot for country people.”

Among the wins, he said, was the Roads to Recovery program, protection of regional airline access to Kingsford Smith Airport, and defeating tax moves restricting the transfer of businesses and properties between generations.

Country Labor candidate Joe Knagge, on the campaign trail for the past five months, congratulated his opponent but said the decision “came as no surprise”. Both candidates have promised a campaign free from personal attacks.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Rhinos need to reproduce recent form

The Dubbo Rhinos will be hoping to retain the form which saw them conquer the Dubbo Kangaroos last weekend when they take on the Parkes Boars in round seven of the Blowes Menswear Cup in Parkes tomorrow.
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Without a win heading into the match, the Rhinos looked a different team in last Saturday’s local derby, recording just their second victory over the Kangaroos with the 23-10 scoreline.

The Rhinos appeared inspired against their more fancied counterparts and relished the result, but coach Andrew Williams was quick to point out that the win was just the first in their Central West quest.

On the road, the Rhinos will again need to lift against the Boars, who are currently third on the competition table having won four of their first six matches.

Only one change has been made to the team which defeated the Kangaroos last weekend, with Ben Mathews coming back into first grade at five-eighth, having recovered from injury.

That move has pushed Glen Gallagher to inside centre, Guy Perrin to outside centre and Jason Leach to the wing, and Ian Burns from first grade back to third grade.

The Rhinos forwards, who comprehensively outplayed the Kangaroos, are unchanged and will need to muscle up again on Saturday against the powerful Parkes pack which is not lacking in size.

Austin Whitehead, in his first match back from injury, was particularly strong against the Kangaroos and will again need to lead the forwards, while Williams will also be looking for another big game from workhorse young prop George See.

Nick Hubbard jumped well in the line-outs against the Rhinos’ Dubbo rivals and will be needed again to secure quality ball.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Vaughan’s faith in reshuffle

Dubbo Kangaroos coach Scott Vaughan is hopeful a new prop and hooker and a back row reshuffle can reverse his team’s form for when they play Orange City at No 1 Oval tomorrow.
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The Kangaroos tackle the Lions in round seven of the Blowes Menswear Cup and are looking for a more committed forwards performance after last weekend’s 23-10 loss to the Dubbo Rhinos.

The Kangaroos were overpowered and out-enthused by their local rivals last weekend, the Rhinos being first to the breakdown on most occasions to secure their own possession and poach from their opponents.

Vaughan has promoted Shad Bailey from second grade to the first XV at hooker and reinstated Len Bartley at prop in an effort to inject some enthusiasm into the front row.

He has also asked Simon Aird and Phil Randell to swap positions, Randell moving to number eight and Aird into the second row. Danny Tink is unavailable and Peter Walters has taken his place at breakaway.

Peter Hyde has been rewarded for a standout performance in second grade last week, taking the number nine jumper from Luke Carney.

The Kangaroos lower grade teams will also be on show on Saturday and keen to continue their winning streaks against the lowly rated Lions.

On the back of their tireless forwards the second grade team has won its past three matches on the hop and is currently third on the competition table.

Against the Lions, who are third last, the Kangaroos will again look to their “angry eight”, who have been rated among the best-drilled forward outfits in any grade.

Under the innovative coaching methods of rugby genius Nigel Bourke, the Kangaroos third grade team has completed the first six rounds of the competition undefeated – Forbes coming closest in round three when they fell seven points short.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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Grey box at cutting edge of green technology

This large grey box might not dazzle the senses, but its presence in a Fortitude Valley office block puts Brisbane at the cutting edge of green building technology.

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The "box" is actually a gas-fired co-generation plant and its home, Green Square’s North Tower on St Paul’s Terrace, will be Queensland’s first six-green-star building when it opens at the end of this month.

The co-gen plant uses heat produced during power generation to provide cooling for the tower’s air-conditioning system.

Nestled on the top floor of Green Square North, the $2 million plant will cut the building’s greenhouse emissions by 43 per cent.

"A normal building creates 100 kilograms of emissions per square metre each year," Leighton Properties Queensland director Andrew Borges said.

"This building will create less than 29 cubic kilos of emissions so it’s over a 70 per cent reduction."

A strip of "winter rooms" that line the western side of the building will complement co-generation’s contribution to lower emissions.

The winter rooms have been placed in an optimal part of the building to make use of breezes and light.

When their external walls of double glazed glass windows are opened and their internal sliding glass doors are closed, the air-conditioning shuts off, leaving them cool and breezy without any artificial cooling.

Mr Borges said winter rooms would be a critical part of all environmentally friendly office buildings from now on.

"The biggest consumer of energy in a building is your air conditioning system, so that’s the thing to really focus on," he said.

The co-gen plant will generate 1000 watts of electricity, making it the largest ever constructed in Australia.

Mr Borges said Green Square North’s co-gen plant put it streets ahead of the internationally-recognised three-year-old Council House Two tower in Melbourne, which was Australia’s first six-green-star building.

"It really is known as the leading green star building in the southern hemisphere," he said.

"Its co-gen plant there will produce 60 watts of energy, our co-gen plant will produce over 1000 watts of energy.

"So it’s shown you how quickly technology has increased," he said.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission and consultancy firm Cardno will be among the first tenants to move into Green Square North Tower when it is completed on June 30.

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Abbott warns Nelson he’s running out of time

TONY ABBOTT has put Brendan Nelson on notice by saying he cannot survive many more bad polls.

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After a second poll this week showed the Coalition had made no inroads into Labor, Mr Abbott said there was still time to show improvement.

"[But] if the next couple of polls show the same thing, then I think obviously it starts to get significant," he told Sky News.

A Herald/ Nielsen poll and a Newspoll this week showed that recent successes for the Opposition had not swayed voters.

But at a Coalition party-room meeting yesterday, Dr Nelson said voters were no longer "starry-eyed" about Kevin Rudd and, "notwithstanding a couple of polls", there was disappointment with the Government.

One MP said later that if the Coalition lost the Gippsland byelection on June 28, there would be momentum for a spill. "The public just isn’t interested in listening to him. The poor bloke just isn’t going to cut through," he said.

Some MPs were defending Dr Nelson but others were accusing him of being inconsistent again, this time by taking two positions on abortion in as many weeks.

At the party-room meeting, the Tasmanian senator Guy Barnett urged the Opposition to use its final fortnight of Senate control to move a motion disallowing a Medicare subsidy of $267 for late and mid-term abortions.

The suggestion caused heated debate, angering the women especially. Several MPs, including Don Randall, of Western Australia, turned on Senator Barnett for wanting to cause an internal fight when the Opposition could ill afford distractions.

Party sources said Dr Nelson said abortion was a matter of conscience and he would be glad to talk to Senator Barnett about his idea. But he opposed the idea and said abortion was an issue between a woman and her doctor.

This left some Liberals confused, given that a fortnight ago Dr Nelson strongly opposed the use of Australian aid money to fund abortions in any circumstances, including an emergency.

"I was surprised he said that," said one MP of Dr Nelson’s aid money comments. Dr Nelson had never opposed abortion before and the MP suggested he had been pandering to the right at the time.

Yesterday, behind closed doors, the Opposition Leader reverted to his original stance, he said.

Dr Nelson was also accused of kowtowing to the right yesterday by allowing the Coalition to delay for some months the Government’s bill to extend superannuation sharing to same-sex couples.

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Vatican spurns Da Vinci prequel

ROME: The Catholic Church has finally got one back against Dan Brown, the bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code , by banning the use of Rome’s churches for the filming of the follow-up.

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Shooting of Angels & Demons , starring Tom Hanks, has been under way this month in the Italian capital, but requests to film scenes in two churches, Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria, were turned down by the diocese of Rome. Senior Catholics were infuriated by The Da Vinci Code , which suggests Jesus fathered a child with Mary Magdalene and that the Opus Dei Catholic sect is not above the odd murder.

"Usually we read the script but in this case it wasn’t necessary. Just the name Dan Brown was enough," said Father Marco Fibbi, spokesman for the diocese.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, has asked Catholics to boycott The Da Vinci Code . Speaking when he was archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Bertone called the film "a potpourri of lies, a phantasmagorical cocktail of inventions".

The Rome diocese was also reportedly alarmed to find a billboard advertising the film draped down the side of a Rome church.

Angels & Demons , which is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code , and again stars Hanks as the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, may incense Catholics further, as it centres on a mysterious sect that apparently wants to destroy the papacy and murders and mutilates cardinals, leaving their corpses in the two churches.

Since the rebuff the film’s director, Ron Howard, is reported to be building sets of the churches in Hollywood. The royal palace at Caserta near Naples is doubling for the Vatican.

Guardian News & Media; Telegraph, London

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Kids who care

WHILE other students are playing handball, skipping or swinging from the monkey bars, the Enviro Rangers at Tara Junior School are scouring the skies, searching for birds.

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"The program is called Birds as Indicators, and it’s all about how bird populations can be used to judge the health of an environment," says Wendy Abernethy, junior science specialist at the private girls’ school in North Parramatta.

"Once a week the girls will go birdwatching and record all the species they find on the school grounds. Then, by looking at the biodiversity of birds, we can assess how healthy the school ecosystem is."

"People from the Cumberland Bird Observers Club came out and taught the girls how to use binoculars correctly, how to identify species and where to look for birds," Abernethy says.

"Now they all have their own binoculars and they just love it. At first, they were a little like ‘birdwatching – what has that got to do with anything?’, but now they’re just so into it."

After each session, the girls upload their data onto a website called Birds in Backyards.

"The website is great because it means our work actually means something, it’s not just something we do for fun," Abernethy says. "The data we upload will be combined with information from schools across the country and that data will be used to monitor changes over time and encourage improvement to schoolyard habitats."

The girls will also use their research to lobby for changes in their own playground. "One of the things we’ve learnt so far is that small birds that live in shrubs, like fairy wrens and fantails, are often missing from school environments because there’s nowhere for them to live," Abernethy says. "So hopefully as a result of doing this birdwatching we will get some more shrubbery planted to encourage those birds back."

When the Enviro Rangers aren’t birdwatching, they spend their lunchtimes tending the school’s worm farm and indigenous plant garden.

They have also come up with their own awards system to encourage green behaviour in the playground.

"They walk around with a pocket of laminated green leaves, looking out for environmentally friendly behaviour," Abernethy says. "Once a student is given three green leaves, they get a prize at the end of term. The girls came up with that idea all by themselves."

Recently, they have turned their attention to the school’s energy consumption.

"We’re doing random spot checks of classrooms," Abernethy says. If there’s nobody in the room, the lights should be off; there is a prize for any class that meets that requirement on three consecutive checks.

The Enviro Rangers’ work is starting to filter out into the local community.

"Other people in the school are starting up worm farms at home and all those sorts of things because of the enthusiasm that has come from these girls," Abernethy says. "You would be absolutely amazed by the great ideas they have. They’re so passionate and they’re ready to take on the world."

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Two more faces for attacker

POLICE have released two more computer impressions of a serial sex predator stalking teenage girls in Sydney’s west.

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The images have been compiled from terrifying accounts of ordeals endured by six girls – three aged 16, two 17 and one 19 – who have encountered the attacker since April 18.

Another image of the suspect, wearing a beanie, was released on Friday.

Detective Acting Superintendent Linda Howlett, from the child protection and sex crimes squad, said the difference in the released images was "not unusual when you consider the enormous stress each girl was under at the time".

"Each of these six girls has shown extraordinary bravery and has provided detectives with valuable information," she said. During the most recent attack, on June 12, a 16-year-old victim desperately tried to ring police as she was forced at knifepoint into a secluded driveway, but her attacker removed the battery of her mobile phone. She was then sexually assaulted.

The victim, who was set upon on Woodstock Avenue, Mount Druitt, in daylight, described her attacker as having smooth medium-brown skin, a skinny face and buck teeth.

The man has been generally described by the victims as Asian or Middle Eastern, aged in his late teens or early 20s, about 170 centimetres tall, clean shaven and with a slim build.

Police revealed they have received more than 200 calls about the attacks, which have occurred, in order, in Castle Hill, Arndell Park, Quakers Hill, Kellyville, Blacktown and Mount Druitt.

Police urge anyone with information to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Taste the freedom that comes with bicycling

WHEN the Danish urban designer Thomas Ermacora sat down to study global bicycle culture, he began by making a world map of cycling capitals. Unfortunately, Australia didn’t make the grade.

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"Australia doesn’t really have a cycling city," he says.

According to Ermacora, whose love of bicycles began as a child, cycling cultures in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam are multilayered. "Even if you threw money at making cycle lanes, it wouldn’t create a bike culture on its own," he says. It’s a holistic approach that makes the difference, starting with encouraging children to ride, providing lanes for them when they are adults and making cycling attractive, he says.

As curator of the Dreams On Wheels exhibition at the University of Technology, Sydney, Ermacora had an opportunity to show how design diversity and city planning have combined to help Denmark revive its bicycle culture.

"The idea was to show that you need to grow up with your bike, but you also need a design to fit your lifestyle. This is where Denmark is fairly flamboyant," says Ermacora.

For Danes, style and bicycling go hand in hand. "There is a design for each group of people. There’s one for the elderly, one for mums, and one for the guy who works in a bank and needs to be elegant," Ermacora says.

"It’s a bit like how having a car is a status symbol in some countries – do you have a red Porsche or a white Peugeot? In Denmark, if you have a Christiana bike (a trike which can carry children, weights and loads), or a Biomega cycle, you’re saying who you are."

Ahead of a United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen next year, the Danes are encouraging bicycling as part of the movement towards sustainable cities. In Copenhagen, bike pump posts are helpfully located across town, cyclists have their own lanes (separate to cars and pedestrians) and bike traffic lights sense riders approaching and switch to green to make riding quicker.

In Denmark, bikes aren’t just for those who can’t afford cars: 200 bicycles are regularly parked outside the Danish Parliament, and government officials across the country are often seen cycling.

While Dreams On Wheels features designs from the high-tech to the family-oriented, it also shows off Copenhagen’s City Bikes.

These are on loan in the city centre; renters simply deposit a 20 kroner coin (about $4), which is refunded on the bike’s return, and they can travel throughout the inner city. To reduce temptation to thieves, City Bikes have specially designed parts – their seats, wheels and other parts don’t transfer to other bicycles, and special tools are required to take them apart. The program has been so successful it has inspired Paris to adopt its own scheme.

Once people taste the freedom that comes with cycling, says Ermacora, they quickly change their habits. "Instead of your bicycle being something you keep in the closet and take out of weekends, it becomes your natural companion."

The Dreams On Wheels exhibition is on until Sunday.

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Satellite on mission to catch speeding tide

AN ORBITING version of a police speed trap is ready to be hurled into space on a mission to reveal whether the global rise in sea levels is accelerating.

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Named after the leader of the mythical Argonauts, Jason 2 will transmit results that will be analysed by teams of scientists around the world, including in Australia.

It has been estimated that during the 20th century the world’s sea levels rose by an average of about 1.8 millimetres a year.

However, data from two pioneering ocean mapping satellites – an experimental craft called Topex-Poseidon, sent into orbit in 1992, and the first operational sea-level tracking satellite, Jason 1, launched in 2001 – reported a very different picture.

Their findings suggested that between 1993 and 2003 sea levels rose by an average of slightly more than 3 millimetres a year.

"That is not quite double the average annual sea-level rise over the 20th century," said the CSIRO’s John Church, a former chairman of the Geneva-based World Climate Research Program.

"Is this a temporary increase or a sustained increase? That’s the question," Dr Church said, adding that resolving it would be one of Jason 2’s goals.

The other goal of the joint French and US project will be to plot sea-level heights around almost the entire world.

Circling the Earth 1336 kilometres up, Jason 2’s radar will pulsate 20 times a second. The time it takes for the signals to bounce back will reveal the distance between the surface of the sea and the planet’s centre.

The leader of Australia’s Jason 2 team, the CSIRO oceanographer David Griffin, said: "Its radar will work exactly the same way as a speed camera."

Mapping 95 per cent of the world’s ice-free oceans every 10 days for at least three years, and ideally up to five, its target is to record annual global sea-level variations to an accuracy of 1 millimetre.

Dr Griffin said Jason 2 would routinely take far more measurements than was possible using the world’s tide gauges.

Further, tide gauges were fixed to the land, which was in constant movement because of geological forces such as plate tectonics, vulcanism and even the continuing rebounding of the continents crushed during the last ice age.

Dr Griffin and his Jason 2 team, which includes scientists from the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the University of Tasmania, will gather in Hobart on Friday to follow the 510-kilogram satellite’s launch from the US Air Force’s Vandenberg base in California.

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Economy under control: RBA

Homeowners are unlikely to face more mortgage pain as the Reserve Bank emphasised the current interest rate of 7.25% is high enough to cool the economy by the degree needed to harness inflation.

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In the minutes from its June meeting, the RBA also backed Labor’s first budget in 13 years, revealing it believed the accrued surplus would have a contractionary effect on the economy in the year ahead.

The RBA said the surplus, as a ratio of gross domestic product, was higher than expected and should not add to the demand forces in the Australian economy.

The Australian dollar dropped from 94.34 US cents just before the mintutes were released, to 94.10 US cents as investors trimmed their forecasts for higher rates.

The budget stance is a turnaround from recent years, when the Coalition budgets were questioned by the bank’s governors for creating fresh stimulus to the economy via generous tax cuts.

The RBA said the surplus was surprisingly higher, at 1.8% of GDP, than had been earlier forecast before the election.

“At that time (October) a surplus of 1% of GDP had been projected for both years,” the RBA minutes said.

“Measured in terms of the change in surplus, fiscal policy was expected to impart a mild contractionary effect on the economy in 2008/09.”

The tick of approval from the RBA will be seized upon by the government, which has faced criticism for delivering the pre-election $31 billion worth of tax cuts over four years.

The first round of tax cuts, worth about $7 billion, will come into effect on July 1.

In the minutes, the RBA said the board recognised the Australian economy was now slowing after 12 interest rate rises in the past six years.

The central bank has forecast employment growth could begin to slow as a side-effect of the drop in business spending, confidence, credit growth and the broader economic contraction.

“Labour market conditions, on the other hand, had remained strong to date,” the bank said. “This could be explained by lags, in which case a moderation in employment growth could be expected soon.”

The recommendation to the board was to maintain the official cash rate at 7.25%, and the minutes show the board could be moving towards a neutral stance on interest rates.

“On balance, the board’s assessment continued to be that on current policy settings the necessary moderation in demand growth was likely to occur,” the bank said.

The financial markets were priced for another 36 basis points of rate rises over the next year, before the minutes’ release.

The RBA emphasised wages breakouts, as a result of the high inflation rate, could trigger another interest rate rise.

“Should demand not slow as expected or should expectations of high ongoing inflation begin to effect wage and price-setting behaviour, the outlook and the stance of policy would need to be reviewed,” the bank said.

BusinessDay

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Killer sues over access to knife

WHEN a 16-year-old girl assaulted her mother with a knife, she was sent to juvenile detention.

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She was just eight the first time she threatened her mother with a knife. She had also similarly threatened her foster carer, attacked a teacher and stabbed a fellow student. She appeared to have a fascination with knives, the Supreme Court heard yesterday.

Now 25, the woman is suing the state for allowing her access to the knife she used to kill a teacher, Scott Bremmer, in a cooking class at the Yasmar detention centre.

The court heard she was allegedly sexually abused as a child, had been assessed as retarded and suffering from intermittent explosive disorder. Since she was sent to Yasmar at 16, she has assaulted her solicitor, doctor, psychiatrist and two teachers, one of whom was attacked with a leather working tool in July 1999. Two days later, she was allowed to participate in the cooking class, despite staff allegedly raising concerns that she appeared "hyped up". Her handcuffs were removed and she was given cooking implements, including knives.

During a break, she allegedly showed "heightened interest in knives", and after returning to class, she fatally stabbed Mr Bremmer. She was charged, and eventually sentenced to a limiting term of 10 years under the Mental Health Act. She has been held in isolation for most of that time, has assaulted guards and tried to harm herself in custody.

Yesterday, in what Justice Stephen Rothman acknowledged was an unusual claim, the woman’s foster mother began suing the state of NSW, on the girl’s behalf, for compensation for her imprisonment. It was argued that government organisations knew she was violent, had a history of using knives and needed to be restrained. She was owed a duty to ensure she was adequately supervised and not given access to knives, her lawyers argue in their statement of claim. A psychiatrist found she failed to understand the offence or that it was wrong.

In 2001 the state pleaded guilty to breaching occupational health and safety rules at Yasmar in the supervision of the girl. It was fined $294,000. Staff training had since been changed, the court was told. The case continues.

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What would you rather: a holiday or money?

WORKERS will be able to cash out their annual leave in return for higher pay, subject to safeguards to prevent employers coercing them into such deals.

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And new fathers will be entitled to take a year of unpaid parental leave on top of the 12 months available for mothers, allowing working couples to put together a total of two years of unpaid leave to care for children.

The more flexible approach to annual leave and the increased parental leave entitlements have been confirmed in the Federal Government’s new national employment standards.

The standards, which will be included in the Government’s next tranche of workplace relations legislation, will legally entrench minimum employment entitlements in 10 areas, ranging from hours of work to jury service leave, for employees covered by federal industrial law.

But small business is worried that the parental leave entitlements would increase the number of employees opting to take a year off.

The chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia, Tony Steven, said the Government had to be careful to get the balance right between union demands and business capacity to pay.

"Small business will find [the new parental leave entitlements] an extra burden and in these times of skills shortages now is not the time to introduce measures which will reduce productivity in the workplace," Mr Steven said.

Releasing the final version of the standards yesterday, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said they would help workers facing cost of living pressures by providing a more generous safety net than the previous government’s Work Choices system.

"A cornerstone of a fair and flexible industrial relations system of course consists of a basic safety net," Mr Rudd said.

"What you get in your pay packet, in penalty rates, in overtime and basic add-on conditions in the workplace are very important to your ability to cope with cost of living pressures from petrol, from groceries, from food, from rents and from mortgages."

The standards would be simpler for employers, he said. He contrasted Labor’s 50 pages of new provisions setting out 10 employment entitlements with the nearly 150 pages in the Work Choices legislation setting out five entitlements.

The main areas where Labor’s standards are more generous for employees are parental leave, and a new right for parents to ask their bosses to provide more flexible arrangements such as part-time work or more flexible hours.

The standards also legally entrench entitlements covering work hours, redundancy pay and public holidays, removing the scope under Work Choices for such entitlements to be traded away.

The changes on parental leave in effect double the combined amount available for a working couple. Previously the combined amount of unpaid leave taken by both parents could not exceed 12 months.

Under Work Choices employers and staff could cash out up to two weeks of an employee’s annual leave each year. Labor’s standard will allow individual industrial awards to include provisions for cashing out annual leave with no ceiling on the amount that may be paid out each year.

The standard on community service leave will make employers pay for the first 10 days a worker is required to serve on a jury.

The chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Anderson, said this would be an extra burden on industry and represented cost-shifting from state governments to employers.

He said the new standards would increase costs and inflexibility in areas such as parental leave, redundancy pay and rostering arrangements.

"But the changes are not extreme and the Government has made some concessions to address concerns raised by business," Mr Anderson said.

The secretary of the ACTU, Jeff Lawrence, said the standards were an important step in plugging the gaps in employee entitlements created by Work Choices.

However, Mr Lawrence said the ACTU believed the Government should have gone further on the right for employees with children to request more flexible working arrangements by allowing workers to appeal if employers refused such requests.

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