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Offer to give growers new berry plants

BLUEBERRY growers have offered to provide replacement plants to the small berry farmers who were affected by the rust outbreak in Tasmania.

Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Phil Pyke said yesterday the offer had come from other growers to provide plants to help replace those destroyed.

biosecurity personnel removed rust affected blueberry plants from Mountain Fruit Berry Farm

A team from Biosecurity Tasmania had been at the Mountain Fruit Berry farm at Barrington of father and son growers Heinz and Ronald Schwind for the past two days destroying rust-infected blueberry plants and all their blueberry plants.

The plants were quarantined in December and an eradication notice was issued.

It followed an outbreak of blueberry rust in Tasmania which has been traced back to a breach in Victoria.

A second Coastal berry grower also had infested blueberry plants removed from their property.

Biosecurity Tasmania said rust infected blueberries were located at 41 properties in the state, mostly residential properties, the two small farms and a couple of nurseries were selling affected plants.

The growers are being assisted by FGT to seek legal advice and work out the commercial value of lost crops and to see what options there are to make a compensation claim.

Minister for Primary Industries Jeremy Rockliff had not commented on who should pay compensation to the berry farmers.

“Industry cooperation with biosecurity operations is vital to ensure our state’s relative exotic pest and disease free status remains,” Mr Rockliff said.

“We appreciate the cooperation of Fruit Growers Tasmania and the growers in what is a very difficult time.

“The government has been in regular contact with those affected by this and will continue to work closely with the industry, stakeholders and our Victorian counterparts as we work through this outbreak.

“Our focus remains on eradication and returning to blueberry rust-free status.”

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Jasika eyes grand slam appearance

Having won a rare US Open junior double four months ago, Omar Jasika is now just one win away from his making his senior grand slam debut.

The 17-year-old Victorian won his second round qualifying match 6-7 (5-7, 6-3, 12-10 against fellow Australian John-Patrick Smith as darkness descended on Melbourne Park on Thursday night. One more to go.

Only world No.194 Marius Copil stands between Jasika and his first major main draw, as  the friend and contemporary of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis starts to make his own mark in the men’s game.

Yet it is impossible not to feel for the ever-gallant Smith, who was outlasted by Jordan Thompson in a dramatic wildcard playoff final four weeks ago, and, after another match that lasted more than three hours, has now fallen just short once again.

Qualifying wildcard Jasika is the world No.567, and 25-year-old Smith a more seasoned competitor at 201st. But the result is yet more evidence of the emergence of Australia’s next men’s generation. Young pair Andrew Harris and Marc Poelmans play their second round matches on Friday.

On Thursday, draw-eve, Dane Propoggia was another second round winner, 6-3, 6-4 over Irishman James McGee, while Blake Mott fell 6-2, 6-4 to Russian 13th seed Alexander Kudyravtsev.

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Anti-coal protester granted train use

ELIZABETH MOZELEYACTIVIST Elizabeth Fiona (Fee) Mozeley is allowed back on train platforms and passenger trains after successfully applying to vary her bail conditions in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday.

Ms Mozeley was one of nine activists accused of climbing aboard and blocking the first test train load of coal coming from Maules Creek into Kooragang Island on December 15.

The action, described by supporters as making a statement about climate change and biodiversity impacts of the mine’s expansion, led to delays at the coal export terminal of more than three hours.

Five women and four men were charged with causing obstruction to a railway locomotive, going onto or remaining on running lines and hindering police in the execution of their duty.

Police say several protesters climbed aboard the first coal carriage and hung banners from it about 5.50am that day, while others stood in front of the train to block its progress.

There were 22 protesters in all, police say, from a group called Front Line Action on Coal.

Bail conditions imposed on Ms Mozeley included that, as well as not obstructing locomotives or rolling stock or going on to running lines, that she not enter or loiter around any train line or siding.

Ms Mozeley, 38, of Dawson Street, Cooks Hill, said she wished to be able to catch passenger trains because she used public transport.

Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova through to all Czech female final at Sydney International

It will be an all Czech affair in the women’s final on Friday night after Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova progressed through the semi-finals of the Sydney International.

Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion, ended the dream run of qualifier and last year’s winner Tsvetana Pironkova, steamrolling the Bulgarian on Ken Rosewall Arena on Thursday night.

It was a rematch of last year’s semi-final, however this time Kvitova managed to turn a straight sets defeat into a 7-5, 6-1 straight sets triumph.

“I’m glad that revenge went well today and I have the opportunity to be in the final here in Sydney,” Kvitova said.

“I think that I played better today than last year against her. I am glad I played what I should play: aggressively, going forward, attack the balls early, and just playing my game. I served well, so was very important today. That helps me. I’m looking for tomorrow.”

The victory almost completes a perfect build-up to next week’s Australian Open, but first she’ll have to account for close friend Pliskova after she knocked out Germany’s Angelique Kerber in other women’s semi-final.

“I’m expecting a big serve, of course,” Kvitova said.

“She is playing really risky, going for the winners. That’s what I will do tomorrow as well. You know, we just practice in off‑season. I went in Prague and had a few points over there for an hour, and we played in Wuhan as well. She was a part of our team in Fed Cup in the final.

“It’s always difficult to play a Czech girl. I’m just glad that she’s doing so well. I’m just really looking forward for the final. I hope it’s going to be a very nice final.”

The reigning champion jumped out of the blocks, breaking Kvitova in the opening game of the match.

However, it didn’t take long for the two-time Wimbledon champion to stamp her authority on the match, breaking back straight away, before doing so again in the final game of the set to clinch the early advantage.

The second set was all Kvitova, earning the double break to cruise to victory in straight sets to book a berth in Friday night’s final.

Pliskova, who progressed through to the final following a 6-3, 6-2 win over Kerber, said she would be up against it trying to knock off her country’s No.1 female player.

“I saw Petra, she’s playing really good this week,” Pliskova said.

“She had also a few good matches. Also in Shenzhen she won some matches. So it would be tough to play her. I played her once, and like I said, she’s never losing with Czech girls, so that would be really tough.”

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Stockton Centre admission raises concerns

The Stockton Centre. SHADOW minister for disability services Linda Burney says she holds “serious concerns” about a decision to quietly move a man into the Stockton Centre then out again following media attention.

The man, from Albury, was moved out of the facility a week after the Newcastle Herald reported on his arrival.

The state government plans to close the Stockton Centre and has banned new admissions for the past 20 years.

“This man has been transferred 700 kilometres away from family and familiarity in Albury to a place not taking any more clients,” Ms Burney said. “It underscores an incredible lack of capacity in the system to look after people with complex needs.”

Ms Burney said that Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka’s position was “not tenable” if he had intervened for political reasons.

Mr Ajaka has dismissed any suggestion he was involved in the decision.

A Family and Community Services spokesman said the man was initially moved into the Stockton Centre on a “time-limited . . . planned therapeutical placement” not an “accommodation placement”.

Bec’s Best: A lot to take in on first day

IT’S that time of the year when we soak up as much country music as is humanly possible and I’m here to help, if you need any assistance.

As well as The Leader, Festival FM 106.1 can help you get through the festival by letting you know what’s on every day, and presenter Jon Wolfe opens proceedings at 6am today at Toyota Fanzone.

Once you get out of bed, head to Wests to the Legends Lounge where Bob Corbett will be getting the audience ready for a big day of festivities from 8am.

Grab some breakfast then head to Canadian artist Codie Prevost at the Addimi Acoustic Sessions, where you can grab a coffee at 10am and listen to some fantastic music, or you can get your festival started with one of the essentials – a Toyota hat.

They’re being given away at Fanzone on the corner of Fitzroy and Peel streets. At 11am, the place to be is Shoppingworld, where Tamworth singer-songwriter Allison Forbes will take to the stage – not to be missed.

For lunch, catch Jess Holland at the Tudor Hotel at noon, where the music and the food are both fantastic, then wander down Peel St and catch another North West talent, Dan Murphy, who is on stage at Toyota Fanzone from 12.30pm.

Hang around and catch some buskers, because Pete Denahy takes to the Fanzone stage at 1.30pm and you have to catch him at this festival if you do nothing else.

Fanzone is where it’s all happening today, with Darren Coggan playing at 3pm, then wander to Wests’ Diggers at 4pm for Luke Dickens in the Courtyard.

If royalty is your flavour, the Queen of Country Music hopefuls will be sashed at 4.30pm back at Fanzone. Doug Bruce and the Tailgaters are on stage at Wests in Legends from 5pm, or Victoria Avenue is on stage at the Longyard, also at 5pm.

My big pick for tonight is the official opening concert, which starts at 7pm in Bicentennial Park (known as Toyota Park for the duration), but I reckon you could get down there after the sashing of the queen entrants to get a good spot.

If you don’t want to try your luck at the outdoor concert, Tamworth’s Ashleigh Dallas is at Wests’ Diggers from 7.30pm, and the CMAA Academy of Country Music senior students graduate, also at 7.30pm, at the Capitol Theatre. Both shows are highly recommended.

Rest up, we have nine days to go!

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Critical injuries sustained in two-vehicle crash at Latrobe overnight

8AM UPDATE:ONE driver has sustained critical injuries in a two-vehicle crash at Latrobe last night.

Shortly after 9pm, emergency services responded to reports of a crash involving two cars on Moriarty Road at Latrobe.

The vehicles, a red Mazda and a red Toyota, were travelling in opposite directions on the road when the Toyota crossed into the path of the Mazda.

The drivers were the only occupants of both vehicles at the time of the crash.

The driver of the Toyota sustained critical injuries as a result of the crash and was taken to the North-West Regional Hospital.

The driver of the Mazdasustained minor injuries.

Forensics officers and crash investigators attended the scene. At this time investigations are continuing,however speed is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

LAST NIGHT: A police spokesman said one person was trapped. No further details are available at this stage.

Police are at the scene of a two vehicle motor vehicle accident on Moriarty Road, Latrobe.

​Tasmanian Fire Service, Ambulance Tasmanian and police are at the scene

Police advise theroad is currently blocked and that traffic is being diverted at the intersection of BassHighway and Moriarty Road.

North bound traffic along Wesley Vale Road will also be affected.

Injuries are unknown at this stage.

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Knitter uses needles to make young patients feel better

COLOURFUL CREATIONS: Each teddy bear, hand-crafted by Dorothy Mitchell for children in the Mount Gambier Hospital, wears colourful pants and a jumper. Pictures: CAITLIN KENNEDYWITH an order waiting for more than 400 handmade teddy bears, Dorothy Mitchell and her trusty knitting needles are hard at work.

With her slightly worn needles, she will process hundreds of brightly coloured balls of wool into bears, helping to comfort children during an emergency situation or stay in hospital.

Dorothy started knitting during World War II, making socks for soldiers and volunteers.

From there, an ongoing love for the craft was born and she created jumpers for herself before joining the Woodlands Grove craft group a few years ago.

“We started making bears in the craft group during 2011 and I think I made four,” Dorothy said.

Four bears embellished with the words “made with love, Woodlands Grove craft group” were delivered to the Mount Gambier Hospital emergency room.

The bears were then given to children to comfort them during what could be a traumatic experience.

“After that, I kept getting asked to make more – from 20 to 50 and so on,” she said.

“I wanted to do something nice for somebody else.”

Without following a pattern, Dorothy knits and stuffs the bears, funding her project out of her own pocket.

She is now working on an order for 400 teddy bears, which came in at the start of the year.

“I could average one a day if I sat at it,” she said.

“I have lost count of how many balls of wool I’ve gone through.”

More than a dozen colourful teddy bears are sitting on Dorothy’s kitchen table, ready for delivery to the hospital.

Known to the public as the “teddy lady”, Dorothy said people often recognised her in the street.

“I have had people come up to me and tell me their child has one of my teddies,” she said.

“It’s not like I carry my knitting needles with me, so it makes me wonder how they know.”

Now 90 years old, Dorothy hopes to continue the generous act into the future.

“I will keep making teddy bears for as long as I can,” she said.

Four south-west centres on ACCC’s petrol watch list

Four south-west Victorian centres are on the watch list as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission drills down into why regional fuel prices are considerably higher than metropolitan outlets.FOUR south-west Victorian centres are on the watch list as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission drills down into why regional fuel prices are considerably higher than metropolitan outlets.

Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton and Colac are among 180 towns and cities around the nation monitored regularly by the watchdog for quarterly reports.

However, the commission will soon select three venues from the list and use its beefed-up powers to compulsorily gather information from companies and retailers at all levels of the supply chain.

Transport costs, storage, distribution, margins and profits will come under the microscope in a special report which will have implications for all outlets.

Wannon MP Dan Tehan has nominated Portland and Hamilton for the in-depth inquiry while Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson has listed Colac because of its long tradition of having some of the region’s highest fuel prices.

The commission is yet to select the case study centres, but has promised to make the report public which is likely to set a precedent for other areas.

A sharp fall in global oil prices in the past few months has triggered lower retail fuel prices, but at a slower rate in regional areas.

Yesterday, unleaded petrol was selling in Melbourne at 107 cents a litre before shopper docket discounts, about 113c/l in Geelong while in Warrnambool it was listed at about 124c/l, in Colac and Portland about 128c/l and in Hamilton about 131c/l.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said yesterday regional consumers were probably right to feel they were being gouged by petrol retailers.

“I think you’d have to say the presumption is that there’s a bit of gouging going on in the sense that the price falls internationally aren’t being properly passed on into the market place,” Mr Sims told ABC Radio.

“We need to get more evidence on that, but that’s how it looks at first glance.”

The commission found that in July the monthly average retail price of petrol was 5.7 cents a litre higher in regional areas than the five largest cities, but by December that difference was 17.6 cents.

In past reports the commission has said fuel prices in regional areas were generally higher because of lower competition, higher cost for transport and storage, less demand for convenience items at service stations and location.

Regional retailers did not sell their stock as quickly as metropolitan counterparts and thus were slower to get new loads of cheaper fuel, the commission found.

Conversely, regional prices also rose slower than in big city outlets.

Last financial year there was an average 4.4 cents price difference between regional and metropolitan outlets and a four-cent average difference in the previous decade.

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Pilgrim route interest builds

POTENTIAL: Melbourne “Aussie Camino” organiser Luke Mills believes the pilgrim route from Portland to Penola is gaining popularity among travellers looking to follow in the footsteps of Australia’s first Catholic saint Mary MacKillop. Picture: CAITLIN KENNEDYA STURDY pair of shoes and an open mind is all people need to find fulfilment on a pilgrimage following in the footsteps of Australia’s first Catholic saint, according to the promoter of the “Aussie Camino”.

He claims excitement is growing among travellers young and old following in the footsteps of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop from Portland to Penola over a seven day period.

Participants walk for over eight hours a day – an average of 31km – exploring places Mary MacKillop lived and worked in the 1800s.

The route includes walks along scenic cliff tops, pine forests, sand dunes and farm tracks.

Each day, the pilgrims stay in a hotel, using food, shower and sleeping facilities before moving on to the next town the day after.

Melbourne-based organiser Luke Mills said the camino – meaning walk in Spanish – was based on a popular tradition in Europe where pilgrims followed the life of Saint James the Great.

The Australian equivalent could become an international event with participants world-wide inspired to get involved.

“Pilgrims are unlike any other tourists,” Mr Mills said while visiting

Penola last week.

“They are very different from bush-walkers as they don’t carry a lot of equipment and stay overnight in hotels, rather than outdoors.

“We walk for kilometres through long tracks, but then at the end of the day have a pub meal, a shower and a comfortable bed to sleep in.”

Although a pilgrim is defined as a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons, Mr Mills explained the journey was a personal experience and participants did not have to be religious to be involved.

“The journey on the Aussie Camino can be whatever you want it to be,” he said.

“It could be spiritual, emotional or cleansing for a person – there are no guidelines.”

Mr Mills said all participants needed were a good pair of shoes and an open mind.

“You need to be prepared to meet fellow pilgrims and be able to acknowledge that everybody could be on the journey for different reasons,” he said.

“People are also welcome to walk by themselves and find their own way with the help of their map.”

Participants on the “Aussie Camino” receive a map, a passport to get stamped at each town, a scallop shell which is the symbol of the “Camino de Santiago” in Europe and a certificate after completing the journey from Portland to Penola.

Mr Mills will host 40 people on two Portland to Penola trips during Easter.

Visit www.aussiecamino.org for further information.