Tough talking: Prime Minister - Julia Gillard
Prime Minister, Julia Gillard has said the Federal Government may take over funding of local hospitals amid a new row over state health budgets.
The row erupted following a feud between the Commonwealth and the Victoria State Governments over a cut of $107 million from the state's allocation of health funding.
The funding cut saw hospital bed closure
According to Ms Gillard the funding adjustment was based on revised population figures. And in a letter to the Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu, Ms Gillard said the money will now be distributed direct to the hospital networks and would bypass the Premier altogether.
"What we intend to do to balance the books is to cut $107 million off other sources of funding to the Victoria Government," the Prime Minister said.
According to Ms Gillard the Victoria Government will lose $55 million in reward funding that it would have received under national economic reforms, with the remaining money to be recouped through cuts to other grants.
However, Mr Baillieu described the population figures as "dodgy" and said that the $107 million is only a short term political fix.
Speaking to Fairfax Radio Mr Baillieu said: "The $107 million only covers the financial year, so from July 1st the cuts that were previously announced will resume and there is a further $368 million of cuts in Victoria in the (forward estimates)".
The problem is also threatening to spread to other states including Queensland, which has demanded that the Commonwealth reverse a previous cut of $103 million in its allocation.
Prime Minister Gillard has forwarded on similar warning letters to all state premiers telling them that they will suffer the same fate as Victoria if they engage in "game playing" over health funding.
ABC news are reporting that Tasmanian police have arrested one anti-logging activist during a protest.
Activists are protesting against the felling of a forest marked for protection in central Tasmania.
The group known as 'Still Wild Still Threatened' said a female activist chained herself to a gate on a forestry road at Butler's Gorge, which is part of an area nominated by the Federal Government for World Heritage listing.
The protest group's spokeswoman, Miranda Gibson says 11 police officers turned up at 3pm.
"So far they have removed the person from the front gate who has been arrested and search and rescue are currently attempting to remove a tree sitter as well," she said.
It's understood the tree sitter is by the side of the road, attached to a structure that is blocking the road to halt the logging.
However, a spokeswoman fro the Tasmanian police could not confirm whether anyone's been arrested.
Ms Gibson said the protesters were trying to catch the attention of Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke. They held a banner saying 'Tony Burke you nominated these forests, now protect it'.
Gibsons has been staging a tree sit-in at Tyenna since December 2011.
Minister Burke says he is not in a position to intervene.
"I can intervene when an area is a World Heritage Area and I've put forward those forests to the World Heritage Committee," he said.
"The World Heritage Committee will meet later this year and if they put it on the World Heritage list at that point it becomes a World Heritage Area.
"Up until that point there's not a Federal power to intervene."
The Tasmanian Government says existing harvesting operations are being performed in a small number of coupes in the area nominated for protection.
A spokesman said that the operations were going ahead to meet contractual wood supply requirements until logging schedules can be re-directed to alternative areas.
Confirmed: Opera House will turn green on March 17
Irish tourism chiefs have written a letter to the Queen's private secretary in an effort to see Buckingham Palace turn green for St Patrick's Day.
The move comes following conformation from New South Wales, that after seeing red for Chinese New Year, Sydney Opera House will be illuminated green for Paddies Day celebrations.
The Irish Echo reports that Tourism Ireland has asked their closest neighbour if it will concider being part of the world-wide 'greening' in a gesture that would signal another milestone in relations across the Irish Sea.
Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, Neil Gibbons said: “I have written to the private secretary to the Queen, but we haven’t had a reply yet".
“We wrote a couple of months ago, but it is a dialogue that is in progress. I wouldn’t be putting any pressure on people,” he added.
Other famous buildings that will share in the celebrations will include New Zealand’s Sky Tower, Vienna’s Burg Theatre and the Prince’s Palace in Monaco.
A wider list expected to also take part include many international attractions such as Niagara Falls, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Burj al Arab in Dubai, Table Mountain in South Africa, New York’s Empire State Building and Berlin’s TV Tower.
Mr Gibbons said they were still awaiting a response from Buckingham Palace.
To help their case, the tourism agency is expected to unveil details in the coming weeks about the previously unknown Irish roots of the Duchess of Cambridge.
“We have actually traced Kate Middleton’s Irish ancestry back as well. We have a report on it,” said Mr Gibbons.
“We have an authenticated connection, with all the certificates and everything.”
For those of you that didn't know (including me) today is World Radio Day 2013.
The day is used to highlight the importance of radio as a media genre and the importance of radio as a provider of access to information for people all over the world.
Radio provides a special service for remote communities, those who are vulnerable, the illiterate or disabled or just lonely.
Radio give a strong voice to individuals and communities and also plays an important role in emergency and disaster situations.
Today is the second, annual world radio day after the setting up of World Radio Day last year by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
For an interesting article on the importance of the radio and World Radio day see the attached article from the UK's METRO newspaper, or check out the UNESCO website
Firefighter incident: Harrietville, Victoria
Two firefighters have died after a tree fell on their vehicle as they fought a large bushfire according to reports from Australia's Herald Sun.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) firefighters were battling a large bushfire at Harrietville near Mount Hotham.
The Australian Workers Union (AWU) said two DSE firefighters were also killed in the line of duty in a fire in the Ovens region on Wednesday afternoon.
The DSE said there had been a serious accident at the Harrietville-Alpine North fire, but authorities have not confirmed any deaths.
A police spokes person said: "At this stage we believe the vehicle was on the fireground and was hit by a falling tree. Due to the fire in the area and the terrain, emergency services are having difficulty attending the scene".
The fire in Harrietville has now destroyed 27,000 hectares since it started by on January 21.
Fire Incident Controller, Mr Tony Long said its likely that the fire would continue to burn until the alpine region received significant rain.
The deaths come a month after Peter Cramer, a DSE firefighter and CFA volunteer from Tyers in Gippsland, died while working on bushfires in Tasmania.
Mr Cramer, 61, died on January 13 at Taranna, east of Hobart, while working on foot to identify potential containment lines on the southern boundary of the Forcett fire about two to three kilometres from the active fire edge.
ABC News reports that a knife-wielding individual has been shot by police officers in the Perth suburb of Camillo, after he allegedly threatened people with the weapon.
Police called to a property in Excalibur Circle just after 11:30 pm where they found a man in the backyard of the home attacking a dog with a knife.
When police approached the man he confronted the officers with the blade in a threatening and aggressive manner.
The man was then shot in the left leg before being handcuffed and arrested.
He was moved to the Royal Perth Hospital for treatment and police have confirmed that his wound is not life-threatening.
An internal investigation is underway into the shooting which is standard procedure. It is understood it is the second violent incident in the same street in the past two days.
On Saturday two men smashed through the front door of a home on the street using a gun and a knife to threaten a man, who was babysitting on the premises.
Lady in Red: Sydney's iconic Opera House
Sydney's iconic Opera House turned red to mark the start of Chinese New Year.
news.com.au reports that the well-known landmark changed from white to red when NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell and Duan Jielong, Consul General of the People's Republic of China sounded a gong to mark the beginning of the Chinese year of the snake.
Premier O'Farrell said that NSW had the largest population of Chinese people in Australia.
"This is a great opportunity to celebrate China's contribution to our economy," he told reporters on Sunday (EDT).
"More importantly the significant contribution that Chinese Australians citizens have made to the development of this state and this city for more than 200 years."
Around 80,000 Chinese tourists are spending Chinese New Year in Australia and especially in Sydney.
The Chinese Consul General said that Sydney's Opera House is a world renowned architectural masterpiece and a symbol of Australia in the eyes of many Chinese people.
"I'm sure this beautiful message of friendship will be well received and cherished by Chinese people around the world," he said.
Rain showers around the harbour failed to discourage tourists and Sydney-siders from taking photos of the red Opera House.
Newsreader: Jeremy Fernandez
A newsreader who works for the ABC in Sydney was kicked off a bus after he was the target of an abusive, racial-rant by a fellow passenger.
Jeremy Fernandez claims that he asked the female passenger to keep an eye on her young daughter who he says was repeatedly hitting his daughter over head.
It's understood that the woman took offence and started shouting at Fernandez: "How dare you? What are you doing looking at my daughter? Have you been touching her, have you? Do you fancy five-year-olds?"
Fernandez said that he was going to move seats to avoid the irate passenger. However the woman then proceeded to call hiim a "black c***" and told him to "go back to his own country".
The newsreader then decided not to move saying he was drawing on the example of US civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
However, the bus driver then asked Fernandez to move from his seat or get off the bus. "You, get out of your seat and move."
Fernandez replied: "I'm not moving anywhere, I haven't done anything and I'm staying on this bus because I have a right to be here, and she just called me a black c-word so I'm staying put".
According to the ABC News journalist, his two-year-old daughter who was traveling with him, heard the racist rant in full and had to "hold his nerve" for the sake of the young girl.
State Transit has been in contact with the ABC to try to speak with Jeremy and get the full details of the incident.
ABC News has reported that a sky diver has lost his life south-east of Adelaide in South Australia.
Police say the man was killed after his parachute failed to open during his jump.
They say the incident happened this afternoon at the SA Sky Diving centre near Tailem Bend.