$42 billion dollar stimulus packages the senate… Thanks to Mr Xenophon

The Federal Government’s $42 billion dollar stimulus package passed the senate ealier today, but at a cost. The Prime Minister agreed to give South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenphon $900 million dollars to push forward future projects for the Murray Darling Basin in return for his vote. The $12 billion one off payments will be paid to low and middle income families and workers from mid March. However the payment amount has changed from the original package. Single income families’ payments has been cut from $950 to $900, people with a taxable income of less than $80,000 will also recieve the reduced amount of $900. While those earning between $80,000 and $90,000 will receive $600 instead of the original $650 and those with a taxable income between $90,000 and $100,000 will also receive $50 less with a payment of $250. The deal couldn’t have been struck without the Greens decision yesterday to accept the stimulus package with a $435 million dollar deal which lead to the payments being cut by $50 for each group. More than $28 billion dollars will go towards school repairs, building news homes while $50 million will go towards help for the unemployed and churches, charities and grass-root job creation schemes will also benefit from the stimulus package’s $300 million allocated to these institutions. The finer details of the stimulus package will be announced this week.


Are sharks a danger on our beaches?

Numerous shark attacks in the region have heightened fear around the creatures lurking in the ocean. I spoke to the General Manager of the Bendigo Bank Aerial Patrol Harry Mitchell who monitors Illawarra and South Coast beaches about the increased media attention on sharks and whether there has been an increase in shark sightings this summer.

Interview with General Manager of the Bendigo Bank Aerial Patrol Harry Mitchell

Picton Rd receives funding one day too late

Picton Road has claimed a fourteenth life just a day before the State Government’s $12 million dollar safety upgrade. The 54 year old man from Raby in south western Sydney was riding a motorcycle when he was struck by a people mover. The notorious stretch of road has caused 152 crashes and killed nine people since 2004. The latest fatality came only six days after the state funding was announced. The projects which will be taken as part of the funding will begin early this year.

Are our beaches safe?

The drowning of a 56 year old Kirawee man at Austinmer Beach last week has sparked debate about whether lifeguard patrol hours during the Summer season are sufficient. The man died of a heart attack whilst bodyboarding at 6:30pm only half an hour after lifeguards left the beach. The equipment which would have been used to save the man was locked in Austinmer Surf Club only metres from where the man drowned. Ambulance arrived at the scene a short time after but were unable to save revive the victim. This incident comes only a month after the drowning of a man at Bombo Beach.

Will Australia have a Bill of Rights?

In December last year the Federal Government used the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to discuss the possibility of legislating a human rights charter. The document would not be based on the America charter which allows courts to override laws but on those legislated in the ACT, Victoria and Britain. I spoke to the Dean of Law at the University of Wollongong, Professor Luke McNamara about the likelihood of Australian gaining a Bill of Rights and the consequences of legislating such a charter.

Interview with the Dean of Law at the University of Wollongong, Professor Luke McNamara

Will the binge drinking advertisements be effective?

Last year the Federal Government introduced a $53 million dollar scheme to tackle the ‘binge drinking epidemic.’ They introduced measures including the alcopop tax and restrictions on lock out times which were met controversy. Last November the government pledged $20 million dollars to create binge dirnking advertisements. I spoke to the Chief Executive Officer of the Alcohol, Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, Daryl Smeaton about the new campaign and whether he believes it will be effective.

Projects set to begin

Wollongong City Council will take on 10 long-awaiting projects after receiving Federal funding last week. The grant will go towards infrastructure programs in the region including disabled access for the Continental Pool and Illawarra Performing Art Centre. The funding will also go towards a new building fro the storage of lifeguard rescue equipment at Stanwell Park Beach, footpath improvements and Belmore Basin and Flagstaff Hill and a playground in the Civic Plaza. The sporting fields in the Illawarra also received funding for projects as Reed Park at Dapto, Darcy Wentworth Park in Warrawong and Rex Jackson Park at Helensburgh. Security improvements at Dapto Mall have also benefited from the Federal Government grant. The projects are set to begin in February this year.