An Australian news roundup

Green/Left dam phobia costs Queenslanders

But even the costly alternative does not please the unpleasable Greenies

Water authorities have begun planning for a second desalination plant as the long-running drought tightens its grip on southeast Queensland. The proposal, which would complement the Gold Coast's plans for a desalination plant, is being described as a "contingency option" in SEQWater's regional drought strategy. The plans were revealed as the Beattie Government battled Opposition attacks over its failure to construct any new dams to bring relief to the state's parched southeast. Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg yesterday vowed to begin building the proposed Wyaralong Dam near Beaudesert in his first year in government if he won the next election. The Government is investigating two new dam sites in the southeast corner, but the Premier's office would not comment on the matter last night.

Queensland Conservation Council officer Henry Boer said greater community consultation was needed because the [desalination] plants had environmental impacts and were costly. "These plants use a lot of electricity and have high greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "They are by far the most expensive supply option and the public will have to pay through their water bills." Redlands Mayor Don Seccombe said he was also opposed to the plants, citing cost and premature timing.

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Only months in jail for utterly despicable acts!

I would have given them 5 years

Two under-9 footy coaches were sentenced to jail yesterday for attacking a junior umpire. Assistant coach Francesco Guiseppe Scordo, 20, was ordered to spend at least two months behind bars for kicking the prone umpire with steel-capped boots. And coach Tony Clifford Bundy, 24, will have to serve a month for punching Michael Delaney to the head and dragging him to the ground after the final siren of a junior fun-day grand final. Scordo sat stunned and Bundy broke down sobbing as magistrate Brian Clifford jailed them, describing the unprovoked attack as deplorable and gutless. Dandenong Magistrates' Court in Victoria heard Mr Delaney's son, Matthew, watched in horror as Mossgiel Park Football Club coaches punched, hit, and repeatedly kicked the Endeavour Hills umpire at the Lois Twohig Reserve in Dandenong on August 8, 2004. Mr Clifford yesterday rejected Scordo and Bundy's excuses of self-defence as exaggerated and "a total red herring". Mr Clifford said that after viewing video evidence he was satisfied Bundy punched Mr Delaney in the face without warning. As Mr Delaney raised his arms in defence, Bundy grabbed him and threw him to the ground. Mr Clifford found Scordo then ran in and kicked the fallen Mr Delaney with full force with his steel-capped boots. Mr Clifford said both men aggravated things by lying and showing no remorse. "Their conduct is also a bad example for impressionable young footballers," he said. [Putting it mildly!]

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Australians are rich!

Thanks to a healthy economy

Every Australian is now worth an average of $316,000, with a soaring sharemarket and house prices behind an unprecedented wealth boom. According to a Treasury survey, Australia's private wealth kitty is now $6.5 trillion - the biggest ever, and a rise of nearly 10 per cent in the past year. But while world-leading levels of private share ownership and investment property purchases are two of the reasons behind the wealth boom, experts say the biggest influence is much less personal. Professor Mark Wooden from the Melbourne Institute, a conservative think-tank, said the population naturally grew wealthier as the economy expanded.

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Muslim respect for women again

A man who allegedly forced his wife to work as a prostitute in Sydney has been charged with sex slavery offences. Police said the 37-year-old man went to Egypt in early 2000 for an arranged marriage with a 25-year-old Egyptian woman. When the couple arrived back in Australia months later, the man allegedly told his wife she would have to work to pay for her Australian visa. He then took her to a brothel at Banksia in Sydney's south, where she was forced to work for 2'/2 years, police allege. Police said the man used her earnings to buy a unit and help out his family in Lebanon. In 2002 the pair returned to Egypt, where they divorced and both subsequently came back to Australia. Police yesterday arrested the man at his home at Wiley Park,in Sydney's southwest, and charged him with procuring a person for prostitution and sex slavery offences. He was granted conditional bail by police and is due to appear in Kogarah Court on May 9.


Islamic leaders stall over crackdown

Australia's leading Islamic body has backed away from its promise to tackle hardline Muslim clerics and crack down on extremist ideologies. The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has indefinitely postponed an imams' conference that promised to unite moderate and radical clerics. The aim of the meeting was also to draw up guidelines for preaching, help prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims and set up a national board of imams. The Australian revealed earlier this year that the conference was scheduled for the last weekend of February, and 62 imams - including the nation's most radical sheik, Mohammed Omran - were expected to attend. However, the conference has been shelved as part of a political manoeuvre by some of the AFIC's board members, including chief executive Amjad Mehboob. The latest postponement - designed to prevent outgoing AFIC president Ameer Ali from taking credit for the conference - has placed personal political agendas ahead of the community.

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