An Australian news roundup

Global cooling hits Australia

The Perth metropolitan area has shivered through its coldest night on record. The bureau of Meteorology says records tumbled overnight. Duty forecaster Brad Santos says Perth recorded its first official freeze. "With the mercury dipping to minus 0.6 degrees and that beats the previous record of zero back in July 1997 and july 1998," he said. A record low was also recorded at Jandakot of minus three degrees. The cold snap also saw several records broken in towns in the south-west. "At 6:00am (AWST) Collie reported a temperature of minus 5.8 degrees, which is its all time lowest minimum," Mr Santos said. "Also Bridgetown as well the temperature was around minus five degrees which is also a record minimum temperature. The bureau is predicting another cold night tonight, ahead of rain on Monday.


Labor's Spotlight stunt exposed

Labor's vocal claim that a worker at the centre of the celebrated 2c-an-hour Spotlight dispute would have been $90 a week worse off under an individual contract has been debunked by a prominent union official. As Spotlight caved in and agreed to allow the worker to take unpaid leave and return on award conditions, union leader Joe de Bruyn said "people had taken a lot of liberties with the facts" during the dispute and there was "no way (the worker) would be losing $90 a week"...... But Mr de Bruyn, the national secretary of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, said that while Ms Harris would have been worse off under the contract, the union had never claimed she would have lost $90 a week. "People have taken a lot of liberties with the facts that have been thrown around, but we have certainly never said that," he told The Weekend Australian. He said the union provided an analysis of the Spotlight agreement to Mr Smith, that showed the $90 loss only applied to full-time workers employed across five days, including penalty shifts on Saturday and Sunday. "The Wednesday-to-Sunday worker comes out the worst because the person is full-time and getting penalty rates on Saturday and Sunday," he said. "(Ms Harris) was only a part-timer. There is no way she would be losing $90 a week. It would have to be a very extreme position for her to be in.


Rolf Harris wins Queen's birthday honours in Britain

Queen Elizabeth II has honoured Australian entertainer Rolf Harris in her honours list marking her official 80th birthday. Harris, a painter and entertainer who has been a mainstay of British television for decades, gained a prestigious Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He was born in Perth in Western Australia, and already gained the royal seal of approval after he was granted an audience with the Queen to paint her portrait last year. The portrait now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.


Police blamed for ticketing blunder

The Victorian opposition has blamed the state's police force for more than 1000 wrong speed tickets issued to motorists. The Victorian Government fined speed camera operator Tenix Solutions a six figure sum and threatened to review their contract after police withdrew 1130 speed camera tickets because of mistakes in the setting up of the speed cameras. On 13 occasions in 2004 and 2005, operators either set up the cameras in the wrong speed zone or failed to ensure there were no objects such as metal fences which could distort readings. Victims of faulty speed camera readings have been sent letters from Victoria Police telling them not to pay their fine or refunding them if the fines had been paid. Police Minister Tim Holding said he was "very unsatisfied" with Tenix's conduct. But opposition traffic spokesman Terry Mulder today said Victoria Police who oversee the operation of the cameras should take the blame. Mr Mulder said while Tenix was responsible for setting up the cameras and verifying the images, Victoria Police were responsible for overseeing the verification process. "No matter who's doing the work it is a matter for the police and for the Minister for Police, Tim Holding," Mr Mulder said.



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