SYN News at 4: 25 September 2013

Coming up in the next fifteen minutes:Staff strike at Melbourne University, as government announces changes to Tertiary educationDrug problems in Victoria and AustraliaThe Kenyan shopping mall siege comes to an endAnd it’s all about footy in today’s sport ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final Good afternoon, I’m CHAD VAN ESTROP. And I’m ISABELLA PETRUOLO. Welcome to SYN News at 4.  ISABELLA:In our top story this afternoon, Federal Education Minister CHRISTOPHER PYNE has signalled another shake-up to the higher education sector. MR PYNE has ordered a review into the possible re-introduction of enrolment caps on universities and has signalled his opposition to compulsory student services and amenities fees. In opposition, MR PYNE gave assurances there would be no change to enrolment caps. In a press release from August 20-12, he said the Coalition had “no plans to increase” or cap places.  He reiterated this position on the ABC’s 7.30 program earlier this year. “We have no plans to restore the cap. We do believe that the more students who are doing university, the better, but we do need to address concerns in the industry that there is a diminution of quality.”  But Jade Tyrrell of the national Union of Students isn’t impressed: “Christopher Pyne really needs to consider the benefits that flow from the seed instead of waging an old war.” And for more on this story, including the full interview with JADE TYRRELL, stay tuned for Panorama at 4.30.CHAD:Meanwhile, staff at Melbourne Uni have been on strike today as part of an ongoing pay dispute. SALLY WHYTE explains. “Staff at the University of Melbourne have gone on strike, starting at midday, as negotiations between the National Tertiary Education Union and the University continue to fail to yield results. Staff will be on strike until midday tomorrow, and will picket line the campus tomorrow morning. The NTEU is asking for a 6.5% pay rise over the next four years, but the university is yet to make a pay offer. The NTEU also wants the university to commit to converting casual employment positions to ongoing full time positions. Staff have taken industrial action multiple times this year, but this is the longest stop-work so far. There is a strong security presence on campus, but the action has so far been peaceful.”CHAD:The Victorian Coroner’s Court has released figures, showing that 176 people died from drug overdoses in the first half of this year. The report says prescription drugs accounted for more than 80 per cent of the deaths in Victoria, while illicit drugs contributed to 44 per cent, with some deaths being caused by a combination of drugs.  SAM BIONDO, from the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association told Fairfax Media that further education is needed as patients are too complacent about consuming prescription medications with other drugs.  “Well many, many people think, that it couldn’t happen to me, I’m a level headed person. I don’t abuse medication. Why would it affect me? But these drugs are very, very powerful.” The analysis also revealed the majority of drug related deaths from 20-10 to 20-12 occurred in the Bayside areas of Melbourne.ISABELLA:Meanwhile, Australian police have thwarted a major international drug syndicate. EDDIE WILLIAMS has the details. “The Federal Police have arrested four people, after the third-biggest seizure of ephedrine in Australian history. 274 kilograms of the drug were discovered in a shipment of rice from India earlier this week. This quantity of ephedrine has an estimated street value of up to 200 million dollars, and could be used to make up to 200 kilos of crystal meth. An Australian, an Indian and two Canadians have all been charged with supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug. AFP National Manager of Crime Operations, IAN MCCARTNEY, says the police operation has been an overwhelming success. This audio comes from the ABC. “Listen, this is a great result for law enforcement… we’ve disrupted a significant criminal syndicate with the arrest of three people in Australia and one person in India… through the joint efforts of law enforcement and working with our partner agencies, we’ve been able to prevent the manufacture of what we believe to be 200 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine.” EDDIE WILLIAMS, SYN News.” ISABELLA:The Palmer United Party has claimed the sixth Senate seat in Tasmania, nudging out the Sex Party and the Liberals. Here’s EDDIE WILLIAMS again. “JACQUIE LAMBIE will take her Senate seat next year, and says she’ll work closely with party leader CLIVE PALMER and fellow Palmer United Senator-elect GLENN LAZARUS. The 42 year old single mum is opposed to Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme, and has nominated education, healthcare and veteran’s affairs as two of her priorities. In a recent interview with Fairfax Media, MS LAMBIE also voiced her support for free tertiary education. “In a nice world, we’d like to see our university students not having to pay, but to give back to the country when they’re finished.” Palmer United also looks set to win a Senate seat in W-A, ahead of the Sports Party and outgoing Greens’ Senator SCOTT LUDLAM. EDDIE WILLIAMS, SYN News.”CHAD:Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has given her first interview since losing the nation’s top job.  Speaking at the Bill Clinton Global Initiative in New York Ms Gillard revealed her plans for the future. “I will be working in the university in my hometown of Adelaide…… I will be pursuing internationally the causes I have been so passionate particularly education and empowerment for women and girls.”  In the interview, Ms Gillard described her time as PM as a mixed bag and said the endless focus on hair, clothes and shoes would shift once more women took up leadership positions. Ms Gillard will publish her political memoirs late next year, in which she plans to tell her story in her own words and in her own way.  “When you are Prime Minister a lot of what you say is mediated by other but this will be my words direct” Ms Gillard will also speak to journalist Anne Summers at the Sydney Opera House this weekend.   ISABELLA:Holmesglen TAFE and health developer Healthscope are collaborating to build a 100-million-dollar private hospital in Moorabbin.  The 150-bed private hospital will be constructed on the existing Holmesglen campus and will include operating theatres, a pharmacy and pathology labs.   In addition to creating 500 construction jobs and more than 750 healthcare positions, the hospital will support training for students of Holmesglen which currently offers the only TAFE based nursing qualification in Australia.  A builder will be nominated in February, with construction expected to commence in July 20-14.CHAD: And Telstra has announced that it will cut 1100 jobs throughout the country by June next year. The job losses will come from the company’s operations division.ISABELLA: Heading overseas now and Kenya’s President says a siege at a Nairobi shopping mall is over, after a five-day stand-off between Kenyan authorities and members of the terrorist group al-Shabab.  President Uhuru Kenyatta has called three days of national mourning, with 61 civilians and six Kenyan security officers dying in the siege. Five of the attackers were also killed, while another ten have been taken into custody.CHAD:A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Pakistan’s remote Balochistan province has claimed the lives of more than two hundred residents with the death toll expected to climb. The rocky terrain of the town Karachi has hindered rescue efforts,  with many civilians still trapped under collapsed mud houses. The quake was so powerful it caused a 9-metre-high mountainous island to rise out of the Arabian sea.   Onlookers gathered on the Gwadar Coastline to bear witness to the bizarre phenomenon. ISABELLA: And in China, banned websites such as Twitter and Facebook could be made available to users in Shanghai, as part of a planned free-trade zone. According to the South China Morning Post, the plan is believed to have the backing of Premier Li Keqiang.CHAD: Back home now, and family violence perpetrators are being turned away from programs to change men’s behaviour, a letter to the Community Services Minister Mary Wooldrige has revealed.   NO TO VIOLENCE executive officer, Danny Blay, told the Age a “demand crisis” had led to increasing numbers of men being turned away from programs. He says 14 of the state’s 39 behaviour change programs have closed their waiting lists, and many will not accept new referrals until February. A spokesman for Ms Wooldridge says Victoria is recognised as a leader in men’s behaviour change program, and delivers more than half of the programs in Australia. But, Opposition crime prevention spokeswoman Jill Hennessy says the state government is not investing enough in family violence prevention. She says: “The government are caught up in the response side of the cycle and unless family violence was prevented the demand on the system and the destruction of lives will continue.”ISABELLA: Australian scientists have developed a brain-powered car, as part of an effort to deal with driver fatigue. The car uses a headset to measure the driver’s attention levels. When the attention levels drop, the car automatically slows down, giving the driver a chance to regain concentration. The car was developed for the Royal Automobile Club in Western Australia.CHAD: And the Jane Austen Society of Australia has taken part in a public campaign to buy back the author’s famous turquoise ring from American pop singer Kelly Clarkson, for more than 250 thousand dollars.  The singer purchased the ring at an auction but an injunction stopped her removing it from the United Kingdom. A spokesperson for the Jane Austen Society of Australia says the ring is too important and fragile for practical use and that it does not belong on the finger of a rock star. The ring will be put on display at the Jane Austen House Museum in the UK. ISABELLA: And now here’s ALEX DARLING with sport.ALEX:Thanks ISABELLA.Geelong has continued it’s time-honored tradition of wacky get ups at their end of year celebrations today, with Steve Johnson as Warwick capper, Corey Enright as a Transvestite and Dawson Simpson as a big baby. Captain Joel Selwood led the way as always on Wacky Wednesday, the runner up for this year’s Brownlow looking positively radiant as a pregnant Kate Middleton.Hawthorn will be without utility Brendan Whitecross during Saturday’s Grand Final against Fremantle, with the luckless midfielder undergoing his second knee reconstruction after injuring his ACL in the dying stages of last Friday’s win over Geelong. Whitecross sustained the same injury exactly 12 months ago when Hawthorn beat Collingwood in a qualifying final, and high profile sports doctor Peter Larkins says he used patella tendon from his other knee, a usual step after injuring a knee for the second time. Also at Hawthorn, club president Andrew Newbold is confident coach Alistair Clarkson will stay Hawks coach after this year. Speculation is rife in the media Clarkson might leave Hawthorn to replace John Worsfold at West Coast next year, but speaking at the Hawks Grand Final lunch today Newbold said he was confident Clarkson would serve out his contract which expires next year. Clarkson said as much last night on the hawks website, stating “Those who know me well would understand that my values would never have me walk away from a commitment to our club.” Brisbane officially unveiled new coach Justin Leppitsch at a press conference in Melbourne today. Like former coach Michael Voss, leppitsch is a red-headed 3 time premiership player for Brisbane, and since his retirement in 2006 had worked as an assistant with Richmond. He’s agreed to a 3 year term as coach. And Essendon forward Stewart Crameri has apparently told the club he wants to join the Western Bulldogs. Crameri has been offered a lucrative 4 year contract by the Dogs, worth $1.8 million, though his only way to leave Essendon is via a trade deal or a pre-season draft. Crameri would be a welcome addition to the dogs young forward line, averaging 32 goals over the last 3 years and capable of blistering bursts of speed. Now back to ISABELLA with the forecastISABELLA: Thanks Alex, it’s currently 21 degrees, after a dry day Melbourne reached a top of 24 today. We’re heading for an overnight low of 12, before areas of rain tomorrow and a top of 16. Friday will be mostly sunny day with isolated showers in the evening. CHAD: And for those on public transport, citybound trains may experience delays of several minutes on the Sandringham line after a track fault at Windsor. Meanwhile the 5:51 Glen Waverley train from Flinders St has been cancelled, and on the Cranbourne/ Pakenham lines, no trains will be stop at Springvale this week.To recap our top stories this afternoon,A big day for universities as Education Minister hints at shake ups and staff at Melbourne go on strikePalmer United Party wins another senate seatBrain-powered automobile gives new meaning to the term “smart car”And Geelong outdo themselves with Wacky outfits at their end of season bash. ISABELLA: That’s all for our bulletin this afternoon. When we’re off air, you can keep up with the news by following us on twitter at News S-Y-N. Panorama’s coming up at 4.30 and we’ll be back with an update at 5pm.

September 25th 2013
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