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ACT News

Canberra Mornings Live: Thursday, April 10

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One more blog to go for the week folks. Henry and I will be back tomorrow from 7am. 

Join us again as we bring you all the news, as well as the heads up on what's happening around town over the weekend.

We'll leave you with a wrap of the top five stories on the site at the moment. 

1. Public servants to lose tax-free pay when working overseas       

2. Cotter Dam is filling Canberra with drought confidence 

3. Bob Carr's Diary takes aim at Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd for mistakes    

4. Oscar Pistorius defends memory lapses as he is grilled by prosecution

5. Defence staff worried over back pay as award negotiations delayed

 

Henry Belot: There's been a crash at the intersection of State Circle and Canberra Avenue near Parliament House.

ACT Fire and Rescue units are on route to the scene.

The incident was reported at 9.53am.

Henry Belot: Police are asking for public assistance to locate a stolen 1963 Fender Telecaster.

The guitar was taken from a white Mazda 6 station wagon at the Tuggeranong Community Centre car park on Sunday 16 March between 9.30 and 10.30pm.

Those with information can contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

The guitar was taken from a white Mazda 6 station wagon at the Tuggeranong Community Centre car park on Sunday March 16

The guitar was taken from a white Mazda 6 station wagon at the Tuggeranong Community Centre car park on Sunday March 16 Photo: ACT Policing

Gareth Hutchens brings us the news this morning that the head of the tax department responsible for collecting the federal government’s minerals resource rent tax has just quit her position, throwing doubt over the agency’s ability to collect the tax.

Stephanie Martin, a deputy commissioner at the Australian Taxation Office, was until last month heading the ATO’s resource rent tax team which had responsibility for collecting the Minerals Resource Rent Tax and Petroleum Resource Rent Tax.

Henry Belot: What's ahead in national politics today?

Tony Abbott has been personally assured by China's Premier Li Keqiang the country is determined to conclude trade negotiations as soon as possible.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has blasted the US Congress for holding up IMF reforms saying the delay has weakened America’s standing in the world.

Former senior Labor senator Bob Carr has used his latest book to say Julia Gillard was selfish not to hand over the prime ministership to former leader Kevin Rudd.

The ICAC public inquiry into corruption allegations continues in Sydney.

Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson will visit Darwin along with the Australian Human Right Commission team to conduct an inquiry into children in detention centres.

Henry Belot: The Salvation Army has installed security cameras at its Fyshwick charity store to dissuade people from dumping unusable goods outside the store.

Salvation Army Major Gary Masters said the disposal of illegally dumped goods across the nation was costing the organisation $5 million a year in removal fees.

''This is valuable money that could be better spent providing services for vulnerable communities in Canberra,'' he said.

New security measures at the Salvos Store at Fyshwick. Security
cameras have been installed to help prevent theft and illegal dumping.

New security measures at the Salvos Store at Fyshwick. Security cameras have been installed to help prevent theft and illegal dumping. Photo: Graham Tidy

Henry Belot: A young female scientist accused of fabricating data made a tearful apology live on Japanese television for "mistakes" in her research, but insisted her ground-breaking conclusions on stem cells were accurate.

Haruko Obokata, 30, blamed her youth and inexperience for errors in her methodology, but said she had managed to create the building-block cells capable of growing into the specialised cells of the brain, liver, heart or kidneys.

Henry Belot: The son of ACT Government minister Joy Burch has been given a chance to turn his life around before being sentenced for the knife-point robbery of a takeaway store last year.

The ACT Supreme Court has heard Lloyd Edwin Burch, 20, drank two litres of beer with friends in Phillip in October last year, before entering the Ali Baba store armed with a knife.

He produced the knife, threatened violence against staff, and demanded money.

Full report here.

Charged: Lloyd Edwin Burch leaves the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Charged: Lloyd Edwin Burch leaves the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Henry Belot: A residents group says the expansion of Manuka Oval threatens to dislodge community groups in the precinct and compromise heritage values.

Canberra Services Club is considering redevelopment after its club near the oval burnt down in 2011. It has an agreement with Defence Housing Australia to build a new club and residential housing.

A feasibility study will also include a proposal to relocate Manuka Arts Centre to Kingston, including ArtSound, a 24-hour community radio station and recording studios.

A residents group says Manuka Oval's expansion threatens to dislodge community groups in the precinct and compromise heritage values.

A residents group says Manuka Oval's expansion threatens to dislodge community groups in the precinct and compromise heritage values. Photo: Graham Tidy

Ben Westcott: The ACT government will announce sweeping new drug legislation today, including a crackdown on synthetic drugs and changes to drug trafficking laws.

Attorney-general Simon Corbell says the new legislation will ensure the right people are punished for drug crimes.

All up, 44 new synthetic psychoactive substances will be made illegal, including N-Bomb which was responsible for the death of 17-year-old NSW man Henry Kwan in 2013.

The legislation will also change the amount of certain drugs ACT residents can carry before facing serious drug trafficking charges.

If they are passed, Canberrans will be able to carry three times as much ecstacy and twice as much cocaine without being labelled drug traffickers.

It should be noted however, that carrying any amount of any illegal substances is still illegal.

Henry Belot: Enrolments in ACT public schools continue to rise, with 59.8 per cent of all school students in the territory now attending a public school, according to the latest school census data.

It is the biggest market share for public schools since 2008, when 60.1 per cent of students were enrolled in government schools.

Fleta Page has the story.

In central western NSW, a man who claimed a toddler died after falling off a trampoline has been charged with the child's murder.

The 35-year-old was arrested outside Bathurst police station on Wednesday afternoon and later charged with murdering the 11-month-old girl from Mandurama, about 45 kilometres north-east of Cowra.

The man had taken the child, suffering head injuries, to Blayney District Hospital on Wednesday last week, police said.

Henry Belot: We're receiving reports that traffic on Parkes Way has slowed to a crawl around Civic.

Got a traffic tip? Tweet @canberratimes or leave a comment on the blog.

(But not while you're driving!) 

Henry Belot: Cyclone Ita is expected to cross the Queensland coast on Friday night, the Bureau of Meteorology says, with destructive winds set to impact areas more than 200 kilometres away from the eye of the storm.

The cyclone is predicted to intensify to a category 4 storm by the time it crosses the coast between Cape Flattery and Lockhart in the state's far north, with the bureau warning it "poses a significant threat" to communities in the area.

A map of cyclone Ita Click to play video

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Cyclone Ita most powerful since Yasi

Tropical cyclone Ita is due to hit far north Queensland on Friday, bringing powerful winds and heavy rain, the strongest cyclone to hit the coast since Yasi in 2011.

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Shares are set to climb higher after US Fed minutes reassured investors that rates would stay lower for longer, with the dollar nearing US94 cents.

Follow the Markets Live blog today for all the details.

Mark Kenny and Phillip Wen report a free-trade agreement with China worth tens of billions to the Australian economy could be just months away.

Tony Abbott held one-on-one talks with China's Premier Li Keqiang on arrival in the southern resort island of Hainan on Wednesday.

Mr Abbott used the talks to promote his economic reform message, stressing that Australia welcomes foreign investment, has always needed foreign capital to develop and wants access to the billions of dollars held in China.

A deal would potentially give Chinese companies new access to direct investment in Australian companies and to lucrative development of resources and public infrastructure.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meet during Mr Abbott's visit to the country.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meet during Mr Abbott's visit to the country. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Henry Belot: Imagine working for a company whose board happened to have a penchant for collecting art.

And not just any art - major, museum-worthy works by historical and contemporary Australian artists, some so dramatic they could dominate a room all by themselves. That's life at Wesfarmers over in Perth, where the office walls are dotted with major artworks from a collection that has been three decades in the making.

Manager of Wesfarmers Art and Curator Helen Carroll with Artist Michael Leunig will open the National Library of Australia latest show of Contemporary Australian Art.

Manager of Wesfarmers Art and Curator Helen Carroll with Artist Michael Leunig will open the National Library of Australia latest show of Contemporary Australian Art. Photo: Jay Cronan

Henry Belot: This tweet of Tony Abbott looking earnest while talking to JACC Chief Coordinator Angus Houston is sparking some interesting commentary on Twitter this morning.

Today's cartoon by David Pope.

Editorial cartoon, 20 September. Click for more photos

David Pope

Editorial cartoon, 20 September. Photo: David Pope

Henry Belot: What's the talk of Canberra on our opinion pages?

You say:

"What an absurd argument that bureaucrats could seek an increase in their salaries to make up for the amount they choose to pay to park in the Parliamentary Triangle precinct. How rediculous!"

Read all today's letters to the editor.

We say:

"The economic imperative for redeveloping public housing sites in the inner city is hard to deny. Rising land values demand that the uses to which it is put are maximised, particularly in a city/state like Canberra where real estate transactions contribute so significantly to government revenues."

Read today's editorial.

Henry Belot: Australia effectively had no working submarines for five months from late 2009 because of serious maintenance problems with the troubled Collins Class, Defence Minister David Johnston has revealed.

Senator Johnston said on Wednesday that the defence of Australia was in a “very dire and dark place” during the period of paralysis from October 2009 to February 2010.

Defence minister Senator David Johnston.

Defence minister Senator David Johnston. Photo: Andrew Meares

Missing: Minh Nguyen.

Missing: Minh Nguyen.

A 16-year-old exchange student has been missing in Melbourne for nearly two weeks after no one called police immediately following his disappearance.

Minh Nguyen, who has been in Australia for nine months on an exchange from Vietnam, was last seen on Friday, March 28.

The teenager had told his host family in Melbourne's eastern suburbs that he was going to visit a cousin in Sunshine for the weekend, a police spokeswoman said.

Henry Belot: Rhino poaching is on the rise in South Africa, with 277 of the endangered animals killed this year despite government attempts to clamp down on poaching, the environment ministry said Wednesday.

Illegal hunting is up more than a third compared to the same time a year ago, when 203 of the giant animals were slaughtered by poachers, the ministry said in a statement. More than half of the attacks were in Kruger National Park, where 166 animals were killed in the first three months of 2014, despite the deployment of troops to protect them.

Approaching extinction: Rhinos graze in South Africa.

Approaching extinction: Rhinos graze in South Africa. Photo: AFP

Henry Belot: The US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has waded into the debate about Russia's intentions with Ukraine by tweeting a photo reportedly showing the build-up of Russian troops on the border of ex-Soviet Republic.

The tweet, with the English words "proof of RU military buildup", shows three successive photos of a field in Rostov-on-Don, Russia taken in October, March and April.

Ooo ah.

Glamour magazine has revealed Scarlett Johansson hates her nickname ScarJo.

Johansson has said she finds the nickname insulting and wants her fans to stop using it.

"I associate that name with, like, pop stars," Johansson has told Glamour magazine.

Scarlett Johansson attends the UK Film Premiere of 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' at Westfield London on March 20, 2014.

Scarlett Johansson attends the UK Film Premiere of 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' at Westfield London on March 20, 2014. Photo: Getty

Henry Belot: If you like the sound of brioche doughnuts with elderflower curd then you'll most likely enjoy Annabel Ross' recap of last night's My Kitchen Rules.

"Eyeing the elderflower curd in the dessert, Manu says he hopes they’re not planning to use cordial, at which point we cut deliciously to a scene of Chloe singing out the blurb from an elderflower cordial bottle before throwing it gaily into her shopping trolley. Mwahahahahah."

Her full review is here.

Doing it for WA: Chloe and Kelly out to "change the world, one palate at a time".

Doing it for WA: Chloe and Kelly out to "change the world, one palate at a time". Photo: Supplied

Dane Tilse of the Raiders: re-signed for two years.

Dane Tilse of the Raiders: re-signed for two years. Photo: Matt King

Sports reporter Lee Gaskin has some big news from the Canberra Raiders this morning.

Dane Tilse has just been re-signed. We'll bring you more on this later today.

A US university has backed away from honouring Islam critic, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

A US university has backed away from honouring Islam critic, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Photo: AP

Henry Belot: A private university outside Boston has decided not to award an honorary degree to a Somali-born women's rights activist who has branded Islam violent and "a nihilistic cult of death."

Brandeis University said it had decided not to award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian who has been a prominent critic of the treatment of women in Islamic society.

Henry Belot: Hundreds of Australian public servants working overseas on aid programs will lose their tax-free wages as their new bosses in Foreign Affairs move to end one of the bureaucracy's most treasured perks.

Saying ''public servants should pay income tax'', the department's boss says former AusAID staff are to lose the tax-free exemptions when on overseas postings.

Noel Towell has the story.

Anthony Mundine was left sprawling on the canvas by Ghanaian Joshua Clottey in Newcastle last night... five times.

Clottey outclassed the former rugby league star in a unanimous points decision – 116-108, 115-109, 117-108.

After the fight, Clottey, whose record is now 38-4 (22 KOs), said Mundine made a mistake dropping to the super-welterweight division, where the Australian held the WBA international title until last night.

Anthony Mundine is knocked to the ground by Joshua Clottery.

Anthony Mundine is knocked to the ground by Joshua Clottery. Photo: Marina Neil

Henry Belot: A proposed board of inquiry into the territory's construction sector will not proceed after government MLAs failed to support calls from the Canberra Liberals on Wednesday.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell dismissed the need for a wide-ranging inquiry proposed by opposition treasury spokesman Alistair Coe, saying the Liberal Party should conduct its own policy development and not undertake stunts in the assembly chamber.

The inquiry into the ACTs construction sector, propsed by Opposition Treasury spokesman Alistair Coe, will not be going ahead.

The inquiry into the ACTs construction sector, propsed by Opposition Treasury spokesman Alistair Coe, will not be going ahead. Photo: Jay Cronan

Henry Belot: ACT Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson condemned ''bigotry'' on Wednesday, but stopped short of opposing the George Brandis changes to race discrimination law.

Mr Hanson was speaking during an Assembly debate in which Labor backbencher Chris Bourke detailed the case of a Canberra family racially abused and intimidated over many years by neighbours.

A woman who was grabbed in the foyer of her unit block in Sydney overnight hit back at her attacker with a saucepan she happened to be carrying at the time, bashing them over the head.

Detectives are now hunting for the man, described as having a stocky build and long curly black hair, who fled when the 46-year-old woman lashed out with the kitchen utensil in the foyer of her McMahons Point home on Wednesday evening.

Henry Belot: Canberra rugby union player Bill Lockley knows what it's like to be the victim of homophobia and he counts himself lucky to have teammates open-minded enough to accept him for who he is.

But Lockley isn't gay.

The 36-year-old personal trainer commutes up the Hume Highway every weekend to play for the Sydney Convicts – Australia's first gay and inclusive rugby club, which plays in the NSW Suburban Rugby Union.

Bill Lockley plays for gay rugby league team Sydney Convicts but is not gay.

Bill Lockley plays for gay rugby league team Sydney Convicts but is not gay. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Henry Belot: Oliver Atkinson-Perillo was a fresh-faced 10-year-old when he shaved his head in the 2007 World's Greatest Shave in honour of his dad Mark Perillo, who had died from leukaemia.

He repeated the feat on Wednesday, now aged 17, but still fresh-faced and committed to raising funds for cancer research and awareness through the Leukaemia Foundation.

''I kind of want to support other families,'' he said.

Year 12 student, Oliver Perillo, has his locks removed. He lost his father to the disease when he was only 11 months old.

Year 12 student, Oliver Perillo, has his locks removed. He lost his father to the disease when he was only 11 months old. Photo: Graham Tidy

Pic credit: David Tease
CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood Addresses a delegates Mass Meeting at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, 4 April 2014.
pic Dav

id Tease?
-- 

20140404-CPSUGC-1087.jpg

Pic credit: David Tease CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood Addresses a delegates Mass Meeting at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, 4 April 2014. pic Dav id Tease? -- 20140404-CPSUGC-1087.jpg Photo: Karleen Minney

Henry Belot: The federal government does not own the bodies, souls or speech of its public servants, the head of the Commonwealth Human Rights Commission says in response to the "extraordinary" social media rules imposed by one department.

Commission president Gillian Triggs said Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet staff had a right to private lives and their own views, despite new social media guidelines on the use of Twitter, Facebook and other websites.

Henry Belot: Some big big news in Champions League soccer overnight.

Athletico Madrid have progressed to the semi-final after beating Barcelona 1-0 at the Vicente Calderon.

Manchester United have crashed out of the competition after being beating 3-1 by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

Meantime, local stocks are poised to open sharply higher on bets US rates will remain low for some time yet.

The Australian dollar has jumped to a four-and-a-half-month high as the US dollar weakened on the back of signs from the US Federal Reserve of a slower start to a rise in interest rates.

Henry Belot: Australian Opals coach Brendan Joyce says he "absolutely understands" Abby Bishop's decision to quit her world championship dreams to focus on family and insists the door is still ajar for her to play in the tournament.

Bishop's decision to withdraw from the world championships has sparked debate, triple Olympian Suzy Batkovic saying female basketballers face a constant battle for equity and NBA superstar Andrew Bogut imploring Basketball Australia to review its new parental policy.

Abby Bishop with her niece Zala.

Abby Bishop with her niece Zala. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Today marks a huge milestone for Canberra breakfast radio presenters Scotty and Nige - aka Scotty Masters and Nigel Johnson.

The popular duo will broadcast their 1500th show this morning.

Scotty Masters said it felt ‘‘pretty good’’ to reach the milestone, which will be celebrated with prize giveaways for listeners and a big birthday cake for all to share from 8am at the station in Crace.

‘‘I mean I’ve been in radio 22 years this year and to have a breakfast shift that’s gone for seven years and 1500 shows, it doesn’t happen very often. It’s a nice achievement, a nice feather in the cap,’’ he said.

 

Milestone: Scotty and Nige aka Scotty Masters and Nigel Johnson from 104.7 breakfast celebrate their 1500th show on April 10.

Milestone: Scotty and Nige aka Scotty Masters and Nigel Johnson from 104.7 breakfast celebrate their 1500th show on April 10. Photo: Supplied

Henry Belot: Three soldiers who were gunned down last week by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, have been remembered as courageous, noble men who died senselessly, all after returning safely from war.

"Their passing shakes our soul. And in moments such as this, we summon once more what we've learned in these hard years of war," said President Obama, during a visit to Fort Hood with first Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday to pay tribute to the victims of the rampage.

"We reach within our wounded hearts. We lean on each other. We hold each other up, we carry on, and with God's amazing grace, we somehow bear what seems unbearable."

 

Obama returns to Fort Hood  (Video Thumbnail) Click to play video

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Obama mourns with Fort Hood

US President Barack Obama returns to Fort Hood to mourn with the families of those killed in a shooting spree last week.

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Henry Belot: A free-trade agreement worth tens of billions to the Australian economy could be just months away after Tony Abbott held one-on-one talks with China's Premier Li Keqiang on arrival in the southern resort island of Hainan on Wednesday.

Henry Belot: Former foreign minister Bob Carr has lifted the veil on arguably the most towering - and eccentric - ego in Australian politics in his new book, boldly declaring after attending a meeting of world leaders that he “cannot feel humble”.

Here are a few of the other zingers in the book...

  • “I am Foreign Minister… I soar above the mundane and serve my country.”
  • “I’m the best chairman I know”
  • “I have more energy than 16 gladiators"
  • On business class travel: “ No edible food. No airline pyjamas … I lie in my tailored suit”
  • “When we stop in LA I will tell our embassy at the UN not to adhere to that steamed-fish policy”
  • “I want turkey, I want grass-fed beef … This is the new Fuhrer-directive”
  • “My ambition [is] to have a concave abdomen defined by deep-cut obliques”

Prince George has engaged in a little skulduggery at his first major public engagement, stealing toys from his subjects at a New Zealand playgroup.

The eight-month-old heir to the British throne took a shine to a fellow baby's Mary-Lou doll and with royal prowess, plucked it from the little girl's hands before throwing it to the ground, prompting her to burst into tears.

Ten babies born within days of Prince George were selected to play with the prince at Government House in Wellington. All of the children are first-borns. They included the daughter of two gay fathers and children of Maori, Samoan, Polish and Oriental descent.

Prince George's royal playdate (Video Thumbnail) Click to play video

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Prince George's royal play date

RAW VISION: Prince George has spent the afternoon playing with Kiwi kids. Vision from TV3.

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Henry Belot: Vernon Circle is back in action for Canberra motorists.

Vernon Circle is now clear to traffic. Please take care on the roads in the wet today.

— ACTPol_Traffic (@ACTPol_Traffic) April 9, 2014

Looking at news interstate, Cyclone Ita is expected to cross the Queensland coast tomorrow night, the Bureau of Meteorology says, with destructive winds set to impact areas more than 200 kilometres away from the eye of the storm.

The cyclone is predicted to intensify to a category 4 storm by the time it crosses the coast between Cape Flattery and Lockhart in the state's far north, with the bureau warning it "poses a significant threat" to communities in the area.

A satellite image, from 7.32pm on Wednesday, of cyclone Ita bearing down on north Queensland.

A satellite image, from 7.32pm on Wednesday, of cyclone Ita bearing down on north Queensland. Photo: Bureau of Meteorology

Tom McIlroy: ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher is continuing her five-day visit to China, as part of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's massive trade mission.

Overnight she announced a new StudyCanberra $20,000 scholarship to the Global Leadership Practices Program at the prestigious China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong.

The ACT government has contributed $3,300 to assist with travel costs.

"The StudyCanberra project is a key for the government to broaden the local economy and make Canberra an international study destination," Ms Gallagher said.

"This scholarship will provide an incentive to enthusiastic Canberrans who sell the StudyCanberra message to networks of potential students overseas."

"Canberra's best advocates are those who have made the move here, lived and studied here and hopefully seen the ongoing opportunities in Canberra to set up their lives here."

Katy Gallagher in China

Katy Gallagher in China

Henry Belot: Police are urging motorists to avoid southbound lanes of the Vernon Circle in the city after a motor vehicle accident.

Henry Belot: Bob Carr has published private text messages between himself and Julia Gillard to reveal the “extraordinary” level of influence the pro-Israel lobby had on the former prime minister’s office.

In a remarkable disclosure of private conversations, Mr Carr said he chose to publish the text messages in his book – Diary of a Foreign Minister – without getting Ms Gillard’s permission, because to do so was in the national interest.

Happier times ... Prime Minister Julia Gillard with Foreign Minister Bob Carr at a press conference in Beijing China on 9 April, 2013.

Happier times ... Prime Minister Julia Gillard with Foreign Minister Bob Carr at a press conference in Beijing China on 9 April, 2013. Photo: Andrew Meares

Henry Belot: Indonesia's most popular politician, Joko Widodo, has failed to propel his party to the heights expected of him in Wednesday's parliamentary election.

Mr Joko's party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, PDI-P will attract more votes than any of the other 11 parties, with about 19 per cent of the popular vote, according to quick count analysis, which has been accurate in the past.

Final results will not be announced for another month. 

Jakarta governor Joko Widodo and his wife Iriana cast their ballots.

Jakarta governor Joko Widodo and his wife Iriana cast their ballots. Photo: Reuters

Henry Belot: The ratings-winning team of 104.7 breakfast presenters Scotty and Nige - aka Scotty Masters and Nigel Johnson - celebrate their 1500th show on Thursday.

The duo were fill-in presenters at the Canberra station between 2005 and 2007 until they took on breakfast full-time, going to air with their first official show on May 2, 2007.

Milestone: Scotty and Nige aka Scotty Masters and Nigel Johnson from 104.7 breakfast celebrate their 1500th show on April 10.

Milestone: Scotty and Nige aka Scotty Masters and Nigel Johnson from 104.7 breakfast celebrate their 1500th show on April 10. Photo: Supplied

Henry Belot: The equivalent of 1½ times the capacity of the original Cotter Dam has been added to the ACT's water reserves in the past 10 days, ACTEW Water figures show.

As a result, Canberra has more water in its combined storages going into autumn and winter than ever before. Following 42.8 millimetres of rain at the weekend, there is almost as much water in the Corin, Bendora, Cotter and Googong dams now as on January 1.

Actew's Chris Webb looks out from the Cotter Dam wall. The water is currently at 47%.

Actew's Chris Webb looks out from the Cotter Dam wall. The water is currently at 47%. Photo: Rohan Thompson

Rising stock: Quade Cooper.

Rising stock: Quade Cooper. Photo: Getty Images

Henry Belot: Wallabies linchpin Quade Cooper is expecting a onslaught from a "terrifying" Pat McCabe on Friday night as the ACT Brumbies prepare to test the enigmatic playmaker's defence.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham admits the team has kept a close eye on Cooper's defensive deficiencies as it attempts to win its first game against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane in three years.

Megan Gorrey: Royal enthusiasts across Canberra could be sharpening their fingernails as we speak.

Apparently more than 12,500 put their name in the ballot to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as baby Prince George, when they arrive at Fairbairn airport on Easter Sunday, April 20.

Only problem is, just 250 people – or fewer than 2 per cent of entrants – will get their chance to see the trio up close.

That means competition will be tough as successful applicants are notified by email today.

It would seem the ballot's bad news for Denmark's Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Mary, too.

Apparently only 1385 people put their name down on the ballot to see the European prince and his Australian-born wife when they visited Canberra in 2011.

Over 12,250 people have registered to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Canberra - but only 250 spots are available.

Over 12,250 people have registered to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Canberra - but only 250 spots are available. Photo: Supplied

A 16-year-old armed with two knives has gone on a stabbing and slashing spree at a high school near Pittsburgh in the US, leaving as many as 20 people injured, including a school police officer who eventually subdued the boy with the help of an assistant principal.

Parents and students embrace along School Road near Franklin Regional High School after more than a dozen students were stabbed by a knife wielding suspect at the school on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Murrysville, Pa., near Pittsburgh. The suspect, a male student, was taken into custody and is being questioned. (AP Photo/Tribune Review, Sean Stipp)  PITTSBURGH OUT Click to play video

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Pennsylvania school stabbing: student on rampage

A 16-year-old student holding two knives attacked other students in the hallways of a Pittsburgh-area high school, wounding 20.

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Found: Volunteers helped locate Sam Masters.

Found: Volunteers helped locate Sam Masters. Photo: Supplied

A 27-year-old man reported missing by his family in New Zealand has been found safe and well in a camping and bushland area in Bruce.

Sam Masters had been living in Canberra since 2012 and moved to Australia in 2007. He was due to return to New Zealand in January but never left Australia.

His family became concerned when he did not return and when they did not hear from him. He was last seen in Florey by his former work colleagues on February 12.

Sam’s father, Wayne, said his son would fly to Wellington to be reunited with his family ''after a good meal and a shower on Wednesday night''.

Taking a look at the weather... Yup. More rain.

We're in for a cloudy, rainy day with a maximum of 16 degrees.

And the wet is likely to stick around until well into next week.

Friday - Rain at times, max 19C.

Saturday - Possible shower, max 19C.

Sunday - Possible shower, max 20C.

Monday - Possible shower, max 19C.

Hello hello! How are you going this morning?

Drop us a line by leaving a comment on the blog, email online@canberratimes.com.au or head to our Twitter or Facebook pages.

There's lots happening in the news this morning so let's get straight to it.

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