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Canberra Mornings Live: Thursday July 3

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Bringing you breaking news from across the capital and beyond. Get in touch with us as we blog from 7am to 10am: email us, tweet us or post on our Facebook page.

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And that's a wrap for the morning blog.

Stay with us today as we bring you the latest on the death of a man overnight at Perisher.

We'll be back from 7am tomorrow with the latest in local, national and international news.

A Canberra drug user who trafficked ice and heroin to fund his habit has been sentenced to more than four years in jail.

Trong Ruyen Bui, 46, pleaded guilty mid-trial to two counts of trafficking drugs in 2012. He was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Police had tapped his phone calls and he was under physical surveillance. They found heroin, ice, drug paraphernalia and mobile phones when officers searched his car and house in July 2012.

Bui's DNA was linked to drugs found at his two-storey home and in another man's car. He had fought the charges, but pleaded guilty to both counts on the second day of a trial in April this year.

The court heard Bui, who migrated from Vietnam in 1991, started to use drugs after his wife died in 2005 and he became the sole carer of their two daughters. He trafficked ice and heroin to fund his drug and gambling habits.

The killing of a Palestinian teenager raised fears of a cycle of revenge attacks for the death of three Israeli youths, and the US urged both sides to avoid escalating tensions.

Police said they were checking several possible leads for the Palestinian's death, including criminal motives, and investigating the possibility that the victim was forced into a vehicle earlier today. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed police and security officers "to act as quickly as possible" to find who was behind the murder, and called on "both sides not to take the law into their own hands."

The Israeli leader, without providing evidence, has accused the Hamas militant group that controls the Gaza Strip of killing the Israeli teens who went missing last month, and warned that his government is ready to retaliate. Hamas today blamed Israel for the death of the Palestinian youth.

 

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JULY 02:  Palestinian youths clash with Israeli Police near to the house of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdair, in Jerusalem on July 2, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Israeli Police found a burnt body in a forest west of Jerusalem, early on Wednesday morning, in what appears to have been a revenge kidnapping and murder carried out by right-wing Israeli extremists after three Israeli teenage boys were found dead on Monday north of the Palestinian town Halhul, near Hebron.  (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** Click to play video

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Killing of teens sparks violence

Israeli police and Palestinians clash in Jerusalem after the funeral of three Israeli teens and the death of a Palestinian teen.

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A man has died overnight at Perisher.

Police were contacted by the man’s employer about 10.50pmon Wednesday night after he did not arrive for his rostered shift.

A search began when it was discovered he had not returned from snowboarding earlier in the day. Searchers found his body about 11.30pm.

The man is yet to be formally identified. A post mortem examination will be held to officially determine how he died.

Initial inquiries are focussing on whether the man fell while snowboarding.

More to come

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind a more assertive Japanese military, as a leading Chinese analyst warned that the growing tensions on China's periphery were going to get worse.

Mr Abbott said Japan's decision to loosen the constraints of its post-war pacifist constitution would make it ''a stronger strategic partner for Australia''.

His endorsement came after two of his senior ministers gave strong warnings about growing conflicts on China's periphery and Fairfax Media reported growing military links with India.

Australia, India and Japan have all moved to fortify their military postures and forge links with each other and the US in response to growing anxieties about China.

"Japan has been an exemplary international citizen for decades and has made an important contribution to maintaining stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region": Tony Abbott.

"Japan has been an exemplary international citizen for decades and has made an important contribution to maintaining stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region": Tony Abbott. Photo: Ken Irwin

Leeza Ormsby has written the playbook for Australians on how to get off a drug charge lightly in the Balinese court system.

The New Zealand-born Sydneysider will, as a result of her 10-month sentence, be home by the end of the year, avoiding the decades-long nightmares faced by Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine.

  The first thing Ormsby did right when she was arrested on February 12 was shut her mouth. She was caught about to enter a villa containing large portions of MDMA and hashish, bagged up and apparently ready to sell, as well as death penalty-worthy drug paraphernalia (digital scales). In her bag was a half-smoked hashish joint which seemed to link her to the drugs. 

In her favour, there was no direct link between the two sets of drugs (at least none that the Balinese police investigation uncovered) and Ormsby had not even rented the Askara Villa, though she did have the key in her possession.

Her second wise move was to hire local lawyer Ary Soenardi. He has a good reputation from a drug defendant’s points of view. 

Leeza Ormsby in court to hear her sentence.

Leeza Ormsby in court to hear her sentence. Photo: Michael Bachelard

Two Mr Fluffy homes sold recently for well below their previous worth show the extent to which the asbestos crisis is affecting house values.

The homes are among 1049 properties cleared of Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos insulation 20 years ago, many of which have since been found to still contain the dangerous fibres.

One was the Deakin home at the centre of allegations about whether its history had been properly disclosed. It is understood to have sold for around the land value of about $640,000, well below the original asking price of $870,000.

The other belonged to a member of the Fluffy Owners and Residents' Action Group, which promotes full disclosure of the asbestos issue to potential buyers as well as tradespeople and others. Action group spokeswoman Brianna Heseltine said the fact the house sold would be welcome news for other owners.

North Korea fired short-range rockets into the sea off its east coast on Wednesday morning, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said, one day ahead of a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul.

North Korea, which tested two short-range missiles on Sunday in violation of a UN ban, is expected to be high on the agenda when Mr Xi meets his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye.

Mr Xi, who is due to arrive in Seoul on Thursday in his first visit to South Korea since taking office last year, is reciprocating Ms Park's visit to China a year ago.

An undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observing a tactical rocket launch.

An undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observing a tactical rocket launch. Photo: AFP

Minister for Housing Shane Rattenbury has announced a $30,000 funding boost for Canberra's apprentices as part of the Apprentice House scheme.

The one off grant of $30,000 will be help the ACT Building and Construction Industry Association employ a youth engagement officer who will provide support and mentoring for residents living at Apprentice House.

“It can be difficult for apprentices working on the minimum wage to find safe and sustainable accommodation for the duration of their apprenticeships," said Mr Rattenbury. 

"Initiatives like Apprentice House are invaluable in providing secure, short-medium term accommodation for young apprentices starting their training.”

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has copped an absolute barrage from a shirtless Canadian jogger who's had enough of the Mayor's antics. He quickly became the attention of the media rather than the larger-than-life Mr Ford, which is quite a feat.

Territory and Municipal Services are warning of temporary road closures on Uriarra Road between the entrance to Stromlo Forest Park and Bindabella Road. The closures are due to the Cycling Australian under-19 National Road Cycling Championships.

The closures will run from 10am to 3pm on Friday July 4 and from 9am to 5pm on Saturday July 5 2014. Traffic delays can be expected at the following intersections with Uriarra Road.

  • Swallowtail Road
  •  Brindabella Road
  • Cotter Road
  • Mountain Creek Road
  • Fairlight Road.

Barriers as well as warning and diversion signs will be erected to alert people of the closures.

Essendon's off-field team are preparing for their clash with ASADA with the club pressed for a decision by the end of the week about whether players will have to join the case.

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Essendon players' future uncertain

Essendon's off-field team prepares for its clash with ASADA, with the club pressed for a decision by the end of the week about whether players will join the case.

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The road to Corin Forest is open this morning for those who feel like escaping Canberra.

Corin Forest spokesman Andrew Snell said there's good cover up on the fields and they're hoping for some more fresh snow on Saturday.

TAMS are out on the roads this morning making sure the roads are in working order for the weekend.

A Qantas flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne was turned back about an hour into the 14-hour flight after water started gushing down the aisle into economy from a leaking pipe in business class.

A spokeswoman for the airline said the captain decided to return the A380 to Los Angeles due to passenger discomfort, rather than any fears about safety.

The water came from the plane's drinking water supply, she said. It leaked into the economy cabin through the roof, from the business class cabin on the upper deck.

"It wasn't a safety issue, it was just passenger discomfort," the spokeswoman said.

Clyde Rathbone is set to join comedian brother Dayne on the Canberra Theatre Centre stage this Saturday for one night only in It's Me Mandela. We have two double passes to the show to give away.

To win a ticket you just need to email jil.hogan@fairfaxmedia.com.au and tell her in 25 words or less why you want to see the show. Winners will need to collect tickets from the Canberra Times in Fyshwick by 4.30pm Friday.

It may be warmer than it has been the last couple of days although it's still looking pretty cold out there. This picture was uploaded by Katy a couple of minutes after 9am

Canberra Times July 3

Canberra Times July 3

Here's a quick look at what's on the front page of the Canberra Times this morning. From the slopes of Thredbo to centre court at Wimbledon.

Our Wimbledon boy wonder

DFAT Jakarta stampede threatensAusAID work

Mr Fluffy homes fetch reduced prices

Skier’s Thredbo avalanche terror: I thought I was dead

Today's paper also includes the Inside Story lift-out bringing you in-depth reporting on international news and Australian politics. The section is published in partnership with the Swinburne Institute for Social Research in Victoria.

The lift-out features Peter Browne's look at The Australian's history and Rupert Murdoch's business strategy, along with features on Labor's persuasion problem and the challenges facing the Northern Territory.

An obese bureaucrat has failed in his attempt to get taxpayers to pay for his suburban lawn to be mowed after he refused to allow his two adult children and wife to be cross-examined about their ability to do the work instead. 

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal found evidence about his family's inability to mow the lawn "exaggerated, selective, superficial, incomplete and unconvincing".    

"The tribunal believed that three able-bodied adults could easily find time to mow and trim the lawns of their family home for the 1-2 hours a fortnight or less required," the tribunal's published decision said.

"At a more fundamental level, we found that the (man's) breathlessness, fatigue, dizziness and sweating complained of derived from the applicant’s obesity, deteriorating cardiac condition and sleep apnoea."

The Australian dollar is lower, weighed down by disappointing trade figures and a stronger greenback.

At 7am on Thursday, the local currency was trading at 94.44 US cents, down from 94.63 cents on Wednesday.

The Australian dollar reached 95.06 US cents early on Wednesday, its highest level since November, but took a hit after official figures later in the day showed Australia's trade deficit reached $1.9 billion in May.

Henry Belot: The Notebook will never be the same...

US director Nick Cassavetes has revealed he was pressured to remove Rachel McAdams from the set of the romantic drama The Notebook by her leading man Ryan Gosling.

The director has opened up about tensions behind the scenes of the hit 2004 film, admitting the high drama helped to make the movie the instant classic it became.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the film, Cassavetes says Gosling butt heads with McAdams so much that he asked for her to be removed from the set.

"Maybe I'm not supposed to tell this story, but they were really not getting along one day on set. Really not. And Ryan came to me, and there's 150 people standing in this big scene, and he says, 'Nick, come here'.

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in 2007.

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in 2007.

Here's an extract of former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes' address to the National Press Club earlier this week. It's a quite a read. 

"I have never accepted the concept of "lifters" and "leaners", a Ming dynasty phrase which has lately gained currency. It's such a facile concept. We all move from one role to the other dozens of times a day.

When I walk down the street with my wife Maureen, I'm a leaner. But at the end of a long hard day for her, I put my arm around her in a supportive cuddle and become a lifter.

I prefer a more positive, and less judgmental society, where everyone's contribution is accepted and valued.  I want entrances where everyone - not just people who use steps - can come in. I communicate with Australian Sign Language (Auslan) so everyone - not just hearing people - can understand. This makes a more inclusive and more sustainable society."

Forty-five per cent of disabled Australians live in poverty, putting us last among OECD countries.

Forty-five per cent of disabled Australians live in poverty, putting us last among OECD countries. Photo: AFR

Looks like the US Embassy in Canberra knows how to throw a good party...

Australia and the US are co-operating in ways the public might not be aware of, Defence Minister David Johnston has told a US Independence Day celebration in Canberra.  

Mr Johnston said the two nations were "seeking security from country to country across maritime environments in a whole host of ways many of us don't even hear about".

He also said many Australians may not be aware of the 1100 US troops stationed in Darwin since the arrangement was going "so seamlessly, so beautifully and we are working so well together". 

The minister spoke of his role in the new defence agreement signed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President Barack Obama in Washington last month.

"For about a week John [US ambassador John Berry] and I had a five o'clock phone call to make sure the President and the Prime Minister had something to sign when first they met in Washington most recently," Mr Johnston said.

The American Embassy dressed up for the US Independence Day Celebration. Click for more photos

The US Embassy goes all out for early Independence Day celebrations.

The American Embassy dressed up for the US Independence Day Celebration. Photo: Jamila Toderas.

  • The American Embassy dressed up for the US Independence Day Celebration.
  • Cupcakes with icing prepared for the US Independence Day celebration.
  • Cupcakes with icing prepared for the US Independence Day celebration.
  • An image of American icon Benjamin Franklin is displayed ahead of US Independence Day celebrations.
  • The American Embassy has gone all out for Fourth of July celebrations.
  • The US Embassy goes all out preparing for Fourth of July celebrations.
  • The US Embassy goes all out preparing for Fourth of July celebrations.
  • The US Embassy goes all out preparing for Fourth of July celebrations.
  • Multi Award Winning New Orleans chef Tony McPhail, of Commander's Palace restaurant.
  • Multi Award Winning New Orleans chef Tony McPhail, of Commander's Palace restaurant.
  • Pork Belly with spicy mustard, prepared by Multi-Award Winning New Orleans chef Tony McPhail, of Commander's Palace restaurant.
  • US Ambassador John Berry arrives at the US Embassy.
  • US Ambassador John Berry looking joyful at the US Embassy.

The Australian commando who died of gunshot wounds in Afghanistan on Tuesday night was a veteran of several tours to the war-torn country, it is understood.

The Defence Force announced the soldier, a member of the elite, Sydney-based 2nd Commando Regiment, died after what was believed to be a non-combat incident at the Australian Defence Force headquarters in Kabul.

But it has declined to give details of the circumstances of the soldier's death while military police are investigating and said that the man's family had asked that no personal details be released.

Defence Force head Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin said the soldier's comrades found him with a gunshot wound about 2pm local time in an administration building. He was rushed to a hospital in the Afghan capital where he underwent emergency surgery.

''Sadly, the soldier's injuries were too severe and he later died surrounded by his mates,'' Air Marshal Binskin said. ''His death will impact the nation and we will do all we can to support his family, his friends and his colleagues through the difficult days ahead.''

-

- Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Looks like some Canberran politicians will be a little sleepy today after yet another late night watching the Wimbledon action.

Did you pick up a copy of our Nick Kyrgios poster in today's Canberra Times? You'll find it inside the back page of the paper.

The mother of all earthmoving equipment clearance sales – the dispersal of Hewatt Earthworks' fleet – could raise as much as $10 million next week.

Organised by Slattery Auctions, the event is to be held at Murrumbateman, near Yass, on July 10. Almost 100 items, including graders with a replacement value of more than $600,000, $400,000 bulldozers, and tip trucks that would have cost close to $300,000 new are all going under the hammer.

When the Hewatt group unexpectedly went into voluntary liquidation in May, there were fears the collapse would lead to delays and cost blow-outs on the $288 million Majura Parkway project. But Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury said on Tuesday work remains on schedule and on budget.

''Good progress continues to be made on site,'' he said. ''The bridge over the Molonglo River is now underway and the community can expect to see the main northbound section being progressively launched over the Molonglo River in coming months.''

Mr Rattenbury said the Majura Parkway should be finished by June 2016.

Hewatts equipment at Murrumbateman for auction

Hewatts equipment at Murrumbateman for auction Photo: David Ellery

Nick Kyrgios intends to watch the replays of his exceptional Wimbledon debut over and over, for what he has just done shows the Australian 19-year-old he has what is needed to carry him further at future grand slams.

Asked if he could return in a few years and win the Wimbledon title, Kyrgios said: “Yeah, I think I'm capable of doing something like that. I'm not going to put so much pressure on myself. I'm just going to do the work, do everything right. If my game continues to develop, I think, yeah, I do have a shot.’’

The day after his monumental effort to beat world No.1 Rafael Nadal on centre court, Kyrgios was eliminated in four sets by a rival who plays a little like he does. On Wednesday, eighth-seeded Milos Raonic, 23, was fresher, stronger and more damaging on serve. The Canadian hit 39 aces among 74 winners to achieve major semi-final status for the first time; Kyrgios must be content with his wildly unexpected place among the last eight.

Nick Kyrgios will move inside the top 70 after his run at Wimbledon.

Nick Kyrgios will move inside the top 70 after his run at Wimbledon. Photo: AP

Henry Belot: These facts we know: There are confirmed reports of Tamil refugees headed for Australia. They are Sri Lankan Tamils who had gone to India and set out from Puducherry.

Their English has a Sri Lankan accent, and their Tamil does not have a strong Indian-Tamil accent, so it is quite likely that they had been in India for only a short time. India has not signed the UN's Refugees Convention.

One boat was certainly carrying 153 people: 84 men, 32 women and 37 children. We have the names of four of the people on that boat. A person on that boat has been in contact with people in Australia. They expressed concern about the boat’s engine failing. They asked for help. They told the media they were Sri Lankan refugees seeking asylum in Australia.

The boat last made contact with Australia by phone on June 28 at about 10am. At that time, the boat was 175 nautical miles from Christmas Island. 

"And whatever the facts turn out to be, Morrison has treated the Australian public with contempt."

"And whatever the facts turn out to be, Morrison has treated the Australian public with contempt." Photo: Andrew Meares

Scores of women in Australia, the UK and New Zealand alleged the day after Rolf Harris was convicted in a London court of sexually assaulting four girls in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that they also had been attacked by the entertainer.

Harris, 84, who will be sentenced on Friday, faces the possibility of losing the bulk of his rumoured $20 million fortune to fend off compensation claims or if police consider laying further criminal charges.

Three Perth women, including high-profile radio host Jane Marwick, TV newsreader Verity James and local singer Louise Anton, were named in local media as having been assaulted by Harris.

However, police in Harris’s home state of Western Australia said the entertainer was not the subject of any current investigations.

Detective Superintendent Glen Feeney said if anyone came forward officers would investigate.

Convicted: Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris leaves court with wife Alwen and daughter Bindi.

Convicted: Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris leaves court with wife Alwen and daughter Bindi. Photo: Reuters

Let's take a quick look at the opinion pages. What's the talk of Canberra?

You say:

"There's no doubt that, given Canberra's population, this tramway is well before its time, and about the silliest project the Government has ever taken on."

Read all today's letters to the editor.

We say:

"China's economic ascendancy, and its leader's determination to parlay this into a globally dominant leadership role, is exercising the minds of politicians around Asia as never before."

Read today's editorial.

The quality of Australia’s $500 million aid effort to Indonesia is at risk from a “stampede” of local workers fleeing a “crippling work environment” imposed by Foreign Affairs bosses in Canberra, according to a local official.

DFAT has been warned of a “haemorrhaging of resources” in Jakarta as the Indonesians hired by Australia to administer aid projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars walk away from their jobs.

The manager, who left his Jakarta post last week, says about 50 “locally engaged staff” who worked for AusAID in the Indonesian capital have walked out the door since Foreign Affairs took over the aid agency nine months ago.

Foreign Affairs in Canberra played down the issue on Friday saying the loss of experienced staff was inevitable in a time of downsizing.

The staff “exodus” will come as a blow to the Abbott government’s policy of prioritising Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific region in Australia’s aid effort, with a pledge to be “more Jakarta and less Geneva”.

Story by Noel Towell.

Despite widespread and consistent accounts of abuses in Egyptian prisons, a senior Interior Ministry official insisted there was no such maltreatment occurring, and likened jailhouse conditions to a hotel stay.

Egypt's penal institutions, together with its judiciary system and police force, have emerged as particularly blunt instruments in the government's crackdown on political dissent. Authorities have mainly targeted supporters of former President Mohammed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood, but secular activists and foreign journalists like Australian Peter Greste have been snagged in the crackdown as well.

The past year has seen an enormous surge in Egypt's prison population, with thousands jailed under the military-backed interim government that took over after Dr Mursi was removed from office by the army amid mass protests against his rule. The then-defence chief, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, was inaugurated last month as president.

Australian journalist Peter Greste and two Al-Jazeera colleagues were sentenced to years in prison in Egypt last month.

Australian journalist Peter Greste and two Al-Jazeera colleagues were sentenced to years in prison in Egypt last month.

Good to see the briefing room at the White House was being used to good effect when the US took on Belgium for a chance to progress in the World Cup. The Americans ultimately suffered a loss to the Belgians who have been described as "a once in a generation" team.

Things are looking good up at Perisher for the weekend.

Perisher spokesman Richard Phillips said the resort was “100 per cent open” and “all systems go” with hopes of more fresh snowfall on Saturday.

“We’ve had a little more than 1.8 metres of snowfall over the past few fronts which is just fantastic for school holiday families,” he said. “That’s more snow than we’ve had at this time of year for many, many years.”

Perisher opened the new Freedom chairlift in Guthega on Monday which allowed snow-goers to see the peaks of Mount Kosciuszko and enjoy new terrain on the mountain.

“We built the chairlift over summer which has been a $4 million process that consumed a lot of our time,” Mr Phillips said.

“The chairlift really unlocks the Guthega area and a lot of new terrain for all levels of skiers and boarders.”

US President Barack Obama has used a speech at the University of California, Irvine, to make a rather impassioned defence of climate science.

"Today's congress though  is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence about climate change. They will tell you its a hoax, or a fad," he said.

Henry Belot: While Prime Minister Tony Abbott says renewable energy significantly increase electricity bills, a new study finds wind energy actually forced down wholesale power prices by more than $3.2 billion over six years - but that little of the savings flowed through to consumers.

Mr Abbott on Tuesday said the renewable energy target, which has largely driven investment in wind farms, was ''very significantly driving up power prices''.

''It's precisely the opposite,'' John Foster, one of the authors of the study that has been submitted to a review of the target, said. "The [target] – and the stimulation of wind – has increased supply and flattened out the expensive peaks."

For instance, modelling of 30 minutes of heavy demand for electricity in Victoria on January 31, 2011 showed the wholesale price of $1.4 million would have ballooned to $45.6 million had only coal and gas-fired power plants had been able to respond.

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Low price energy future?

Is Australia destined to be the low cost energy capital of the world?

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The ACT government will accelerate renewal of ageing public housing and add more properties as it attempts to relocate tenants affected by the redevelopment of Northbourne Avenue to within 800 metres of the corridor. 

Housing Minister Shane Rattenbury and Treasurer Andrew Barr said Tuesday's cabinet meeting resolved to give existing tenants the option to relocate within the city or move to Canberra's inner north. 

An internal light rail project plan leaked to The Canberra Times in May suggested the Gungahlin fringe area could include more townhouses and new apartments, and ''pockets of public housing within master-planned projects''.

Mr Rattenbury said new developments around Canberra would include public housing to maintain the existing "salt and pepper" approach, and the government would provide modest increases in social housing through new public-private partnerships and intelligent design. 

Henry Belot: The new kids in town are ready to go and playing nice at Senate school.

They have been waiting for months, but Australia's newest senators face one more hurdle before they officially take their places in the upper house: Senate boot camp.

For the next two days, the group of 12, including the powerful new crossbench, will undergo briefings on everything from how legislation works to voting and the nuances of Senate etiquette. They will also have a practice swearing-in.

Gusto levels were high as the new kids descended on Canberra on Wednesday ahead of the swot session.

''It's good to finally be here,'' Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie said while enjoying a coffee at an Independence Day celebration at the United States embassy.

Senator David Leyonhjelm in his first week as senator at Parliament House.

Senator David Leyonhjelm in his first week as senator at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The house fire in Gungahlin at Farmer Place has been extinguished by ACT Fire and Rescue.

Authorities are still reporting no injuries at the scene of the fire.

Henry Belot: Snow cover on the peaks behind Parliament House is likely to thin on Thursday and Friday although resort managers at Thredbo and Perisher are shouting from the mountain-top about the best start to the ski season in more than a decade. 

Weatherzone meteorologist Ben McBurney said snow on the Brindabellas was likely to become patchier in coming days although the peaks may receive another sprinkling of snow on Saturday.  

“Given temperatures have already risen into the positives [in Canberra] there will be a degree of melt with a lot of snow disappearing on the Brindabellas, although there should be some remaining patches of snow for the weekend,” he said.

But that's in contrast to the conditions at Perisher and Thredbo resorts.

“There’s some great snow cover up there and it’s safe to say Perisher and Thredbo would have about two metres of snow cover at the moment,” Mr McBurney said.

 

Eleanor Passlow and Alexandra Wright enjoying the snow at Corin Forest recreation park.

Eleanor Passlow and Alexandra Wright enjoying the snow at Corin Forest recreation park. Photo: Jay Cronan

Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius, on trial over the killing of his girlfriend, is suffering from post-traumatic stress and is a suicide risk, a South African court heard on Wednesday.

The diagnosis was contained in a psychological report read to the court by lawyer Barry Roux, who is defending Pistorius on charges that he deliberately shot and killed model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

"Mr Pistorius has been severely traumatised by the events that took place," Roux quoted the report as saying.

South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius arrives in court for his trial in Pretoria July 2, 2014. Pistorius is on trial for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his suburban Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year. REUTERS/Werner Beukes/Pool (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT CRIME LAW ATHLETICS) Click to play video

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Lawyer: Pistorius is 'severely traumatised'

Barry Roux, Oscar Pistorius's lawyer told a South African court that the athlete is suffering from post-traumatic stress.

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Looks like Andy Murray has quickly becoming Scottish again, rather than British. Murray's title defence came to an end against Grigor Dimitrov overnight.

There's been a crash on Jerrabomberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive in Narrabundah.

ACT Fire and Rescue are currently on the way to the scene.

We'll bring you more detail soon. Take care on the road.

He's a photo of US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel calling goalkeeper Tim Howard to let him know just how great he apparently is. Of course, the Defence Sec just happened to have a soccer ball in his office. But was this the same ball John Kerry kicked earlier this year?

That's a whole lot of cannabis...

Two illegal immigrants have pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis after more than 400 plants were uncovered in a sophisticated northside grow house. 

Four Chinese nationals were arrested over two grow houses which held $2.5 million worth of drugs following a series of police raids in April this year. 

The group, who were each charged with cultivating a commercial quantity of a controlled plant, appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning.

Police said they seized 800 cannabis plants and 17 kilograms of packaged cannabis from the houses as part of an investigation into cannabis supply in the Canberra region.

Facts tendered in court show they found 400 cannabis plants and uncovered a highly sophisticated hydroponic set up in one of the houses at Flynn.

Police seized more than $2.5 million worth of cannabis plants when they raided Canberra houses in April.

Police seized more than $2.5 million worth of cannabis plants when they raided Canberra houses in April. Photo: ACT Policing

American goalkeeper Tim Howard seems to be quite popular in the United States at the moment. He's received glowing praised from Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel who thanked him for defending the US.

The stunning performance by Canberra's Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon has sparked enormous pride in his home city, especially in the ACT tennis community.

Kyrgios' three-sets-to-one victory over world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the early hours of Wednesday morning has propelled the previously unknown unseeded 19-year-old into tennis conversations all around the world.

And while most Canberra children would have been asleep as Kyrgios secured his win on centre court in London, the buzz about the victory and the prospect of his bright future is likely to encourage many to pick up a racquet.

Friend of Kyrgios and tennis coach Robbie Manzano, who was coaching junior players at Reid Tennis Club on Wednesday, said members of Canberra's "Hot Shots" junior programs would be among the most inspired.

Junior tennis players Owen Bamford, 5, front, with his brothers Griffin, 11, left, and Lachlan, 13, all of Barton at the Reid Tennis Club, Canberra.

Junior tennis players Owen Bamford, 5, front, with his brothers Griffin, 11, left, and Lachlan, 13, all of Barton at the Reid Tennis Club, Canberra. Photo: Melissa Adams

Henry Belot: Continuing anger within the Greens over the party's ''perverse'' decision to block inflation-based adjustments to the federal petrol tax rate could spell fresh trouble for its leader, Christine Milne.

The Abbott government wants to restore indexation to the excise, which has been frozen at 38¢ a litre for 12 years. The move would add between 40¢ and 60¢ a week to the average household fuel bill.

Senator Milne, who first flagged supporting the change and then announced her party's opposition after losing the debate in her party room, could now face pressure for a second U-turn, this time led by a grassroots members' revolt.

NSW senator Lee Rhiannon is pushing to overturn the stance amid what one Greens member called ''despair'' across the green base.

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Low price energy future?

Is Australia destined to be the low cost energy capital of the world?

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Henry Belot: The world is Nick Kyrgios' oyster after his sensational Wimbledon victory over world No.1 Rafael Nadal looks set to open the door to million-dollar contracts, says celebrity agent Max Markson.

Markson said Canberra's Kyrgios had received phenomenal exposure through his four-set victory over the 14-time grand slam winner on Wednesday morning, which set up the quarter-final against Canada's Milos Raonic scheduled for overnight.

He has now taken over from the controversial Bernard Tomic as the face of Australian tennis. 

The high-profile manager, who lists Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Kim Kardashian as clients, thinks Kyrgios rocketing into the men's top 100 has started him on a path to potential career earnings in excess of $20 million – and that does not include endorsements.

Nick Kyrgios as a ballboy in Canberra at age 4. Click for more photos

Canberra teen tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios.

Nick Kyrgios as a ballboy in Canberra at age 4. Photo: Nill Kyrgios

Henry Belot: Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has summoned the team psychologist for an extra session with players after crushing World Cup pressure left some of them in tears, a report said.

Sports psychologist Regina Brandao made an "urgent" and unscheduled visit to their training camp on Tuesday, ahead of Friday's (Saturday AEST) quarter-final with Colombia, Folha de Sao Paulo said.

The visit came after panicky Brazil nearly crashed out against Chile before squeezing through on penalties, with Neymar, goalkeeper Julio Cesar, David Luiz and captain Thiago Silva all seen crying.

Scolari called Brandao on Monday and on Tuesday, she held a meeting with all the players and the technical team, according to Folha. She did not speak individually with players.

Emotional: Neymar was in tears after penalty shootout win over Chile.

Emotional: Neymar was in tears after penalty shootout win over Chile. Photo: AFP

Henry Belot: At least 180 ANU academics and post-graduate students are rebelling against their vice-chancellor over the deregulation of student fees, signing a petition to be presented to him on Thursday morning.

The group of academics and post-graduate students have formed a new opposition group to university fee deregulation proposals set out in Treasurer Joe Hockey's recent federal budget.

Academics in the group include Professor Desmond Ball, Professor Geremie Barme, Professor Mark Elvin, Dr Susan Harris-Rimmer, Professor Andrew Hassell and Emeritus Professor Nicholas Tapp. 

Professor Margaret Thornton will be one of the representatives of the group to meet the vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Young, on Thursday morning to present the petition. 

In a statement, Professor Thornton said she was concerned the proposed "equity" scholarships ignored current barriers to accessing higher education. 

She said "research indicates that fee deregulation is likely to entrench inequality in Australian society rather than ameliorate it".

There are a few new names walking around Parliament House today. Sam Warry has asked if anyone could have imagined Glen Lazarus as a Senator back in 1989?

ACT Fire and Rescue have been called to a house fire on Farmer Place in Gungahlin.

The incident was reported at 7.07am and firefighters arrived at the scene a few minutes later.

No injuries have been reported at this stage

Australian officials are secretly screening out asylum seekers who are still at sea via video link as two boatloads of would-be refugees are being transferred at sea into Sri Lankan custody.

A senior Sri Lankan naval official said the asylum seekers would be transferred to their navy. However another Sri Lankan official denied any transfer was taking place.

Fairfax Media understands asylum seekers are being asked just four basic questions before their claim for asylum is considered. Refugee lawyers and advocates say the screening process could result in Australia being in breach of international law.

''The screening process has real dangers,'' said lawyer Julian Burnside. ''If a person is screened out by those four cursory questions and if the person is a refugee then we will be guilty of refoulement. It is very clear the department is screening people to get them out as fast as possible and not with a view to assess whether they are refugees.''

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Andrew Meares

A big day for one of Canberra's new Senators.

Ricky Muir has taken the biggest step on his journey from obscurity to political power player. The novice senator drove eight hours from his home town of Denison, southern Victoria, to Canberra on Wednesday for his first day at work.

Joining the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party's first elected official on the road was wife Kerri-Anne and their five children in two cars between them.

They arrived in Canberra just before 3pm in time for his first official appointment: a 3.30pm meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

A nervous-looking Senator Muir was shepherded straight from a Commonwealth car by adviser Peter Breen, the former NSW independent, into Parliament's Senate entrance.

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- Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

No motor vehicle crashes to report on Canberra roads so far this morning. Let's keep it that way too.

Henry Belot: Our Canberra boy has been knocked out of Wimbledon but there's no shame in his defeat.

Nick Kyrgios will enter the world’s top 70, but not the Wimbledon semi-finals, having been unable to replicate his monstrous upset of Rafael Nadal against monster-serving Canadian Milos Raonic. He was tired, but he competed, admirably. There was disappointment, but certainly no shame.

Kyrgios was eliminated by eighth-seeded Raonic for the second consecutive grand slam, both times as a wildcard, this time 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). The 19-year-old’s tournament may be over, but so are those days of relying on grand slam handouts, or qualifying. He has a seat at the adults’ table now.

Canada's Milos Raonic (R) shakes hands with Australia's Nick Kyrgios after the former won their men's singles quarter-final match on day nine of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 2, 2014. Raonic won 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT  - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE Click to play video

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Raonic knocks Kyrgios out of Wimbledon

Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic defeated wildcard and tournament surprise package Australian Nick Kyrgios to progress to his first grand slam semi final on Wednesday.

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Henry Belot: Good morning and welcome to Thursday.

We'll be with you until 10am so hang around as we bring you everything you need to know before you start work and the day ahead. We'll also bring you traffic updates, local national and international news.

It's currently 4.2 degrees outside and the apparent temperature is 1.5 degrees. That's much warmer than the past couple of days.

Let us know what you're up to @canberratimes or via morningblog@canberratimes.com.au

 

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  • I wonder if he will be selling his share of the surfing goods stores he owns as well

    Commenter
    digda_beat
    Date and time
    July 03, 2014, 9:26AM

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