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Canberra Now: News in 90 seconds for Monday, March 20, 2017

Good morning Canberra,

Welcome to another Monday. This week looks like it could kick off with a literal bang, with potential thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon and early evening.

No surprises then that we're in for a warm one with a predicted top of 30 degrees and a 70 per cent chance of showers. The good news? Only four more days until Friday.

Let's take a look at the headlines.

Chemical crisis hits Canberra Airport

A new report shows significant economic benefits from developing Canberra Airport as an international air freight hub.

Canberra Airport. Photo: Canberra Airport

Steven Trask reports the chemical contamination crisis hitting Australian military bases is now flaring up at commercial airports across the country - including Canberra Airport.

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Harmful polyfluoroalkyl substances were first detected in the old fire fighting training ground in 2008. Ongoing investigations have found PFAS residues in the soil and groundwater around another site at the airport's fire station.

But officials are in fierce disagreement with the federal government about who should deal with the clean up.

Read more here.

Parliament forecourt to receive makeover

Tourists on the forecourt of Parliament House in Canberra.

Tourists on the forecourt of Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen / Fairfax

Parliament House's forecourt will celebrate its 29th birthday with a facelift. Doug Dingwall reports the Department of Parliamentary Services is seeking a contractor to design and construct the three-year, $29 million program of upgrades. 

The plan includes the restoration of the forecourt's leaky pond, an upgrade to the main public car park, better bicycle parking and pedestrian priority zones, and the replacement of emergency generators. 

An asset management plan developed two years ago is guiding a program of works to address problems with ageing infrastructure at the building.

The story here.

Apprentice shortage linked with unis

There has been a declining number of apprentices. Owner of Cataldos Emilio Cataldo, with 3rd year apprentice Jovana Durdev (behind), and Shae Thompson 16. Photo: Jamial Toderas

Owner of Cataldos Emilio Cataldo, with third year apprentice Jovana Durdev and Shae Thompson, 16. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Apprentice numbers are flagging and one Canberra business owner believes a focus on university education may be to blame. 

Michael Gorey spoke to Cataldo's Salon at Civic and Woden about plummeting apprentice numbers - in the four years to June 2016 there was a 42.8 per cent drop in new apprentices in the ACT alone. Apprentices and trainees now represent just 2.7 per cent of the Australian workforce, the lowest in a decade. 

"It's due to the strong push for Australia to be a clever country," Mr Cataldo said.

More here.

Planning laws flouted, says Liberals and Greens

Greens Party member Caroline Le Couteur. Photo Jay Cronan

Greens Party member Caroline Le Couteur. Photo: Jay Cronan

Liberal and Green politicians have accused the ACT planning directorate of allowing builders to contravene building approvals without repercussions. Kirsten Lawson writes that MLAs from both parties have drawn on a plethora of examples to illustrate their argument during a hearing last week.

One example included a garage wall in Narrabundah that Green Caroline Le Couteur said was much higher than the approved 3.4 metres. Read more here.

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Cathy Wilcox

Cathy Wilcox

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