January 12, 2011 / 8:26 PM / 8 years ago

PRESS DIGEST-Australian General News - Jan 13

Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (www.afr.com)

Queenslands flood crisis continued yesterday, with the death toll of 22 expected to rise over coming days. The centre of Brisbane was yesterday mainly deserted, with the offices of most major businesses shut down in preparation for expected flooding of the central business district today.

Yesterday afternoon, power had been cut to more than 15,000 homes and businesses in the city. Page 1.

Insurance companies yesterday ruled out making voluntary payments to flood-affected Queenslanders whose home insurance does not cover flood damage.

More than half of home insurance policies in the state do not include flood protection, with only Suncorp , which has a 40 percent market share, offering automatic flood cover.

Insurance Australia Group , Allianz and QBE Insurance Group refuse to offer flood protection in the state, while RACQ offers optional coverage. Page 1.

The Australia Bureau of Statistics yesterday reported that the number of home loans issued in November rose 2.5 percent to a 12-month high.

The result has surprised market economists, who had predicted that a rise in mortgage interest rates that month would push down new mortgage numbers by around 1 percent.

New lending to property owner-occupiers has now risen by almost 10 percent since April. Page 3.

The Federal Government yesterday approved an exemption to rules surrounding the broadcast of major sports, allowing Seven Group Holdings to broadcast parts of the Australian Open tennis tournament on one of its digital-only channels.

Last year Seven Network was heavily criticised for cutting away from its coverage of the tournament to show the evening news and a soap opera. Page 3.

THE AUSTRALIAN (www.theaustralian.news.com.au)

More than 30,000 properties in Brisbane are expected to be flooded today, with the Brisbane River set to peak at a high of 5.2 metres early this morning.

Although the flooding is below the 5.45 metre peak reached in 1974, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday noted that the city is much bigger, much more populated and has many parts under flood that didnt even exist in 1974. Page 1.

Flood engineers at Queenslands Wivenhoe Dam were yesterday able to start reducing the volume of water being released, after increasing the amount of water released from the dam on Tuesday night for the safe management of the dam.

The dam, above the Brisbane River, had come close to the point at which water would have gone over its secondary spill, leaving engineers with no control over flow rates. Page 2.

Brisbane supermarkets were yesterday selling out of basic supplies such as drinking water, tinned food and batteries as the citys residents prepared for flooding that could last up to a week.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the buying was not an indication of panic, and that it was preferable for supermarket shelves to be emptied before roads are cut by flooding and residents isolated. Page 3.

Supermarket chain Coles yesterday said it had started airlifting food and grocery supplies to Queenslands Hervey Bay, with the area currently cut off from road and rail freight due to flooding. Supermarket group Woolworths is also using alternative routes, and may use ocean-going barges to supply the Townsville area if roads to the region remain impassable over coming days. Page 6.

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (www.smh.com.au)

A plan introduced by Brisbane City Council in 2006 to purchase homes from residents in low-lying parts of the city was turned down by most of the owners, it was revealed yesterday. Of the 400 eligible properties, just 19 had been sold back to the council in 2008.

The University of Queenslands Professor Colin Apelt said areas that have been flood-prone in Brisbane, a significant number of people have lived there for years and they’re very attached to the area. Page 2.

The town of Grafton in northern New South Wales was on alert last night, but citizens were hopeful the Clarence River levee would hold.

All towns between Grafton and the coast were cut off by floodwaters and homes along the river had been evacuated. Despite evacuation warnings, many residents in the area have been unwilling to leave, with one saying this is an open plain, the waters got a long way to spread. Page 6.

The art world paid tribute to indigenous artist Makinti Napanangka yesterday, who passed away this week.

Ms Napanangka, a Pintupi woman born in the Lake Macdonald area, was one of the first recognised female artists from the western desert and won the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2008.

I think she will assume legendary status like Emily Kngwarreye. She certainly deserves it, said Hetti Perkins, a senior curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Page 7.

A New South Wales upper house inquiry into the A$5.3 billion sale of state-owned electricity assets was given support yesterday by the president of the Legislative Council, Amanda Fazio.

The Labor MP said she would not withhold any of the resources of the Legislative Council from the committee undertaking the inquiry, but NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, who had Parliament prorogued last year, stood by her position that inquiries cannot be held while parliament is closed. Page 7.

THE AGE (www.theage.com.au)

500 animals being kept at Brisbanes RSPCA shelter were taken into foster care yesterday as rising water began to flood the facility.

All of the animals had been taken into care by the time the floodwaters arrived and destroyed a clinic, quarantine area, farmyards and offices.

Chief inspector Mick Pecic said the society sent out an SOS for help and the response was enormous. A temporary shelter will be set up at Brisbanes RNA Showgrounds. Page 2.

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key made an offer to the Australian Government yesterday to send hundreds of defence force personnel to relieve exhausted Anzac colleagues dealing with the Queensland floods.

The deployment will include police divers, search and rescue workers and Civil Defence staff. Citing assistance provided by Queenslanders in the September earthquake and the Pike River mining disaster, Mr Key said its only fitting that we try to do whatever we can to support Queensland in return. Page 3.

Research from Switzerland published in the latest British Medical Journal found that cardiovascular risk needs to be taken into account when prescribing any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

In response to the report, Foundation Chair of Rural Pharmacy at Charles Sturt University, Professor Patrick Ball, yesterday recommended people limit the use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as Nurofen when not prescribed by a doctor. Page 7.

Data released by the Bureau of Statistics yesterday showed that the ratio of job-seekers to job vacancies was three to one in November last year, close to the all-time best ratio of 2.5 to one.

The 194,000 vacancies represented a significant increase from the same month the previous year, when there were 151,000 unfilled places. The majority of jobs were in the retail, food services and accommodation industries, while vacancies in the mining sector had doubled in 12 months. Page 7.

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