Revolutionary new plan being considered to replace Sydney toll roads


Sydney’s motorists may be charged per kilometre in a revolutionary approach to paying for toll roads.
It’s an option being considered – along with giving free car rego to more people – by the NSW Government.

9News has learned a review has been ordered to look at easing the pressure on drivers being pinged at every turn.

A shake-up to Sydney's toll roads could see motorists charged by the kilometre.
A shake-up to Sydney’s toll roads could see motorists charged by the kilometre. (9News)

On average, Sydney’s motorists fork out around $1200 every year on tolls.

Users of WestConnex, NorthConnex, Eastern Distributor and M2 complain they are forced to either spend a fortune or face an eternity on suburban roads clogged up by toll avoiders.

They include truckies and commercial drivers skipping $23 one-way fees.

9News understands one answer being considered is a distance-based toll, with drivers potentially paying a fee per kilometre of road driven.

Another is to give free car rego to more people by lowering the eligibility threshold.

Currently, you pay nothing if you spend $1300 a year on tolls, or get it half-price if you pay $811 or more.

Toll road giant Transurban has said it is open to working with the government to make it cheaper for drivers, but their network is very lucrative.

The group’s revenue dropped 16 per cent nationally due to the pandemic, but in Sydney – thanks to a host of new roads opening – toll revenue actually increased by almost 8 per cent.

Shadow Transport Minister Chris Minns holds out little hope for the review sparing drivers massive annual increases.

“They are going to tinker around the edges but at the end of the day they’ve signed rock-solid contracts that screw over Sydneysiders,” he said.

Any renegotiation may help drivers, but at a cost to taxpayers.

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Scott Morrison wants overseas vaccination travel plan


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urgently asking medical experts to formulate a plan on how vaccinated Aussies can travel overseas and skip hotel quarantine upon return.

The PM said the country’s “main goal” was vaccinating the most vulnerable parts of the population, but said an international travel plan was “what I’d like to see happen next”.

“This is what I’ve tasked the medical experts with, is ensuring that we can know when an Australian is vaccinated here with their two doses, is able to travel overseas and return without having to go through hotel quarantine,” he told 6PR Perth Radio.

“I think we’re still some time away from that. The states, at this stage, I’m sure wouldn’t be agreeing to relaxing those hotel quarantine arrangements for those circumstances at this point in time.

“But what we need to know from the health advisers is what does make that safe and what does make that possible.”

Mr Morrison warned reopening the international borders now could result in more than 1000 cases of coronavirus a week.

“Vaccinations are not a silver bullet. We’ve never said they are,” he said.

“Australians have become very used to the fact … of having zero case numbers and zero community transmission.

“I don’t think Australians … would welcome restrictions and closures and borders shutting and all of those things, again, out of states concerned about the rising numbers of case numbers.

“So everyone needs to get on the same page with that. And so they’re the important threshold issues we’ve got to work together through as a national cabinet.

“And that’s why I’m calling them back together again to work on that same operational tempo that we were during the pandemic, because these are the challenges we need to solve together now.”

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton backed the PM’s plan and said he hoped for a home quarantine setup for vaccinated Aussie travellers “soon rather than later”.

“As quickly as we can and as the Prime Minister pointed out, if people have had properly recognised the vaccine, if they are living in London or the United States or anywhere else in the world and they want to come back home and see family or see their grandparents, bring their newborn grandchild back home, then we want to facilitate that as quickly as possible,” he told the Today show on Friday morning.

“But we just need to do it in a safe way.

“And if we are having a situation where people are coming back and bringing the virus back with them, then we will see community transmission – So again it is trying to get that balance right.

“But if we can get people away from hotel quarantine into home quarantine and people do the right thing, then you can scale up the numbers obviously much more significantly than if we are just relying on hotels.”

But Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Australians should have been home already.

“There are more than 40,000 Australians still stranded overseas,” Mr Albanese said.

“Scott Morrison said that Australians would be home by Christmas; that‘s Christmas 2020.”

Australia slammed its borders shut in March last year when the global coronavirus pandemic first began to unravel.

Just two weeks ago, Australia entered into an agreement with New Zealand allowing travel between the two countries.

Mr Morrison hinted at a travel bubble agreement with more countries ahead of the trans-Tasman travel arrangement’s official start on April 19.

“I think I can see a future where we could be in a similar arrangement with Singapore and we’re working on that now,” he said.

“Other Pacific countries, that’s possible. But when you’re talking about countries, you know, for example, like Indonesia or India or Papua New Guinea or countries where we know that the virus is in a very strong form, including in Europe and even still the United Kingdom, the United States. Australians, I don’t think would welcome the incursion of the virus into the country. So we have to weigh all of that up.”

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Creating brand awareness with an outside the box marketing plan


For years, the phrase “think outside the box” has been used as a metaphor to think differently, or unconventionally. When it comes to a marketing plan, many brands choose to invest in product related strategies that focus on what’s inside the box versus the outside of the box.

And, while it makes perfect sense to have a product forward marketing plan, ultimately, the very first interaction your customer will have with your product is in the unboxing experience. The excitement of a new purchase can be quickly deflated when a parcel arrives in a flimsy, ill-sized box.

On the other hand, most of us have had the experience of receiving a gift wrapped so enticingly that we’ve wanted to keep every single part of the wrapping!

Packaging provides every brand with a unique opportunity to speak to customers. Thoughtful packaging says, “we care about how you feel, and we want you to be excited when you receive our products.”

Creating an unboxing experience that delights has the potential to enhance and elevate your brand. Packaging that is tailored and customised can often be as marketable as the product itself. Never underestimate the power and storytelling ability of branded design, art and colours.

Create boxes and packaging that incite delight. Think about packaging as your Unique Selling Point – how does your packaging set your brand apart? When it comes to packaging, ask yourself:

  • Is it or could it become collectable?
  • Does it evoke feelings?
  • Will it start a conversation on social media?

When you develop a marketing plan consider the impact of packaging for:

Your product

It is important to work with a professional designer and a packaging team who understands your product; what it does, and the best way to story tell it. For example, the positioning of artwork can have an influence on where you want the customers attention. Use colours that have the potential to engage and convey happy emotions; think about product material choices – how they feel, their strength and durability. If your brand is eco-friendly, you should also consider the impacts of sustainability and reusability.

Your brand

Could you ever imagine Tiffany & Co without the blue box? Tiffany & Co is recognised around the globe because of their packaging, it is now a part of our pop-culture, our history and has inspired its own Tiffany blue pantone colour 1837. Create packaging that reflects your brand, that can be used to tell your story. Remember, a well-designed package that is unique and beautiful has a greater chance of being photographed and shared.

Your customer experience

Think about the amount of time and energy that goes into research and development to create the product you are about to launch. Now, consider your investment and put some thought towards the packaging, the first physical point of branding. How you chose to package your product creates a critical first impression and will determine the level of pleasure in the unboxing experience. Give your products the chance to come alive in the unboxing process – this is the real customer experience, where we can create feelings of excitement, happiness and trust.

Nina Nguyen, Founder, Pakko



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Wellington Travel Guide | Plan Your Holiday in Wellington


Beautiful and elegant, Wellington is the artistic, cultural and political centre of New Zealand. It boasts of museums, shops and cafes. Catch the cable car to Kelburn and make the journey back through the Botanic Gardens; admire the best city views from the Mount Victoria Lookout; stroll along the boardwalks and the foreshore; and try authentic Maori cuisine. This is a city with true British origins.



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Scott Morrison scraps COVID-19 vaccination deadline plan


Scott Morrison has scrapped plans to announce a new deadline to vaccinate all Australians by the end of the year against COVID-19 in an admission over the “uncertainties” surrounding the program.

Despite promising greater transparency on the rollout by providing daily updates on the number of people vaccinated, the Prime Minister confirmed on Sunday they will no longer commit to any targets on when the program will be fully completed or when most Australians will have their first jab

The Morrison Government had previously raised hopes that the majority of Australians would have their first COVID jab by the end of October with the majority of adults fully vaccinated in the two-jab vaccination program by the end of 2021.

“Each day we are now updating information on the roll out of the vaccine,” the Prime Minister said in a Facebook post outlining the latest figures.

“You can see that 1.16 million doses have now been administered, with over 465,000 given by our GPs. Another 1,000 GPs are expected to join the rollout this week, taking the total number to over 4,000.”

RELATED: Vaccine rollout is ‘unmitigated disaster’

media_cameraAustralia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has scrapped plans to announce a new deadline to vaccinate all Australians by the end of the year. Picture: Steven Saphore / AFP

But while the original program included a target for Phase A and Phase B for vulnerable people and frontline workers, the Prime Minister said these would no longer be updated or provided.

The Prime Minister will also not commit to a timetable on when most Australians are vaccinated, a necessary step to reopen international borders and relax hotel quarantine requirements.

“The Government has also not set, nor has any plans to set any new targets for completing first doses,” he said.

“While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved. We will just get on with the job of working together to produce, distribute and administer the vaccines as safely and efficiently as possible. These daily data reports will enable Australians to be kept informed of the progress.

“You will also be able to see how we are comparing to other countries, at the same stage of their roll out. The latest data shows that Australia’s vaccination programme is advancing consistent with comparable countries such as Germany, and ahead of Canada, Sweden, France, NZ, South Korea and Japan at the same stage of their rollouts.

“At the end of this past week, it’s also important to note that more than 142,000 doses have been administered to our aged care residents, in more than 1,000 facilities, with over 46,000 of these now being second doses in over 500 facilities.”

RELATED: Reporter’s bizarre claim about Scott Morrison refuted

Scott Morrison said he would now be releasing daily COVID-19 vaccination figures.
media_cameraScott Morrison said he would now be releasing daily COVID-19 vaccination figures.

The Morrison Government’s vaccine rollout has been hit by the revised medical advice over the AstraZeneca vaccine that it is not the preferred option for under 50s.

This decision was made because younger Australians are less likely to die from COVID if they contract it making the rare risk of a blood clot from the vaccine a higher risk from COVID according to some experts.

On April 8, the Prime Minister said the fallout would take some time for the Morrison Government to work through after it was hit with new health advice on Thursday night to advise anyone under 50 to consider the alternative Pfizer vaccine – if it’s available.

RELATED: Work begins on COVID vaccine in pill form

But he implied that a timetable may be offered down the track.

“In terms of what the overall implications are at this stage, it’s too early to give you that answer,’’ the Prime Minister said on Thursday.

“I mean, this now has to be considered. The impacts assessed. And the program evaluated and recalibrated and, once we’ve done that, we’ll be in a better position to understand those implications.”

But the Facebook post today implies that the political ramifications of a target are too great given the uncertainties over vaccine imports from Europe and any other updated medical advice in the future.

Earlier, Trade Minister Dan Tehan said it was still the government‘s hope that most Australian would be vaccinated before 2022.

RELATED: What we know about AstraZeneca vaccine blood clot concerns

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP
media_cameraThe AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP

“That’s definitely the aim, that’s the goal as we’ve said, to try and have all Australians have a dose by the end of the year. But we have to remember that we’re dealing with a pandemic, things can change,” he told Sky News.

However, Labor accused the Prime Minister of bungling the rollout. Labor’s health spokesman Mark Butler said it was crucial people get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“A range of experts in Australia were saying that best practice was to have more than four deals, five, six deals, the UK has seven deals on the table, to ensure redundancy in our system, to ensure there was a backup when something like the AstraZeneca advice arose,” Mr Butler said.

“The UK, for example, is also dealing with the fact they’re not going to be giving AstraZeneca to young people but they’ve been able to substitute the Moderna vaccine, a highly effective state of the art MRNA vaccine, and will soon be substituting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as well.”

Originally published as ‘Shambles’: PM scraps jab deadline plan



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Feral horse plan advocates shooting brumbies to save Victoria’s ‘vulnerable’ alpine region


Parks Victoria is advocating aerial shooting to control feral horse populations, when ground shooting is not feasible, to help protect the state’s fragile alpine region, a draft management plan for feral horses has revealed.

The state’s peak animal welfare group, the RSPCA, has given the draft plan its qualified support.

The draft plan, released last month, also rules out mustering and roping the horses and then rehoming them — a control method favoured by high country landholders.

Parks Victoria also plans to do its own trapping and will allow approved landholders to take the feral horses if they can provide a suitable home for the animals.

Some exclusion fencing will also be built.

The plan was delayed last year when high country cattleman Philip Maguire applied to the Supreme Court to stop feral horse culling, but both his initial challenge and appeal were lost.

The new feral horse control plan will map out Parks Victoria’s actions for the next decade.

The agency estimates feral horse numbers in Victoria’s alpine region doubled from 2014 to 2019 when a survey showed the population rose from about “2,300 to 5,000 horses”.

A Parks Victoria spokesperson said culling horse numbers was more important than ever after the 2019-20 fires “wiped out large areas of habitat in the Alpine National Park”.

“The areas less affected by fire now provide the critical intact habitats for threatened native alpine wildlife species such as the alpine she-oak skink, alpine tree frog and alpine spiny crayfish,” a spokesperson said.

The new draft plan has been welcomed by environmental group Victorian National Parks Association, with its spokesman Phil Ingamells saying humane shooting of the animals must be done because alpine regions need to be repaired.

“The risk of species extinctions is very real in the context of a warming and drying climate, increased fire frequency, weed invasion, predation and habitat destruction caused by introduced species,” he said.

Mr Ingamells said that while rehoming was preferable, the practice would never be able to remove enough of the feral horses in the region.

“It’s not ever going to be a solution for the majority of the population, they have 6,000 horses in the Alpine National Park and there aren’t 6,000 good homes.”

An RSPCA Victoria spokeswoman said the animal welfare group supported aerial shooting in open areas with flat terrain.

The spokeswoman said any aerial culling program should be subject to regular review and must cease immediately if there were any adverse animal welfare outcomes.

“Data collected on these programs should also be made publicly available,” she said.

However, others are not happy about the draft plan, including East Gippsland Shire Councillor Sonia Buckley, who last year released a documentary called Save the Brumbies.

She agreed feral horses were a problem but said she wanted Parks Victoria to form a management board that included high country residents, similar to the former feral dog management groups abolished by the current Labor government.

“To support and advocate for innovative solutions using locally based, skilled management practices, such as brumby runners,” Cr Buckley said.

Brumby running, or mustering, is a practice where people on horseback capture the feral horses out in the bush — and Cr Buckley says there’s a market for the feral horses.

Cr Buckley said controlling the horses with aerial shooting was inhumane and ineffective and it “should be completely off the table”.

Cr Buckley said introducing “cruel practices” such as aerial shooting was like sanctioning a crime.

She also questioned the number of horses that Parks Victoria estimated were running wild in the state’s alpine region and claimed there were only about 2,000 feral horses. 

Victorian Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull agreed the horses should not be culled.

He said rehoming the feral horses should be used as the go-to method to control numbers in alpines regions, rather than shooting.

“We also have a number of people that come to our region to look at the brumbies and see the brumbies — they are somewhat of a tourist attraction,” he said. 

The draft plan is open for comment until April 23.

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Despite no EU regulatory approval of Sputnik V, Germany to hold bilateral talks with Russia to plan purchase of Covid-19 vaccine



Germany has made plans for bilateral talks with Moscow over possible deliveries of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, should the European Union opt to verify the Russian jab, with a view to Berlin receiving doses as fast as possible.

Germany’s intent to enter negotiations with Russia was announced on Thursday by Health Minister Jens Spahn, confirming a previous report by British news agency Reuters and based on unnamed sources.

“I explained on behalf of Germany to the Council of Health Ministers of the EU, that we would discuss bilaterally with Russia, first of all, to know when and what quantities could be delivered,” the minister told WDR.



Also on rt.com
Italian politician, tired of waiting for his turn at home amid slow EU rollout, comes to Moscow to get Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine


The EU’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is yet to approve Sputnik V. Despite it not being registered by the bloc, two EU countries, Hungary and Slovakia, have already unilaterally imported and started using the vaccine. Austria has also signaled that it will purchase doses.

Sputnik V has received praise in Germany from figures in the medical field, with the country’s vaccines agency chief Thomas Mertens calling it “cleverly built.”



Also on rt.com
‘I would be vaccinated with Sputnik V’: German pharma CEO praises Russia’s vaccine & ‘outstanding scientists’


Earlier this week, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed that, despite deals with many other nations, the country’s domestic need for doses supersedes any plans to export abroad. For this reason, many Sputnik V doses used in other countries are produced abroad.

Like this story? Share it with a friend!

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NSW’s Tasmanian COVID quarantine plan rejected by Premier Peter Gutwein, Hobart Mayor Anna Reynolds


The Tasmanian Government has rejected a proposal from NSW to have international students quarantine in hotels in Hobart.

NSW Treasurer Dom Perrottet told a budget estimates hearing in Sydney on Monday that he had held “extensive discussions” with his Tasmanian counterparts about a “potential plan” to have returning international students quarantine in Hobart.

“We have had extensive discussions and I can assure you we will continue to prosecute the case because of the economic impacts of this industry,” Mr Perrottet said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein confirmed his government had received an approach from NSW.

“At this time, however, we have advised this is not under consideration, with our priority remaining the safe management of seasonal workers entering the state and our own international students when public health advice is that it is safe to do so,” Mr Gutwein said.

Tasmania has been free from coronavirus since December, when a family of four returning from overseas tested positive.

There were zero people in hotel quarantine in the state as of Monday night.

Hobart’s lord mayor says hotels are not purpose built to be quarantine facilities.(

ABC News: Luke Bowden

)

Hobart mayor Anna Reynolds told ABC Mornings she would not support her city becoming a quarantine hub for other states.

“We’ve got our own international students who are people that are halfway through their degrees at UTAS that probably want to come back, so if we’re going to be developing a program of quarantine for international students why wouldn’t we do that for our own international students,” she said.

Ms Reynolds added that she believed the hotel quarantine model needed an overhaul.

“Enough’s enough — we have to actually find a different solution and facilities that are purpose-built for quarantine, which hotels are not,” she said.

“Hotels in CBDs in particular are really unsuited.”

Mr Perrottet issued a statement in response to the Tasmanian snub, saying: “I remain committed to finding a way to return this vital industry to NSW and will continue to work constructively with colleagues such as Mr Gutwein to find a solution.”

More details about the current COVID measures are available at the Tasmanian Government’s coronavirus information website.

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Community feedback invited for Domestic Animal Management Plan 2022-2025


The City is inviting the whole community to provide
feedback and suggestions on domestic animal-related topics in the development
of the Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) 2022 – 2025.

With approximately 45,000 registered cats and dogs,
Greater Geelong has one of the largest animal populations of any Victorian
municipality.

Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994,
every Victorian local government must prepare a plan outlining how it will
manage dogs and cats within its municipal boundaries.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said it was
important we heard from all residents in the development of the plan – even
those without pets.

For many residents, dogs and cats play important
roles in their lives, often serving as extended members of the family.

It’s important we hear from residents, those with
and without pets, to ensure we are meeting community needs and expectations in
the management of domestic animals.

I encourage all residents to think of the domestic
animal-related topics and issues they’d like us to address and to submit it via
the online engagement.

The DAMP identifies how Council will:

  • help pets, pet owners and the general
    community to live together;
  • protect the environment and local wildlife
    from the negative impacts of dogs and cats;
  • balance the needs of those who own pets with
    those who do not;
  • address animal management welfare and legal
    issues;
  • promote responsible pet ownership; and
  • improve the experience of animal ownership.

Community feedback submitted to previous plans has
strengthened the City’s focus on developing additional dog parks in the region,
resulted in new branding to improve visibility and identification of the City’s
animal management team and informed the introduction of a cat curfew in 2009.

Feedback can be
submitted up until 4pm Friday 23 April at yoursay.geelongaustralia.com.au/DAMP-2022-2025.

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Disney’s plan to rule TV and movie world can’t succeed


Disney has revealed the next stage in its evil plan to rule the entertainment world, presumably while stroking a white cat and speaking from a secret lair in an abandoned volcano.

I don’t know if its public relations department was tied up and suspended over a lake filled with hungry sharks while this was going on but I certainly like to think so.

Still, the good news is, Disney seems to believe things will be getting back to normal by September.

Black Widow, its first big Marvel movie that it’s had sitting in the garage since the pandemic will be coming out in July, instead of May.

While it will be released on Disney+ as well as cinematically, the next Marvel movie behind it, Shang Chi, will be released purely in the cinemas in September.

Disney’s smaller movies, coming from the 20th Century division it bought recently, will also get a proper cinematic release from August onwards.

Obviously, Disney believes the US vaccination program will have advanced sufficiently by then so that cinemas will again be a viable proposition.

I do find it interesting that it is apparently willing to sacrifice Black Widow, however.

I know this is a movie out of place, given that Black Widow is dead and won’t be taking any further part in the Marvel universe.

So Disney is obviously using it as a canary in the coal mine — if a spider can be compared to a canary.

Anyway, before that metaphor gets any more mixed, the point is if Black Widow does well in July, then Disney can be pretty certain Shang Chi will pull in big numbers in September.

If Black Widow’s numbers fall like a spider hit by a blast of Mortein, then they can postpone Shang Chi for a bit longer.

Of course, this means that another female-led Marvel movie will suffer … but that obviously doesn’t bother Disney.

For Australia, this means we can start to return to cinemas in far bigger numbers than we have been by mid-year.

Assuming, of course, that Victoria doesn’t bugger things up and start another pandemic.

At least here, I think Australians will be confident enough of returning to cinemas en masse once the big movies are out. I’m not sure about the US and UK. I hope people there don’t just sit at home and wait for things to drop onto Disney+.

Interestingly enough, Disney was also boasting its new TV show Falcon And The Winter Soldier achieved “record” viewing numbers on a Disney+.

It claims more people watched Falcon than The Mandalorian or WandaVision.

While numbers for Mandalorian built rapidly as word spread of Baby Yoda, I’m not sure the same thing will happen for Falcon.

Unlike the tightly written and fascinating WandaVision, Falcon is flabby and overdone and needs to get more interesting quickly.

I do think it’s amusing (and also sad) that Disney was so sure a story about two minor male characters was going to be better than a series about a fascinating female hero in Wanda.

But I’m not entirely heartbroken if Falcon stays pretentious and dull.

If people think that Disney’s TV is a bit blah and movies are back in the cinemas, then Disney’s plan to rule the entertainment world can’t succeed.

And we won’t even need a preposterous escape scene and unbelievable plot twist to see the evil mastermind defeated.



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