The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on January 1, 1997 · Page 4
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia · Page 4

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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Wednesday, January 1, 1997
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Page 4
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4 THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 1997 'Cientists warn of threat to uni standards By LEIGH DAYTON Science Writer A glut of universities in Australia threatens to lower the quality of the nation's science teaching and research, according to the peak organisation representing working scientists. Government cuts have left science departments across the country scrambling to maintain the top-quality equipment and staff needed to ensure that teaching and research are at "internationally competitive" levels, said Dr Joe Baker, president of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, (FASTS). The Federal Minister for Science, Mr McGauran, disagreed. "It's not so much a matter of fewer universities, it's more a need for greater utilisation and sharing of existing resources between universities," he said. "We are already seeing examples of facilities sharing their expertise in certain areas." Dr Baker, who spoke yesterday on behalf of 40,000 scientists and technologists, urged universities to tackle the problem of "inadequate funding" for science through careful restructuring or possible amalgamation and shared teaching. CD buyers cast their net wider and save By GRETCHEN MILLER The Federal Government will soon address the high cost of compact discs, but the availability of CDs over the Internet could, make their work redundant A committee of five Federal departments headed by the Department of Communications and the Arts will make a decision on CD prices early this year, having taken submissions from major music industry organisations such as the Australian Record Industry Association, said the committee chairwoman, Dr Kay Daniels. But keen music lovers fed up with high prices are bypassing government and industry quibbles over sales tax and parallel imports by using the Internet They ' not only avoid the 22 per cent tax which earns the Federal Government $100 million a year but have also given away store hopping by shopping for the best overseas prices with a click of a button, said industry analyst and publisher of the Australasian Music Industry Directory, Mr Phil Tripp. There are close to 300 sellers of CDs on the Internet and each one has between 100,000 to 160,000 titles to chose from, "probably three times what you can find in the stores", he said. Australian consumers pay far more than their American and Asian counterparts for top selling CDs although our prices are similar to those in Britain and Europe. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill can be bought here for around $30, or $24.95 with a discount from the bigger stores. But visit any number of American Internet electronic brochures on your computer and you get the album for around $14. Postal rates of ACHIEVER ACCOUNT ACCOUNT BALANCE INTEREST RATE First $1,000 .....0.5 p.a. Between $1,001 and $20,000...........1.5p.a. Between $20,001 and $50,000..! 2 p.a. Every dollar over $50,000..... ...3 p.a. STATEMENT ACCOUNTS (CashcardDebit Visa CardCheque Book) ACCOUNT BALANCE INTEREST RATE First $1 ,000 ...........0.5 p.a. Between $1,001 and $20,000...........1.5p.a. Between $20,001 and $50,000..:.........2p.a. Every dollar over $50,000......; .3p.a. SUPER SAVER ACCOUNT.............! .5 p.a. CALL ACCOUNT. 1 .5 p.a. NOTICE OF WITHDRAWAL ACCOUNT. 1 J5 p.a. CHRISTMAS CLUB ACCOUNT.:...: 1.5 p.a. MONEY MINDER ACCOUNT... . .. . -1.5 p.a. DOUBLE EQUITY ACCOUNT.... . .. 2.5 p a Mortgage Offset Account Passbook and Visa (Interest calculated daily and offset monthly). Rates quoted are subject to change. Unless they did this, he said "external bodies" would take the hard decisions for them. The warning came as FASTS released its "top 10" issues for 1997. Also on the list were recommendations that the Federal Government determine a ."national vision" for sustainable development, supported by science and technology; work to establish career paths for young scientists; and increase funding for basic science. However, the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee rejected FASTS' claim that Australia had too many universities to maintain high-quality scientific standards in all disciplines at all institutions. "Given the global economy in which we have to operate, it is essential that Australia have a highly educated population, and to achieve this it needs a comprehensive and diversified university system," , said the committee's deputy executive director, Mr John Mullarvey. "Thus it is essential that we continue to expand the Australian University sector and not reduce it as this Government is doing," said Mr Mullarvey. He said the committee was CD COSTS LOCAL RETAILERS V THE INTERNET CONNECTION Prices for Blockbuster i Jagged Little Pill, a $30.95; I Alanis Morlsette i Falling into You, $29.95 i Celine Dion k Forgiven, Not Forgotten, $24.95 v $24.95 $$24.95 $15.92 ) The Corrs I (What's The Story) $21.95 $24.95 $27.95 $17.15 i Morning Glory, I Oasis - ,Tvwn I Torn Crdlds, , ,, .TbhlChflds i Recurring Dream - . , ,Th3VeryBestof ,(t CD Connection (www.cdconnectioniomjr prices $A, do not.j ? V:- include postage around $14 make it hardly worthwhile, but the rates drop substantially with each extra CDs ordered buy nine CDs and it is just $4 per CD: buy more and it drops further. The Internet also has huge search systems to find the most . obscure album, and allow you to try before you buy free, Mr Tripp said. It is cold comfort to Australian stores that their American counterparts are going broke over the price wars which Australian consumers want them to emulate. The Australian record chain Sanity, which doubled its outlets this year, and along with an HMV expansion caused a momentary 15 per cent leap in the number of wholesale CDs bought in Austra By NICK PAPADOP0UL0S Three people were killed and another three were injured in a horrific head-on crash on the Pacific Highway near Port Mac-quarie yesterday. The triple fatality pushed the NSW Christmas-New Year holiday road toll to 19 and shattered hopes that the State would record its lowest yearly road tell since 1949, when 534 people died. A total of 585 people died in 1996, compared with 620 the year before. Meanwhile, the national holiday road toll stood at 59 last night, five more than for the same time last year. Police said yesterday investigations were continuing into the triple fatality, which occurred at Kew about 6.40 am, but they believed a south-bound Ford sedan veered to the wrong side of the highway and crashed into an oncoming four-wheel-drive vehicle. Scores of police, five ambulances and a rescue helicopter went to the scene and extensive traffic delays were caused as the highway was blocked in both directions for more than three hours. Those killed were in the sedan a 56-year-old man from Lane Cove and two female passengers, a 30-year-old woman from Dundas and a 46-year-old woman from Lane Cove. Their bodies were trapped in the wreckage for an hour after the crash. A fourth person in the car, and the driver and passenger of the four-wheel-drive, were all injured and were taken to hospital One particularly concerned about increases in the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) for science courses. The FASTS statement also called upon the Federal Government to take "remedial action" should the HECS fees trigger a drop in science enrolments. Under proposed changes announced in August by the Federal Government, the cost of obtaining a degree would rise dramatically, with science and engineering courses almost doubling from $2,442 per year to $4,700 annually. Institutions such as the University of NSW anticipate that enrolments in science courses could fall by about 15 per cent Responding to FASTS' "New Year's Resolutions for Government", a spokesperson for the Acting Minister for Education, Dr Kemp, denied suggestions that changes introduced by the Government would diminish university science. "Changes introduced by the Government are encouraging universities to restructure and concentrate on what they do best, encouraging greater diversity and improved quality across the higher education sector." this week's top six albums Brashs Payless CDs INTERNI $24.95 $24.95 $13.73 $24.95 $27.95 U18.68 $29.95 $24.95 $24.95 NA $27.95 $24.95 $24.95 $15.95 lJ y A lia, says it cannot and will not drop its prices. "In America the major players are all going broke," said Sanity's general manager, Mr Daniel AgostinellL- While Sanity did not try to compete in the mini-price war among major retailers, a huge demand meant it had not only survived but flourished. Specialisation was the way to survive, with Sanity aiming at the dance market while also covering the top 40 albums, Mr Agostinelli said. American Internet companies and their prices were likely to remain competitive, Mr Tripp said. Going broke was not an issue as they had low staff overheads and were basically shipping and packing organisations. EfV V I Triple fatality remained in a critical condition last night Police also revealed yesterday that a major strategy to reduce speeding will be launched this year. They released figures showing that 50,000 motorists had been booked for speeding in NSW since December 20. Thirty-four per cent of fatal crashes involved' speed. Across Australia, 18 people have died so far during the holiday period in Queensland, 10 in Victoria, six in Western Australia and five in South Australia. One person has died in Tasmania while the Northern Territory and the ACT remain fatality free. An expert on road safety and chairman of the Australian Advisory Committee on Road Trauma, Dr Michael Henderson, said yesterday that despite the declining road toll in NSW in recent years, far too many people were still dying on the roads. A total of 647 people died in 1994 compared with 581 in 1993. and 649 in 1992. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the road death toll was consistently over 1,200 but plummeted in 1983 to 966 following the introduction of random breath testing in December 1982. Dr Henderson said the compulsory wearing of seatbelts and child restraints, the introduction of speed cameras and radar, and improvements in vehicle safety' and air bags had also contributed to the decline. But he warned: "I don't think there are any more silver bullets. There's not going to be any dramatic measures that will have the effect of compulsory seatbelts $r "' jm l :: . jrs I ?' Ar; " -: Vf:'w. V jw ..." - r I - - I I .sX, V-i Mi ,j iyshi' 'v' -:-'A t iVvX ' l " :r- - Among the ashes ... Mr Steve Wells with his wife Jayne, their son Raymond, and Steve's father Clarence. They escaped a fire two days before Christmas but are counting the financial cost of not having an alarm. photograph by robert pearce Lives saved by the alarm ring home truth on smoke detectors By NATHAN VASS The good news: fires in homes with smoke alarms killed no-one in NSW between 1987 and 1995. The bad news: in homes without smoke detectors, fires killed 223 people. The simple but sobering story told by these statistics, which were revealed yesterday by NSW Fire Brigades, struck a chord with Mr Steve Wells, whose family home in Joseph Street, Ashfield, was hit by fire two days before Christmas. The 120-year-old home did not have a fire alarm. It was also uninsured. Mr Wells was thankful he managed to usher his children safely out of the burning home that early evening, but was clearly shaken by the evidence in support of smoke alarms. "I was blase about smoke alarms before the fire. But to think I could have lost my family ... I was lucky, mate." The house was not so lucky. The fire, which was lit by one of Mr Wells's young children using his father's cigarette lighter, destroyed the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and a bedroom. Walls and ceilings towards the front of the home were scorched black; so intense was the heat that fruit inside the refrigerator was later found blistered and charred. . Mr Wells believes the damage would not have been so severe if he had been alerted by a smoke alarm as the fire sparked to life. By the time he saw smoke drifting into the main section of the home from the laundry, the flames were already out of control. pushes holiday road toll to 19 Highway carnage ... the scene on the Pacific Highway near Port Macquarie yesterday morning after a Ford sedan and a four-wheel-drive vehicle crashed head-on, killing three people and injuring three others, pushing the 1996 NSW road toll to 585. and random breath testing." He said evidence showed that up to one-third of fatally injured occupants had not been wearing seatbelts and 30 per cent of fatal crashes were associated with alcohol. . Since 1970, Australia has jumped from 18th position to ninth in a road safety "league ladder" of 21 OECD countries, slashing its fatality rate from 30.4 per 100,000 population to 10.8 in 1994. About 2,000 people die on the nation's roads each year. 1.500 "Ten seconds later, it was overpowering," he said. "It was just so fast." The family's bad luck continued when he tried to use the garden hose in a last-ditch attempt to douse the flames. The plastic hose connection to the tap was broken, leaving the water to gush uselessly onto the lawn. According to NSW Fire Brigades figures, smoke alarms reduce the risk of death and injury from house fires and also restrict the amount of damage. On average, a fire causes $19,104 worth of damage to a home without an alarm; for a house with an alarm, the average is just over $9,000. The statistics also show that, in homes with alarms, fires are more contained to where they start. NSW ROAD TCLL A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE " - ' '' r t'.'.t' t . i , i t-,j i,,iLi,,.'i i i j i li it i i f The Minister for Emergency Services, Mr Debus, said the fire brigades' research showed the value of smoke alarms. "You could hardly imagine a clearer demonstration of the need for all households to have a smoke alarm, or any clearer demonstration of why I'm asking people to make the installation of a smoke alarm their New Year's resolution." He said only 20 per cent of homes had smoke alarms 18 months ago. Following a publicity campaign, 60 per cent of homes now had detectors. Battery-operated alarms cost about $15, while hard-wired alarms are about $100 to install. All new houses in NSW are required to have smoke alarms, but older homes are exempt. NEWS IN BRIEF Costly burnout A Sydney youth yesterday had his car confiscated for doing a 10-second "burnout", with flames shooting from his tyres in a public car park in Monterey, in Sydney's south. Police said the youth was issued with an infringement notice and had his car confiscated for three months under the new Street and Illegal Drag Racing Act Tiger tests The results of pathology tests due in the next few days should determine whether a two-year-old white Bengal tiger was deliberately poisoned at a Gold Coast theme park over the weekend. Kyla, one of six tigers at Dreamworld's Tiger Island, was found dead in her enclosure on Sunday morning. Rabbits gone The rabbits that plagued the Simpson Desert have been all but wiped out only two months since the fatal calicivirus was released there. A South Australian Parks and Wildlife spokesman said that a field trip revealed that where there were once millions of rabbits, there were "virtually no rabbits to be seen". Sand boy better A nine-year-old boy who was buried by a collapsed sand tunnel at Bilgoa Beach on Sunday was released from the Prince of Wales Children's Hospital yesterday. The boy had been found by his mother unconscious, stuck head first about one metre deep in the sand with only his feet protruding. Hanson hair plea Controversial MP Pauline Hanson should soften her hair could draw her more sympathetically, a Brisbane hair stylist believes. Steve Ackerie, known as Stefan, said yesterday he would like to tame her red hair down a bit, as cartoonists could be very unforgiving. Spinal injuries A 13-year-old boy suffered suspected spinal injuries when he fell off his waterskis on the Wyangala Dam, near Cowra, in central-western NSW yesterday. He was treated by ambulance officers before being taken by helicopter to hospital in Sydney. Body found in sea The body of one of three men missing after going fishing in a boat off the south-west coast of Western Australia was found yesterday. Police said a search plane spotted debris near Cape Naturalist, 266 km south of Perth, and the body was located by a rescue boat Gaming expands Video gaming machines will expand into Tasmanian clubs and pubs today for the first time. Gaming machines have been limited to the Wrest Point and Launceston casinos, but the State Government decided to expand their availability into regional areas. TV film reviews Doug Anderson's Wednesday film reviews were omitted from regional editions of The Guide this week and the previous week's Wednesday reviews repeated. The Herald apologises to our readers for any inconvenience. '

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