Princess Alexandra Hospital cladding a potential fire risk, test results show

Cladding on Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital has been found to be combustible after tests were conducted in the wake of London’s Grenfell Tower inferno, the State Government has confirmed.

The core of the aluminium material could be a fire risk, initial results from University of Queensland testing showed.

Entire panels from different sections of the hospital, equating to 80 square metres — or 20 king-sized beds — has been sent to Melbourne for extreme testing under real fire conditions.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said it did not necessarily mean the cladding was in danger of catching alight, but more testing was necessary.

The results are expected next month.

“I also want to reassure you that the hospital remains safe,” he said.

“The extra measures we put in place on the advice of the [Queensland Fire and Emergency Services] last month were based on taking an abundance of caution in relation to this issue.

“I want to assure the community though, patients and staff at the PA Hospital that if the expert assessment identifies that the cladding needs to be removed it will be, there’s no doubt about that.”

But Mr Dick said the Government was considering three options:

  • Removing and replacing cladding
  • Treating existing cladding to make it suitably fire resistance
  • Installing extra fire safety and suppression measures.

The potentially flammable material was installed on the outside of 24,000 square metres of the hospital at Buranda, on Brisbane’s southside, in 1998.

The cladding was tested to check whether it was non-conforming and could be similar to the material found on the London Grenfell Tower, where at least 80 people died after a sudden inferno.

‘No other public buildings suspicious’

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said the audit taskforce set up to inspect buildings that could contain combustible cladding had not flagged any other concerns in public buildings.

However, final clearances were needed in the coming weeks.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carrol wanted to assure Queenslanders they had the highest safety standards in the world, with mandatory fire alarms, sprinkler systems, fire escapes and constant inspections.

She said in the last year alone, fire safety officers had inspected 19,000 commercial buildings across the state.

“I have an extraordinary high level of confidence that the fire safety is at the appropriate level and compliant in that building.”

Source: ABC News

Uncertainty continues on Aussie crop prospects

ANALYSTS are waiting for a further lead from the weather in terms of Australian crop production this year.

Forecasters are struggling to get a handle on the yield potential of the national winter crop.

Forecasters are struggling to get a handle on the yield potential of the national winter crop.

While the gloom deepens surrounding the winter crop’s prospects in north-west NSW, rain this week along with forecast falls expected to continue into next week will improve crop chances in southern Australia, particularly in dry western South Australia.

In Western Australia there is a marked difference in crop prospects between southern and northern areas.

Ray Marshall, Grain Producers Australia board member, said southern parts of the State generally remained in fair to good condition, but in northern and eastern grain growing regions the season remains dry.

Ben Noll, with ADM in South Australia, said prospects were mixed, but added recent rain was useful.

Areas to the east of Adelaide are going nicely but the big news has been the revival in the fortunes of the Eyre and Yorke Peninsula crops.

After a parched start to the season, there have been good falls in recent weeks, culminating with 30mm in parts of the northern EP this week.

While some crops have already sustained yield loss due to the slow start, the rain gives other paddocks a fighting chance of achieving average yields, although that will be heavily reliant on in-crop rainfall.

In Victoria, farm leaders gathered in Melbourne this week said the crop was generally in a premium state for this time of the year.

The concern centres on the far north-west, where farmers are anxiously watching the results of a rain band currently crossing the state, with conditions turning dry after near-ideal planting conditions.

Around 5-10mm has fallen over the Millewa region to date.

Delegates at this week’s Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC) in Melbourne said the NSW crop was the major talking point at present.

While there were some isolated patches of the northern Riverina and Central West that received good falls last week, such as Lake Cargelligo, in general conditions have been unseasonably warm.

Combined with a lack of rainfall, it has many concerned for the prospects of all crops to the north and west of a line around Forbes.

Forecast falls for the Central West and north-west NSW for the next week are generally for 5-15mm – which will keep prospects in a holding pattern, not being enough to secure the crop in the long term but enough to keep them alive for now.

In Queensland, the Darling Downs is looking for some rain, although the situation is generally better than in northern NSW.

Source: FarmOnline

Growing Markets: A Look at Trends in the Landscaping Industry

Growing Markets: A Look at Trends in the Landscaping Industry

Landscape enhancement services are considered one of the most effective ways to boost a facility or structure’s value. Though the chief benefits of landscaping services are primarily financial (e.g. increasing the value of a property, enticing prospective buyers and reducing heating and cooling costs), there are also numerous health, environmental and social advantages associated with these services. To examine these benefits, IBISWorld has taken a deep dive into demand trends for the two largest landscaping service markets.

Landscaping to Draw the Eye

Businesses, such as retailers, hotels and amusement parks seek landscape architecture and design service providers for their in-depth knowledge of grading, drainage and horticultural and structural spacing to plan and create useful, attractive arrangements of natural and constructed elements that conform to governing codes and regulations. Landscape architecture and design services are good for boosting property values, as well as reducing storm water runoff during periods of high precipitation, controlling temperature extremes and creating an appealing environment to reduce stress levels (e.g. terrain reshaping, installation of mood lighting or bodies of water).

For residential building developers, homeowners and home building construction firms specifically, landscaping architecture and design are prized services. Coming out of the housing crisis, an abundance of reduced-price and foreclosed homes created a buyer’s market. As a result, from 2014 to 2017, stakeholders have been aggressively buying these homes and remodeling them to boost resale value. However, as home price growth has slowed in recent years, homeowners have been encouraged to identify more creative ways to enhance a home’s value; one proven practice has been to incorporate unique landscape designs around the structure. As these trends have pushed up demand for landscaping architecture and design services, firms have had the flexibility to raise prices at an estimated annualized rate of 2.0%. IBISWorld expects prices to rise at the same rate from 2017 to 2020.

Maintenance to Keep the Attention

According to the National Gardening Association, more than 75.0% of households participate in some form of landscape maintenance. This includes seasonal cleanups, mowing, plant fertilization, weed control, cultivation activities and a host of other landscape-related projects. Consistent maintenance is integral to maintaining the ambiance of a community. In fact, residents and prospective residents perceive cities and properties with well-maintained landscapes as more desirable places to live. Additionally, landscaping can add up to 14.0% to the resale value of a building and speed its sale by as much as six weeks, according to the Associated Landscape Contractors of America.

During the past three years in particular, heavy investments have been made in landscape maintenance services by homeowners, homeowner associations, local businesses and local municipalities. In line with an estimated 5.4% annualized increase in private spending on home improvements, demand has been strengthening for landscape maintenance among homeowners and other entities with a stake in maintaining a city’s attractiveness. Universities have also emerged as key buyers of landscape maintenance services as part of a push to improve the appearance of campuses to draw new students. Although tuition funds a portion of landscape maintenance work, universities often rely heavily on government funding to assist in financing these projects. Consequently, universities’ demand for landscape maintenance services is dependent upon the amount of government funding allocated to universities. Due to growing tax revenue, government funding for universities has increased, which has boosted demand for landscape maintenance. Rising demand from major markets (i.e. residential, commercial, education, government operators, and a wide range of hospitality establishments) has been causing landscape maintenance prices to rise at an estimated annualized rate of 1.2% during the past three years, a trend that is expected to persist through 2020, according to IBISWorld projections.

Looking Forward

Landscape enhancement will continue to be a preferred method of boosting property value, meaning that services will be in high demand during the next three years. However, as home prices rise and local government increases investment in city beautification efforts, demand for more distinctive landscape designs will spike, prompting price growth for landscape enhancement services. To mitigate the impact of rising prices, buyers should establish relationships and engage in long-term service agreements with service providers. Landscape design and maintenance firms that have experience with a specific buyer’s land will be in better position to suggest and effectively incorporate modifications related to living elements, bodies of water, land formation, terrain shape and elevation. These relationships will not only help buyers leverage their purchasing power to receive more favorable prices, but enhance buyer satisfaction due to the landscape firm’s greater familiarity with the buyer’s land and preferences.


As originally published in Properties Magazine

“Out of date” WA work laws to be replaced

“Out of date” WA work laws to be replaced

Western Australia will finally get a tougher work health and safety regime that brings it into line with the rest of the country but the new laws are still well over two years away.

The new rules would better protect workers and be based on the national Work Health and Safety Act that the rest of the states and territories adopted more than five years ago.

The current WA laws are 33 years old and “out of date”, Industrial Minister Bill Johnston said.

There have been 315 work-related deaths in WA since 2001, with almost 20 fatalities occurring every year – one every 19 days – in the 10 years between 2006 and 2016, inquiry chair and Labor MP Adele Farina said.

“Clearly we need to do more to reduce workplace deaths,” she said in a statement.

Greens MP Alison Xamon and the CFMEU have been calling for the introduction of a crime of industrial manslaughter that would involve jail time for the worst cases of employers failing to provide a safe work site.

In October, 27-year-old German backpacker Marianka Heumann died after falling 13 floors through an open shaft at the Concerto apartment complex in East Perth.

Less than three months later, a 17-year-old boy fell 12 metres to his death while working on a glass ceiling at the General Post Office building in the CBD.

There would be extensive consultation with stakeholders and the community before introducing the bill to parliament in mid-2019, Mr Johnston said.

Source: NineNews

Gold Coast landscapers and electricians among highest paid tradies in nation

Gold Coast landscapers and electricians among highest paid tradies in nation

GOLD Coast sparkies and landscapers are being dubbed the “new rich” as fresh figures show they are among the highest paid in the country.

The average hourly rate for Glitter Strip landscapers is an eye-popping $91, while electricians are pulling in $77, new statistics from tradie work website reveal.

The average hourly rate for all trades across the city’s booming construction industry — including carpentry, concreting, painting, plastering, plumbing and tiling — is $61.16.

Lawyers, by comparison, earn $37 an hour on average, according to PayScale.

Fresh figures show Gold Coast sparkies and landscapers are among the highest paid in the country. Photo: Richard Gosling

High-earning Coast landscapers are commanding more per hour than traditionally in-demand Western Australia tradies — though WA plumbers and sparkies are still raking in a healthy $87.

“They are the new rich,” chief executive Jeremy Levitt said.

“There has never been a better time to be a tradie. The blue collar is now crisp and ironed.”

The statistics show Coast landscapers’ average hourly rate jumped from $70 in the third quarter of the 2015 financial year to $91 for the same period of 2016. It showed a drop from $120 to $68 for concreters but Mr Levitt said the $120 was probably a distortion from a few big jobs.

“If you want to be a rich tradie, move to the Gold Coast, put your gloves on and become a landscaper,” Mr Levitt said.

“$91 an hour is markedly the highest — the only tradies in that rarefied air are plumbers and electricians in WA, which is driven by the mining boom and a tradie skill shortage for five years,” Mr Levitt said.

Gold Coast qualified carpenter and landscape architect Shane Haddely, whose Reserve landscaping and construction employs two carpenters and two skilled labourers, said landscape gardeners wouldn’t be on $90 an hour but landscape architects could charge that.

But he agreed demand for landscapers was higher than ever and there was a shortage of people with those skills, he said, adding he hired carpenters with an interest in landscaping.

Mr Haddely added there was also increasing recognition of landscaping as a profession with an apprentice scheme whereas 15 to 20 years ago that hadn’t been the case.

“I get several calls a day (for jobs). And the new work is premium. It’s Hedges Avenue, it’s Mermaid Beach — it’s not the back of Coomera or Pimpama.”

The statistics are from tradie job quotes on with the top and bottom five per cent removed to ensure more reliable data.

Mr Levitt added not only were tradies earning more than many, they were in the workforce earlier: “You can leave school, pick up a trade before others have finished university. You might have five years (work) before other people have even started.”

He tipped a bright future for tradies too, saying most had complex skills in industries with high barriers for entry requiring apprenticeships and licensing. They were also likely to remain in demand whereas roles like web development and graphic design could be outsourced online for cheaper to overseas workers.


Source: Gold Coast Bulletin

32 breathtaking drone photos that show the majesty of our world

32 breathtaking drone photos that show the majesty of our world

Feel like getting away this weekend? Here are 32 places definitely worth checking out.

Drone costs have dropped substantially in the last few years, and during this span, we’ve seen the technology increase exponentially. While early designs were more of a backyard novelty than anything else, the latest drones are loaded with advanced cameras and stabilization technology that allows for more practical functionality. Designed with extended operational range, gone are the days of simply buzzing — and often caroming — about the backyard. The best drone photos can attest to this.

Needless to say, these enhancements and the general pivot toward drone-based, aerial imaging is changing the field of photography as we know it. While pint-sized quadcopters are best for navigating narrow indoor environments, there are a hundreds of more powerful brutes on the market designed to handle the gustier conditions often involved with aerial photography. We should know — we’ve tested dozens of drones over the years and curated a comprehensive roundup of our favorites.

Source: Digitaltrends

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