Good morning Ballarat and happy Wednesday, we’ve got all the news headlines you need right here.
Ballarat venues named in exploitation inquiry
Some of Ballarat's most prestigious hotels have been named at a Senate inquiry into worker exploitation. Read more.
Shock at Begonia Festival racial abuse
A Ballarat great-grandmother was physically assaulted and racially vilified during Monday’s Begonia Festival parade. Read more.
Man’s life derails after ice use: court
A 33-year-old Ballarat man who kicked in the door of a house and assaulted the person inside has been jailed. Read more.
New clues shed light on helicopter
Did you see a helicopter flying low over Creswick and Clunes last week? Read more.
High number of drug drivers alarm police
Police are highly concerned by the number of drivers who took to the wheel with illicit drugs in their system in the Ballarat region over the long weekend. Read more.
Looks like we've got at least another week left in this hot and dry spell.
State of the nation
Need a national news snapshot first thing - well, we have you covered.
►SA: A $550 million energy plan unveiled by the South Australian government will aim to improve the reliability of statewide power.
Premier Jay Weatherill released details of the plan on Tuesday, March 14, saying the goal was delivering “reliable, affordable and clean” power.
The state government expects the plan to create 630 new jobs in South Australia. Read more
NSW assistant secretary for the Australian Paramedics Association Glenn Congram said lack of front-line staff had led to a ‘’blow-out’’ in emergency response times.
Ageing communications equipment – including a failing GPS system – was also hampering paramedics’ efforts to get to patients as quickly as possible. Read more
Bioluminescent phytoplankton or ‘sea sparkle’ thrives in calm and warm sea conditions.
It was spotted at Preservation Bay on Saturday night. Read on
►NSW: One of Australia’s leading obstetricians and gynaecologists landed a damning indictment on his own profession and the health system in 2013 in a paper titled “The Transvaginal Mesh Decade”.
Associate Professor Chris Maher blamed regulators in America and Australia for clearing transvaginal mesh devices for use in women without original clinical evidence supporting safety and efficacy.
The devices are used where women experience prolapse and incontinence problems after childbirth, and are implanted via the vagina. Read more
►QLD: Rates in the North-West Queensland are not going to jump by a large amount, despite big land valuation increases.
Property in the Carpentaria and Croydon Shire Councils received the largest percentage increases in the state when new valuations were released by Queensland’s Valuer-General last week. Read more
►VIC: A three-year-old Golden Square boy has been rescued after being caught in a drain on Tuesday.
Tobias was outside with his mother when his foot became stuck in a small drain opening.
The worried mother called emergency services, with CFA and SES crews working to free the boy. Read more
►In a rare display of tripartisan support, the Tasmanian government’s family violence reform legislation passed through the Lower House unimpeded on Tuesday.
Premier Will Hodgman acknowledged the cross-party cooperation that enabled the Family Violence Reforms Bill 2016’s passage through the House of Assembly.
“There’s been a very collaborative effort, and a lot of good will,” he said. Read more
►The minister charged with pulling together the Turnbull government's looming housing affordability package has suggested Australians could be allowed to use superannuation when buying their first home but that such a change would have to be a part of broader reforms.
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, who is spruiking housing affordability as a key platform of the May budget, said any changes on the "demand side" such as superannuation reform could work if supply in the housing market was also increased. Read more
National weather radar
What’s coming you way …
►BALI: A former West Australian bricklayer who was busted with hashish at his Sanur home has been sentenced to seven months' jail for possessing an illegal narcotic for personal use.
Guiseppe "Joe" Serafino, who had lived in Bali for five years and managed the On-On Billiard Bar in Sanur, was arrested by police on October 8 with 7.32 grams of hashish. Read more
►SCOTLAND: Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched a fresh push for independence, complaining she hit a brick wall trying to avoid her country being dragged down a "hard Brexit" path.
However she will face stiff opposition from the UK government, with Prime Minister Theresa May accusing Ms Sturgeon of setting the country on a path for more "uncertainty and division". Read more
On this day
The faces of Australia: Kate Griffiths
Opening a new business can be daunting, but NSW entrepreneur Kate Griffiths is encouraging residents to take the leap into self-employment.
The former Narromine local, who left the region five years ago to study at Sydney’s Whitehouse Institute of Design, had always dreamed of opening a store in Dubbo.
On Thursday she launched her boutique Lazy Sunday Lifestyle – a mix of homewares, fashion and gifts as well as art and furniture.
Ms Griffiths has been overwhelmed by the response so far, and said now was the perfect time for Dubbo residents to open their own business. Read more