Police target crime on the waterfront

ORGANISED crime and corruption on the waterfront will be targeted by an elite police taskforce in the first systematic attempt to root out crime in the maritime sector in the past three decades.The joint federal and state police taskforce – the first attack on waterfront crime since the 1980 Costigan royal commission – will increase pressure on the federal government to close gaps in its maritime security regime.Waterfront security is also a challenge in Australia’s fight against terrorism; police intelligence has linked some local terrorist cells with crime on the waterfront and the importation of drugs and weapons.The taskforce follows long-held concerns by senior police that crime syndicates can easily evade detection when importing drugs or weapons in shipping containers because of help from corrupt maritime insiders.The concerns are backed up in a confidential police document circulated last year among law enforcement officials in Queensland that reveals how a Chinese crime syndicate was able to recruit a well-connected waterfront insider to move contraband through major Australian ports.The Herald has confirmed that despite numerous criminal convictions for weapons possession and theft, this maritime worker still holds a federal government maritime security identification card, giving him access to sensitive maritime areas.Revelations of the launching of the taskforce come just days after the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, announced a $93 million plan to increase the number of air and sea cargo consignments that were screened when coming into Australia.He accused Labor of stripping away tough port security measures, although several senior law enforcement officers have indicated that the lax security at wharves over several decades is a result of bipartisan negligence.The Port Crime Task Force will be led by the Australian Federal Police and will include investigators from the Australian Customs Service, the NSW Police and the NSW Crime Commission, and will focus primarily on NSW.Police intelligence documents obtained by the Herald suggest that organised crime has infiltrated most ports in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.A senior policing official said the taskforce was formed to deal with the failure of government agencies, including customs, to have a meaningful impact on cliques of maritime insiders who work closely with crime groups.The problem is exacerbated by poor co-operation between the private and government security providers and the fact that some maritime workers, including freight forwarders and customs brokers, are not required to obtain maritime security identification cards held by other port workers.Examples of the lax security provided by some private security firms hired by port users is highlighted in leaked documents from the maritime giant Patrick.An email in March last year from a Patrick’s manager shows him warning security subcontractors at the Port of Townsville that a “good source” has tipped him off that a surprise government security inspection was imminent.The national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Paddy Crumlin, said he supported the inquiry as long as it was not a witch-hunt that targeted ”Australian waterfront workers or Australian seafarers”.”[It needs to] reach out broadly to cover foreign seafarers and cover container parks and all areas in the freight-forwarding industry,” said Mr Crumlin.Earlier this year the federal government increased the number of offences that can be used to deny maritime workers an ID card. This happened after the Herald revealed in September that a report of the Office of Transport Safety had found the ID card system was failing.
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Online Advocate popular

THE Western Advocate’s website, bathurst.yourguide南京夜网.au, attracted almost 35,000 viewings during November., These figures show an average of 1160 page views per day with people visiting the site to get information about news, sport, classifieds, property and motor vehicles for sale., The popularity of the site reflects confidence in the newspaper’s readership in and about Bathurst, affirming the Western Advocate as Bathurst’s best news medium., Visitors to the website have increased at a steady pace since the site was established around two years ago, with 30,000 viewings of the website in June., News was the main reason people visited the site during November, followed by sport and classified advertising pages., Western Advocate editor Sandra Bates said she was pleased more people were accessing both the website and purchasing the newspaper., “It means we are providing information to a wider section of the community,” she said., Full story in the Western Advocate.
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‘Phone scam operating state-wide

POLICE are warning ‘phone owners to be vigilant about letting people they don’t know use their ‘phones after a ‘phone scam was found operating throughout the state., Bathurst detectives issued the warning after people have been caught out by the scam, and now face ‘phone bills of up to $500 per call., Detectives said the operators have set up 1900 telephone accounts, approached unsuspecting people, telling them their car has broken down and requesting to use either their home ‘phone or mobile ‘phone., The scam occurs when the caller dials the 1900 number which is established to charge at $100 per minute., After staying on the line for a couple of minutes the callers have offered the ‘phone owner one dollar for using their phone before leaving. , Detectives said ‘phone owners haven’t realised until receiving their ‘phone bills with a three minute call costing them $300., While the problem has not been reported in Bathurst, police are still warning people to be vigilant.
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Major upgrade project at waste management centre

A WASTE transfer station comprising a long concrete pit and a bin for recyclable material in a covered shed is to be built inside the entrance to Bathurst tip., Part of a major upgrade of the city’s waste management centre, which to date includes the construction of a weigh bridge and leachate dams in the gully below the tipping site, the transfer station will reduce wind-blown litter and dust., At a cost of $597,996 Eodo Pty Ltd has won a tender to build a steel clad building enclosed on three sides., Up to 10 cars or light vehicles will be able to unload simultaneously in a controlled environment., Waste to be buried will then be transferred to the tip face and buried promptly with fewer movements at the tip site and less waste left uncovered., The transfer station will be part funded from loans and the increased tipping charges council has already introduced., Construction on the transfer station is scheduled to start in late January.
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A city on the move

CONFIDENCE in Bathurst’s economy is continuing to soar.
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Figures released by Bathurst City Council are testimony to the fact we are a city on the move with a massive $57.7 million worth of developments approved in the last financial year.

This compares to $46 million the previous year.

And the trend shows no sign of abating as 2002 draws to a close with more than $26.5 million in developments processed by council from August through to November.

This includes $8.9 million for August (87 developments); $7.8 million in September (78); $6.3 million for October (83); and $3.5 million for November (83).

The growth, according to council’s director of planning and development David Shaw, shows Bathurst is benefiting from a diverse economy.

“Because Bathurst has such a range of employment opportunities the city is able to avoid the highs and lows many other regional centres suffer,” he said.

“Education, industry, tourism and the rural sectors all play an important role in this regard because it gives our job base an even spread.

“It’s a far cry from a city which, for example, might rely totally on an abattoir for jobs.”

Mr Shaw said council approved 795 development applications in 2001-2002, including 209 new homes worth more than $31 million; 99 home additions worth $3 million; and 49 patios worth $1.4 million.

Full story in the Western Advocate.

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Why has our indigenous policy failed?

TO answer this question, it would be easy to list the usual suspects, such as fluctuating political will and commitment; dependence on the political cycle; the lack of consultation; inadequate, mismanaged or misdirected service delivery; failure to address root causes; and a focus on symptoms.But the answer might be deeper. When considering the purpose of indigenous policy as framed by successive governments, policies at all levels and by all political parties have been formulated to address ”the indigenous problem”. This mindset may be at the heart of policy failure – indigenous people have been, and continue to be, defined as problems to be solved.Whenever I wrestle with indigenous issues to which there are no simple solutions, I am drawn back to my own people in western Cape York.Until fairly recent times in our 40,000 year history, we owned our land and had sovereignty over it. It was our economic, cultural and spiritual foundation. It defined us and shaped our identities. It was both our strength and our weakness – as hunter-gatherer peoples, it was all we had; without it, we had nothing.Then foreigners came. First to what is today called Sydney, then towards the end of the 19th century to eastern Cape York and, by the early 20th century, they had reached my land on the west coast. That is when ”the indigenous problem” began for us.This may be seen by some as a black-armband viewpoint but it is a historical reality, as are the displacement, dispossession and forced relocations of thousands of people that followed it. I have never held a black-armband view of life. Like many of my people, I am determined not to be enslaved by our history. But I am equally conscious of the need never to forget it.The consequences of history remain with us. They are evident in almost every remote community, regional centre or urban ghetto across our nation. The purpose of indigenous policy has therefore become a quest to right historical wrongs, fix broken things and give back a little of what was lost.Early in my career, I fervently believed in the power of policy to make a difference. When 22, I gave a speech to the then-prime minster, John Howard. I still have a strong interest in policy formulation and direction but I am now less naive about its capacity to solve ”the indigenous problem”.I told the prime minister that of the students in my class in Kowanyama I was the only girl who didn’t have a child at 15. Seven of the boys had been incarcerated, two for murder, rape and assault. Four had committed suicide. (Since then, more have died.)I told him about our addiction to passive welfare and its insidious effect on our lives. The solutions seemed obvious: education, better housing, employment, establishment of real economies and restoration of social order in our communities.But I also knew to heal ourselves, we needed more than these enabling structures. We needed to regain our connection with our lands, reawaken our cultures and re-establish our identities. Without the former, we would continue to languish in poverty and despair; without the latter, we would simply become another minority in a country full of minorities.My early mentor, Noel Pearson, recognised this simple truth long before I did. While his Cape York agenda focuses on education, economic advancement and personal responsibility, he is equally passionate about the need to retain our links to our lands.It must be difficult for many non-indigenous Australians to understand the issue of links to land. For many, land is real estate to be bought and sold, or a source of minerals. But the elderly couple who have to leave their home of 60 years for a retirement village will understand a house is more than a shelter. The third-generation farmer who tills the same soil as his grandfather will no doubt feel a strong connection to it. If you can imagine one family continuously occupying the same land for 40,000 years or more, using it not just to sustain life but as a place of reverence and worship, you will get some understanding of the importance of land to indigenous people.Even the notion of ”indigenous Australian” is a whitefella construct. We never saw ourselves as a homogenous people. We were Kokoberra, Kuku Yalanji, Guugu Yimithirr, Pintinjarra or Yolngu. Even today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who live far from their ancestral lands, who may never have seen them, still identify themselves as Yirrijandji, Lama Lama, Badu or Erub people. The emotional and spiritual connection to the lands of their forebears still forms the core of their identities.The tragedy is that too many of our young people today have no such sense of their own identity or place and are consigned to live under the catch-all label of ”indigenous”. When I see these people, often in their LA gangsta gear, I am grateful my own links with my country remain strong. They don’t know who theyare or where they belong. They don’t know their own language and all too many can’t even speak standard Australian English.My knowledge of my home languages – Kokobera and Kokomenjan – is imperfect; I mix them and older people laugh when I speak. But I am enthusiastic about restoring them in my life. Do I need them to function? Probably not. But they are part of my identity and help me understand and appreciate who I am.What has all this to do with policy failure? A great deal. Policy makers have either failed to understand or ignored the diversity and complexity of indigenous societies. Monochrome policies are the norm.Take the Northern Territory intervention. Despite objections by some on the basis of human rights, most people I spoke with thought that when circumstances are so dire and the consequences, especially for children, so grim, direct intervention is justifiable, even necessary. I agree.But the intervention was based on the proposition that every family in every community was so dysfunctional as to warrant compulsory income management and the imposition of other measures.I can’t begin to imagine how my mother would have felt had such restrictions been in place when she was raising us. We grew up in what could be described as a dysfunctional community. But despite the circumstances, she protected and cared for us and encouraged us to be the best we could be.This one-size-fits-all approach to policy development has other unintended, and in some cases, disastrous consequences.The Community Development Employment Program was a work-for-the-dole scheme set up to promote the idea of mutual obligation. Clearly some remote communities will never be able to provide mainstream work for everyone who needs it. For them, CDEP is a logical and acceptable option. But its blanket application to all communities proved a major disincentive for people to find real work.The lessons from these experiences are clear. Indigenous diversity is real. It is more than rhetoric. What looks good in Canberra looks quite different in Kowanyama or the Kimberley. Each time I hear a new policy announcement covering the country or even a particular state, I become cynical – and afraid.Tania Major, a consultant based in Cairns, was Young Australian of the Year in 2007 and a former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander commissioner.
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Luke Patten agrees to Salford switch

Canterbury fullback Luke Patten will join English Super League club Salford at the end of the 2010 NRL season.Patten has played 220 first grade games since he joined the Bulldogs from St George Illawarra in 2001 and made three appearances for the NSW Country Origin side.”Luke has been one of this club’s great leaders and we are sorry to see him go,” said Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg.”We wish him well as he makes the most of an opportunity to extend his career in England and thank him for the service he has provided to the Bulldogs for the past 10 years.”He will long be remembered for his incredible reliability and determination as the last line of defence and for his inspirational plays.”His strong work ethic and his commitment to responsibilities off the field set a great benchmark for everyone who has played alongside him.”Bulldogs Captain Andrew Ryan has confirmed he will see out the final year of his contract and will be stay for the 2011 season.There had been speculation Ryan would also leave the club to play in England, but the former NSW prop has opted to remain with the club.AAP
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It’s enough to make young Fido’s brain go into a spin

HUMANS have been breeding dogs for specific traits such as hair colour and tail length for centuries. Now researchers have found selective breeding has also altered the shape and position of the animals’ brains.Using MRI scans, researchers have discovered that the brains of small, pug-like dogs have rotated forward in their skulls compared with larger, long-nosed dogs such as Dalmatians and German shepherds. And the olfactory lobe, responsible for smelling, is lower in the brain cavity.”This is the first systematic example of brain rotation [observed] in any animal,” said the neuroscientist and study author Michael Valenzuela, who studies brain ageing in humans and animals at the University of NSW.Pug-like dogs, which look significantly different to the ancestor of domestic dogs, the wolf, were the result of human intervention, he said.”The very small, pug-like dogs have only come about through selective breeding.”Brain rotation in these could be an evolutionary trade-off because the length of their skulls had decreased in proportion to the width, said Dr Valenzuela, whose findings have been published in the journal PLoS ONE. ”We speculate that one of the reasons the brain may be rotating in pug-like dogs is that if it hadn’t rotated then there would be less space for the frontal lobe to develop,” he said.The frontal lobe is an area of the brain responsible for intelligence and problem solving, as well as social behaviour.Dr Valenzuela said examining the link between brain changes in dogs and their behaviour would be the next step in the research. ”The obvious step forward … is to do more sophisticated cognitive and behavioural tests in dogs and see if there is a relationship between brain rotation [and behaviour].”The researchers hope to find whether a dog’s sense of smell is affected by the repositioning of the olfactory lobe.”We think of dogs living in a world of smell but this finding strongly suggests that one dog’s world of smell may be very different to another’s,” said the veterinarian and study author Paul McGreevy, an associate professor of the University of Sydney.
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Zero tolerance campaign

BATHURST’S publicans are sending a clear message to their patrons this Christmas.
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They are stressing a good time doesn’t have to include violence, but unfortunately some sections of the community think part of an enjoyable night out includes a fight.

Robert Taylor from the Hotel Dudley says local publicans have had enough and are supporting the Australian Hotels Association campaign of zero tolerance.

“We’ve had enough,” he said. “It seems zero tolerance is the only way to go because it’s a way of changing the law by making it tougher on those who break it.

“On a daily basis, many hotelkeepers and their staff are required to deal first hand with violence in or around licensed premises.

“This type of behaviour endangers not just the staff, but the customers as well”

Mr Taylor said the AHA is campaigning for the adoption by all governments of a five point plan (see fact box) to make licensed establishments safer.

“The plan calls for tougher sentencing, and the enforcement of the law, so that hotelkeepers and staff can go about their jobs in safety and be confident that the law is there to protect them,” he said.

“Unfortunately the debate surrounding alcohol and violence has become hijacked by those people who believe that violence is solely caused by alcohol.

“Just because someone is intoxicated does not mean that it is alright for them to be violent, nor does it necessarily mean that they will be.

Full story in the Western Advocate.

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Rain …. atr last

SOAKING rain across the district was the topic of conversation around Bathurst yesterday, but it will take much, much more to ease the drought.
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While farmers were happy for any respite from the heatwave conditions, district agronomist Bruce Clements warned the rural community not to get excited.

With reports of 21mm at 3pm at the Agricultural Research Station in Panorama Avenue and upwards of 30mm at Trunkey Creek, 15mm at Vittoria, 20mm at Blayney and Newbridge, Mr Clements said yesterday it was just great to get decent, soaking rain for once.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook today from farmers wanting to know what is best to plant to make the most of the rain,” he said.

“Mostly it’s summer fodder crops such as millet while there’s also been plenty of interest where they can get oat seed from. However, it’s too early to be planting oats just yet.”

Mr Clements said the rain was especially handy coming so close to the storms a couple of weeks back.

“It’s allowing some response from native pastures and those who already have summer crops in,” he said.

“But in order to get out of his hole (the drought) which we are in it will take many more inchues … and then some more over several weeks.

MORE: Read today’s Western Advocate.

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