Archive for March, 2019

How David Pocock found the good life in Canberra

21/03/2019

David Pocock is more than happy in Canberra.David Pocock has played just five games for the ACT Brumbies in two years, but in that time he’s quite literally put down Canberra roots.
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The garden of the inner north home he shares with wife Emma now boasts 30 fruit trees and plants, chickens and more vegetables than you’d find on the supermarket shelf.

His teammates joke the 630 square metres block is the “Noah’s ark of Canberra” and cultivating the garden has been one his escapes through two injury-ruined years since he moved to the capital.

As he prepares to play his comeback game for the Brumbies against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on Friday night, Pocock has helped launch a new campaign aimed at promoting pride in his adopted home city.

From Friday, The Canberra Times newspaper will carry the We Are CBR logo in its print masthead, a gesture it’s hoped will be embraced by other businesses and organisations throughout the city and surrounds.

“People from other capital cities give Canberra a bad knock, but that’s fine by me…I’m incredibly proud to live here and I love it,” Pocock said.

David and Emma embraced Canberra from the moment they arrived from Perth in 2012, exploring the city’s sights, visiting local markets and even doing what many Canberra natives would never – swimming in Lake Burley Griffin.

In the tradition of his neighbourhood, where many migrants settled in the 1950s, the Pococks have made the garden around their “small, old house” as agricultural as possible.

“There’s some Zimbabwean maize, corn in the front yard. About 30 fruit trees of all different sorts, including 15 different apples,” Pocock said.

“Vegetables – there’s tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, greens, all the herbs, a heap of chilli and capsicum … there’s a fair bit there.

“I’ve only been here two-and-a-half years and I’ve noticed some change in the inner north of Canberra. I was talking to a guy who built the house behind us in 1948, he was telling me he still remembers when a horse-drawn cart used to come around and sharpen everyone’s vegie spades.

“I love living here. I’ve loved the last two years despite not being able to play.”

The We Are CBR campaign is an extension of the broader CBR campaign launched in 2014. Warren Apps, from advertising agency Coordinate, said it was a way of meeting the demand of businesses, groups and individuals wanting to show their pride in the city.

“We had enquiries from businesses wanting to use the brand in various ways, from junior sporting teams travelling interstate to local retailers wanting to identify themselves as local businesses providing local produce,” Mr Apps said.

“I guess you could call it a community pride mark in some ways, something that allows people to express their pride in the city.”

People interested in displaying the logo will be able to access it in various colours and formats for use online, on shopfronts – even as mobile phone wallpapers – by visiting canberra南京夜网.au after the campaign’s official launch on Friday.

While the logo may never rival icons like “I amsterdam” or the ubiquitous “I love NY” like Pococks’ garden, Mr Apps hopes it will organically grow strong.

“People can use it to express their own feelings – it’s not just a campaign for businesses. For anybody who is part of the fabric of our city, it’s an opportunity to display your pride.”

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East Hills MP Glenn Brookes criticised over water bottle campaign strategy

21/03/2019

Slim margin: The Liberals’ Glenn Brookes holds East Hills by 0.2 per cent. Photo: Simon Alekna Slim margin: The Liberals’ Glenn Brookes holds East Hills by 0.2 per cent. Photo: Simon Alekna
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Slim margin: The Liberals’ Glenn Brookes holds East Hills by 0.2 per cent. Photo: Simon Alekna

Slim margin: The Liberals’ Glenn Brookes holds East Hills by 0.2 per cent. Photo: Simon Alekna

Bottled appeal: Glenn Brookes is seeking visibility via bottles of water. Photo: [email protected]南京夜网.au

Bottled appeal: Glenn Brookes is seeking visibility via bottles of water. Photo: [email protected]南京夜网.au

Bottled appeal: Glenn Brookes is seeking visibility via bottles of water. Photo: [email protected]南京夜网.au

Bottled appeal: Glenn Brookes is seeking visibility via bottles of water. Photo: [email protected]南京夜网.au

An MP’s unorthodox political advertisements have brought him to the attention of electoral authorities two weeks into the state election campaign.

Glenn Brookes is the Baird government’s most vulnerable MP. He holds East Hills by about 0.2 per cent.

But even for a marginal seat, Mr Brookes’ face has been unusually visible in recent weeks.

It’s been looking out from inside fridges.

Bottles of water with Mr Brookes’ face and a Liberal Party logo have been appearing in cafes across the south-western Sydney electorate.

“We got about 10 or 12 boxes,” said an employee at On Fire Charcoal Chicken in Padstow.

The store has taken to selling them for $2 a piece and has only eight left.

Bu the ALP has dobbed in Mr Brookes to the Electoral Commission.

Lynda Voltz, MLC, argues the bottles – which she says arrived unsolicited on cafe doorsteps – fall foul of an Election Act prohibition on “electoral treating” or the offer of “food, drink [… or] gift[s] [and] donations” for the purposes of “influencing a person’s electoral conduct”.

Mr Brookes said he has distributed about 15,000 bottles at his own expense and a cost of $4500. They were intended to be given away by businesses, he said.

“An item valued at just under 26 cents a unit does not, on the advice available to me, constitute a breach,” Mr Brookes said.

But the MP is also being accused of distributing campaign material printed by the taxpayer.

Material distributed by Mr Brookes’ campaign in the past week discloses that it has been “printed […] using parliamentary resources”.

Election law forbids MPs from using their electorate allowances after a campaign officially starts.

But Mr Brookes says the material was not printed by the Parliament and the disclosure was an error.

“No taxpayers’ money was used,” he said. “The wrong artwork has been used.”

Ms Voltz says that even a brochure only designed by Parliament would still fall foul of the law.

The MP, who owns a sign-writing company, is also making use of a bus spray-painted with an image of his face, as he did last election.

Mr Brookes denies claims from Labor that the bus was painted in his company’s workshop.

The point could be significant. Labor says the likely cost of spray-painting would far exceed the $2000 limit on political donations from a company, even if the donations are “in kind” and the company is owned by the candidate themselves.

The ALP claims Mr Brookes did not disclose spending on a spray-painted bus in his disclosures for the 2011 campaign. The MP did not respond to written questions on this point before deadline.

Ms Voltz said there were few checks on misuse of parliamentary materials in elections and the system relied on MPs to police themselves.

She said Mr Brookes’ campaign had “undermined local public confidence in new election donation laws”.

Mr Brookes has dismissed the complaint as partisan politics.

A spokesman for the election commission said they were looking into the allegations.

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Summer of discontent at BOM

21/03/2019

More public service news
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The Bureau of Meteorology is battling to do its job after years of government-imposed funding cuts according to insiders who warn that lives are at risk as Australia faces this year’s “extreme weather season.”

Successive “efficiency dividend” cuts have left the Bureau of Meteorology short of staff and battling faulty and ageing equipment, according to insiders and unions.

Lives could be lost to summer cyclones or bushfires as the bureau’s dwindling resources are stretched beyond capacity and unable to cope with multiple dangers weather situations at the same time, The Canberra Times has been told.

But the bureau has rejected the claims with a spokeswoman saying was successfully monitoring multiple weather events all the time.

BOM staffers, through their union, Professionals Australia, say that years of cuts have left bureau bosses reliant on a Dad’s Army of retired meteorologists to plug the growing gaps in the ranks of its weather specialists.

Regional weather stations around Australia are being manned by just one worker or even left unattended in the hope that the ageing automated forecasting equipment will do the job.

A project to upgrade the nation’s network of 63 weather surveillance radars is stalled due to a lack of expertise and one of two the two main radars in South Australia, which recently faced a serious bushfire crisis, was out of action for several weeks recently.

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The growing unease at the bureau, which finished 2013-2014 nearly $74 million in the red, is being exacerbated by delays in offering a new wage deal to its 1700 public servants who have not had a pay rise since July 2013.

More than $58 million was allocated to the BOM in the 2013-2014 budget to implement the findings of the “Munro review”, a scathing 2011 report that  found the bureau struggling to cope with the flood, bushfires and cyclones that hit the country early that year.

But Professionals Australia says the cash has been swallowed up by the efficiency dividend, an across-the board 2.5 per cent cut imposed on government agencies, and that recruitment of forecasters is not keeping pace with the rate of retirements by experienced weather specialists.

Last year’s budget singled the BOM out for another $10 million in “efficiency” cuts over four years.

Another issue is the time it takes to properly train a forecaster once they are hired, up to nine months training and then a year to achieve the required competencies.

Staff shortages are also being reported in the BOM’s IT, engineering and observations areas, leading to problems maintaining radars and the bureau’s synoptic network.

“Staff are concerned about what might happen if there were more than one significant weather event at a time…coming into “severe weather season” (February ) this is a particular concern,” one staffer said.

“For instance, if there was a bushfire somewhere, at the same time as a cyclone.

“We all want more and more weather forecasts… but the poor old forecasters are carrying the load, plugging the gaps…and the public has no idea.”

But the BOM’s spokeswoman rejected her colleagues’ claims that the organisation was stretched beyond capacity.

“This is not correct,” she said.

“Bureau can, and indeed is currently handling more than one severe weather event at a time.

“In meeting a particular surge capacity requirement, the Bureau redeploys staff from other states and territories in its network of regional offices to meet increased demand for significant weather events.”

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Newcastle man Hugh Smith, 24, dies after fall from Thailand waterfall

21/03/2019

HUGH SMITHA 24-YEAR-OLD Newcastle man has died while on holiday in Thailand. Hugh Smith was on Koh Samui when he and a friend, Benjamin Kemp, 20, from Bar Beach, both fell from a waterfall.
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Rescue workers spent about two hours transporting the men from the waterfall to the ambulance, after they fell about 60metres from the Nah Muang Song Waterfall, according to the Phuket Gazette.

The accident occurred on February 3, and an official from the Bangkok Hospital Samui confirmed Mr Smith had died in the hospital.

Mr Kemp also fell from the waterfall, but was discharged the next day, and is now back in Newcastle.

Family and friends have been paying tribute to Mr Smith on social media since the accident, describing him as an ‘‘amazing person’’ with a ‘‘witty nature’’ that could always make people laugh.

Mr Smith’s family released a statement through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Friday.

“It was with great sadness that we were advised that our son Hugh had died in Koh Samui, Thailand as a result of a fall from a waterfall,” the statement said.

“Hugh was repatriated to Australia with his parents with Australian consular assistance on Saturday 6 February and a celebration of Hugh’s life will be held in Newcastleon Friday 13 February.

“Hugh is much loved and respected by a wide circle of family and friends from Newcastle and further afield and it is therefore requested that family and friends’ privacy be respected at this time of great sorrow.”

The family has requested donations in Mr Smith’s honour rather than flowers, nominating Tetepare, The Last Wild Island as “a cause that Hugh would love”.

The group is dedicated to conserving the Solomon Islands, a place Mr Smith “spent a happy holiday helping with the turtle rodeo tagging Leatherback turtles.”

A private service for Mr Smith is being held in Newcastle on Friday.

Donations can be made to

Wendy Horder and John Smith

Account: 364 658

BSB 032 505

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Hunter drug raids:Hunter Bandidos boss Ronald Leggett among 10 arrested

21/03/2019

Hunter drug raids: Hunter Bandidos boss among 10 arrested An image supplied by police of drugs allegedly seized in raids on a large drug supply network.
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An image supplied by police of items allegedly seized from a Lower Belford home following raids on Bandidos bikies on February 11, 2015

An image supplied by police of items allegedly seized from a Lower Belford home following raids on Bandidos bikies on February 11, 2015

An image supplied by police of items allegedly seized from a Lower Belford home following raids on Bandidos bikies on February 11, 2015

An image supplied by police of cash allegedly seized in raids on a large drug supply network on February 12, 2015

Images from the police operation.

Images from the police operation.

Images from the police operation.

Images from the police operation.

An image supplied by police of drugs allegedly seized in raids on a large drug supply network.

An image supplied by police of drugs allegedly seized in raids on a large drug supply network.

An image supplied by police of drugs allegedly seized in raids on a large drug supply network.

An image supplied by police of items allegedly seized from a Lower Belford home following raids on Bandidos bikies on February 11, 2015

TweetFacebookTHICK wads of hundred-dollar bills, a kilogram of cocaine, pistols with home-made silencers, knuckle dusters, steroids, a doctor’s prescription pad and pills of Viagra.

When police swooped on two alleged drug transactions at Mayfield and western Sydney on Wednesday, and later raided homes across the Hunter and Manning Valley, they claim to have seized such a range of cash, drugs, guns and other paraphernalia that even hardened detectives were surprised.

The president of a Hunter-based chapter of the Bandidos bikie gang, Ronald Leggett, and another Hunter bikie were two of 10 men who were arrested as part of what police described as a sophisticated drug supply network with tentaclesreaching from Sydney to the Hunter and Taree.

The arrests come several months after detectives began investigating what was described as alleged ‘‘criminal activities of the Bandidos and other [bikie gangs], as well as the commercial supply of ice, ecstasy, amphetamine, cocaine and cannabis between Sydney and the Taree area’’.

‘‘Investigating drug supply, in particular ice, is a major priority for us because it is such and insidious drug,’’ Manning-Great Lakes crime manager Detective Inspector Peter McKenna said.

‘‘And when you combine that with the activities of outlaw motorcycle gangs, it is right at the top of our investigative agenda.’’

Three pistols, including a homemade device with a silencer, were found at a Lower Belford home, along with ammunition, knuckle dusters, a stun gun, cash, and small amounts of amphetamines and steroids.

At a Kotara home, police found a homemade imitation firearm, an extendable baton, small amounts of cannabis and Viagra, cash, and a doctor’s prescription pad suspected of being stolen.

Additional search warrants were also executed at Kimbriki, Taree, Weston, Kurri Kurri, Claremont Meadows and Smithfield, with amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine, steroids, cash and other weapons seized.

Police swooped on two alleged drug transactions at Mayfield and Sydney where police claim to have seized a commercial quantity of ice and a kilogram of cocaine.

Ten men were arrested.

They included Nathan Predo, 29, of Vista Parade, Kotara, who is charged with commercial supply and made a brief appearance in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday afternoon where he nodded to supporters in the gallery.

He did not apply for bail but barrister Andrew Bright told magistrate Robert Stone he would be ready to make an application for release from custody on Monday.

In handcuffs and wearing shorts and a T-shirt with black thongs, he was led away moments before Mr Leggett appeared in the dock, similarly dressed and similarly heavily tattooed.

Mr Leggett, of Bell Road, Belford, is facing a longer list of charges, including supply commercial quantity of prohibited drugs, five counts of possess military style weapon, and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime and firearm offences.

He would not be seeking to make a bail application, the court heard.

Neither entered pleas and the charge matters were put over to April 4 to allow time for the preparation of a brief of evidence.

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