STATE MEMORIAL FOR THE HON BOB HAWKE AC

A state Memorial Service for the Honorable Robert (Bob) James Lee Hawke AC will be held at the Sydney Opera House at 11.30 am on Friday 14 June 2019.

Bob was a political giant and a national icon. It is fitting that a public celebration of his life will be held at such an iconic and beloved Australian Venue.

Members of the public wishing to attend will be able to secure complimentary tickets from midday on Wednesday 29 May via the Opera House website. The service will also be screened on the steps of the Opera House Forecourt and televised on the ABC.

Bob was a man who understood Australia and the people who call our country home.

I am pleased Australias will have the chance to say farewell

— Scott Morrison

If Labor fast tracks Adani, the Greens will strike in the inner city: Bandt

Greens Deputy Leader and spokesperson for climate change and energy Adam Bandt MP today warned Labor against fast tracking Adani. Not only will this put lives at risk by making climate change worse, but Labor would be putting at risk inner-city seats in Brisbane and Melbourne.

“If Queensland Labor misreads the election results and starts hugging coal even tighter, voters in the inner city will punish Labor and shift to the Greens,” said Mr Bandt.

“Labor has tried to walk both sides of the street on coal, but if Labor now comes down on the side of opening new coal mines, expect a swift and brutal response from voters in the inner city who want action on global warming.

“If Labor sides with coal, Anthony Albanese will sign his party’s death warrant in federal seats like Griffith and Wills, where people want to be represented by politicians that stand for climate action.

“The Greens achieved a double digit swing in the state seat of South Brisbane against Jackie Trad in 2017. If the federal election results were mirrored at the next state election, the Greens would win the seat.

“By fast-tracking Adani, the Queensland Premier has just put her deputy’s seat at even further risk, and the Greens will redouble our efforts to win it.

“There is no ‘pro-Adani’ or ‘pro coal’ mandate from this election. In Central Queensland, the Liberal/National vote stagnated.

“I welcome moves from some unions to support a ‘green new deal’ to transition workers out of coal. If Labor and unions keep backing coal, they’re not just giving workers false hope, they’re keeping the LNP in government.”

Man charged with 169 animal abuse and trafficking offences – Strike Force Raptor

Strike Force Raptor have charged a man with 169 animal abuse and trafficking offences after dozens of reptiles were seized from a home in Sydney’s west yesterday.

In March 2019, the Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor and the Department of the Environment and Energy’s Office of Compliance commenced an investigation, following reports of the illegal exportation of protected Australian animals for money.

Following extensive inquiries, investigators, with assistance of officers from the Public Order and Riot Squad and the NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage, executed a search warrant at Marquesa Crescent, Lethbridge Park, yesterday (Thursday 23 May 2019).

Officers located 12 Shingleback lizards, one Stimson’s python, three young Monitors, a South American Mata Mata turtle, and two deceased crocodiles. The reptiles were seized by authorised wildlife handlers.

Investigators also located and seized mobile phones and other electronic devices to undergo forensic examination.

A 25-year-old man was arrested at the property and taken to Riverstone Police Station, where he was charged with 165 counts of deal in or attempt to deal in protected animal, two counts of attempted export regulated native specimen without permit or exemption, possess non-native/regulated specimen, and commit act of cruelty upon an animal.

Police will allege in court that the man, who did not hold a reptile keeper’s licence or exhibitors permit, captured native Australian animals before they were sent overseas for at least $38,000.

It will also be alleged that a further 147 reptiles – including a Death Adder, 58 Gecko lizards, blue-tongue lizards and 21 bearded dragon lizards – were seized by the NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage under a Commonwealth warrant carried out by the Department of Environment and Energy in 2017.

The man was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Mt Druitt Local Court on Wednesday 5 June 2019.

Investigations are continuing.

Strike Force Raptor was established in 2009 and conducts proactive investigations and intelligence-based, high-impact policing operations to prevent and disrupt conflicts, and dismantle any network engaged in serious organised criminal activity.

Drugs, ammunition and weapons seized; man charged – Boolaroo

A man has been charged with firearms, drugs and weapons offences in the Lake Macquarie region.

About 10am yesterday (Thursday 23 May 2019), officers from Lake Macquarie Police District and Strike Force Utah conducted a Firearms and Weapons Prohibition Order (FPO and WPO) search at a home on Fourth Street, Boolaroo.

During the search, officers allegedly uncovered a hydroponic setup, more than 34 cannabis plants and close to two kilograms of cannabis leaf.

Police then executed a search warrant on the home, seizing three prohibited firearms, and several prohibited weapons including a taser, knuckle duster, ammunition and blow darts.

A 36-year-old man was arrested at the home and taken to Belmont Police Station.

He was charged with 11 offences, including:

– Possess or use a prohibited weapon without permit x 4

– Possess unauthorised firearm x 3

– Possess ammunition without holding licence/permit/authority

– Possess prohibited drug

– Enhanced indoor cultivate cannabis for commercial purpose

– Possess/attempt to, prescribed restricted substance

He was refused bail to appear at Toronto Local Court today (Friday 24 May 2019).

 

Missing Lake Macquarie man found

A man reported missing from the Lake Macquarie area has been located safe and well.

The 32-year-old man was last seen about 8.30pm on Wednesday (23 May 2019) in the Toronto foreshore area.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Police District were notified and commenced an extensive search.

About 11.30am this morning (Friday 24 May 2019), the man was located in Toronto.

Police would like to thank the public and media for their assistance.

Bob Hawke

Australia mourns the passing of its 23rd and third longest-serving Prime Minister, the Honourable Robert James Lee Hawke AC, GCL.

Profoundly Australian, Bob Hawke was a conviction politician who became a political legend.

Bob Hawke was a great Australian who led and served our country with passion, courage, and an intellectual horsepower that made our country stronger.

He was true to his beliefs in the Labor tradition and defined the politics of his generation and beyond.

He was the most electorally-successful Federal Labor leader in history: the winner of four successive elections and the longest-serving Labor Prime Minister.

Before arriving in Parliament, as president of the ACTU, Bob Hawke’s ability to build consensus not only with unionists, but with his opponents, employers and government representatives, cemented his reputation as a man of great skill, courage and tenacity.

We remember him for his unique capacity to speak to all Australians as one – from everyday battlers to business leaders. His larrikinism was a big part of that.

His popularity, coupled with his strong intellect and discipline, achieved many important reforms in the national interest, strongly supported by the Liberal and Nationals Opposition at the time.

On behalf of all Australians, I extend to Mr Hawke’s widow Blanche and to his family, our deepest condolences, and acknowledge the support and contribution of the late Hazel Hawke.

— Scott Morrison

Brisbane man charged with terrorism support offence

 

A 27-year-old Brisbane man is scheduled to appear before Brisbane’s Richlands Magistrates Court today, charged with attempting to provide support to a terrorist organisation.

The man was arrested as a result of investigations by the Queensland Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) into Australians suspected of being members of a terrorist organisation in Syria and Iraq, as well as people in Australia suspected of providing assistance to terrorist organisations.

On Tuesday (21 May 2019), members of the Queensland JCTT – which comprises members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Queensland Police Service and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation – attended an address in Algester.

A 27-year-old was subsequently arrested and charged with attempting to provide support to a terrorist organisation, contrary to sections 11.1(1) and 102.7(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).  The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment.

It will be alleged in court that the Algester man provided video-editing software to a relative who had travelled to the conflict zone and was working for the ‘media unit’ of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist organisation.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney, National Manager Counter Terrorism, said this arrest highlights the strong working relationships between Australia’s law enforcement agencies.

“The AFP is committed to working with national security and law enforcement partners to identify all criminality associated with Australians who illegally travelled to participate in the conflict in Syria and Iraq,” AC McCartney said.

“We will allege that the support this man provided was tangible and would directly assist a terrorist organisation with its objectives.”

Assistant Commissioner Peter Fleming, Security and Counter Terrorism Command said “violent extremists from across the ideological spectrum exploit the online environment to spread propaganda and recruit individuals. The aim of extremists is to divide us and to turn our citizens against each other – but we will not let them win.”

There is no threat to the community in Queensland as a result of this investigation.

Five arrested for million-dollar NDIS fraud

 

A joint agency investigation into an organised criminal syndicate suspected of defrauding the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) of millions of dollars has today resulted in the arrest of five people in western Sydney.

Today’s arrests are the result of a six-month investigation by the NDIS Fraud Taskforce – comprising members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the Department of Human Services (DHS). This investigation was supported by the AFP hosted Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

All five were arrested at four residences in the western Sydney suburbs of Lurnea and Liverpool (two locations) early this morning. A number of them are expected to be charged with a range of fraud and proceeds of crime offences, and are likely to appear before Sydney Central Local Court this afternoon. A sixth person will be issued a summons to appear before court to answer related charged at a later date.

Taskforce investigators will allege in court that three registered NDIS providers controlled and exploited by those arrested today fraudulently claimed more than $1.1 million in NDIS payments from more than 70 people on disability plans, or those managing their affairs.

Investigations into the true scale of this fraud are continuing, with more than 100 other potential victims identified through the three entities controlled by this syndicate – Universal Group Australia Pty Ltd, Reliance Disability Services and United Mission.

The three entities are believed to have received more than $2.6 million in NDIS payments since December 2017. Further enquiries are required to determine whether these payments are legitimate or fraudulent.

It is also suspected that syndicate members applied to register another four entities as NDIS providers to claim payments.

The AFP also seized three vehicles – a Porsche Cayenne, an Audi A3 and Mercedes E63 – suspected of being purchased with funds fraudulently obtained by syndicate members.

AFP Acting Commander Mark McIntyre, Manager Criminal Assets and Fraud and Anti-Corruption, and said police were committed to targeting those deliberately exploiting the Australian community.

“This is an organised criminal activity preying on those that society has chosen to help– it took money directly out of the pockets of NDIS participants, reducing their ability to obtain crucial assistance and services to help them lead their lives,” he said.

“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case, and we will continue to work with our taskforce partners to identify those preying on our needy and bring them to account for their selfish and despicable actions.”

Acting CEO of the NDIA, Vicki Rundle, said the NDIS Fraud Taskforce was a partnership with a focus on high-risk and serious criminal activity targeting the NDIS.

“The NDIA is committed to working with families impacted by alleged fraud and ensuring they have their funds reinstated in their plans where appropriate,” she said.

“We want to make it clear that fraud of the NDIS will not be tolerated. The NDIA takes the matter of fraud very seriously and will continue to invest in our capability to continue to identify attempts to defraud the scheme”.

The Department of Human Services also has an important role in the NDIS Fraud Taskforce, providing expert capability to detect and investigate organised criminal networks that seek to take advantage of vulnerable members of the community.

A 40-year-old man from Lurnea will be charged with Obtaining a gain contrary to section 135.(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), and Dealing with property reasonably suspected to proceeds of crime contrary to section 400.9(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

A  35-year-old woman from Lurnea was charged with Obtaining a gain contrary to section 135.(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), and Dealing with property reasonably suspected to proceeds of crime contrary to section 400.9(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalties for these offences are 10 years and three years imprisonment, respectively.

A 27-year-old man, 30-year-old man and 27-year-old woman – all from Liverpool – were charged with Dealing with property reasonably suspected to proceeds of crime contrary to section 400.9(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is three years imprisonment.

A 22-year-old woman will be issued a court attendance notice relating to an allegation of providing false or misleading information contrary to section 137.1 (1)(c)(i) of the Criminal Code (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is 12 months imprisonment.

New report shows record low coral cover at many WA reefs

A diver surveys bleached coral at Scott Reef, Western Australia. Photo: Nick Thake

The most extensive report into the state of Western Australia’s coral reefs, led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), shows many reefs have the lowest coral cover on record.

Western Australia’s coral reefs, comparable in extent and diversity to those on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, have been seriously affected by heat stress and cyclones.

This latest study of WA reefs was undertaken through the collaboration of 26 researchers from 19 institutions, and included important marine observations from regional managers, tourist operators and Bardi Jawi Indigenous Rangers in the Kimberley.

AIMS marine scientist Dr James Gilmour said it was the first study of its kind to establish a long-term history of changes in coral cover across eight reef systems and the extent of coral bleaching at 401 survey sites.

“Despite their extent and diversity, there are few published accounts of the condition of Western Australia’s reefs,” Dr Gilmore said.

“Coral reefs make a significant contribution to the nation’s economy and identity through associated fisheries, tourism and recreation, so we are formally assessing their condition following the third global coral bleaching event in 2016 and establishing a baseline for future change.”

Scott Reef in 2012 with healthy coral population (left), and after the 2016 coral bleaching, showing coral skeletons covered in algae (right). Photos: James Gilmour

WA Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions marine scientist, and co-author in the research, Dr Shaun Wilson said a heat wave in 2016 had its greatest impact in the north-west but had relatively little effect on those reefs south of the Pilbara, such as Ningaloo.

“However, these reefs were affected by heat stress in La Niña years, particularly the 2011 heat wave, so over the past 10 years, few reefs have escaped bleaching,” Dr Wilson said.

University of Western Australia physical oceanographer and co-author Dr Rebecca Green said to assess changes to reef systems, the team had linked site-specific data since 1990 on the coral’s exposure to damaging marine heatwaves and heat stress, with mean changes in coral cover.

“We found half the reef systems have been severely impacted by coral bleaching since 2010, which has been further compounded by cyclones at some reefs,” Dr Green said.

Dr Gilmour said for 75 per cent of reef systems with long-term data of between five and 26 years, coral cover is currently at, or near, the lowest on record.

“Full recovery is unlikely if heat stress and cyclone disturbances continued to intensify, however, at some reefs, coral cover has remained relatively stable or has increased in recent years.”

“Within all reef systems, the condition of communities based on their exposure to disturbances, was varied.”

“We have started identifying coral communities least susceptible to disturbances, which show some capacity to adapt to future warming, and investigating how their coral larvae connect between reefs following coral spawning.”

Dr Gilmour said the capacity for coral larvae to disperse between reefs and expand their distribution would be important for future research and management priorities.

The report entitled, `The state of Western Australia’s coral reefs’ is published in the research journal Coral Reefs here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00338-019-01795-8

APRA releases report on industry self-assessments into governance, culture and accountability

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released a report analysing the self-assessments carried out by 36 of the country’s largest banks, insurers and superannuation licensees in response to the Final Report of the Prudential Inquiry into Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).

APRA wrote to the institutions’ boards last June asking them to gauge whether the weaknesses uncovered by the CBA Prudential Inquiry also existed in their own companies. The landmark CBA inquiry had found that continued financial success dulled the bank’s senses, especially with regard to the management of non-financial risks.

After receiving the self-assessments last December, APRA’s frontline supervision teams carried out detailed analysis and benchmarking of their quality and the key issues that institutions identified.

APRA noted a wide variation in the quality of the self-assessments; most institutions recognised the opportunity provided by the findings in the Final Report to critically examine their own organisation , however a small number of institutions took a lighter touch approach and viewed it as an exercise for APRA rather than an opportunity to drive improvement.

Consistent findings in the self-assessments included:

  • non-financial risk management requires improvement;
  • accountabilities are not always clear, cascaded and effectively enforced;
  • acknowledged weaknesses are well-known and some have been long-standing; and
  • risk culture is not well understood, and therefore may not be reinforcing the desired behaviours.
APRA Deputy Chair John Lonsdale said it is clear that many of the issues identified within CBA are not unique to that institution.

“Although the self-assessments raised no concerns about financial soundness, they confirmed our observation that industry is grappling to manage non-financial risks, such as culture and accountability,” Mr Lonsdale said.

“The self-assessments provided valuable insights into the depth and totality of issues, and how institutions were addressing them. It was also interesting to observe the generally positive assessments boards and senior leadership teams had of their own performance, even when they had identified serious weaknesses in their institutions.

“It was not always evident that institutions clearly understood the drivers of their findings. Therefore, there is a risk that any planned action to address weaknesses may not be effective or sustainable.”

APRA is considering applying additional capital requirements to several regulated institutions after an analysis of self-assessments found material weaknesses in the governance and management of non-financial risks. APRA is also seeking assurances from all boards that the weaknesses identified in their self-assessments will be addressed as a matter of priority in an effective and sustainable manner.

Mr Lonsdale said the findings would be used to help APRA better target its efforts to lift standards of non-financial risk management, as outlined in its 2019 Policy Priorities document.

“APRA will shortly write to the boards of all participating institutions providing tailored observations on their self-assessments. Boards should expect increased supervisory scrutiny of their institutions as they implement remediation actions. Also, in a number of cases, the weaknesses identified in the self-assessment were sufficiently material that APRA is considering stronger supervisory responses, including the application of an operational risk capital overlay,” he said.

“Boards must be committed to uplifting governance and management of non-financial risks. Where this commitment is not forthcoming, APRA will consider the need for further regulatory action. We also continue to encourage those institutions that have not yet done a self-assessment to do so as a valuable means of identifying and addressing weaknesses in their business.”

A copy of the publication is available on the APRA website at www.apra.gov.au/information-papers-released-apra.