Teen arrested after girl injured with ‘makeshift blow dart’ – Cessnock

A teen has been arrested after a girl was hospitalised following a random attack at Cessnock yesterday.

About 7.15pm (Saturday 24 November 2018), a 15-year-old girl was walking with four friends on Wollombi Road, when a vehicle stopped, and a male allegedly discharged an object.

Police will allege the girl was struck in the face with a makeshift blow dart.

She was taken to Cessnock Hospital for treatment and transferred to John Hunter Hospital where she underwent surgery to remove the projectile from her cheek.

Officers from the Hunter Valley Police District were notified and have commenced an investigation.

Police were told witnesses saw a white Toyota Hilux leave the scene. Following inquiries, the vehicle was located a short time later.

Just after 4pm today (Sunday 25 Novemner 2018), a 17-year-old male attended Cessnock Police Station and spoke with investigators.

He has been arrested and remains in custody.

The youth has been charged after a girl was hit in the face by a dart at Cessnock at the weekend.

About 7.15pm on Saturday 24 November 2018, a 15-year-old girl was walking with four friends on Wollombi Road when a vehicle stopped, and a youth allegedly discharged an object towards them.

Police will allege the girl was struck in the face with what has been described as a makeshift blow dart.

She was taken to Cessnock Hospital for treatment and transferred to John Hunter Hospital where she underwent surgery to remove a projectile from her cheek.

Officers from the Hunter Valley Police District commenced an investigation and shortly after 4pm yesterday (Sunday 25 November 2018), a 17-year-old youth attended Cessnock Police Station and spoke with investigators.

He has now been charged with reckless wounding, and possess or use a prohibited weapon.

The youth has been granted conditional bail and is due to appear before a Children’s Court on Tuesday 11 December 2018

Gravesites desecrated, police appeal – Toronto

Police are appealing for public assistance after several gravesites were desecrated at a cemetery in the Lake Macquarie area yesterday.

Just before 6pm (Saturday 24 November 2018), a group of four males were seen causing damage at the cemetery on Awaba Road, Toronto.

Police have also been told a woman who was walking in the area was approached and intimidated by the group.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Police District attended and discovered a large number of ceramic angels and statues had been smashed, and pot plants and statues were thrown on graves.

Detectives investigating the incident are seeking assistance from the public.

They would like to speak to four males, not further described, who may be able to assist with their inquiries.

Anyone with information or who was in the area at the time and noticed something suspicious is urged to come forward.

JOBS SURGE FOR WESTERN SYDNEY

Western Sydney is experiencing a jobs bonanza with the region adding more jobs since 2011 than all of Queensland.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals employment has grown for Western Sydney residents by more than 212,000 over the past seven and a half years.

The Western Sydney unemployment rate currently sits at 5.0 per cent, just above last month’s record lows.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the new jobs figures demonstrated the strength of the NSW economy with the state’s unemployment rate sitting at 4.4 per cent – the lowest among the states for 41 straight months.

“Since 2011, more new jobs have been created in Western Sydney than the whole of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania combined,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Western Sydney is reaping the rewards of our unprecedented levels of infrastructure investment.”

“Game-changing projects like the Western Sydney Aerotropolis will help create thousands more employment opportunities for people across the region well into the future.”

Across the rest of NSW women continued to lead the way with an impressive 237,700 jobs added since 2015 with women responsible for almost 63 per cent of new jobs during that time.

“An economy that is creating jobs provides stability for families allowing them to plan for the future and enjoy the fruits of their labour,” Mr Perrottet said.

“I am delighted to say the unemployment rate for women in NSW has set a record low of just 4.1 per cent.”

“These are numbers people could have only wished for under the last Labor government.”

“Thanks to our strong economic management there have been more jobs added for women in the last three and a half years than were added between 2003 and 2011 under Labor.”

“The only thing growing under NSW Labor will be the unemployment queues because of Opposition Leader Michael Daley’s reckless plans to cancel projects.”

EIGHT YEARS OF ECONOMIC ACHIEVEMENT TRANSFORMS NSW

After eight years of strong financial management, the NSW economy has staged a remarkable turnaround, emerging from a disastrous slump under the previous Labor government and surging to a winning position.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Liberals & Nationals have put the runs on the board and the scorecard makes for happy reading.

“Our State’s economic performance when Labor lost office was a national embarrassment, and the sense of hopelessness in NSW was palpable,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Labor’s mismanagement was a kick in the guts for every family, every worker and every business trying to get ahead.”

“Fast forward to today and our economy has been totally transformed. From the budget to the economy to infrastructure to employment, the contrast between then and now is remarkable.”

Mr Perrottet said secure finances and a sensible policy of swapping old assets for new ones had given NSW a renewed ability to power ahead with record investments in schools, hospitals, rail lines, roads and other infrastructure right across the State.

“In 2010-11 the NSW budget posted a meagre surplus of $153 million, and was headed for deficit. As of 2017-18, our surplus now stands at almost $4.2 billion – a sound platform for a strong, secure future.”

“In the same period, the State’s net debt has plummeted from a staggering $8 billion in 2010-11 to a record low of negative $11.1 billion in 2017-18.”

“Despite Labor’s stubborn opposition to asset recycling, that policy has helped lift the value of public assets in NSW to more than a quarter of a trillion dollars – a massive increase from the State’s $165.9 billion net worth when Labor left office.”

“Record infrastructure investment has boosted economic growth, and given the private sector the confidence it needs to invest too.”

“State final demand growth is up from 2.8 per cent in 2010-11 to 3.4 per cent in 2017-18 – which is now higher than the long run average. That resurgence is reflected in critical industries like the retail sector, where sales growth has risen from 2.5 per cent in the five years to March 2011, to 3.7 per cent since we came to office.”

“Export growth has almost tripled, rising from 1.8 per cent in the five years to 2010-11, to 4.6 per cent between 2010-11 and 2017-18, as dynamic NSW businesses export their goods the world.”

“Housing construction has also boomed, after our Government was lumped with Labor’s legacy of chronic housing shortages that sent house prices skyrocketing.”

“Since March 2011 we have steadily clawed back ground, more than doubling annual housing completions from 31,400 in the twelve months to March 2011, to 65,100 in the 12 months to June 2018.”

Mr Perrottet said the real importance of the economic scorecard is that every number represents the opportunities that are now on offer in NSW for people to get ahead.

“Strong finances and a strong economy mean jobs, jobs, jobs. For families across the State paying off mortgages and covering bills, nothing is more important, and right now there is no better place to find a great job than NSW.”

“Unemployment in 2010-11 was above the national average, but today it is at decade lows and has the lowest in the nation for more than three and a half years.”

“Employment growth is up from just 2.3 per cent in March 2011 to 3.6 per cent today, and more people are in work – including record numbers of women – with the participation rate rising from 63.8 per cent to 65.2 per cent.”

Mr Perrottet said a NSW Liberals & Nationals government had the discipline and determination to maintain NSW’s steady winning streak, but Labor simply isn’t up to the task.

“Our record speaks for itself. Not only is the economy booming, our fiscal discipline has meant we can steadily ease the pressure with tax cuts and cost-of-living initiatives like car rego rebates and Active and Creative Kids vouchers,” Mr Perrottet said.

“The biggest threat to our State and its people is NSW Labor. Michael Daley was an integral part of the dysfunctional Labor government that brought our state to its knees, and by handing him the reins, Labor have shown they haven’t learned a thing.”

“For our Government, the economic runs are on the board, and that is important for one reason only – so we can keep delivering what the families of NSW need: great jobs, better opportunities, a better standard of living, and security for the future.”

BILL SHORTEN ON THE VICTORIAN ELECTION

I have spoken to Premier Daniel Andrews to congratulate him and his Labor team on their remarkable victory.

The first Andrews Government has given outstanding service to all Victorians. They have kept their promises, invested in TAFE, hospitals, schools and services. They’ve backed renewable energy and rooftop solar and they’ve begun generational infrastructure projects that will transform this state.

Premier Andrews and his team campaigned on their stability, on their proud record of economic success and social progress and with a clear pledge to finish what they have begun.

For four years, Daniel and his colleagues have worked hard to earn and keep the trust of the Victorian people and their success tonight is tribute to the faith Victorians have shown in them, once again.

Today’s result is also a fundamental rejection of the Liberals’ cuts to schools, TAFE and hospitals, and their failure to invest in renewables and take action on climate change.

All of us in the Federal Labor party wish the Andrews Government well in their second term as they continue to build a better future for all Victorians.

TIME FOR MR MORRISON TO ACT ON ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION

The Opposition is urging Mr Morrison to finally commit to a National Integrity Commission in the final sitting fortnight of the year.

There is no reason to end 2018 without a bi-partisan commitment to a national anti-corruption body.

We welcome today’s open letter to the Prime Minister from 34 former judges, calling on him to establish a National Integrity Commission.

The former judges write: “A National Integrity Commission is urgently needed to fill the gaps in our integrity system and restore trust in our democracy.”

Labor agrees.

In recent years, many Australians have lost faith in politics and our public institutions. It’s time for us to do better. It’s time for us to help restore people’s faith in politics.

At the beginning on 2018, we announced our plan to legislate for a federal anti-corruption body.

A bi-partisan process to establish a National Integrity Commission would help ensure the complex consultation and design work can be completed swiftly, and a body established as a priority.

Mr Morrison delayed the Banking Royal Commission by voting against it 26 times. He shouldn’t make the same mistake with a National Integrity Commission.

Let’s make this issue above politics. The Parliament can come together this week and start the process of establishing a National Integrity Commission.

The Labor Opposition will continue to push for a National Integrity Commission. And if Mr Morrison refuses to act, a Shorten Labor Government will make it law.

Statement from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, on lead in drinking water from some plumbing products and the enHealth Guidelines

There is no evidence of adverse effects on human health from the consumption of lead in drinking water in Australia. However, lead is not considered to be beneficial or necessary for humans; therefore public health experts recommend Australians take every opportunity to limit potential exposure from all sources.

The concentration of lead set in the drinking water guidelines is very conservative so that it can be sure to protect the most vulnerable people, such as very young children and pregnant women.

There have been instances of detection of lead levels above Australia’ drinking water guidelines and, as a precautionary approach, enHealth has issued household good practice guidelines to assist Australians in minimising their exposure to lead in drinking water, particularly when drinking water from old taps.

enHealth have suggested these simple precautionary measures to ensure that lead levels in drinking water are as low as possible.

Elevated blood lead levels are rarely found to be related to lead exposure from drinking water and it is extremely unlikely that lead from drinking water, even over a lifetime, would cause clinical lead toxicity.

I welcome work being undertaken by the Australian Building Codes Board to examine the issue of the level of lead in plumbing fixtures in line with international best practice.

Further information on lead in plumbing products is available on the enHealth Statement on Lead in Plumbing Products available from the department’s web page at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/A12B57E41EC9F326CA257BF0001F9E7D/$File/Lead-plumbing-products-Guidance-Statement-July2018.pdf.

Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health terms of reference

The Coalition Government has today released the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into mental health and announced the appointment of an Associate Commissioner for the inquiry.

The inquiry will consider how mental illness can affect all aspects of a person’s quality of life including physical health, social participation, education, employment and financial status.

The terms of reference will include:

    • Examining the effect of supporting mental health on economic and social participation, productivity and the Australian economy;
    • Examining how sectors beyond health, including education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health and economic participation and productivity;
    • Examining the effectiveness of current programs and initiatives across all jurisdictions to improve mental health, suicide prevention and participation, including by governments, employers and professional groups;
    • Assessing whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money and the best outcomes for individuals, their families, society and the economy;
    • Drawing on domestic and international policies and experience, where appropriate; and
    • Developing a framework to measure and report the outcomes of mental health policies and investment on participation, productivity and economic growth over the long term.

To assist the Commission in undertaking this inquiry, Professor Harvey Whiteford has been appointed as an Associate Commissioner.

Professor Whiteford is a member of the National Mental Health Commission’s Advisory Board, Professor of Population Mental Health at the University of Queensland, and Professor of Global Health at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington.

He brings extensive experience to the role, having worked on mental health policy with the World Health Organisation, World Bank, OECD and governments in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The two Commissioners overseeing the inquiry are Dr Stephen King and Julie Abramson.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “The inquiry will be able to make recommendations as to how the Government can better support Australians living with mental illness, to enable them to lead fulfilling and contributing lives.”

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said he has consulted with state and territory health and mental health ministers as well as the National Mental Health Commission to seek their views on the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry.

“The Commission will consult with Indigenous leaders including the National Mental Health Commission’s Professor Helen Milroy and Professor Ngiare Brown on their expertise,” Minister Hunt said.

“Four million Australians deal with some form of chronic or episodic mental health condition. As well as the individuals affected and people close to them, poor mental health also affects businesses, the hospital system, emergency services and social services.”

The Commission will take submissions and will hold public consultations, including in regional areas.

All interested parties, including carers and patients, are encouraged to participate.

The inquiry will begin immediately and is due to report to Government within 18 months.

The Federal Government will spend an estimated $4.7 billion this year on mental health. Once state and territory government funding is added to this, the investment in mental health rises to around $9 billion per year – that is equivalent to $1 million per hour – every hour of every day.

The terms of reference are available on the Commission’s website.

Parade marks 70th anniversary of the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR)

The 70th anniversary of the raising of the Australian Army’s Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) was marked with a ceremonial parade at the Australian War Memorial today.

The revered Queen’s and recently updated Regimental Colours, featuring the 17 theatre and battle honours bestowed on the RAR, were on display with their respective Colour parties from the battalions of the regiment.

Major General Mark Kelly, AO, DSC (Retd), Colonel Commandant of the RAR said the regiment’s birthday was a time to reflect on its rich history and achievements.

“The battalions of our regiment have provided the full-time infantry combat capability for the Australian Defence Force for the last 70 years,” Major General Kelly said.

 “This parade, and the display of the Colours, helps us to reflect on the sacrifice and valour of those who came before us, including the 684 members of the regiment who died on operations.

“We remain committed to duty, ready to serve the Australian public as a key component of our modern and professional land force.

“We will continue to uphold the high standards set by infantry soldiers before us and look forward to continuing to serve our nation under the regimental motto of ‘Duty First’.”

The RAR, originally consisting of three ‘regular’ infantry battalions – the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions – was raised in 1948 for service in Japan after World War Two. There are now seven RAR battalions, based in Adelaide, Brisbane, Townsville and Darwin.

The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, AK, MC (Retd); Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, AO, DSC; and Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, AO, DSC, MVO were all officers of the regiment. Seven Victoria Cross recipients, including the four most recently serving in Afghanistan, were at one time RAR soldiers.

The RAR has deployed on many operations including the Korean War, Malayan Emergency, Vietnam War, Somalia, Rwanda, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme to commence December 10

The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS) will commence on 10 December, 2018.

The Attorney-General announced the start date today, saying FITS would enhance transparency across the Australian Government and safeguard the nation’s democracy.

“FITS will provide visibility of the forms and sources of foreign influence in Australia’s governmental and political processes,” the Attorney-General said.

“Covert foreign influence can have serious implications for political sovereignty and national policy.  This can result in the interests of foreign principals being placed over Australian national interests without appropriate transparency.

“FITS, along with the Espionage and Foreign Interference Act, both of which passed Parliament with bipartisan support in June of this year, provide key protections to our national security and democratic institutions and processes and support our sovereignty, values and national interests.

“These new national security Acts were requested by our national security agencies and reflect the fact that, as we have heard time and time again from our most senior national security leaders, we live in a time of unprecedented foreign intelligence activity against Australia with more foreign agents, from more foreign powers, using more tradecraft to engage in espionage and foreign interference than at any time since the Cold War.”

From Monday, 10 December 2018, any person who undertakes certain activities, on behalf of a foreign principal for the purpose of influencing a political or government process will be required to register under the scheme.

A register of all those covered by the scheme and details about their activities as well as the nature of their arrangements with foreign principals will be publicly available.

The Attorney-General said since the passage of the legislation the Government has been finalising two sets of rules under the Foreign Influence Transparency Act 2018, which would underpin the operation of the FITS.

The first is a set of rules specifying the disclosures that must be made when undertaking communications activity.  This could include media broadcasts, articles or messages sent via applications such as WhatsApp.

The second set of rules will set out what information about registrants will be made public. This includes:

  • names the registrant and the foreign principal would be known by;
  • details of the arrangements with a foreign principal;
  • details of the activity being undertaken on behalf of the foreign principal; and
  • the date or period in which the activity is taking place

Together, these rules will ensure the FITS provides as much transparency in the Australian democratic system as possible,” the Attorney-General said.

“This is the first scheme of its kind in Australia. As such, detailed guidance materials are being prepared to support those who will need to register.

“Foreign actors will remain free to promote their interests in Australia, provided this is done in a lawful, open and transparent way.”

The IT platform to allow participants to register is almost complete with testing to be conducted later this month, ahead of its official launch on 10 December 2018.