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Book review: Australia Under Surveillance, by Frank Moorhouse

Sleepless: David Irvine said threats to our security were so serious that they kept him awake at night.AUSTRALIA UNDER SURVEILLANCE ByFrank Moorhouse Vintage, $32.99
Nanjing Night Net

I wish I still had that very old Disney comic that showed ducks in raincoats on a beach, hiding one behind the other under a jetty, all peering around the pylons through binoculars. Even before I understood the perennial question, “who will guard the guardians themselves?” I found the idea of spies, counter-spies, and counter-counter spies absurd.

David Irvine does too, he admits, in an interview edited in Frank Moorhouse’s new book. But as he prepared to retire as Director-General of ASIO, Irvine candidly told audiences around Australia how threats to our security were so serious that they kept him awake at night. Then he reassured them with examples of how ASIO was protecting them. I was reminded of a former employee of the US National Security Agency who joked to an audience in Washington that the job of the NSA was to scare people so they would go on paying for it. Australians pay vastly increasing amounts for ASIO.

Shortly before Irvine retired, ASIO and the AFP deployed more than 800 officers in night-time raids on houses in Sydney and Melbourne, which resulted in several arrests but just one prosecution. Was this a fishing expedition that failed, a training exercise, a tactic to scare would-be terrorists, or an anticipatory demonstration of ASIO’s and the AFP’s need for even more powers, which were soon to come before parliament? It may have been all four. We cannot know, because the raid was one of many activities about which we have few details, and ASIO is exempt from Freedom of Information applications.

Two other possibilities: either we are paranoid, or we have learnt from 1949 of enough egregious stuff ups not to trust ASIO. Moorhouse supplies a list of these, and Meredith Burgmann’s 2014 collection, Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files, contains more. An agency screened from public scrutiny, no matter how well intentioned, will inevitably develop contempt for those outside its select community, even while it owes its existence to the public, and is tasked to protect them.

Irvine, Moorhouse points out, sits on the Council of the National Archives, and his former deputy at ASIO is the Archives’ Director-General. The Archives, Moorhouse observes in one of the most disturbing sections of his book, are the only historical record the public has of the workings of ASIO and our five other intelligence agencies. Yet ASIO can refuse requests for release of files on grounds of “national security” even after the normal 25-year withholding period is over. ASIO can destroy information, and can decide which of its records to make available to the Archives. In practice, Moorhouse says, that means none.

So what, after Communism, does ASIO now protect us from? Terrorism, of course, and extremism or fanaticism, we are told. These labels are loose enough to provide the national security agencies with the ill-defined enemy necessary for their perpetual operation. They appeal to moral panic. Terrorism is already “the new normal”, according to Dick Cheney. It is an intractable threat that, Moorhouse observes, seems to excuse democratic governments behaving as badly as some terrorists. Yet in the 50 years to 2005, less than 1000 Australians died from wars and terrorism (Moorhouse cites Paul Sheehan), while 134,548 deaths on Australian roads were not considered a threat to national security. Moorhouse lists nine “terrorist” incidents in Australia since 1970. By my count, of the four deaths that occurred, only one did not involve the security agencies themselves.

ASIO has for long had a negative reputation among Australians old enough to remember the Cold War, to have seen their file, and to know if they lost a job, a promotion, or a government grant because of its contents, accurate or not. Younger Australians, however, may approach Moorhouse with reasonable, contemporary questions: if I have nothing to hide, why should I fear ASIO surveillance? If others plan acts of violence, shouldn’t ASIO intercept them by whatever means? If national security is endangered, isn’t it appropriate to reverse the onus of proof onto the suspect? Doesn’t ASIO need to operate in secrecy?

I hoped for answers from Moorhouse’s book, following his prizewinning Griffith Review essay, The Writer in a Time of Terror (2006-7). I found a discussion of what he calls the Dark Conundrum, the sly behaviour of a democratic government that contradicts its own espoused values, justifying behaviour of dubious legality in the name of political necessity and national security. This since Vietnam has become increasingly obvious to most alert Australians. He doesn’t mention the much more troubling Special Intelligence Operations, about which Australian citizens are not allowed to ask questions, and which journalists can be jailed for unwittingly revealing. He doesn’t refer to the Deep State, a linked intelligence community in the Anglophone countries that, according to Canadian author Peter Dale Scott, operates as an unchallengeable, permanent authority in parallel with impermanent governments. He doesn’t cite Glenn Greenwald or Jennifer Robinson, whose views on private ownership of information would illuminate his Conundrum. He admires the leakers Manning and Snowden, but calls Assange a hacker. In fact, WikiLeaks does not hack, but publishes information leaked to it, just as the news media do (and some of them hack).

Moorhouse burrows into his Conundrum, wandering down the dark passageways of his personal predilections: censorship, the politics of sexual preference, the French Revolution, nihilism, the human condition and more. His research assistant advised him to order his material chronologically, but that thread is abandoned. Every so often he comes up from the mine with a nugget of a question, asking, for example, if a secret agency is needed for the safety of a democracy; and whether a modern state can any longer keep its own secrets, let alone those of its citizens. But these reflections are left dangling, and Moorhouse admits his proposals for reform are unlikely to be adopted. Appending an extract from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he notes that Australia is a signatory, but doesn’t point out that its provisions have not been incorporated into Australian law. Neither have those of the Convention on Civil and Political Rights nor of the Rights of the Child. Australia is alone in the OECD in having no charter or bill of rights, a situation our political leaders show no inclination to change.

As “national security” is increasingly used to justify the erosion of such privacy and liberty as Australians have, many of us, like Moorhouse, are concerned about state surveillance of individual academics, writers, filmmakers, journalists, and particularly Muslims. But as Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs has recently argued, the situation of Australia’s democratic institutions is worse: national security is being used to marginalise and overpower the judiciary, to concentrate power in the executive, to allow the armed forces to be deployed as and where the prime minister wishes, and to imprison people without charge or trial. The deep state is the new normal.

Alison Broinowski was a Senate candidate in NSW in 2013 for the WikiLeaks Party.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Book reviews: Strange Country; 100 Moments in Australian Painting

STRANGE COUNTRY: WHY AUSTRALIAN PAINTING MATTERS By Patrick McCaugheyThe Miegunyah Press/Melbourne University Publishing, $49.99.
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100 MOMENTS IN AUSTRALIAN PAINTINGBy Barry Pearce NewSouth Publishing, $49.99.

Two profusely illustrated books have recently appeared, both in one way or another offering an account of the past couple of centuries of Australian art and both, coincidently, limited to a consideration of painting only.

Patrick McCaughey is an art critic, art academic and long serving director of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and of the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Yale Centre for British Art in the United States. His Strange Country: Why Australian painting matters presents a most readable account of Australian painting; one which dips into art historical research, but also has a journalistic flair in the expression of strongly held convictions.

McCaughey was born in 1943, and when he was 17 he saw the inaugural Helena Rubinstein Travelling Scholarship Prize exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1960. From then on, he was hooked on Australian painting. His book commences with a quick overview of the modern Aboriginal art movement and then moves into a broad survey of early colonial painting, in which Nicholas Chevalier and ST Gill do not rate a mention. From here the account moves straight into the Heidelberg School, where we encounter interesting insights, such as the suggestion that the swagman in McCubbin’s Down on his luck (1889) is modelled on the pose of Durer’s Melencolia I (1514), but shown in reverse. Such quirky, but interesting observations are scattered throughout the book.

Although on occasion it is difficult to agree with some of McCaughey’s opinions, it is impossible not to admire the literary flourishes with which he discusses some of his selected paintings. When writing on Hugh Ramsay’s The sisters (1904), he observes “The compression of the composition, the closeness of the sitters to artist, breeds an airless claustrophobia. The alternating alertness and ennui of the sisters, bored by having to dress up in evening gowns in the middle of the day and pose in the over-heated studio, adds to the ambivalence of the painting. Far from being an essay in the feminine, the dying painter/brother is under scrutiny of his sisters, even as they fall under his gaze. A suffocating pall hangs over the work.”

His broad brush approach to Australian art history certainly takes few prisoners. In one sweeping overview sentence he notes “Hall and Lambert are now curiosities; perennial attempts to revive ‘late Streeton’ have petered out, and Heysen is hardly taken seriously outside Adelaide.” McCaughey champions Sidney Nolan and Fred Williams as the two giants of Australian painting and concludes with a rather cursory glance at contemporary art practice and with the tactful statement “all of these painters … they stand as representative for many who must go unmentioned …” Much is unmentioned in this book, but that which is mentioned is discussed with passion and understanding.

Although I was occasionally frustrated by the laconic nature of some of the discussion, as a whole, this account of Australian painting sparkles with intelligent insights and with some very memorable expressions in which wit and perception are united in flowing prose.

Barry Pearce in 2012 retired from his position as Head of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales after 33 years in the job. This book is his personal final tour of the collection, pausing to discuss some of his favourite paintings. Apart from personal preference, the 100 selected paintings present something of a chronological account of the development of Australian art as held at the Sydney gallery, a collection which Pearce help to form and develop.

Except for a single bark painting, Indigenous art is excluded from this selection, in part, because he saw his brief as the curator for “Anglo-European Australian” art, but also in part because he felt that Indigenous and non-Indigenous art don’t really mix and when they are put together they do not really make sense. He writes “The intention [to combine Aboriginal and non-Indigenous art] was worthy, but in the end I believe nothing much was gained, other than a temporary frisson of aesthetic confusion in an attempt to identify similarity”. This is not an argument which I personally find particularly convincing simply because so many Australian artists, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, draw on each other’s traditions and it is this, that to some extent gives Australian painting some of its distinctive character.

The strength of this book is that it is written by a person who has the eye of a curator, a person who is perceptive, passionate and at times possesses a forensic knowledge of the provenance of a particular painting under discussion. We are given wonderful accounts about the hunt for long-lost paintings involving ingenious detective work leading to profound joy on their rediscovery. There are also many passages of detailed observation of paintings and speculation on their evolution, sources and influences. Take for example the discussion of Ralph Balson’s Portrait of Grace Crowley (1939), where we learn not only the artist’s probable source, Millet, but also where he saw a reproduction of this source, an issue of the Studio magazine in the Sydney Art School library, and the reason of why he turned to this source, Julian Ashton’s teaching.

Pearce writes with passion on the paintings which he admires, for example Hugh Ramsay’s wonderful painting, The Sisters (1904), which the young artist painted virtually from his deathbed. Pearce writes “The Sisters shows not so much virtuosity or glamour in its dazzling render of gold and cream fabric, as a dance with the brush about transient beauty and an underlying sense of mortality.” It is such wonderfully evocative and insightful passages that make this book so rewarding to read.

Australian painting, which only a few decades ago in some of our art schools was pronounced dead and obsolete in the context of contemporary Australian art practice, in Patrick McCaughey and Barry Pearce has found two wonderful advocates who guarantee its high profile and ongoing viability.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Book review: The Peaceful People, by Paul Malone

Stewards of Sarawak: The Penan have survived British and Malaysian invasion of their forests. Photo: Phyllis Webster Only 20 per cent of the Penan people’s forests remain.
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THE PEACEFUL PEOPLE: The Penan and Their Fight for the Forest. By Paul Malone. Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, Malaysia. $27.

A theme in world history is Europe’s great colonial expansion and the resulting dispossession of indigenous peoples. Regular Canberra Times columnist Paul Malone documents the ironic variation wrought upon Sarawak’s indigenous Penan. They can “fondly recall” the relatively light touch of British Sarawak on their lands and lifestyle. With the Malaysian takeover of 1963, only 20 per cent now remains of the primary Sarawak forests they used to roam.

Malone had visited a remote Penan group in 1974. Back in Sarawak in 2006, he was talked out of repeating the experience. His inner reporter was galvanised to revisit the Penan the following year. He filed a Canberra Times story about Penan elder Kelesau Naan’s campaign to stop the logging. Naan’s suspicious death months later prompted further visits and ultimately this book.

The title clearly sums up the author’s view of  the Penan. “The world can surely learn something” from their peaceful society and its non-violent protests.

Malone notes the pitfalls of romanticising indigenous groups. But the colonial, ethnographic and missionary records locate the Penan as “starkly different” from other Sarawak tribes. They took no human heads nor animal sacrifices, lived by rotational hunting and sago gathering not rice cultivation, and kept to smallish jungle bands whoavoided rivers andharsh sunlight. They also memorised their significant campsites and gravesites down the generations, but their kind of land stewardship didn’t cut much ice at the land titles office.

Other tribes thought them fair game. Malone recaps several massacres of the Penan dating from as recently as the turn of the 20th century. Things got tough again when logging took off in the 1970s. Short of violence, the Penan used “every available means” of protest and blockade to halt the logging or at least get compensation. Charismatic Swiss activistBruno Manser communicated their cause to the outside world, but the deforestation went on.

Again, Malone trawls the records, re-interviewing Penan who knew Manser. The Penan being generally resistant to outside influence, he disputes that Manser manipulated them. He verifies Manser’s own reports of events.

The Penan have continued to be further displaced by a supply-side development strategy to dam Sarawak for “inexpensive hydropower” to attract industry. In Malone’s current assessment, a few Penan are still nomadic while a few hold good jobs. Most fall in between, their limited access to the cash economy constituting a shaky exchange for formerly self-sufficient lives. Groups that opted for “collaborative” negotiation seem to be better compensated than groups that resisted logging outright. But Malone visits one village that’s going its own way yet going well.

If Australia has a Sarawak, it’s Tasmania, another island economy in thrall to logging and hydropower. Critics looked askance at the cosy relationship between the Tasmanian government and former forest titan Gunns Limited. In Sarawak, critics have focused on the forest and financial interests associated with Abdul Taib Mahmud, long-term Chief Minister and now Governor of Sarawak. Malone re-presents some of this material. It is examined in depth in the Swiss Lukas Straumann’s Money Logging, recently co-launched in Sarawak with The Peaceful People.

Despite the ruthless upheaval of the Penan by capital and development, Malone ends on a buoyant note. To improve the lot of the settled Penan villagers of today, he recommends practical measures in curriculum, schooling, employment and tourism.

Paul Malone will talk about The Peaceful People at the Asia Bookroom on December 1. Lawry Place, Macquarie, 6pm. RSVP by November 30, 625 15191. Gold coin donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

IVF brings dreams of a family life to reality

Josh and Jaclyn Muntz with their children Isabelle, 4, Victoria, 2, and newborn twins Grace and Elizabeth, two weeks. All four children have been conceived through the IVF program. Picture: JOHN RUSSELLAN Albury couple who endured seven failed IVF cycles over almost five years have this week brought home identical twins to meet their older siblings.
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Josh, a carpenter, and Jaclyn Muntz, a secretary with a law firm, feared they would never have children after spending thousands of dollars on fertility treatment.

“We thought for a while we weren’t going to have kids, but we never gave up hope,” Mr Muntz said.

Now they have four children aged four and under.

Isabelle, 4, Victoria, 2, Grace and Elizabeth, both two weeks old, were all conceived from the one batch of eggs taken from Mrs Muntz.

Mrs Muntz, now 32, was 22 when the couple started trying to conceive naturally.

They began treatment at Reproductive Medicine Albury in 2006 and moved to Perth for a year in 2008 to pursue a work opportunity.

During their time in Perth they continued treatment but were unsuccessful.

“When we came back to Albury the (eggs) were shipped across the Nullarbor,” Mr Muntz said.

“The girls are all from that one batch of fertilised embryos from Perth.

“They took 16 out in one batch, fertilised 13 and 12 survived.”

After seven failed IVF attempts over five years, Isabelle was born in 2010.

Mrs Muntz described her first daughter as a miracle but said they had wanted more children.

Two years later they tried their luck again with their remaining embryos and Victoria was born following the first cycle of treatment.

But they didn’t stop there and identical twins were born two weeks ago following a second cycle of treatment.

Mr Muntz said family and friends had asked them if they would consider adoption.

“We had never discussed it as we always wanted to have kids of our own,” he said.

Now with four healthy children conceived through IVF, the couple want to share their story and tell others to never give up hope.

Mr Muntz said if couples could not conceive naturally, there were other options.

“Just be careful because you may get more than you bargained for, like us,” he joked.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Cav rues Wodonga bad luck as Pedro retires

WODONGA Gold Cup day is fast proving to be a nightmare for Albury trainer Brett Cavanough.
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Sadly for Cavanough, talented gelding Prince Pedro has run his last race after he was found to be bleeding from both nostrils for the second time after finishing sixth in yesterday’s cup.

Only 12 months ago the Cavanough-trained Scatcat failed to finish in the Wodonga feature when jockey Jake Duffy eased the galloper out of the race at the top of the home straight.

“I’ll just head back over the Border with my tail between my legs for the second year in a row,” Cavanough said.

“It’s disappointing because Jake (Duffy) said he felt he was a winning chance turning for home and then the bleeding attack must have happened.

“He was a talented galloper who went through the grades quickly and had his fair share of ability.

“But unfortunately he is a bleeder, which is just a statistic of racing.”

BRETT CAVANOUGH’This one’s for dad,’ emotional Brian Cox saysCox choked back tears after Minnie Downs handed him his first Wodonga Cup success without his father and long-time mentor, Ollie, by his side.

Public holiday a gold winner for Wodonga CupRacegoershave made the most of a new public holiday, with crowd numbers doubling at yesterday’s Wodonga Gold Cup.

Police arrest man over headbuttA man has been hospitalised after being headbutted in a fight at the Birallee Tavern. The man was believed to have come from the races.

Cav rues Wodonga bad luck as Pedro retiresWodonga Gold Cup day is fast proving to be a nightmare for Albury trainer Brett Cavanough.

“I’m a bit like the Albury Football Club. You lose two but you just go and find another two to replace them.”

Wilscott holds off challengeWilscottfinally delivered on his promise in landing the feature sprint on Wodonga Gold Cup Day for premier trainer Brian Cox.

“Hopefully the drought is well and truly over.”

Aalbers in exclusive companyVeteran horsewoman Liz Aalbers has been made a life member of the Wodonga Turf Club.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Cod season to open Monday

ANGLERS in both NSW and Victoria will be able to target Murray cod when the season opens on Monday.
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It follows the annual three-month breeding closure for cod in the streams.

There is a change in size limit for the coming year in both Victorian and NSW, with a minimum of 55centimetres and maximum of 75centimetres.

“Recent changes now mean that while catch and release is allowed, it is a requirement to release all cod caught outside the slot limit with the least possible harm,” NSW Department of Primary Industries inland fisheries manager Cameron Westaway said yesterday.

“The new rules should increase the number of larger cod in the system, improving both the long term sustainability of this great recreational fishery as well as increasing the chance of catching that fish of a lifetime.”

DPI acting director fisheries compliance, Patrick Tully, said fisheries officers would continue to monitor inland waterways, particularly during the holiday season, to ensure anglers followed all recreational fishing rules.

“A daily bag limit of two cod per person per day and a total possession limit of four applies when fishing in any inland waters,” Mr Tully said.

But Victorian anglers also have new catch limits this season.

Fisheries Victoria executive director Ross McGowan said the new limits would improve the sustainability of the cod fishery.

Mr McGowan said the new “slot limit” of 55 to 75centimetres applied to all lakes and rivers throughout Victoria and had been mirrored in NSW waters, including the Murray River, for simplicity.

Mr McGowan said there were changes to the bag limit for cod.

“In rivers, the daily bag limit had been reduced from two to one,” he said.

“This excludes the Murray River, which is a NSW waterway for fisheries management.

“This enables Victorian anglers to take one smaller fish for the table, while ensuring all large breeders are returned to the water and contribute to future generations.

“In Victorian lakes, the daily bag limit of two cod remains unchanged because most lake fisheries are stocked populations where harvest by anglers poses no threat to sustainability.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Working together to fight spread

Property owner David Elder has worked hard to tackle blackberries in the district, with great success; Picture: Dylan RobinsonEVERY valley needs a catalyst to champion the battle against blackberries. In Bethanga, it’s been David Elder.
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A couple of years ago the grazier recognised that something really needed to be done in the district to combat a spreading blackberry problem.

He approached Mitta to Murray Blackberry Action Group president Jim de Hennin, who encouraged him to gather some neighbours together, rather than taking an ad hoc approach.

So Mr Elder put together his own expression of interest form, visited a stack of landholders and had about 12 of them sign up.

Mr de Hennin was impressed with the result and encouraged the action group to help Bethanga. There are now 20 properties involved, covering 378 hectares.

“There are a lot of small properties but with a common problem,” Mr de Hennin said.

Mr Elder, who farms about 222ha of his own and leased country, said he could see the blackberries were getting worse at Bethanga and that the landholders needed help.

The result is that the Bethanga Landcare group has come out of recess and there’s a whole new interest in working together on land management issues.

In the middle of this resurgence, Mr Elder had a serious four-wheel-bike accident in April 2013 when he suffered seven fractures and a brain injury.

He spent three months in hospital and rehabilitation in Melbourne, and a further six weeks of rehabilitation in Albury.

The accident has not deterred Mr Elder from running his beef cattle and clawing productive land back from the invasive blackberries.

Last week he had Paton Air put out 12 loads of chemical on his steep country, while he also puts in a big effort spot spraying.

Scans growing in popularity

Brad Scott says now is the time to organise your sheep preg-test scanning. Picture: JOHN RUSSELLBRAD Scott reckons sheep farmers who leave it to the last moment to organise pregnancy scans for their sheep are like Christmas shoppers who leave their gift buying to the last minute.
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And that’s because there’s a fair chance they are going to be disappointed.

“After all, you wouldn’t leave it to a day or two before the event to hire a shearing team,” said Mr Scott, the principal of Scott’s Scanning Service at Burrumbuttock.

“There’s a few of us who do scanning around the district but between now and August things get very busy.

“And you do not want to be scanning a ewe to see if she is carrying twins, after 100 days of her gestation period, using the ultrasound method we operate, because it is just too hard to be accurate.

“So the time to book in with anybody who is doing your pregnancy scanning for your flock is now.”

Although scanning for sheep has been available in this district for about 20 years and is growing in popularity, Mr Scott, who also runs a mixed farming operation at Burrumbuttock, estimated only about two thirds of farmers were using the system.

“There are two options available to farmers, ‘wet/dry’ and ‘twinning’ and they decide which best suits their needs,” he said.

“The first is the most simple and straight-forward operation as its purpose is to test whether a ewe is in lamb or empty.

“The other tells farmers whether the ewe is carrying twins or not, but involves a more detailed use of the equipment and longer scan of the screen we use.

“At the moment I would say that 70per cent of the work I do is wet/dry but I would expect in the future — possibly within about five years — the reverse will be true.

“The ones which carry twins are the ones you keep breeding from and in this way you gradually build up the fertility of the flocks.

“It can also be used to monitor the performance of your rams.”

Mr Scott operates from a mobile structure, sitting on a seat positioned low to the ground and operates the ultrasound instrument, which also involves the use of water on the part of the sheep being scanned, its belly, and interprets the image that projects onto a small screen in front of him.

Bungowannah farmer Michael Dunn said pregnancy scanning was very important to his operation because of its value as a management tool.

“It determines how I manage my sheep for the next six months,” he said.

Magistrate to hear case

A MAN from northern NSW allegedly found near Albury with more than 18kilograms of cannabis leaf with an estimated street value of $148,000 will have the case finalised before a magistrate.
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Solicitor Mark Cronin mentioned the case of Joshua Jake O’Neile in Albury Local Court yesterday when seeking a bail review on his behalf.

Magistrate Tony Murray said during the application that O’Neile, 29, of Pallamallawa, allegedly had a quantity of cannabis five times the indictable quantity.

But Mr Cronin said the case was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions office in Wagga to see whether it would take over the case.

“They have no interest in it,” Mr Cronin said.

He said the case has been referred back to the police and the case will be dealt with in the summary jurisdiction.

There was a successful application for O’Neile to have a curfew removed from his bail conditions.

But he still has to report twice weekly to police at Moree about 30kilometres from where he lives.

O’Neile has pleaded not guilty to charges of dealing with property suspected of being proceeds of crime and the deemed supply of cannabis leaf.

Mr Murray was told in September in tendered police facts that O’Neile was stopped five kilometres north of Culcairn on the Olympic Way after being detected driving an unregistered Toyota HiLux.

O’Neile produced his NSW driver’s licence and told the officer he had come from Melbourne, but seemed nervous.

When the officer asked if there was anything illegal in it, O’Neile used a key to unlock a canopy on the tray with boxes inside.

The officer opened one of the boxes and saw a large vacuum-sealed plastic bag containing numerous other resealable bags with what appeared to be cannabis inside.

O’Neile was arrested and the vehicle was towed to Albury police station.

Three other boxes were found which contained cannabis, with the total weight of the drug found being 18.3kilograms.

An amount of $2180 cash was found along with documents containing phone numbers and addresses.

Police seized O’Neile’s mobile phone, found a deposit slip for $6500 and three pre-paid SIM cards.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Policeman facing charges

The arrest of a policeman who is expected to be charged for a brutal attack on a woman in North East Victoria has undermined Chief Commissioner Ken Lay’s public campaign against domestic violence.
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The senior constable from Belgrave allegedly punched the woman, believed to be his partner, after wedding celebrations in Victoria’s high country turned ugly. The policeman was only suspended yesterday, a day after Victoria Police was contacted by Fairfax Media.

The couple had returned to a Mansfield motel in the early hours of Sunday morning following a wedding at the base of Mount Buller.

Security footage captured the couple with up to eight other intoxicated wedding guests, “crowded around” in the Alzburg Resort car park at 2am, a resort employee said.

The CCTV footage, which has been handed to police, allegedly shows the off-duty officer punching the woman to the face and several members of the group seizing the man and restraining him until local police arrived.

The woman was taken to hospital for observation while the policeman was arrested and held overnight at the Mansfield police station.

He was released pending charges on summons, but on Thursday Victoria Police had confirmed he was not yet suspended from the police force.

However, yesterday a police spokeswoman said he had been suspended with pay.

The spokeswoman said it would be “inappropriate” to comment as an investigation was under way.

“Any offences alleged to have been committed by police members are taken extremely seriously and investigated thoroughly,” the spokeswoman said.

The senior constable is one of four Victorian police officers who are facing recent assault charges.

In August, a sergeant was suspended without pay after he was charged on summons with serious assault offences for allegedly bashing a woman known to him at Rutherglen.

Last week, a senior constable was suspended with pay pending his court appearance for an assault in Rosebud and a senior constable was “directed to take leave” in September for an assault at a licensed venue in Lakes Entrance.

When asked for statistics from the police force on how many of its officers had been charged for domestic violence-related assaults in the past year, police said a Freedom of Information request would be needed to access those figures.

The incidents — particularly the alleged Mansfield and Rutherglen assaults — contradict recent attempts by the police force to clamp down on domestic violence — the most recent occurred just days before White Ribbon Day.

In his speech on Tuesday that marked the national day of action against domestic violence, Chief Commissioner Lay promised to provide the leadership “so desperately” needed on the issue of violence against women.

Chief Commissioner Lay has been a vocal opponent of violence against women since he took the top job in 2011, calling domestic violence one of the most significant law and order problems in the state.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Aalbers in exclusive company

Liz Aalbers was yesterday recognised for a lifetime involvement in the Wodonga Turf Club with life membership. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICKVETERAN horsewoman Liz Aalbers has been made a life member of the Wodonga Turf Club.
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The affable trainer has been a fixture at Wodonga for more than half a century and was added to a rich list of inductees yesterday.

She started riding trackwork when just 15 and has trained for 50 years.

Aalbers, 72, said it came as a huge shock.

“They told me they were going to do it about a fortnight ago and I was very surprised,” she said.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be a life member alongside some of the incredible people who are already on the list.”

Aalbers said there were some perks in life membership.

“I get into the races for free and I’m hoping they put aside two bottles of Ricadonna at every meeting,” she joked.

Aalbers had three starters yesterday.

“I only have four in work now but they are $2000 horses, we don’t have the expensive ones but we do all right,” she said.

“A couple of months ago we won six races in a fortnight.

“But this is great — I don’t think I have seen a bigger crowd at Wodonga.”

‘This one’s for dad,’ emotional Brian Cox saysCox choked back tears after Minnie Downs handed him his first Wodonga Cup success without his father and long-time mentor, Ollie, by his side.

Public holiday a gold winner for Wodonga CupRacegoershave made the most of a new public holiday, with crowd numbers doubling at yesterday’s Wodonga Gold Cup.

Police arrest man over headbuttA man has been hospitalised after being headbutted in a fight at the Birallee Tavern. The man was believed to have come from the races.

Cav rues Wodonga bad luck as Pedro retiresWodonga Gold Cup day is fast proving to be a nightmare for Albury trainer Brett Cavanough.

“I’m a bit like the Albury Football Club. You lose two but you just go and find another two to replace them.”

Wilscott holds off challengeWilscottfinally delivered on his promise in landing the feature sprint on Wodonga Gold Cup Day for premier trainer Brian Cox.

“Hopefully the drought is well and truly over.”

Aalbers in exclusive companyVeteran horsewoman Liz Aalbers has been made a life member of the Wodonga Turf Club.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Under-20s make first entry to trophy cabinet

MURRAY United collected its first piece of silverware this week, but it won’t be the last, according to one of its senior coaches.
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James Coutts took the under-20 squad to Shepparton to play against fellow premier and state league clubs and came home with the trophy.

The squad were all well-known and established stars from AWFA senior teams last year — Alex West (TCW), Raul Pahina (Myrtleford), Darcy Pawlik (Diamonds), Dylan Gavel (Melrose), Lionel Masudi (Albury City) and Melkie Woldemichael (Boomers) to name a few.

Coutts said it was a squad blessed with talent but on a learning curve.

“We learned a lot,” he said.

“There is no doubting the depth of talent, but where we are struggling is the technical knowledge on the pitch and professionalism.

“The tournament showed us we will also need to match the physicality of opposition sides.”

Coutts said Murray United was at its best when it used the width of the pitch and its natural speed.

“We struggled to play the ball through the middle of the park and they were able to press high up the field and we lacked a bit of composure on the ball,” he said.

“But when we went wide it opened up the game, gave us more space in midfield and we looked much more dangerous.”

Coutts said most of the squad would play in the under-20 competition.

“Probably Melkie is the only one with the body and physical strength to be a regular in the senior side,” he said.

“The others we’ll drip feed into the seniors rather than have them bash themselves up against the bigger bodies each week.

“They have the talent but we’ll have to manage it.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Green gong for school

SAINT Joseph’s Primary School Beechworth principal Kitty Hancock has praised the school’s students and its sustainability team after it won the prestigious 2014 Indigo Shire Council Sustainability Award.
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“The sustainability team, made up of about six parents, has shown great leadership in helping to teach the students how to go about sustainability and putting things into practice,” she said.

“It’s been real parental leadership.

“We are a small school of 110 students, so it was a big effort in taking on major organisations and winning the award.

“We are very proud of the parents who have been involved and our students take real pride in the award.”

Over the past two years, the school has made a major strategic shift toward environmental sustainability that has mobilised the school community.

The key achievements have been:

• Development of a School Environment Management Plan providing a vision for sustainability, including a sustainability committee made up of teachers and parents;

• Delivery of a Sustainability Elective in 2013 and 2014. These sessions, delivered by parents, have included propagation and planting of native plants and construction of wildlife nest boxes;

• Establishment in 2013 of vegetable gardens, worm farms, and construction of a chook shed which now recycles the school’s food scraps; and,

• Creation in 2014 of a frog bog to slow and purify storm water and attract wildlife in a degraded parcel of land along the western boundary of the school.

Other awards included:

Highly Commended: Owen Gemmill, volunteer head gardener at the Wooragee Primary School and works daily to develop and maintain the school’s organic and sustainable living gardening program;

Highly Commended: BULS Patch to Patch Pedal. The Patch to Patch Pedal is organised and run by the Beechworth Urban Landcare and Sustainability Group.

Other finalists were GLT (weed management), Beechworth Montessori School (recycling of vacant building), Lake Sambell Committee of Management (Emma’s Garden and Bird Hide, Lake Sambell), Rutherglen IGA (reduction of energy use).

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