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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.

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).

Scam email could be a fine mess

Grant Myers received an email from what appeared to be the Office of State Revenue, only to find out it was a virus. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL
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A BORDER resident is warning others about an email scam aimed at encouraging people to pay fake fines to the NSW Office of State Revenue.

Grant Myers said the email looked “semi-legitimate”, even displaying the NSW government logo.

“I thought it was odd because if it was an infringement notice, it would have come in the mail,” he said.

“I clicked on it and that’s when my anti-virus kicked in and told me it was a dangerous site.

“It would have gone straight through if I didn’t have a good anti-virus.”

An incident with an email containing a virus a year ago had left Mr Myers cautious about any suspicious emails after it took an IT worker three weeks to retrieve all his computer files.

Mr Myers is urging anyone who gets a similar email to delete it straight away.

The NSW Office of State Revenue has been aware of the scam since last month and has a notice on its website warning people.

Staff have received many emails and calls from people who have received the email.

Tony Newbury, commissioner of fines administration at the Office of State Revenue, said the notices were part of a sophisticated enterprise.

“While the scam emails and prompts may look genuine, they are 100per cent fake and I urge people not to pay these fraudulent fines,” he said.

Mr Newbury said the Office of State Revenue or the State Debt Recovery Office never issued fines or penalty notices by email.

“If you receive one of these emails, do not click on any links or pay anything,” he said.

“For those who have already paid the fine, I’d encourage you to contact your financial institute in the first instance, then report the incident to Scamwatch.”

The office is not aware of anyone paying the fake fine.

Minister for Fair Trading Matthew Mason-Cox said scams often succeeded because they looked like the real thing.

“Scams target everyone regardless of background, age and income,” he said.

“Many scams originate from outside Australia and once money is sent overseas, it is virtually impossible to recover that money.”

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

Lucky escape from rain pain

CROPPERS have dodged a bullet after heavy rain fell throughout the North East on Monday.
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But no one is getting too cocky just yet.

AGnVET Culcairn agronomist Sheree Hamson said on Tuesday at that stage it was hard to tell exactly what damage had been done.

“We got five millimetres during the day on Monday and about 20 to 25 millimetres that night,” she said. “In this district, most of the canola and barley has been harvested and we have just started to get into the wheat.

“The test weight of the wheat samples we had taken were surprisingly good, but I expect those might be a little bit down now, and so the yield will be less.”

Ms Hamson said she had not come across any “shredded” crop.

“I think a fair bit of the crop has been flattened, especially the taller breeds,” she said.

“But we have had a good drying wind and it is still harvestable.

“I’ve just got my fingers crossed we don’t get any more.”

E.G. Baker & Co director Andrew Russell said on Tuesday 25 millimetres of rain fell in the Rutherglen/Browns Plains district.

“It looked like it had the potential to do a lot of damage,” he said.

“But we were lucky, because it was not hot and humid and there was a good drying wind.

“A lot of the crop is still green, so we didn’t see any shredding but a fair bit of it was pushed down.

“We haven’t started the wheat harvest yet and I am still inspecting crops to see the extent of the damage.”

Dennis Tomlinson had 63 millimetres fall on his property over a four-hour period, but the torrential rain mostly fell on paddocks that had already been harvested.

“There’s been no real damage from what I can see,” he said.

“We’ve already harvested the canola and barley and have about 1200 hectares of wheat, with about 25 millimetres falling on that.

“It has slowed the harvest up, but it has also been windy and hopefully there has not been too much damage done.”

Mr Tomlinson said it was the luck of the draw when it came to crops being damaged by rain.

“It’s all a bit random,” he said.

“Sometimes you do (get lucky), sometimes you don’t.”

Another Border farmer has not got too far into his harvest.

“I am told they got 15 millimetres west of Rand, 35 at Howlong and 25 south of Urana,” he said.

“There has been no damage that I’ve heard of, although there might be a drop in quality.

“We’ve still got a quite a bit of canola and wheat to do and we’ve lost a bit of harvest time.

“But we have dodged a bullet.”

cheer squad a boost for zach

ZACH Murray’s debut at the Australian Open may have been made easier by the fact he had his own cheer squad.
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As well as family and friends there was a group of Wodonga golfers who made the trek to Sydney for Thursday’s early-morning tee time.

Murray’s first day was plagued by a stone cold putter but the fact he was able to hit it close to tough pin positions was possibly testament to where his game is at.

As only a handful of amateurs in the elite field, his ball striking was among the best on course and you sense it won’t be his last Open.

It was also refreshing for us hackers to see veteran pro Leigh McKechnie, playing with Murray, duff his tee shot on the par-4 third.

It didn’t make it to the cut grass; he then dumped his third into the water before taking triple bogey.

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

Sykes takes a swing at deal-breaking Libs

Bill Sykes will be spending more time with his Belgian Blues after this weekend. Picture: TARA GOONANFeature:Bill Sykes swore he would not end up ‘like every other politician’ … and he didn’t
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OUTGOING Nationals MP Bill Sykes yesterday said he was disappointed the Liberals had run a candidate in Euroa in today’s election.

The retiring member for the former seat of Benalla — carved into four to form most of the new seat of Euroa — said there was “no ambiguity” in the Coalition deal.

Dr Sykes has campaigned heavily for Steph Ryan, the Nationals’ candidate.

She has a margin of 13per cent but she today faces the Liberals’ Tony Schneider, a Benalla physiotherapist.

The Liberals’ decision to run a candidate in Euroa has caused much tension within the Coalition.

“It’s very disappointing. We have an agreement, there’s no debate about that,” Dr Sykes said. “The Libs have done the wrong thing but we’ll deal with that.”

There have been claims this week Liberal members have undermined the Nationals by altering upper house how-to-vote cards.

Former Liberal premier Ted Baillieu also rocked the boat last week by visiting Benalla to campaign with both candidates.

It is tipped the result will not be clear tonight.

Despite polls pointing to a Coalition loss, Benambra MP Bill Tilley said the Coalition should not be written off.

“When you look at the media and the assessment of policies, well, they openly say the Coalition has the better policies,” he said.

Mr Tilley did some last-minute campaigning at the Wodonga Gold Cup yesterday.

With a margin of about 15per cent he appears to be in no danger.

Challenger Jennifer Podesta said whatever the result, she would continue to promote Labor policies.

“I feel very proud of what me and the team have done,” she said.

Electoral commission workers at Wodonga’s Benambra early-voting centre were busy yesterday with a “constant” stream of voters.

Election manager Alan Cuman said more than 11,000 votes had been polled at 2.30pm — about 25per cent of Benambra’s 41,000 voters. The commission will count votes tomorrow in 56 offices.

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

Phillip Hughes’ death ‘hit athletes hard’

BASKETBALL superstar Lauren Jackson says the death of cricketer Phillip Hughes has hit the Capitals hard and the team plans on honouring him before tonight’s match against Adelaide.
Nanjing Night Net

Hughes died on Thursday afternoon after being struck during Sheffield Shield match against NSW on Tuesday.

Jackson added the tragedy had affected everyone, not just professional athletes.

“Absolutely, I think everyone was hit pretty hard,” Jackson said.

“I didn’t know him but I definitely shed a few tears for him and his family and everyone in the cricket community.

“As athletes, we respect what everyone does in the sporting world, so it’s something we’ll talk about as a team and decide what we’ll do.”

“It’s tragic for everyone in sport whenever something like that happens to a high-profile athlete,” coach Carrie Graf said.

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

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