Fair Trading cracks down on illegal tongue studs at Paddy’s Markets

Consumer protection officers from the NSW Department of Fair Trading force a stall owner at Paddy’s Markets to remove magnetic tongue studs which pose a swallowing danger. Photo: Ben Rushton A stall at Paddy’s Markets selling tongue studs. Photo: Ben Rushton
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A stall at Paddy’s Markets selling tongue studs. Photo: Ben Rushton

You may not have heard of it, but an illicit trade in fake tongue studs is alive and well in NSW – and the Department of Fair Trading is cracking down on it.

Plainclothes consumer protection officers from the department conducted a sting on sellers of the illegal studs at Paddy’s Markets in Sydney’s Haymarket on Thursday.

Although the tongue studs may not appear to be a pressing issue for consumer protection bureaucrats, the items in question – namely magnetic or suction suds – are potentially quite dangerous, the department says.

“There is a strong concern that consumers could be harmed by these small devices and we are strongly urging people not to purchase or use these,” Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said.

Unlike traditional studs, which poke through a  hole in the tongue, these newer studs do not require a piercing, instead using magnetic or suction force to stay attached. Because they are not permanently fixed, they can be swallowed.

In the case of the magnets, the department is concerned they can do bowel damage if they connect up with each other, because of their strength.

The woman who sold the earrings, which have been illegal since 2010, claimed she did not own the market stall.

She claimed they were not for tongues, but for earlobes.

“What [the sellers] tell you is rubbish,” director of Fair Trading’s Consumer Protection, Compliance and Enforcement Division, Michael Cooper, said.

“These items are [often sold by] spray-on tattoo artists, and fake tattoo artists,” Mr Cooper said.

They were often sold at fairs, he said,

The department fined the stall $550 for each piece of jewellery sold for “supplying a good in contravention of a prohibition order”, Mr Cooper said.

Consumer protection officers procured two items from the stall, so issued a fine of $1100. Offending sellers can contests the fines.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser dead at 84

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser.Obituary: a towering figure who crossed the political divideMalcolm Fraser condolence bookMalcolm Fraser: full coverageLive coverage
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Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has died.

“It is with deep sadness that we inform you that after a brief illness John Malcolm Fraser died peacefully in the early hours of the morning of 20 March 2015,” a statement from Mr Fraser’s office read.

“We appreciate that this will be a shock to all who knew and loved him, but ask that the family be left in peace at this difficult time.”

Mr Fraser was prime minister of Australia and leader of the Liberal Party from 1975 to 1983.

He was Australia’s 22nd prime minister, taking the job in events so dramatic they still reverberate decades on.

Mr Fraser was sworn in as caretaker prime minister in 1975 after the Whitlam government was dismissed in a constitutional crisis that followed months of budget deadlock in the Senate.

He led the Liberals to victory in the 1975 election before being succeeded by Labor’s Bob Hawke in 1983.

While the political left loathed Mr Fraser for his role in the 1975 “coup” against Gough Whitlam, the pair developed a close friendship post politics.

Mr Whitlam died in October last year.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said Mr Fraser’s death marks “a sad moment for all Australians”.

“It’s a particularly sad day for all who cheered Malcolm Fraser on in those stirring days when he led the fight against what many of us thought was a bad government, the days of 1975,” he said.

“He was, as he put it, determined to turn on the lights and to restore Australia’s economic fortunes.”

Treasurer Joe Hockey said “history will be much kinder to Mr Fraser than many of his critics have been over the years”.

“He was a very strong character who was not afraid to stand up for what was right. The Liberal Party will be mourning his passing.”

“I think many Australians will be mourning his passing because he provided stability and reassurance at a time when Australia had gone through incredible upheaval,” he said.

“It is the end of an era, two towering figures,” he said, in reference to the deaths of political rivals Mr Whitlam and Mr Fraser.

Former prime minister John Howard, who also served as treasurer in the Fraser government, spoke to the media, paying tribute to the “remarkable strength and capacity Malcolm Fraser displayed in holding the Coalition together” during the constitutional crisis of 1975.

“Anybody who achieves what Malcolm Fraser achieved in his life deserves respect as a quite extraordinary Australian. He brought to the government of this country, he brought great integrity. As chairman of cabinet he had a fiercer knowledge of any submission that came across the cabinet table and pity help any minister who hadn’t sufficiently read the submission that had been prepared for him or her by the respective department,” he said.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard issued a statement of condolence, saying: “Malcolm Fraser in and beyond politics was a leader in the fight for racial equality.

“His brave stance against the evil of South Africa’s apartheid helped changed the world for the better. Malcolm will always be remembered kindly for his commitment to multiculturalism and his specific actions to resettle Vietnamese boat people in Australia.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd issued a statement honouring Mr Fraser’s achievements in fighting apartheid in South Africa, advancing the interests of Indigenous Australians and the passage of the Human Rights Act in 1981.

“Prime Minister Fraser will be remembered as a compassionate Australian, who cared for people at home or abroad, who had little or nothing to protect them,” he said

In recent years, Mr Fraser had become an outspoken critic of the Liberal Party and quit the party in 2010 over the party’s lurch to the right on issues such as immigration.

In a statement, former prime minister Paul Keating described Mr Fraser’s death as a “great loss to Australia”

“He detested what he saw as our strategic subservience to the United States and our willingness to be easily led from the path of a truly independent foreign policy.

“His public life also enshrined other important principles: no truck with race or colour and no tolerance for whispered notions of exclusivity tinged by race. These principles applied throughout his political life,” Mr Keating said.

Just last month, Mr Fraser wrote in Fairfax about what he saw as a worrying expansion of ministerial powers over asylum seekers.

Mr Fraser was a prolific user of Twitter in recent years.

His last message, a day ago, linked to an Australian National University website story: “Time for a new China vision – Asia and the Pacific – ANU” MPs pay tribute

In a statement, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Fraser would be remembered, among many achievements, for introducing the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1976 and for his fight against racism.

Mr Turnbull said Fraser’s passionate belief in immigration and multiculturalism enabled large scale migration from Asia, including more than 50,000 refugees from Vietnam, and the establishment of multicultural broadcaster SBS.

“In office and out of it he showed himself to have a big and compassionate heart,” he said.

“Modern Australia would be very different without his vision and leadership.

“Whether one agreed with him or not, in whole or in part, one thing was never in doubt. Malcolm Fraser was a passionately patriotic Australian with a big, liberal vision for our country and its people.”

Attorney-General George Brandis credited Mr Fraser for inspiring him to enter politics when as a teenager he was struck by his dramatic resignation from the Gorton government in 1971.

“Although in his older years he was a very emollient figure, perhaps even more fondly thought of by the left than by the right, in his early days he was actually a divisive and rebarbative figure. He was the opposition leader who was responsible for the blocking of supply in 1975, so it just goes to show that in the course of a long life and in the course of a long career, people can mellow and soften as Malcolm Fraser undoubtedly did.”

Father of the House, Philip Ruddock, pleaded for people to look past the way Mr Fraser came to office in the wake of Gough Whitlam’s dismissal.

“Those who recall the manner of his election discouragingly should remember Malcolm as a liberal on issues of race and human rights,” Mr Ruddock tweeted.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said: “Vale Malcolm Fraser. A life dedicated to the service of our country. We will be poorer without him. Thoughts are with his family.”

Assistant Education Minister Simon Birmingham wrote: “Though many disagreed with him at different times #MalcolmFraser was a man of conviction & compassion who gave much to public life – vale.”

Human Services Minister Marise Payne tweeted: “Vale Malcolm Fraser. A Liberal leader, great Australian, mentor to many in the political generations who followed him.”

Labor senator Doug Cameron was shocked to hear of Mr Fraser’s death on Friday, having only recently dined with the former prime minister and his wife Tamie.

“I am just devastated that Australia has lost a great voice for human rights,” Senator Cameron told reporters in Canberra.

Liberal Party pollster Mark Textor passed on his condolences on Twitter.

“Rest In Peace Malcolm #Fraser. A Man of considerable dignity and rare gravitas.”

Senior Labor MP Michelle Rowland tweeted: “Malcolm Fraser provided strong leadership on matters of multiculturalism and racial equality. May he rest in peace.” Time for a new China vision – Asia and the Pacific – ANU http://t上海龙凤419/vbSJiGDcmW — Malcolm Fraser (@MalcolmFraser12) March 18, 2015The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

YVONNE CAMPBELL: Taxout of house and home

THE NSW Greens propose to reinstate the vendor duty introduced by the former Labor government in 2004 but abolished in 2005.
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The 2.25per cent tax was payable by the seller of land where the sale value exceeded the purchase value by more than 12per cent. (The family home or farm was exempt).

They say reinstating the duty would raise $645million a year. But this is flawed thinking.

Last time round, the vendor tax stalled the real estate market.

Then the thriving investment property market, driven largely by mums and dads, turned into a ghost town overnight. That extra tax on the already over-taxed property market caused them to flee to other asset classes.

Scroll forward a decade and little has changed. The industry is still heavily taxed and much of the burden falls on owners.

In recent times, we’ve been given the message ‘‘don’t rely on a pension, invest to prepare for retirement’’. And many mums and dads have done just that – buying investment properties to fund their own retirement and, in the process, providing much needed housing stock for renters.

Investors bear a heavy burden – stamp duty, lender’s mortgage insurance, legal fees, interest, maintenance costs, property services costs, and capital gains tax when they sell.

Is it any wonder many see a more liquid, less costly share portfolio as a better bet?

But that doesn’t increase housing supply.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said, as before, the vendor duty would not apply to the family home or farm, and would help prevent first-home buyers being priced out by another housing bubble.

But that is simplistic, to say the least.

First-home buyers are not being priced out of the market by increasing property prices alone, but by general economic circumstance.

Those first-home buyers who choose to buy new property are supported into ownership through grants and stamp duty relief.

Those who are struggling to get onto the property ladder do so for reasons other than purchase price. The lack of employment, too little deposit, too many debts or not enough income to qualify for a loan are common reasons. Or they are resistant to buying new properties over old, better located ones that don’t attract grants and stamp duty relief.

The Greens assume revenue would be in the order of $645million a year, over four years.

But that is assuming that investors continue to buy property. History shows they do not.

With unemployment now over 6per cent, the Reserve Bank has been confronted with a dilemma: how to stimulate job growth without fuelling a renewed property bubble in Sydney.

The Greens say their package offers a unique response: ensuring that lower interest rates and new spending will stimulate jobs, not speculation.

Stimulating jobs should be the focus of any policy, but it should not involve taxing those who are trying to plan for their retirement.

Jobs growth needs to be aimed at our youth, not at infrastructure schemes that benefit big business, which can then argue a need to employ foreign skilled labour at the expense of our own unemployed.

And while the Reserve Bank may have its hand on the interest rate brake, that is of no use in controlling Sydney’s property market.

What will, though, is the market forces.

Major banks will eventually put a brake on that market by tightening lending criteria, so they are not exposed to too much risk.

Real Estate Institute NSW president Malcolm Gunning has warned that the government should not turn to the property market every time it needs money.

“The data from the last time we had a vendor duty is clear. The NSW government will be significantly worse off, as revenue from total tax collected will reduce because the property market will freeze up as it did last time,” Mr Gunning said.

NSW Labor’s policy to allow first-home buyers to pay stamp duty in instalments is also flawed. Many elect to roll that cost into their home loan. When interest rates rise, which they will, those young homeowners may find the looming stamp duty instalment difficult to pay, along with other regular housing costs such as insurance, rates and maintenance.

Deferring paying a tax that shouldn’t be as high in the first place is not going to pave an easier path for next generation home owners.

Gold prospecting fever hits WA outback

Kalgoorlie shop owner Jamie Line says prospecting is experiencing a resurgence in the WA town.Prospecting in the West Australian outback is proving as alluring as it was when the gold price hit record highs – and it’s retirees driving the resurgence.

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Jamie Line, owner of The Prospectors Patch in Kalgoorlie, says some of the fortune-seekers find kilograms of the precious metal and make their pile while others search for decades and find nothing.

With WA’s unique and fascinating geology, the odds of uncovering a gold nugget are way better than gambling at the casino, he says.

“It used to be a big secret,” Mr Line told AAP on Wednesday.

He said there had been substantial growth in the number of Miner’s Rights issued in recent years and attributed the surge to an aging population, which meant there were more retirees with time on their hands.

Many were fulfilling a life-long goal by picking up a metal detector and taking to the bush.

“It’s a bucket list thing,” Mr Line said.

“A lot of them are beginners and I guess what led them into it were their friends, who had been doing it for years while they were tied up with their business.

“And TV shows exposing the lifestyle is attractive to a lot of people.

“It’s always been man’s great dream – find a nugget.”

Some prospectors reach agreements with mining companies to trawl a patch of their land and in exchange, provide valuable geological information about their finds while keeping an eye on the boundaries for trespassers.

Mr Line, who trades gold as well as selling and hiring prospecting equipment, said he loved his job and had met some real characters.

“You meet some interesting people, people that you’d never meet anywhere else.

“The stories … amazing. Real Aussie folklore stuff.”

The price of the precious metal spiked at an all-time high of more than $US1900 an ounce in 2011 and currently fetches over $US1200/oz.

NRLExperienced utility Jamie Buhrer is making every minute count for the Newcastle Knights.

IT’S a dirty job, but someone has to do it. And Jamie Buhrer is too much of a team man to even dream of complaining.

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ALL-ROUNDER: Jamie Buhrer is so versatile he is the ideal man to have as a bench utility. But he would love to crack a spot in Newcastle’s starting team. Picture: Darren Pateman, AAP

Week in, week out since the start of the season, Buhrer has warmed up with his Newcastle Knights teammates, then headed to his seat on the sideline as the13 starting players take their positions on the field for kick-off.

Friday night’s clash with the Warriors will be Buhrer’s 17thgame of the year, and on each occasion he has come off the bench as fresh reserve.

How much game time he will he receive, and what position he will play,is anyone’s guess.

Not even Knights coach Nathan Brown knows how a match will unfold, and what dilemmas Buhrer will be required to solve.

“My role has been a utility role, obviously, and with that comes multiple positions, sometimes not many minutes, sometimes lots of minutes in positions I don’t normally find myself in,”Buhrersaid.

“But it is the role I’ve been given in the team.

“We’ve got a deep squad at the moment, and if the utility role is one that Browny needs me to play, I’ll play it.”

Buhrer’s contributions have ranged from 77 minutes against St George Illawarra, when he replaced injured Tautau Moga at centre, down to eight minutes against the Roosters in round 14.

He is averaging 42.5 minutes per game.

“It goes without saying I’d love more minutes …all I can do is just make sure that I’m continually ready and prepared, and a good chance to play more minutes and do the job for him,” he said.

When Buhrer arrived from Manly at the start of last season, he was entitled to feel confident about his prospects of featuring regularly in Newcastle’s first 13.

Of his 129 games with the Sea Eagles, which included the 2011 grand final win and 10 other play-offs, the last 37 were in their starting team.

Having played back row, lock, hooker, centre and five-eighth in first grade, Buhrer’s versatility makes him the ideal bench utility, and more than half of his career tally of 161 NRL games have been as fresh reserve.

His hopes of slotting into his preferred back-row role this year have been hindered by the outstanding form of Aidan Guerra, Mitch Barnett and Lachlan Fitzgibbon, who have played in 20, 18 and 18 games respectively.

“Our back-rowers, they’re doing a pretty good job at the moment,” the 2012 NSW Origin representativesaid.

Off contract at the end of this season, theHills District Bulls junior produced a polite sidestep this week when asked if negotiations with the Knights had progressed.

“I don’t want to really talk too much about that,”he said.

“It’s something I’ll just really worry about with my manager and the club.”

But the father-of-four admitted recently Newcastle is “where I want to be” and that he was looking at each game as a chance to state his case for retention.

Still only 28, the man who started the season as Newcastle’s co-captain, alongside Mitchell Pearce, would appear to offer priceless experience in a young squad.

Of his teammates, only Chris Heighington and Jacob Lillyman, both of whom are retiring, Pearce, Guerra and winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall have more NRL appearances under their belts.

Having appeared in two grand finals with the Sea Eagles, he knows what it takes to become a successful club and believes Newcastle are headed in that direction, although they will need to reduce what he described as a “big gap” between their best and worst performances.

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“We’ve got to start looking to put some things in motion for next year, build a bit of momentum, and at the same time finish off this year better,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of near misses this year … it’s important that we knuckle down, concentrate on these last four games and try and make an impact.”

NBA-bound Bolden eyeing Boomers

Jonah Bolden is finally joining the 76ers in the NBA, a year after being drafted.His career has taken a scenic route to the NBA but one destination Australia’s latest basketball sensation Jonah Bolden can’t help looking forward to is Tokyo, host of the next Olympics.

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Bolden will become Australia’s 10th player in the NBA this coming season after joining the Philadelphia 76ers on a four-year deal.

The 22-year-old, 208-centimetre forward is the son of retired NBL great Bruce Bolden and will join forces with fellow Aussies Ben Simmons and coach Brett Brown in Philadelphia.

The Sixers actually selected Bolden in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft but left him in Europe this past season.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the long way (to the NBA), I just say the different way,” Bolden said on Wednesday in Melbourne where he has been training with NBL champions United.

“It didn’t bother me what route I had to take, I just knew that I would one day get there whether that was having to go overseas for two years or being in college for one year.”

The depth of Australian talent playing in the world’s best league can only bode well for the Boomers come the 2020 Olympics.

As well as NBA rookie of the year Simmons, there’s Dante Exum, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes, Thon Maker, Ryan Broekhoff and Mangok Mathiang who could all don the green and gold.

“I’m very excited,” Bolden said.

“I was talking to someone today about how this could be one of the best Australian teams come 2020.

“My goal right now is obviously Philly but no doubt I’m thinking about 2020 and then Olympics.”

Exum, who recently signed a three-year, $US33 million ($A44 million) deal to stay with the Utah Jazz, has also been training with the NBL champions.

Bolden said it had been a solid preparation before he flies to the USA on Friday.

The training could also prove handy when the Sixers host the NBL side in Philadelphia on September 29.

“It’s been an honour working out and it’s good to stay in shape and working on my shooting consistency,” Bolden said.

“It’s a high standard of basketball – the quality of the NBL goes up a notch every year.”

Using money makes cents

GET THE TIMING RIGHT: In a lending-averse environment, investing in sustainable cash-flow projects like a granny flat means you can still benefit from the real estate cycle.When talking what’s new in property, consideration must always turn to money first.

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The recent royal commission into bank lending procedures has definitely frozen activity in the lending market.

But as the big four begin to thaw and adopt appropriate measures to regulate their industry it will be back to business.

But maybe not business as was usual.

Against the backdrop of a changing property market and evident media anxiety, it is interesting to note that some banks, for instance the ANZ, are willing to offer customers very competitive rates to write new business.

ANZ’s Simplicity Plus Variable home loan is a good example, and even ANZ’s fixed interest rates seem in touch with the market as a whole.

These products are good value and a clear example that for some banks the focus will be the residential home loan market for some time to come.

A risk adverse lending market is set to prevail so speculative or highly leveraged deals will be unattractive to lenders.

Everyday buyers with reasonable, sustainable goals will be favoured.

People planning to do a renovation, extension or maybe purchase an income-producing investment and build a granny flat appeal to banks as premium borrower/builders.

They will have equity, good earnings and demonstrate a reasonable LVR (loan to value ratio) of less than 80%.

Even first home buyers should find the idea of price easing and affordable interest rates exciting.

Looking forward, there is a truismreal estate makes buyers and owners a profit at every stage of the property cycle, but the art is understanding what will work and when.

Another truism worthy of remembrance is that “When credit is tight cash flow is king” and this is what makes granny flats an option worth considering.

A quality-built granny flat from Newcastle Granny Flats and Homes is great value and can return up to 10% on investment, year in year out. Few real estate investments compare.

Newcastle Granny Flats and Homes are also experts in dual occupancy’s and small subdivision.

So, if you want to take advantage of what the market is offering right now and really put your money to work, visit the modern display centre at 126-128 Maitland Road, Mayfield today, walk through the onsite granny flats and sales centre and talk about your opportunities with the professional staff.

Accusations aplenty in Vic rorts scandal

A no-confidence motion is hanging over the Victorian government as the state’s rorts-for-votes scandal widens with the opposition also facing possible investigation over its activities.

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Opposition Leader Matthew Guy gave notice of his motion at the start of parliament on Wednesday.

“This government is behaving like a circus,” he told reporters.

“It is not governing for Victoria, it is not focusing on crime, congestion, cost of living.”

“The fact that six ministers, having been named in the ombudsman’s report, 21 Labor MPs as well – this whole tawdry affair being investigated now by the fraud and extortion squad, these ministers not standing down, as unprecedented as it is, has warranted this motion to be moved.”

The motion will be debated on August 22 but the government has the numbers in the lower house to quash it.

Late on Wednesday an opposition bid to have six government ministers step aside over their links to the scandal was defeated 22-16 in the upper house.

It comes amid an increasingly hostile fight between the major parties over Labor’s rorts-for-votes scandal, in which it misused $388,000 of public funds for campaign staff at the 2014 election.

The government has also tried to throw claims of rorting at the opposition.

It intends referring 40 past and present Liberal-Nationals MPs to Ombudsman Deborah Glass alleging potential knowledge of or inappropriate involvement with embezzler and former Liberal director Damien Mantach.

“That fraud could not have happened without the participation, the involvement, the signature of Liberal Party members,” Deputy Premier James Merlino told the Legislative Assembly.

“Every single member of those opposite need to answer to the ombudsman and face the scrutiny of her office. The time for running away is over.”

Mantach stole more than $1.5 million from the Liberal Party using fake and inflated invoices.

His scam included a mailing business inflating invoices to Victorian Liberal MPs and the party eventually repaid nearly $200,000.

Mr Merlino’s move comes after he referred 18 current and former coalition MPs to police last month over whether they used electorate staff for political campaigning at the 2014 election.

Ms Glass in March found 21 past and present Labor MPs breached parliamentary guidelines by directing staff employed as electorate officers to campaign for candidates.

Ahead of the November 24 state election, police announced they would launch their own investigation into Labor and subsequently arrested 17 former campaign staff across Victoria, NSW and the Northern Territory.

No charges have been laid and Labor has repaid the $388,000.

The Greens, meanwhile, have used the mudslinging to call for a parliamentary referee.

“This parliament has been marred by entitlement scandals and establishing an independent body to restore the public’s faith in politics is well overdue,” leader Samantha Ratnam said in a statement.

“The Independent Parliamentary Standards Commissioner must be established now to ensure the next state parliament is free from scandal and public funds are used to benefit the people of Victoria.”

Malcolm Fraser was planning to start a new political party before his death

A foreign policy realist and dissenterMalcolm Fraser 1930-2015: full coverage
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Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who died on Friday, was in the process of setting up a new political party that would have advocated scaling back Australia’s military ties to the United States.

Mr Fraser, who led the Liberal Party from 1975 to 1983, quit the party in 2009, shortly after Tony Abbott replaced Malcolm Turnbull as leader. He campaigned for Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young at the last election because of her stance on asylum seekers.

With an election due in mid to late 2016, Mr Fraser’s new party could have potentially run candidates at the next election.

Mr Fraser, who died aged 84, would not have led the party but would have driven its policy agenda. Fairfax Media understands Mr Fraser had developed a written draft policy platform for the party that included: ending Australia’s close military alliance with the United Statesa closer relationship with South-East Asian nationsending the offshore processing of asylum seekersstronger anti-corruption and transparency lawstighter regulation of the sale of arable land

Mr Fraser discussed the party with confidants late last year.

In his last book, Dangerous Allies, published last year, Mr Fraser argued that Australia should become a “strategically independent country” and that the ANZUS Treaty with the United States was possibly the biggest threat to Australia’s security.

“If a war between China and the United States were to occur with a continuation of current policies, it would be very hard, if not impossible, for Australia to become involved,” he wrote.

Mr Fraser advocated closing down the US military base in Darwin and the Pine Gap communications facility

Mr Fraser had been a staunch defender of the US alliance during the Cold War but changed his view radically in his later years.

Mr Fraser was also deeply unhappy with the tough asylum-seeker policies of both major parties, including the use of mandatory detention and the offshore processing of asylum seekers.

Last year Mr Fraser tweeted in support of the creation of a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

As prime minister, Mr Fraser introduced several measures to increase transparency of government decision making. These included the creation of the Commonwealth Ombudsman in 1977 to handle complaints about government agencies. He also introduced Australia’s first freedom of information laws and created the Australian Human Rights Commission.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Rapes, sexual assault, drugs for favours in Australia’s detention centre on Nauru: independent Moss review

The Moss Review found compelling evidence that at least three women have been raped inside the Nauru detention centre. Photo: Angela Wylie Immigration Minister Peter Dutton shrugged off criticism that the damaging report was released under the cover of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser’s death on Friday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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The full Moss Review reportAnalysis: Taking out the trash but too clever by halfSomeone owes someone an apology

An independent review into sexual abuse inside Australia’s detention centre on Nauru has found evidence of rape, sexual assault of minors and guards trading marijuana for sexual favours from female detainees.

The review, conducted by former integrity commissioner Philip Moss, found no evidence that Save the Children staff on  Nauru had coached detainees to embarrass the Abbott government.

Former immigration minister Scott Morrison called the Moss review in October 2014 after Save the Children staff were removed by his department amid suspicions they had encouraged self-harm, facilitated protests and fabricated assault allegations.

New Immigration Minister Peter Dutton shrugged off criticism that the damaging report was released on Friday afternoon under the cover of the death of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser but acknowledged the contents of the review were “concerning”.

Mr Moss found compelling evidence that at least three women have been raped inside the detention centre and raised concern that sexual assault is likely to be under-reported due to a climate of fear and detainees worrying about their future refugee status.

“The review became aware of three allegations of rape (two female and one female minor), one which the Nauruan Police Force is investigating and two which the victims do not want to pursue by making a complaint. These allegations are concerning. They are also concerning because two of the victims do not feel able to bring forward these allegations to relevant authorities,” the report states.

The report confirmed that one of the suspected rapists, a male detainee, has been given refugee status and settled on Nauru.

Many of the complaints by female asylum seekers revolve around Nauruan guards employed by Australian contractors Wilson Security and Transfield Services, with allegations of drunkenness and lechery. Twelve guards have been sacked by those companies for misconduct.

Female detainees live in an environment of fear, according to the review. It details instances of guards spying on women as they lie inside their tents in their underwear due to the tropical heat of Nauru.

A female detainee reported a guard “drunk and on drugs” stopping her in front of a tent. “Then he suddenly grabbed my arm and he said ‘you are so sexy and you’re so beautiful’,” she told Mr Moss.

An incident in which a guard demanded to see a female detainee naked in return for allowing her an extra two minutes in the shower with her young child was confirmed.

Mr Moss found evidence of “sexual favours being exchanged for marijuana is possibly occurring” based on interviews with detainees.

A Wilson intelligence report of June 2014, obtained by the review, suggested that “organised prostitution … in relation to trading of contraband” was happening.

The review obtained information from intelligence reports authored by Wilson Security staff, highlighting possible “subversive” activity by Save the Children staff.

“None of this information indicated conclusively to the review that particular contract service provider staff members had engaged in these activities,” it found.

Mr Moss has proposed that the department find a way to resolve the unfair deportation of the staff.

Save the Children chief executive Paul Ronalds said the charity was sure from the start its staff had done nothing wrong.

“The idea that they could do anything to put children in harm’s way is absurd. We have said this right from the very beginning. The Moss Inquiry shows beyond a doubt that there was and is no basis to these claims,” he said.

“What’s deeply troubling is the evidence uncovered by the Moss Inquiry supporting allegations of sexual and physical assaults on Nauru including allegations of rape, one of which was against a child.

“There was never any need for fabrication or exaggeration by Save the Children staff – the evidence is clear.”

Mr Dutton said the government accepted all 19 recommendations of the Moss Review and said Nauru would work to solve problems highlighted.

“They don’t have a tolerance for illegal behaviour, including in particular sexual assault. I find the thought of anybody, in particular children, being sexually assaulted completely abhorrent,” he said.

“It’s not something that we would accept in Australia and it’s not something that the Nauruans accept in their community either.”

The Australian Lawyers Alliance said the Commonwealth cannot outsource care of asylum seekers and could be liable for a “swathe of future compensation claims”.

“The nature of allegations raised in the Moss Review of sexual harassment, rape, trading sexual favours for marijuana and cigarettes and children being touched inappropriately, if proven, show that the Commonwealth has failed in its duty to take reasonable care of asylums seekers.”

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Taskforce told new climate targets ‘must not hamper economic growth’

Environment Minister Greg Hunt. Photo: Louise KennerleyThe man charged with steering a government taskforce reviewing Australia’s climate targets says the Abbott government has made it clear that its recommendations should not hurt the economy or jobs growth.
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And the Climate Change Authority has signalled it will release its own review of Australia’s emissions reduction targets in mid-April to pre-empt any findings by the government-appointed review panel.

David Gruen, a senior economist in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, chairs the steering commitee for a 12-person taskforce that is due to recommend post-2020 emissions reduction targets for Australia in mid-2015.

Speaking at a climate change conference at the Australian National University on Friday, Dr Gruen said: “The government has made it clear that our post-2020 target must be consistent with continued strong economic growth, jobs growth and development in Australia.”

He added that “nothing of value would be achieved” in the global fight against climate change “if emissions intensive economic activity in Australia ceases, only to be replaced by more emissions intensive activity overseas which produces essentially the same goods or service”.

Dr Gruen gave some new detail on how the taskforce would conduct its review, saying it was being guided by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and senior ministers Julie Bishop, Andrew Robb, Greg Hunt and Ian Macfarlane.

He said the taskforce would shortly open the subject of setting new targets ahead of a global climate summit in December for public consultation and was seeking advice from “business, industry and academia”.

“The taskforce is seeking information on policies across a broad range of sectors of the economy which could achieve abatement in a cost-effective manner,” Dr Gruen said.

“The taskforce is looking at a broad range of policies with a fresh perspective and is not ruling anything out at this stage.”

Peter Woolcott, Australia’s ambassador for the environment who will lead Australia’s negotiations with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the government was looking for “clear, credible and quantifiable contributions by all countries”.

Mr Woolcott said while Australia would be guided by the US, China and major trading partners in Asia, the government expected any new global agreement to demand a greater contribution from developing countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“It must reflect the fact that developing countries are getting wealthier and have greater capacity to take action,” he said.

Climate Change Authority chief executive Anthea Harris said the authority would fast track its own review of targets – which was launched as part of government deal with the crossbench to pass direct action legislation last year – to try to force the government to consider its recommendations.

But Ms Harris did not say whether there had been any steps by the taskforce to seek out the independent authority’s advice.

“In terms of have we been asked for advice, we’ve been asked to do the review,” she said.

“The government will be required to respond to our recommendations. Mind you, that will be well after the event because the legislative requirement is to report six months after the final report, which isn’t until June next year.

“So I don’t think I can really add much more than that.”

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Workers in visa row forced to sleep in office, union claims

Filipino workers living in a South Melbourne office. Photo: SuppliedA group of foreign workers were forced to sleep on a Melbourne office floor for almost a month after their employer put a freeze on wages, renewing concerns of widespread rorting of the 457 visa scheme.
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Eleven Filipino workers employed on temporary visas turned Schneider Elevators Australasia’s head office into their makeshift living quarters because they could not afford lodging when their pay suddenly stopped six weeks ago.

Workplace photographs taken by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union show blow-up mattresses and couch cushions strewn across the floor of the South Melbourne office and employees sleeping among bags of their belongings.

The union’s assistant state secretary, Craig Kelly, said the elevator company had failed to pay correct wages and overtime rates to its 17 workers – including 11 Filipinos, five Australians and a British national – and owed them more than $170,000.

Mr Kelly accused the company of secretly deducting visa charges and building industry fees from the foreign workers’ pay, leaving them with weekly take-home wages of between $150 and $500.

“This is an appalling case of exploitation,” Mr Kelly said. “Originally they were promised board and lodging by the company, but when they got here that didn’t eventuate. So they stayed at backpackers hostels, then when their wages stopped they were basically homeless.”

One of the foreign workers who was employed as a lift installer said staff were paid between $25 and $40 a week while living in the office. He said they moved to a hotel last week after the union intervened.

“This situation without the union, we are still in slavery treatment of our employer,” he said. “Hopefully we can find another job here. We came here for our family, to give them a better future. But right now we don’t have any money in our pocket.”

A recent federal government review recommended plans to relax entry requirements for foreign workers, including allowing specialised workers to stay in Australia for up to a year, instead of six months, under a short-term visa.

Under the proposed change, overseas workers would not need to apply for a 457 work visa, which requires them to take English language tests and forces employers to prove they have first looked to hire locally.

The Australian union movement has attacked the proposals, saying it would let employers sidestep strict sponsorship obligations and lead to more workers being exploited.

The Abbott government has flagged harsher penalties for people found to be abusing the 457 skilled visa program and said it would make it illegal for sponsors to seek a payment for taking on a foreign worker.

The Immigration Department will also cross-check tax office records to ensure workers are being paid properly and will “name and shame” people who exploit overseas workers.

Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash said the review last year found there was not widespread rorting of 457 visa programme.

Schneider Elevators Australasia managing director Terrence Donnelly declined to respond to repeated requests for comment. A woman who answered the company’s head office phone on Friday said: “I don’t know anything about [people] living here. You need to talk to Terrence.”

According to the company’s website, Schneider currently has contracts in Victoria and NSW  to install elevators in apartment blocks, a hotel, library and police station. It says employee and customer safety is “first and foremost”. “Our efficiency in maximising resources will provide you with opportunities for cost competitive solutions.”

A spokesman for Senator Cash said the matter was being investigated and that the government took alleged breaches of 457 visa sponsorship very seriously.

“The Department is currently liaising with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) regarding this case,” he said.

“If a sponsor is found to have failed an obligation, the Department institutes appropriate action, which may take the form of imposing administrative sanctions, issuing infringement notices, executing enforceable undertakings or applying to the federal court for a civil penalty order.”

“As investigations are ongoing, it is not appropriate to comment further on this particular matter.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Hunter Afghanistan veterans join march for Operation Slipper

Recent veterans Laura Callcott, David Hombsch and Ryan Ginty. Picture: Max Mason-HubersFOR Ryan Ginty, Laura Callcott and David Hombsch, serving the nation in Afghanistan and the Middle East during the 13years of Operation Slipper made the hard slog of military training worthwhile.
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Operation Slipper, as the Australian contribution to the war in Afghanistan was known, ended on December31, 2014, when the Operation Highroad training and advisory mission began.

To recognise the 34,500 defence, civilian and federal police personnel who took part in the operation, a series of welcome-home parades are being held on Saturday in nine cities around Australia.

Group Captain Hombsch, Leading Aircraftwoman Callcott and Flight Lieutenant Ginty are part of a large contingent from the Hunter who are taking part in the Sydney march, which is expected to attract more than 6000 participants.

It starts at 10am on the corner of George Street and King Street, and will be followed by a commemorative service at the Anzac memorial in Hyde Park at noon.

Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, a Slipper veteran and Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, said the events were to give the Australian public a chance to thank all who had taken part in Operation Slipper since October 2001.

Flt Lt Ginty, 29, said he did one tour of duty to the United Arab Emirates in 2011 and a second to Afghanistan in 2014, based at Kandahar.

It’s good to see that what you are doing is having an actual effect,’’ Flt Lt Ginty said.

LAC Callcott, 25, said she was ‘‘born and bred in Warners Bay’’, joined the RAAF in 2009 and was deployed to the UAE in early 2011.

LAC Callcott said some shifts were ‘‘so intense you didn’t have time to think about it’’.

Serving overseas was something she regarded as a personal achievement and she was looking forward to marching in Sydney.

Group Captain Hombsch, 45, served in the Middle East in 2003 and was back in the area as an adviser in 2008.