Month: June 2019

Police smash cocaine ringin Christmas Day raid

Police arrest a number of alleged drug traffickers on Christmas Day. Photo: NSW Police The men were aged between 29 and 63 years old and have all been refused bail. Photo: NSW Police
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Former rugby league player John Tobin (middle row, third from right) was one of the men arrested. Photo: Supplied

Arrested: maritime worker Reuben John Dawe. Photo: Facebook

The cocaine seized by police. Photo: Rachel Browne

This image shows a boat carrying 500kg of cocaine that was originally picked up in Fiji. Photo: Supplied

A former rugby league first grade player, a Bondi entrepreneur and several fishermenare among 15 men arrested on Christmas Day in a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring bust.

Police will allege the syndicate imported more than a tonne of cocaine via NSW ports and included experienced fisherman, marine workers and company owners.

n FederalPolice Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan described the alleged syndicate as “robust, resilient and determined”.

He told a packed Sydney press conference that the 15 arrested men were “determined to exploit some of the most vulnerable members of the community.”

The seizure of 500kg of cocaine in Sydney, 600kg of the drug in Tahiti and 32kg of heroin in Fiji make it the largest drug bust of its kind in .

NSWPolice State Crime Commander Mark Jenkins said all the drugs originated in South America before being transferred across the South Pacific by ship.

Several of the men were arrested on Christmas Day on boardashipping vessel named Dalrymple docked at the Brooklyn Marinaon the Central Coast.

It’s alleged the boat was used to ferry drugs between NSW ports and a larger ship stationed out at sea that held drugs smuggled from Chile.

Officers from Maritime Border Command and the NSW Police’s Marine Area Command had watched the Dalrymple dock atthe Sydney Fish Markets for a month before leaving for the Central Coast on December 3.

On Christmas night, officers watched the crew launch a small one-man dinghy which allegedly travelled toParlseyBay at Brooklyn on the NSW Central Coast and met with two other men.

All three were arrested and about 500 kilograms of cocaine was seized from thedinghy.

Three other men were arrested on board the Dalrymple vessel as it docked at Brooklyn Marina on Christmas night.

Several other men were arrested in the Sydney suburbs ofZetland, Double Bay, Kingsford, and Greenacre. Two brothers were arrested in Ulladulla, on the NSW South Coast, and two others were arrested in Hobart and Brisbane.

Operation Okesi, comprising officers from NSW Police, n Federal Police and n Border Force, started over two-and-a-half-years after police received a “thread” of information.

Since then, five alleged importations by the sophisticated syndicate have been thwarted.

It includes the seizure of 32 kilograms of heroin by authorities in Fiji in December 2014 and the seizure of 606 kilograms of cocaine by authorities in Tahiti in March.

A police source told Fairfax Media the syndicate thought they could take advantage of the festive season by striking on Christmas Day.

Authorities valued the total amount of cocaine seized at $360 million.

Among the men arrested is former Eastern Suburbs Roosters player John Roland Boyd Tobin, who played 125 matches as lockforward in the 1980s.

Bondi entrepreneur Darren John Mohr was also arrested. He lists his occupationas the owner Martini Motors and is also theformer owner of the Bondi Rescue HQ cafe.

His Instagram profile shows a love of Harley Davidson motorbikes, Rolls Royce cars and being shirtless.

Police also arrestedReuben John Dawe, who lists his occupation as a maritime worker andcommercial fisherman JosephPirrello, 63.

Other man arrested in the sting include Simon Peter Spero, 56, Graham Toa Toa, 42, Stuart Ayrton, 54, Jonathan Cooper, 29, Richard Lipton, 37, Frank D’Agostino, 54, and Benjamin Sara, 31.

They were all refused bail in Parramatta Bail Court on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Two other men, extradited from Tasmania and Queensland, will appear in Parramatta Bail Court on Thursday as well as two men arrested in Ulladulla on the NSW South Coast.

Footage released by police show multiple men being arrested in the dark from on-board the Dalrymple fishing vessel.

One of the men shown with his hands tied behind his back is wearing only a pair of boxer shorts covered in cartoon pictures of crocodiles.

“This operation has been running for more than two-and-a-half years and culminated over the Christmas period,” a police statement reads.

The men were aged between 29 and 63 years old. Police are due to address the media at 11am on Thursday.


Critic of Labor’s GFC stimulus package paid $16,000 for Treasury paper labelling it counterproductive

Treasury secretary John Fraser said Treasurer Scott Morrison’s office had been given a copy of the paper prior to its publication. Photo: Andrew Meares Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the report’s release seemed to have been designed to pre-empt calls for further stimulus. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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A long-term critic of Labor’s controversial economic stimulus package was paid more than $16,000 to deliver a Treasury commissioned paper downplaying its role in saving from the worst of the global financial crisis.

Tony Makin’s paper found there was “no evidence fiscal stimulus benefited the economy over the medium term” and had been counterproductive, concluding it had “worsened ‘s international competiveness and damaged industries in the internationally exposed sector, particularly manufacturing”.

The decision to commission Professor Makin to write the paper for the Treasury Research Institute, which was “formally launched” on December 9, the same day his paper was published, surprised many given Treasury had previously censured Professor Makin for criticising the economic stimulus package during the GFC.

Labor’s treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said its release seemed to have been designed to pre-empt calls for further stimulus in the wake of national accounts figures showing the economy going backwards.

He wrote to Treasury secretary John Fraser seeking clarification over the commissioning of the “so-called analysis” and its release, given two newspapers were given access to it before it was published on the Treasury-run site.

In his response, Mr Fraser said Professor Makin’s employer, Griffith University, was paid $16,500 to deliver the paper, as part of efforts “to broaden our research and analysis profile” and Treasurer Scott Morrison’s office had been given a copy of the paper ahead of its publication, as part of a “long standing practice under successive governments”.

Mr Fraser, who was appointed as secretary to the Treasury under the Abbott government in 2015, said he made the decision to commission the paper, “in consultation with my senior colleagues”, and believed a wide range of views was important “if we are to deepen and extend our thinking”.

“The Institute seeks to deepen understanding of contemporary economic developments and promote debate on important and topical policy issues, including by publishing papers written by either current Treasury staff or external authors,” he wrote.

“As we are making clear, where appropriate, the views expressed in such papers – including by our own staff – may not necessarily represent those of Treasury.”

‘s economy was one of the few in the developed world to have not entered recession during the 2008 economic crisis.

In the days leading up to the paper’s release, Mr Morrison attacked Labor’s spending response during the financial crisis as giving “money to dead people [thinking] that was going to grow the economy; that was nonsense”.

Mr Fraser said demands on Treasury resources had increased “dramatically in recent decades” and, in response, had increased its outsourcing of research, with future papers to examine immigration, taxation, the social welfare system and reasons for low interest rates.

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Close allies of Bill Shorten on multiple criminal charges for alleged vandalism spree

Andrew Landeryou. Photo: Arsineh Houspian Kimberley Kitching. Photo: Andrew Meares
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A close friend of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will face court on 10 criminal charges after an alleged politically motivated vandalism spree on the morning of the federal election.

Andrew Landeryou and two other factional allies of Mr Shorten will appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on February 15 on five charges of theft and five of criminal damage.

Mr Landeryou, an ex-bankrupt and notorious former blogger, is the son of a former state Labor MP and is married to new Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching.

Both Senator Kitching and Mr Landeryou are close friends and political allies of Mr Shorten.The Opposition Leader in October controversially backed Ms Kitching in her successful bid to replace Stephen Conroy in the Senate.

Also facing five charges of theft and five of criminal damage is David Asmar, an alleged Labor branch stacker, who has long-standing factional links to Mr Shorten.

The other man charged is Dean Sherriff, who has worked as an industrial officer at the scandal-plagued Health Workers Union (HWU), which is run by Mr Asmar’s wife, Diana. Mr Sherriff has been charged with assault along with five counts of theft and five of criminal damage.

Being found guilty of theft or criminal damage can result in penalties including being jailed or fined, or community-based orders.

The criminal charges will draw further attention to the operation of Mr Shorten’s Labor Right faction in Victoria, which is regularly linked to scams and the rorting of internal Labor Party processes.

Fairfax Media in July revealed that four men had been arrested without charge while helping on the marginal seat campaign of the Labor MP for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, a Shorten ally.

They were arrested for allegedly vandalising Greens and Liberal polling material at multiple polling stations from Elwood to Port Melbourne. The men were arrested at 2.40am in St Kilda on the morning of the July 2 election and police said box cutters were seized from the car they were travelling in.

At the time Mr Shorten said the book should be thrown at people involved in political vandalism.

“I think anyone in an election who is conducting vandalism deserves to have the book thrown at them. In terms of that investigation [into Melbourne Ports], I haven’t been following it, I have no knowledge of the particular events,” he said.

“I just say to everyone, democracy doesn’t need these sort of antics, full stop. I’ve got no time for it – Liberal, Labor, Green, National, whoever they are.”

The criminal charges will also draw fresh attention to Senator Kitching, who has become a target of the Turnbull government.

Mr Turnbull has described her appointment as a “union stitch-up” while frontbencher Christopher Pyne described her as Mr Shorten’s “captain’s pick” and attacked her for her alleged role in a workplace permit scam while at the HWU.

Ms Kitching was general manager at the HWU when it was run to the brink of insolvency. During her time at the union she was also a central figure in a workplace permit scam and was heavily criticised by the Fair Work Commission for giving “inherently unlikely” evidence.

An interim report of the Heydon royal commission recommended Ms Kitching be considered for possible criminal charges. She has not been charged.

Her elevation to the Senate also caused unrest within Labor with frontbencher Mark Dreyfus reportedly threatening to resign if she was appointed.

For years Mr Landeryou ran a scandalous and often defamatory blog that regularly targeted political opponents of Mr Shorten and journalists. It stopped publishing in 2013.

Mr Asmar fled to Lebanon in 2015 shortly after being told he would have to appear before the Heydon royal commission. He avoided questioning after saying he was sick and obtaining a medical certificate. He has since returned to .

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Summer Quiz: Islands in the sun

Lobster Island. Photo: Supplied1. Why is an island off the South n town of Ceduna named Lilliput?
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(a) Jonathan Swift placed the land of the little people in Gulliver’s Travels at roughly the same latitude.

(b) A unique colony of unusually small seals calls the island home.

(c) It commemorates the 1959 nearby sinking of a tuna boat owned by the father of Olympic gold medal weightlifter Dean Lukin.

2 Nauru is the latest of the prisoner islands that litter n history. What did the first Europeans call the place when they discovered it in 1798?

(a) Guano Island

(b) Pleasant Island

(c) Warrior Island

3. ‘s first border security action occurred in 1877 when 2500 indentured Chinese diggers were quarantined for 16 days on an island off the Queensland coast to give European diggers a head start in the Palmer River rush. What island was it?

(a) Lizard

(b) Fitzroy

(c) Dunk

4. The late Beatle George Harrison once owned a house on which Great Barrier Reef island?

(a) Hamilton

(b) Lindeman

(c) Bedarra

5. Which Great Barrier Reef island was used as backdrop to the 1969 film Age of Consent that featured Helen Mirren playing a coquettish teenager who posed nude for a bohemian recluse?

(a) Purtaboi

​(b) Dunk

(c) Green

6. After a 1918 cyclone destroyed an Aboriginal mission at South Mission Beach, Queensland, survivors were rounded up and banished to which island off Townsville?

(a) Magnetic

(b) Hinchinbrook

(c) Palm

7. The Siege of Pinchgut, a 1959 British film starring American Aldo Ray, was set on the Sydney Harbour island of?

(a) Goat

(b) Fort Denison

(c) Cockatoo

8. According to revived research, pioneering aviatrix Amelia Earhart did not crash into the Pacific during a 1937 circumnavigation attempt but rather perished as a castaway on which island?

(a) Rabaul

(b) Howland

(c) Nikumaroro​

9. An explosion in the number of what sort of marsupials on Western ‘s Rottnest Island prompted authorities to erect a rabbit-proof fence to protect the golf club for tourists?

(a) Cousin’s wallabies

(b) Quokkas

(c) Hook-nosed bandicoots

10. Who wrote APRA’s 1995 Song of the Year, My Island Home?

(a) Christine Anu

(b) The Mills Sisters

(c) Neil Murray

11. Captain Arthur Phillip visited Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury within weeks of the First Fleet’s arrival. What did he name it?

(a) Long Island

(b) Spectacle Island

(c) Mullet Island

12. Set in an Anglican mission in Western , Randolph Stow’s Miles Franklin Award winning book was one of the first to portray the fruits of ‘s racist policies concerning Aboriginal peoples. It was called: 

(a) Drums of Mer

(b) To the Islands

(c) Capricornia

Answers: 1. (a), 2. (b), 3. (b), 4. (a), 5. (a) and (b), 6. (c), 7. (b), 8. (c), 9. (b), 10. (c), 11. (c), 12. (b).


Almost half of drowning deaths linked to drinking, new research finds

Peter Wright’s team of volunteers has pulled the bodies of nearly 50 people out of the Murray River near Albury. Photo: James WiltshireA woman was so drunk that after she nearly drowned in the Murray River on Christmas Day, she offered her rescuers a sherry, a witness alleged.
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One of her rescuers Phil Clarke said the woman “was lucky she got snagged, otherwise she would have been swept down the river”.

“She offered us sherry when she got out,” he told the Border Mail newspaper.

“I guess it’s a cautionary tale – it’s pretty silly,” said Mr Clarke.

With his father in law, Mr Clarke from Melbourne jumped into the Murray at Noreuil Park in Albury to save the woman whose leg was stuck in a tree.

Being very drunk while swimming is not unusual, finds new research.

It found more than 40 per cent of the 770 people who drowned in ‘s inland waterways in the past 10 years had been drinking, It confirms the strong link between alcohol, drownings and reckless behaviour in the water.

Of those adults who had been drinking and subsequently drowned, 70 per cent would have failed a random breath test on the roads, says the paper to be published in January’s edition of Accident Analysis and Prevention.

About 40 per cent of adults who had been drinking before they drowned had a blood alcohol reading of more than 0.20, four times the legal limit. Another nine per cent had drunk 0.10 to 0.19, and four per cent registered 0.05 to 0.09, said the report.

Nearly 83 per cent were male.

Often recovering the body takes three days of diving, while families and friends wait on nearby river banks to wail, wait and watch.

“The hard things about drownings is you have family gathering around. And you got people there, and it is just bloody sad,” said Mr Wright.

“Some of these diving jobs go for two or three days, and to front up there, to see the grief on these people’s faces. You just can’t bear it – it tears your heart out,”  said Mr Wright.

The only way to find the bodies in the pitch-black waters of the Murray is by touch.

“The water in there is black and there is no visibility. You are doing it by feel.”

“Alcohol is a major contributing factor. If you have been drinking, and you get into trouble, you will drown. If you are a poor swimmer, and you get into trouble in the river, you will drown,” he said. “It is the avoidable nature of these drownings that is the frustrating thing about them,” said Mr Wright. He volunteers with the Corowa Rescue Squad, which often works with the Albury and Border Rescue Squad.

Mr Wright, 62, is the longest serving and medically certified rescue diver in the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association yet he is determined to keep diving because there are so few volunteers.

He says the number-one reason people die or struggle in the water is because they panic, and that’s more likely to occur when people have been drinking.

“Alcohol with water is extremely hazardous, whether you are boating or swimming. You get no second chances. If you are in the river, and you have had a bellyful of alcohol and you get into trouble, the chances are you will drown. And alcohol and the river, they just don’t mix,” he said.

To prevent further drownings, Mr Wright also visits schools to talk about water safety and the need to respect the river.