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Qld bikies can fill out 'resignation' form

Written By prayud samsah on Selasa, 24 Juni 2014 | 21.30

QUEENSLAND bikies and their associates can fill out a form to declare they are no longer part of an outlaw group.

THE Queensland Police Service website has a questionnaire asking people to describe the steps they have taken to "disassociate".

The form asks participants to circle yes or no boxes to indicate if they have returned or destroyed their club colours, if they have a club tattoo, and whether it's been removed.They are also asked to declare if they are an office holder, general member or associate of a bikie chapter.New laws are coming into effect from July 1 banning bikies from working as used car sellers, security guards, locksmiths, tow truck drivers, bookmakers, pawn brokers, tattoo artists and bar workers.More than a dozen lines on the form are set aside so people can describe their future intentions with an outlaw group and the steps their organisation has taken to disassociate from them.A declaration section asks participants to give an undertaking to provide documents to the police within 10 business days.Earlier this month, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced the government would delay a controversial plan to ban people with bikie links from working in the building industry.This means plumbers and electricians with suspected bikie links won't be banned from having a trades licence until July 2015, after a federal royal commission into unions.But new licensing requirements will apply to other industries under the Tattoo Parlours Act 2013.Bikies can call a police hotline for help on filling out the form, which is subject to the Information Privacy Act.The Queensland police website promises that applications to disown bike membership would be assessed "in a timely manner".But participants are advised that delaying a response to a letter could jeopardise their ability to hold an industry licence.The form has to be witnessed by another signature.Queensland police say two people have filled out the form to distance themselves from a bikie group since they were posted online on June 10.

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Senator breaks into song during farewell

Senator Ursula Stephens has burst into song during her valedictory speech. Source: AAP

LEAVING parliament may be a blessing in disguise for Labor Senator Ursula Stephens, who looks prepped to shine on another stage - in showbiz.

THE Irish-born Australian stopped short of doing a jig during her valedictory speech in the Senate on Tuesday, instead providing the house with a shaky duck analogy, a famous Australian poem and a wee Irish melody.

After tipping her glass to the Irish ambassador, Senator Stephens burst into song to bid farewell to her colleagues."For all the comrades e'er I had, they would wish me one more day to stay," she reverberated clearly across the chamber.A little less clear was the duck analogy which the senator used to back into her message about caring for the 51 million people displaced around the world.The story goes: Canberra traffic was banked up on Senator Stephens' way to work recently because a duck had been injured and another duck had stayed by its side."And I thought to myself, yes, even a duck looks after its mate," she said.That was followed by the senator reciting Dame Mary Gilmore's Nationality poem which famously declares "this loaf is my son's bread"."We must find a way to feed our own son and also look after our fellow human beings in need."Leader of the opposition in the senate, Penny Wong, congratulated Senator Stephens on her 12-year term and said ending in song was a nice touch.

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Tax, security info at cyber attack risk

TAX and social security records and national security information remains vulnerable to cyber attacks, a new report shows.

AN auditor-general review of seven major government agencies found that none complied with the required cyber security measures which were due to be in place by mid-2014.

The agencies included the Australian Tax Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Customs, Australian Financial Security Authority, the Department of Human Services and IP Australia.The agencies hold a wide range of personal, national security and economic information.The report said that in 2012 there were more than 1790 security incidents against Australian government agencies, of which 685 were considered serious.While the audited agencies had put in place internal security safeguards to protect their information "the selected agencies had not yet achieved full compliance with the top four mitigation strategies" mandated by the government in 2013.And none was on track to meet the mid-2014 compliance date.The agencies were found to have a "reasonable" level of protection from breaches from internal sources, but "vulnerabilities remain against attacks from external sources to agency systems"."In essence, agency processes and practices have not been sufficiently responsive to the ever-present and ever-changing risks that government systems are exposed to," the report concluded.The four strategies agencies have been asked to put in place include protections against malicious programs, security "patching" of applications, devices and operating systems and keeping administrative privileges to a small group of users.

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Bishop restates support for Fiji election

FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop has been updated on Fiji's progress towards its first democratic elections in nearly a decade.

FIJI has promised to hold elections on September 17, the first since the country's leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power in a military coup in 2006.

Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2009 after Commodore Bainimarama failed to meet a deadline to return it to democracy.But the federal government is keen to normalise Australia's frosty ties with Fiji, and started by lifting travel bans on senior military and government figures in March.Ms Bishop on Tuesday met her Fijian counterpart Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, where she emphasised Australia's "strong support" for the electoral process.Australia has accepted in-principle an invitation from Fiji to co-lead an international observer group to oversee the election, and is finalising the terms of reference for the mission.The two foreign leaders also discussed preparatory work to re-establish defence ties between the two nations.It's illegal under Australian law to sell weapons to Fiji or provide military advice.

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Vic 'palm reader' jailed for assaults

Written By prayud samsah on Senin, 23 Juni 2014 | 21.30

A VICTORIAN man who used an offer to read women's palms as a ruse to sexually assault them while travelling on a train has been jailed for at least 10 months.

AJAY Chopra, 41, had pleaded guilty to all five charges relating to the assaults on five women over a three month period in 2011.

The Bendigo man targeted young women who were travelling alone on the Melbourne to Bendigo V/Line train, with each crime starting with an offer to tell their fortune."All of this was a ruse and what you were attempting to do was either to put their hand in your crotch area, or put your hand in their crotch area," Victorian County Court Judge Gerard Mullaly said.Jailing Chopra for 21 months, Judge Mullaly said his actions were shameful and dishonourable."The fact they were conducted on public transport adds to the unfortunate sense of fear that women have that public transport is not safe," he said."This fear is corrosive and impacts on women's rights to go about their lives freely."Prosecutor Neil Hutton said once Chopra had hold of a woman's hands he would resist any efforts by them to pull away.In one case, he held his hand under a woman's dress. In another, he held his victim's hand against his penis."She could feel the man's erect penis on the back of her hand," Mr Hutton said."This activity happened for most of the trip to Bendigo, where he got off the train."He turned and said `have a nice life` as he did so."Another incident was cut short - with Chopra moving to a different carriage - after the woman managed to make a mobile phone call.Defence lawyer Mark Hird tendered to the court character references which he said showed Chopra was a gentle person and the incidents were completely out of character.He said his client had entered an early plea of guilty to all charges - three counts of indecent assault, and two counts of attempted indecent assault."They are clearly quite serious offences ... and it is conceded they were carried out in circumstances of coercion," Mr Hird said.Chopra, who was supported in the court by his wife, was placed on the sex offenders register for life.

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Salvos sorry for abuse 'greatest failure'

The Salvation Army will again give evidence at the child sex abuse royal commission in Sydney. Source: AAP

THE Salvation Army says it is profoundly sorry for the abuse suffered by children in its care, and events revealed by the royal commission into child sexual abuse represent the greatest failure in its history.

HOWEVER, the organisation maintains sexual abuse was not widespread after the commission heard evidence of more than 100 cases of children suffering horrendous abuse in homes run by the Salvation Army in Queensland and NSW in the 1960s and 1970s.

As the royal commission moved to finalise its investigation into the church on Monday, counsel for the Salvation Army, Kate Eastman, challenged a statement from counsel assisting the commission that sexual abuse was "widespread" at boys' homes it ran.In an apology to survivors, Ms Eastman read a statement from the Salvation Army saying the organisation was "profoundly sorry for failing to care for you as you deserved, for the neglect, hurt, abuse and deprivation of human rights that all children are entitled to".Ms Eastman said the church "acknowledges that this is the greatest failure in its history in Australia".She said that in the 113 years from 1883 to 1996, the Salvation Army had 17,831 children in its care across four homes in NSW and Queensland and there had been 157 claims of abuse from children in that time.She said 115 of those children were from boys' homes and of 23 perpetrators identified, 19 were Salvation Army officers."We don't for one moment seek to diminish or oversimplify or justify by historical circumstances but we do submit that the total number of claims against the total number of children reflects a relatively small number of children reporting sexual abuse during their time at the home," Ms Eastman said.Counsel assisting the commission Simeon Beckett said the number of children abused in Salvation Army homes would never be known because many had not come forward or had not been able to speak out.The commission heard evidence from survivors of extreme sexual and physical abuse meted out by Salvation Army workers at homes in Indooroopilly and Riverview in Queensland, and Bexley and Goulburn in NSW.Hearings held in January and February heard evidence that the Salvation Army failed to investigate complaints that its staff were abusing boys and did not refer matters to police.Boys who did report abuse to officials were punished and many did not report abuse for fear they would not be believed and would suffer further punishment.Ms Eastman also revealed the Salvation Army has dismissed an officer accused of abusing children in the 1970s.John McIver was suspended by the Salvation Army in February after allegations he sexually abused two boys in a NSW home in the 1960s and 1970s, and whipped a boy with a strap and dislocated his arm during a beating at a home in Queensland in 1975.On Monday the commission heard McIver had been dismissed from the organisation in June and matters had been referred to police.The commission will now prepare its report into the events that occurred at Salvation Army homes in the 1960s and 1970s, and into separate events of alleged abuse that have occurred since 1993.

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Labor, coalition in cost of living battle

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will personally reintroduce a bill to axe the carbon tax. Source: AAP

LABOR and the coalition have traded blows over cost-of-living pressures as the government reintroduced its carbon tax repeal bills.

THE government is adamant the repeal will improve the cost of living for average families by $550 a year and drive down electricity bills.

But Labor has seized on new economic modelling which shows budget changes to welfare and seniors payments will erode family budgets by thousands of dollars each year.Prime Minister Tony Abbott intends to have the carbon tax repeal bills passed through the lower house this week, in time for a special four-day sitting of the new Senate from July 7.The government is quietly confident of securing six out of eight crossbench votes, including three Palmer United Party senators, to pass its legislation.PUP leader Clive Palmer will outline at a media conference in Canberra on Wednesday night what it will take for his senators to back the bills."He will be fully transparent on Wednesday," his spokesman told AAP.Mr Palmer also has concerns about pension cuts and the Medicare co-payment which he says will cost pensioners $2500 a year.Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Monday seized on statements by energy retailers AGL, Origin and Energy Australia that prices would come down once the carbon tax was abolished."AGL today confirmed that price reductions will flow through to residential and small business customers if the carbon repeal legislation is passed by the federal parliament," the company said, adding the cuts would start from July 1 regardless of when the laws passed.Mr Hunt said all six new senators had gone to an election promising to get rid of the carbon tax."All of the signs are that they will fulfil their commitment," he said.Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in parliament referred to new modelling showing a couple on a single income of $65,000 with two children would be $1700 worse off in 2014/15 and short-changed by $6300 in 2017/18."Why should Australian families have to pay for the prime minister's dishonesty?" he asked Mr Abbott in parliament.Mr Abbott told parliament Labor's family payments were unaffordable, but the government was still providing a generous system while getting the budget back under control.Meanwhile, defeated Labor leadership contender Anthony Albanese rejected reports he has been privately critical of Mr Shorten's handling of strategy, policy, communications and internal party reform."Bill has done a good job of holding the government to account," Mr Albanese said.Mr Albanese later told parliament the media reports were "absurd, wrong, without any attribution, unprofessional and contradicted by cursory examination of the facts and recent history".

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Peter Greste jailed for 7 years in Egypt

Tony Abbott has lobbied Egypt's new president for the release of journalist Peter Greste (pic). Source: AAP

AUSTRALIAN journalist Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues accused of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed for seven years in Egypt.

GRESTE and two other reporters working for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera English were among 20 defendants in a trial that has triggered international outrage amid fears of growing media restrictions in Egypt.

Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the authorities have been incensed by the Qatari network's coverage of their deadly crackdown on his supporters.They consider Al Jazeera as the voice of Qatar, and accuse Doha of backing Morsi's Brotherhood.Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed were tried with 17 others on charges of "spreading false news" and having Brotherhood links.The three have already been detained for nearly six months, along with six others.Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he spoke to Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over the weekend."I assured him - as a former journalist myself - that Peter Greste would have been reporting the Muslim Brotherhood, not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood," Mr Abbott earlier told the Seven Network on Monday.Mr Abbott said the president understood Australia's position."I made my point. I made it as clearly as I could," he saidThe talks between the two leaders follow similar lobbying by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who spoke with her recently appointed Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri over the weekend.In Canberra, parliamentarians made a bipartisan plea for Greste's release.Greste's two brothers were in court for Monday's ruling.Al Jazeera says only nine of the 20 defendants are on its staff, including two foreign reporters who are abroad.A Dutch journalist, who is not working with the channel, is also among the defendants.Sixteen are Egyptians accused of belonging to the Brotherhood, which the military-installed government designated a "terrorist organisation" in December.The four foreigners are also alleged to have collaborated with and assisted their Egyptian co-defendants by providing media material, as well as editing and broadcasting it.Prosecutors demanded the maximum penalty for all defendants.The 16 Egyptians could be jailed for 25 years, while the foreigners could get 15 years, their lawyers say.A Greste family spokesperson said an appeal would be considered."A number of contingencies have been put in place because we had to consider this option," Heidi Ross told the ABC."I'm not really at liberty to discuss them, they need to be gone through privately by the family."Different things have different implications for Peter."It's going to take a couple of days of sitting down and going through again all of the stuff for real this time, rather than just speculating and then to decide which tactic to take."An appeal is certainly on that list."

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Refugee drowns in Nauru

Written By prayud samsah on Minggu, 22 Juni 2014 | 21.29

A REFUGEE who was resettled in Nauru after being sent to the Australian immigration detention centre there has drowned along with a Nauruan citizen who attempted a rescue.

IMMIGRATION Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Sunday evening he had been informed of the two deaths and extended his sympathies to the families and friends of both.

"We understand from initial reports that the first deceased person was a private resident of Nauru, on a Nauruan refugee visa, and was accidentally drowned," the minister said.He said the person was not a resident at the offshore processing centre.A spokesman for the minister confirmed to AAP that the refugee had been in the centre before being resettled in the Nauruan community.Mr Morrison said it was understood that a Nauruan citizen also died after attempting to rescue the first person.He said another Nauruan citizen was receiving treatment for injuries sustained during the attempted rescue."This is a matter for the government of Nauru as it pertains to an incident involving a resident and citizens of their own country that occurred within their jurisdiction," the minister said.He said Nauruan police were investigating the matter, which would become the subject of a coronial inquiry.

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Another Tamil man sets himself on fire

Written By prayud samsah on Sabtu, 21 Juni 2014 | 21.29

ANOTHER Tamil man has set himself alight, the latest in a spate of self-immolation cases involving asylum seekers who fear being sent back to Sri Lanka.

THE 40-year-old man splashed himself with petrol and ignited it, but his housemates intervened and managed to put out the fire.

It happened late on Friday at a home in the Melbourne suburb of Noble Park, according to a statement from the Tamil Refugee Council.There were similar incidents in May, when Leo Seemanpillai burned to death outside his Geelong home, and also in April when a Sydney-based Tamil man also set himself alight but survived with burns to 75 per cent of his body.In the latest case, the man suffered burns to his legs and was taken by ambulance to Dandenong Hospital."We are very lucky on this occasion that the man's housemates were aware of what he was planning to do otherwise we may have had another death on our hands," council spokesperson Sri Samy said."I have had seven young men tell me in the past few weeks that they are thinking of doing this."They are fearful of being sent back to Sri Lanka and say they would prefer to die here than be sent back to torture, which is what the Australian government is doing to many Tamil asylum seekers."The man involved in this latest case came to Australia by boat in 2012, and he was on a bridging visa awaiting assessment of his asylum claim.He fled Sri Lanka, leaving his wife and daughter behind, after security police broke his legs.The council said last week he had learned his brother, held in a Sri Lankan prison for four years, had disappeared and was feared dead.The man feared the same fate if returned to Sri Lanka."The previous Labor government, and the current Coalition government, have sent back more than 1000 Tamil asylum-seekers under an enhanced screening process," Mrs Samy also said."That does not allow time for proper assessment of asylum claims."She called on Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to alleviate fear among Tamil asylum seekers by granting protection to genuine refugees.* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

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