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NSW govt to prolong Bulli rapist's parole

Written By doni donian on Kamis, 24 April 2014 | 14.00

IT has been more than two years since notorious "Bulli rapist" Terry John Williamson was released from prison.

But with his parole set to finish next month, authorities say they want him to remain under supervision.

As a young man, Williamson terrorised the community of Bulli, on the NSW south coast, for 10 months in 1989 and 1990.

Using a police radio scanner to avoid detection, the now 44-year-old sexually assaulted 11 people, including a five-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy.

Williamson was released on parole in 2012 after serving 22 years of a 24-year sentence.

While on parole he has had to comply with 42 conditions, including taking anti-libido medication, staying away from his victims and the Illawarra region and undergoing electronic monitoring.

His parole period is due to end next month, making him a free man.

But on Thursday, the NSW Attorney-General's department made a Supreme Court application for an extended supervision order.

Barrister for the State of NSW, David Kell said that Williamson's parole program was designed to prevent him from re-offending.

"If they were removed, it would - on the evidence - rapidly affect his compliance," he told the court.

Justice Richard Button said he would wait for a psychiatrist's report on Williamson before deciding whether to extend supervision.

"The defendant was convicted of a large number of extremely serious crimes that the (sentencing) judge described as 'horrendous'," Justice Button said.

He said it was in the community's interest that a decision be made on the state's application before the 44-year-old's parole expires on May 15.

The issue of consent and whether authorities can force Williamson to continue taking anti-libido medication are expected to be discussed at a later hearing.


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Car rego hike in Victorian budget

VICTORIAN car registration and stamp duty will be increased to pay for new infrastructure spending in the upcoming state budget.

The budget measures will raise $136.8 million in 2014/15.

Treasurer Michael O'Brien said the money would be used to help fund road and transport projects.

"The $25 fee increase for motor vehicle registration amounts to less than 50 cents a week," he told reporters on Thursday.

Mr O'Brien said the $25 hike in car registration comes on top of the annual CPI-based increase.

This will raise the average registration fee by $32 in 2014/15.

"We appreciate that any increase in car rego is not likely to be welcomed, but we do note that we will be delivering major transport infrastructure in this budget that will be of direct benefit to Victorians," Mr O'Brien said.

Stamp duty on a new $20,000 car will rise from $600 to $640 and from $400 to $420 on a used $10,000 vehicle from July 1.

"In the scheme of things these are relatively modest changes, but it is important that we make sure that this budget is economically responsible and that we can properly fund the new infrastructure that we will be announcing in the budget," Mr O'Brien said.

The registration fee for a light vehicle will be $270 in 2014/15.

The stamp duty increase will raise $37.5 million in 2014/15, while the light vehicle registration fee increase will raise $99.3 million.

Mr O'Brien said Victoria's share of GST revenue was to blame for the registration and stamp duty increases.

Victoria's GST share is down from 90 cents in the dollar to 88 cents, creating a $286 million shortfall, he said.

The additional charges would fund major transport infrastructure projects to be announced in the May 6 budget, and support opportunities for workers in Victoria's ailing car industry, he said.

The registration fee for a light vehicle will be $270 in 2014/15.

The stamp duty increase will raise $37.5 million in 2014/15, while the light vehicle registration fee increase will raise $99.3 million.

Mr O'Brien said Victoria's share of GST revenue was to blame for the registration and stamp duty increases.

Victoria's GST share is down from 90 cents in the dollar to 88 cents, creating a $286 million shortfall, he said.

The additional charges would fund major transport infrastructure projects to be announced in the May 6 budget, and support opportunities for workers in Victoria's ailing car industry, he said.

Mr O'Brien demanded a fairer share of GST revenue for Victoria and called on the federal government to support the state with additional infrastructure grants.

He said while Victoria now gets an 88-cents-in-the-dollar share, South Australia receives $1.28.

"We need some assistance from the commonwealth government to do that," he said.

"One way that Victoria can do that is to get a fairer share of GST, but another way is with direct support from the commonwealth, through grants to Victoria, to help us get on and build this infrastructure more quickly."

Mr O'Brien said he is in talks with the federal government for new grants.

Victorians who can least afford it will be hurt by the registration fee increases, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said.

But Mr Andrews said Victorians would be forced to pay more for declining roads.

"This slug to motor rego will hurt ordinary hard-working Victorians the most," he said.

Mr Andrews said he feared the extra charges would help to fund the controversial East West Link project.


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Rise in pension age inevitable: Hockey

The federal opposition has dismissed Treasurer Joe Hockey's warnings about the budget crisis. Source: AAP

JOE Hockey has tried to soothe concerns about another rise in the pension age by saying it will be well into the future.

But an increase at some point is inevitable.

While the treasurer stopped short of confirming a pension age increase to 70 would form part of his first budget on May 13, he says there must be a change to the discriminatory attitudes that often prevent older workers from keeping or finding work.

"We should also not see someone's life ending when they turn 65 or 70, they should work as long as they can," Mr Hockey told ABC Radio on Thursday.

He will release the much-awaited commission of audit next Thursday, but unveiled some of its findings in a speech this week.

The commission notes the 15 largest and fastest growing programs are in welfare, health, education and defence - in most cases growing considerably faster than the economy.

Mr Hockey hinted at cuts across the board in what he described as his 10-year budget plan, adding that a greater reliance on means testing and co-payments could be on the way.

New Liberal NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance told reporters in Sydney that Labor had a field day with the country's credit card, and "everyone is going to be required to contribute".

But Mr Hockey said the heaviest lifting will be done by those who "have the capacity".

Welfare groups were sceptical.

Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie agrees Australia faces a significant fiscal challenge.

"But all the signs are that people at the very bottom of the income and wealth scale are to be asked to carry the overwhelming burden of the budget repair job," Dr Goldie said in a statement.

Opposition finance spokesman Tony Burke dismissed the treasurer's warnings of spiralling government spending costs, saying the audit's information is not new.

"Countries that have triple-A credit ratings are not in the midst of a budget crisis," Mr Burke told ABC Radio.

Australian Greens senator Richard Di Natale, who chaired a Senate inquiry into the process of the commission of audit, said the review was a smokescreen for government cuts.

"It's an opportunity for the government to have some cover to make changes that it has been keen to make for some time," he said.


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Vic Anzac services focus on younger vets

Written By doni donian on Rabu, 23 April 2014 | 14.00

MARK Jennings is one of the faces of the modern Anzac Day.

The 43-year-old colonel's 23-year military record includes postings to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 and stints as a peacekeeper in Rwanda, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

In Afghanistan in 2010, he commanded more than 700 6RAR infantry troops. His battalion suffered 40 casualties, including six deaths. One of his soldiers, Corporal Daniel Keighran, was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Colonel Jennings will speak about his experiences to the 70,000 people expected at the dawn Anzac Day service at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.

He said he did not grow up in a military family but his grandfather and great-grandfather served in World War II and World War I, while many of his father's friends went to Vietnam.

As a boy, he tried to understand their perspectives on Anzac Day but his view has now been shaped by his own experience.

"Anzac Day is not just about the sacrifices of the men and women that came before us," he said.

"It's now also about things that I have lived, soldiers that have been lost, friends that have been lost. It's very personal to me."

He welcomed the recognition of younger veterans.

"It's not so much the passing of a torch to us but a generational change that is happening," he said.

"There is growing interest in Anzac heritage and people have been taught about it, particularly since 1999. Australia has been involved in overseas conflict almost continuously since East Timor."

Shrine of Remembrance chief executive Denis Baguley said spectator screens will be set up for the first time to cater for the bumper crowd.

"Next year will focus on the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli but this year, with the cessation of hostilities in Afghanistan, is the perfect opportunity to focus on the role of veterans from those recent conflicts," he said.


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Elderly man found in rugged Vic bushland

AN elderly dementia sufferer found safe after two days lost in mountain country near Melbourne tried to hide from police who spotted him from a helicopter.

The 76-year-old man had wandered from a family chestnut grove at Kinglake on Monday and spent two nights in the open in cold, wet conditions.

Sergeant Simon Brand of the Victoria Police search and rescue squad said the man was found 2.5km from the farm late on Wednesday morning.

"When he was spotted he was startled and he actually tried to evade us. He hid under a tree fern," Sgt Brand told AAP.

"The police air wing was following a creek line from the direction of the property.

"He had taken off his beanie and it was only that they saw the white part of his bald head that they spotted him.

"We got a bit lucky."

The crew in the helicopter guided search and rescue police to the man.

He was safe and well but was taken to hospital for observation.

"He was in pretty good condition apart from a sore knee and the cold," Sgt Brand said.


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Brisbane's southside on measles alert

BRISBANE'S southside is on measles alert after a man was diagnosed with the highly infectious disease.

It's likely he was infectious when he visited the Underwood Marketplace shopping centre between 9am and 11.30am last Thursday, health authorities say.

Public health physician Dr Kari Jarvinen says people who were at the shopping centre around that time should immediately contact their GPs.

Residents in Logan and Brisbane's southside should be particularly vigilant for symptoms, he said.

A red, spotty rash and other measles symptoms, including a fever, cough and runny nose, usually appear 10 days after infection.

Dr Jarvinen said that given the large numbers of people potentially exposed to the latest infection, further measles cases could emerge in Brisbane over the next few weeks.


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More than 400 charges in Operation Unite

Written By doni donian on Senin, 21 April 2014 | 14.01

MORE than 400 charges have been laid for assaults and drink driving offences in Western Australia during the eighth Operation Unite targeting alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour.

Total statistics from Thursday to Sunday night included 433 charges, 165 arrests and 200 summons.

They include 21 assaults, as well as 15 people caught driving under the influence, 43 people in excess of 0.08 per cent, 12 people in excess of 0.05 per cent and two people in excess of 0.02 per cent.

Specialist squads made up of officers from the Liquor Enforcement Unit and the Regional Operations Group joined the operation in WA for the first time.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said last week that the excessive consumption of alcohol was still the most significant factor contributing to night-time violence.

Operation Unite is not about restricting people from having a good time, it is about continuing to raise community awareness about the dangers of determined drunkenness and the impact it has on others, he said.


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Central Australia readies for the royals

The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge are set to visit the Central Australian community of Mutitjulu. Source: AAP

ABOUT 300 people live in the remote Aboriginal community of Mutitjulu, the closest to Uluru, and visitors need a permit to enter the community.

But on Tuesday, a number of Mutitjulu's residents will be firmly in the global spotlight as they meet two of Australia's biggest guests to date: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"They're a long way removed from the royals... these people live and breathe their culture every day," said Terry Brown, deputy principal of Mutitjulu's Nyangatjatjara College.

It is an honour that the royal couple is travelling to such a remote part of Australia, she said.

"Your celebrity people stick to the east coast, so it's nice they're coming and they've made an effort to meet some of the locals, and the locals do appreciate that."

Since Prince Charles and Princess Diana brought a baby William to visit Uluru in 1983, there have only been two other royal visits: by Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia in 2005, and by Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Crown Princess Maxima of the Netherlands in 2006.

William and Kate will present graduation certificates to students of the National Indigenous Training Academy before being welcomed to country at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre.

They will also do a base walk around Uluru, and hopefully will be able to experience the silence of the desert, said Karena Noble, spokeswoman for Voyages Indigenous Tourism.

"People often comment after a visit to Uluru that it's the spiritual nature of the destination that touches them," she said.

"The Australian desert has got a special aura and presence all of its own."

The royal couple would have benefited from a visit to an indigenous community, said Harry Wilson, of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation.

"That would have been a good thing, if they could see the other side of community life and see how people live these days," he said.

"Should have opened their eyes up, I reckon."


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Family grieves for slain sisters

A man has been charged with murder after two young sisters were found dead in Melbourne's northeast. Source: AAP

TWO young sisters killed in an Easter Sunday tragedy will be forever loved and missed, their grieving family says.

The girls, Savannah, four, and Indianna, three, were found dead at their Melbourne home, and a man known to them was arrested at the scene on Sunday afternoon.

The 35-year-old has since been charged with their murder.

The girls' family say they are shattered by their loss.

"We are utterly devastated at the loss of Savannah and Indianna," the family said in a statement released by Victoria Police on their behalf.

"The girls will be forever missed, loved and never forgotten."

The family asked that their privacy be respected to allow time to grieve.

Police issued a statement early on Monday saying Charles Mihayo, of Watsonia, has been charged with the murder of both girls and remanded in custody to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Police are yet to reveal how the children died or give details of any injuries.

A number of family members were at the home at the time the incident unfolded.


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NSW premier flags hospital privatisation

Written By doni donian on Minggu, 20 April 2014 | 14.00

New NSW Premier Mike Baird has flagged he'll be looking to privatise the state's public hospitals. Source: AAP

NEW South Wales' new premier has flagged he will be looking to privatise the state's public hospitals as a way to "transform and improve health care".

Only days after taking the state's top job, Premier Mike Baird highlighted the role that the private sector already has in running NSW hospitals.

"These (services) extend anywhere from cleaning, to the public-private partnership to design, build, operate and maintain the new Northern Beaches Hospital," he said in a statement to AAP.

"My government will continue to look for ways to transform and improve health care."

The "key thing", he said, was that whatever the model the government pursued, public patients would be cared for as they are currently.

All they would notice was "enhanced services and facilities", he said.

But Opposition leader John Robertson said NSW families would lose out.

"Our hospitals are here to service the people of NSW, they are not here to be run as businesses," he told reporters.

Mr Robertson accused the new premier of being "out of touch", saying he was a "former merchant banker who lives on the northern beaches of Sydney".

"He just doesn't get what it is like to be a family that is struggling to make ends meet."

He said Mr Baird's "mode of operation" was to privatise the state's assets, including electricity poles and wires.

The Health Services Union (NSW) secretary Gerard Hayes said its members would campaign against the privatisation of hospitals.

"The private sector does not take this work on out of the goodness of its heart. It does so to make a dollar."

To turn a profit, he said they would either slash jobs and wages or offer inferior services.


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