Security guard stationed at Wodonga library

A security guard outside the Wodonga library has been employed to control unruly behaviour.Source: Border Mail
Nanjing Night Net

A SECURITY guard has been stationed outside the Wodonga library to stop groups of young people disrupting and offending passers-by.

That follows reports of swearing, littering, “silly behaviour” and impromptu games of football in the space between the library and The Cube.

The council confirmed yesterday that disruptions in The Cube courtyard and inside the library had led to the move.

But it hopes using a security guard will be a short-term measure.

The guard has been in place this week as a result of behaviour involving a group of up to 20 teenagers over the previous couple of weeks.

Several members of the public complained about the disruptions to staff at the library and The Cube.

Commmunity development director Debra Mudra said the council had built The Cube and the adjacent courtyard for the whole community.

“We wanted to see a whole mix of people using that space — that’s the whole idea of it,” she said.

Ms Mudra said they were trying to work with the teenagers to get across just what was acceptable behaviour in a public space.

The council’s youth services team has also been talking to them about possible solutions, such as youth-tailored activities.

“It would be fair to say that some of them are being very responsive to us and offering us ideas,” Ms Mudra said.

“There certainly are other young people in the group who we perhaps have to keep reminding a bit more than the other ones.

“Council can’t do it alone and so that’s why it’s really important that we’ve engaged other agencies that deal with young people.”

These include youth homelessness support group Junction Support Services and Wodonga police.

“We’ve had disruptive behaviour in the library before, but this has been a bit more sustained,” Ms Mudra said.

“We wanted security there because we’re finding them very, very good with the young people in reminding them of just what is acceptable.

“If there is a little bit of banter between groups then the security is there to calm the situation down a bit.”

Ms Mudra said there were quite definite guidelines available on what constituted respectful behaviour.

“That is, you’re welcome to use the public space but there are other users,” she said.

“Different people have different expectations though on what’s acceptable behaviour.”

Ms Mudra said the council was going to “play it by ear” in deciding on when to remove the security guard.

D-Day beckons for Abbott

Bound for France: Prime Minister Tony Abbott meets D-Day airmen at Kirribilli House. Photo: James BrickwoodThere were a few dozen medals between them, squeezed on lapels not quite wide enough.
Nanjing Night Net

Seven airmen of the D-Day landings chatted with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the verandah of Kirribilli House, before they travel to France with him for the 70th anniversary of the invasion on Friday.

They were shot at, shot down and, on occasion, their aircraft limped back to England. Their efforts, on June 6, 1944, changed the course of the Second World War.

Looking forward to a break from sparring with the opposition, the PM joked: ”You guys are much more effective combatants, I am sure.”

But most of the men are now in their 90s and not as agile as they once were.

Bill Evans, a wireless operator from Sylvania in Sydney’s south, who parachuted out of his Lancaster bomber after it was shot down, found a supporting hand from the PM when he found himself stuck in his seat.

Mr Abbott asked Bill Purdy from Mosman in north Sydney, a Lancaster pilot, to recall his memories of the invasion. ”The main memory is having finished the bombing of Pointe du Hoc, turning round to come home and seeing that mass of ships,” he said.

”The greatest armada ever assembled,” the PM said. ”There was, what, 1000 ships?”

The reply gave pause for thought, even 70 years later: 5000 small ships bringing in 130,000 troops guarded by 300 naval ships preceded by 300 minesweepers.

”This was a day that changed history and Australia was part of it. To visit the D-Day landing sites along with these extraordinary heroes of our country, these national treasures, will be a real honour for me,” Mr Abbott said.

Ron Houghton, president of the Bomber Command Association of Australia, and wearing the Distinguished Flying Cross, summed it up well.

”On the day, it was just another day,” Dr Houghton said. ”But when we looked at it afterwards we realised this was going to break Germany, which it did do, and that was the beginning of the end.

”When you are young, you don’t think too much about the other people. Today I realise it was pretty tough but at that time you think: ‘Hang on, I have got to get through this myself.”’

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

FOI watchdog Lynne Bertolini to meet targets with more staff, less money

The Napthine government will give Victoria’s freedom of information watchdog more staff to deal with complaints, while also diluting her performance targets so she can meet agreed timelines, at the same time as it is reducing her budget.
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Weeks after The Sunday Age revealed that FOI commissioner Lynne Bertolini was unable to meet her deadlines for reviews against government departments – resulting in 121 requests for extensions – the government announced it would provide two assistant commissioners to help.

Several staff will also be seconded from the Justice Department to create an education program for the public sector, which collectively receives more than 33,000 FOI requests a year.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the changes would strengthen the role of the FOI commissioner, a reform he said ”Labor refused to do in their entire 11 years in office”.

But budget papers also reveal the commissioner will get less funding next financial year – $2.7 million, compared with $3.5 million this year – and that performance targets have been reduced ”to take into account the volume and complexity” of requests.

Instead of being expected to meet agreed timelines in 100 per cent of cases, the target has been lowered to 85 per cent.

Asked if she was satisfied with the powers and resources she was given by the government, or whether she would seek further reforms, Ms Bertolini told The Sunday Age: ”It is still early days, and while the office of the FOI commissioner is past the initial establishment phase, I am continuously examining internal processes to ensure this office operates as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

But Martin Pakula, Labor’s scrutiny of government spokesman, accused the Coalition of setting up the FOI commissioner to fail.

”Deadlines can’t be met and ministers can’t be compelled to release anything. Nobody blames the FOI commissioner – she’s been hamstrung by insufficient powers, and now by a funding cut,” he said.

Mr Clark, however, said the $2.7 million allocation was similar to the amount received this year ”after allowing for $800,000 of a one-off start-up and carry-over funding in 2013-14”.

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

Labor split on East West Link road plan

Daniel Andrews and his team will head to November’s poll spruiking the so-called ‘West Gate Distributor’. Photo: Luis AscuiState Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews faces internal dissent over Labor’s decision not to support the western stage of the East West Link.
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Six months before the Victorian election, some MPs have questioned the move, fearing it could cost votes, not just in the party’s western heartland but in sensitive regions such as Geelong and Ballarat, which could benefit from less traffic heading into Melbourne.

Until recently, Labor supported an alternative river crossing to ease congestion on the West Gate Bridge, with Mr Andrews accusing the government of playing politics by choosing to build the eastern section of the controversial road before the western side.

”I think a second river crossing, an important redundancy for the West Gate Bridge and a link direct into the port, is a stronger project,” he said in his first major speech to the Melbourne Press Club in October 2012. ”West to east is how this project should be viewed.”

Labor now not only opposes the first stage of the road – a 6-kilometre connection from Clifton Hill to Flemington – but the second stage to join the Tullamarine Freeway to the Western Ring Road through a new arterial.

Insiders admit the shift has confused the opposition’s message, leaving some MPs unsure how to sell Labor’s transport agenda. As one source told The Age: ”Having spent so long presenting compelling arguments for the western side, it puts our critique of the East West Link in a very strange place.”

Mr Andrews and his team will now head to November’s poll spruiking the so-called ”West Gate Distributor” as the solution for congestion in the west, along with the original version of the Metro Rail Project and the removal of 50 level crossings. The $500 million West Gate Distributor involves building on and off-ramps along the West Gate Freeway, which Labor claims will take 5000 trucks off the road each day and provide better access to the port.

”Tony Abbott is providing Denis Napthine with $1 billion to build a road that costs a lot but doesn’t do very much … at the same time that he’s ripping that, and much more, out of schools and hospitals,” Mr Andrews said last week.

But Dr Napthine has seized on Labor’s position. ”They’ve literally kicked sand in the face of the people of the western suburbs who have been clamouring … for a second crossing,” he said.

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

Millions spent to employ spin doctors in Immigration Department

Costly: Immigration Minister Scott Morrison spends millions of dollars a year on communications staff. Photo: Andrew MearesImmigration Minister Scott Morrison’s portfolios employ more than 95 communications staff and spin doctors, costing taxpayers at least $8 million a year.
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Details released to the Senate show the departments of Immigration, Border Protection and Australian Customs have 85 ongoing and 10 non-ongoing staff responsible for media monitoring, internal communication and public relations.

This is estimated to cost between $8 million and $9.2 million a year in salaries alone, not including superannuation, leave, allowances and other associated costs. The details were released by the Immigration Department in response to questions from Labor senator Joe Ludwig.

Mr Morrison, who regularly uses the adjectives ”on water” and ”operational” to describe matters that cannot be discussed, said through a spokeswoman that ”any suggestion these staff are all working on the minister’s liaising with the media is completely untrue”.

”These are large organisations which require a significant amount of internal and corporate communication work on behalf of these agencies,” the spokeswoman added.

Fairfax Media reported in March that there were at least 66 spin doctors working in the department under Mr Morrison.

The minister made a statement rejecting the report. He said he had only 37.9 people in communications, whereas the previous Labor government employed 44 people in this area.

Asked to explain the difference between the figure, the spokeswoman said: ”The minister was referring [in March] to the National Communications Branch of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

”It is important to note that of the 37.9 staff (including two seconded to Operation Sovereign Borders) in that branch as at April 30, 2014, only a third of those staff were working in the media section of the branch.

”The rest of the branch undertakes other communications work, such as campaigns and marketing, internal communications, social media, graphic design and broadcast production.”

Mr Morrison has employed a deliberately secretive approach to Operation Sovereign Borders and says doing so has contributed to the program’s success in ”stopping the boats”.

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