TV-eye loophole closed for good

TAMWORTH Regional Council has applauded the state government’s quick action in closing the CCTV loophole.

The state government amended the privacy act yesterday to exempt councils from sections 11 and 18 of the act, effectively allowing them to continue to work with police to operate CCTV systems that protect public safety.

While chairman of the Tamworth crime prevention committee and deputy mayor Russell Webb said Tamworth council had no intention of getting rid of their CCTV, the new regulation means they can be used with less fear of retribution.

The action, which took immediate effect, came as welcome relief to concerned constituents who were worried that the loss of CCTV cameras would mean an increase in anti-social behaviour in the area.

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said it should never have had to come down to this. He applauded the government’s fast response to the issue.

“The response is a testament to how valued CCTV cameras are in our communities as a resource for police in driving down crime and keeping streets safe,” he said.

Earlier this month the legality of CCTV was questioned when the Administrative Decision Tribunal upheld a complaint by Nowra resident, Adam Bonner, who said the CCTV in his town constituted a privacy breach.

Public and political uproar spurred the government to act.

Mr Anderson said Tamworth, Gunnedah and many other areas vociferously condemned the tribunal’s decision so he was pleased to see a quick and pragmatic resolution in the form of a change to the privacy act.

While yesterday’s decision gives councils increased protection around the use of CCTV camera systems, they still have to adhere to privacy protections, including those governing the retention and security of personal information, attorney general Greg Smith said.

Tamworth Regional Council has applauded the state government’s quick action in closing the CCTV loophole.

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Launceston’s Fry takes overall honours in Alice Springs

FIVE wins from seven stages was more than enough to secure Launceston’s Rowena Fry overall victory in the Ingekerreke mountain bike stage race at Alice Springs yesterday.

The 30-year-old multiple national champion won the final 40-kilometre stage from Adelaide’s Terri Rhodes to finish comfortably ahead of Irish-born Jenny Fay on general classification.

“I’m really tired but it was a great race and a really fun last stage,” Fry told The Examiner.

“It had all the best bits of the trails around Alice Springs and everyone was on a high so it was a great way to finish a really good event.

“Overall I’m delighted. It was a tough week of racing so I’m stoked to take home the yellow jersey.

“I was a little bit unsure coming in because I was a bit sick but I ended up having pretty good legs.”

Fry next plans to tackle cyclocross, a combination of mountain bike and road riding with rounds in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.

Rowena Fry

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Bid to stimulate development

A PLAN to waive water and sewerage head works charges for two years could open the flood gates on development in Northern Tasmania, Launceston engineering firm chief executive Joel Wallace says.

Mr Wallace said sharp increases in up-front charges for water and sewerage connection to new building sites in the past couple of years had seen major developments shelved.

Northern developers now face water and sewerage head works charges of about $9500 per lot for a residential subdivision, which pushes the charges for a six-lot subdivision up to more than $55,000, he said.

He said that represented about 20 per cent of development costs.

The Tasmanian Liberals confirmed yesterday that one of the party’s policy proposals for the state election would be to waive water and sewerage head works charges for developments, including subdivisions, for two years.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said the proposal would bring forward at least $100 million statewide in investment and development annually, which would create about 500 new jobs.

Opposition finance spokesman Peter Gutwein said the plan would cost about $5 million a year, which would be absorbed in full by TasWater.

“The cost to TasWater would be offset by the savings achieved by amalgamating the three water and sewerage corporations,” Mr Gutwein said.

“Our plan will not impact on water and sewerage bills – in fact TasWater will benefit from the increase in investment and economic activity.”

Mr Wallace’s company, Bullock Consulting, takes care of a major part of the subdivision development in the North.

He said that increasing water and sewerage head works charges, coupled with increased up-front electricity connection fees, had contributed to a depressed market generally.

“It’s hard to sell a block of land and this has had an effect on building,” Mr Wallace said.

“I’ve been talking to some big developers who reckon waiving the head works charges would be fantastic – I reckon you would see a significant spike in development.”

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300 back St Helens health plea

About 300 people attended a public meeting at St Helens last night to discuss the town’s ongoing health crisis.

The meeting was called earlier this month amid growing concerns over the Independent Practitioner Network’s running of the St Helens Medical Centre and the high number of locum doctors stationed at the centre.

Only one full-time doctor and one part-time permanent doctor remain at the centre, which Healthy House board of management chairwoman Sandra Healey said an overwhelming majority of people wanted IPN to increase immediately.

”People don’t like the fact this issue has been going on for a very long time and people want permanent GPs at the centre on an ongoing basis – not fly-in fly-out doctors to whom they have to keep telling their stories over and over again,” Ms Healey said.

”Among the solutions put forward were to talk with IPN to see if the current service can be amended and adjusted in some way, so it is in fact a better service than it currently is.”

Other ideas included reverting the centre to a private practice and running it as a social enterprise.

It was asked that Healthy House and the Break O’Day Council work together to communicating with IPN, which Mayor Sarah Schmerl said would be tabled to councillors at Monday’s meeting.

”If council agrees, we will be doing a joint letter with the Healthy House to come and address the community’s concerns,” Cr Schmerl said.

”Of course this is far from an ideal situation and it is very positive to see so many people in the community taking a strong interest in ensuring really good, health outcomes.”

An IPN or state government representative did not attend the meeting despite being invited.

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Police find escapee from Glen Innes in Banora Point roof

AN INMATEwho escaped from the Glen Innes Correctional Facility has been found hiding in the ceiling of a Queensland home.

Twenty-five-year-old Zac Cree, from Banora Point, was one of three men who escaped last month from the prison facility, but was yesterday arrested by Queensland Police at a Pacific Pines home when they found him hiding in the roof.

He was charged with burglary, receiving tainted property, possession of tainted property, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and unlicensed driving, following the alleged break-and-enter of a Helensvale home on Thursday night.

The home was broken into and two sets of car keys, belonging to a Ford utility and a Nissan, were allegedly stolen.

Queensland police found the Ford utility, allegedly stolen from the Helensvale home, parked outside a Gould Pl home in Pacific Pines.

Police searched the home where they found 25-year-old Cree hiding in the ceiling.

Cree remains in Queensland police custody and is due to appear in Southport Magistrates Court today. It’s believed NSW Police will apply for Cree’s extradition back to NSW.

Cree was serving a maximum sentence of three years and nine months, with a non-parole period of two years and 10 months, for driving and break-and-enter offences.

The three male inmates were last seen at 6.30pm on Thursday, April 4, when they were secured in their unit at the facility on the Gwydir Highway, about 45km east of Glen Innes.

They were discovered missing at 7am the following day. The jail break sparked a massive manhunt for the three.

Reegan Freeburn, 24, of Grafton, was receptured by police at a house in South Grafton on April 19.

He later appeared in court and was sentenced to six months’ jail.

Ashley Cullen, 21, from Toormina, remains at large.

Cullen had been serving four years and nine months, with a non-parole period of two years, for break-and-enter, fraud and take and detain person with intent offences.

An inmate who escaped from the Glen Innes Correctional Facility has been found hiding in the ceiling of a Queensland home.

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Stolen credit card spree after break-in in Tamworth

POLICE are searching for two men and a woman believed to be behind a fraudulent credit card ring that has hit several local businesses in Tamworth.

It all stemmed from a break and enter to a home in West Tamworth last Saturday, sometime between 10am and 2.30pm.

It’s believed the trio stole two credit cards as well as a black handbag and mobile phone and the crimes spiraled from there.

Sometime after the break-in, the credit cards were used to buy a large amount of goods including alcohol and cigarettes from several shops.

Oxley Target Action Group Sergeant Geoff Sharpe said the victim was only made aware the cards were missing the day after the break-in and that’s when she notified police.

“A couple of transactions were able to identify the local businesses and we’re also in the process of making contact to the others and obtaining information and evidence,” Sergeant Sharpe said.

“The businesses were more than happy to help us in the investigation in regards to certain transactions.”

Robert Street IGA was just one of the businesses hit.

Last Saturday there was a transaction about 6pm for $849 that was paid for by a credit card.

Manager Peter Sheridan said staff checked the transaction twice.

“We had a staff member check the signature on the card to the docket and then a supervisor also checked it and the signature matched the docket perfectly,” Mr Sheridan told The Northern Daily Leader.

“We reviewed the surveillance footage on the Monday after it happened when we noticed something was up, so we were able to give police a description.”

“But the two people were both wearing caps so we couldn’t see their faces, so we could only give police a good description of what they were wearing.”

It was the second time in a week that the locally-owned supermarket was hit by suspected stolen credit cards.

On May 6, unknown offenders struck, matching a similar description to the wanted men.

“There was a wave and pay card which you can use for transactions under $100 and we noticed after there were four transactions under $100,” Mr Sheridan said.

“Obviously when the second card offence happened, it sort of looked like a gang was involved and the CCTV shows very similar looking people.”

The offences have been reported to police.

Mr Sheridan says there’s no second guessing at the supermarket now.

“What we’re doing now is putting staff on high alert for any big amounts, any big transactions,” Mr Sheridan said.

Officers attached to the Oxley Target Action Group are leading the investigation in relation to the credit cards stolen last Saturday.

Police are searching for two men and a woman believed to be behind a fraudulent credit card ring that has hit several local businesses in Tamworth.

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Shoddy treatment: AG’s promise broken

IN AUGUST, 2012 when Attorney-General Greg Smith came to town and spoke at the law and order meeting, I was vocal then of the contempt with which he treated Tamworth and its people.

He’d spent 20 minutes telling us how he had rid parts of Sydney of graffiti and how Sydney was doing this and that.

I told Mr Smith then that he was here to listen to the crime problems that Tamworth was having and that the people who had suffered from home invasions and assaults were not interested in what he had achieved in Sydney.

This was met by much humph and hoo-ha from Mr Smith, who then promptly promised Tamworth $50,000 to help with eradicating crime in the city.

At the time I believed it was a false promise and I have been proven right.

First we were told that we needed a crime prevention paper, so the council went ahead and prepared one.

Then we were told we must make a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department, prioritising what we wanted the money for.

Again the law and order committee did this. It was returned rejected because it did not fall into the priorities of crime that the Attorney-General had in mind.

The committee then submitted a new proposal and we were told it is too late and there is no money left for this year. We were also told there was a cut-off date.

At no time was a time set for submissions to be in.

I believe that this action by the Attorney-General and his department shows the contempt he holds for Tamworth and its people.

His appearance at Tamworth in August last year was performed begrudgingly and his care for the problems of Tamworth have showed through with his response.



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