Archive for December, 2018
17 Dec

Banks put profits before people: Treasurer

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the culture and conduct of the financial sector have fallen below community standards, with greed and profit coming before honesty and integrity.

Speaking just after the release of an interim report of the royal commission on Friday, Mr Frydenberg said banks and other financial institutions had “put profits before people”.

He said it was clear bad behaviour had permeated the culture of the big banks, with misconduct going largely unpunished.

“This interim report is a frank and scathing assessment of the culture, conduct and compliance of our financial system,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne.

“ns expect and deserve better.”

The three-volume interim report offered a blunt assessment of the reasons behind misconduct in the banking sector.

“Too often, the answer seems to be greed, the pursuit of short term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty,” the commission said in its report

“How else is charging continuing advice fees to the dead to be explained?”

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne said in the report banks had searched for their “share of customers’ wallets”.

“From the executive suite to the front line, staff were measured and rewarded by reference to profit and sales.”

The commission found when misconduct was revealed, it either went unpunished or the consequences did not meet the seriousness of what had been done.

“The conduct regulator, ASIC, rarely went to court to seek punishment for misconduct. The prudential regulator, APRA, never went to court,” the report said.

“Much more often than not, when misconduct was revealed, little happened beyond apology from the entity, a drawn out remediation program and protracted negotiation with ASIC of a media release, an infringement notice, or an enforceable undertaking.”

Mr Frydenberg said it was clear regulators had been working far too closely with the sector and needed to be stronger in stamping out bad behaviour.

However, he argued whatever the criticisms of the regulators, it was important to remember financial institutions themselves were responsible for the misconduct.

“So they are ultimately – and the individuals involved are ultimately – the ones who must be held accountable and responsible for their actions,” the treasurer said.

“It is incumbent upon those in the financial services sector and those regulators who are charged with enforcing the law lift their game, because the public deserve it and the public expect it.”

Mr Frydenberg again made it clear that if the royal commissioner asks for an extension, it will be granted but no such request had been made.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said if Labor won the next election, it would establish an “implementation task force” to deliver the recommendations of the commission’s final report, which is due on February 1.

“Labor is announcing that we’ll crackdown on the sickening rorts and rip-offs that have been exposed through the royal commission,” she said.

“Under a Shorten Labor government, Chris Bowen as treasurer will report to the parliament every six months on progress in implementation until the recommendations of the royal commission are fully implemented.”

She pointed out the Liberals fought “tooth and nail” against establishing the royal commission.

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17 Dec

Streisand slams Trump with new song

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Barbra Streisand says she ‘kind of dedicates’ her new album to young people who are speaking out.When Barbra Streisand started writing lyrics for her new political song, “Don’t Lie to Me,” she initially aimed for “very subtle” references to President Donald Trump. But she couldn’t help herself.

“I just went ballistic,” she said.

“Don’t Lie to Me,” released on Thursday, finds a passionate Streisand questioning the nation’s leader and pleading for change.

Lyrics include, “How do you sleep when the world keeps turning?/All that we built has come undone/How do you sleep when the world is burning?/Everyone answers to someone.”

“I just can’t stand what’s going on,” the Oscar, Grammy and Emmy winner said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“His assault on our democracy, our institutions, our founders – I think we’re in a fight. We’re in a war for the soul of America.”

“Don’t Lie to Me” appears on her new album, “Walls,” her first project of mainly original tracks since 2005. It will be released Nov. 2.

Streisand, a proud and outspoken Democrat who has campaigned for politicians over the years, said she felt moved to write original music because of what’s happening in today’s world.

“Don’t Lie to Me” came to life during a road trip. Streisand said listening to the news in the car “was making me sick, listening to lies, listening to things that are such craziness.” So she turned on music and felt motivated to write a new song.

“I wanted to talk about the things that were making me feel so sad, heartbroken,” she said.

“I’m a kind of fierce American. I don’t know who we are anymore as a country. Are we embracing people who flee oppression? Or are we separating children from parents, putting them in cages? I don’t know if people care about the planet, the survival of the planet. Do they care about clean air? Clean water? Clean food? If they do, how could they vote for somebody like Trump, who believes it’s a hoax?”

Streisand adds, “I’m frightened for this country. And yet, I have hope.”

Streisand, 76, said she “kind of dedicates this album to the young people who are speaking out.”

“It’s important that people vote. It’s important that people believe in the power of their own voice and how much that changes things. It’s like the kids speaking out, the Parkland kids,” she said.

“It’s easy to feel powerless now but we’re not if each of us speak up and get out and vote.”

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17 Dec

‘Wicked’ NSW murderer awaits jail sentence

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Daniel James Holdom, who killed a young mother and her toddler daughter in NSW and dumped their remains 1200 kilometres apart, has issued an eleventh hour apology after hearing of the impact of his “grave crimes”.

But Justice Robert Allan Hulme seemed unconvinced.

“I’ll have to think about whether I give that any weight at all. Why should I?” the judge said to Holdom’s barrister, Gregory Woods QC, at a sentence hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.

Holdom, 43, pleaded guilty in July – one week ahead of his trial – to the December 2008 murder of his girlfriend of two months, Karlie Pearce-Stevenson, 20, and Khandalyce Pearce, aged two-and-a-half, about four days later.

Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s remains were found in the notorious Belanglo State Forest in 2010, but were not identified until her daughter’s remains were discovered in a suitcase dumped beside a South n highway in 2015.

Her mother’s unidentified body was for years known as “the Angel of Belanglo” due to a t-shirt she was found wearing with the word “angelic” on it.

She had bone fractures indicative of being forcefully stomped on or kneed in the chest, the agreed facts state.

“This was a thrill kill, as evidenced by the taking, collecting and keeping of the trophy photographs he took of Karlie around the time of her death,” crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC said.

Her blonde toddler, suffocated by Holdom “probably” in a hotel room in Narrandera, was found with balls of dishcloth stuffed in her mouth, layers of tape wound from her chin to her eyes, and a disposable nappy wrapped around her skull.

“Both murders fall within the worst case and can aptly be described as atrocious, detestable, hateful, gravely reprehensible and extremely wicked,” Mr Tedeschi said.

He is calling for two life sentences for the man behind their “callous, depraved and grossly heinous” deaths.

Holdom also used bank cards and personal papers to steal more than $70,000 from Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s accounts, and a mobile phone to create “false indications” to her family that she and Khandalyce were alive.

The victims’ birth father and grandfather, Bruce Pearce, says the hatred he feels for Holdom is “consuming”.

“I wake from nightmares with the fear that you will get away with what you’ve done,” Mr Pearce said in a victim impact statement.

“The one question that I want you to answer for me is a simple one – Why?

“I would like to see the death penalty for you but even that would not be enough.”

Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s mother, Colleen Povey, died from breast cancer in February 2012.

“Her very last distinguishable sentence … Is Karlie and Khandles here yet?,” Karlie’s stepfather, Scott Povey, said in his statement.

“I was holding her hand when she died and I knew that Karlie was not coming.”

The court heard Holdom has committed another 20 fraud offences, and was behind the wheel of a car between Alice Springs and Adelaide when it crashed, leaving his then-partner in a wheelchair and killing her two children.

Mr Woods argued his client suffered a deeply abusive childhood and should serve lengthy jail time but not life.

Holdom is listed for sentence on November 9.

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17 Dec

UK far-right activist court case adjourned

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A fresh contempt of court case against far-right activist Tommy Robinson has been adjourned by a judge at the Old Bailey.

The former English Defence League (EDL) leader, 35, was greeted by cheers from more than 100 people gathered outside court, who had earlier chanted his name.

Protesters from a smaller counter-demonstration carried placards saying “oppose Tommy Robinson”.

Robinson was ushered into court amid a large police presence as photographers and cameramen jostled for position.

Asked if he was feeling confident, Robinson told the Press Association: “Yeah, quietly.”

The Recorder of London Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC adjourned the case, saying he would receive written submissions before making a ruling on whether there will be a substantive hearing at a later date.

Tommy Robinson, wearing jeans, black trainers, and a grey checked jacket sat behind his barrister Richard Furlong in court.

He was referred to by his real name, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, throughout the brief hearing.

Robinson was released from prison last month after three leading judges quashed a finding made at Leeds Crown Court in May, and granted him conditional bail from a 13-month jail sentence.

Robinson, whose case is listed under his real name, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is alleged to have committed contempt of court by filming people in a criminal trial and broadcasting footage on social media.

He could face being sent back to jail if the is found to have been in contempt, with the maximum sentence is two years imprisonment.

Robinson was jailed in May after filming people involved in a criminal trial and broadcasting the footage on social media, and has already served the equivalent of a four-month sentence.

He was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment for contempt of court, which he admitted, and a further three months for breaching a previous suspended sentence.

In May last year he faced contempt proceedings over footage he filmed during the trial of four men who were later convicted of gang-raping a teenage girl.

A judge at Canterbury Crown Court gave him a three-month suspended sentence and told him his punishment was not about “freedom of speech or freedom of the press” but about “justice and ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly”.

Robinson appealed against both contempt findings at a hearing last month heard by Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Mr Justice Turner and Mrs Justice McGowan.

They found the judge at Leeds should not have commenced contempt proceedings that day.

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17 Dec

Beckham avoids speeding prosecution

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David Beckham has escaped a speeding prosecution on a technicality.David Beckham will not be prosecuted over a speeding charge after the celebrity lawyer dubbed “Mr Loophole” successfully fought the allegation on a technicality.

Former England soccer captain Beckham, of Holland Park in west London, was accused of driving a loaned Bentley at 59mph (95km/h) in a 40mph (65km/h) zone on the A40 in Paddington, London, shortly after 5.30pm on January 23.

Despite accepting driving the car at that speed he will not face action because a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) was not received until one day after the statutory 14-day time limit.

His lawyer Nick Freeman told reporters Beckham, who was not in court, was “very relieved with the verdict and very happy with his legal team” after the trial at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Mr Freeman previously helped Beckham overturn an eight-month driving ban in 1999 after successfully arguing the footballer was trying to escape a paparazzi photographer.

After hearing witnesses from both London’s Metropolitan Police and Bentley Motors Ltd, District Judge Barabara Barnes said she was satisfied that the NIP had been sent in time, but had simply arrived later than it should have.

It was one of 3,487 NIPs sent by Scotland Yard on February 2, which go first class, and should have arrived at Bentley, as the registered keepers of the vehicle, no later than February 6.

But she was satisfied it did not arrive until February 7, having heard evidence from Colette Hollies, who has collected post for the legal department at Bentley twice a day for the past nine years.

Mr Freeman suggested the matter may simply have been a case of poor postal service, citing a subsequent letter sent first class by Bentley to Scotland Yard which took eight days to arrive.

He said: “Unfortunately and sadly some post attracts problems. There might be nobody at fault here.”

Summing up, the judge said the law allowed for the “vagaries” of the postal system to be taken into account.

She said: “In this case I’m satisfied that the NIP was indeed sent within the 14 days to allow for it to be delivered within the 14 days…

“The defendant in this case cannot be convicted.”

Mr Freeman, who trademarked the nickname “Mr Loophole” in 2008, gained fame after helping a host of A-list clients hold onto their driving licences.

He counts former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and England cricket star Andrew Flintoff among his celebrity clientele.

Beckham made his name at Manchester United in the 1990s before going on to play for Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, and also earned 115 caps for the national side.

He retired from playing in 2013.

He and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria have built up a multi-million pound empire through Victoria’s eponymous fashion house, clothing lines with retailers and product endorsements.

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17 Dec

Gardner makes sound return from concussion

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Allrounder Ashleigh Gardner has made a promising return from her latest concussion-related break.Exciting women’s n cricket allrounder Ashleigh Gardner has made a successful return from her latest bout of concussion.

The renowned big-hitter smashed an unbeaten 39 off 29 balls and took 0-12 from two overs, as beat a Cricket XI by nine wickets with seven overs to spare in a T20 clash at Sydney’s Manly Oval on Thursday.

The hit out served as a warm-up game for before Saturday’s opening T2O international against New Zealand at North Sydney Oval.

Gardner missed last weekend’s opening round of the women’s National Cricket League after she was struck on the helmet while batting in an intra-squad match two weeks ago.

She suffered three separate knocks to the head in the space of 12 months, which forced her to miss an Ashes one-day international last year and two women’s Big Bash League fixtures for the Sydney Sixers.

Gardner opened the bowling with her offspin and then struck a quartet of boundaries and two sixes when batting first drop.

“The six she hit off that short ball was pretty impressive, so it was nice to see here get that demon off her back and hit the ball as sweetly as she did,” said player of the match Beth Mooney.

The pair shared an unbroken second wicket stand of 88 with Mooney top-scoring with 54 from 38 deliveries.

She stroked 10 boundaries before reached their target of 125 in just 13 overs.

The Cricket XI was restricted to 5-124 with uncapped legspinner Georgia Wareham leading the attack with 2-25 from four overs.

Wareham pressed her claim for a debut against New Zealand by snaring the wickets of n representatives Naomi Stalenberg and Nicole Bolton, who top scored with 42.

Asked if Wareham was ready for the international arena Mooney replied: “I think so, she’s got a very mature head on her shoulders and a really good skill set.”

Meanwhile, uncapped Victorian quick Tayla Vlaeminck is unlikely to be available until game two of the three-match series after she suffered a quadriceps strain during her WNCL opener.

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17 Dec

Trump court pick denies sex assault claim

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Fighting to salvage his US Supreme Court nomination, Brett Kavanaugh has angrily and tearfully denied a university professor’s claim he sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.

He also complained about a “political hit” after she told a dramatic Senate hearing on Thursday she was “100 per cent certain” he did it.

Christine Blasey Ford appeared in public for the first time to detail her allegation against Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge chosen by President Donald Trump for a lifetime job on the top US court.

Ford told the committee she feared Kavanaugh would rape and accidentally kill her during the alleged assault when both where high school students in Maryland.

“I swear today, under oath, before the Senate and the nation, before my family and God, I am innocent of this charge,” Kavanaugh told the Judiciary Committee.

Members of the Senate, controlled 51-49 by Trump’s fellow Republicans, must now decide whether to vote to confirm him after the nearly nine-hour hearing.

Calling himself a victim of “grotesque and obvious character assassination,” Kavanaugh, said he “unequivocally and categorically” denied Ford’s allegation.

Writing on Twitter after the hearing, Trump said of Kavanaugh, “His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!”

Kavanaugh sharply attacked Democratic senators, calling himself the victim of “a calculated and orchestrated political hit”.

Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, said over four hours of testimony that a drunken Kavanaugh attacked her and tried to remove her clothing and rape her at a gathering of teenagers when he was 17 and she was 15 in 1982.

“With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” Democratic Senator Richard Durbin asked Ford.

“One hundred per cent,” she replied.

For his part, Kavanaugh testified he was “100 per cent certain” none of the alleged incidents of sexual misconduct occurred.

The panel’s Republican senators, all men, at first did not question her, assigning that task to Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor.

She took turns with the Democratic senators to ask questions in five-minute segments, disrupting her flow. During Kavanaugh’s testimony, Republican senators ditched Mitchell and asked their own questions.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation would cement conservative control of the high court as Trump moves to shift it and the broader federal judiciary to the right.

A handful of moderate Republican senators who have not announced whether or not they support Kavanaugh could determine his fate.

The committee could vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Friday, with a final Senate vote early next week.

Ford said Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were “drunkenly laughing during the attack.”

She said Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming, adding, “This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”

Two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in the 1980s.

Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself during a drunken dormitory party during the 1983-84 academic year when both attended Yale University.

Swetnick said she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh and others to get girls drunk at parties so they could be raped. She said Kavanaugh was present at a 1982 party where she was raped.

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17 Dec

Francis Greenway parents ‘furious’ at principal ‘victim blaming’ of girls

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ANGRY: Francis Greenway students, from left, Nicola Walk, Melissa Duffield, Ashlie Duffield, Jemma Cheetham, Ashley Robson and Sufiya Walk. Picture MARINA NEIL FEMALE students at a Hunter high school have been told the length of their shorts is making male staff and students “uncomfortable” and puts staffin “potentially awkward situations”.

Parents have called for a change of leadership at Beresfield’sFrancis Greenway High, amid complaints about how principal Jo Edwards addressed an assembly ofyear seven to 11 girls on Tuesday about the school uniform.

TheNewcastle Heraldspoke to several students who said Ms Edwards told the girls the length of their shorts was making male staff and students feel uncomfortable, could lead to the girls being judged as promiscuous and may put them at risk of sexual assault.

Mother Sharon Robson said parents were “furious”.

“It’s victim blaming,” Ms Robson said.

“We don’t have a problem with the school wanting to enforce the uniform policy.

“But the whole way they’ve gone about it was wrong –making these children feel like every male is looking at them like they want to do something to them. It sexualises them.

“This is not appropriate for impressionable young teenagers.

“Some students already have low self esteem to start with and this is going to make it a hell of a lot worse.

“Short shorts are not a good look for the school and while some are too short, the majority wear the right length.”

Concerned: Ashley Robson with her mother Sharon, who said the principal “needs to be moved away from the school”. Picture: Marina Neil

Ms Edwards sent20 girls home with a letter asking them to wear more “appropriate” shorts.

She emailedtheir parents on Wednesday saying it was “not my intention to reflect on the character of students addressed earlier, and I apologise if my choice of words caused offence”.

She sent another email on Thursday, saying“my message may have led to some misrepresentation”.

A Department of Education spokesperson said the principal “reiterated the importance of students wearing the correct uniform according to the policy endorsed by the school community”.

“The consistent wearing of the approved uniform develops students’ sense of belonging and pride in the school and projects a positive image in the community.

“The uniform also supports student wellbeing, for practical reasons and in identifying students.”

The Herald understands some male teachers have told students they didnot feel uncomfortable about the girls’ shorts and rejected the suggestion they asked the principal to intervene.

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Mother Narelle Giles said her son Cain and his friends were mortified.

“They feel just as bad, thinking ‘Do these girls think we’re going to do something to them?’” Ms Giles said.

The students said they wanted the principal to apologise to all students and staff.

Ms Robson’s daughter Ashley received one of the notes and said she felt “targeted” and “worthless”.

She didn’t go to school on Wednesday or Thursday.

“It’s unfair –I’d never really thought about my shorts before, but this makes me feel self conscious,” she said.

“We just want to feel comfortable in the clothes we wear.”

Sufiya Walk said she “felt awful that someone could be saying something like that without knowing our personalities or what we’re like” and didn’t like hearing “derogative”terms.

Nicola Walk said “girls should not be judged by what we wear”.

“When someone of your own gender does that –that’s what makes us feel more horrible,” she said.

“We feel anger, frustration –girls are worried what our male teachers and students are thinking.

“We should be feeling safe in school, not threatened. We’ve been treated like objects, not people.”

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Ashlie Duffield said she felt “ashamed”, and that “we should be able to express ourselves”, while her younger sister Melissa Duffield said she felt “terrible”.

“Everything we’ve been trying to instill in our girls about self esteem has been taken away in one day,” Ms Giles said.

“The whole lot of them are miserable. We need a change of leadership, because this can’t be fixed.”

Mother Sue Connors said the principal wouldhave to “earn back the respect of our girls”.

Mother VickyFoster said “they’re supposed to be taught to have respect for themselves and each other.

“I don’t ever want to see my daughter come out of school again feeling worthless and dirty”.

The letter said the wearing of “very short” shorts was “causing concern”.

“The expectation is that shorts reach mid-thigh or lower,” the letter said.

“The wearing of shorts which are not long enough places our staff in potentially awkward situations and could be considered a child protection issue.”

It said non compliant students could face consequences including exclusion from extracurricular activities anddetentions.

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17 Dec

A tenth of total spending is on health

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One tenth of the nation’s economic spending goes towards health, new data shows.One tenth of the nations economic spending goes towards health, new data shows.

spent nearly $181 billion on health in 2016/17, the n Institute of Health and Welfare’s report into health expenditure states.

Released on Friday, the data shows health spending grew by 4.7 per cent in that time period compared to an average of 3.1 per cent in each of the five years prior.

“This was also the first time spending grew more than the decade average (4.6 per cent) since 2011/12,’ AIHW spokesman Adrian Webster said in a statement on Friday.

‘s overall health spending equates to more than $7,400 spent per person in 2016/17, up more than $200 per person than the previous year.

The data shows government spending on health grew by 6.8 per cent in 2016/17, above the decade average of 4.5 per cent.

Individuals, private health insurers and other non-government sources funded 31 per cent of health spending, equalling $56.5 billion.

About $30 billion of which came from individuals.

State and territory governments contributed 51 per cent of the total cost of public hospitals, down from 52.4 per cent the previous year.

The federal government’s share has increased from 39.3 per cent in 2015/16 to 40.6 per cent the following year.

Health Minister Greg Hunt says a new national agreement will see more than $30 billion in additional funds go towards public hospitals in 2020/21.

“This means more hospital services, more doctors and more nurses, and increased funding every year for every state and territory,” he said in a statement on Friday.

He is calling on Victoria and Queensland to sign up to the funding agreement to “stop disadvantaging” their patients.

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17 Dec

NT tops alcohol deaths

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Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors are being trained to monitor bottle shops.The rate of alcohol-related deaths in the Northern Territory is more than three times the national rate and by far the country’s highest, but the Northern Territory government insists it’s planned reforms will tackle the problem.

There were 16.7 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people in the NT last year, compared to just 5.1 nationally, n Bureau of Statistics figures released this week show.

Outside of Darwin, where the indigenous proportion of the population is higher, alcohol-induced deaths were 28.5 people.

The Gunner Labor government was elected in 2016, meaning last year’s deaths were under its watch.

Police Minister Nicole Manison said her government is introducing the “boldest alcohol reforms” in the history of the NT.

The author of those, former NT Supreme Court chief justice Trevor Riley, said the NT had among the highest rates of alcohol consumption of anywhere in the world – 44 four per cent drink at a risky level at least once a month, compared to a quarter of people nationally..

Ms Manison said unfortunately it was not new for the NT to have such high rates and it had been the case since she was a child.

“It is just an appalling statistic, no Territorian likes to see the level of alcohol-related harm we have in the community,” she told reporters.

“That is why this government is taking some of these reforms, which are not easy reforms for a government to go out there and to implement.”

Ms Manison met on Thursday with the current class of police auxiliary liquor inspectors (PALI) who are receiving training in Darwin and are one of the reforms.

The PALIs are not fully trained police but can still carry guns and make arrests and will be at bottle shops in Katherine, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

“The PALI is a critical position to tackling alcohol supply and making sure that those people who should not be getting their hands on alcohol do not get their hands on alcohol,” Ms Manison said.

The are already 18 PALIs working in what will be a new 97-member strong unit aimed at reducing alcohol-fuelled crime and violence, freeing up police to return to the frontline, she said.

Country Liberal Opposition Leader Gary Higgins questioned why the PALIs were not also being used around Darwin to tackle alcohol abuse.

He also said the government was not properly measuring the success or not of the 200-plus Riley alcohol reform recommendations, including a floor price, banned drinkers register and bans on Shop A Docket booze discounts.

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