Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Biker blasts 'pathetic' police

I can from personal experience vouch for the fact that the Queensland police have little interest in investigating crime -- even when evidence is handed to them on platter. Full transcript of the interview below here

A mole from one of Australia's most notorious bikie gangs has blown the whistle on a culture of drug trafficking, gun running and murder, including one man being forced to hang himself and another being tortured to death with a hammer. Police bungling and a lack of communication between state law agencies and the Australian Crime Commission has undermined investigations into these crimes, according to informer Stevan Utah. Utah - not his real name - was a member of the Bandidos bikie gang for a decade and turned Australian Crime Commission informer in mid 2004.

Today, he told the Nine Network's Sunday program of at least two murders, the bashing of a woman and a "flogging" which left him fearing for his life. According to Utah, members of the Bandidos were responsible for:

- The shooting murder of 54-year-old Geelong security guard Earl Neil Mooring, who he said was tortured to death with a hammer in October 2000. Utah said he helped dump Mr Mooring's body in Goulburn, south of Sydney, and he later led ACC investigators to the body's location. "If you put two sugars in your coffee and just giving it a stir, you don't give it a second thought," Utah said. "That's what it was like with Earl Mooring - putting sugar in his coffee."

- The murder of a former Bandidos member four years ago, who Utah said was forced to hang himself rather than be beaten to death after a corrupt Queensland Police informant told gang members the Bandido was helping them.

- The beating of a woman, who Utah said was dragged by her hair and kicked while unconscious outside a Bandidos clubhouse on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. She had up to eight broken bones and 184 stitches.

Utah said corrupt police officers would tip off the gang about imminent drug raids.

He said bikie gangs around Australia exploited the fact there was a lack of communication between state police forces, which was why dead bodies were transported across state borders.

Utah blasted the Queensland Police Service (QPS) for refusing to cooperate with the ACC on four occasions due to "pathetic, petty jealousy". He said the QPS refused an ACC request for permission to send Utah undercover to buy methylamphetamine, after he had been offered the drug by a Bandido member. Utah said he drew a map outlining the locations of two Bandido drug labs in Queensland but QPS did not raid the premises until six months later.

He said he was forced to flee overseas after a newspaper article tipped off the Bandidos to his role as an informant and was "flogged" by Bandidos members who were trying to kill him. Utah, who remains overseas, said his requests for help from the ACC had fallen on deaf ears. "I feel total betrayal," he said. "Last time I looked, regardless of what anyone thinks of me, I did the right thing and I'm still a citizen of Australia. "Why wasn't I looked after?"


Crooked doctors: Only a minor win for the regulators but I guess it shows that some regulator is doing something

The competition watchdog has warned doctors they are subject to competition law and called upon the Australian Medical Association to change the "culture that the medical profession should be exempt from the Trade Practices Act".

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel denounced claims by some doctors that "patient care" trumped the need to abide by competition law. "I remain concerned that the responses from bodies like the AMA seem to be part of a culture that the medical profession should be exempt from the Trade Practices Act," he said. "Sorry, there is no one else who is exempt and there is no reason you should be."

Mr Samuel was speaking after the ACCC successfully sued two eminent Adelaide heart surgeons for anti-competitive conduct. Federal Court judge John Mansfield found on Thursday that John Knight and Iain Ross had breached competition law between 2001 and 2004 for preventing qualified cardiothoracic surgeon Craig Jurisevic from practising heart surgery in Adelaide. The pair also admitted they attempted to enter into a "no-compete" arrangement with another heart surgeon, James Edwards, which meant they would not take private cases at his hospital if he agreed not to work at theirs.

Justice Mansfield found that while the respondents acted in good faith and did not know they were in breach of competition law, they effectively operated a closed shop that inhibited the entry of other surgeons to the Adelaide heart-surgery market. He imposed a civil penalty of $55,000, plus $5000 towards the ACCC's legal expenses, on both Dr Knight and Dr Ross.

Yesterday, Dr Jurisevic was considering a civil action for loss of income, estimated at more than $2 million. The full-time thoracic surgeon is also an Australian Army reservist and served with Australian forces in East Timor last year, receiving the Australian Service Medal in recognition of his efforts. He also spent a month in the frontlines of the war-torn Serbian province of Kosovo in 1999, as well as a year in the Palestinian territory of Gaza in the early 1990s.

Yesterday, the South Australian president of the AMA, Peter Ford, called on the ACCC to recognise that doctors must sometimes work "in association" and that this did not mean "collusion". "The ACCC needs to look at the context of doctors working as a group ... where its rulings can conflict with clinical scenarios," Dr Ford said. For example, he said obstetricians working in a maternity unit could provide a better service if the staff and doctors "know each other well". "If you have the door open for all-comers it may cause problems for that unit," he said.

And competition law also created confusion among other specialist doctors who work in teams, in setting their fees and in deciding which doctors would be in the team and who would be left out. "In a team setting there is not only the issue of fees but also clinical considerations that don't apply in private business situations," Dr Ford said.

In 2002, the ACCC won an action against three obstetricians in Rockhampton, Queensland, who had agreed on higher fees if they treated the others' patients. The action resulted in one of the doctors leaving Rockhampton, reducing obstetrics services in the region. The AMA called it a "witch hunt". Last month, in a rare win for doctors, the ACCC granted an authorisation to GPs working in the same practice, to allow them to set the same prices for consultations and hospital services.


Australia upgrades immigration information system

The government has accelerated plans to let spies share information with immigration officials, a week after a foreign doctor was arrested in connection with the failed British terror attacks, the prime minister said Sunday. Prime Minister John Howard said that new software linking the computer systems of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization and the Immigration Department will allow deeper background checks on anyone applying to enter Australia. Howard called it a "major upgrade of Australia's control system." "These new resources ... give us extraordinary additional capacity to drill down into the backgrounds of people who seek to come to Australia," he told reporters.

ASIO is Australia's overseas spying agency and the new system could sharpen links between international security agencies, including those in the United States and Europe, with the country's immigration watchdog. The plans, which have been on the table since last year, are being brought forward after a possible Australian link was revealed in the British plot _ in which two unexploded car bombs were found in central London on June 29 and two men drove a burning, gas cylinder-laden vehicle into an airport in Glasgow, Scotland a day later.

Muhammad Haneef, a 27-year-old Indian doctor who migrated to Australia from Britain last year, was arrested in the eastern city of Brisbane last Monday as he tried to board a flight with a one-way ticket. Australian authorities acted on intelligence from British investigators into the failed attacks, and Haneef is believed to have known some of the suspects being held in Britain. He has not been charged.

Howard declined to give examples of how the new system would work, saying doing so could give clues to suspects about ways to could get around it. But he said the system would "track patterns of travel and other behavior which suggest a predisposition on the part of somebody towards malign behavior," he said. In addition to a person's travel history, the system would cross-check financial data with particular organizations, Howard said _ suggesting bank payments to banned groups would appear in searches. Australia already has watch lists that ban people with links to terrorist organizations or proscribed terrorist suspects, but the new system goes further, Howard said.


Fewer students learn high-demand skills

The number of students studying chemistry, maths and physics is lower than it was 18 years ago, sparking further warnings about the skills crisis. Overall science enrolments in universities appear to have bottomed out, but in disciplines that feed key areas of workforce demand they are in freefall.

A report commissioned by the Australian Council of Deans of Science finds that the proportion of students taking physics subjects is now only two-thirds of what it was in 1989. The picture for chemistry is also gloomy and for maths it is worse: enrolments in maths fell from 7520 in 1989 to 4988 in 2005. The decline has occurred against massive growth in higher education with student numbers doubling over the same period. Trendier disciplines such as forensic science are attracting the biggest share of students, leaving the hard, or enabling, sciences -- the building blocks of many professions -- to struggle.

President of the deans council, John Rice, said university enrolment patterns were a barometer of the skills stock. "If you look at it that way you ought to be pretty worried," he said. "If you look at the spread of jobs in an economy that needs to be technologically oriented, it needs that kind of background training." Professor Rice said universities were still in the grip of the "scientist as geek" stereotype: they needed to encourage a broader understanding of how science impinged on every facet of the modern economy. "The problem for the universities is that they keep training science graduates as though they're all going to end up in labs, wearing white coats and unable to park their bikes straight."

He pointed to Melbourne University's new model of a general undergraduate science degree followed by a specialist degree as one way of addressing the problem. This enabled science to be integrated into a wide spectrum of professions. The Melbourne model also received strong endorsement from the peak science lobby, the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies. Executive director Bradley Smith said while the national figures in some science disciplines were grim, it was not all doom and gloom. For example, Sydney University was "going great guns" with its physics enrolments because it had focused on school students.

The report, by Monash University's Ian Dobson, shows a continuing slide in information technology students, forcing universities to look overseas to recruit students. Almost half the enrolments in IT subjects and 29 per cent in engineering were international fee-paying students.

The study is the third in a series commissioned by the science deans over the past eight years to chart enrolment trends. Professor Rice said there was some comfort from the fact that between 2002 and 2005, enrolments in science seemed to have bottomed out and even increased slightly. "However, that's cold comfort to those people dealing with the current and growing skills crisis, who look at the current education system and see little that is different from the one that delivered such a dramatic decline."


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