Monday, April 13, 2009

Queensland's police goons are THICK -- and rude

A YOUNG driver has demanded an apology from police after being arrested and handcuffed because an officer believed his steering wheel lock was a gun. Chad Hastings, 18, of Zillmere on Brisbane's northside, was on his way to work early on Thursday morning when he was pulled over by police on Milton Rd in the innercity. While a female officer breath-tested Mr Hastings, another officer checked his Nissan Skyline with a torch.

He was then ordered to get out of the car and sit on the footpath while the officer demanded to know why there was a gun in the vehicle. "I said, 'What the hell? I have no idea what you're talking about'," Mr Hastings said. The policeman repeated the question before handcuffing the teenager and telling him he was under arrest.

Mr Hastings tried to explain he had only recently moved to Brisbane from Coffs Harbour to play for the Redcliffe Dolphins' Colts rugby league team. "I said 'maybe someone put a gun in my car. It's an easy car to get into and I often don't lock it up and I stayed at a friend's place last night'," he said. Mr Hastings said the policeman then called for backup while he sat shaking on the footpath, wondering how a gun could be in his car.

When two senior police arrived in an unmarked vehicle the situation was quickly resolved and the handcuffs removed from Mr Hastings. "As the officer walked away he said 'get a new steering wheel lock, it looks like a bloody gun'," he said. "I was absolutely gobsmacked. I said 'are you serious? All that for a steering lock?'," he said. Mr Hastings said the officer then replied he was "a lucky boy". "He told me 'any other cop would have had you at gunpoint'."

The part-time labourer said he was shaken and dazed by the incident but he had no plans to get a new steering wheel lock. "If they'd opened the car and examined it more closely this whole thing could've been avoided," he said. "An apology would've been nice. He could've said 'sorry mate but we have to take extreme precautions'. It doesn't leave you with a very good impression."

Police yesterday released a brief statement to The Courier-Mail about the incident. "A police officer has the power to detain a person suspected of being involved in illegal activities until the necessary inquiries are made to ascertain the situation and ensure the safety of the community and police," the statement read. "This includes situations where there is suspicion a person is in possession of a firearm."

The Queensland Police Union declined to comment.


Immigration blitz nets nearly 100 meatworkers

Raids may be off the agenda in Obama's America but there seems to be no problem with them in Australia

A SIMULTANEOUS blitz by immigration officials and police has uncovered a fraud racket supplying up to 100 illegal workers to meatwork companies across three states. Sydney residences were among homes and business searched in early morning raids yesterday which spanned NSW, Victoria and Queensland. At least four illegal workers were caught in Sydney and one was found in Wagga Wagga. All were from China.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, said the operation had exposed a labour contractor allegedly working as a go-between for overseas workers and the Australian meat industry. "The department's investigators received information from a number of sources about a labour-hire intermediary who was allegedly bringing Chinese foreign workers into Australia to be employed in meatworks unlawfully," Senator Evans said. "The racket [used] fraudulent identities to gain employment for people without permission to work in Australia."

Last night, 79 illegal workers had been identified and that number was expected to grow as more people were interviewed and confirmed as working in Australia illegally. "The department believes up to 100 illegal workers are involved in the racket," Senator Evans said. Investigations into identity fraud were under way and fake passports had been seized, he said.

The federal vice-president of the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union, Patricia Fernandez, said a shortage of labourers had forced companies to look overseas for workers. "The shortage of labour has been created by past governments not putting enough money into training for workers," she said. "We find companies bringing in people through agencies and making them work at the expense of Australian workers." Backpackers were the latest workers exploited for cheap labour, she said.

Raids were also conducted in Scone, Melbourne, Warrnambool in Victoria and Kilcoy in Queensland. Meatworks companies, unaware recruitment firms were allegedly supplying illegal workers, complied with the search, Senator Evans said.


Australia's investment banks are still doing OK

AUSTRALIA'S powerful investment banks are weathering the financial crisis, as renewed activity in debt and capital markets generates higher fees for the market's major deal-makers. The top 10 banks earned $521.1 million in the first quarter this year, a 16.6 per cent increase from last year, despite corporate activity slowing from its hectic pace during the bull market.

Swiss bank UBS maintained its position as the No1 investment bank ahead of Goldman Sachs JBWere, according to figures provided to The Australian by Thomson Reuters, but there was a shake-up among the rivals to those two banks.

Credit Suisse increased its fee revenue by 63 per cent and US bank JPMorgan experienced a 775 per cent surge in fees as it carried out 19 deals, primarily in debt markets, in the first quarter, compared with just six transactions a year ago.

One of the major victims of the current market conditions and the slowing of the traditional corporate deal flow has been Macquarie Group, which has struggled to attract the headline advisory roles it once did. The bank earned $23.1 million in fees for the first quarter, which was up on last year but well down from the fees it generated during the peak of the bull market. The bank has forecast its profits for the full year to March 31 will halve from $1.8 billion.

The composition of fee income for all the investment banks has changed markedly in the past year, with debt and equity capital markets work replacing merger and acquisition advice.

The top four retail banks have been responsible for most activity in debt capital markets, with domestic and international bond issuances to shore up funding positions. The Queensland-based bank Suncorp last week raised $US2.5 billion ($3.47 billion) in US markets to build its capital levels, and the majors have raised at least $18 billion using the federal Government's guarantee. Across the corporate sphere, 101 debt capital market deals were done, which raised $92.2 million in fees for the banks, almost triple the $26.5 million in the first quarter of last year. The debt market has become a lucrative sector for the investment banks with fee revenue in the first three months of the year more than double the level that was earned for the full 2008 year.

The equity capital markets have remained active with a rush of corporate entities carrying out raisings, particularly in the past few weeks, to take advantage of stronger world markets and emerging positive sentiment. UBS was the top bank in the sector, beating rival Deutsche Bank, which was No1 last year but slipped to No3 even though it managed to increase its fee revenue from deals.

UBS was involved in deals including Wesfarmers' $4 billion raising, Suncorp, Axa, Newcrest Mining, Tabcorp, Qantas, Fairfax and property developer Peet Group, which raised $81.5 million through a rights issue during March. UBS co-head of equity capital markets Andrew Stevens said the activity in the next few months in terms of raisings would be concentrated outside the biggest corporates, which had already tapped the market and were well capitalised.

"Most of the top 50 companies who needed to go to the market have done that over the past six months," he said. "We have seen since the rally in the market is a change in sentiment. As you look down the market ... people are wanting to move up the risk curve. The defensive stocks have underperformed while some of the more risky stocks have rallied aggressively as the market comes back."

Mr Stevens said the performance of the "riskier" stocks could indicate those companies would look to raise money while their share price was higher and there was healthy demand.


Kids' competition 'is climate change propaganda'

LIBERAL Senator Cory Bernardi has accused Climate Change Minister Penny Wong of pushing "extreme propaganda" on the nation's schoolchildren. Senator Bernardi, who does not disguise his view that man-made climate change is a myth, has attacked a new climate change awareness competition for schoolchildren launched by Senator Wong yesterday.

The competition "Think Climate, Think Change," asks students in years 3 to 9 to use short stories, poems and art work to answer the question "what does climate change mean to me?" First prize is a trip for two to Canberra (the winner and a parent), a Nintendo Wii console, sports kit and Wii Fit pack, and books for the winner's school.

Senator Bernardi slammed the competition. "Encouraging children to look after the environment is laudable aim but this seems to have more in common with the ministry of propaganda than the balanced education of our children," he told AdelaideNow.

"One can only guess that the only children eligible to win this competition will be those who conform to the Rudd Government and Minister Wong's extreme political propaganda about climate change.

"I doubt the competition materials will include any discussion of how the Rudd Government ETS (emissions trading scheme) will export Australian industry overseas and result in hundreds of thousands of job losses for Australian workers."

Ms Wong said the competition came about because children are naturally concerned about the environment and their future. "Schoolchildren from all over Australia have written to me asking about climate change and sharing their ideas," she said. "Young Australians are very well informed when it comes to the issue of climate change - they understand that we need to take action now."

The national competition will open on Tuesday April 24 and close two months later on June 24. Senator Wong said the winner would be invited to pass on their ideas to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other senior ministers when they are flown to Canberra.


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