Thursday, April 25, 2013

The diggers know reality

Brisbane Anzac Day dawn service crowds pack Anzac square

THOUSANDS of people have gathered in the darkness to pay their respects to the past and present Australian service men and women.

Up to 18,000 people filled ANZAC Square in Brisbane's inner city. All but about 100 ignored the invitation to beat the crowd and watch the event live on screens in King George Square.

Bundled in jumpers, spectators congregated on Adelaide St near the Anzac Shrine of Remembrance for the 4.28am service - the precise time the Anzacs landed at Gallipoli almost a century ago.

Sarah Hussey made the trip from Rochedale South with her husband and two sons as she felt it was important to "keep the memory alive".  "My grandfather fought in World War 2 and my husband's father went off to the Borneo War. We've been to the marches before but this is the first time we have all come to the dawn service," she said.

In her address, the Governor of Queensland Penelope Wensley reminded the crowd that Anzac Day was, in the midst of sorrow, to "celebrate the Anzac spirit" 98 years after the legend was born on the shores of Gallipoli.  "It is curious - and, perhaps to outsiders, unusual - (that) mix of sorrow and regret, pride and celebration," she said.

She went on to say that with each new conflict, the Anzac spirit has "grown and strengthened," with those standards carried on by our current defence forces in the War on Terror and peace-keeping.

"Good humoured tenacity in the face of adversity . . . always camaraderie and mateship . . . and taking that and blending it into a powerful and motivating force," she said.

She quoted a war correspondent: "They were men their countries could ill afford to lose, but they set for all time a standard of conduct for all Australian and New Zealand soldiers."

At 5am, a hush fell over the crowd as a bugler sounded the Last Post. Children clasped onto their parent's hands as all paused to remember.

As daylight broke, wreaths to commemorate the fallen were laid around the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Remembrance.

As a young helicopter crewman, Dennis Olsen OAM was posted to the Malaya border in 1965 , "where the communist terrorists had made it up to".

The 72-year-old said he has attended many ANZAC services since and was glad that the level of public involvement and recognition has swelled in the last decade.

He said his lost mates would be at the forefront of his mind.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard laid a wreath at the dawn service in Townsville and will attend the garrison city's Anzac Day march this morning.

At 4.07am, the crowds were told over the loud speaker that Anzac Square had reached capacity and were re-directed to King George Square for the simulcast.


Qantas to fight claim Aboriginals removed

Qantas says it will not tolerate behaviour that could compromise passenger safety after facing legal action for allegedly kicking a group of Aboriginal men off a plane.

The eight men were on their way home to Kempsey, on the NSW mid-north coast, from an indigenous leadership program in Cairns, three years ago.

They claim they were thrown off the plane before it left Sydney, and are suing Qantas for damages, accusing the airline of false imprisonment.

The airline would not comment on specifics of the case but confirmed it would defend the claims in court.

It also denies any discrimination.

"Qantas has a zero tolerance policy towards behaviour it believes could compromise the safety of anyone on our aircraft," Qantas said in a statement.  "This policy is applied equally to all passengers."

The men were allegedly locked in a bus parked on the tarmac for an hour-and-a-half, before being escorted back to the terminal.

It's alleged the men were told they could not travel as a group and would have to catch separate flights, in pairs, the following morning.

A hearing for the case is set to take place in a Sydney court in August.


Violence forces Victorian schools into lockdown

VIOLENT students, abusive parents, custody battles, trespassers and police operations are locking down Victorian schools.

Last year, there were 73 lockdowns at 67 Victorian state schools, seven more than in 2011.

There was a lockdown at one school every three school days in 2012 - a 59 per cent increase since 2008.

Aggressive behaviour was the No.1 problem for schools, resulting in 45 lockdowns, data obtained under Freedom of Information showed.

Police operations were the next largest category, resulting in 10 lockdowns.

Confidential information obtained by the Herald Sun shows the most alarming cases that led to lockdowns at public schools last year were allegations:

A PREP student physically assaulted several staff and students;

A SEVEN-year-old student threatened staff and students with a knife;

A STUDENT stabbed a staff member with a fork;

A MALE approached a grade 2 girl in school toilets;

A PARENT made threats against the principal over the phone;

A PARENT was assaulted by her partner outside the school grounds; and

A STUDENT climbed on the roof and threw objects at staff.

A swarm of bees, a kangaroo, a gas leak, loiterers, trees falling on staff cars and a house siege also locked down schools in 2012.

Already this year, schools have gone into lockdown after claims a grade 3 student struck a principal with a shovel and a man was found in a schoolyard taking photos.

The Department of Education said during a lockdown students were required to stay indoors, with windows and doors locked and staff posted at key locations.

Department figures previously published in the Herald Sun reveal that in 2008, there were 46 lockdowns, 38 in 2009 and 53 in 2010.

Department spokesman Stuart Teather said the lockdown process was a pre-emptive strategy often used when the risk level was not fully known. "Lockdowns can be implemented in cases where it turns out there is no actual risk at all," he said.

"Every school has an emergency management plan and a lockdown can be implemented as part of that plan to immediately secure the school from potential or perceived threats. They are not exclusively the result of incidents that occur within schools and can be implemented on police advice."

Opposition education spokesman Colin Brooks said the Government was losing control of student safety. But Ashley Gardiner, a spokesman for Education Minister Martin Dixon, described the claims as "ridiculous".


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