26 September 2023

PS from the PaSt: 4 – 10 July 2012

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1. This week 10 years ago, Customs and Border Protection began a trial of body scanning technology to detect internal drug concealments.

Minister for Home Affairs, Jason Clare said the new technology was a smarter, faster way to catch drug mules and would save the time and resources of Australian Federal Police and local hospitals.

He said about half of the heroin and cocaine detected at Australian airports was internally concealed.

“Instead of taking people suspected of concealing drugs to the hospital, this technology can confirm this on the spot,” Mr Clare said.

2. The Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Peter Ryan called for the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements to be overhauled, saying they hindered governments from giving communities a straight answer about when, where and why clean-up grants were activated.

Mr Ryan said the lack of an agreed definition and threshold for activation led to inconsistent and confusing outcomes for farmers and businesses.

The Minister made a formal submission to the Standing Council of Police and Emergency Management calling on the Commonwealth, States and Territories to agree to a common definition and set of activation criteria.

3. NSW Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts welcomed a move by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to introduce national controls over petrol station price boards.

Mr Roberts said the State would work closely with the ACCC on the proposal.

“NSW already has a regulation in place that compels petrol retailers to advertise the price of regular unleaded petrol and have price boards well lit and positioned so that motorists can easily see prices on approach,” Mr Roberts said.

“We are now looking at amending the standard to include the display of all fuels and I am convinced all Australian motorists can benefit from this approach.”

4. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) launched its new Specialist Response Group (SRG).

Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare said the SRG combined ACT Policing’s Specialist Response and Security Team and the AFP’s Operational Response Group to create the largest centralised specialist policing capability in Australia, comprising almost 200 personnel.

He said the unique skills and flexibility of the SRG would help the Australian Government prepare for and respond to major incidents in Australia and overseas.

“The SRG can deploy and provide critical assistance to regional neighbours in times of crisis, and assist with the restoration of law and order, rapid disaster response assistance, and capacity-building initiatives,” Mr Clare said.

5. In South Australia, the Minister for Health, John Hill asked the Attorney-General to extend tough assault laws protecting emergency department personnel to other hospital staff working in inpatient areas, saying nurses, doctors, paramedics and hospital staff saved lives every day and should be treated with respect and not subjected to abuse, aggression or assault.

“SA Health monitors the incidence of threatening behaviour and violence in hospitals and will prosecute those who cannot control their behaviour and harm workers,” Mr Hill said.

6. Also in South Australia a decade ago, the Minister for Water and the River Murray, Paul Caica urged all Australians to join a campaign to save the iconic river, saying the time was approaching when the problem of overallocation of water in the Murray–Darling Basin would need to be resolved.

He urged every Australian to support the Fight for the Murray campaign by asking their local MP to get behind fixing the problem.

“We have just experienced the worst drought on record, which revealed the devastating legacy of overallocation,” Mr Caica said.

“In South Australia, we are still dealing with the problem of salinity and acid sulphate soils — more than two years after the drought broke.”

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