‘Cool heads’ will prevail despite Indonesia-Australia tensions: army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison

Federal politics: full coverage
Shanghai night field

Australia’s army chief has dismissed the prospect that tensions between Indonesia and Australia could erupt into military conflict in the future, saying ”cool heads on both sides” would always prevail.

Lieutenant-General David Morrison, who is expected to leave the top army post in a few months’ time, acknowledged there were ”concerns on the part of the Indonesian government at the moment, in terms of their relationships with Australia”.

But he said there had been tough periods in the two countries’ shared history – notably during the near-confrontation of the 1960’s and the East Timor crisis of 1999 – and that ”the way [they] worked together, through some really difficult periods.. augurs well for the future”.

”My sense is that cool heads on both sides, who see the importance of both fulfilling national objectives but also meeting international obligations, will always predominate,” he told the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

Lieutenant-General Morrison also admitted being taken aback at the ”surreal” way in which a YouTube warning he delivered to soldiers last year in the wake of the army’s most recent sex scandal went viral, elevating him to the status of feminist hero.

During the three-minute clip, he looked down the barrel of the camera and told Defence Force members to ” get out” if they were going to ”exploit and demean” their colleagues or other women.

He told the Lowy Institute that ”it is somewhat surreal to have a three and a half decade career crystallised into such a sharp focus… [but] I am actually very proud that our army and the changes we are now undertaking are being seen in such a positive light”.

In a veiled warning about the risks of cutting too much from the defence budget as combat forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General Morrison said that talk of a ”peace dividend” and a reduction in the need for military readiness was  ”hollow”.

He said the army had ”atrophied” in the three decades after the end of the Vietnam war, leaving it ill-prepared for the East Timor crisis of 1999.

”By the time of the East Timor crisis, which erupted with little warning…  we were seriously deficient in a range of vital aspects of land operations and we lacked a coherent force structure,” he said.

”We had great difficulty deploying, commanding and sustaining a fairly modest Australian force, let alone the multinational coalition we ended up leading.”

This was a ”potentially catastrophic failure”, he added.

Currently, he said, Australia was entering ”one of the most uncertain and challenging eras in its history”.

The army chief also spoke soberly on the prospects of climate change.

”Of course we have military interests in what I think has been called the great challenge of our time,” Lieutenant-General Morrison said.  ”It’s not lost on anybody … that the climatic conditions within the globe are changing and there are serious implications as a result of that.”

These included challenges for the military, given the number of low-lying islands within the region, he said.

Follow us on Twitter

Read More

Australian crews ‘inadvertently’ breached Indonesian waters six times

Customs vessel the RV Triton. Photo: Glen McCurtayneFederal politics: full coverage’Cool heads’ will prevail despite Indonesia-Australia tensions: army chiefAsylum seeker data bungle: Thousands could be granted refugee statusExtra security sent to Manus Island
Shanghai night field

A Customs and Defence review has found that Australian boats entered Indonesian waters six times between December and January.

The Australian government has formally apologised to the Indonesian government for what it describes as an inadvertent mistake.

The joint review found that the breaches resulted from “miscalculation” of Indonesian maritime boundaries by Australian crews.

The Abbott government admitted that Australian boats, under Operation Sovereign Borders, had entered Indonesian waters back in January, but did not specify how many times this occurred.

The review analysed all patrols conducted between December 1 and January 20 as well as the orders and planning around the incursions.

It found that had “headquarters staff implemented appropriate control measures, informed by authoritative information on Indonesian maritime boundaries, the normal post activity reporting and checks would have detected the incursions as they occurred”.

The review found that the incursions were first identified by an “ad hoc intervention by planning staff”.

The review also found that “the imperative to remain outside Indonesian waters did not receive adequate attention during mission execution or oversight”.

It recommends that navy and Customs’ heads consider whether there were any “individual lapses in professional conduct”.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told ABC TV on Wednesday that he accepted the review’s recommendations.

He said the Australian government had behaved in a “forthright” way about the incursions and that Indonesia had been advised about the outcomes of the review.

The government has only released the executive summary and summary of findings and recommendations of the review.

Labor immigration spokesman Richard Marles called for the full report to be released.

“The statement released today highlights a systemic problem arising out of this government’s border protection policy,” he said.

“Serious implications remain in terms of our relations with Indonesia. In the national interest it is vital the full report be released.”

Follow us on Twitter

Read More

RailCorp executive Joe Camilleri’s loans: ‘no business ramifications’, ICAC told

Former Railcorp employee Joseph Camilleri leaves the ICAC inquiry on Wednesday. Photo: Ben RushtonThe executive of infrastructure company UGL, who helped win a $1.4 billion train maintenance contract with RailCorp, said there were no business ramifications behind more than $400,000 in loans he later made to RailCorp’s head of train maintenance.
Shanghai night field

Kevin McCarthy, UGL’s general manager of rail projects and tenders, was appearing before a corruption inquiry investigating the millions of dollars in loans obtained by a sacked RailCorp executive, Joseph Camilleri.

Mr Camilleri allegedly obtained the loans from RailCorp employees and contractors to help his daughter, who had a gambling problem. But Mr Camilleri told those he was borrowing from that his daughter had been the victim of identity theft, and would soon receive a multimillion-dollar payout.

Mr McCarthy’s $428,000 in loans to Mr Camilleri are the largest yet exposed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which is investigating whether Mr Camilleri and those who lent money to him could have been committing a criminal offence.

The two men had known known each other for more about 30 years and been friends for at least 20, Mr McCarthy told the inquiry in Sydney on Wednesday.

At the end of 2010, the two rail executives and friends met to discuss the contract that UGL had held for 17 years to do maintenance on Sydney’s trains. After the meeting, Mr McCarthy told his company that Mr Camilleri was “no longer a strong supporter of UGL” and there was a perception UGL “owed” RailCorp.

The contract was put to tender, which UGL won in December 2011 for $1.4 billion over seven years.

In October 2012, Mr Camilleri, who was paid more than $300,000 annually, approached Mr McCarthy for a $20,000 loan, as he had approached more than 50 other RailCorp employees.

Mr McCarthy lent him the money, and went on to lend him another $408,000.

Counsel assisting the commission, Nicholas Polin, asked Mr McCarthy how Mr Camilleri could impartially oversee the maintenance contract in the context of the loan.

“How on earth was he going to rigorously enforce his particular task … when he owed the bid director for UGL half a million dollars?” Mr Polin asked.

But Mr McCarthy said Mr Camilleri had a history of impartiality. “I have witnessed Joe using his impartiality in every other decision that I had made,” he said.

Mr McCarthy said he made the loans because his friend was stressed and his family appeared to be in trouble.

“I think there is a clear distinction between the personal loan and business,” he said. “I believe there were no ramifications in a business sense.”

Mr Camilleri was ultimately dismissed by RailCorp in February 2013, when the train operator discovered he had also been taking loans from contractors. Among the RailCorp employees to lend him money was the chief executive, Rob Mason.

Mr McCarthy’s evidence in front of commissioner Megan Latham will continue on Thursday.

Correction: The original version of this story said Mr McCarthy, rather than Mr Camilleri, was dismissed by RailCorp.

Read More

Rain causes flash floods, delays NAB match

The severe thunderstorm that drenched Geelong just after 5.30pm on Wednesday dumped more than 50 millimetres of rain in an hour, delaying the start of a NAB Challenge AFL match.
Shanghai night field

The downpour, which caused localised flash flooding, arrived just hours before St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs’ were due to play at Simonds Stadium.

Ground staff were left scrambling in an attempt to ready the ground for a 7.10pm start, after what was described as ‘‘a mini flood’’.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Scott Williams said the intense thunder storm arrived without warning.

He said it appeared to develop above Geelong in about 10 minutes and was so high that the radars failed to detect it.

He said in his 30 years at the Bureau, he had never seen anything like it.

‘‘I don’t think I’ve seen a classic one like this,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s pretty rare in Victoria to get one of these … instead of curling anti-clockwise, it came in clockwise and with height.’’ 

@mmmhotbreakfast this was the local Woolworths last night (not taken by me) in Newcomb #deluge#storm#flashfloodpic.twitter爱上海同城论坛m/7dY1Sy1krD— Fairls (@fairls) February 19, 2014

Mr Williams said 54 millimetres of rain was recorded at Geelong racecourse between 5pm and 6pm, with the majority falling between 5.20pm and 5.53pm.

After dumping down on Geelong, the storm moved towards Ocean Grove by 6.30pm before heading out to Queenscliff and out over the bay.

Mr Williams said Bureau staff were monitoring it, in case it gained severity as it approached Mornington Peninsula.

The Geelong thunderstorm was one of two cells which accompanied the cool change.

The other event hit a less populated area around Ballan, near Bacchus Marsh.

Melbourne meanwhile experienced light rain with the cool change, which will last the rest of the working week.

Bureau of Meteorology data showed rain fell in the city and northern suburbs, the fourth time rain had been recorded in Melbourne this month.

About 2 millimetres of rain in the CBD and 3-5 millimetres in the suburbs by Wednesday afternoon.

Showers and cool weather are forecast for the rest of the week, with Thursday and Friday set to reach a maximum of just 20 degrees.

There is also a chance of thunderstorms in the early hours of Thursday morning, with southern areas such as Geelong most likely to be affected.

The weekend forecast is for clear and warm conditions, with a top of 23 degrees on Saturday and 27 degrees on Sunday.

with Adeshola Ore

Read More

Newcastle job losses expected in Sensis restructure

NEWCASTLE is expected to lose 10 of the 800 jobs to be cut from Telstra’s directories business Sensis with a union fearing more could follow.
Shanghai night field

The job losses in Newcastle will leave 28 people to man the region’s office.

These people are expected to have to also take on work from the Central Coast with the Erina office, which has 50 staff, earmarked for closure.

Sensis said the restructure is designed to support its digital transformation as it meets the challenges of increased competition.

The proposed changes, announced on Wednesday, would result in the loss of about 800 jobs nationally in advertising operations, sales, management and support areas.

Sensis managing director John Allan says the changes will support digital growth and service improvements.

‘‘As a leader in digital marketing services and print directories serving Australian businesses, we need to remain responsive to the changing media landscape,’’ he said.

‘‘Whilst these decisions are difficult, they are necessary to ensure we maintain our competitive position.’’

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says Telstra’s actions will cause economic harm, especially with local jobs sent offshore.

‘‘What we know is that 800 jobs are being cut and some 520 of these jobs are being sent to Manila,’’ CPSU national president Michael Tull said.

‘‘We would think there’s further rounds of offshoring to come.

‘‘There’s nothing in Manila in the Philippines that cannot be provided by Australian workers.

‘‘This is purely about an employer sending jobs to a low-wage country and pocketing the difference.’’

The CPSU estimates that in the past 12 months Sensis has scrapped half its workforce with at least 600 roles being moved offshore to the Philippines and India.

The union sees no justification for the job cuts, viewing Sensis as a profitable business with staff delivering the company an annual income of $1.1 billion and a net profit of nearly $600 million.

‘‘We anticipate that many of these job cuts will fall in regional areas, places like Geelong, that are already being hard hit by other job cuts,’’ Mr Tull said.

The Sensis cuts come a day after Alcoa announced job losses for up to 1000 workers due to the closure of its Point Henry smelter in Geelong, the adjacent rolling mill and another mill in Yennora in NSW.

It also follows massive job cuts at Holden, Toyota and Ford.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to reveal his plan for Australian jobs.AAP

* About 800 jobs in advertising operations, sales, management and support areas to go

* Union says 520 positions going offshore

Sensis says restructure will result in:

– Two new telephone sales centres in Melbourne and Sydney

– New mobile and flexible operating model for face-to-face sales teams

– Extended service by external vendors to support sales and service

– Streamlining of Sensis product and go-to-market structuresem

CPSU says job losses expected in:

– Melbourne

– Sydney

– Newcastle

– Adelaide

– Perth

CPSU says sites earmarked for closure:

– Penrith

– Wollongong

– Ballina

– NSW Central Coast

– Coffs Harbour

– Darwin

– Cairns

– Sunshine Coast

– Gold Coast

– Townsville

– Hobart

– Geelong

– Mornington


Read More

Leeza Tracey Ormsby arrested in Bali after alleged drug find

Facing drugs charges in Bali: Leeza Tracey Ormsby. Photo: INFphoto爱上海同城论坛mDo you know more? Email us, message us on Twitter @smh.
Shanghai night field

A Sydney woman arrested in Bali when drugs were allegedly found at her villa may have been dealing, police say.

Police say they found MDMA, marijuana and hashish at a villa in North Kuta where Leeza Tracey Ormsby, 37, was staying.

According to a police document seen by Fairfax Media, Ms Ormsby was allegedly found with a joint inside her bag.

When police later searched the villa, they say they found 27 grams of hashish and 132 grams of MDMA. An electric scale, tape and plastic wrappers were also allegedly found at the villa.

A police source said it was possible she was dealing in drugs.

“Judging from the evidence, it’s possible she’s dealing. If [she’s] just a user, why do you need a scale?” the source said.

It is understood Ms Ormsby lives in Paddington, Sydney. According to her lawyer, Ary B. Soenardi, she is unemployed and arrived in Bali just a few days before she was arrested on February 12. She was in Bali to visit a friend, he said.

Ms Ormsby, also known as Leeza Morrison, describes herself on her LinkedIn profile as a fitness trainer in the Sydney area and “owner of Shakedown street Espresso”.

Ms Ormsby, who was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, was arrested at a North Kuta village in Denpasar for possession, Denpasar drug squad chief Agus Tri Waluyo said.

Major Waluyo said police received information there would be drugs at a party in the villa.

“We made the ambush on Wednesday around 8am,” he said. “In that location, we found the evidence.”

According to a statement given to investigators, Ms Ormsby admitted that, some days before the raid, a drugs party had taken place with five of her friends, who had then returned to their home countries.

Police say Ms Ormsby has not yet been charged.

Denpasar police said on Thursday they were still investigating the origin of the drugs, if anyone else was involved and the possibility Ms Ormsby was “more than just a user”.

“No other arrest has been made other than the suspect Leeza Tracey Ormsby,” spokesman Ida Bagus Sarjana said.

The chief of police in Denpasar will hold a media conference on the arrest on Friday morning.

Indonesia is renowned for heavy penalties for drug use.

Ross Bell, from the New Zealand Drug Foundation, said it was well known that drug laws in south-east Asia were some of the toughest in the world and Indonesian laws were some of the most “draconian in that region”.

Cannabis is classed as a Group One drug in Bali, which means it is considered highly addictive and therefore dangerous.

Those found in possession of a Group One drug in Bali could receive a penalty of life imprisonment. Trafficking a Group One drug could lead to the death penalty.

Ms Ormsby was arrested only two days after convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby was released on parole after spending nine years imprisoned in Kerobokan prison.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was aware of the arrest, a spokesman said.

“The consul from the New Zealand embassy in Jakarta is providing consular support and has visited the New Zealander,” he said.

The embassy’s role was to monitor her welfare and ensure that she had the same rights as other detainees in Indonesia, he said.

The ministry could not comment on the investigation or interfere in the judicial proceedings of another country.

– with Fairfax NZ and Amanda HohSiobhan Downes and Sarah HarveyA New Zealand woman has been arrested in Bali on serious drug charges. She has been named as Leeza Tracey Ormsby, 37, who was born in Rotorua. Ormsby has been resident in the Sydney suburb of Paddington for some years, Fairfax understands.Ormsby was arrested at a North Kuta village in Denpasar for possession of 159.56 grams of “shabu”  or methamphetamine on February 12, Agus Tri Waluyo, head of Denpasar’s drug squad,  told AAPAt a media conference, Major Waluyo said police received information there was going to be drugs at a party in the villa.”We made the ambush on Wednesday around 8am (1300 NZT),”’ he  said.”In that location, we found the evidence.”From the statement given to investigators, she admitted that  several days prior to the ambush, there was a drugs party along  with her five other friends.”But, they’ve gone back to their country.”Police say Ormsby has not yet been charged.Seven News reporter Robert Ovadia said Ormsby was initially found with a joint containing marijuana.When Indonesian police searched the villa she was staying at, they uncovered the other drugs. “She has admitted to knowing about the initial joint but has denied any knowledge of the subsequent find,” Ovadia told Campbell Live.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was aware of the arrest, a spokesman said. “The consul from the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta is providing consular support and has visited the New Zealander.”The embassy’s role was to monitor the New Zealander’s welfare and ensure that they had the same rights as other detainees in Indonesia. The ministry could not comment on the investigation or interfere in the judicial proceedings of another country, he said.Indonesia is renowned for heavy penalties for drug use.Ross Bell, the executive director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation said it was well known that drug laws in Southeast Asia were some of the toughest in the world and Indonesia had some of the most “draconian in that region”.Both cannabis and methamphetamine were classed as Group One drugs in Bali which meant they were considered highly addictive and therefore dangerous. Possession of a Group One drug in Bali could receive a penalty of life imprisonment. Trafficking a Group One drug could receive the death penalty.The Indonesian government did not go softly on tourists caught with drugs as witnessed with other high profile cases.Ormsby’s arrest was only two days after the release on parole last week of Australian Schapelle Corby, who was convicted of drug smuggling in Indonesia in 2005. She spent nine years imprisoned in Bali’s Kerobokan Prison. In 2012 was granted a five-year sentence reduction.Corby maintained the drugs found in her body board bag had been planted and she unaware they were there.Her trial and conviction transfixed the Australian public.Under her parole conditions, Corby will not be able to leave Indonesia until July 2017.FAIRFAX NZ 

Read More

Smith denies doctoring scary pitch

Graeme Smith is adamant he has not dictated the type of pitch he wants for South Africa’s second Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth, despite the venue’s curator telling Smith’s Australian counterpart Michael Clarke that he was beholden to the home team’s captain and coach.
Shanghai night field

On Tuesday Clarke expressed his surprise at the response to his question to the St George’s Park curator about what was he planning to do to the pitch before the match began on Thursday.

“I had a chat to the groundsman today, [who said], ‘At the moment the grass is 8mm high.’ I asked what he’s going to do with that. He said, ‘I’m going to speak to their captain and coach before I make a decision,’ ” Clarke said. “That’s the groundsman’s plans, so I’m interested to see what the South African captain and coach’s plans are for this wicket.”

While Smith and Proteas coach Russell Domingo were seen in discussions with the curator when the home team trained on Tuesday afternoon by Wednesday morning Smith downplayed the significance of those discussions, when asked directly about the curator’s deference to him.

“That’s very kind of him. One thing I’ve learned is when you ask for things you generally don’t get them, so we tend to stay away. We’re just happy with a good Test wicket,” the South Africa captain said.

“We just requested a good Test wicket. Ultimately he knows this wicket better than all of us.

“Obviously we’d like a wicket that can produce a result, a wicket that will provide good cricket over the next five days.”

Smith reckoned the pitch, as of Wednesday morning, resembled “a pretty good, normal P.E. wicket”. There was a decent covering of grass on most of the pitch, albeit with a brown tinge, but it appeared to be somewhat bare in parts. It was then mowed and rolled just after midday on Wednesday, after South Africa finished training and before Australia arrived for its session, after which much of the brown tinge had disappeared.

Smith reiterated his belief the primary cause of Mitch Johnson’s 12-wicket haul in the first Test was pitch conditions in Centurion that were favourable to him. He said it was important for he and his Proteas teammates not to become daunted by the excitement generated by his hostile performance to start the series,

“It’s important not to get caught up in the hype. Obviously we know Mitchell has bowled extremely well, bowled aggressively. We all know that creates headlines, creates stories, creates fanfare,” he said. “Certainly there’s a huge amount of respect in our team for someone who is performing well, but it’s important not to get caught up in that, and [instead] focus on what’s important, and that’s us performing well and getting our skills right.”

Smith said the Proteas had not spend any more time scouting or debriefing on Johnson than they would for any front-line bowler ahead of any Tests. The South Africa captain also backed his own ability to bounce back from facing only a total of four balls from Johnson for the match, falling to the left-armer in each innings.

“I’ve faced Mitchell a lot of times – times where he’s had the better of me and times I’ve had the better of him,” he said, downplaying the significance of being bounced out by Johnson in the first innings at Centurion Park.

“One dismissal doesn’t make you lose credibility. There’s a lot of guys who’ve been able to perform against the fastest bowlers in the world over a long time. I’ve made a career out of looking ugly. If I can keep doing that I’ll be happy.”

Smith said it was crucial the Proteas’ top-three produce at least one major partnership between them to put pressure on the Australian bowling attack.

The captain disagreed that being nil-one down to Australia in a three-Test series posed the team’s biggest challenge to recover, highlighting its ability to salvage a one-all draw against Pakistan in spin-friendly conditions in the United Arab Emirates in October last year.

“Obviously Australia are playing well at the moment – they’re hot, they’re in form – which is always a challenge,” he said.

“It’s difficult to say why we’ve started so slowly in a lot of series. Maybe we just don’t like to throw the first punch.

“It’s important you have the ability to respond and know how to respond. Experience plays a big role there, in terms of performances to fall back on. This week, it’s about … not carrying too much baggage from Pretoria [Centurion] and making sure we can put it into our performance here.”

Smith said he was unable to disclose who would replace concussed all-rounder Ryan McLaren in its line-up for the second Test, saying the decision would be made at a meeting with chief South Africa selector Andrew Hudson later on Thursday. Batsman Dean Elgar and left-arm fast-bowler Wayne Parnell are the two prime candidates for inclusion.

Read More

Shane Watson must bowl to win back Test place: Michael Clarke

Shane WatsonThe ability of Shane Watson to bowl in Tests has always been a preference for national selectors when picking him. Now, it is a prerequisite.
Shanghai night field

The possibility the all-rounder may miss the entire three-Test series against South Africa, due to a calf injury he sustained at the start of the month, was given credence on the eve of the second Test by Michael Clarke.

The captain said the issue of whether Watson was fit to play had to be considered in line with the message conveyed to him by selectors that they would not consider picking him while he was fit to bat but not to bowl.

‘‘The information I have from the selectors is if he’s not bowling he’ll be unavailable for selection,’’ Clarke said.

Asked to elaborate on the apparent shift in policy regarding the 32-year-old, Clarke replied: ‘‘I don’t know the answer to that question. You’ll probably have to ask Darren Lehmann and the other selectors.

‘‘From the information I have they’ll on reselect him if he’s available to bowl.’’

Clarke is no longer a selector, with that role being chiefly assumed  this series by coach Lehmann and touring chief selector John Inverarity.

At the end of the 2012-13 home summer, then coach Mickey Arthur said Watson had successfully requested permission to play in the Test team as a specialist batsman.

He maintained this role throughout the India series, not bowling in any of the three Tests in which he was selected.

While Watson is an integral part of Australia’s Twenty20 team, Clarke rejected the possibility he could be excused from the Test series to be right to bowl in the three-match Twenty20 series after the Tests, to best prepare him for next month’s world cup.

‘‘No chance. Not while I’m captain of this team,’’ Clarke said.

‘‘There’s no greater priority than playing a Test match for your country … As soon as Watto is fit and available I know he’ll want to be back out on the park.’’

Read More