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Nimbin MardiGrass Drug Testing

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Nimbin MardiGrass Drug Testing

Nimbin MardiGrass Drug Testing

Police caught breaching RDT procedures while drug testing Greens MP

A GREENS MP is calling for all tests conducted over the Nimbin MardiGrass weekend in early May be declared invalid after breaches by a NSW police officer conducting drug tests have been revealed in a video.
The video was taken by a staff member of Cate Faehrmann, who was being tested at the time, and shows the police office without gloves while handling the testing device.
Ms Faehrmmann has written to NSW Police Minister David Elliott and the Attorney-General Mark Speakman to get the tests thrown out.

On Sunday, May 2, about 9am, Ms Faehrmann was stopped by police whilst driving to the MardiGrass festival for a random drug test just outside of Nimbin, as were hundreds of others over the course of that weekend.
Ms Faehrmann said this was a clear breach of part 1-5 of the Standard Operating Procedures for Random Oral Fluid Testing which reads: “Under no circumstances will oral fluid or equipment used to obtain oral fluid samples be handled by police without wearing protective latex or nitrile gloves”.

Ms Faehrmann has also written to the Auditor General requesting a performance audit of the scheme due several detected breaches of standard operating procedure, the inaccuracy of tests and a lack of evidence that the scheme reduces road trauma.
“All tests conducted over the Nimbin MardiGrass weekend are now in doubt and any court attendance notices or penalties issued as a result of a positive test must be withdrawn,” Ms Faehrmann said.
“The tests used are incredibly sensitive and can be easily contaminated, potentially resulting in false positives.

“We have no idea how many breaches by officers conducting the tests are going undetected and potentially causing false positives.
“Given that at least one officer on duty over the Nimbin MardiGrass weekend breached the Standard Operating Procedures for conducting oral drug tests, the Police Minister has no other choice than to declare that every test conducted over the weekend be declared potentially contaminated, and therefore invalid.”

Former Lismore magistrate David Heilpern said after viewing the photographs of the drug tests on Ms Faehrmann, it was apparent police were not complying with their own standard operating procedures.
“It beggars belief that the only test that was conducted on that day where protocols were breached was the one on a member of parliament, and it is far more likely that protocols were contravened extensively in the operation that occurred,” he said.
“Press reports state that there were more than 1500 tests conducted around Nimbin during the MardiGrass with 29 detections. The consequences of the breach are significant.

“First, all tests conducted without gloves and in breach of the protocols would be unlikely to be able to be successfully prosecuted for obvious reasons.
“Second, all subsequent tests on other people would also be suspect – the protocols have been developed to protect from cross contamination and not wearing gloves means that the testing regime is unreliable.
“Third, evidence obtained as a result of this impropriety (including stage two and three testing) would be subject to inadmissibility rulings in court proceedings under s138 of the Evidence Act NSW.”
Mr Heilpern agreed with the call for all prosecutions or penalties launched or issued as a result of the flawed testing to be withdrawn.

“This is not only because any prosecution would be likely to fail, but also out of a recognition that it would be unfair to proceed,” he said.
“Finally, these 1500 tests were conducted on unimpaired festival goers and locals going about their business. It is a colossal waste of police time, community resources and road safety funding for this to have occurred in the first place. It was not and does not even pretend to be about road safety. It is all about prohibition.

“For this to have transpired in circumstances where the police cannot even follow their own clear directives amplifies the absurdity of the entire operation.”
In a statement, a New South Wales Police spokesman said the service was aware of the incident and all officers conducting random drug tests were required to wear gloves as standard operating procedures.

However, New South Wales Police says the gloves were for hygiene purposes and did not affect the accuracy of testing or results.

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Local News

Changed traffic conditions for the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade

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NSW Northern Rivers Local News & Events

Changed traffic conditions for the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade

Motorists are advised of changed traffic conditions on the Pacific Highway and local roads from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 June for the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade, weather permitting.

There will be no roadwork on the Pacific Highway between Kew and the Queensland border from 6am Friday 25 June to 6am Monday 28 June due to the high traffic volume expected for the school holidays.
From Monday, there will be four days of work next to the Pacific Highway at Coolgardie to carry out vegetation maintenance. Motorists can expect lane closures and traffic control at times between 7am and 3pm.
Also from Monday, there will be up to four days of work on the Pacific Highway between Broadwater and Devils Pulpit to install and remove signage and carry out maintenance and finishing work. Motorists can expect lane closures, traffic control, short stoppages and a reduced speed limit at times between 6am and 6pm.
The northbound U-turn near Swan Bay New Italy Road will be temporarily closed on Monday and Wednesday, with Thursday as a contingency if required. The next available U-turn for northbound motorists is less than two kilometres north near Whites Road.
Further south from Monday, there will be up to four days of work on the Pacific Highway between Harwood and the Pillar Valley to carry out survey monitoring, vegetation maintenance and fencing. Motorists can expect lane and shoulder closures, traffic control, short stoppages and a reduced speed limit at times between 6am and 6pm.

Additional changes to local roads

From Monday, there will be four days of work on Woodburn Evans Head Road, Woodburn to carry out survey monitoring. Motorists can expect lane closures and traffic control at times between 6am and 6pm.
Also from Monday, there will be five days of work on Swan Bay New Italy Road, New Italy to carry out private access work. Motorists can expect lane closures and traffic control at times between 6am and 6pm.
From Thursday, there will be two days of work on the former Pacific Highway, near the Woodburn interchange to carry out private access work. Motorists can expect shoulder closures and traffic control at times between 6am and 6pm.
For the latest traffic updates download the Live Traffic NSW App, visit livetraffic.com or call 132 701.

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Local News

Changed traffic conditions on Big River Way at South Grafton

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Changed traffic conditions on Big River Way at South Grafton

Motorists are advised of changed traffic conditions from next week on Big River Way at South Grafton to carry out safety improvement work near Heber Street.

Work will be carried out from Monday 21 June to widen the road shoulder on a 200 metre section of road to allow for improved traffic movements around the intersection.

Work will be carried out from 7am to 6pm on weekdays and from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays, and is expected to take two weeks to complete, weather permitting.

The northern access to Heber Street will be closed for the duration of the project, with a detour in place during this time.

Traffic control and a reduced speed limit will be in place for the safety of workers and motorists.

Delays of up to five minutes may be experienced and motorists are advised to allow extra travel time, drive to the conditions, and follow the directions of signs and traffic control..

Transport for NSW thanks motorists for their patience during this time.

For the latest traffic updates download the Live Traffic NSW App, visit livetraffic.com or call 132 701.

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Long awaited good news on the Ag Visa

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Agriculture Minister David Littleproud

Long awaited good news on the Ag Visa

AUSVEG, the peak industry body for the Australian vegetable industry, has welcomed the announcement that the Federal Government will make a new agriculture work visa available to all 10 countries across South-East Asia.

The new visa would provide a wider pool of workers available to Australian agriculture from the UK and the ten ASEAN countries and will help to meet ongoing seasonal workforce gaps that continue through the pandemic.

According to the announcement from Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, the new seasonal agricultural worker visa would mirror the existing Seasonal Worker Programme and will add to the pool of workers available to work on Australian farms.

“The horticulture industry has been calling for a dedicated and productive workforce for many years and this morning’s announcement is great news for the sector,” said AUSVEG National Manager – Public Affairs Tyson Cattle.

“Growers require access to a productive, reliable and competent workforce and while Working Holiday Makers will always have a role to play within our industry, giving growers and workers a pathway to primarily work on-farm should be seen as a major step froward for the development of the horticulture sector.”

“The ASEAN countries are some of our closest trading partners, so extending the Agriculture Visa to these countries makes economic sense and demonstrates our commitment in helping our regional neighbours.”

“What we need now is timely action to get this visa class up and running so that we can start bringing in workers as soon as possible when borders open up and international workers are able to enter the country.”

“While we await more details around the visa arrangements for this visa class, we understand the new visa will build on the successful Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme visas that have proved invaluable to the agriculture sector over the past 12 months.”

“This announcement is a positive development in our industry’s calls for a dedicated labour source to harvest and package fruits and vegetables.”

“We look forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure that the agriculture-specific visa meets the needs of growing businesses around the country and provides an effective solution to the industry’s growing labour shortages.”

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