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Local News

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

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By Tonia Dynan

HE MIGHT have been thousands of kilometres away behind bars in Belmarsh prison in London, but WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was with his father in spirit as he campaigned for his son’s freedom in Lismore last week.
Julian’s father John Shipton was in town as part of the Home Run for Julian tour making its way down the east coast.
Mr Shipton said he spoke to Julian on the phone from Belmarsh the day before his visit to Lismore, and his son was keen to hear how his hometown was doing.
“After they locked down the jail, they extended the privilege for external phone calls, so Julian can ring up – he has a 10-minute guillotine – and then he has to wait a certain amount of time before he can call out again,” Mr Shipton said.
“I spoke to him yesterday and he asked about what was happening in Lismore, how was his family, did I go up to the old school and have a look, just keeping him up-to-date on what was happening on the road.”
Asked about how he felt as a dad watching his son go through this ordeal, Mr Shipton said it was an emotional rollercoaster.
“Well, it’s up and down,” he said.
“The activity intensified over the last three years, particularly the last two years, as Julian was beaten down.
“There was always lots of possibilities that he’d be able to negotiate a way out prior.
“So, over the last two years the intensity – you just take each day as it comes. You give thanks for the wins and for the things that don’t work out so well you just and think of another way.”
In January, a London judge refused to grant a US request for Julian’s extradition, but also refused him bail until a US appeal against that verdict is heard.
Julian, a 49-year-old Australian, is wanted in Washington to face 18 charges relating to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange The US claims he helped intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal the documents before exposing confidential sources around the world.
“Julian grew in this soil here, and the fierce integrity he displays comes out of this soil, out of this society,” Mr Shipton said.
“That soil continues to produce people with fierce integrity.”
Julian faces a possible 175-year sentence if convicted, but Julian and his lawyers have long argued the case against him was politically motivated under former president Donald Trump.
His legal team called on President Joe Biden’s US administration to drop the charges, and for the Australian government to do more on Assange’s behalf.
Mr Shipton said people were looking around behind the scenes for a way out of “this mess”.
“Just a couple of months ago the Consular service of Australia wrote to the Crown prosecuting service and asked them two things – when was the hearing going to take place and what was the hearing composed of,” he said.
“The Crown prosecuting service wrote back saying that the appeal of the United States and the appeal of the defense would be heard within two months of that date, which was the seventh of last month, before a single judge.
“This had never happened before, admitting that it was writing to the Crown Prosecution Service and sending me copies, so it’s a big change, so you can see, people are looking around for ways out of this mess.”
Tour manager Jacob Grech said one of the main obstacles in getting Julian released was with the White House administration.
“If they were to prosecute Julian Assange, it would leave the door open for prosecution of different publishers like the New York Times, for example, who also published the documents that WikiLeaks released,” he said.
“So, it’s a matter of charge one, charge all.
“Now the second point is that it’s been said that because Julian is an Australian citizen, he has no First Amendment rights to free speech. They claim that first amendment rights are only available to US citizens.
“Every major publishing house in the world has a correspondent in the United States – the ABC has, Fairfax has, they all have. They also have no First Amendment rights.
“This is something the administration does not want to pursue.
“He (Julian) was arrested and detained in the United Kingdom for activities that took place outside the United States. What the United States seems to be asking for is nothing short of a universal bailiwick to the application of their laws.
“That means, if any law that is existent in the United States is broken by a citizen of any country anywhere, the United States has the right to arrest them and detain them. This is what they are claiming.”
Lismore Mayor Vanessa Ekins was at the rally to show her support for a cause she said was all about respect.
“It’s about our government giving respect to our citizens overseas in difficult circumstances,” she said.
“It’s about respecting the independent nature of journalism and how important that is, that our people have access to information about what our government is doing and what our soldiers are doing overseas, and it’s about just basic respect for people in difficult circumstances.
“So, keep the conversation going and we need to put pressure on our federal representatives to bring Julian home.”
Lismore City Council was the first council in Australia to write to the Federal Government asking for Julian to come home and it was Councillor Darlene Cook who moved that in the chamber.
“We’re all part of the greater collective of humanity and injustice to one is injustice to us all,” Cr Cook said.
“To not look around hoping someone else will carry that banner or flag or start a campaign, it is up to all of us as global citizens to shoulder the duty to fight for the rights of our fellow citizens, anywhere around the world, anytime injustice is seen, every time our voices and our actions can lead to changes.
“That’s why I put a motion to Lismore City Council in February 2020 calling on the Australian Government to uphold Julian’s human rights as an Australian citizen who has been unjustly held overseas for nine years.”
Mr Grech called on the community to lobby their local federal member to take action in getting Julian released.

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Local News

Two charged following separate online grooming investigations

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Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

Two charged following separate online grooming investigations

TWO men have been charged with alleged online grooming offences following separate investigations by Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad’s Child Exploitation Unit.

Last month, investigators from Strike Force Trawler began engaging with a man from Goonellabah.
Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform on the child, as well as sent explicit materials.
It will be further alleged that the man arranged to meet the girl for the purpose of a sexual encounter.
Following inquiries, a 60-year-old man was arrested at Lennox Head just after 9am on Monday, September 13.
He was taken to Ballina Police Station, where he was charged with two counts of use carriage service-procure child under 16 years for sexual activity.

The man was refused bail and appeared at Byron Bay Local Court, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at Lismore Local Court on Monday, November 8.

Separately, in June, detectives began speaking with an East Lismore man, who believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl – allegedly engaging in sexually explicit conversations about acts he wished to perform on the child – before arranging to meet with her.

Following further inquiries, the man was arrested at a South Lismore business about 10.20am on Tuesday, September 14.
A search warrant was then executed at an East Lismore address, where detectives seized an electronic device, which will undergo further forensic examination.

The 62-year-old man was taken to Lismore Police Station, where he was charged with use carriage service to groom under 16 years for sex.

He was refused bail and appeared at Lismore Local Court, where he was granted conditional bail to reappear at the same court on Thursday, November 11.

Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Jayne Doherty, said the arrests should serve as a warning for guardians of young children.

“Police will allege both these men believed they could engage in sexual activity with a young child,” Det Supt Doherty said.

“Parents and guardians should be aware of what their children are doing on the internet and who they are speaking with. They should never arrange to meet with someone they have met online.

“Make sure your children feel comfortable speaking up about anything they have done online.”
Information and educational packages for parents and children are available from ThinkUKnow, a multi-agency program designed to educate and promote cyber safety: https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/

The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.
Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.
Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Covid breachers in court – Lismore

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Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

Covid breachers in court

THE Rose Bay father and son that bought Covid-19 to the Northern Rivers, creating a snap lockdown, had their charges read in Lismore Court on Monday.

Zoran, 52, and Kristan, 19, Radovanic did not attend the court mention but their lawyer asked for the case to be adjourned until October.

It is believed they are also asking for a change in the hearing location away from Lismore.

The pair is charged with a host of Covid-19 breaches, including failing to comply and not registering their movement with the QR code, and not wearing a mask on public transport.

Mr Radovanovic travelled from Sydney to Byron Bay back in August with his two teenage sons to allegedly look at property.

They later tested positive to Covid-19 after Mr Radovanovic took ill and presented at Lismore Base Hospital for treatment.

The pair didn’t enter a plea, but the magistrate mentioned they would need to enter a plea at the next mention, scheduled for October 11.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Council facilities will begin to reopen from Saturday after the NSW Government today announced a lifting of the lockdown for parts of regional NSW, including the Tweed local government area.

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Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry

Council facilities will begin to reopen from Saturday after the NSW Government today announced a lifting of the lockdown for parts of regional NSW, including the Tweed local government area.

Stay at home orders will be lifted from midnight tomorrow, Friday 10 September, but the region will continue to operate under tight restrictions to ensure the safety of regional communities.

These restrictions include limiting the number of visitors to the home to 5 people (not including children 12 and under) and up to 20 people at outdoor settings.

Masks will still be required for all indoor public venues, while capacity will be limited at hospitality, retail outlets and gyms to maintain the one person per 4 sqm rule, with specific customer limitations for each industry.

Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry welcomed the announcement by the NSW Government, saying it was now time for the Queensland Government to follow suit and reinstate a border bubble.

“Today’s announcement is a great win for all the businesses and families out there who have shared their stories of how hard the lockdown has been here in the Tweed – this is your win,” Cr Cherry said.

“It is now time for us to reopen our businesses, for our children to return to school and to celebrate that some of us can now spend time with family.

“But let’s not forget all of those among us that still can’t get to work or see their families because of the great divide that continues to split our community in half at Tweed Heads and Coolangatta.

“I call on the Queensland Government to lift those restrictions and reinstate a border bubble so we can all get back to work and sit down together again as families.”

As a result of the easing of restrictions, Council will open most of its customer-facing facilities in coming days. However, some services remain impacted by staffing shortages as a result of the border closure. Services opening include:

Stotts Creek Resource Recovery Centre (tip) returns to normal operations for domestic and commercial operations from Saturday 11 September. Tweed JUNKtion Tip Shop remains closed with a reopening date to be confirmed next week.

Tweed Holiday Parks return to normal operations from Saturday 11 September with COVID-Safe restrictions

Customer Service Counters at Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads reopen from Monday 13 September

Library branches at Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads and Kingscliff return to normal opening hours from Monday 13 September

Brett Street CAFE at Tweed Heads returns to normal operating hours from Monday 13 September

Starting Block Café at TRAC Murwillumbah open for takeaway meals from Monday 13 September

Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre at Murwillumbah, Kingscliff and South Tweed to reopen from Monday 13 September on restricted hours

Tweed Regional Museum will return to normal operating hours from Tuesday 14 September

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre will reopen from Wednesday 15 September

Community centres at Banora Point and South Tweed, South Sea Islander Room, Harvard Room, Kingscliff Hall, Canvas and Kettle reopening from Wednesday 15 September

Council-approved community markets, including at Kingscliff, SALT Village, Pottsville, Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads may reopen with COVID-safe plans in place.

The next Council meeting on Thursday 16 September will return to normal operations and will be held in the Harvard Room at Tweed Heads Administration Office. Anyone wishing to attend in person must pre-book their seats due to capacity restrictions. The meeting will also be livestreamed. Details on how to book or join the livestream are available on Council’s website.

Essential services including water and kerbside waste collection services continue to operate as normal.

For any queries, the community is encouraged to call our Contact Centre Team on 02 6670 2400, chat to us online or email us on tsc@tweed.nsw.gov.au. Any issues can be reported online via our Report a Problem webpage or direct message us on Facebook.

Keep up to date with closures and service impacts on Council’s COVID-19 Emergency Dashboard.

For the latest on regional and rural restrictions, including stay-at-home rules, visit the NSW Government website at nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/affected-regions.

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