Canberra Raiders centre Curtis Scott commences legal action against police over botched case


After considering his options since the Raiders’ season concluded, Scott has decided to proceed with legal action.

“The answer is yes, I’m instructed to go ahead with the claim,” Scott’s lawyer Sam Macedone told The Sun-Herald.

“We sought a transcript of what happened in court, which I’ve now got. I’d say we’d be in the process of issuing a statement of claim hopefully before Christmas.

“It should never have got to court, but I couldn’t talk them out of it.

“I made it quite clear very early on in the piece that if they withdrew, there would be no application for costs. But they saw fit to run it, so game on. Next year, it will come to roost.”

Curtis Scott is taking legal action against the police.Credit:Fairfax Media

Asked if the damages reparations they were seeking would be a six-figure sum, Macedone said: “I think you are absolutely correct – it would be a minimum of six figures.

“He’s lost a fair bit – he’s lost sponsorship, he’s lost other things and been through a traumatic period of his life where he had this thing hanging over his head.

“These are very serious charges, too. More importantly than anything else, he had the NRL leaning over him saying, ‘Righto, can you play or can’t you play?’

“There was a lot on his mind and when I finally got him the OK to play, he played terribly because he had too much on his mind. That’s my opinion and I believe it’s shared by his coach and manager as well.”

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While Scott was exonerated in court, the NRL took a dim view of the incident. The governing body issued Scott with a $15,000 fine, the entirety of which will be suspended if the former Storm centre completes mandated education and counselling programs.

Given the NRL had the power to stand Scott down until the court matter was finalised, Macedone said he was comfortable with how league officials handled the saga.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy with that,” he said.

In September, Scott spoke of the toll the incident had taken on him.

“I’m just happy I can get a full eight hours of sleep at night and not wake up with an anxiety attack,” Scott said. “I’ve been coming in putting on a brave face. Knowing I’m at such a great club that has supported me through it all, and such a great playing group, made it much easier to come in.

“But always laying down in bed thinking, ‘If one of these charges stick, I could be out of the workforce’ every day is pretty scary.”

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Centre in SC: 13 drugs, 30 vaccines being tested for Covid-19


By: Express News Service | New Delhi |

November 28, 2020 7:30:00 am





Health workers collect swabs for Covid-19 testing in Thane, Maharashtra. (Express Photo: Deepak Joshi)

On the status of development for drugs and vaccines for , the Centre Friday told the Supreme Court “13 clinical trials of repurposed drugs have been undertaken to build a portfolio of therapeutic options”, and “nearly 30 vaccine candidates encompassing a diverse group of vaccines based on multiple technologies/platforms are under development” in the country “by both academia and industry”. Five of these candidates are in clinical trial stage, of which two vaccines are in Phase III trials and three are in phase II trials, it said.

On the figures, the Centre said, “Presently, India stands at 9.2 million Covid cases, with over 0.44 million active cases, which make up only 4.75 per cent of the current cumulative cases.”

“As most of the countries are observing resurgence of Covid cases, given the size and density of our population, the country has done remarkably well in restricting the spread. Our recovery rate has gone up to 93.76 per cent, with almost 8.6 million recoveries. The average cases per day has reduced by 50 per cent since the past eight weeks.”

The positivity rate was 6.9 per cent while case fatality rate remains low at 1.46 per cent, when compared to a global average of 2.36 per cent, the Centre said. The total death count stands at 0.13 million.

The Centre pointed out that “10 states contribute almost 77 per cent of the active case load for the country. These include Maharashtra (18.9 per cent), Kerala (14.7 per cent), Delhi (8.5 per cent), West Bengal (5.7 per cent), Karnataka (5.6 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (5.4 per cent), Rajasthan (5.5 per cent), Chhattisgarh (5.0 per cent), Haryana (4.7 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (3.1 per cent).”

READ | Centre in SC: Shortcomings by Delhi govt led to Covid spike

The country is now testing on an average, almost 1.1 million samples daily… “a remarkable increase from 6,000 tests daily at the start of April,” the affidavit added.

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NRL 2020: Jake Clifford signs with Knights, Keaon Koloamatangi, Rabbitohs, Transfer Centre, signings tracker


The Knights have landed their man in Jake Clifford on a two-year deal starting in 2022.

Newcastle announced the signing of the playmaker on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old was poised to join the Knights next season after being given permission by the Cowboys to negotiate with rivals for an opportunity in 2021. However, North Queensland went back on that and stood firm on the young half to see out the final year of his contract.

Clifford, a former Queensland Under 20s representative, has played 35 NRL games. He debuted in the Prime Minister’s XIII in 2018 after just six NRL games.

Grand Final

“When the opportunity arose to sign Jake, I thought it was a perfect fit for both parties,” Knights head or recruitment Clint Zammit said.



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Suspect at large after multiple people wounded in Wisconsin shopping centre shooting



A suspect was at large after multiple people were wounded in an “active shooter incident” at a suburban shopping centre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Saturday.

The shooting took place outside a Macy’s department store at the Mayfield Mall in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb of 47,000 people, according to local authorities.

Seven adults and one teenager were transported to the hospital, Wauwatosa Chief of Police Barry Weber said in a statement, but the extent of their injuries was unknown.

The shooter left the scene by the time emergency responders arrived, Weber said, and remained at large.

Police described him as a white male in his twenties or thirties.

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said in a statement earlier Saturday none of the injuries appeared life-threatening. He added that 75 police officers were on the scene.

Live TV shots on local ABC affiliate WISN12 showed dozens of police vehicles with flashing lights outside Macy’s and video posted to Twitter showed paramedics wheeling people out of the mall on stretchers.

Several customers interviewed by local media said shoppers and mall employees were locked inside the mall but were safe. One said her sister – a mall employee – heard about 15 shots.

The Mayfair Mall released a statement on the shooting: “We are disheartened and angered that our guests and tenants were subject to this violent incident today. We are thankful for our partners at the Wauwatosa Police Department and we are cooperating with them as their investigation develops.”





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Green sea turtles released from Queensland rehabilitation centre mark release of 150th animal


Eight years, hundreds of kilos of squid and thousands of volunteer hours later, a rehabilitation centre is celebrating the release of its 150th green sea turtle.

The Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, off Gladstone, takes in sick and injured turtles along the Queensland coast from Mackay to Bundaberg.

The animals are fed lots of squid, love and care until they are healthy and can be returned to the ocean.

Owner Bob McCosker has spent thousands of dollars on the animals since opening the centre more than eight years ago — and says it has all been worth it.

“We’ve got probably 100 volunteers in the region who are involved and who are dedicated, so it’s a big organisation.

“It’s not just us at the other end, on the rehab side, there’s a lot in between to make it happen.”

The release marks Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre’s 150th green sea turtle release.(ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

A unique triple turtle release at Zilzie beach, on the Capricorn Coast, marked the milestone.

“Nature turns on as soon as they can smell that salt water,” Mr McCosker said.

“Their DNA takes over. They’re not looking for the pool anymore. They know what they’re doing out there.”

‘A miracle recovery’

Centre manager Kim van Oudheusden said the turtles washed up in winter, very underweight.

“They had some parasites and they were very unhealthy, so we just cleaned them up, fattened them up, and released them back to the ocean,” she said.

“It was so exciting, especially because it was three, which is quite special. That doesn’t happen very often.”

Kim van Oudheusden, holding green sea turtle, smiling, wearing sunglasses, beach, ocean and man in the background.
Manager Kim van Oudheusden is thrilled to be releasing another healthy green sea turtle.(ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

Ms van Oudheusden said each turtle’s journey to recovery was different.

“One stayed with us for four months, one three months and one two months,” she said.

“The third one, he made a really speedy recovery. He was in the main pool in a week’s time eating and fattening up, and the other ones just needed a little bit more care.

“With Kahana, the second one, we thought she wouldn’t make it so we didn’t give her much of a chance.

“But she was the first one in the water so it was a miracle recovery.”

Andrew the human, releases Andrew the turtle

Andrew Kaney found one of the turtles washed up on Zilzie beach covered in barnacles, algae and leeches.

“It was actually during COVID-19 and we were working from home, and I decided to take my dog for a walk in the middle of the day to get out and get some fresh air,” he said.

“I actually walked past the turtle because it was in such a poor state. It actually looked like a rock. I didn’t take any notice of it.

“My dog hung around it and wouldn’t come, and then she’s looking at me, and I said, ‘What have you found?’

“I went back and it was the turtle. It was in a pretty poor state.”

Sea turtle covered in barnacles and green moss lying on blue towel.
Andrew the green sea turtle was found washed up on Zilzie beach lethargic and covered in barnacles.(Supplied)

He called the rehab centre’s local volunteer, Paul Mitchell, who picked up the sick turtle and drove it to Gladstone.

Mr Kaney was moved to see the turtle, named after him, return to the ocean healthy.

“It was a pretty good feeling,” he said.

A message to fishers

The centre constantly sees turtle injuries and deaths as a result of recreational fishing, with hooks, crab pots, and fishing line causing some of the worst trauma.

“Our constant cry is just be really careful with your tackle and your gear,” Mr McCosker said.

“If you know you’re going to get snagged, don’t just break your line off because that’s going to be there for the next thousand years.”

Three turtles make their way along the sand towards the ocean, little boy and woman watch on.
Andrew, Mossy and Kahana recovered well after being found sick and underweight in the Yeppoon area.(ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

He hoped boaties and fishers would make a move to biodegradable fishing line.

“That’s going to be the ultimate answer because our shorelines and our oceans at the moment, our reefs, are getting just massacred with fishing tackle,” he said.

“It’s sort of overlooked because you can’t see the damage you’re leaving behind.



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Convicted child killer Rick Thorburn jailed over sex offences at family day care centre


Convicted child killer Rick Thorburn has been sentenced to five years in jail over more than a dozen child sex offences, including the rape of a young girl at a family day care centre south of Brisbane five years ago.

Last November, Thorburn pleaded guilty to one count of rape, two counts of attempted rape, and 10 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 12.

The offences occurred at 60-year-old Thorburn’s home at Chambers Flat, south of Brisbane, where his wife Julene Thorburn ran a home childcare business.

The offences began in 2015 — the same year he murdered his 12-year-old foster daughter Tiahleigh Palmer.

Earlier on Friday, Thorburn applied to have his guilty plea vacated, telling the court that at the time of admitting to the sexual assault charges he was “confused” and “pushed into” it by his lawyers.

“He [his lawyer] said, ‘If I pleaded guilty it would be less time [in custody] — if I went to court it would be longer time’,” Thorburn said.

Thorburn told the District Court at Beenleigh he had not intended to plead guilty but he “trusted” his lawyers.

“I thought the solicitor was there to help me,” he said.

“The way I was at the time, I just felt like I was just being hounded into a corner and being told, ‘Just do what you’re told’.”

Thorburn also told the court that two months before the plea hearing he had suffered memory loss and could no longer read or write “properly” after an incident in prison where he was “held down” and taken to another cell.

The court heard the incident Thorburn had referred to had occurred in September 2019, when he allegedly assaulted another prisoner before he was put into segregation in a detention unit and placed under a safety order for 28 days.

Rick Thorburn carried Tiahleigh Palmer’s coffin at her funeral in 2015 before he was charged.(AAP: Dan Peled)

Thorburn yells tirade in court room

Breaking down while giving evidence, Thorburn cried while telling the court he could remember so little after the incident that he could not recognise his wife when she visited him.

“A lady came and I didn’t know who it was, but it was my wife,” he said.

“I said ‘I don’t know you’.”

His two former lawyers gave evidence and both denied pushing Thorburn into entering the guilty plea.

On two occasions while being cross-examined on Friday morning, Thorburn erupted into an expletive-laden verbal tirade against the prosecutor, judge and the media.

While in the dock, Thorburn yelled: “Let’s f****** go home — I’m finished, I’m done”, before being removed from the court room.

“I know I will never see the outside of a jail again — I’m going to die in jail,” he said.

“Guilty, guilty, guilty to everything … I’m never getting out — who gives a s***.”

Judge dismisses application from ‘appalling’ witness

District Court Judge Craig Chowdhury dismissed Thorburn’s application to vacate the plea, labelling him a “poor” and “appalling” witness, who he did not believe was “bullied” into admitting to the crimes.

“Mr Thorburn was not truthful, and this seems to me an attempt to try and avoid a decision he made back in November,” Judge Chowdhury said.

When handing down his sentence, Judge Chowdury described Thorburn’s offending as “really serious”.

“You were in a position of trust,” he said.

Thorburn is serving a life sentence for the murder of Tiahleigh, whose body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River, south of Brisbane, six days after she was reported missing.

During his sentencing hearing in 2018, the Supreme Court in Brisbane heard Thorburn killed the schoolgirl after discovering his son had sex with her and feared she was pregnant.

Thorburn has already spent more than 600 days in custody and will now be eligible for parole in 2038.

Smiling Tiahleigh Palmer on a boat wearing a life jacket, date and location unknown.
Tiahleigh Palmer’s body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River six days after she was reported missing in 2015.(Supplied)



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Wests Tigers sign former South Sydney Rabbitohs centre James Roberts as Benji Marshall ponders interest from Cronulla Sharks


James Roberts was in a secret meeting with Tigers officials.

It may not be the club’s only addition to their back line. Panthers fullback Dane Laurie is close to agreeing to terms on a two-year deal from 2022, although the Tigers remain hopeful Penrith may grant him an immediate release. If that occurs, he will be in the mix to wear the No.1 jersey as soon as next year.

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The player market is finally heating up as teams prepare to return to pre-season, even though the NRL has yet to land on a salary-cap figure for next year. A raft of signings are likely to be confirmed in coming days, including Parramatta’s purchase of Bryce Cartwright.

However, there are other trades being worked on in the background which could have significant implications for next season.

Marshall is perhaps the highest-profile player yet to find a home for 2021 after the Tigers opted not to renew his contract. The former Golden Boot recipient knocked back an approach from the Cowboys, but is still hopeful of picking up a club.

His best chance of doing so appears to be Cronulla. The Shire outfit is expecting to be without Shaun Johnson for the opening two months of the season after the Kiwis half ruptured his Achilles tendon in the penultimate match of the regular season. Matt Moylan, who the Sharks have unsuccessfully attempted to move on from the final year of his deal, is one of the contenders to fill the void alongside Connor Tracey and Braydon Trindall. The latter is poised to be re-signed after making his debut this year.

However, Marshall could provide much-needed experience to John Morris, who is fighting for his own future at the club. Marshall, who has a good relationship with Cronulla football manager Darren Mooney from their time at the Tigers, is weighing up whether to play on or retire.

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Senior youth detention centre manager stood down following rape allegations, Parliament told


A senior manager at Ashley Youth Detention Centre in Tasmania’s north is among three staff stood down pending investigation into “hundreds” of serious allegations, including rape, the state’s Parliament has heard.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor revealed the bombshell allegations in a fiery Question Time focused on the abuse of Tasmanian children in state care.

According to Ms O’Connor, the detention centre employee was the subject of serious complaints.

“There may be other staff working at Ashley today who have serious allegations against them,” Ms O’Connor said.

Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch confirmed three staff members had been stood down, describing the allegations as a “very serious matter”, but would not provide further detail.

“I can confirm that a staff member has been stood down pending allegations being investigated fully,” Mr Jaensch said.

“I’m not going to provide any more detail regarding the identity of the person or the nature of the matters.”

He said he wanted to reassure Tasmanians that Communities Tasmania took any allegations of abuse against children in care or detention seriously.

In a statement released after Question Time, Mr Jaensch said historic allegations had been referred to Tasmania Police.

“The employees were stood down and an independent investigation is now underway, in addition to the police referral,” Mr Jaensch said.

“The Government needs to allow this process to take its course before commenting further.”

Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Cassy O’Connor, Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, revealed the allegations in questions time.(ABC RN: Emma Lancaster)

Labor MP Michelle O’Byrne and Ms O’Connor said Ashley was the wrong model for troubled children.

An average of 10 to 15 children are in Ashley at any one time at a cost of more than $3,000 per person per day.

A 2016 paper commissioned by the State Government recommended Ashley be replaced by two new 12-bed facilities in the North and South and that the Government reframe its approach to youth detention.

The Government has instead committed to a more than $7 million upgrade of the existing Ashley Youth Detention Centre building, which is expected to begin soon.

Tasmania Police said it was “assisting Communities Tasmania with an internal inquiry” but that “no formal complaint has been received”.

The state’s children’s commissioner and the custodial inspector have been contacted for comment.

Questions raised over alleged paedophile nurse

Labor has also quizzed government MPs on alleged paedophile nurse James Geoffrey Griffin’s involvement with the Northern Tasmanian Netball Association.

Sports Minister Jane Howlett falsely claimed a police investigation was ongoing into the allegations, meaning she was not able to comment, before later correcting the record.

James Griffin deceased Launceston paedophile nurse.
James Geoffrey Griffin died just after police laid child sex abuse charges against him last year.(Supplied)

The police investigation ended when Mr Griffin took his own life last year, but the State Government has announced an independent inquiry into the handling of the issue.

The nurses’ union and the Greens have also called for a commission of inquiry, which would have similar powers to a Royal Commission.

Franklin Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff noted Mr Griffin had worked at Ashley Youth Detention for five months as well as the Launceston General Hospital.

“It’s been alleged written complaints were made [over several years],” Dr Woodruff said.

“Allegations include the reports that were written on paper … and subsequently found ripped up in the rubbish bin.”



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Pandemic problems for the Centre, Finance Ministry slashes department allocations by 30%


NEW DELHI: The government has slashed allocations of various ministries and departments by 25-30% from budgeted estimates (BE), sparing only those carrying out essential activities such as healthcare, or implementing the Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan programmes.

This has forced some ministries and departments to delay payments under their schemes – a few even to the next financial year. Economists said expenditure compression could dent economic recovery.

“The message is clear… Spending (should be) within the revised estimates with focus on essential activities,” said a government official.

Better tax mop-up

With a pickup in tax collections improving the cash position, quarterly restrictions on spending by ministries and departments have been relaxed. But overall expenditure will need to be within the revised estimate (RE). “Ministries have been told to stick to RE,” the official said.

Typically, the finance ministry revisits budget allocations for an ongoing financial year when it begins work on the next budget. However, this year’s discussions have been held in the shadow of Covid-19 and factored in several sets of reforms as well as financial support through four packages to provide relief to stressed sectors and vulnerable groups, and spur a turnaround.

The government’s cash flow situation in the first quarter had come under severe pressure, prompting it to announce cash-management measures and restrictions on quarterly spending, depending on the urgency.

It also raised the gross market borrowing target for this fiscal to Rs 12 lakh crore, from Rs 7.8 lakh crore estimated in the budget, attributing the increase to the coronavirus outbreak that stalled the economy.

Health expenditure, additional spending on account of government packages and some defence purchases in view of the situation at the border received top priority.

Another official said the reduction in allocations is also dependent on utilisation of funds by a ministry. Of the total BE of Rs 30.42 lakh crore, only 48.6% had been spent in the first six months.

The newly-created ministry of jal shakti has spent only 33% of the allocated budget of Rs 30,000 crore, while the ministry of power spent 28% of the allocated Rs 15,000 crore up to September, as per data from the Controller General of Accounts. The ministry of rural development had to seek additional allocation for the employment guarantee scheme and other programmes within its ambit, having exhausted its entire allocation of Rs 1.22 lakh crore.

“Some funds, such as that for travel, have not been used,” the second official said. “Establishment costs have also come down… Some schemes have also not seen much utilisation.” Ministries can’t spend more than 33% of the allocated amount in the third quarter, according to norms.

Impact on growth

Economists said the healthy pace of expansion of government spending in the June quarter prevented an even sharper fall in GDP in the lockdown quarter, but has slowed since then.

“With expenditure management measures put in place, momentum reversed in the second quarter, with a contraction in total expenditure, despite the multiple rounds of fiscal stimulus announced so far,” said Aditi Nayar, principal economist, ICRA.

The agency fears this contraction may have curbed economic recovery in the second quarter. In its weekly tracker released on Wednesday, Nomura said expenditure compression is a risk to recovery. ICRA estimates the fiscal deficit at 7.4% of GDP in FY21, as against the government’s budget estimate of 3.5%.





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Work safety watchdog orders AFP to fix Canberra police traffic operations centre


ACT Policing failed to fix health and safety hazards at its Belconnen traffic operations centre for more than two years after the danger was identified.

The federal work safety watchdog confirmed it issued an improvement notice to the Federal Police last week because the building breached work health and safety laws.

Comcare has given ACT Policing until January 29, 2021 to fix the defects, or face fines of up to $250,000.

ACT Policing committed to fix the issues before the deadline, and said work was underway to relocate the traffic operations to a new site.

But the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) said the situation had been managed poorly, warning many other buildings occupied by ACT Policing were also defective and in need of repair.

“City Police Station leaks when it rains and is a dated building. The Winchester Police Centre is in a similar state, and everyone knows about the lack of a fit-for-purpose police station in Gungahlin,” AFPA president Alex Caruana said.

AFP warned of dozens of high-priority defects two years ago

A report on the traffic operations centre’s condition in mid-2018 identified 26 defects — with 22 of the defects rated as priority one issues requiring immediate action.

An improvement notice was issued to the Federal Police last week.(Supplied)

The defects included workplace accessibility, fire, lighting and other general building non-compliance.

The improvement notice said only one of the priority issues had been fixed in the more than two years since hazards were reported.

“At the time of writing this notice, the AFP has 21 priority one defects that still require action, with several not having interim controls identified,” the Comcare improvement notice said.

Comcare inspectors visited the traffic operations centre in September to collect information on building maintenance and incident and hazard reporting.

The inspectors reported that AFP staff at the centre were “visibly frustrated with the existing system”.

“Following a review of the available information and based on observations made during the inspection, I formed a reasonable belief that the AFP has not appropriately managed known risks to health and safety,” the notice reads.

“The current AFP facility management system does not appear to have enabled the AFP to effectively monitor facilities.”

ACT police training skirting.jpg
The Australian Federal Police Association has warned that more buildings occupied by ACT Policing need to be fixed.(Supplied)

The notice directed ACT Policing to complete six measures to fix the safety contraventions, including reviewing the existing facility management system and the installation of fire exit signage.

Comcare also recommended police ensure other ACT Policing buildings were compliant with safety laws.

Police union says situation has become ‘dire’

ACT Policing said the notice would not affect its officers’ ability to police the territory and protect the Canberra community.

“The Justice and Community Safety Directorate and ACT Policing will endeavour to complete the works within the specified timeframe,” a police spokesperson said.

“[The] ACT Government has also provided funding to ACT Policing to develop a 20-year Master Accommodation Plan which will ensure stations and facilities are fit-for-purpose. It will be delivered this financial year.”

An alternate site to house Traffic Operations has already been identified and a feasibility study is underway.

But the AFPA said more needed to be done to give officers better workplace accommodation.

An aircon system sits in a black ceiling hole.
The building was found to be in breach of work health and safety laws.

The union had previously warned a number of buildings — including the traffic operations centre — were in a state of disrepair, criticising the ACT Government for forcing police to make do with old buildings that were no longer fit for purpose.

“Through all our discussions with ACT Policing and the ACT Government, all the AFPA has heard about is the Police Services Model and Master Accommodation Plan,” Mr Caruana said.

“Why does it take three years to deliver … especially when ACT Policing has been provided funding?”



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