Supply of PPE, vaccines would be jeopardized by investigation of COVID-19 response, Liberals say

The ability of the federal government to procure adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 rapid tests and vaccines would be jeopardized if a Conservative motion calling for a sweeping investigation into the government’s pandemic response passes, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said today.

Anand said the extensive disclosure of documents requested by the Official Opposition — particularly those related to the purchase of PPE, medical devices and pharmaceuticals — could cause businesses to lose faith in the government’s ability to protect their sensitive trade information.

“As we are in the middle of the second wave and the number of COVID cases continues to increase, this is not the time for this motion to be passed,” Anand told reporters. 

“This is not the time to threaten and weaken our relationships with our suppliers, on whom Canadians’ health and safety depends.”

The comments come as the Liberal government urges MPs to reject the motion, which would direct the House of Commons health committee to probe the federal government’s COVID-19 response.

A final vote will take place in the Commons this afternoon around 3 p.m. ET.

If passed, the motion would empower the committee to call several cabinet ministers as witnesses and direct the government to hand over a trove of documents, emails and other records from a handful of departments.

It’s expected to pass with support from the NDP and Bloc Québécois despite public concerns raised by a variety of industry groups, companies and other experts that such a wide-ranging investigation could hamper the civil service as it manages the response to the pandemic’s second wave.

Part of the dispute comes down to who would get to choose what information to redact from the documents. The motion includes language providing for the withholding of any information that would interfere with “contractual or other negotiations between the Government of Canada and a third party.”

But it’s the House of Commons law clerk who would be making the decision of what particular information meets that threshold.

Anand warns that the House of Commons law clerk does not have the expertise in procurement to properly redact records that would surface through the probe. She said the Liberals proposed amending the language of the motion so that the Privy Council Office would make those decisions, but the Conservatives rejected that suggestion.

The Privy Council Office co-ordinates the actions of the government across departments and serves as the bureaucracy for the Prime Minister’s Office.

Opposition from health experts, industry

Dr. David Naylor, co-chair of the federal government’s COVID-19 immunity task force, also has concerns about the motion. Naylor told The Canadian Press in an email that the proposed study is too expansive and will ultimately create more work and distractions for the federal public service at a time when it is already working full out.

Last week, a major industry association said releasing confidential documents detailing the federal government’s business deals with suppliers of personal protective equipment and testing devices could hurt Canadian manufacturers and sully Canada’s global business reputation.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Canada is the latest to express concerns about the probe. In a letter to Health Canada, Pfizer says it wants to know how its commercial secrets will be protected.

Opposition parties have insisted there is sufficient protection for industry while accusing the Liberals of stirring fears.

The vote comes one week after the Liberal government survived a confidence vote on a separate Conservative motion that sought a special committee investigation into the WE Charity affair and other alleged examples of corruption.

The government has said today’s vote won’t be considered a matter of confidence.

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It’s All About the Investigation

In other words, insofar as it is possible to decode these stories and discard the innuendo, they contain no wrongdoing by Joe Biden, and they suggest that Hunter Biden was unscrupulously trying to profit from his famous last name.

This presents some problems for the Trump campaign. First, it has been clear all along that Hunter Biden’s personal and business lives are messy and unsavory. What Trump has yet to turn up, though, is any evidence of illegal behavior by Hunter in his business dealings. That’s certainly not for lack of trying. Trump henchmen such as Rudy Giuliani have been searching for years, and so far the only tangible thing they have to show for it is that the president was impeached.

Sarah Chayes described Hunter Biden’s behavior in The Atlantic as “perfectly legal, socially acceptable corruption,” and I argued that the House should have called him during impeachment proceedings. Trying to profit off your father’s name and fame is gross, but if it’s a criminal offense, then that’s bad news for Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump—to say nothing of the president himself.

Trump is stuck flogging a story with no clear legal violations that’s difficult to understand for anyone not already immersed in the conservative-media ecosystem—which means nearly anyone who’s not already a committed Trump voter. This helps explain why on Tuesday, even before the Journal stories had published, Trump was calling on Attorney General William Barr to announce a probe.

“We’ve got to get the attorney general to act,” Trump groused to Fox & Friends. “He’s got to act and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption and this has to be known about before the election.”

The call for an investigation reflects a lesson Trump has learned well. Arcane scandals and non-scandals can affect voters, but they have to be laundered out of right-wing media, and then they need some imprimatur that imparts seriousness or coherence. A legal investigation is the easiest way to do this.

In the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton was revealed to have been using a personal email server while secretary of state. This was, in fact, the scandal: Clinton was breaking rules about public records. It was both inappropriate and pretty dull. So Trump’s allies tried to intimate some broader scandal about things Clinton was trying to hide. Nothing ever turned up, and the FBI recommended in July 2016 that Clinton not face any charges.

But in October, then–FBI Director James Comey turned up a tranche of supposedly new emails. The announcement of a reopened FBI investigation arguably cost Clinton the election—even though, in the end, the FBI found nothing new and closed the investigation again. (The Trump Justice Department investigated Clinton’s emails once more, but also couldn’t find anything to charge her with.) The FBI investigation turned an otherwise dull and bureaucratic scandal into something more potent: If there were nothing here, why would the FBI be investigating?

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Charges laid in Nowra strike force drug investigation | Goulburn Post

news, local-news, police, nowra, drugs, NSW Police Force

Five people have been charged following an investigation into the supply of illicit drugs on the state’s South Coast. In June 2020, Strike Force Splinter was established by South Coast Police District to investigate the supply of prohibited drugs, specifically methylamphetamine, in the Nowra area. Read: The Moss Vale Pony Club and Moss Vale Show Society could possibly be ending their 80 year partnership with one another Read More: Rare Cancers Australia is set to host Teeup4Rare with all funds raised to go towards rare cancer patients Read Further: Southern Highland Storm excited for club’s future after excellent debut season Following an extensive investigation, strike force investigators – with the assistance of the South East Region Enforcement Squad and Dog Unit – executed search warrants at three homes in Nowra, Culburra and Bomaderry earlier today (Friday 23 October 2020). The police operation commenced about 6am, with three men and two women arrested and taken to Nowra Police Station. During the searches, officers seized cash, drugs, a BMW sedan, property believed to be stolen, jewellery and prohibited weapon. All items seized during the operation will undergo forensic examination. All five were refused bail to appear in Nowra Local Court today (Friday 23 October 2020). Investigations are continuing. Did you know the Southern Highland News is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.

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Child abuse investigation Operation Molto charges 44 Australian men with 350 crimes

Forty-four Australian men are facing 350 charges of possessing child exploitation material after a law enforcement referral sparked a large, nationwide criminal investigation.

Operation Molto, coordinated by the Australian Federal Police-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), has removed 16 children from harm after identifying alleged offenders in every Australian state, as well as the ACT.

The year-long operation started when the ACCCE was given a law enforcement report showing thousands of offenders were using a cloud storage platform to share what the AFP described as “abhorrent” child abuse material online.

Some of the alleged offenders, who are also accused of producing their own child abuse material online, were allegedly in possession of material that was produced by a man arrested by the AFP in 2015 under Operation Niro, which resulted in the dismantling of an international organised paedophile syndicate.

The alleged offenders are aged between 19 and 57 years old and were employed in a range of occupations, including construction, transport, law enforcement and hospitality.

Operation Molto, an ongoing investigation, has been supported by hundreds of police and specialists across Australia.

It has also received assistance from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and AUSTRAC.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said while the hard work, diligence and co-operation of police should be recognised, victims remained front of mind for law enforcement agencies.

“Arresting offenders and putting them before the court is only half the battle,” he said.

“Identifying victims is a race against time and the ACCCE’s victim identification team is relentless in rescuing children from sexual abuse.

“Pixel by pixel, our investigators painstakingly look for clues and never give up and the tools they use give Australian police access to world-leading expertise.

“Viewing, distributing or producing child exploitation material is a crime. Children are not commodities and the AFP and its partner agencies work around-the-clock to identify and prosecute offenders.”

As a result of AFP investigations, there were 134 children who were removed from harm — 67 in Australia and 67 internationally — from July 2019 to June 2020.

In the past 12 months alone, the ACCCE has intercepted and examined more than 250,000 child abuse material files.

Of these, 44 referrals were made to ACCCE’s victim identification team, making up more than 4,000 images and 2,200 videos.

The ACCCE’s victim identification team has also sent 49 referrals relating to victims of child abuse to 20 countries in the past 12 months.

Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Reports can also be made online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at

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Australia Post boss stood aside amid Cartier watch investigation; Canberra breaks 100-day COVID-free streak; Iran and Russia interfere with US election, FBI says; Victoria records five new cases, NSW one local case

Australia Post’s Chief Executive Christine Holgate will be asked to stand aside as an investigation is conducted into why the organisation spent $12,000 rewarding senior executives with Cartier watches.

During question time this afternoon, the Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Ms Holgate will be asked to suspend her duties after it was revealed in a Senate estimates hearing that the service gifted four $3000 watches to senior executives.

Ms Holgate said the watches were bought from a Melbourne store in October 2018 and were for people that needed “to be rewarded” for “an inordinate amount of work” they did in setting up personal banking within post office branches.

The watches were a gift from herself, the Chair and the board of Australia Post.

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Premier Mark McGowan reveals minister’s office under investigation

Premier Mark McGowan has revealed the office of one of his ministers is under active investigation, but would not reveal details to Parliament.

Mr McGowan was facing opposition questioning about the Public Sector Commission, which oversees integrity matters relating to public servants and political staffers employed in ministerial offices.

WA’s Parliament House.Credit:Nathan Hondros

He said there had been two matters dealt with by Public Sector Commissioner Sharyn O’Neill relating to investigations into ministerial offices.

One related to complaints about Treasurer Ben Wyatt’s media adviser, who was found not guilty in April of indecently assaulting a female colleague at a Christmas function.

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SA opens border to NZ; One new COVID-19 case in Victoria, no deaths; Hundreds at risk of HIV after VIC hotel testing blunder; Homicide investigation launched after woman’s body found in driveway; Electronic wristbands flagged for returned travellers; Operation to evacuate infected crew from livestock ship off WA coast begins

Eleven international fisherman who flew into New Zealand have tested positive for coronavirus, in a development described as a “major outbreak”.

Stuff has previously reported about 440 fishermen from Russia and Ukraine were due to arrive in NZ on two flights chartered by Kiwi fishing companies.

More than 200 of the foreign workers landed late last week and have been quarantining in a hotel in Christchurch, the location of the outbreak.

The cases were detected as part of routine testing.

New Zealand is currently closed to all non-New Zealand citizens.

But the waiver for the fishermen was granted as New Zealand’s fishing fleets cannot operate without foreign workers.

A source close to the hotel told Stuff it was a “major outbreak”.

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AFL 2020 | Adam Saad departure sparks ‘deep’ Essendon Football Club investigation

The president said he wanted to emphasise that Essendon were not in denial after experiencing weeks of negativity post-season and although he was optimistic about the future he had a responsibility to get to the bottom of the issues at the club. He admitted that Saad leaving was the final sign a deep-dive review was needed.

On Thursday key club leaders – CEO Xavier Campbell, football manager Dan Richardson, senior coach Ben Rutten and list manager Adrian Dodoro – fronted the board in a wide-ranging discussion that focused on football matters including the performance in 2020, the upcoming exchange period and future plans.

They will be asked their views as will a cross-section of players and staff with Brasher saying he was very conscious he needed to establish a process that enabled people to be frank in their assessments if improvement was to follow.

He said although he thought much of commentary was “exaggerated” the departures of four players was enough to raise legitimate concerns about the environment as he confirmed in a video to members that Fantasia wanted to leave.

Brasher said it would be inappropriate for him to discuss the way in which specific individuals had performed their role but he hoped the review would give him greater clarity on the best way forward and until then he wanted to reserve his judgments.

“We as a club have got a responsibility to help more players grow their leadership responsibilities and that is something we are going to be concentrating on to a greater extent,” Brasher said.

“All of us whether it be ‘Truck’ [Ben Rutten], whether it be Dyson [Heppell], whether it be the young guys coming through, I think there is going to be a concentration on thinking what does every individual need to help them develop and how can we do that in a way that is going to give them the best chance [of success].”

Despite several key players departing, Essendon have also recently re-signed No.1 draft pick Andrew McGrath, best-and-fairest winner Jordan Ridley and developing midfielder Kyle Langford. They are chasing Giants midfielder Jye Caldwell hard. In a video to members he confirmed that Zach Merrett and Devon Smith would be at the Bombers in 2021.


Brasher said the club’s first step was to build back respect as a formidable on-field opponent and he was confident they could create sustainable success from where they were now with the club likely to have several high draft picks this season and sizeable space in their salary cap.

Brasher said he understood some eyebrows had been raised when Sheedy was appointed to the board but it was wrong to assume it reflected a club trying to dredge the past to repeat former glories.

“You can be attacked either way … this is a bit sacrilegious. I think the past is important. I love it. I was a part of it as a supporter [but] it is irrelevant to where we are going now. We’re going ahead, we’re thinking about the future,” Brasher said.

He said Sheedy “understands the boundaries between being a director and the hands-on stuff”.

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Internal investigation launched following NSW corruption watchdog leak

The ICAC’s Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl apologised for the blunders on Friday morning and confirmed an internal investigation would be conducted. The matter has also been referred to the independent ICAC Inspector, Sydney barrister Bruce McClintock, SC.


Asked whether she was concerned by Thursday afternoons ICAC leak, Ms Berejiklian said she felt let down by the process.

“Suffice to say it hasn’t been pleasant and unfortunately it didn’t happen once, but twice and I’ve accepted their apology,” she said.

“We also have to respect the process, even though the process let me down a bit this week in terms of putting out personal information about me.

“We have to have confidence in the process, we have to let the ICAC do their job and we have to make sure that we provide full opportunity for them to do their job without this commentary which only detracts from the job they need to do.”

Ms Berejiklian remained defiant on Friday amid a fifth day of questioning over her involvement with Mr Maguire and its implications on her political future.

The ICAC issued an urgent suppression order on Thursday night about the “erroneous” version of the transcript, stating it “shall not be published, copied or described in any manner.”

The Premier said she was “very confident” she would lead the Coalition to the 2023 state election and would only stand down “when I’ve done something wrong”.

Ms Berejiklian said she did not believe there would be a cloud over her leadership until the ICAC makes its findings, saying she was only there as a witness and that she had not been accused of any wrongdoing.


Sydney barrister Arthur Moses, SC, acting for Ms Berejiklian said the publication of the material amounted to a “violation of my client’s privacy and her security”.

Mr Moses added that it should not be a “forum for a person’s reputation to be the subject of question marks” without a proper basis.

However the Assistant Commissioner described Mr Moses’ submission as “extremely elliptical” and said “I don’t think it requires a response at this stage”.

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Canterbury under scrutiny in Liquor and Gaming NSW investigation

“Liquor and Gaming NSW investigators attended Canterbury League Club on Thursday 8 October to make enquiries as part of an investigation,” the spokesperson said. “As the investigation is ongoing, no further comment can be made.”

Sources said the Bulldogs had also been contacted by investigators interested in the relationship between the NRL club and the nearby licensed venue, which has long been a major backer of the football side. The two entities are linked because the football club is the controlling entity of the league club, endorsing four of the seven directors. Former Canterbury premiership winner Dunn remains Coorey’s successor as league club president despite standing down from the Bulldogs board.

George Coorey remains on the league club board as a director despite being removed as president.Credit:Dean Sewell

Contacted by the Herald, league club chief executive Greg Pickering said: “I don’t believe it is in Canterbury League Club’s interest for me to make comment about the activities of Liquor and Gaming in relation to the club.”

Coorey strongly denies the claims against him and his backers argue his removal as president at a board meeting last month was not permitted under the club’s constitution.

The women who have made complaints about him did not provide statements to an initial investigation by the Barrington Group but indicated last month they were willing to assist another investigation the league club board said it would commission.


Amid the continuing drama at Belmore, billionaire publican Arthur Laundy on Thursday re-affirmed his intention to formally have his family company sign on as the NRL team’s major sponsor for the next two years.

The 79-year-old businessman on Tuesday bought the remaining four members of the Bulldogs football club board lunch at the Red Lion Hotel in Rozelle, which is owned by his daughter, and outlined his only sticking point for backing Canterbury to the tune of a reported $500,000 a season.

Laundy told new club chairman John Khoury and directors Peter Mortimer, Adrian Turner and Joe Thomas that he simply wanted to be a mentor for the club’s players.

“I’m not going to do a runner. All I’ve said is I want to be part of the team,” Laundy said. “[Bulldogs CEO] Andrew Hill is all for it, [incoming head coach] Trent Barrett is all for it. Once they’ve got the other three [board members] sorted out I’ll be meeting with them.

“I want to be the mentor of those players because too many of them at the end of the football career have wasted their money.

“If any member of the committee is not happy about that I’m wasting my time. I don’t think they would but if they ruled ‘that’s not part of your agenda’, I’d have to finish.”

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