Man guilty of torching police car

THE former president of the Nomads bikie club has changed his plea to guilty for torching a police car parked outside his tattoo shop after new CCTV material contradicted his evidence.

Despite both the defence and prosecution acknowledging the footage did not alter much in way of evidence, Scott Orrock, 47, reversed his plea before the District Court on Tuesday after the previous trial had to be aborted last week when police tendered the new evidence.

Mr Orrock, the owner of Skin Deep Tattoo, in Newtown, admitted to smashing a police car window on April 21 at 3am and pouring highly flammable alcohol into the vehicle before setting it alight.

Ten minutes earlier Mr Orrock had gone into Newtown police station demanding an officer ”f—ing move it [the vehicle] right away or otherwise I will burn it down”.

In his sentencing submission Mr Orrock’s barrister, Deone Provera, said his client was ”not perfect” but also drew attention to a ”limited criminal history that was mostly for motor vehicle offences.” In 2006 Mr Orrock was shot at Showgirls nightclub and subsequently charged for concealing the identity of his attacker.

”Mr Orrock doesn’t suggest he’s off knitting doilies, nor that he is a fragile flower,” Mr Provera said.

”He’s a quite well known personalty in bikie circles and that community … but this is a person who has moved way from the life he once led,” he said.

Crown prosecutor Craig Patrick submitted Mr Orrock had shown no remorse or contrition for this ”deliberate, intentional and planned act.”

Justice Robyn Tupman is expected to hand down a sentence on Thursday morning.

”His criminal record is not that bad, he’s never been in jail for full time until now and he hasn’t committed an offence since 2006,” she said. ”I know the Crown would like to send him to jail for life but the maximum penalty is 10 years … this is the first time he’s been to jail, and that he is a Hells Angels member does not change anything.”

But Ms Tupman said the nine months non-parole period for maliciously damaging a police car and the eight months already spent on remand in Long Bay jail were not sufficient terms.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Iemma in frame as McClelland decides to bring down curtain

Contender … Morris Iemma is tipped to replace Robert McClelland.THE former federal attorney-general and prominent Kevin Rudd supporter Robert McClelland is to retire from federal politics.

Mr McClelland announced the federal election would bring an end to his 17-year hold on the Sydney electorate of Barton, triggering speculation the former NSW premier Morris Iemma could replace him in the seat.

Other names being discussed in relation to Barton are Shane O’Brien, who is the mayor of Rockdale and assistant general secretary of the Public Service Association of NSW, and the former Labor aide Kirsten Andrews, who is now with the National Heart Foundation.

If Mr Iemma decided to put his hand up, it is understood he would enjoy the backing of the NSW Labor head office. He also has strong support in his local branches, where he has remained active since leaving office.

A Labor source, who has spoken to Mr Iemma about the issue in recent months, said he was ”definitely interested, but not committed” to running.

A major consideration is his family. Mr Iemma and his wife, Santina, have four children. Their eldest son starts high school this year and they have twins in primary school.

Despite the 8.1 per cent swing against Labor in the 2010 election, Mr McClelland held Barton with a margin of 6.9 per cent.

He served as attorney-general under Mr Rudd’s government from 2007 and continued in the role under the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. But Ms Gillard moved Mr McClelland into emergency management in 2011 and then dumped him from the cabinet in March last year soon after he strongly backed Mr Rudd’s leadership challenge.

”After almost 17 years in federal Parliament, my decision has not been taken lightly and follows discussions over the Christmas recess with my family and friends,” Mr McClelland said.

The son of the Whitlam minister and NSW senator Doug McClelland, he said it had been a ”tremendous honour and privilege” to represent his constituents and he was grateful for their support.

The former Rudd government press secretary Lachlan Harris, who worked for Mr McClelland in opposition, said although retirement often triggered positive tributes, the sentiments in this case would be genuine.

”This was one of the true nice guys in politics,” he said.

”He was one of the ones that had friends on both sides of the aisle. He had an old-school sense of what’s right and what’s wrong,” Mr Harris said.

The shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, said Mr McClelland was ”a very decent guy treated poorly by Julia Gillard”, and the Victorian Labor MP Steve Gibbons said the former lawyer ”served the party and his community with great distinction”.

On Twitter, Joel Fitzgibbon, a Rudd supporter and Hunter region MP, described Mr McClelland as ”a great servant of the Labor Movement” whom history would treat well.

As a backbencher last June, Mr McClelland referred in Parliament to Ms Gillard’s involvement in providing advice on the establishment of a contentious Australian Workers Union fund.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Firms use tax money for aid projects

WEALTHY resource companies operating overseas are tapping into Australian taxpayer funds to set up aid projects potentially benefiting their corporate social responsibility credentials.

Aid and mining watchdogs have expressed concerns about the practice, arguing the corporations are wealthy enough to bankroll their own aid and that linking donations to controversial mine operations is a conflict of interest.

Nine mining companies all operating in Africa have been linked to the successful applications via the Foreign Affairs Department’s Direct Aid Program – a scheme that allows heads of missions to give up to $30,000 to local causes.

About $215,000 of taxpayers’ money went to the mining company-conceived projects last financial year, including a school for the deaf, providing trade skill training to local workers, establishing women’s groups and digging wells.

Two applications involved uranium mining companies, Paladin Energy in Malawi and Bannerman Resources in Namibia.

Other successful applicants included the nobium miner Globe Metals and Mining in Malawi, gold miner Endeavour Mining Corporation in Ghana and copper miner Mawson West in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The coalminer Intra Energy Corporation, gold miner Resolute Mining in Tanzania and Middle Island Resources, which is involved in gold mining in Burkina Faso, also were associated with successful applications.

Paladin, which has been the subject of some controversy in Malawi over job cuts, was last year linked to a funding application through its employees’ charity – Friends and Employees of Paladin for African Children.

Paladin’s (African) Ltd general manager, international affairs, Greg Walker, who was invited late last year to be Australia’s honorary consul to Malawi, was involved in the process, according to 2012 correspondence from Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Matthew Neuhaus, to Mr Walker. The letter obtained under freedom of information confirmed Mr Walker’s successful application for the employees’ charity funding proposal.

The Aidwatch director Thulsi Narayanasamy said it was not the place of the Australian aid program to fund the corporate social responsibility programs of wealthy mining companies.

The Mineral Policy Institute’s executive director, Charles Roche, said the programs created a conflict of interest with aid linked to the mining proposal rather than the fact it was coming from Australia.

But DFAT and the companies rejected the claims. “It is in everybody’s interest to encourage Australian companies to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible manner,” a DFAT spokeswoman said.

Several companies said they spent large amounts on aid which the DAP funding merely complemented.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Problems in patient care linked to deaths

Surgery deaths … in about 1 per cent of cases, the clinical problems were found to have probably caused the person’s death.A QUARTER of all surgical patient deaths involve potential problems with care that could or should have been provided differently, a massive national audit has found.

And one in every 20 deaths led to significant criticism of the care given to the patient, according to the Australian and New Zealand Audit of Surgical Mortality.

In about 1 per cent of cases, the clinical problems were found to have probably caused the person’s death.

The audit’s chairman, Guy Maddern, said the potential problems were those where it might have been possible to tackle the issue differently and bring about different results.

”It may have been that a scan should have been done earlier or an antibiotic prescribed, it may not have made any difference but with the benefit of hindsight we have identified it,” he said.

The audit, which is run by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and examined more than 10,000 deaths over three years, found the most common areas of concern were problems with delays in treatment, or the decision to operate at all.

Professor Maddern said he believed the audit, in its third year, could prevent patient deaths. In Western Australia, where an audit has been run for about 10 years, deaths seemed to be decreasing.

”We think what might be happening is we might be finding surgeons who are realising it might not always be necessary to do [surgery],” he said. ”Often these patients are put in front of a surgeon and they feel obliged to do something, and this audit is giving them the confidence to say ‘this surgery is not going to provide a meaningful solution.’ ”

In most of the audit areas the national figures showed improvements on previous years, and the vast majority of deaths involved no significant criticisms.

The proportion of surgeons participating has also increased drastically, from 60 per cent last year to 90 per cent this year.

But Professor Maddern criticised private hospitals in NSW and Queensland that had been slow to participate, despite the NSW government now funding the process here.

Other problems identified in the audit included patients not being moved into a critical care unit, with 12 per cent who had not received critical care treatment likely to have benefited from it. Patients had also missed out on preventative treatment for deep vein blood-clots, and experienced delays in transport to other hospitals.

”Most of these deaths are occurring in the older age groups, and they have many co-morbidities … the surgery is in many ways the easy part; it’s managing these other conditions in the post-surgical period that is extremely complex,” Professor Maddern said.

The chief executive of the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission, Cliff Hughes, said every surgeon would receive a personal audit report, which was conducted in a similar manner to a jury trial, and a summary at the end of the year.

He said such detailed feedback was ”pretty much a world-first”, and had been driven by surgeons and anaesthetists in NSW.

He could not say how many private hospitals in NSW were currently participating in the audit process, but was confident the number would improve.

The Australian Private Hospitals Association did not respond to a request for comment.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Capitals milk their elite status

They are going to miss the finals for the second year running, and their marquee player hasn’t played a minute, but the Canberra Capitals have cemented their place in the local sporting landscape well enough to sign a new sponsor.

Canberra Milk finalised a deal this week that will link it to the Capitals until the end of the 2013/14 season at least, although managing director Garry Sykes said that’s likely to be extended.

The company, once the naming-rights sponsor of the Capitals, already supports the two major Canberra football teams and Sykes puts the Caps into the same category of “well established” sporting teams.

“I think it took a little while for the Canberra sporting industry to settle itself down with the [now defunct] Cannons and Cosmos and so forth,” Sykes said. “I think the three major guys – Raiders, Brumbies and Capitals – have established themselves now and have got a good foothold here in Canberra, so we thought it was time to get on board and support them.”

Sykes was unconcerned about claims from captain Jess Bibby that Basketball Australia was not doing enough to grow the women’s league, saying it didn’t affect the decision to sponsor the Capitals.

“It’s not all about where the WNBL think they fit – the Capitals represent Canberra, so do we,” he said, noting the company declined an approach by the GWS Giants AFL team. “One of the criteria, too, is ‘what’s Canberra?’ GWS is not Canberra; Raiders, Brumbies, Capitals are.”

The Caps have posted a poor record on the court this season, with key player Lauren Jackson injured and unable to play, but Capitals coach Carrie Graf said sponsorship is the key to future success.

“It’s about continuing to grow our off-court program so we can grow our on-court program, and I mean elite sports sponsorship’s a big part of that.

”I think it shows that we want to grow, we want to get bigger and better,” she said.

The team has more injury concerns ahead of Friday’s game against Townsville, although in-form centre Brigitte Ardossi is to return after a week off following a concussion.

“Alex Bunton’s been in bed crook, Nicole Hunt didn’t practise last night, her Achilles flared up on the weekend … and Val Ogoke rolled her ankle last night, so she’ll be doubtful. So we’re a little light on,” Graf said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.