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Business owner slams state governments for having two sets of COVID-19 rules

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business owner slams state governments for having two sets of covid 19 rules

A business owner who has barely kept afloat due to COVID-19 lockdowns in Australia has slammed governments for not keeping consistent rules in place across different industries.

Chris Neal, from Queanbeyan in rural New South Wales near Canberra, runs a sound and lighting business supplying music festivals and events throughout the nation.

He said it was unacceptable that state governments are willing to allow up to 40,000 sporting fans to pack into stadiums, but not allow music events to go ahead with the same amount of patrons. 

Like many others, the COVID-19 crisis left him out of work and desperately searching for a way to make ends meet.

He revealed he has almost ‘no ability to generate income or… support staff or its overheads’.

Chris Neal said it was unacceptable that state governments are willing to allow up to 40,000 sporting fans to pack into stadiums, but not allow music events to go ahead with the same amount of patrons

Chris Neal said it was unacceptable that state governments are willing to allow up to 40,000 sporting fans to pack into stadiums, but not allow music events to go ahead with the same amount of patrons

Chris Neal said it was unacceptable that state governments are willing to allow up to 40,000 sporting fans to pack into stadiums, but not allow music events to go ahead with the same amount of patrons 

Pubs, restaurants and cafes have been crippled by the lockdowns and governments are slowly easing restrictions to allow more patrons - even though football games can hold thousands of people

Pubs, restaurants and cafes have been crippled by the lockdowns and governments are slowly easing restrictions to allow more patrons - even though football games can hold thousands of people

Pubs, restaurants and cafes have been crippled by the lockdowns and governments are slowly easing restrictions to allow more patrons – even though football games can hold thousands of people

After 21 years in business, Mr Neal is genuinely fearful of having to sell his business assets dirt cheap due to the impacts of the virus and subsequent lockdowns.

On Saturday morning, he penned a moving letter to the government via social media criticising the regulations which have kept him out of work.

He shared a photo taken at Suncorp Stadium prior to the NRL preliminary match between Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders which clearly demonstrated a lack of social distancing. 

‘The government needs to be consistent with its rule,’ he wrote alongside the photo. 

‘We are either safe from the virus or we are not, which one is it?’

Queensland has less restrictions than Victoria and New South Wales after appearing to almost entirely eliminate the virus from the community. 

Mr Neal said the photo he uploaded 'clearly shows social distancing was not in place at [Friday night's] game'

Mr Neal said the photo he uploaded 'clearly shows social distancing was not in place at [Friday night's] game'

Mr Neal said the photo he uploaded ‘clearly shows social distancing was not in place at [Friday night’s] game’ 

Chris Neal, from Queanbeyan in rural New South Wales, runs a lighting and sound business usually supplying music festivals and events throughout the nation. His business is one of many crippled during lockdown

Chris Neal, from Queanbeyan in rural New South Wales, runs a lighting and sound business usually supplying music festivals and events throughout the nation. His business is one of many crippled during lockdown

Chris Neal, from Queanbeyan in rural New South Wales, runs a lighting and sound business usually supplying music festivals and events throughout the nation. His business is one of many crippled during lockdown

But social distancing practices are still recommended and were supposed to be enforced at the match.

Mr Neal said the New South Wales government recently announced changes to current COVID-19 restrictions, including allowing up to 500 people to attend events with strict social distancing rules.

While the allowance was seen as a win for many, Mr Neal said does little to help his business.

‘Our business focuses on events with much larger audiences than 500, this doesn’t do much to help us,’ he said.

He also added that the NRL Grand Final, which will go ahead in Sydney next week, has a capacity of 40,000. 

'If sport can continue under these supposed restrictions and controls then so should entertainment,' he said

'If sport can continue under these supposed restrictions and controls then so should entertainment,' he said

‘If sport can continue under these supposed restrictions and controls then so should entertainment,’ he said 

‘I refuse to accept we are safe going to a stadium at half capacity for football when we are told it’s not safe to attend the same stadium for a concert with the same restrictions in place,’ he said.

‘Singing has different rules to sports fans cheering.’

Mr Neal said the photo he uploaded ‘clearly shows social distancing was not in place at [Friday night’s] game’. 

‘I have 4 of my 5 semi trailers unregistered on a farm an hour out of town, I have so much equipment piled up in every corner of our warehouse that would normally be out on events,’ he said.

‘If sport can continue under these supposed restrictions and controls then so should entertainment.

‘One set of rules for everyone.’

Crowds are seen on the hill during the Round 12 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights at Sunshine Coast Stadium

Crowds are seen on the hill during the Round 12 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights at Sunshine Coast Stadium

Crowds are seen on the hill during the Round 12 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights at Sunshine Coast Stadium

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Australia

Cairns woman, 21, spends three months in jail after reckless crash which almost killed her sister

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cairns woman 21 spends three months in jail after reckless crash which almost killed her sister
Pictured: Ms Peacock after serving time in jail

Pictured: Ms Peacock after serving time in jail

Pictured: Ms Peacock after serving time in jail

A young woman who spent three months in jail for almost killing her sister and two friends has opened up about the ‘stupid mistake’ she made that landed her behind bars. 

Caitlin Peacock was with two of her best friends and her sister on November 6, 2018 when she started ‘driving recklessly, using both sides of the road, cutting corners and speeding’.

The mistake almost cost her sister her life and landed the 21-year-old in Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre, for three months, where she spent Christmas, New Year’s Eve, her mum’s birthday and her one-year anniversary with her boyfriend. 

‘I missed out on the important things,’ she said.

‘But it was a good experience for someone my age and for someone like me to go through all that.’

Ms Peacock wasn’t drunk at the time of the crash, but was ‘young and dumb’ and thought she was having fun.

Moments later, she rounded a corner and found herself heading down a steep hill toward an embankment and realised she couldn’t slow the car down. 

The car plunged straight off the three-metre cliff and wound up crumpled in dense bushland.

Ms Peacock said she passed out but woke up moments later to the sound of a seatbelt unbuckling. 

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34699678 0 image a 1 1603357475716

Ms Peacock and her sister (pictured together) were transported to hospital ‘side by side’. She said all she wanted in that moment was for her sister to be okay

The car (pictured after the crash) plunged straight off the three-metre cliff and wound up smashed beyond repair in dense bushland

The car (pictured after the crash) plunged straight off the three-metre cliff and wound up smashed beyond repair in dense bushland

The car (pictured after the crash) plunged straight off the three-metre cliff and wound up smashed beyond repair in dense bushland

She managed to climb out of the drivers’ side door, taking her phone with her as she made the excruciating climb back up the embankment. 

To her horror, she realised her sister hadn’t followed her.

‘I laid on the road realising I had made a huge mistake and called 000,’ she said.

She walked the operator through the events of the night, explaining that she was struggling to walk, one of her passengers appeared to have a broken leg, and worst of all, her sister was unconscious. 

‘I thought I killed her,’ Ms Peacock admitted. ‘My sister was unresponsive and trapped in the car for some time.

‘I was hysterical.’ 

Several friends in another car behind them went to find help and eventually ambulances and concerned onlookers started arriving.  

Ms Peacock and her sister were transported to hospital ‘side by side’, but she was released when doctors realised she hadn’t sustained any serious injuries.

Looking back, she said she agrees the judge made the right decision in sending her to jail. Ms Peacock shared her story hoping to teach young drivers a lesson

Looking back, she said she agrees the judge made the right decision in sending her to jail. Ms Peacock shared her story hoping to teach young drivers a lesson

Looking back, she said she agrees the judge made the right decision in sending her to jail. Ms Peacock shared her story hoping to teach young drivers a lesson

Ms Peacock (pictured immediately after the crash) wasn't drunk at the time of the crash, but was 'young and dumb' and thought she was having fun

Ms Peacock (pictured immediately after the crash) wasn't drunk at the time of the crash, but was 'young and dumb' and thought she was having fun

Ms Peacock (pictured immediately after the crash) wasn’t drunk at the time of the crash, but was ‘young and dumb’ and thought she was having fun

‘All I wanted was for everyone to be okay… I was discharged the very next day with nothing but a few cuts and bruises,’ she said.

Later testing revealed she had fractures in both of her knees. 

Police took samples of Ms Peacock’s saliva for a drug and alcohol test, which both returned negative readings.  

Her sister spent a week in hospital recovering because doctors were concerned about her memory and brain after she had been knocked unconscious.

Another passenger spent several weeks in hospital because he broke his leg, while the final passenger ‘couldn’t walk properly for weeks’.  

In the months following the accident, Ms Peacock’s sister and friends were called to Cairns Police Station to give evidence about what happened.

‘I told each of them not to lie for me, to tell the truth, because whatever happened I knew I deserved,’ she said. 

‘I’ve never been in trouble with the police before. I’d never even had a parking or speeding ticket… They ended up charging me and suggested I get legal advice.’

Ms Peacock said after several meetings with a lawyer, she was told it was ‘highly likely’ the judge would sentence her to prison to teach her a lesson.

Another passenger spent several weeks in hospital because he broke his leg (bruising after the crash pictured), while the final passenger 'couldn't walk properly for weeks'

Another passenger spent several weeks in hospital because he broke his leg (bruising after the crash pictured), while the final passenger 'couldn't walk properly for weeks'

Another passenger spent several weeks in hospital because he broke his leg (bruising after the crash pictured), while the final passenger ‘couldn’t walk properly for weeks’

‘Even though my lawyer said I might go to jail, I didn’t really believe them,’ she admitted. 

‘I thought to myself, I haven’t had any previous criminal history, I had a great job, just got accepted into university and even had 8 character references to help my case.’

Come October 21 2019, Ms Peacock and her family arrived at the courthouse for sentencing.

‘My partner pulled me aside and gave me a huge cuddle and tried to give me a kiss, so I gave him a quick peck and walked in like nothing was going to happen,’ she said.

After almost an hour of deliberation, the judge told her that she would be going to prison.

‘The judge said ”in order for you to learn your lesson you’re going to have to serve some time in actual custody, so I sentence you to an 18-month head sentence, serve three months in prison and then the rest is wholly suspended for 2 years”,’ Ms Peacock said.

Her licence was also disqualified for a year.

Ms Peacock said the decision rattled her to the core and was the very first moment she let herself consider how much her life was about to change.

‘I was in tears,’ she said. ‘My family behind me were all as surprised as me.’ 

The watch house guard gave her a quick few minutes to say goodbye to her family before she was carted off to Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre.

She was placed in a small cell which became home for the next three months.

The car was destroyed in the crash, and Ms Peacock acknowledges how much worse the accident could have been

The car was destroyed in the crash, and Ms Peacock acknowledges how much worse the accident could have been

The car was destroyed in the crash, and Ms Peacock acknowledges how much worse the accident could have been

She rounded a corner (pictured) and found herself heading down a steep hill toward an embankment and realised she couldn't slow the car down

She rounded a corner (pictured) and found herself heading down a steep hill toward an embankment and realised she couldn't slow the car down

She rounded a corner (pictured) and found herself heading down a steep hill toward an embankment and realised she couldn’t slow the car down

Ms Peacock used her time in prison to complete a certificate two in business studies, and lost 30kg during the three-month stint.

‘I learnt a lot of lessons and gained a whole heap of confidence,’ she said. 

In her cell, Ms Peacock was allowed four pictures to remind her of home. She chose a picture of her cat, one of herself with her sister and mum, another with her boyfriend and finally a picture of her two dogs.

Throughout her incarceration and still to this day, Ms Peacock has nightmares of the accident, and considers how much worse it could have been for her and her friends. 

‘I can’t describe the pain and suffering everyone went through and I will be forever sorry for what I did,’ she said.

Any time she wanted to call home, she was out of pocket up to $10 for 10 minutes, and salvaged her short visits with family when they came.

Physical visits have been restricted during the pandemic, causing heartache for families with loved ones inside. 

On January 20, 2020, Ms Peacock was finally released from prison. Her partner made the trip to pick her up and they had a ‘lovely four-hour drive home’ catching up on everything she had missed.

On January 20, 2020, Ms Peacock was finally released from prison. Her partner made the trip to pick her up and they had a 'lovely four hour drive home' catching up on everything she had missed

On January 20, 2020, Ms Peacock was finally released from prison. Her partner made the trip to pick her up and they had a 'lovely four hour drive home' catching up on everything she had missed

On January 20, 2020, Ms Peacock was finally released from prison. Her partner made the trip to pick her up and they had a ‘lovely four hour drive home’ catching up on everything she had missed

‘I finally got to hold everyone again,’ she said of the moment she walked through her front door.

Looking back, she said she agrees the judge made the right decision in sending her to jail.

‘I wanted everyone in the accident to be open and honest with the police because whatever the outcome was what I deserved and I’m never going to be mad about it because clearly the judge knew that was the right decision,’ she said.

‘I knew the moment I crashed my car that I would never do anything like that again.’

Ms Peacock hopes her story will serve as a word of warning to other young people before they get behind the wheel.

‘Bad sh*t can happen if you have an accident,’ she said.

‘I want young people, learners, p-players to understand that it’s not about having fun in a car ride, it’s about being safe and getting your passengers to their final destination safely.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Police make 14 arrests after $40million cannabis drug bust on NSW mid north coast

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police make 14 arrests after 40million cannabis drug bust on nsw mid north coast

Police have seized more than 13 million cannabis plants worth $40million in one of the biggest drug busts in Australian history.

Fourteen Vietnamese nationals were arrested during a two-day search of three properties near Taree on the New South Wales mid north coast.

They were each charged with a string of offences and remanded in custody with their visa status now being investigated by the Department of Home Affairs.

Strike force operation Harthouse was part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged criminal syndicate behind the large-scale cultivation and supply of cannabis. 

NSW Police Drug and Firearms Squad Commander Detective Superintendent John Watson described the bust as one of the most significant in Australian history, adding police hadn’t seen a cannabis seizure that size since the 1970s.

Police seized more than 13 million cannabis plants during a two day operation last week

Police seized more than 13 million cannabis plants during a two day operation last week

Police seized more than 13 million cannabis plants during a two day operation last week

Harthouse was set up 12 months ago to investigate the cultivation and supply of cannabis across NSW, consisting of State Crime Command Drug and Firearms Squad detectives with assistance from the Australian Crime Intelligence Commission.

Following extensive investigations, Drug and Firearms Squad detectives with the assistance of local and regional officers, along with the Dog Unit, commenced a two-day operation at a property at Minimbah last Thursday.

Almost 5,593 cannabis plants were seized along with 39 pounds of dried cannabis, worth a combined total of $16.9 million.

Police arrested six Vietnamese nationals, including a 31-year-old permanent resident, a 41-year-old who is unlawfully in Australia, a 23-year-old and 27-year-old both currently on student visas and a 38-year-old and a 44-year-old both currently on bridging visas.

Fourteen men, all Vietnamese nationals were arrested during the alleged drug bust

Fourteen men, all Vietnamese nationals were arrested during the alleged drug bust

Fourteen men, all Vietnamese nationals were arrested during the alleged drug bust

The men were charged with multiple offences and faced court, where they were refused bail

The men were charged with multiple offences and faced court, where they were refused bail

The men were charged with multiple offences and faced court, where they were refused bail

They were all charged with cultivate prohibited plant (large commercial quantity), supply of prohibited drug (indictable) and participating in a criminal group contributing criminal activity.

Investigators executed two simultaneous crime scene search warrants at properties at Melinga and Moorland on Friday, where they seized an additional 7,760 cannabis plants.

A further Vietnamese nationals were arrested including a 31-year-old man permanent resident, three men who are unlawfully in Australia aged 24, 23 and 22, two men on student visas aged 22 and 27 and two men on bridging visas aged 24 and 23. 

All 14 men arrested during the two-day operation were refused bail to reappear in court on January 19.

Police made 14 arrests at three properties near Taree on the NSW mid north coast

Police made 14 arrests at three properties near Taree on the NSW mid north coast

 Police made 14 arrests at three properties near Taree on the NSW mid north coast 

Each man’s visa status has been referred to the Department of Home Affairs to be investigated further.

‘As far as cannabis seizures go, we have not seen one of this size since the 1970s,’ Drug and Firearms Squad Commander Detective Superintendent John Watson said.

‘The biggest difference is in 1975 outdoor crops were seasonal, so criminal groups were restricted to one crop a year, whereas these grow houses are weather controlled enabling the harvest of new plants every 12 weeks or so.’ 

Police said they hadn't seen a cannabis seizure this size since the 1970s

Police said they hadn't seen a cannabis seizure this size since the 1970s

Police said they hadn’t seen a cannabis seizure this size since the 1970s

State Crime Commander Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith added: ‘The significance of the arrests and seizures stretch far beyond the cannabis trade, it impacts the revenue made by these criminal groups to invest in other organised crime that places the community’s safety and way of life under constant risk.

‘This is why the disruption and dismantling of organised crime is such a priority for NSW Police and we will continue to be dogged in our pursuit of those involved to put them before the courts.’

Investigations under Strike Force Harthouse are continuing. 

Last week’s raids conducted under Strike Force Harthouse, which has so far led to a total of 33 arrests and the destruction of cannabis worth more than $100 million. 

Police have described last week's drug bust as one of the biggest in Australian history

Police have described last week's drug bust as one of the biggest in Australian history

Police have described last week’s drug bust as one of the biggest in Australian history

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Fears Queensland’s incompetent snake catchers putting their lives and those of customers at risk 

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fears queenslands incompetent snake catchers putting their lives and those of customers at risk

Snake catchers with very little understanding of their trade are putting their lives – and those of homeowners – at risk because of lax regulations governing the industry, experts have warned. 

Seasoned Brisbane herpetologist Jonathan Lucas said aspiring snake handlers and re-locators can now get automatically approved to respond to call-outs by the Queensland government’s online system.

He said the application would go through straight away even if the person submitting had uploaded blank documents into the portal.

‘Basically you submit your first aid certificate and accreditation from a snake handling course to an online portal and it’s approved straight away,’ the Fauna Solutions director told Daily Mail Australia.

Pictured: Brisbane herpetologist Jonathan Lucas. He said lax government checks meant snake catchers could get approved to respond to call-outs

Pictured: Brisbane herpetologist Jonathan Lucas. He said lax government checks meant snake catchers could get approved to respond to call-outs

Pictured: Brisbane herpetologist Jonathan Lucas. He said lax government checks meant snake catchers could get approved to respond to call-outs

‘No-one contacts the course either so there’s no checks and balances – it’s all trust. Any man and his dog can get approval.’

Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science has conceded it does not routinely inspect snake handlers in the field, saying it is up to the permit holder to manage safety issues for themselves and their customers. 

The department said though authorised snake catchers were generally ‘highly knowledgeable and provide a high-quality service’. 

‘It’s like getting your driving licence. You’re getting your P-plates but you’re not going to drive a Formula One car – you have to understand the limitations of your training,’ Mr Lucas said.  

The veteran snake handler added the issue also stemmed from inadequate vetting for course providers, who he claimed were setting up shop without having enough knowledge about the dangers involved.

When Mr Lucas started offering handling courses in 2006, he said the accreditation process was rigorous and featured an in-person interview but that had softened in the years since for the standard one or two-day courses.

‘People signing up to some of these lacklustre courses are trusting they’re going to be competent,’ he said. 

‘There’s definitely a group of providers who are not experts on the topic. People I’ve trained have been approved the next year to run their own courses.’

Brisbane North Snake Catchers and Relocation handler Steven Brown said snake catching courses did not cover enough in-field situations that could happen in the field. Pictured is one of Mr Brown's catches

Brisbane North Snake Catchers and Relocation handler Steven Brown said snake catching courses did not cover enough in-field situations that could happen in the field. Pictured is one of Mr Brown's catches

Brisbane North Snake Catchers and Relocation handler Steven Brown said snake catching courses did not cover enough in-field situations that could happen in the field. Pictured is one of Mr Brown’s catches

One Brisbane snake handler said many one-day courses did not cover enough situations they would encounter in the field, and only taught students how to use snake hooks.

Brisbane North Snake Catchers and Relocation handler Steven Brown said the hook technique did not work in hotter months when brown snakes are more active and can easily evade the devices.

‘You need to use your bare hands — gloves make it hard to feel what they’re going to do,’ he told Westside News.

Mr Lucas (pictured) said snake catchers needed to understand the limitations of their training.  'You're getting your P-plates but you're not going to drive a Formula One car,' he said

Mr Lucas (pictured) said snake catchers needed to understand the limitations of their training.  'You're getting your P-plates but you're not going to drive a Formula One car,' he said

Mr Lucas (pictured) said snake catchers needed to understand the limitations of their training.  ‘You’re getting your P-plates but you’re not going to drive a Formula One car,’ he said

The state’s Department of Environment and Science told Daily Mail Australia would-be handlers must submit evidence they have passed an approved snake handling course and have valid first aid training.

‘There is no routine inspection or review of operators in the field but, generally, authorised snake catchers are highly knowledgeable and provide a high-quality service,’ a spokesman said.

‘It is the responsibility of the authority holder to take appropriate steps to manage all the relevant safety issues for themselves and their customers during the removal of the snake.

‘That responsibility is subject to the obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act, which can carry considerable penalties for any breaches of that Act.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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