Former local greyhound trainer caught in baiting scandal

Darren McDonald, who has twice been named Australian Greyhound Trainer of the Year, was implicated in the scandal after animal rights activists filmed secret footage that was aired on the ABC Four Corners program on Monday night.
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A FORMER Warrnambool district trainer has been caught up in live-baiting revelations that have rocked the greyhound industry.

Darren McDonald, who has twice been named Australian Greyhound Trainer of the Year, was implicated in the scandal after animal rights activists filmed secret footage that was aired on the ABC Four Corners program on Monday night.

McDonald, who runs his operation out of Devon Meadows, was allegedly caught on camera securing a live piglet to a mechanical lure at a private training track at Tooradin, south-east of Melbourne, late last year.

After a few laps, McDonald and a handler are allegedly shown removing muzzles from the greyhounds and the dogs then maul the animal, which can be heard squealing in the background.

The Four Corners report uncovered evidence of how trainers have been secretly blooding their dogs with live rabbits, possums and pigs as part of systemic and widespread cheating within the country’s multi-million-dollar greyhound industry.

Animal welfare groups have called for the dismantling of the industry following the revelations of widespread cheating, illegal live baiting and archaic training methods.

RSPCA Victoria chief executive officer Liz Walker said officers were investigating the “barbaric” training practices which implicated multiple trainers across three states.

“We are shocked to the core that the illegal practice of subjecting live animals to being torn apart and killed as part of greyhound training is still occurring in Australia,” Dr Walker said.

The RSPCA received a formal complaint in late January and inspected a Tooradin facility last week.

“The information that we received in the short lead-up to our investigation was absolutely appalling,” Dr Walker said.

“The problem with the greyhound industry is that it is entirely self-regulated and the drive for financial gain through betting and prizemoney far outweighs any concerns for the welfare of the defenceless animals used as live bait or the greyhounds.”

Dr Walker said she was stunned that stewards missed or failed to report any live baiting practices despite carrying out more than 1000 inspections of kennels and training facilities in the past financial year.

The RSPCA has called for a lifetime ban on animal ownership and the revocation of training licences for people found breaching animal cruelty legislation.

Greyhound Racing Victoria last week suspended 10 people implicated in live baiting by the ABC program, but refused to name them.

McDonald has been reported as being one of those who has had his licence suspended.

In a statement released yesterday, GRV said it did not tolerate the use of live bait and the minimum recommended penalty for the offence was a 10-year ban.

Chairman Peter Caillard said he condemned the practice: “I watched and was sickened. The use of live bait in the training of greyhounds is abhorrent and has no place in our sport.”

Mr Caillard refuted allegations in the program that the practice was widespread in Victoria.

“To the best of our knowledge, this disgusting and illegal behaviour is isolated in Victoria to the privately-owned training facility at Tooradin.”

He said the use of dead animals in greyhound training on private premises or registered training premises would also be banned in future.

The state government yesterday announced a broad investigation into the allegations by the state’s chief veterinary officer and the racing integrity commissioner.

Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said the government was serious about animal welfare and had taken immediate steps to address “these reprehensible acts of cruelty”.

“We want to send a strong message to the community and the industry that this sort of horrific behaviour will not be tolerated,” Ms Pulford, who is the member for Western Victoria, said.

It is not known how the allegations will impact the south-west greyhound racing industry.

Warrnambool Greyhound Racing Club did not respond to calls from The Standard yesterday.

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Crucial steps to tech hope

FUTURE: Ken Jordan, Kevin Andrews and Bob Baldwin, at Lockheed Martin building opening. Picture: Stephen WarkPORT Stephens has taken a giant step to securing its position as a leader in the future of Australia’s defence market.
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Just days after BAE Systems was awarded the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) airframe and engine contract, the first of many defence-related tenants took occupancy in the world-class, 89-hectare Williamtown Aerospace Centre (WAC).

The government deemed the opening of the Lockheed Martin facility so important that Defence Minister Kevin Andrews was jetted into Williamtown on Monday to perform the honours.

The opening of the purpose-built facility next to the Williamtown airport and air force base comes hot on the heels of the government’s commitment to a $1 billion refurbishment of the base to cater for the JSF’s future arrival.

Accompanied by Paterson MP Bob Baldwin, the minister said Lockheed Martin had been providing support to critical Australian Defence Force radar networks for some time.

“The opening of the TADRS [Tactical Air Defence Radar System] support site provides a consolidated centre for Lockheed Martin’s operations in the Hunter, with space for expansion of up to 70 engineering and IT specialists supporting the RAAF’s surveillance programs,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Baldwin welcomed the announcement of the further development of Williamtown’s purpose-built aerospace technology park.

“What I see here is … we have people who are underemployed, because they are so highly qualified working on such high-level equipment that those jobs haven’t been here in the volume we would like to see,” Mr Baldwin said.

Future WAC facilities are expected to include the latest defence IT, aerospace, aviation and related industry companies.

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Lake linked to charity

UNITED WE STAND: Debbie Boyd links arms with her two children Kaitlin and Rian and her mother Di Knowles at the Blue Lake ahead of their fundraiser this weekend, which will involve people linking arms around the Blue Lake. Picture: ALEX McGREGORA MOUNT Gambier mother and daughter are calling for 4000 people to link arms around the city’s Blue Lake to raise money for cancer.
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Debbie Boyd and Di Knowles are striving to get their unique fundraising idea off the ground in a bid to unite the community.

The quirky fundraising initiative was triggered after Debbie’s younger sister survived cervical cancer, however she has sadly faced the loss of other family membersto the disease.

Using the calculations regarding the diameter of the lake and the length of a person’s arm span, Debbie said the event needed 4000 people to weave around the entire lake.

“It is a great way to bring everyone who has been affected by cancer together and support the fight against cancer,” Debbie said.

“With thousands of us linking arms around the Blue Lake, we can all unite as one against cancer.”

The mother and daughter team has no set target for the fundraiser, but explained that every effort would be appreciated.

“I can’t think of one person that hasn’t been affected by cancer,” Debbie said.

“We need almost 4000 people, so I hope as many people as possible come along and help us complete our goal.”

Social media and plastering flyers across the central business district and sporting clubs has attracted a large amount of attention.

“We have loved every little bit of assistance we have had to promote and gather support for our event,” Debbie said.

“Sporting teams and business have even banded together to enter teams into the event.

“There already has been a great display of community spirit and support for what we want to achieve.”

The couple has been passionate about boosting the event’s profile throughout the community after experiencing the pain and suffering caused by cancer.

“We really want to make a significant change and stimulate funding for cancer research,” Debbie said.

The event will be held on Sunday with registrations at 10am.

Entry will cost $2 per person and participants are required to meet at the archery park before linking arms at11am.

There will be a variety of entertainment, children’s activities, food stalls and cancer information at the archery park until 1pm.

Jet deal huge win for Port

SUCCESS: Steven Drury says months of hard work has paid off.IT TOOK two months and hundreds of hours of intense brainstorming from up to 20 staff to land one of the Port’s most significant contracts in terms of jobs and economic benefits.
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The announcement last week by Defence Minister Kevin Andrews to assign Williamtown-based BAE Systems the joint strike fighter (JSF) maintenance contract was a huge win.

BAE will provide heavy airframe maintenance and sustainment capability for the global JSF fleet in the southern Pacific region.

BAE’s aerospace director Steve Drury, a former RAAF engineer, said the announcement was the culmination of months of intensive work followed by a long, nervous wait.

“Yes the tender process was at times stressful but at the end of the day I believe it was our talented workforce and capability which made the biggest impression on the US Department of Defense team,” Mr Drury said.

BAE employs 230 people supporting the total sustainment of the 33 Hawks lead-in fighter fleet; that jobs number is expected to grow considerably when Australia’s full consignment of 72 JSFs are operational.

The Williamtown facility, with the support of a strong apprenticeship program, is also expected to undergo a significant upgrade.

[The neighbouring RAAF Base will undergo a $1 billion infrastructure improvement over the next eight years to cater for the JSF fleet.]

Mr Andrews said BAE was one of this country’s leading defence firms and a long standing provider of sustainment services.

“The F-35 (or JSF) is the most advanced fighter aircraft in development or production anywhere in the world and securing this work in Australia is a great outcome for BAE.”

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Boomerang Park rezoning may return to bite

PARK PROTECTORS: Jemima Lye, 16, Alannah Newell, 17, Helen Brown, Peter Francis, Rodger Lye, John Brown, Jenn Burton, Monica Jut and Jillian Lye at Boomerang Park. Picture: Ellie-Marie WattsA CAMPAIGN calling on Port Stephens Council to stop residential development at Boomerang Park in Raymond Terrace has clicked up a notch.
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The Boomerang Park Action Group has started a petition calling on councillors to keep the heritage listed park out of developers’ hands.

Port Stephens Council approved the Boomerang Park masterplan at its November 25 meeting, paving the way for the first step towards a $4 million revamp of the park including rezoning and land sales.

Action group chairwoman Jillian Lye said the rezoning will affect the entire Port Stephens area because if Boomerang Park gets the go-ahead it will set a precedent for all parks.

“There could be a raid by developers on all supposedly underutilised and neglected council parks,” she said.

Boomerang Park is heritage listed. It is a major landmark in the centre of town with historical, social, natural and cultural heritage significance.

“The view corridor along William Street connecting the river to Boomerang Park is fundamental to the identity of Raymond Terrace and would be desecrated by any residential development.”

Ms Lye said there has been minimal community consultation for council’s plans to rezone 4.5 hectares of Boomerang Park from common land to operational land for residential development.

The action group meets fortnightly at 6.30pm at Raymond Terrace Bowling Club and petitions are at Raymond Terrace Historical Society Room, Raymond Terrace Bowling Club, Neighbourhood Centre, YMCA, Food War and Red Eye Cafe.

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Koroit Scouts wear ambassador honour with pride

KOROIT’S Jimmy Smith and actor Shane Jacobson share a common bond in helping modernise Scouting and inspiring a revival in the movement, which began in 1908.
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Scout Bree Billing, 13, and Mahogany Rover Crew member Jimmy Smith, 23, were presented with scarves by Victoria’s new Chief Scout, actor Shane Jacobson. 150216LP74 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Both started as juniors learning the traditional skills of tying knots, camping and community volunteering before progressing through to leadership.

The 23-year-old Koroit tradesman was among several hundred Scouting leaders on Sunday who received an ambassador’s scarf from Jacobson, who is Victoria’s new Chief Scout.

Bree Billing, 13,of Koroit was also honoured as an ambassador.

Jacobson, who stars in a soon-to-be-released movie centred around Warrnambool’s penguin population, was in the movement for 18 years and credits it as shaping his acting career.

Mr Smith began as a boy in Cubs, progressing through until he was 15 before taking a break and returning at 19 to take on leadership and mentoring roles in the district and higher levels.

“I wanted to put back into the movement because I got so much out of it when I was younger,” he said.

“Scouting gets kids out and about away from the TV and computers.

“You learn a lot about leadership, helping people, self-reliance and resilience. It’s learning by doing. Getting out and having a go.”

On Sunday more than 8000 Victorian Scouts were involved in a world-first game, following SMS clues on their mobile phones and taking selfies at new street art.

Among the leaders was Warrnambool’s Peter Newell who started as a junior and is now regional commissioner.

“Scouting continues to exist because it remains contemporary and moves with the times,” he said.

“It’s not about tying knots — it’s about the bigger picture of learning to lead and team spirit.

“In the past the chief Scout was always the governor, but now that’s changed with Shane Jacobson being given that role and the governor becoming patron.

“In the UK they’ve got Bear Grylls as chief Scout.”

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It’s our right to know where food is grown

Libby BinghamA BIG fat raspberry award goes to the federal government.
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No matter what free trade agreements are signed the produce allowed into this country should be checked and country of origin labels should clearly state where cheap imports come from.

An informed consumer can then decide what to purchase with eyes wide open.

Some eyes have popped open after a hepatitis A health scare has been linked to mixed frozen berries from China and Chile that were processed in Shandong, China, and imported to Australia sold under a popular label here.

The case illustrates how little people realise about where food comes from.

It raises the stakes on the risks associated with cheaper imports from countries where the farm practices may not be as strict as here.

It highlights valid concerns about Australia’s food security because more food than ever is sold that comes from overseas.

Local farmers warned a long time ago and told Australians if we don’t begin to support local food producers there won’t be any left.

This reporter was shocked 10 years ago when Sassafras farmer Ian Young talked of some farm practices he’d seen overseas that involved sewage on paddocks where food was grown.

It compared to Australia where compliance to strict regulations in the agriculture and food sector are required.

Australian farm input costs sky rocketed compared to the cheap farm labour and production costs in developing countries.

Supermarkets want to source the cheapest produce to put in supermarket branded goods which have taken up a lot of the shelf space where some other trusted labels used to be.

Until it was no longer possible to compete.

Farmers that used to have their own labels or supply local labels have to grow for generic labels for lower returns while the supermarkets increase margins.

Even when shoppers try to check food labels the country of origin is often not listed or the label is confusing to read.

The recalled Nanna’s Berries and Creative Gourmet label were being sold across Australia.

Forth farmer Mike Badock said a large number of Australians would probably have mistakenly assumed the berries were local.

Consumers felt stunned that with a great berry industry right here on the doorstep Australians were eating imported berries and local berries were left to go to waste.

To buy fresh local berries is not the problem but Australians won’t find local berries in the supermarket freezer because those markets have gone to cheap imports.

Australians took for granted the imported food is safe because surely it is tested for things like fecal content?

Not so.

High-risk foods imported to Australia are tested but all other foods are “surveillance foods” and only five per cent is tested for diseases.

The peak body of vegetable farmers Ausveg said it puts Australians at risk.

Meantime the Food and Grocery Council and some government spokespeople said the system worked because the food was recalled quickly and the outbreak was traceable.

Australian consumers might not agree with that but with more free trade agreements with other countries the food contamination outbreaks are likely going to rise.

If that’s globalisation, call me a fair-dinkum parochial local.

Especially when you call me for dinner.

Berries from Turners Beach, Moriarty, Christmas Hills or Barrington cost more but it’s the price we pay to support our local food industry.

After Simplot, Coles and Woolworths labelled frozen vegetable lines Australian grown the market response blew expectations.

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Wind farm health saga a ‘distraction’

ARGUMENTS about possible links between wind farms and sickness were sidetracking focus on more pressing health issues, according to a lobby group organiser.
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Following Monday night’s public presentation of a special acoustics report based on the Cape Bridgewater wind farm, the south-west spokeswoman for Australian Wind Alliance Angela McFeeters said there was little support for those who claimed turbines cause health issues.

“For the wider community it’s not seen as a big issue,” she said.

“We need to look at this in a broader context.

“There are more identified health conditions than the wind issue.”

An estimated 170 people turned out to hear acoustics expert Steve Cooper present his report which was commissioned by Pacific Hydro which operates the Cape Bridgewater wind farm.

It identified a trend between sensations reported by six residents and low-level infrasound when turbines were operating, but did not find they affected human health.

Mr Cooper and Pacific Hydro said the study identified that further work was required to withstand scientific scrutiny.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has also said research has not shown a clear link between wind farms and health issues, but has said further research was warranted.

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Break-in won’t beat business

from left, Salad Sofa co-owners Damian Campbell and Paige Midson. for Aryelle Sargent’s story on break in
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AN UNFORTUNATE break-in turned into a cheap advertising opportunity for Devonport business, the Salad Sofa.

On Sunday night, business owner Paige Midson was woken by a phone call telling her someone had thrown a rock through her business door and stolen $70.

But rather than let it get her down, Miss Midson took a photo of the damage and posted it on Facebook, alongside a quirky post.

“Obviously we were devastated and absolutely heartbroken; we put our heart and soul into it only to be broken into,” Miss Midson said.

“Instead of being negative and angry about it we saw it as a cheap way to advertise.”

The post referred to those who broke in as impatient “fans” who couldn’t wait for their “fresh, healthy wrap, salad or juice”.

The post went on to remind patrons of their opening hours and encouraged those who had yet to try the Salad Sofa, to “see why people are literally breaking the law to experience Salad Sofa”.

“Our post showed the organic reach and had been reached by 3000 people already and shared by 15 people,” Miss Midson said.

“That is huge for us, and we have had people stop by and see how we are.

“It’s been really good for business more than anything,” Miss Midson said.

The incident was a message to other businesses, Miss Midson said, to stay positive.

“It hasn’t just happened to us, it’s happening every night to other businesses,” she said.

“Just make sure cash isn’t kept on the premises.”

The Salad Sofa has only been in Devonport since November last year.

Devonport CIB is investigating, anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Tasmania Police on 131 444.

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Sacrifices commemorated

ENTERTAINMENT: Compton Primary School students performed a play for guests on Saturday night.SACRIFICES Australian soldiers made a century ago were commemorated at the Gallipoli Ball on the weekend.
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The ball was held as part of the centenary celebrations in the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of landing of Anzac troops at Gallipoli during World War I.

More than 150 people packed the Mount Gambier Community RSL for the event on Saturday night, helping to raise money for a memorial flame to be installed at Vansittart Park.

The envisioned flame, encased in a red poppy structure, will commemorate Australia’s past, present and future diggers.

It will also be an important symbol during the honouring of Remembrance Day on November 11 and the 100th anniversary of the landing of Anzac troops at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.

Mount Gambier RSL president Bob Sandow said the organisation was awaiting approval from the council for the installation of the commemorative structure.

The ball started with a presentation of eight young girls as mini-debutantes from Margaret Cleves School of Dancing and their boy partners to special guest Major Leigh Newton.

Major Newton was second in charge of the Royal South Australia Regiment 10/27 Battalion from 2009 to 2011 and again in 2012.

He was also a soldier and non-commissioned officer.

The debutantes curtseyed and partners bowed to Major Newton as a sign of respect for his involvement in the Australian Army.

Compton Primary School students and singing groups Essence of Mayfair and Pheonix Choir entertained the crowd.

The Royal South Australian Regiment Band from Adelaide performed throughout the evening, keeping the dance floor active as they transformed from a military to a big band and then a rock act.

More than 20 Navy, Air Force and Army cadets also helped on the night clearing dishes and helping guests to their seats.