Centrelink

Logan welfare recipients could face random drug tests under new trial

Federal Social Services Minister Christian Porter and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge are expected to announce today that Logan will be the next site of the government’s trial of drug tests for welfare recipients.

The first trial was announced yesterday to be conducted in Canterbury-Bankstown in New South Wales.

From 1 January 2018, the two-year Drug Testing Trial across three locations will test 5,000 new recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance for illicit substances including ice, ecstasy and marijuana.

“This trial is focused entirely on helping job seekers overcome drug problems and to receive the help they need to get on a path towards securing a job and building a better future for themselves and their families,” said the Minister for Social Services in a statement released on August 22.

“It is not about penalising or stigmatising people who have a barrier to employment which is as serious as drug abuse. We want to help people in this situation. Failure to do so simply leaves people at risk of a cycle of welfare dependency.”

Under the trial, a Newstart and Youth Allowance recipient who tests positive to a drug test will be placed on Income Management for a period of 24 months or the duration of the trial.

Income Management limits the amount of money recipients can withdraw as cash, with the funds quarantined for the purchase of essentials for themselves and their families.  It is intended to make it easier for people affected by drug use to pay for essential items such as rent, childcare, food, school uniforms and other household needs.

It’s understood Logan was chosen for the trial due to the high number of people signing up for welfare and the rapid growth of ice-fueled hospitalisations in the area.

More information on the Drug Testing Trial can be found at the Department of Social Security website here.

Police Lights

Van driver from Barcelona terror attack shot dead by police

The suspected terrorist who killed 13 people when he drove a van through the packed streets of Barcelona has been shot dead by Spanish police.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, was finally tracked down by authorities following a major Europe-wide manhunt.

The Moroccan national was cornered in the town of Subirat where officers opened fire on him, as it appeared he was wearing a suicide belt. Officials are yet to confirm whether the belt was real or fake.

Spanish Regional Interior Minister Joaquim Forn confirmed all 12 people in the militant cell, which organised and executed the attack, have now either been killed or arrested.

“The Catalan police have shot dead Younes Abouyaaqoub, driver of the van and direct perpetrator of the attack,” he said.

During Thursday’s attack 13 people died, including a seven year old Australian boy.

Avocado

Queensland world-first growing technique to smash global avocado shortage

QUEENSLAND looks set to double its avocado production and smash the global shortage, thanks to more than half a million dollars in funding from the state government.

The sunshine state produces 50 percent of Australia’s high-value avocado crops, injecting around $460 million into the state’s economy every year.

It is estimated that a world first innovative plant growing technique will help Queensland avocado farmers double their production to 70,000 tonnes a year.

The Queensland-owned, secret tissue-culture system can create 500 new avocado plants from a single cutting in eight to ten months, compared to the 12-18 months currently needed to produce just one plant.

The project has received a $636,000 grant through the second round of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch today predicted the initial ‘matched’ investment of less than $1.5 million could return $335 million a year for the state’s economy across the production and supply chain.

“The project between The University of Queensland and industry partners to develop this Queensland-owned world-first technology to tackle the global shortage of avocado trees is a terrific example of the powerful and profitable outcomes achieved when researchers, industry players, and entrepreneurs come together with a common purpose,” Ms Enoch said.

“It has the potential to generate new jobs, from the number of people growing and picking the fruit right through the line to those transporting, packing and processing the fruit.

“This world-leading, Queensland-owned technology will overcome the bottleneck of a shortage of high-quality planting material that is currently crippling industry expansion.

“Conservative estimates predict Queensland avocado farmers will be able to double production to 70,000 tonnes a year creating industry growth and jobs in the region.”

Professor Neena Mitter, from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at the University of Queensland, said the grant would enable researchers and industry partners to launch field trials next year.

“There are Queensland farmers who want to expand their avocado orchards, and entrepreneurs who want to enter the avocado farming industry, but they cannot get source plants to grow because of a global shortage of trees,” Professor Mitter said.

“Our Queensland-owned, trade-secret tissue-culture system takes a single cutting and can create 500 new plants in eight to ten months, compared to the current system that typically takes up to 12-18 months to produce one plant from a cutting.

“Receiving the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships grant, and working together with our industry partners, we will be able to take our innovation to the next stage of field trials in areas including Tully and Bundaberg,” she said.

Ms Enoch said the Innovation Partnerships program had allocated $17.73 million in the past two years to collaborative programs between research organisations and industry partners that would have major outcomes for Queenslanders.

She said the Palaszczuk Government allocated $7.82 million in this round of the grants to nine collaborative partnerships, with the industry project partners co-investing a further $8.36 million.

Advance Queensland is the Palaszczuk Government’s $420 million whole-of-government initiative, supporting jobs across a range of industry sectors.

Police

Knife-wielding shoplifter arrested in dramatic scenes on the Gold Coast

A MAN who allegedly stole two knives from a shop at Biggera Waters has been arrested by police in dramatic scenes.

The man allegedly stole the blades from a supermarket at the Metro Markets shopping centre around 12.30pm.

He was confronted by the store manager and allegedly swung one of the knives at her, “nicking” her on the thigh.

The man then allegedly sprinted out of the store and bolted through a number of residential yards before scaling a fence and inadvertently running into the arms of police.

Police tell myGC the man was carrying a knife in each hand when they cornered him in a street nearby.

The armed offender complied with police orders to drop the weapons and was arrested without incident.

Police say media reports suggesting the man was tasered are false.

gold coast tram

WATCH: Pedestrians come close to being wiped out by Gold Coast trams

IT appears motorists aren’t the only hazards popping up in front of trams on the Gold Coast, with dash cam footage capturing a series of shocking close calls with pedestrians.

The vision, released by G:link on Wednesday, was filmed from cameras fitted to the front of each tram.

The short 12-second compilation shows seven seemingly oblivious pedestrians failing to look left and right before stepping right into the path of the 60-tonne light rail vehicle.

Several pedestrians can be seen coming within inches of being wiped out as they dash across the tracks.

Some appear in view suddenly as they jump out from behind traffic, while others appear to be simply lost in thought and completely unaware of their surrounding.

In one instance, two people come awfully close to being run down at a station in Broadbeach.

The pair appears to ignore a red pedestrian light and run across two lanes of traffic in a frantic rush to get to the station before their tram leaves but almost end up underneath it.

G:link released the footage as a part of its “Be Safe Around Trams” campaign.

Thankfully, none of the pedestrians shown in the footage were hit.