Group accused of defrauding millions from NDIS

FIVE people have been arrested, accused of defrauding the National Disability Insurance Scheme of more than $1 million in western Sydney.

Three men and two women aged between 27 and 40 were arrested in Lurnea and Liverpool early on Wednesday morning and each charged with a range of fraud and proceeds of crime offences.

A sixth person is expected to be issued a summons to appear before court to answer a related charge at a later date.

Today’s arrests follow a protracted investigation led by the NDIS Fraud Taskforce.

It’s alleged the group controlled and exploited three registered NDIS providers that are accused of claiming more than $1.1 million in NDIS payments from over 70 people on disability plans, or those managing their affairs.

Investigations into the true scale of this fraud are continuing, with more than 100 other potential victims identified through the three entities – Universal Group Australia Pty Ltd, Reliance Disability Services and United Mission.

The three providers are believed to have received more than $2.6 million in NDIS payments since December 2017, but further enquiries are needed to determine whether these payments are legitimate or fraudulent.

It is also suspected that syndicate members applied to register another four entities as NDIS providers to claim payments.

During Wednesday morning’s action, Federal Police also seized three luxury high-end vehicles – a Porsche Cayenne, an Audi A3 and Mercedes E63.

AFP Acting Commander Mark McIntyre, Manager Criminal Assets and Fraud and Anti-Corruption, and said police were committed to targeting those deliberately exploiting the Australian community.

“This is an organised criminal activity preying on those that society has chosen to help– it took money directly out of the pockets of NDIS participants, reducing their ability to obtain crucial assistance and services to help them lead their lives,” he said.

“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case, and we will continue to work with our taskforce partners to identify those preying on our needy and bring them to account for their selfish and despicable actions.”

Acting CEO of the NDIA, Vicki Rundle, said the NDIS Fraud Taskforce was a partnership with a focus on high-risk and serious criminal activity targeting the NDIS.

“The NDIA is committed to working with families impacted by alleged fraud and ensuring they have their funds reinstated in their plans where appropriate,” she said.

“We want to make it clear that fraud of the NDIS will not be tolerated. The NDIA takes the matter of fraud very seriously and will continue to invest in our capability to continue to identify attempts to defraud the scheme”.

The Department of Human Services also has an important role in the NDIS Fraud Taskforce, providing expert capability to detect and investigate organised criminal networks that seek to take advantage of vulnerable members of the community.

Anyone with information about suspected fraud involving the NDIS should contact the Fraud Hotline on 1800 650 717.

If you have information for Police, please contact NSW Police on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day. 

You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.

Dr. Leana Wen,President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, speaking at the "Stop The Bans Day of Action for Abortion Rights" rally in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on May 21, 2019. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)

Hundreds rally against US abortion bans

Abortion rights campaigners have rallied at the US Supreme Court to protest new restrictions on abortion passed in eight states.

Many of the restrictions are intended to draw legal challenges, which religious conservatives hope will lead the nation’s top court to overturn a 1973 decision that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the two dozen Democrats running for president, spoke at the rally.

“We are not going to allow them to move our country backward,” she told the crowd through a megaphone.

Fellow candidate Senator Cory Booker urged the crowd to “wake up more men to join this fight”.

The rally is one of scores scheduled for Tuesday around the country in response to laws passed recently by Republican state legislatures that amount to the tightest restrictions on abortion in the US in decades.

Alabama passed an outright ban last week, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger.

Other states, including Ohio and Georgia, have banned abortions absent a medical emergency after six weeks of pregnancy or after the fetus’s heartbeat can be detected, which can occur before a woman even realises she is pregnant.

© RAW 2019

Darling at The Star Gold Coast

The Star Gold Coast up for top gong at prestigious industry awards

The Star Gold Coast has been recognised as one of the best venues in the Asian region, after being announced as a finalist for a prestigious gaming industry award.

It’s a contender for best integrated resort outside of Macau or Singapore in the Global Gaming Expo Asia Awards.

The Star is the only Australian venue to be in line for an award.

It’ll go up against two venues in the Philippines, one in Vietnam and one in Cambodia.

The Star Entertainment Group Managing Director & CEO Matt Bekier says it’s wonderful recognition for the work they’ve done to transform The Star over the last few years.

“There can be no doubt The Star Gold Coast is now a world-class integrated resort, and a global tourism destination of which the city and Queensland more broadly can be justifiably proud,” Mr Bekier said.

“The Star Grand hotel was completely refurbished. We built and opened The Darling hotel, a luxurious all-suite hotel of unprecedented quality. Add award-winning dining experiences and The Star Gold Coast is making a statement – and Asia is listening.”

The recognition comes as the Star continues work on a third tower at its Broadbeach site while plans have already been announced for a fourth tower, another five-star hotel.

The Star’s $2 billion masterplan includes plans for seven towers in total.

It’s already been approved by the State Government, but it’s delivery hinges on the Government’s plans for a second casino on the Gold Coast.

Mr Bekier says they’ll consider market conditions at each stage of the masterplan when deciding whether to proceed with all towers.

“While The Star Gold Coast has already been acknowledged with this award nomination as a worldclass integrated resort, imagine how it will be viewed across Asia and the rest of the globe if we roll out the masterplan in full.”

The winners of the Global Gaming Expo Asia Awards will be announced in Macau on

Compare the pair: Labor and Liberal’s key election promises

Andrew Donegan, The Conversation and Emil Jeyaratnam, The Conversation

With the election less than a week away, here is a quick guide to the major policy announcements and promises from the two major parties.

The Conversation

Andrew Donegan, Data + Interactives Editorial Intern, The Conversation, The Conversation and Emil Jeyaratnam, Data + Interactives Editor, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation

Child Unhappy

Biggest Aust supermarket gripes revealed

Australian shoppers are most irritated the amount of packaging on products in supermarkets according to a new survey on customer satisfaction across the country’s top chains.

The supermarket review, published on Tuesday by consumer advocacy group Choice, also revealed Coles and Woolworths have been rated least satisfactory overall by the nearly 2900 shoppers surveyed.

While too much product packaging was the most common frustration for shoppers overall (54 per cent), a lack of locally-produced products (45 per cent) was the second biggest gripe, followed by long waits to checkout (43 per cent).

Consumers ranked South Australia’s Foodland first – with an overall satisfaction score of 82 per cent – for its helpfulness of staff and locally produced food, followed closely by NSW-based Harris Farm Markets (81 per cent) which also stood out for quality of fresh produce.

“Shoppers are very keen to support local producers and local companies and farmers,” said Choice spokeswoman Rachel Clemons.

Costco came in third for its amount of specials and discounts while Aldi, which came in fourth, was rated the highest value for money.

They were followed by IGA and FoodWorks, whose best assets were ease of checkout.

While Coles and Woolworths claim almost 62 per cent of the grocery market share, more than half of respondents (54 per cent) said they saw little difference between them.

Woolworths was ranked second last, with a satisfaction rating of 69 per cent, while Coles came in last (67 per cent) because customers weren’t happy with the availability of locally-produced food, speed and ease of checkout and quality of fresh produce.

The only positive feedback for the two major chains was a high rating for opening hours.

“Convenience in terms of number of stores and opening hours, that’s where Coles and Woolworths just have it in the bag,” Ms Clemons said.

“But people are looking for more than that, they’re also wanting fresh, good quality, local produce.

“The duopoly need to take note.”

Just over 40 per cent of respondents said they use three or more grocery chains for their shopping.

© AAP 2019