Daily News Roundup

March 16, 2018

Image: ABC News

Friday, March 16

Sacked Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has defended his use of text messages amid claims he sent 14,000 to his girlfriend in a year.

In an unprecedented move, he was sacked yesterday after helping his girlfriend get a job in Border Force.

But Mr Quaedvlieg continues to defend his position, hitting back today over the media report about extraordinary use of text messages with his girlfriend reports the ABC.

“Most senior public servants use messaging applications as an essential component of their job. I personally send and receive tens of thousands of messages across various platforms over any given year as part of my official duties,” he said in a statement today.

“Officials are also entitled to use their official devices for reasonable private use in recognition that their public lives often consume significant portions of their time and they, like most people, have a need or want to communicate with loved ones, or to conduct minor private household transactions while engaged in work duties,” the statement said.

The amount of text messages roughly works out to 38 a day, or three every two hours for a year.

But Mr Quaedvlieg said he had never been given a, “verified total number, or a breakdown of messages sent and/or received” as part of the investigation into his conduct.

And he argued the text message issue did not form any part of the reasons for his sacking that were tabled in Parliament yesterday.

When the grounds for his dismissal were presented yesterday, Mr Quaedvlieg issued a statement reiterating previous denials.

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Emergency personnel are drilling holes in debris to search for signs of life after a newly installed pedestrian bridge spanning several lanes of traffic collapsed at Florida International University (FIU), crushing cars and killing several people, The ABC reports.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) previously said there were multiple fatalities, but officials did not release a specific figure. US senator Bill Nelson of Florida told local TV station CBS Miami that he had been told up to 10 people had been killed.

Officials said there were eight vehicles crushed underneath the pedestrian crosswalk, and eight people were taken to hospital.

The bridge connects the university with the city of Sweetwater and was installed on Saturday in six hours over the eight-lane highway, according to a story that was posted on the university’s website.

The bridge, which cost $18.2 million, was 53 metres long and weighed 860 tonnes.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Division chief Paul Estopinan said there reports of workers on the bridge before it collapsed, and he confirmed that emergency workers did make some “surface rescues”.

He said two victims were cut out of the wreckage.

Police had requested television helicopters to leave the area so rescuers could hear for any sounds of people crying for help from beneath the collapsed structure, the Miami TV station said.

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The leaders of the United States, France and Germany have joined Britain in blaming Russia for poisoning a former spy with a powerful nerve agent, calling the attack, “The first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War”.

In a rare joint statement, US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May said, “there is no plausible alternative explanation” to Russian responsibility.

They said Russia’s failure to respond to Britain’s “legitimate request” for an explanation “further underlines its responsibility”.

The leaders said the use of a chemical weapon is “an assault on UK sovereignty” and “a breach of international law.”

The statement is the fruit of British efforts to enlist international support as it tries to hold Russia accountable for the March 4 attack that left former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in critical condition and a British police officer seriously ill.

Ms May visited the policeman in hospital on Thursday (local time), her spokesman said.

“The Prime Minister did meet with sergeant [Nick] Bailey … they had a private conversation,” he told reporters.

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