Daily News Roundup

February 16, 2021



TUESDAY, February 16

Former Olympic swimmer Scott Miller is accused of heading a criminal syndicate after police allegedly found $2 million of the drug ice hidden inside candles.

The ABC has been told Mr Miller, 45, is one of two men arrested during early morning police raids in Sydney’s inner west this morning.

Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearm squad conducted search warrants at a business in Bankstown and two homes in Rozelle and Balmain about 6:00am this morning.

The raids are part of an ongoing investigation into a criminal syndicate believed to be involved in the supply of prohibited drugs, particularly crystal methamphetamine, across NSW.

Detective Superintendent John Watson said drugs and cash were seized at the two homes

“They will be charged with supplying large commercial quantities of prohibited drugs relating to the methamphetamine or ice as we call it now,” he said.

“The 45-year-old man will be charged with directing a criminal syndicate, and the 47-year-old man will be charged with participating in a criminal syndicate.

“It will be alleged he’s calling the shots, the head of the syndicate, and others are working under his instruction.”

Detective Superintendent Watson said eight candles were allegedly found, each with half a kilo of methamphetamine inside.

He said the alleged syndicate was “not a small operation”.

“They were well organised and well-financed. They were well set up and they were intent on delivering death and misery right across the state.”

Mr Miller and a 47-year-old man have been arrested and taken to Newtown Police Station where they are expected to be charged.

Police allege the syndicate was intent on distributing drugs from Sydney to regional NSW.

Both men are expected to face court this afternoon.

NSW Police said investigations were continuing and further arrests are likely.

Scott Miller rose to prominence as a 19-year-old at the 1994 Commonwealth Games where he won the 100m butterfly and the 4x100m medley relay.

He also won silver in the 100m butterfly at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and a bronze in the 4x100m medley relay with fellow athletes Michael Klim, Steven Dewick and Phil Rogers.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologised to former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins for the way in which her complaint about her alleged rape was initially handled.

Ms Higgins alleges she was raped by a male colleague in the office of then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds after a night out in 2019.

“This should not be an environment where a young woman can find herself in such a vulnerable situation,” Mr Morrison said.

“That is not OK.”

Ms Higgins says in the days that followed the alleged rape, she was called to a meeting with Senator Reynolds in the same office where it occurred.

Mr Morrison has today apologised for that.

He also announced two new initiatives to better support women in politics.

“Despite what were the genuine good intentions of all those that did try to provide support to Brittany, clearly, by what she said last night, at the end of the day, she did not feel that way,” he said.

“And that is not OK.”

Western Australian MP Celia Hammond, former vice-chancellor of the University of Notre Dame, will work with Coalition MPs to consider new standards.

And Mr Morrison has asked Stephanie Foster, a senior bureaucrat in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to advise him on how to establish an external complaints handling process to allow women to make complaints at arm’s length from the party.

Addressing how the meeting between Senator Reynolds and Ms Higgins was held at the scene of the alleged rape, Mr Morrison said: “That should not have happened and I do apologise. That shouldn’t have happened.”

“That’s one of, I suspect, many process issues that Stephanie Foster will I hope identify to ensure those improvements are made.”

Mr Morrison was asked why he had not been informed by either Senator Reynolds or other staff who knew about the nature of the incident, and whether he had a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy”.

“That is a very valid question and I can assure you I am not happy about the fact that it was not brought to my attention — and I can assure you people know that,” he said.

He said the incident was dealt with swiftly as a security incident based on what was known at the time.


The Queensland hospital that cared for Tom Hanks while he recovered from COVID-19 will be the first in the state to receive the coronavirus vaccine, reports the Brisbane Times.

The Gold Coast University Hospital, which managed the first cluster of cases in January 2020, was expected to receive the first vials of the Pfizer vaccine next week.

The Gold Coast University Hospital will be first for Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

On Monday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the hospital would be the first of six hubs after Queensland Health last month denied the Gold Coast would be at the front of the line.

Ms Palaszczuk said the rollout would be trialled at the Gold Coast Hospital to ensure “everything is fine” before the vaccine was sent to hubs in Cairns, Brisbane, Townsville and the Sunshine Coast.

Hospital workers, quarantine and border staff and those working and living in aged care and disability accommodation will receive the vaccine within weeks.

They will be jabbed at one of the six hubs, as the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at very low temperatures.

Ms Palaszczuk said the rollout would start slowly.

“I think there is a minimal quantity that is coming in at the moment, but I am quite sure the Prime Minister will update national cabinet with progress,” she said.

Queenslanders were expected to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine once it was approved.

The second rollout will occur at pharmacies, GPs and hospitals, similar to how the influenza vaccine was administered.

The federal government aimed to vaccinate all Australians by the end of October, and Ms Palaszczuk said a Queensland senior public health official would be embedded in Canberra’s national co-ordination centre during the rollout.

“I want to absolutely know that everything that is being done will be done,” she said.

“And I want that presence of a Queensland representative in that national co-ordination committee to ensure the rollout is going to plan.”

No new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Queensland on Monday. Seven cases remained active across the state, Ms Palaszczuk confirmed.

There were 5656 tests conducted in the past 24 hours, compared with 6217 the day before.

Monday marked 39 days since the last COVID-positive person was infectious in the Queensland community.

Ms Palaszczuk said about 800 of the 1500 people who might have been exposed to cases in Melbourne before flying Queensland had returned negative results.


Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed to head the World Trade Organization, becoming the first woman and first African to take on the role amid rising protectionism and disagreement over how the body decides cases involving billions in sales and thousands of jobs.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala, 66, was named director-general by representatives of the 164 countries that make up the WTO, which deals with the rules of trade between nations based on negotiated agreements.

She said during an online news conference that she was taking over at a time when the WTO was “facing so many challenges”.

“It’s clear to me that deep and wide-ranging reforms are needed … it cannot be business as usual,” she said.

Her first priority will be quickly addressing the economic and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strategies may include lifting export restrictions on supplies and vaccines, and encouraging the manufacturing of vaccines in more countries.

Other big tasks include reforming the organisation’s dispute resolution process and finding ways for trade rules to deal with change like digitalisation and e-commerce.

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