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Aplin prepared to table petition

ALBURY MP Greg Aplin says he will table Rights to Privacy Albury’s petition on exclusion zones around women’s health clinics if it gains enough signatures.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Mr Aplin outlined the action he had assisted privacy campaigners with — one of the most detailed public comments so far on the ongoing debate around medical privacy and the Englehardt Street clinic.

Mr Aplin did not attend this week’s medical privacy forum as he was in Sydney on parliamentary matters, but did send a representative from his office.

“I have refrained from making detailed public comment on the Englehardt Street Clinic due to the sensitivity of the issue and out of respect for the clients accessing the services,” he said.

“I have met and discussed this issue with the Rights to Privacy organisers on many occasions.

“I have provided advice, made representations on their behalf to ministers and provided the ministerial responses.

“I have … advised I would table the petition in Parliament once presented to me. To date, the petition has not been presented.

“I am aware of suggestions to increase the level of privacy for clients by allowing vehicle access to the facility.

“People have also been advised to report any incidents to the police. This is the mechanism for achieving change when one public right faces another public right.”

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They turned me away: pro-lifer

They turned me away: pro-lifer Charleen Sharp and Liz Marmo protest for the right to privacy outside the clinic. Pictures: DAVID THORPE

Protesters were outside the clinic yesterday.

A man prays outside the clinic.

Protesters were outside the clinic yesterday.

TweetFacebookThe Border Mail witnessed the pair speaking outside the forum, with the man walking away after a few minutes.

Yesterday, he said he was “disappointed” he did not hear from the forum’s speakers, including NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi, who plans to reintroduce an abortion law reform bill following the March election, and other women’s health professionals.

“I thought it was open to the public … I really wanted to observe and listen,” he said.

“I was looking forward to hearing a really concise statement on what they hope to achieve … all I’ve heard is demonising the right-to-life group.”

The man said he doubted hearing the discussion would have changed his view on “the rights of the child”, but that it would have given him a “clearer understanding” of their argument.

“I understand them wanting to protect their issue but it was also an example of intolerance,” he said.

Ms Marmo, who was outside the clinic yesterday to observe the Helpers’ members and offer solidarity to those using the clinic, said only two pro-life campaigners were refused entry as Rights to Privacy’s history with those people was that they “could cause trouble”.

“I’m sure there may have been other members of Helpers who came along and respected the conversation,” she said.

“If a representative of Helpers had approached our committee members about attending they would have been welcome.”

Fellow privacy campaigner Pieter Mourik said Helpers did have a representative attend, who sat alongside Father Peter Macleod-Miller and “seemed very interested in the meeting”.

“The forum was not a debate,” he said.

Prominent Helper member Anna Von Marburg declined to comment on the forum when approached outside the clinic yesterday.

“We’re not big political activists, we’re just here to offer women help,” she said.

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Mayors won’t pay for Truss meeting

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss. Picture: GRAHAM TIDYTHE Border’s mayors won’t be missing the chance to share a drink or two with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss next month, but they’ll skip the planned $1100 a head dinner.

Wodonga mayor Rodney Wangman and his Albury counterpart Kevin Mack yesterday said they’d happily accept their councils’ invitations to the free, two-hour cocktail party with senior federal Nationals MPs at The Cube on February 5, with each hoping to bend the ear of Mr Truss on their city’s projects.

Speculation has arisen the Nationals have chosen Wodonga as the site for their gathering — including a party room meeting and $1100-per head fund-raising dinner at Huon Hill — as part of the party’s bid to make a serious run at Indi at next year’s federal election.

Regardless of the purpose of the visit, both mayors said they were just happy to take a chance to bend the ear of Mr Truss.

Both councils have applications for funding from the National Stronger Regions Fund, which is headed by the Deputy Prime Minister in his role as federal Regional Development Minister.

Wodonga is seeking cash for the city centre redevelopment; money promised by the previous Labor government in the 2013 election, but not matched by the Coalition.

Albury wants funding for the Davey Road interchange off the Hume Freeway near the Ettamogah Rail Hub, a development Cr Mack said would “get the hub looking even more appealing to big business”.

“You don’t miss an opportunity like a cocktail party to meet significant heavy hitters in Canberra,” he said.

“I’ll go along for the chance to speak to Warren and (Agriculture Minister) Barnaby Joyce, but what sort of audience will you get? Who knows?

“I think their interest is on the other side of the Border at this point,” he added, acknowledging the three-cornered contest likely to arise in Indi next year.

Cr Mack said he and Albury general manager Frank Zaknich had tried to get meetings with Mr Truss regarding Albury but had so far been unsuccessful.

In contrast, Cr Wangman said Mr Truss and his Coalition colleagues had “always been very amenable” to speaking with Wodonga when asked.

He hoped the visit would “help remind” Mr Truss of the city’s progress and plans for further redevelopment of its centre.

“I’m pleased they are using Huon Hill and The Cube, both show a collective $40million in investment in the city and I’ll relay to him how that funding has been used so he can see what we’ve done and what happens next,” he said.

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Home invasion was a ‘target’

Detective Sgt Graeme SimpfendorferTHE victim of a violent Wodonga home invasion may have been targeted for her prescription medication, according to her mother.

The woman’s Emerald Avenue home was targeted by two masked people armed with unknown weapons about 4.45am yesterday morning, with nearby residents hearing banging noises, shouting and screaming.

The victim had been at home with a man and three children aged about 10 to 13 at the time.

The offenders fled the scene quickly and are thought to have run along Tourmaline Drive and Melrose Drive.

Police arrested a 45-year-old Wodonga man yesterday and last night charged him with armed robbery, aggravated burglary, theft and assault over his alleged involvement.

He was remanded in custody during an out of sessions court hearing to reappear before the Wodonga Magistrates Court today, and police were still seeking the second offender late last night.

Police located several items at the scene, but remained tight lipped yesterday about what the items were.

Detective Sgt Graeme Simpfendorfer said the family had been left shaken and fearful.

He said it was believed that the home had been specifically targeted.

“To be woken up at that time in the morning with people in your house is terrifying,” he said.

“To traumatise the kids as well is very disturbing for anyone.

“We’ll work pretty hard at trying to catch these people quickly.

“The kids will receive some counselling down the track and we’ll support them as much as we can.”

The victim’s mother said her daughter had probably been targeted for her painkiller medication.

“My daughter’s distressed,” she said.

“We believe they were after her medication.

“Everyone’s traumatised.

“They’re exhausted.”

Phone detectives on (02) 6049 2600 if you have any further information about the incident.

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Confusion over Parliament House cleaning contract

More public service news

Apparent bewilderment about when the Parliament House cleaning contract ends appears to have slowed enterprise bargaining negotiations with the workers.

The staff who work for Limro Cleaning Services keep all areas of the massive nationally important building, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office, spotless and hygienic and were seeking an extra 85 cents an hour.

But the United Voice union’s Lyndal Ryan said there seemed to be a disparity about when the existing contract ran out.

“The company says that they only have a contract until June this year and whilst they are sympathetic to the fact that cleaners have not received an increase for two years they are unable to agree to increases unless they have an ongoing contract,” Ms Ryan said.

The union wanted wage increases consistent with those set out in the Commonwealth Cleaning Guidelines which the Abbott government scrapped.

The first negotiation meeting with Limro was held on December 15.

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A spokesperson from the Department of Parliamentary Services, which runs Parliament House, said there was a long-standing contract between DPS and Limro.

“The provisions of the contract dealing with extensions of the contract, and the times at which DPS must formally extend the contract, are complex, but generally speaking DPS has for some time operated on the basis that the contract will run until 2018,” the DPS spokesperson said.

Limro did not respond when contacted.

United Voice said there were 42 cleaners keeping parliament’s 4700 rooms and other common spaces clean and there were  more than 100 when the building first opened.

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