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IN BRIEF

Date

Treasury reshuffle

The ACT government will merge Treasury with other directorates, but has assured staff there will be no job losses. A reshuffling of the ACT's public sector will see a new Commerce and Works Directorate created, which is expected to take over some roles of the disbanded Treasury. Parts of Treasury will also be merged into the Chief Minister and Cabinet Directorate. The existing Economic Development Directorate has survived. Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, has dismissed any fears of job losses due to the changes.''It's about, in a small government, getting your small agencies to bolster policy muscle,'' Ms Gallagher said.

Man bites ear off

An 80-year-old man has been charged after biting off the ear of another elderly man during a fight over a parking space in Perth's north.

The man was charged with causing grievous bodily harm to an 81-year-old neighbour after the pair allegedly argued over a parking space at their Dianella unit block on Friday afternoon. Police said the victim only realised his ear had been bitten off after his attacker brought his attention to an item on the ground. The victim put the item in his pocket and realised it was his ear when he had returned to his unit.

Cannabis plant haul

Reports of a street fight have led to the discovery of 104 cannabis plants being grown in a house in southern NSW. Police attended Goldsmith Street in Goulburn on Friday afternoon after receiving reports of a fight on the street. Investigations then led police to search a nearby home where they found the plants being grown hydroponically. A 28-year-old man has been charged with drug-related offences, including cultivating a prohibited plant for commercial purposes. He was refused bail and will appear in Goulburn Local Court.

Defence defends cut

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has dismissed reports the Obama administration is concerned about big spending cuts the Gillard government has made to defence. The government has reduced defence funding by $5.5 billion over the next four years to help return its budget to surplus. US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, has expressed happiness with the trajectory of the US-Australia alliance but a spokesman for Mr Smith said the report was at odds with conversations he had with US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta before and after the May budget.

Boat stopped

Australian authorities have intercepted a boat carrying 48 suspected asylum seekers.

HMAS Childers stopped the boat north-west of Christmas Island on Saturday morning after it was spotted from the air. Initial indications suggest there are 48 people aboard. About 950 people have arrived on 18 boats in the first 10 days of November.

Call for inquiry

Two leading child protection advocacy groups are calling for a national royal commission into the sexual abuse of Australian children. Bravehearts and the National Child Protection Alliance are urging Prime Minister Julia Gillard to set up a federal inquiry to examine all clandestine, cultural, illegal and systemic activities, policies, laws and practices which compound the sexual abuse of children.

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