Date: May 30 2012
The door to Australia acquiring America's latest and most deadly unmanned armed vehicle - the Reaper hunter-killer drone - has been opened a crack further, following revelations the US has agreed to sell the technology to Italy. The announcement comes only a day after defence chiefs confirmed they were examining the future applications of armed drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, as part of a force structure review. ''I wouldn't discount the fact that we might have armed UAVs, thinking through our force structure review into the future,'' the defence chief, General David Hurley told a Senate estimates hearing.
The head of the Australian army has conceded troops could be exposed to greater harm as a result of a federal government budget cut. Labor saved $250 million by axing plans to buy two batteries of self-propelled artillery. It is instead buying two extra batteries of towed artillery. In a Senate estimates hearing yesterday, Liberal Senator David Fawcett asked Chief of Army David Morrison whether the decision could expose troops to ''greater harm''. ''I don't believe there's any need to prevaricate in answering here. The simple answer is yes,'' Lieutenant General Morrison said.
The largest fish farming area in Australia will be created on Tasmania's west coast after the state government agreed to expand operations in Macquarie Harbour. The state's $400 million a year salmon and trout industry would be boosted by $88 million after leases for three producers were expanded for the next five years, primary industries minister Bryan Green said. Tasmania is experiencing a salmon boom, with demand growing by more than 10 per cent a year and production having increased by $250 million in the past five years to more than 30,000 tonnes.
Property tycoon Ron Medich, accused of murdering businessman Michael McGurk, says he's glad he no longer has to wear a ''humiliating'' electronic device on his ankle. Magistrate Julie Huber, who recently relaxed Medich's bail conditions, scrapped the electronic bracelet yesterday, after being told the device - which was funded by Medich - was not working. Lawyer Erin Derrick, for the crown, told Central Local Court she understood from police there were ''some technical difficulties with this type of device''. The dropping of the bail condition was consented to by the crown.
A NSW bus driver who left a schoolboy stranded 75 kilometres from home after he caught him ''mooning'' has been stripped of his authority to drive. The NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal has upheld a Department of Transport decision to cancel the man's authority to drive a bus after it found he also threatened to break a student's arm and drove while using a mobile phone. The tribunal heard the driver, who operates the school bus service with his wife, kicked off a 15-year-old boy after he caught him ''mooning'', or baring his behind, at another bus in August 2010.
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