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"Left in tears." NSW police have strip-searched 122 girls including two 12-year-olds since 2016, & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. “Left in tears.” NSW police have strip-searched 122 girls including two 12-year-olds since 2016.

Data obtained under freedom of information laws has revealed 122 girls under the age of 18 have been forced to undergo a strip search by NSW police since 2016.

Redfern Legal Centre obtained the data after a police investigation into the alleged illegal strip search of a 16-year-old at the 2018 Splendour in the Grass music festival.

The inquiry into that incident heard the girl was left in tears after being forced to strip naked and squat in front of a police officer who then “looked underneath” her. The search also took place without a parent present, a potential breach of police powers.

There have been a total of 3,919 strip searches on women in the past three years in the state, with the eldest a 72-year-old and the youngest two 12-year-olds and eight 13-year-olds.

In NSW, police are allowed to carry out strip searches only if the urgency and seriousness of the situation requires it. For minors, a parent or support person needs to be present unless it’s necessary for the safety of the person or to stop evidence being tampered with.

Police Minister David Elliot has defended the figures.

“I’ve got young children and if I thought that the police felt they were at risk of doing something wrong, I’d want them strip-searched. Having been minister for juvenile justice, we have 10-year-olds who are involved in terrorism activity,” he told reporters yesterday.

But Redfern Legal Centre Head of Police Accountability, Samantha Lee, said police were searching “terrified” teenagers who were often unaware of their rights.

2. Drought affected small businesses to get cheap loans under new package.

Drought-affected small businesses will get access to cheap loans and millions of dollars will be released to local councils for job-creation projects, under a plan to be unveiled by Scott Morrison.

As well, the conditions on already-concessional loans for farmers will be eased further to help them get through the drought.

The Prime Minister will today reveal a multi-million dollar plan to add to existing drought support measures.

“Our drought plan is not set and forget,” Mr Morrison said.

“We have been back on the ground listening to farmers and their communities, and this package is a direct response to their feedback.

“This is money in the pockets of our farmers to help keep their stock fed and watered, their staff and farm hands paid and their crops irrigated.”

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About two-thirds of Queensland is affected by drought, while over 98 per cent of NSW has been impacted.

Victoria has a number of dry regions, mainly in the northwest, while Western Australia and South Australia have set records for low rainfall.

Under the improvements to the Regional Investment Corporation’s farm drought loans, the interest-free period will run for up two years, with interest-only payments in years three to five and interest and principal for years six to 10.

The current conditions are interest-only for the first five years and principal and interest for the remainder of the 10-year term.

Small businesses dependent on agriculture will have access to concessional loans of up to $500,000, under similar conditions to the new drought loans.

It will cover businesses such as harvesting and shearing contractors, livestock transport providers, stock and station agents and agricultural equipment and repair providers which employ 19 workers or fewer.

The government will also redirect $200 million from the Building Better Regions fund to create a special drought round, providing up to $10 million per project in regional local government areas.

Up to $138.9 million will be provided via a Roads to Recovery supplementary payment for 128 local government areas in drought, for upgrades and maintenance of roads.

And six more local government areas will be added to the existing drought communities program, which since 2018/19 has involved a commitment of $123 million to a range of job-creation projects.

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More announcements are expected to be outlined on Thursday, building on the work of drought task force coordinator Major-General Stephen Day.

Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack said the package was another step in a series of short and long-term measures already announced.

“We are working on measures to assist in the recovery when the rains come, which includes the government’s billion dollar investment in water infrastructure,” he said.

“We will continue to listen to drought-stricken communities, respond to this drought and support those in need. We will not walk away from those communities, not now, not ever.”

Nationals MPs have been calling for $1.3 billion to be spent on drought-affected communities.

Labor has accused the government of sitting on its hands, having had a report from the drought task force led by Maj-Gen Day since April.

3. One man dead and another critical following Sydney construction site stabbing.

A 76-year-old man is dead and a 33-year-old man is fighting for life after a construction site stabbing in Sydney’s inner west, with police now hunting for the alleged assailant.

Police on Wednesday afternoon said they were searching for a 49-year-old construction worker who fled the scene of the St Peters stabbing.

Inspector Chad Deegenaars says the three men knew each other and were linked to the construction site.

It’s been reported the two victims were property developer Albert Metledge and his son Antony.

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“Our investigators are finding out what the disagreement was. What the motive was, we don’t know,” Inspector Deegenaars told reporters on Wednesday.

“It doesn’t appear to be a random attack.”

Emergency services were called to the construction site on the Princes Highway about 1pm.

The 76-year-old had already died while the 33-year-old was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in a critical condition.

A manhunt is under way for the alleged attacker, who is described as being Caucasian, 180 centimetres tall and with a shaved head.

He was wearing a blue t-shirt, blue cargo-type pants and work boots, and is believed to have hitched a ride from the site to Rockdale, Insp Deegenaars said.

Police, who have obtained the weapon used in the stabbing, have warned the public not to approach the man if they see him but to instead call triple zero.

“We believe he is capable of a violent act,” the inspector said.

Sydneysiders were urged to stay away from the intersection of Short Street and the Princes Highway.

Video from the scene, posted to Twitter, shows a number of men in hi-vis clothing standing in an area roped off by crime-scene tape.

A picture, posted to messaging app Snapchat, claims to show one of the stabbed men lying on his side at the construction site as his co-workers administer first aid.

4. Sydney father and eight-year-old son seriously injured after being hit by a car at a school pedestrian crossing.

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An eight-year-old boy is fighting for life and and his father is seriously injured after being hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing outside a primary school on Sydney’s north shore.

The pair were crossing the road when they were struck by an SUV shortly before 9am on Wednesday outside Neutral Bay Public School.

The vehicle then went on to hit four parked cars in Bydown Street, near Yeo Street, NSW Police said.

NSW Ambulance praised a passer-by who stopped to give first aid at the scene.

The child was taken to Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick in a critical condition while his dad, 40, was brought to Royal North Shore Hospital and is in a serious but stable condition.

A second boy, also eight, was taken to hospital as a precaution. He is understood to be known to the father and son but not related to them.

The SUV driver, a 53-year-old man, was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital to be treated for shock and police said he will undergo mandatory testing.

No arrests have yet been made.

Inspector Christie Marks from NSW Ambulance described the incident as “horrendous”.

“Our paramedics worked extremely closely with other emergency services at the scene and worked tirelessly on the patients,” Ms Marks said in a statement.

“There was a bystander who commenced first aid and their efforts should be commended.”

5. Swedish man arrested with $12 million worth of ice in suitcases at Sydney Airport.

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A Swedish man has been caught at Sydney Airport allegedly trying to smuggle an estimated $12 million of the drug ice into the country hidden inside the lining of two suitcases.

The 39-year-old was arrested on Wednesday after Australian Border Force officials examined his unusually heavy suitcases after he arrived in Sydney from Turkey.

Each of the suitcases weighed close to nine kilograms when empty.

An x-ray uncovered 16 kilograms of a brown powdery substance that officials say tested positive for ice.

The Australian Federal Police were called in to arrest the man. He was subsequently charged with importing a commercial quantity of drugs and will face Central Local Court at a later date.

“This was a brazen attempt to sidestep authorities and bring a significant amount of ice into our homes,” AFP commander Kylie Flower said in a statement.

“While these drugs have an estimated street value of $9 to $12 million, the human cost to our communities would have been far greater.

“If you are a methylamphetamine user, know that you are being taken advantage of by people who do not care for your health, your family or your finances.”

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