The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on October 31, 1995 · Page 5
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The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia · Page 5

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Tuesday, October 31, 1995
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Page 5
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ag: H TUESDAY '31 OCTOBER 1995 80c 9600 4211 (Classified 132243) 142nd Year, No. 43,812 TTTRTTRl JL&it&. Land tax ledger 'out' by $104m By SHANE GREEN, tat political editor An Internal audit of the State Revenue Office's system for land tax collection has found "major irregularities", identifying a $104 million imbalance in the authority s books. - 'The confidential audit report, a copy of which has been obtained by The Age, delivers an "adverse" finding on the office's computerised collection system. The report says this means there are a "number of major irregularities considered to be excessive and the impact of these could result in losses to the State Revenue Office". m The $104 million discrepancy raises questions about the accuracy of the office's records of who has paid land tax. It was unclear whether the discrepan cy had affected the record of who had paid the tax. State Revenue Office management were not available to clarify the situation. The audit report, marked "final" draft and dated 25 Oc tpber, finds a discrepancy of about $104 million between the office's revenue ledger and its client ledger. While the tax has been marked on the revenue ledger, it appears it has not been entered against . the names of taxpayers. The report reveals that the "imbalance" occurred in late February, when "due items were processed in the revenue ledger without the corresponding entries in the client ledger" The report notes that while management has begun procedures to reconcile the discrepancy, it has yet to happen. The $104 million is about one quarter of the state's total land tax pool, based on state Ue JUST CAUr POT OVRHAflPSj CW IT AT THeMOMBiTj- Budget papers which show that Victorians paid $396 million in land tax last financial year. The report recommends Clearing the imbalance be given a priority, enabling "affect ed clients to be identified and corrective action to be taken" although it first calls for a cost-benefit study. In managements response to the $104 million discrepancy, the office says that the priority given to rectifying the imbalance "needs to be considered in conjunction with all other requests in the system and not in isolation". The audit report also warns there is the potential for staff to make "unauthorised amend ments to payments files that could remain undetected. . It also finds some of the audit trails in the billing part of the system are inadequate, and reveals that the ledger information is "questionable" because of insufficent information tech nology resources. The State Revenue Office yesterday confirmed the authenticity of the audit report, but said there were "no major issues and concerns raised in the report which will have a Significant impact on any of our current operations". Responding to a request from the Age for comment, the SRO's general manager, policy and education, Mr Rod Rogers, said the report was a draft, and had not been formally considered by the SRO's executive nor its internal audit committee. "It Is part of our normal pro cess to adopt a rigorous critical and frequent review of all our systems," Mr Rogers said. I he spirit of the comments contained in the report are aimed at achieving excellence within all our systems and the language and expressions used are specifically targeted for an Internal audience, he said. 3sm A- rune bdDinmlb !Evaums By PETER ELLINGSEN, European correspondent, The Hague, Monday In a dramatic stand that challenges the military strategy of the United States and Britain, Australia has called on the International Court of Justice to make all nuclear weapons illegal and put on notice those nations that continue to hold and test nuclear arms. On the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Auckland, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Evans, has outlined a nuclear disarmament policy that goes beyond attacking French testing in the Pacific, and will prove unpalatable to the British Prime Minister, Mr Major. In possibly the strongest stand by any Australian Government, and one of the most radical taken by any OUR kORLP COOl-P BB PBSTROfBp, fcJI (are tub, poll thatbapT) Howard slams Major's test stance The Opposition Leader, Mr Howard, has strongly criticised the British Prime Minister, Mr Major, for his public endorsement of France decision to resume nuclear testing. Mr Howard yesterday said Mr Major comments in defence of France nuclear testing program had weakened worldwide efforts to convince the French President, Mr Chirac, to abandon it. 'The task of persuading him to do so would be made much easier if consistent international pressure continues to be applied," Mr Howard said. Despite the British position, Australia and New Zealand are pressing ahead with a resolution condemning nuclear testing to be put to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Auckland. Western country, Senator Evans invoked the image of the mushroom cloud, saying that that deadly icon "remains in all our minds". Casting Australia, already well known in Europe for spearheading opposition to French testing, at the head of a global campaign to end nuclear stockpiles. Senator Evans told the court it had a unique ability to offer a ruling that would be of the "deepest historic importance". t "If you are minded to address the substantive issues raised in the questions before you, your advice can and will materially affect the achievement of that nuclear disarmament," he said. Mr Major, who gave tacit approval to French testing at the weekend, will, like the US, find Australia's new tough stand a diplomatic stumbling-block. Using language reminiscent of protesters a generation ago, Senator Evans today rejected the deterrent justification used by the nuclear club, and called for a ruling requiring nuclear powers to dispose of their stockpiles. Senator Evans said the new policy would not affect the future of US military bases in Australia, the US-Australia defence alliance, or visits to Australia by US nuclear-powered ships. He said Australia would press home its opposition to nuclear weapons and testing with Mr Major at the Auckland conference. Australia is the first of 28 nations to make submissions to the court following a decision of the World Health Organisation to ask it for an opinion on whether the use of nuclear weapons was a breach of the WHO constitution. Implicitly rejecting the limited steps the US and Russia have taken to reduce their nuclear arsenals, Senator Evans argued that "the existence of nuclear weapons . . . threatens the whole of civilisation". Even if Russia and the US implemented the terms of the START II nuclear reduction treaty, 12,000 of the 40,000 warheads would remain by 2003, enough to destroy the world 10 times over, he said. "The threat of global annihilation engendered by the existence of such weapons and the fear that this has engendered among the entire postwar generation is itself an evil, as much as nuclear war itself," he said. In a challenge to the strategy pursued by every American president since Truman at the end of World War II, and echoed by the policies of Russia, France and the UK, Senator Evans said the nuclear powers were probably operating outside both customary international law and humanitarian principles and had an obligation to disarm. He told the court that while it might have been tolerable for nations to hold nuclear weapons after World War II, it was now morally and legally unacceptable. Senator Evans's tough line was endorsed by the Prime Minister, Mr Keating. -'" "' ' , .'.-,v.... .. . .i,., t 1 . ' - '' ' ' : ' .).. . . ' - . ' . - f ' Two children, Kurt and a fear of God WWW! it Satan, I need help, I want to serve you and be a devil worshipper. God is dead and no one cares. I am planning to kill myself on Tuesday. When I die, let me be a devil or demon and destroy everyone who hurt me. I might have a seance and try and communicate with Kurt Cobain. I love him. When I die; can I meet him please, I need to. Let me be a devil or demon, please Satan. I love you." Kurt Cobain, Satan and dread of a religious camp led to the suicide of Narelle and Stephen Henderson. Above is an extract from a letter written by Narelle. By TIM PEGLER Shortly before she committed suicide last year with her younger brother, 15-year-old Narelle Henderson, of Kinglake West, wrote on her arm: "Kurt Cobain is a legend." A diary found later at Nar-elle's home included more references to Cobain, lead singer of the American band Nirvana, who had shot himself dead several months earlier. "Kurt you are so f lucky. I would give anything to be' where you are or with you." Narelle's obsession with the grunge rock hero was cited" by a coroner yesterday as a contributing factor in her suicide with her 12-year-old brother, Ste-pheri.Henderon, in the Mount Robinson State Park at Pheasants Creek in November last year. Both had bullet wounds to the back of the head. r But while Cobain's suicide was influential, the dread of attending a forthcoming religious camp was probably uppermost in the children's minds at the time they shot themselves, and the immediate motivation for their suicide pact, the coroner, Ms Jacinta Heffey, found. A suicide note found in clothing worn by Narelle said: "We want to tell (whoever finds us) not to make anybody go to Meetings or Church if they really hate it. "It destroys your life and we considered running away or other things but we were afraid we would be found and get in trouble and made to go back to our awful lives . . ." The children were due to attend a four-day religious convention either the night before or the day on which their n H v. I J 3 INSIDE As one tragic mystery was resolved In a Melbourne coroner's court yesterday, a horrifying story was only beginning In Queensland. Police worked through the night In pursuit of a killer who had left two girls (pictured above) dead on a Sunshine Coast dune. PAGE 3 bodies were found. Ms Heffey said in her finding: "It would seem clear that the imminent 'convention' was uppermost in the children's minds and was the immediate motivation behind the joint suicide." But Ms Heffey said Narelle was "also influenced to some degree" by the suicide of Cobain in April 1994. A letter found in Narelle's room, in which the text was written backwards, said: "Satan I need help, I want to serve you and be a devil worshipper. God is dead and no one cares. "I am planning to kill myself on Tuesday. When I die let me be a devil or demon and destroy everyone who hurt me. I might have a seance and try and communicate with Kurt Cobain I love him, when I die can I meet him please I need to. Let me be a devil or demon Continued: PAGE 4 Sex club ; crackdown Table-top dancing bars in and around King Street may face tougher licensing restrictions as anxiety over Melbourne's increasingly violent club strip rises. But King Street and its seedy sleaze is not the beginning and end of Melbourne by night. Why, some people are just out there having good clean, and non-violent, fun. , PAGE 6: Our street of shame. Yeltsin health fears growing The Russian President, Mr Boris Yeltsin, Is suffering from a more serious heart condition than his aides ' admit and at one point lost' consciousness before being revived, according to a magazine report Newsweek quotes a Kremlin source who said the 64-year-old leader blacked out. PAGE 8: Full report. Hughes the loafer gains his degree, 3 9 years late By LOUISE CARBINES, literary editor It has taken Robert Hughes 39 years to get a degree from an Australian university. So yesterday, after being given an honorary doctorate of letters by Melbourne University, he was flushed with gratitude and relief. "My academic history, I will confess, has been a sorrow to me and a disgrace to my kin, he said, wearing a black velvet hat and newly acquired gown. He did not want to give, comfort to the congenially lazy, but he was not diligent: "I loafed. In truth, with most of us who turn out to be writers, there is a university loaf- . er somewhere In the back- . ground. The most widely read art critic In America and a guest of the 10th Melbourne - L ' Mr Hughes: resplendent in . newly gained gown and hat. Festival he was lauded for being "a coherent cultural commentator of great range and power, who has enlarged our understanding of the humanities". After the ceremony, out came his thoughts on the republic, on Australian identity, and on the polarisation of American society. "I think the republic Is a good thing. I think we should have a republic by the year 2000, though I think that that may not be administratively possible, he said. Australia was not racked with divisions like America. "It's an extremely tolerant society. This Is a place where you can point to multicultural endeavors and say that they actually work. Mr Hughes attended Sydney University but never graduated because, after a drunken lunch in 1962 with the founder of Penguin Books In Australia, he was offered his first book contract: a 300 advance to write a history of Australian art. "Wavering betwen virtue and vice, I chose the vice of writing." TODAY Victoria: Moatty ' On. MM. ! CNy: Fin. Expected lop 70. (Ywlenday 16. mln 11.) ' DataH.' Pag 18. ruMOHmiw Fins, 29. THURSDAY Chang developing. howenj,28. FRIDAY Showtra, 18. INDEX Amusements 25 Law list 10 Arts 14-15 Letters 12 Business 19-24 World 8-9 Comics 16 Personals 16 Crosswords 16 Classifieds 26 Editorial 13 Television 18 Features 11 Weather 18 ODD SPOT Chinese twin girls separated after birth were reunited 67 years later after a chance encounter In a park when a daughter thought the two women looked alike. HOME DELIVERY Call 9601 2668 (Business hours) 7 days tor $5.70 (plus charges) THE DRILUANT NEW 1996 VOLVO 20 VALVE 050SE...FR0M $54,950 ALSOAVAILAtU 1993 150$! SIDANS A ESTATES 63 Nepvan Highway, Elttemwick, Melbourne. 95282222 Cm austrMd umlir to thOM dvwtMd IMCT657 DHV4539 ll all odds up:- driver and passenger air-bogs WUS Volvo's patented side protection airbogs . . . 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