Four men have been charged over the theft of a shipping container with 8.5 million cigarettes, worth $2.65 million. Three wharf workers from Catherine Field, Casula and Bonnyrigg were arrested at their south-western Sydney homes yesterday morning and charged with conspiracy to commit theft over the container heist.
An Ingleburn security guard also was charged over the conspiracy on Wednesday. All four were allegedly part of a scam to smuggle the shipping container from a secure facility at Botany Bay on February 6.
In another matter the Sydney Morning Herald revealed yesterday that the Government secretly ditched plans to ban cigarettes from public display in supermarkets and shops. Frank Sartor announced the initiative in February 2004.
Another May 2004 document from NSW Health's tobacco and health unit warned that retailers would have concerns at Mr Sartor's proposal because they feared a loss of revenue from the proposal but the argument was "best addressed through public health arguments".
"There is significant evidence that the display … is a deliberate strategy by the tobacco companies to increase their market share in cigarette sales," the document says.
Mr Sartor maintained yesterday there was no need to proceed with plans to ban cigarettes from public display because the Federal Government was putting graphic displays of cancers on cigarette packets. A briefing paper prepared last year by NSW Health for the Assistant Health Minister (Cancer), Frank Sartor, advised "there is strong evidence to suggest that the display and/or advertising of tobacco products encourages children and young adults to experiment with smoking".
Finally Marian Wilkinson and David Marr writing for the Herald reported today a "Smoking Gun drama for the PM". Seems the AWB scandal is not going away. Wilkinson and Marr say, "AUSTRALIA'S intelligence services told the Federal Government five years ago that Saddam Hussein's regime was charging kickbacks on all humanitarian contracts at the time AWB was the largest supplier of humanitarian goods to Iraq.
Explosive documents released yesterday by the Cole oil-for-food inquiry also show the Government was told as early as 1998 that a Jordanian company part-owned by Iraq was being used as a conduit for payments to Iraq in breach of UN sanctions. The company, Alia, was used by the monopoly wheat exporter AWB to funnel almost $300 million in bribes to Iraq."
So what is to come of our country? Are we up in smoke? Where there is smoke there is fire, and so where is the fire? It's Friday afternoon as I write this and the Sabbath will begin soon. We will light the candles at our house and the children will gather for the traditional Friday evening meal. Will the candles burn through the evening and will that indicate something greater? I think so. In fact, where there is smoke, there is usually something greater. Sometimes in the Bible fire is good and sometimes, it's well, less than good.
For instance the Jewish people were led by God with a pillar of fire in the wilderness at nighttime and a pillar of smoke in the daytime. (Exodus 13.21). God even spoke to Moses in a bush that was aflame, but didn't burn up. (Exodus 3.1-5)
Of course then there were the two sons of Aaron. The Message records "Fire blazed out from GOD and consumed them--they died in GOD's presence." (Leviticus 10.2) Ouch. Not a good fire at all, eh?
So fire can be good; fire can be, not so good. The issue is our heart. Where is your heart today? Are you trusting in the Almighty and living his way or are your days going to be up in smoke and disaster? The choice is yours.
Deuteronomy 4:24 (Whole Chapter) (NASB) "For the LORD your God is a [Ex 24:17; Deut 9:3; Is 30:27; 33:14; Heb 12:29] consuming fire, a [Deut 5:9; 6:15] jealous God.
Friends, get it right today. Walk with the Lord your God and give him the praise he is due. Listen to him and do what he says. Don't get him burned up against you. Be on fire for his plans and love the Lord with all your heart.
That's my recommendation and advise today. Hope it helps you. Bob