Mildura Weekly : Friday June 20 Vol 8 No 33
www.milduraweekly.com.au 8 Mildura Weekly – 20/06/14 MILDURA Police will unite with fellow officers across the country in the fight against illicit firearms over the next two weeks, with ‘Operation Unification – Il- legal Guns off our Streets’ launched on Monday. A nationwide campaign aimed at taking potential- ly lethal weapons out of criminal’s hands, Operation Unification follows a simi- lar campaign run last year which led to police seizing 110 firearms. “Each of those guns could have potentially been used to seriously hurt or kill innocent victims,” Chair of the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency Crime Forum and Victoria Police Assistant Commis- sioner – Crime, Stephen Fontana, said. “Guns are a menace within the community, and it’s time we each took re- sponsibility for getting them out of the hands of crimi- nals.” The primarily Australia- focused operation will be run in partnership with Crime Stoppers Australia, with all intelligence gath- ered to be used by police to assist in tackling the prob- lem of illicit firearms and associated criminal activity. Operation Unification will also help to build more sophisticated and connected firearm-related intelligence, and help ensure police can investigate, detect and dis- rupt serious firearm offences and combat crimes. Police and Crime Stop- pers are calling on Mildura community members to provide information about illicit firearms anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers’ confidential hotline (1800 333 000), or by visiting www.crimestoppers.com.au. “Evidence shows that illicit firearms are mostly used in serious and violent crimes against innocent vic- tims,” Chairman of Crime Stoppers Australia, Bryan Roach, said. “Public co-operation is critical to the operation’s success – even the smallest piece of information is in- valuable.” According to Assistant Commissioner Fontana, Australian Police run nu- merous operations targeting illegal firearms, saying that gun violence has been thriv- ing in some communities that police say have a ‘cul- ture of silence.’ “People with illicit fire- arms know that they are il- legal. Their friends, families and neighbours know that they are illegal,” he said. “The culture of silence in those communities is lead- ing to deadly results. “As we have seen with several shootings around the country in recent times, the threat to the community is enormous. “Many criminals have no regard for public safety, and it is a miracle no in- nocent victims have been caught in the crossfire from some of the recent shoot- ings we have seen.” Assistant Commissioner Fontana said theft was also a major source of illicit firearm trades, and in 2012 the Australian Institute of Criminology found that around 1545 firearms were reported stolen – only 10 percent of which were re- covered. “The majority of illicit firearms used to commit serious crimes are stolen,” Assistant Commissioner Fontana said. “We are not focusing on legitimate fire- arm owners. We just ask that they review their security arrangements to reduce the risk of theft over the next couple of weeks.” Operation Unification to focus on illegal firearms CONFINED to an intensive care ward at Mildura Base Hospital for more than three months, and not getting any better, Bruce Michael was well aware that he was on his death bed, gradually losing a four- year battle with the asbestos-based Mesothelioma disease. Bruce might have lost weight, strength and much of his mobility, but one thing he didn’t lose was his sense of humour. Mildura real estate agent Jason Lawler, a close family friend, and virtually Bruce’s carer in the year before he was hospitalised, told how the hospital rang one night to prepare him for the worst. They didn’t think Bruce would last the night. “I jumped in the car and head- ed for the hospital,” Jason said. “The next phone call I got was from Bruce, asking me to stop off at a li- quor shop and get him a bottle of whisky. “And don’t spare any expense,” Bruce laughed...”I don’t want any of that cheap stuff!” Jason had left home in a hurry, without his wallet, but scraped up enough ‘loose change’ from his pockets, and the car’s glove box and console, to buy a bottle of sin- gle malt Glenfiddich, which they shared – along with many stories from life’s journey – in Bruce’s hos- pital room over the next two hours. “It wasn’t long after we finished the bottle...maybe an hour or so, that Bruce passed away,” Jason said. He was recalling the story about Bruce telling him not to spare any expense with the whiskey, because it virtually has a sequel, with Bruce showing his generosity by making two large bequests to his favourite charities...but only if they involved local people. So yesterday Jason was happy to hand over a cheque for $10,000 to Mil- dura’s Emma Bath, who with a group of friends recently completed the gruelling 100-kilome- tre Sydney Coastrek...in just 36 hours... as a fund-raiser for the Fred Hol- lows Foundation. The generous donation from Bruce’s estate brought the total raised to $28,405. The other bequest – even bigger than the first – went to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.. Emma said yesterday she never got to meet Bruce, but was inter- ested to learn some of his history from Jason. Bruce Michael arrived in Mil- dura around 1995, buying a house in Pitman Street, Buronga. In 1997 he applied for a job with John Bond, who at the time was a partner with Jason in the Mildura Stockdale and Leggo franchise. After a few years, Bruce left to join Leo Curran in his small real estate business, and after studying for a real estate licence, opened his own agency. A few years later, then aged in his 60s, Bruce again had the opportunity to work with Jason, this time in his own business, Jason Lawler Real Estate, and it was during this time that he was diag- nosed with mesothelio- ma. “He fought the good fight for the next four years,” Jason said. “I was privileged to have known him as a work-mate, employee and a mate for around 16 years, and there was certainly more to the man than met the eye.” Bruce Michael was an indus- trial chemist by trade, working in many parts of the world, at one stage being employed by the US- based $30billion global giant Mars Corporation, with 180 staff under his control. “I’m nor sure what brought him to Sunraysia, but he was re- ally at home in the bush, and was a good worker who made friends easily,” Jason said. “He had a great love of the bush, was keen on fish- ing and hunting, played a mean game of golf (off a two handicap), and was a proud member of Went- worth gun club.” Jason said he and Bruce had always got on well, and Bruce was a welcome ‘addition’ to the fam- ily. “The kids loved having him around, and especially enjoyed some of his bawdy jokes, always delivered with the perfectly-timed punch line,” Jason said. Bruce gave freely of his time, and passed on many bush tips to the kids. “Bruce was a trifle eccentric, but quite simply just a great bloke, with an extremely generous na- ture...funny as hell, and loyal in the extreme,” Jason said. “He would continually entertain us with hundreds of jokes, or funny and interesting experiences. “His generosity has now again been proven by the bequests he made, through local organisations, to the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Royal Flying Doctor Ser- vice.” Bruce Michael passed away just a few weeks short of his 70th birth- day. • FOOTNOTE: Bruce’s financial contribution to the Fred Hollows Foundation came as a welcome surprise to Mildura’s Emma Bath and her fund-raising mates. See Page 18. Bruce’s dying wish bequests fulfilled So yesterday Jason was happy to hand over a cheque for $10,000 to Mil- as a fund-raiser for the Fred Hol- lows Foundation. The generous donation from Bruce’s estate brought his 60s, Bruce again had the opportunity to work with Jason, this time in his own business, Jason Lawler Real Estate, ma. fought the good fight for the next four years,” Jason said. “I was privileged to have known him as a work-mate, More support sought for Buronga International Food Festival THE call has gone out for commu- nity support ahead of the Buron- ga Public School’s annual major fund-raiser – the Buronga Interna- tional Food Festival. Now in its 43rd year, the fes- tival will be held on Saturday, November 15, from 6pm to 9pm, and will showcase delicacies from across the globe, including Ab- original, Italian, Australian, Mexi- can and Indian delights. The event will also feature kids entertainment, song, dance and a brass band, with a major raffle – featuring a number of prizes – to also be drawn. Local businesses, organisa- tions and community members are being encouraged to donate to the fund-raiser while also tak- ing part in the day, with the aim to raise enough money to purchase new iPads for student use. Last year’s International Food Festival proved a tremendous success, with more than $15,000 raised. A portion of those funds were put toward the construction of a new veranda, with the remain- ing funds put in a term deposit for a rubber soft fall. More information about the event – or to donate prizes, time or funds to the festivals – is avail- able by contacting Buronga Public School fund-raising coordinator, Trudy Tyson, on 0408 435 614.
Friday June 13 Vol 8 No 32
Friday June 27 Vol 8 No 34