Longer jail term for ice dealers

More ice dealers will be locked up for longer, as part of a Coalition election pledge to crack down on the drug.
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Under the proposed changes, ice would be treated as more serious than heroin and cocaine.

If re-elected, the Napthine government has vowed to give police powers to drug-test people arrested for an indictable offence and suspected of being under the influence.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the laws would make it harder for dealers to profit from their crimes.

“Providing police with the power to drug-test persons arrested for serious crimes will help police to act more quickly on related offending. It will also ensure the drug use is dealt with by the court in sentencing the offender and in ordering measures for the offender to address their drug use as part of their sentence.”

People caught with 15 grams of the drug will be subject to forfeiture laws, compared to the current 30 grams.

The amount of ice deemed a “large commercial quantity” will be halved from 1kilogram to 500grams, with traffickers facing a maximum of a life sentence and forfeiting everything they own.

The quantity of ice deemed a “commercial quantity” will be reduced from 500grams to 250grams, leaving traffickers facing up to 25 years in jail.

“Given the ability of traffickers to manufacture ice locally and in smaller quantities, the current quantities make it too easy for traffickers to dodge the jail terms and asset forfeiture they deserve,” he said.

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SES, CFA to get combined premises

A RE-elected Coalition government will fund the relocation of the Cobram SES and CFA.
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Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells made the promise when he visited the town earlier this week alongside Murray Valley MP and Ovens Valley candidate Tim McCurdy.

The Coalition will provide $200,000 to buy the land that would allow the services to move to a new site.

Housing emergency services is a trend that towns in Victoria are moving toward. Tallangatta CFA and SES moved into new, combined premises earlier this year, with both organisations saying it brought benefits when training volunteers and responding to emergencies.

Mr McCurdy said the Cobram SES’s 34 volunteers attended about 80 calls a year, while the 40-strong CFA brigade responded to 130 working from a 55-year-old station.

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Coombe given a last chance

THURGOONA woman Melissa Grace Coombe had previously made “hollow promises” about complying with medication and staying out of trouble, a magistrate said yesterday.
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Coombe, 36, was given a 12-month suspended sentence on charges of high-range drink-driving and disqualified driving in Albury Local Court.

Those offences had breached two previous 18-month bonds imposed on Coombe, who also ordered to comply with a medication regime.

Solicitor Mark Cronin said Coombe suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, but was back on her medication.

Magistrate Megan Greenwood said a Probation and Parole Service report indicated Coombe had a lack of insight into her offending.

It was Coombe’s erratic driving which brought her to attention after a complaint from the public.

Police were on the lookout for her silver Ford between Jindera and Burrumbuttock about 6.10pm on August 3.

Officers were waiting at Stony Park Road and saw a car coming towards them with the lights on high beam and in the middle of the road.

They moved to the left to allow Coombe to pass and then followed her, activating their in-car video.

She was swerving across the road and was stopped, later registering a blood alcohol reading of 0.156.

A check revealed she was disqualified until October 27, 2016.

Mr Cronin said Coombe had a problem with alcohol and a guideline judgment on high range drink-driving indicated a jail term should be imposed.

“Alcohol is a disaster for people with mental illness,” Ms Greenwood said.

“You will get caught out this time if you do not comply with the directions of the court.”

Coombe received a 12-month suspended sentence for drink-driving and a further two-year disqualification.

She got a two-year bond for disqualified driving and new 18-month bonds for the previous matters.

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Aussie touches highs against yen in hunt for yield

Good night for the Aussie dollar: The local currency also gained against the greenback. Good night for the Aussie dollar: The local currency also gained against the greenback.
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Good night for the Aussie dollar: The local currency also gained against the greenback.

Good night for the Aussie dollar: The local currency also gained against the greenback.

The Australian dollar has risen to fresh highs against the yen as Japan looks to delay a planned tax hike at a time when its latest bout of money printing stimulus increases investor appetite for the higher yielding local currency.

The Aussie dollar rose 1.35 per cent against the yen overnight and is buying 100.39 yen. It is the first break above the 100-mark since early April last year, when the Aussie traded as high as 105.06 yen.

The Australian dollar also gained on the greenback, up 0.9 per cent to buy 86.97 US cents. It did briefly rise to 87.02 cents before pulling back.

The US dollar hit a fresh high against the yen to 116.09 – its highest since October 2007 when it rose to 123.16 yen. It was last trading at 115.44 yen. The greenback has gained around 10 per cent against the yen so far this year.

The trigger for the Aussie dollar’s surge against the yen and greenback follows hopes that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may delay a planned 10 per cent sales tax increase, which is designed to help rein in public debt and support the struggling economy.

The yen, like the US dollar, is typically seen as a safe-haven currency and often struggles when Japan’s local stock market rise as investors sell yen and US dollars to buy riskier assets.

The Nikkei hit a new seven-year high overnight on the news. There have also been reports that Japan’s Prime Minister might call a snap election before the end of this year if he decides to delay the tax increase.

“If it were to happen, that decision would be justifiably negative [for the yen], to the extent that it would further deteriorate an already ugly fiscal picture,” said Bank of New Zealand currency strategist Raiko Shareef. “The yen is the only G10 currency to be weaker against the [US dollar] this morning, having softened 0.5 per cent to 115.4.”

Westpac’s chief currency strategist Robert Rennie and UBS chief economist Scott Haslem predicted last week that the Australian dollar would gain on the yen helped by greater stimulus from the Bank of Japan and potentially from the European Central Bank.

US stocks weakened overnight as investors took note of events offshore and worries about global growth.

Australian shares are expected to dip 5 points or 0.10 per cent when the market resumes trading on Wednesday.

Japanese investors have also been large buyers of Aussie dollars, fueled by the carry trade, meaning higher returns as a result of higher comparative interest rates in Australia – currently at 2.5 per cent – compared to zero in Japan.

Despite trading higher overnight, the Australian dollar has weakened against the US dollar in response to the end of the US Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program in October. The Aussie is 7.5 per cent lower against the greenback from the start of September when it was buying 93.3 US cents.

The yen has also weakened against the US dollar over this period, particularly after the Japanese central bank also announced in late October that it would expand its huge stimulus program. The greenback has surged over 6 per cent since then against the Japanese currency.


NAB looking to settle $38m late fees class action

NAB has been caught up in an industry-wide class action over bank fees that is one of the biggest in Australia’s history. NAB has been caught up in an industry-wide class action over bank fees that is one of the biggest in Australia’s history.
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NAB has been caught up in an industry-wide class action over bank fees that is one of the biggest in Australia’s history.

NAB has been caught up in an industry-wide class action over bank fees that is one of the biggest in Australia’s history.

National Australia Bank is moving towards a settlement in a class action over late bank fees which could see the bank pay out compensation costs of up to $38 million.

The entire class action, which encompasses nine financial institutions including all of Australia’s four largest banks, could be worth up to $240 million and is the biggest in the country’s history.

According to Financial Redress, a subsidiary of Bentham IMF which is funding the action, 272,593 accounts have been registered for the class action against nine different banks in Australia.

Maurice Blackburn, solicitors in the case, estimate 30,000 NAB customers have been hit with late lees on credit cards.

In a statement on Wednesday morning NAB confirmed that applicants in the NAB bank fees class action had lodged an application in the Federal Court on Friday, seeking approval to open and close the class.

NAB said this was a first but significant step towards reaching a potential settlement.

“We know that banking customers want to be treated fairly, which is why five years ago NAB made the decision to remove many of the fees and charges that annoy customers the most,” NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn said.

“NAB was the first and remains the only bank to abolish overwhelmed fees on credit cards. Since 2010, NAB’s credit card late payment fee has been $5 – up to $15 less than our major competitors.”

A spokesman for Maurice Blackburn said it had been negotiating with NAB for some time, but would not elaborate on the settlement process.

“We would encourage all banks involved to follow NAB’s example to negotiate in good faith, to resolve a fair outcome for all banking customers that have unfairly been charged these fees,” the spokesman said.

The class action, which is over types of “dishonour” fees for late payments, is targeting all of the big four banks, with the case against ANZ Bank running as a test case.

Earlier this year, Justice Michelle Gordon in the Federal Court found that ANZ’s late credit card fees were unlawful, but several other types of fee were legal. ANZ and Maucrice Blackburn are both appealing the ruling and a decision is expected over the coming months.

An ANZ Bank spokesman would not comment on the next steps the lender would take in the class action because the matter is before the Full Federal Court.


UPDATE: Man charged over murder of Renee Mitchell

Man charged over murder of Renee Mitchell Picture: Phil Hearne
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Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

TweetFacebookfacebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappMORE GALLERIES

12345678910 – A MANhas been charged with murder after the body of 38-year-oldRenee Mitchellwas found in Bangalay Reserve, Windale, on Wednesday.

Following investigations, police from Lake Macquarie Local Area Command stopped a vehicle on Mile Road at Cardiff.The driver was arrested and the vehicle seized for forensic examination.

He was taken to Charlestown police station and charged with murder.The a 66-year-old Windale man was refused bail and will appear in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday.

Renee Mitchell’s body was found on Wednesday morning at the Croudace Road entrance to the Bangalay Reserve.

INITIAL REPORT:AGED care worker Renee Mitchell was cooking for her family when she was allegedly taken from her own kitchen and brutally attacked before her body was left in a park less than a kilometre from the family home.

Her frantic family suspected something was wrong when she suddenly vanished and failed to return for work.

They searched the streets throughout Windale for several hours on Tuesday night and reported her missing to police before a bushwalker stumbled across her body early on Wednesday.

Aged in her 30s, she had been savagely attacked before her body was left uncovered on grass next to a small car park at the Croudace Road entrance to the 12-hectare Bangalay Reserve.

Still wearing the satin boxer shorts and shirt she was wearing while preparing tea, the body was covered in blood.

Within five hours of the discovery, a 66-year-old man known to the Mitchell family was arrested in his car at Cardiff and taken to Charlestown police station where he was expected to be charged on Wednesday night.

Lake Macquarie detectives, along with the Sydney-based homicide squad, were investigating motives for the attack.

Mrs Mitchell is believed to have once helped care for the suspect’s ageing father.

Family friend Dylan Grainger was at the family’s Lachlan Street home on Tuesday night and had followed a relative outside to help fix his motorbike while Mrs Mitchell was cooking. ‘‘Next thing we know we went inside and she was just gone,’’ he said.

‘‘She was lovely. She did anything she could do to help anyone out.

‘‘She was the most loveliest lady I have ever met.

‘‘She worked at a nursing home and she loved it, loved working with old people.

‘‘I don’t understand how anyone could hurt her.’’

It is understood her disappearance prompted the family to report her missing on Tuesday night, with police taking down a description and circulating a photograph.

It was about 6.30am when a walker came across the body, which was less than 40 metres from the busy Croudace Road and only metres from a car park and picnic seats.

Neighbours say the park is frequented by walkers, couples, schoolchildren and cyclists as well as some with more sinister motives.

‘‘We didn’t hear a thing until police knocked on our door about 7am,’’ neighbour Suzan Aslin said.

‘‘There is a real range of people using the place from people having lunch to people on bikes to people keeping fit.’’

A crime scene was established and forensic experts spent most of the day at the site.

Lake Macquarie duty officer Inspector Steve Gallagher said it was too early to speculate whether the alleged attack occurred in the park or whether the body was dumped.

Only a few hundred metres away down Lake Road, police set up a crime scene at the suspect’s unit.

Lake Road resident Adrienne Hawkins said there was never trouble along Lake Road.

‘‘Everyone goes to bed with the chooks, nothing normally happens after 5pm,’’ Mrs Hawkins said.

‘‘It has come as a bit of a shock, no trouble here whatsoever. No fights. Nothing.’’

A third crime scene was also established at the family home.

As police worked to search the crime scenes, police stopped the 66-year-old man in Myall Road at Cardiff.

He was taken to Charlestown police station while his vehicle was seized for forensic examination.

Mrs Mitchell’s husband, Dale, and the rest of the family were being cared for by relatives.


Robin Williams suicide triggered by dementia, hallucinations: report

Robin Williams: a report suggests he was suffering from a form of dementia. Photo: SuppliedRobin Williams was suffering from a form of dementia that his family believes was a “key factor” leading to his suicide earlier this year, according to a report.
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Court documents obtained by entertainment websiteTMZ show the comedian, who died on August 11 at the age of 63, was suffering from a form of dementia called Lewy body dementia when he died.

Lewy body dementia causes abnormal deposits of protein in the brain and results in progressive cognitive decline, visual hallucinations, and often depression, the National Institutes of Health in the US says.

It often accompanies Parkinson’s disease, the neurological condition from which the actor had been suffering for about three years before his death.

The Lewy Body Dementia Association website in the US says: “Some people with LBD are extremely sensitive or may react negatively to certain medications used to treat Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in addition to certain over-the-counter medications.”

TMZ reported that Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, had told authorities shortly after her husband’s death that he had been complaining about his medication and the way it made him feel.

The website said sources connected to the Williams family believed that Lewy body dementia was the “key factor” that drove him to kill himself.

Williams’ doctors agreed that the disease was a critical factor leading to his suicide, TMZ claimed.

Fairfax Media

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Australia could be hit by Chinese property bubble

Labourers at a residential construction site in Shanghai this July as fears of a Chinese property bubble grew. Labourers at a residential construction site in Shanghai this July as fears of a Chinese property bubble grew.
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Labourers at a residential construction site in Shanghai this July as fears of a Chinese property bubble grew.

Labourers at a residential construction site in Shanghai this July as fears of a Chinese property bubble grew.

Sydney house prices outstrip other cities in September

Australians should worry more about how fast property prices fall in China than risks of investor speculation in Sydney and Melbourne, say bankers and ratings agencies.

Paul Gruenwald, Standard & Poor’s chief economist for the Asia Pacific, said Australia is “smack in the middle of the pack” on property price rises in recent times compared with other Asian countries.

“On balance I get far more queries about China than Australia,” he said. He agreed there is potential for a correction in prices here, but as a risk he said the domestic market didn’t stand out.

“Less so than other countries in Asia, Australia has not imported US-style, ultra-low interest rates,” he said.

However, if there is a sharp price drop in China, Australia would be next in line after Hong Kong to feel the impact if this led to a downturn in the Chinese economy.

“The risk is the intersection of a non-bank credit boom going into housing,” he said. The heat is now coming out of the market there and “prices are falling in 69 of 70 cities across China – everything is softening.”

S&P’s “base case” is that China can “muddle through” with direct intervention from the government, but if not, Australia would be the first to feel the knock-on impact.

“The No.1 exposed economy is Hong Kong, but Australia is right after that. Australia is the most-geared into the China investment story.”

After the financial system inquiry hands down its final report later this month, banks expect the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to say whether it will introduce targeted, short-term “macro-prudential” measures to make buying property less attractive for investors.

Almost half of all new residential lending in the past 12 months has gone to investors. In Sydney the figure is 60 per cent.

The worry is that rent has not risen with property values and if interest rates rise, the squeeze on returns to investors may lead to a sudden sell off.

But banks argue the risks now are less than in previous cycles of home price rises.

Ken Hanton, director of asset transformation at National Australia Bank, agreed with Mr Gruenwald that China is “one of the [potential] shocks and real risks we face”.

He said Australia had had several cycles of fast rises in house prices in the past decade, with some much stronger than the recent jumps in Sydney and Melbourne, But in each case there was no ensuing plummet.

“Over the last 10 years we had national house price growth capping out and then falling. In 2007 to 2009 it capped out at just under 15 per cent growth,” he said. “Subsequent falls saw growth rates fall to minus 5 per cent. This time around house price growth has slowed and it looks like it has capped out at 11 per cent.”

If Australia is experiencing a housing price bubble now, there must have been several in the past decade, he said.

Other bankers and analysts said the definition of a bubble in prices requires three conditions: high credit growth, reductions in lending standards and expectations of continuing property price rises.

Tally Dewan, a securitisation analyst at Commonwealth Bank, said it is hard to know whether people think prices will keep rising. But the proportion of high loan to valuation ratios had in fact been falling, she said, suggesting lending standards were not reducing.

Lending growth has been relatively low because many borrowers had chosen not to lower their repayments even though interest rates had reduced. This means many are well ahead on their loans.

ANZ Bank senior economist Felicity Emmett said lending growth is now at about 8 per cent per annum. She pointed out it had been about 20 per cent in 2003 and growth in loans to investors 11 years ago was at about 30 per cent


William Kamm – Little Pebble only days from freedom

Convicted sex offender William Kamm, known as Little Pebble, is expected to be released from jail in the next few days.
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The 64-year-old Kamm has served more than nine of his 10 years in jail.

He started the religious group known as the Order of St Charbel at Tapitallee in the 1980s.

Kamm was convicted of ordering two teenage girls to have sex with him.

Part of his release conditions prohibit him from frequenting the Shoalhaven or communicating with his victims for the next 11 months.

A report by AAP said he manipulated a sect of old-line Catholic traditionalists to hand over their wives and daughters to populate his “Royal House”.

He is believed to have fathered more than 20 children and duped dozens of females, telling them they were among the 12 queens and 72 princesses chosen to repopulate the earth after judgment day.

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Police say Sevak has no chance of survival

NO HOPE: Police have given up hope of finding missing Sydney man Sevak Simonian
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THE search for a Sydney man missing for almost three weeks in the Kanangra Boyd National Park has been suspended, with police giving up all hope he is still alive.

Sevak Simonian was reported missing on the night of Thursday, October 23 after last being seen when he left his Belrose home the previous Monday.

His car was found in the Kanangra Walls Road car park on Friday, October 24 but an extensive search since then has failed tofind him.

Duty officer with Chifley Local Area Command Colin Cracknell, said the search was terminated at 1pm on Monday, with all personnel withdrawn from the site.

“Unfortunately, the result is a negative one,” he said, adding police will continue ongoing enquiries to try and establish Sevak’s whereabouts.

Inspector Cracknell said a report will be prepared for the coroner.

Inspector Cracknell said the decision to end the search was not taken lightly, with police only coming to the conclusion that Sevak is dead after enormous consultation with experts from the Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit in Sydney and a specialist survival doctor who works with both NSW Police and the Australian Defence Force.

“Based on the advice of these experts we have concluded he has no chance of survival,” he said.

Inspector Cracknell said he had been in touch with Sevak’s parents and, while they are devastated at the loss of their child, they knew at some point it was inevitable the search would wind up.

“They thanked everyone who has been involved in the search, which I believe is the biggest search ever conducted within the Chifley Local Area Command,” he said.

“Unfortunately it’s the first time we’ve never not had a result. Up until now we’ve always found the person [or their remains], so in that sense this is a bit unusual,” he said.

“But in the search we have left no stone unturned, we were even airlifting people into search zones, because they weren’t accessibleon foot.

“We’d plot a location on a map where they would search and then extracting them in the helicopter.

“We had a very dedicated team, hundreds of volunteers who gave of their time, freely carrying out the search.”

Inspector Cracknell also thanked the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad, the VRA, SES, National Parks and Wildlife, Rapid Relief Team, NSW Ambulance and paramedics and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter for their assistance during the search.

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Truck driver killed in two-vehicle Tarcutta accident

A MAN has died and another is in hospital following an accident involving two trucks on the Hume Highway near Tarcutta
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The accident occurred shortly after 2.30am Wednesday after a truck driver came off the edge of the road just south of the Mates Gully Road intersection.

Wagga Inspector Peter McLay said thetruck hit a guard rail and continued down into a creekbed, trapping the driver who was believed to have been killed on impact.

The driver’s family are yet to be notified. He is believed to have been a Victorian.

Meanwhile, an axle disconnected from the prime mover and a second B-double travelling behind collided with it.

“The second truck has lost control and fallen onto its side, blocking both the northbound lanes,” Insp McLay said.

“He sustained non-lifethreatening injuries and was taken to Wagga hospital.”

Inspector McLay said the northbound lanes would now be closed until lunchtimeand most likely into the afternoon.

Traffic is being diverted viaTumbarumba Road.

Please note that this map is an indication only. The accident occurred at the intersection of the Hume Highway and Mates Gully Road.

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UPDATE: Police release names of Mother and daughter killed in crash at Molong

Police are investigating following the deaths of two people during a crash in the state’s Central West yesterday. Police have released the names of two people after they lost their lives following a crash in the state’s Central West yesterday.
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About 5pm (Tuesday 11 November 2014), 16-year-old Learner Driver, Savanah Lang was driving a Ford Laser on Shades Creek Road, Molong, with her 39-year-old mother, Kelly Landers, in the passenger’s seat.

The Ford and a Subaru Outback, containing a woman, one-year-old and a newborn baby, collided at the intersection of Euchareena Road.

The two occupants of the Ford died at the scene, while the woman and children in the Subaru were not injured.

Both vehicles have been seized for mechanical examination.

Police from Canobolas Local Area Command are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident and will prepare a report for the information of the Coroner.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page:https://nsw.crimestoppers南京夜网.au/Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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More jobs, more on offer at re-branded Coles Eden

More jobs, more on offer at re-branded Coles Eden Thumbs up for prices down: The COLES Eden morning crew prepare to serve customers at the newly re-branded COLES Eden store on Wednesday morning.
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COLES Eden store manager Tom Marshman watches on, as Eden Tigers Rugby League under7 representatives,can’t believe their luck at being handed scissors and given the big task of cutting the ribbon to officially open the newly re-branded store.

Staff and parents clapped as Eden Tigers Rugby League under7 team members completed their official duties after cutting the ribbon at the newly re-branded COLES Eden store on Wednesday morning.

Eden Whalers president Harry Weatherman was on hand to applaud the ribbon cutting at Wednesday morning’s offical re-branding of COLES Eden. Mr Weatherman said the COLES store sponsors the Whalers, support that is greatly appreciated by the AFL club.

COLES Eden store manager Tom Marshman watches on, as Eden Tigers Rugby League under7 representatives,can’t believe their luck at being handed scissors and given the big task of cutting the ribbon to officially open the newly re-branded store.

Eden Tigers under7 players ready to cut the ribbon on the COLES Eden rebranding on Wednesday morning are Ryan, Braiden, Joseph and Trent.

COLES Eden store manager Tom Marshman says the new iced fruit and vegetable displays at COLES Eden offer customers an exciting, expanded range of healthy, fresh fruit and veg.

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