Sabtu, 31 Mei 2014

Qld public housing rent shake up on cards (AAP)

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An overhaul of how public housing rents in Queensland are calculated will not include adding in the casual wages of teenagers, the state housing minister says.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has said the Newman government is considering using school childrens' casual wages to help determine household incomes.

"Their part-time pocket money is going to be pooled together (to decide) how much rent a family should pay," she said.

The government also wants to make it harder for people to join public housing waiting list by dropping the maximum eligible household income from around $80,000 to around $60,000, the opposition says.

Housing Minister Tim Mander says there are too many exemptions taken into account when calculating how much tenants should pay, but he will not be going after teen wages.

Under current rules, the bigger the chunk of your income that comes from things like Family Tax Benefit or child support, the lower your effective rental rate.

That means tenants on the aged pension are paying more than people with kids.

"While there is clearly room to tighten up some of the exemptions, I can categorically rule out including the part time wages of school kids in rental calculations," he told AAP.

Only 151 households of the 53,855 using public housing pay the required 25 per cent of their weekly income in rent, costing taxpayers $100 million a year.

Most people pay less than 20 per cent and 40 per cent of people pay less than 15 per cent, figures from the department of housing show.

Without reform, public housing rents will continue to be about a third of what people would pay for a similar property in the private market.

"That's not only unfair on those on low incomes struggling to get by in the private market, there are also huge inequities amongst those already in the system," Mr Mander told AAP.

People want vision, not complainers: PM (AAP)

View Comments Tony Abbott says he is the man with the plan and the Australian public will back him.AAP Tony Abbott says he is the man with the plan and the Australian public will back him.

Australians want a man with a plan, not a bunch of complainers.

And that's why Tony Abbott remains confident the $7 Medicare co-payment and other budget measures will get through parliament, insisting opponents have only criticism, not alternatives.

"Whether it's (opposition leader) Bill Shorten, whether it's the Greens, whether it's others - it's one long chorus of complaint," the prime minister said on Sunday.

"The man with the plan has an extraordinary advantage over the person who has just got the complaint."

The prime minister said he did not expect people to like the Medicare co-payment but he expected them to support it.

Just as the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) co-payment did not affect Australia's health system, nor will the Medicare contribution, he told Network Ten.

He questioned why the Labor Party was taking the moral high-ground on the co-payment when its former leader Bob Hawke sought to do just that in the 1990s.

Mr Hawke proposed a $2.50 Medicare co-payment in 1991 but it was abandoned by Paul Keating when he became prime minister.

The PBS co-payment was introduced by Labor in the late 80s.

Mr Abbott said it was bizarre for Labor to be "waxing morally indignant" about one co-payment when it introduced another type, the PBS co-payment.

He said the PBS co-payment had not damaged the universality of the health system and neither would the Medicare one.

But Opposition frontbencher Jason Clare said Mr Hawke was wrong to try to introduce the co-payment, and Labor made it known to him back then.

"So if we're prepared to stand up to Bob Hawke on it, you can bet that we're prepared to stand up to Tony Abbott on this as well," he told Sky News.

Mr Abbott, who admits refinement of some measures may be necessary, continues to make "courtesy calls" to various minor party and independent senators to stress the importance of delivering the budget and scrapping the carbon and mining taxes.

He defused questions about whether he had a difficult relationship with Clive Palmer, whose party with key independents would hold the balance of power in the Senate from July 1.

It was "perfectly normal" for senior members of the coalition, like frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull, to hold talks with Mr Palmer in his place.

"Over time I'm confident that (Mr Palmer) will have a constructive relationship with the government," Mr Abbott said.

Abbott brushes off criticism (AAP)

View Comments Criticism from the community is part and parcel of public life, says Prime Minister Tony Abbott.AAP Criticism from the community is part and parcel of public life, says Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the vitriol he has faced since last month's budget has been hurtful but hasn't distracted him from his job.

"I don't dwell on it," Mr Abbott said of the public criticism and plunging approval ratings that followed his government's austere budget.

"I accept that one of the penalties of being in public life is that you will be unfairly criticised by people who don't know you," he told the Ten Network on Sunday.

Protesters objecting to the government's proposed changes to university funding have worn `f*** you Abbott' T-shirts, while US newspaper The Washington Post said that Mr Abbott was "quickly becoming one of the world's most hated prime ministers" just nine months into the job.

"I don't pretend for a second that people have been cheering in the streets because it's a tough budget," Mr Abbott said.

By way of comparison, Mr Abbott said former Liberal prime minister John Howard was "widely and ferociously criticised" during his 11-year reign but that people now admire aspects of his premiership.

The prime minister's family has also come under the spotlight, with wife Margie Abbott's level of charity work questioned.

Daughter Frances Abbott's three year scholarship to a private design college has also made headlines.

"Of course this is hurtful and upsetting; that's why people do it," Mr Abbott said.

"The important thing is to be as protective as you can be for your family but get on with the job and that's what I'm utterly focused on."

Such criticism should have no place in politics "but sadly there are some people who don't play fair".

Teenager charged over Sydney party assault, 17yo in critical condition with stab wounds (ABC)

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Police have charged a 16-year-old boy with assault after two other teenagers were injured in a fight at a party in Sydney's inner-west.

Officers say they found two 17-year-old boys with injuries after being called to a home in Five Dock where a fight had broken out.

One of the victims was found with stab wounds to the chest and side. He has had surgery and remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

Another teen had been hit in the head with a bottle and was treated for head injuries.

Police have since charged a 16-year-old with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray.

He has been given conditional bail and is expected to face a children's court later this month.

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov arrives in Queensland*s Sunshine Coast after solo voyage from Chile (ABC)

View Comments Fedor Konyukhov rowing around 3km off the Mooloolaba on May 31, 2014.ABC Fedor Konyukhov rowing around 3km off the Mooloolaba on May 31, 2014.

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov has arrived to cheering crowds at the completion of his 160-day rowing journey from Chile to Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

The 62-year-old professional adventurer and Russian orthodox priest rowed into the Mooloolaba Spit on Saturday afternoon just after 1:00pm.

He embarked from South America on his 16,000-kilometre solo voyage on December 23 last year.

Family, friends and a flotilla of local boats greeted the adventurer with cheers, tears and admiration upon his arrival.

"I'm sure most people will say that that's an amazing thing to do and I wish I could do half of it," Fr Gabriel Makarov, from St Nicholas Cathedral in Brisbane, said.

Through an interpreter, Konyukhov said the last few kilometres were tough.

He rowed up to 80 kilometres a day during his journey from Chile to Australia.

Konyukhov's son, Oscar, was on hand to greet him when he arrived in Mooloolaba.

He said his father was exhausted by the journey, but choosing to row rather than sail cut the journey time from around 300 days to 150 days.

Russian president Vladimir Putin also congratulated the adventurer through a letter delivered by the Russian ambassador.

Konyukhov lived on freeze-dried food and desalinated water while crossing the Pacific Ocean in a custom-built boat.

The Russian has now rowed the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, walked to both North and South Poles and climbed Mt Everest twice.

He has also completed the "7 Summits" challenge - climbing the highest mountains on seven continents.

However, some of his world-record attempts have failed. In 2005 Konyukhov had to abandon a round-the-world sailing voyage and make land in Hobart after rigging issues.

Australia has been a base for many of the sailor's voyages, and he sailed from Albany, Western Australia, when he circumnavigated Antarctica in 2008.

He is already considering his next adventure - to pilot a hot air balloon across the world, starting in the Australian desert.

Volcanic eruption at Sangeang Api in Indonesia keeps Darwin flights grounded (ABC)

View Comments A plume of ash rises from the Sangeang Api volcano, off the north-east coast of Sumbawa.ABC A plume of ash rises from the Sangeang Api volcano, off the north-east coast of Sumbawa.

Flights in and out of Darwin airport will remain grounded until at least Sunday morning because of a volcanic eruption in Indonesia.

The Sangeang Api volcano, located off the north-east coast of Sumbawa, has been erupting since Friday night.

The Bureau of Meteorology says it has caused a volcanic ash cloud that is moving in a south-easterly direction, affecting the Kimberley and Top End.

Passengers were stranded in Darwin on Saturday, with both international and domestic flights cancelled.

In Perth, airline passengers hoping to travel to Bali were also hit with flight cancellations.

Jetstar says it will decide just before 2:00am if its first flight scheduled to land in Darwin at 7:40am will go ahead.

A spokesperson for Qantas confirmed the first Sunday flight scheduled into Darwin is expected to land just before 1:00pm.

In a statement on their website, Qantas says they are closely monitoring weather conditions and will release updates as they become available.

A spokesperson for Darwin Airport says at this stage all domestic Virgin flights have been cancelled with flights in parts of WA also affected.

Virgin Australia released a travel alert saying they will recommence normal operations as soon as the volcanic ash safely allows it.

"Our team of meteorologists are continuing to monitor the situation, in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin," the alert said.

Regional airline Air North is advising customers to check with the airline.

Volcano unleashes three ash plumes

Federal Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss said in a statement that the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre has been monitoring three ash plumes, the first of which has made its way over central Australia.

Mr Truss said that ash cloud was "dissipating quickly" and was not expected to reach far into Queensland or disrupt flights to and from Brisbane.

The second ash cloud was about 45,000 feet above Darwin and the third was north-east of Bali, the statement said on Saturday afternoon.

Virginia Sanders from Darwin International Airport says it is not yet known when flights will resume, but similar events in the past have been a "24-hour type event".

Traveller Jarrod Bowditch at Darwin Domestic Airport says he is trying to get to Broome for a friend's wedding.

"The wedding isn't until next weekend but the bucks starts tomorrow, so hopefully we get there in time," he said.

The first recorded eruption of Mount Sengeang Api was in 1512, with several eruptions recorded in the 1990s and only weak steam plumes in the last few years.

The island is now largely uninhabited, but it is still used by locals for farming.

It is understood more than 200 families who work on the island's plantations have been evacuated following Friday's eruption.

Volcanic ash halts flights to north Australian city (AFP)

View Comments Volcanic ash halts flights to north Australian cityAFP Volcanic ash halts flights to north Australian city

Sydney (AFP) - Flights into and out of the northern Australian city of Darwin were cancelled Saturday and some to Bali affected owing to huge ash clouds thrown up by an Indonesian volcano.

Indonesia's Sangeang Api volcano began erupting Friday and its ash is sweeping south towards Australia, prompting Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia to cancel Darwin flights.

"The volcano is continuously erupting," Tim Birch from the Bureau of Meteorology's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin told AFP.

Birch said one plume was affecting northern Australia and impacting Darwin and was expected to linger for at least the next 18 hours.

Another was located over central Australia which could cause problems for overland flights, while a third was about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Denpasar airport on Indonesia's Bali.

"All of the plumes will be affecting aviation," he said.

Surono, an Indonesian government volcanologist who goes by one name, said that Sangeang Api was spewing columns of ash up to 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) into the air on Saturday.

Virgin Australia cancelled flights to Denpasar airport late Saturday, as did Qantas offshoot Jetstar.

Indonesian flag carrier Garuda cancelled three flights to Denpasar from nearby airports, transport ministry spokesman J. A. Barata told AFP. However Denpasar airport reported good visibility and was not itself affected by the ash, he said.

Two small airports close to the volcano in central Indonesia -- one on the island of Sumbawa and another on neighbouring Sumba island -- closed Saturday due to the eruption, Barata said. The airport on Sumbawa was shut for several hours while the second was due to remain closed until Sunday.

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said it could take days for Australian services to return to normal.

"Depending on wind and other weather conditions, the ash has the potential to affect flights to and from other airports, including Brisbane, during coming days," he said.

"This is currently being fully assessed."

Airservices Australia has reportedly begun diverting international flights around the ash plume.

Australian aviation authorities recommend against flights into areas with visible volcanic ash clouds because the fine particles are hazardous to aircraft engines.

A spokeswoman for Darwin International Airport told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it was not known when flights would resume.

"At this stage it's speculation... from what I can tell, as the ash moves it dissipates so it could be good news for tomorrow," she said.

"But going on past experience, this is usually [a] 24-hour type event."

Hundreds protest against the federal budget in Launceston (ABC)

View Comments Hundreds protest against the federal budget in Launceston.ABC Hundreds protest against the federal budget in Launceston.

Hundreds have gathered in Launceston to protest against the federal budget.

The federal budget was handed down nearly three weeks ago but another rally opposing its measures is being held in Launceston.

Cuts to education and health and changes to Newstart are the main targets.

Kevin Lumb from the Salvation Army told the crowd the proposed $7 co-payment for seeing a doctor will force Tasmanians to choose between medical care and putting food on the table.

He also said he believed a 30 per cent drop in takings for the Salvation Army's red shield appeal in Launceston this year is because of fear over the budget.

Darwin flights cancelled after volcanic eruption in Indonesia sends ash plume south (ABC)

View Comments Darwin flights cancelled after volcanic eruption in Indonesia sends ash plume southDarwin flights cancelled after volcanic eruption in Indonesia sends ash plume south

The majority of flights in and out of Darwin have been cancelled today because of a volcanic eruption in Indonesia.

A spokesperson for Darwin Airport says all international and domestic Jetstar services, and all domestic Virgin and Qantas flights have been cancelled.

The Sangeang Api volcano, which is located off the north east coast of Sumbawa island, erupted yesterday evening.

The Bureau of Meteorology says it has caused a volcanic ash cloud that is moving in a south-easterly direction, affecting the Kimberley and Top End.

A spokesperson for the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre says the ash is moving further south and dispersing.

"As it begins to move away from the volcano, it begins to dissipate so we see less and less of a signatory in the satellite imagery," the spokesperson said.

"We expect over the next 24 hours it should gradually fade out so it's no longer a significant threat to the area.

"It's been almost a continuous eruption since about, I think it would've been about 6:30pm last night local time in Indonesia.

"There's been three high level eruptions during that period. However, right now we can still see a significant eruption going on at the volcano."

Virginia Sanders from Darwin International Airport says it is not yet known when flights will resume.

"At this stage it's speculation ... from what I can tell, as the ash moves it dissipates so it could be good news for tomorrow."

"But going on past experience, this is usually [a] 24-hour type event."

In a statement on their website, Qantas says they are closely monitoring weather conditions and will release updates as they become available.

"Due to the overnight eruption of a volcano on the southern Indonesian island of Sangeang, volcanic ash plume has drifted over the Australian Northern Territory coastline," the statement said.

"As a result, all Qantas flights to and from Darwin have been cancelled for Saturday 31 May 2014."

Virgin Australia also released a travel alert, saying they will recommence normal operations as soon as the volcanic ash safely allows it.

"Our team of meteorologists are continuing to monitor the situation, in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin," the alert said.

Regional airline Air North is advising customers to check with the airline.

Passenger hopeful Jetstar flight will leave tonight

Hundreds of passengers are sitting around Darwin airport, and some are confused as to whether their flights have been cancelled.

Jetstar passenger Paul Gallagher was scheduled to fly home to Sydney tonight.

He says a Jetstar spokeswoman told him his flight has not been cancelled.

"She said that the flight's still confirmed but she says ... they're still collecting information and they would ring me if they heard anything more."

The Bureau of Meteorology is expected to provide airlines with an update on the size of the ash cloud later this afternoon.

Jarrod Bowditch says he is trying to get to Broome for a friend's wedding.

"The wedding isn't until next weekend but the bucks starts tomorrow, so hopefully we get there in time," he said.

The first recorded eruption of Mount Sengeang Api was in 1512, with several eruptions recorded in the 1990s and only weak steam plumes in the last few years.

The island is now largely uninhabited, but it is still used by locals for farming.

It is understood more than 200 families who work on the island's plantations have been evacuated following yesterday's eruption.

Jumat, 30 Mei 2014

Sydney teen critical as party gatecrashed (AAP)

View CommentsA teen is in a critical condition in hospital after being stabbed at a party in Sydney s inner west.AAP A teen is in a critical condition in hospital after being stabbed at a party in Sydney's inner west.

It was meant to be a small gathering of friends for a 14-year-old girl's birthday.

But the get-together at a house in Five Dock, in Sydney's inner west, turned into a violent brawl after gatecrashers showed up.

Now a teenage boy is fighting for his life in hospital after being stabbed several times at the out-of-control party on Friday night.

Another is facing criminal charges.

Police were called to the home on Charles Street and found two injured teenagers in the backyard.

A 17-year-old boy was stabbed in the chest and in his side and is in hospital in a critical but stable condition.

On Saturday a 16-year-old, who also sustained minor head injuries during the brawl, was charged with assault and affray. He was released on bail and is expected to appear at a children's court on June 20.

Another teenager, 17, was allegedly hit in the head with a bottle and was also taken to hospital. He was discharged on Saturday.

It is understood a 14-year-old girl, who was staying at the dual-level brick home with her grandparents, was having friends over for her birthday.

Her grandmother told AAP she allowed the girl to have half a dozen people over but the gathering was gatecrashed.

She said she was coming home from the Blue Mountains when she received a call from her daughter telling her the party had escalated.

"I went straight to Burwood police station," she said on Saturday morning.

It is understood most of the party-goers were from Concord High School.

The granddaughter is now with her father and on her way to Canberra, the woman, who did not want to be named, said.

Burwood police Inspector Michael Penfold said officers faced chaotic scenes when they arrived on Friday night.

He said there was at least one adult home.

Surrounding residents of the usually quiet suburban street heard bottles smashing and people screaming.

Jay Nam looked out her window to see young people on the street yelling at each other.

"Some of the residents came out and tried to get them away from the street," she said.

Next-door neighbour Ed White said the party-goers were about 15 or 16 years old.

"They were really young," he said.

"There was just lights flashing, sirens and cops up and down the street."

Insp Penfold had a warning for parents planning a party for their children.

"One of the main issues is make sure only invited guests attend and adequate security provisions beforehand," he said.

Police investigating suspicious deaths of three people in Darwin suburb of Jingili (ABC)

View Comments Police attend a property near Darwin where three people have been found dead.ABC Police attend a property near Darwin where three people have been found dead.

Northern Territory Police are investigating the suspicious deaths of three people in the Darwin suburb of Jingili.

Detectives say a caretaker found their bodies about 10:00am.

One female body was found out in the open, while two other bodies were in a tent.

Police say the bodies were starting to decompose and believe the deaths occurred 24 to 48 hours ago.

Details on their identities have not been released.

More to come.

Breast cancer patients could avoid infertility with new drug: study (ABC)

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A new treatment may help breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy avoid infertility and early menopause, researchers have found.

A study involving 218 women worldwide found monthly injections of the drug goserelin induces a temporary menopause that shuts down the patient's ovaries.

Researchers from Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre found those patients who had the drug during chemotherapy were 64 per cent less likely to go into early menopause.

"For these women it's hugely important. There are about 800 women in Australia who are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40 and may not yet have started a family," said Dr David Speakman, the centre's chief medical officer.

"The fact that this will enable them to go on and do that after they have had a successful treatment for cancer is a fantastic outcome."

The study also found women who received the treatment were also almost twice as likely to have a baby after their cancer treatment, compared with those who did not receive the injections.

The results of the Prevention of Early Menopause study were presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago overnight.

The study's chair, Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips, said currently many women freeze eggs or embryos before chemotherapy and try to get pregnant when it is safe to do so.

"Through this research we have a comparatively simple and accessible way to help protect fertility in young breast cancer patients without harming cancer outcomes."

Professor Phillips said the treatment may have benefits for young women with other forms of cancer.

Darwin Airport shut as volcanic ash looms (AAP)

View Comments A massive ash cloud from an Indonesian volcano may disrupt aviation in parts of Australia.EPA A massive ash cloud from an Indonesian volcano may disrupt aviation in parts of Australia.

Qantas and Virgin Australia have confirmed all their flights to and from Darwin have been cancelled as a massive volcanic ash cloud sweeps from Indonesia towards the Australian mainland.

Flights around Australia may be disrupted by the cloud, which began spreading when Sangeang Api, a volcano off the northeast coast of the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, erupted on Friday evening.

Virgin Australia spokeswoman Jacqui Abbott said all Virgin flights to Darwin on Saturday have been cancelled.

"Because of the impact of the volcano we have cancelled all flights today on our schedule to and from Darwin," she said.

"Our meteorologists are monitoring the situation and are consulting with the (volcanic ash) advisory centre in Darwin and we will renew normal operations as the situation allows."

Qantas Group spokeswoman Kira Reed said cancellations also affect all Qantas flights to and from Darwin on Saturday and Jetstar's Cairns-Darwin and Darwin-Cairns flights, its Darwin-Adelaide service and its Darwin-Bali, Bali-Darwin, Singapore-Darwin and Darwin-Singapore flights.

The Darwin International Airport website indicates all Saturday flights to and from Darwin have been cancelled

Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre manager at the Bureau of Meteorology in Darwin, Emile Jansons, said the ash cloud is already affecting Australian air space.

"It has currently reached the Australian coast. It has reached the Kimberley coast (in Western Australia)," he told AAP.

"It is spreading east and it may dissipate, so it is not clear how far east it will get.

"It is not yet clear if it will affect the eastern seaboard."

Mr Jansons said volcanic ash can be hazardous to aircraft but the decision whether or not to fly is a safety and economic decision that rests with individual airlines.

Boy critical after Sydney house party (AAP)

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A 16-year-old boy has been arrested after two other boys were badly hurt in an alleged fight at a Sydney house party.

Police were called to a house in Five Dock on Friday evening following reports of a backyard fight.

Officers found a 17-year-old boy with stab wounds to his chest and side, and another who had allegedly been hit on the head with a bottle.

The boy with stab wounds has undergone surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and remains in critical but stable condition.

The other boy was also treated at the hospital.

Officers arrested a 16-year-old boy, after he received treatment for a head wound at Concord Hospital.

He is being questioned at Burwood Police Station.

Spicks and Specks will not return for second season, ABC confirms, citing poor ratings (ABC)

View Comments Ella Hooper, Josh Earl and Adam Richard on Spicks and Specks.ABC Ella Hooper, Josh Earl and Adam Richard on Spicks and Specks.

The ABC has confirmed the relaunched Spicks and Specks music quiz show will not be renewed at the end of its first season.

After 277 episodes over seven seasons, the original series - hosted by Adam Hills as its host and with Myf Warhust and Alan Brough as regular panellists - came to an end in 2011.

It was among ABC's top 10 programs, regularly attracting more than a million viewers weekly.

The show was revived this year, hosted by Josh Earl, with Ella Hooper and Adam Richard as the team captains.

But after just one season, the ABC has announced Spicks and Specks will not return, due to disappointing ratings.

A statement from ABC TV's head of programming, Brendan Dahill, confirmed the show will be axed.

"Josh, Ella and Adam did a terrific job of breathing new life into Spicks and Specks," he said.

"We're very proud of their efforts.

"We believe this year's Spicks was every bit as entertaining as its long-running predecessor, but we sadly accept that it hasn't resonated with viewers to the degree we had hoped."

Special Commission of Inquiry clears police, finds whistleblower Peter Fox *not credible* over child abuse cover-up claims (ABC)

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A Special Commission of Inquiry into allegations of a cover-up of child sexual abuse claims in the Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has released findings that are damning of the man who claimed to blow the whistle.

The four-volume report, three volumes of which have been released by Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC, uncovered no evidence to show that senior police ever tried to ensure child abuse offences were not properly investigated.

It found Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox was not a credible witness and that it was appropriate for senior police to instruct Chief Inspector Fox to cease his own investigations.

"The Commission finds no credible evidence to support the notion that there are senior police in Northern Region Command of the New South Wales Police Force, including Newcastle City Local Area Command, who were prepared to take steps to try to ensure that alleged child abuse offences involving Catholic church officials were not investigated or not properly investigated," it found.

"The Commission considers that by at least 2010 Fox had lost the objectivity required of an investigating officer regarding such matters.

"While he remained passionate about things involving the Catholic Church, he no longer possessed the detachment necessary for properly investigating such matters. In short, he had become a zealot.

"Fox's evidence should be approached with caution, Fox gave evidence to the Commission that was implausible.

"Fox was also prone to exaggerate aspects of his evidence.

"Fox's lack of objectivity in connection with matters involving the Diocese and related police investigations was such that the Commission took the view that, on matters of controversy, Fox's evidence must be approached with caution."

The Commission also questioned Fox's integrity surrounding the inquiry, questioning his decision to provide police information to a journalist.

"The Commission formed the view that Fox had engaged in conduct that was inconsistent with the integrity required of a police officer," the report said.

"He provided sensitive information about police investigations (including an internal police report and a victim's statement) to a journalist, [Fairfax reporter Joanne] McCarthy."

The report has also found that senior church officials did have information relating to child sexual abuse in the area that would have assisted a police investigation.

It named Bishop Leo Clarke, who was head of the diocese for 20 years.

It says his conduct in failing to tell authorities about one priest was "inexcusable" and that he was motivated by a fear it would bring scandal on the church.

"A substantial body of evidence before the Commission confirmed that senior Diocesan officials were aware at various times of reports or complaints that [Father Denis] McAlinden had sexually abused children, the first instance of reported abuse occurring in 1954 and involving victim AE," it said.

"It took more than 40 years however for the Diocese to report to police any aspect of McAlinden's offending history.

"The evidence reveals a disturbing story of repeated inaction and failure on the part of church officials to report McAlinden to police."

Two inquiries announced

The trigger for the inquiry came in November 2012 when Detective Chief Inspector Fox spoke out about "the evil of paedophilia within the Catholic Church", alleging cover-ups by the church and police.

The veteran detective had written to the premier and then aired his claims on the ABC's Lateline program.

Chief Inspector Fox alleged he had been directed by police to hand over his files and ordered to cease an investigation into child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.

The detective claimed his evidence related to the investigations into the crimes of two now-dead paedophile priests, Father Denis McAlinden and Father Jim Fletcher.

Within days then-premier Barry O'Farrell announced the Special Commission of Inquiry and shortly afterwards then-prime minister Julia Gillard established a royal commission.

The inquiry sat for 92 days of public hearings, mainly in Newcastle, where 50 victims and their families gave evidence.

All up 161 people appeared before the commission giving evidence in public and private hearings.

Witnesses included several police officers in New South Wales and two Catholic bishops who publicly apologised for the church's handling of child sexual abuse over half a century.

'I felt more like a criminal': whistleblower Peter Fox

Chief Inspector Fox said he stood by his evidence to the Special Commission, allegations he made earlier on the Lateline program in 2012 and in a letter to the NSW premier.

"They are the two things that triggered everything and I don't think anywhere through the Special Commission anything that I said in those documents has been cast into any sort of doubt," he told Lateline after the report was released.

Chief Inspector Fox is overseas for the release of the Special Commission's findings but in an earlier statement issued to the ABC he criticised Mr O'Farrell's decision to continue with the NSW Special Commission when the federal government decided on a Royal Commission.

"Throughout the Special Commission I felt more like a criminal on trial than a witness as hostile treatment continued over an unprecedented and oppressive fourteen days of repetitive cross-examination leaving me to question its purpose," it said.

"I believed the central issue for the Special Commission should have been the future protection of children, but that somehow appears to have been misplaced.

"Conversely my treatment by the Royal Commission has been exemplary.

"Numerous survivors and support organisations have echoed my own experience.

"I am at a loss as to what the Special Commission attained that could not have been achieved by the Royal Commission.

"In time that may become apparent. However, after the example of my ordeal I can only imagine the effect on others who might have contemplated coming forward.

McCarthy welcomes prospect of prosecution

The Newcastle Herald journalist credited with first exposing the protection of paedophile priests in region, Joanne McCarthy, told Lateline she is pleased the commission found there is sufficient evidence to charge a senior Church official for protecting Fletcher.

She said the find was internationally significant.

"There have been less than a handful of prosecutions for concealing matters relating to clergy, so we're not talking about the perpetrators here, we are talking about people who might have had knowledge of perpetrators," she said.

"It is also significant, I think in this region, because we have been writing about really serious child sex abuse involving Catholic clergy since 1995 and in so many of these cases, in fact virtually all of them that I am aware of, there has been evidence of Church knowledge of those perpetrators."

However, McCarthy said she agreed with the Special Commission that Chief Inspector Fox had lost objectivity.

She told Lateline some of his allegations were not borne out by the evidence but said she had sympathy for his predicament.

"You're dealing with really serious offences - distressing, devastating offences - against children," she said.

"You work in that area for too long, you get views about it and it is easy to lose objectivity. I am not making any excuses for that but I certainly do understand how it can happen.

"Peter Fox is certainly paying the price for caring too much and I think that is why he retains really strong support from the public."

McCarthy said she was disappointed at the way she was treated by police during the commission and their response to the abuse allegations.

"Certainly they were very happy to smash my name around when it suited them, knowing that I wasn't in the terms of reference, so for a lot of that inquiry I was trying to stand up for myself with one and a half hands tied behind my back," she said.

Victims stand by Peter Fox

Pat Feenan, whose son was abused by Father Fletcher, is standing by Chief Inspector Fox despite the findings, calling him a man of integrity.

"Personally I've found Peter Fox very, very credible," she said.

"On our journey we have found Peter Fox to be a man of great integrity and that will stay with our family."

She says the findings that the church failed to act have come as no shock.

"I don't think there is any surprise there. How disappointing," she said.

"A victim said to me it's bad enough that it happened but it's compounded by cover-ups, the perpetrators, the whole thing being ignored.

"It made it so much worse because this is the Catholic Church we are talking about, that's not what you expect.

"But I'm not surprised about that. It's what we long suspected."

Peter Gogarty was also one of Father Fletcher's victims.

"There's certainly vindication for a lot of people like me that people in the Catholic Church, contrary to their long-stated position that they knew nothing, a lot of those people in the Catholic Church knew about activities of Catholic priests for a long, long time," he said.

"Those priests were assisted in their crimes by virtue of the fact that other people knew about it and did nothing, so I feel very vindicated."

Premier and police to consider findings

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird says he is satisfied with the findings.

"I thank Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC who conducted the inquiry, which was designed to ensure allegations surrounding child sexual abuse in the Hunter were fully investigated," he said.

"The four-volume report was delivered to the NSW Governor this morning and the first three volumes have now been released by the NSW Government.

"The Commission has recommended that the fourth volume of the report remain confidential at this time.

"The NSW Government will consider the Commission's report and respond in more detail in due course."

The New South Wales Police Force has also welcomed the report and says it will also take time to read the findings.

Eastman inquiry recommends David Eastman*s conviction be quashed, finds miscarriage of justice (ABC)

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An inquiry into the murder conviction of David Harold Eastman recommends his conviction be quashed.

Inquiry head Justice Brian Martin found Eastman did not receive a fair trial and there has been a substantial miscarriage of justice.

Eastman has already served almost 19 years in prison for the murder of Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Colin Winchester in 1989.

But the report could see Eastman soon set free if the ACT Supreme Court accepts the recommendations.

"The issue of guilt was determined on the basis of deeply flawed forensic evidence in circumstances where the applicant was denied procedural fairness in respect of a fundamental feature of the trial process concerned with disclosure by the prosecution of all relevant material," Justice Martin wrote.

However Justice Brian Martin said he was "fairly certain" Eastman was guilty but "a nagging doubt remains".

"While a strong circumstantial case remains, based on the admissible and properly tested evidence the case for the prosecution is not overwhelming; it is properly described as a strong circumstantial case," he wrote.

"There is also material pointing to an alternative hypothesis consistent with innocence, the strength of which is unknown."

Justice Martin recommended Eastman's conviction be quashed and said a retrial would not be feasible nor fair.

He also recommended Eastman be pardoned by the ACT executive.

"Regardless of my opinion as to the applicant's guilt, in my view the substantial miscarriage of justice suffered by the applicant should not be allowed to stand uncorrected," he said in the report.

"To allow such a miscarriage of justice to stand uncorrected would be contrary to the fundamental principles that guide the administration of justice in Australia and would bring the administration of justice into disrepute."

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell has welcomed the release of the report but says it is now up to the Supreme Court to determine what orders it should make as a result.

Eastman's lawyers are considering their next legal steps.

Australian Federal Police fail to delay report's publication

Justice Martin's report was delivered to the Supreme Court yesterday and the court had planned to release it today.

But counsel for the Australian Federal Police made an application to delay its publication because police adversely mentioned were yet to read it.

They also argued publication could reveal details of police operations against the Italian mafia.

But this afternoon Chief Justice Helen Murrell ordered the report be released as soon as possible.

Eastman was convicted of shooting assistant commissioner Winchester after a trial in 1995.

He has mounted many challenges to that conviction but all have so far failed to secure his freedom.

But in this inquiry, the forensic case - which was key to his conviction - was discredited during evidence.

Eastman's lawyers called for inquiry head Justice Brian Martin to declare a miscarriage of justice and quash the conviction.

But lawyers for the police and the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions urged Justice Martin to find the circumstantial case against Eastman remains strong and the conviction should stand.

Gillman land deal defended at inquiry by former Renewal SA boss Fred Hansen (ABC)

View Comments Price on offer was a significant premium says Fred Hansen.ABC Price on offer was a significant premium says Fred Hansen.

The former head of Renewal SA has defended the Government's decision to give an Adelaide firm exclusive access to develop land at Gillman in the north-west suburbs.

Fred Hansen has been the first witness to face a Legislative Council select committee which is examining the deal.

He has told the parliamentary committee the proposal from Adelaide Capital Partners (ACP) to purchase the 400-hectare site valued the land at $30 per square metre, which was much higher than previous valuations.

"This represents a value over four times what Renewal SA's valuers gave it, over twice what Adelaide City Council says it's worth," he said.

"In my view it is clear that Adelaide Capital Partners offer is good value which represents a significant premium for the taxpayer."

Opponents including the Greens say the land could have attracted a higher price as other developers were interested in buying it.

Liberal frontbencher Rob Lucas says the evidence Mr Hansen gave to the committee made clear other parties were interested in the land.

"Mr Hansen, at the end, has taken on notice that there'd been a substantial number of approaches pre the ACP proposal of June 2013 and he's taken on notice to provide the committee with all those particular proposals and the details," he said.

Mr Hansen headed Renewal SA when the deal was arranged, but more recently was dismissed by Premier Jay Weatherill as part of Government efforts to appoint a number of new public sector bosses.

WA shoplifter jailed over guard attack (AAP)

View Comments WA shoplifter jailed over guard attackWA shoplifter jailed over guard attack

A Perth woman who shoplifted lollies and chips, and then ran over an undercover security guard who confronted her has been jailed for three years.

Narissa Marie Gidgup was with two children when she stole confectionery and cosmetics worth a total of $60 from a Coles supermarket last July.

Gidgup was confronted by a female covert security guard dressed in casual clothes and a male security guard when she sprayed the male guard in the face with deodorant and then tried to flee in a car.

She attempted to run both guards over, but her car got stuck on a bollard, so she turned it around and sped towards the female guard, striking her head-on, the Perth District Court heard on Friday.

The guard was carried onto the bonnet and became trapped under the vehicle as Gidgup drove over her.

Gidgup reversed the car, crashing into a pole and then the car stalled as she tried to flee.

The male guard grabbed the keys from the ignition, but Gidgup then charged at him, the court heard.

He punched her in the face and attempted to grab her cardigan to stop her from leaving, but it was pulled off in the struggle.

Gidgup then removed other garments and spat in his face until police arrived.

The female guard suffered injuries to her legs, hip, ribs and back.

In sentencing, Judge Ronald Birmingham said it was lucky her injuries were not more serious.

Judge Birmingham rejected claims Gidgup was stealing because she was "desperately hungry" for food, saying it was "sly deliberate stealing".

"There was preparation, forethought and certainly persistence in your offending conduct," he said.

Judge Birmingham also noted Gidgup's mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, and lengthy criminal record.

He said she had little remorse and was likely to reoffend.

Gidgup's sentenced was backdated to March 2013 and must serve 18 months behind bars before being eligible for parole.

She will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for two years, to begin upon her release from prison.

Kamis, 29 Mei 2014

Warren Ross handed 30-year jail term for bashing murder of toddler Tanilla Warrick-Deaves (ABC)

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A man who bashed his girlfriend's two-year-old daughter, Tanilla Warrick-Deaves, has been sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in jail.

Warren Ross was found guilty last year of murdering Warrick-Deaves at Watanobbi on the New South Wales central coast in August 2011.

The toddler died from bleeding on the brain due to a head injury.

Tanilla's mother, Donna Deaves, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was last year sentenced to 12 years in jail with a non-parole period of nine years.

During her trial, the judge told the court Tanilla's death could have been prevented if community services and family members had intervened.

During Ross's sentencing hearing today, Justice Stephen Rothman told the court that Ross had whipped the child with a belt while joking to her mother that he could make Tanilla scream.

Ross responded by rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

He also smiled and waved at family members in the public gallery. 

The judge said that after smoking marijuana, Ross held Tanilla under cold water in the shower and said to the shivering child, "You don't shit in my house - you are an animal", and banged her head into the shower screen twice. 

He also punished the child by repeatedly making her run laps of the lounge room, and kicked her across the floor so that her head hit the linen cupboard, Justice Rothman said.

He noted that Tanilla died after days of "severe corporal punishment", adding that the couple had put the badly injured child in a pram and covered her over with a blanket, and that she died from head injuries the next day. 

He said that although the murder was not pre-meditated, Ross did intend to harm Tanilla and had abused his position of trust with her.

Noting that Ross had shown no remorse and that his prospects for rehabilitation were "poor", Justice Rothman sentenced him to a maximum of 40 years in jail, with a 30-year non-parole period.

"Essentially his offending comes down to his anti-social qualities," Justice Rothman said.

The judge repeated that the authorities had been contacted several times about the child's welfare.

Tanilla's final days full of fear: father

During the sentencing for Donna Deaves, Tanilla's father, Adrian Warrick, said he felt his heart sink in shock when police told him his daughter was dead.

"There is not enough words to express this heartache and pain I feel every day since that morning," he told the court.

"I can only imagine her final two days and the fear she had being hit, smacked, whipped, made to run laps till she couldn't stand no more, being held over the toilet and having the final blow with her head being hit in the shower.

"I have nightmares, sleepless nights, things will never be the same."

Ross's lawyer, Sarah McNaughton SC, told the court her client needs the highest level of protective custody at Sydney's Long Bay prison because he is concerned about his safety.

Today's sentencing hearing heard that Ross had been involved in fights in jail due to the crime he had committed.

At least 8 riot squad officers were stationed near court during the hearing.

Window washers rescued from Sydney office (AAP)

View CommentsWindow washers rescued from Sydney officeWindow washers rescued from Sydney office

Two window cleaners stuck eight floors high outside a Sydney office building have been rescued with a fire service cherry picker.

Emergency services were called to the Lees Court building about 10.30am on Friday, after reports a snapped cable had jammed the lowering mechanism of the platform the men were working on.

About 20 firefighters and crews from four police rescue vehicles responded, using a fire service cherry picker to lower the men to the ground about 11am.

The window cleaners, two men believed to be in their 20s, were not hurt.

Fire and Rescue NSW Inspector Kernin Lambert said the men were in good spirits.

He said it was lucky no passers-by were hit by the falling cable.

The men were wearing protective gear at the time of the incident, which will be investigated by WorkCover.

Ipswich mayor*s interests investigated (AAP)

View Comments Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale has reportedly received up to $150,000 in undeclared donations.AAP Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale has reportedly received up to $150,000 in undeclared donations.

Queensland's government is investigating the mayor of Ipswich following revelations he received up to $150,000 in undeclared donations.

Councillors don't need to declare donations to the Queensland Electoral Commission, but are legally required to update their register of interests.

Mayor Paul Pisasale's election campaign fund, Forward Ipswich, has reportedly received over 30 separate donations worth $150,000 since the 2012 council election.

None of those donations had been entered in his register.

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli says Mr Pisasale's register and the fund are now being investigated.

"We will always investigate issues raised to ensure transparency," he said in a brief statement.

Under state laws a councillor who fails to complete or update a register of interest can be fined up to $9350.

Those who intentionally fail to complete or update a register of interests can be fined up to $11,000 and be disqualified for holding office for four years.

Mr Pisasale has been under the spotlight recently for setting up meetings with Japanese developer-turned-donor Sekisui and Premier Campbell Newman.

Sekisui has donated money to the mayor's fund and has been a major supporter of its Ripley Valley development in Ipswich.

The Japanese company also had a business relationship with Australian Water Holdings (AWH), which is being investigated by NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption.

ABC television 730 program reported that AWH's chief executive Nick di Girolamo and its Queensland subsidiary director, Wayne Myers, met with Mr Pisasale between 2008 and 2010 to discuss possible business.

Mr Pisasale admitted being taken to two ritzy Brisbane restaurants, but denied going to nearby strip club with the men.

"I was there that night ... just talking and getting an update on what was happening, but I can assure you I didn't go to any strip club," he told the ABC.

Jessie Wilson murdered with wooden bat and strangled (ABC)

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A man who brutally attacked a young mother does not know why he murdered her, the South Australian Supreme Court has been told.

Jessie Wilson, 24, was killed in September 2012 and her naked body later found dumped by the side of a road at Hillier on Adelaide's northern outskirts.

Dwaine Francis Airey, 41, recently pleaded guilty to murder and revealed the woman's cause of death.

The court heard her badly decomposing body hindered the police investigation of the death, which Airey had intended when he stripped the body and left it exposed to the weather.

Prosecutor Mark Norman says Airey and Ms Wilson met at a hotel and went back to Airey's house here he suddenly attacked her.

Airey hit the woman on the head with a wooden bat and used cable ties and an electric cord to strangle her.

Mr Norman says Ms Wilson bit Airey on the arm as she tried in vain to fight back.

Airey's lawyer Bill Boucaut says his client does not know why he killed Ms Wilson, but now is ashamed of his actions.

"He cannot understand what caused him to do this," he said.

"He says although he was intoxicated when he assaulted Jessie Wilson, he still knew what he was doing, he just can't explain why.

"He is acutely aware of the enormous hurt and grief that he has caused people as a result of his actions. He is disgusted and ashamed of his actions."

Family tells of grief

Members of the young woman's family cried in court as they heard her final moments described in graphic detail.

In statements read to the court, they told of their deep sadness and ongoing grief.

One relative, Michelle Lynch, directly addressed Airey in her comments.

"You've left us with so many unanswered questions. We will never truly know what you did to her. We can only imagine the pain she endured before her death," she said.

"You have left a purely innocent child without her mother. We will never understand or comprehend why you took her from us."

Ms Wilson's mother says it was awful having to tell her granddaughter about the death.

"She was howling and sobbing for her mother ... it was just heartbreaking," the court was told.

"We really miss Jessie so much and wish that this never happened. Our lives will never be the same again. All I can do is reminisce about our beautiful daughter."

Justice Michael David will sentence Airey in July.

Man dead in NSW home invasion (AAP)

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A man is dead and a woman has been injured in a home invasion in Sydney's west.

A woman dialled emergency services about 4am on Friday to report she and her husband had been attacked in their home on Elizabeth Drive at Badgerys Creek.

The man was dead and the woman was suffering from head injuries when police and emergency services arrived.

The woman was taken to Liverpool Hospital and a crime scene has been established.

Anyone with information has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 300 000.

Young woman dies in motorbike crash (AAP)

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A woman aged in her 20s has died after her motorbike and a truck crashed southwest of Sydney.

Police were called to the Hume Highway, near the Sierra Street overpass at Yerrinbool, near Bargo shortly after midnight on Friday, where they discovered a woman who had been thrown from her motorbike.

She sustained serious injuries and died at the scene, but has not been formally identified.

The truck driver, a 29-year-old man, was not injured and was taken to Bowral Hospital for mandatory blood and urine tests.

One lane of north bound traffic is currently blocked while emergency services carry out their inquiries at the scene.

Malaysia Airlines union urges CEO to resign (AFP)

View Comments Malaysia Airlines union urges CEO to resignAFP Malaysia Airlines union urges CEO to resign

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) - Malaysia Airlines' workers' union called Thursday for the struggling carrier's top managers to step down, adding to pressure with the fate of Flight MH370 still unknown almost three months on.

The union will urge the government not to renew the contract of MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, believed to be expiring in September, said the union's executive secretary Jabbarullah Kadir.

Two other senior managers should also resign to revive the loss-making state-controlled national carrier's fortunes, he added.

"Their business plan to turn around the airline hasn't worked. For us they totally failed to carry out their duty," Jabbarullah told AFP.

He said the union had rallied behind MAS over the jet that vanished flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 carrying 239 people but that staff morale was "very low" over the carrier's poor financial performance.

The influential union represents about half of Malaysia Airlines' 19,500 worldwide employees and was instrumental in blocking a tie-up with rival budget carrier AirAsia three years ago.

Malaysia Airlines said earlier this month that MH370's disappearance had had a "dramatic impact" on earnings.

The carrier has struggled amid intense competition, losing $1.3 billion over the past three years before the impact of MH370 is taken into account.

For this year's first quarter the airline posted a net loss of 443 million ringgit ($137 million).

It was the fifth straight quarter loss and the worst since the fourth quarter of 2011 when it recorded a net loss of 1.28 billion ringgit.

No trace of MH370 has been found despite an extensive search in the southern Indian Ocean where it is believed to have come down.

Call to ban travel for Vic fine dodgers (AAP)

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Victoria's fine dodgers, who have amassed more than a billion dollars in unpaid fines, should be barred from leaving the country until they pay up.

The Sentencing Advisory Council also recommends that fine dodgers face driver's licence suspension or the Australian Taxation Office be called in to help with fine collections.

Council chairman Professor Arie Freiberg said an overhaul was needed to make it harder to ignore fines, from parking and speeding tickets to court-imposed penalties for offences such as theft or assault.

"Many of them aren't being paid, both court-imposed and infringement notices, and we need to make the system credible and fair," Prof Freiberg told AAP.

"It is a significant hit to the revenues of the state ... the kind of revenue we could use for schools and hospitals and even law enforcement."

Prof Freiberg said total outstanding fines in Victoria were "north of a billion dollars", though the exact figure was unknown given the multiple agencies involved and 3200 offences that attracted fines.

Of the six million infringement notices - mostly speeding and parking fines - issued to Victorians each year, about 40 per cent were not paid within the allotted time.

Warrants were issued for unpaid fines of $421 million in 2010/11, and for $470 million in 2011/12.

"We're recommending that people who have warrants outstanding against them for a significant amount of money that they not be allowed to leave the country until they pay," Prof Freiberg said.

"That has proved to be quite effective in New Zealand in concentrating people's mind to pay."

The report also says fines for concession card holders should be halved to ensure those on low incomes are not unduly punished, and a new central agency was needed to manage collections and better identify "those who shouldn't pay, those who can't pay and those who won't pay".

The council's report was commissioned by the Victorian government and made public on Friday.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said a fines reform bill, which addressed many of the council's recommendations, was already before Victorian parliament.

"Reforms include a single integrated system to track and collect fines, shorter timelines for enforcement, targeting repeat offenders with high levels of unpaid fines and tougher use of sanctions such as suspension or cancellation of vehicle registration," Mr Clark said.

State of Origin: Josh Reynolds cleared to play Game Two after having dangerous throw charge downgraded (ABC)

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Josh Reynolds will be free to play State of Origin II after having a dangerous throw charge downgraded at the judiciary on Thursday evening.

The New South Wales five-eighth was handed a grade two charge following his lifting tackle on Queensland's Brent Tate on Wednesday's Origin I.

But the Canterbury playmaker was successful in having the offence downgraded to a grade one offence.

More to follow.

Perth doctor who hit Coles delivery driver found guilty of dangerous driving (ABC)

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A Perth doctor who drove into a man, causing him to lose a leg, has been found guilty of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutors alleged Christine Caffrey was distracted by a call on her mobile phone when she hit Matthew Chapman as he delivered Coles groceries to a home in Vincent Street, Nedlands on 8 August last year.

Mr Chapman was crushed against his truck and later had to have his left leg amputated.

While Caffrey accepted she hit Mr Chapman she denied she was driving dangerously and did not see Mr Chapman or his delivery truck until it was too late.

Earlier this week, Mr Chapman told the court he had heard nothing before he was hit, including no locking of the car's brakes.

The GP also denied being distracted by her phone, saying it rang but she did not answer it.

Rabu, 28 Mei 2014

Australia rules out swathe of ocean as MH370 crash zone (AFP)

View Comments Australia rules out swathe of ocean as MH370 crash zoneAFP Australia rules out swathe of ocean as MH370 crash zone

Sydney (AFP) - Australia on Thursday ruled out a large swathe of Indian Ocean as Flight MH370's final resting place after a lengthy underwater hunt, as a US Navy official queried whether the missing plane ever went there.

The Joint Agency Coordination Centre said that the search in an area using a mini sub where acoustic transmissions were detected in early April was now complete.

"The Joint Agency Coordination Centre can advise that no signs of aircraft debris have been found by the autonomous underwater vehicle since it joined the search effort," JACC said.

It added that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had advised that "the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370" in an outcome that will extend the agony of relatives who are desperate for closure.

Australian ship Ocean Shield, which is carrying the US Bluefin-21 sub, has now left the area after scouring 850 square kilometres (340 square miles) of sea bed for the jet that vanished flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 carrying 239 people.

The end of the underwater mission came as the US Navy's deputy director of ocean engineering Michael Dean told CNN that the pings at the heart of the search were no longer believed to have come from the plane's black box.

He said that if they were from the on-board data or voice recorders they would have been found by now.

"Our best theory at this point is that (the pings were) likely some sound produced by the ship... or within the electronics of the towed pinger locator," Dean said.

"Always your fear any time you put electronic equipment in the water is that if any water gets in and grounds or shorts something out, that you could start producing sound."

He said it was not possible to absolutely exclude that the pings came from the black boxes, but there was no evidence now to suggest they did.

A US Navy spokesman later said comments were "speculative and premature". JACC had no comment on Dean's statements.

- Re-examining the data -

The US Navy pinger locator, dragged by Ocean Shield, was used by searchers to listen for underwater signals in the remote southern Indian Ocean in an area where satellite data indicated the plane went down.

A series of signals it picked up prompted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to say he was "very confident" they were from the black box.

It led to the deployment of the US Bluefin-21 on April 14.

JACC said the operation would now move to the next phase involving sophisticated equipment to scan the unmapped ocean floor, with all existing information and analysis reviewed to define a new search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometres (23,000 square miles).

A Chinese survey ship, Zhu Kezhen, is currently mapping areas of the ocean in preparation for the commercially contracted deep sea search, which is expected to begin in August and take up to 12 months.

Scott Hamilton, managing director of US-based aerospace consultancy Leeham, said all the data would have to be re-examined "from start to finish" but he did not believe the search would be called off any time soon.

"If you mean do they stop looking for the airplane entirely and just write it off as missing forever, I would say, not yet. They need to exhaust all analysis," he said.

"I think it will be some time, perhaps years, before they completely throw in the towel."

- Relatives frustrated -

Many relatives of those on board, who were mostly from China and Malaysia, have voiced frustration over the lack of progress and accused Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday of withholding crucial satellite data.

That came after Malaysia on Tuesday released a 47-page summary of communication logs from the plane recorded by British satellite operator Inmarsat -- information that relatives had long demanded.

"So much time has passed and nothing has been found, so we doubt that the calculated position of the plane is correct," said Steve Wang, from a support group of relatives of the flight's 153 Chinese passengers.

Malaysia insists it is doing all it can in what is an unprecedented situation.

Relying in part on the Inmarsat data, officials believe the jet inexplicably veered off its flight path before crashing into the sea, possibly after running out of fuel.

NZ man*s killer guilty of manslaughter (AAP)

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A rugby league player who pushed a New Zealand musician to his death through the second storey window of a Perth pub has been found guilty of manslaughter in a judge-alone retrial.

Stefan Pahia Schmidt was initially convicted in 2012 and given a life sentence with a minimum jail term of 14 years for murdering Andy Marshall by pushing him through the second storey window of Cottesloe's Ocean Beach Hotel in May 2011.

But three West Australian Court Of Appeal judges unanimously determined in August last year that Schmidt would face a retrial, with Justice Michael Buss saying he could have been found guilty of manslaughter instead of murder.

At the opening of the judge-alone retrial in WA's Supreme Court 10 days ago, Schmidt offered to plead guilty to the lesser charge, admitting he had pushed Mr Marshall but didn't mean to kill him.

But prosecutors rejected the plea deal.

On Thursday, Justice John Roderick McKechnie acquitted Schmidt of murder but found him guilty of manslaughter.

In his judgment, Justice McKechnie said Schmidt had admitted to being guilty of manslaughter and the evidence abundantly established that fact.

"I cannot exclude as a reasonable possibility that this was an angry act done by the accused without his adverting to the possible consequences," he said.

"Of course he knew the likely consequences of pushing a person through a first floor window."

Justice McKechnie said knowledge was an important factor to consider on the question of intention.

He noted that Schmidt's actions of walking away from the victim were "undoubtedly callous".

"However, I cannot discount the accused's explanation that he was worried about the response of hotel patrons towards him," he said.

Early in the retrial, Schmidt had said he walked away from a crowd gathering around Mr Marshall on the street below, saying he feared they would turn on him in a mob attack.

Justice McKechnie also noted Schmidt's strength and build, saying it did not make much difference if he used one or both hands to push the victim.

"The use of one or two hands is not in any way dispositive of the accused's intention," he said.

The push happened out of camera view, but there were three witnesses.

Justice McKechnie will hear submissions before sentencing Schmidt.

In his victim impact statement, the deceased's father said his life had changed forever and words like "traumatised" and "heartbreaking" failed to describe his feelings.

"It is beyond words and beyond pain," he told the court.

Mr Marshall said the nightmare was made worse knowing that his son died in a violent and vicious assault.

"What could possess someone to do this?" he said.

Mr Marshall said he could not ask his son what had happened because he was dead.

"I just wanted to hug him and be with him."

The grieving father said when he heard the news, he thought the victim had been mistakenly identified, but his hopes were crushed when a detective confirmed he had his son's phone.

Mr Marshall said it was heartbreaking for him to hear his wife collapse when he called to inform her of their son's death.

But he said he was richer for having the musician as a son.

"The world is poorer for having lost such a beautiful person," Mr Marshall said.

"I will carry his loss for the remainder of my days."

The victim's mother also read out her statement to the court, holding back tears as she said the loss was overwhelming.

"My heart is broken," she said.

MP Geoff Shaw cleared of contempt of Parliament over use of taxpayer-funded car (ABC)

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Victoria's balance-of-power independent MP Geoff Shaw has been cleared of contempt of Parliament over the misuse of his parliamentary entitlements in a report from the powerful privileges committee.

If found guilty of contempt, Mr Shaw could have been suspended, leaving the numbers in Parliament deadlocked.

The Frankston MP was also found guilty of contravening the code of conduct for MPs and will be asked to repay $6,838 on top of the $1,250 he has already repaid.

But he will not face any further penalties.

The privileges committee had been investigating claims Mr Shaw used his parliamentary car and fuel card to run deliveries for his personal hardware business.

The committee, which is made up of five government MPs and four Labor MPs, found Mr Shaw did misuse his entitlements but could not establish that the misuse was "not wilful".

"The committee is unable to be satisfied to the requisite standard that Mr Shaw was wilful in contravening the code of conduct," the report said.

"Therefore, Mr Shaw is not in contempt of Parliament."

The Labor MPs found Mr Shaw was in contempt but the committee chair had to vote with the Coalition MPs to break the deadlock.

Premier Denis Napthine refused to be drawn on the findings but said Mr Shaw should repay the money as directed by the privileges committee.

"I would certainly strongly advise Mr Shaw that if the Parliament moves a motion that he has to pay this penalty then he pays it," he said.

"In fact he may be well advised to pay it now."

Allegations against Mr Shaw first surfaced in 2012 when he was accused of using his taxpayer-funded car to run errands for his private hardware business.

Criminal charges over the matter were laid in September last year, but dropped three months later and the matter was referred to the privileges committee.

On the way into Parliament today, Mr Shaw rubbished the findings, calling them a "pathetic" waste of time and public money.

"The police have gone through it and the courts have gone through it," he said.

"I've come out clean and these nuff-nuffs in there think they can just sit there and waste public money.

"I don't care about the privileges committee.

"They mean nothing to me. They've shown themselves to break their own rules by leaking to the media constantly."

Mr Shaw called the process "tainted".

"It's a political set-up," he said.

"They're picking on me because I'm an independent and this should have been finished when the police finished their [investigation] more than six months ago."

Geoff Shaw's colourful parliamentary career

Mr Shaw entered Parliament as the Liberal member for Frankston after the 2010 election, having won the seat from the Labor Party.

Soon after being elected, Mr Shaw was criticised for comparing homosexuality to child molestation in a letter to a constituent.

In March 2013, Mr Shaw quit the Liberal Party to sit as an independent, robbing the Government of its one-seat majority in Parliament and handing the Frankston MP the balance of power.

The move was seen as a key factor in the resignation of former premier Ted Baillieu later that day, after Mr Shaw refused to guarantee his support for the Mr Baillieu's government.

Mr Shaw gave the new Premier, Denis Napthine, a guarantee he would support his government on matters of supply and confidence.

In September 2013, Mr Shaw was charged with misconduct in public office and obtaining financial benefit by deception.

The charges were dropped in December and the matter was referred to the privileges committee.

The committee is supposed to be highly-secretive, but the investigation into Mr Shaw has been marred by a series of leaks to the media.

The committee conceded it had been unable to find the source of the leaks.

Mr Shaw vowed to recontest the seat of Frankston in the November state election but gave very little chance of retaining the seat as an independent.

Mr Shaw is also drafting a private members bill that would seek to wind back parts of the state's abortion laws.

The prospect of the bill has caused a headache for the Premier, who says his Government will not support any change to the current laws.

MP Geoff Shaw misused parliamentary entitlements, committee finds (ABC)

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The Victorian Parliament's powerful privileges committee has found independent MP Geoff Shaw misused his parliamentary entitlements but was not in contempt of Parliament.

The report said Mr Shaw should repay more than $6,500 over the misuse of his taxpayer-funded car, but found it was "not wilful".

He has has already repaid around $1,200.

The committee said the Frankston MP did contravene the code of conduct for MPs but he will not face any further penalty.

On the way into Parliament today Mr Shaw rubbished the findings, calling them a pathetic waste of time and public money.

"The police have gone through it and the courts have gone through it," he said.

"I've come out clean and these nuff-nuffs in there think they can just sit there and waste public money.

"I don't care about the privileges committee.

"They mean nothing to me. They've shown themselves to break their own rules by leaking to the media constantly."

Mr Shaw called the process "tainted".

"It's a political set-up," he said.

"They're picking on me because I'm an independent and this should have been finished when the police finished their [investigation] more than six months ago."

He said it would be laughable if he was fined.

Chemists tap into vegetable waste for valuable flavour, colour extracts (ABC)

View Comments University of Tasmania researchers Matthew Gregory and Dugald Close extract beetroot colour in a lab.ABC University of Tasmania researchers Matthew Gregory and Dugald Close extract beetroot colour in a lab.

Australian researchers are investigating how to divert vegetable waste from the compost bin and instead use it to make natural perfumes and food additives.

The Tasmanian and Queensland scientists, experts in plant chemistry, are working to extract taste, aroma and colour from Australian vegetables, fruit and nuts.

University of Tasmania associate professor Dugald Close leads the team of scientists using new extraction technologies to get the most out of the raw materials.

In his laboratory, his colleagues have extracted aroma from blackcurrants and colour from beetroot.

"Some products may be used in perfumes, aroma products, others are more around the flavour of the extract that may go into processed foods," he said.

"We could be spawning, or helping to support and develop a whole new industry here in Tasmania, and also wider Australia."

The researchers are looking into the amount of waste product that is available and the consistency of supply.

One business that could benefit is Houston's, a Tasmanian vegetable and salad grower based east of Hobart.

Houston's has taken advantage of the area's temperate climate and has crops in the ground all year round.

Kale, spinach, rocket put to better use?

But not all of their produce makes it onto plates and into pantries, and the farm is looking for ways to use some of its kale, spinach, rocket and lettuce.

"There's certainly a lot of the little baby leaves that we grow that we think that we can find some different uses for," farm spokeswoman Allison Clark said.

Food scientist Hazel MacTavish-West is working with the researchers and businesses to turn their ideas into reality.

Dr MacTavish-West, who has just returned from the United Kingdom, says the market worldwide is moving towards products which use high-value extracts - partly because of stricter labelling laws on product.

She says waste from horticulture businesses can be as much as 30 per cent of their produce or even more.

And she believes Australia - particularly Tasmania - can benefit by putting more of its by-products to good use.

"We know here we have a clean, green, growing environment and the produce is naturally higher in many of the things that give it that value," she said.

The research is funded for this year, but there is hope it might continue, so the team can see their extracts turn into marketable products.

DFAT survey shows dissatisfaction among former AusAID employees with merger (ABC)

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A leaked survey of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) staff has laid bare the dissatisfaction of former AusAID employees with the merger of the two agencies.

According to the survey, only 33 per cent of former AusAID staff feel "part of the team" compared to 70 per cent of their colleagues who have always been at DFAT.

More than 4,000 staff from the merged agency responded to the survey, which was taken over February and March as staff were reacting to the new structure and anticipating cuts in the May budget.

It is the first in a series of surveys designed to monitor the progress of last November's integration of DFAT and AusAID.

The agencies were merged to better align Australia's aid and foreign affairs programs, but some AusAID staff have privately described it as a "hostile takeover" by DFAT.

Twenty-one per cent of ex-AusAID staff surveyed indicated they would leave the agency within the next two years, compared to 11 per cent of staff who were at DFAT before the integration.

There has been a fall in the level of pride in working at DFAT - 70 per cent of integrated DFAT staff say they are proud of working there, a decline from two years earlier when 85 per cent of DFAT staff and 90 per cent of AusAID staff expressed pride in their respective employers.

The proportion who would rate DFAT as a good place to work has slumped to 57 per cent, down from around 70 per cent in 2012.

The results of the full survey have not been released. Only the key findings of the survey were distributed to staff earlier this month, and many of the results are not disaggregated by former AusAID and DFAT staff.

Agencies 'do have different cultures'

In a message attached to the findings, DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese acknowledged the lower satisfaction levels of ex-AusAID staff, saying he was committed to stepping up the department's efforts in all areas identified as needing improvement.

Labor MP for the seat of Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, who has worked in both agencies, says the results echo the concerns raised with her by constituents since the merger.

"They [DFAT and AusAID] do have different cultures," she said.

"What is most telling of the number of issues raised in the survey, is people felt the need to strengthen the messaging related to the way the aid program fits within the strategic direction of DFAT and promoting its value to contributing the Government's geostrategic outcomes.

"People want to know why they get out of bed each day, they want to have a sense of purpose both from the DFAT side and the AusAID side, and I think it's particularly important that management communicates that."

Low satisfaction rates 'not unexpected given scale of changes'

In a statement, a spokesman for DFAT said the survey probably reflected considerable uncertainty about job security at the time, but there is more certainty now.

"Now that the integrated department's budget is known, we have precise figures around which to organise our staffing," he said.

"So while staff cuts will be necessary, they will be managed through voluntary redundancies and natural attrition and at least staff will have certainty about numbers."

The spokesman said the relatively low satisfaction rates among former AusAID staff was not unexpected, given the scale of the changes and that the survey was conducted only four months into the integration process.

He said it was pleasing that two-thirds of respondents said they had a good understanding of integration, and that around three-quarters indicated they were satisfied overall with their current job.

DFAT expects about 200 staff to have taken voluntary redundancies by the end of the financial year. So far, 60 per cent of voluntary redundancies are former AusAID staff.

State of Origin I: Queensland Maroons v New South Wales Blues, As it happened (ABC)

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New South Wales produced a comprehensive 80-minute performance to leave Brisbane with a 12-8 win and a 1-0 lead heading to Sydney.

After dominating the first-half possession, things turned around in that department, but it only yielded one try for a Maroons side that struggled to get over the advantage line.

A broken arm to Cooper Cronk, the all-but certain suspension of Josh Reynolds for at least Origin II, and the brilliance of Jarryd Hayne were the biggest talking points out of a hotly contested game one.

Like 2013, the Blues take a lead into game two as they look to bring an end to Queensland's winning streak.

Join us again for game two on June 18.

Australian Apple users report *lost phone* cyber attack (Reuters)

View Comments US-AUSTRALIA-APPLE-CYBERCRIME:Australian Apple users report lost phone cyber attackReuters Staff at an Apple store hold a meeting before they open their doors on the day the iPhone 5 went on sale to the public, in central Sydney September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/Files

By Edwin Chan and Thuy Ong

SAN FRANCISCO/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Multiple users on Apple Inc's online support forum and Twitter have reported an unusual smartphone and tablet hack in which cyber attackers were said to have locked Australian users' smartphones and demanded payment in return for unlocking them.

The alleged cyber attackers, first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, appeared to use Apple's "Find My Phone" feature to lock the devices' screens and send a message demanding money be sent to a PayPal account, according to multiple users. The anti-theft feature locks phones that are reported lost.

Apple, in response to inquiries about the hacking, confirmed there had been an incident. The technology giant said in an emailed statement it "takes security very seriously and iCloud was not compromised during this incident".

It recommended affected users change their passwords as soon as possible and avoid using the same username and password for multiple services.

An Apple spokeswoman in Sydney said by telephone Apple did not have any details on how widespread the incident was or whether it was contained to Australia.

Multiple users requested information on Apple's support forum about how to reset their phones or otherwise circumvent the lock, while other users also tweeted their concerns.

"I went to check my phone and there was a message on the screen saying that my device(s) had been hacked by 'Oleg Pliss' and he/she/they demanded $100 USD/EUR," said "veritylikestea", a user from the Australian city of Melbourne, on an Apple discussion board.

Other users replied that they had received the same message.

Telstra Corp Ltd, Australia's largest telecommunications provider, said it was aware of the issue, while Vodafone Hutchison Australia said it was encouraging worried customers to contact Apple.

Reuters could not immediately verify the identity of the users, or the accuracy of their claims.

(Editing by Paul Tait)

GM farmer wins landmark canola contamination case in WA Supreme Court (ABC)

View Comments Michael Baxter speaks in front of the Western Australian Supreme Court in Perth.ABC Michael Baxter speaks in front of the Western Australian Supreme Court in Perth.

A farmer accused of contaminating his neighbour's crops with genetically modified canola has won a landmark case in the West Australian Supreme Court.

The decision could have wide-reaching implications for the production of genetically modified crops in Australia.

Michael Baxter was being sued by his neighbour, Steve Marsh, an organic certified farmer who alleged his farm in the Great Southern region was contaminated by GM material blown onto his property from Mr Baxter's land.

Mr Marsh claimed the contamination caused him to lose his organic certification on more than half his Kojonup property for almost three years.

But Justice Kenneth Martin said Mr Baxter could not be held responsible just for growing a GM crop in a conventional way.

"The end of season winds and the blowing of swathes from Sevenoaks eastwards into Eagle Rest had not been an outcome intended by Mr Baxter," he said in his judgment summary.

"Even so, no physical injury whatsoever had been sustained at Eagle Rest in consequence.

"Mr Baxter was not to be held responsible as a broadacre farmer merely for growing a lawful GM crop and choosing to adopt a harvest methodology (swathing) which was entirely orthodox in its implementation."

Judge says neighbour's action 'without precedent'

Justice Martin said Mr Marsh's action was "without precedent."

"No basis in principle was shown to extend the law to these events," he said.

"Furthermore, Mr Baxter had not been shown to have acted negligently, either by growing or then by swathing the lawfully grown GM crop in 2010."

Mr Baxter planted GM canola in two paddocks in 2010.

The farmers' properties are separated by a single road and Mr Marsh's lawyers said the selection of both the crop location and the method of harvest contributed to the contamination of Mr Marsh's land.

Mr Marsh's lawyers told the court that Mr Baxter's decision to harvest into swathes, rather than taking the seeds directly from the paddock using what is known as direct heading, created a foreseeable risk.

However, Mr Baxter's lawyers told the court their client was simply exercising his right to grow a crop that was judged safe and legal by the State Government.

They argued Mr Marsh's land could only be said to have sustained contamination if his own crops of wheat and oats had been genetically modified, or if the GM material had been mixed in with the end product, neither of which had happened.

Winner hails GM as neighbour considers appeal

Mr Baxter was surrounded by anti-GM protesters as he left court.

He said the decision gave other farmers in Western Australia more certainty.

"It's a proven product. There's nothing dangerous about it," he said.

"It's perfectly safe, it's legalised and I think it's a great thing of the future."

Despite his victory, Mr Baxter said the court action had taken a heavy toll.

"My marriage was destroyed over it, so hope the next-door neighbour is happy about that," he said.

Mr Marsh was visibly emotional as he left court and expressed his disappointment in the decision.

"After three-and-a-half years of this it's been pretty challenging," he said.

"Obviously we're disappointed in the judgment given the impacts on our lives."

He said he needed time to consider the judgment before deciding whether to appeal.

"It's an issue of choice, isn't it? Simple as that," he said.

"There is a lot of implications for agriculture in this decision."

Farming group welcomes court finding

The Pastoralists and Graziers Association's John Snooke said the decision gave certainty to the mainstream agricultural industry.

"Farmers are continuing to adopt modern technologies and this allows them to do that at the pace they choose," he said.

"What it really means is the status quo remains."

But Network of Concerned Farmers' spokeswoman Julie Newman said her group would push for an appeal.

"All the economic loss is to be passed to the non-GM farmer," she said.

"That is not fair or equitable, which is what [the] law is meant to address.

"It should never have been farmer versus farmer.

"There is no winner here; the Government should have addressed this issue prior to it [GM canola] being released."

GM canola farming increased since 2010

A moratorium was placed on the commercial cultivation of GM crops in WA in 2004.

The order was enacted by the then Labor government under the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003.

The moratorium was lifted prior to the 2010 season and the number of farmers growing GM canola has risen since then.

There were 317 farmers cultivating GM canola in 2010 but this had jumped to 406 last year.

In 2013 almost 17 per cent of all canola sown in WA was a genetically modified variety, according to figures provided by the Department of Agriculture and Food.