Kamis, 31 Juli 2014

Police seize Philip Nitschke items (AAP)

Philip Nitschke to meet with policePhilip Nitschke to meet with police

Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke says he feels "pretty violated" after police seized his phones, computers and other items as part of an investigation into the death of a terminally ill man.

Dr Nitschke on Friday was accompanied by his lawyer Michael Woods when he was interviewed by police investigating the death of Max Bromson who took his own life early on Monday.

Dr Nitschke told AAP no charges were laid, but "we are just waiting until they make the next step".

Mr Bromson, who ran for the senate last year for the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, died in a Glenelg motel room surrounded by family members.

The former businessman, who suffered from a rare and terminal form of bone cancer, said he lived with chronic, excruciating pain and wanted the right to end his life peacefully at the appropriate time.

Dr Nitschke has said Mr Bromson took an imported drug which had been tested at Exit International laboratory at Gilberton in Adelaide.

He told AAP detectives took his phone at the interview and told him police were at the Gilberton premises.

He returned to the address with his lawyer as police spent about three hours searching the premises before taking "a lot of items" including laptops.

"The infrastructure of the organisation has been crippled by this," he said, describing the police actions as unnecessary and heavy-handed.

"I feel pretty violated."

After police were notified of the death, detectives confiscated the family's mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers.

Dr Nitschke said, like them, he had been told it could be up to two years before the property was returned.

Police are investigating whether any criminal offence involving assisting in a suicide had been committed.

Last week, Dr Nitschke was suspended by the Medical Board of Australia which ruled he posed "a serious risk to the health and safety of the public".

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Ricky Muir, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator, sacks chief of staff amid reports of infighting (ABC)

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator, Ricky Muir, has sacked his chief of staff, Glenn Druery, amid reports of infighting within the party.

Senator Muir said Mr Druery, who was dubbed "the preference whisperer" after negotiating Senate preference deals that helped Senator Muir get elected, was dismissed last night but refused to say why.

Fairfax media reported that Mr Druery clashed with the party's founder, Keith Littler.

The ABC was told that another member of Senator Muir's staff, Susan Bloodworth, has quit.

Division between the federal and local branches came to a head after last year's elections, with the party executive sacking the Victorian council which was accused of acting against the best interests of the Senator.

The Age newspaper reported the Victorian branch met earlier this week and voted to disband, creating uncertainty over whether Senator Muir would have to stand as an independent.

In an interview earlier today, party spokesman Keith Littler said they were never part of the formal party.

He said the local branch ceased to exist 10 months ago when "a bunch of disgruntled people" waged "a campaign of disrespect against the party".

"They have no authority, no jurisdiction. They're not a formal part of the party. They're not recognised in any way," he said.

"As for the claim that they've expelled Ricky Muir as a member, well he's not a member of a branch that doesn't exist.

"He's a member of the party. The party supports him 100 per cent and he's doing an absolutely fantastic job."

Peter Kazantzis, who represented the Victorian council of the party, said they simply wanted to hear from either Mr Littler or Senator Muir.

"The point of this was that the Victorian members of the party, for close to a year now, have been calling for Keith and, in particular, for Ricky to address the people [so they could] understand a little bit better about what he stands for," he told 774 ABC Melbourne.

"We wanted to hear from him and to really get to know the person who is now representing us.

"Those calls have fallen on deaf ears and as a result the members have said enough is enough."


Judges a no-show at Carmody ceremony (AAP)

Supreme Court judges have snubbed a public welcoming ceremony for Queensland s new chief justice.AAP Supreme Court judges have snubbed a public welcoming ceremony for Queensland's new chief justice.

Not a single Supreme Court judge has turned up to a public welcoming ceremony for Queensland's controversial new chief justice.

Tim Carmody has urged observers not to make too much of the apparent snub, which follows weeks of controversy over his promotion, saying he wanted a low-key, informal affair.

But he verged on tears as he spoke of the distress his family had endured as critics attacked his capacity to do the job.

"I am sorry that my appointment has caused you distress," he said during the ceremony in Brisbane's largest ceremonial court.

"I have learnt a valuable life lesson. To be truly free, you have to forget what other people think or say about you."

The 58-year-old former chief magistrate has enjoyed a meteoric rise under the Newman government. In June he was promoted from chief magistrate to chief justice, despite not having served on the Supreme Court.

Senior legal figures have been highly critical of the appointment, questioning his experience and noting his lack of peer support. Some critics have also suggested he's too close to the government.

Chief Justice Carmody has told those gathered for the ceremony that he would seek to build strong relationships and lead with impartiality.

"It is imperative that a proper distance is maintained between the executive and the lower courts," he said.

"Whatever general concerns may have been held or expressed in the past about me, I will, without apology or fear, be a fierce and formidable warrior against any threat to that independence, whether it comes from within or without.

"I will work hard every day of my tenure to prove worthy of the trust and confidence placed in me."

Chief Justice Carmody was welcomed at the same time as new Supreme Court judge Peter Flanagan. Empty chairs surrounded them where Supreme Court justices would normally sit for ceremonies.

The new head of the Queensland Bar Association Shane Doyle said Chief Justice Carmody would have the respect of the bar, with many members attending Friday's ceremony.

"It (the appointment) has not been uncontroversial," he told the ceremony.

"That controversy is now, or should now be, in the past.

"Public confidence in the court requires it. You have the support of the association," he told the new chief justice.

Mr Doyle took over as head of the bar association after Peter Davis QC quit the role, alleging confidential discussions about the appointment of the next chief justice were leaked by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie or one of his staffers.

Mr Bleijie denied that he or anyone from his office leaked details of that meeting.

Addressing criticisms that Chief Justice Carmody lacked the experience to be the state's top judge, Mr Bleijie told Friday's ceremony that seniority was an important factor but he also said such appointments must be made on merit.

"Justice Carmody is well equipped to consider and deliver the next wave of reforms and innovation," he said.


WA public hospital industrial action ends (AAP)

The Health Services Union of Western Australia (HSUWA) has called off all industrial action in the state's public hospitals after the government agreed to go to arbitration to resolve a pay dispute.

The union said the two parties had had several conferences before the WA Industrial Relations Commission after the government refused to negotiate. This had prompted members to stop work at Sir Charles Gairdner and Royal Perth Hospitals.

HSUWA secretary Dan Hill said the Commission had made several recommendations that had been accepted by both parties, including giving health workers an interim pay increase of 2.75 per cent backdated to July 1.

Mr Hill said arbitration would determine a wage outcome for this year between the state government's inflation-capped wages policy of 2.75 per cent and the union's claim of four per cent.

"This will be an important case, given that this is the first time the WA Industrial Relations Commission will be required by law to take into account the government's wages policy in arbitration," he said.

Members had been working-to-rule since June 1 but that would cease immediately, Mr Hill said, adding it could be several weeks before the parties were back before the Commission.


Land clearing *all consuming* for farmer (AAP)

The family of an elderly farmer accused of murdering an environment officer says their father crumbled after a long-running dispute over land clearing.

Ian Robert Turnbull is accused of shooting Environment and Heritage Office inspector Glen Turner north of Moree, in northern NSW, on Tuesday.

Mr Turner, 51, was carrying out land clearing inspection duties at rural Croppa Creek when he was allegedly shot dead.

Turnbull, 79, had been locked in an ongoing dispute with the environment office over clearing of vegetation on properties in the area.

His family told News Corp that Turnbull was pushed beyond what he thought he was ever capable of.

"What happened I don't know, I was not in his mind," a family member said.

The Turnbulls said the contentious issue of land clearing - regulated by the controversial Native Vegetation Act - had become all-consuming.

Turnbull was not a "hermit who lived away in a cave" but an active community member who volunteered and helped build old people's homes, the family said.

"He has held this all in, he has crumbled, he has tried to carry this all to himself," the Turnbulls said.

The Turnbull family sent their condolences to Glen Turner's family.

"It is devastating for both families. I could not imagine losing a father," the Turnbull family member said.

"I do not know him (Mr Turner) but it is not right.

"They would be in massive grief. There is a family out there without a dad."

Turnbull was refused bail in Moree Local Court on Wednesday, charged with murder.

Mr Turner was based in Tamworth and leaves behind a wife and two children.


Paramount apologises after Ninja Turtles poster recalls 9/11 (AFP)

Paramount apologises after Ninja Turtles poster recalls 9/11AFP Paramount apologises after Ninja Turtles poster recalls 9/11

Sydney (AFP) - Paramount Pictures apologised Thursday after publishing a poster of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film that showed the characters jumping from a burning building, with its Australian release date -- September 11 -- printed at the bottom.

The American movie studio deleted images of the poster, which it had placed on Australian Twitter and Facebook accounts this week, after it was slammed by users of the social media sites.

"We are deeply sorry to have used that artwork for the marketing materials promoting the September 11 opening in Australia," Paramount Australia said in a statement.

"Combining that image and date was a mistake. We intended no offence and have taken immediate action to discontinue its use."

The World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.

Almost 3,000 people were killed in the Al-Qaeda atrocity, with dozens jumping to their deaths from the skyscrapers to escape the flames.

The film version of the 1980s comic book heroes -- who are based in New York City -- will be released in the United States on August 8.

Twitter users expressed shock at the design of the poster.

"I wonder why no one at the design phase thought this poster art direction was a bad idea," said one Twitter user, while another asked: "Is this really for real? What were they thinking?"

The apology was not posted on Paramount Australia's Twitter and Facebook pages.


MH17 probe inches forward as experts reach Ukraine site (AFP)

MH17 probe inches forward as experts reach Ukraine siteAFP MH17 probe inches forward as experts reach Ukraine site

Rozsypne (Ukraine) (AFP) - An international probe into the downing of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine inched forward on Thursday as experts risked attack to reach the site for the first time in nearly a week after Kiev announced a halt to its military offensive.

A small team of Dutch and Australian experts accompanied by international monitors accessed the vast site of the doomed Malaysia Airlines jet after days of fierce fighting between government forces and rebels had stopped them reaching the area.

The Dutch justice ministry said the team was so far only a "reconnaissance" mission but would hopefully pave the way for more experts to visit soon.

In a sign of the continuing insecurity, an AFP team following some minutes behind the convoy heard loud blasts just a few kilometres away from the site and saw black smoke rising from a village close to where some of the plane wreckage is lying.

Ukraine's military had earlier announced a "day of quiet" across the entire east after a plea from UN chief Ban Ki-moon to halt fighting around the crash site, where the remains of some of the 298 victims lie festering in the sun two weeks after the jet was shot down over rebel territory.

Kiev has continually blamed pro-Russian rebels controlling the site for blocking the probe and warned that insurgents were still shelling its troop positions across the region. The rebels responded that Ukraine had not stuck to its truce.

- Daily work to start -

On a visit to the Netherlands, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appealed for an "immediate cessation in and around the crash site by both Ukraine and separatist forces."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday's site visit went well and gave a guarantee that experts would be able to work daily at the scene from Friday in a phone call with the Australian and Dutch prime ministers, calling on rebels to respect a 20-kilometre (12-mile) ceasefire zone around the debris.

The West says the insurgents likely shot down the plane with a missile on July 17, but Russia and the rebels said it could have been blown out of sky by a Ukrainian jet.

Russia's aviation authorities said a team of their own experts had arrived in Kiev and were hoping to reach the crash site.

Meanwhile, negotiators from Kiev and Moscow began talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk. Past talks have proved unproductive and there was little hope for a major breakthrough despite Russian media reports that the rebels were also attending.

That came as lawmakers in Kiev ratified agreements with The Hague and Canberra that could see the two nations send some 950 armed personnel to secure the location where many of their nationals died.

However, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told journalists in Kiev that the pact was only an "insurance policy" and insisted there were no plans for officials to take armed forces to the crash site, wary of becoming entangled in a murky conflict that has claimed over 1,100 lives in more than three months of bitter fighting.

Despite the brief lull, the death toll has continued to climb, with Ukraine's army saying that 11 soldiers had been killed over the past 24 hours while local authorities said clashes in the rebel stronghold of Lugansk had left three civilians dead, including a five-year-old child, in the same period.

- Tensions rising -

The rising toll comes against the background of fresh threats from the West that they could tighten the screws still further on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict.

A defiant Moscow has warned that fresh EU and US sanctions targeting its vital energy, arms and finance sector would backfire.

In Europe, concerns that tougher sanctions against Moscow could hurt the region's economy saw the continent's main stock markets fall on Thursday, with German sportswear giant Adidas warning its profits could be hit by worsening relations with key market Russia.

Some EU diplomats expressed concern that tighter sanctions may in fact embolden President Vladimir Putin, convincing him that he no longer has anything to lose by further escalating the Ukraine conflict.

NATO's top commander said on Wednesday that Russia had boosted the number of troops along the border with Ukraine to "well over 12,000" and that the figure was on the rise.

Russia also ratcheted up tensions by announcing fresh war games involving surface-to-air missiles along its southern flank.

Lawmakers in Britain -- where a fresh probe into the radioactive poisoning of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko is set to stoke fresh tension with Moscow -- warned NATO is not ready to deal with a military attack by Russia on a member state.


Thousands without power in Tas (AAP)

Thousands of Tasmanians are without power as winds up to 130km/h lash the state.

More than 3000 homes were already without power before the winds hit, and TasNetworks said it expected that number to rise on Friday.

The deadly winds claimed the life of 63-year-old Launceston woman on Thursday, when a tree fell on her outside her home.

She was trapped under the tree when it fell while she and her husband were clearing other fallen trees on their property.

TasNetworks spokeswoman Ann Kile said extra crews have been deployed to deal with the damage.

"The bad weather forecast may cause prolonged interruptions to supply and we are asking people to prepare as best they can - have torches to hand, charge mobile devices," Ms Kile said.

Wild weather has lashed the state since Monday night, bringing down roofs, trees and power lines.

SES regional manager Mhairi Revie said its resources were being stretched due to the number of roofs that needed replacing.

"When people experience property damage due to severe weather, we firstly advise them to contact their insurer," Ms Revie said.

"Not only does this ease the operational pressure on the SES, but it also ensures that we as an agency are not taking work away from the local building industry."


Divorce more costly for Aussie women (AAP)

Divorces are more costly for Australian women than for men, and for longer periods, too, new research reveals.

One year after separating, a woman's household income is 21 per cent lower compared to women in a relationship, an Australian Institute of Family Studies report shows.

Six years later and they still haven't fully recovered, with their income still down 12 per cent.

However, a man's household income is similar to non-separated men in the first year of a split.

Co-researcher and ANU professor Matthew Gray said the figures were the same for women with or without children.

Prof Gray said the greatest drop in a person's income came from splitting from a partner who earned more money.

Men's actual income did decline after separation, but so would their expenses as on average they contributed to the bulk of the household income in a relationship, he said.

"The biggest cost tends to be for women who are not working, have taking time out of work to have children and who are married to someone high-income earning," Prof Gray said. "(For men) once you take into account the change in household costs and that the children are typically living with the mother all the time or most of the time ... their living expenses are lower."

But separated Australian women are better off than women in countries such as the US, Germany and Britain where men are substantially worse off.

"In Britain (men) were 18 per cent worse off, in Germany 13 per cent worse off and in the USA 11 per cent worse off," Prof Gray said.

"In Australia the negative impact was slight - just one per cent.

"Only in Switzerland did men emerge financially better off."


Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs labels asylum seeker inquiry evidence *damning* (ABC)

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs has described evidence of a government cover-up about the scale of mental health issues among child asylum seekers as "very troubling and damning".

She has also hit back at Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, saying he needs to be better advised about what is happening inside Australia's detention centres.

Today's hearing into children in detention was told that Immigration Department officials reacted with alarm at figures showing the extent of mental health concerns among young detainees.

"[They] asked us to withdraw these figures from our reporting," psychiatrist Dr Peter Young said.

Dr Young was the director of mental health services at detention centre service provider International Health and Mental Services (IHMS) for three years until earlier this month.

He said IHMS had collected figures showing "significant" mental health problems among a significant number of child detainees.

Professor Triggs says the data shows the incidence of mental health problems among children detainees is about 30 per cent higher than the normal child population.

"[Dr Young] gave evidence that he was asked to withdraw those figures and to resubmit them in some more palatable way," Professor Triggs told the ABC's 7:30 program.

"That was very, very troubling and damning evidence.

"We're coming across what you'd see perhaps as a manipulation of the circumstances.

"There seems to be ... almost a systemic process within the [Immigration] department to keep these figures under some sort of wrap - they're not being analysed, they're not being considered."

Immigration Department secretary Martin Bowles told the inquiry that he was not aware of any cover up, but added that if department staff had acted inappropriately, he would take action.

Professor Triggs has repeatedly warned of conditions inside the Christmas Island detention centre.

After visiting the centre in recent weeks, she declared that virtually all the 174 children there were sick and that conditions had worsened since earlier in the year.

Morrison 'needs to be better advised': Triggs

Last night, the Immigration Minister said Professor Triggs was not a doctor and described her claims of children attempting self-harm as "quite sensational".

"We have medical people who are there who provide that care on a daily basis," Mr Morrison said.

But Professor Triggs has suggested the Minister "needs to be better advised" about what is happening.

She says the evidence provided to the commission's year-long inquiry so far corroborates her statements as being accurate and that children are attempting self-harm.

"One of the examples was drinking detergents, the head-banging was very common, jumping off heights, we heard others of plastic bags over the head, using the hijab to hang," she said.

"There were children with big lumps, untreated sores, red eyes. But most of them were coughing, had asthmatic conditions or stomach complaints."

She said that if children in the community were treated that way, people would be demanding action.

Today's inquiry hearing came the day after Australian church leaders accused the Federal Government of "state-sanctioned child abuse" over its treatment of unaccompanied asylum seeker children.


*Young-looking* refugees sent offshore (AAP)

Young-looking children were chosen to be transferred to the harsh Manus Island refugee detention centre to discourage other refugees from coming to Australia, an inquiry has heard.

And children detained in facilities on Nauru are suffering illnesses and mental conditions caused by unsanitary and inhospitable conditions on the island nation while all refugees are subjected to a broad "intention to dehumanise".

Former officials, charity workers and doctors who worked in the immigration system have given at times distressing evidence to an Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) inquiry into the fate of children caught in Australia's detention centres.

Gregory Lake, the former director of offshore processing and transfers at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, told the inquiry he was directed by a ministerial staff member to choose the youngest-looking children from among those eligible for the first transfer of detained people from Australia to Manus Island in 2012, when Labor was in government.

"Because they wanted to send a deterrent message, it was important to send some children, to say that children are not exempt from transfer," Mr Lake said.

"The first time children were sent to Manus or Nauru, I received a phone call from the minister's office and one of the staff members asked me if the family groups selected ... included any young children."

Criteria for transfer included a Papua New Guinea government requirement that children be inoculated against Japanese encephalitis - something that could not be done to children under seven years of age.

This was not publicised, Mr Lake said, because of fears smugglers would put children under seven on boats to avoid offshore detention.

Mr Lake said he had a list of families with children aged seven to nine.

"My responsibility according to this phone call was to select the children that looked the youngest," he said.

Mr Lake resigned from his role as director of processing and transfers at Nauru in April 2013.

He told the inquiry the language used in the detention centres - such as calling people "clients" and referring to them by identification numbers rather than names - had a dehumanising effect on asylum seeks.

"The language is not a strategy in and of itself but it is definitely part of a broader intention to dehumanise," he said.

"The way that immigration detention centres are run, particularly now under a deterrent framework, is designed to construct an environment where people are used as examples to say `you're subject to this - it's going to be worse for you to be in Australia than it as to be where you came from'."

The inquiry also heard from Australian GP Ai-Lene Chan, who worked at the Nauru and Christmas Island detention centres in 2013 and 2014.

Dr Chan told the inquiry that children on Nauru were suffering from bacterial skin infections, conjunctivitis and ear infections that would be easily treated in Australia with basic sanitation, but became chronic and debilitating in the harsh conditions of the centre.

Dr Chan also said she examined many people who were suffering dehydration because water was not available throughout the day, and because some women and children wanted to avoid the unclean toilet facilities.

Temperatures on Nauru could exceed 40C, she said.


Rabu, 30 Juli 2014

Woman killed by falling tree as wild weather wreaks havoc across Tasmania (ABC)

A tractor holds up the roof on Sean Dicker s East Ridgley home.ABC A tractor holds up the roof on Sean Dicker's East Ridgley home.

A woman has been killed by a falling tree in Tasmania's north as wild winds batter the state.

Police said the incident happened at 12:30pm (EST) in the Launceston suburb of Trevallyn but no other details are available.

Extreme weather is causing massive power disruptions and damage as trees fall onto houses and power lines.

At least 22,000 properties are now without electricity.

High winds and heavy rain are hindering repairs and the weather bureau has warned the conditions may worsen.

In Launceston, Kings Meadows High School was evacuated after winds dislodged roof tiles, leaving the school closed for the rest of the week.

State Emergency Service (SES) crews have attended about half of the 60 emergency calls they have received so far.

Northwest Regional Manager Wayne Richards said the incidents are being prioritised, headed by life-threatening scenarios.

"The majority that we're treating as our number-one priority are roof removals or extensive roof damage," he said.

Debris and flooding are also affecting train services in the north and north-west, with services suspended on the Melba Line and West of Western Junction.

In the south, the SES is warning of flooding in the Huon, Tyenna and Styx Rivers.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's plane had to be diverted to Hobart after being delayed by strong winds in the state's north.

Extra crews have been deployed in an attempt to reconnect the major power outage, with Burnie, Launceston, Palmerstone, Deloraine and Queenstown hit hard.

It is the fourth day the state has seen major electricity cuts and extensive damage to homes and property.

Heavy rain and strong winds persisted last night and the SES is bracing for flash flooding, with sandbagging in Launceston and minor flooding in Huonville, in the state's south.

A man escaped injury when a tree came down on a house at Blessington last night.

North-west farmer Sean Dicker had to use a tractor to hold up the roof of his East Ridgley house.

Mr Dicker was home alone with his dog at 6am when strong winds blew the roof off.

The lounge room windows were also blown in and the partially renovated cottage has been flooded.

"When that window blew in...everything just went everywhere and you can hear the actual roof grinding and starting to float, and the corner started even to go," he said.

"I ran outside and got the tractor and thought, that's the thing if I could hold it down."

In the south, weather conditions are expected to deteriorate this afternoon.

The weather bureau's Simon McCulloch said the rough weather would continue for another two days.

"The rainfall rates are going to be ticking over, which could cause some flooding issues," he said.

"The winds have been pretty strong consistently for two or three days now, certainly winds gusts in excess of 100 kilometres an hour look set to continue."

The damage bill is already in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Property owners were being urged to contact their insurers as soon as possible.

After three days of damaging weather across the state, the cost of the clean-up is already high.

RACT Insurance's chief executive Trent Sayers said more than 200 of its policy-holders have lodged claims so far.

"We're looking in the vicinity of around $300,000 is what it's looking as shaping up to be," he said.

The figure is expected to rise once the full extent of the damage is clear.


I don*t wind them up, Hanson-Young says (AAP)

Sarah Hanson-Young dismisses claims self harm spikes when she visits immigration detention centres.AAP Sarah Hanson-Young dismisses claims self harm spikes when she visits immigration detention centres.

Sarah Hanson-Young has dismissed as a "beat-up" claims incidents of self harm spike every time she visits an immigration detention centre.

An operational brief provided by security company Serco to the immigration department says high-profile visits from politicians, such as the Greens senator, as well as lawyers and refugee advocates prompt an increase in the incidents.

The report cites a January visit by Senator Hanson-Young to Christmas Island, during which the number of incidents more than doubled to 15 from an average of about six.

The report was leaked to News Corp a day after the senator was denied access to the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia where 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers are being held after spending a month on an Australian Customs vessel.

Senator Hanson-Young says the leaked report is a "beat up" to distract attention from what is going on in Australia's detention facilities.

"It seems more (about) the government finding an excuse to keep politicians, advocates and lawyers out of detention centres than it is about the genuine issues facing people inside," she told ABC Radio on Thursday.

The senator denies "winding up" asylum seekers when visiting centres.

"I talk to asylum seekers about are the things they want to raise with me," she said, adding one of the key issues was keeping people in a state of calm and telling them not to give up hope.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison would not comment directly on the leaked report, referring to an earlier statement that said Senator Hanson-Young had been denied access to Curtin based on the "interests of the good management and safety of the centre".


Hastings Deering to cut 400 jobs in Queensland (ABC)

Hundreds of Queensland jobs will be cut from major mining support services company Hastings Deering.

In a statement dated July 30, the company said it was "anticipated this will result in approximately 400 redundancies across Hastings Deering's business, which will be implemented this month".

The company said challenging market conditions had forced the decision.

The company said it implemented a number of efficiency and productivity measures in the past 12 months but none were enough to deal with the current conditions.

Hastings Deering's offices were located in Brisbane and across regional Queensland.

The ABC contacted the company for further details.

Julie Boyd from the industry lobby group, the Resource Industry Network, said the news was very concerning.

"One of the biggest issues with all this is that it's this sort of smaller loss of staff through companies over the last few months, is almost like the death by 1,000 cuts in the region," he said.

"We're not having great big cut-offs like the car industry, but this is significantly impacting on our skills base and our capacity to do business in the future."

Ms Boyd said she was worried there would not be enough support for new coal projects.

"Whilst it's a big announcement that the Carmichael project has been approved, which is fantastic for the region, what we can't afford to do is then find ourselves not being able to have the right equipment, the right staff, the right people who are actually going to be able to tap into those opportunities because they simply don't have the staff here," she said.


Foul stench from sewer making life miserable for Utakarra residents (ABC)

The sewer main adjacent to houses in Utakarra, Geraldton.ABC The sewer main adjacent to houses in Utakarra, Geraldton.

Angry residents in the Geraldton suburb of Utakarra say they are living in misery because of foul odours leaking from a sewer main just metres from their houses.

Residents of Clematis Crescent and surrounding streets said they have been putting up with the stench for years, despite several attempts by the Water Corporation to fix the problem.

When the ABC visited the area yesterday along with about 20 fed-up locals, the sickening smell of faeces was blown across the neighbourhood in waves, carried by a light breeze.

Bonamia Road resident Paul McConnon said the smell yesterday was milder.

"It's a disgrace as far as I'm concerned, it's like we're second-class citizens in a first-world country," he said.

"It's an absolute misery, an absolute misery, that's all you could say.

"It just never stops, it just niggles at you non-stop day after day.

"It just gets worse, some days it's really putrid, some days it just smells."

According to information contained in a letter by the Minister for Water, Mia Davies, to Geraldton MP Ian Blayney, the offending sewer handled about half of Geraldton's waste water before it being pumped out to a treatment plant at Narngulu.

Ms Davies said the Water Corporation acknowledged the sewer had an "unusually high concentration of odorous gases" which when mixed with water, could lead to the corrosion of the lids that sealed the sewer, allowing gases to escape.

Callistemon Court resident Stephen Doherty said those gasses penetrated many aspects of his life.

"A few times we've had barbeques and our visitors have asked 'what's that stench Steve?'," he said.

"It's not acceptable - it's putrid and it does get worse - this is a good day.

"Me and my missus and my family, we've worked our arses off to buy this house.

"If we want to sell and go back home to Sydney - if nothing's fixed - I'm not going to get 40 cents for it.

"Who would want to live with this?"

Odours may be affecting residents' health

Mr Doherty, who recently underwent a double liver transplant, said his doctors were concerned the odour may be affecting his health.

"I explained the situation to them and they said 'no, that's not right, you'd better come down and we'll run some tests on you," he said.

"I've got a weak immune system at the moment because I've had the transplant so I could pick up anything that's floating around.

"This isn't good for me."

In an effort to mitigate the problem, the Water Corporation cut a vent with a filter into the sewer access chamber in May 2013.

Further works were undertaken last month to replace the lids on the adjacent waste water pump station and on nine sewer access chambers.

When the leaking odours continued, an additional vent system was installed, but Mr McConnon said the work had not solved the problem.

Opposition water spokesman Dave Kelly described the stench as "incredible".

"I wouldn't want to live here, these residents shouldn't have to live here and I'm sure as hell the Water Minister wouldn't want to live here," he said.

"People are experiencing health effects such as headaches, they can't just enjoy the normal things that you do in a suburban house, have a barbecue out the back, invite people over.

"It's making their life a misery."

The Water Corporation would not disclose how much money had been spent trying to stop odours from leaking.

The utility is pinning its hopes on upgrading a pump station on the site, but a spokesperson said the expected completion date was June 2015.

Mr McConnon said he would not stop fighting until his neighbourhood is odour-free.

"We're not going to leave it alone, we have nothing to lose," he said.

"Our lives are destroyed, our homes are worthless. I'm not going to stop on this issue, no way."


Qld govt unveils 30-year plan for state (AAP)

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is set to unveil a 30-year plan for the state.AAP Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is set to unveil a 30-year plan for the state.

Queensland's premier says a long-term plan for the state will create jobs and improve the health of residents.

The government will release its 30-year vision for Queensland on Thursday, more than a year after first flagging the project.

About 70,000 residents were surveyed and summits held in Mackay and Brisbane last year.

The draft version released last December outlined an ambitious plan to shift Queenslanders to the regions, narrow the wealth gap and prevent disease, among other goals.

Premier Campbell Newman says the document will set the state apart from the rest of the nation.

"There are very specific targets that are bold, are exciting, that speak to the real vision for the state for the next 30 years in areas like health, education, the growing of the regions and the economy," he said in a recorded statement.

The premier will launch the Queensland Plan at a Local Government Association of Queensland conference at Hervey Bay on Thursday.


Two dead in separate Qld crashes (AAP)

Two men have been killed after crashing their cars into trees in separate incidents north of Brisbane.

In the first incident, a 45-year-old man died after veering off a road and into a tree in Gundiah about 4pm on Wednesday (AEST).

Emergency services were called to the second crash at Elimbah, north of Caboolture, three hours later.

Police said investigations suggested the driver had come off the road on a left bend and gone into the tree.


Body found in car on NSW south coast (AAP)

A man found dead in a car in Kiama Harbour on the NSW south coast is believed to be a teenager who went missing last week.

Emergency services were called to the area at 2pm on Wednesday (AEST).

It is believed the body is that of a 19-year-old man who was last seen at Albion Park Rail on July 24 and was later reported missing, police said.

A post mortem examination is to be conducted to determine the man's cause of death.


Britain to turn off lights to mark World War One centenary (Reuters)

UK-WW1-CENTURY-BRITAIN:Britain to turn off lights to mark World War One centenaryReuters People cross Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament behind at dusk in London, December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

By Tess Little

LONDON (Reuters) - On the eve of World War I, Britain's foreign minister, Edward Grey, observed: "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

As Britain and Commonwealth countries mark the centenary of the declaration of war on Germany on Monday, London will switch off the lights at landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament and St Paul's Cathedral for an hour in the evening in tribute. Other cities around Britain will do the same.

More than one million soldiers from Britain and its former empire died in the conflict. New Zealand lost 2 percent of its total wartime population.

"Most of us will have ancestors who fought, many from what is now the Commonwealth ... and every single one of us is indebted to that generation because their legacy is our liberty," said Prime Minister David Cameron at London's Imperial War Museum last month.

"It wasn't just Britons who secured Allied victory. It was Indians, Canadians – even a Chinese Labour Corps," added Cameron, who said six of his own relatives died in the fighting.

Soldiers from the former British empire including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and troops in the Middle East and North Africa all fought in the war under the banner of the British Army.

Of the roughly 9 million who served, 1.1 million died, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. About 74,000 were from India, 65,000 from Canada and 62,000 from Australia.

But most casualties were from the United Kingdom, including Ireland and small dominions with 888,230 men, many of them still teenagers, killed - more than double the number of its casualties in World War Two.

Britain's royal family and senior politicians from Britain, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Commonwealth will attend remembrance services in London and Glasgow and an event in Belgium to commemorate the centenary on Monday.

Candles at an official service in London's Westminster Abbey will go out one by one until only a burning oil lamp remains at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. At 2200 (11:00 pm BST) GMT, the lamp will be extinguished, marking the exact time the British Empire joined the war. In Trafalgar Square, one single light will shine from an old police box.

Hundreds of organisations, companies, landmarks and local authorities will also participate in the "Lights Out" campaign - organised by 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the centenary, by leaving a single light on for shared reflection.

(Editing by Susan Fenton)


Terence Hodson inquest: Slain police informer*s son *in hospital*, unable to face cross-examination (ABC)

Andrew Hodson, son of slain police informer Terence Hodson, has called in sick to the Victorian inquest into his parents' deaths for the second time this week, delaying his cross-examination.

The inquest was due to finish today and Mr Hodson was scheduled to be cross-examined over his knowledge of the 2004 murder of his father and mother, Christine.

Coroner Ian Gray described Mr Hodson as a vital witness who was required to assist him in "getting to the bottom" of the double murder.

Mr Hodson's lawyer told the inquest he was in hospital and may require surgery, making it impossible for him to give evidence.

He said his client may be unwell for some time.

Earlier this week, a former Petra Taskforce detective, Cameron Davey, told the inquest that Mr Hodson was once considered a suspect in murder of his parents.

The couple was shot dead execution-style in the back room of their Kew home in 2004.

Andrew Hodson knew Tony Mokbel: Detective

Mr Davey said police still suspected Mr Hodson of releasing of sensitive information on the layout of his parents' home and its security system.

He said Mr Hodson was a known associate of drugs boss Tony Mokbel and may have given the information out "inadvertently" to the killers, or Mokbel himself.

The inquest heard Mr Hodson had once failed a lie detector test on the subject.

Mr Hodson appeared briefly in court last week to hear his police statements read out.

Mr Gray said he would allow Mr Hodson to give evidence via video link from his now home state of Queensland, if he preferred to return there after leaving hospital.

"I want it to be very clear to him," Mr Gray said.

"He's a witness now and sworn up... he's required to give evidence in this case.

"The message to him is it will assist me and I want him to give evidence."

Mr Gray also invited the Hodson's daughters, Mandy and Nicole, who have been present throughout the inquest, to give evidence or make a statement about their parents to the court.

He said such information may "shed light" on the case.

Mokbel says Dale 'owed him big time': witness

Terence Hodson had been due to give evidence against former detective Paul Dale over a drugs burglary, at the time he was killed.

Mr Dale and career criminal Rodney Collins were once charged over the murders, but the charges were dropped when underworld boss Carl Williams was killed in Barwon Prison.

They have always denied involvement and were excused from giving evidence at the inquest.

Yesterday, a witness who could not be identified, told the inquest that Tony Mokbel had once told him that there were "50,000 reasons" that Mr Dale "owed him big time".

Witness M said that he interpreted Mokbel's words to mean he had payed Rodney Collins to have the Hodsons killed, on behalf of Mr Dale.

The witness also claimed Mokbel told him, Carl Williams "paid the rest".

The inquest will resume on August 15.


Grandmother thought death threat *silly* (AAP)

When a Darwin man told his grandmother he was going to kill his partner, she did not believe him, a Northern Territory court has heard.

But a few hours later the woman, who cannot be named, was dead.

Conway Stevenson, 27, has been charged with murder over the November 26 incident at the Bagot Aboriginal community in Darwin.

"He was so, so aggressive each time he drank. He liked to fight," his grandmother Patsy Rose told a committal hearing on Wednesday.

The court had previously heard the victim had stripped naked at dusk and ran screaming around the community in order to get Stevenson's attention.

Witness and friend Tyrone Holmes said he believed Stevenson had been cheating on her, and the couple were known to fight.

But when he told Ms Rose he was going to kill his partner, she thought it was just an expression.

"I'm used to him saying that all the time ... I never thought he'd do it," she said.

She thought it was "silly talk".

Mr Holmes told the court the victim seemed disoriented and confused as she ran around naked.

He said he saw Stevenson swing a milk crate towards her head, threatening to kill her and telling her, "Go away, f*** off, go home", as she screamed for help.

Later that evening, he saw Stevenson walking alone with a woman he could not identify.

He did not witness the victim's death, but said Stevenson came to his home with swollen, bloody knuckles and said he had been fighting.

He said the community was calling Stevenson a murderer shortly after finding out his partner had died.

The hearing continues.


Selasa, 29 Juli 2014

Man, 79, charged with murdering environment officer after alleged shooting at Moree, NSW (ABC)

A farmer whose property had been at the centre of an illegal land-clearing dispute has been charged with murder after allegedly shooting dead an environment officer.

Ian Robert Turnbull, 79, is accused of killing 51-year-old NSW Environment Department compliance and regulation officer Glen Turner at Croppa Creek, 55 kilometres north of Moree in northern New South Wales.

Today the Moree Local Court was told Turnbull had been in a long-running dispute with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and had a criminal history.

Illegal land clearing on Turnbull's property was the subject of a case in the NSW Land and Environment Court this year.

The victim, a father of two from Tamworth, had been in charge of some of Turnbull's matters before the court.

Turnbull fired a number of shots towards the victim, with one hitting him in the back, the court was told.

Turnbull was denied bail after the prosecution requested it be refused due to the seriousness of the charge.

He will be back in court on August 5.

Incident happened late on Tuesday

Police and ambulance paramedics were called to the property about 5:40pm yesterday, police said in a statement.

Turnbull was arrested without incident just after 11:00pm.

The Environment Department confirmed its officer was at the property in a work capacity.

Chief executive Terry Bailey said Mr Turner joined the department in 2007 after seven years in the public service.

"He was a respected and well-liked colleague and friend to many," he said.

"Glen is survived by his wife Alison and their two children who are in our thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time."

Environment Minister Rob Stokes said he was shocked and deeply saddened over the death of the environment officer in the course of his duty.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family and tight knit staff of the Office of Environment and Heritage at this most difficult time," he said.

"It is hard to fathom how it is that someone who leaves for work in the morning does not return in the afternoon.

"On behalf of the department's Chief Executive Terry Bailey and my colleagues in the NSW Government, our hearts go out to all those who have been impacted by this tragedy."

The shooting shook the community of Croppa Creek.

"We're still in shock," neighbour Elaine Anderson said.

"We can't believe that someone's come out here to do his job, and we're always the ones to be the neighbourly ones and hospitable, but here's a man who's lost his life.

"It's just unthinkable.

"We've seen large-scale clearing across the whole of these districts and it was important to see what was exactly happening. This man was just doing his job."

Mr Turner was the president of the Parents and Citizens Association at Tamworth Public School where his children were students.

In a letter to students and staff, Principal Lee Preston said Mr Turner was a well-known and highly respected member of the school community.

"News of the tragic death of Glen Turner has come as a great shock to us all," he said.


Perth prison escapee recaptured (AAP)

A 20-year-old Perth man who escaped custody while being transported from hospital to prison has been recaptured after nine days on the run.

Michael James Hayward was last seen about 10.25am on July 21 at the intersection of Albany Highway and South West Highway in Armadale in the city's southeast.

On Wednesday, police said he had been taken into custody at a residence in nearby Gosnells.

The recapture was without incident, police said.

Hayward's court appearance over the escape is yet to be set.


Defence discussion paper raises doubts over local manufacturing (ABC)

A Defence discussion paper that will help set the direction for military spending has raised questions over the future of local manufacturing.

It is a $250 billion industry helping to keep Australian manufacturing afloat, but the tide is turning and building submarines and other naval vessels on our shores could be under threat.

The Federal Government discussion paper on the future of the defence industry released yesterday says tough choices need to be made on defence spending, in particular how Australians can get the best value for money.

That is fuelling fears that the Coalition will buy submarines and military ships from overseas rather than build them here.

Australian manufacturing has already been hit by the collapse of car makers Holden, Toyota and Ford with an estimated 8,000 job losses.

Buying submarines and other defence equipment from overseas would also hit hard.

Up to 12 submarines have been slated to be built by ASC (Australian Submarine Corporation) in South Australia, but that is in doubt.

The Federal Government says local manufacturing has performed poorly with inefficiencies, delays and cost overruns in major projects such as the air warfare destroyer.

It has already offered contracts to build two navy replacement replenishment vessel to companies in South Korea and Spain.

'Put on our banana republic T-shirts'

The moves are raising questions as to whether the Government wants a local defence industry at all.

"If it does then it needs to support and partner with it to collaborate and deliver military capability," said Chris Burns, the CEO of the Defence Teaming Centre.

"If it doesn't then let us know. We can put on our banana republic T-shirts, learn how to pick fruit, dig ore out of the ground and serve drinks to wealthy tourists.

"Because, ladies and gentlemen, that's all there will be left for our de-industrialised nation to do."

Speaking at a defence industry conference in Adelaide, Defence Minister David Johnston reiterated the Government's commitment to its target of 2 per cent of GDP for defence spending, but not necessarily spending the money in Australia.

"I emphasise the need for Defence to be able to procure the necessary goods and services in the most efficient way to ensure the ADF can fight and win on the battle field," he said.

The discussion paper will guide the public consultation process for a Defence white paper due to be released next year. Until then, the defence manufacturing industry waits.


Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce claims unaccompanied asylum seeker children are victims of state-sanctioned abuse (ABC)

A drawing by an asylum seeker child depicting their experiences in the Christmas Island detention centre.ABC A drawing by an asylum seeker child depicting their experiences in the Christmas Island detention centre.

Church leaders have described Australia's treatment of unaccompanied children seeking asylum as a "sick joke".

In a report titled Protecting The Lonely Children, the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce says there is state-sanctioned child abuse in onshore and offshore detention facilities.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has flatly rejected the claims, but the taskforce is calling for him to be stripped of his guardianship role of children in immigration detention.

The report's author, Reverend Dr Peter Catt, says their treatment amounts to child abuse.

"The Government knows that it's detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the children and is doing nothing about it," he said.

"In years to come, people will look back and go, 'well that's child abuse'."

The task comprises nine Christian denominations. Its chief executive, Misha Coleman, says the responsibility to care for children is at odds with keeping them in detention.

"We're definitely not singling out this minister, but the way the Act stands in Australia at the moment, the minister for immigration is both the guardian, so the de facto parent, as well as being the jailer, the juror, and the person who determines whether they're sent offshore or not," she said.

"That doesn't happen in other jurisdictions. That's quite an anomaly in the Australian legislative framework.

"So we are not the first organisation to call for there to be an independent statutory guardian that is resourced to have the best interests of the child at heart."

Ms Coleman says the system needs to be reviewed and overhauled.

"We will never again stand by and do nothing about child abuse," she said.

"We haven't done primary research in the centres but we have relied on people who visit the centres often and we've relied on a whole range of credible reports, UN committee reports, and we do have a number of letters that we've received directly from children themselves.

"Children in our detention facilities are suffering everything from untreated sexual infections to tuberculosis. We've got children on Christmas Island, you've got rotting teeth, fungal infections.

"They're biting themselves, they're banging their heads into furniture due to their appalling state of mental health."

Mr Morrison has not seen the report but says claims of state-sanctioned abuse are shocking and offensive.

He says he takes his guardianship responsibilities seriously and that the Government is committed to ensuring children are protected from exploitation and abuse.


Divorce couples divide assets out of court (AAP)

Breaking up is hard to do, though not as hard as you might think - unless there's a lot of money involved.

New research on divorce and relationship breakdown shows a majority of separating or divorcing parents in Australia can divide up property without bringing in the lawyers and are reasonably happy with the outcome.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies report shows nearly half of parents - 43 per cent - were able to reach agreement on the division of property and assets within a year of ending their relationship.

However, when the couple had more wealth to divide the settlement time tends to blow out, with 40 per cent of couples with more than $500,000 in assets taking more than two years to finalise an agreement.

Senior research fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Dr Rae Aspire, said the study is largely a good news result.

"For around 60 per cent it is a good news story in that they settle things themselves and they are mostly happy," Dr Aspire said.

"But there is a smaller proportion who don't seem to be able to agree easily and do have recourse to mediation, lawyers and courts."

Between 30 and 40 per cent of parents considered their property settlement to be unfair.

The five-year study of 9000 separated parents found the average value of assets at separation is $202,900, including those who had no assets or debts.

Dr Aspire said parents across all income levels had generally sorted out their own affairs, with 39 per cent of settlements achieved through discussions and 18.8 per cent "just happening" without specific action.

A further 29.3 per cent were handled by a lawyer, 7.1 per cent went to court and 4.2 per cent went to mediation.

However, the involvement of lawyers rose as the assets in question rose in value.

When assets were under $140,000, most cases were handled through discussion but once values rose above $140,000, more cases went to a lawyer.

Dr Aspire said the study, the first large-scale, systematic analysis of property division in Australia for 13 years, had thrown up some interesting findings.

Cohabiting couples were likely to have fewer assets than married couples, generally because de facto couples tended to be younger and have spent less time together and so had less time to accumulate assets.

Dr Aspire said married couples's higher wealth was also explained by their tending to come from higher socio-economic backgrounds.

The report found mothers received more assets in a settlement when they were caring for children most of the time and that the parent who left the family house tended to receive less.

It also found fathers tended to overestimate the share of property their ex-partner received, while both parents tended to underestimate their own share of a settlement.

The research surveyed parents of young children who were newly separated in 2008 and registered on a child support programs.

It will be presented to the Australian Institute of Family Studies conference in Melbourne on Friday.

The conference runs from July 30 to August 1.


Tiger bite: Australia Zoo handler recovering after suffering puncture wounds (ABC)

An animal handler is recovering after being bitten by a tiger at Australia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

The 42-year-old suffered puncture wounds while trying to move the big cat to another enclosure.

He was taken to hospital in a stable condition.

The RSPCA's Michael Beatty says the 42-year-old would have understood what the tiger was capable of and the risks he was facing.

"There's always problems with exotic animals," he said.

"They are wild animals, and I'm sure that the keepers at Australia Zoo realise that.

"There can be accidents. There have been accidents all over the world.

"Australia Zoo and a lot of other zoos throughout the world ... are extending the breeding program, ... are hopefully preserving these animals.

"There are risks – of course there are risks. But you'd have to say that the good outweighs the bad."

Australia Zoo says the keeper was bitten by Juma, a 129-kilogram, 10-year-old, male Sumatran tiger.

According to the zoo's website, Juma is often used for filming and is the first adult tiger to be introduced to new handlers.

Last year, 30-year-old tiger handler Dave Styles was bitten on the neck and shoulder by an over-excited tiger during a play session.


Union corruption royal commission resumes (AAP)

Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson will return to the witness box on Wednesday when the royal commission into union corruption resumes.

The Health Services Union (HSU) national secretary made accusations about rampant corruption by now-jailed HSU general secretary Michael Williamson, who kept the union's accounts shrouded in mystery.

In previous hearings, Ms Jackson detailed extensive intimidation by union officials intent on discrediting her.

She was ostracised, called a traitor and a rat, received a midnight death threat and wound up in a psychiatric hospital.

But during the commission it emerged Ms Jackson set up the unaudited National Health Development Account with union money and accessed it for personal spending.

Now, she is facing questioning over the slush fund.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has investigated the Australian Workers Union, Transport Workers Union and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union since it began in April.


Sydney public art: Mixed reaction to proposed CBD artworks (ABC)

An artist s impression of Cloud Arch, a 50-metre sculpture by Junya Ishigami that will be installed on George Street, Sydney.ABC An artist's impression of Cloud Arch, a 50-metre sculpture by Junya Ishigami that will be installed on George Street, Sydney.

There have been mixed reactions to the unveiling of three new public artworks in Sydney's central business district, including a 50-metre cloud-shaped arch.

Reaction on Twitter and Facebook has ranged from complaints about the artworks being a waste of taxpayers' money to those who believe they would improve the city.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said everyone would be able to have their say as the project was open to public consultation and has to go through a development application process.

"I think every step has been taken to get the most exciting art proposals for our city and of course we now go through a process of consultation," she said.

"We look forward to engaging with people and invite everyone to go to our website and give us their views."

Tokyo-based architect Junya Ishigama's 50-metre cloud-shaped arch was selected from nearly 700 entries to soar above George Street at Town Hall.

The curved steel plate sculpture would act as a gateway for a new pedestrian section of George Street, allowing both people and light rail to pass beneath.

When completed it would be visible from Kings Cross to the east, Wynyard to the north and Liverpool Street to the south.

There were two other works chosen to feature as part of the City of Sydney's public art plan.

British artist Tracey Emin's 60 bronze bird sculptures would be perched along parts of Bridge and Grosvenor streets.

The third installation was a giant milk crate-shaped pavilion by Sydney-based Egyptian-born artist Hany Armanious, which would be installed at Belmore Park near Central Station.

The works were unanimously selected by an expert advisory panel for consideration.

If the development application process was successful, the art was expected to be installed from 2017.


Coal-fired power station to close in Latrobe Valley, despite $50 million federal bailout (ABC)

About 70 people will be jobless when the HRL plant closes next month.ABC About 70 people will be jobless when the HRL plant closes next month.

A brown coal-fired power station and briquette factory in Victoria's Latrobe Valley will close next month, two years after receiving a $50 million Federal Government bailout package.

The operator of the Energy Brix facilities, HRL Limited, blamed falling electricity wholesale prices and a reduction in demand for brown coal briquettes for the closures.

About 70 people will lose their jobs.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council assistant secretary Steve Dodd said the job cuts would hurt the local economy, which is already struggling to recover from this year's Hazelwood mine fire.

"That's a significant amount of jobs that are taken out of the region and that means that people are going to have look for employment elsewhere," he said.

HRL wound down its Morwell operations over the past two years after receiving the Government bailout package, which expired last month.

The package was established to give Energy Brix customers enough time to switch to cleaner sources of energy.

Energy Brix has since lost at least three of its customers including Australian Char and dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn.

The company also drastically reduced its wholesale supply to the National Energy Market.

The company said the closure of the Morwell facilities was "temporary" and dependent on a commercial viability of a project to repower the briquette factory with a new steam supply.

But Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham said it was unlikely the facilities would reopen.

"It is the first coal-fired power station to close in Victoria for decades but it won't be the last," he said.

"With energy demand falling quite significantly we're likely to see closures at other coal-fired power stations in the months and years ahead."


Stolen railway explosives recovered (AAP)

Police have recovered dangerous railway detonators stolen from a parked vehicle yesterday.

Police warned earlier today warned the explosives could cause serious injury if not handled carefully.

The 54 railway detonators, which are strapped to railways and explode with a loud bang when driven over, were stolen on Monday night in the southern suburb Parmelia.

In 2012, News Limited reported that a 15-year-old boy lost his left hand when a railway detonator blew up in his face after he hit it with a hammer.

The detonators were found this afternoon.


Ty Vickery receives four-week suspension for Dean Cox punch in Richmond-West Coast AFL clash (ABC)

Richmond forward Ty Vickery has received a four-week AFL ban for his strike on West Coast's Dean Cox, which left the retiring ruckman concussed.

Vickery was referred straight to the tribunal for striking Cox in last Friday night's match at Subiaco Oval after roundhouse punching Cox in the second quarter of the Tigers' 17-point win.

The punch saw the Eagles favourite slump to the ground before being substituted from the match because of concussion.

Vickery's advocate asked that the case be treated as a guilty plea and did not put forward any evidence, while the three-man tribunal panel was given a transcript of the player's public apology to Cox.

Both sides were content with a five week penalty being reduced to four weeks, with the tribunal handing down a 495-point penalty with 95 carryover points.

The jury took six minutes before agreeing on the penalty.

Tribunal chairman David Jones said the case was a serious one, but not one which resulted in any facial fractures.

"It does seem that it was a spur of the moment reaction to something that happened previously," Jones said.

"[Vickery] is contrite and remorseful in terms of his actions, and that seems to be very clear. That is genuine on his part."


Senin, 28 Juli 2014

Australia*s Qantas to continue flying over Iraq (AFP)

Australia s Qantas to continue flying over IraqAFP Australia's Qantas to continue flying over Iraq

Sydney (AFP) - Australian airline Qantas said Tuesday it would continue flying over Iraqi airspace, despite alliance partner Emirates deciding to alter its routes over concerns about jihadist missile attacks following the MH17 crash.

Qantas said while it no longer flew over Syria or Ukraine over fears their airspace could be "unsafe", "there is no information to suggest that there is risk to commercial aircraft passing over Iraq, particularly at the altitudes we fly".

"Qantas is one of many airlines that currently flies over parts of Iraq en route to Europe," the airline's chief pilot Dick Tobiano said in a statement.

The carrier said its average altitude over the Middle East region was about 38,000 to 41,000 feet, far exceeding the US Federal Aviation Administration's recommendation of above 20,000 feet.

"Qantas would never compromise its passengers or crew by flying over an area if we thought it was unsafe," Tobiano added.

"We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make any changes needed to ensure the safety of our passengers."

The risks of overflying combat zones has taken centre stage following the deaths of 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 after it was apparently shot down by a missile above rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

Emirates' president Tim Clark told London's The Times newspaper in an interview published Monday his airline would stop flying over Iraq. He also predicted that other carriers would re-route their flights.

"This is a political animal but ... the fact of the matter is MH17 changed everything, and that was very nearly in European airspace," Clark said.

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways said in a statement it, like Qantas, would continue to fly over Iraq at this stage, adding that the "nature of the current security environment in Iraq is significantly different than in the Ukraine".


Orica warned against further polluting (AAP)

Serial polluter Orica has been warned not to cause more damage to the NSW environment after being slapped with a record fine.

The chemical giant was on Monday fined just over three quarters of a million dollars for seven "pollution incidents" between October 2010 and December 2011, mostly from its Kooragang Island manufacturing plant in Newcastle's north.

Chromium 6 or hexavalent chromium, a toxic substance, was released into the atmosphere through steam from the Kooragang plant in Stockton.

The NSW Land and Environment court dished out the largest financial penalty in its history - $768,250 - because of the fear and distress the incidents at Stockton caused the public.

NSW Premier Mike Baird praised the court for imposing the "significant" penalty.

"We are not going tolerate anyone that imposes that sort of environmental risks and doesn't contain them," he told reporters.

"From my point of view they need to continue to be vigilant. They better make sure they do."

The fine will be used to partly fund seven environmental projects in the Hunter Valley and Botany.

Orica's shabby record extends beyond NSW.

In November 2012, it was ordered by a Queensland Court to pay $432,000 towards turtle research and conservation, and water monitoring initiatives, in Gladstone Harbour after pleading guilty to releasing cyanide-contaminated effluent on 217 occasions between March and May 2011.

Orica says it will spend $200 million fixing and improving its Kooragang Island and Botany sites.

The company reported a half year profit of $242 million in March.


Giant $3.5m Sydney artwork divides opinion (AAP)

A roller coaster, dental floss, a tapeworm, a piece of spaghetti. Even the curvaceous cartoon movie character Jessica Rabbit.

These are just a few of the early descriptions of a $3.5 million, Japanese-designed artwork that will straddle Sydney's main street.

City of Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore described the design of the steel Cloud Arch that will stand between 50m and 75m high over George Street, as "momentous".

"The artworks ... will cement Sydney's reputation as a capital of culture and creativity", Ms Moore said.

Others were less kind.

"I mean, why not build a piece of public art that we all like and that also costs no money", read one of the many responses on Twitter.

"seattle has the space needle, only fair sydney has the space noodle #sydneystatue," said another Twitter user.


"I'm not *bad*, I'm just built that way," a user called Reuben wrote in reaction with the artwork being likened to the curvaceous Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit fame.

The Junya Ishigami design, which is designed to feel cloud-like because of its height, was unveiled on Tuesday morning at Sydney Town Hall. The artwork is to rise diagonally across from the Queen Victoria Building to the Woolworths building.

It is part of plans to make the heart of Sydney pedestrian friendly and have light rail running down George Street under the showpiece of a $9.3m suite of public artworks.

A $2.5m pavilion by Hany Armanious, that has already been dubbed the Milk Crate, will stand in Belmore Park near Central Railway Station.

Controversial British artist Tracey Emin has been given the nod to create a $2.1m corridor of bird installations in the area near Wynyard.


Arrests in murder-linked Vic bikies raids (AAP)

Vic Rebels bikie raids linked to murder7News reporter @ChristieCooper Police have raided 23 properties linked to the Rebels motorcycle gang in relation to the Australia Day death of a man in a suspected home invasion.

Four members of an outlaw motorcycle gang have been arrested in police raids on 23 Victorian properties, as part of an investigation into a man's death on Australia Day.

About 300 police were involved in the raids about 6am on Tuesday, which targeted seven clubhouses and other properties with links to the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang.

The properties, some of them fortified, were across Melbourne, Geelong and Traralgon.

Four men, two of them Rebels bikies, have already been charged with the murder of 20-year-old Michael Ali Sleiman, who died after 15 people allegedly stormed a Deer Park house on January 26 and started a fight.

Victoria Police assistant commissioner Stephen Fontana said the operation was to arrest a number of other members of the outlaw motorcycle gang that police believed were involved.

"It wasn't bikie on bikie - this was an act of a group of bikies who targeted another person that wasn't associated with outlaw motorcycle gangs," Mr Fontana told reporters outside one of the properties in Sunshine West.

"We currently have four persons in custody from this particular outlaw motorcycle gang that we believe are involved in this homicide and they are currently being interviewed."

The operation was supported by Customs and Border Patrol and the Australian Federal Police national anti-gangs squad.

Police also found drugs, firearms, and a suspected stolen vehicle during the raids and Mr Fontana said searches at the properties would be continuing through the day.

The four men who have been charged with Mr Sleiman's murder remain in custody and are due to appear in court again in November.


Hinch wants Qld to back sex pest register (AAP)

Broadcaster Derryn Hinch will use a meeting on Tuesday to try to convince Queensland to back his push for a US-style public sex offender register.

Hinch will meet with Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, hoping the state will become the first in Australia to adopt his plan to name and shame sex offenders.

Hinch, who has served time for naming sex offenders, does not believe they can be rehabilitated and says secrecy is their biggest weapon when released from jail.

He's spent the past few months gathering more than 150,000 signatures on a petition backing his idea.

He says he's hopeful Queensland will be receptive to the idea, as the state reviews its dangerous sexual offender laws.

Hinch has held or will have similar meetings with other attorneys-general, as part of his model for national network of registers he believes will save children from predators.

"All states have some form of register but they are not working," he has told ABC radio.

"I've talked to senior police in Victoria and one of them admitted to me they've got 5000 names on the so-called register in Victoria and they haven't got a hope in Hades of getting around and monitoring them. Police themselves say they're not working."

Bruce and Denise Morcombe, whose 13-year-old son Daniel was murdered in 2003 by serial pedophile and child rapist Brett Cowan, support a sex offender register.

Mr Bleijie has said he's happy to meet anyone who has ideas that could improve community safety.

But one child protection advocate doesn't support a register.

Founder of Bravehearts child protection group Hetty Johnston says the continued detention of dangerous sex offenders, not a register, is the answer.


Handling of MH17 delivers PM a boost: poll (AAP)

Tony Abbott's perceived strong response to the Malaysia Airlines disaster has seen him achieve a ratings boost equal to any since the election campaign.

The prime minister's 12-point jump in net voter satisfaction is his best result in three months, according to the latest Newspoll.

Published by The Australian, the poll shows voters approve of the performance and leadership shown by both Mr Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy.

The rise in support for the prime minister more than reverses the popularity setback he copped after the delivery of the May budget, and lifts him to equal billing with Mr Shorten as the nation's preferred leader after 12 weeks on the outer.

The poll shows there has been almost no change in the standing of the parties in the past fortnight, with the Coalition and Labor both recording a primary vote of 36 per cent. The Greens hold 12 per cent and the Palmer United Party and the independents sit at 16 per cent.

In the two-party-preferred stakes, Labor still enjoys a lead of 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

Mr Abbott's satisfaction rating has risen five points to 36 per cent while dissatisfaction with him has fallen seven points to 53 per cent.


Asylum-seekers kept at sea by Australia to seek compensation (AFP)

Asylum-seekers kept at sea by Australia to seek compensationAFP Asylum-seekers kept at sea by Australia to seek compensation

Sydney (AFP) - A group of 157 asylum-seekers held for weeks on the high seas on an Australian customs vessel will seek compensation for their treatment, their lawyers said Monday.

The group, thought to be mostly ethnic Tamils from Sri Lanka and including 50 children, left the Indian port of Pondicherry last month -- but their boat was intercepted by Australian authorities.

They were held in limbo on the customs ship until they were brought to Australia on the weekend to allow Indian consular officials to assess them with a view to taking them back to India.

Lawyers representing 85 of those on board have challenged their treatment in the High Court, and on Monday altered their claim to one of false imprisonment, with an application for compensation.

"The court agreed to the plaintiff's request to change the statement of claim to include a claim for compensation," spokesman for the asylum-seekers' legal team Hugh de Kretser told AFP.

The High Court was now considering whether it was legal for Australia to detain the group for nearly a month and, if it was not, whether there was an entitlement to compensation, he said.

De Kretser said there was no figure for compensation, saying: "It's far too early for that."

Earlier Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the group had likely been living in India for some time and were essentially economic migrants.

"The indications are... that there are a very large number of people on this ship that had been resident in India for a very long time," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

He said the boat had come from the "safe" nation of India, and had not stopped anywhere else on the way.

"They haven't come from Sri Lanka, they haven't come from any of those other countries -- Afghanistan or anything like that," he said.

"They have come from India and as a result where they are safe in India, a passage to Australia here is nothing more than an economic migration seeking to illegally enter Australia."

- 'Not fleeing persecution' -

The group, now being held at the Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia, is the first batch of asylum-seekers to reach the Australian mainland since December.

Morrison said Indian consular officials would travel to Curtin to determine their identity and residency, after New Delhi agreed to take back its citizens and consider taking Sri Lankans who were residents.

Those that refuse to return face being sent to camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific for processing and resettlement under Australia's hardline immigration policies.

Morrison rejected the idea that they were fleeing persecution.

"I'd be surprised if anyone was seriously suggesting that people were being persecuted in India by the Indian government," he said.

"If we can't take people back to India, what is next? New Zealand?

"So the suggestion that people have left a safe country are somehow fleeing persecution in India I think is absurd."

Morrison said India had asked for nothing in return for its cooperation on asylum-seekers.

He also said Indian officials had been prepared to carry out the assessments at sea, but Australia had decided against this as it could take too long.


Peter Slipper Cabcharge case: Former speaker found guilty of misusing taxi allowances (ABC)

Former federal parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper has been found guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court on three counts of dishonesty over the misuse of his parliamentary Cabcharge allowance.

A hearing began last week into charges that Slipper misused his Cabcharge allowance on three occasions, including to wineries, in 2010 before he was appointed speaker.

The total bill for the three trips was believed to be just more than $900.

On the first occasion in January 2010, Slipper visited up to six premises including the prestigious Poachers Pantry and Clonakilla wineries.

A hire car driver gave evidence that he drove Slipper and another man to several wineries and at the end, Slipper asked him if they could split the payment up into four amounts "because it would make processing easier".

The court also heard evidence from a second hire car driver, who drove Slipper to wineries on two other occasions.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker on Monday found Slipper falsely recorded the travel he took on those three days and that he gave a disingenuous description of the trips.

He will be sentenced on September 22.

On Thursday, Slipper's lawyer asked the court to throw out the hearing and find there was no case to answer, but the Chief Magistrate dismissed the application.

Lawyer Kylie Weston-Scheuber had told the court the prosecution failed to prove that her client was not on parliamentary business because there was no legal definition of the term.

But prosecutor Lionel Robberds told the court the trips were clearly not parliamentary business and Slipper had filled in multiple travel vouchers in a bid to hide the fact.

In the end the Magistrate ruled that was not an issue she needed to deal with, as the main question was whether or not he had been dishonest.

Last week, Slipper admitted using taxi vouchers to visit wineries around Canberra but denied doing so dishonestly.

Multiple challenges to get case thrown out

Thursday's application was the third attempt to get the charges against Slipper thrown out of court.

A previous challenge by Slipper, based on mental health concerns, was thrown out in June.

Slipper wanted the court to set aside the charges because he was suffering a major depressive disorder, which was made worse by the case.

The court previously heard he had been hospitalised several times and had been having suicidal thoughts.

Earlier this year, Slipper also lost a bid to have the case thrown out on the basis he could not defend himself without breaching parliamentary privilege.

Slipper lost the Queensland seat of Fisher in the 2013 election when he ran as an independent, after splitting with Coalition colleagues when he accepted Labor's offer to be Speaker in the House of Representatives.

He had held the seat on and off since 1984, first for the National Party and later for the LNP.

Slipper resigned as speaker in October 2012 amid a sexual harassment claim brought by his former staffer James Ashby.

Mr Ashby recently abandoned his claim against Slipper after a two-year court battle.


Christian Assemblies International: Former members detail abuse handed out by CAI leader Scott Williams (ABC)

Former members say Scott Williams preached that women and children were to be beaten if they misbehaved.ABC Former members say Scott Williams preached that women and children were to be beaten if they misbehaved.

A four-year investigation by the ABC has uncovered shocking claims of abuse and torment in relation to NSW-based registered charity and religious group Christian Assemblies International (CAI).

Four Corners has revealed that self-styled religious guru Pastor Scott Williams was using his warped brand of evangelical Pentecostalism to run a clandestine homosexual sex ring while allegedly misusing vast amounts of member donations for personal use.

Courageous former members broke their silence and told of their torment living inside the group, which they said is not a Christian church but a horrendous cult run by one man.

The ex-members have remained in the shadows until now out of fear and shame. They detailed shocking acts of abuse ranging from spiritual abuse, financial abuse, verbal and physical abuse, and the sexual abuse of adult men.

They said bizarre sexual rituals were carried out in secret by Williams, who described himself as "The Anointed One" with the Lord's authorisation to sidestep biblical commands against homosexuality and sexually train his male members into submission and obedience.

Four Corners approached Williams, whose full name is Anthony Scott Williams, and senior people in the church. All declined requests for interviews and refused to answer the program's questions.

The CAI is one of more than 60,000 registered charities in Australia and Four Corners can reveal it has been investigated by multiple authorities around the world.

But until now, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) had no idea of the systemic abuse and allegations of corruption regarding the CAI, despite other authorities in Australia being alerted and informed of possibly illegal acts several years ago.

ACNC head Susan Pascoe has pledged to take immediate action.

"This is clearly one that we've been alerted to by the media, and in that instance we would certainly be investigating," she said.

"If there was evidence that this was not acting in a charitable way or causing serious harm, then the charity can be deregistered."

It is a pledge that should strike fear into the current leadership of the CAI, of which Williams is still a director.

Origins of Christian Assemblies International

The CAI headquarters may be in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, but the organisation began in the small German town of Feldafing in the late 1970s.

Former members say they were recruited by Williams as teenagers and young adults, with many still at school. They say they were brainwashed into believing Williams was The Anointed One, filled with the Holy Spirit and gifted with the divine power of healing.

Williams was working in Feldafing as a pool attendant at a military school for young men.

Steve Forkin was converted when he was 17. He told Four Corners Williams paid special attention to young males.

"He was an Australian obviously and I'd never met anyone from Australia at that point in my life," Mr Forkin said.

"He was very charismatic. He was very friendly. He was very outgoing, quite fun-loving, to be honest. Initially he presented himself as a missionary who'd come to Germany with a calling from God to start a church there.

"He's very, very eloquent when it comes to knowledge of the Bible as such, and of course the flipside of that coin is that in Bavaria kids have no concept of the Bible and very little concept of religion per se, so really he could have told us anything and we would have believed it."

Once introduced to Williams, usually through a church meeting or a weekend barbecue, Mr Forkin says Williams began to brainwash people.

"At that stage his message was that the world was going to come to an end very soon and that we didn't have much time and we needed to convert as many people as possible before the return of Jesus," he said.

"Also his message was very much predominating around that Russia would invade Germany, a third world war would break out, and he brought up all sorts of scriptures from the Old Testament to prove his prophetic statements."

Gunther Frantz, Williams's first convert in Germany, says he was 12 when he began to be indoctrinated. He says Williams brainwashed him into doing almost anything.

"He had such power over people," Mr Frantz said.

"His beautiful saying was always, 'I'm gonna convert the German nation, this time to do a better deed instead of what Hitler did - a bad deed'."

Williams's core beliefs included a strict literal adherence to the Bible and a highly conservative lifestyle.

Upon baptism, members would often speak in tongues. As part of their membership, they were expected to donate 10 per cent of their gross income to the CAI in addition to many different offerings every year.

Members recall bizarre homosexual rituals

Four Corners spoke to more than a dozen men around the world who all claim they were pressured and led to perform sex acts against their will by Williams.

Warping biblical scripture to carry out perverse sexual acts, Williams began to hold regular men's nights. During these nights, the males attending would be asked to undress and participate in mass massage sessions.

Former members told Four Corners that Williams would often be in the centre of the group receiving massages and caresses from a male member of the church.

Mr Frantz says he was often present and forced to take part by Williams.

"I think the biggest one I ever remember was 80 males in rooms covered only in naked bodies, and everybody giving massages," he said.

"And Scott always had his personal private room with one or two at the end of any of those sessions. And then at two o'clock he sends everybody out of the room and out of everywhere else and he usually picks somebody to stay with him, to get more training."

Four Corners has been told that Williams would choose a man to stay back with him and spend the night with him, ordering them to surrender and submit to him for the Lord's training.

He would then order them to perform sex acts on him during a personal naked massage and during naked showers.

The shocking ritual played out for more than two decades, with victims believing they were the only ones suffering at the hands of Williams.

Mr Frantz says he, like other men, never consented to the sexual acts and that it could happen to anyone.

"It's possible. It happened to me. And I'm not the only one," he said.

Mr Frantz says the number of possible victims is staggering.

"Firstly, he made himself rich, and secondly, he has groomed people, particularly men and boys, boys to start off and kids, for his own pleasure," he said.

"The Pentecostal church which he represents is just ... a facade which he has built to build his own kingdom."

Underlying it all was the peculiar policy created and described by Williams as a "bundschaft", a special relationship between two men.

Mr Forkin said the policy of the bundschaft was mandatory for all senior men in the CAI. Men had to have a male partner if they were to be trusted, and their bond was above that of husband and wife.

"Well, it's basically a German word for the English word covenant," Mr Forkin said.

"So in his, in CAI terminology, it's a very special connection between two men, a very close friendship really, but it's more than that. It's like a lifelong commitment.

"So Scott would probably view that as a marriage without a marriage certificate, but in his eyes even if a man was married to another woman, the bundschaft friend was more appropriate and more valid to him than his own marriage."

Williams amasses impressive property portfolio

Williams, now 70, is living with his wife Ree in a luxury apartment in the beachfront Pacific Towers complex in Coffs Harbour. It is one of many properties Williams purchased using money donated by church members who believed much of it was being used for charitable purposes.

Today, the CAI boasts an impressive multi-million-dollar property portfolio including Pitversie House and Douglas House, a hotel in Abernethy, Scotland.

All were renovated to luxurious standards by church members, who have told Four Corners they worked hundreds of hours updating the properties while Williams monitored their work and punished them for any mistakes or minor misdemeanours.

Katja Forkin was recruited into the Assembly as a teenager living in Germany. She says women and men were expected to work on the properties night and day, and if they did not they would be severely punished or excommunicated.

She says life in the Assembly got worse once Williams began to purchase more and more properties.

"It started to change once the Assembly owned properties in Scotland, because basically all we did from then is just work on the properties, renovating, looking after Scott and Ree more or less, and everything evolved around their lives," she said.

"So the little spare time that we had sort of dwindled away more and more to the point that we started to have less and less connections to the outside."

As members disconnected from the outside world, following Williams around the world and moving away from family and friends, they say their leader's language and demeanour began to change.

Former members told Four Corners they were regularly denigrated and humiliated, losing their self-identity, confidence and sense of self.

Klaus Tishcer says it happened gradually.

"As the years went on and he was sort of more sure that things were going his way or going the Lord's way, then he was more confident to express that we were a waste of space, useless heathen and would burn in hell and "the devil would rip our balls off" in a man's case, or in females other words were used," he said.

Widows, pensioners pressured to make donations

Mr Frantz says there was extreme pressure applied to members to donate regularly to the church, in addition to 10 per cent of their gross income.

Over the years, an estimated $20 million to $25 million flowed into the Assembly by way of donations or tithes. If you did not give enough you would be punished.

"You would be spoken to. There would be an investigation to find out why," Mr Frantz said.

"And if you don't have good enough reasons, then there could be hell, blood and fire, because you might not make it into heavenly places."

Four Corners has counted that at one point there were up to 20 mandated donations per year and all sources of income were targeted. Senior officers were sent out to widows and pensioners to pressure them to hand over inheritances.

Church documents detail how members were to be targeted for financial contributions, with those on low incomes told to sell their property and belongings in order to give to Williams's Assembly and to ensure he grants them salvation on judgment day.

But Assembly documents reveal something even more sinister. Four Corners has discovered members were also being fined by Williams for minor misdemeanours.

Mr Tischer worked in the finance department and was assigned to be a fine collector.

"Anybody who forgot to do their normal duties and their normal scripts and was found to be wanting that they had forgotten to do their tasks, could be fined," he said.

"If somebody, say, did a tithe report and they didn't send a report on time, they were fined, and I had to go and pick the tab up from all the people that were sent to me via email, 'he is to be fined' and so on and so forth."

Mr Frantz says Williams introduced a disturbing culture of spying and monitoring in order to maintain control over members and their everyday lives.

Four Corners obtained church documentation listing what members were allowed to read, what movies they were allowed to watch and what music they were allowed to listen to.

"We had a black book where people were on the black list. If they don't perform, then they have to be excommunicated or cut off," Mr Frantz said.

"People who didn't, for example, abide within the certain rules, for example, people came to our house and checked the fridge, checked the house, the clothes, it was clean; if not, my ex-wife would be severely punished."

Women were 'satanic beings not to be trusted'

Church documents show that Williams preached that women were Jezebels, swines, dogs and satanic beings, not to be trusted. Instead, they were to be punished.

In an extreme escalation, male members have told Four Corners that if they did not comply with Williams's demands regarding how women were to be controlled and treated, he would order women be beaten.

Women were also routinely excommunicated and their children given to other church members to be raised temporarily.

Four Corners also obtained church documents written by Williams detailing how women and children were to be beaten with a rod if they misbehaved.

Mr Frantz says Williams directed him to beat his then wife for not being obedient enough, something he is deeply ashamed of today. Mr Frantz says his brainwashing, like many others, was so acute that he believed Williams had ultimate power and authority on Earth.

"Otherwise we would've been chucked out of the church," he said. "Otherwise we wouldn't have been together.

"Otherwise he would've had the power to separate us, he would've had the power to eliminate our marriage, he would have had the power to excommunicate us and burn in hell."

Sylvia Wagner, another convert originally from Germany, says she was terrified inside the Assembly.

"We were told he's the overseer and that's the highest instance before [God]," she said.

"He told us he will give account on judgment day on how well we have been doing and we ought not to offend him in any way because ... he will give account on all his sheep.

"[If his account wasn't positive] I lived under the impression that I will burn in hell. I was often told I would burn in hell. My impression was, if I had left the church and joined another church I would possibly burn in hell because it's not allowed to leave this church.

"I was scared."

Ms Forkin says women were treated and used as servants inside Williams's organisation. Their role was to cook, clean, and produce children for the Assembly. Women were told what to wear, what to cook and how to behave.

"We were supposed to be at all times what they called humble and subdued and obey our husbands," she said.

"So they were the ones that made the decisions over us, whether they were good at what they were doing or not; that didn't come into it. And I suppose that was the same on them, was the pressure that they were to be seen as being in charge of us."

Katja's husband, Steve, says women were treated as less than men.

"Women were second-rate citizens," he said. "They were there to have children and stand in the kitchen and make food."

Using biblical scripture, Williams also preached that children were born evil and that the evil had to beaten out of them with an iron rod.

Four Corners spoke to many children who were born into the cult who are now adults. They detailed disturbing policies of punishment, including children being publically beaten for making any noise during a Sunday sermon or for moving off a mat laid out at the front of the Assembly.

'We won't stop until justice is done'

For all of the former members of the CAI who have broken their silence, they hope by going public and exposing their former leader that justice will finally be served.

Mr Frantz says CAI is not a Christian organisation, nor is it charitable, and it should not enjoy the tax-free status it currently does in Australia.

"It's a cult," he said. "I was abused and I didn't understand it. For me I just thought maybe it's me, it's me? I just don't understand why is this happening?

"I said to him, 'I don't understand why are you doing this', and he says, 'Well, the Bible says you've got to surrender, you're my bundtling', and all the rest of it.

"I remember the times where I begged, 'Give me time'. He says, 'You're still not surrendering fully and I can't use you and God is not gonna use you'."

Mr Frantz now realises what happened to him was wrong. He is calling for more members of the CAI to come forward and expose the truth about the tormented regime run by Williams.

"I hope that many more people out there hear the message and have the guts to come out, because more and more people are coming out," he said.

"Whatever happened to you, come out and tell them about it. Go to the police. Go public. I hope people have the guts."