Archive for September, 2019

Bowraville murders: inquiry recommends crime law review

By admin | 杭州桑拿

At left from top: Murder victims Evelyn Greenup, Colleen Walker-Craig and Clinton Speedy-Duroux. Main Picture, from left: Barbara Greenup-Davis who is an aunt to Evelyn, who ws one of the children murdered. Stacey Kelly-Greenup cousin of Evelyn and Patricia Carriage, another aunty to Evelyn. Pictured outside the gates of Parliament, holding the report findings on Thursday. Photo: Peter RaeAUTHORITIES failed the families of three Aboriginal children murdered in Bowraville 24 years ago and crime laws should be reviewed to bring an “evil” serial killer to justice, according to a NSW parliamentary inquiry that brought many MPs to tears.
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No one has ever been convicted for the murders of Colleen Walker-Craig, 16, Evelyn Greenup, 4, and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, 16, in the early 1990s, despite police, legal experts and the victims’ families saying they know who was responsible.

A parliamentary report has unanimously recommended that the government review a disputed technicality in the Crimes Act which has prevented the murder cases from going to retrial.

Colleen Walker-Craig’s body has never been found.

It also called for any new retrial application to be considered by an independent assessor, such as a retired senior judge, in the hope that “this will bring the families one step closer to their ultimate aim, justice”.

The children disappeared from the same road in the northern NSW town over a five-month period from September 1990.

Jay Hart, a white man who was close to the indigenous community and whonow lives at Lake Macquarie, was tried for two of the crimes but acquitted.

He was also a suspect in Colleen’s murder, but her body has never been found.

Clinton Speedy-Duroux was 16 years old.

MPs paid tribute to the grieving families of the murdered children, who have fought tirelessly against perceived failings in the legal system for more than two decades. The families packed the public gallery of the NSW upper house on Thursday.

MPs delivered emotional addresses to the chamber, including Greens MP David Shoebridge, who instigated the inquiry, and the committee’s chair, Liberal MP David Clarke.

“A killer whose crimes constitute evil at its very darkest and most depraved is still free,” Mr Clarke said.

“Justice demands that the killer of these three children whose lives were brutally cut short … should be brought to account.”

Many MPs spoke of how the inquiry had united colleagues of all political stripes. Nationals MP Sarah Mitchell spoke of sobbing after having heard evidence from the children’s families, and described the inquiry as “life-changing”.

Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin, who has worked on the case since 1996, had told the inquiry the families “have been let down by the justice system”.

“I have been investigating crimes for 20 years and I am still shocked by the lack of interest that has been shown in this matter,” he said in evidence.

“We know who is responsible for the serial killing of three children but that person has not been brought to justice.”

Supporters of a retrial had claimed critical leads were not explored by police in the initial investigation, and have not been heard by a court. Police, who initially claimed Evelyn had “gone walkabout”, have been accused of racism and incompetence.

Detective Inspector Jubelin says subsequent investigations have uncovered significant coincidences that link all three murders and tie them to Mr Hart, who has changed his name.

In 2012, the children’s families asked then attorney-general Greg Smith to apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal for a new trial, which would lead to all three murder cases being heard together.

Mr Smith refused the application. Among the reasons, he cited advice that an acquitted person can be retried only if there is fresh and compelling evidence which has not already been “adduced” in court.

It was widely believed that debate over the meaning of the word “adduced” – and whether it means “presented” or “admitted” to a court – was preventing the case from going to retrial. The inquiry said the government should clarify the definition of “adduced” as soon as possible.

The report acknowledged the families’ experience of the initial police investigation, trials and appeal process “has been largely ill-fated to date”.

“We have met with the families on several occasions throughout this inquiry, and can attest that even though these crimes occurred 23 years ago, the pain and suffering that they have endured remains very alive today, having been exacerbated by their experience of the justice system,” it said.

The committee formally acknowledged the families’ grief, adding that this had been “significantly and unnecessarily contributed to” by the system’s failings.

The report also called for improvements to police policies and procedures, and Aboriginal cultural awareness training for legal practitioners, MPs and parliamentary staff.

It also called for improvements to the way juries are directed to hear Aboriginal evidence, taking into account cultural and linguistic factors. Mental health services in Bowraville and Tenterfield should be examined and funding assistance provided to beautify and maintain memorials dedicated to the children, it said.

SIMON WALKER: The trick is to just loosen up

By admin | 杭州桑拿

Not everyone loves Halloween, but to polar bears, natives of the northern hemisphere, it’s a cultural thing. SIMON WALKER: That’s Life archive
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JEEPERS Creepers, Herald reader Kent Gray’s letter last week about hating Halloween really got the social media pumpkin rolling.

In terms of issues that spark online venting, this was right up there with kids at cafes, banning the burqa and anything to do with dogs.

Kent, to summarise, basically can’t stand kids coming round to his house uninvited looking for lollies on Halloween.

He reckons it’s an abuse of his privacy, un-Australian, a ploy by business to fleece the “sheeple” and bad parenting that puts kids at risk of something nasty, possibly wearing a “Scream” mask and wielding a cleaver.

And I have to say, I sympathise with Kent, because I’m no real Halloween fan either.

One code-breaker in the cyber community suggested Kent’s name was actually a word-play wind-up – Kent being a variety of pumpkin and gray being, well, a colour, possibly of some pumpkins.

But Kent is a real person and certainly wound up as he responded robustly online to all the “social creative” types who concurred, almost to an avatar, that he was a Grinch.

Got to love diversity of opinion on the internet.

But again, I have to say I agreed wholeheartedly with Kent last Friday when I drove home from work.

I was hot, I was bothered and I was not looking forward to Halloween. In fact, I forgot it was on. I was looking forward to beer.

And so, as I wove through an army of what looked like mini-Harry Potters in my street, I thought “who was that middle- age blonde waving to me out the front of Deidre’s house?” (Names have been changed to protect the innocents in my street, whom I nearly ran over.)

Then it dawned. Halloween.

Alas, as fate would have it, HSC ended that week in our house too, and a party to end all parties (or begin, depending on how you look at finishing the HSC) was planned in town that night, which my daughter and half the student cohort of the region would be attending, with me the designated delivery and possible retrieval man.

Like Halloween, I’d forgotten about that too.

The moment I arrived home my eldest demanded we drive immediately to someone’s house to pick up shoes and a hair straightener for the colossal letting down of HSC straight hair.

The only upside to this delay in getting beer seemed I wouldn’t have to hide in the house away from the Halloweeners.

Like Kent, I don’t dig having to answer the door and be nice, particularly on a Friday afternoon tonguing for a coldie. And not just because I don’t have any lollies ready. Although that may have helped.

Door to door salesmen, Mormons or Jehovahs get the same reception. Talk to the hand.

Anyhow, without further ado I was back out in Friday afternoon traffic, consoled by the fact I wasn’t at home sneering at kids allegedly having fun, but behind a wheel doing so.

Kent is indeed right that someone is making money out of the adoption, right or wrong, of this tradition – American, Celtic or otherwise. Probably the confectionary and daggy costumes business.

There was a lot of talk online about where Halloween originated and whether we should ban similar foreign cultural incursions like Valentine’s Day, Christmas and KFC. For the record, I’m partial to the idea of brushing Christmas come November. I’m a little less stressed about it by February.

But Australia is open for business, right?

And I’m open to Australia. So long as it doesn’t block my path back to the house for beer after picking up hair straighteners. Which happened at least once on Friday.

I swear Halloween this year was the biggest manifestation I’ve witnessed yet. Kids and parents everywhere.

Australia is obviously embracing it.

But did it mean I had to? No, it meant I had to drop one of my kids off to the big party in town, and then go pick up another from, of all things, a Halloween party.

Yes, my youngest, like so many, recognises there is nothing to hate about getting dressed up and door knocking for lollies.

She also realises that time marches on and next year she may well be mistaken for a parent. So she took up the offer to hit the streets with her mates.

Regardless of whether I liked Halloween or not, I helped perpetrate it.

And when I got to the designated pick-up house, it was clear that everyone who had participated in the event had had a great time too.

Even the hoons that yelled offensive things at my daughter’s gang.

So, suitably enlightened, I accepted an offer to have that beer on the designated pick-up parents’ back verandah and ponder how it doesn’t hurt to loosen up.

It’s a funny old world when you can’t tell the diff between a trick and a treat, but in the end the trick about Halloween is to treat it for what it is, a bit of fun, until someone gets a sugar headache.

Growing our own

By admin | 杭州桑拿

SELF-SUFFICIENT: Paul Luscombe, of Newcastle Backyard Farms, far left, and Mark Brown and Kate Beveridge, of Purple Pear Farm, below. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll and Peter StoopIT’S not a new idea – being directly responsible for what we eat.
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Our forebears got by largely on what they produced themselves, but somehow, over the past 100 years, we have – en masse – handed our food security over to big business.

From about 1900 onwards, fruit trees, chicken coops and vegetable gardens gradually began to disappear from the urban landscape – possibly as blocks got smaller and women traded duties at home for increasing hours in the workplace.

That trend accelerated, along with automation of the home, after World War II.

Across the land, an accepting public shopped happily in the high streets and big malls, rather heading out the back door to pull a carrot or two from the kitchen garden.

But scroll forward 70 years and now we have entered a new era – where questions on just what we are eating have become a growing concern.

This stream of social consciousness is being borne out at every farmers’ market and in every cafe around the country – the dialogue about where food is produced and sourced. Whether it is ethically and environmentally good for both us as well as the producers and animals in the supply chain. How many kilometres it is trucked and how long it is stored before it reaches us, the consumers?

Many wish they had the ability to opt out of the food supply chain. Others are just giving it a go.

The trend to “grow your own” led to a renaissance in the 1970s when permaculture pioneers Bill Mollison and David Holmgren identified a way of growing food based on an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man.

Since then “permies”, as they are known, have often been stereotyped as “mung bean-eating hippies” – a little on the wild side.

But in recent times, as the notion of sustainability has crept back into the minds of the public, permaculture has again come to the fore.

As a movement, permaculture has attracted more interest internationally than it has on Australian soil.

The reasons why are a no-brainer if you take the time to understand the science.

Modern farming methods are based on monoculture – growing just one crop in the same place, year after year – an approach which permies say leaves the farmer open to a range of problems such as soil erosion, pest plagues and disease.

By contrast, permaculture emulates how nature grows – mixing it up year on year with fewer problems and no interference.

Broadly, permaculturists aim for a balanced closed-loop system where every element influences the other in a positive way.

African website Never Ending Food (neverendingfood上海龙凤论坛) defines the four basic principles thus:

– Working with nature rather than against it.

– Thoughtful observation rather than thoughtless labour.

– Each element should perform many functions rather than one.

– Everything is connected to everything else.

Permaculture consultant, designer and teacher, Geoff Lawton, who is based in The Channon in northern NSW, has worked in 35 countries teaching people how to live and eat in a sustainable way, even in arid desert environments such as Jordan.

His online videos talk about the unnecessary disconnect that exists for many people and their personal food security and just how easy it is instead to create food and in turn, lifestyle abundance.

One case study – Lessons from the Rustbelt – profiles the systemic failure of US industrialised cities such as Holyoke in Massachusetts.

Once regarded as the industrial heartland of the US, the Rustbelt nurtured traditional manufacturing industries such as paper, cotton, steel and coal on a large scale, but it has suffered economic decline, population lows and urban decay since the mid-20th century.

Lawton believes Holyoke is a symbol of what could be our future in Australia.

The irony shouldn’t be lost on Novocastrians whose own economic history has ridden the tides of both coal and steel.

And it isn’t.

Just as Newcastle is undergoing a revitalisation in a development sense, so is consumer interest in food origins and seasonality.

Take a look at the Facebook page of restaurants such as Estabar at Newcastle Beach and you’ll know exactly where they source their eggs – from Papanui Open Range Eggs in the Hunter Valley, rather than an obscure label on a supermarket shelf.

Farmers’ markets too are well patronised now, more so than at any time for decades.

But, rather than a fleeting trend, those at the coalface of permaculture are optimistic that the attitudinal change towards home-grown, local, fresh and organic is permanent.

Two local farms doing what they can to plant these small seeds of change into our social fabric, through both education and practical application, are Newcastle Backyard Farms and Purple Pear Farm.

Newcastle Backyard Farms has a focus on helping locals grow food in their backyards.

Owned by Paul Luscombe, it specialises in urban permaculture and design, and its services include gardening advice and consultations through to the complete design and build of a sustainable, edible garden.

Luscombe, a graduate of Lawton’s Permaculture Design Course, is busy transforming a large urban garden in Cardiff into a food paradise, which will not only sustain its owner, but potentially provide farm-gate products such as jams and chutneys into the future.

When complete, the 1500-square-metre block will be filled with bird and bee-attracting natives, an orchard, a tropical pleasure garden, chickens, bees and a massive kitchen garden in a succession of wicking beds.

The essential permaculture principle – self-sustainability – is key and so the garden also includes privacy screening plants such as clumping bamboo and sugar cane which will also produce mulch for the gardens.

Weeds too have their place, given their propensity to flower profusely and provide forage for the bees.

Ground not planted to produce is left to its own devices, a principle most purveyors of “lawn culture” will struggle with.

But Luscombe suggests the sceptics give consideration to the lunacy of growing a crop just for walking on.

“Growing lawn is a lot of effort for very little return in contrast to a vegetable garden which is low on input, both financially and in ongoing maintenance, and it yields tangible returns in the form of highly nutritious food.”

Luscombe too cites cities in the US such as Detroit, where large areas have been left abandoned in the fallout of the global financial crisis.

“The urban farming movement has grown in leaps and bounds out of necessity.

“The residents there have been left without the supply chains that we all rely on in developed countries and so have had to provide for themselves,” he says.

“Now those derelict areas have thriving market gardens springing up on vacant land helping to sustain the residents left there.

“Some would argue this turn of events has seen those people’s diets take on a marked improvement thanks to the establishment of the gardens, not to mention the social capital gained by bringing people together for a mutually beneficial activity like growing food,” Luscombe says.

Food insecurity seems a world away from Australia.

But it is reality for a growing number here too. Figures released last month from FoodBank – Australia’s largest hunger relief charity – tell the story.

In 2014, low-income working families made up the largest group seeking assistance in the form of food donations.

They are followed by single-parent families and the unemployed.

The Foodbank Hunger Report 2014 reveals that it provides food relief for more than half a million Australians every month, more than a third of whom are children.

Foodbank Australia chief executive Jason Hincks says 60,000 a month are turned away, including 24,000 children.

“No child should have to worry about where their next meal will come from, yet a shocking number of Aussie kids are in this position every year,” Hincks says.

It’s an unsettling notion when one considers the sheer amount of what could be food-producing land that Australians devote to lawn-clad sporting fields, parks and street verges.

Some people are reticent about planting food on the nature strip but Luscombe said US urban permaculture practitioners were finding that once a front yard was converted to food production, they got more work in that street after people saw their neighbours harvesting food instead of mowing and hedging.

He acknowledged though that some who had tried verge gardens in Australia had had to do battle with local councils, either before or after the fact.

In some cases, good reasons did exist for saying no.

Luscombe said that in Newcastle permaculture was a tough sell because of the firmly entrenched low-maintenance “lawn culture”.

One reason could be a lack of education. Though growing food may be an ancient practice, it is one that many profess to having little knowledge of and even less confidence to try.

PURPLE Pear Farm offers courses in food production at a fully functional permaculture farm at Anambah, on the outskirts of Maitland.

Driving onto the property, visitors are greeted by a flock of noisy geese, jokingly referred to as “the doorbell” by the farmers.

Pigs, cows, chickens, a dog and guinea pigs make up Purple Pear’s menagerie, all playing their part in the farm’s production cycle.

Run by Kate Beveridge and Mark Brown, Purple Pear Farm was cultivated on arid, acidic land “to see if it was possible to make it usable”.

It was, and now Purple Pear produces all kinds of fruit and vegetables in its mandala system, a group of smaller garden beds functioning in a cyclical manner.

While one bed is ready to harvest, one is half-grown, another is newly sown, another is being eaten and turned by chickens and yet another is ready to be planted.

Broccoli, lettuce, potatoes, beans, peas, tomatoes, rhubarb, beetroot, and a huge range of fruit trees are scattered throughout the property.

Whatever is ripe and seasonal is used by the family and the surplus is sold to regular customers – 20 local families – by the box.

The emphasis is on eating what is fresh and available.

So the farm might not be able to provide strawberries in winter, but that’s because they are not in season.

Beveridge says sometimes customers complained there was too much in the boxes so she also provides tips on how to use the produce.

The service is already fully subscribed.

The farm’s ideals centre largely around self-sufficiency and reducing the environmental impact of food growth through low food miles.

At an average of five kilometres a box, the farm is contributing to its mantra of eating and growing locally.

Farm tours and meetings are welcomed and encouraged, and Brown says the farm often attracted the interest of mothers with new babies, who were starting to really look at what went into modern food production.

Dedicated to teaching others about permaculture, Purple Pear offers all sorts of classes and experiences including a permaculture design course, introduction to permaculture, lessons on mandalas, classes on sourdough and preserving, cheese and yoghurt making, worm farming, composting and propagation, urban food production, grafting and biodynamics.

The farm even offers children’s birthday parties and gift vouchers.

House of the week: Swansea

By admin | 杭州桑拿

House of the week: Swansea Swansea home. Mark Lawler Architects
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Pacific Drive, Swansea home. Mark Lawler Architects

Pacific Drive, Swansea home. Mark Lawler Architects

Pacific Drive, Swansea home. Mark Lawler Architects

Pacific Drive, Swansea home. Mark Lawler Architects

Pacific Drive, Swansea home. Mark Lawler Architects

TweetFacebookTHERE’S something serene about waking up in a home that offers an vista across an ocean that winks back at you in the morning sunlight.

Those who can afford – or inherit – a beachside abode may have an enviable lifestyle from the footpath, but building on the coast requires an intensified consideration of two things: durability and privacy.

“Durability becomes a much bigger concern when building a home opposite the ocean,” Mark Lawler says.

“It can be beautiful in summer but we have to think about all seasons, so knowing where the wind and the weather is coming from and providing that weather protection, while opening up the views to the sun is important too,” he says. “It is also important to be considerate of privacy. It’s great to have a view, but you have to consider there will be people in the street and you don’t want to feel like your house is on exhibition.”

Lawler, director of Mark Lawler Architects, was approached by a client in March 2011 to design their new home off Swansea Heads.

The site formerly held a miner’s cottage that was being occasionally enjoyed as a holiday home and had already survived one transportation from the structure’s original place of birth – somewhere near Kurri.

After a swift bulldoze, Lawler and his team started from the ground up, completing an ultra-modern three-bedroom, two-bathroom home complete with double garage and rolling views across the water from both levels.

The exterior of the house enjoys an unusual asymmetrical facade constructed using Hebel’s PowerPanel- a lightweight, aerated concrete with a render and paint finish on top.

“It’s got excellent thermal and acoustic properties and the rendering gives it a tough skin, stops the wind and the sand eroding the home,” Lawler says.

The ground level of the home was elevated by one metre to maximise on the view while ensuring that privacy wasn’t compromised.

This level includes the combined living, dining and kitchen space, as well as a wing located at the exterior with two guest bedrooms and a guest bathroom.

The living space was designed with a seamless orientation towards the sea.

The clean, simplistic lines of the built-in shelving in the living area comfortably encase a sleek gas fireplace and a flat-screen television which is mounted into a tailor-made indent in the wall.

“While furniture is often cheaper, it doesn’t have the quality of the appearance of something built specifically for that wall and it doesn’t facilitate the exact arrangement of shelves,” Lawler explains.

“Built-in furniture looks much more sophisticated and well-fit to the space as opposed to chunky furnishings.”

The kitchen is contemporary and clean, with a generous floating island bench made of caesarstone and measuring 1200 millimetres wide.

One side hides storage, while the other is the perfect height for a smatter of modern bar stools tucked beneath the slab of sandy-coloured caesarstone.

Blackbutt floorboards are laid in a variety of shades.

“Most of our clients want a hard-wearing, durable surface in their living area,” Lawler says. “It loans the space that indoor-outdoor relationship. With beachside living in this instance, floorboards are unpretentious about sand, as well as just looking warmer.”

The master bedroom is located upstairs, alongside a second living area and study.

“When they initially approached me, they knew they really wanted to put their bedroom upstairs to get the benefit of the view,” Lawler says.

“They can see the dolphins and the whales from up there but bystanders can’t see the clients.”

Victoria’s desalination plant cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars despite delivery of no water

By admin | 杭州桑拿

State election full coverageLive blog: Victoria votes
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Victorian taxpayers have paid more than half a billion dollars to the loss-making operators of the state’s desalination plant, despite it producing no water in the year to June 30.

New accounts filed by the consortium in charge of the desalination plant, Aquasure Pty Ltd, show the state government paid $254.34 million in “operational water service revenue” during the 2014 financial year.

Operational water service revenue is a payment made by the government for simply having the desalination plant available, regardless of whether it is used, and the 2014 payment was substantially higher than the $133 million paid in the 2013 financial year.

The consortium also received $383 million in other fees during the 2014 financial year, which were described as “repayments” of a service concession.

The figures were revealed in documents filed to the corporate regulator in recent days, and suggest slightly more has been paid to Aquasure than the $630.4 million that was suggested earlier this year.

The desalination plant was commissioned at the height of the drought by the Bracks Labor government in 2007, and the final construction milestone was achieved later than scheduled in October 2013.

Improved rainfall and a change in government have ensured that the plant has never produced water for Melbourne, aside from test volumes that were pumped into Melbourne’s dams to prove the plant’s competence.

Despite the lucrative revenue stream from Victorian taxpayers and an income tax refund of $169.8 million, Aquasure slumped to a $396.2 million loss in the 2014 financial year.

Unisuper – the university superannuation fund – has the largest individual stake in Aquasure. Other major owners include Macquarie Bank, Japanese trading house Itochu, desalination builder Degremont and several Korean banks.

The owners remain confident that the desalination venture will be profitable in the longer term, given the contract lasts until September 2039.

At the end of the financial year, Aquasure re-evaluated the expected cash flows over the life of the contract and declared in its accounts that the current losses were “expected to be recovered in future periods”.

With Melbourne’s dam levels still at a very healthy 79.5 per cent of capacity, it could be some time before the desalination plant starts supplying significant amounts of water to Melbourne.

While the Coalition government appears keen to avoid using the plant if possible, it is unclear whether the election of a Labor government later this month would improve the chances of the asset being brought into use.

A spokesman for the Labor opposition declined to comment on Thursday.

Under the rules governing the project, the government must advise Aquasure each April of the amount of water required to be produced and pumped to city dams for the subsequent financial year.

Water Minister Peter Walsh introduced rules in August that require Melbourne Water to pay “all monies” that the state is liable for under the original desalination project deed.