The Guardian 2024-03-18 10:01:18


Kumanjayi Walker inquest: court releases mock certificates awarded by NT police unit

Awards depict bikini-clad woman, Usain Bolt and Aboriginal flag as police investigate questions of racism raised by former officer Zachary Rolfe

WARNING: This article contains offensive images and content

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Certificates handed out by an elite Northern Territory police unit to its members have been released by a court, showing that the force used the Aboriginal flag and a digitally altered image of the sprinter Usain Bolt on the awards.

The NT coroners court released three certificates on Monday after a suppression order was lifted.

The certificates appear to have been awarded in 2012 and 2013 to members of the Territory Response Group (TRG), the NT police unit that responds to critical incidents.

Former NT police officer Zachary Rolfe told an inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker last month that he believed a racist mock award had been bestowed by the TRG to the member who behaved most like an Aboriginal person.

He said the awards had an official name but they were commonly known as the “coon of the year” awards, and the winner was made to wear a toga and carry a wooden club.

The NT police are investigating the allegations, as well as other claims made by Rolfe about racism in the force.

Five current and former members of the TRG provided statements to the court that denied such an award existed.

Some of the members clarified to the court that there had been an award known as the Noogooda, Nugada or Nugeda award, with one saying that the name of the award had been changed in 2022 after the inquest started “as the TRG did not want the award to be misconstrued or associated with any racial issues”.

But the certificates released on Monday show that in 2013 a constable was given an award for “caution for a rape …….that’s all that needs to be said”, with the words printed on a certificate with a background of the Aboriginal flag.

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Two certificates from 2012 were also released, one featuring an image of Bolt but with the head blacked out, and another featuring a woman in a bikini and a digitally altered image of a naked man.

These certificates were awarded for outstanding lack of excellence “in approaching a stronghold” and “in cooking sausages”.

The names of those who were awarded the certificates were removed.

Two of the certificates were for the “Nooguda” or “Nuggadah” award, and the other was for the “Sooty” award. According to statements provided to the court, Sooty was a nickname given to a TRG member who either previously electrocuted himself and separately accidentally covered himself in diesel soot, and not a reference to skin colour.

All five officers who provided statements – Mark Clemmens, Meachem King, Shaun Gill, Craig Garland and James Gray-Spence – denying the award was racist had been serving in the unit at the time the certificates were awarded, according to the information they provided in their statements.

The officers are all current high-ranking members, and include an acting assistant commissioner and the current officer in charge of the TRG.

The legitimacy of the certificates had been questioned by lawyers for the NT police force in court earlier this month after they were provided by Rolfe.

It is unclear if the court established the certificates were legitimate before they were released on Monday.

The inquest is expected to continue in May.

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Queensland premier Steven Miles rejects plan for multibillion-dollar Olympic stadium in Brisbane

Former lord mayor Graham Quirk’s review recommended a new $3.4bn stadium be built in Victoria Park instead of Gabba rebuild

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The Queensland premier, Steven Miles, has sensationally rejected an independent recommendation for a multibillion-dollar Olympic stadium in Victoria Park.

The former Brisbane lord mayor Graham Quirk, who was commissioned to conduct a 60-day review by the state government in January, recommended a planned $2.7bn knockdown and rebuild of the Gabba cricket ground, be scrapped.

Instead he recommended an even more expensive project, a $3.4bn new stadium in inner-city Victoria Park.

But Miles has instead endorsed a cheaper plan, proposed by the Olympics boss, John Coates. He recommended using existing infrastructure; Suncorp Stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies and the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC) in Nathan for athletics. QSAC hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1982.

“Suncorp stadium will become our Olympic stadium,” Miles said on Monday.

“When Queenslanders are struggling with other costs, I cannot justify spending $3.4bn on a new stadium.

”I’m ruling that out.”

Miles confirmed more than half a billion dollars of existing funding would go towards upgrading the Gabba but the venue would not be fully accessible for those with disabilities.

“There isn’t an option that delivers full accessibility, full disability access, other than … demolition,” he said.

Cost was the main concern behind the premier’s decision to launch the review, with the planned $7bn Olympics infrastructure pipeline causing a public backlash at the sheer expense, likely to blow out further due to continued inflation in the construction industry.

The government does not believe it would be possible to build the stadium within the existing agreed funding, arguing that the project would violate the “new norm” rules imposed on the Brisbane 2032 games that all venues either already exist or be planned.

Instead it will investigate upgrades to QSAC and Suncorp.

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Asked whether Queenslanders were still excited about the Olympic Games, Miles said “it varies”.

“Of course it varies [depending on] where in the state you are, who you’re talking to, and how much they’re struggling,” he said.

Quirk examined the Nathan proposal, but considered the idea not value for money. He also criticised the site for being poorly served by public transport.

“To do a QSAC arrangement would cost around $1.6bn with very little legacy,” he told media on Monday.

The project would cost about $600m to rebuild the existing 14,000 capacity grandstand, plus more to bring it to the required 40,000 seats. Quirk said the site had difficult terrain and would ultimately cost about $1.5bn, plus another billion to refurbish the “tired” Gabba to serve cricket and AFL.

The review argued that the Gabba’s site “constrained on all sides by … major inner-city-roads” is a crucial flaw. It is also not disability compliant, being about 200 accessible seats short, and lacks back-of-house space for competitors and staff. It argued the Victoria Park stadium should serve as a complete replacement, with the Gabba knocked down and turned into parkland once finished.

“If you’re a young child in a wheelchair that can’t enter the grounds with the other kids for a kick or a play for the game, it’s a very, very bad stadium,” Quirk said.

“You would still, after a rebuild, not end up with a tier-one stadium.”

The state government now plans what it calls a more modest enhancement of the existing grounds. East Brisbane state school will not need to vacate its current site by the end of 2025, though it may be displaced by future works.

“One of their recommendations would have meant the demise of the Gabba, which is something we couldn’t accept for such a beloved venue,” Miles said.

“Victoria Park is highly valued by the community, and we have no plans to spend billions of dollars to encroach into that green space,” the infrastructure minister, Grace Grace, said.

Meanwhile, the LNP opposition refused to take a position on the new plan on Monday.

The deputy leader, Jarrod Bleijie, said that if elected the party would go back to the drawing board and ask a planned independent infrastructure authority to make a plan.

Bleijie said Miles had repeatedly “stuffed up” planning for the Games as minister responsible for Olympics infrastructure under premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and was again causing “chaos and crisis”.

“Steven Miles has botched this. This is costing Queenslanders billions of dollars,” he said.

‘A $7bn spend on facilities’

The government has accepted dozens more recommendations covering smaller-scale venues, including scrapping the planned Brisbane Arena, which was to be constructed above the Roma Street railway station.

Instead the venues review recommended spending $2.5bn on a 15,000-seat arena about 500 metres away, at Roma Street Parkland.

Quirk also recommended a planned 15,000-seat Toowoomba soccer ground be cancelled due to a lack of long-term benefit from the project and a planned sports precinct at Albion be shifted to Boondall or Zillmere.

He recommended few changes to numerous other planned projects, which he said should proceed as quickly as possible.

“People have got to stop talking about this being a $7bn Olympic spend, it is not. It is a $7bn spend on facilities that are needed by the Queensland community,” Quirk said.

A longtime booster of the Olympics, Quirk conducted the review alongside the New South Wales public service bureaucrat Ken Kanofski and Michelle Morris, a director of a firm that specialises in running events, including at several Olympics.

The government plans to complete due diligence on venues in the coming months, followed by construction.

More than 900 submissions were received during the review, while the panel held 130 meetings, assessed numerous studies and conducted 28 site visits.

The proposal was presented to the government on Friday. Cabinet considered it on Monday.

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AFL announces Tasmania Devils will be new team’s name as playing kit unveiled

  • Long-awaited announcement greeted with a spontaneous chant of ‘devils’ among Devonport, crowd
  • Event did not address doubts about whether side would ever take field

The AFL has announced its new team will be called the Tasmania Devils and wear a myrtle green, primrose yellow and rose red guernsey with an image of the island splashed on the front.

The long-awaited announcement in Devonport, which coincided with six live events across the state, was greeted with a spontaneous chant of “devils” among the crowd.

Former AFL player Matthew Richardson, who unveiled the club’s colours, said they were “a no-brainer” and had been worn by Tasmanian footballers for more than a century.

“We already have over 100 years of history in these colours – all the greats have worn it,” Richardson said. “Now all the young kids who want to play for this club will get to wear these colours as well.”

Tasmanian midfielder Jasmyn Thompson, who announced the club’s name, said it represented “who we are and where we are heading”.

“The nickname for our club has three elements,” Thompson said. “It represents our place, the place we’re so proud to be from, combined with one of our most distinct inhabitants that makes us proud. It is strong and unique to our place.”

The AFL’s official announcement did not address doubts about whether a Tasmanian side would ever take the field.

The club has become mired in Tasmanian political controversy tied to the Liberal government’s commitment to build a new 23,000-seat, roofed stadium on the Hobart waterfront, which formed part of the state’s deal with the AFL.

In a press conference after the official event, the AFL’s chief executive, Andrew Dillon, said the construction of a new stadium was still non-negotiable.

“It was a vital part of the case that was put to the [AFL] commission for the license,” Dillon said. “The club signed off on that.

“Like any stadium development, there’s always twists and turns, but we’re really confident that we’ll be able to work with the government of the day to get it done.”

The first chair of the Tasmanian Football Club, Grant O’Brien, said new members could join the club for $10 as part of a recruitment drive.

“If you wish to see our Tasmanian teams in the AFL and AFLW succeed, then become a part of the Devils army now. That’s our plea. That’s our request.”

The AFL reached an “amicable agreement” with entertainment giant Warner Bros to use a logo that loosely references the Looney Tunes cartoon character Taz the Tasmanian devil. The league had been warned that without this, it may be exposed to a lawsuit.

The unveiling of the name and colours is the culmination of a long campaign that stretches back to the late 1980s to secure a team from Tasmania in the national competition.

Football fans in Tasmania have had to console themselves with regular visits of Melbourne clubs, now Hawthorn and North Melbourne. Fitzroy became the first AFL club to play matches in the state, in 1991.

Hawthorn has had a relationship with Tasmania since 2001 and a major sponsorship deal with the state’s tourism agency was recently extended to 2025.

The Hawks will play three home-and-away matches in Launceston this season, in addition to the pre-season clash with the Western Bulldogs held earlier this month.

North Melbourne has four regular season matches in Hobart scheduled for this AFL season. Its AFLW side is formally known as the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos and played two matches in Tasmania last season. The club’s sponsorship with the Spirit of Tasmania ferry service expires in 2025.

The location, scale and cost of the 23,000 seat stadium – quoted at $715m – has drawn criticism from many in the state. Two conservative MPs, John Tucker and Lara Alexander, left the Liberal party and moved to the crossbench in 2023, citing a lack of transparency over the stadium deal.

The rebellion left the premier, Jeremy Rockliff, struggling to maintain control in parliament, and an election was called for Saturday 23 March.

The opposition leader, Rebecca White, has pledged to revisit the deal with the AFL, but the league has said the agreement is not up for negotiation.

Uncertainty over the stadium hangs over the new franchise, with the AFL maintaining that without a new stadium, there would not be a team.

Amid fears of cost overruns on the stadium, Rockliff has pledged to “cap” the state’s spending at $375m. The federal government has pledged $240m and the AFL $15m.

Rockliff has said the remainder will come from private investment.

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Analysis

An outmaneuvered Lauren Boebert will face more obstacles in 2024 elections

Richard Luscombe

Colorado congressman Ken Buck’s abrupt resignation has left the far-right member with two tough choices, upsetting her re-election plans

As well as further reducing US House speaker Mike Johnson’s already threadbare majority in his legislative chamber, last week’s abrupt departure of Colorado congressman Ken Buck has the potential to significantly damage another prominent Republican figure: Lauren Boebert.

The far-right firebrand seized on Buck’s declaration last year that he would not seek re-election by opting to switch from a district the congresswoman barely won in 2022 to run in Buck’s soon to be vacant seat.

The calculation was that it would offer safe harbor and a near-certain return to Congress later this year, while allowing her to complete her term in office in her current seat.

Buck’s 15 March decision to bring forward his exit from November to this Friday, however, stripped the floor from beneath her. It triggered a special election in his district that will take place on 25 June and left Boebert with two equally unappealing choices. She could resign her post to run in the special election, giving Democrats the chance to flip her current seat. Or she could stay where she is and gamble on trying to unseat an incumbent in the 5 November general election.

She chose the latter. “I’m not leaving my constituents,” she said in a statement that failed to acknowledge she had already decided to walk away from them in November. “I will not imperil the already very slim House Republican majority by resigning my current seat.”

The statement also expressed anger at Buck, who outmaneuvered her and left her facing a seemingly narrow path to being a member of the next Congress. She accused Buck of “forcing an unnecessary special election on the same day” as Colorado’s presidential preference primary, predicting that it would “confuse voters, result in a lame duck congressman on day one, and leave the fourth district [being vacated by Buck] with no representation for more than three months”.

“The fourth district deserves better,” Boebert’s statement stated.

Unsaid was that neither the “lame duck” congressmember nor the primary choice of Republican voters in that district, most probably, would be her.

For his part, Buck, who said last year he was standing down in part because of his disappointment at his party’s backing of Donald Trump’s lie that Trump won the 2020 election, denied his decision to bring forward his exit was intended to harm Boebert.

“It’s ridiculous,” he told the Colorado Sun, stressing his decision to leave the House – where Republicans for the moment had a 219-213 edge over Democrats – was solely over his disillusionment at a lack of action in Congress.

Buck said: “I’m not giving anybody an advantage or disadvantage. I have done my very best to stay out of this primary election.”

But he did slam Boebert for attempting to fundraise from the situation, as she did in a tweet attacking the “uniparty”, a derogatory term used by conservative extremists to attack Republicans who work or vote with Democrats to pass bipartisan legislation.

Boebert’s next steps are unclear, although her pathway to the fourth district seat, if she still wants to pursue it, is now strewn with obstacles. She can run in the crowded fourth district primary also on 25 June without resigning her current seat – but to be successful she would have to persuade voters to elect one Republican as a “caretaker” in the special election before then rejecting that same candidate in the primary in her favor.

The likelihood is that the winner of the June special election, assuming it is a Republican, will also become the primary winner and run again in November with the advantage of being an incumbent.

A far less likely alternative is Boebert giving up on district four and attempting to defend Colorado’s third district seat, which she retained in 2022 by only about 500 votes from more than 327,000 cast. Many, however, believe she has burned bridges there.

The congresswoman’s second term has been mired in controversy, including an unsavory groping incident involving a male companion at a Denver theater in September, and the arrest of her 18-year-old son in February on felony charges over multiple instances of credit card and identity theft.

Either way, Boebert faces a monumental challenge to extend her political career in a House in which her behavior has been questionable, including unseemly heckling of Joe Biden during his 2022 State of the Union speech.

In December, self-styled “no-nonsense conservative” Richard Holtorf, a candidate in the district four primary, said in a tweet that “seat shopping isn’t something that the voters look kindly on”. It is unlikely that Buck’s decision will have gained her any more supporters.

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Analysis

An outmaneuvered Lauren Boebert will face more obstacles in 2024 elections

Richard Luscombe

Colorado congressman Ken Buck’s abrupt resignation has left the far-right member with two tough choices, upsetting her re-election plans

As well as further reducing US House speaker Mike Johnson’s already threadbare majority in his legislative chamber, last week’s abrupt departure of Colorado congressman Ken Buck has the potential to significantly damage another prominent Republican figure: Lauren Boebert.

The far-right firebrand seized on Buck’s declaration last year that he would not seek re-election by opting to switch from a district the congresswoman barely won in 2022 to run in Buck’s soon to be vacant seat.

The calculation was that it would offer safe harbor and a near-certain return to Congress later this year, while allowing her to complete her term in office in her current seat.

Buck’s 15 March decision to bring forward his exit from November to this Friday, however, stripped the floor from beneath her. It triggered a special election in his district that will take place on 25 June and left Boebert with two equally unappealing choices. She could resign her post to run in the special election, giving Democrats the chance to flip her current seat. Or she could stay where she is and gamble on trying to unseat an incumbent in the 5 November general election.

She chose the latter. “I’m not leaving my constituents,” she said in a statement that failed to acknowledge she had already decided to walk away from them in November. “I will not imperil the already very slim House Republican majority by resigning my current seat.”

The statement also expressed anger at Buck, who outmaneuvered her and left her facing a seemingly narrow path to being a member of the next Congress. She accused Buck of “forcing an unnecessary special election on the same day” as Colorado’s presidential preference primary, predicting that it would “confuse voters, result in a lame duck congressman on day one, and leave the fourth district [being vacated by Buck] with no representation for more than three months”.

“The fourth district deserves better,” Boebert’s statement stated.

Unsaid was that neither the “lame duck” congressmember nor the primary choice of Republican voters in that district, most probably, would be her.

For his part, Buck, who said last year he was standing down in part because of his disappointment at his party’s backing of Donald Trump’s lie that Trump won the 2020 election, denied his decision to bring forward his exit was intended to harm Boebert.

“It’s ridiculous,” he told the Colorado Sun, stressing his decision to leave the House – where Republicans for the moment had a 219-213 edge over Democrats – was solely over his disillusionment at a lack of action in Congress.

Buck said: “I’m not giving anybody an advantage or disadvantage. I have done my very best to stay out of this primary election.”

But he did slam Boebert for attempting to fundraise from the situation, as she did in a tweet attacking the “uniparty”, a derogatory term used by conservative extremists to attack Republicans who work or vote with Democrats to pass bipartisan legislation.

Boebert’s next steps are unclear, although her pathway to the fourth district seat, if she still wants to pursue it, is now strewn with obstacles. She can run in the crowded fourth district primary also on 25 June without resigning her current seat – but to be successful she would have to persuade voters to elect one Republican as a “caretaker” in the special election before then rejecting that same candidate in the primary in her favor.

The likelihood is that the winner of the June special election, assuming it is a Republican, will also become the primary winner and run again in November with the advantage of being an incumbent.

A far less likely alternative is Boebert giving up on district four and attempting to defend Colorado’s third district seat, which she retained in 2022 by only about 500 votes from more than 327,000 cast. Many, however, believe she has burned bridges there.

The congresswoman’s second term has been mired in controversy, including an unsavory groping incident involving a male companion at a Denver theater in September, and the arrest of her 18-year-old son in February on felony charges over multiple instances of credit card and identity theft.

Either way, Boebert faces a monumental challenge to extend her political career in a House in which her behavior has been questionable, including unseemly heckling of Joe Biden during his 2022 State of the Union speech.

In December, self-styled “no-nonsense conservative” Richard Holtorf, a candidate in the district four primary, said in a tweet that “seat shopping isn’t something that the voters look kindly on”. It is unlikely that Buck’s decision will have gained her any more supporters.

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Western leaders have denounced what they have described as a sham Russian election, in which Vladimir Putin won a fifth term as Russian president by a landslide of about 87%, according to exit polls.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, dismissed the result as illegitimate.

“Everyone in the world understands that this person, like many others throughout history, has become sick with power and will stop at nothing to rule forever,” he said.

“There is no evil he would not do to maintain his personal power. And no one in the world would have been safeguarded from this.”

The US national security council spokesperson, John Kirby, said: “The elections are obviously not free nor fair given how Mr Putin has imprisoned political opponents and prevented others from running against him.”

The UK’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, said the “illegal” elections featured “a lack of choice for voters and no independent OSCE monitoring”, adding: “This is not what free and fair elections look like.”

Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, said the “elections were neither free nor fair”.

The Czech foreign minister Jan Lipavsky, meanwhile, called the election a “farce and parody”. He said: “This was the Russian presidential election that showed how this regime suppresses civil society, independent media, opposition.”

Some of Russia’s allies, on the other hand, have congratulated Putin on his victory and said they hope friendly relations between their countries continue.

Beijing congratulated the Russian president, saying “China and Russia are each other’s largest neighbours and comprehensive strategic cooperative partners in the new era”.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said President Xi Jinping and Putin “will continue to maintain close exchanges, lead the two countries to continue to uphold longstanding good-neighbourly friendship, deepen comprehensive strategic coordination”.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said: “The Serb people welcomed with joy the victory of President Putin for they see in him a great statesman and a friend on whom we can always count and who will watch over our people.”

Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, said: “Our older brother has triumphed, which bodes well for the world”.

Qantas workers suffered depression after being illegally sacked, compensation hearing told

Laid-off staff prescribed medication to deal with illness and are seeking damages after federal court said the airline’s actioons were wrong

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Former Qantas employees were prescribed medication to deal with depression and anxiety after being illegally sacked, a court has heard, as the airline faces a mammoth compensation bill over the saga.

Compensation hearings began on Monday to resolve the legal battle between the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the airline over its pandemic-induced decision to outsource almost 1,700 ground handler jobs in late 2020 – a move the federal court found to be illegal as it acted against protections in the Fair Work Act and was in part driven by a desire to avoid industrial action.

Qantas appealed the decision to the full bench of the court and later the high court, both of which were unsuccessful, with the matter now returning to the federal court to determine compensation and penalties for the airline must pay.

The court heard on Monday some of the workers suffered significant psychological distress after losing their jobs and had to take medication to cope.

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One worker was taking four Valiums a day, the court heard, while another was prescribed antidepressants.

A court previously found Qantas contravened the Fair Work Act by its decision to outsource the roles of almost 1700 ground staff at 10 Australian airports in late 2020.

The airline fought the case all the way to the high court, but lost its appeal in September.

Qantas previously claimed the outsourcing would save more than $100m a year to help cope with the impact of the pandemic on air travel.

The court will hear three test cases of retrenched workers to help determine an appropriate level of financial compensation.

Affidavits from the three former workers were the subject of legal arguments on Monday.

Barrister Mark Gibian SC said one of the workers felt his “depression” at having been retrenched affected relationships with his family.

“It’s relevant to his hurt and humiliation and distress,” Gibian said.

Another worker said she felt “stressed and anxious” at being forced to look for a new job and took Valium to deal with the anxiety.

“I often felt nauseated because of the anxiety and stopped eating as much,” the woman wrote in her affidavit.

Union lawyer Josh Bornstein said outside court the compensation should be “very, very substantial, running into the many millions of dollars”.

Qantas also faces the prospect of being issued multimillion-dollar penalties for breaching the law.

One of the sacked workers, Don Dixon, told media he was hopeful Qantas would do “the right thing” and compensate affected workers.

“Three years ago we got thrown out the door unlawfully,” he said.

“We did absolutely nothing wrong, except turn up, do our job, go home and keep the travelling public safe.”

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the level of compensation could total more than $100m, which would be paid to workers depending on their level of impact.

He said some workers had lost properties and had “family breakdowns” as a result of losing their jobs.

“These workers have been dragged to hell and back through two painful unsuccessful deals, through a failed mediation process,” he said.

Bornstein said one of the key issues was the assertion by Qantas it would still have been forced to let workers go during the pandemic if it had not outsourced their roles.

“We argue that the workers would have remained in employment for a significant period of time and as a result are entitled to a significant amount of compensation,” he said.

During Monday’s hearing, Justice Michael Lee blasted union lawyers for failing to bring another claim for compensation – for the loss of membership fees as the result of workers being let go – at the same time as the former employees’ case.

“Why have you sat on your backside and not brought an application for compensation?” he asked Gibian.

“Such a case could have been worked up, seems to me, in a matter of days or hours, not months and months.”

The court heard 716 of the dismissed workers were TWU members, however Justice Lee noted some would probably have found alternative work within the industry and retained their membership.

The judge said he had made efforts for the claim to be heard at the earliest possible time to allow workers to be paid any compensation quickly.

Qantas said it also wanted the former workers to receive “fair compensation as quickly as possible”.

“Qantas sincerely apologises and deeply regrets the personal impact the outsourcing decision had on these former employees,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

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Tropical Cyclone Megan makes landfall in NT as dangerous conditions prevent evacuations

Severe tropical cyclone crosses coast southeast of Port McArthur and will move inland before weakening

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  • Track the path of the cyclone with the BoM radar map

Tropical Cyclone Megan has made landfall in the Northern Territory and will move inland towards the Kimberley region before weakening to a tropical low on Tuesday.

In a post on X on Tuesday evening, the Bureau of Meteorology said the severe tropical cyclone had made landfall, crossing the coast southeast of Port McArthur at 3.30pm ACST (5pm AEST).

NT residents in the remote fishing town of Borroloola were left stranded after attempting to flee the cyclone on Monday, with evacuation aircraft prevented from landing due to dangerous weather conditions.

The NT chief minister, Eva Lawler, said on Monday that about 700 people would be evacuated from Borroloola using two RAAF planes, but worsening weather prevented the aircraft from picking up passengers.

Police encouraged residents to seek shelter in houses that are new, on high ground, and have been built to code, in preparation for the cyclone.

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The current cyclone warning zone extends from Port Roper in the NT to Mornington Island in Queensland, and inland to Borroloola, the McArthur River mine and Robinson River.

Coastal areas already saw destructive winds and floods and dangerous storm tides as the cyclone neared the mainland, and the BoM expects more damage in coming days.

“The communities that are down through those Carpentaria and Barkly areas could be seeing some damage. The winds are certainly strong enough to be blowing over trees and doing damage to dwellings,” spokesperson Patch Clapp said.

The BoM also has a flood watch warning over much of the NT’s east, with floods at risk of increasing as heavy rains move inland.

Borroloola and other regions hit by the cyclone are expected to see rainfall of up to 200m, with up to 300mm forecast for locations at the system’s core.

The town is expected to face flooding from the McArthur River on Tuesday.

Police say they will assess the need for evacuation on Tuesday once the cyclone has passed and planes can land. The ADF aircraft will remain in the NT to provide further assistance if required.

Earlier on Monday afternoon, locals said they felt frustrated.

“We can’t get out by road any more. The road’s flooded so the aircraft need to come in for these people to be able to fly out,” local council services manager Paul Avery said.

“We’re hoping the aircraft will come in and get [people] up to Darwin where they’ll feel safer.”

Local resident Lizzie Hogan said the community was more fed up than anxious about the plane’s delay.

“They’re up there, standing out there, all squashed up and there’s no food, no space for them to sit … the old people went back to the old people’s home because they were there for the last two hours,” she said.

“Nobody knows what’s happening.”

Service station co-owner Bec McGuinness, who lives 40km from Borroloola in King Ash Bay, said her community has been evacuating for the last couple of days.

“Police came out and asked us to go so we left,” she said.

“We prepared, tied things down, moved loose items – hopefully everything will be OK.”

McGuinness drove to Darwin on Sunday morning and estimated 70 people had chosen to stay behind.

Many more have moved to Cape Crawford, just out of the cyclone’s way, in the hope of getting back to town quickly after the storm has passed.

BoM expects Megan will weaken once over the mainland, easing back to a category two as it tracks southwest overnight, passing just south of Port McArthur, Borroloola and the McArthur River Mine.

The system is then expected to fall to a tropical low by Tuesday night as it moves west through the Northern Territory.

Dangerous winds have now eased over Groote Eylandt, off the NT coast, which saw almost 700mm of rain over the weekend as the cyclone passed through.

The Gulf of Carpentaria coastal region has been hit with multiple cyclones in recent months.

However, Tropical Cyclone Megan is only the fifth named system in Australian waters this season, below the average of about 10.

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Tropical Cyclone Megan makes landfall in NT as dangerous conditions prevent evacuations

Severe tropical cyclone crosses coast southeast of Port McArthur and will move inland before weakening

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Tropical Cyclone Megan has made landfall in the Northern Territory and will move inland towards the Kimberley region before weakening to a tropical low on Tuesday.

In a post on X on Tuesday evening, the Bureau of Meteorology said the severe tropical cyclone had made landfall, crossing the coast southeast of Port McArthur at 3.30pm ACST (5pm AEST).

NT residents in the remote fishing town of Borroloola were left stranded after attempting to flee the cyclone on Monday, with evacuation aircraft prevented from landing due to dangerous weather conditions.

The NT chief minister, Eva Lawler, said on Monday that about 700 people would be evacuated from Borroloola using two RAAF planes, but worsening weather prevented the aircraft from picking up passengers.

Police encouraged residents to seek shelter in houses that are new, on high ground, and have been built to code, in preparation for the cyclone.

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The current cyclone warning zone extends from Port Roper in the NT to Mornington Island in Queensland, and inland to Borroloola, the McArthur River mine and Robinson River.

Coastal areas already saw destructive winds and floods and dangerous storm tides as the cyclone neared the mainland, and the BoM expects more damage in coming days.

“The communities that are down through those Carpentaria and Barkly areas could be seeing some damage. The winds are certainly strong enough to be blowing over trees and doing damage to dwellings,” spokesperson Patch Clapp said.

The BoM also has a flood watch warning over much of the NT’s east, with floods at risk of increasing as heavy rains move inland.

Borroloola and other regions hit by the cyclone are expected to see rainfall of up to 200m, with up to 300mm forecast for locations at the system’s core.

The town is expected to face flooding from the McArthur River on Tuesday.

Police say they will assess the need for evacuation on Tuesday once the cyclone has passed and planes can land. The ADF aircraft will remain in the NT to provide further assistance if required.

Earlier on Monday afternoon, locals said they felt frustrated.

“We can’t get out by road any more. The road’s flooded so the aircraft need to come in for these people to be able to fly out,” local council services manager Paul Avery said.

“We’re hoping the aircraft will come in and get [people] up to Darwin where they’ll feel safer.”

Local resident Lizzie Hogan said the community was more fed up than anxious about the plane’s delay.

“They’re up there, standing out there, all squashed up and there’s no food, no space for them to sit … the old people went back to the old people’s home because they were there for the last two hours,” she said.

“Nobody knows what’s happening.”

Service station co-owner Bec McGuinness, who lives 40km from Borroloola in King Ash Bay, said her community has been evacuating for the last couple of days.

“Police came out and asked us to go so we left,” she said.

“We prepared, tied things down, moved loose items – hopefully everything will be OK.”

McGuinness drove to Darwin on Sunday morning and estimated 70 people had chosen to stay behind.

Many more have moved to Cape Crawford, just out of the cyclone’s way, in the hope of getting back to town quickly after the storm has passed.

BoM expects Megan will weaken once over the mainland, easing back to a category two as it tracks southwest overnight, passing just south of Port McArthur, Borroloola and the McArthur River Mine.

The system is then expected to fall to a tropical low by Tuesday night as it moves west through the Northern Territory.

Dangerous winds have now eased over Groote Eylandt, off the NT coast, which saw almost 700mm of rain over the weekend as the cyclone passed through.

The Gulf of Carpentaria coastal region has been hit with multiple cyclones in recent months.

However, Tropical Cyclone Megan is only the fifth named system in Australian waters this season, below the average of about 10.

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NSW police say they will keep locking up young offenders but advocates say approach is ‘draconian’

Under Operation Regional Mongoose, 153 people – including 109 children – have been charged since September, the youngest 11 years old

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New South Wales police have said they intend to keep locking up young offenders and “holding them to account” as part of their youth crime crackdown.

But the Aboriginal Legal Service has called the approach a “draconian measure”, and argues that it will make the problem worse.

The police announced on Monday that it had charged 153 people – including 109 children – with more than 1,400 offences since launching Operation Regional Mongoose last September, mainly to respond to young people allegedly committing “unprecedented” levels of violence during break and enters.

The NSW police assistant commissioner, Rod Smith, told reporters in Dubbo on Monday he believed the youngest offender charged in the operation was 11.

“We intend to keep locking them up, putting them before the court and holding them to account,” he said.

Smith said the police have been working with the government to put in place diversionary programs to support vulnerable children and those at risk of reoffending.

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But Karly Warner, chief executive of the Aboriginal Legal Service, said the “punitive” approach of the operation – which last weekend saw police send a riot squad to the regional town of Moree – will only make youth crime worse.

“The riot squad rolling into Moree is such a draconian measure and response to ultimately a regional town crying out for services and things for young people to do,” she said.

The NSW government said last week it would invest $13.4m in a pilot program in Moree, with plans to build bail and support accommodation, improve the delivery of youth services and provide resources for the local and children’s court.

The announcement came alongside the Minns government announcing sweeping new laws that would make it harder for teenagers to get bail and would criminalise “posting and boasting” about offences on social media. The NSW premier, Chris Minns, also ruled out raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14.

Warner said the approach of the police’s operation in Moree and other communities in western NSW, including Dubbo and Tamworth, was of particular concern in light of planned changes to the bail laws.

The Bail Act would be changed to include an extra test for 14- to 18-year-olds charged with committing certain serious break-and-enter or motor vehicle theft offences while on bail for the same offences and seeking further bail.

“The experts who watch this process day in and day out are absolutely horrified by these ill-thought-through changes that are going to make it more dangerous within communities … tougher bail laws have been tried and failed,” Warner said.

“When you put children in prison, you give them an apprenticeship to a life of crime and trauma.

“We have a better and less costly way forward. It involves giving children the services they need to stay off the streets and to be engaged in more productive activities like job training and safe social activities in sport and art and education that actually inspires the safe communities that we all want.”

Smith said 67% of the 153 people charged were on bail at the time of committing an offence.

Smith said the police would be committing more resources to the operation amid “elevated levels of violence”.

“[They’re] forcefully entering people’s homes in the middle of the night, motel rooms, particularly targeting elderly and vulnerable people with weapons and distributing or displaying a lot of violence,” he said.

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Icac clears NSW planning official Katie Joyner of corruption over $3.8m home buy on Sydney’s north shore

Watchdog drops inquiry after Liberal MP alleges under parliamentary privilege that official used insider information of rezoning

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A New South Wales corruption watchdog investigation into a senior planning bureaucrat alleged to have used insider information for personal gain through the government’s housing plan has been closed after investigators found “no evidence” of corrupt conduct.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption announced on Monday afternoon that after a month-long inquiry following claims made about Katie Joyner, a planning director, in the parliament, it would close the investigation.

“The commission is satisfied there is no evidence that Ms Joyner or any other person engaged in corrupt conduct, and has accordingly determined to close its investigation,” an Icac spokesperson said.

The claims were made by the Liberal MP for Wahroonga and shadow attorney-general, Alister Henskens, speaking under parliamentary privilege in February.

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He said he had received “credible evidence” to suggest Joyner had used information gained through her work for personal gain after she and her partner, Gary Boyd, purchased a property within 400m of Gordon railway station for $3.8m in August last year.

Henskens said documents showed that around the time the National Housing Accord was signed and before the state government’s transport oriented development (Tod) scheme was announced, the public servant bought a home in an area to be rezoned under the policy and attempted to form a “property syndicate”.

Henskens claimed shortly after purchasing the north shore property that she contacted neighbours about “banding together to sell their properties to a developer promising a significant uplift on its current value because of the government’s likely housing policies”.

“A strong circumstantial case that the property’s acquisition was motivated by inside information as to the planned Tod policy can be made out,” Henskens told the parliament.

The claims were then referred to the Icac to investigate.

An Icac spokesperson said: “During the course of its investigation, the commission obtained and reviewed relevant records using its powers pursuant to section 21 and section 22 of the Icac Act, conducted a number of interviews, including with Ms Joyner, and conducted forensic reviews of electronic devices.

“The commission also undertook a review of the timeline of the Tod process, and when Ms Joyner became aware of the relevant Tod affecting the area in which she purchased property.”

The Icac found “no evidence” that Joyner, nor any other person, had engaged in corrupt conduct.

Henskens said on Monday evening that he had noted the Icac’s statement.

“I have not yet had the opportunity to discuss this statement with my confidential source,” he said.

“Until I have had those discussions, I won’t be making any further public comment.”

Planning and public spaces minister, Paul Scully, said it was “an extremely embarrassing situation for the shadow attorney-general”.

“His assessment and judgement of what he identified as a ‘highly circumstantial case’ has proved to be nothing more than a baseless political attack,” Scully said in a statement on Monday evening.

“The leader of the opposition should ask Mr Henskens to apologise.”

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John Pesutto’s leadership under fresh strain as two further defamation cases loom

Victorian opposition leader facing prospect of three defamation cases, as Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull and Angie Jones flag legal action

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Victorian opposition leader, John Pesutto, is facing the prospect of three defamation cases amid growing speculation over the future of his leadership of the Liberal party.

British gender-critical and anti-transgender activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull told 3AW radio on Monday she had instructed lawyers to file defamation proceedings against Pesutto this week. Melbourne woman and gender-critical activist Angie Jones – who co-organised an anti-transgender rights rally last March alongside Keen-Minshull – also confirmed she would launch defamation proceedings against Pesutto.

Pesutto is already embroiled in legal action with expelled Liberal MP Moira Deeming and there are reports of a potential leadership spill before parliament returns on Tuesday.

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Keen-Minshull helped organise a “Let Women Speak” tour of Australia and New Zealand last year, holding rallies in several cities, claiming that the push for transgender rights was silencing, and discrimination against, women. Deeming and Keen-Minshull both spoke at the rally in Melbourne that was gatecrashed by neo-Nazis, who performed the Sieg Heil salute on the front steps of parliament last March.

In an interview with 3AW after the rally, Pesutto said Deeming had associations with the organisers of the event who had “known links with Nazis, Nazi sympathisers, far-right extremists, white supremacists”.

On Monday, Keen-Minshull accused Pesutto of making “harmful” comments that had affected her and her family.

“You can’t say, really, quite despicable, disgusting lies about someone in order to silence them and intimidate them and get away with it,” she said.

Keen-Minshull said in a free and democratic society women had a right to “speak without being dangerously defamed.”

“While he said these things about me, what he’s actually doing is trying to tell all women that they really do have to shut up. And that’s what’s happening everywhere,” she said.

“I would like a full and frank apology where he admits, not only that he was incompetent in not finding out and factchecking that the things he saids were lies, but also that when he was told they were lies he doubled down and repeated them and just saying them in the first place.”

Pesutto would not comment on the potential legal action on Monday and said he was focused on holding the Allan government to account.

Responding to questions about speculation surrounding his leadership, Pesutto said he “wasn’t sure what all the media frenzy was about”. Asked if he was confident he would not face a leadership spill on Tuesday, Pesutto said “yes”.

Pesutto told reporters he was focused on his role as opposition leader.

“If you can get sued out of a job, no one’s going to stand for leadership,” he said.

Keen-Minshull’s mooted legal action comes weeks after the departure of two senior staff from Pesutto’s office, which some MPs labelled “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic”.

Deeming, who was expelled from the Liberal party room last year, is suing Pesutto over a series of media releases, press conferences and radio interviews he gave after she spoke at the rally.

The two-week defamation trial is scheduled to be held in the federal court in September. Pesutto on Monday released further details about donations to his legal fighting fund, which includes three former Liberal premiers. Other names released via his parliamentary return on Monday include property investor and philanthropist Jason Yeap and former state director of the Liberal party John Ridley.

Deeming’s lawyers have drawn on a 15-page document Pesutto’s office circulated to Liberal MPs and the media when he moved to expel Deeming from the party room and argued his comments conveyed 67 imputations, including that the MP “supports, sympathises with or associates with white supremacists and neo-Nazis”, and that she is a white supremacist or neo-Nazi.

In his defence, Pesutto has categorically denied this, arguing he “repeatedly and unequivocally acknowledged publicly that he does not believe Deeming to be a neo-Nazi, a white supremacist, or anything of similar substance or effect”.

But he has admitted to conveying 16 imputations, including that Deeming associated with speakers at the event who had “known links with neo-Nazis and white supremacists” and that she is not a “fit and proper person to be a member of the Victorian parliamentary Liberal party” under his leadership.

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