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Australian News

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly responds to AstraZeneca vaccine concerns


Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly has defended the decision to roll out the AstraZeneca vaccine in the wake of concerns about its effectiveness.

Infectious diseases experts have joined medics in calling for authorities to halt the rollout in favour of coronavirus vaccines with higher efficacy rates to ensure herd immunity.

This follows results from several trials that showed that the Oxford University-AstraZeneca jab had an efficacy rate of between 62-90 per cent depending on the doses.

Professor Kelly said AstraZeneca vaccine was well above the World Health Organisation’s 50 per cent efficacy threshold.

“All of the three vaccines that have so far published their data in peer-viewed journals – AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna – show a very significant effect against severe illness,” he said on Wednesday.

“They’re all good at protecting against severe illness and death. That’s why I say that lives will be saved by the AstraZeneca vaccine, I have no doubt about it.”

RELATED Virus plea: ‘Listen to the experts’

He conceded he was troubled by what he called “selective” reporting over AstraZeneca’s efficacy, warning it could undermine confidence in the jab.

“Confidence is absolutely the most important thing, and that’s what worries me about the coverage we had today in relation to the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said.

“People will be nervous, of course. We need to give more information and we’re doing that. So I am worried about the selective use of the data that we have.”

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine by the end of January, with a rollout pencilled for mid to late February for five million Australians in priority groups.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to have completed the approval process in February.

Professor Kelly said the jab would prevent death and severe illness 100 per cent of the time, like the Pfizer vaccine.

He said both vaccines would only be rolled out if they had the full tick for safety, efficacy and production quality.

“The EU has also pre-purchased 400 million doses of AstraZeneca, the US has pre-purchased 300 million doses of AstraZeneca, and the UK 100 million doses of AstraZeneca. So we‘re not an outlier there,” he said.

The UK has already begun immunising people with the jab under emergency approvals.

Most Australians are expected to get the AstraZeneca vaccine because it can be made in Melbourne, unlike the Pfizer vaccine that has to be imported from overseas due to its mRNA technology.

Infectious diseases physician Professor Peter Collignon told Sunrise that the AstraZeneca vaccine might not be as good as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

But he said those would be in short supply because they were not readily available and had to be stored in minus temperatures.

“I would be all for rolling out this (AstraZeneca) vaccine because it is much better than anything that is going to be available for quite a while,” Professor Collignon said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday refuted claims the government was conceding its vaccine strategy would not provide herd immunity.

“This is what the medical expert panel of Australia, the one that has helped keep us safe, has recommended,” Mr Hunt said.

In the wake of efficacy concerns, Labor leader Anthony Albanese told 2GB that the government should have invested in six vaccine candidates instead of three.

The opposition has long called for the rollout of the vaccine to be brought forward following the approval process.

But Mr Albanese said the party had never argued that authorities should circumvent the TGA process.

“We need to listen to the experts,” he said.

“Once it (the TGA) approves it, the vaccine should be rolled out.”



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Australian News

Paul Gallen-Mark Hunt, Tim Tszyu-Bowyn Morgan boxing fight night, live blog


Sydney super fight time

             

Good afternoon fight fans and welcome to the ABC News coverage of the Sydney super fight between Tim Tszyu and Bowyn Morgan, as well as Mark Hunt against Paul Gallen.

        

I’m Simon Smale and I’m in the hot seat to take you through all the action at Parramatta stadium in Western Sydney as we round out the boxing year with some intriguing bouts. 

     

The two co-main events will get underway much later into the evening — probably around 9:00pm AEDT — but before that there will be a full undercard full of talented Aussie boxers from across the weight divisions, which we will get into very, very shortly.

          

Aside from all that, it’s been a pretty busy few weeks in rings around the globe as boxing picks back up after the pandemic-enforced hiatus, so there’s plenty to get through before the big names step into the ring.

         

So, until then, I welcome your questions and observations — what did you think of the Anthony Joshua victory on the weekend? Is the path now free for an enormous unification fight against Tyson Fury? Who would win if (or hopefully when) the two giant Brits do meet in the ring? Is Canelo Álvarez going to beat Callum Smith in their world middleweight title fight this weekend?

            

Hit the blue button at the top of the page to make a comment and join in the conversation as we go through the undercard in Parramatta. 

                 

A puppet wearing a jester costume boxes a heavy bag



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Australian News

Mark Hunt vs Paul Gallen and Tim Tszyu vs Bowyn Morgan: What you need to know


The chosen one of Australian boxing, Tim Tszyu, is stepping back into the ring for his second stadium fight of the year when he takes on dangerous New Zealander Bowyn Morgan Western Sydney Stadium on Wednesday night.

On the undercard, MMA legend Mark Hunt will meet NRL player-turned outspoken pundit Paul Gallen.

This Sydney Superfight shows the recent revival in Australian boxing is well underway, with a packed undercard full of talent (and a sprinkling of novelty value) set to end the year with a bang.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the final big fight of the year.

What is on the line?

Boxer Tim Tszyu holds his gloved hands up while being carried by his team after beating Jeff Horn.
Regional belts are up for grabs at the Western Sydney Stadium, but Tim Tszyu has loftier ambitions.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Tszyu and Morgan are competing for the WBO Global and IBF Australasian super welterweight titles.

And in great news for the Aussie (and the Kiwi for that matter), the WBO announced on Monday that the fight would be elevated to a world title eliminator.

Should Tszyu win, he will fight for the world junior middleweight title with either belt holder Patrick Teixeira from Brazil or number one challenger Brian Castro of Argentina.

Tim Tszyu, like his dad Kostya before him, has become the face of Australian boxing, the standard-bearer for the sport.

After a series of impressive victories against the best of the domestic opposition, Tszyu has risen to be deemed second in the WBO junior middleweight rankings and fourth in the IBF list.

Tszyu’s devastating victory over Jeff Horn in August cemented his spot at the top of the Australian boxing pile, and the only way is further up towards a world championship tilt.

Who is Bowyn Morgan?

Bowyn Morgan is hugged by a man in a white t-shirt, both are smiling, in a boxing ring
Bowyn Morgan has a professional record of 21-1.(Instagram: Bowyn Morgan)

A former Commonwealth Games competitor who reached the welterweight quarter-finals in Glasgow 2014 and holds the minor world WBU welterweight belt to boot, Morgan started boxing in the tiny town of Runanga on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

The 31-year-old Kiwi, who has a professional record of 21 wins — 11 by knockout — and one knockout defeat to Aussie Kris George back in 2016, was in line for a shot at the IBF Pan Pacific welterweight title until COVID-19 intervened.

As a result, he has not fought for over a year and turned down a fight against Tszyu last year, something the Australian says was a big mistake.

“I’m a different fighter right now,” Tszyu told the Sydney Morning Herald,

Now, he is looking for a “life-changing” upset against the highly fancied Tszyu — but the odds are heavily stacked against him.

Tszyu should win easily, shouldn’t he?

Tim Tszyu (left) strikes Jeff Horn.
Tim Tszyu (left) has steam-rolled domestic opposition.(AAP Image: Dave Hunt)

In all probability, yes.

For a start, Morgan has never fought an opponent of the calibre of Tszyu — and never fought in a big stadium either.

He fights out of an orthodox stance and is very left-hand dominant, finding success against his previous opponents with a solid jab and big, looping left hooks to the body, but he will need to be a lot sharper and faster if he is to hurt Tszyu.

However, he’ll likely have to work inside to cause Tszyu problems — something Morgan said was his rival’s “biggest weakness” — as he gives away a whopping 14cm reach disadvantage.

Morgan said, though, with that less-expansive boxing style, it was likely he would have to knock Tszyu out to come away with the win at the Western Sydney Stadium.

An upset victory will trigger a rematch clause.

Why is Paul Gallen fighting Mark Hunt?

Paul Gallen smiles at Mark Hunt as he is held back by minders at a weigh-in before their boxing bout.
There was a conveniently timed promoter’s dream moment at the weigh-in as Hunt (right) went at Gallen.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Dubiously billed as a co-main event, former NRL hard man Gallen will take on MMA legend Hunt immediately prior to the headline act.

Some of the promotional material has called this a bout between two big men with big mouths, which appears to be a fair description, as neither have been shy about promoting the six-round heavyweight contest.

Hunt, 46, has called Gallen, 39, a “grub” and is adamant that he will knock out the former Sharks star.

Gallen, meanwhile, says the pressure is all on the “Super Samoan”, who is without a win in almost four years, saying that a defeat would further tarnish the big-hitter’s combat legacy.

Mark Hunt and Paul Gallen stand and shake hands, both wearing white t-shirts in front of a blue background
Mark Hunt (left) is without a win on his record in four years, and hasn’t boxed in 20 years.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Hunt has only had two professional boxing outings in his extensive fight career — a draw and a defeat — although both occurred more than 20 years ago.

Since then, Hunt has won a handful of super heavyweight kickboxing titles (30-13) and competed in MMA for 14 years, including the UFC, ending with a 13-14-1 record, with one no contest.

Gallen, who has 9 wins and 1 draw from his 10 professional fights, has beaten John Hopoate, Junior Paulo and Randall Rayment but could only manage a draw against former AFL star Barry Hall in his last outing.

A boxer leans in to land a punch on his opponent in the ring
Paul Gallen (right) drew with Barry Hall during their “Code War” bout.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

When is Tszyu-Morgan?

The Sydney Super fight gets underway at Western Sydney Stadium tonight.

The first of the fights on the undercard is slated for 5:30pm AEDT and can be watched on Foxtel.

The pay-per-view element of the evening starts at 7:00pm AEDT but, with four fights to get through before Tszyu and Morgan make their ring walks, it will likely be around 9:00pm that the main fight gets underway.

How can I watch Tszyu-Morgan?

Tickets are available to watch the fight in person at Western Sydney Stadium, but if you don’t fancy that, you’ll have to shell out anyway.

The fight is on Fox Sports’ pay-per-view channel, Main Event, and you’ll have to pay $59.95 for the privilege.

However, you can follow the fight, including Hunt vs Gallen and the full undercard, in our live blog from 6:30pm AEDT.

Who is on the undercard?

It’s a stacked undercard featuring some of Australian boxing’s brightest stars.

There are also two regional title fights before the co-main events to whet your appetite with.

Trent Girdham (1-0) vs Oscar Doane (debut) —Super lightweight

Riccardo Colosimo (3-0) vs Dillon Bargero (5-11) — Super welterweight

Luke Jackson (19-1) vs Tyson Lantry (7-3) — Lightweight

Darragh Foley (18-4-1) vs Ty Telford (6-0-1) — Vacant WBA Oceania, IBF Pan Pacific, IBO Asia Pacific super lightweight titles.

Liam Wilson (7-0) vs Rodynie Rafol (14-8-2) — Lightweight

Paul Fleming (26-0) vs Bruno Tarimo (25-2-1) — Vacant interim WBA Oceania, IBF International super featherweight titles.

Mark Hunt (0-1-1) vs Paul Gallen (9-0-1) — Heavyweight

Tim Tszyu (16-0) vs Bowyn Morgan (21-1) — IBF Australasian, WBO Global super welterweight titles.



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Australian News

Tim Tszyu vs Bowyn Morgan, Mark Hunt vs Paul Gallen: What you need to know


The chosen one of Australian boxing, Tim Tszyu, is stepping back into the ring for his second stadium fight of the year when he takes on dangerous New Zealander Bowyn Morgan at the Western Sydney Stadium on Wednesday night.

On the undercard, MMA legend Mark Hunt will meet NRL player-turned outspoken pundit Paul Gallen.

This Sydney Superfight shows the recent revival in Australian boxing is well underway, with a packed undercard full of talent set to end the year with a bang.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the final big fight of the year.

What is on the line?

Boxer Tim Tszyu holds his gloved hands up while being carried by his team after beating Jeff Horn.
Regional belts are up for grabs at the Western Sydney Stadium, but Tim Tszyu has loftier ambitions.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Tszyu and Morgan are competing for the WBO Global and IBF Australasian super welterweight titles.

And in great news for the Aussie (and the Kiwi for that matter), the WBO announced on Monday that the fight would be elevated to a world title eliminator.

Should Tszyu win, he will fight for the world junior middleweight title with either belt holder Patrick Teixeira from Brazil or number one challenger Brian Castro of Argentina.

Tim Tszyu has become the face of Australian boxing, the standard-bearer for the sport.

After a series of impressive victories against the best of the domestic opposition, Tszyu has risen to be deemed second in the WBO junior middleweight rankings and fourth in the IBF list.

Tszyu’s devastating victory over Jeff Horn in August cemented his spot at the top of the Australian boxing pile, and the only way is further up towards a world championship tilt.

Who is Bowyn Morgan?

Bowyn Morgan is hugged by a man in a white t-shirt, both are smiling, in a boxing ring
Bowyn Morgan has a professional record of 21-1.(Instagram: Bowyn Morgan)

A former Commonwealth Games competitor who reached the welterweight quarter-finals in Glasgow 2014 and holds the minor world WBU welterweight belt to boot, Morgan started boxing in the tiny town of Runanga on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

The 31-year-old Kiwi, who has a professional record of 21 wins — 11 by knockout — and one knockout defeat to Aussie Kris George back in 2016, was in line for a shot at the IBF Pan Pacific welterweight title until COVID-19 intervened.

As a result, he has not fought for over a year and turned down a fight against Tszyu last year, something the Australian says was a big mistake.

“I’m a different fighter right now,” Tszyu told the Sydney Morning Herald,

Now, he is looking for a “life-changing” upset against the highly fancied Tszyu — but the odds are heavily stacked against him.

Tszyu should win easily, shouldn’t he?

Tim Tszyu (left) strikes Jeff Horn.
Tim Tszyu (left) has steam-rolled domestic opposition.(AAP Image: Dave Hunt)

In all probability, yes.

For a start, Morgan has never fought an opponent of the calibre of Tszyu — and never fought in a big stadium either.

He fights out of an orthodox stance and is very left-hand dominant, finding success against his previous opponents with a solid jab and big, looping left hooks to the body, but he will need to be a lot sharper and faster if he is to hurt Tszyu.

However, he’ll likely have to work inside to cause Tszyu problems — something Morgan said was his rival’s “biggest weakness” — as he gives away a whopping 14cm reach disadvantage.

Morgan said, though, with that less-expansive boxing style, it was likely he would have to knock Tszyu out to come away with the win at the Western Sydney Stadium.

An upset victory will trigger a rematch clause.

Why is Paul Gallen fighting Mark Hunt?

Mark Hunt and Paul Gallen stand and shake hands, both wearing white t-shirts in front of a blue background
Mark Hunt (left) is without a win on his record in four years, and hasn’t boxed in 20 years.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Dubiously billed as a co-main event, former NRL hard man Gallen will take on MMA legend Hunt immediately prior to the headline act.

Some of the promotional material has called this a bout between two big men with big mouths, which appears to be a fair description, as neither have been shy about promoting the six-round heavyweight contest.

Hunt, 46, has called Gallen, 39, a “grub” and is adamant that he will knock out the former Sharks star.

Gallen, meanwhile, says the pressure is all on the “Super Samoan”, who is without a win in almost four years, saying that a defeat would further tarnish the big-hitter’s combat legacy.

Hunt has only had two professional boxing outings in his extensive fight career — a draw and a defeat — although both occurred more than 20 years ago.

Since then, Hunt has won a handful of super heavyweight kickboxing titles (30-13) and competed in Mixed Martial Arts for 14 years, ending with a 13-14-1 record, with one no contest.

Gallen, who has 9 wins and 1 draw from his 10 professional fights, has beaten John Hopoate, Junior Paulo and Randall Rayment but could only manage a draw against former AFL star Barry Hall in his last outing.

A boxer leans in to land a punch on his opponent in the ring
Paul Gallen (right) drew with Barry Hall during their “Code War” bout.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

When is Tszyu-Morgan?

The Sydney Super fight gets underway at the Western Sydney Stadium on Wednesday, December 16.

The first of the fights on the undercard get underway at 5:30pm AEDT and can be watched on Foxtel.

The pay-per-view element of the evening starts at 7:00pm AEDT but, with four fights to get through before Tszyu and Morgan make their ring walks, it will likely be around 9:00pm that the main fight gets underway.

How can I watch Tszyu-Morgan?

Tickets are available to watch the fight in person at the Western Sydney Stadium, but if you don’t fancy that, you’ll have to shell out anyway.

The fight is on Fox Sports’ pay-per-view channel, Main Event, and you’ll have to pay $59.95 for the privilege.

However, you can follow the fight, including Hunt vs Gallen and the full undercard, in our live blog from 6:30pm AEDT on Wednesday.

Who is on the undercard?

It’s a stacked undercard featuring some of Australian boxing’s brightest stars.

There are also two regional title fights before the co-main events to whet your appetite with.

Trent Girdham (1-0) vs Oscar Doane (debut) —Super lightweight

Riccardo Colosimo (3-0) vs Dillon Bargero (5-11) — Super welterweight

Luke Jackson (19-1) vs Tyson Lantry (7-3) — Lightweight

Darragh Foley (18-4-1) vs Ty Telford (6-0-1) — Vacant WBA Oceania, IBF Pan Pacific, IBO Asia Pacific super lightweight titles.

Liam Wilson (7-0) vs Rodynie Rafol (14-8-2) — Lightweight

Paul Fleming (26-0) vs Bruno Tarimo (25-2-1) — Vacant interim WBA Oceania, IBF International super featherweight titles.

Mark Hunt (0-1-1) vs Paul Gallen (9-0-1) — Heavyweight

Tim Tszyu (16-0) vs Bowyn Morgan (21-1) — IBF Australasian, WBO Global super welterweight titles.



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Local News - Victoria

Was Paul “Fish” Mullett fed a line?


“The journalist was a spare, spindly type with a sharp-featured rodent face. His head, almost perfectly spherical, was shaved as clean as a burnished hazelnut. He wore a hairline moustache, a faint self-deprecating smirk and a black leather motorcycle jacket.” (Some time earlier I had been on a panel with Mr Maloney and for reasons I cannot explain, did choose to wear a leather jacket.)

A reporter.

A reporter.

On reading the description I can’t see the resemblance but, for the record, both the jacket and the moustache are long gone.

Another real life character you couldn’t make up is Paul “Fish” Mullett, an old-school detective turned uncompromising union boss.

Mullett has never met Gobbo but their futures are now connected through the Royal Commission into the former lawyer’s disastrous role as a police informer.

Mullett is a police hero, one of only two officers to receive two Valour Awards for exceptional bravery in apprehending armed offenders. And yet his career ended in disgrace, accused of being a traitor who tipped off an allegedly corrupt colleague that he was being investigated for helping a hit team find their victim.

“Fish” tended to only know one way to take on a problem and that was head-on. After 18 years chasing some of Victoria’s most dangerous offenders he moved into union politics and in 1998, while still a sworn police officer, was elected secretary of the Police Association.

Though the power of traditional unions has waned and their membership numbers decreased, the Police Association has only become stronger. With near 100 per cent take-up (it has a multimillion-dollar legal cost fund to pay fees if a member faces a work-related court action) the Association is flush with funds. As police numbers increase, more members means more funds and more muscle.

Paul Mullett. It is time to look back.

Paul Mullett. It is time to look back.Credit:Jason South

With law and order always an election issue, the Association is a powerful political voice. It is also unique as all but one of the most senior officers (including present Chief Commissioner Shane Patton) remain members.

Back in 1998, Mullett butted heads with then chief commissioner Neil Comrie and the government of the day wanted the next chief to have a more cordial relationship with the union. It was one of the selling points for NSW assistant commissioner Christine Nixon, who had been an office holder for the NSW branch of the Police Association.

Appointed Victoria Police’s chief commissioner in 2001, her relationship with Mullett was never warm. He would have preferred a local candidate. Nixon’s NSW experience was that old-school detectives tended to be anti-women and anti-change. Mullett thought Diplomacy was a fancy gelato flavour and Subtlety a veteran Warrnambool steeplechaser.

By 2007 they were barely speaking and only met twice in a year. Both sides had spies in the ranks, with two senior officers leaking to the Association on Nixon and members of the Association executive snitching to police command.

Then we come to a scene that would send the Hollywood writers back into rehab: the 2003 murder of Shane Chartres-Abbott, a male prostitute who claimed to be a vampire.

Shot dead: Shane Chartres-Abbott.

Shot dead: Shane Chartres-Abbott.Credit:Andrew De La Rue

Eventually the theory was that Mark Perry organised a hit team to kill Chartres-Abbott as revenge for raping Perry’s girlfriend and biting off her tongue so he could drink her blood. The male prostitute was killed as he was leaving his Reservoir home to attend court on the rape charge.

In 2007 a career criminal and killer known for legal reasons by the name Jack Price told police he was the gunman. “Price” was a master manipulator, a jailhouse lawyer and a serial liar. He faced several murder trials but while he would confess to being involved on each occasion he would persuade someone else to confess to being the shooter.

This time was different. He said he was the one who pulled the trigger. What’s more, he said he was given the victim’s address by a serving policeman, Peter “Stash” Lalor. Although there was no evidence of Lalor accessing the address through the police computer, it was still a dynamite claim.

Remember the environment at the time: in 2004 police informer Terence Hodson, who had promised to testify on police corruption, and his wife Christine were shot dead in their Kew home.

Now Price, who was connected with several underworld murders, was talking – but was he telling the truth? He admitted he was a paid hitman for years, although he added he didn’t work on weekends or his birthday. Work-life balance, it would seem.

Police set up Taskforce Briars to investigate the Chartres-Abbott murder but the top-secret investigation leaked and Lalor knew he was a suspect.

This resulted in a leak investigation codenamed Diana that concluded assistant commissioner Noel Ashby, lobbying to be Nixon’s successor, leaked the information to Mullett, who he wanted onside in his run for the top job. According to this account, Mullett then ensured Lalor was tipped off.

Noel Ashby leaves the Supreme Court after perjury charges against him were dropped in 2010.

Noel Ashby leaves the Supreme Court after perjury charges against him were dropped in 2010.Credit:Justin McManus

Mullett and Ashby were grilled in public hearings of the Office of Police Integrity. Ashby resigned and in November 2007 Nixon suspended Mullett from the force and banned him from any station in Victoria, making his job as Police Association secretary untenable.

In July 2008 he was charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Some charges were thrown out at committal while the remainder were dropped before trial. It was an embarrassing and expensive farce.

Mullett “retired” in March 2009 at the completion of his Police Association contract.

Jack Price made five separate statements on the murder, including saying he conducted surveillance on Chartres-Abbott’s home from the Reservoir railway station car park, a spot from which there was no line of sight; saw the victim picked up in a car, when he actually took the train to the city; and that he shot the victim from a metre away, in a manner that matched a newspaper report but not the actual forensic evidence. The person who is probably the real killer confided to a friend that he grabbed the victim’s head then shot. This matches the entry wound under Chartres-Abbott’s chin.

Price claimed to be wearing clothing that matched the description publicly released by the police, but that description was of the accomplice, not the gunman. Meetings Price said took place did not match his phone records and a witness description did not fit Price’s build.

There is a transcript floating about, allegedly from an illegal prison bug, where Price says he planned to confess to a series of murders then “bring them all down”. In true Watergate style, 14 pages of the 200-page transcript are missing.

There is no evidence Lalor provided the address and no proof Price was there. Three men, including Perry, were charged with the murder and acquitted.

So where does Gobbo fit in? She was assigned to work as a double agent, eventually claiming to the Royal Commission on police informants that Perry confessed to her – a claim that is clearly bogus.

One of her clients was ex-detective David “Docket” Waters, a great mate of “Stash” Lalor (Docket & Stash sounds like a Will Ferrell spoof.) According to Gobbo, Waters said Lalor was not told of Taskforce Briars’ existence by Mullett or his associates but by two detectives from Prahran who were interviewed by an investigator on the Briars team, Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles.

Ron Iddles: was part of Taskforce Briars.

Ron Iddles: was part of Taskforce Briars.Credit:Penny Stephens

Lalor was never grilled on the claims and the information was concealed from Mullett during OPI hearings and later when he faced criminal charges. The information was also not available to him when he sued Nixon for malicious prosecution, a case he lost in the Supreme Court.

The information was probably concealed to protect Gobbo from being outed as a double agent, but it left Mullett without vital evidence that supported his defence. The statement creates sufficient doubt in an already weak case that indicates Mullett should never have been charged. When Mullett’s lawyers at the Gobbo commission asked Iddles about Lalor’s assertion, he agreed: “It gives an alternative to the allegation he [Mullett] was charged with.”

For years now it has looked as though Mullett was finished. But the Police Association has reviewed the case and agreed to fund a potential appeal to the Supreme Court.

If the Nixon malicious prosecution case is revisited other names will be added – names of police Mullett claims conspired against him to ruin his reputation and career.

Mullett is now back in the game and his unlikely ally is none other than Nicola Gobbo.

You couldn’t make it up and if you did they wouldn’t believe you. Suck on that, Shane Maloney.

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Paul Walton jailed for vile sex act with neighbour’s dog


A man who stole his neighbour’s dog to commit a sex act on it has been unable to explain why he did it.

Paul Brian Walton was sentenced to 12 months’ prison combined with a two-and-a-half year community correction order by the County Court of Victoria on Friday.

He had pleaded guilty to bestiality, animal cruelty, theft and drug possession over his actions in April this year.

The court heard the 53-year-old said in an assessment, “I don’t want it to keep happening.”

He “could not offer any insight into why he acted on his impulses”.

On April 6 Walton stole a 12-year-old Kelpie cross named Gemma from a neighbouring farm.

Police rescued the “visibly distressed” animal from Walton’s caravan at Ardmona near Shepparton the next day.

Pornography was playing on a television when police arrived.

They also found five grams of cannabis.

Judge Wraight said Walton stole the dog “to commit what can only be described as a serious act of animal cruelty”.

The 53-year-old had only been released from jail a few months earlier.

He was previously convicted for “very similar” offences involving three dogs.

Judge Wraight said Walton bore “assaults and harassment” in jail, “even within the sex offenders’ unit”.

The court heard he had also received social media threats since reporting of his last court appearance.

Judge Wraight ordered he undertake treatment and rehabilitation as conditions of his community corrections order.



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The Masters ends an incomplete day one with Paul Casey leading, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods among chasers


Adam Scott has rebounded brilliantly from a bout of coronavirus to lead the Australian assault at the Masters.

The 2013 champion was 4-under through 10 holes, trailing clubhouse leader Paul Casey by three shots, when the opening round was suspended due to darkness at Augusta National.

Fellow Australians Marc Leishman and Jason Day overcame rough starts in wet conditions to card 2-under 70s to also be well in the mix.

Played in November for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening round was delayed by thunderstorms for almost three hours not long after it began on Thursday.

Diagnosed with COVID-19 last month, Scott was sitting in a tie for fifth spot after reeling off four birdies in a flawless front-nine 32.

Leishman and Day were sharing 21st position, five shots back of Casey, who notched a sizzling 7-under 65.

But it could have been worse as things looked bleak for Leishman and Day early on.

In one of the first groups to hit the course, Leishman had missed the 10th green in regulation before the horn blew to stop play, the first time an opening Masters round has utilised both the first and 10th tees due to daylight concerns.

When play resumed, the Victorian was unable to get up and down for par and stayed 1-over until a brilliant approach to the par-five 13th from the pine straw set up an eagle putt from 3 metres that he duly buried.

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A further two birdies on his round were countered by just one more bogey on the 17th hole, a welcome sign after six months of struggling with his game.

“I could have shot a really low score today so it’s a little frustrating to miss some chances but, given where I’ve been leading into the tournament, I’ll take the 70 and move on,” Leishman said.

“Hopefully I can keep hitting it this well.

Day opened with two bogeys in his first seven holes to look out of contention before a run of five birdies in his next seven had the former world number one rocket up the leaderboard.

But just as he was looking ominous, he dumped his approach shot on the par-5 15th into the water and took bogey.

He almost found the water on the par-3 16th, too, but saved par before also signing for a 70 on his 33rd birthday.

A golfer is seen in silhouette as he takes his tee shot in the fading light at the Masters.
Storm delays and the late autumn reschedule saw golfers at the Masters run out of light on day one.(AP: David J. Phillip)

Cameron Smith was even par through 10 holes at the close of play.

Amateur Lukas Michel settled for a 4-over 76 in his Masters debut, the highlight coming with a chip-in birdie on the iconic par-three 12th from a putrid lie off the green.

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Casey finds energy, early lead at Augusta

No spectators, no roars.

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But Casey still had no problem finding enough energy from the sheer mystique of the Masters on Thursday.

His 65 matched his lowest score at Augusta National and gave him a two-shot lead among those fortunate enough to get in 18 holes before it was too dark to continue.

“So many people like myself are just excited to play this,” Casey said. “This is a treat. It always has been and always will be a real treat.”

The autumn Masters brought a different course, some of that courtesy of the weather.

The downpour that began about 30 minutes after Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit their ceremonial tee shots, coupled with a November tournament with some Bermuda grass that still hasn’t gone dormant, left Augusta National soft and vulnerable to low scores.

A pro golfer eyes the ball as it loops onto green after his chip shot from off the putting surface.
Defending Masters champion Tiger Woods played his first bogey-free round at a major in 11 years.(AP: Chris Carlson)

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Defending champion Tiger Woods even got into the act. A notorious slow starter despite his five green jackets, he played his first bogey-free round at any major in 11 years and matched his low start at the Masters with a 68.

“I put a lot of it together today,” Woods said, his only regret not making a few more putts.

He finished with eight pars.

Two groups ahead of Woods was Bryson DeChambeau, who smashed shots into trees and one into the azalea bushes behind the 13th green.

He was lucky to find it because his provisional shot went into the creek. He still made double bogey, though he managed to scratch out a 70.

So much action, typical of the Masters, and so little volume. And it was worth the wait caused by COVID-19.

“I was vocal earlier in the year about not enjoying golf in a pandemic,” Casey said. “I didn’t know how the fan-less experience would be and so far, I’ve not enjoyed it.

The excitement for Casey began on the fearsome 10th hole when he hit his approach to a front pin about five feet away for birdie. He had eagle chances on both par fives on the back nine and settled for birdies. He took on a left pin at the par-five second with a six-iron and watched the ball plop six feet away for eagle.

“You can’t hit that shot in April,” he said. “It pitched and stopped instantly, and that shot in April would have one-hopped over into the patrons.”

Webb Simpson shot 67, including an eagle on the second (his 11th). He was joined by Xander Schauffele, a runner-up to Woods last year, who had seven birdies in his round of 67.

Lee Westwood shot 31 on the front and limited the damage on the back for a 68, joining the group that included Woods, former Masters champion Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama and Louis Oosthuizen.

World number one Dustin Johnson was among the 43 players who will have to return on Friday morning to finish. He opened with an eagle on number two and was 3-under at the turn. Justin Thomas started with three straight birdies and was at 5-under through 10 holes.

Rory McIlroy also played in the afternoon, made bogey on his first hole and was struggling to make birdies. He was even par at the turn, which felt worse on a day like this.

The delay was the last thing the Masters needed with limited daylight hours leading to the two-tee start. Every minute counts, and it was doubtful 36 holes could be completed by Friday.

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The loudest cheer — applause, certainly not a roar — came for Nicklaus and Player hitting tee shots so early that they couldn’t see where they landed.

Five groups got through one hole before the siren sounded to stop play for 2 hours, 45 minutes. And then players began to light up the course as the clouds moved to the east and those famous shadows from Georgia pines stretched across the fairways.

It looked just like the Masters, minus the spring blooms, even if it didn’t sound like it.

AAP/AP



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Virgin Australia’s Paul Scurrah to depart


Bain confirmed it will replace him with Ms Hrdlicka, who was a Bain executive prior to joining the Qantas group in 2010 and advised the private equity firm on its bid for Virgin.

We need a hands-on CEO with deep aviation, commercial, operational and transformation experience. Jayne is the right person to take the business forward.

Bain Capital boss Mike Murphy

Mr Scurrah’s departure was imminent on Wednesday afternoon, as revealed by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, with sources saying he was locked in a meeting with Bain negotiating his exit.

Mr Scurrah joined Virgin in early 2019 and was engineering a turnaround plan to improve the airline’s poor financial performance when the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to ground its fleet and pushed it into insolvency owing $6.8 billion.

He said it had been a “great privilege” to lead the airline for the past 18 months, even through “the most challenging time in aviation history”.

Jayne Hrdlicka will be Virgin's next CEO.

Jayne Hrdlicka will be Virgin’s next CEO.Credit:Chris McKeen

“I have continued to be so proud of the way my team and our entire organisation has fought to save this airline and to keep competition alive and well in Australia,” Mr Scurrah said in a statement on Thursday.

“We have succeeded in not just ensuring the future of the company, but also reset the business to ensure it is well placed to deliver for Bain Capital for many years to come.”

Bain Capital managing director Mike Murphy paid credit to Mr Scurrah’s leadership and personal commitment in guiding Virgin through its insolvency, but said that Virgin needed a “different form of leadership to survive in the long term”.

“We need a hands-on CEO with deep aviation, commercial, operational and transformation experience,” Mr Murphy said. “Jayne is the right person to take the business forward.”

Virgin’s unions have long had apprehensions about Ms Hrdlicka due to her budget airline background and some residual ill-will stemming from her time at Qantas during a period of toxic relations with unions.

Ms Hrdlicka said she was delighted to join Virgin and appreciated its “unique culture and I want to protect and build on it.”

“I am determined that Virgin Australia re-invigorates its strong brand and its passion for customer service, while embracing the diversity, talent and strength of its people,” she said.

Mr Scurrah’s impending exit on Wednesday heightened fears among Virgin’s workforce that Bain would renege on earlier assurances about the airline’s size and direction.

The Transport Workers Union said it would suspend wage negotiations with Bain until it clarified its intentions for Virgin’s future.

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Deloitte administrator Vaughan Strawbridge said he had reaffirmed with Bain that Virgin Australia would not be repositioned as a low-cost carrier.

“Virgin Australia will be a ‘hybrid’ airline, offering great value to customers by delivering a distinctive Virgin experience at competitive prices,” Mr Strawbridge said. “This will appeal to the full spectrum of travellers, from premium corporate through to more budget-focused customers.”

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Virgin Australia Bain takeover puts Paul Scurrah’s job in doubt


Another said company insiders had expected Bain to replace all of Virgin’s senior executives and management, with former Jetstar boss Jayne Hrdlicka – a former Bain executive who advised the firm on its bid for Virgin – expected to play a key role.

“We think they’re going down a budget path, and Paul doesn’t have budget carrier experience” the senior management source said.

Mr Scurrah successfully talked Bain around to backing his view, after the private equity firm’s local boss Mike Murphy earlier said he envisioned Virgin as a “hybrid” airline operating somewhere between Qantas and Jetstar.

Mr Scurrah’s ongoing involvement at the airline and vision for it to remain a full-service carrier with international operations was critical for Bain to win the support of Virgin’s 9000 workers over and vote in favour of its takeover offer last month.

The Transport Workers Union said it had suspended negotiations with Bain over a new enterprise bargaining agreement, and believed Bain was reneging on its commitment to maximise jobs, maintain a full-capacity network, full-service offering and to fly internationally.

“The ink is not yet dry on the sale of Virgin and it appears that private equity firm Bain Capital are behaving as we feared: ripping out the heart of Virgin and reneging on promises to the Australian people,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

“If the plan and scope of the airline as outlined in August by Bain Capital has already been scrapped then this is a serious betrayal that must be addressed.”

A suite of senior executives have quietly left Virgin in recent weeks following the approval of Bain’s takeover, but their departures have not been announced publicly. That includes chief strategy officer Michael Jones, head of corporate sale Anne Elliot and general manager of alliances and international sales Phil Squires.

One of the company insiders said that before the all-important creditors vote last month, “Bain were saying all the nice things about keeping as much of the workforce as possible”.

“But now, being a private equity firm, they are likely to cut as much as can,” they said.



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Paul Bristow dies in midst of Bradbury Industrial Services court case


The director of a company charged over a massive fire at a chemical factory has died, the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday.

Paul Anthony Bristow, the director of Bradbury Industrial Services, was personally facing 10 charges put by the Environment Protection Authority over the terrifying fire.

He was the sole shareholder of the company, which has since been put into administration.

Mr Bristow was due to appear in court on September 9 but has died, lawyer Vincent Azzopardi told the court.

Barrels of burning waste were sent flying into the sky in the massive blaze at the company’s Campbellfield factory in Melbourne’s north on April 5 last year.

Two workers were injured when the chemical drums exploded.

Smoke choked surrounding suburbs from the toxic blaze that burned at the factory for days before it was put out in a mammoth effort from emergency services.

The company provided storage and disposal services of hazardous and industrial waste, but it is alleged it failed to provide training and supervision to its workers and failed to have procedures in place to prevent fires and explosions on site.

Bradbury Industrial Services as a company has been separately hit with 38 charges by WorkCover Victoria, and that case is proceeding through the magistrates court.

Another man, Graeme Leslie White – a colourful figure who owns a Dracula-themed home and a collection of muscle cars – has been charged separately over alleged illegal dumping of chemical waste.



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