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Local News - Victoria

An odd fit if Cormann’s OECD bid is successful


Cormann, as finance minister, was part of the gang which foisted the ‘‘debt and deficit disaster’’ on Australians and which won Tony Abbott the prime ministership in 2014. Australia needlessly went through a round of budget cuts and austerity. The ‘‘disaster’’ line was sown into Australian minds when our public debt as a percentage of GDP was low relative to European countries. When COVID-19 struck, Cormann became a ‘‘Johnny come lately’’ fiscal expansionist. If he wishes to pursue his dream of becoming the first Australian to lead the OECD, he should dig into his generous parliamentary superannuation to fund it.
Alex Millmow, Fitzroy

Why did government and opposition support this?

The nomination of Mathias Cormann for the next secretary-general of the OECD is pathetic. Case-hardened diplomats at the OECD look at what people do, not what they say. The strategy of putting rhetoric in inverse proportion to reality will not cut it and will only further undermine Australia’s international standing.

Scott Morrison is scrambling to get Cormann into this role because he knows that many OECD countries are contemplating trade penalties on Australia over its climate inaction. Labor should not have supported this absurd nomination and should instead be concentrating on developing and pitching a defensible climate stance.
Tim Thornton, Northcote

Yes, back Cormann – but why not Kevin Rudd too?

Of course, the government should support Mathias Cormann’s bid. If that involves using a taxpayer-funded RAAF jet because of the threat of contracting COVID-19 on commercial flights, so be it.
The real story is that Scott Morrison and Cormann were opposed to Kevin Rudd becoming secretary-general of the United Nations four years ago. That lead to then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull refusing to nominate Rudd, thereby destroying his chances.

It would be an international coup for an Australian to head powerful and influential organisations such as the UN and OECD. When we have high calibre candidates, whether they are Labor or Coalition, our government should always back them.
Dora Houpis, Richmond

Will we be reimbursed if Cormann is selected?

So, Mathias Cormann retires from a career as a high paid politician and wants to supplement his parliamentary pension with another job. In this case, secretary-general of the OECD on an estimated tax-free salary of $377,000. His application is supported by the government and opposition.

Fine. But, why is the taxpayer flying him all over the world in a RAAF jet (at a cost of more than $4000 an hour of flying) with a taxpayer-funded entourage of eight? Can we expect this champion of ‘‘the end of the age of entitlement’’ to reimburse the taxpayer if he lands the job?
Ken Rivett, Ferntree Gully

Surely our most highly subsidised job seeker, ever

Mathias Cormann has had many years in Parliament where he has been paid far more than the average Australian, and now he can retire on very generous superannuation. He has commented on ‘‘lifters and leaners’’. He is the most outstandingly expensive leaner Australia has produced. How dare the government spend so much taxpayers’ money on him? Other Australians must pay their own expenses when they are seeking a job. Why is Cormann different?
Eileen Ray, Ascot Vale

THE FORUM

Protect Moore-Gilbert

If anyone deserves an RAAF flight as a protection against COVID-19, surely it is Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who has been released from an Iranian prison. Her immune system would be extremely poor after more than 800 days of imprisonment.
Elizabeth Douglas, Melbourne

Dedicated to her release

Scott Morrison described Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s release from prison as ‘‘a miracle’’. A miracle is an inexplicable event attributed to a divine agency. Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release was the result of the hard work of diplomats and other people around the world.
Gretel Lamont, Aireys Inlet

Fair go for refugees too

Kylie Moore-Gilbert has finally been freed from her unjust imprisonment by Iran. We should all be pleased with Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s efforts to secure her release. Considering Iran’s regular disregard for human rights, why is our federal government still insisting that asylum seekers from there return to the very place that persecuted them? They fled oppression, seeking security here, yet we ignore their pleas for a fair go. Besides being hypocritical, it is just plain cruel.
Bill Wiglesworth, Castlemaine

Travelling, at a fair price

Like many people, I am looking forward to travelling around Victoria and Australia. Has anybody else noticed the soaring accommodation costs? I do understand that these businesses have been hit hard by the lockdowns and they want to recoup lost income. I will travel but I will not be ripped off.
Teresa McIntosh, Keysborough

Trapped in a nightmare

Over the past two months, the Mount Buller Residents Association has engaged in negotiations with every insurer in Australia regarding bushfire cover. As of this year, they have added a limiting condition: No property can be insured against bushfires unless trees are at least 500metres from the building being insured.

For anyone who has ever visited a high country village, the heavily arboured surrounds are part of the charm. With the market not providing coverage, the only way to work around this would be to cut down all the trees shading these tourist spots which are already reeling from last year’s bushfires and this year’s coronavirus.

Tourism in the high country is stuck in a Kafkaesque nightmare – it can neither get a permit to cut down the trees to comply with insurance nor leave them, exposing owners of hotels, restaurants and the like to claims that would be too onerous to satisfy. The only solution is for government to step in and demand that an industry which profits mightily in the good times avails itself of the very purpose for which we pay a pricey annual premium.
Lara Blamey, Mount Eliza

A regulator with real teeth

Why does it often take an independent investigation or whistleblower to disclose harmful behaviour by big business? Sometimes the damage is so large and endemic that the government of the day will bow to pressure and call for a royal commission.

The draining of the Great Artesian Basin by major mining projects (with Adani fast-tracked to be given similar access) is a disgrace – ‘‘Disappearing springs pose questions for BHP’’ (The Age, 24/11). Before extractive industries can be allowed to proceed, fair payment should be made for all the resources consumed and the unavoidable environmental damage that will result. The solutions – a regulator with teeth and a resource rental tax – are not possible under this government.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

Save our precious water

The Great Artesian Basin lies underneath 22per cent of our continent. It is the main source of water for thousands of springs, lakes, water holes, farm bores and industrial and mining processes in inland Australia. The water is being extracted and depleted at an alarming rate. Springs and waterholes are disappearing and bores are drying up with enormous environmental and farming consequences.

The water is largely replenished by rainfall in Queensland and northern NSW that very slowly seeps through the layers of soil and rock into the underground basin. It takes up to a million years for it to travel from Queensland to South Australia. How much time do we think we have?
April Baragwanath, Geelong

The overlooked suburbs

Concerns that plans for upgrading train services in the fast-growing western suburbs will not proceed (The Age, 26/11) are well-placed.

Currently the residents in more northerly parts of the City of Wyndham have access to just two railway stations, Tarneit and Wyndham Vale. These are served by relatively infrequent Geelong services using diesel-belching rolling stock which is not fit for purpose for metropolitan services.

The Andrews government’s only ‘‘big spend’’ on transport in the western suburbs is the West Gate Tunnel. At a cost of $6.7billion (and still counting), it will only provide temporary relief from the gridlock that its self-interested proponent, Transurban, claims it will remedy.
Ian Hundley, Balwyn North

Reckless decision-making

How irresponsible is Daniel Andrews, allocating $2.2 billion on ‘‘early works’’ for the Suburban Rail Loop while sections of the metropolitan rail network is single track and the Melton and Wyndham Vale lines are not electrified? The rail loop project has an incomplete business case and demand for rail travel between Cheltenham and Box Hill is yet to be proven.

It appears the Premier is following his cheer leader Jon Faine, (that independent former broadcaster), who said the Andrews/Pallas approach appeared to be ‘‘toss another billion on the barbie and work out later whether whether it succeeds’’ (Comment, 26/11). Is this any way that expensive and unjustified infrastructure projects should be planned??
Des Grogan, Sorrento

A lack of leadership

I do not always agree with Jon Faine but his piece yesterday was spot on the money. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, cannot keep ignoring the scandals surrounding his government. This demonstrates weak leadership.
Jean Andrews, Cheltenham

Where the road blame lies

The moneys which governments collect from private vehicle owners to maintain and build roads is a furphy. Heavy vehicles do the vast majority of damage to our roads. This is well known in the industry as the ‘‘fourth power rule’’ – that pavement damage is proportional to the axle weight of a vehicle. Rather than collect this maintenance money from the trucking industry, which Bob Hawke tried to do unsuccessfully in the 1980s, governments prefer to bleed private vehicle owners.
Jeff Moran, Bacchus Marsh

The joy of reading

I was green, gauche and unready for the then matriculation year (now year 12). I chose English literature (The Age, 23/11) and studied Hamlet, the writings of Albert Camus, Thomas Hardy and Geoffrey Chaucer, a Greek play and poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I failed miserably. But to this day it was the best subject I ever did. Reading was discovered, an idea of our literary heritage emerged and a lifelong love of learning was born.
Moray Byrne, Edithvale

The best of VCE and VCAL

While I agree with Ian Bennett (Letters, 26/11) that a ‘‘textbook’’ education is not suitable for all (or indeed most) students, I applaud the Victorian government’s decision to abolish the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and merge it with the VCE (The Age, 24/11).
From its inception, technical education was branded as second rate – for those who were ‘‘good with their hands’’ – implying they were not good with their brains. The same view persisted when VCAL was introduced.

I started my teaching career 50 years ago in a boys’ technical school. One of my year 10 English students had read War and Peace over the school holidays and another boy spent his weekends writing poetry.

These days the notion of a ‘‘career’’ is becoming redundant. Rather than providing career specific skills and knowledge, a secondary education needs to equip young people to be versatile, thoughtful lifelong learners. This will be better achieved by offering all secondary students a choice of studies from both the VCE and VCAL.
Jennifer Bryce, Elwood

The power of words

Thank you for your daily Wordwit and DA’s Friday crosswords (Puzzles). They are always challenging, always fun. I also wanted to add to the different names for ladybird (Wordwit, 24/11). In Polish it has a very poetic name: ‘‘God’s little cow’’.
Alex Czerwinski, Dandenong North

Bending the rules again

Your Target puzzle is straying into foreign words again, even though the rules say these are not acceptable. Recently we had bougie (French for candle or spark plug) and doge (ruler of Venice). The fact that these may occur in the relevant dictionary does not make them English. Previously we have had emir (Arabic), anime (Japanese comics) and rani (Indian).
John Pitman, Eltham

A day for mourning

Once again we have adopted an American sales gimmick. To many of us, however, Black Friday still commemorates a dreadful day in 1939 when bushfires killed 39 people in Victoria.
Kim Lockwood, Eaglemont

The joy of masklessness

I went for my regular walk without a mask this week. My glasses did not fog up and I could scratch my nose and breathe easily. Best of all, I could see other people’s smiles. What a relief.
David Johnston, East Melbourne

AND ANOTHER THING


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Federal

Your own private RAAF jet – Morrison’s ultimate JobSeeker package.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

Turns out Mathias, private citizen, is a leaner. Will the PM give free bus passes to other job seekers?
Dawn Richards, Huntingdale

Given Cormann is now advocating action on global warming, shouldn’t he be travelling by bike?
Ruben Buttigieg, Mount Martha

Morrison’s biggest oxymorons: Colbeck, Aged Care and Taylor, Emissions Reduction ministers.
Tom McNamara, North Geelong

In my somewhat partisan opinion, Dick Davies (26/11), our de facto opposition leader is Adam Bandt.
Colin Smith, Glen Waverley

Coronavirus

Van hitched, grey nomads emerge from hibernation. Destinations call.
Nancy Zamprogno, Doncaster

The hills are alive again. I heard Puffing Billy tooting its way through the Dandenongs. Obviously rehearsing for 2021. How sweet it is.
Barry O’Neill, Menzies Creek

If Gladys Berejiklian’s test had been positive, would an apology have sufficed?
Erica Grebler, Caulfield North

WA is keeping some borders closed. Who gives a rat’s? Three hours and three decades behind the rest of Australia.
Barry Barton, Bandiana

We’re being urged to spend and spend, but many people can’t afford presents and holidays.
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine

Furthermore

Maradona and Pele should not be compared. Pele will always be my hero.
Sharyn Bhalla, Ferntree Gully

Will Australians have lobster at Christmas, rather than them rotting in a Chinese port?
Mel Green, Glen Waverley

History indicates that delaying superannuation increases doesn’t result in pay increases. Suddenly employers will become benevolent?
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale

Note from the Editor

The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

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Business

Dairy farmers back Tanarra bid for Lion dairy business


He said no competition issues would arise from a successful Tanarra bid, especially in regard to milk prices paid to farmers. But he said the co-operative had ongoing concerns about the prospect of further consolidation in the Australian dairy industry, which is something that would occur if an existing dairy player such as Bega or Saputo won the battle for the Lion dairy business.

The Lion business includes long established, big-selling brands such as Dairy Farmers, Big M, Pura, Daily Juice and Berri. Lion is owned by the giant Japanese brewer and food company Kirin.

The Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative is a farmer-owned and farmer operated co-operative that supplies milk to Lion, with Mr Kebbell describing the co-operative as a “key partner” of Lion dairy and drinks.

The co-operative has over 300 members from more than 250 dairy farms in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Each year it supplies more than 230 million litres of milk to Lion.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Friday that Saputo had been knocked out of the race for the Lion business, and that Bega was ahead in the auction race.

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In August Bega chairman Barry Irvin told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that Bega could be interested in buying the Lion division.

“Of course we’re interested in dairy consolidation and we’re interested in good dairy companies,” he said.



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Business

Mixed response on $6.4b takeover bid for AMP



The offer lobbed by AMP’s US suitor, Ares, far exceeds the price tag analysts had placed on the troubled wealth manager.



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Australian News

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s bid for Melbourne Cup with Anthony Van Dyck and Tiger Moth alive despite mixed barrier draw


Master Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien will have two of the Melbourne Cup’s hottest favourites running on Tuesday, but their fortunes have been shaped by a mixed barrier draw.

Anthony Van Dyck drew gate three, while Tiger Moth claimed barrier 23. After the draw Tiger Moth lost outright favouritism, drifting from $7 to $8, as stablemate Anthony Van Dyck firmed from $9 into $8.

That pair joined the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet, who drew barrier 14, as equal favourites.

The TAB’s Adam Hamilton has predicted Anthony Van Dyck is likely to start favourite as a result of the draw.

“Of the three most-fancied runners, Anthony Van Dyck was the best served at the draw and he’s likely to start favourite as a result,” Hamilton said.

Last year Surprise Baby drew barrier 20 when he finished an unlucky fifth, but this year drew favourably in barrier seven and is considered by bookmakers a good chance.

The Danny O’Brien-trained Vow And Declare won the Cup from barrier 21 last year and has drawn barrier four for his title defence.

O’Brien’s three other runners drew out with Miami Bound in barrier 13, Russian Camelot in barrier 16 and King Of Leogrance gate 18.

Omen punters would have noted that Jamie Kah, who rides Prince Of Arran, drew barrier one, which was the same alley as the only successful woman jockey Michelle Payne won from when she scored aboard Prince Of Penzance in 2015.

Joseph O’Brien’s Melbourne Cup starters Master Of Reality and Twilight Payment drew alongside each other in barriers 11 and 12 respectively.

Star jockey James McDonald was thrilled with Finche’s barrier draw in six.

“From that draw he should be able to get into a good rhythm. I should be able to put him in a good spot and there should be no excuses,” McDonald said.

The Chris Waller-trained Finche will be contesting his third Melbourne Cup having finished fourth in 2018 and seventh last year.

Finche is a $15 chance while stablemate and Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant is at $13 after coming up with barrier 15.

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Local News - Victoria

IT expert guilty of $2m extortion bid


“You offended thinking the victim company would pay you a substantial sum of money in order to protect itself from such harm,” Judge Paul Lacava said on Wednesday.

“But you badly miscalculated and the victim went to the police armed with recording and notes of its conversations with you.

“It was blackmail, pure and simple.”

Judge Lacava rejected suggestions the phone calls were for “commercial negotiation” and labelled the offending a serious example of white collar crime.

He said the threat of disclosing the data breach to others had the real potential to damage the company’s reputation and cause it financial harm.

“You sought to profit from the situation you found yourself in [and] in a series of phone calls to the executive of the victim company, you threatened to make public the accidental data breach unless compensation was paid to you,” Judge Paul Lacava said.

“You demanded compensation up to $1 million; when your demands were not met your demand increased for so-called compensation to $2 million.”

The court heard Antoski was an accomplished IT specialist who had been dux of his year 12 class before graduating from Swinburne University with honours.

Antoski – a married father of two – had lost a five-year senior government contract as a director of strategic decision-making as a result of being charged, the court heard.

A subsequent and “lucrative” position with ANZ Bank was also terminated after it learned of his offending.

“You have had an accomplished and impressive carer in the field of IT with a number of this country’s leading companies, many of them listed on the Australian Stock Exchange,” Judge Lacava said.

“I accept you regret what you have done and are remorseful.”

Antoski’s legal team had argued that because their client currently ran two companies – a toy importer and digital marketing firm – any criminal conviction could prevent the 47-year-old from travelling overseas to do business.

But Judge Lacava said Antoski’s actions were a serious example of blackmail.

He convicted Antoski and fined him $40,000.

Judge Lacava said he would have sentenced Antoski to three years’ jail if not for his guilty plea.

The Office of Public Prosecutions had attempted to prevent reporting on much of the case, using public funds to argue that allowing publicity of the matter – including naming Antoski – could cause reputational damage to the company at the centre of the blackmail attempt.

Lawyers for The Age argued that naming Antoski did not threaten “the proper administration of justice”.

On Wednesday, Judge Lacava permitted the press to report Antoski’s name.

Antoski did not receive any blackmail payment from the IT company, but has since paid $50,000 towards its legal costs, the court heard.

He has three months to pay his $40,000 fine.

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Disgraced NSW magistrate’s bid to get indecent assault convictions quashed


Disgraced NSW magistrate Graeme Curran is poised to launch a High Court bid to clear his name over his remaining convictions for indecently assaulting a teenage boy in the 1980s.

Curran walked free from prison earlier this year after the Court of Appeal quashed two convictions and reduced his sentence.

He was originally sentenced in 2019 to two years and four months in prison, with a non-parole period of 16 months, after a District Court jury found him guilty of seven counts of assaulting the teen between 1981 and 1983.

However, on appeal his sentence was slashed to 16 months, with a non-parole period of nine months, which allowed him to walk free in June this year due to time already served.

Curran is being sued by his victim in the Supreme Court.

During a brief directions hearing into that matter on Monday, Curran’s lawyer Martin Slattery told the court Curran was seeking leave to appeal to the High Court to have his remaining five convictions quashed.

Lawyers for his victim – who was aged between 13 and 16 at the time he was assaulted by Curran and cannot be named – were pushing for the matter to go to mediation.

However Mr Slattery rejected the proposal partly because he was seeking to go to the High Court to have his remaining five convictions quashed.

Curran is still listed on the Local Court of NSW website as a magistrate and he has been allowed to retain his title until he has exhausted all of his appeal rights.

During the course of his District Court trial, the jury heard Curran’s victim described him as being like a “father figure” who groomed him with presents, including holidays to Europe.

In the Court of Appeal, Justices Robert Hulme, John Basten and Peter Hamill quashed two counts related to allegations Curran performed oral sex on the victim and kissed him to console him when he began to cry while on a sailing trip to Pittwater in 1982.

Because the victim had not raised the allegations until 2015, the Court of Appeal found the jury ought to have doubted his evidence.

The victim had said he had repressed the memory and placed it “into a little black box and put that box into a very dark room that also had a little trapdoor” before it was retrieved during a “relaxation therapy” session with a doctor.



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Trial of alleged rapist prompts bid for High Court ruling on mental fitness


That ruling, and the trial that convicted Mr Camurtay of a 2016 rape of a woman in her own bed, are now at the centre of a legal controversy that could redefine how mental ill health is treated by the courts.

Victoria’s Court of Appeal last month quashed Mr Camurtay’s conviction because his mental fitness had not been assessed. The failure to do so, the appeal court found, was a substantial miscarriage of justice. Justices Phillip Priest, Richard Niall and Mark Weinberg ordered Mr Camurtay face a retrial but warned there remained a “real and substantial question as to the applicant’s fitness to be tried”.

County Court of Victoria Judge Susan Pullen.

County Court of Victoria Judge Susan Pullen.

Now Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd, QC, is seeking leave from the High Court to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision. In her application Ms Judd described the decision as “a controversial one” because it “raised the threshold for fitness considerably” and “extends the test for fitness beyond what has hitherto been accepted in Australia”.

“For many years, it has been generally accepted in Australia that an accused person will be fit to stand trial so long as he or she is sufficiently able to comprehend the trial process, even though, say, a delusional disorder prevents the person at trial from acting in their best interests,” Ms Judd wrote in the application.

She argued the doctrine as laid out by the Court of Appeal would have an impact across Australia, and contradicted the practice in New Zealand and Canada. That said, she accepted the Court of Appeal’s position is “not without its allies” and it was therefore “of some importance that the law be clarified”.

Victoria’s Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness To Be Tried) Act 1997 contains six criteria under which a person can be declared unfit to face trial: that the accused is unable to understand the nature of the charge, to enter a plea, to understand the nature of the trial, to follow the course of a trial, to understand the substantial effect of evidence or to issue instructions to legal counsel.

Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd, QC.

Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd, QC.Credit:Justin McManus

Expert evidence to the Court of Appeal by a forensic psychiatrist found Mr Camurtay satisfied the first five criteria but said he could not issue instructions to his counsel as he had developed a deep mistrust of his lawyers.

Barrister Ian Freckelton, QC, a member of Victoria’s Mental Health Tribunal, told The Age these were difficult questions that raised the potential for disagreement. Ms Judd’s application, if accepted by the High Court, could “establish an authoritative precedent in relation to the interpretation of the test”, as well as the role of expert mental health evidence, he said.

It was important for courts to seek the opinion of forensic psychiatrists to determine if someone was feigning or exaggerating their symptoms, Dr Freckelton said.

Psychiatrists have been unable to agree on Mr Camurtay’s mental state. A report from the Victorian Institute for Forensic Medicine after his trial was able to “find no evidence of psychiatric illness that would explain your offending” or behaviour before and during trial.

The County Court judge ruled Camurtay fit to face trial.

The County Court judge ruled Camurtay fit to face trial.Credit:Penny Stephens

But forensic psychiatrist Prashant Pandurangi diagnosed Mr Camurtay with a delusional order. This diagnosis was crucial to the Court of Appeal’s decision, even though Dr Pandurangi could not say when the disorder first arose and conceded it may have been months after Mr Camurtay had been charged.

Meanwhile, to the horror of his alleged victim and her housemate, Mr Camurtay has been given bail following the Court of Appeal’s decision.

From the next room

Mr Camurtay knew his alleged victim. In fact, he had been sleeping in another room in her Melbourne CBD apartment before he allegedly raped her.

Aged 32 at the time, Mr Camurtay had come to Australia in 2014 from Turkey. Of Kurdish origin, he was seeking a protection visa from the Australian government, claiming he feared persecution due to his involvement in political activities.

By 2016 he had been in a casual relationship with his alleged victim’s housemate for a few weeks. According to court transcripts, he had come over late in the evening to see his new friend. The trio had talked for about an hour before heading off to their respective bedrooms.

But later that night, about 4am, Mr Camurtay had crept into his alleged victim’s bed, the evidence shows. The woman, then aged 55, had woken up to find a man allegedly touching her intimately. Initially she’d thought it was her partner returning from night shift.

Then she realised it was someone else. She had pushed him hard in the chest, asking “who are you”? Camurtay had got out of the bed, the court heard, and the alleged victim recognised him. He left the apartment soon after.

His alleged victim, who cannot be identified, said her only thought had been to get him out of her apartment without anyone getting hurt, and then to get to her phone. She telephoned her partner to report what had happened and also told her friend sleeping in the next room. Her friend had called Mr Camurtay who allegedly said “it’s not what you think”, according to the court transcript, then she called triple zero. Police arrived at 4.36am. While Mr Camurtay’s alleged victim was taken to hospital for examination, her housemate was being interviewed by police about the events and her relationship with the asylum seeker.

“I was mortified. I felt like I had raped her by letting him in the front door,” the alleged victim’s housemate said. Police caught up with Mr Camurtay later in the day and charged him. He offered a “no comment” response.

The first trial

In 2017, Mr Camurtay was committed for trial. He had a lawyer and a plan – he was going to argue that the woman had consented. But by the time the trial came around, he had been moved into immigration detention and was without a lawyer. He rejected Judge Pullen’s recommendation he get one.

Mario Cenacchi, a barrister briefed by Victorian Legal Aid to assist the court by cross examining the alleged victim and her housemate, told Judge Pullen in pre-trial argument that he had “grave concerns” about Mr Camurtay, who was saying he did not trust lawyers.

“I am not convinced that he is in a position to focus his attention on what he should be focusing his attention on,” he told Judge Pullen.

“I don’t know if he’s putting it on for some reason – he’s doing a damn good job – but the person that I spoke to in that room did not seem particularly stable … I had him alone and it did not seem to me that he was really understanding his predicament, what I was saying to him. He seemed … obsessed, beyond just being silly.”

Judge Pullen agreed that Mr Camurtay seemed to fear a conspiracy.

“I use that term in the loosest sense. I mean that they’re out to get him and people are lying and that’s how everyone operates in Australia because that’s what they do in Turkey, and there’s all this sort of hoo-hah going on,” Judge Pullen said.

Mr Cenacchi persisted. “It might be an idea to have him assessed [for mental fitness],” he said.

But Judge Pullen said Mr Camurtay had been able to give instructions even though he was constantly changing them, adding, “There’s no suggestion of mental health issues here.”

Mr Camurtay’s first trial was aborted due to a sample of DNA evidence being contaminated in the laboratory.

The second trial

Mr Camurtay’s second trial took place in July 2018 before Judge Christopher Ryan. Like Judge Pullen, he also urged Mr Camurtay to get legal representation. He did not.

“If I am sick-minded, why haven’t I committed rape in the past?” Mr Camurtay said during the trial. “I mean we have females in Turkey, too, and there are women everywhere, even beyond this case, this incident, and this lady (the alleged victim) is actually a lot older than me, too.”

His claims of a conspiracy also continued.

“How many people have need (to end) up in jail because of bribe-taking judges, lawyers, corrupt police and money-seeking social workers?”

Forensic officer Ece Eken presented a DNA sample to the court, saying it was “100 billion times” more likely to be from Mr Camurtay than anyone else. The jury found him guilty. But before Judge Ryan could sentence him, while Mr Camurtay was in custody, his mental health worsened. In November that year, he was transferred to the secure forensic mental health hospital, Thomas Embling, after a review of his mental health. He was treated with anti-pyschotic drugs and transferred back to prison in February 2019.

In August last year, Judge Ryan sentenced him to six years in prison. Shortly afterwards, Mr Camurtay lodged his appeal.

Court of Appeal

On August 26 this year the appeal hearing began, and little more than a week later, the Court of Appeal found he had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice because both County Court judges had failed to consider his mental fitness.

“Indeed, it is difficult to understand how the judge [Pullen] was able so perfunctorily to dismiss counsel’s legitimate concerns, and so easily conclude that ‘there’s no suggestion of mental health issues here’, when that is precisely the suggestion that counsel was making,” Justice Priest concluded.

Justice Philip Priest of the Court of Appeal.

Justice Philip Priest of the Court of Appeal.

“As far as I can tell, the only explanation for the judge’s dismissive attitude … was a mindset that [Mr Camurtay] may deliberately have been prevaricating in order to avoid deportation.”

Dr Freckelton said it was “important that trials take place without being obstructed by spurious claims of incapacity but also fundamental to the integrity of the justice system that someone who does not understand the reality of their situation due to illness does not suffer a miscarriage of justice”.

On bail

Mr Camurtay’s rape conviction meant he was unlikely to meet the character grounds to receive a protection visa and was likely to be deported. However, the quashing of that conviction and the uncertainty surrounding a retrial means Australian Border Force arguably has far fewer grounds to deport him.

He has been granted bail but remains in immigration detention awaiting changes to his visa conditions. Once he is out, his bail conditions allow him to travel to Melbourne’s CBD, where his alleged victim lives, for the purposes of work, medical treatment and legal advice.

The High Court is expected to rule on the Victorian DPP’s application for leave to appeal within the next few weeks.

The two women at the centre of the case are frustrated the legal process is not over. The experience initially put a serious strain on their friendship.

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“I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t even look at her,” said the alleged victim’s housemate. “Every time there’s a development we go into a state of shock, my legs go to jelly.”

But Mr Camurtay’s alleged victim now says the two women’s friendship is back on track, and that they share a link through these events but are not defined by it.

“We’re soul sisters,” she says. “We’ve got each other’s back.”

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Chris Dawson to face trial for Lynette Dawson’s murder in 2021 after permanent stay bid fails


Former rugby league star Chris Dawson’s murder trial has been delayed until 2021 due to the media and public debate over his ex-wife’s disappearance almost 40 years ago.

Mr Dawson, 72, this month had an application to permanently stay his trial for the alleged murder of Lynette Dawson rejected in the Supreme Court, and is set to face a jury over the allegations mid next year.

Ms Dawson, a doting mother of two, was 33 when she went missing from the family’s Bayview home on Sydney’s northern beaches 38 years ago.

Her former husband, an ex-Newtown Jets player and high school teacher has pleaded not guilty and has always maintained his innocence over the decades.

Police charged Mr Dawson in December 2018 following the publication of a popular podcast, which cannot be named for legal reasons, which investigated Ms Dawson’s mysterious disappearance in January 1982.

This month Justice Elizabeth Fullerton ruled he should face a jury over the historic allegations, despite describing the media’s influence on the case as “the most egregious example of media interference with a criminal trial process” she had ever considered.

Justice Fullerton warned that “overzealous” journalists investigating so-called cold case crimes via the new medium of podcasts needed to better reflect the longstanding rules of the justice system.

She said the resulting public debate surrounding Mr Dawson “highlights the need for both the journalist and the broadcaster to apply restraint if that new medium is to coexist with the fundamental right of a person accused of a serious crime to be tried in a court of law, not in a court of public opinion”.

Justice Fullerton acknowledged the role of the media in exposing criminality, but said it was fundamental that those accused of serious crimes should be tried “in a court of law, not in a court of public opinion”.

“All arms of the media must accept and acknowledge the fundamental principles of criminal justice which it is the responsibility of the courts to uphold in the public interest,” she said.

Mr Dawson will not face trial until at least June 1, 2021.



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Australian News

Olympics cost overruns should make bid cities ‘walk away’ from the Games, say researchers


“The best Games ever” are being remembered in Sydney and around Australia 20 years after Cathy Freeman lit the cauldron to signal the start of the first Olympics of the new millennium.

While anybody over 30 is no doubt having those “where were you?” conversations, it is a very different one taking place at Olympic HQ in Lausanne.

A team of researchers from Oxford University’s Said Business School will publish an open letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that in part advises bidding cities and nations to “walk away” from any plans to host the Games.

Did they not get their invite to the party? Are they spoilsports? Are they purposely raining on Sydney’s parade?

One of the authors, Alexander Budzier, a fellow in management practice at Oxford, told the ABC that the research paper Regression to the Tail: Why the Olympics Blow Up provided suggestions to keep the Games relevant and viable, rather than them becoming an outdated, economic burden that no city wants to take on.

He said they looked at two things.

“One is ‘how much does it cost to host the Olympic Games?’, which is a lot of money, and also ‘what is the risk behind that?’,” Dr Budzier said.

“You get sold a deal at some point in time and then seven years later, once it’s all over you do the big tally up of what it really costs, and you find out ‘that was a lot more than we initially were told’.”

The team searched for financial records for every Olympic Games from Rome 1960 to Rio 2016 although they say they could not locate “valid and reliable data on cost overruns” for 11 out of the 30 Games.

According to their data the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games cost $US5.026 billion ($6.91 billion), with a cost overrun of 90 per cent.

Measured another way, Sydney 2000 cost $US16.8 million ($23.11 million) per sporting event or $US500,000 ($687,760) per athlete.

Sydney busted the budget but Sochi the worst

Sydney’s Games look good compared to some others.

On average, Olympic Games budgets are exceeded by 172 per cent.

The Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 cost $US13.7 billion ($18.84 billion), had a 352 per cent cost overrun, each sporting event cost $US44.7 million ($61.5 million), or $US1.3 million ($1.8 million) per athlete.

City scene with images of hammers and sickles is shown at an Olympics opening ceremony in Russia.
No expense was spared for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, which cost Russia more than $30 billion to host.(Reuters: Grigory Dukor)

The worst was the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games with a price tag of $US21.9 billion ($30.1 billion), a cost overrun of 289 per cent, with each event costing $US223.4 million ($307.3 million) or $US7.9 million ($10.9 million) per athlete.

“It’s quite interesting because there’s a massive imbalance of power between the IOC and the cities who actually take on the task of hosting it … the way the system currently works doesn’t seem to be something that we think most people would easily accept and that’s why we see people walking away from [bidding for] the Games,” Dr Budzier said.

Host city contracts stipulate that any additional costs, or overruns, are taken on by the city or state and not by the IOC.

The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are already 200 per cent over the budget estimated in the bid documents currently sitting at $US15.84 billion ($21.8 billion).

‘Feel good factor’ not considered in research

Dr Budzier concedes the “feel good factor” or economic return on infrastructure built during a Games is not measured in the report, but that is not what it was designed for.

“What we really want to achieve is a kind of thinking about ‘how can we turn this around? How can we have these Games in the future?’,” he said.

“The Olympic movement is one that has values and the mission they have about spreading it worldwide etc, these are all great messages and great vision and a great mission, but the way the system is set up at the moment that doesn’t clearly work.

“So, what we’re outlining here is it actually needs some more radical thinking than we’re currently seeing in the Olympic movement.

The “Six Steps to Better Games Management” in the report are:

  • The IOC and potential hosts must understand the existence of “fat tails” as a matter of fact — that is, that hosting the Games is an extremely risky business in terms of costs
  • Once the risks are understood it becomes immediately clear that larger cost contingencies are needed for the Games
  • The IOC should have skin in the game as regards cost, that is, it should hold some of the cost risk that arise from staging the Games
  • Anything that can be done to shorten the seven-year delivery phase for the Games should be considered
  • To directly tackle the “Eternal Beginner Syndrome”, proposals have been put forward to host the Games in one or a few permanent locations
  • Finally, and perhaps most effectively, prospective host cities could mitigate their risk by simply walking away from the Games

IOC to be told it’s time to talk about change

The five multicoloured Olympic rings stand in front of the headquarters of the IOC in Switzerland.
Oxford University researchers hope the IOC is willing to discuss changing how it works with Olympic bid cities.(Reuters: Denis Balibouse)

The team from Oxford hopes the IOC warms to their proposals now that the report is officially being published.

“We’re also going to reiterate some of those points in an open letter to [IOC President] Thomas Bach,” Dr Budzier said.

“In the letter we say, ‘come on, you don’t have to talk with us directly but at least you have to lift a little bit the whole discussion around your plans for changing the Olympic movement and changing how the IOC works with host cities to really get a grip on this’.”

When asked whether the authors actually like the Games, Dr Budzier responded:



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Local News - Victoria

Toorak real estate agent wins bid to block access to court documents


Ross Gillies, QC, was also due to appear on behalf of Kay & Burton at a hearing before the Australian Human Rights Commission, which was also abandoned after a settlement was reached.

Mr Mukerjea argued in the court that the release of the statement of claim could potentially damage Mr Savas’ standing.

“To permit such access would constitute a substantial intrusion into the privacy of the litigants who have elected to resolve the matter quickly and could cause quite substantial damage to Mr Savas’ reputation,” Mr Mukerjea said.

On Thursday, Mr Wright found the Magistrates Court had the authority to release documents to the media, but denied the request because there had only been two brief court hearings before the matter was settled.

Mr Wright said Mr Savas’ reputation also needed to be taken into account, but rejected an application by his lawyer for costs.

Lawyer Lee Flanagan from Arnold Thomas and Becker declined to discuss the terms of the settlement agreed to by his client.

According to Mr Savas’ online profile “he is widely recognised as one of Australia’s most influential agents”.

“The relationships he has cultivated and nurtured over the years have provided the business with an enviable private client database,” according to the Kay and Burton website

In 2010, Mr Savas set a record for the state’s most expensive residential property, when he sold a mansion on the Portsea clifftop called Ilyuka for $26 million.

Mr Savas told The Good Weekend magazine in 2011 that negotiating the sale of a multimillion-dollar mansion was significantly different to selling a suburban home.



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