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Australian News

Trucking company worker arrested, charged with manslaughter


A man has been arrested and charged with manslaughter over the horrifying crash on the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne on April 22, which killed four police officers.

Detectives arrested the Simeon Tuteru, 49, in Lyndhurst at about 9:20am on Saturday.

He was charged with four counts of manslaughter, and granted bail at an out of session court hearing on Saturday night.

Mr Tuteru is the Victorian manager of Connect Logistics, the company that owned the truck involved in the crash.

Lynette Taylor, Glen Humphris, Joshua Prestney and Kevin King were killed on duty after police intercepted a Porsche, which was allegedly travelling at more than 140km/h.

All four officers were standing in the emergency lane of the freeway, deciding to impound the car, when the truck drove into them.

RELATED: Horrific truck crash leaves four police officers dead

The driver of the Porsche, 41-year-old Richard Pusey, has since been charged with nine offences, which include driving at a dangerous speed, reckless conduct endangering life, and failing to render assistance.

He allegedly verbally abused one of the officers, Senior Constable Taylor, after the crash, before fleeing the scene.

The driver of the truck, Mohinder Singh Bajwa, was charged with four counts of culpable driving causing death after a joint investigation by the Major Collision Investigative Unit and the Homicide Squad.

RELATED: Porsche driver hands himself in after ‘fleeing scene’

RELATED: Truck driver charged over Eastern Freeway crash

RELATED: Body cam footage reveals dying officer’s last moments

The trucking company, Connect Logistics, has faced intense scrutiny in the wake of the tragedy.

In May, Victoria police travelled to New South Wales and raided the company’s head office in Riverstone, seizing a number of documents, including log books.

New South Wales Police then penalised Connect Logistics for a string of safety breaches, including truck defects and the use of overworked and fatigued drivers.

Seven News Melbourne was the first to report that Mr Tuteru was the man arrested on Saturday.

Mr Singh has apologised for the officers’ deaths. He spoke via a statement released by his lawyer in early May.

“Mr Singh is genuinely sorry and saddened that four people have lose their lives as a result of the collision,” the short statement reads.

“He is acutely aware of the impact upon the families, friends and work colleagues of those that lost their lives.”

He did not apply for bail when he faced court, and is due to return for a committal mention on October 1.

Funerals have been held for all four officers. A state memorial service will take place when coronavirus measures are lifted.



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Business

Macquarie accused of buying company to kill extortion allegations


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The bank has strenuously denied these allegations and was seeking to have the case dismissed before the transaction was struck.

The man who was driving the case brought by Vantage, Vic Ferreira, has now been sacked by the new ownership group and an independent panel is reviewing the case “due to the affiliation between the new owner and Macquarie”. The court has stayed the matter until the review is complete.

New York-based Vantage and its owners Big Apple and Clear Choice provide financing to several large energy companies in the US so that they can bridge the gap between when they bill customers and when they are paid. Macquarie is a key player in this space.

Macquarie was the lender and advisor to Vantage before the collapse of Big Apple and Clear Choice. Vantage had borrowed $US50 million from Macquarie and Big Apple had borrowed $US25 million. The same Macquarie banker who brokered the debt deals was also the financial adviser to Big Apple in its acquisition of Vantage.

Mr Ferreira was the boss of Big Apple before the acquisition of Vantage. Big Apple entered into bankruptcy in 2018 after Macquarie called in its legal rights over breaches of the loan agreement.

Vantage hit Macquarie with the civil claim earlier this year which included very serious allegations of misconduct against the Australian bank.

“Macquarie engaged in multiple predicate criminal acts, including criminal interference with commerce by threats of violence through the use of extortion and strong-arm fear tactics, putting Vantage, its customers, and Vantage through extortionate threats to customers, in fear of economic loss and ultimate financial ruin.”

Vantage alleges Mr Ferreira and Big Energy was misled by their Macquarie banker into buying Vantage.

“In short, the Macquarie defendants… desperately needed to cover up a bad investment in Vantage to avoid losses by making sure that internal numbers stayed high and bonuses would continue to be paid,” court documents allege.

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“Macquarie covered the loss the only way it could, by lying to and bullying one of its other clients that had a strong balance sheet and also relied on Macquarie’s capital to keep operating its business and coerced them to “acquire” Macquarie’s bad investment.

“The ultimate result of that coerced transaction was the bankruptcy of two entities and clients of Macquarie, Big Apple and Clear Choice, and the destruction of Vantage.”

It is alleged the purchase of Vantage by Big Energy was brokered by a Macquarie banker who advised both sides of the transaction while also being a director of Vantage.

Mr Ferrira claims that banker complained to him on several occasions that the bad debt in Vantage had blown out his division’s cost of capital and was harming their bonuses.

“If [the banker] was successful in securing a payment on the legacy debt, his group’s cost of capital would be lowered resulting in higher profits for [the banker] and Macquarie.”

Macquarie described the case as frivolous in its legal response to Vantage’s claim.

‘This litigation was filed in a transparent attempt by Vantage’s former CEO to disrupt the sale of Vantage in Big Apple’s bankruptcy,” it lawyers said.

It said the allegations of racketeering, extortion and corporate sabotage were completely meritless. Despite Mr Ferreira’s allegation against his Macquarie advisors, Macquarie said that it showed he made the decision with advice.

“Notwithstanding these outrageous claims, the further amended complaint makes clear that Big Apple, Vantage, and Ferreira acted voluntarily and in their own economic self-interest at all times.”

A spokeswoman for Macquarie declined to comment as the matter was before the courts.

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Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s second company is set to be the year’s biggest IPO


While little known in the West, Ant runs Alipay, the Chinese payments technology company. It is also the world’s most valuable private financial technology company and is increasingly posing a direct threat to big established banks who are struggling to compete.

Alipay is making progress outside of its home market, something the payment titans of Europe and the US have long feared.

Sarah Kocianski, head of research at fintech consultancy 11:FS

Ant Group’s explosive growth to surpass former market leaders, such as PayPal, has made it this year’s hot ticket float. It has many investors – as well as bankers and lawyers eager to participate in the deal – salivating at the prospect.

While Ma has stepped back from the day-to-day running of his empire, after many initial public offerings were cancelled due to coronavirus, the financial firm is expected to float later this year. Eric Jing, executive chairman of Ant, said the firm wanted to “make it possible for the whole of society to share our growth”.

Unlike Alibaba, which made waves when it floated in New York in 2014, at the time the world’s biggest initial public offering, Ant will float in a dual listing in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s nascent Star market, which China hopes will attract local technology companies.

Analysts say Alipay controls more than half of the Chinese market in payments and has grown quickly elsewhere. They have issued bullish estimates of Ant’s valuation, with Bank of America putting it at $US210 billion and JP Morgan at $US218 billion.

There is no specific timeline attached to the float, although Ant Group is expected to sell 10 per cent of its business, according to Nikkei. It had profits in the region of $US2.2 billion in the last quarter.

Launched in Hangzhou in 2003, Alipay was part of Taobao, an e-commerce website owned by Ma’s Alibaba. The idea was to create secure payments on the site. It used escrow accounts to secure funds for third party sellers on online stores. Since then, it has expanded into digital wallets and QR-code “scan to pay” mobile payments.

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When Alipay launched, huge numbers of Chinese people had smartphones, but were unserved in all areas of finance, says Sarah Kocianski, head of research at fintech consultancy 11:FS. “That enabled it to capture a significant market share early,” she said, “And to establish itself as a super app by offering all these services in one place.”

In 2010, Alibaba spun off Alipay into a new company. In 2015, it was rebranded as Ant Financial. In 2018, it raised $US14 billion in the largest one-off equity raise ever, valuing it at $US150 billion. As well as Chinese investors, overseas funds participated including Singapore’s Temasek and US private equity firms Warburg Pincus, Silver Lake and General Atlantic.

Alipay is now targeting two billion users as it expands west. “Alipay is making progress outside of its home market, something the payment titans of Europe and the US have long feared,” says Kocianski. It has added thousands of merchants in the West.

In 2020, the prevalence of AliPay’s service even saw it turned into a digital contact-tracing solution for coronavirus cases by China – showing the ubiquity of mobile payments relied on by hundreds of millions of people.

Analysts say Alipay - run by the Ant Group - controls more than half of the Chinese market in payments.

Analysts say Alipay – run by the Ant Group – controls more than half of the Chinese market in payments.Credit:Bloomberg.

All this makes for an alluring narrative for investors looking for exposure in China. With the listing coming on Shanghai’s new Star market, it is likely to be popular at home. China’s state media has urged investors to pile into domestic stocks to foster “a healthy bull market”.

But there are also sceptics.

“I suspect [Ant] will go up a lot on day one,” says William de Gale, a technology investment manager at BlueBox. “There will be a lot of pressure on people to buy the shares. There will be those who want to invest more in China. But I will be thinking, ‘Will this really create value for our investors?'”

Investors still recall the transfer of ownership of Alipay from Alibaba in 2010, which ignited a bitter row with major shareholder, US tech giant Yahoo. Ma moved the ownership of Alipay from Alibaba into a vehicle he controlled. At the time this was said to be to comply with local rules, but sparked shareholder outrage and a settlement.

Previously, Alibaba was entitled to a profit share from Ant Group. After a swap last year it now holds a 33 per cent equity stake, although Ma still owns the controlling share.

Ant Group has also faced regulatory scrutiny in the US, where it saw a recent takeover attempt of a US payments firm blocked. In China, meanwhile, regulators have taken aim at some financial technology sectors, such as high interest loans.

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After years as the figurehead of China’s technology boom, Jack Ma stepped down as executive chairman of Alibaba last year. With geopolitical tensions, the prospects for Chinese firms overseas is uncertain. The impact of coronavirus on the value of global stock markets is still in question while unrest in Hong Kong could impact its capital markets. Against this backdrop, Ant Group will be relying on its high-growth story against the odds to justify its $US200 billion price tag.

Telegraph, London

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Afterpay founders in $250m sell-off as company announces $1b capital raise


Buy now, pay later market darling Afterpay will raise $1 billion in fresh capital as part of a strategy to speed up its global expansion, with founders Anthony Eisen and Nicholas Molnar selling $250 million in shares as part of the process.

The moves comes as Afterpay reported a record sales across the fourth quarter of the financial year, with underlying sales jumping 127 per cent to $3.8 billion. Afterpay’s full-year sales have now doubled on the prior financial year, up 112 per cent to $11.1 billion.

Anthony Eisen and Nick Molnar are each selling about 10 per cent of their holdings in Afterpay.

Anthony Eisen and Nick Molnar are each selling about 10 per cent of their holdings in Afterpay.Credit:Eamon Gallagher

Shares will be offered at $61.75 apiece, reflecting a 9.2 per cent discount to Afterpay’s $68 closing price on Monday. A total of $650 million will be raised through the fully underwritten institutional placement.

Eisen and Molnar will each sell off 2.05 million shares alongside the placement, worth a total of around $250 million, representing 10 per cent of their respective holdings in the company. This is the second time in just over 12 months the two founders have sold shares in the company, with the duo selling around $100 million in shares last June.



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Warnings JobKeeper payments could boost company profits and executive bonuses


“You would hope where the JobKeeper subsidy has been material to the company’s result that will be called out explicitly in the forthcoming reporting season,” he said.

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“It’s been such a stimulus that the withdrawal of it will be material, and it’s notable many companies have not been explicit about what the impact of it has been.”

Online sales have continued to boom for retailers during the pandemic and a gradual reopening of stores through May and June has also helped the sector claw back some ground.

ASX-listed footwear retailer Accent Group – which operates brands such as Platypus, Hype DC and Athlete’s Foot – told shareholders on June 25 its total earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation would be 10 per cent higher for the year, or around $120 million.

Accent cited strong digital sales and the support of government programs as a reason for its increased profit, with the retailer’s 5000-odd employees collecting the subsidies in recent months.

With six payments issued to date, Accent may have received upwards of $30 million from the JobKeeper scheme. The New Zealand government’s wage subsidy index shows the company has received $NZ2.2 million ($2.07 million) for its stores in the country.

Harvey Norman has told investors to expect a 20 per cent boost to profits for the full year.

Harvey Norman has told investors to expect a 20 per cent boost to profits for the full year.Credit:Scott Barbour

Similarly, Harvey Norman has collected $12 million in payments from the New Zealand government, and founder Gerry Harvey confirmed to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald a couple of Australian franchisees had also signed on to the JobKeeper scheme. Harvey Norman also told investors to expect a profit boost for the full year, saying adjusted profit before tax would increase 20 per cent to around $450 million.

Mr Paatsch said investors should keep an eagle eye on executive bonuses come the end of the year, given they are closely linked to profit figures and share price performance. Following its profit upgrade, Accent Group shares rose nearly 10 per cent.

“Investors are right to be sceptical where executives are drawing bonuses at the same time as claiming JobKeeper,” he said.”I don’t think it was ever the intention of the government to subsidise executive salaries.”

James Cook, chief investment officer at ESG-focused fund U Ethical, said onus will be on shareholders to strike down any remuneration report which doesn’t accurately reflect government subsidies.

Ownership Matters co-founder Dean Paatsch.

Ownership Matters co-founder Dean Paatsch.Credit:Paul Jeffers

“If executive remuneration has been artificially stimulated at the taxpayer’s expense, that shouldn’t warrant a bonus based on whatever marginal performance that generates,” he said.

“The onus will be on shareholders because it’d be a disappointing free-kick to give to management. It’s certainly something we’d look at in our voting policy.”

Despite the subsidy being a fillip for company earnings, analysts have said they will ignore profit figures for companies taking JobKeeper, with Citi’s head of research Craig Woolford saying it was causing a “distorted picture” of company performance.

“We would discount the relevance of the current year’s figures and prefer to look forward to what 2021/2022 earnings really look like without the prop of JobKeeper,” he said.

The analyst also backed calls for companies to isolate any contribution from JobKeeper on wage expenses when reporting in August.

“What we’ve seen from some companies in New Zealand is they’ve itemised the amount of wage subsidy that they received. I think that disclosure will help us understand the impact that JobKeeper has had on a business,” he said.

In a fact sheet released in early June, corporate regulator ASIC advised companies to take significant discretion with remuneration for the year, including a missive to “avoid unintended variable pay outcomes” arising as a result of COVID-19.

A spokesperson for Harvey Norman said executives’ remuneration was subject to oversight from the company’s remuneration committee, which was aware of ASIC’s warning, especially around “unintended windfall gains”.

Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) chief executive Louise Davidson said it was imperative for boards to read the room and ensure discretion over executive payments.

“Given the extent of the economic pain being felt across the entire community and the market, this is clearly a time when investors expect to see restraint on executive pay,” she said.

Accent Group did not respond prior to deadline.

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Local News - Victoria

Education department IT manager directed $14m work to his own company


A senior project manager in Victoria’s Department of Education and Training misused his position for more than a decade to direct almost $14 million-worth of work to a company he owned, the state’s anti-corruption watchdog says.

The long-serving IT project manager had a reputation within the department as an exceptional performer and “go-to guy”, but is alleged to have used his position to sub-contract work to a company he was the sole director of for 13 years.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission said its investigation had also uncovered serious failures of supervision in the department’s senior ranks, which allowed the project manager to benefit from his position for many years.

“The manager was able to bypass proper processes in order to obtain an unfair advantage for his company, which disadvantaged competing IT suppliers but benefited him,” the watchdog said on Wednesday.

The project manager had openly declared his connection with the company he funnelled work to to some colleagues, however the connection was not widely known across the rest of the department, IBAC found.



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How Brett Kelly launched $47 million ASX listed company


Brett Kelly landed his “dream job” straight after school – but by 22, he had lost it all.

The Sydney teen had scored a plum full-time cadetship at an investment bank, and he was also completing a university degree on the side.

But everything changed when his boss asked to “have a moment” one day in June 1997.

The chat resulted in his employment being terminated – but Mr Kelly said his “shock exit” didn’t end up being the crushing blow many would assume.

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“I doubt many people can say losing their dream job at the age of 22 was the best thing that ever happened to them,” Mr Kelly said.

“For me, probation as an investment banker – and my subsequent firing – was a huge learning curve.

“I was a young guy, unsure what my options were. But I’d quickly worked out from this experience, and from the people I worked with, that I wanted to build a company.”

After he was let go, Mr Kelly’s father handed him two books to help him plan his next step.

They were Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends And Influence People – which focused on building good relationships and achieving goals.

They gave him a “crazy idea” – to write his own book based on interviews with some of Australia’s most successful and well known people, from former prime ministers to business leaders, musicians and artists.

“I thought I’d find people who had been successful, ask them what they did and model myself on that,” he said.

“I wasn’t the son of Kerry Packer or anything – I had never met people I’d call ‘extreme achievers’ before and I didn’t grow up next to billionaires or genius scientists … but I had the crazy idea to contact the most interesting people in Australia and ask them to spend an hour with me.

“I made 5500 calls over three months and gently harassed people and 34 of them ended up speaking with me face-to-face.”

One interviewee said yes but then stood him up two times before he secured the interview.

“The third time, he said he deliberately turned me away the first two times because he thought if I didn’t keep coming back, I’d never publish a book,” he said.

“It was a great lesson for a young guy. I’m genuinely relentless, and I’ll keep turning up.”

His book, Collective Wisdom: Prominent Australians On Success And The Future, ended up being a bestseller, but Mr Kelly always knew he wanted to start his own business.

So he went back to university and became a qualified tax agent before finding a job at an accounting firm.

But by 2006, he decided to take the lessons he’d learnt from Australia’s highest achievers and start his own company – Kelly & Partners Chartered Accountants – from scratch.

Today, the ASX-listed firm turns over more than $47 million a year.

Over the years, Mr Kelly has also published several other books based on interviews with high-flyers, and his latest effort, Investment Wisdom, has just been released.

The father-of-three told news.com.au over the decades he had discovered many high achievers had some key traits in common, including the drive to be generous with their knowledge and “persistence, determination and relentlessness”.

He said successful people had also often found something “much bigger than themselves” that they truly believed in, they worked “much harder than what people think is normal” and had incredibly high standards.

They were all traits he put to use while building his own empire.

“There’s very little that can’t be overcome with an amazing amount of work – when I started the firm I’d be heading to work at 3.30am, I’d work til 6.30pm, have dinner at 7pm and do more work from 8-11pm,” he said.

“Being prepared to work 16-hour days is a very common trait among people who achieve their goals.
“Some people say you have to have a life, but I would say, why do you think your work is not your life? If you’re doing work you really love and care about you’re never really at work.”



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Australian News

Target closes 167 stores in massive company restructure


Australian Target fans are in mourning today after parent company Wesfarmers announced up to 167 stores could disappear forever over the next year.

Under the drastic plan, up to 75 Target stores will be closed down while 92 will be converted into Kmart outlets, which Wesfarmers also owns.

The shock announcement regarding the struggling discount department store chain was made in a note to investors on Friday morning.

It revealed a number of plans designed to “accelerate the growth of Kmart” and “address the unsustainable financial performance of Target”.

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They include converting “suitable” Target and Target Country stores to Kmart stores, the closure of between 10 to 25 large format Target stores, the closure of the remaining 50 small format Target Country stores, and a “significant restructuring of the Target store support office”.

Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said the changes would “enhance the overall position of the Kmart Group, while also improving the commercial viability of Target”.

“For some time now, the retail sector has seen significant structural change and disruption, and we expect this trend to continue. With the exception of Target, Wesfarmers’ retail businesses are well-positioned to respond to the changes in consumer behaviour and competition associated with this disruption,” Mr Scott said.

“The actions announced reflect our continued focus on investing in Kmart, a business with a compelling customer offer and strong competitive advantages, while also improving the viability of Target by addressing some of its structural challenges by simplifying the business model.

“The reduction in the Target store network will be complemented by increased investment in our digital capabilities, following the continued strong growth in online sales across the Kmart Group and the pleasing progress in Catch since its acquisition in August 2019. The expansion of our digital offer will provide customers with access to the Kmart and Target products they love, together with over two million products from the Catch marketplace, via home delivery or click and collect.”

A Target spokeswoman told news.com.au in a statement said the decision had been a difficult one.

“The decision to transform the Target store network, and particularly the very difficult decision to close stores, is not one that is made lightly, but one that is necessary to improve the commercial viability of the business and to support the thousands of people we employ,” the spokeswoman said.

“Our number one priority is talking to and supporting our teams. The majority of these changes will occur next year, and we are committed to looking for redeployment opportunities for affected team members in Kmart, Catch and other Wesfarmers businesses, including guaranteeing job offers to all Target team members in converted stores.

“Our team, customers and communities have always been at the heart of everything we do – and that doesn’t change today.”

The investor note also revealed Wesfarmers expected restructuring costs and provisions in Kmart Group of approximately $120 to $170 million before tax, non-cash impairment in betweeny $430 to $480 million before tax, non-cash impairment in the Industrial and Safety division of approximately $300 million before tax.

Kmart Group is also expected to incur one-off non-operating costs of approximately $120 to $140 million relating to the conversion of stores and stock clearance activity prior to closure or conversion.

The Target restructure is expected to take place over the next 12 months, although most activity is expected to occur next year.

The company also confirmed that while the decision would significantly impact staff, all team members in Target stores scheduled for conversion to Kmart would receive an offer of employment from Kmart, while those from closing stores would be “given consideration for new roles”.

Kmart Group managing director Ian Bailey said the company had made a “significant effort to avoid store closures, retain our valued team members, keep serving our customers and supporting our suppliers”.

“Unfortunately, the disruptive and competitive nature of the retail sector requires us to make some difficult decisions to ensure we have a viable Target business into the future, while continuing the strong growth of Kmart and Catch,” Mr Bailey said.

“We continue to believe that Target has a future as a leading retail brand in Australia and is much loved by many customers, but a number of actions and changes are required to ensure it is fit for purpose in a competitive, challenging and dynamic market, including a smaller number of stores and a stronger online business.”



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Local News - Victoria

There is nobility in isolation, for human company is our great craving


Country people have always sought company – at least as robustly as their city cousins – to counteract the physical distance between them and wider society.

Visitors dropped in unnanounced and sat around our table for hours. Concerts were organised in the local hall, the accomplished and the plain enthusiastic abandoning farmhouses to make music together.

There were dances too. Everyone knew the Pride of Erin and the waltz and the flashy evening three-step.

The progressive dinner was another social ritual for country people, though it would be scandalous now. Families piled into cars, kids with blankets and pillows in the back, and headed to the home of hosts for an entree. Drinks, of course, accompanied the devils on horseback or stuffed tomatoes.

Suitably oiled, the families charged off to the next distant farmhouse for the main course. Plus drinks. Us kids ran wild outside, instructions to sleep happily ignored.

Finally, it was away to yet another destination for dessert. Right through to the last glass, known as a nightcap.

Eventually, the travelling dinner done, fathers pointed family jalopies homeward. It remains a mystery how no families of my memory ended up upside down in a swamp.

Back on the course at Yarra Bend this week.

Back on the course at Yarra Bend this week.Credit:Jason South

There was Sunday tennis, too, at the one court within reach, and golf and the races and agricultural shows across the district.

Isolation, in short, was abhorred, breeding social activity.

I was reminded of this when reading a new book by a fellow who taught me in my last years of secondary school, Pat Walsh.

He later became a well-known human rights advocate for the East Timorese, but recently he has returned to his own childhood to write an arresting history of his family, “the Walshs of Walshs Road, South Purrumbete”.

He emerges as a storyteller with a rare gift for words, which should be no surprise: he comes from a vast Irish Catholic family. The Irish, though they might be Australian-bred for generations, are a people known for the ability to bleed a rollicking tale and a heartbreaking song from a stone. My own grandparents, three generations beyond Donegal, never missed the chance of a night-long family party around the piano, Danny Boy aching across dark paddocks.

<i>Milking Our Memories</i> by Pat Walsh.

Milking Our Memories by Pat Walsh.

Walsh has called his memoir Milking Our Memories, for his was a dairy-farming family just south of the Stony Rises at South Purrumbete, a land of ancient volcanoes and lakes between Colac and Cobden in the Western District.

This is isolated country, but the power of Walsh’s telling of the lives of his family through 150 years is to deny the idea that these were socially secluded people.

Even during the bleak days of World War II, he writes, “the war dominated conversations like the weather, but life went on”.

“The Cobden Tennis Association, the Grand Lodge, the Scouts and the Shooting Range, the latter three in nearby Pomberneit, soldiered on. The Cobden Turf Club continued to run annual meetings.

“And that ultimate in escapism, the pictures, continued to be offered at the Cobden Theatre.”

Even with half the world in flames, the urge to socialise and play and escape together into celluloid fantasy ran strong in the most out-of-the-way of communities.

Escape from reality, of course, proved elusive: Walsh’s uncle, Cyril Augustine Walsh, was aboard a Lancaster bomber shot down by a German night fighter over Denmark in September 1943.

“His death, the knock on the door that all parents whose children were on active service feared, admitted the very beast, not just its shadow, into the inner sanctum of a farm house on a back-country road at the far edge of the Western world,” writes Walsh.

Yet life on that back-country farm went on. A new Walsh child was born two months later, and named Cyril.

All these years later, mere hours after Premier Dan Andrews allowed golf and fishing to resume this week after two months of denial, I found our local town golf club’s car park full and the harbour marina abuzz with fisherfolk and boats.

The sudden activity was a reminder that the urge to get on with life and to enjoy it with others is a powerful compulsion within most of us.

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It is, then, a wonderment that most Australians – even in my pocket of country Victoria, where not a single case of coronavirus has been detected – have been prepared, week after week, to deny themselves the pleasure of close company in the greater cause of saving themselves and their fellow citizens from something invisible.

There’s something noble in such sacrifice.

Milking Our Memories: 150 years of the Walshs of Walshs Road, South Purrumbete by Pat Walsh is published by KPG, price $30 (orders by email: padiwalsh@gmail.com).

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Truck company in fatal crash penalised for safety breaches


The trucking company involved in a fatal accident on Victoria’s Eastern Freeway has been penalised for a string of safety breaches, including truck defects and using fatigued drivers.

NSW Police have issued 35 infringements to Connect Logistics, the owner of the semi-trailer driven by Mohinder Singh when he crashed on the freeway at Kew on April 22, allegedly killing four police officers who were impounding a vehicle in the emergency lane.

Police and Transport for NSW inspected 61 trucks linked to the western Sydney company between May 5 and Wednesday at various locations, including Wetherill Park, Marulan, Wagga Wagga and Pine Creek.

They found two trucks had “major” defects, including oil leaks and excessive brake-pad wear, while 17 trucks had minor defects, including imbalanced brakes, headlight damage, unsecured bolts and inoperative lights.

One driver was charged with “critical hours” fatigue breaches and 15 drivers were issued with fines for overwork resulting in fatigue and “work diary administration issues”.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said the force regularly responds to major truck crashes.

“We will continue to work with other police and road agencies to ensure that fleets are safe, and drivers fit and able to operate on our roads,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Singh, 47, has been charged with culpable driving causing the deaths of Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney.

He is remanded in custody until a committal mention on October 1.



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