Local News - Victoria

Moreland Council vote declared despite suspected vote rigging

If VCAT declared the election void, this would trigger an extraordinary vacancy for each councillor position in north-west ward, and a by-election.

Independents Oscar Yildiz and Helen Davidson, Greens candidate Angelica Panopoulos and Labor-endorsed Milad El-Halabi were declared elected on Thursday after a count of 35,417 votes from the ward.


The north-west ward had the highest voter turnout, with 80.81 per cent of total enrolments, slightly higher than 79.41 per cent in the north-east. The south ward had a turnout of 73.5 per cent.

Victoria Police on Thursday wrote to candidates in the north-west ward asking for any information they might have about the compromised vote.

“The fraud and extortion squad, finance and cybercrime division [and] crime command has commenced an investigation in relation to alleged offences, including, but not limited to, making false documents, multiple voting and tampering with Victorian Electoral Commission ballot papers,” the letter said.


On Wednesday, Victoria Police said it was investigating the complaint “with the highest priority” after it was first reported to police on October 31.

“The VEC became aware of the matter when a number of residents in the north-west ward requested additional vote packs after advising the VEC they had not received the initial voting forms in the mail,” a spokeswoman said.

“It was then identified that a vote had already been returned for those persons. A number of ballots have been seized and will be forensically examined by police as part of the investigation.”

Electoral commissioner Warwick Gately on Tuesday said “at least a few hundred” suspicious ballots had been discovered.

The VEC was required by law to finalise the count and declare the results of the election for the northern suburb council.

In the two other Moreland wards, where there is no evidence of tampering, Labor’s Lambros Tapinos and Annalivia Carli Hannan have been re-elected.

Three councillors – Mark Riley, James Conlan and Adam Pulford – have been elected for the Greens, while Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton was re-elected.

Helen Pavlidis-Mihalakos is a newly elected independent to Moreland’s north-east ward.

Victoria Police has asked anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online.

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Gel blasters declared imitation guns by SA Police following public shootings

Gel blasters will be regulated like other firearms in South Australia from tomorrow, as police crack down on the weapons following a series of incidents causing injury.

All owners and new purchasers of gel blasters will be required to have a licence and store the weapons like regular guns.

The weapons — which can be made to closely resemble assault rifles — will only be permitted to be used in licensed venues including paintball facilities.

SA Police today said a gun amnesty would be extended to include gel blasters until April 2021, for those who do not wish to keep the weapons or apply for licences.

Current owners have six months to obtain a licence but cannot use the weapons until they have one.

Superintendent Stephen Howard said the guns — also known as hydro-blasters — meet the definition of a firearm for the purposes of regulation.

He said there had been more than 180 reports involving the guns in the past two years, including the shooting of a 10-year-old girl at a playground by two men who were never found.

“Not only do they fire a projectile, but they also look like a firearm of a different category or class,” Superintendent Howard said.

two large guns and a small hand gun lay on a grey floor
A man was arrested after allegedly pointing a gel blaster at another car on Augusta Highway.(Supplied: SA Police)

A man allegedly pointed a gel blaster at another car travelling at high speed on the Augusta Highway in the state’s north last month.

Another victim sustained eye injuries when he was shot from a passing car north of Adelaide earlier this year.

Superintendent Howard said SA Police had a responsibility to protect the public from the threat of physical and psychological harm.

“A lot of people say these are toys, but they’re not toys. These don’t meet the definition,” he said.

Superintendent Howard said technical upgrades to gel blasters had made them more dangerous.

He said while the decision would impact retailers, police had foreshadowed today’s move in February this year, when the importation of gel blasters was banned.

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‘Designated area’ declared after teen’s death

Police are trying to calm tensions in Melbourne’s west after a 15-year-old boy was killed outside a suburban shopping centre in an alleged brawl with a group of teens, some as young as 13.

Solomone Taufeulungaki was stabbed to death outside Brimbank Shopping Centre in Deer Park on Tuesday afternoon.

It is alleged he was approached by a group of eight to 10 youths wielding knives opposite his family’s place of worship, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Every Sunday my son come to this church. I believe maybe every Sunday his spirit (will) join with us in this true church,” his father Atunaisa Taufeulungaki told reporters on Wednesday.

As for those behind his son’s death, he said: “We love them. We need to send love to their parents.”

The grief-stricken family laid yellow and blue flowers at the site where he died.

The site has become a makeshift shrine to the teenager, with a steady stream of mourners arriving throughout the day to pay their respects and leave flowers, balloons and notes.

His mother, Salome Taufeulungaki, said the family does not want revenge.

“We want our son back home. He’s a lovely kid. No revenge,” she told Melbourne radio 3AW.

Six teenage boys, aged between 13 and 16, have faced a Children’s Court charged with violent disorder and affray over the incident. No one has yet been charged over his death.

In an effort to prevent further violence of possible reprisal attacks, police said the area around the crime scene could be declared a “designated area” in the coming days.

The move, usually reserved for special events or protests, would allow officers to stop anyone at random and search for weapons.

“This is an option available to us based on the intelligence received, which gives police further powers to conduct searches for weapons,” a post on the Eyewatch Brimbank Police Facebook page reads.

Police said they are also speaking with friends, families, schools and community leaders who are known to the young people involved to “alleviate tensions and ensure they’re aware of the behaviour and the risks involved with any further violence”.

“Rest assured we are doing everything we can to put a stop to this behaviour,” they said.

It comes after three people were arrested when a fight broke out at the scene between about 30 people just hours after Solomone was killed. They have since been released.

A police officer was taken to hospital and another man was treated for a cut to the head during the fight, with footage of it on social media showing people running into the taped-off crime scene.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help Solomone’s family pay for funeral costs.

The fundraiser describes him as “a caring, kind, selfless and humble soul”.

“He had an incomparable sense of humour and was often referred to as a big teddy bear,” it read.

“He always put others before himself and his presence always warmed up a room.”

More than $25,000 had been raised by Wednesday night.

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Local News - Victoria

Two dead, 28 missing as state of disaster declared


Evacuees boarded buses at a relief centre to drive to a boat ramp at Bastion Point before being ferried out to the the waiting naval vessels – HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore – sitting about one kilometre offshore.

Those onboard will be taken on a close to 17-hour journey to Western Port. From there, evacuees will be transferred to centres including in Melbourne and Geelong.

While there was a sense of relief, there was also a number of teary faces as people leave the much loved area shrouded in a blanket of deep, heavy smoke.

James Hack, from Mordialloc, was at the boat ramp in Mallacoota waiting to be ferried to the HMAS Choules with his wife and seven-year-old son.

He said the process on Friday morning had been smooth and the mood was calm.

Mr Hack said he was looking forward to getting home following some “stressful” days spent inside the local cinema and at camp.

He said his son was “doing well”.

“I don’t think he fully comprehends what’s going on.”

Mr Hack celebrated his 39th birthday last night with a camp dinner and some drinks. “It will be memorable”, he said.

George Mills, from Melbourne, boarded the smaller vessel, the MV Sycamore, and described the surreal feeling.

“It’s really quite eerie. We’re watching landing ships coming in to go out to a ship we can’t see,” Mr Mills said.

“We packed up the caravan and boat at 6am and were ready for the 7.30am ferry.


“Buses split up into times, with the more vulnerable people first out.

“We’re on a smaller boat. We’re only allowed to take what’s essential, carry-on baggage and a small blanket.”

State of disaster declared

The Premier declared a state of disaster for East Gippsland Shire, Mansfield Shire, Wellington Shire, Wangaratta Rural Shire, Towong Shire, Alpine Shire, Mt Buller, Mount Hotham and Mount Stirling Alpine Resorts during a late night press conference on Thursday.

“If you can leave, you must leave. If you stay we cannot guarantee we can protect you,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews said the emergency powers gave all government departments a “singular focus” and allowed for formal town evacuations.

The burnt Clifton Creek primary school.

The burnt Clifton Creek primary school.Credit:Joe Armao

It also gives authorities powers to take over private land for relief centres and temporarily acquire community infrastructure.

The powers are scheduled to run for seven days, though this could change.

Two confirmed dead, 28 people missing


Premier Daniel Andrews declared a state of disaster for six local government areas in Victoria and Alpine resorts late on Thursday, the first time such powers have been used by the state government since being recommended after the Black Saturday bushfires.

At the time of the announcement 17 people were unaccounted for, however on Friday morning Mr Andrews said the number had risen to 28. All 28 people are from East Gippsland.

“We have grave fears for those 28 people,” he said.

“A number of those 17 people declared unaccounted for yesterday have been found, those numbers will move around.”

Police said a second Victorian man had died after suffering what is believed to be a medical episode while fighting the fires.

His body was found about 8.30pm on Wednesday by family at a property in Maraningo Creek, near Genoa.

It comes a day after the body of 68-year-old Mick Roberts was discovered on his property at Buchan.

State braces for worsening conditions

On Friday the state was preparing for potentially catastrophic conditions on Saturday.

Two evacuate now warnings and 12 watch and act alerts were in place on Friday morning and 66 aircraft are available to be used statewide to help where necessary.

Fires burning out of control at Mallacoota in east Gippsland in Victoria.

Fires burning out of control at Mallacoota in east Gippsland in Victoria.Credit:Justin McManus

A spokesman for Emergency Management Victoria said a large number of fires were still burning.

“There are currently 49 fires burning across the state and 784,000 hectares have been impacted. Seventeen people are unaccounted for and two are confirmed dead,” he said.


“One of the main goals today is to restore access to towns isolated by the fires. We’ll have the Australian Defence Force continue to provide assistance and support as well,” he said.

The threat comes from forecast temperatures of more than 40 degrees in fire-affected areas, dangerous winds and the drying effects of extremely low humidity.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the low humidity could help fires spread more than 20 kilometres overnight, at a time when, in normal conditions, they would move more slowly.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart said conditions on Friday would aid in evacuation efforts, but things would turn on Saturday.

“Winds will be relatively light across the state today, which is good news when we’re talking about trying to get people out of areas,” Mr Stewart said.

“It will, however, be quite hot in the north-east, with temperatures looking to hit the high 30s and early 40s. In Corryong it will be 39 and Wangaratta will hit 41.”

In East Gippsland, temperatures will be a lot cooler, with thick smoke haze preventing the full force of the sun taking toll.

“Temperatures around the coast of East Gippsland will be in the mid-20s and a bit higher inland, possibly touching 30,” Mr Stewart said.

“We’ve actually seen the past few days that the smoke has been thick enough to block out the sun which has brought about temperatures lower than we’ve forecast. If that occurs again today, we might not reach those higher temperatures in the East Gippsland area.”

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Local News - Victoria

State of disaster declared as residents given warning to evacuate while they can

Police Minister Lisa Neville said at last night’s press conference that police officers would not arrest residents who refused to leave. She said the point of the declaration, that has been issued for seven days, was to send the most powerful message the government could for people to get out while they can.

Ms Neville said the declaration would allow the government to set up evacuation centres on private land or in community centres and to provide security and food to those people who may become trapped. 

Mr Andrews said there would be more information this morning on where people could go if they did not have friends and family to stay with. He said the declaration would help the government “make quick decisions, make good decisions, not be tied up in red tape”.

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Local News - Victoria

State of Emergency to be declared in NSW as ‘very difficult’ bushfire conditions forecast

State of Emergency to be declared in NSW as 'very difficult' bushfire conditions forecast

A state of emergency has been declared for all of NSW, starting on Friday and lasting for one week, as thousands of tourists and residents attempt to leave the state’s South Coast ahead of worsening conditions on Saturday.

Thousands are fleeing NSW’s South Coast, Kosciuszko National Park and the Snowy Mountains after blazes on New Year’s Eve destroyed more than 380 homes.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has urged people to leave the impacted areas if they can, saying authorities are anticipating “very difficult” conditions over the weekend.

“So we’re going to have a very long, difficult day of hot, dry winds, dominating out of the north, north-west before a southerly change emits.

It is going to be a very dangerous day. It’s going to be a very difficult day”.

Image: News Corp Australia

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Australian News

Ichi Ban declared overall and handicap winner of the 75th Sydney to Hobart yacht race


December 30, 2019 11:05:51

New South Wales yacht Ichi Ban has become both the overall and handicap winner of the 75th Sydney to Hobart race.

Key points

  • Ichi ban was at sea for more than three days, after becoming overall and handicap race winner
  • It was also the handicap title winner in 2017
  • On Saturday, supermaxi Comanche claimed line honours victory

Ichi Ban arrived in Hobart on Saturday evening, after two days, six hours, 18 minutes and five seconds at sea.

It is the second time the yacht has taken out the handicap crown, first winning in 2017, and narrowly missing out last year.

Skipper Matt Allen said the win was “a great thrill” for the whole crew.

“It is a fantastic celebration down here in Hobart. The crew are ecstatic,” he said.

“The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is so hard to win and it has been a long wait since we have been at the dock in Hobart to wait to be declared the overall winner for 2019.”

He said although it was “a tactical race”, much of the result depended on weather conditions.

“It is important to put the boat in the right position and sail it hard when it is in the right position,” he said.

“There is pressure all the way from Sydney to Hobart, and then you need to beat all the other boats of different sizes.

“We were leading the race most of the time from Sydney, but you need the weather gods to help you a little as well to get the overall win.

“With the boats similar in performance characteristics, if you don’t get through one of the weather systems ahead of the competition, it will be game over, end of the race for you. It is really stressful when it is light airs.”

Thirty-four minutes separated Ichi Ban and the second-placed Gweilo, while Quest came third in the handicap race.

On Saturday, supermaxi Comanche claimed its third line honours victory, crossing the line about 7:30am, with a race time of 1 day, 18 hours, 30 minutes and 24 seconds.

Comanche was followed into the River Derwent by its fellow supermaxis, with InfoTrack crossing the line second and Wild Oats XI third.

Scallywag was on track for line honours, leading the fleet for much of Saturday, but a collision with a shark forced the supermaxi to slow down to remove the animal from the rudder, effectively ending any hopes of a place.

A fleet of 157 yachts left Sydney on Boxing Day. Some boats are still expected to arrive in Hobart today, but forecast storms this afternoon are expected to make conditions difficult for those at sea.










First posted

December 30, 2019 07:43:48

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