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Heritage Victoria, police launch investigation into Brighton house fires


“Spurling House was the architectural innovation that introduced the iconic North American shingle style home to Melbourne back in 1888.’’

Spurling House before it was damaged in a fire in October 2015.

Spurling House before it was damaged in a fire in October 2015.

The heritage listed home was built for Phillis Spurling by the Canadian architect John Horbury Hunt, one of the first important North American architects to practise in Australia. Spurling House is his only known work in Victoria.

Spurling House was then included in the Victorian Heritage Register in 1974 for its architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria.

The design is notable for being the first Victorian house to be built in the Shingle style, a North American technique that used organic materials in a way that elevated their natural qualities.

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In January, the owner of the historic 131-year-old house lost their battle with the Heritage Council to demolish the property after arguing the 2015 fire had left the property uninhabitable because it is infested with mould.

At the time, Heritage Victoria said the demolition would result in the complete loss of the cultural heritage significance of the place.

Heritage Victoria subsequently issued two repair orders to the house’s owner, which required works to be carried out to prevent the further deterioration of the building.

This prompted the owner to launch an appeal against the repair orders in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Spurling House has since been demolished in compliance with an emergency order issued by the City of Bayside, following the most recent fire.

Heritage Victoria said there were about 2300 places included on the Victorian Heritage Register including Flinders Street Railway Station, Parliament House, the Murtoa Stick Shed and the Brighton Bathing Boxes.

Spurling House in Brighton in January 2020 before the second blaze.

Spurling House in Brighton in January 2020 before the second blaze.Credit:Eddie Jim

It is an offence under the Heritage Act 2017 to demolish, damage or despoil a place on the Victorian Heritage Register. Anyone convicted faces fines of up to $793,056 and, or five years’ jail.

Moorabbin Crime Investigation Unit detectives are investigating whether both attacks are linked.

A police spokeswoman said a person previously contacted Crime Stoppers regarding this matter with investigators believing there are others who may also have information.

Police are urging these people, or anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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George Floyd protests: White House defends Donald Trump’s ‘set up’ claim about injured elderly protester


The White House says US President Donald Trump was raising “legitimate” questions when he posted a tweet suggesting a 75-year-old protester critically injured by police may have been “an Antifa provocateur”.

Meanwhile, Oscar-winning film Gone With the Wind has been removed from streaming platform HBO Max due to racism concerns.

This story will be updated throughout Thursday.

Thursday’s key moments:

White House defends Trump’s tweet about injured protester

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GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: Buffalo Police push man to the ground

The White House says it was President Donald Trump’s “prerogative” to raise questions about an incident in Buffalo that saw police injure a 75-year-old protester, after Mr Trump shared an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about the man possibly being a member of Antifa.

Martin Gugino was shoved by police when he approached them during a march against racism and police brutality, in an incident that was captured on video and led to criminal charges against the officers involved.

Mr Gugino fell down after being pushed, and blood was seen coming out of his ears. He was subsequently hospitalised, but has now been released from intensive care.

The Buffalo demonstration was one of many protests after George Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.

Mr Trump, offering no evidence, tweeted on Tuesday that Mr Gugino’s fall could be a “set up” with ties to the anti-fascist movement Antifa, and cited a report by the One America News Network (OANN), which also offered no evidence.

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White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany defended his comments on Fox News.

“And it’s his prerogative to do so.”

Democrats and other critics have blasted Mr Trump over his tweet and urged him to apologise, while a lawyer for Mr Gugino called Mr Trump’s statement “dark, dangerous, and untrue,” according to media reports.

Buffalo Police officers Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, face felony assault charges over the incident.

Gone with the Wind gone from HBO

HBO has temporarily removed multiple Oscar-winning film Gone With the Wind from its streaming platform as global protests against racism continue.

The movie, which remains the highest-grossing film of all-time after adjustments for inflation, was released in 1939 and is set against the backdrop of the US Civil War.

“Gone With The Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement.

HBO said the movie would later return in its original form but “with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions”.

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Hattie McDaniel, who played a black slave in the cinematic epic, became the first African-American to receive an Academy Award, winning in the Best Supporting Actress category in 1940.

Hers was one of eight Oscars awarded to the film.

On Tuesday, the Paramount Network dropped the long-running reality series Cops after 33 seasons.

The BBC also removed episodes of Little Britain, a comedy series that featured a character in blackface, from its streaming service.

Trump will ‘not even consider’ renaming Army bases named after Confederates

A line of US army troops walk towards a large aircraft
US President Donald Trump says he will not consider renaming the 10 US army bases which have been named after Confederate officers from the country’s Civil War.(AP: Hubert Delany III)

US President Donald Trump has said his administration will “not even consider” changing the name of any of the 10 Army bases that are named after Confederate officers.

“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Mr Trump wrote.

“The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars.

“Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

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Name changes have not been proposed by the US Army or the Pentagon, but on Monday Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy indicated in response to questions from reporters that they were “open to a bipartisan discussion” of renaming bases such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia.

Supporters of disassociating military bases from Confederate army officers argue they represent the racism and divisiveness of the US Civil War era and glorify men who fought against the United States.

Mr Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said he was “fervently” opposed to changing the base names and believed that doing so would amount to “complete disrespect” for soldiers who trained there over the years.

New video shows Louisiana police punching black man before his death

Newly uncovered video appears to show police officers in Louisiana repeatedly punching and tasering a black man they were arresting shortly before he died in police custody.

Police with shields hold back a number of protesters
Louisiana police have clashed with protesters in recent times.(AP: Chris Granger)

Video on US TV network KSLA shows an April 5 altercation between Tommie Dale McGlothen, 44, and four police officers in the northern Louisiana city of Shreveport.

Mr McGlothen died the next day at a local hospital, according to the coroner.

In the video, officers can be seen wrestling with a man on the ground, with at least one officer punching him repeatedly and another appearing to hit him with a baton.

At one point police get the man to his feet with his hands appearing to be handcuffed behind him and he immediately falls or is pushed backward to the ground.

After getting him up again, they then walk him over to the police vehicle, push him against it and his head hits the bonnet.

According to the coroner, Mr McGlothen died of factors including “excited delirium” but his death possibly could have been prevented and it should have been obvious “that he needed medical care”.

The coroner said Mr McGlothen was left in the back of a police vehicle for 48 minutes before it was discovered he was unresponsive and not breathing.

Colston statue to be retrieved, another Columbus statue destroyed

A toppled statue of a 17th Century English slave trader will be retrieved from the harbour and exhibited in a museum, Bristol City Council said on Wednesday.

Anti-racism protesters pulled down the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol on Sunday and threw it into the harbour, triggering a debate about Britain’s imperial past.

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Anti-racism protesters in Bristol tear down statue of slave trader Edward Colston

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said Colston’s statue would be retrieved and displayed alongside Black Lives Matter placards from the recent protest so the 300-year story of slavery and the fight for racial equality could be better understood.

Meanwhile, a statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston’s North End has been beheaded.

A statue without a head, the US flag flies in the background.
This statue of Christopher Columbus, in Boston, has been beheaded.(AP: Steven Senne)

The statue in Christopher Columbus Park on Atlantic Avenue was surrounded by crime scene tape early on Wednesday morning local time as the head lay on the ground next to the base.

The Italian explorer’s voyages paved the way for Europeans to colonise the Americas.

It is not the first statue of the explorer to have been defaced, with another in the state of Virginia being toppled, set on fire and then thrown into a lake.

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Local News - Victoria

Tributes flow for family after fatal holiday house fire


The campaign had raised more than $60,000 by Wednesday evening.

Nicci’s cousin confirmed The Age had permission to run the family photos and first names. Chuffed has also verified the fund-raiser is legitimate.

Michael and Louis are survived by Nicci and two other children.

Michael and Louis are survived by Nicci and two other children.Credit:Chuffed

Michael was described in the fund-raising campaign as a “devoted family man” who “worshipped the ground [his family] walked on”.

“Today’s world is truly a better place for those who were fortunate enough to know Mike,” the campaign statement says.

“He was devoted to his family and worshipped the ground they walked on.”

The father of three will be remembered by his loved ones as a hero that died giving up his life to save every person that night.

His son Louis was described as a cheeky, extremely smart, and talented boy who showed everyone what true love meant and enjoyed every second of his life.

While Nicci recovers from burns in hospital, the two other little boys are fighting for life in ICU.

Described as the most caring and happy person, Nicci was said to have a smile that lit up everyone’s days.

“She is strong, even though she thinks she is not. Her world was, and still will be, her boys.”

Thirteen people had been staying at the holiday house about 100 kilometres north of Melbourne for the long weekend.

A 34-year-old man was the third victim. He died on Sunday after he was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Two other children were also recovering at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne on Monday.

Arson and Explosives Squad detectives are investigating the cause and will prepare a report for the coroner, but the fire is not being treated as suspicious.

The building was a “house built up with beautiful memories of family gatherings”, the families said in a statement.

AAP, with Rachel Eddie

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Third person dies and four children cling to life after house fire


Two women aged in their 30s remain at The Alfred in a serious but stable condition, while the 33-year-old father of one of the young girls has been released from the Northern Hospital.

A man and a woman aged in their 60s were also involved. In total, 13 people from two families were at the home, which is owned by Donna and Joe Lolicato.

Police said 11 people were taken to hospital following the blaze.

Police said 11 people were taken to hospital following the blaze. Credit:AAP

Police are not treating the fire as suspicious.

A CFA media spokesman said 16 tankers were called to the fire, and it took firefighters about two hours to bring the blaze under control.



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Two babies among 11 people injured in central Victorian house blaze, with two still missing


Four children were taken to hospital with burns and smoke inhalation. Three of the children were flown by air ambulance to the Royal Children’s Hospital in a serious condition – a male infant, a female infant and a primary school-aged boy. A preschool-aged girl was in a serious but stable condition and taken to the Northern Hospital.

An Ambulance Victoria spokesperson said that three adults – two women in their 30s and a man in his 30s – were in The Alfred hospital burns unit in serious conditions. Another adult was taken to the Northern Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Police said 11 people were taken to hospital following the blaze.

Police said 11 people were taken to hospital following the blaze. Credit:AAP

A CFA media spokesman said 16 tankers were called to the fire, and it took firefighters about two hours to bring the blaze under control.

“A single-storey structure was fully involved [with fire] on arrival,” he said. “The last crews left the scene at around 5am. Crews will attend later [Sunday] morning to ensure no further hotspots on the structure.”



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Local News - Victoria

Two babies among 11 people injured in central Victorian house blaze, with two still missing


Four children have been taken to hospital with burns and smoke inhalation. Three children were flown by air ambulance to the Royal Children’s Hospital in a serious condition – a male infant, a female infant and a primary school-aged boy.

A preschool-aged girl was in a serious but stable condition and was taken to the Northern Hospital.

Three adults in a serious condition following the fire have been taken to The Alfred hospital burns unit – two females in their 30s and a male in his 30s – while another adult who was serious but stable was taken to the Northern Hospital.

A CFA media spokesman said 16 tankers were called to the fire, and it took firefighters about two hours to bring the house blaze under control.

“A single-storey structure was fully involved [with fire] on arrival,” he said. “The last crews left the scene at around 5am. Crews will attend later this morning to ensure no further hotspots on the structure.”



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Two people missing, 11 injured after Central Victorian house blaze


Two people remain missing after a house fire in central Victoria, with 11 people taken to hospital following the blaze.

Police have established a crime scene and are now investigating the circumstances around the fire in Cunninghams Road, Tyaak at 11.40pm on Saturday.

Emergency services were told at least 13 people were present at the property, around 100 kilometres north of Melbourne.

Two people still remain unaccounted for, according to police, while 11 people were taken to hospital with injuries.



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Two people missing, 11 more taken to hospital after Tyaak house fire in central Victoria


At least two people are unaccounted for and 11 others have been taken to hospital after a house fire in central Victoria overnight.

Emergency services were called about 11:40pm on Saturday to the home in Tyaak, near Broadford, about 95 kilometres north of Melbourne.

Several ambulances and one Air Ambulance helicopter took people to hospital, including at least one child.

“Initial reports were that at least 13 people were at the property with 11 people taken to hospital with injuries,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.

“Two people are yet to be accounted for.”

CFA commander Charles Cleary said 14 fire appliances were sent to the property, with a number of other support vehicles.

“There were quite a number of individuals who were at the property,” he said.

“It took approximately an hour and a half to get the fire under control.”

Police are investigating the cause of the fire and a crime scene has been established.

The small locality of Tyaak, just off the Hume Freeway, had a population of just 73 in the 2016 Census.

The exact circumstances surrounding the blaze are still being determined and anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

About a dozen emergency services workers stand near a police car and a fire truck at night.
Emergency services remained at the scene into Sunday morning.(ABC News)



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White House says police have ‘right to defend themselves’


The White House Press Secretary has defended the actions of police after a Sunrise crew was beaten on live TV, saying they had “a right to defend themselves”.

Seven Network journalist Amelia Brace was struck by a truncheon and cameraman Tim Myers was punched and hit with a shield when US Park Police in riot gear aggressively cleared Washington DC’s Lafayette Square of protesters on Monday ahead of a visit to a church by Donald Trump.

Two US police officers have now been placed on administrative leave.

“As is consistent with our established practices and procedures, two US Park Police officers have been assigned to administrative duties, while an investigation takes place regarding the incident with the Australian Press,” Park Police acting Chief Gregory Monahan said on Wednesday.

Brace and Myers, who were doing a live cross back to Australia when they were struck, said they were also shot with rubber bullets and struggled to breathe after tear gas was fired into the crowd.

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany rejected that and said the police had “a right to defend themselves”.

“No tear gas was used and no rubber bullets were used,” Ms McEnany said.

When a reporter countered by asking if “chemical agents were used” she replied: “So, again, no tear gas was used, no rubber bullets were used”.

Ms McEnany said the protesters in the park were told three times over loudspeakers they needed to move, became unruly and threw bricks and frozen water bottles at police.

“The officers had no other choice than, in that moment, to act and make sure that they were safe and that the perimeter was pushed back,” she said.

Seven’s director of news and public affairs Craig McPherson described the police actions against Brace and Myers as “nothing short of wanton thuggery” and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Payne said she asked the Australian embassy to investigate.

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Property experts debate impact of stimulus package on house prices


The Government’s proposed new homebuyers grant will result in established properties being abandoned and ultimately drive down housing prices, according to a leading economist.

Property hunters will reportedly be offered a $25,000 cash incentive to build a new home under the looming stimulus plan to support jobs in the construction industry.

But AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said this will likely lead to buyers deserting homes already built in a market severely weakened by consumer demand.

The significantly lower rate of immigration as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is viewed by property experts as a major factor for forecasted falls in prices, with the number of people entering the country tipped to fall by about 200,000 in the next 12 months to about 35,000.

“Traditionally homebuyer grants have been positive for house prices and there’s no doubt this will help some developers promoting buildings to be sold by boosting demand for properties,” Dr Oliver told news.com.au.

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“But it will also detract demand from established housing, so on balance it could actually be a bit of a negative on property prices.

“It switches demand from established homes to new homes and over time it will lead to an increase in supply of new property, which will put upwards pressure on vacancy rates which have already gone up as a result of the coronavirus shock.”

If immigration numbers stay low, Dr Oliver said, there could be a flow of new properties coming on to the market, leading to higher vacancy rates and ultimately an oversupply.

“Normally underlying demand for dwellings is about 200,000 a year and if we go down to 120,000, that’s a huge hit,” he said.

The fears of scaled back demand isn’t supported by search activity for property online, according to REA Group director of economic research Cameron Kusher.

He said the number of consumers looking for housing on realestate.com.au has never been as high.

“Last month was actually a record month for enquiries for our new home section,” he told news.com.au.

“So people are looking at the property market but one of the challenges at the moment is there is not a lot of properties listed for sale.

“I don’t think people will desert the established market.”

The property stimulus yet to be announced by the Government is tipped to include a cash incentive for Australians to embark on renovations.

Mr Kusher said this will encourage potential buyers to knock down existing properties to rebuild or build a new home behind an older dwelling on a larger block.

MIGRATION MAJOR RISK TO PRICES

The impact of immigration is an underappreciated factor on housing prices in Australia, according to Mr Kusher.

He says a large portion of the country’s economic expenditure is based on more and more people arriving each year.

“It has been one of the key reasons why Australia hasn’t had a recession for 30 years because we keep getting additional demand from people migrating from overseas,” Mr Kusher said.

MELBOURNE AND SYDNEY PRICES TO FALL

Grim forecasts at the height of the coronavirus lockdown predicted property prices to fall between 20 to 30 per cent over the next year.

But those projections have largely been trimmed after the Government’s JobSeeker and JobKeeper packages provided income support combined with the banks allowing struggling Australians to defer mortgages.

Dr Oliver said the expiration of these mechanisms will ultimately lead to higher unemployment and will weigh on housing prices.

He is currently predicting the Sydney and Melbourne markets to fall about 10 per cent over the next 12 months, Canberra to be largely unchanged and the other capital cities to lose about 5 per cent in value.

Continue the conversation on Twitter via @James_P_Hall or email at james.hall1@news.com.au





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