Local News - Victoria

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.


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

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Australian News

Collingwood players Steele Sidebottom and Lynden Dunn under investigation over COVID-19 protocol breach

Collingwood players Steele Sidebottom and Lynden Dunn are under investigation for breaching the league’s coronavirus protocols.

The club says the pair shared a taxi on Saturday evening and Sidebottom later visited a staff member who is not living under the same restrictions.

The players will not be allowed to return to the club until they are cleared by follow-up testing.

Several players from other clubs have already been hit with one-match bans this season for failing to follow the AFL’s coronavirus rules.

“Sidebottom and Dunn shared an Uber on Saturday evening and Sidebottom later visited a member of staff who is not living under the game’s protocols,” Collingwood said in a statement.

“The breaches were reported to the AFL on Sunday afternoon. The players were interviewed by the AFL yesterday.

“Sidebottom and Dunn will not be permitted to return to the Holden Centre until cleared to do so by COVID-19 testing.”

All-Australian midfielder Sidebottom has played in each of Collingwood’s four games this season but now faces a possible suspension.

If he is banned, it would be a massive blow for the Magpies ahead of their clash with Essendon at the MCG on Friday night.

Steele Sidebottom, holing a footy, and Jeremy Howe laugh together while running at training
Sidebottom (left) reportedly visited former teammate Daniel Wells, who works for the Magpies but is not part of the club’s approved staff list.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

Dunn, who has struggled with knee injuries, has not played at senior level since 2018.

The pair reportedly spent part of Saturday night drinking with teammate Jeremy Howe, who sustained a serious knee injury during the previous night’s loss to Greater Western Sydney.

Sidebottom then reportedly visited former teammate Daniel Wells, who works for the Magpies but is not part of the club’s approved staff list.

The Magpies’ breaches follow Essendon’s Conor McKenna being hit with a one-match ban for failing to adhere to protocols earlier in June.

McKenna was released from quarantine yesterday after testing positive to COVID-19 on June 20.

He was expected to spend 14 days in isolation but he tested negative in all subsequent tests.

The Bombers’ Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Melbourne’s Charlie Spargo and Kysaiah Pickett, and Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines have also been suspended for breaches since the protocols were put in place.


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SA Police launch investigation after Aboriginal man punched

South Australia Police have launched an internal investigation after an officer was filmed appearing to punch an Aboriginal man on the ground during an arrest last night.

Video of the arrest in the Adelaide suburb of Kilburn went viral after being posted to social media.

It shows three officers attempting to detain the man as a woman can be heard screaming, “Get off his head.”

One of the officers appears to strike the man in the head.

In a statement this afternoon, SA Police said the officers were responding to an “alleged high-risk domestic violence matter where a woman was taken to hospital and the offender was not known at the time”.

As they approached the house at about 8.15pm, “they saw a man leaving the area of the house on a bicycle”.

Police at this time advised the man that they had suspicions concerning him being in possession of illicit drugs. He was asked to place his hands on his head while a search of his person was undertaken,” the statement said.

“The man originally was compliant and after a short time he began to refuse. Police attempted to arrest the man who resisted and a struggle ensued. Police and the man went to the ground as police attempted to restrain and handcuff him.”

Police say one of the officer’s body cameras was grabbed during the struggle and only parts of it have been recovered.

They say they were then “confronted by a number of other nearby residents who became agitated”.

“Police called for urgent assistance. Defensive spray was deployed and other police arrived,” the statement said.

“There is video footage of the incident that has been published on social media. The video shows a rear view of a police officer appearing to strike the man on the ground. An internal investigation has commenced and will be conducted in strict accordance with the statutory provisions outlined in the Police Complaints and Discipline Act 2016.”

SA Police say the investigation will be led by a “senior police officer” and that the matter will be “taken very seriously”.

The 28-year-old Kilburn man in the video was initially arrested and charged with hindering police, resisting police and property damage.

He has been released from custody while the incident is investigated further.

Police say both the man and one of the officers received “minor injuries”.

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Pressure mounting on World Rugby to deliver findings of investigation into Fiji Rugby Union chair Francis Kean

Pressure is mounting on World Rugby to deliver the findings of an investigation into the disgraced chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union, Francis Kean.

Already known as a convicted killer, he stepped down from the World Rugby Council amid accusations of homophobia linked to secret recordings of him berating prison officers and ordering them to carry out acts of brutality on inmates and fellow wardens.

Kean is also Fiji’s Commissioner of Prisons, and the brother-in-law of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

One of his accusers told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program it was vital World Rugby conducted a thorough investigation, because he said nothing would happen in Fiji.

Adding to the pressure on the world ruling body, the man who led Fiji’s national rugby team, the Flying Fijians, to the last two World Cups told Pacific Beat that Kean interferes in the running of rugby at every level below the national team.

The secret recording of Kean, which Pacific Beat has independently verified, first came to light during a Facebook live transmission late last year.

Kean’s general tone is aggressive and frequently homophobic, as he berates prison officers and orders them to carry out brutal instructions.

“Walking or running?” he can be heard asking one officer in Fijian.

The tirade continues.

“Get tough on those two senior cadets. They are behaving like poofters to me. OK?

The recording was made by prison officer Hendrik de Wachter, who is now in Australia seeking asylum. He said his intention at the time was not to expose his boss.

“I used the recordings for work purposes because when I’d normally go into his office to receive all the commands that he gave, he was so abusive and he didn’t want to repeat himself,” Mr de Wachter said.

“I just took in my phone and turned on my voice recording app to record all that he had to say and then later referenced back to it so that I could jot down the commands that he wanted me to have executed, because if I did not execute one of the commands, all hell would break loose for all of us.”

Fiji's Commissioner of Prisons, Francis Kean, poses for a head and shoulders photo.
Fiji’s Commissioner of Prisons, Francis Kean, was convicted of manslaughter.(Supplied)

But once the recording was made, it was ammunition to go public with allegations about Kean’s methods of running the prison service.

When two Opposition MPs were given jail sentences in 2018, Mr de Wachter said Kean gave out special instructions.

“The Opposition members were coming in and he would give in verbal commands orders to treat them more like animals, because … the Commissioner told us at that time to make their stay in prison like a really bad one,” Mr de Wachter said.

These allegations have since surfaced in the international media, however in Fiji not only has no action been taken to investigate the claims, but Kean continues to hold his position as both Commissioner of Prisons and chairman of the Rugby Union.

As Fiji’s representative on the World Rugby Council, he was in the running to join the powerful executive committee until his prison record came to light.

Kean was convicted of manslaughter after being charged with murder after a fatal assault on a guest at a wedding on New Year’s Eve in 2006.

The guest was salesman John Whippy, uncle of the groom Samuel Whippy who married Ateca Bainimarama, the Prime Minister’s daughter.

Kean was sentenced to 18 months in jail but served just a week.

But the history of his conviction, coupled with fresh accusations of homophobia, prompted an outcry in the rugby union world.

It was not least because the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) through Kean was supporting former England captain Sir Bill Beaumont’s ultimately successful bid to secure another term as World Rugby chairman.

An investigation was launched, but before any findings were made public, Kean resigned.

However, reports that he had also stood down from his role at the head of the FRU proved to be incorrect.

Former national coach details ‘bizarre’ relationship with Kean

Francis Kean shakes hand with John McKeen against a Fiji Rugby and banner
Former Fiji rugby national coach John McKee (right) said Kean had an undue influence on almost every level of the game.(Supplied)

His conduct as chief of the FRU is now also under scrutiny.

Former national coach John McKee told Pacific Beat that Kean had an undue influence on every level of the game below the national team.

McKee, who was also the FRU’s head of high performance, described his relationship with Kean as a strange one.

“Apart from board meetings three or four times a year, [I had] very little dealing with him at all, it’s bizarre,” McKee said.

“While he was chairman probably for five years, I reckon I had three one on one meetings with him. You’d expect some sort of relationship, there’s no relationship there.”

The former coach said Kean wanted the best players in his prison wardens team, and if he didn’t get them, the repercussions for those players could be serious.

“There’s a lot of employment there through the wardens because they want their teams to play well, so they employ a lot of rugby players.

“And I know 18-year-olds who were asked to join the wardens, didn’t want to, they never applied to join the wardens, but they get a letter saying ‘report for your induction’.

“There are a few players that said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that’. And they were certainly ostracised and pushed out of academy programs, pushed out of the under 20s, pushed out of the Drua, so it affected their career and their progress.”

Fiji's Commissioner of Prisons, Francis Kean, inspects a guard of honour.
Francis Kean (centre front) has been accused of homophobia.(Supplied)

For Kean to be able to sit on the World Rugby Council in the first place, the FRU’s governance had to be signed off.

But one source who was close to the union at the time told Pacific Beat that in his view the first stage of that process at least was far from stringent, and that World Rugby may have been too hasty in handing Fiji a vote at the top table.

In light of the claims being made against Kean in his role as Commissioner of Prisons, Mr de Wachter said World Rugby had to dig deep and act on its findings.

However, World Rugby continues to be guarded about the state of their investigation, with head of communications Dominic Rumbles telling Pacific Beat “initial enquiries are ongoing and we will be publishing an update in due course”.

Mr Rumbles would not say when that update might be delivered, or who was leading the investigation.

Fiji’s Opposition Leader and former Flying Fijian player Sitiveni Rabuka had pledged to pursue the Government over the Kean affair, but now that Mr Rabuka and his SODELPA party have been suspended from Parliament, that task has fallen to the National Federation Party leader, Biman Prasad.

“We expect Government to hold to what it preaches with respect to good governance, transparency and accountability and the merit on which people are appointed, especially if they’re appointed in senior positions like Mr Francis Kean.”

Kean said to be untouchable in Fiji

But based on his experience as Kean’s senior staff officer, Mr de Wachter said he believed that in Fiji at least, the man was untouchable.

“So with him still being the chairman [of the FRU] and an ex-convict taking up the position as Commissioner of Corrections, you really can’t justify it.”

Professor Prasad said the fact that accusations against Kean took several months to reach the ears of the power brokers at World Rugby was testament to a local media that is not prepared to take the story on.

Frank Bainimarama takes off his hat.
Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (above) is Kean’s brother-in-law.(Reuters: Wolfgang Rattay, file.)

“With the exception of one or two media organisations, we have a very rigid, very fearful media environment,” he said.

While Kean stands accused of deliberately damaging the careers of young rugby players who refused to join his wardens’ team, Mr de Wachter said his influence over anyone, player or not, who seeks to leave the prison service also ran deep.

“I had other mates that had left and were finding it hard to find jobs in other government departments because of the connections that they all have in all other government departments and the stories he would spread about you once your application goes in,” Mr de Wachter said.

“Your information is already with whatever department you’re applying to, and they just put your application into the shredder.”

While Kean remains at the helm of the FRU, Pacific Beat has been told that his influence is damaging the growth of the game in Fiji.

One source suggested many businesses did not want to be involved with sponsorship or backing programs, because they cannot support the current management of the union.

World Rugby urged to step up

For the game in Fiji to progress, Professor Prasad said there needed to be a governance and management shift, and he argued that was where World Rugby should step up to the plate with a thorough inquiry and positive action.

Rugby union ball
There are calls for World Rugby to hold a thorough inquiry into the governance of rugby in Fiji.(AAP: Dean Lewins, file photo)

“Rugby lovers around the world, and those who are concerned about good governance, transparency and accountability and the fitness of people who run these international organisations, expect World Rugby to take this matter seriously,” Professor Prasad said.

Pacific Beat made several attempts to contact both Kean and the Fijian Government seeking interviews and comment, but up to now there has been no response of any sort.

Meanwhile, Mr de Wachter continues his quest to secure protection from the Australian Government, fearful of the repercussions if he is forced to return to Fiji.

“Back home, someone who talks bad about the Government will be taken to task for sure. So if I intend to return, I really can’t say much as to what might happen to me and my family.”

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Rockhampton nurse with links to Blackwater under investigation

Authorities are trying to “untangle” a coronavirus-infected Queensland nurse’s story after it was revealed she had travelled overseas.

The suspended aged care worker is under investigation for going back to work while waiting for test results when she returned from Malaysia two months ago.

The new information only came to light two weeks after her Rockhampton case was revealed.

Now authorities are urging her to start telling the truth, as she is probed for possible links to the death of a 30-year-old man in Blackwater.

The woman said she drove the 400km from Rockhampton to “see a sunset” in the small town.

Queensland’s chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young said contact tracers were now trying to work out the exact movements of the nurse, who said she stopped in Blackwater but did not get out of her car.

RELATED: Nathan Turner held party days before dying from COVID-19

However, she says the nurse’s story had “changed so many times”.

“She gave us one story and then, subsequent to that, we’ve found out additional information,” she said.

“So we need to try and untangle and sort that through. That’s very, very important.

“I don’t have any of the specifics because the story has changed so many times – I think it is best that we wait for the investigation and we sort it out.”

The nurse was diagnosed with coronavirus on May 14, putting the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre where she worked as an enrolled nurse into lockdown.

Her drive to Blackwater breached Queensland’s travel restrictions and only emerged after news of Nathan Turner’s death this week.

RELATED: How one person can infect a restaurant

Officials also suspect she was infected during a trip to Brisbane to see an orthopaedic surgeon in late April-early May.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said it was “incredibly disappointing” that someone would lie to public health officials.

“When a public health officer contacts you, it is important you are honest, truthful and fulsome with what you tell them,” he said.

“There are literally lives at risk. We need you to tell the truth.”

With no new cases, the state’s total sits at 1058 with just six active.

Mr Turner’s partner has returned two negative tests, after finding him dead at home on Tuesday.

He had not left Blackwater for three months and had not been at work since November.

Testing is now under way to see if the strain Mr Turner had was the same as the nurse’s.

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Australian SAS operative under investigation for allegedly killing disabled man

An Australian Special Air Service (SAS) soldier is under investigation over the 2012 shooting of a man who was reportedly unarmed and intellectual disabled.

An ABC report revealed the man – dubbed “Soldier C” – was stood down and is now under investigation by Australian authorities.

Two SAS patrol members, who were witnesses to the killing, told the public broadcaster the disabled man was shot in the back of the head as he tried to “limp” away.

The shooting as become known as the “village idiot killing” among special forces

“Choppers have landed, this guy’s ran. Fair enough. We were pretty intimidating,” said one member.

“He was obviously intellectually disabled. (Soldier C) shot this f***er through the back of the head. And I remember it so clearly because his brain literally hit the ground before he did. It was just so unnecessary.”

“His head exploded,” said the second witness. “There was no need for what happened. No need whatsoever. In my book that was war crimes – murder.”

Soldier C is now being investigated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF).

The same soldier shot and killed an unarmed Afghan man in a field in May 2012, in footage aired on Four Corners earlier this year, the ABC reported.

A former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier told the program he saw three incidents of alleged murder. Afghan villagers provided details as well, saying an SAS squadron raided the village of Sola in Uruzgan province on August 31, 2012, days after a rogue Afghan soldier killed three Australian troops.

Villagers were allegedly blindfolded and tied up, and a local imam and his son were shot dead.

The dramatic footage showed a SAS patrol being dropped from a Black Hawk helicopter in May 2012 and fanning out near the village of Deh Jawz-e Hasanzai.

Operating out of the Australian base in Tarin Kowt, around 400km southwest of the Afghani capital Kabul, the soldiers were looking for an insurgent bomb maker.

Within three minutes of arriving at the village, one of the soldiers has the Afghani man aged in his 20s subdued by an army dog in a wheat field and then shoots him.

A former SAS soldier deployed to Afghanistan in the same year described the killing captured on the video as a “straight-up execution”.

The video, taken by the helmet camera of the handler of the dog named Quake, begins with the patrol disembarking from one of two Black Hawks.

The helicopters are guiding the ground patrol to a person who has been spotted in the wheat field ahead.

The patrol scout moves swiftly through a field towards a compound.

Quake’s handler shouts commands at the dog as he and Soldier C zero in on the bearded man who is holding a set of red prayer beads.

As Soldier C points his assault rifle at very close range to the Afghani man on the ground, the handler shouts “Quake, leave!”

ABC-TV reported the man was cowering and had rolled onto his back with his legs drawn up to his chest.

In the video, the man is then perfectly still as Soldier C points his weapon between one and two metres from the man’s head.

The man rolls onto his back, his legs drawn up. In his right hand is what appears to be a set of red prayer beads.

He is still, as the soldier keeps the weapon pointed at his head.

Soldier C then asks Quake’s handler, “You want me to drop this c**t?”

“I don’t know mate,” the dog handler replies, telling the soldier to “hit … up” the patrol commander.

Soldier C then turns to the commander and asks., “You want me to drop this c**t?”

He then repeats the question, but on the video the commander’s response is inaudible.

Soldier C then fires a shot into the Afghani and Quake bounds towards the man.

The dog’s handler then commands Quake to again leave, and Soldier C can be heard firing two more rounds.

Four Corners reported the slain man was a married father-of-two, Dad Mohammed, and that after Afghani tribal elders lodged a complaint, the Australian Defence Force formally investigated the killing.

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Local News - Victoria

Victoria plans education system changes on back of investigation into remote learning

“The pandemic across the globe has been very, very challenging – it is a crisis of tragic proportions,” Mr Merlino said.

“But when you look at how schools have responded, there is gold … and we’ve got to mine that gold and make it a feature of our education system.”

The minister said “time is of the essence” and the resources that engaged vulnerable children with learning would need to be enforced as soon as possible. “We may well be able” to make those changes for next term, he said.

Mr Merlino made the announcement as thousands of students in prep and grades one, two, 11 and 12 returned to classrooms on Tuesday. The remaining year levels are set to return in two weeks.

Mr Merlino said schools will need to work closely for the rest of term two – five weeks – to ensure that children who have fallen behind in their studies can catch up.

While some students have thrived during remote learning, Mr Merlino said there was another group who have been emotionally and mentally affected.

Schools will place a huge emphasis on mental health and wellbeing over the course of the year, and work with the department to ensure vulnerable students are identified early and supported appropriately.

“We’ve got our GPs in schools, we’ve got mental health practitioners that we’re rolling out, so we’ve got teams already embedded in our regional offices as well as wellbeing teams within our schools,” Mr Merlino said.


“We’ve got a particular focus over the remaining five weeks of this term on the health and wellbeing of our students. So the support is there, the expertise is already there.

“Schools know what they need to do, and that’s [why] they’re going to roll up their sleeves today and get stuck into it.”

The minister also revealed that 17,500 education staff had been tested for coronavirus, with one Keilor Downs Secondary College teacher testing positive. That teacher had not visited the school and no close contacts with the school had been identified.

Mr Merlino said only two per cent of education staff had been identified as being exempt from returning to the classroom.

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Cody Walker blackmail probe: Player agent under police investigation – Daily Telegraph

  1. Cody Walker blackmail probe: Player agent under police investigation  Daily Telegraph
  2. ‘We can’t have it’: Cooper Cronk slams misbehaving NRL players  Wide World of Sports
  3. Cooper Cronk says Cody Walker fight not a good look for NRL and he’s lucky he didn’t cause damage  Fox Sports
  4. Wayne Bennett’s desire to keep Cody Walker fight video secret a problem for South Sydney  Daily Telegraph
  5. EXCLUSIVE: Darren Lockyer reacts to Rabbitohs’ mini crisis as Cody Walker video emerges  Wide World of Sports
  6. View Full coverage on Google News

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Queensland COVID-19 Nurse Under Investigation

A Queensland aged care facility remains in lockdown after a nurse working at the home tested positive to coronavirus.

Two investigations into the incident at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre have been launched.

The nurse tested positive to COVID-19 on Thursday after she had worked while having symptoms of the deadly virus and awaiting her test results.

All patients and staff, except for one who is on leave, have tested negative to the virus, however.

Some residents have been temporarily relocated to nearby hospitals so those potentially exposed can self-isolate in their own rooms.

Health Minister Steven Miles ordered an independent investigation into the incident to accompany Queensland Health’s internal inquiry.

It is hoped the outcome of the investigations will determine how the nurse contracted the virus and why she was at work while awaiting her results.

“Since she had that confirmed result, she has been extremely co-operative and has worked very closely with us,” Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Monday.

Queensland has recorded 1057 total cases of COVID-19, however, just 13 remain active.

Dr Young said officials had been unable to determine how 42 of the cases, including the Rockhampton nurse, had contracted the virus.

“They’re the cases that worry me,” she said.


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Local News - Victoria

As it happened: First day of eased restrictions in Victoria, WorkSafe launches Cedar Meats investigation

If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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