Local News - Victoria

Man jailed for 27 years for ‘severe and brutal’ killing

Shaye Kotiau, 23, pleaded guilty to murdering his long-time family friend after a night of heavy drinking.

On the night of her murder, Ms Farrell placed a bucket and three bottles of water next to the bed of Kotiau. Restless, he entered her bedroom and carried out the killing, describing the incident as “being like a dream”.

He then enlisted his younger sister, Kieahn, to help hide the body, telling her: “I’m going to show you something that’s going to change our lives forever.”

Altona man Shaye Kotiau, 22, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in 2019.

Altona man Shaye Kotiau, 22, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in 2019.Credit:Nine

He showed his sister Ms Farrell’s naked body lying on the floor, the right side of her face darkened by the injuries inflicted during the killing.

He put Ms Farrell’s body into Kieahn’s car and drove back to Melbourne to find a place to leave her remains, eventually settling on the Gippsland town of Nambrok.


After pulling over on the side of a road, Kotiau instructed his sister to keep watch for possible witnesses as he mutilated Ms Farrell’s face and then doused her with petrol and set her body on fire.

They drove back to Melbourne where he hid some of her remains under an Altona bridge inside a zip lock bag. He told his girlfriend later that day: “I’ve done something I can’t reverse. Unforgivable.”

Kieahn Kotiau was sentenced to a 12-month community corrections order in May this year. She pleaded guilty to concealing Ms Farrell’s body, assisting in the disposal of her body in Nambrok and assisting in hiding evidentiary items.

Supreme Court judge Paul Coghlan found that Kotiau’s post-offence conduct was an aggravating factor in the crime, and although it was partially designed to conceal the identity of Ms Farrell, it was also to conceal the nature of the offence.

People in the court wept as Justice Coghlan described the details of Ms Farrell’s murder.

As onlookers filed out of the court, a man reached onto the bar table, grabbed a plastic cup and hurled it at Kotiau.

“She f—ing loved you, she loved you,” he yelled at Kotiau, before being tackled by security and pushed out of the court.

Kotiau will serve a minimum of 22 years having already served 507 days in custody.

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Richmond’s safe injecting room still divides, two years on

“Maybe if it wasn’t for this, maybe I would have become someone with a 20-year history. Maybe that’s where I was heading,” Michael says.

The Medically Supervised Safe Injecting Room’s two-year trial came to an end this week. The Andrews government has extended the trial site at North Richmond for another three years, and is preparing to trial a second facility in North Melbourne. Clark says the injecting room — which sits within North Richmond Community Health, a hub that connects vulnerable people to other services like a dental, general health, housing and legal help — is changing lives like Michael’s.

But an independent review finalised in June found the North Richmond trial “remains a work in progress”. It had six main objectives and achieved most of them, but it has not improved local amenity and it hasn’t benefited the community perception of discarded needles.

Public injecting and tossed needles

Community support slipped in the first year of the trial, surveys found. Support among residents dropped from 61 to 44 per cent, and from 48 to 41 per cent among traders who say needles are still being dumped on the streets. Meca Ho, who runs a restaurant on Victoria Street and is president of the local business association, says the facility has dramatically hurt traders.

Victoria Street Business Association president Meca Ho.

Victoria Street Business Association president Meca Ho.Credit:Daniel Pockett

“People don’t want to come to Victoria Street because of fear of being harassed,” Ho says, adding that users travelling to North Richmond and loitering don’t respect the area.

“It’s not my job every day to be law enforcement. Richmond is a drug dungeon now.”

One client, who wanted to be identified only as Martin, says users are taking on better habits because of the facility. He says more people know to put needles in the bin and how to revive someone.

“A lot of users are waking up to the fact, it should be obvious, but clean up after yourself. That’s a very good message that people get when you go into the [injecting] room.”

Martin, who has been using off-and-on for more than 40 years and believes heroin should be decriminalised, uses the room about three times a week. He sometimes injects at home – currently a squat in Richmond – but doesn’t inject on the street at all anymore.

Syringes and other drug paraphernalia left by drug users at the Richmond public housing estate near the North Richmond safe injecting room.

Syringes and other drug paraphernalia left by drug users at the Richmond public housing estate near the North Richmond safe injecting room.

“The reality was that yeah, I would use in public spaces often, and I don’t have to do that now,” Martin says. “No one wants to step out their front door and see someone drinking on their front doorstep or using heroin on their front doorstep. Nobody wants that, and it shouldn’t happen, and the injecting room will stop that sort of thing. It certainly doesn’t create a problem, it’s part of the solution.”

Should it be moved?

One of the major tensions is the injecting room’s location on Lennox Street, nestled between the Richmond West Primary School and a public housing estate.

Local man David Horseman, spokesman of the residents’ action committee, supports the existence of an injecting room but wants it moved. He says suggestions school children were already exposed to drug use is upsetting for parents.

“That’s an argument we don’t accept because it’s basically giving up on the safety and wellbeing of children,” he says. “What we see now is that continued exposure.”

Penelope Drummond, who supports the medically-supervised injecting room, with her children Kate (10) and Alex (seven).

Penelope Drummond, who supports the medically-supervised injecting room, with her children Kate (10) and Alex (seven).Credit:The Age

Richmond West Primary told the independent review there are now fewer discarded needles and overdoses in its vicinity. Enrolments at the school have gone up every year and its NAPLAN results improved more than the average school between 2017 and 2019, the federal government’s MySchools website shows.

Penelope Drummond has two children at Richmond West Primary and has lived in the housing estate next door for almost seven years.

She agrees it sounds absurd to put an injecting room there, but says: “When you have a day-to-day experience of the full extent of the drug culture around there you get to see that, relatively speaking, it’s a good thing.”

That’s not the case for single mum Myoungsuk Oh. She has lived in the neighbouring public housing estate for about 11 years with her two daughters, and says her mental health has suffered since the facility opened.

“Whenever I get out from the lift, I have to check if someone is there at the stairs, when I lock the door I always have to look around,” Oh says. “I don’t like people saying Richmond was always like this. No it was not, not like this.”

Not just an injecting room

Proponents of the facility say its location at North Richmond Community Health is key to helping users get health checks.

The aftercare room at the medically-supervised injecting room, where clients go after injecting. Here, they might have a cup of Milo, get their teeth checked or eat a sandwich.

The aftercare room at the medically-supervised injecting room, where clients go after injecting. Here, they might have a cup of Milo, get their teeth checked or eat a sandwich.Credit:Eddie Jim

In the first 18 months of the trial, 300 people were screened for hepatitis C and some were treated after testing positive. Staff have made about 13,000 referrals to services like the Fitzroy Legal Service.

Drug outreach lawyer Adam Willson engages with heroin users in the aftercare and breakout rooms, usually once a fortnight. He mostly helps clients with low-end offending, fines they can’t pay (including some for COVID-19 breaches), tenancy issues and child protection.

Willson says addressing the complex issues his clients have, through the outreach programs at the injecting room, sometimes stops their offending.

Supporters come together outside the facility on Friday.

Supporters come together outside the facility on Friday.Credit:Joe Armao

“Addressing all those issues, whether it be mental health, whether it be just as simple as seeing a dentist … can make a massive difference to the client.”

The first heroin user to get dentures after a referral from the injecting room found a job within a week, Clark says, speaking to The Age at the facility.

“She smiled at herself in the mirror and said, ‘Right, I’m off to get a job now’. And within a week she had a job, I couldn’t believe it. Then the second person, within two weeks he had a job,” he says. “I realised, you can’t get a job if you can’t smile. No one will give you a job.”

The review found the injecting room saved at least 21 lives in its first 18 months, and it’s managed more than 3200 overdoses by March this year. Ambulance calls involving naloxone, which is used to reverse overdoses, also dropped by one-quarter within a 1 kilometre radius around the facility. That was even greater during the opening hours, now 7am to 9pm on weekdays and 8am to 7pm on weekends.

Despite that, at the end of September 2019, coronial data found there was no change in the number of heroin deaths in the City of Yarra or across Victoria. Dr Clark believes there would have been even more deaths than before if it weren’t for the injecting room. The review panel made a similar finding.

Crime has been increasing slightly in Richmond, according to data from the Crime Statistics Agency. Drug offences were also up in the year to March, with 552 offences in Richmond.

Yarra Local Area Commander Inspector Anne Rudd said police had increased patrols and cracked down on drug trafficking, rejecting claims there is a ‘no go’ policing zone around the injecting room. She said police were committed to minimising drug harm in the community.

“That is why we relentlessly investigate and pursue the traffickers and dealers who are profiting from this trade,” Rudd said in a statement to The Age.

“There is no ‘no-go’ zone for police when it comes to target illicit drug dealing and trafficking. However we do recognise that locking up drug dealers can only ever be one element within a broader approach to reducing the harm.

Safe space: Interim CEO Damian Ferrie at the safe-injecting facility.

Safe space: Interim CEO Damian Ferrie at the safe-injecting facility.Credit:Eddie Jim

“To that end, police use discretion to allow the trial to operate for its purpose.”

Outgoing interim CEO Damian Ferrie of the North Richmond Community Health centre says he’s regularly in contact with residents and acknowledges there’s more to be done to engage with locals.

The government recently announced $9 million in funding to improve the amenity around the facility, including $3 million for projects identified by locals. The health department says that neighbourhood renewal could include improvements to the housing estate, lighting, playgrounds and community rooms.

Education worker and Richmond resident Judy Ryan supports the safe-injecting room, saying before it drug use in local lanes was rife.

Education worker and Richmond resident Judy Ryan supports the safe-injecting room, saying before it drug use in local lanes was rife.Credit:Charlotte Grieve

Judy Ryan, spokesperson for local supporters of the injecting room, says there has been a major improvement but believes it will take years to see the full benefits of the facility.

“You cannot turn around what was pretty much a drug ghetto in 18 months,” she says. “It was just unrealistic.”

  • Some names have been altered to protect people’s privacy.

If you need help, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015. Family Drug Support Australia support service, 1300 368 186. Lifeline crisis support, 13 11 14.

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Local News - Victoria

Nine years’ jail for ice-addled driver who killed her best friend

A drug-affected driver who killed her best friend in a car crash while returning from a trip to buy ice has been jailed for almost a decade.

Elisa Kent failed to negotiate a bend on the Melba Highway in Dixons Creek, north-east of Melbourne, and crashed her Holden Rodeo into a gully, killing passenger Amber Hughes.

Ms Hughes’ death orphaned her young daughter, as the girl’s father had died about six months earlier from illness.

Kent, 54, had bought $2500 of ice from a dealer in Melbourne and was returning to Mansfield, where she planned to sell the drugs, when she lost control of her ute about 2.30am on May 5, 2018.

After the crash she was able to scramble out of the ute, despite her own foot and internal injuries, and up the ridge of a gully to raise the alarm. But Ms Hughes, 41, died at the scene.

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Local News - Victoria

Much-loved Melbourne market closes after 55 years

“Whilst no immediate plans are in place to replace the market lands, they do form part of a 500-acre future masterplan.

“Although this is a hard decision and a sad time we must celebrate the market’s achievement and thank each and every customer, stall-holder, visitor and staff for their partnership and for making Caribbean Market the icon it became.”

The market, which opened in 1965 and is owned by the wealthy Spooner family, has been visited by 40 million visitors since its establishment, according to its owners.

A 2013 report stated the market sold pirated DVDs.

A 2013 report stated the market sold pirated DVDs.Credit:Penny Stephens

It included a market that sold a variety of unique products and amusements aimed at children including a mini-golf course, a train around its perimeter, a jungle boat ride around Lake Caribbean and a chair lift.

A 2013 report by the Motion Picture Association of America identified Caribbean Gardens as one of the most notorious hotspots for the sale of pirated DVDs. The report said the market had between 10 and 20 individual market sellers “offering counterfeit region one and two DVDs, together with other sellers offering burnt DVDs of recently released titles”.

The site, nestled between Stud Road in the east, Ferntree Gully Road in the north and the EastLink freeway in the west, was originally used by a handful of stall-holders selling from their car boots and for water ski shows on the lake.

More recently, it had more than 1000 stallholders and thousands poured through the eye-catching front gates on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

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Why it took 50 years for an airport rail link to get off the ground

Broken election promises, fruitless feasibility studies and vested interests have stalled the project, making it a common gripe for many Melburnians. Sydney and Brisbane have one, the complaint goes, so why don’t we?

The answer to this question should soon change. After months of negotiations, lobbying and the odd disagreement, the state and federal governments are on the cusp of announcing their preferred design for airport rail. Each are offering to spend $5 billion on the project.

Sources familiar with negotiations expect the governments to back a new, above-ground line between the airport and Sunshine, 12km west of the CBD. Trains would then run along existing tracks to the city via the new Metro Tunnel. This option would kill off a proposal from superannuation giant IFM Investors to build, fund and operate a $7 billion tunnel between the city and Sunshine, allowing fast express airport services on dedicated tracks.

The politicians might be opting for a cheaper build, but they’re coming closer than their predecessors to sending a train to Tulla.

A question of timing

With so few flights leaving the tarmac at Tullamarine because of coronavirus restrictions, some may question whether a multibillion-dollar airport rail link stacks up.

Total travellers at the airport were 97 per cent fewer in April compared with 2019, prompting S&P Global Ratings to downgrade the airport’s credit rating, citing reduced cash flows and increased debt.

Travel numbers are not expected to return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024 but Melbourne Airport’s landside access chief Lorie Argus says the rail link is still needed.

“We’ve seen global shocks to the industry before,” Argus says. “We want to build capacity ahead of the demand.”

Fifty years of waiting for a rail link to the airport have locked taxpayers into a far more expensive project than would have been possible decades ago.

A swag of Victorian premiers have investigated getting it built: Sir Henry Bolte in the ’60s, John Cain jnr in the ’80s, Joan Kirner and Jeff Kennett in the ’90s and Steve Bracks, Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine over the past two decades. They commissioned numerous taxpayer-funded feasibility studies on the project, but to no avail. In the ’90s, the project involved extending the Broadmeadows line by five kilometres to the airport. That’s no longer feasible because of development in the west and reduced rail capacity.

“We talk about spending $5 billion now, that’s 10 times what was being discussed 30 years ago,” Public Transport Users Association spokesman Tony Morton says.

Politicians say airport rail has long been popular among voters. So why the delay?

The long take-off

Kennett, a long-time proponent of airport rail, says the reason for the project’s delay is simple.

“Other pieces of infrastructure had higher priority and were simpler to deliver,” the former Liberal premier says. “It’s a lot of money for a fairly short piece of infrastructure.”

Initial 1963 drawings of a proposed underground train station at Melbourne Airport's international terminal.

Initial 1963 drawings of a proposed underground train station at Melbourne Airport’s international terminal. Credit:CAHS/Airservices/CASA

Victoria has explored the likes of a French-built monorail and Dutch-inspired fast tram but time and demand hasn’t justified the expenditure, especially in the face of a high-performing SkyBus service.

Bracks won the 1999 election promising airport rail as Sydney and Brisbane were setting out to build their own. He envisioned a public-private partnership model, as did fellow Labor premier Kirner.

“Internationally, most places had this and it was a gap we could easily fill,” Bracks says. “There were certainly vested interests lobbying against our proposal” he says, referring to the taxi industry and the airport’s operators who were seeking to protect substantial car parking revenue.

Almost empty parking bays at Tullamarine Airport during the coronavirus lockdown.

Almost empty parking bays at Tullamarine Airport during the coronavirus lockdown.Credit:Getty Images

More pressing though, Bracks says, was a clause that Kennett locked into the CityLink contract blocking a public transport link. But ultimately, it was the collapse of Australian airline Ansett – reducing the high number of airport workers set to use the link – that put the project “on hold”.

“Ansett was key,” Bracks says. “I was very disappointed it couldn’t go ahead.”

Virgin rose to become a major airline that was competitive with Qantas after Ansett’s demise.

Lyndsay Neilson, a former state infrastructure department secretary who oversaw a study into the project under Bracks, recommended a boost to SkyBus over rail. “Suburban rail has in itself fallen so far behind that investing in airport rail was considered a luxury,””he says.

But bureaucrats underestimated the airport’s growth: “Nobody anticipated the extent to which China would open up as a source of international tourism,” Neilson says.

Follow the leader

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull beamed as he announced on a windy morning at Tullamarine in 2018 that he would build airport rail.

He promised $5 billion – beating Premier Daniel Andrews to the punch. Turnbull was a technocrat known to get hooked on the finer details of infrastructure. His announcement was paving the way for the type of big, city-shaping construction projects he hoped would become his legacy.

It caught Andrews off guard, forcing the state to match the funding promise. Andrews had iced Denis Napthine’s airport rail plans in 2014 to pursue level crossing removals and the Metro Tunnel.

“Services that people use every single day are my priority,” Andrews said at the time. But towards the end of his first term, he put airport rail back in the spotlight, promising it would be built within a decade.

“The Commonwealth was pushing hard to get airport rail on the agenda,” said Mike Mrdak, who was secretary of the federal infrastructure department at the time.

In 2019, Andrews outlined his vision for airport rail. It would probably involve a tunnel from the city and Sunshine and not stop at suburban stations. The project would be a boon for the regions, including Geelong and Ballarat, he said.

As if on cue, an IFM Investors-led private consortium proposed to build a $7 billion tunnel, allowing 20-minute journeys running 24/7, that would service regional fast rail. It seemed like a done deal but the state went cool on the proposal, preferring a cheaper, above-ground route that put it at loggerheads with the federal government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Daniel Andrews speaking to media about the airport rail link at Sunshine station in April, 2019.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Daniel Andrews speaking to media about the airport rail link at Sunshine station in April, 2019. Credit:Stefan Postles

Canberra wanted to keep costs down while building an express, high-speed service that was competitive with SkyBus.

Torn between Victoria and behind-the-scenes lobbying by IFM and regional Coalition MPs, including Victorian senator Sarah Henderson, Education Minister Dan Tehan and, more recently, Nationals MP Damian Drum, Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided he would not go to war with Victoria on airport rail.

The airport rail link is important to Coalition MPs keen to score points on infrastructure. They want a tunnel to secure fast trains to their regional seats, with Henderson calling for “high speed dual track rail tunnel” to deliver 32-minute services to Geelong as she fights to win back her marginal seat of Corangamite. Drum says the north-east rail line, which run through his seat of Nicholls, is the state’s “worst performing” and that he wants faster services to Bendigo, Shepparton and Albury–Wodonga.

Fifty years after the airport opened there could be an alternative way of getting there.

Fifty years after the airport opened there could be an alternative way of getting there.

But Morrison is determined to build infrastructure with Andrews, sensing it is a winning formula with voters. If federally-funded projects build car parks at train stations in Victorian Liberal seats are to go ahead, the Victorian Premier has the keys.

Party Matters

Arun Chandu, who has written a PhD on the airport, says a rail link has traditionally been pushed by the Liberal Party. “Andrews is the first Labor person to start talking about a railway line seriously,” Chandu says.

Kennett rejects this idea, saying support for the project isn’t a “Liberal or Labor thing”.

Former premier, Ted Baillieu.

Former premier, Ted Baillieu.Credit: Chris Hopkins

But Kosmos Samaras, a key Labor election strategist from 2006-2020, disagrees. “It’s always been the Liberals’ flagship because the business community has generally always asked for it.”

The economic argument for an airport rail link falls flat without providing additional stops to stimulate the western suburbs, says Samaras. The question of whether the train runs express to the airport can be viewed through the prism of traditional Labor values.


In 1965, Labor joined the Country Party to stop Bolte’s express airport route in favour of a suburban service stopping at Keilor East, Avondale Heights and Airport West. Former Labor member for Broadmeadows John Wilton accused Bolte of building a “glamour project” for a “selected few who travel by air”.

Treasurer Tim Pallas has signalled airport trains may stop at suburban stations to boost sluggish patronage, despite Andrews previously ruling this out. This option would also use existing tracks between the city and Sunshine, which risks clogging any spare capacity for extra trains to the west.

A suburban service is at odds with what is being proposed by the IFM-led consortium made up of Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station. IFM is fiercely pursuing an investment trifecta: a rail link connecting its two assets, the airport and Southern Cross Station.

The consortium insists they want a low return on revenue, that tunnel access charges will be modest and they will absorb the construction risk.

To Kennett, turning down IFM’s $7 billion is reckless. As licensees of the airports, the superannuation funds “should be investing in the provisions of the infrastructure,” he says. “And who better to own it than hundreds of thousands of Australians.”

But RMIT professor of urban policy Jago Dodson cautions against allowing the private sector to run airport rail.

“Private companies don’t get into building infrastructure for virtuous public purposes, they build it because they see a profit,” he says.

The airport link should be part of the suburban service accessible with a myki, with the cost on par with a regular zone 2 service and not be “fragmented out into separate rail systems,” Dodson says.

Baillieu, who promised rail links to Avalon and Tullamarine when he was premier, says that, express airport services on dedicated tracks are more costly, but without a dedicated line, “you’ll probably stay in a cab”.

“Commuters will judge this very quickly and very harshly,” he warned. “It will be judged on frequency, speed and cost to them – not to the taxpayer – and what happens at each end. That’ll be it.”

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The Crows went from top to bottom in three years — this is how it happened

It’s 999 days since the Adelaide Crows went into the 2017 Grand Final favoured to claim their third AFL flag.

But instead of flying home with the Premiership Cup, they returned with the lingering embarrassment of a 48-point thrashing from Richmond.

Not much has gone right for the Crows since then, and they now find themselves on the bottom of the ladder — one of only two winless teams this season.

So, what’s happened?

The game changed and they didn’t

It’s hard to consistently win AFL matches. There are no easybeats, and even the worst teams have their day.

It’s even harder to win while playing aggressive, attractive football.

There have been few more potent offences in recent AFL history than the 2017 Adelaide Crows.

With names like Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch, Charlie Cameron and Mitch McGovern in their forward line, opposition backlines were stretched to breaking point.

The use of space was the key to the Crows’ scoring potency. Lynch and Walker led hard up the ground, providing room for Betts, Cameron, Jenkins and McGovern to work.

Over time, opposition coaches figured out how to counter this strategy: clogging the Crows’ leading patterns and blunting their points of entry.

And their cause was helped by last year’s rulebook overhaul.

The introduction of 6-6-6 starting positions arguably hurt Adelaide more than any other side. Before the rule change, the Crows nearly always employed one or two spare players behind the ball at the centre bounce.

The space created by removing bodies from inside 50 allowed their forwards to romp into the open space, making their opponents second-guess whether to play man-on-man or zonal defence.

Down back, the spare Crows players could either charge into the square or stay behind as loose men in defence.

That tactic is now outlawed, and Adelaide’s defenders have struggled to adapt.

The situation in the midfield is even more dire.

At present, the Crows are last for inside 50 differential, centre clearance differential and stoppage clearance differential. It’s left their back six exposed far too often.

The good ship Adelaide is full of holes, and it’s unclear if the current game plan can plug them.

Turbulent water at West Lakes

The Crows’ style of play is clearly only part of the problem though.

Questionable management decisions have hogged newspaper headlines since the 2017 Grand Final.

The Collective Mind pre-season camp in 2018 alienated players, sparking rumours of infighting.

But even accounting for that disaster, last weekend’s humiliation on the Gold Coast was a new low.

Losing twice in a day is rare, but Crows great and director Mark Ricciuto suffered that fate on Sunday. First, his team was pasted by the Suns to the tune of 53 points. Then he was dunked on by former Crow (and current Sun) Hugh Greenwood.


Last week Ricciuto had defended the Crows’ recent list management decisions by citing the salaries earned by certain ex-players. Such information is supposed to remain confidential under the AFL’s collective bargaining agreement.


Some of the players mentioned by Ricciuto — such as Greenwood, Cameron and Jake Lever — have taken public shots at their former club, including thinly veiled criticism of its football department and administration.

Over the past three years, the Crows’ list strategy has gone through two distinct phases: “the missing piece” and then “the rebuild”.

After several aborted attempts, Carlton star Bryce Gibbs finally made his way home to South Australia at the end of 2017. His acquisition was meant to be the final piece of the puzzle: a smooth-moving midfielder who could also direct traffic out of defence.

But Gibbs had already turned 29 by the time he pulled on the tricolours. He played 22 games in his first season for Adelaide, but last year lost form and played just 12. Not only was Gibbs out of the side himself, but his recruitment had hurt the Crows’ ability to retain other players due to the salary cap squeeze.

Over the last three off-seasons, the Crows have lost or let go a third of the 24 key players from their successful 2017 campaign, along with emerging players like Alex Keath and Cam Ellis-Yolmen. The biggest exodus came last year.

Only two members of their dynamic 2017 forward line remain: 30-year-old Walker and 29-year-old Lynch.

Some losses have cut deep. Lever may have lost a season due to a knee injury, but he’s still been one of the AFL’s best defenders since leaving Adelaide.

At the other end of the ground, Betts showed last weekend there’s still life in him yet, while Cameron has emerged as one of the most potent small forwards in the competition. That shouldn’t have come as a surprise after he kicked five goals in a preliminary final in his penultimate appearance for the Crows.

The performance Adelaide’s remaining veteran core is still OK, but the departed stars have left a gaping hole in the roster.

But the Crows are still only in the early stages of regeneration. Few recruits from the past four drafts have made their mark at senior level.

Rookie coach Matthew Nicks has been handed a mighty task. He needs to refashion the team’s game plan, rejuvenate the list, and develop the young talent already on the books.

He’s just three games into that task, and one would like to think he’ll be given plenty of time. But in an unforgiving industry, and a parochial two-team town, the clock is already ticking.

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MPs want next year’s 12% superannuation guarantee to be dumped

Labor has accused coalition MPs lobbying for a delay in raising the superannuation guarantee of trying to force more people to retire in poverty.

Almost a dozen backbenchers have called for the government to delay the legislated rise from 9.5 to 12 per cent because of the coronavirus-induced economic crisis.

Senior opposition frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said it continued the trend of Liberals and Nationals looking to smash superannuation.

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“It’s just one more way of ensuring people retire in poverty,” she told the ABC on Monday.

Ms Plibersek criticised the government for allowing people to access retirement savings early for discretionary spending, as part of the coronavirus support plan.

“This government does not know how to look after peoples’ retirement savings and it’s a recipe for disaster for many, many Australians,” she said.

Ten MPs have told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that small and medium-sized businesses cannot afford a higher rate of compulsory super.

Liberal MP Tim Wilson said increasing the guarantee would cost jobs and wages.

“If we go down this path at this time it will increase unemployment,” he told Sky News.

“If it’s a choice between increasing the super guarantee now and going back to work, I’ll back Australians going back to work.”

He said Labor needed to move away from their “puppet masters” in industry super funds.

Legislated super guarantee increases will lift the current rate of 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent from July 2021, before edging 0.5 percentage points higher each year until it reaches 12 per cent in July 2025.


Almost half a million Aussies are risking their financial future as the government prepares to pay out $3.8 billion in superannuation.

Australians who have taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been able to apply for the early release of their super from April 20.

The Federal Government recently announced retirement funds would be made available to those experiencing financial hardship because of the coronavirus crisis.

Eligible Aussies will be able to grab $10,000 from their super this financial year and a further $10,000 in 2020-21, with applications being accepted through Australian Taxation Office online services in myGov.

In April, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the Australian Taxation Office had already approved 456,000 applications, totalling $3.8 billion.

“Those applications are now with the superannuation funds for their payment over the next five days. The average withdrawal is around $8000,” he said.

“The ATO has also paid out $3 billion to 177,000 businesses employing 2.1 million Australians as part of our cashflow boost measures which was a measure designed to support businesses, keep people employed, meet their fixed costs, by linking those payments – up to $100,000 and a minimum $20,000 – to those pay rolls.”


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New Zealand a step closer to recession as GDP suffers biggest fall in 29 years

The impact from the COVID-19 outbreak began to be felt in early February with a travel ban imposed on arrivals from China and exporters facing difficulties in their supply chains. Tourism started to feel the pain as border measures were stepped up after the first case of COVID-19 was discovered on February 28. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern eventually took the unprecedented step of closing the border to all foreigners on March 19.

Only in the final week of the quarter, on March 25, was the nation placed into lockdown, requiring almost all retailers other than supermarkets to close and shutting down building sites and most factories.

Bank economists predict the economy will contract by as much as 19 per cent in the second quarter, confirming New Zealand’s first recession since the second half of 2010. Some have scaled back the severity of the expected slump after the country succeeded in eliminating the virus and came out of lockdown earlier than anticipated, partially reviving consumer confidence and giving a fillip to retail spending.


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Forrest’s Fortescue brings forward net zero emissions pledge by 10 years

“Fortescue supports the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and our emissions reduction targets align with this international objective,” Ms Gaines said. “Our success will be founded on practical initiatives that will allow us to deliver on our targets in an economically sustainable manner.”


Across the resources sector, much of the focus of ESG (environmental, social, governance) issues in recent years has centred on matters of climate change, as miners’ operations and the products they extract are significant sources of the world’s emissions.

But in the past fortnight, Australia’s major miners have been the subject of rising public and investor scrutiny for threats posed by mine expansions to significant Indigenous sites following Rio Tinto’s destruction of 46,000-year-old rock shelters in Western Australia’s Pilbara. Fortescue’s planned Queens mine expansion, to the east of Rio’s site, has a footprint covering more than 70 heritage sites, including rock shelters, campsites, rock paintings and engravings.

Fortescue’s strengthened emissions policies on Tuesday were described by climate-focused investor groups as progress in the right direction. Shareholder activist Market Forces, which last month gained the backing of one in three Rio Tinto shareholders in calling for Scope 3 targets, said Fortescue’s 2040 net-zero goal was an “important and welcome step”, but did not go far enough.

Fortescue Metals Group has brought forward a target for net-zero emissions.

Fortescue Metals Group has brought forward a target for net-zero emissions.Credit:Brendon Thorne

Fortescue, unlike many other miners, does not extract fossil fuels such as coal or gas. But Market Forces estimates its Scope 3 emissions generated by the use of iron ore in the carbon-heavy steelmaking process would account for at least 90 per cent of the emissions in Fortescue’s value chain.

“Fortescue needs to manage the financial risks posed by its exposure to the emissions-intensive steelmaking industry by setting clear strategies to reduce Scope 3 emissions,” the group’s Will van de Pol said.

“Fortescue targets which address less than 10 per cent of its value-chain emissions should not placate any investor that takes climate change seriously.”

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Russian court sentences former US Marine Paul Whelan to 16 years’ jail for espionage

A Russian court has sentenced former US marine Paul Whelan to 16 years in jail after finding him guilty of spying for the United States in a closed trial which diplomats said was unfair and opaque.

Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish passports, has been in custody since he was detained by agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service in a Moscow hotel room on December 28, 2018.

Russian authorities said Whelan, 50, was caught red-handed with a computer flash drive containing classified information.

Whelan, who pleaded not guilty, said he was set up in a sting and had thought the drive, given to him by a Russian acquaintance, contained holiday photos.

US diplomats have described the case as a “significant obstacle” to improving already poor ties between the two countries.

They have repeatedly said there is no evidence against him and asked for his release.

State prosecutors, who accused Whelan of being at least a ranking US military intelligence colonel, had asked the court to sentence him to 18 years in a maximum-security prison.

Ambassador ‘outraged’ by verdict

Paul Whelan stands inside a glass case. Outside the cage two men stand wearing balaclavas.
Whelan’s brother says lawyers will appeal the verdict.(Reuters: Maxim Shemetov)

US Ambassador to the Russian Federation, John J Sullivan, said the sentence was not justified.

“I am disappointed, crestfallen, outraged at what I’ve just heard,” Mr Sullivan said.

“An American citizen who is also a citizen of three other countries, United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland, has been sentenced to 16 years, so I’m told.”

He said Whelan could not understand the judgement that was read out in court.

“He’s been sentenced to 16 years in prison with no evidence that’s been produced,” Mr Sullivan said.

“There was no evidence recited by the judge that justified the detention that he’s already been subjected to, which is a year-and-a-half.”

“As you know, I’ve been following Paul’s case closely since I arrived here as ambassador in January.

“I’ve described these proceedings as a mockery of justice and today just confirmed it. An American citizen has been sentenced to a term of 16 years for a crime for which we have not seen evidence.”

Whelan’s brother, David, said lawyers will appeal the verdict that he denounced as political.

He said in a statement that “the court’s decision merely completes the final piece of this broken judicial process”.

“We had hoped that the court might show some independence but, in the end, Russian judges are political, not legal, entities,” the statement said.

“We look to the US Government to immediately take steps to bring Paul home.”


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