Matt Le Nevez talks about life after Offspring

In demand: Matt Le Nevez is keeping busy in the wake of Offspring.
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In demand: Matt Le Nevez is keeping busy in the wake of Offspring.

In demand: Matt Le Nevez is keeping busy in the wake of Offspring.

So how has life been post Offspring?

I think I will always miss Offspring. It was such a pivotal show in my life, such an eclectic and amazing group of people to work with – I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that “lightning in a bottle” again, not only in the making of the series, but even the screening was quite extraordinary – but since my role ended I’ve been quite busy.


Well, I’m living in Los Angeles but I came back to Australia and shot [the drama] Parer’s War, then did a bit more Offspring [for Nina’s dreams of Patrick] , then I shot Love Child about a year ago and went on to Tasmania for [upcoming Foxtel BBC Worldwide drama] The Kettering Incident, then on to Canada to shoot a couple of episodes of  [Christina Ricci’s drama project] The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, I just finished shooting a pilot in Chicago … so yeah I’ve been quite busy.

That’s an understatement!

Yeah and I’m almost ready to come back to Australia to shoot more Love Child. It’s been a crazy year or two but really exciting. Now I just can’t wait for Love Child to come out because this was quite a different show to what I’d done before, so quite challenging.

Your character in Love Child is very different to Dr Patrick, was that important to you?

It was, it was. I was always nervous about coming in to play somebody else’s boyfriend or love interest and when I spoke with [the producers] they had very similar views about where they wanted my character to go and how much energy they wanted him to have – which was good because as I said, Offspring was special. To follow up with something that was not as good or a bit weak [meant]  I was very wary of my next project. Clearly Parer’s War was something very different and this is too. The [Love Child] producers had some very clear ideas about what they wanted to introduce into the show to shake it up. They wanted to bring in someone who would have a different energy from not only the actors on board but also the time in which the series is set. They were looking at some of the pivotal people in Australia at the time and some of the things that were going on in the late ’60s to early ’70s and wanted a character who would represent that, in particular the Green Bans that were happening and move the story in that direction. There were young pivotal people who stood up (to protect) parks and buildings and my character is loosely based around that idea. It was a great opportunity and to be involved in a show like Love Child where the scripts are beautiful and telling an epic dramatic journey. And to work with those actors who create that energy. I’m very lucky.

After this we’ll see you in The Kettering Incident, which is different again.

This is a series that hasn’t been done in Australia before. Something very much influenced by the scandi-noir dramas like The Killing or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films that resonated around the world, but done in an Australian way. I think what has been created is unique in the Australian landscape and I can’t wait for it to come out. The scripts are incredible, the landscape of Tasmania where we shot is a character stronger than any written on the page, it’s just… this is a beautiful, brave piece of television, an amazing project and I’m very grateful to be a part of it.

And you mentioned a new pilot?

Yeah I just shot a pilot in Chicago for a new series called Runner, a mystery, drama action story about a family that gets pulled into gun-running across the Mexcian/American border. Like every Australian actor that comes to the US to throw their hat in the ring you hope to get a gig out of an audition, then when you do you hope for it to be a good one, then when it is you hope for the pilot to get picked up… and I hope we get the chance to move to Chicago to continue filming in August!

Love Child, Nine, Tuesday, 8.40pm

Ageing population need not be a drain: thinktank

Australia’s demographic time-bomb in which an ever-growing proportion of older people rely on welfare in later life, is not inevitable and need not be the threat to prosperity widely predicted, according to a new study released on Thursday.
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The progressive policy think tank Per Capita has proposed a series of image-changing initiatives aimed at adding a fourth P of policy to the three Ps normally discussed in economy and budget deliberations about the future: population, participation, and productivity.

The body says declining taxation revenue as a result of population ageing is a constant feature of Australia’s economic debates which “feeds into the narrative presenting ageing as a threat and a burden on our society”.

Its report “Spaces for All Ages” aims to redress an ageist bias in discussion by focusing on policy development towards improved “economic participation by older Australians”.

Among its proposals are “a network of local jobs hubs” to place older Australians in jobs in their local community, to be called the SilverStart Employment Network.

“This is based on a model of jobs hubs rolled out in Japan over the last thirty years which has been successful in lifting mature-age labour force participation, with over 800,000 members across 1600 centres,”  Per Capita research fellow,  Emily Millane, said.

Also suggested is a public art prize focusing on ageing and participation, and an additional class in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards specifically for ‘older adult fiction’ as a counter-balance to the existing category of  young adult fiction.

The move to make the economy and society more grey-friendly would even extend to urban planning and aesthetics with an emphasis on “regenerating green spaces to create urban environments conducive to social participation by older Australians”.

“Green spaces like parks and gardens are identified in the World Health Organisation’s Age-Friendly Cities as one of eight elements of an age-friendly city,” Ms Millane said.

The report aims to kickstart a more sophisticated policy debate about longer more productive and engaged lives which are better for individuals, communities, and the broader economy.

It comes as the government prepares to unveil its second budget after proposing last year that pensions be indexed at a lower rate from 2017 prompting a widespread backlash from voters.

Follow us on Twitter  Australian Politics – Fairfax

‘Chill’ Virgili left out in cold by home club restructure

JAMES Virgili thought he had done enough to earn an extra year at the Jets.
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Before breaking his ankle when changing direction in a training game on January 27, the 22-year-old had strung together four consecutive starting appearances, beginning with a starring effort in the 2-1 round-11 win over Adelaide.

The injury ended a promising 2015 season for the home-grown winger, who had been in and out of the Jets line-up since becoming the then-youngest A-League player at 16 years and 180 days in January 2009.

On Tuesday afternoon, Virgili was devastated to find out it was not enough.

The 57-game Jet joined Taylor Regan, Sam Gallagher and trainee goalkeeper John Solari as players not offered new deals at Newcastle.

Virgili said he ‘‘was definitely hopeful’’ the club would extend his stay given his form before the season-ending injury.

‘‘I had a nice little run there of four starts and I thought I was playing pretty good during that period, then unfortunately my injury came,’’ Virgili said.

‘‘When it came I was hopeful, even though I didn’t get to play much this year, that the times I did play this season, I’d done enough to earn an extra year.’’

The Herald was told a frustrated Virgili fronted Jets coach Phil Stubbinsthree times in the second half of the season to ask for clarity on his future, given he could do no more on the field to push his claims.

The Herald understands he was given no indication before Tuesday that there was nothing on the table for him.

‘‘The last few months I have been trying to find out where my future was, but the meetings weren’t handled too well,’’ Virgili said. ‘‘But there’s not much I could do about that. I’ve just got to look forward now and hopefully move on to good things.’’

The former Australian under-17 and under-20 representative hopes to complete his radiography degree at the University of Newcastle next year but said he was ‘‘still hungry’’ to further his A-League career.

Asian club champions Western Sydney Wanderers are believed to be one of the ‘‘few clubs’’ Virgili said had shown early interest in him.

‘‘There hasn’t been any offers as yet,’’ Virgili said.

‘‘I’m hopeful out of the places who have shown a bit of interest that something will eventuate. Who knows, sometimes a change can be the best thing for you.’’

The South Wallsend junior was ‘‘obviously pretty disappointed’’ when finally told he was not in the Jets’ plans.

‘‘It was always my dream to play for the Jets, and I’m grateful for that opportunity and always will be.

‘‘It’s obviously tough. You can’t really beat playing for your home town and being at home with your family and friends watching. It definitely makes it extra disappointing.’’

Virgili is yet to score an A-League goal but has started in just 22 of his 57 appearances for Newcastle.

He said he obviously would have liked to score goals for the Jets but added that he was otherwise ‘‘quite happy with how I’ve performed during my time at the club’’.

He believed he had more to offer at A-League level if given regular game time.

‘‘It definitely plays on your mind a bit when you’re in and out of the team for so long,’’ he said. ‘‘But the times I was in the squad for a more than a few weeks, I thought at those times was when I played my best football and I was most consistent.’’

Bali 9 executions: Funerals begin as Chan, Sukumaran families prepare to fly home

Executed: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.’Am I being executed?’ Comment: Why Chan and Sukumaran never stood a chanceMary Jane Veloso still on death rowThe final journey of Bali nine duoAnalysis: Australia may have to ‘ride out’JokoBali nine executions were ‘more perfect’
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As the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran make final preparations to bring the bodies of the two men back home, heart-wrenching funerals have been held in Indonesia for two men executed alongside them.

The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran are being held in a Jakarta mortuary ahead of their scheduled departure for Australia late on Thursday night. They should arrive in Sydney on Friday morning.

As well as family members, Chan’s wife, Febyanti Herewila, will accompany his body back to its final resting place. The pair were married on the eve of the execution.

Funeral plans are not yet confirmed for the two Australians, whose brave defiance in the face of a firing squad – they sang hymns and did not wear blindfolds – deeply moved millions of Australians. Zainal protested innocence to the end

The only Indonesian among the eight executed early on Wednesday morning, Zainal Abidin, was buried later that afternoon in a sorrowful ceremony in Cilacap, the port town across the narrow strait from Nusakambangan, where the eight men were killed.

Zainal wanted to be buried in his home town of Palembang in South Sumatra but his request was denied by local authorities. It is understood they didn’t want to pay for the transfer of his remains.

Zainal comes from an impoverished background and the only relative to attend the service was his brother Iwan Setiawan.

“Everything is over. My brother has been buried. What else can we do? May God forgive all his sins,” Iwan said

Dozens of local residents attended the funeral, which was led by local cleric Hasan Marakim the Jakarta Post reported.

“It’s such a pity. I feel very sad. Although, he might not be a bad person, he is already dead. Who knows if God has forgiven his sins?” a local man, Surmani, told the paper.

“Hopefully, his soul will be peaceful here.”

In a moving letter drafted in March, the former furniture factory labourer said his “restless soul” would haunt those who perpetrated a massive injustice upon him.

He always maintained his innocence after 58.7 kilograms of cannabis was found in his home. He said an acquaintance, Aldo, left it there without his knowledge.

Following his arrest in 2000, his wife left him and he never saw his baby daughter again. In February, his parents’ home burned down.

In more devastating misfortune, one of his brothers had a heart attack and died in March after hearing from prosecutors in Palembang that the family would have one last chance to see Zainal because the executions were imminent.

A few days later, Indonesia’s Attorney-General announced a delay in the executions. Tearful farewell to “Uncle Dili”

Nigerian drug dealer Okwudili Oyatanze was also buried on Wednesday at the Gita Eklesia Foundation’s orphanage in Ambarawa, near the Central Java city of Semarang.

“Dili”, as he was affectionately known, formed a gospel band with guards at Nusakambangan.

Arrested with 1.15 kilograms of heroin in his possession, he was completely reformed, a devoted Christian and spent his time in prison helping other inmates.

Oyatanze was frequently likened to Chan and Sukumaran for his leadership role in prison, and his impact on the lives of other convicts.

Upon its arrival at the orphanage, his body was greeted by a sign emblazoned “Welcome Home, Uncle Dili”, local media reported.

Oyatanze was orphaned at seven months and had a harsh upbringing.

Rina, the owner of the orphanage, told the Jakarta Post she often visited Oyatanze in prison and took children from the centre to meet him.

“The children here felt close to him. They called him Uncle Dili,” she told the newspaper.

Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami, who formed a deep attachment to his Indonesian girlfriend, Angela, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson, sentenced to death for possessing just 50 grams of heroin, will also be buried in Indonesia.

Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, who had suffered paranoid schizophrenia since a youth, and Nigerian Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise requested to have their bodies returned home. Ambassador’s final task before recall

Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta, Paul Grigson, is overseeing the repatriation of the bodies of Chan and Sukumaran. He is expected to return to Australia shortly after that task is complete after being recalled for “consultations” with the federal government.

An unprecedented diplomatic step, Mr Grigson’s recall reflects the depth of anger within the Australian government at Indonesia’s insistence on executing the two Australians, as well as a series of snubs, including announcing the countdown to the executions on Anzac Day in direct defiance of Australia’s requests.

Meanwhile, Indonesian lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis –  who fought to save Chan and Sukumaran for years – posted a simple, moving tweet that hinted at the devastation so many supporters feel after their deaths. I still have no word to write. I may need time to find myself.— Todung Mulya Lubis (@TodungLubis) April 30, 2015

Nepal earthquake: ‘The avalanche just roared over the top of us’

Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade
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Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade

Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade

Nepal earthquake: How to donateNepal earthquake: shock turns to angerQuake: Riots break out in KathmanduLandslide buries trekking village, leaving 250 missingHundreds waiting to cremate the dead as the toll rises

Kathmandu: Many Australians had narrow escapes during the Nepal earthquake but few were luckier than Ron Nissen.

The 70-year-old Queenslander, from Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast, was at Everest base camp, having just returned from an attempt on the summit, when the quake triggered a deadly avalanche.

“We were sitting in the dining tent talking when we felt the earthquake start, we all rushed out . . . and there was a god-awful avalanche coming down,” he said.

“I dropped to the ground where I was standing and the avalanche just roared over the top of us. It was just the scariest thing.”

Snow, rocks and other debris flew past Mr Nissen at tremendous speed. “It was like lying next to a railway line with a freight train going past your head two inches away.”

Mr Nissen was covered in “about a foot of snow” but had nothing more than a few cuts and bruises.

Not everyone was so fortunate – the climbing team’s American doctor suffered critical injuries and died that night. At least 19 people were killed by the avalanche at Everest base camp including Australian climber Renu Fotedar.

“There was absolute devastation, everything was gone,” Mr Nissen said.

He and a few survivors from his climbing team had to scavenge through the snow for warm clothing and strong footwear. The group then walked for two hours to the closest village, Gorak Shep, where they found shelter. “It was a hell of an Anzac Day,” Mr Nissen said.

Three days later, Mr Nissen had another stroke of luck when he was able to get a seat on a helicopter back to Kathmandu. But the semi-retired engineer, said he left about $20,000 worth of climbing equipment buried in the snow.

Some Australians have been unable to get transport back to the Nepalese capital from remote Himalayan trekking areas. The Australian government is now aware of over 1400 Australians who were in Nepal at the time of the earthquake. Of those about 30 are still unaccounted for, although some of those may have left Nepal without telling the Australian embassy.

More than 100 Australians are expected to be airlifted out of Kathmandu later today on Australian military aircraft. Two RAAF C-17 heavy transport aircraft are due to deliver relief supplies to Kathmandu and then evacuate the stranded Australians.  Priority will be given to vulnerable people, especially those with injuries. Kathmandu airport has been heavily congested since the earthquake but many Australians have been able to leave on commercial flights.

About 80 Australians have been staying in tents in the embassy grounds since the earthquake hit.

Twilight’s Kristen Stewart on Clouds of Sils Maria and being ‘insanely sensitive’

Role reversal: Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria. Photo: Supplied More on Clouds of Sils MariaMovie session timesFull movies coverage
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Kristen Stewart started auditioning for movies when she was nine, but she has never looked anything but uncomfortable in her daily role as a star. Right now, surrounded by journalists in Cannes, she is faintly grouchy and very twitchy, as if she would like to wriggle out of her skin and leave it for us to pick over while she slithers off under the nearest door.

And who can blame her?  When she won the role as Bella Swan in the first Twilight film, she says everyone expected it to be a small film for genre fans  In the end, the four films in the franchise grossed $US2 billion. In 2011, Forbes magazine calculated that for every dollar Stewart was paid, she brought in more than $US55 – a heavy financial responsibility at the age of 21. Meanwhile, paparazzi monitored every move she made with Robert Pattinson, the vampire lover who also became her real-life boyfriend.

In her new film Clouds of Sils Maria, Stewart plays the personal assistant to a famous actress; one of her innumerable tasks is to minesweep public places for paparazzi. Thus the first Cannes screening ripples with laughter when Stewart scouts Zurich railway station, pronouncing it clean by saying, “The cockroaches must have taken a later train”. She laughs about it herself. “It was a lot of fun to be the one to say that,” she says. “It wasn’t a statement about anything to do with my life, but I was just like the perfect person to say those words. You know what I mean? Because I obviously have a lot of experience with that.”

Of course, the fact the Twilight stars were embroiled in real life was a story made in tabloid heaven. Two years after they split up for the second and final time, it’s still running:  Stewart’s supposed negative opinion of Pattinson’s current girlfriend FKA Twigs is a regular headliner.  Her own romantic status is unconfirmed, but rumours swirl about her relationship with Alicia Cargile​, who – ironically enough, given the character Stewart plays in her new film – is her own former personal assistant. So far, the only real evidence is some pap-snapped hand-holding and somebody’s observation – possibly erroneous – that they have matching tattoos. The idea that Stewart’s real life is once again echoing her life on screen, however: that has to be good for a story.

In every other respect, though, Clouds of Sils Maria is about as far from the Twilight franchise as anyone can imagine. Written and directed by French auteur Olivier Assayas​, it stars Juliette Binoche as Maria Enders, a venerated actress who, against her own immediate inclinations, has agreed to star in the play that made her name more than two decades earlier. Back then, she played the role of a brash young woman who seduces, then abandons, her much older female boss.

This time around, she will play the boss’s part while a new star from a superhero franchise (Chloe Moretz) will replace her as the young temptress. The prospect makes her feel old, while watching those superhero movies makes her feel artistically irrelevant. The greater focus, however, is on her devoted assistant Valentine – played with marvellous restraint by Stewart – whose own insecurities are buried under endless work; she spends her life with a phone to her ear.

Stewart likes the way Assayas has nailed details she recognises of celebrity life. So are actors really so fragile? She thinks so; it comes with the creative territory. “Most people aren’t born with this impulse to write or, like, make shit out of clay or with this impulse to do performances,” she says.  “Some people are just happy within their lives having families, having work:  you know, that’s like satisfying for them. So I think that unique thing definitely, commonly goes along with having something to protect, because you are different and a little weird. I think I am definitely insanely sensitive. Just ridiculously.”

Even so, she has managed to tough out the Twilight years, sliding with apparent ease into a spread of independent films and another fairytale blockbuster franchise, Snow White and the Huntsman.

“I think the reason I don’t get swallowed up by the Hollywood machine is that I really like to think,” she says. “And I really like to make movies; I just really want the experience of it. Most actors – not good ones – don’t do things for the experience of it; they are just really product-oriented. As is the business, which is why when things are good they stick out.”

Her theory on celebrity culture is that it serves stars up in much the same way that Hollywood films package stories. “They’re all easily consumable and fun.”

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to do Hollywood films, however. “I still like big American big-budget movies – that’s my foundation, that’s what I grew up on. I don’t want to be ‘oh, I only do artsy movies now’. And also within the whole packaged thing, it is possible to make really good movies.”

Stewart is also keen to direct her own films. “I have never been comfortable saying that. I have worked with too many amazing people to comfortably say that. But it’s never going to happen unless I start thinking about it now, so I’m going to start dinking around and making shorts.”

One day, she says, she would love to be back in Cannes with a film of her own. She may find stardom uncomfortable, but Kristen Stewart knows exactly what she wants.

Clouds of Sils Maria opens in cinemas on May 7. 

Life after Twilight

“I didn’t make a movie for a two years because I didn’t have one that I liked,” says Kristen Stewart.

“That was not a plan. I was just like dying. I was like ‘where is it, I can’t find it?’ Sometimes you can read a script and it can be fantastic, but that doesn’t mean that it’s in you to play it. Even if you’re right for the part, you fit the description, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s in you.”

After Twilight, Stewart played Mary-Lou in Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road;  a guard at Guantanamo Bay in Camp X-Ray; and Julianne Moore’s daughter in the Oscar-winning drama about Alzheimer’s, Still Alice. Forthcoming projects include films – so far without titles – with Woody Allen and with Meek’s Cutoff director Kelly Reichardt​. She is currently filming a drama set in the Iraq war directed by Brokeback Mountain’s Ang Lee. Just announced is a forthcoming retelling of the story of Bonnie Prince Charles, with Stewart playing Flora MacDonald.

Trainer Peter Snowden hoping dream start to family operation continues

Ready for more: Gypsy Diamond will be chasing further success for training duo Peter and Paul Snowden in the Wagga Cup. Photo: Anthony Johnson Ready for more: Gypsy Diamond will be chasing further success for training duo Peter and Paul Snowden in the Wagga Cup. Photo: Anthony Johnson
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Ready for more: Gypsy Diamond will be chasing further success for training duo Peter and Paul Snowden in the Wagga Cup. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Ready for more: Gypsy Diamond will be chasing further success for training duo Peter and Paul Snowden in the Wagga Cup. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Peter and Paul Snowden’s first year of training could not have gone much better but there is still some work to do for the training partnership.

A year ago Peter Snowden finished his time at Darley with a winning treble at Hawkesbury, including Aerobatics in the Darley Crown, and became a public trainer out of Randwick with his son Paul.

Even the quietly spoken Snowden has been amazed with the results. The winners tally stands at 77 for the Snowdens, with three group 1 victories, which have created stallion careers for Shooting To Win and Pride Of Dubai.

“You could not have asked for a better start and I didn’t think it would go this well,” Snowden said. “We have had a bit of luck in group 1s and have been blessed with a few really nice horses. To see Shooting To Win be retired to Darley is great but we are looking for the next one because we are just starting.”

The success of the Snowden stable has been across the board and in the next couple of days they will have favourites at Wagga Wagga and Adelaide, while the Hawkesbury meeting gives further opportunity for success.

Gypsy Diamond, the last-start winner of the JRA Plate, heads to Friday’s Wagga Cup to attempt to fulfil owner Ron Finnemore’s desire to claim his home-town cup again and is the bookmakers’ top pick at $3.60.

Snowden, a country boy himself, is as excited about that race as he is about Miracles Of Life starting favourite in the William Hill Classic at group 1 level at Morphettville on Saturday.

“[Gypsy Diamond] is going really well and it’s a great time to go to Wagga with her because it will mean a lot for Ron to win that race,” Snowden said.

“If you look at the form from the other day, Leebaz, which ran second, came out and franked it by winning a group 2 in Brisbane. She is going to get a good track down there and she will run a good race.”

Snowden has horses going in all directions on the weekend and Miracles Of Life heads over to her old home-town to attempt to add another group 1 to her fairytale Blue Diamond win.

Snowden has only had her for four starts for first-up wins in the Caulfield Sprint in the spring and Challenge Stakes this time in. She added a third in The Galaxy to her resume and Snowden thinks this group 1 will really suit her. He decided to give her on a seven-week break and tuned her up for the trip with a Randwick barrier trial win on April 13.

“It is a nice race for her and the space between her races should work for. She is going very well at home and I think she is ready to handle the pressure of another group 1,” he said.

Snowden will be back at Hawkesbury on Saturday, trying to add to his history in the Darley Crown – which he has won five times – with Rose Of Choice.

“She usually goes good first-up and gets through soft ground, which is going to be important,” Snowden said. “Her owner [Keith Biggs] is coming over, and he will also hopefully be able to see Lucky Lago go round in the Hawkesbury Cup, where he is first emergency. We are tossing up whether to run another one of his, Proactive, in the Guineas or send him to Newcastle for a maiden.”

Snowden will also have Hot Snitzel and Dothraki in the XXXX Gold Rush. Both are having their first start for the stable but with plenty of speed on, they could be suited.

“We are still learning about them but they will get their chance in a race like that because there will be a lot of pressure,” he said.

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

Bali 9 executions: Abbott government backflipped on AFP death penalty directive

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Justice Minister Michael Keenan. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBipartisanship breaks down over executionsBali nine executions were ‘more perfect’Analysis: Australia may have to ride out JokoNewspapers caught out by reprieveAFP to face grilling over Bali nine role
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The Abbott government quietly scrapped an instruction to the Australian Federal Police last year requiring it to take Australia’s opposition to the death penalty into account when co-operating with overseas law enforcement agencies.

In 2010, Labor’s then minister for home affairs, Brendan O’Connor, included Australia’s opposition to the death penalty in his official ministerial direction to the AFP.

The 2010 ministerial direction said the minister expected the AFP to “take account of the government’s long-standing opposition to the application of the death penalty, in performing its international liaison functions”.

This was the first time such an instruction had been included in a ministerial direction to the AFP.

In May 2014, Justice Minister Michael Keenan issued a new ministerial direction that removed the instruction. The 2014 ministerial direction includes no reference to the death penalty.

In a letter sent to Mr Keenan on Wednesday, opposition justice spokesman David Feeney said the instruction should be included in the ministerial direction as a “matter of urgency”.

The omission “raises concerns that protecting Australians from the risk of being subject to the death penalty in a foreign jurisdiction is no longer to be considered a critical priority for the AFP,” Mr Feeney wrote.

“In light of the the devastating loss of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran overnight, and the national outpouring of grief which has followed, it is more important than ever that … Australia’s political leaders do all we can to protect Australians from the threat of the death penalty, and to campaign for the global abolition of this cruel punishment.”

Mr Feeney asked for clarification whether the omission was deliberate or an oversight.

When Labor introduced the instruction in 2010, Philip Ruddock – who was attorney general at the time of the Bali nine arrests – said it was “very problematic” and could stop the AFP co-operating with Indonesian police to prevent potential terrorist attacks.

The AFP also has a set of internal guidelines, developed in 2009 following the Bali nine arrests in Indonesia, titled AFP National Guideline on International Police-to-Police Assistance in Death Penalty Situations. The guidelines require the AFP to consider “the degree of risk to the person in providing the information, including the likelihood the death penalty will be imposed” when co-operating with overseas agencies.

Mr Keenan on Thursday accused Labor of playing politics with the deaths of two men and said the party was creating confusion by referring to the high-level ministerial direction rather than the AFP’s internal guidelines.

“I might say that I’m pretty outraged and offended that the Labor Party would use the tragedy of two Australians being executed to make what is an incredibly cheap and invalid point,” he said. “I think they should take a long hard look at themselves if they think this is the sort of time to be politicking in a way that is completely inaccurate. The [AFP] guidelines are the same as when they were this in office and applied in the same way by this government.”

Speaking after the execution of drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that she believed the AFP’s guidelines relating to the death penalty were sufficient.

The AFP is set to break its silence on its role in delivering Chan and Sukumaran to Indonesian authorities in 2005 after previously declining to comment in detail because the mens’ case was being heard before the courts.

The AFP has said it will hold a press conference in coming days while independent senator Nick Xenophon has said he will pursue the matter with the AFP at upcoming Senate hearings.

Senator Xenophon said the removal of any mention of the death penalty from the ministerial directive was “disturbing”.

It – and the AFP’s role in Chan and Sukumaran’s arrests – should be examined urgently by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, he said.

“There are legitimate questions to be asked about whether Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan would be alive if not for the actions of the AFP,” he said.Australian Politics – Fairfax

Bali 9 executions: Joko Widodo’s portrait taken down by National Portrait Gallery

Executed: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: Bullit Marquez
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The gap left on the wall after National Portrait Gallery staff removed a portrait of Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Mary Jane Veloso still on death rowComment: Why Chan and Sukumaran never stood a chanceThe final journey of Bali nine duoAbbott government backflipped on death penalty directiveBali nine executions perfect: Indonesia AGThe great irony of a Bali boycott

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s portrait has been removed from the walls of the National Portrait Gallery to avoid being defaced  following the executions of Bali nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on Wednesday morning.

Australian photographer Adam Ferguson reacted with confusion when told by the gallery they would remove his portrait of Indonesia’s president from public display.

The portrait was a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize, and was set to be on display until June 8.

Ferguson, who shot the image as part of a cover shoot for Time magazine, said he would have preferred to see the work damaged than for it to be removed from the wall.

Speaking from Nepal, where he is covering the recent earthquake on assignment for Time, he said he had been contacted personally by gallery director Angus Trumble to inform him of the gallery’s decision.

“Angus wrote to me and called me in Nepal and explained his position, which was kind of generous of him,” he said.

He said while Mr Trumble had explained his concern that the work would be damaged, he thought the decision had been misguided.

“They don’t actually own it, I own it. They haven’t bought it off me, it’s not like it’s a high-value piece of work that they own,” he said.

“He did mention that until yesterday they were determined not to take it down unless someone tried to deface it, which seems like a stupid thing because I don’t think anyone in Australia would do that.”

He said he would have preferred the image had stayed on the wall as a statement in itself, even if it were to be damaged.

“I think anybody that misconstrued the issues of national law in a sovereign country with a picture of the leader of that country has a totally misguided comprehension of the story and what’s gone on. It seems to act in anger against the picture, it seems quite ridiculous,” he said.

Mr Trumble told Fairfax Media he had taken the pre-emptive action to remove the portrait temporarily, in the wake of the news of and public reaction to the executions.

“My feeling yesterday [Wednesday] morning was that in view of the circumstances and our operations, and my best assessment of the risk of damage to the work of art, it was necessary to remove it from public display,” he said.

“Also, I was swayed by the statements of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and of course the position of the Parliament  and the recall of our ambassador. So it’s a temporary measure.”

He said while there had not been any incident relating to the work and taking it down had been a preventive measure, he had a responsibility to protect all works in the gallery.

“My primary responsibility is the care of the works in our collection and the safety of our visitors,” he said.

It could’ve been me: Axl Rose’s heartfelt plea to Joko Widodo to spare lives of Bali 9 duo

“Barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful act”: Axl Rose begged Joko Widodo, a heavy metal fan, not to proceed with the executions. Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images
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Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran

“Barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful act”: Axl Rose begged Joko Widodo, a heavy metal fan, not to proceed with the executions. Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

“Barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful act”: Axl Rose begged Joko Widodo, a heavy metal fan, not to proceed with the executions. Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Australian Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in Indonesia. Photo: Anta Kesuma

Joko Widodo may be a heavy metal fan, but the pleas of Guns ‘N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose were not enough to dissuade him from executing Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Rose penned a letter to the Indonesian president on April 27, begging him to grant clemency for the Bali Nine duo and Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, lest Indonesia become “the more offensive criminal”.

“Their crimes were now long ago, their hearts and minds forever changed by their crimes,” Rose wrote.

“To kill these men under these conditions of their profound and proven change for the better seems a barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful act of pride, ego, fear and prejudice.”

Veloso was ultimately granted a last-minute reprieve after her alleged drug-trafficking recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, surrendered at a police station in Manila, and Philippine President Benigno Aquino stepped up his lobbying of Mr Joko at a summit of south-east Asian leaders on Sunday.

But after the executions of Chan and Sukumaran proceeded as planned, Rose made his anger and disappointment known on Twitter.

1. It’s deeply troubling President Widodo ignoring International outcry went thru w/8 of the executions.— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

2. Let’s pray Miss Veloso’s reprieve is permanent.— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

3. Widodo’s refusal 2 postpone the executions until all legal challenges n’ investigations of corruption r resolved is inexcusable.— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

4. 4 Widodo 2 b out of the country during his big statement refusing 2 take calls or read any last minute pleas 4 the condemned is cowardice— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

5. The People of Indonesia deserve better.— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

Exactly what drew Rose to Chan and Sukumaran’s plight is unclear. In his original letter to Mr Joko, he wrote that he had no personal connection to the two men and had never met them – but he said their story had “touched me deeply”. He could have easily found himself in their position, he wrote.

Rose described a 2012 Guns ‘N’ Roses tour of Indonesia as “a very special and exciting experience”, and thanked Mr Joko for the hospitality. He said the band was “taken aback by the incredible warmth of the Indonesian fans”.

Rose may also have been hoping to capitalise on the president’s appreciation for heavy metal music. Mr Joko counts rockers Metallica, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Napalm Death among his favourite acts.

Chan and Sukumaran’s Indonesian lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, had previously reached out to Metallica on Twitter, asking the band to come to Indonesia to perform and make a plea to Mr Joko.

It did not appear that any of the president’s favoured bands had commented on the executions on their social media pages in recent weeks. But Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway also wrote a letter to Mr Joko pleading for mercy in January.

In his own letter, Rose said the two Australian men had been rehabilitated and that to persist with the executions would be “draconian justice” and a punishment that “no longer fits the original crime”.

“People make mistakes, sometimes big and horribly regrettable mistakes and sometimes more importantly people learn from their mistakes and make new choices, strive and succeed at true positive change,” the musician wrote.

He said granting clemency would have enabled Mr Joko “to show your country’s strength and allow the world to witness an extraordinary act of humanity and bravery”.

Mourners farewell Maitland flood victim Anne Jarmain

Hundreds remember Maitland flood victim Anne Jarmain A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A “modest, independent” woman: Friends and family remember Gillieston Heights’ Anne Jarmain who died after her car was swept away in last week’s Hunter floods. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookHUNDREDS of friends and family have farewelled 86 year-old great-grandmother Anne Jarmain, the Gillieston Heights woman who died in “tragic and unexpected” circumstances last Wednesday when her car was swept away in rising floodwater in Maitland.

Ms Jarmain’s funeral was held in Rutherford on Wednesday, only a few minutes’ drive from the stretch of road that claimed her life when her car became caught in the floodwaters that hit the region last week after days of heavy rain.

Members of Ms Jarmain’s family remembered a “modest, independent” woman who had cared for her husband, Jim, for several years after he suffered a stroke, and “was admired by everyone who knew her.

Anne Jarmain: A matriarch mourned. Picture: Supplied

Her love of sport, particularly cricket, was mentioned, and her frequent “cheeky” trips to Melbourne for the Cup.

Her grandchildren, Nicholas Jarmain and Leigh Jenkins, remembered her as the matriarch of their family, who hosted Sunday lunches that “brought our whole family together”.

Deb Smith, a friend from the Telarah Bowling Club where Ms Jarmain was a former president, spoke of a “fierce competitor” with a “love of live, a willingness to forgive, and a philosophy of two wrongs never make a right”.

She said that Ms Jarmain had mentioned only weeks before that she had “no regrets”.

Anne Jarmain was farewelled in Rutherford on Thursday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Mourners were asked to thank the men who had jumped in the water to save Ms Jarmain after her car was pulled away in the raging waters, as well as police, fire fighters and emergency service crews that helped during the floods, and the people who had lost loved ones in Dungog.

After the service, family members laid gerberas on Ms Jarmain’s coffin, a “reflection of her bright personality”, and outside released blue balloons into the sky.

Victor Harbor Mayor and deputy mayor called to resign

Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp and the council’s deputy mayor Bob Marshall have been called to resign.Calls for the mayor to resign and the deputy mayor to step down were two of the leading ingredients in a heated City of Victor Harbor council meeting on Monday, April 27.
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City of Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp was asked to resign his position in a question from the gallery from Mike McRae, who is a Victor Harbor ratepayer, commissioned officer of police, special justice and 2013 Victor Harbor citizen of the year.

During the meeting, friction between two councillors reached boiling point, as councillor Terry Andrews moved to revoke councillor Bob Marshall as deputy mayor.

Mr McRae’s resignation question stemmed from the actions of the mayor at the March 18 special council meeting.

“I asked the mayor to resign and him to apologise to Cr Marshall for the distress he has caused him after disallowing his motion at the special council meeting on March 18,” Mr McRae said.

At the special meeting, Cr Marshall moved a motion to defer the construction tender documents for the Fleurieu Regional Aquatic Centre (FRAC) to allow further community consultation.

Mr Philp disallowed the motion and this has angered Mr McRae.

“The mayor did not have the authority to do that and it is my personal and professional belief the mayor broke elected members’ code of conduct,” Mr McRae said.

“This is why I asked for his resignation and for a direct apology to Cr Marshall because he was out of order.

“The mayor has been in his position for five years and if he didn’t know, he should have known the motion should have been allowed.”

Mr Philp’s response was for Mr McRae to take his concerns to the Ombudsman.

“Accordingly I am taking the mayor’s advice reporting the matter to the office of integrity,” he said.

Mr McRae lodged the report to the office of integrity on Wednesday, April 29.

The Times gave Mr Philp the opportunity to respond as part of this story, however he declined.

Councillor Andrews’ motion for the deputy mayor appointment of Cr Marshall at the November 24, 2014, council meeting be revoked was countered by Cr Marshall who requested documentary evidence supporting Cr Andrews’ allegations to be submitted at the May 25 council meeting.

In calling for Cr Marshall to be stripped of his deputy mayor role, Cr Andrews said the deputy mayor is not representing the best interest of council.

“I am concerned that Cr Marshall has engaged in disrespectful communications with fellow elected members, had demonstrated an unwillingness to support the democratic decisions of the council and is noted for non-attendance at many workshops and functions,” Cr Andrews said.

Cr Marshall was successful in moving the motion to be adjourned to the May council meeting.

“Councillor Andrews needs to produce documentary evidence of his allegations so elected members and the community can be informed of the facts,” Cr Marshall said.

“We can see the allegations at the May 25 meeting.”

Elected members voted unanimously to adjourn the issue until the May 25 meeting.

Source: The Times

Ballina aged-care nurse murder accused Megan Haines had ‘means, motive and opportunity’

Aged-care nurse Megan Haines, pictured, learned of two complaints against her by elderly patients the night before they were found dead.
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Aged-care nurse Megan Haines, pictured, learned of two complaints against her by elderly patients the night before they were found dead.

Aged-care nurse Megan Haines, pictured, learned of two complaints against her by elderly patients the night before they were found dead.

Aged-care nurse Megan Haines, pictured, learned of two complaints against her by elderly patients the night before they were found dead.

An aged-care nurse accused of murdering two elderly patients just hours after discovering they had made complaints against her has been refused bail.

On Thursday Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Bellew said the circumstantial case against Megan Jean Haines was strong, despite a lack of forensic evidence linking her to the womens’ deaths.

During a bail application the court heard that at the start of her night shift on May 9, last year, Ms Haines, 47, was told two complaints had been made and a third was pending by three residents of St Andrew’s Village aged care home in Ballina, on the north coast.

In the morning on May 10, two of those residents – Marie Darragh, 82, and Isobella Spencer, 77 – were found unconscious in their beds. Both women had advanced care directives against resuscitation and died in Ballina hospital.

The prosecution claims Ms Haines, who was the only nurse on duty and the only staff member with access to the medication stores that night, injected the women with insulin, causing fatal hypoglycaemia.

A third woman, Marjorie Patterson, 88, survived because she woke as Ms Haines allegedly tried to inject her with an unscheduled and unnecessary dose, the Crown says.

In applying for bail Ms Haines’s lawyer, Michael Blair, said the prosecution case was “just above speculative” as there is no forensic evidence linking Ms Haines to the crime.

“There are no witnesses, no CCTV, no swipe card records, no fingerprints, no DNA, no murder weapon, no insulin register,” he said.

“It is impossible to tell when the insulin was administered and how much.”

Mr Blair said Ms Haines immigrated to Australia from South Africa in 2001 and had no criminal record. Since her arrest her registration as a nurse has been suspended, meaning she has no chance of re-offending if granted bail.

He denied Ms Haines was motivated by financial gain.

“There is nothing to show the applicant was going to gain one cent from their deaths,” Mr Blair said.

In opposing bail, Crown prosecutor Rebecca Gray said Ms Haines had the “means, the motive and the opportunity” to murder the two women.

She had only recently regained her nursing registration and worked at the home for just two months when the director of nursing informed her of the three complaints.

Ms Darragh alleged Ms Haines refused to apply cream to her genital area, saying it was “disgusting”. Ms Spencer claimed in response to asking for assistance to the toilet, Ms Haines said, “just piss in your pants”.

Ms Patterson complained of rough handling.

“The only link between the deceased is they both made complaints about Ms Haines refusing to assist them that could not be explained away,” Ms Gray said.

“In the context of her tenuous employment and how serious these complaints would have been the Crown says she did have a significant motive.”

Three days after the deaths Ms Haines resigned from her job and moved from her home in Kingscliff to Seaspray, in Victoria.

In the time between the deaths and her arrest Ms Haines’ passport was seized. Ms Gray said Ms Haines made repeated attempts to have her passport returned and was heard via a covert telephone intercept telling a friend she wanted to live in Johannesburg.

But Mr Blair said Ms Haines kept police informed of her change of address and another telephone intercept recorded her saying her life was in Australia.

Justice Geoffrey Bellew​ said although Ms Haines was unlikely to face trial until mid next year, she had not satisfied the “show cause” provisions of the recently amended bail act.

“In light of the circumstances which the Crown on the evidence before be is able to establish I’m unable to accept the submission that the prosecution case should be regarded as a weak one,” he said.

Ms Haines remain in custody and will appear in Lismore Local Court in August.