Port Arthur massacre survivor labels film depiction ‘inappropriate’, Premier says still ‘too raw’

A survivor of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre and Tasmania’s Premier are among those who have criticised a new film in production detailing the tragedy.

It is understood the film will not name gunman Martin Bryant and fictitious names and titles will be used for other characters.

The film is directed by Justin Kurzel and written by Shaun Grant, who collaborated on a film adaptation of the Snowtown murders that was released in 2011.

NITRAM is the current working title for the film, Bryant’s first name spelled backwards.

Justin Kurzel was also behind the Snowtown movie.(Supplied: Stan)

In a press release announcing the film, streaming service Stan described it as “a scripted feature film that looks at the events leading up to one of the darkest chapters in Australian history in an attempt to understand why and how this atrocity occurred”.

The film is due to premiere on the online platform and in cinemas in 2021 after debuting at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Production for the film is currently underway at several locations in and around Geelong, Victoria.

Minister refused to meet filmmaker

In Question Time in the Tasmanian Parliament on Tuesday, Premier Peter Gutwein said he felt “highly uncomfortable” about the film, but admitted there were few options available to limit its production.

“This is a production that is not being shot in Tasmania and from the point of view of what we could do as a state we have very few, if any, options in terms of being able to limit this production taking place,” he said.

Mr Gutwein said Arts Minister Elise Archer refused to meet with the filmmaker when asked.

Elise Archer and Peter Gutwein, at coronavirus briefing.
Attorney-General and Arts Minister Elise Archer with Peter Gutwein. He says she refused to meet with filmmakers.(ABC News: Tony King)

“When contacted about this [Ms Archer] made the point very clearly that she wouldn’t meet [with the filmmaker] and the Government would not support the upcoming film project, saying that there is an understandable and ongoing sensitivity in Tasmania around the subject and it was not appropriate for the Tasmanian Government to lend support or enter into discussions regarding this project,” Mr Gutwein said.

Neither the Tasmanian Government nor Screen Tasmania had been involved in the film.

“I would hope that the filmmakers would be sensitive in the way that they craft this particular production.”

Survivor says film ‘inappropriate’

A close up of a man wearing a cap
Justin Woolley was 12 years old when he was in the Broad Arrow Cafe just before the gunman entered and began shooting.(Supplied)

Justin Woolley was visiting Port Arthur with his family on the day of the massacre in 1996.

The then 12-year-old was in the Broad Arrow cafe with his sister looking at souvenirs 10 minutes before the gunman entered.

Like many tourists that day, he thought the gunfire was a form of historical re-enactment.

He then saw people screaming and flooding out of the cafe.

His grandfather realised bullets were being fired in their direction and the family took shelter in nearby ruins.

His family survived, but said the film about the perpetrator was “inappropriate”.

“As someone with direct involvement, it’s only natural that I would be more sensitive than most to the announcement of the film,” he said in a statement.

Now an author, Mr Woolley said his concern about the film stemmed from his understanding of needing to humanise the main character.

“I know well that in order to create a story about this individual it is necessary to generate sympathy in the audience, at least have them relate to the subject,” Mr Woolley said.

“It is this, in a film portraying the life of Martin Bryant, that I strongly object to.”

“The language in the announcement of this film that it will be a ‘study of one of the darkest chapters in Australian history’ and will focus on the study of a man being driven to do something so horrific immediately raised these alarm bells.

“We do not need a study of the motivations of the perpetrator of this crime. We know them already.”

The producers did not comment when contacted by the ABC about the concerns.

In its statement on Monday, Stan said it had “complete faith” that the subject matter would be handled with sensitivity and respect.”

Remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe at Port Arthur
The shell of the Broad Arrow Cafe where 20 people died still stands at the site.(ABC News: Gregor Salmon)

Snowtown filmmaker showed ‘sensitivity’

The prospect of a film being made about a dark day in Australian history is familiar to Paul McCormack.

The South Australian grain farmer was a member of the Snowtown Community Management Committee, which represented community interests after learning a film would be made about the infamous Snowtown murders in the 1990s.

“There had been a number of documentaries made in the period from the crime until the film was actually made, there had been documentaries that probably hadn’t painted the town in a really good light,” he said.

“So there was a little bit of disappointment, frustration, a ‘why us’ sort of attitude.”

Reflecting on his experience, Mr McCormack said any concerns and apprehensions were taken on board.

“There are references on travelling to Snowtown and he [the filmmaker] took that on board that in the dialogue, it wasn’t mentioned directly,” he said.

“I think there was an element of sensitivity in our film that made us out that we were at the end of a chain of events.

Port Arthur memorial pool
A memorial pool has also been built at the site to honour the victims.(ABC News: Gregor Salmon)

He said he can understand the mixed reception to the upcoming film.

“It’s human nature to be curious about certain events in history, and unfortunately, Snowtown was victim to that,” he said.

“I can understand that the filmmaker would like to depict a part of history but I’d urge him to be very careful and very tasteful and very sincere in the production.

“I think it’s best if it’s not shown in some ways, but it’s not for me to judge.”

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Grain harvest tipped to be second biggest on record, as trade tensions with China escalate

Australian farmers are on track to produce the second biggest grain crop ever, following years of drought and as trade relations with China grow frostier.

Commodity forecaster the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has tipped a 51.5-million-tonne national winter crop — 7.4 per cent higher than the most recent prediction in September.

ABARES said New South Wales, after unprecedented drought, was “on the verge” of a record crop, with a forecast production of more than 17.6 million tonnes.

The high yields are due to decent rainfall and growing conditions there, as well as in Victoria and South Australia, meaning winter crops such as wheat, barley and chickpeas had been given a boost.

“New South Wales has had good rain at the start of the season and all the way through the season really,” ABARES senior economist Peter Collins said.

For the major winter crops, wheat production is forecast to increase by 106 per cent from last year to 31.2 million tonnes — the second highest on record.

Barley production should grow by 33 per cent to 12 million tonnes — also the second highest — while canola production is forecast to rise by 59 per cent to 3.7 million tonnes.

NSW is expected to get its biggest crop ever this year, a welcome relief after years of drought.(ABC News: Jess Davis)

Growing conditions in late winter and early spring had been drier in southern Queensland and in Western Australia, meaning production forecasts have been revised down slightly for those states.

Mr Collins, however, said crop yields would still be strong.

“Even with the downward revision for Western Australia it is still going to be around its long-term average, so it’s not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.

“And in Queensland, significant parts of their cropping area have been drier than average for large parts of the year.”

Bumper harvest as trade tensions high

Victorian grain grower David Jochinke is well into his harvest near Horsham in the state’s west, and said the results were “absolutely fantastic” for the south-eastern states.

It has been a tense year for the grains industry, after China kicked off a trade war with Australia by announcing hefty trade tariffs on Australian barley.

Mr Jochinke said he hoped this season’s high yields would help offset the financial damage caused by the spat.

“If we can’t make it up in price, we’d prefer to make it up in yields,” he said.

Two men standing in a paddock
David Jochinke hopes the high-yielding crops will make up for damage done by trade spats with China.(ABC Wimmera: Sean Wales)

But he said it would be a challenge to find markets for barley, given China had been a premium purchaser for several years.

He said growers might have already sold barley domestically while other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, were likely to buy at a discounted price.

Next week ABARES will release a report addressing the impact of China trade tensions on various commodities.

Mr Collins acknowledged growers would have to find new markets and likely sell into them at lower prices, but it would be “pre-emptive” to say more at this stage.

Big harvest means more jobs

New South Wales grain grower Sam Heagney said this year’s high yields were having a flow-on effect in the bush and creating employment.

“It actually means there are quite a few jobs going in regional Australia at the moment, which is something particularly relevant with the economic downturn we’ve seen from COVID.

“There are a lot of opportunities and jobs going. Agriculture is back in business.”

And he said while a drop in barley prices had had an impact on the industry, it was not as big a challenge as the drought.

“Compared to the droughts we’ve had, it’s fine,” Mr Heagney said.

“We’re just happy to be farming and growing things, and as long as we’ve got somewhere to sell it we’re happy.”

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Pilot suffers back injuries after light plane crash at Stanley in Tasmania’s north-west

A pilot has crash landed his light plane in a paddock in north-west Tasmania after the engine failed, police say.

The only occupant, Owen Roberts of Yolla, walked away from the crash landing involving a Jabiru aircraft and contacted authorities himself.

In a statement, Tasmania Police said the 68-year-old was taken to hospital with suspected back injuries.

The engine failed shortly after take off from the Wynyard Airport.

Police and emergency services were called to the scene near Green Hills Road about about 9:05am.

Police and emergency services were this morning on the scene near Green Hills Road.(Supplied)

Wynyard Aero Club president David McCarthy said Mr Roberts was an experienced member of the club.

“It sounds like an engine failure for some reason and then Owen would have done a controlled landing into a field,” he said.

“But he’s certainly been flying for quite a number of years and well trained to undertake forced landings as part of our regular training that we do.”

On landing, the front tyre struck a rock, damaging the wheel, undercarriage and propeller.

The matter will be referred to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Emergency services parked next to a light plane in a paddock
The pilot was able to contact authorities himself before being taken to hospital with back injuries.(Supplied: Tasmania Police)

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Launceston’s Nepali cricket team finds a home ground

Five years after Launceston’s Nepalese community formed its own cricket club, the team now finally feels at “home”.

Mowbray and Newnham, which are about 10 minutes from central Launceston, are the city’s fastest growing multicultural suburbs, with many people relocating from Nepal and Bhutan.

According to the 2011 census, there were only 59 Nepalese-born residents living at Mowbray.

Now it is estimated there are 2,000 Nepalese living in Launceston’s northern suburbs, and that figure is continuing to grow.

It is in the suburbs of Mowbray and Newnham where the Launceston Nepali Cricket Club formed in 2015.

The club, which currently has 35 players, hopes to eventually have multiple teams playing in the Tasmanian Cricket League roster, including a junior team.

Up until this year, the team had been using a ground at Exeter, 40 minutes away on the other side of the Tamar River, making it hard for many players to train and play.

Ram Kumar Shrestha (right) with Nisha Shrestha, Ronisha Shrestha (3). He says the new home-ground makes it easier for the family to watch the game.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

Now, the northern suburbs’ main high school, Brooks High in Newnham, has opened its oval for the team to use as its home ground.

It is the first time the club has had its own home ground in its local community.

“I just want to bring the tent and sleep over everyday, I feel like I’m in my house — I’m home,” club vice-president Sulabh Maskey said.

Club a source of pride

The club first formed to create community comradery.

“We started to play with the Indian community, just like a friendly match and then one day I heard about the TCL [the Tasmanian Cricket League],” Mr Maskey said.

The league welcomed the club into its 2019-20 roster in B-grade division. It came third and this season it is fielding a team on the A-grade roster.

Members of a cricket team huddle over a table to discuss a game plan
Launceston Nepali Cricket Club members go over a game plan.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

“I wasn’t expecting that he [the league president] would give us a break,” Mr Maskey said.

“But when we were having a conversation he realised that we were really, really hungry and trying to represent our nation, our community, to the local community.

“The opponents’ teams are very, very experienced and we’re learning and we’re making really good friendships.

Club secretary Maheshwar Parajuli moved to Launceston from Sydney in 2018.

“I was interested in playing cricket but I hadn’t got any good chances there, and once I came here I found a few boys playing,” Mr Parajuli said.

A Nepalese man in blue and orange cricket uniform
Maheshwar Parajuli joined the Launceston Nepali Cricket Club in 2018.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

Mr Parajuli, who is a self-confessed “good bowler”, said now the home ground was close to where he lived, it helped create a work-sport balance.

“You can come here from your shift break, so you can take a break, like half an hour, so it’s so good to be here,” Mr Parajuli said.

“The guys are working hard, so hopefully we’ll get the best result this year. In our home-ground games, we expect more people to come and cheer for us.”

Bringing families together

Young Nepalese children in a cricket net
Cricket stars of the future? These kids are keen to get involved with the game.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

The move also means many of those now able to cheer from the sidelines are the players’ families.

Nisha Shrestha said it was previously hard “to manage the time” to watch her husband play home games when they had to travel so far with a three-year-old child.

The new home ground had made that easier.

“I feel good to watch the cricket, it’s really close to my home,” she said.

“My mother-in-law has come to support them.”

People from Nepal in cricket gear sit on the grass with family members
Home games have now become an outing for most Nepalese families.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

Saru Aryal felt the same.

“I have two kids and they are both very excited to see the cricket,” Ms Aryal said.

“It’s a proud moment for us, so feeling pretty excited, happy, proud — it’s a mixed feeling.”

A Nepalese woman in a cap with two young children at a cricket ground
Saru Aryal and her two children Aaryav and Ananda watching their husband and dad play at the new home ground.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

COVID-19 fails to deter arrivals

Ella Dixon, chief executive officer of Launceston’s Migrant Resource Centre, said that even with the need for quarantine, the northern suburbs’ Nepalese community had continued to increase during the coronavirus pandemic.

A woman with brown hair smiles
Ella Dixon says cricket has helped break down barriers in the community.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Fred Hooper)

“Pre-COVID there was a regular number of people arriving under the humanitarian program,” she said.

“The restriction on international borders has certainly put a stop on people arriving, but in the COVID era we’ve seen quite a number of Nepalese moving from interstate.

“There’s been a bit of movement within Australia of people following pathways to employment and permanent residency.”

Ms Dixon said the community was fast making its mark on the regional city.

“Even things like the foods in the supermarkets, the type of shops that are in the main street of Mowbray now reflect the changing demographic of the northern suburbs.”

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China puts tariffs of up to 200 per cent on Australian wine

The Chinese Government has announced it will place tariffs on all Australian wine imports from Saturday, striking a blow to the $1.2 billion-a-year industry.

It follows the preliminary findings of a Chinese anti-dumping investigation into Australia’s wine exports that found that dumping exists and causes Chinese winemakers “substantial harm”.

China has accused Australian producers of selling wine for below the cost of production.

The investigation is not due to finish until next year, but China’s Commerce Ministry announced that from November 28, importers of Australian wine entering China will need to pay temporary “anti-dumping security deposits”.

The deposits, which effectively work like tariffs, will range from between 107 per cent to more than 200 per cent.

The move comes after China’s Commerce Ministry gave informal instructions to importers to suspend orders of wine and six other types of Australian exports earlier this month.

Shares in Treasury Wine Estates, one of Australia’s largest exporters, plunged 11 per cent on Friday morning as the news was being confirmed.

The company initially paused trading and then confirmed it will be in a halt until Tuesday.

Tony Battaglene from Australian Grape and Wine said the tariffs would make it incredibly difficult for Australian wine exporters.

“The China market is a big market for us, but also some of our major competitors, particularly from Europe, are [now] given a tariff advantage of 100-200 per cent [which] is going to make it very difficult to compete … it won’t be good,” he said.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the tariffs delivered a “devastating blow” to the wine industry.

“It will render unviable for many businesses their wine trade with China and clearly we think it’s unjustified, without evidence to back it up,” he said.

“It’s a tax on Chinese consumers, essentially, but by taxing the product at such enormous, impactful levels, it will likely see consumers turn away from that, and that is what has the devastating impact on Australian producers.

Two glasses of red wine.
Wine has joined other Australian export products in attracting Chinese tariffs.(Pixabay)

‘Very little product is going in’

Mr Battaglene said there were hundreds of shipping containers of Australian wine building up at ports across China since an unofficial ban on imports came into effect earlier this month.

It is understood the wine delayed at customs will now be subject to the tariffs.

“Very little product is going in,” he said.

“We had a reduction in export approvals of 80 to 90 per cent.

“What has gone in is sitting basically in customs, trying to go through increased testing and compliance procedures.”

He said the industry was unaware of any wine that had cleared China’s customs since the ban, and subsequently large numbers of wine exporters had withheld from shipping wine from Australia.

“We need to be able get through this and work with both the Australian and Chinese Government to resolve this.”

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Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the Government will appeal the tariffs

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the Australian Government was in contact with Chinese authorities.

“We’re trying to get an appreciation of the reasoning behind the determination in introducing these tariffs,” he said.

“That’s why we’re moving quickly to work with the industry and my officials and DFAT officials in Beijing to get an understanding so we can put our case around this decision … that we feel is quite outrageous and, to be honest, disproportionate to any reason that anyone has put to us subsequently.”

Shadow Trade Minister Madeleine King said she was “deeply concerned” about the tariffs.

“Labor understands the relationship with China is increasingly complex,” she said.

“It is a relationship that must be managed in the national interest and not for partisan political interests.”

The announcement of a wine tariff comes amid souring trading relations that have seen China impose import tariffs on Australian barley.

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Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 19 seconds

James Robson from Ross Hill Wines in Orange responds to the tariffs.

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Mel is among the 12pc of Tasmanian construction workers who are women. She’s also the nation’s top apprentice

Tasmanian carpenter Mel Ransley has been named the top apprentice in Australia.

The 20-year-old, who had already been named Tasmania’s top construction apprentice, took out the top award at last night’s National Excellence in Building and Construction Awards.

The award recognises the best building projects from around the country and the builders that constructed them across the residential and commercial sectors.

Ms Ransley was given the award for her overall performance as an apprentice, helping out on projects.

“I guess it’s just a really good accomplishment,” she said.

“First of all, to be able to say that you’ve won state or even that you’ve been nominated for state and then to say that you’ve been nominated for national, let alone win it … is pretty crazy,” she said.

“I guess it shows that you’re a pretty driven and accomplished person over a short period of time in the early days of your career.

Only about 12 per cent of people working in Tasmania’s construction industry are women and many of them are in tertiary-qualified roles such as architecture.

Master Builders Tasmania executive director Matthew Pollock said women were given opportunities to work in the industry.

“Traditionally construction has been a male-dominated industry, and it is physically demanding hard work, but I think we are starting to break down those barriers,” Mr Pollock said.

“Mel is a great example of that — there [are] opportunities for women.

“This is another great example that building and construction is a career destination for everybody … and that we can provide rewarding career pathways for women.”

Ms Ransley says winning the award is “a really good accomplishment”.(Supplied)

Ms Ransley said she had never felt her gender was a barrier to her career in construction.

“I like to see it as an accomplishment, as my skills as a carpenter rather than a woman, but I guess it is good for young girls to see that,” she said.

“It is becoming more apparent in the industry, so I think young girls are getting more of an opportunity to see that as an idea.

“If you don’t want to do it, you don’t want to do it — you’re not going to hang around if you don’t want to be here.

“Because it is about your happiness in the end and what you want to do with your career and your life.”

She fell in love with woodworking after taking classes in it at school but decided on a career in carpentry after taking construction as a subject at college.

“I like to work hard and I like to be busy and I think the thing with carpentry is you don’t really get bored because it’s constantly changing,” she said.

“Even if you are on a job for a year, you’ll move on to a new or bigger or better or different thing every year, or every month or whenever it is, so you’re not really stationary for very long.

“And you also get a really good sense of pride because you’re constantly seeing a physical product at the end of most days of what you’ve done.

“And being able to drive past and say, ‘I built that’ or ‘I helped build that’ or ‘I did that’ is pretty cool or exciting in its own right.”

Ms Ransley’s now finished her carpentry apprenticeship and is doing a teaching course so she can pass her skills on to others.

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