Watch free on ABC or without cable

The 2020 American Music Awards, which honor the best and brightest artists in nearly every genre of music, are taking place tonight at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Hosted by Taraji P. Henson, the socially distanced event will feature live performances from Billie Eilish, Katy Perry, Megan Thee Stallion, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, the Weeknd, Kenny G, and many others. You can check out the full list of performances and nominations here.

The ceremony is slated to air tonight (Sunday, November 22) at 8 p.m. ET on the ABC broadcast network. If you’re a cord-cutter who wants to stream the AMAs live on a computer, smartphone, or television, you’ll need access to ABC’s live feed. We’ve rounded up some places to find it below:

Subscription streaming services

ABC is available in most areas as part of a bundle on a few subscription-based streaming services. If you’re new to one these services, you can usually get a free week. Check your zip code before signing up.

Free streaming services

Locast is a nonprofit service that lets you stream broadcast networks, including ABC, for free in select areas. Find Locast here.

ABC’s website and mobile apps

Viewers with login credentials from a pay-TV provider can watch the AMAs on ABC’s website ( or via ABC’s iOS and Android. Find the apps here.

Over-the-air antennas

Worth repeating: ABC is a broadcast network and available over the air for free. It’s not too late to buy an OTA antenna and watch it the old-fashioned way. Good luck!

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US Election 2020 live updates, Australia breaking news today and latest coronavirus updates November 10, 2020: Attorney-General hits back at ABC claims; Trump urged to cooperate with Biden team; COVID-19 vaccine ’90 per cent effective’

Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t congratulate President-elect Joe Biden until legal challenges to the US election are resolved and the result is official, the Kremlin announced on Monday.

Mr Putin is one of a handful of world leaders who have not commented on Mr Biden’s victory, which was called by major news organisations on Saturday. But President Donald Trump’s team has promised legal action in the coming days and refused to concede his loss, while alleging large-scale voter fraud, so far without proof.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested that when the time comes, a congratulatory message from Mr Putin would come with all the expected protocol. (Image: AP)

When Mr Trump won in 2016, Mr Putin was prompt in offering congratulations — but Mr Trump’s challenger in that election, Hillary Clinton, also conceded the day after the vote.

The leaders of China, Brazil and Turkey also are holdouts in offering congratulations. And Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also said he would wait to comment until the legal challenges were resolved.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin offered a similar explanation of why President Xi Jinping has stayed silent.

“We understand the presidential election result will be determined following US laws and procedures,” he said.

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A quiet place – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


November 07, 2020 08:24:26

The arid heart of Australia presents a window through which scientists hope to see beyond the furthest reaches of our solar system to the dawn of time. To traditional owners, it simply represents the centre of their universe. Now the two parties must find common ground if the world’s largest telescope array is to be built there as planned.

Standing beside a rock pool on the Murchison River, Len Merry rests his hand on the trunk of an old tree and says a quiet “hello”, with a gentle pat and nod of his head.

For Len, the land is full, alive with stories from his ancestors, a connection to his culture that has existed in this area for tens of thousands of years.

These days the Murchison River and the paddocks of the pastoral stations it winds through in remote outback Western Australia appear largely empty.

The old tree is no exception. The unusual emu-like markings are part of a story told to Len, which he has since told his grandchildren.

The Murchison Shire stretches across 50,000 square kilometres, but is home to just 113 people.

It is Western Australia’s only shire without a town.

But the ancient landscape it encompasses is one of the oldest on the planet. Zircon crystals found in its hills date back 4.39 billion years.

For decades, the land has been home to proud traditional owners, like Len, and pastoralists grazing sheep and cattle.

These vast unpopulated spaces have also caught the eye of scientists around the globe, keen to build and beam an enormous telescope into the night sky to uncover the secrets of earth’s creation.

Exploring the outback sky

A decade ago, a new land user entered the Murchison, with the CSIRO purchasing Boolardy Station.

It paid $5.4 million for the 340,000-hectare property in 2009.

It then created the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) and began building its own telescope project as part of Australia’s bid to host the international Square Kilometre Array — or SKA.

In 2012, Australia and South Africa were announced as co-locations for the revolutionary $3 billion telescope.

CSIRO head of SKA program Ant Schinckel does not mince words when describing the project’s importance.

“The Square Kilometre Array is the astronomy world’s next great hope for understanding how the universe was born and evolved in those earliest years after the big bang,” he said.

The SKA will be the world’s largest radio telescope.

Once operational, it will allow astronomers to see the sky in unprecedented detail, and at unparalleled speed.

Construction contracting is due to begin next year, with the first sod to be turned in 2022.

But traditional owner Len Merry is worried that the land, and special places within it, will be irreversibly damaged.

“That’s why I said to them, ‘it’s going to happen … I need to move off’,” he said.

“I don’t want to see it damaged. I like to see it as it is.”

Aliens and the beginning of time

The Murchison is regarded as ideal for radio astronomy because it is relatively free from the kind of electronic pollution that interferes with radio signals, similar to light in urban areas restricting the view of stars in the night sky.

“Everything we do these days — our mobile phones, our cars, our refrigerators — everything generates radio frequency noise,” Mr Schinckel said.

“So basically, we have to put our radio telescopes further and further away from people.

“We go to areas of very low population density, and the Murchison is just outstanding for that.”

Space on the Earth, and isolation, are key.

In the Murchison, 132,000 antennae will be built in three spiralling arms across 65 kilometres, forming a large data collecting area.

It will be comprised of 512 stations, each containing more than 250 antennae.

“It produces a pattern on the sky of the signals that is the best possible pattern for mapping exactly what we’re looking at,” Mr Schinckel said.

The Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) already hosts such projects as the Murchison Widefield Array telescope and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Project (ASKAP), with both projects regarded as precursors to the yet-to-be-built Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Mr Schinckel said the CSIRO’s ASKAP had already made “incredible” discoveries, including mysterious fast radio bursts — flashes of radio waves from other galaxies.

Once operational, the SKA is expected to receive radio waves or light generated from the beginning of the universe.

“We think of light as travelling incredibly fast and almost instant, but because the universe is so big it does take long periods of time for that radiation to get from one place to another,” Mr Schinckel said.

“So the light we are receiving in some cases has actually taken billions of years to get to us.

“So yes, in a sense we are looking back in time.”

Asked whether he thinks scientists might discover that life exists elsewhere in our universe, Mr Schinckel does not bat an eye.

“It’s always possible, yeah.”

‘You can’t destroy one to progress another’

First, however, important questions concerning life here on Earth must be answered.

In order to develop the SKA, an Indigenous Land Use Agreement between traditional owners and the CSIRO must first be signed.

Negotiations, being led by the Commonwealth’s Department of Industry Science Engineering and Resources in cooperation with the CSIRO and the Wajarri Yamatji people, have been running for several years.

For traditional owner Dwayne Mallard, negotiating a land use agreement is based on a lifelong obligation to protect and preserve culture, land, and dignity.

“Looking back to the beginnings of time there’s a lot of correlation to looking back to the beginnings of culture, or at least a current example of the oldest continuous culture on the planet. And that’s us,” he said.

“You can’t destroy one to try and say that you’re making progress in another.”

Mr Mallard said negotiations had been a very respectful and engaging process.

However, there were items that were non-negotiable.

“I don’t think I’m alone when I say there’s no amount of money that could ever justify the blatant destruction of a site that is significant beyond measure,” he said.

On measure, Mr Mallard said change was needed more broadly across Australia in how value was determined.

“In the current structure and system of society, currency and value seems to take on a dollar measure, in both realms,” he said.

“Culturally, currency is around respect, love, understanding, and value is around preservation and protecting and restoring.”

Right people for the right country

Anthony Dann is the lead negotiator in a group of about 15 traditional owners with input into the land use agreement.

“We don’t own the land, we belong to the land and the land looks after us,” Mr Dann said.

“If we can look after our sites, our places, our pools, our waterways, our bush tucker sources, then we will always be able to practise our customs out on country.”

Mr Dann said working out how to build the antennae, cabling, and other infrastructure associated with the SKA in a way that had minimal impact on the landscape was a complex task.

“I had my way, I would like to leave the country the way it is,” he said.

He worries that the offer of money as part of negotiating an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) will not lead to the best outcome for the preservation of culture.

“Wajarri is a big claim, but inside that claim we have a number of different groups, who each hold responsibility for their own areas,” he said.

“People from outside this area will not vote for the cultural significance of this area. Most of them will vote for the dollar, because they’re not affected by the damage to a site in our area.”

Mr Dann said “a white man’s line” had been drawn around the Wajarri people.

“Yes, we’re all Wajarri, but we’re all different pockets of Wajarri,” he said.

“The proper process should be right people for right country.

“If the project is in your area, then that decision should be made by those people from that area, and those people alone, which then should go back to the wider group for support.

“They should support it without question.”

However, Mr Dann said not everyone within the Aboriginal community supported his call for the voting system to change.

“Boundaries suit people when they want them to suit them,” he said.

Strong commitment to the land

Mr Schinckel said COVID-19 had delayed some of the land use negotiations, but he believed they would be completed next year.

He said extensive heritage surveys, involving traditional owners and the CSIRO, of the proposed site for the SKA had recorded the locations of archaeological and ethnographic artefacts.

“Where these are found, these are very carefully recorded and noted, and we then work with the Wajarri very carefully to make sure we come up with alternative locations,” he said.

“The SKA telescope design does allow some level of relocation.”

Mr Schinckel said 18 heritage surveys had been done to date, with more left to do.

“In terms of our commitment to protect this land, I think that’s very strong,” he said.

Mr Dann has also been contracted by the CSIRO to conduct heritage survey work across Boolardy Station.

Mr Schinckel said the CSIRO had recently provided a written commitment to traditional owners not to disturb two extremely important ethnographic sites, and he felt there would be more of these sorts of commitments in the future.

He said the land use agreement would include a range of benefits, including jobs and training for local Aboriginal people, assistance to develop businesses, a cultural awareness, art, and education program, and vocational support.

“Once construction starts, we will be employing traditional owners as what are called site monitors,” Mr Schinckel said.

“They will be escorting the construction vehicles and looking — during the construction period, where we’re disturbing the ground — for any artefacts that might have been missed during the [heritage] walk-overs.

“We think of the SKA as very big and costing a lot of money, but the actual area of the MRO that will be impacted by the telescope is extremely small.

“All of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory will still be absolutely available for the Wajarri to exercise their native title rights, and they have basically unfettered access to that.

“I would hope that the Wajarri see how hard we’re working with them to try and relocate and find alternate locations so that they can see our intention is absolutely not to impact the heritage there.”

Traditional owner Dwayne Mallard said he wanted to see the SKA deliver tangible benefits for the remote Pia Wajarri Aboriginal community, which neighbours Boolardy Station.

“There seems to be in remote Australia, particularly in remote Aboriginal communities, economies that sit around the community and the community isn’t attached to it,” he said.

“I would like to see through the SKA project, if it was to proceed in its current form on this location that the Wajarri people are truly and genuinely at all levels enmeshed in that economy, so it will create a positive legacy over many generations.”

Silence is golden, unless you’re a pastoralist

While the conversation with traditional owners continues, the SKA project’s overseers are equally concerned with preserving the unique qualities that make Boolardy an ideal location for radio astronomy.

As far back as 2005, the Australian Communications and Media Authority declared a ‘radio quiet zone’ across what was now known as the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO).

It is managed by the CSIRO and comprises of sections: The inner zone has a 70-kilometre radius, which is most sensitive, and the outer ‘coordination’ zone extends for 260 kilometres out from the MRO.

Within the radio quiet zone, signal levels from radio communications equipment such as television transmitters, mobile phones, CB radios, and electrical devices are controlled to limit interference to radio telescopes.

For the Murchison community, this zone means the settlement cannot have a mobile phone tower.

It is a frustration for people such as pastoralist and shire president Rossco Foulkes Taylor.

Mr Foulkes Taylor said the settlement was at least 200 kilometres by road to its nearest mobile phone tower.

“I get the feeling that if CSIRO weren’t in the area there would be a tower here by now. It’s a bit of a no-brainer,” he said.

“As a community, we wish CSIRO would put a bit more energy into compensating, getting us up to speed.

“We reckon something really good would be a fibre line across to the Murchison settlement. That would be fantastic.”

The CSIRO said it was still discussing connectivity options with the shire, including a very small mobile network, or potentially a fibre line proposal.

Access to country

Mr Schinckel said traditional owners were permitted to travel within the radio quiet zone.

“We do ask the Wajarri to limit their activities in terms of things that could cause [radio interference], and to date we’ve found them to be extremely cooperative,” he said.

“In many instances they want to be out there camping and performing their normal traditional activities.”

Other pastoralists the ABC spoke to said they were frustrated by what they described as a lack of clear information from the CSIRO about what was and was not permitted within the radio quiet zone.

Some of those neighbouring Boolardy and whose properties were partly covered by the quiet zone questioned whether or not they could use emerging technologies, including remote water point monitoring, drones, and virtual fencing.

The uncertainty and inconveniences are acknowledged by the CSIRO’s Ant Schinckel.

“The telescopes are so sensitive, it is sometimes difficult to understand exactly what signals they may or may not receive and how much it may effect data,” he said.

“So sometimes it takes us quite a while to work out if this piece of equipment is going to affect us or not, so I’m sympathetic to that.

“It can be a bit of a process to go through.”

Mr Foulkes Taylor said he would like to see more work opportunities for local people in the Murchison to also benefit from the CSIRO being established in the region.

“There’s been limited local opportunity for work, both contractual and — in a staff sense — over in the camp,” he said.

“A lot of the things that we thought may turn up [from CSIRO coming into the region] haven’t, and we’ve made some good friendships, but there’s been lots of frustrations.”

He said the community also felt the loss of Boolardy no longer being worked as a cattle station.

A family previously working the land had left the region, and seasonal employment opportunities such as mustering had also been lost.

“Along with that goes vermin control and so on. Community contribution, and partaking in different events, has been on the quiet side at times,” Mr Foulkes Taylor said.

The CSIRO has recently established a new body, the Site Entity, with a focus on managing the land and covering schemes such as rehabilitation, fencing, waterpoint monitoring, and heritage protection.

“One of the key things we’ve realised as we’ve developed the MRO is that there is a significant need to separate off the telescope activities from managing the land,” Mr Schinckel said.

Tourism drawcard?

On Wooleen Station, neighbouring the CSIRO, Frances Pollock hosts guests at her station while working with eight local governments across the broader region to develop what she describes as a tourism industry with enormous potential.

Guests are attracted to the Murchison region for its famous wildflowers, its unique landscapes, and of course its night skies.

Mrs Pollock said guests were also very interested in visiting the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory site, an irony given the project was built in a location to be isolated from traffic.

“We get a lot of people coming out here because they want to go and see it, but as it stands, and as I see it will always stand, they’re not allowed to go out to the SKA,” she said.

She said the radio quiet zone, which covers half of Wooleen, also restricted her from developing some tourism products.

“There are obviously certain tourism products that I feel as a result of the radio quiet zone we’ll probably never have the opportunity to establish out here, things like helicopter flights or scenic flights in light aircraft,” she said.

“At the moment, it’s not restricting our growth, but it does worry me a bit for the future a little bit for the future about things we may or may not be able to do on Wooleen.

“I think there is great opportunity to do something with the SKA, and hopefully here in the Murchison, where people are in the shire that hosts the telescope where they can learn about it on the ground while they are here.”

Mrs Pollock said an interpretive centre built at the Murchison Settlement would bring benefits to the region, an idea backed by the Murchison Shire.

“What we’re asking of them is not to have a lot of people at Boolardy, what we’re asking for is an interpretive centre that is over 100 kilometres away from the site,” she said.

Mr Schinckel said the CSIRO was still determining where and in what format its outreach facilities would be located, but he recognised the requirement for more information.

“We have to work out the balance there between protecting the telescope, making sure the data is good, and making sure we keep the public well-informed,” he said.

“So one of the things we’re trying to take on, is that the small number of people that live in the Murchison shire, which is partly what makes it so attractive for radio astronomy, also need our support in their ongoing day to day life.”

And while traditional owners and the CSIRO continue to negotiate the exact location of the world’s largest radio telescope, traditional owners like Len Merry will continue the story of their culture on the ancient Murchison landscape.

Dwayne Mallard said elders like Len Merry needed to be respected and heard.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants, and Uncle Len and Auntie Julie are particularly two of those,” he said.

“In Heart of My Country, in the second verse, Shane Howard sings ‘sometimes we have to choose whether the wealth we gain is worth the wealth we lose’.

“It really cuts to the core of what we’re talking about around preserving and protecting culture and land.”

Watch this story on ABC TV’s Landline at 12:30pm on Sunday, or on iview.


Reporter: Joanna Prendergast

Videography and photography: Chris Lewis

Digital Producer: Adam Connors











First posted

November 07, 2020 06:05:58

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Why the ABC is too important to lose

The Government keeps cutting funding to the ABC, but recent events such as the bushfire disaster have shown why our national broadcaster is so vital, writes Kelly Bartholomeusz.

WHAT IF there was no ABC? This question was posed to bushfire survivors during independent research into the 2019-20 summer fire response. “It would be a strategic nightmare — we would lack the most important information to help us in a time of need,” said a survivor from Narooma. This question takes on an ominous significance as the Coalition Government makes further funding cuts to the ABC, this year’s Federal Budget revealing the latest in over two decades of cuts that reached crisis point under Tony Abbott in 2014.

The last ten months have been a sobering reminder of the role played by the ABC during times of crisis. During the peak of the 2019-20 bushfires alone, the ABC undertook emergency broadcasting for over 200 emergency events across Australia, which cost an extra $3 million to the broadcaster’s expenses at the same time it was being forced to absorb an annual budget cut of $105.9 million.

In September, Chair Ita Buttrose sent an email to staff requesting the six-month deferral of a scheduled wage increase in order to fund ‘emergency broadcasting services and public interest journalism’. This follows news of approximately 250 redundancies as the ABC scrambles to fund the news and entertainment on which millions of Australians rely.

There is a tendency of Liberal politicians to dismiss the ABC as a bloated public service and funding cuts as nothing more than a routine efficiency exercise. In reality, the ABC and SBS currently cost the Government $57 per person, per year — about a third of what Scandinavians and Germans spend on public broadcasting and about half of what the Brits spend. 

The ABC’s funding has declined in real terms by close to 30 per cent over the last 35 years. The 2019 efficiency review of the ABC, led by former News Corp executive Peter Tonagh, recommended that the broadcaster receive longer-term funding certainty to allow it to modernise its infrastructure — expert advice that appears to have been discarded by those that commissioned it.

It should be of concern to every Australian that public interest journalism and emergency broadcasts are being financed through layoffs and wage freezes. In the context of economic turmoil, one could be forgiven for perceiving these measures as purely pragmatic. But it is worth noting that the Government recently awarded Foxtel a $10 million extension to its existing $30 million contract — a new “no-tender” contract that was fast-tracked through Federal Cabinet during May 2020, bypassing procedures intended to improve governance.

This illustrates not a financial crisis but a crisis of values, a willingness to let the country’s public broadcaster scavenge for scraps while awarding millions to a subscription-only cable service without due process.

The ABC is on the IPA's hit list

These cuts are not about acting on credible advice but about the furthering of an agenda. The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a Right-wing think tank that receives significant funding from Gina Rinehart and shares several members with the Liberal Party – Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash, among others – has made its agenda clear.

In a 2019 policy document, the IPA outlines several of its aims, including to abolish the Fair Work Act, repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The document also advocates unambiguously for a full privatisation of the ABC, stating:

‘In a free society, the Government should not own and operate its own media company.’

The ABC, a taxpayer-funded independent broadcaster, is neither owned nor operated by the Government. But the IPA seems uninterested in letting facts hinder the pursuit of its objectives, many of which appear to be shared by the Liberal Party. In 2018, the party’s Federal Council voted 2:1 to privatise the ABC, a move that is at odds with the values and priorities of Australians, including those of their own voters: research commissioned by the Australia Institute in 2018 revealed a high level of trust in the ABC by voters across all parties including the LNP, ALP, the Greens and One Nation. 

Should we save our ABC?

More recently, a 2020 Roy Morgan survey showed that 76 per cent of Australians oppose any further cuts to the ABC’s budget. While voter sentiment is clear, the Coalition Government appears undeterred.

The continued defunding of the ABC is a death by a thousand cuts: covert enough to be overlooked amidst the greater turmoil of 2020 and bureaucratic enough to be rendered opaque to most Australians. But countless stories from bushfire survivors, regional Australians, new migrants and young parents speak to an important truth — that the ABC must be safeguarded against vested interests for the wellbeing of Australians everywhere.

If there are efficiencies to be found, they will not be found at the bottom of an empty well. The only thing down there will be the skeleton of a once-formidable public broadcaster, ready for a final dismantling when the political climate allows.

Kelly Bartholomeusz is a writer and community development worker. She is a volunteer with ABC Friends, an independent community interest and advocacy organisation. 

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Daly Cherry Evans celebrates – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


November 04, 2020 23:38:27

Alexander Brimson (left) of the Maroons celebrates scoring a try with Daly Cherry-Evans (centre) and Phillip Sami (right) during Game 1 of the 2020 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Wednesday, November 4, 2020.

AAP: Darren England








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A Bad Romance – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


October 20, 2020 06:51:10

Di McDonald only dated Max Gardiner for a few months. But the consequences of splitting up with him nearly broke her. It took a famous FBI profiler to finally catch the serial stalker.

It was about 11:00pm one night and Di McDonald had just switched off the light when she heard an almighty bang on her roof.

She leapt out of bed and headed to the bank of CCTV monitors in her living room. Since breaking up with Max Gardiner, the slightly built 52-year-old had turned her house in the north-west of Melbourne into a fortress. Cameras flanked the front and back.

Di was dialling triple-0 with one hand and rewinding the CCTV recording with the other.

“And what I saw terrified me, absolutely terrified me,” she tells Australian Story.

“His face was black with glowing eyes. I was petrified. I am screaming at the operator on triple-0. She’s telling me to calm down.

“And I’m like, ‘You’re not looking at what I’m looking at’.”

The man outside wore a balaclava to hide his identity, but Di was certain she knew who it was.

She just had to prove it. And that proved nearly impossible.

For more than three years, Max Gardiner relentlessly stalked the mother-of-three.

“I would never have expected Di’s life to be like this,” Di’s sister Michelle McLennan says. “I wouldn’t expect anyone’s life to be like this.”

Gardiner would turn up unexpectedly when Di was out. She feared he’d put a tracker on her mobile phone.

Di found used condoms on her doorstep and in her letterbox, her car was vandalised and her 80-year-old mother’s windows were smashed.

Offensive anonymous posters kept turning up at her favourite haunts. The material called Di a whore, a second-rate hooker, a bad mother, trailer trash.

Di frequently went to the police but they said there was no proof that her former boyfriend was responsible.

Courts issued Di with intervention orders that were meant to protect her. But the stalking just got worse.

Little did she know that according to Victoria Police, Gardiner had other victims, and his earliest conviction dated back 30 years.

Di was caught up in a nightmare that drove her to breaking point.

That is, until a young detective in Melbourne teamed up with one of the FBI’s most famous profilers on the other side of the world. And he found the clues that would crack this case in places no one had thought to look.

Romance starts with a rose

In 2014, Di was on top of the world. She loved her job as a supervisor at Big W and she excelled at customer service. Very little fazed her.

“It was absolutely a chance meeting that changed Di’s life,” Detective Senior Constable Beck Norris says. “She was at work and just happened to assist a colleague with a complaint.”

A thick-set man was arguing with one of her staff, and Di decided to go over and sort it out. A few words and Max Gardiner left happy.

She was surprised when he returned with a single red rose and a letter. It said: “You made my day … I would love to get to know you and have the pleasure of your company over dinner”.

Di’s staff passed the letter around. “Oh, he’s so nice. You should go. Go! Go!’,” they said.

Reluctantly, she agreed. Coffee soon became dinner, and eventually a five-month on-again off-again relationship.

“I think what drew me to Max was that he came across as extremely charming and very much a gentleman,” Di says.

Max Gardiner was 62 and had three children to two former partners. He was once in technology and the motor industry. But as a result of an injury he limped slightly and hadn’t worked in years.

Di says she wasn’t looking for love. She had been divorced for about a year and was living with her two teenage daughters.

“Life was pretty cruisy,” she says.

Di loved live music and regularly went to two wine bars in Melbourne’s bayside with her best friend, Cathie Maney.

Christine Turnbull, the owner of the Brighton Wine Larder, says Di and Cathie would come at least once a week and “they loved to party”.

Christine remembers meeting Gardiner when Di first took him to the Wine Larder to celebrate her birthday with Cathie and her boyfriend.

There was nothing about Max that struck the seasoned crowd controller as untoward. But Christine’s wine bar made a big impression on him. In the months and years to come, Gardiner would use it to try to bring Di down.

Control and jealousy: ‘I couldn’t do anything alone’

Max Gardiner wove his magic with Di’s sister. Michelle McLennan met Gardiner when he came to Christmas Day lunch in 2014 and thought he was “a good catch”.

“He was very attentive, and I just thought he was quite nice,” Michelle says. “Looking back on it now, he was probably a little bit possessive.

“If Di would sit on the couch, Max would be sitting right next to her and he would be holding hands with her or he’d have his hand on her knee.

“You think it’s just, you know, being in a new relationship that he just wants to be with her all the time.”

But Di broke up with Gardiner the next day. She felt Max was trying to control her and get between her and her kids.

“Max actually got extremely jealous of my son, and that was it,” Di says. “I basically said, ‘No one comes between me and my children’.”

Michelle thought she’d been too harsh.

After Gardiner turned up unexpectedly at another bar she frequented, Di decided to give him a second chance. But Gardiner became even more possessive.

“If I had to go anywhere, he was taking me,” Di says. “I couldn’t do anything on my own. The rose-coloured glasses had come off.”

Di finally ended the relationship in May 2015.

That was when Di’s world really started unravelling. “I had no idea what was to come,” she says. “No idea whatsoever.”

Di’s faith in police fades

Di would go out and meet her friends but when she left to go home, she would find her car damaged.

Her tyres were slashed. Her side mirror and windscreen wipers were broken off, expansion foam was sprayed over her car, and strip nails were found in her front tyres.

Di’s brother-in-law Rob McLennan ripped the nails out.

“There was one of these things in each of the front tyres and they were both across the tread,” he says.

“And that’s just highly improbable that you could just run over them and they’d both get stuck into both tyres at the same time.”

Di texted Gardiner and told him to leave her alone. She took out an intervention order to make him keep his distance.

Weeks later she went out with a friend in Melbourne’s inner-north and when they returned to the car, they discovered a flat tyre. CCTV footage showed a man kneeling next to the front tyre.

When police questioned Gardiner, he accused Di of “making up crap allegations”.

“I’ve never threatened, I only had the care in this world for this woman,” Gardiner told police in his interview in 2015.

“There’s only one person being hurtful out of this … And everything I did for her, if she can’t show me the respect … she wants to cause grief.”

Di reported every incident but there never seemed to be enough proof. Even when there was CCTV, police said his face was not clearly identifiable.

Her long-held faith in the blue and white uniform was fading.

“Some of them [officers] were incredibly rude,” Di says. “I had absolutely no help at all from them.

“They actually told me they could tell it was Max by his walk out front of my house and I’m like, ‘Great, charge him’. No, he’s wearing a balaclava, no magistrate is going to convict him of that.

“The advice I got from police was to get my neighbours out and tackle him to the ground, make a citizen’s arrest and rip the balaclava off and take photos.”

‘Manipulative, bad mother’: Attacks begin

But it wasn’t only Di’s car that was being attacked. It was also her reputation.

Crude posters started appearing at her favourite wine bars. They accused Di of being “manipulating”, “cheating”, “unfaithful”, “promiscuous” and “a bad mother”. They attacked her best friend Cathie as well.

Christine Turnbull found one sticky-taped to the outside of her Brighton bar that included a photo of Di as well as Cathie’s mobile number with an invitation to call Di for a “blow job”.

The Elwood Food and Wine Bar was also being plastered with posters.

Owner Peter Newson searched his CCTV and found a man disguised in a ski suit, balaclava and gloves sliding A4 sheets of paper under the door and sticking others to the bar’s windows.

“This guy, there’s something really a bit loopy here, you know, it was two o’clock in the morning, you’re dressed like that?” Peter says.

“I thought that’ll be the start and finish of it. But sadly, it went on and on and on and really did a lot of damage, I believe, to both Cathie and Di.”

Max Gardiner was brought in for questioning again.

Terrified and helpless, Di hits rock bottom

Despite Gardiner being convicted three times for breaching the intervention order that Di had taken out to prevent him coming anywhere near her and her daughter, the stalking continued.

Professor Heather Douglas, an expert on criminal justice and domestic violence, says non-physical forms of violence are harder to prove and in Di’s case, police handed the case from one officer to another and that put Di at risk.

“It’s very disappointing to see this case take so long to come to a prosecution for stalking,” Professor Douglas says.

“People who are experiencing stalking are some two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer serious physical harm and even death as a result of that, so it is a big risk factor.

“By the time she got a protection order, there was already clear evidence that there were clear incidents that she could speak to that would have, I think, supported a stalking prosecution.”

If you or anyone you know needs help:

One of the lowest points for Di was in early 2016 when her childhood friend Karen Chetcuti was murdered by a neighbour.

Di was terrified. “I was thinking, ‘Is that going to happen to me? Is that his main goal with me?’.”

She organised a walk to raise money for Karen’s two children. That’s where Gardiner struck again.

Along the route of the walk, Gardiner had plastered posters with a photo of Di and the words: “This is laughable. An insult to women who have morals.”

Di collected all the posters and took them to the police.

“But Max would say, ‘No, no, no, I haven’t done this; it’s not me’,” she says. “They would release him, and he’d continue putting the flyers up again and again and again.”

Di and Cathie stopped going out because Max Gardiner seemed to know exactly where they went. And it started to affect their mental health.

“Cathie would get very animated sometimes; she would be screaming, saying, ‘Make it stop, make it go away’, which I couldn’t,” Di says.

“I started losing friends and fighting with family … They blocked me, they hung up on me, they just didn’t want to know about this anymore.”

Di says one night she saw no way out and attempted suicide.


Peter Newson from Elwood Food and Wine Bar believes the posters would also have had an impact on Di’s best friend.

“Cathie was a painter, a great artist [but] she was troubled in her own little way,” he says.

Cathie Maney killed herself in January 2017.

Di was devastated. And alone.

Posters kept appearing at the two bars. And now they blamed Di for Cathie’s death.

And then Gardiner turned up at her daughter’s workplace in contravention of an intervention order. He was convicted of the breach. But the damage was done.

“You’ve got no idea the terror I felt, and the helplessness, that this person … is now looking for my child.”

Detective becomes Di’s ‘saviour’

Di became desperate. Her pleas to Victoria Police weren’t working so she turned to a politician.

In a letter to Victorian opposition police spokesman Ed O’Donohue, she wrote: “Do my daughter or myself have to die before we get any help? What has to happen to us before he’s put in jail? We are constantly in fear.”

Di’s story chilled the Liberal MP. “She was compelling; she was truthful, she was afraid; and she needed help,” Mr O’Donohue says.

He passed on Di’s letter to the office of the Victorian Police Minister, Lisa Neville, and it finally landed in one of the Family Violence Investigation Units, set up after Victoria’s royal commission. That’s where Di met the woman she calls her “saviour”.

Detective Senior Constable Beck Norris was 28 and had only been a detective for two years. But she’d been handpicked by her boss, Detective Senior Sergeant Tania Gallagher, because of her “tenacity, patience and a lot of victim-centric policing”.

Detective Senior Constable Norris remembers the day she first met Di.

“She was very tired, she was exhausted, and she was frustrated with the whole process. So, I had my work cut out for me to build a relationship with her.

“She needed to trust me that when I said I’m working on it that I meant it.

“I guess I’m dogged in my investigations, I don’t let things go very easily.”

Di had been reporting incidents to several police stations over the years. But no one had tried to bring the evidence together and drill down into her allegations against Gardiner.

“The overall view, I suppose, was, ‘It’s their business, what’s going on with them in that family is their business. Look the other way’,” Detective Senior Sergeant Tania Gallagher says.

“That was true not just for Victoria Police, [but] the entire community was reacting or looking at family violence like that. That definitely needed to change.”

Detective Senior Constable Norris says she quickly established that other women had been victims of Max Gardiner and that his first conviction for breaching an intervention order was three decades ago, in 1989.

Yet none of them agreed to make a statement. Detective Senior Constable Norris says they were afraid the menacing would start up again.

“I think sometimes it’s easier to let sleeping dogs lie. That’s what one of them said to me.”

But not Di McDonald.

Right from the start, Detective Senior Constable Norris was confident there was only one suspect. When Di gave her a bulging file of material she’d collected, the detective spread out the contents on the floor of her office.

She then drew up a timeline that clearly showed the number of offensive posters that had haunted Di over three years.

In August 2018, police swooped on Gardiner’s house and found a balaclava, gloves, the same tape that was on the posters, and a torn photo from Cathie’s Facebook page. But neither the CCTV nor DNA and fingerprint testing could prove beyond reasonable doubt the identity of the stalker.

Max Gardiner had left clues, but they were not going to be found in a laboratory.

Turns out he’d made the same mistake as Ted Kaczynski, a recluse known as The Unabomber, who terrorised America with mail bombs that killed three people and injured another 23 over a 17-year period.

Kaczynski also wrote down his thoughts and revealed himself.

FBI profiler decodes love letters

Beck Norris was too young to know much about the Unabomber.

And she’d never heard of James R. Fitzgerald, the FBI’s linguistic profiler who finally caught Kaczynski in 1996.

“I remember being told about it and thinking, I’m going to have to Google this because it sounds like a big deal,” Detective Senior Constable Norris says.

Mr Fitzgerald had compared Kaczynski’s published manifesto with the letters he wrote to his family and discovered a secret code within his writings, which helped lead to his arrest.

When the Australian detective reached out to him, Mr Fitzgerald used the same strategy, comparing the anonymous posters with Gardiner’s original love letters to Di to determine if the same person wrote both.

“It hadn’t really been done in Australia that I knew of, let alone Victoria, so we weren’t sure how the court was going to react,” Detective Senior Constable Norris says.

“There was no case law, so it was all very new territory for all of us. I think I would be silly to say I wasn’t nervous.”

But Mr Fitzgerald was confident that he would be able to tell one way or the other if Gardiner wrote the posters.

“There’s a lot that can be told by someone’s spoken language or even their written language, even if they try to disguise it,” he tells Australian Story. “Because eventually the features of their long-term usage of language will manifest themselves in the writings.”

“I was looking for different sorts of emboldened sentences. I’m also looking for the spaces between abbreviations.

“I’m also looking for the spaces between words and punctuation.

“I’m looking for some of those possessives and plurals that Max was getting wrong.

“What was most striking to me was the odd usage of one-sentence paragraphs, most of which were indented at the same time.”

James Fitzgerald gave it the highest rating. The strongest possibility that the letters and posters were written by the same person.

Beck Norris was relieved as she read his report, sure she now had the additional evidence needed to link Gardiner to the crime.

In April 2019, she charged Gardiner with 28 offences including stalking and recklessly causing serious injury for the post-traumatic stress disorder Di suffered.

In Victoria, stalking carries a maximum 10-year sentence. Recklessly causing serious injury carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

“They [the defence] would have had Jim’s report and it all laid out very clearly how many letters were sent and how we compared it,” Detective Senior Constable Norris says. “All roads were leading to him.”

But the detective who took a punt on a former FBI agent will never know if an Australian court would have accepted the linguistic evidence. 

‘I’m proud of Di’

Just as his committal hearing was due to commence in October last year, Gardiner agreed to plead guilty on the proviso that the prosecution drop the serious injury charge.

“I think Jim’s finding was the reason that Max pleaded guilty,” Detective Senior Constable Norris says.

On February 19, 2020, Gardiner was convicted of stalking and sentenced to eight months’ jail with a two-year correction order.

When he appealed that sentence, Justice Martine Marich in the Victorian County Court warned she could increase it if he persisted.

The sentence remained and Gardiner was taken from court to prison.

“Beck and I had to watch the walk of shame,” Di says, “He was shackled with handcuffs … and was just shuffling.”

But it was a bittersweet moment. Di wanted Gardiner locked up for each of the five years he had tormented her.

And she believes the mental harm she has suffered from years of constantly looking over her shoulder wasn’t fully recognised when the serious injury charge was dropped in the plea deal.

“Why does he get away with that? Just because you can’t see it.”

Professor Douglas hasn’t met Di but admires her determination to see justice done.

“To really follow it right through the way she has is quite courageous and exceptional — I think it’s amazing,” she says. “A lot of women would have felt like they had to give up.”

Detective Senior Constable Norris says Di’s case will stay with her and she hopes Di can now live without fear.

“It definitely got under my skin. It’s something that I think I’ll probably have stuck with me for a long time in that I’m proud of it. I’m proud of her.”

Di McDonald is also proud she put Max Gardiner in jail, but she is nervous about the future.

“I’m not looking forward to his release date,” she says.

“I’m assuming he’s sitting wherever he is and he’s absolutely fuming.

“So I am expecting the worst. But I’m also prepared for the worst.”

Watch the two-part Australian Story To Catch a Stalker on iview or Youtube.


Reporters: Cheryl Hall, Belinda Hawkins

Digital & video production: Megan Mackander

Photography: Belinda Hawkins, Simon Winter, Jenny Magee, supplied: Di McDonald

Video: Simon Winter, Victoria Police

Graphics: Julie Ramsden

Special thanks: Matt Henry, Dan Harrison







First posted

October 20, 2020 06:30:00

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Labor to win re-election in ACT with support of Greens, ABC election analyst Antony Green says

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has claimed victory in the ACT election after a “humbling” year of his government leading Canberra through bushfires and a global pandemic.

The ABC’s election analyst Antony Green says ACT Labor will be returned for a sixth term with the support of the Greens.

But he says the surprise of the evening favours the Greens, as he predicts the party could win as many as six of the chamber’s 25 seats.

With just under 80 per cent of the vote counted at the end of Saturday, Labor has won 38.4 per cent of the vote, while the Canberra Liberals have won 33.1 per cent of the vote.

Speaking at the Canberra Liberals party event, leader Alistair Coe conceded the election and said the future of his leadership was “to be determined”.

“Tonight marks the end of a tough campaign in a tough year,” he said.

“2020 has seen bushfires, hail, COVID, and of course an ACT election.

“I can confirm that I have called Andrew Barr, I have congratulated him in the campaign he ran, because by all accounts it is highly likely that we have seen the return of a Labor-Greens Government.

The Canberra Liberals have seen an unexpected 3.6 per cent swing against them, while Labor’s vote share remains largely unchanged from 2016.

Green said the only way the Canberra Liberals could win enough seats to claim government was if paper vote results were significantly different to the choices of the majority of Canberrans who voted electronically.

Andrew Barr claims victory for Labor

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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr gives his victory speech

Striding into the Belconnen Labor Club as his supporters chanted “four more years”, returned Chief Minister Andrew Barr took to the podium hand-in-hand with his husband Anthony Toms.

“And particularly in a year like this one, where we have had an extraordinary series of challenges thrown at us as a city — but we have got through it because we have worked together.”

Two men in suits embrace.
Andrew Barr embraces his husband Anthony Toms as the Labor Party claims a sixth successive ACT election victory.(ABC News: Selby Stewart)

Mr Barr also offered his commiserations to Mr Coe, who he said had run a dignified campaign.

“I want to thank him for the campaign they ran, it was a campaign that was based on their values, and they weren’t shy about putting them forward,” he said.

“Our national capital leads this nation as the most inclusive democracy in Australia.”

Mr Barr said he and deputy leader Yvette Berry would sit down with the Greens on Monday to discuss a parliamentary agreement.

Ecstatic Greens celebrate potential big wins

Shane Rattenbury with two women — Emma Davidson and Rebecca Vassarotti — at the ACT Greens election party.
The surprise winners of the night are the ACT Greens, who could win up to six seats.(ABC News: Elise Fantin)

Speaking at a rowdy ACT Greens event, party leader Shane Rattenbury said the result was a vote of confidence for his party.

“Canberra has voted for a positive agenda for this city, for an agenda that is about being bold, about looking forward and tackling the big issues that are out there.”

With most of the vote counted, the ACT Greens currently have a 3.6 per cent swing towards them.

Antony Green has predicted the party will win a seat in Yerrabi, as well as retaining its seat in Murrumbidgee, which became a toss up with the retirement of MLA Caroline Le Couteur.

He said the party also has a chance of picking up a seat in the electorates of Ginninderra and Brindabella, alongside a second seat in Kurrajong.

Mr Rattenbury congratulated Mr Coe on his campaign, and said the hard-fought election had left him nervous.

He said Mr Barr had also called him to congratulate the party on their strong result.

Government ‘resurgence’ in Canberra’s south

A man in a suit stands facing a camera, ready to speak on television.
Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton said the first batch of results returned were disappointing for the party.(ABC News: James Vyver)

In Canberra’s southernmost electorate of Brindabella, where 80 per cent of the vote has been counted, the Canberra Liberals have faced a devastating result.

The party has seen a four per cent swing against it, while Labor enjoyed a 7.5 per cent swing.

Brindabella has long been considered a Canberra Liberals’ stronghold and the party needed to win three seats in the five-member electorate to help them win government.

The loss of the third seat means Liberal MLA Andrew Wall will not return to the Assembly.

The last seat remains a close fight between Labor’s Taimus Werner-Gibbings and the Greens’ Johnathan Davis.

At his victory speech Mr Barr said the result was a vote for the extension of light rail to Canberra’s south.

“Four years ago, in this very spot, I stood here and said that Canberrans had voted for light rail,” Mr Barr said.

“Well friends, they have done it again … and I think Labor’s resurgence on the southside tonight is testimony to that.”

Liberal MLA in Brindabella Mark Parton, who retains his seat, told the ABC the result was disappointing.

Handful of MLAs look set to lose their positions

A woman with short hair and glasses stands in front of a desk fitted with microphones.
Bec Cody looks to have lost her spot in the ACT Legislative Assembly.(ABC News: Tahlia Roy)

There are five MLAs from the last Assembly who look unlikely to return.

Among the Canberra Liberals, Candice Burch in Kurrajong is just hanging on, while Andrew Wall in Brindabella and James Milligan in Yerrabi are predicted to lose their seats.

Labor is expecting to lose its MLA Deepak Raj-Gupta, who served only for a brief time after replacing Meegan Fitzharris when she resigned last year.

Labor MLA Bec Cody left the party function early when first results showed she would not be re-elected in Murrumbidgee, as preferences flowed instead to Labor candidate Marisa Paterson, who the ABC has called the seat for.

With the retirements of Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne and Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur, the ACT’s 10th assembly appears likely to be full of fresh faces.

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