US politician calls for police reform as protests continue over death of Daunte Wright


High-ranking Congress member Maxine Waters called for an overhaul of policing in the United States as she joined the seventh consecutive night of protests in a Minneapolis suburb over the death of Daunte Wright, a young black man shot dead by a white policewoman.

The 20-year-old was killed during what should have been a routine traffic stop, sparking anger and fresh protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

“Policing has got to be changed,” Ms Waters, chair of the House Committee on Financial Services, said Saturday shortly before the 11 pm curfew.

“We’ve got to reimagine how we can deal with the problems of our society, that young people and people of colour in particular getting killed by police that we pay to protect and serve us.”

Representative Maxine Waters joins demonstrators in a protest outside the Brooklyn Center police station on 17 April, 2021 in Minnesota.

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Ms Waters, a Democrat from California, was speaking to a crowd of nearly 300 people outside the Brooklyn Center Police Station.

Protesters have gathered every night since the killing of Mr Wright in a neighbourhood about 16 kilometres north of Minneapolis.

Unlike Friday night, when police in riot gear moved to disperse what was declared an unlawful demonstration and arrested at least 100 people – including some journalists – Saturday’s gathering appeared to remain peaceful.

Protesters stood alongside the chain-link fence around the police station, chanting “Shut It Down” and waving “Black Lives Matter” flags, but did not appear to try to breach the barrier.

“I’m here because we are tired of police brutality. We are tired of seeing unarmed black men lose their lives for no reason,” protester Joel Reeves told AFP.

Mr Wright was shot dead in his car after police veteran Kim Potter mistook her Taser for a gun during a traffic stop caught on bodycam.

Ms Potter was arrested Wednesday on manslaughter charges and faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

Tensions running high in Minneapolis

The previous evening, journalists covering the protest said police impeded their work and used pepper spray against some members of the media who had identified themselves as such.

The alleged mistreatment came despite a temporary restraining order signed earlier on Friday by US District Judge Wilhelmina Wright prohibiting the police from arresting journalists or targeting them with flash-bang grenades, non-lethal projectiles, riot batons and chemical agents including pepper spray.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he had held a meeting Saturday with journalists and law enforcement officers.

“A free press is foundational to our democracy,” he tweeted.

“I convened a meeting today with media and law enforcement to determine a better path forward to protect the journalists covering civil unrest.”

Tensions are running especially high in Minneapolis with closing arguments expected Monday in the closely watched trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former police officer accused of killing George Floyd, a black man, in the city last year.

Since then, fresh examples of police killings – including Mr Wright’s not far from the courtroom – have stoked more anger and protests.



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Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins drive surge in calls to helplines and counselling, say experts


A Queensland sexual assault helpline has recorded a staggering increase in calls over two months amid the national conversation about sexual assault.

Domestic violence crisis counselling and support service DVConnect recorded a 36 per cent increase in calls between January 21 and February 21 and a 42 per cent surge in the month to March 21 on its statewide sexual assault helpline, which provides free and confidential counselling and support.

It comes after Converge International, a national workplace employee assistance program, recorded a 62 per cent increase in calls to a workplace counselling service on sexual discrimination and harassment in just two weeks last month.

Converge International director Cate Page said the service was still experiencing a higher level of calls for support. 

Sexual assault and harassment have dominated media coverage for weeks since survivor Grace Tame was named Australian of the Year and Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in Parliament House. 

In February, former Sydney private school student Chanel Contos started a viral petition to improve sexual consent education, prompting thousands of students to anonymously reveal their own experiences online.

The federal government has since announced it will revamp sexual consent education in schools and the Queensland government is currently reviewing its sexual consent education curriculum.

DVConnect chief executive Beck O’Connor said, despite the fact one in five Australian women and one in 20 men experienced sexual assault since the age of 15, nine in 10 women did not contact police.

Ms O’Connor said many worried their experiences would not be taken seriously or that they would face repercussions either personally, professionally or from the perpetrator.

However, she said, victims were buoyed by large crowds protesting against gendered violence at March 4 Justice rallies across the country.

Ms Page said it was awful that sexual discrimination and assault were occurring in the workplace, but it was encouraging that women felt they could come forward.

“The cause of it is very much due to the conversations … starting with Brittany Higgins and some of the conversations we have heard, and it’s given women permission to speak about some of their experiences,” she said.

“Anecdotally, we’ve also seen quite a lot of older women calling through.

“And while they’ve been relieved and grateful that these conversations have been starting to happen … there’s a sense of grief that they were unable to tell their stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault historically.”

Ms Page also said that the conversation could be triggering for some women due to their experiences.

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Canberra GP clinics sitting on open COVID-19 vaccination appointments as others refuse calls


Matilda Smith is one of many people still waiting for a COVID-19 vaccination with no indication of when a jab might be offered — despite being part of priority phases 1a and 1b. 

The 29-year-old Canberra woman became immuno-compromised while battling a rare form of leukaemia when the pandemic first took hold in Australia. 

“But now I’m about to be one year in remission, which is really great,” Ms Smith said. 

Because she had recently fought off the blood cancer, the young woman became eligible to be vaccinated in the priority phases of the national vaccination program. 

She booked an appointment to receive the AstraZeneca shot at her local general practice as part of the Commonwealth rollout but said her appointment was cancelled and she was told to go elsewhere. 

“I was contacted by my GP and told that the original appointment that I had for my vaccine would have to be moved because they didn’t have the supply of AstraZeneca to give to me,” Ms Smith said. 

Changes to the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the extremely small risk of blood clots have further stalled Australia’s already lagging rollout. 

“I feel like my GP has done a good job and they’re trying their best, but I don’t feel like I know what the answer is, and I think when you’ve been through what I’ve been through, you want answers,” Ms Smith said.

Clinics refusing calls as others wait with open appointments

Matilda Smith says, after having cancer and extensive treatment, the confusion around vaccines is especially frustrating.(

ABC News: Greg Nelson

)

In a statement, an ACT government spokeswoman said authorities were working on a plan to get priority people, including Ms Smith, vaccinated. 

“We are working closely with Capital Health Network and the Commonwealth Government to finalise plans on a referral process of how people who are eligible for a vaccination under phase 1a and 1b who are under 50 years of age can receive a Pfizer vaccine if they choose,” the ACT government spokeswoman said. 

“The Garran Surge Centre vaccination clinic is currently providing vaccinations for people who are eligible to receive their vaccination as part of the ACT government program for phase 1a and 1b.” 

The spokeswoman said these people would be contacted directly by the ACT government, and asked people not to call and attempt to make bookings at the centre.

In contrast, owner of YourGP@Crace John Deery said he had as many as 200 vaccination appointments available to be booked as early as this weekend. 

A man in blue scrubs smiles at the camera in front of medical fridges.
Dr John Deery said his clinic has as many as 200 available appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations.(

ABC News: Greg Nelson

)

“We’re very fortunate at this practice because we have a respiratory clinic and we’ve got funding through the [Commonwealth Government] … so we can secure almost 1,000 vaccines per week,” Dr Deery explained. 

The practice hired 20 additional staff members and started operating on weekends to administer its AstraZeneca supply.

“We have been doing 700 to 800 vaccines per weekend, and we’ve still got maybe 100 to 200 [appointments] left available, which is unusual,” Dr Deery said.

Dr Deery said patients aged under 50 were still able to access the AstraZeneca shot at his clinic. 

“We are helping patients to come to the decision on an individual basis, and for a lot of patients under 50, the risk-benefit is still towards having AstraZeneca,” he said.

Dr Deery said although he had had to make the odd, frantic phone call to chase up supply so that it arrived in time to complete the appointments, overall it was going well and he was proud of the 3,500 injections his team had administered so far.

“We’ve tried to communicate with patients very frequently through email about stock and appointments,” he said.

“We want them to be informed about their choices and so I think that our [rollout] has always been fairly smooth.” 

More broadly, making the vaccination rollout smoother has become the number one focus of National Cabinet, as the nation’s leaders agree to meet twice a week. 

Since being interviewed by the ABC for this story, Dr Deery has offered Ms Smith an appointment to discuss being vaccinated at his Crace practice. 

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Reptile handler calls for Central Victorians to keep an eye out for our ‘not-so-scary’ friends


Education is the key to understanding snakes — even venomous ones — according to a reptile expert.

Tameeka Stevens, the owner-operator of Greater Bendigo Snake Control and committee member of Reptiles Victoria, told ABC Central Victoria during her visit that reptiles such as the Murray-Darling carpet python had a “beautiful” nature and needed to be cared for.

“Years later, I found myself getting into lizards and that snowballed into owning a python.

“The next minute, I’m out there catching venomous snakes.”

The popularity of pythons could also be a problem for them.

Ms Stevens said the Murray-Darling carpet python was commonly found in Central Victoria in the 1980s but poaching had diminished its numbers.

Along with Lacey the python, Ms Stevens also showed Breakfast program host Fiona Parker her pet blue-tongued lizard, Beavis, and said they were another classic Central Victorian reptile.

“He’s sweet and gentle,” she said.

Ms Stevens wanted people to be more aware of reptiles and their environments, saying many were injured and killed in our own backyards.

Ms Stevens said Bendigo was home to a sizeable bearded dragon population.

“These guys blend in with trees, which can lead to injuries from whipper snippers and lawnmowers,” she said.

She’s named her own bearded dragon Grumpy Greg because he looks like a “grumpy old man”.

“But not grumpy,” Ms Stevens said. “He’s actually quite nice.”

Ms Stevens is sharing her love of lizards and with Bendigonigans through two educational workshops this week.

She grew up in the small town of Mitiamo, where her dad killed the snakes that visited her family farm.

Ms Stevens said the more people learnt about snakes, the more comfortable they felt.

“Venomous snakes, honestly, it’s only been maybe five years since I started to feel comfortable,” she said.

“But I started learning, and now I feel pretty comfortable around even brown snakes.”

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NRL to review Melbourne Storm HIA calls as Ryan Papenhuyzen wins battle of the fullbacks


NRL boss Andrew Abdo said the game’s chief medical officer would examine the decisions.

“Our CMO will check all the angles and footage and see if there were any markers requiring a mandatory HIA,” Abdo told the Herald.

The Radley binning came as Ryan Papenhuyzen was undergoing a HIA after suffering a head knock just five minutes into the game.

Colliding with Josh Morris’ forearm, the 22-year-old was dazed and only regained his feet after a long pause lying on the ground.

He was taken off for a HIA as his game looked to be over, but passed and return to the field.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he lost count of the head knocks but said all players pulled up well post-match.

“I wasn’t quite sure how many replacements we had there at stages, so it was a little bit hard to keep up with but I haven’t heard anything serious,” he said.

Papenhuyzen ended up winning the battle of the fullbacks at AAMI Park.

The flying no.1 sprung up from injuring his knee to score Melbourne’s second try off the back of Jahrome Hughes’s opener to safely put the game in the hands of the Storm.

Grant scored their third to put the game to bed.

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Tedesco came into the spotlight too late, putting in a perfect kick to Matt Ikuvalu in the dying seconds of the game to score their only try.

The pressure of the game also led to a litany of errors in the first half with the Storm finishing with 14 errors to the Roosters’ 15.

The already-depleted Roosters will now be sweating on the fitness of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Siosiua Taukeiaho, who both failed to return to the field after injuries.

Waerea-Hargreaves could be seen clutching his arm as he went up the tunnel in the 45th minute while Taukeiaho broke a rib in the physical game.

Before kick-off, the Roosters also received a huge blow with Brett Morris a late omission due to calf tightness.

He was replaced by Ikuvalu and will likely return in time for round seven.

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Mayor Calls for Calm as Chicago Awaits Video of Police Fatally Shooting 13-Year-Old


Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago issued an emotional appeal for calm on Thursday as officials prepared to release video of a police officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy.

“We must proceed with deep empathy and calm and importantly, peace,” Ms. Lightfoot said, her voice breaking as she talked about the pain of losing a child to gun violence. The mayor, who had watched what she said were several videos, called the experience “excruciating.”

“No family should ever have a video broadcast widely of their child’s last moments, much less be placed in the terrible situation of losing their child in the first place,” she said.

Footage from a Chicago Police officer’s body camera was expected to be released later on Thursday amid mounting tension nationally over police misconduct and racism. The video’s release in Chicago comes as the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, is underway in Minneapolis and as another Minnesota officer, Kimberly A. Potter, was charged in the death on Sunday of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old motorist.

In Chicago, the shooting involved one of the youngest people fatally shot by the police in Illinois in years: Adam Toledo, 13, was shot by the police last month in Little Village, a predominantly Latino neighborhood on the city’s West Side. According to law enforcement authorities, Adam was running down an alley with a gun in his hand and ignored an officer’s command to stop and drop the gun.

During a news conference in Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot, flanked by community activists who echoed her appeal for calm, declined to say whether the boy was holding a gun, saying that people should judge for themselves after watching the video.

“I see no evidence whatsoever that Adam Toledo shot at police,” the mayor said. She noted that a slowed-down version of the tape would be released, with the approval of the family, because the raw footage was extremely jumpy and hard to follow.

Ms. Lightfoot urged residents to wait to react until the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, the independent agency that investigates encounters with the department, had finished its work. She acknowledged that Chicago residents had a long history of grappling with police misconduct, causing “fear and pain” in the city, which the difficult year of the pandemic had only compounded.

COPA initially resisted releasing the video footage of the shooting that took place on March 29, citing the age of the boy. Faced with days of public pressure, officials reversed themselves and announced they would release it.

Adam’s family was permitted to view the video privately on Tuesday night. Afterward, the family issued a statement calling the experience “extremely difficult and heartbreaking for everyone present.”

Even before the video was to be released, the boy’s killing had set off protests and severe criticism of the Chicago Police Department.

After the shooting, Mayor Lightfoot called on the Police Department to create a policy for foot pursuits by officers.

She also said in a series of posts on Twitter that “we must release any relevant videos as soon as possible,” adding that “transparency and speed are crucial” in such a sensitive investigation. In December, Ms. Lightfoot apologized after criticism when her administration attempted to block the airing of body-camera footage from a botched police raid.

Details of the events that led to the shooting of the 13-year-old have only begun to come to light. Ruben Roman, a 21-year-old who the authorities said was with Adam at the time of the shooting, appeared in a Cook County courtroom on Saturday. He was charged with felony reckless discharge, unlawful use of a weapon and child endangerment, and held on a $150,000 bond.

Prosecutors described the incident in detail for the first time on Saturday. According to their account, video captures Mr. Roman and Adam walking together down a street on the West Side around 2:30 a.m. on March 29. Mr. Roman, holding a gun, appears to fire several shots at an unknown target.

The Chicago police said that two officers who responded to reports of gunfire in the Little Village neighborhood saw two people in an alley and started chasing them. One officer fatally shot Adam, prosecutors said, after he turned toward the officer while holding a gun.

His mother later said that she thought Adam, a seventh-grader at Gary Elementary School, was safely in his room at the time. He had been missing for several days, she said, but had come home and gone into the room that he shared with his brother.

The shooting tapped into a tide of anguish and frustration in Chicago neighborhoods that have been gripped by gun violence. Chicago, like other American cities, has struggled to stem a surge in shootings during the coronavirus pandemic. In the first quarter of 2021, there were 131 homicides, the most violent start to a year since 2017.

That follows a particularly violent 2020, with almost 800 murders, after 492 in 2019, according to Chicago police records. The city experienced 567 murders in 2018 and 658 in 2017. As murders climbed last summer, children were often caught in the crossfire; in one two-week period, nine children were killed.

Mitch Smith and Julie Bosman contributed reporting.



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It’s a Wilde move: Trainer calls on Racing Victoria to lift May Carnival prizemoney | The Standard


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LEADING trainer Symon Wilde will take the shock move of side-stepping some maiden and restricted races at the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival next month in favour of easier targets offering the same prizemoney at lesser race meetings. The Grand Annual Steeplechase and Warrnambool Cup-winning trainer said there would be no shortages of horses being aimed at maiden and benchmark races on the first two days of the three-day carnival which offer total prizemoney of $35,000. However, there are races programmed at other meetings that offer similar prizemoney around that period of time that are less difficult to win. “I think the $35,000 prize-money for the maidens and benchmark races is not good enough,” Wilde told The Standard. “Prizemoney for the maidens and benchmark races at the carnival should be $50,000 minimum. “It’s the biggest and best country carnival in Australia but I don’t believe the prizemoney is good enough. “We’ll enter some horses in the maidens and benchmark races but we will not have as many runners as previous years in the restricted races. “It’s tough to win maidens and benchmark races at Warrnambool. “We’re running in metro midweek quality races at the carnival. “It just makes good business sense to target those types of races at lesser race meetings where the class is not as strong. MORE READS: “We want to keep the quality of horses and trainers at the carnival by offering top prizemoney.” Wilde said it was time that Racing Victoria and Country Racing Victoria looked at its prizemoney levels. “The betting turnover from the carnival is huge,” he said. “RV and CRV set the stakemoney levels. “The costs for owners have increased over the last few years but sadly the prizemoney has not increased.” Racing Victoria’s Shaun Kelly said discussions regarding annual planning for prizemoney in 2020-21 were under way and would be announced by June. The May Carnival will begin on Tuesday, May 4. Have you signed up to The Standard’s daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that’s happening in the south-west.

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Amid calls to spend more time outdoors, some say running is seeing a pandemic boom – BC


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, Forerunners owner Peter Butler thought business at his running store would slow to a crawl.

In reality, it turned out to be the exact opposite.










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Exercise your way to a better relationship – Feb 1, 2021

“Starting about this time last year, we saw a sudden surge which is continuing to today,” Butler said of business at his store on Vancouver’s west side.

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Butler said the pandemic has inspired many people to take up running.

“It feels a bit like it was in the 1990s when the marathon boom was on and the triathlons and marathons all took off,” he said. “It’s a bit déjà vu, you might say.”


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Butler said some of the people who may have stopped running after the 90s boom may have taken it up again as health officials urged the public to spend more time outdoors during the pandemic.

Steve Mattina of the Running Room also said he’s seen a rise in business.

“People are doing the right thing,” he said. “They’re heading outside for their exercise and there are a lot of people coming back to a sport they hadn’t been with for years.”

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Read more:
Is it safe to wear face masks while exercising? Experts weigh in

Shane Park is an airline pilot in his 50s who was a big runner in his youth but fell out of the habit as his life got busier. Now he’s back.

“It’s simple,” he said. “If you have a spare half an hour or 40 minutes, you can just put on your shoes and you can just go for a run as a sport.”

So what advice does Butler have for new runners or people looking to get back into it?

Butler says it’s often best, as the old saying goes, to walk before you can run.

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“I would suggest a program where you start with fast walking and then eventually put in 30-second bursts of running and then over a 12- to 16-week period, you get up to about half an hour or 40 minutes of running non-stop,” he said.

Butler recommends running three to four days a week to get enough stimulus while also allowing time to recover.

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As for Park, he says running is one of the best antidotes for the stress that comes with life during a pandemic.

“It doesn’t have to be a huge run, whatever suits you,” he said. “But after you’re finished, it’s hard to feel worked up.”

— With files from Paul Johnson




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Stone eel damage sparks calls for traditional owners to be given better access to cultural heritage on private land


There are calls for authorised traditional owners to be given greater power to access culturally significant sites on private land in the wake of substantial damage being done to an ancient stone arrangement in western Victoria.

A landowner from Lake Bolac who moved the stones over the Easter weekend has apologised for his actions and Aboriginal Victoria has inspected the site.

But representatives from the Registered Aboriginal Party for the area, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, have not stepped foot on the property in the days since finding out that the Kooyang Stone Arrangement — one of the only formations of its kind left — has been partially destroyed.

Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council chair Rodney Carter said in cases where culturally significant sites were at risk of harm or had been harmed, authorised traditional owners needed to be given greater power to inspect the affected areas.

“When Aboriginal cultural heritage, like the stone arrangement, has been disturbed and messed with, it’s not easy to fix what’s happened,” he said.

A review into the Aboriginal Heritage Act is underway, and the council is due to release its full recommendations in the next few weeks.

Mr Carter said the public should better understand how the disconnection with the land itself is “extremely traumatic” for Aboriginal people.

“Aside from the event of the destruction of heritage, as people, we’re obligated as traditional owners and custodians to care for these places so when something bad happens you feel so terrible that you’ve failed,” he said.

“You haven’t been able to do something that is of the highest importance.

“We need people to understand that that in itself is a really terrible trauma to the individual and to the community.”

He said owners of private property with sites of cultural importance on their land should be better informed and take responsibility for looking after heritage.

In cases like the Lake Bolac eel stone arrangement, Mr Carter said the lack of access to the land created hurdles for traditional owners.

“You’re on the other side of the fence, looking in,” he said.

“And a lot of the time you’re not even on the other side of the fence, you’re out taking care of something else.”

Mr Carter said Registered Aboriginal Parties across Victoria were dealing with intrusions, threats of harm or actual damage to cultural heritage on a weekly basis.

At the Lake Bolac property where a large section of a stone eel was partially destroyed, an order has been issued under the Aboriginal Heritage Act to stop any further damage from occurring.

But the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation’s John Clarke, who is charged with protecting cultural heritage in the area, has not yet been allowed to inspect the property in person.

Mr Clarke has been out to Lake Bolac multiple times over the past few days to look at what’s been done from the side of the road.

He said he believed he should have the power to access a private property in such a situation.

“Where it’s certainly demonstrable that there is immediate threat or risk to cultural heritage values, there certainly is a case for that,” he said.

“It is frustrating and it adds to the trauma of this whole process.”

Mr Clarke said it was important for people to understand that high profile incidents of damage to cultural heritage were just one part of a bigger problem.

“There’s still challenges that are being worked through in Gariwerd [the Grampians],” he said.

He said a culturally modified tree was found felled in western Victoria and reported to Eastern Maar a fortnight ago.

“It was on public land but someone had put a chainsaw through the scar and left the tree on the ground,” he said.

“It was the only tree that had been cut down.”

Mr Clarke said each incident added to a sense of “accumulated loss”.

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Loss of historic Brisbane home prompts calls for heritage overhaul


By Matt Dennien and Tony Moore

Last month, a group of residents watched as a bulldozer demolished a Toowong house, Linden Lea, which originally belonged to the family that created Webster’s Biscuits and gave Brisbane its Shingle Inn tearooms.

They had put in an application to protect the home, but it was too late for the largely part-time Queensland Heritage Council to consider.

That failure has prompted a state government investigation into why that Toowong character home was demolished.

It also galvanised community groups keen to protect character housing saying both the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council are out of step with communities.

Toowong residents, led by retired Queensland Health deputy director-general John Scott, argued that after continual protests in Kangaroo Point, Spring Hill and Toowong, legislative changes were needed.

“You go to Sydney and you walk around the Rocks, you walk around Paddington, you walk around places that have got character, that have a sense of history,” Dr Scott said.

“The fact that they are build of brick because of their climate, they seem to have a permanence that our tin and timber homes are not afforded because they are tin and timber, but they are no less important to our heritage than those places.”

One of the three timber homes on Kangaroo Point’s Lambert Street which will be shifted elsewhere if a three-tower Kangaroo Point development approval gets the final go ahead.

One of the three timber homes on Kangaroo Point’s Lambert Street which will be shifted elsewhere if a three-tower Kangaroo Point development approval gets the final go ahead.Credit:Tony Moore

Dr Scott said cost and the time needed for research frustrated community groups, which were forced to pay town planners or heritage architects to lodge submissions.

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