Mr Carroll created Far North Queensland Yowie Research on Facebook in 2019 after having multiple run-ins with large creatures he claims are …
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Twin suicide bombings in a Baghdad market have left at least 28 people dead and wounded more than 73, security and medical sources have said, in the first such attack in years.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack
Suicide bombings have been rare since the defeat of Islamic State in 2017
The most recent was in January 2018 and also took place at Tayaran Square
The rare bombing attack hit the Bab al-Sharqi commercial area in central Baghdad amid heightened political tensions over planned early elections and a severe economic crisis.
Blood smeared the floors of the busy market amid piles of clothes and shoes as survivors took stock of the disarray in the aftermath.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Suicide bombings have been rare in the Iraqi capital since the defeat of Islamic State in 2017. The most recent took place in January 2018.
The Iraqi military said two attackers wearing explosive vests blew themselves up among shoppers at a crowded market in Tayaran Square in central Baghdad.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said the death toll had risen to at least 28, and that number was expected to rise as some wounded were in critical condition.
The January 2018 bombing also took place at Tayaran Square, and killed at least 27 people.
Militias have routinely targeted the American presence with rocket and mortar attacks, especially the US Embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone.
The pace of the attacks has dropped since an informal truce was declared by Iran-backed armed groups in October.
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Last week, three children — Claire, 7, Anna, 5, and Matthew, 3 — were included in this terrible number. Homicide investigators have formed the “preliminary view” that their mother, Katie Perinovic, was responsible for their deaths before killing herself.
Their grieving father, Tomislav Perinovic, and Katie Perinovic’s parents have reportedly accepted the police’s version of events.
It was less than a year ago that Hannah Clarke and her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey were killed by their father, Rowan Baxter, who doused their car in petrol and set it alight.
In 2019, Anthony Harvey was sentenced to life in prison in Perth for killing his small children Charlotte, Alice and Beatrix, his wife Mara and her mother Beverley.
Also that year, Charmaine McLeod is suspected to have deliberately caused the head-on collision in Queensland that killed her and her four young children, Aaleyn, Matilda, Wyatt and Zaidok.
How do we make sense of such unfathomable crimes, and what do we know about why they happen?
How many children are killed by parents in Australia?
Filicide is the murder of a child by a parent. Despite making up about 18 per cent of all domestic homicides each year, precise data on the characteristics of filicide are difficult to establish due to the smaller numbers and varied cases.
However, one of the most recent comprehensive national filicide studies in Australia documented 238 cases between 2000 and 2012. This study mirrored trends elsewhere, with male and female perpetrators represented in roughly equal numbers.
Common precursors to filicide included a history of domestic and family violence, parental separation and mental illness.
How the media and public view filicide
On social media, some commentators on this latest case involving Katie Perinovic have been quick to criticise what is perceived as more sympathetic media coverage of women who kill their children. And for some, the fact women and men commit filicide in roughly equal numbers suggests that family violence has no gender.
But filicide is a relative outlier as a form of violence committed by women in relatively equal numbers to men.
Men commit almost all forms of violence at higher rates. And the most common form of domestic homicide — intimate partner homicide — is committed far more by men against women in the context of domestic violence.
Women who kill their children
Research indicates that gender does, in fact, play a role in the type of crime committed and the motivations behind it.
Accidental killings of children, for instance, are more likely to be the result of neglect among mothers and abuseamong fathers and stepfathers. This reflects what we know about gender patterns in childcare responsibility and domestic and family violence.
In cases where children are killed intentionally, women are more likely to kill babies and newborns, particularly in circumstances of unwanted pregnancies. Such offenders are more likely to be young and have low levels of social support, although it is increasingly reported among older women.
For example, in 2017, a court found Raina Thaiday of Queensland, who killed her seven children and niece, had been experiencing a severe psychotic episode linked to schizophrenia triggered by long-term cannabis use. The court ruled she could not be found criminally responsible for her actions.
Women are also more likely to kill children out of a warped belief they are sparing them pain — for instance, of losing a parent to suicide.
Why men commit filicide
Fathers who kill their children, meanwhile, are more likely to have a history of domestic and family violence. They are more likely to kill out of revenge towards a partner or former partner in the context of family separation.
And familicide, in which both a partner and children are killed, is committed almost exclusively by men. Researchers suggest this indicates that men are more likely to have proprietary attitudes to both women and children, and women primarily towards children.
While gender patterns around filicide are important to research in order to understand why these crimes happen, not all cases fit neatly into these boxes. Mental illness is often a common interacting factor in both maternal and paternal filicide, and the causes are often complex and multiple.
Remembering the children
When a parent kills, the focus is often on the mindset of the perpetrator rather than the children.
In my ongoing research into media coverage of family murder-suicide cases, I have observed a notable silence around the lives of children and how they experienced violence. It is an uncomfortable topic, but we need to keep children at the centre of these discussions.
While some parents who kill may indeed have been loving parents, the act of filicide should never be framed as an act of love. It is never excusable. As such, many researchers are uncomfortable with the term “altruistic” filicide, which places the emphasis on the parent’s experiences, rather than the child’s.
We also need to address the cultural beliefs that children belong to their parents. This attitude that children are “property” contributes to filicide.
Greater collaboration between support service providers is also important. We need to recognise how issues affecting parents, such as mental illness or domestic violence, can have important consequences for children.
We also need to keep the best interests of children front and centre, rather than viewing them as mere witnesses to family conflict.
Denise Buiten is a senior lecturer in social justice and sociology at the University of Notre Dame Australia. This article originally appeared on The Conversation.
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A tense calm fell Tuesday on Sudan’s Darfur region after days of inter-ethnic violence claimed at least 155 lives, left scores wounded and displaced tens of thousands, a tribal leader and a regional official said.
The transitional government in the capital Khartoum sent troops to the remote region where the end of a joint United Nation and African Union peacekeeping mission has raised fears of more bloodshed.
Violence erupted on Saturday in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, killing at least 100 people and wounding more than 130, said the state governor, Mohamed Abdalla al-Douma.
The clashes between Arab nomads and members of the non-Arab Massalit ethnic group led around 50,000 people to flee areas in and around a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) who were driven from their homes in previous conflicts, said the aid group Save the Children.
Authorities in West Darfur have imposed a statewide curfew as troops arrived there from Khartoum and other states to restore order.
A December 31 file picture shows Sudanese internally displaced people in South Darfur protesting against the end of the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission AFP / –
“There have been no clashes since Sunday, but there were incidents of looting, especially of houses and farms of people living at the Kerindig IDP camp,” Douma told AFP.
“The situation is calm in the state as security forces have spread in and around the city of El Geneina and Kerindig.”
Separate clashes broke out Monday in South Darfur between members of the Fallata ethnic group and the Arab Rizeigat tribe, leaving at least 55 people killed and 37 wounded.
Tribal leader Mohamed Saleh told AFP by phone that “the situation is calm today in our village in South Darfur. There are no clashes. People are however tense, fearing the renewed outbreak of violence.”
The United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur is set to end 13 years of peacekeeping in the vast Sudanese region, even as recent clashes leave residents fearful of new conflict AFP / –
Douma said the violence in El Geneina spread to nearby villages where houses were burned and crops stolen.
“We sent security to surround these villages and they are now secure,” he said, adding that reinforcements had been sent from South and Central Darfur states.
Douma blamed the violence in West Darfur on “gangs” coming from other parts of the region, and “outlaws who crossed from neighbouring Chad.”
Sudan has been undergoing a rocky transition since the April 2019 ouster of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir amid mass pro-democracy protests.
The transitional government, installed months after Bashir’s ouster, has been pushing to stabilise Sudan’s remote regions after years of conflict.
The vast western region of Darfur was convulsed by bloody fighting in 2003. It killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million, according to the United Nations.
The war broke out when ethnic minority rebels rose up against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, which recruited and armed a notorious Arab-dominated militia known as the Janjaweed among the region’s nomadic tribes.
Bashir, now on trial over the Islamist-backed 1989 coup that brought him to power, is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes in Darfur.
Fighting in Darfur has subsided over the years, but ethnic and tribal clashes occasionally flare, mainly over land and access to water between semi-nomadic Arab pastoralists and settled non-Arab farmers.
The latest clashes came after the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, ended its 13 years of operations in Darfur on December 31.
Darfuris had protested the blue helmets’ departure citing fears of renewed violence.
UNAMID plans a phased withdrawal of its 8,000 or so armed and civilian personnel within six months.
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Celli-Bird said quarantine authorities called him on Thursday to ask him to catch the bird.
“They say if it is from America, then they’re concerned about bird diseases,” he said. “They wanted to know if I could help them out. I said, ’To be honest, I can’t catch it. I can get within 500 mil (millimetres) of it and then it moves.’”
He said quarantine authorities were now considering contracting a professional bird catcher.
The Agriculture Department, which is responsible for biosecurity, said the pigeon was “not permitted to remain in Australia” because it “could compromise Australia’s food security and our wild bird populations.”
“It poses a direct biosecurity risk to Australian bird life and our poultry industry,” a department statement said.
In 2015, the government threatened to euthanise two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, after they were smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Faced with a 50-hour deadline to leave Australia, the dogs made it out in a chartered jet.
Pigeons are an unusual sight in Celli-Bird’s backyard in suburban Officer, where Australian native doves are far more common.
“It rocked up at our place on Boxing Day. I’ve got a fountain in the backyard and it was having a drink and a wash. He was pretty emaciated so I crushed up a dry biscuit and left it out there for him,” Celli-Bird said.
“Next day, he rocked back up at our water feature, so I wandered out to have a look at him because he was fairly weak and he didn’t seem that afraid of me and I saw he had a blue band on his leg. Obviously he belongs to someone, so I managed to catch him,” he added.
Celli-Bird, who says he has no interest in birds “apart from my last name,” said he could no longer catch the pigeon with his bare hands since it had regained its strength.
He said the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union had confirmed that Joe was registered to an owner in Montgomery, Alabama.
Celli-Bird said he had attempted to contact the owner, but had so far been unable to get through.
The bird spends every day in the backyard, sometimes sitting side-by-side with a native dove on a pergola. Celli-Bird has been feeding it pigeon food from within days of its arrival.
“I think that he just decided that since I’ve given him some food and he’s got a spot to drink, that’s home,” he said.
Australian National Pigeon Association secretary Brad Turner said he had heard of cases of Chinese racing pigeons reaching the Australian west coast aboard cargo ships, a far shorter voyage.
Turner said there were genuine fears pigeons from the United States could carry exotic diseases and he agreed Joe should be destroyed.
“While it sounds harsh to the normal person – they’d hear that and go: ‘this is cruel,’ and everything else – I’d think you’d find that A.Q.I.S. and those sort of people would give their wholehearted support for the idea,” Turner said, referring to the quarantine service.
It is claimed that the greatest long-distance flight recorded by a pigeon is one that started at Arras in France and ended in Saigon, Vietnam, back in 1931, according to pigeonpedia.com. The distance was 11,600 kilometres and took 24 days.
There are some known instances of long-distance flights but whether these are one-offs performed by the marathon runners of the pigeon world or they are feats that could be achieved by the average pigeon is not known.
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A heavily armed man arrested one day after last week’s deadly Capitol riot had sent text messages threatening to kill the mayor of Washington as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to a government memorandum.
Cleveland Grover Meredith was armed with an assault style rifle, a Glock firearm with high capacity magazines, and over 2,500 rounds of ammunition, according to a papers filed Wednesday in federal court asking that Meredith be held without bond.
Authorities say Meredith texted several people about plans for violence in the days before he arrived in Washington late on Jan. 6 from Colorado. Earlier that day, at least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, were killed as rioting supporters of President Donald Trump, angered that Congress was preparing to certify the election results for President-elect Joe Biden, stormed through the U.S. Capitol.
Meredith, in one of the texts, states that “we’re gonna surround DC and slowly constrict.” Apparently believing that law enforcement was monitoring his communications, he later sent a text stating, “I’m harmless . . . I won’t fire until ordered SIR!”
‘No tolerance whatsoever’: Justice Department warns against efforts to disrupt Biden inauguration
Capitol Police officer being hailed as a hero for drawing angry mob away from Senate floor
After receiving texts describing the riot, Meredith responded “Ready to remove several craniums from shoulders.” Shortly afterward, the defendant sent a text that stated, “I’m so ready to (expletive) SOME TRAITORS UP.”
On Jan. 7, Meredith sent a text that stated, “I may wander over to the Mayor’s office and put a 5.56 in her skull, (expletive).” He also wrote, “I hope you’re reading this Mr. FBI agent, (expletive).”
Later: “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi (expletive) speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.”
He then sent a text stating, “I predict that within the next 12 days, many in our country will die.”
Meredith also committed an assault on Thursday, the papers said, head-butting a victim, knocking him to the ground, and then assaulting him further.
‘Everyone is on high alert’: While National Guard is in DC, state Capitols prepare for potential armed protests
Meredith faces charges of interstate communication of threat and weapons offenses.
“A clearly disturbed, deranged, and dangerous individual that fantasizes about committing horrific acts of violence and takes countless steps to carry them out by driving across several states with a trailer stocked with thousands of rounds of ammunition and multiple firearms – including an assault style rifle – should not remain in the community,” the federal filing says.
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Two landslides triggered by heavy rain in Indonesia have left at least 11 dead and 18 injured, officials say.
The second landslide in Cihanjuang village in the Sumedang district of West Java province occurred as rescuers were still evacuating people following the first disaster on Saturday, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Raditya Jati said.
Rescuers were among the victims, he said on Sunday.
The rain stopped on Saturday night. A bridge and roads were blocked by the landslides as authorities struggled to bring in heavy equipment to clear the debris.
Seasonal rains and high tide in recent days have caused dozens of landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia.
The chain of 17,000 islands is home to millions of people who live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains close to rivers.
It comes a day after Sriwijaya Air jet carrying 62 people crashed into the sea soon after taking off from the capital Jakarta in heavy rain.
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Mike Pence has remained one of the only constants in the often chaotic Trump administration.Variously described as “vanilla,” “steady” and loyal to the point of being “sycophantic,” he is, in the words of one profile, an “everyman’s man with Midwest humility and approachability,” and in another, a “61-year-old, soft-spoken, deeply religious man.”But that humility and loyalty are being tested as his tenure as vice president draws to an end. “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us,” Trump told supporters at a rally on Monday, seemingly under the mistaken belief that Pence can overturn the election result as he presides over the Electoral College vote count at a joint session of Congress today. Balancing the ticketThroughout the past four years, the vice president has offered a striking contrast to the mercurial, abrasive temperament of his commander in chief. Indeed, in his acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, Pence joked that he’d been chosen because Trump, with his “large personality,” “colorful style,” and “lots of charisma,” was “looking for some balance on the ticket.” Commentators have attributed Pence’s steadiness to his Hoosier roots and his “savvy political operator” skills. But it is his religious beliefs that perhaps inform his politics and style more than anything else; as Pence has oft repeated, he is “a Christian, conservative and Republican – in that order.” In a 2011 profile during Pence’s run for Indiana governor, noted state political columnist Brian Howey remarked, “Pence doesn’t just wear his faith on his sleeve, he wears the whole Jesus jersey.”It isn’t a characterization that Pence has shied away from. “My Christian faith is at the very heart of who I am,” Pence said during the 2016 vice presidential debate.Richard Land, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and current president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, told the Atlantic in 2018, “Mike Pence is the 24-karat-gold model of what we want in an evangelical politician. I don’t know anyone who’s more consistent in bringing his evangelical Christian worldview to public policy.” But as a scholar of U.S. religion and culture, I believe that Pence’s faith and political identities are more complex than these statements suggest. In fact, one can trace three distinct conversion experiences in his biography. Three-point conversionGrowing up in an Irish Catholic family with five siblings, working-class roots and Democratic political commitments, Pence attended Catholic school, served as an altar boy at his family’s church, idolized John F. Kennedy and was a youth coordinator for the local Democratic Party in his teens.It was as a freshman at Hanover College in 1978 that Pence experienced an evangelical conversion while attending a music festival in Kentucky billed as the “Christian Woodstock.”For some years afterward he remained active in the Catholic Church, attending Mass regularly, serving as a youth minister and seriously considering joining the priesthood. At the same time, he and his future wife Karen were part of a demographic shift of Americans who “had grown up Catholic and still loved many things about the Catholic Church, but also really loved the concept of having a very personal relationship with Christ,” as a close friend put it.By the mid-1990s he was a married father of three who identified as a “born-again, evangelical Catholic,” an unusual term that has caused some consternation among both evangelicals and Catholics.In subsequent interviews, Pence has spoken freely about how his 1978 conversion gave him a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” that “changed everything.” But he has tended to avoid labeling his religious views when pressed, referring to himself as a “pretty ordinary Christian” who “cherishes his Catholic upbringing.” He has attended nondenominational evangelical churches with his family since at least 1995. Pence’s political conversion was more clear cut. Though he voted for Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election, he quickly came to embrace Ronald Reagan’s economic and social conservatism and his populist appeal. In a 2016 speech at the Reagan Library, Pence credited Reagan with inspiring him to “leave the party of my youth and become a Republican like he did.” “His broad-shouldered leadership changed my life,” he said. Pence has frequently compared Trump to Reagan, arguing that they have the same “broad shoulders.”Pence ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1988 and 1990, and the second bruising loss precipitated a third conversion, this time in political style. In a 1991 published essay titled “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner,” he described himself as a sinner and wrote of his “conversion” to the belief that “negative campaigning is wrong.” Between 1992 and 1999, Pence honed his blend of family values and fiscal conservatism in an eponymous conservative talk show.The show’s popularity provided a springboard to a successful run for Congress in 2000. During his six terms in the House, Pence acquired a reputation for “unalloyed traditional conservatism” and principled opposition to Republican Party leadership on issues like No Child Left Behind and Medicare prescription drug expansion. Religious actsIn addition to his “unsullied” reputation as a “culture warrior,” he also attracted attention for following the “Billy Graham Rule” of avoiding meeting with women alone and avoiding events where alcohol was served when his wife was not present. During the 2016 vice presidential debate, Pence said that his entire career in public service stems from a commitment to “live out” his religious beliefs, “however imperfectly.”One of those beliefs is his opposition to abortion, grounded in his reading of particular biblical passages. As a congressman in 2007, he was the first to sponsor legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, and did so repeatedly until the first defunding bill passed in 2011. “I long for the day when Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history,” he said at the time.In 2016, over the objections of many Republican state representatives, he signed the most restrictive set of anti-abortion measures in the country into law, making him a conservative hero. Among other things, the bill prevented women from terminating pregnancies for reasons including fetal disability such as Down syndrome. Although opponents succeeded in getting the bill overturned in the courts, Indiana is still seen as one of the most anti-abortion states in America.As vice president, Pence also cast the tie-breaking Senate vote to allow states to withhold federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood in 2017.Pence has also been an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ rights. He opposed the inclusion of sexual orientation in hate crimes legislation and the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He likewise supported both state and federal constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage, and expressed disappointment at the 2015 Obergefell decision, which required all states to recognize such unions.At the same time he has been a strong supporter of “religious freedom,” particularly for Christians.In March 2015, as Indiana governor, he signed the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act “to ensure that religious liberty is fully protected.” The act ignited a firestorm of nationwide controversy: Critics alleged that it would allow for individuals and businesses to legally discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community. Under pressure from LGBTQ activists, liberals, business owners and moderate Republicans, Pence signed an amendment a week later stipulating that it did not authorize discrimination. Staked reputationPence’s religious and political biography mirrors key political and religious shifts over the past 40 years, from the rise of the religious right and its growing influence in the Republican Party to the conservative coalition of evangelicals and Catholics across denominational lines, to the legacy of the “outsider” celebrity president.These threads converge in Mike Pence, whose “24-karat,” “unalloyed” conservative credentials were instrumental in rallying evangelical voters behind Trump in the 2016 election and who has staked his political future on continuing to defend him.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Deborah Whitehead, University of Colorado Boulder.Read more: * Why Trump’s Senate supporters can’t overturn Electoral College results they don’t like – here’s how the law actually works * What’s next for American evangelicals after Trump leaves office?Deborah Whitehead does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
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Gunmen have opened fire on a group of minority Shiite Hazara coal miners in Pakistan after abducting them, killing 11 in the south-western Baluchistan province, an official says.
Moazzam Ali Jatoi, an official with the Levies Force, which serves as police and paramilitary in the area, says the attack took place near the Machh coal field, about east of the provincial capital Quetta.
Mr Jatoi says armed men took the coal miners to nearby mountains, where they opened fire. He says six of the miners died at the scene and five died on the way to hospital.
He says an initial investigation revealed the attackers identified the miners as being from a Shiite Hazara community and the gunmen took them away for execution, leaving others unharmed.
No group immediately claimed responsibility but banned Sunni extremist organization Lashker-e-Jhangvi has targeted the minority Hazara community in Baluchistan in the past.
Local television footage showed security troops surrounding a desolated mountainous area diverting traffic and guiding ambulances to pick up the bodies.
News of the killings spread quickly among the Hazara community and members took to the streets in Quetta and surrounding areas to protest, blocking roads with burning tyres and tree trunks. Officials quickly closed the affected roads to traffic.
The violence was largely condemned across the country, with prime minister Imran Khan saying the perpetrators would be taken to task and the affected families would be taken care of.
Baluchistan is the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch separatist groups who have also targeted non-Baluch workers, but they have no history of attacks on the minority Shiite community.
I’ve always thought seventies modernism rather harsh. Some of the houses were lovely – perched on cliffs, tumbling down hillsides, open to bush or sea. But in the city, all those dull samey towers and endless red-brick walk-ups that Bob Carr so famously loathed seemed austere to the point of meanness. And then there’s the loss of what they replaced. The destruction of the fabulous Emil Sodersten-designed Hotel Australia in Martin Place for Seidler’s MLC tower is one that still makes grown men weep, and quite rightly.
I love cities, especially Sydney, and especially their ancient inner cores. I support density and renewal. But not like this. Even by comparison with the seventies, this new wave of solid, cheek-to-cheek concrete egg-crates spreading across Sydney feels positively cruel.
There’s a drawing doing the social-media rounds. At first, you think it’s an infinite parched landscape, fractured by drought. Then you realise you’re looking at the flat roofs of a zillion skyscrapers and the cracks are the narrow chasms in which, 20 or 30 storeys down, human life happens. Look at Wolli Creek, Redfern, Rhodes, Bondi Junction, Bankstown, Parramatta, Green Square, North Sydney, Waterloo, Lewisham. It’s ignorant and it’s cruel – at many levels: systemically, architecturally, in urban planning terms and in terms of what is destroyed.
Consider, first, the system. I thought I was renting from a common-or-garden agent. In truth, the building is managed by a development company that flogs off-the-plan units, promising a negatively gearable net loss of $10,500 per annum for a unit worth $650,000. There are thousands of these across Sydney, tens of thousands. They promise the investor transparency, certainty and choice. But what the tenants receive is none of those.
What this developer-led pretence of socially beneficial “urban living” and “housing provision” offers tenants is no choice. Your building manager, your property manager and your agent all work for the same faceless company and your utilities are from providers with whom you sign up, in effect, with the lease, at whatever rate they choose.
Then there’s the architecture. My life over the last few months offers an accidental case study in urban dwelling types. For half of last year, my home was a 1970s, three-storey brick walk-up in an assemblage wrapped loosely around a stand of immense casuarinas in Glebe. Architecturally it was kinda ordinary. Yet it felt unaccountably sweet. With greenery and outlook, fresh air and cupboard space, it felt benevolent, like the building itself had our backs.
The current building could hardly be more different. Designed to impress at a glance, but not accommodate, it offers so little storage you can have a bin or a microwave but not both. There’s a bath but nowhere for accessories, a screen that makes cleaning almost impossible, toilet-roll holders that involve a full spinal twist and nowhere for dishes to drain. (The dishwasher hasn’t ever worked but the agent-cum-manager tells me there’s a $450 callout fee payable by me if it’s pilot error). Forget towel storage, laundry products or vacuum cleaner. No way.
I chose it for its north-facing balcony and cross-ventilation, which I regard as essential parts of the Anzac birthright (and no, this does not necessitate suburbia). There are two glossy bathrooms but frankly I’d prefer one with cupboards and windows. And although, unlike many, the bedrooms have windows, at least four other apartments look straight into them – and roughly 60 into the living room.
Which brings me to failures of planning. It’s hard to say whether they’re based on ignorance or cynicism from our governments. Perhaps both. But the whole theory of towers, even commercial towers but certainly residential, is that they consolidate allowable building mass across a site into a taller point, so surrounding themselves with air and sun. The idea that towers can form a solid mass as at Redfern, Wolli Creek or Bondi Junction is an abject betrayal of everything we should strive for in cities.
And although there’s no reason for you to worry over my plight, multiply it by half a million and you’ll see we are attacking the very essence of Sydney, its sensual delight. Replace delight with slums and people will vote with their feet. Perhaps, indeed, it’s already begun.
Elizabeth Farrelly’s latest book Killing Sydney will be published on January 26.
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Elizabeth Farrelly is a Sydney-based columnist and author who holds a PhD in architecture and several international writing awards. She is a former editor and Sydney City Councilor. Her books include ‘Glenn Murcutt: Three Houses’, ‘Blubberland; the dangers of happiness’ and ‘Caro Was Here’, crime fiction for children (2014).