Under-fire Finch rises to keep series alive



Aaron Finch has wasted no time repaying selector George Bailey’s faith, reminding the world why he is certain to lead Australia’s quest to win its first Twenty20 crown in India this year.

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Susan Neill-Fraser murder appeal moves to closing arguments after DNA expert witness dropped by prosecutor


The appeal of Susan Neill-Fraser has moved to closing arguments ahead of schedule, following a volatile two days which saw the convicted murderer’s lawyers abandon their key witness.

Neill-Fraser is serving a 23-year sentence for the murder of her partner Bob Chappell.

Mr Chappell disappeared from his yacht, which was moored in Hobart’s River Derwent, on Australia Day 2009.

There was no body or murder weapon and the court today heard that the original trial relied entirely on “circumstantial evidence”.

In 2019, Neill-Fraser was granted leave to appeal after a Supreme Court judge found she had fresh and compelling evidence.

Neill-Fraser’s team has now begun closing arguments.

On Monday, the court heard that Meghan Vass — whose DNA was found on the yacht — was the key witness and her oral evidence would be “fresh and compelling”.

On day one, Ms Vass gave evidence that she had been aboard the yacht with three men when they encountered Mr Chappell.

She told the court one of the men started “flipping out” and the fight turned violent.

Meaghan Vass recanted her previous evidence on Tuesday and was relieved of giving further evidence.(

ABC News: Luke Bowden

)

But during cross-examination on day two of the appeal, Ms Vass began to recant all of her evidence.

She said there had been just two men on the yacht, then one and then said she had never been on the boat.

“You can’t remember being on that boat, can you?” asked Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates.

“No,” Ms Vass said.

Mr Richter later told the court he wanted to relieve Ms Vass and abandon her evidence, with the exception of the DNA that was found on the yacht.

DNA witness dropped and closing submissions begin

Susan Neill-Fraser, photo from Facebook page of support group.
Susan Neill-Fraser was sentenced to 23 years in jail after being convicted of her husband’s murder.(

Facebook: Susan Neill-Fraser is Innocent

)

On Wednesday morning, the court had expected to hear from a DNA expert witness, but the prosecution did not proceed with the evidence.

Chris Carr SC began closing submissions for Neill-Fraser’s case.

Mr Carr said the evidence Ms Vass had given over two days was “not of any relevance to this court’s task”.

He took the court through the original trial in order to “identify issues”.

He pointed to an account from the original trial of a grey dinghy — that was not the Four Wind’s tender — tied up alongside the yacht late on the afternoon of 26th January, 2009.

He also told the court there had been no rational explanation for how Ms Vass’s DNA had gotten on the Four Winds.

Tasmanian yacht Four Winds tied up at Consitiution Dock, owner is missing.
The court has heard the DNA of a homeless girl was found on Bob Chappell’s yacht, Four Winds, after his disappearance.(

ABC News

)

“At some stage Meghan Vass was on the Four Winds,” he said.

“[It’s an] equally plausible hypothesis that she went there with the grey dinghy with some friends.

“[It was] hardly likely that she’d admit that to police … she can’t account for where she was on the 26th of January.

“The way the prosecution dealt with this reasonable hypothesis and demolished it as unreasonable hypothesis at trial was untenable or at least sufficiently impugned.”

Mr Carr also cited evidence from another DNA expert, Maxwell Jones, who wrote reports for the appeal hearing.

He is challenging the idea, put forward by the Crown at trial, that Ms Vass’s DNA could have arrived on the boat through a secondary transfer, such as someone walking it on.

“Mr Jones articulates what would in fact be required for the transference to have led to the deposit of the DNA that was actually found on the Four Winds,” he said.

“That explanation is entirely inconsistent with the way the matter was put to the jury on this critical issue by the learned prosecution at trial.”

Mr Carr told the court that had the original jury been offered the opinion of Mr Jones, and taken into account the report of the “grey dinghy”, they would have been left with a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutor says evidence strongly supports DNA transfer theory

Crown Prosecutor Daryl Coates SC has addressed how the DNA came to be on the boat.

“The Four Winds was found sinking on the morning of the 27th January [2009],” he said.

“It was not treated as a crime scene [and] it was [eventually] transferred to Cleanlift in Goodwood that does boat repairs.”

The court heard on Monday that Ms Vass’s partner at the time lived in Goodwood and she spent time in that area.

Mr Coates told the court the swab that had the DNA sample from Ms Vass was not taken until the 30th of January.

“They included people like the person who towed the boat, insurance assessors, other civilians, police officers, accused and her family.”

Convicted murderer Susan Neill-Fraser
Susan Neill-Fraser is led into the Supreme Court in Hobart during a previous appearance.(

ABC News

)

He said the Crown maintained its position that Ms Vass was never on the boat, however he did point to a second theory.

“If the jury rejected that [it was a secondary transfer], they could’ve still concluded that she got on the boat afterwards,” he said.

He also said a significant part of Mr Jones’s evidence was “more favourable to the Crown”.

“He gave evidence that given the quantity of the DNA, and the fact there was no degradation, he thought the most likely [scenario] was the sample had only been there one or two days,” he said.

“It strongly supports that it was transferred or Ms Vass being there after sinking.”

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Holocaust to be remembered in new Tasmanian education centre


Launceston man Felix Goldschmied moved to Australia when he was nine years old, with his six-year-old brother.

He is one of just a handful of Holocaust survivors left in Tasmania.

“We came in a Jewish transport and were placed in a children’s home,” he said.

“My time during the Holocaust was not very nice, my relatives were all murdered, went to Auschwitz concentration camp, and my father was interred in a concentration camp.

Dr Goldschmied has welcomed plans for a Holocaust centre in Tasmania, announced in Hobart on Tuesday.

“It’s there to stop hatred, inhuman behaviour, discrimination, and it teaches us all that,” he said.

The centre will offer education and interpretation for school groups, as well as the general public.

It will house exhibits and literature.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg addresses the congregation at Hobart’s synagogue.(

ABC News: Selina Ross

)

Six million of the eleven million European Jews perished during the Holocaust between 1941 and 1945.

The Nazis also targeted other groups, including people with disabilities and gay people.

“The crime of the holocaust was so enormous that it’s left an indelible mark on society and I think it’s important that we should all learn about it to prevent it from ever happening in the future,” Dr Goldschmeid said.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the centre at the Hobart synagogue, which is the oldest in Australia.

“Because the students in your schools need to understand what occurred in the Holocaust.”

Women sitting inside a synagogue talking to a man.
Mr Frydenberg said he hopes the centre will aid “future generations” to recognise the dangers of anti-semitism.(

ABC News: Selina Ross

)

Mr Frydenberg became teary during his speech to the Jewish congregation.

“Ladies and gentleman, this is a very solemn occasion but this means so much to me,” he said.

There has been no announcement about where the centre will be or when it will open.

Tasmania’s Attorney-General Elise Archer said the state government would work with the local Jewish community to develop and progress the plans.

Pnina Clark looks at the camera.
Pnina Clark said the history centre would be for the “people of Hobart”.(

ABC News: Selina Ross

)

‘A lot of people don’t know what the Holocaust was’

Hobart woman Pnina Clark’s father was held in a forced labour camp.

Ms Clark said her parents carried through their lives the trauma of the horrors they had experienced.

“This centre that is going to happen is for the people of Hobart, it’s actually not for the Jewish community,” she said.

Gabi Mayer.
Gabi Mayer said when she was growing up “a lot of people didn’t even know what the Holocaust was”.(

ABC News: Selina Ross

)

Melbourne teenager Gabi Mayer, whose family is part of the Tasmanian Jewish community, said younger people needed to be educated about the horrors of the Holocaust.

“A lot of people [when I was] growing up just didn’t even know what the Holocaust was, just didn’t have that connection unless they actually knew a Jewish person,” she said.

“It really unifies the Jewish community with the greater secular community.”

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New multimillion-dollar world class resort for Darwin



A MULTIMILLION-dollar, world-class destination resort that will outshine any other resort in the nation will to be built next to the Darwin International Airport.

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Green string bean growth supercharged as research plots the positive impact of a cooler climate


A team of researchers from the University of Tasmania had a simple goal in mind when they embarked on the study to find out why the humble bean grew so well in cool climate areas like Tasmania.

Associate Professor Jim Weller led the team, which also included UTAS researcher Jackie Vander Schoor, along with researchers in Spain and China, and it was never planned as a world record project.

“We wanted to find out how the common [green string] bean, which is a tropical plant, grows so well in the cooler climates like Tasmania and parts of China,” Mr Weller said.

Pots of young beans ready to grow in a university research project.(

Supplied: Jim Weller

)

“We started out by comparing the modern garden variety bean with the wild bean plants which date back unchanged for probably more than 10,000 years.”

“We discovered something critical, and that was the altered function of some vital genes in the plant caused by specialised breeding and plant selection over a very long time.”

“Wild beans need warmth to grow but also short days in their growing season in order to flower, and the genetic changes meant the beans could now flower in the longer summer days in cool climates.”

Story of Jack and the Beanstalk

Researcher Jackie Vander Schoor said the Jack in the Beanstalk fairytale analogy was pertinent with the size of the beans grown in the project, although Jackie and the Beanstalk could be the modern version.

a man and a woman standing next to a health bean crop
UTAS Researchers Jim Weller and Jackie Vander Schoor with a healthy bean crop(

Supplied: Jim Weller

)

In the original story, Jack, a poor, country boy swaps a valuable cow for a handful of beans which are later thrown into the garden and the subsequent beans grow high into the clouds, and Jack climbs the stalk.

Jack encounters an unfriendly giant, but he manages to steal a bag of gold, a golden harp and a goose that lays golden eggs before climbing back down the beanstalk, cutting it down, leaving the giant to fall to his death.

“There are no golden eggs in this story, but there is the possibility of a world record for the tallest bean ever grown on record, which could possibly go into the Guinness Book of Records,” Ms Vander Schoor said.

“Jackie and the Beanstalk is now a common joke among people who know about my work, especially when they realise that one of the beanstalks we grew measured a mighty 15.63 metres.”

“I had a look at the Guinness Book of Records, and the tallest beanstalk mentioned there is just over 14 metres, so we definitely beat that one, and I need to look at how to register a new record,” Ms Vander Schoor said.

Growth spurt

The research team believes the tall beans are the result of crossing the wild beans with the modern beans, planting them in a huge glasshouse, and giving them secret nutrients each week.

“People who were doing other work in the glasshouse were complaining because the beanstalks were taking up most of the room inside, so we had to lay the beans down along the rows and then wrap them back on themselves.”

“The rows were five metres long and we had to string them up on wire rows above us as well, so it was a lot of work to make sure they were kept healthy and happy, which they were,” Ms Vander Schoor said.

Researchers follow the string
The UTAS researchers involved in the bean study.(

Supplied: Jim Weller

)

Beans like the cool

Farmers produce around 40,000 tonnes of green beans in Australia each year, and 25 per cent of that crop is grown in Tasmania in the cooler climate, while the worldwide total bean production is 60 million tonnes.

Associate Professor Weller said the research work was helping the agriculture sector in several ways, allowing more efficient development of improved varieties, allowing increased options, and enabling expansion to other growing regions.

As for the fairytale, it could be a fairytale finish to a project that just set out to find why beans were able to be grown in cool climate regions and ended up with a possible world record tallest beanstalk.

“This one has been my favourite project so far, and it was really interesting to find out things about beans that were kind of secrets since they were first domesticated thousands of years ago,” Ms Vander Schoor said.

“I do have some runner beans in the garden, and they’ve grown pretty tall and they’re up now onto my deck so I can lean over my deck and pick my beans, so that’s pretty cool.”

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Richmond Tigers great Royce Hart injured in head-on crash in Hobart


Richmond great and Tasmanian football legend Royce Hart is in a serious condition in hospital after a head-on crash in Hobart.

The crash occurred on the East Derwent Highway near Risdon Cove on Hobart’s eastern shore on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Hart and two people in a second vehicle were taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital as a result of the crash.

Richmond Football Club chief executive Brendon Gale sent his well wishes to Hart in a post on Twitter.

“As a @Richmond_FC Immortal, Royce Hart is a giant in the rich history of our club,” Mr Gale wrote.

“On behalf of the entire club and our hundreds of thousands of members and fans, I wish Royce a full and speedy recovery. May he be back on his feet soon.”

Tasmanian football legend Royce Hart wore the No. 4 jumper when he played for Richmond.(ABC News)

Hart, who turned 73 last month, played with the Tigers for 11 seasons and won four premierships — two of them as captain.

He was recruited to Richmond in 1966 from the Clarence Football Club on Hobart’s eastern shore, and retired from the game at the age of 29.

Hart was named centre-half-forward in the AFL’s Team of the Century and was inducted as the 25th Legend of the Game in 2013.

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Dr Seuss is ‘apparently racist’ after US school district slams ‘strong racial undertones’



Sky News host Paul Murray says the woke brigade have gone after another favourite as Dr Seuss is “apparently racist”.

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The marriage between Hawthorn and Tasmania is on the rocks – but what has Tasmania gained over the past 20 years?


In Peter Hudson, the goalkicking machine from the sleepy town of New Norfolk, there lives an almost unwavering bond between Tasmania and the Hawthorn football club.

Today, that bond will be celebrated when a statue dedicated to the footballing giant is unveiled in his hometown.

But as Jeff Kennett and Hawks CEO Justin Reeves touch down in Tasmania to celebrate the occasion, they do so at a time when that relationship is at a crossroads.

Tasmania, desperate to stand on its own two footballing feet, has threatened to bid adieu to the Hawks, potentially ending a 20-year chapter between the state and the famous club.

There is no doubt both parties have benefited from the two-decade-long marriage that has seen Hawthorn play more than 80 regular and pre-season matches in Launceston and emblazon ‘Tasmania’ across its chest for the past 14 seasons.

While for Tasmania, the economic shot to the state’s event and tourism sectors has undoubtedly been worth the spend, given regular season games have attracted an average crowd of 15,320.

The Hawks have shared their success with Tasmanians for many years now.(ABC News: Gregor Salmon)

In 2017, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report calculated that about $30 million was returned in the Tasmanian economy, per $5 million spent on bringing the Hawks to Tasmania.

That is where it is important to realise that deals struck between the State Government and Hawthorn have never really been about football.

The sport has acted as a popular vehicle in which interstate dollars have been able to pour into the state during traditionally lean winters, and Launceston’s hoteliers and cafe owners will attest to that.

But we know the deal has never really been about football – much less the growth of Tasmanian football – because for the approximately $60 million that has been spent on bringing Hawthorn to Tasmania, only a slither of that has been re-invested in the Tasmanian game.

Have the Hawks put enough into grassroots footy in Tasmania?

Make no mistake. Hawthorn owes Tasmania nothing.

Nor Tasmania, Hawthorn after 20 years.

While Hawthorn has never been contractually obliged to invest in, or help to improve, Tasmanian football, it could be argued that a club that brands itself as the Tassie Hawks and whose president has floated the idea of relocating to Tasmania multiple times, has had an implied responsibility to help ensure the local game in Tasmania is strong.

Against the backdrop of local clubs entering recess, and a drop off in draftees, could the Hawks have provided a few more crumbs to the local game over the years?

Devonport plays Lauderdale in May
Local football in Tasmania is seeing a decline in participation.(Facebook: Tasmania State League)

Can Hawthorn, which has enjoyed almost an embarrassment of success in the past 15 years, honestly tell itself it has left the game in Tasmania in a better state than it found it?

Or could the State Government have invested more in the grassroots game, given its $500,000 a year in funding has remained static despite what it has reaped back in economic impact as a result of the Hawks 20-year presence?

Since arriving in 2012 North Melbourne has at least handed local players VFL team opportunities, established a next-generation academy and brought its ‘huddle’ program to the state.

Not to mention the AFLW partnership, which has seen six Tasmanian women drafted to the North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos in the past three years.

AFLW players Nicole Bresnehan and Loveth Ochayi wearing the North Melbourne and Tassie home guernseys.
Tasmanian women footballers have benefitted from the AFLW partnership.(ABC News: Chris Rowbottom)

The Hawks will point to community camps and premiership cup tours as examples of helping to grow the game, and some credit is earned for the Tassie Hawks Schools Cup program which has run since 2008, as well as for various other wellbeing programs.

Partnerships with the Prospect junior football and netball clubs add some credence too.

Tasmania’s economy has enjoyed a football-fuelled kick along thanks to former Premier Jim Bacon’s vision at the turn of the millennium.

But for the tens of millions spent on the Hawks, has the grassroots game in Tasmania – the same one in which the great ‘Huddo’ was plucked from all those years ago – really profited?

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Survivor of serial sexual abuser James Geoffrey Griffin calls for national review


A victim of a nurse who preyed on and abused sick children in the Launceston General Hospital has called for a national review into how that abuse was allowed to continue for more than 10 years.

An internal investigation by Tasmania Police into why action was not taken sooner when complaints were made about nurse James Geoffrey Griffin has found officers missed multiple opportunities to apprehend him.

The Tasmanian government has ordered an independent investigation into how the Tasmanian Health Service, Department of Health and other relevant government agencies handled allegations about Griffin. That Commission of Inquiry is expected to start next month.

But Keelie McMahon, who alleges Griffin first abused her when she was 14, says a national review of what took place in Tasmania is needed.

“I think now knowing the Australian Federal Police knew about this, it needs to be national, there shouldn’t just be Tasmania, it needs to be looked at,” she said.

Griffin worked as a nurse at the Launceston General Hospital.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Lawyer Kim Price said the deficiencies uncovered by the internal review of Tasmania Police’s investigation of Griffin had horrific consequences.

“The report really only scratches the surface as to what we know and what we suspect has occurred at Launceston General Hospital,” he said.

His law firm Arnold Thomas and Beckett is representing 10 people who say they were abused by Griffin.

“Far fewer young women would have been abused — Griffin would have been, should have been, stopped really no later than 2009 and that’s about 10 years before he was eventually exposed,” Mr Price said.

“Almost all of our clients were unfortunately abused after 2009 and disappointingly the actions of either the hospital and or Tasmania Police have contributed to, we say, the abuse that our clients have suffered.”

Angelique Knight said Griffin sexually abused her for years, starting when she was a 14-year-old patient at the Launceston General Hospital.

Last year, she tried to make a statement to Tasmania Police but was turned away because Griffin had taken his own life in October 2019.

She was distressed to learn Tasmania Police received reports about Griffin’s behaviour as early as 2009.

“I was very hurt by this. So many victims might not have been victims in that time,” Ms Knight said.

“Yes, I know they said sorry, but it doesn’t actually help the situation when this should have been dealt with all those years ago.

“When I first found out it wasn’t just me and I wasn’t just special, I was a victim, I was a complete mess … I think I was in shock that this went on for so long of my life, let alone before that; I didn’t see it, I didn’t believe he was this monster. He fooled me and everybody,” Ms Knight said.

A woman wearing a beanie and a black shirt sits in front of a book shelf looking at the camera.
Angelique Knight says she was sexually abused by nurse James Geoffrey Griffin.(ABC News: Peter Curtis)

Another victim, who does not want to be identified, said Griffin began abusing her when she was a 16-year-old patient.

She said trying to live with the abuse is harder, knowing it could have been prevented if the hospital or police had acted earlier.

“It makes me feel like everything that’s happened to myself and other victims could have been avoided — they just allowed a predator to keep working in an environment and keep living a life like normal, even though he’s taken so much of our lives,” she said.

“It makes me frustrated and angry and I just get so upset about it because the amount of traumas that has happened in my life as a result of his abuse, it could all have been avoided and I could have done so much more.

The LGH Community Support Group’s Sallyann Geale is among those demanding full transparency from police and government in all future investigations of misconduct in public institutions.

“So that when things arise for people in the community, the departments that are meant to be serving them, are out there putting the people first,” Ms Geale said.

Launceston General Hospital community support members standing outside.
Launceston General Hospital Community Support members Sallyann Geale and Rosemary Armitage say community members want a full and transparent investigation.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

Launceston MLC Rosemary Armitage has been contacted by many hospital staff members distressed by the latest revelations.

“I’ve also had contact from some doctors just generally saying that they actually have some guilt from having put some patients in the ward, and not realised what was happening,” she said.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian branch secretary Emily Shepherd welcomed Police Commissioner Darren Hine’s pledge to do better.

“I think that just reaffirms the need for the Commission of Inquiry so that all government agencies can work better together to ensure that children in Tasmania are protected,” she said.

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BBC ‘one of the most woke’ organisations in the UK



Sky News host Paul Murray says the BBC is “well and truly” one of the “most woke organisations in the UK”.

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