Sexual abuse of foster daughter 

A NEWCASTLE man who used his foster daughter as a virtual sex slave had ‘‘a total disregard for her as a human being’’ at a time when she was ‘‘utterly alone and had nowhere to turn’’, a prosecutor told the district court yesterday.
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The paedophile, who cannot be identified, claimed to have no memory of at least a year of sexually assaulting the teen despite him buying her lingerie, pornographic magazines and regularly forcing her to drink alcohol before the assaults, Newcastle District Court heard.

The sexual encounters were part of a heinous household routine on Tuesdays and Saturdays with the offender, aged in his 60s, having to inject his penis with prescription medication in order to achieve an erection, a statement of facts said.

Prosecutor Greg Coles said the girl, who was aged 14 and 15 at the times of the assaults, was in desperate need of support, but was instead subjected to a ‘‘sexual predator’’.

‘‘What she found was not protection, but exploitation,’’ he said.

‘‘The victim here was utterly alone and had nowhere else to turn … she was helpless.’’

She had been in the care of the offender and his wife from the age of eight, but the wife suffered a lengthy illness and died in 2011.

The assaults started before the wife’s death with detectives from the child abuse squad discovering the offender increased the number of script repeats for his erection medication about two months before the wife’s death.

By September last year the girl had had enough and telephoned a friend for help before the friend’s mother rang police.

The girl was removed from the home while police seized lingerie, pornography and the offender’s medication.

The victim told police that she went along with the abuse for so long because she didn’t know how to say no.

She wrote in a victim impact statement that she was cutting herself and performing other acts of self-harm while being subjected to the abuse.

The offender eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years.

Judge Raymond McLoughlin will sentence the offender tomorrow.

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Upper Hunter rainfall fortunes

A TALE of two towns has emerged in the Upper Hunter after lashings of rain reached the region’s farmland yesterday.
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While Singleton beef farmer Sonia Alexander watched the rain disappear into the cracked earth at her feet, Scone’s Suzanne Henderson saw the storms only from afar.

‘‘We haven’t had any decent rain probably since June,’’ Mrs Henderson said.

‘‘It is a drought. We are pretty desperate.’’

The Hunter’s big wet: your pics

Mrs Henderson, whose family has operated Middlebrook Station since 1926, said she was frustrated at the lack of political will to support people on the land.

‘‘We’re not whingeing farmers, we love what we do, but just at the moment there doesn’t seem to be state or federal government making any noise,’’ she said.

At Singleton, Mrs Alexander said the commercial beef property she runs with husband Michael gained about 37mm of rain on Sunday and yesterday.

The rain provided a reprieve to the parched times Mrs Alexander said had prompted her family to thin their herd to 90 cattle.

‘‘We need a lot more but it’s a start,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s nice but you can’t see where it’s gone – it’s soaked straight in.’’

Weatherwatch meteorologist Anthony Cornelius said cold fronts in southern Australia had factored into the region’s dry spring.

‘‘When you get those cold fronts coming through you get a lot of westerly winds in the northern areas,’’ Mr Cornelius said.

‘‘Obviously westerly winds don’t carry much moisture.’’

Mr Cornelius predicted 10mm to 15mm could fall between Maitland and Scone over the next three days but inland areas to the north and south of the Hunter would probably receive more.


Merewether 77mm

Adamstown 74mm

Blacksmiths 71mm

Newcastle Uni 63mm

Lake Macquarie 48mm

Nelson Bay 41mm

Nobbys Head 29mm

Gresford 18mm

Maitland 17mm

Cessnock 17mm

Dungog 17mm

Jerrys Plains 15mm

Williamtown 13mm

Singleton 4mm

Denman 3.6mm

Rouchel Brook 0.2mm

Scone 0mm

SMILING: Beef farmer Sonia Alexander watches the rain soak into the land with her dog, Ellie, on her property at Glendonbrook, near Singleton. Picture: Simone De Peak

Rainfall for 24 hours to 2pm yesterday

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Dropulich joins Palmer’s alliance

Wayne Dropulich. Photo: Philip GostelowWest Australian senator-elect Wayne Dropulich has joined Clive Palmer’s alliance.
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Fairfax Media has learned Mr Dropulich, of the Australian Sports Party, will be in attendance at Mr Palmer’s speech to the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Dropulich, who scraped into a senate seat after the WA recount – but may not survive the expected re-run of the election – will be joined by Victorian senator-elect Ricky Muir.

Mr Muir, representing the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, announced in October he will vote with the Palmer United senators-elect – currently, Glen Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie.

Mr Muir and Mr Dropulich will be seated at a table with Glenn Druery the so-called “preference whisperer’ responsible for the preference swap deals that enabled the rise of microparties in the next Senate.

Mr Druery, who describes himself as a “political consultant” for independent and microparty politicians, brokered the deal that saw Mr Muir join the Palmer forces.

Mr Dropulich’s vote would add a fourth vote to the Palmer bloc after the loss of PUP candidate Zhenya Wang after the WA Senate recount.

The presence of Mr Muir and Mr Dropulich on Tuesday, along with Mr Lazarus and Ms Lambie, is supposed to send a message to the Abbott Government of the strength and unity of the alliance. In particular, to Coalition Senate leader Eric Abetz, who has said he will negotiate with the crossbench senators on a personal basis, rather than as as a single voting group, as demanded by the alliance.

Mr Palmer has promised a “very, very, very cold winter” when the new Senate sits from July next year if Prime Minister Tony Abbott didn’t start taking his alliance seriously.

The government has already torpedoed a request to pool office and resources and legislative advisers among the Palmer bloc.

Mr Palmer, who flew into Canberra on a commercial flight on Monday “for lunch”, is on a collision course with the government on a number of issues, including the government’s consideration of reforms to the preference voting system that would make it harder for microparties to get elected in the future.

He described talk of reforming the system to allow optional preferential voting “an attack on democracy”.

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Boss confident of Lion deal with Saputo

Warrnambool Cheese and Butter. Photo: Glen WatsonWarrnambool Cheese & Butter boss David Lord is confident Kirin will be able to strike a deal with Canadian outfit Saputo to protect the viability of its entry-level cheeses.
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Kirin snapped up almost 10 per cent of WCB, which is the target of a three-way global bidding war, through its subsidiary Lion last month. The purchase was aimed at protecting Lion’s agreement with WCB, which supplies its entry-level cheese brands Coon and Cracker Barrel, rather than as emerging as a fourth player in the takeover battle.

Quebec-based Saputo is the suitor favoured by WCB’s board but is facing competition from Bega and Murray Goulburn which each owns 17 per cent of the company.

Mr Lord said the Lion stake had made a ”complex situation more complex”. But he was confident that Lion and Saputo would be able to strike a deal.

”From what Lion said their motivation to buy their stake was to get a seat at the table. Well they’ve done that,” Mr Lord said. ”Now, I think it’s up to the parties to sit down and talk about how they move forward, in particular Lion and Saputo.”

While WCB’s board is urging shareholders to support Saputo’s bid, United Dairyfarmers of Victoria says farmer shareholders should think again.

UDV has organised a meeting for farmers at the Warrnambool Showgrounds, warning them of the possibility of another Australian company becoming foreign owned. UDV president Kerry Callow said it was important Australia’s dairy industry had a locally owned player that could build significant scale to compete globally.

Ms Callow said this would ensure Australians would still control farm-gate prices. But she said even if Murray Goulburn, Australia’s biggest milk processor, took over WCB, it would still be a small player in the global dairy market. ”It would lift them into the top 20 in the world, not the top five, not the top 10, so we would still be a very small fish in the global market,” she said.

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Super funds set up news website

Gary Weaven of Industry Super Funds. Photo: Luis Enrique AscuiIndustry funds veteran Garry Weaven says the sector’s multimillion-dollar investment in a new general media site can be justified on commercial terms.
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He expects the site to be profitable within four years, despite indicating it will not allow advertising from rival financial services organisations.

”I’m the first one to understand that it is somewhat speculative,” Mr Weaven, a director of The New Daily, told BusinessDay. ”The market is moving all the time. But, on the numbers we’ve done, it can be justified as a commercial investment.”

Industry superannuation fund AustralianSuper, United Super, the trustee of building industry fund Cbus, and Industry Super Holdings, a company that owns various industry fund entities, have ploughed at least $3 million into the site, guided by Crikey backer Eric Beecher.

Mr Weaven said the site, to host content from national broadcaster ABC, will seek ”broad appeal” beyond the industry fund members who are being encouraged to subscribe.

AustralianSuper spokeswoman Susan Fairley said the fund saw the investment as a ”communications vehicle” in the marketing budget rather than a direct investment.

Asked if the site would allow rival financial services to advertise, Mr Weaven said he would ”prefer to see financial services that are completely aligned with industry funds’ objectives” and The New Daily shareholders would have the final say on the matter.

Of editorial independence, Mr Weaven said, advertising would be self-evident, advertorial would be made clear and finance content would not be dominated by ”guff about self-managed super funds”.

”If there’s a genuine story about a stuff-up of some kind in the industry funds community, it will be aired,” he said. ”[But] what I have faith in is if we stick to telling the truth, the truth will probably be pretty kind.”

The super industry is in a privileged position of receiving 9.25 per cent of Australians’ pay, with a bipartisan commitment to increase compulsory contributions to 12 per cent in the next decade.

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ACT Brumbies Sio brothers aim to join forces

Brumbies player Scott Sio, left,and his younger brother Patrick, who will be training with the squad in pre-season. Photo: Graham TidyRugby’s Sio brothers Scott and Patrick have only ever played together once, but they hope the second time will be in an ACT Brumbies jersey.
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Prop Scott has been at the Super Rugby club for two years and has been joined by younger brother Patrick for this pre-season.

Nineteen-year-old Patrick caught the Brumbies’ eye and was invited to train with the group until Christmas with the view to potentially joining the extended playing squad for the 2015 season.

While a large group of Brumbies are on the Wallabies’ European spring tour, Patrick came to Canberra three weeks ago to try to take his game to another level.

The back-rower will return to play with his Shute Shield club Eastwood next year and the Brumbies will watch his progress.

A strong season could result in him playing alongside his brother the following year.

”That’d be great [to play for the Brumbies with Scott],” Patrick said. ”I think I’ve only played one game with Scotty and that was many years ago.

”I’m looking forward to it, he’s always good to play with.

”He’s reached the pinnacle of rugby now so he’s not a bad guy to hang around with I guess, even if he is your brother.”

The Sio family turned Phillips Park, in Lidcombe in suburban Sydney, into a training ground, with father David leading the way.

David played prop for Samoa at the 1991 World Cup and has been a large part of his sons’ rugby development.

It was there they developed into a Wallabies prop with the potential for a long international career and a budding young back-rower keen to secure a Super Rugby contract.

Now Scott is also a mentor for his younger sibling.

”When we were young our dad used to run a lot of Sunday sessions, invite all of our very close friends and run us through skills and fitness,” Scott said. ”Any time we wanted to do extras we’d go down to the park and that’s where we still do our extras to this day, trying to improve our game.

”A lot of blood sweat and tears in that park, but it’s all been worth it in the end.”

Scott wants his younger brother to get as much as he can out of the opportunity with the Brumbies.

”Hopefully maybe we’ll pull on the jersey together one day, which would be amazing, but for him it’s really about where his opportunities lie and if that’s here, that’s great, but if it’s elsewhere I’ll support him 100 per cent,” Scott said.

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Postecoglou will invigorate Roos: Franjic

When Ange Postecoglou quit Brisbane Roar last year, Ivan Franjic, perhaps more than any other member of the club’s dual title-winning squad, was devastated.
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It was under Postecoglou that Franjic went from being a carpenter, fresh off the building sites of Melbourne’s outer suburbs, to being a two-time A-League winner and a capped Socceroo.

Franjic, 26, was actually signed by Frank Farina but as Farina was sacked shortly after Franjic’s arrival, Postecoglou is the man he credits with converting him from state league anonymity into the A-League’s elite.

“When Ange left us after winning the title twice I was gutted. He’d done so much for me that I’ll never forget,” he said. “I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m never going to work with him again,’ and that made me really sad. Then when he became national coach, I was rapt. It’s fantastic that he picked me for his first squad.”

Except for those on the receiving end of his initial Brisbane clean-out, Postecoglou inspires devotion from his players at two clubs.

Countless careers have been started and revived under Postecoglou, and Franjic is adamant the new boss’s magic dust will reinvigorate the national team, starting with next Wednesday’s friendly against Costa Rica at Allianz Stadium. “He’s a great coach and his best asset is that he gets the best out of every player, no matter what position they play,” Franjic said. “He doesn’t let you slack off, he always demands the best. He was the one who gave me that opportunity to play every week and gave me the confidence to back myself.”

Few players in the league have the versatility of Franjic. He began life in the A-League as a right-back, where his penchant for getting forward transformed him into a wide forward last year.

This year, however, coach Mike Mulvey has used him to great effect on the left – especially so in his game-winning performance against Wellington Phoenix – and as a holding midfielder.

“And I’ve also played as a right-midfielder and as a centre-half,” Franjic said.

There have even been calls for Franjic to be tried at the Socceroos’ troublesome left-back position, an idea he’s more than open to.

“Most people see me as a right-back, and Ange certainly played me as right-back at Brisbane, but I’ll play wherever he wants me,” he said. “But I actually prefer the left side to the right, because I naturally like to cut inside on my right foot and drive through the middle.”

It’s hard to believe Franjic was on building sites as recently as 2009. “I’m a third-generation carpenter, so I really expected that’s what I’d be doing now,” he said. “Instead, I’m with the Socceroos and hoping to go to Brazil.”

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Arrested Greenpeace crew moved to new location

On the move: Russia moved the crew of a Greenpeace Arctic protest ship from the northern port of Murmansk and put them on a train to Saint Petersburg. Photo: GreenpeaceRussia moved the crew of a Greenpeace Arctic protest ship from the northern port of Murmansk on Monday and put them on a train to Saint Petersburg, authorities and the organisation said.
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“The decision has been made to transfer all 30 of the accused to detention centres in Saint Petersburg,” the Investigative Committee said in a statement, saying that their charges “do not fall under the jurisdiction of courts in the Murmansk region.”

The 28 activists and two reporters, arrested in September after protesting against oil exploration in the Barents Sea, left their detention centre at 5:00 am (0100 GMT) on a bus and are now on a train, said Greenpeace spokeswoman Dannielle Taaffe.

The arrested crew of the ship Arctic Sunrise includes 26 foreigners from 18 countries held for nearly two months on charges of piracy and hooliganism after an attempt to scale an oil platform operated by Russia’s energy giant Gazprom.

The ride from Murmansk to Saint Petersburg is a journey of about 1,500 kilometres (950 miles) that usually takes about 27 hours.

One of Russia’s northern most cities, Murmansk endures polar nights in the winter, with temperatures often dropping to below minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit).

Several activists in mid-September attempted to scale Russia’s Gazprom oil platform in the Pechora Sea, part of the Barents Sea, in protest at the firm’s exploration in the Arctic.

Russian authorities boarded the ship on September 19 and towed it to Murmansk.

Greenpeace says the authorities had no right to detain the Dutch-flagged ship in international waters.

Russian authorities initially accused the activists of carrying out illegal research, then charged them with piracy.

They then changed the piracy charge to hooliganism, an offence that can be punished by a maximum of seven years in prison. But Greenpeace said the piracy charge was never officially lifted.

Last month, Russian authorities also said the ship carried illegal drugs such as poppy straw and morphine, which Greenpeace denies.

The platform is located in Russia’s exclusive economic zone on the Arctic shelf, which means that most Russian laws do not apply there.


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Reddy aims to repay Arnold’s faith

In love with the game again: Liam Reddy. Photo: Simon BennettLiam Reddy accepts he can’t change the past, nor what anyone thinks of him. But he’s never been more determined to set things straight. It was only 18 months ago that Reddy had a brain explosion, one even he can’t quite get his head around.
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Dropped from the Sydney FC starting side and disaffected with the professional footballer’s lot, Reddy got drunk on a flight to Wellington before a preliminary final with the Phoenix.

Reddy, 32, accepts the stigma of what happened will linger for as long as he pulls on the gloves.

”That’s going to stay with me, I’ve got no doubt about that,” he said. ”But hopefully I can rectify that this year and they can start talking about my performance on the park rather than the last couple of years at Sydney. I’ve got to prove that I can be remembered for a guy that’s taken his second chance.”

Despite having a year to run on his contract, Sydney effectively tore up his deal and, with a glut of quality keepers in the A-League, Reddy was rendered virtually unemployable in Australia.

He ended up in Tehran but was scantly involved for Esteghlal. At rock bottom, Reddy joined NSW Premier League side Sydney United, where Mark Rudan had just taken charge. They went on to win the National Premier League, earning him a trial – and a contract – with Central Coast.

”They [Sydney United] took me in there, and that’s my junior club,” he said. ”I got back to enjoying football again because I probably hadn’t enjoyed football the last couple of years, and found my enjoyment and love for it again. Now I’ve come to a great club here with a great culture among the players. I’m fortunate that the club has given me an opportunity, and I’m hoping to repay them this year.”

The Mariners are the fifth A-League club Reddy has represented, after starting with Newcastle, followed by Brisbane for three seasons, Wellington for 12 games, then Sydney for two years.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold gave Reddy a chance to replace Justin Pasfield in Sunday’s match against Brisbane Roar after the latter’s howler in the F3 derby the previous week. He played a blinder – only denied a clean sheet by Kwame Yeboah’s last-minute cracker.

”I’ve been lucky. I’ve come off a good solid season at Sydney United, and finished with them in mid-September, and came straight into pre-season with these guys,” Reddy said. ”I feel sharp, and working with [Mariners’ goalkeeper coach] John Crawley has definitely added to my game and brought new things for me to learn.”

Arnold believes Reddy can make good on his promise. ”If he didn’t have any off-the-field problems at Sydney FC, he would still be their No.1 goalkeeper,” he said. ”He showed [against Brisbane] he’s got that quality.”

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Ryan Carters says Invitational XI ready to strike a blow

Ryan Carters in action against England during hteir last tour in 2010. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoRyan Carters believes the Australian Invitational XI can have a ”real crack” at England and attempt to inflict some psychological damage on the tourists ahead of the first Ashes Test.
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Canberra product Carters is one of several fringe players in the New South Wales squad who have been included, along with a handful of promising batsmen from around the country, for the four-day match at the SCG, starting Wednesday.

Australian limited-overs star Aaron Finch and former Test opener Ed Cowan headline an impressive batting line-up. The bowling stocks aren’t as strong, with the attack made up of NSW players left out of the Sheffield Shield squad.

England will be keen to gain some valuable match practice after rain interrupted last week’s hitout with Australia A in Hobart.

Carters believes this is the perfect opportunity to strike the first blow against England with just nine days to go before the first Ashes Test at the Gabba.

”Cricket Australia has selected a mixed team of the better first-class batsmen from around the country as well as members of the NSW squad to make up the XI,” he said. ”That shows they are looking to see how a few of the young batsmen go against the England bowling attack.

”Even though it’s a bit of a mixed bunch … we should gel pretty quickly and have a real crack at the English.”

It will be the second time Carters, 23, has faced England in the past three years. He produced a maiden half-century in his first-class debut the last time the old enemy visited these shores in 2010.

Carters made 68 playing for Victoria against an English bowling attack featuring Test contenders Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett.

The wicketkeeper-batsman donned the gloves for NSW in the shield opener, but has been squeezed out with the return of Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

And he knows a big score against England will enhance his chances in the first-class arena.

”It’s a really exciting opportunity to test my skills against some of the best bowlers in the world,” Carters said. ”I definitely learnt a lot from the last time I played against them, watching how guys like Bresnan and Tremlett bowled, and how they used reverse swing was really impressive.”

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