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May, 2019

Whitsundays resort given green light

The $583 million redevelopment of Queensland’s Lindeman Island has been approved.A new resort planned for a long-dormant island in the Whitsundays will help revitalise the region after repeated natural disasters, the Queensland government says.
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The $583 million overhaul of the Lindeman Island resort has been on the cards since 2012, when Chinese media mogul William Han bought the wrecked site for $12 million in the wake of cyclone Yasi.

The Whitsundays region has since been hit again by cyclone Debbie in 2017, causing millions of dollars in direct damage and bringing about problems for the important tourism industry in the area.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick said resorts like Lindeman Island were key to ensuring the region fully recovered from the lingering effects of natural disasters.

“This project has the potential to deliver $100 million in value-adding to the local economy each year once it’s completed,” Mr Dick told reporters on Wednesday.

“This sort of investment is a real signal that we’re open for business, we’re open for investment, and we want our tourism and other industries to grow in Queensland.”

Pending some final approvals, the project is scheduled to start work in 2019 for completion in 2022.

It had faced backlash from local environment groups over plans to resume around 35 hectares of national park on the island as part of the resort development.

However Mr Dick said Mr Han’s company White Horse had since given assurances they wouldn’t have to do that, and have instead agreed to strict environmental conditions ensuring any land disturbed by the development be restored afterwards.

The resort will also not require the construction of an additional harbour as originally planned, which might have disturbed a nearby coral reef.

The project is estimated to generate 300 direct full-time equivalent jobs on the island as well as up to 460 full-time equivalent direct and indirect ongoing jobs in the Mackay region.

Around 550 guests will be able to stay at the resort once it’s completed, and features will include restaurants and a golf course.

Australian Associated Press

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Aust-first treaty laws in Vic parliament

Traditional land owners and Victorian politicians welcomed Australia’s first Aboriginal treaty laws.Traditional land owners sat alongside Victoria’s political leaders as Australia’s first Aboriginal treaty laws were introduced to state parliament.
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The first bill of its kind in Australia, Victoria is following in the footsteps of New Zealand and Canada in seeking a treaty between the government and first people.

“We all know that at the Commonwealth level, the Statement of the Heart – the Uluru Statement – that was rejected,” Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher told reporters outside parliament on Wednesday.

“We can be leaders in this not only in this country but in the world.”

Treaty working group chair Mick Harding and Ms Gallagher spoke about the bill in the lower house on Wednesday.

Mr Harding praised the proposal as “beautiful” and performed a traditional song to resounding applause, while Ms Gallagher said it was a step to “right the wrongs”.

“Let there be no mistake, there were crimes against humanity committed on our people in this country,” she said.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Natalie Hutchins said the government was “really walking the walk” towards achieving self determination for Aboriginal Victorians.

The bill will establish a representative body made up of 30 traditional owners by mid-2019, who will design a negotiations framework and create a fund to support groups who seek treaties with the state.

But the Greens, along with some Aboriginal Victorians are unhappy with the government’s approach.

Northcote MP Lidia Thorpe said the body slated to negotiate treaty is not inclusive enough and government must speak to clan representatives.

Elders Alma Thorpe, Lidia’s grandmother, and Beryl Booth at times were visibly upset in the gallery as the bill was discussed.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy told reporters on Wednesday morning the coalition in the past has opposed a treaty.

Debate on the bill continues.

Australian Associated Press

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Facebook rapist Andrew James Benn pleads guilty

Newcastle courthouse. IT usually started with a Facebook friend request.
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Or a match on Tinder.

And then Andrew James Benn, 28, of Rothbury, would organise to meet up with his new “friend” for a date or to go for a drive.

But what started out as a friendship or consensual sexual activity soon became far more sinister as Benn forced himself on his victims, held them down and ignored their pleas for him to stop.

Between 2012 and 2017, Benn raped or indecently assaulted 14 victims, mostly teenage girls or young women, who he met using social media.Benn, represented by solicitor John Anthony, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from Parklea Correctional Centre where he pleaded guilty to more than 30 charges, including 21 counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

He faces the prospect of decades behind bars when he is sentenced later this year in Newcastle District Court.

In 2012, when Benn was 23, he twice had sex with a girl when shewas 15 and then 16.

After the second time the girl left her iPod in his car and Benn used it to try and blackmail her into committing more sexual acts on him.

“Sex three times a week for a month and let me do whatever I want to u,” Benn wrote to the girl when she asked what she had to do for him to return her iPod.

Later, when the girl said she didn’t want her iPod back, Benn said he would upload embarrassing and sensitive photographs of the girl online.

“You do realise that’s child [pornography],” the girl wrote. “And you will get in a lot of trouble. “You know I can charge you with rape?”

Benn replied: “Cool”.

In 2013, a 17-year-old girl received a Facebook friend request from Benn and, after a few weeks of chatting, the pair decided to meet up.

Benn was supposed to drive the girl into Newcastle, but instead went to a boat ramp at Morpeth where he raped her in the backseat.

When a few other cars arrived, he drove to the Morpeth cemetery where he again sexually assaulted the girl.

After sexually assaulting another girl in 2016, Benn warned her off calling the police.

“What happened tonight never leaves this room,” Benn told the girl.

“If the police come knocking on my door, my friends will come knocking on yours. “My friends are in the Hells Angels and they can make you disappear.”

Benn was arrested and charged in January, 2017, after two teenage girls and three women contacted police to say he had sexually assaulted them.

Publicity of his arrest and the charges prompted more women to come forward and Benn was ultimately charged with 60 offences.

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Aldi customer saves the day after alleged robbery

A man who allegedly stole $300out of a cash register at Aldi Maitland has been charged after he was apprehended by a customer while trying to flee.
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Police said the 21-year-old man asked acheckout employee for change, but when the staff member opened the till the man allegedly reached in and pulled out a wad of cash.

A customer noticed the incident and blocked the path to the store exit before another customer grabbed the man, causing him to drop the money.

Centre security was contacted and provided assistance until police arrived to arrest the man.

The 21-year-old man was taken to Maitland Police station where he wascharged with stealing.

He was granted conditional bail to appear before Maitland Local Court on April 11.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Vic union bosses fail blackmail appeal bid

John Setka and another CFMEU official have failed to get blackmail charges dismissed (file).Two Victorian union officials have failed in their bid to have blackmail charges dismissed by the Court of Appeal, and are now likely to head to the High Court.
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CFMEU state secretary John Setka and assistant secretary Shaun Reardon have been fighting to avoid going to trial over the charges.

It is alleged the pair blackmailed Boral chiefs Paul Dalton and Peter Head in April 2013, urging CFMEU members to stop using Boral products if the concrete supplier refused to meet union demands.

Setka and Reardon applied to the Court of Appeal to stop Melbourne Magistrates Court holding a committal hearing, claiming they had an immunity under competition law.

However on Wednesday, Court of Appeal Justices Mark Weinberg, David Beach and Emilios Kyrouthat decided immunity did not apply to the blackmail charges.

They also ordered Setka and Reardon pay the magistrates court’s costs for the appeal.

Setka and Reardon’s application to the Court of Appeal came after they lost a Supreme Court bid in August to overturn the charges.

During that hearing, they claimed the alleged offences were not criminal acts, but had occurred in the context of an industrial dispute.

The men have indicated they are now likely to take their appeal to the High Court.

Neither Setka nor Reardon were present at Wednesday’s hearing, although Setka’s partner, Slater & Gordon’s national union services manager Emma Walters, did attend.

Following the hearing, the case was returned to Melbourne Magistrates Court, where a committal hearing was set by magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg for May 7.

The matter is scheduled to last for 13 days, although this time frame may change.

Lawyer Neil Clelland QC appeared on behalf of the two men, telling Mr Rozencwajg that Gordon Legal had taken the case over from Slater & Gordon.

Australian Associated Press

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