Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Multicultural murder shocks quiet Australian country town  --and me

This murder happened in the same part of the world that I come from and affects people of the sort that I grew up with.  I know the places concerned, even such obscure ones as Feluga.  This matter has therefore given me much grief.  I would burn the offender to death if I could.  I know the sort of farming family she comes from.  Lovely people.  To think that such a treasure as her is lost at the hands of a scum "refugee" is hard to bear.  Africans tend to be very pushy towards women and get aggressive when rejected  -- JR

HOMICIDE detectives swooped on Jo La Spina’s accused killer on Sunday, concerned that he was about to leave Sydney.  Musa Ngwira, a crocodile tour guide of South Mission Beach, was arrested by New South Wales police at his girlfriend’s home in Cronulla about 4pm on Sunday.

The 31-year-old, of African descent, faced Sydney Central Court yesterday on an arrest warrant charged with one count of murder.

Magistrate Jacqueline Trad confirmed the extradition in Sutherland Local Court yesterday with Ngwira to return to Queensland this morning.

Four detectives flew from far north Queensland to continue the high-profile investigation into the alleged slaying of rafting guide Ms La Spina, 26, in a Bingil Bay townhouse, south of Cairns on Easter Saturday.

Officers plan to extradite the accused on a flight back to Cairns tomorrow in a key breakthrough into the death that has shattered the tight-knit far-north tropical tourist haven of Mission Beach.

Lead investigator Acting Inspector Kevin Goan said detectives pounced on the alleged offender over fears he was about to move on.  Police had been tracking his movements ever since he was released from two days in police custody last Monday.

NSW Police homicide squad detectives had Ngwira under surveillance as a team of Queensland detectives waited on DNA and forensic tests, a post-mortem, CCTV footage and witness statements.


More background

JO LA Spina was alone and asleep by herself when she was brutally slain in a “targeted” attack.

Police yesterday revealed the 26-year-old rafting guide was in an upper bedroom of a Bingil Bay townhouse south of Cairns and had not been ­“intimate” with anyone on the Good Friday night she was killed.

Spoken of by friends as sweet, pure and a beautiful soul, her murder has sent shock waves through her tight-knit rafting crew.

On the night of the attack, La Spina and a group of friends had dinner, went dancing, lit a campfire on the beach, and walked back to the nearby townhouse to sleep, but just hours later, evil struck.

Police will only say the suspect is a “dark-skinned male”.

Deeper background

To say her death has rocked the small community is an understatement as they grieve for the former Tully State School student, who came from a well-known and respected local farming family.

She went to Blackheath and Thornburgh College in Charters Towers for high school, graduating in 2005, then lived in Cairns and Townsville before coming back to Feluga, where her family live, to work as a photographer for rafting company Raging Thunder.

“She was a likable, bubbly, friendly girl,” Acting Insp. Goan said.

Nauru to put five year limit on stay of refugees

Asylum seekers on Nauru who are found to be refugees have been told they will be resettled on the island for five years where they will be given work rights and the opportunity to establish their own businesses.

A document leaked to the Guardian from the Nauruan government says people found to be refugees will be resettled for a maximum of five years where they will have working rights. The maximum settlement period leaves it likely refugees will need to be resettled in a third country such as Cambodia, which is also looking likely to sign a deal with Australia to accept refugees.

The decisions on whether asylum seekers have been found to be refugees will be handed down in the "coming weeks" the document said. There are currently 1177 people in detention centres on Nauru.

The government will also support refugees wanting to establish their own businesses, if the type of business "does not already exist in Nauru", but only for a maximum of five years.

"You will need to apply for a business licence from the government of Nauru and the process for this will be explained to you by your settlement case worker," the document says.

It comes as Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Fairfax Media he was trying to expand the "club" of nations willing to take refugees, regardless of their economic capacity, suggesting that Cambodia was a step closer to taking refugees as a resettlement country once the temporary resettlement deal has expired on Nauru.

"Without mentioning names, when you have a country that’s willing to be engaged in it, an experienced country that is willing to sponsor it and a third country that is a signatory country like Nauru that is also party to all of this ... That would seem to be a positive thing and something that should be encouraged," Mr Morrison said last week.

But the Interior Minister of Cambodia, Sar Kheng told the Phnom Pehn Post that nothing had been decided, and negotiations were still on the table.

“As of now we have not decided yet,” Kheng told reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. “It is being [considered], but no decision has been made at all.”


Education Minister Christopher Pyne: set universities 'free' to create a US-style system

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has given his strongest sign yet the Abbott government will extend taxpayer funds to for-profit universities in a bid to cultivate a US-style college system in Australia.

In a speech to a London think tank on Monday night, Mr Pyne said a new wave of deregulation was needed to stop Australia's universities falling behind the rest of the world.

The speech follows the release two weeks ago of the Kemp-Norton review, which recommended federal funding for private universities, TAFEs and other non-university higher education providers.

Although Universities Australia initially warned the idea represents a "huge gamble" with potentially "devastating consequences", some of Australia's most influential vice-chancellors support the proposal. They include the University of Melbourne's Glyn Davis, the University of NSW's Fred Hilmer and La Trobe University's John Dewar.

TAFEs and the private education sector have also welcomed the review.

While not announcing the government's official response to the review, Mr Pyne strongly hinted the government would adopt the recommendation in the May budget.

"I can assure you unreservedly that the Coalition government will continue to take steps to set higher education providers free, provide them with more autonomy and challenge them to map out their futures according to their strengths," he said.

"We are at risk of being left behind. We need a renewed ambition and it must be bold … Our answer will be, above all, to set our universities free."

Regulation by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency would ensure that quality is maintained, he said.

Mr Pyne said he was alarmed only one Australian university, the University of Melbourne, is in the top 50 in the world, according to the latest Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings. While seven Australian universities went backwards in the rankings last year, Asian universities are storming up the leader board. Eight of the top 10 were US universities.

"We have much to learn about universities competing for students and focusing on our students," he said. "Not least, we have much to learn about this from our friends in the United States."

Mr Pyne said the US college system offers students more choice, encourages competition and foments a culture of philanthropy.

Mr Pyne did not outline how the government would fund the expansion of Commonwealth-supported places to the private sector. One option would be backing the elite universities' call for a deregulation of university fees so students in high-quality, high-income degrees pay more for their education. Another would be reforming the student loans scheme to recover outstanding debts from students who move overseas or who die, as recommended by the Grattan Institute.

Professor Dewar said: "I don’t think the sector has anything to fear from more competition in the market."

But he said universities – which conduct research as well as teach – should receive more government funding than teaching-only colleges.

"There should be a recognition that universities have costs above and beyond our counterparts in the private sector," he said.


Ben and Jerry's ice cream hurting reef: Qld govt

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has been hauled over the coals by the Queensland government for supporting WWF’s "propaganda" save the reef campaign.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell wants Australians to boycott the American company, saying they’ve damaged the reputation of the reef and jeopardised jobs and tourism dollars.

"Another company has signed up to the campaign of lies and deceit that’s been propagated by WWF," Mr Powell said.  "The only people taking a scoop out of the reef is Ben and Jerry’s and Unilever.  "If you understand the facts, you’d want to be boycotting Ben and Jerry’s."

The minister says he’d be writing to parent company Unilever to express concerns and brief them on the truth.

Earlier this month, Ben and Jerry’s withdrew popular flavour Phish Food because of its allusion to fishfood, as a way of drawing attention to the potential damage to the reef.

They also embarked on a road trip around parts of Australia, giving out free ice cream to highlight their concerns over damage to the reef.

They say the reef is at serious risk of destruction from intensive dredging and dumping, mega-ports and shipping highways.

The brand has championed environmental causes in its 35-year history, including opposing drilling in the Arctic, and says it’s a proud supporter of WWF’s campaign.

"Ben & Jerry’s believes that dredging and dumping in world heritage waters surrounding the marine park area will be detrimental to the reef ecology," Australia brand manager Kalli Swaik said.  "It threatens the health of one of Australia’s most iconic treasures."

The Queensland and federal governments in January approved the dumping of three million cubic metres of dredge spoil in the marine park and World Heritage area to enable the Abbot Point coal port expansion.

The government says 70 per cent of the spoil is expected to settle on the seabed.

WWF fears spoil could get caught in currents and smother or poison reefs just 40km away.

CEO Dermot O’Gorman says Ben and Jerry’s involvement reflects the concern of people around the world about how the reef is being managed.  "Ben & Jerry’s’ tour is a timely reminder that the world expects the Queensland and Australian governments to lift their game," he said.

UNESCO is due to meet in June to consider the Australian government’s progress in improving the management of the reef.

It’s due to decide this year or next whether to list the reef as a world heritage site in danger.


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