Monday, April 04, 2016

Still no closure in murder of schoolgirl Leanne Holland

The refusal to take this case further is a shocking case of police petulance.  Here is what may lie behind that:

"The Crime and Misconduct Commission continues to probe Detective Senior-Sergeant Graham Richards, the officer who arrested and charged Stafford for the brutal slaying. Sgt Richards was last month identified as one of four officers at the centre of an investigation by the CMC over alleged improper relationships between prisoners and police. Sgt Richards, the officer in charge of Rockhampton CIB, has been stood down pending the outcome of that investigation"

And there's this:

"A PETITION seeking to pardon convicted killer Graham Stafford will point the finger at three men suspected of Leanne Holland's murder. Stafford's legal team is preparing documents containing new evidence to present to the Governor, Quentin Bryce, in a bid to clear Stafford, 43, of the killing of the 12-year-old in 1991. The petition will focus on three men. Two are serving life sentences for unrelated murders. The third was released from jail in 2003 after serving seven years for rape"

So the police claim that a wrongfully convicted man is the only suspect is just wrong.  What seems to be driving them is embarrassment about how badly the initial investigation that led to the wrongful conviction was carried out.  There was shocking negligence in both the investigation and the prosecution.

If the matter were taken further and the real culprit were identified they would face huge criticism.  Interstate police should be brought in to mount a new investigation

THE man who went to trial over the murder of schoolgirl Leanne Holland has called for a coronial inquest into her death, despite police saying he is the only suspect.

Graham Stafford, 52, told The Sunday Mail an inquest would give answers into the death of the 12-year-old Goodna girl who was murdered in 1991.

Leanne’s body was found partly naked and dumped in bushland in Redbank Plains, about 10km from her home.

Mr Stafford, who at the time was dating Leanne’s sister Melissa, served 14 years’ jail before his 1992 murder conviction was quashed. He has always maintained his innocence.

“I have no fears what would be dug up in a coroner’s inquest,” Mr Stafford told The Sunday Mail.

“Unfortunately, Terry (Leanne’s father) is no longer with us and I don’t think Melissa has ever given a response so I don’t know what her feelings are (about an inquest).”

After Mr Stafford’s conviction was quashed in 2009, the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial but the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions refused.

A 2012 police report found there was enough evidence to send him back to trial. However, the DPP ruled it out and said it was not in the public interest.

Former attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie then sought independent legal advice which found there was basis for prosecution but it was not worth pursuing charges.

Mr Stafford said police had refused to release the 2012 report through a Right to Information request, stating it was legally privileged, and he had since lodged an appeal.

“They have what they claim is the opportunity to take me back to court and bolster the case, and they don’t even want to discuss it,” Mr Stafford said.

“The taxpayers paid for this report. It took them close to three years for them to come up with it and now it just conveniently passes away.”

A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said any request for an inquest should comply with the Coroners Act 1958 and detail the reasons to justify holding it.

“I understand no such request has been made,” she said.


Anti-Islam banner displayed at football match in Melbourne

The banner is entirely reasonable if you have read the Koran.  The Jihadis are just doing what the Koran commands.  So a Muslim just has to become more religiously motivated to wage jihad.  And hatred of Western civilization repeatedly preached in the mosques is a major influence in pushing young Muslims to Jihad.  So the Muslim population as a whole is the problem.  Any one of them at any time could decide to wage murderous Jihad against us.  Many have done so in the past and many will do so in the future.

We should be entitled to protect ourselves from such a menace. Pretending that Islam is a religion of peace makes ostriches look alert.  Brussels is the seat of the EU which has parceled out million to Muslims, including great gobs of cash to Palestinian terrorists. Did this blood money buy Belgium any goodwill?

Leader of the United Patriots Front Blake Cottrell has appeared in a video to explain the controversial reason why members of the extreme far-right political group held up a banner emblazoned with 'Stop The Mosques' at an AFL match.

Mentioning the Lindt Cafe siege and the shooting of Parramatta police worker Curtis Cheng, Mr Cottrell said in the video he is 'concerned about the future' of Australia and called for the removal of 'places of worship and segregated communities for a foreign power which [don't] like us.'

The anti-Islamic banner was unfurled during the second quarter Collingwood-Richmond match at the MCG in Melbourne on Friday night with a prominent United Patriots Front logo.

'You think i'm peddling fear? I'm concerned about the future of my country and I'm realistic about the people being brought into this country - that they aren't like us and never will be like us,' Mr Cottrell said in the video.

Following the stunt, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire calling for those responsible to be banned from attending games.  'If they have anything to do with our club, they'll be banned,' he said.

In the video, Mr Cottrell claimed the group used the banner to make 'a set of predictions' about how the AFL would react to the stunt.  'It's the left wing progressives that spread fear of social and financial strangulation if the people don't do what they ask and even the AFL is subject to them is under their control,' he said.

A video taken at the match and posted to the UPF Facebook page with the caption 'Rise Without Fear' shows the banner being hoisted up below one of the MCG's large LED screens. 

The AFL issued a statement saying the actions 'no place in society' and the league would also work with police.

'Match-day security removed the banner when they became aware of it and evicted the patrons responsible.

The UPF campaign heavily against Islamic immigration, proposed mosques and halal food.

The group regularly post videos and images to their Facebook page to promote their slogans and messages that primarily discriminates against Muslims.


March temperatures sets record as hottest ever, Bureau of Meteorology says

As Australia is in the South Pacific, it is a bullseye for El Nino -- and this is a strong El Nino that demonstrably pushed up 2015 temps up all by itself.  CO2 levels were static (they just oscillated around 400ppm) for the whole of 2015 according to Mauna Loa.   So the caution expressed below is commendable: "Climate change is thought to be adding to the unusual heat".  No harm in thinking

You could be forgiven for not noticing the end of summer — March was a hot one.

Information released by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) indicated it was the hottest March on record, reaching 1.7 degrees Celsius above the long-term average.

This eclipsed the 1986 record of 1.67 degrees above the average, BoM said in its monthly climate report.

The unusual heat was particularly noticed in the Top End, where the failure of the monsoon allowed temperatures to creep up.

This, coupled with a high pressure system off the east coast of Australia, caused a heatwave strong enough to prompt BoM to issue a special climate statement about the phenomenon.

March 2 became Australia's hottest day on record. Averaged across the country, it reached a top of 38 degrees Celsius.

There was no relief overnight either with minimum overnight temperatures the warmest ever, smashing the 1983 record by 0.83 degrees.

The hot March came on the back of the hottest February globally, and the hottest year for 2015.

A strong El Nino weather pattern prevailed at the start of the year, which has traditionally been associated with hotter weather.  Although the El Nino is weakening, the heat effects are expected to persist for a few more months.

Climate change is thought to be adding to the unusual heat.

The scorching start to 2016 prompted Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel to warn that the world was "losing the battle" against climate change.


Labor's hypocrisy over shipbuilding

Defence Minister Marise Payne has accused Labor of extreme hypocrisy over shipbuilding, insisting the opposition never placed a single ship order during six years in government.

It comes after leader Bill Shorten challenged the federal government to commit to building submarines in Australia, accusing it of abandoning blue-collar workers.

'It is hypocritical in the extreme and they should be exposed for the absolute hypocrites that they are,' Senator Payne told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.

Addressing a shipbuilders' rally in Adelaide, Mr Shorten criticised coalition MPs for not having the 'intestinal fortitude' to make a commitment.  He said he was gravely concerned Australia would see the demise of manufacturing in Australia if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was re-elected later this year.

Labor was committed to supporting the building and maintenance of submarines in South Australia, supporting a continuous build until the submarine contracts came online, he said.

'This submarine battle is not just about the submarines,' he told Saturday's rally. 'It's actually about do we want to be a country that makes things in Australia?'

Mr Shorten argued the prime minister was too focused on his own job - rather than the issues faced by the manufacturing industry.

Senator Payne in March confirmed Spanish shipbuilder Navantia had been selected as the preferred tenderer to construct urgently needed replacements of replenishment vessels HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius.

The decision sparked outrage from Labor and shipbuilders, angry that shipbuilding dollars were being sent overseas while Australia's own industry was on life support.  Mr Shorten said it was a 'terrible decision', vowing to make manufacturing and jobs a core election issue.


BOOM: Australian manufacturing hits a 12-year high

So much for the "the demise of manufacturing in Australia"

Activity levels across Australia’s manufacturing sector expanded at the their fastest pace in over a decade in March.

The Ai Group manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) jumped by 4.6 points to 58.1, leaving the index at the highest level seen since April 2004.

The PMI measures changes in activity levels from one month to the next, with 50 signifying that activity levels were unchanged from one month earlier. At 58.1, this signals that manufacturing activity levels are not only expanding, but roaring higher.

Even excluding the fact the series tends to be volatile, the series’ three-month average — a better gauge of the overall trend — rose to 54.4, a level not seen since June 2010.

While a far smaller industry that which it once was, this is a good sign that Australia’s economic transition is gathering momentum, fitting with recent improvements in recent business indicators.

Like the headline reading, the internal composition of the March report was equally impressive.

Production and employment expanded strongly while new orders and exports, lead indicators for future demand, jumped by 9.3 points and 3.5 points to 61.7 and 57.2 respectively.

The table below, supplied by the Ai Group, reveals the impressive internal details. The sub-indices use three-month moving averages, providing a better guide to the overall trend in each.

By sector, five of eight saw activity levels improve from one month earlier with the largest — food, beverages and tobacco — jumping 9.3 points to 71.0, marking the fastest expansion seen in the history of the survey.

Understandably, Innes Willox, CEO of the Ai Group, was impressed with the result.

“Growth in manufacturing production, sales, employment, exports and new orders fueled a surge in March,” said Willox. “Significantly, the important machinery and equipment subsector, which has been buffeted by the step-down in mining investment and the fading auto assembly sector, moved out of contraction in March for the first time in more than four years.”

Willox suggests the lower Australian dollar has played a major role in the recovery, seeing activity levels expand for the past nine months, the longest stretch seen since 2006.

“The strong manufacturing performance and its expansionary run since the middle of 2015 are in large part due to the boost provided by the lower Australian dollar,” he said.

“Even though the dollar has appreciated quite strongly since mid-January, the local currency is still close to 30 per cent lower against the US dollar and almost 20 per cent lower against the Trade Weighted Index compared with three years ago.”

“The positive impacts of this depreciation have taken some time to accumulate as businesses have become more confident that it will be sustained. With momentum positive and new orders growing strongly, the positive trend appears to have some way to run.”

Of course, the Australian dollar has appreciated significantly over the past month, providing a test to the sector should it be sustained for a considerable period of time.

“The sharp lift in the value of the Australian dollar over the past two and a half months will test some manufacturers and, if maintained, can be expected to slow the pace of recovery over the months ahead,” said Willox.

Market attention will now turn to the Ai Group’s services and construction PMI reports that will be released next week. Should those significantly larger sectors show a similar improvement, it suggests that Australia’s economic rebalancing is gathering pace.


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