Monday, February 28, 2022

Constable Zachary Rolfe's murder trial told Kumanjayi Walker posed 'low threat' when second and third shots were fired

This is absurd and shows no awareness of the use of firearms in policing. The key point is that rapidly aimed fire from a handgun is not very likely to hit its target. Most shots will go wild. So the only way of being reasonably sure that the target is hit is to fire multiple rounds in close succession, which is exactly what Rolfe did.

It is easy to do armchair pontification about rights and wrongs after the event but the police are often confronted with a situation requiring split second decisions, which was the situation here. The root cause of the death was the deceased's hostility to the police, not the action of the police in response to it

It may be relevant that Const. Rolfe appears to be a little guy who would reasonably be particularly fearful of any physical confrontation

Biomechanical expert Andrew McIntosh on Friday gave evidence in the NT Supreme Court, where Constable Rolfe, 30, has pleaded not guilty to murder and two alternative charges over the fatal shooting in the remote community in November 2019.

Dr McIntosh was asked about the moments after Mr Walker began to struggle with Constable Rolfe and fellow officer Constable Adam Eberl, when the 19-year-old stabbed Constable Rolfe in the shoulder with a pair of medical scissors.

The first shot then fired by Constable Rolfe is not the subject of any charges, but prosecutors argue the second and third shots fired 2.6 and 0.5 seconds later were not legally justified because the threat posed by Mr Walker had been contained.

Dr McIntosh said the body-worn camera footage of the incident showed that after the first shot, Mr Walker and Constable Eberl fell onto a mattress on the floor.

As Mr Rolfe moved towards them with his gun drawn, Dr McIntosh said Constable Eberl could be seen putting his body weight on top of Mr Walker, who was lying on his right side.

Dr McIntosh said this meant Mr Walker's right arm, which was holding the scissors, would likely have been restricted in its movement range.

Under questioning from the prosecution, he agreed that when the second and third shots were fired, Mr Walker was not likely to be a "direct threat" to Constable Rolfe.

He agreed Mr Walker was likely to be a "low threat" to Constable Eberl, because his ability to deploy the scissors was impaired, as his arm was stuck beneath him.

"If you're using a weapon in your hand and your arm is pinned in that way, then it's very difficult to develop force with the weapon that you have because you can't accelerate your arm, reach any velocity, reach any momentum and exert a force onto someone else," Dr McIntosh said.

He said the degree of restriction depended on how much of Mr Walker's right arm was under his own body and that even if only the upper arm was pinned down, his movement would have been "greatly constrained".

Under cross-examination from the defence, Dr McIntosh agreed the body-worn camera footage never showed the extent of control Constable Eberl had on Mr Walker's right forearm, while he was lying on top of him.

Dr McIntosh also agreed that he had the "luxury of slowing down" the vision to make his analysis, which the officers were not able to do during the incident.

"Do you accept that the perception, or perspective, of both officers Eberl and Rolfe, may be quite different from your analysis?" defence barrister David Edwardson QC asked.

"Yes," Dr McIntosh replied.

Forensic pathologist Paull Botterill also took the stand on Friday and told the court the "overwhelming majority of stab and incised wounds" in the general community do not result in death.

But he said Mr Walker's scissors did have the potential to cause a life-threatening injury if they had struck a vulnerable part of the body at a sufficient force.

He added that if Mr Walker's arm movement was restricted, the likelihood of a lethal injury was slim.

"If the limb was not able to freely move, then the only way that an implement such as those scissors could have resulted in a serious life-threatening injury would be if there was movement of the other party, the police officer, up against that immobilised weapon," Dr Botterill said.

"And it's very unlikely to result in a potentially fatal injury."

At the end of Friday's proceedings Crown prosecutor Philip Strickland SC said he would call two more witnesses on Monday and expected to wrap up the prosecution's case on Tuesday morning.


High school principal sparks outrage for claiming 'better breeding' is needed to improve student grades

I think he was just saying that there is a limit to what schools can do. The real work needed has to be done in the home

A former high school principal has been slammed for suggesting 'better breeding' is required in order to improve students' grades at a NSW public school.

The acting principal at Lithgow High School had been in a meeting with the director of educational leadership in September 2020 when they made the accusation.

They were asked by the director: 'What will it take to move students from Band 4 to Band 5 in each HSC course?' to which they replied 'better breeding'.

Their contentious response, which was recorded in the minutes of the meeting, has been unearthed by One Nation MP Mark Latham, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Mr Latham condemned the 'slur' as 'nasty, elitist and condescending' to the people of Lithgow as well as the students enrolled at the school.

The MP stumbled upon the comment when reviewing documents about a School Excellence Policy, following a parliamentary call for papers.

Mr Latham said the 'nasty' slur was the last thing the Lithgow community needed as it entered an economic transition following a loss of jobs in the mining sector.

'Is this really how schools in Lithgow are being run? With elitist, condescending, nasty reflections on the breeding of this working class community? he said.

'These are leaders who are supposed to have effective ways of improving school results – yet instead they are sneering at the school community by saying there's something wrong with their breeding.'

The Department of Education has responded to concerns by launching a formal investigation into the comments.

Underneath the initial response of 'better breeding' the relieving principal goes on to suggest grades could be improved by choosing the correct maths course.

'We have the small numbers to allow students to push themselves to achieve mathematically in a higher course,' they wrote.

'This means we achieve bands 3 and 4 in Advanced courses rather than bands 5 in the Standard course. This gives our students more scope to access university courses.'

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she was 'shocked' that such a statement had come from a staff member.

While it is unclear who made the 'elitist' remark the department of education has stated it came from a former relieving principal at the school.

'The Department unreservedly apologises for the comment, which was inappropriate and doesn't reflect the standards we expect of our principals,' a spokesperson said.

'The comment was made by the then relieving principal, who is no longer in the role or teaching at any school.

'The matter was immediately addressed by the local director. It has been referred to the department's Professional and Ethical Standards Unit.'

Lithgow High School is located in the NSW Central Tablelands, about a three hour drive west from Sydney, and has close to 900 students enrolled.


Reporters swallow spin on coal power closures

Australian business journalists apparently missed some of the world’s biggest stories of the past year when they reported on last week’s $5bn bid by local billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and Canadian “alternative asset manager” Brookfield.

They did not link the bid and statements about bringing forward the end of AGL’s coal power generation to four months of European power shortages and soaring prices driven by a lack of wind power, nor to brownouts in California and Texas or even to Russian gas price extortion.

The body representing the transmission industry here, Energy Networks Australia, warned last Thursday week: “Increases in energy supply charges across the UK are cause for concern as almost 22 million households will see an average increase in their energy bill of 54 per cent from April.”

Yet only days later many at the Nine newspapers were starry-eyed about their local tech hero bidding for an old-fashioned power company so he could close down its coal-fired power generators earlier than AGL had already planned. They seemed to accept Cannon-Brookes and Brookfield were putting the planet before their pockets.

Reporters showed no sign they had heard about last week’s pact between Russia and China to shore up 100 million tonnes of coal a year for their mutual benefit, a deal announced the Friday before Monday morning’s AGL bid.

This paper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd summed it up perfectly, telling this column: “Mike says renewables freeloading off coal are cheaper so ipso facto, building five times as much renewables will be cheaper still.”

READ MORE:Is nature really at the centre of the ‘green dream’?|Reporters find it hard to tell truth about renewables
Kerry Schott, head of the Energy Security Board, could see no reason for the government to block the bid, writing in The Australian Financial Review online last Tuesday. Schott did not mention early coal closures would depend on storage technologies to firm the power grid when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine.

Yet she told PV magazine on May 4 last year: “I know a lot of people hate this but (it’s being proposed to) leave open some management of (coal station) exits so that we can actually keep the system going.

“As coal leaves the system it will be replaced by a mixture of pumped hydro and gas. In due course we will have hydrogen to complement the gas.”

Schott said in PV that big batteries were helpful for stabilising the grid but “as it stands they just aren’t a reliable capacity replacement”. Big batteries were about network frequency harmonisation, and their storage lasted a maximum of four hours.

Not much has been said about storage in the reporting of Mike’s excellent power adventure. Indeed, the bid scarcely mentions storage, although the word does appear in a response to AGL’s rejection of the $7.50 a share offer.

Mark Carney, vice-chair of Brookfield Asset Management, did however point to the reason this kind of deal is flourishing globally: “Energy transition will be one of the biggest investment opportunities of our lifetimes. It is estimated $US150 trillion will need to be invested globally through 2050 to drive the decarbonisation of energy markets.”

This column argued on October 18: “Investors are short-selling the fossil fuels industry because they can make more money on taxpayer-guaranteed renewables.” The transition is giving dictators in Moscow and Beijing a lever over the West that they could not have dreamt of. US President Joe Biden is playing into their hands right now, making it harder for gas pipeline companies to operate in the US.

In the UK it is possible only 10 companies of the 70 that supplied the electricity market a year ago will survive. Many in the UK want Britain to resume fracking and expand its North Sea oil drilling program.

Part of the problem around the world wherever the energy transition is advanced is the zealotry of environmentalists and their business and media acolytes who won’t admit renewables just don’t work well when demand for them is highest: at breakfast time, especially in winter while the sun is low and the wind calm, or at dinner time when the sun has gone.

They also hate admitting gas plants that can be turned on and off quickly are one of the most efficient ways of dealing with the intermittency problem.

Schott’s AFR piece argues the government has no need to worry about the AGL bid driving up prices. But speaking to this column on Thursday she did say AGL, and all other large suppliers, would be forced to rely more on gas when intermittent energy flows were low and that all the large suppliers would need pumped hydro.

“Particularly in Victoria, the state will need to build more gas and hydro dispatchable power,” Schott said.

Many in business and the media suggest storage batteries at the home, charged by rooftop solar during the day, may be the solution to firming the network. But just like state government subsidies for electric cars, this will involve the poor effectively paying more for power to subsidise those who can afford home battery storage.

Another preferred firming solution of the Energy Security Board is investing billions of dollars in extending transmission lines to help to offset geographical differences in wind and solar output on given days.

Schott told this column: “The way you deal with intermittency is first of all by having a lot of transmission to add renewable capacity and to use different regional weather patterns across the network. Typically if it’s not windy in northwest Victoria and South Australia, which have a similar wind system, it’s then very windy in New England. If you have more transmission lines when you have wind drought down south you can use more wind from Queensland and New England.”

So while the ESB has a plan to make the transition to renewables smooth and reliable it is not unreasonable for governments and large users such as the Tomago aluminium smelter in the NSW Hunter Valley to be concerned. When people such as Cannon-Brookes simply announce renewables are cheaper than coal, they are forgetting the tens of billions of dollars that will need to be spent on storage and new transmission lines, all of which will have to be paid for by consumers.

It is only the market design mechanism created in response to political decisions that has made coal uneconomical. Coal stations that run 24 hours a day cannot compete at five-minute bidding intervals with renewables, gas and hydro. Gas and hydro can be turned off when not used but large coal plants cannot.

Back to the real story about the AGL bid and coal closures. As Matthew Warren pointed out in Thursday’s AFR, AGL’s NSW and Victorian power stations, Bayswater and Loy Yang, are its most modern. Whatever Cannon-Brookes says and whoever owns AGL, these will be its last ones standing. AGL will need them for insurance so it can meet its contracts – lest it follow the UK suppliers down the tube.


Anti-mining green frauds not welcome in Central Qld

Robert Schwarten of the ALP

If the Greens think they can repeat Bob Brown’s stunt of bringing an anti-mining convoy to Central Queensland, they’ve got another thing coming, says Robert Schwarten.

Greens leader Adam Brandt says he will repeat green fraud Bob Brown’s stunt in Capricornia in bringing up a paid gaggle of misfits and no-hopers to protest mining in Central Queensland.

He is in for a rude shock if he expects the same reception. Here’s why.

In 2019, Labor candidates in CQ were instructed to ignore Brown and his convoy of paid parasites on the way to promote a public meeting hosted by the LNP in Clermont.

I actually paid for a large sign to put on my ute and parked at the northern entrance to the city. I authorised the wording, “Welcome Brown and your convoy of coal-fired hypocrites.”

Russell Robertson, the ALP candidate for Capricornia, received a call from someone in the campaign office telling him to get rid of the signage.

As Robertson did not have any involvement he did not comply. Some campaign flunky rang me and I impolitely told him where to go.

This time Labor’s message is clear. Coalminers are not criminals, coal is here for as long as the market says, our coal workers will not be put at risk by overseas miners undercutting their jobs and product quality.

I note that has displeased some of the keyboard job snobs who tut-tut about Labor endorsing coalminers as candidates.

Our party was formed on miners, shearers and other manual workers. It is still their party, the one that still stands up for workers’ rights, and the Tories are still those that oppose them. Rump parties are still the opportunistic oddballs they always were.

Anthony Albanese has had to campaign directly against the inner-city Greens to preserve his ­political hide. He is not going to ­sanction any meekness towards a Greens invasion into Labor votes here.

His message could not have been clearer last time he was in Rocky: “Capricornia needs a coalmine ­worker in Canberra.”

He pointed to the number of times current LNP member Michelle Landry had voted down legislation aimed at improving the lot of workers. Casualisation, penalty rates, mine safety and wage parity were just a few points he raised.

Given that Australians are generally waking up to these impostors it is likely the vote will come down further.

The truth is, Labor has a proud record of achievement on environmental ­reforms. Brown big-noted himself on saving the Franklin River in ­Tasmania, but that was the Hawke Labor government.

Brown was merely the protester. The protectors were the Labor MPs who voted to save it.

The Greens voted (with the LNP and One Nation) to sink the Labor Carbon Trading scheme a decade ago. Every bit of carbon thrown into the air since then is theirs.

The Greens have never saved anything. They have never had to put up a Budget, much less a serious policy.

The billboards are awash up here with desperate statements from the LNP of a green alliance with Labor.

Reality is with polling pointing to a Labor lead the numbers mean it will be the LNP, which may well be trying to cobble together One Nation, the Katters and every other ratbag rump if they want to keep their hands in the public till.

Mining is not the conversation piece it was last time. Skills shortages, house prices, the lack of rental ­accommodation, nursing home workers’ pay are just to pick a few.

The sports rort issue is hotting up too as impoverished clubs want to know where their money is.

Petrol prices and interest rates are hot topics – the cost of meat in the beef capital is at an all-time high. That wages are not keeping pace is also being felt and talked about.

Adam Brandt and his other ­impostors take note. Whichever way you come into CQ, you will be met with a Labor-led protest.




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