Thursday, September 02, 2021

An African horror in Brisbane

Ten youths aged 15 to 19 have been charged with attempted murder following an alleged gang assault that has left a Brisbane boy on life support and triggered fears of retaliation attack.

The boy, 17, remains on life support in hospital after the assault at the weekend in Railway Terrace, Milton.

Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming said the victim was of African heritage and was gravely ill in hospital.

“He is unconscious, he is in a coma, he has life threatening head injuries,” he said.

Police allege the boy was assaulted while he slept by up to 12 people about 3am last Saturday.

Det Supt Fleming said there were 12 people of interest in the investigation, who he said were also African, with their ages ranging from 15 to 19.

Police say a group of people rented an apartment at a Milton apartment last Friday and there was a social gathering before many left.

At 3.15 the following morning a group of 12 people arrived and were let into the apartment.

“We will allege that while in the apartment this group of young men violently and viciously assaulted the victim,” Det Supt Fleming said.

“We will allege the incident was a cowardly attack by a group upon a young defenceless man.”

Most of the alleged offenders lived in western suburbs in Brisbane, near the border with Ipswich, and some in central south Brisbane.

“These young people, we will allege identify with that geographic western suburbs of south Brisbane,” he said.

Supt Fleming described the alleged attack as abhorrent.

“In terms of motive, the reasons for the crime on Saturday morning are still to be determined,” Supt Fleming said.

“But we suspect there is some form of potential retaliation between two groups of these young people.

“But the reason for that could never justify what has been done to the victim.”

Det Supt Fleming said some of the people allegedly involved had labelled themselves as members of a gang.

“Some of the young people involved label themselves as being members of a gang and in any common language demonstrating the attributes of a gang,” he said.

Det Supt Fleming said “some people had spoken on the quiet” to police that they feared there could be retaliation.

“It looks like the people we will allege are involved in this are part of a group, a gang,” he said.

“I’m not going to name the gang. And the reason I’m not going to name the gang is because we know from experience overseas, particularly in the United States, is that once you start doing that you risk this becoming tit-for-tat and some sort of notoriety for these young people.”

He said there were was no organisation or structure to the group.

But police will allege they came together and committed the assault before leaving together.

“I encourage people if that (thoughts of retaliation) is happening, to stop,” Det Supt Fleming said.

“We will work hand in hand with the African community if that is happening.

“A young man through no fault of his own lies in ICU in a critical condition.”

Police have set up an incident centre at the Brisbane City police station.

Det Supt Fleming said there is no threat to the community.


Children as young as three developing nervous tics during lockdown, doctors say

There are growing concerns for the toll lockdowns are having on teenagers, but those as young as three are also developing symptoms of anxiety.

Australians are more concerned about job losses and their mental health than the health implications of COVID-19, according to a landmark survey. The survey conducted by YouGov and News Corp reveals Australians’ attitudes towards the pandemics and lockdowns are shifting. Associate Editor at The Australian…
Children as young as three are developing nervous tics and sleep apnoea during Melbourne’s sixth Covid-19 lockdown, according to doctors.

Clinical psychologist Andy Prodromidis said he had noticed at least a 50 per cent jump in the number of parents struggling with the latest lockdown.

He said there was an increased risk of children experiencing “vicarious trauma” this time around, with many as young as three wetting the bed more frequently and developing nervous tics such as twitching, eye blinking and lip biting.

“Limited social contact can impair children’s development and, in some cases, contribute to significant emotional and behavioural problems that may require professional help,” he said.

“Many parents have reported struggling with a variety of issues including reduced income, job losses and uncertainty about the future.”

“This can have a negative impact on young children who are exposed to significant stress and anxiety in their parents.”

Dr Prodromidis said the true impact of lockdowns on children would not be known for “many years to come”. “What kids need now, more than ever, is social connection, and anything that can help in this regard is a positive thing,” he said.

“It’s very important for families to try and stay connected and for kids to keep in touch with family and friends, be physically active and get a good night’s sleep.”

Children have been particularly hit by the latest swath of lockdown restrictions, with health officials enforcing a ban on playgrounds as the Covid-19 Delta variant sweeps through the younger population.

Of the state’s 841 active Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, 182 were aged up to nine, 125 were aged between 10-19 years and 177 were aged between 20-29.

Paediatrician Dr Luke Sammartino has also noticed an uptick in toddler-aged children suffering during this lockdown, which has been in place since August 5 and has just been extended beyond September 2. “I have seen many children with symptoms of acute anxiety and especially the onset of nervous tics,” he said.

“Our kids are becoming increasingly distressed. Our children know that something is going on even if we are not talking with them about Covid. “They miss their friends and extended family, they see the news and other screens and they are frustrated.”

There are growing concerns of the toll the lockdowns are having on teenagers, with chief psychiatrist Neil Coventry reporting hospitals are dealing with a significant increase in the number and severity of young people self-harming.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to make announcements on Wednesday about a plan that would ease lockdown rules modestly once “new thresholds” of low case numbers are met.

The Premier hinted that VCE students and “senior cohorts” would be included in upcoming restriction changes, but schools would not resume classroom learning.


Delay to removal of flammable cladding from NSW apartment buildings

A state government project to remove flammable cladding from apartment towers has been put on hold until next year, with the NSW Building Commissioner blaming the COVID-19 lockdown for the delay.

Some 239 apartment buildings – most of which are in Sydney – housing thousands of residents have been deemed high-risk and are under orders to remove combustible cladding.

The government originally planned for work to start on removing cladding from the first building late this year, as part of a remediation project it wants to be completed by late 2023.

Smoke billows from a 20-storey apartment building on fire in Milan in northern Italy on Sunday.
Smoke billows from a 20-storey apartment building on fire in Milan in northern Italy on Sunday.CREDIT:AP

NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler, however, has told industry groups the regulator expects work to start on remediating the first buildings in February.

Mr Chandler, whose office is overseeing Project Remediate, said design work, and deciding the order of the first buildings to have cladding removed, was expected to begin as soon as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

“We estimate the project is between four and six weeks behind schedule. But we are on track to begin assessment and triage works in the coming months, and remediation works will commence straight after the traditional summer break in the trades industries,” he said.

There are no reports of anybody injured in the fire in a 20-story residential building.

“COVID-19 has impacted the construction industry and how we can operate through lockdown.”

The government’s timeline for replacing dangerous cladding from buildings deemed at high risk has come under attack from Labor and the Greens, which have accused it of acting too slowly.

The latest delay comes almost seven years after a fire in Melbourne’s Lacrosse apartment tower, which was fuelled by combustible cladding, revealed the dangers of materials used on high-rise buildings across the country.

The Grenfell Tower blaze in London in 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people, further heightened concerns worldwide.

Greens MP David Shoebridge, who is chairing another parliamentary inquiry into building standards, said the program had been “under funded and under prioritised” by the Coalition government.

“More than four years on from Grenfell, we still don’t have a single piece of cladding removed as part of Project Remediate,” he said.

Mr Chandler said flammable cladding was a worldwide challenge, and it was hard to “go a month without hearing that there is some event around cladding”.

On Sunday, a fire quickly engulfed cladding on the facade of a 20-storey apartment tower in Milan in northern Italy, destroying the building. No one was seriously injured.

Mr Chandler said he had met many owners of apartment buildings with flammable cladding who were “feeling very stressed about the experience that they’ve found themselves in”.

“We know that a lot of apartment owners who bought their projects some years back didn’t see this coming,” he said.

But he said he was hopeful the project would “relieve some of those stresses” and the building watchdog would provide a high level of oversight of it.

Owners will be able to apply for interest-free loans to pay for the cost of removing and replacing dangerous cladding. The government has estimated the average cost to remove cladding from the buildings deemed high risk at $4 million each.

Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson said the owners of more than 60 buildings had registered interest in the project, and he expected the number to “grow considerably” by the end of the month.

Hansen Yuncken, the company managing the project, said it was scheduling buildings for cladding removal based on risk, complexity and readiness. That included the size and scale of the work, and operational risks assessed by Fire and Rescue NSW.

“Typically, triage, design and construction work will take around 12 months for the average building,” Nick Jacobs from Hansen Yuncken said.

“Some buildings will have longer or shorter durations, depending on the scale and complexity.”


Analysts are tearing up coking coal forecasts as prices soar

Metallurgical coal prices in China have soared to record highs in recent weeks, in turn raising the floor for Australian product that has been directed to other markets since an unofficial ban started last year.

The self-destructive nature of China’s decision was laid bare by BHP recently in a market outlook, which described the Australia-China coal trade as the sun around which the solar system of the world’s heliocentric seaborne coal trade relied.

Without the benefit of this predictable supply and price-setting relationship China has been scraping for product elsewhere.

Steelmakers have run into further roadblocks as Covid restrictions have shut the border between China and its biggest supplier Mongolia.

Australian producers are only getting a fraction of the surely unsustainable US$$414.55/t being paid for tight supplies in China. But the US$251.25/t quoted Tuesday by Fastmarkets for premium hard coking coal from Dalrymple Bay is nothing to sneeze at, and battered coal producers are now licking their lips at the prospect of elevated prices and returns between now and 2023.

RBC Capital Markets today updated its second half met coal forecast average from US$145/t to US$190/t.

Good news for holders of South32 (ASX:S32) and BHP (ASX:BHP) who should see an 8 and 2% increase to their 2021-22 earnings per share on RBC’s estimates as a result.

RBC analysts Kaan Peker and Paul Wiggers de Vries estimate average prices of US$200/t for Australian coking coal across the September Quarter, falling to US$180/t in the December Quarter, up US$60 and US$25 respectively.

They have kept the investment bank’s long-term post 2022 target of US$150/t, which is still pretty good going for most met coal producers.

Impacts on iron ore?

As iron ore prices have fallen from record highs, Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) has seen the return of significant grade discounts for its lower grade iron ore. Around 28-30% of that product RBC says is made up of a ~56% super special fines mix with high levels of impurities like alumina and silica.

After cutting its discount to 84% of the benchmark 62% fines price in the June Quarter, FMG has seen discounts blow out to more than 20% in August. There are additional concerns for lower grade iron ore producers, Peker and de Vries said, as lower grade ores require more of the increasingly pricey coking coal to produce crude steel in the blast furnace refining process.

“The met coal price impacts purchasing behaviors of steelmakers, especially iron ore. Over the last quarter, Chinese steel mills have become more concerned with coking coal prices; the ratio of HCC to iron ore prices has significantly increased and is now well above historic average,” they said.

“While met coal prices are one of many factors that drive the premium for the different ore products, we expect elevated Chinese met coal prices to benefit pellet and fines over lump, and be a detriment to low grade ore with higher impurities.

“We see risk that lower grade iron ore with higher impurities trade at a larger discount, and discounts remain elevated even if steel margins weaken.”

BHP is expected to be best off of the majors in this scenario, with the introduction of its South Flank mine meaning high grade lump now accounts for around 33% of its product mix, making it the largest lump producer in the world.

The Samarco JV with Vale in Brazil, which produces a premium grade product, is also ramping up years on from its tragic dam collapse.




No comments: