Monday, June 05, 2023

Shock development: Police believe Linden Malayta was shot dead

The Malaytas are Pacific islanders, not Aborigines. When they were younger, the chidren of the familty were a lawless terror in the Ayr/Home Hill area. It seems likely that at least some of them eventually became involved in more serious crime. And the death of Linden could well have been due to a falling-out among criminals, due to fear that he might "rat" on his associates

A teenage boy who disappeared two years before he officially became a missing person was likely gunned down, police believe, in a shocking development based on new evidence.

The shocking development in the mystery disappearance of 14-year-old Linden Malayta can be revealed today by the Courier-Mail after police received new evidence.

Police also revealed they believe the Ayr teen predicted his own death telling a friend he feared for his life.

Authorities will now set up multiple crime scenes in North Queensland as police pledge to not give up on the boy.

“He made comments (to that friend) in relation to individuals who were going to kill him, and that he had come to say goodbye to that person,” Townsville Child Protection and Investigation Unit officer-in-charge Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Miles said.

Linden told her “they won’t let me stop”, and shared how he thought these people were going to kill him.

She encouraged him to tell the police, but he said “no one could help” him.

“Someone out there knows what happened to Linden, it’s about those people coming forward now to bring some closure,” Detective Miles said.

Linden was last seen in Ayr in March, 2019, but it wasn’t until police checked in with his family in June, 2021 that they told officers they hadn’t heard from the teenager in years.

Police began investigating his disappearance, and in March this year announced they now believed Linden had been murdered and announced a $500,000 reward for information.

The new timeline of Linden’s final days alive suggest he travelled from Ayr to Townsville with two or three people on or around March 18, 2019.

Soon after, police believe he was shot dead by those people during an altercation.

“The information we have been provided is that there was a firearm that was incidental to his death,” Detective Miles said.

“We are unsure whether that death was the result of intentional or accidental use of that weapon.”

Detective Miles said police would now move to set up crime scenes at multiple locations across the region, including the houses of some associates.

“We’ve got some other information that is going to allow us to undertake some examinations of some historical crime scenes associated with that altercation, that we know of … we’ll be doing that in the near future.”

The Malayta family, a well-known family from Ayr, have been struck by tragedies in the last few years, with two other family members dying in tragic circumstances.

Linden’s cousin Robert Malayta, 18, drowned in the Ross River in February last year when he jumped into the water to try and escape police after fleeing from a crashed stolen car.

Selwyn Malayta, Linden’s uncle, drowned in Plantation Creek in Ayr after wandering into the water late at night in September.

There were initially suggestions Linden had left Ayr to start a new life and cut off contact with his family, with some inquiries leading police to South Australia. This was never confirmed.

More than four years had passed since Linden was last seen but Detective Miles called on anyone who has information to come forward.

“(The length of time) certainly has probably impacted the memories of individuals who interacted with Linden, certainly with that passage of time small snippets of information may well have been forgotten that could be crucial to establish his movements.

“We remain positive that more information will come to hand and no matter what, we won’t stop doing what we are doing until we are able to bring this matter to a resolution.

Linden was last seen wearing his favourite red baseball cap and had a distinctive walk due to clubfoot.


Credlin: Why trial of VC winner is not the whole story

Applying armchair standards to what happens during the heat of war is absurd. Killing someone who has been trying to kill is a normal reflex in war

While a damning court judgment reveals terrible mistakes were made in Afghanistan, it’s far from clear that it’s just Ben Roberts-Smith, and some of his SAS comrades, who’ve made them, writes Peta Credlin.

When does a beaten enemy go from being a combatant to a prisoner, and where’s the line between the necessary brutality of war and criminality? Obviously, these distinctions matter and, in the case of Ben Roberts-Smith, it seems that these lines have been crossed.

But the fact that some of his fellow warriors, as their testimony shows, regarded him as a hard “soldier’s soldier”, while others thought him a murderer, suggests that very different interpretations are possible, even if the facts can be agreed.

And while it’s pretty clear, following last Thursday’s damning court judgment, that terrible mistakes have been made, it’s far from clear that it’s just the VC recipient, and some of his SAS comrades, who’ve made them.

The Australian soldiers comprising our task group in Uruzgan province were really three different armies. Of the roughly 1500 troops deployed at any one time, about half were essentially support personnel, meaning they rarely left the comparative safety of the heavily fortified base.

I visited this base at Tarin Kot on four separate occasions and it resembled a modern industrious village, in the middle of lunar-like landscape, surrounded by guns, wire and concrete.

In addition to those inside the base, there were also about 400 regular infantry, in what we called the “mentoring task force”, whose job was to patrol the fertile valleys, usually with elements of the Afghan national army, sometimes to clear but mostly to hold ground that was safe for the civilian population (more or-less loyal to the Afghan government) to go about their lives.

Then there was the 400-strong Special Operations Task Group, alternately SAS or commandos, who several nights a week would venture forth into the badlands on what were essentially hunter-killer missions, to find and destroy those who were thought to be hardened Taliban insurgents.

It was not uncommon for our special forces operators to have done six or more tours of duty, mostly dealing out death to a less-skilled enemy, but sometimes having it dealt back to them.

I’m not sure that any of us, who have never been exposed to deadly combat, can fully grasp just how psychologically fraught and morally deadening this could be. That’s why I won’t join the pile-on against Roberts-Smith, typified by the vindicated journalists (who have themselves never risked a bullet for our country) now triumphantly describing him as a liar, a bully and a murderer.

Yes, he may have been all those things, in some instances, but the judgment against him last week was a civil law matter, with a lower burden of proof (on the ‘balance of probabilities’) and not a war crimes trial operating at the criminal standard of proof (‘beyond reasonable doubt’). Even if he is charged (and that hasn’t occurred to date) and found criminally guilty, that won’t be the whole story.

Our country sent him and his fellow soldiers on hardest job of all, to kill people who would kill us for our beliefs, and to protect people who just wanted to live and worship in their own way. And if mistakes were made, at least some of the fault lies with us too – and with the senior commanders, now tut-tutting about the excesses of military culture.

Plainly, a succession of risk-averse governments and military hierarchies expected too much of the SAS and the commandos, whose extraordinary level of skill and professionalism was thought to render them less likely to suffer casualties than normal infantry.

Then there’s the resentment inherent when particular soldiers are singled out for gallantry awards, given that soldiering takes a team, as well as brilliant individuals, with each member exposed to similar deadly risks.

Roberts-Smith became a target, as well as a hero, the instant he gained the ultimate accolade of the VC. I might add, given all the talk he should be stripped of his VC without a criminal conviction, that the Victoria Cross is a not a “best and fairest” award. It’s a medal for ‘most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-sacrifice’ and I defy anyone to read his citation for bravery on 11 June 2010 and say he didn’t deserve it.

Of course, even in war, our soldiers are expected to act honourably, and it’s never right to harm prisoners. On the other hand, we have to accept that terrible things happen in war, especially after people have seen their mates slaughtered, or brought in prisoners reasonably suspected of making suicide vests, or being a bombmaker, only to see them released on some legal technicality.

Fits of moral indignation seem to be characteristic of these times. But the pariah status we seem so happy to confer on people sometimes turns out to be undeserved.

Think Cardinal George Pell, convicted and jailed before the High Court unanimously exonerated him 7-0. Think of the Bruce Lehrmann case, where a righteous trial-by-media declared him guilty of raping Brittany Higgins but, as the Sofronoff inquiry goes on, is starting to look more and more like an orchestrated show trial to score a political point.

What’s happened to the old presumption that people are innocent until proven guilty; or the understanding that only those without sin should be the first to a cast stone?

Our greatest military historian, Charles Bean, knew something about flawed heroes. Writing of the original Anzacs, he said: “The good and the bad, the greatness and the smallness of their story will stand. Whatever of glory it contains, nothing now can lessen”.

My respect for those who wear our uniform has not diminished.


Flawed franking legislation must be abandoned. Just look at the UK to know why

We have been publicly fighting for the preservation of Paul Keating’s franking system since Labor’s proposed changes in March 2018. For the sake of every Australian, let’s hope and pray the government comes to its senses and abandons the current changes, which industry and taxation experts, lawyers and academics all agree are flawed.

The Senate economic committee, chaired by Labor senator Jess Walsh, has clearly heard us all.

Now it is time for the government to show leadership by stepping up and abandoning this deficient proposed legislation, as the unintended consequences are just too high.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones seems to agree. “If there are having unintended consequences, we’ll look at that.”

He doesn’t have to look too far. I’m currently in London, meeting with fund managers and business leaders.

Two things come up repeatedly – Australia is the envy of London’s investment community, and the Australian government’s plans to fiddle with franking will be a disaster for Australia.

The lesson the people I speak to keep pressing is this: Britain once had a structure similar to our dividend imputation system, but unfortunately the changes their government made helped downgrade London’s reputation as a financial centre, forced their greatest companies to move offshore for funding and have seen the nation’s retirement savings flee for foreign markets.

Here’s a quick history lesson: in 1973, Britain implemented a system of company taxation called the Advance Corporation Tax (ACT).

Like our own franking credit system, the ACT aimed to prevent double taxation of corporate income in Britain by providing a tax credit to shareholders that reduced any tax payable on their dividends by an amount equal to the tax already paid by the company.

Under ACT, companies paid tax on distributed profits at 30 per cent and that tax payment was credited against their shareholders’ tax liability on the dividends.

So far, so familiar.

Unlike Australia, Britain abolished its dividend imputation system in 1999 following a series of changes the government made that resulted in the system losing its value. Still sound familiar?

In the two decades since, institutional ownership of companies listed on the UK sharemarket has plummeted – a completely unforeseen consequence of a change that has now left policymakers contemplating laws to force pensions and insurance companies to buy British shares.

The numbers are stunning.

In 2000, insurance companies and pension funds owned 38.7 per cent of the British sharemarket.

By 2010 ownership had fallen to 14.4 per cent and by 2020, they owned just 4.3 per cent.

Where did the money go? Almost all of it has been moved overseas into foreign companies and alternative assets.

The reason is clear: dividends paid from British stocks to British shareholders are now taxed twice.

And while the Albanese plan so far is not as drastic as scrapping franking entirely, the complicated interplay of capital markets means the consequences of any weakening of dividend imputation will be severe.

On the surface, the latest proposed change seems simple: the government wants to stop companies paying fully franked distributions that are funded by a capital raising and from conducting fully franked off-market buybacks.

But the proposal will have a significant impact on Australian companies’ ability to pay fully franked distributions and will discourage the normal process of investment, economic growth and capital formation in Australia.

The proposed legislation promotes debt over equity, discourages large, mature companies from paying tax in Australia and will lead to a significant increase in the budget deficit.

If superannuation funds ultimately move money out of Australia, it’s not just bad news for local business, it’s bad news for every single one of us: from our youth looking for a job to anyone saving for retirement.

Because of the changes to dividend imputation in Britain, pension schemes now hold 72 per cent of their investments in fixed income, real estate and other assets – assets that typically offer lower returns than equities and employ fewer people.

Lower returns mean less money saved for retirement and a lower standard of living for retirees.

Contrast that experience to Australia.

Our franking system has encouraged Australian companies to invest in Australia, employ Australians, pay tax in Australia and emboldened Australian shareholders to do the same, in turn creating more local jobs and more ownership of Australian companies by Australian citizens.

Our franking system encourages all Australians, from mum and dad investors to large industry superannuation funds, to support and invest in Australian companies.

This directly reduces the cost of capital for our businesses, improving shareholder returns and allowing all of us to look forward to a safe and prosperous retirement.

Things are now so bad in Britain that London’s most famous companies are drawing up plans to move their listings to New York. A new law has even been proposed to force pension funds to invest 5 per cent of their capital into companies based in Britain to help bolster the local economy.


Crisis point: Sick kids inundate EDs as hospital system buckles

This was inevitable. New government regulations, restrictions and taxes have made it more difficult for private GPs to provide "free" (bulk-billed) care to all so hospitals are the only alternative now for most lower income people

Queensland emergency departments are being inundated with sick kids and adults, with as much as 30 per cent more needing hospital care as access to bulk-billing GPs becomes scarce.

Families struggling to cope with cost-of-living pressures and a lack of bulk-billing doctors are being blamed for a surge in the number of children presenting to Queensland’s emergency departments.

The state’s biggest paediatrics units – Queensland Children’s Hospital and Prince Charles Hospital – both saw increases by as much as 30 per cent in almost every category of patient according to the latest hospital performance data for January, February and March.

Queensland emergency departments divide patients into categories from one to five, with category one patients representing the most severe illnesses or injuries and category five the least urgent.

Regional centres like Mackay, Toowoomba, Rockhampton saw increases in every category of patients aged 14 years and under, with Mackay seeing a whopping 100 per cent increase in category two patients seeking medical attention.

Townsville University Hospital had a 44 per cent surge in Category two children (516) and 34 per cent for Category three, Ipswich Hospital saw a 41 per cent jump in category two (920) and 32 per cent in category four (1046) while Sunshine Coast University Hospital had a 22 per cent increase in category two (720) and 60 per cent in category five (80).

Gold Coast University Hospital had spikes across nearly all categories including a 79 per cent jump in category five patients (95) while Logan and Cairns Hospitals also surged across all categories.

Over half a million people presented to the state’s emergency departments in the last quarter with Health Minister Shannon Fentiman blaming the high numbers on population growth and difficulties in people being able to get into a GP or find one that has bulk-billing.

“Clearly we have huge population growth here in Queensland, and yes, we have a primary care system that was neglected for many, many years by the federal government,” she said.

“If you talk particularly to people in regional Queensland, it is very difficult to find a GP appointment and it’s expensive because not many of them are bulk-billing.

“So people wait, and they don’t go and see their GP, they don’t get access to primary health care in their community, they get sicker and then they present in an emergency department.”

Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine president Dr Dan Halliday said the federal government’s decade-long resistance to thawing the freeze on Medicare rebates had forced the hand of many GPs to ditch bulk-billing, including to children and pensioners.

He said it was a misconception that all GPs bulk-billed children 16 and under, with this decision entirely up to each individual practice or GP.

“We know that if you do provide good quality primary care, that you actually reduce the presentations and admissions to the emergency departments,” Dr Halliday said.

“Bulk-billing in certain areas is on its knees, and in some areas that it’s ceased altogether, which is an absolute shame.”

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Dr Bruce Willett said he feared that without a permanent moratorium on payroll tax for GPs, the Medicare reform would just be eaten up in payroll tax.

“It was actually really rare for children not to get bulk-billed, but the rebate got down to the stage where (it was no longer viable),” he said.

He said the issue of payroll tax “sucking money” out of Medicare affected every state and territory in the country and needed to be taken to national cabinet.

But Dr Boulton said the best way that the state government could alleviate the pressure was a permanent moratorium on payroll tax.

“The amnesty doesn’t apply to new practice, so a practice anywhere in Queensland will be liable to pay the patient tax when they see their doctor, which we know is not fair,” she said.

“The evidence is very clear that if governments support patients accessing their GP, those patients will be healthier and they’re less likely to visit the hospital and it will reduce the strain on hospitals.”




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