Safety authorites will inspect the plane on Friday, which is still in the Swan River. Photo: Channel 7 The 1948-built twin engine seaplane was Mr Lynch’s pride and joy, a craft he referred to as the ‘family caravan’. Photo: Facebook
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Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Brown paid tribute to the victims and praised emergency services. Photo: ABC News 24

A plane that crashed into the Swan River as part of Australia Day celebrations in Perth on Thursday will remain in the water until the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau inspects it.

Peter Lynch, 52, and his female passenger Endah Aricakrawati, 30, died when his Grumman Mallard seaplane crashed into the river about 5pm, in front of thousands of people who had gathered for the annual Australia Day fireworks display.

The plane broke up on impact and a handful of pleasure craft nearby on the river, as well as emergency services, sped to the scene near Heirisson Island and tried in vain to rescue the occupants.

“People around me were screaming out and turning their heads,” acting Police Commissioner Stephen Brown told Radio 6PR on Friday.

“The plane was in the water .. within seconds the emergency services were there.

“Behind the police you see on the ground there are hundreds of senior people at Maylands police complex managing the events, the highest calibre people from all agencies, and they served us really well yesterday.

“But despite these amazing efforts they were unable to save Peter and Endah.”

The seaplane remains in situ, under water police guard.

The aviation fuel in the river has now dissipated, according to the acting Commissioner, who said comprehensive investigations would begin once the plane was extracted from the water within the next 24 hours.

“WA Police would conduct a coronial investigation and the ATSB would complete its own investigation,” he said.

“There would be a lot of work to do on the remains of the plane and it could take up to six months for the results to be known. Until then to speculate was pointless.

“I’d hope we have that out in the next 24 to 48 hours, but as you’d imagine it’s quite a logistical exercise.

“We might need to special equipment to be able to extract it without causing damage to the aircraft, because we don’t want to do that, we want it to come out as pristine as it can and we want to be able to recover all of the parts.”

The City of Perth cancelled the skyshow out of respect for the families of the deceased and to “conserve the integrity of the site”.

The commissioner said the 1000 or so police officers deployed to the foreshores were instrumental in informing the estimated 60,000 people who had already gathered about what was happening, as the news was simultaneously broadcast on social and traditional media.

Thankfully the bulk of the expected crowd of 300,000 had not yet turned up, with the mercury having risen to 41 degrees on Thursday and still remaining high late into the afternoon.

Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said the skyshow would not be rescheduled because the logistics were too difficult for an event of this scale, particularly given the sellout Big Bash League final at the WACA on Saturday and Chinese New Year celebrations were also scheduled.

She said the city would work on claiming losses against insurance and that the incident would not affect the future of the event, although future aerial displays will be reviewed in light of the investigation outcomes.

“While we say $1.9 million for the event, a lot of that is the logistical preparation and road closures and setup. The actual firework costs I am told is $450,000,” Ms Scaffidi said.

“A lot of those are reusable. How they will be reused at this time I cannot say. We are still working through the detail.”

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Peter Lynch was the father of three young children. Photo: Facebook Perth Skyshow plane crash victims Peter Lynch and Endah Cakrawati.
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Family and friends and the greater flying community are mourning the loss of pilot Peter Lynch and his passenger and partner Endah Cakrawati, who died on Thursday evening when his plane crashed into the Swan River during the City of Perth’s Skyshow event.

Mr Lynch, 52, and Ms Cakrawati, 30, died after Mr Lynch’s 1948-built Grumman Mallard plane crashed into the river before thousands of horrified people gathered for the annual Australia Day fireworks display.

The event was called off shortly after, with Labor leader Mark McGowan on Friday praising police and emergency services for their response to the tragedy and backing the decision to halt the fireworks.

“The decision to cancel the Skyworks yesterday was the right call given the tragic circumstances. It was a difficult decision to make, but importantly, it was the right decision,” he said.

Laura Lynch posted a heartfelt message on her Facebook page at midnight on Friday in the wake of the tragedy involving the father of her three children.

“With great difficulty I am unbearably saddened to confirm that my great friend and the father of my children passed after a tragic accident on the Swan River in Perth yesterday,” she wrote.

“Service details to follow in due course.”

Friends wrote back to Ms Lynch in support, expressing sympathy at the loss of a man who “lived his life with great joy … a good mate, father and friend”.

It is understood he and Ms Lynch had separated but had two sons and a daughter together.

Mr Lynch’s sister, Helen Lynch, said part of the family was travelling to Perth following the shocking news of his death.

“Just to confirm my brother Matthew’s post that our brother Peter and his new partner Endah died in yesterday’s Perth plane crash,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

“Matty is coming to stay here for a bit in Braidwood and our sister, other brother and mother have headed to Perth.

“Thanks for your understanding. It is a tremendous shock and we are still processing.

“We will miss him.”

Mr Lynch had recently moved to Perth from Brisbane to take a role as business development director at Fortescue Metals Group.

Ms Cakrawati worked with Mr Lynch as investor relations manager at Cokal, a mining company he founded in 2009.

It is not yet known if she has family or friends in Perth or Australia.

Just six months ago – around the time Mr Lynch moved to Perth – Ms Cakrawati had written on her Facebook page: “I have a great life, great friends, and great LOVE…..JUST PERFECT.”

Friends in Indonesia have paid tribute to Ms Cakrawati, whose photos show her going out with friends, playing the guitar and modelling.

“Rest in peace for my beautiful friend.. Still proud of u sis Endah Aricakrawati, u reach ur dream high.. We love u,” wrote one friend.

“Rest in peace my dearest friend,” said another.

WA’s acting Police Commissioner Stephen Brown also paid tribute to the pair, who he described as “two wonderful people”.

“And I extend those sympathies on behalf of all emergency service workers, not only the police but all emergency service workers in Western Australia,” he said.

Aviation community pays tribute

Mr Lynch told an aviation blog in a 2013 interview that he loved flying not just for the friends he made, but for the rush of being airborne, the “pure pleasure of getting up in the sky and having the freedom to go virtually anywhere”.

He said the best flying experience he’d ever experienced was after buying the Grumman Mallard plane in the US and completing the training to fly it, when he set off to fly over the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.

Aviation groups have posted tributes to Mr Lynch, who was held in high regard.

“It is with great sadness as we try to come to terms with the tragic news of the passing of Peter Lynch,” the Great Eastern Fly-in Committee wrote.

“Peter was a man of vision and one with a passion for aviation and was well loved and respected in our close knit flying community.

“Peter for many years attended the Evans Head Great Eastern Fly In, was the man with a vision for an Air Park at Evans Head, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Evans Head Aviation Museum.

“Our deepest and sincere condolences are expressed to Peter’s family and many friends who are grieving with his sad passing.

“Clear skies Peter….and may you rest in peace, our dear friend and colleague.”

WA community ‘shaken’ by tragedy

Labor leader Mark McGowan said the Swan River tragedy had shaken the WA community.

“My heart goes out to the families and friends of the two people involved. They’re in all our thoughts and prayers today,” Mr McGowan said.

“Thank you to our amazing emergency service workers for doing all the work they do in the most difficult circumstances.”

The Grumman Mallard was intended to have been displayed frequently at the Evans Head Aviation Museum and used to promote the airpark project around Australia.

Clive Palmer and colleagues also pay tribute

Former Queensland colleagues of Peter Lynch have also paid tribute to the aviation enthusiast and entrepreneur.

In a joint statement, Waratah Coal and chairman Clive Palmer said the “well known and respected” member of the mining community in Australia and south east Asia would be missed.

“Peter’s ingenuity, business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit allowed him to design, develop and manage a variety of large scale underground and open cut coal projects,” the statement said.

Mr Lynch held a number of senior positions throughout his Queensland mining career, which started in 1989. He joined Waratah Coal in 2006, and the company said his vision for the Galilee Basin mine and related projects helped create “one of Queensland’s greatest mine, rail and port infrastructure projects”.

“His zest for business flowed into his personal life, where his passions for restoring cars, boating and flying, were infectious,” they said.

“Our sincere condolences are expressed to Peter’s family and friends. He will be sadly missed by all who worked alongside him, especially by the Staff and Management here at Waratah Coal and the Mineralogy Group.”

– with David Prestipino and Rachel ClunFollow WAtoday on Twitter

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Some people collect frequent flyer points. Others collect records.

Matthew Butler collects Japanese Kit Kats.

The crisp, chocolate covered wafer biscuit wouldn’t necessarily cross your mind as special or unique.

In Australia, that is.

Japan is known for its eccentricity. Capsule hotels, talking toilets and cuddle cafes are all part of the norm., So perhaps it’s not surprising to find more than 300 varieties of Nestle’s Kit Kats.

Butler, a senior lecturer at Monash University, has made it his mission to conquer the Kit Kat kingdom. With more than 100 flavours under his belt including miso and corn, this Melbourne local has found an extra sweet hobby.

“I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture – both the historical stuff but also the pop culture stuff,” said Butler, who has a dedicated Tumblr page for his Kit Kat discoveries.

It wasn’t until 2010, however, when one of his honours students returned from holiday with a haul of Japanese treats that he first had a taste.

“I guess I’ve always been interested in trying weird and wonderful things. It was like ‘check these out, these are crazy Kit Kats’. So I tried a bunch of flavours. I’d always liked [Kit Kats] beforehand.”

Yuzu Koshu, a Japanese spicy sauce was the first flavour that struck a chord and to this day remains his all-time favourite.

“It was like a dark chocolate with citrus flavours and a peppery, kind of chilli taste.”

Unfortunately for Butler, this Kit Kat was part of a limited-edition range and is no longer available.

“The things with Kit Kats is that some of them are seasonal and regional. Some have stuck around since I first tried them but others have appeared and disappeared.”

Many of the flavours are only available in specific areas of Japan and are designed to showcase regional specialities.

In 2016, Hokkaido, famous for its fruit, inspired a mini melon and mascarpone cheese treat. Hiroshima’s maple red bean cakes have also been incorporated into the Nestle range. A few weeks ago a red velvet Kit Kat to celebrate Valentine’s Day hit the shelves with an estimated life span of just two months.

Shortly after learning of the Kit Kat craze, Butler packed his bags and left to discover more.

Matt Butler in a Kit Kat Chocolatory store, Japan. Photo: Matthew Butler

“I had just finished my PHD and decided I wanted to celebrate by climbing Mt Fuji and travel around Japan for a month. The Kit Kat symbolises what I like about Japan. It’s just odd, in all the best kind of ways,” he said.

After falling in love with the “weirdness of the culture”, Butler returned twice more to continue his Kit Kat hunting escapades.

“They were harder to find than I thought they would be. I found train stations were often the easiest place to find them. Convenience stores tended not to have a huge range, but sometimes you would luck out and find a random flavour, like cola,” he said.

Airports and food markets were the other best places as they stock more of the common flavours like chili, wasabi and sweet potato. Kit Kat Chocolatory Boutiques are spread across Japan and feature higher-end ingredients. Online stores have also started catering for international audiences as an affordable and convenient way to fuel the hobby without the plane ticket. “You can get the wacky flavours [online]. Six months ago, I got the sake one. They definitely taste quite sake-ish. You know what you’re eating,” he said.

After keeping a box of wrappers for record, Butler discovered his tastes were wackier then most. Soy sauce, wasabi, and pumpkin were among his top contenders. The maple pancake was a huge hit with family and friends. The fruit flavours, however, didn’t score as well.

“They’re pretty funky. A lot of the fruit ones don’t work. Melon and pear are terrible,” he said. Butler can’t wait for his next Japanese holiday and has made loose plans to go over in 2020 with his wife for the Tokyo Olympics. Predictions for an Olympic edition have been made.

With Kit Kat resembling the Japanese phrase “kitto katsu” meaning “to surely win” the stakes are high.

Matt Butler’s collection of Kit Kats include sake and rock-melon. Photo: Matthew ButlerMatt Butler’s picks for the most unusual flavours

1. Edamame … edamame (Japanese beans) is one of my favourite snacks. So are Kit Kats. So this should be a match made in heaven. WRONG.

2. Cola … a great surprise. The fizzy cola granules between the wafers make for a different, yet delicious, Kit Kat experience.

3. Apple Vinegar (as well as Shinsu Apple flavour) … apple should never be in chocolate, and this is no exception. The absolute worst Kit Kats!

4. Aloe Yoghurt … the fact this is a collaboration between Kit Kat and Tokyo Beauty Clinic (TBC) should be testament to its oddness. Not horrible but not great either.

5. Carrot … a seasonal Easter variation that mercifully has only appeared once and for a brief time. Veggies and chocolate are not a good mix.

6. Wasabi … imagine what you think wasabi in a white chocolate Kit Kat would taste like. It tastes EXACTLY like that. Full wasabi flavour with a touch of the heat.

See also: 20 things that will shock first-time visitors to Japan

See also: The one dish in Japan you won’t be able to eat

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Martin Sheen as Willard in Francis Ford Coppola’s, Apocalypse Now. Photo: American Zoetrope Francis Ford Coppola, right, directs Marlon Brando as Kurtz.
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Robert Duval, centre, as Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore.

“I love the smell of donations in the morning.”

That just might be what the team seeking to crowdfund a computer game version of Apocalypse Now might be saying today as their Kickstarter campaign has clocked up more than $US70,000 in its first 24 hours.

That is still a long way short of the $US900,000 they aim to reach by February 25, and the $2.5 million they ultimately think it will take to make their game console ready by 2020.

The developers of Apocalypse Now – The Game say they have chosen the crowdfunding route because it gives them the freedom to make something other than just another first-person shooter – the sort of game Francis Ford Coppola, the director, co-writer and producer of the 1979 Vietnam War classic had repeatedly been pitched, and turned down, by major game studios over the years.

Coppola’s film, based on Joseph Conrad’s short novel Heart of Darkness, is about US Army captain Willard (Martin Sheen) being sent up the Nung River on a mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has gone rogue. It is a violent, hallucinatory, shocking tale that lays bare the madness of war in general, and the pointlessness in particular of America’s involvement in Vietnam. There are no heroes in this tale, and little sign of sanity.

The developers are attempting to recreate that sense in their game, and that is why they have eschewed the traditional game studio route.

“We are not making a shooter – we are making a survival horror experience,” says executive producer Lawrence Liberty. “I want to make a game where you can sit on the boat and drop acid if that’s what you want to do. We’re crowdfunding this game because traditional game publishers would try to turn it into a shooter.”

Crowdfunding it was a way of testing the appetite of fans of the movie for such a project, the team say. And, adds director Montgomery Markland, it means “we will have the same independent creative authority that Francis Ford Coppola had when he made Apocalypse Now some 40 years ago”.

Coppola has given the project his blessing. He will act as a creative consultant, and his studio, Zoetrope, has licensed the work to the developers, precisely because their vision is not the standard one.

“I learned quickly that the major game publishers have modelled themselves after the big Hollywood studios in that they’re driven to make risk-free formulaic tentpole projects that fit easily into a specific genre,” Coppola said.

The team behind the game seemed to understand that the story “is about not getting killed, rather than being a killer”, he added.

Although the developers have set an October 2020 release date for the game in PC  form, they are hoping to have it finished in time for the 40th anniversary of the movie’s release.

Ultimately, their grander ambitions include console and a virtual reality version.

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

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Matthew Wade will captain Australia on the one-day international tour of New Zealand after Steve Smith’s withdrawal due to injury dealt another major blow to the relevance of the Chappell-Hadlee series.
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Following the earlier decision to rest David Warner from the series, Friday’s announcement that Smith will miss the tour means Australia will be without their on-field leaders, and two best batsmen, for a series that could clinch the reigning World Cup titleholders a lucrative bonus for topping the International Cricket Council’s ODI rankings.

While Smith’s injury is legitimate, the absence of Australia’s two biggest names from the series is further indication the team’s priority is the daunting challenge on the subcontinent rather than taking on their trans-Tasman rival.

It will also raise questions to the merits of having another Chappell-Hadlee series two months after the last battle, which was thrown in as a sweetener for New Zealand’s participation in last summer’s inaugural day-night Test.

Selectors met on Friday to decide on a stand-in captain and settled on Wade, who edged out former Twenty20 captain Aaron Finch and South Australia skipper Travis Head. Aborting Warner’s planned rest was discussed with the vice-captain but selectors decided against it.

Wade, who is also Victoria’s leader, will be Australia’s 24th captain in the ODI arena. Queensland youngster Sam Heazlett takes Smith’s place in the squad.

Smith injured his ankle on Thursday during the dead rubber ODI against Pakistan in Adelaide and will be sidelined for seven to 10 days, Cricket Australia said, but he is not believed to be in any doubt for the first Test against India, starting February 23.

Smith said he was having trouble walking but was confident it would not affect his Test preparations in Dubai, where Australia are holding a training camp.

“It was decided an hour ago that I’ve been ruled out of the New Zealand series,” Smith said on Friday morning.

“I’ve got a medial ligament injury to my left ankle. They think it’s a seven-to-10-day injury and I wouldn’t be fit for the first game, I’d be very unlikely for the second game and a possible for the third game. We’ve got a lot coming up so they think it’s an opportunity to rest it and be right for India.

“It’s a bit of a shock. I just landed really awkwardly on my foot and I felt something straight away. I was a little bit concerned, I’ve never really injured my ankle like that. I was in a bit of pain last night, I injured it and went off and got it strapped and looked at and was in a reasonable amount of pain in the field.”

While Smith has been in red hot form, it would have been too big a gamble to take Australia’s best player over to New Zealand and risk aggravating the injury before such a big series.

“I would have loved to have been in NZ, I feel like I’m batting really well at the moment,” Smith said.

“When I’m batting well I want to keep going. It’s disappointing from that aspect but we have pretty big fish to fry shortly in india. Hopefully the boys can do the job in the Chappell-Hadlee without me.”

The news was met with a mixed reception across the ditch as New Zealand now have a better chance of regaining the Chappell-Hadlee trophy, which they place a high importance on, though they would have liked to take on a full-strength Australian team.

“It’s disappointing for New Zealand because the Chappell-Hadlee series is the pinnacle event in our eyes – it’s a great opportunity for us against the No.1 ODI team in the world,” Black Caps selector Gavin Larsen said.

“You want to win against the best possible team you guys can put on the park. The thing that’s disappointing is you won’t be at full strength.

“[But] there’s no such thing as a bad Australian team. Your depth is tremendous, it will be one helluva scrap.”

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Mark and Gino Stocco, who were captured on a property where Rosario Cimone’s body was also located. Photo: NSW Police Mark and Gino Stocco under arrest near Dunedoo. Photo: NSW Police
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Mark Stocco at Dubbo police station. Photo: Channel Nine

Father and son bush fugitives Gino, 58, and Mark, 36, Stocco stripped a farm caretaker naked after murdering him and hid the body under bushes to “cover their tracks” during an extraordinary time on the run, a court has heard.

The notorious pair evaded authorities for eight years and shot at officers during a dramatic 12-day chase across NSW and Victoria.

The pursuit ended when they were arrested on Pinevale, a remote property at Elong Elong in Dunedoo, 45 kilometres east of Dubbo, in October 29, 2015.

The badly decomposed body of Rosario Cimone, 68, the caretaker of the property, was found after their arrest.

Dramatic dashcam footage played at a sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday showed the moment the Stoccos fired at police during a pursuit near Wagga Wagga on October 16, sending plumes of dust into the air.

“Urgent! Urgent! Urgent! Shots are fired! Shots are fired!” an officer yells as his car hastily reverses away from the Stoccos.

About five minutes later, the pair shot at Senior Constable Matthew Shaw during another pursuit. He also reversed away before pursuing them for a further 40 minutes.

He told the court on Friday he couldn’t forgive himself for losing the Stoccos during the pursuit and allowing them to then potentially harm others.

“It took a long time to get over what happened,” he said in a victim impact statement.

Mr Cimone’s children also gave a victim impact statement and wept as they described their ongoing nightmares and flashbacks about the way their father, a “gentle giant”, was killed.

The family, from western Sydney, had reported him missing three weeks earlier.

Mr Cimone had well-known Mafia links and the Pinevale property was being used to cultivate marijuana.

“The state of his body was so extremely … decomposed we were unable to identify him,” daughter Maria Perre told the court on Friday.

“We would never even have the opportunity to see our dad the last time and say goodbye, to tell him that we loved him and to share with him all the things we wanted to share with him but hadn’t.”

Her sister, Vincenza Nasso, sat beside her weeping and her brother, Phillip Cimone, stood behind the women staring at the Stoccos before mouthing “dogs” and saying “this will never be forgotten”.

The court heard that the Stoccos’ probable motivation for killing Mr Cimone was frustration and anger at being told to leave the property, an extremely remote and rugged plot.

The pair had worked as farm hands for a short period in September 2015 and were angry because they had nowhere else to go at a time when police were closing in on them, the court heard.

They also claimed Mr Cimone made some threats towards them and had a gun.

Prosecutor Wayne Creasey, SC, said the pair shot Mr Cimone on October 7 then stole the boots off his feet and a small amount of money on him before taking various items from his home to “give the appearance that he just left the property and was a missing person”.

It’s possible that others working on the site may not have reported anything to police because of the nature of the property’s function, he said.

As Gino held a gun at Mr Cimone, he suggested to his son that they only tie him up however Mark was “the dominant partner” and insisted on killing him, the court heard.

Mr Creasey said it was hard to explain why the pair turned fugitives and descended into a period of “lawlessness”.

They had a relatively small criminal record, had no mental health issues and no alcohol or drug use.

“They appeared to have lost their moral compass from being on the run for what were originally minor offences,” Judge David Davies said.

Gino Stocco later told a doctor their behaviour “snowballed out of control”.

At the height of their run from police, they returned to Pinevale in an attempt to hide but were found by police after a member of the public saw their ute in the nearby Goonoo State Forest.

It was only after their arrest on October 29, 2015, that police found the badly decomposed body of Mr Cimone.

The Stoccos built a sinister yet bizarre reputation as they ran amok through rural areas along the country’s east coast for eight years.

They carried out moonlight raids to steal goods, went on vandalism sprees, stank “like a pair of polecats” and lived off the grid with no phones, licences, bank accounts or friends.

They pleaded guilty last year to murder, destroying a farmer’s shed and belongings by fire in 2014 and two counts of shooting to evade arrest.

The pair pleaded guilty to several offences last year and will be sentenced in March.

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Saturday’s Flemington meeting will be the third metropolitan race program in three days and trainer Darren Weir still remains the major player.
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After successes right through the week Weir is again poised to have a strong influence on the nine-race fixture.

In the Kensington Stakes the trainer will be represented with Flamberge, Hellbent and El Divino.

Bookmakers reacted quickly to the reappearance to racing of Hellbent (Race 7, No.4) by installing the sprinting talent at $1.65.

“I’m very happy with him and his ultimate autumn goal will be the Oakleigh Plate later in the autumn,” Weir said.

Oh brother

However, while Hellbent may be favourite for the listed event, no doubt the appearance in Melbourne of the all-conquering Winx’s little brother El Divino (Race 7, No.8) will draw much interest at headquarters.

El Divino was formerly prepared by Gai Waterhouse but connections of the colt believe a training regime at the beach, which Weir can supply at Warrnambool, is the best tactic for the horse going forward.

A Randwick winner early in his career, El Divino, arguably the best-bred horse at the meeting, has drawn gate one and will be aided by having Damien Oliver on board for his Victorian debut.

Poised to strike

Saturday’s Inglis Dash, worth $250,000, looks to be the toughest of all races programmed over the Australia Day week.

With all of the runners graduates from Inglis Sales, bookmakers have installed Fuhryk (Race 6, No.15) as the nominal favourite following his amazing strike-rate of four racetrack appearances for three wins.

Successes at Wodonga and twice at Moonee Valley have labelled the filly a high-class sprinter of the future.

Final chance

Sydney trainer Chris Waller looks poised to win the final race at Flemington with Hipparchus (Race 9, No.3).

The stayer looks well placed here after his remarkable effort to finish second after being so far back at Moonee Valley last time.

The 1800 metres looks ideal and the bigger and more spacious Flemington will also be on his side.

Autumn previews

And it would seem two high-class horses who will race in Adelaide and Sydney on Saturday could well have a hand in major autumn assignments in the next month or so.

Strategic Demand (Race 3, No.4) is poised to make it four in a row in the Sprint Handicap at Morphettville and another success could bring the five-year-old over the border for some rich pickings in Melbourne.

At Rosehill, Music Magnate is all the rage for his return to racing in the $200,000 Expressway Stakes.

Having only his 14th race start, Music Magnate is already a Group 1 winner. He has trialled brilliantly of late and a successful return is very much expected.

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The ringleader of the Ultranet scandal, former education department deputy secretary Darrell Fraser. Photo: Luis Enrique AscuiEducation Department officials wasted up to $240 million of taxpayers’ money during a corrupt tender process for a school IT project, Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog has concluded.
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The officials could now faces criminal charges over the “appalling waste” following a lengthy investigation by the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission.

The Ultranet project promised to deliver an online platform that connected teachers, parents and students, but was plagued by technical issues and rarely used after its rollout by the former state Labor government in 2010.

In a long-awaited report tabled in state parliament on Friday, IBAC found that department officials purchased shares in CSG – the company awarded the Ultranet project – influenced the tender process and accepted inappropriate gifts from suppliers including flights and lavish dinners.

“The willingness of some senior leaders in the department to deceive has resulted in the waste of millions of dollars of public money,” the report said.

It follows revelations by Fairfax Media in 2014 that four senior senior education department officials bought shares or took jobs with CSG.

Operation Dunham, an IBAC investigation into the alleged misconduct, found that former regional director John Allman purchased shares in CSG knowing it would likely win the lucrative contract.

His colleague, former regional director Ron Lake, bought $100,000 in CSG shares while on the Ultranet board. Former regional director Wayne Craig and his wife purchased 6000 CSG shares after the company won the contract.

“The behaviour suggests that at least some used confidential information to which they were exposed in the course of their work for private gain,” the report said.

The man who spearheaded the Ultranet project, former deputy secretary Darrell Fraser, used $1 million of department money to “corruptly inject funds into CSG to ensure it had sufficient cash flow to properly deliver the Ultranet project”, IBAC found.

It said Mr Fraser – a former principal at Glen Waverley Secondary College – was “instrumental in manipulating procurement processes to ensure the Ultranet contract was awarded to the CSG/Oracle consortium – companies with whom he had a longstanding relationship”.

He also tried to influence the tender evaluation by ‘stacking’ an assessment team with like-minded colleagues. Mr Fraser also spent thousands of dollars of department funds on expensive dinners and alcohol.

In 2011, Mr Fraser resigned as deputy secretary and took up a senior job with CSG.

The watchdog heard that despite repeated warnings from consultants and probity officers that the CSG bid was high risk, the contract went ahead.

“IBAC found decisions were made that were contrary to proper procurement process – in particular, the unreasoned and inexplicable decision to give singular preference to CSG, despite serious concerns about its commercial credentials in the relevant area.

Ultranet was launched in August, 2010 at an event which became known as “The Big Day Out” and cost a staggering $1.4 million.

A video of the event shows singers and dancers performing to a remixed version of Madonna’s Material Girl: “We are living in a virtual world and I am an Ultranet girl”.

The scandal is a major embarrassment for the Labor government, which pledged to deliver Ultranet at the 2006 state election and considered it a legacy project. It was dumped by the former state Coalition government in 2013.

During the public hearings, former Education Minister Bronwyn Pike was snared in phone taps agreeing to secretly “chew the fat” over drinks with two ex department officials accused of corruption.

But the report cleared her of any wrongdoing, saying her enthusiasm for the project “never gave tacit approval to any person to do anything outside of those proper processes or to act with anything other than complete integrity”.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said the government needed to reassure parents that education funding would be spent on improving literacy and numeracy. 

Education Minister James Merlino said that Victorian families had a right to feel angy and let down by the department.

He said the department had introduced reforms which would stamp out corruption by improving procurement processes, auditing and financial training for schools. 

Education Department secretary Gill Callister said that the behaviour exposed by IBAC was “completely unacceptable”.

“I hope that this signals the closure of a dark chapter in this department’s history,” she said. 

“Many people within the department and our school communities will feel greatly let down by the people they were entitled to trust.”

Senior executives implicated in the scandal have been either sacked or resigned, she said.

IBAC is seeking advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions about whether criminal charges can be pursued. It has recommended the Victorian Public Sector Commission look at banning public servants from receiving gifts or benefits from prospective suppliers.

This is IBAC’s second major investigation into corruption in the Education Department. It recently charged former education department official Nino Napoli for his involvement in an alleged scam that swindled $6 million from state schools.

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Key focus areas: Liberal candidate for Collie-Preston Elysia Harverson will focus on job creation, families, and community safety if she wins the state election in March. Photo: Shannon Wood. Liberal candidate for Collie-Preston Elysia Harverson has pledgedto focus on job creation, families, and community safety if elected in the upcoming state election.
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MrsHarverson said she had identified the three key focus areas through feedback from the community.

“I have done a lot of door knocking and a lot of community engagementand quite a few forums and they are the things that have been identified by me that people want us to cover,” she said.

“I think Colliecan play a lot when it comes to jobs,we need to look at diversifying the economywhich I think everyone says because that’s what needs to be done.”

Mrs Harversonsaid investing in technology for the coal industry would be something she supports. “Our emissions target is not as high as Labor’s, so we won’t be looking at closing down the power stations like they will be,” she said.

“The fact that Labor are proposing a solar plant is a big indication to methat they planto close the power stations down and create a solar farm, which is a big concern because there are hundreds of jobs in a coal fired power station.

“We have so much coal, there’s 50 years of coal left I think coal is where it’s at, I think we need to invest in looking at different technology for coal.”

MrsHarverson said, if elected,she would make community safety a top priority.

“In terms of families, one of the things for families is that they want to feel safeand that means making sure our police are properly resourced and that they are doing regular patrols,” she said.

Investing in local tourism is an area that MrsHarverson said she would strive for if elected to the seat of Collie-Preston.

“Tourism is another potential and I think with tourism we need startup businesses in the area,” she said.

“We need to get Lake Kepwari opened, unfortunately there has been a lot of hold up with that but now that it has been handed over to the State Government hopefully we will start seeing some traction, and that will be something I will be fighting to deliver as soon as possible.

“I would also like to see investment at Stockton, Glen Mervyn, those two places in particular have been neglected.”

Improving facilities at Collie Senior High School, implementing a regional meth strategy and further funding for upgrades to Coalfields Highway are also areas Mrs Harverson has pledged her support for.

“I think that this electorate needs fresh vision and energy and I think I am the right person for that,” Mrs Harverson said.

“Collie is going through a real transitional period right now, and I see that as a real challenge. Now is our opportunity to see that we set ourselves up for the future.”

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French songstress Edith Piaf props up in bed in 1959 after an undisclosed illness. Piaf died in 1963 from exhaustion and liver disease, aged of 47. Photo: Matty ZimmermanHe loved music, my grandfather. He’d always played the piano. A family gathering wasn’t worth the name until he approached the lovely old piano in the corner of what was always called the front room, spread his fingers across the keys and summoned the magic, my grandmother at his side. Waltzes, Irish tunes, everyone singing; classical, a smattering of old-time swing, songs and tunes from a century ago. Often, his eyes would close as he delved into his repertoire.
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He spoke French, too. It had been useful on the Western Front where he’d fought in World War I and even handier in Paris when he’d taken leave.

There’d be a ghost of a smile when he’d speak occasionally about Paris. But he left much in the air. You had to imagine for yourself the cafes and the music of that city of light and love, a tall, thin farm boy who spoke French and played the piano, savouring the mercy of a few days away from the artillery and bayonets and machineguns. He had been, after all, just 21 when he sailed across the world to war.

I lived next door to my grandfather when he was old and faltering, and sometimes I’d play him a record of some song or tune that had taken my fancy and which I thought might quicken his heart.

Like a fair proportion of the world, I found myself in the 1960s transported by the voice of the French chanteuse Edith Piaf.

She had, of course, captured audiences for decades, but after she died in 1963, broken down by her addictions to morphine and alcohol and life, her music became more popular than ever.

As a boy, I felt I’d discovered a shining alternative universe of song when I first listened to Piaf. I bought a record of her best-known music and almost wore it out transporting myself to a place that existed only in my imagination: a smoky, black and white Paris, romantic to the point of heartbreak.

One wintry day I played my record to my grandfather. I thought Piaf’s La Vie En Rose, surely one of the loveliest songs of love ever sung, might take him back to the rosy hues of his youth. If there is an evocative song of all things French, this is surely it.

My grandfather closed his eyes and sighed.

But it was another song on that record that stirred him. He sat up in his easy chair and moved a hand to the stirring rhythm of it. His eyes were open and he was clearly seeing something beyond the room in which he sat.

The song was Non, Je ne regrette rien.

“No, I regret nothing,” my grandfather translated, and he sounded as defiant as Piaf’s rendering of it.

I already knew the bones of the story that had shaped his life, and that of all my family.

Twice he was wounded within the hellfire of the Western Front, only to be patched up in British hospitals and sent back to the trenches. In a hospital in Birmingham, he was nursed by a young softly spoken woman named Cecilia. They fell in love.

My grandfather’s military papers listed him as Presbyterian. Cecilia was Irish Catholic.

It is hard now, a century later, to imagine what depths of religious bigotry governed social and family behaviour.

When the war was done, and the delights of Paris had released their spell on my grandfather, he and Cecilia quietly married. My grandfather wrote to his parents, omitting to mention his bride was Catholic.

When, back in Australia, the family eventually discovered the woman who would become my grandmother was a “papist”, no mercy was shown. My grandfather, the twice-wounded war hero and farm boy who spoke French (and Latin), played the piano and had a deep sensitivity about him, was frozen out. He had chosen a wife from the wrong religion.

The newlyweds left the family property and my grandfather went schoolteaching. He had to save hard, because when his father died, the will, which he’d been assured left him the family farm, “went missing”. He was forced to bid at a trustee’s auction for his own property with a Depression only a few years ahead. Much hardship was to follow.

The family wound never healed properly, but my grandfather and grandmother cleaved to each other and had six children. In time, their own family gatherings became immense, grandchildren and great-grandchildren finding themselves stilled by my grandfather’s music, his Cecilia at his side.

“I regret nothing,” he said that day as Edith Piaf’s voice died away.

He meant it. You could hear it. Words to live by.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Posted on 20. April 2019
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