Month: December 2018

Pell denies being present when rape claims made

Claims that Cardinal George Pell was present when a boy described being raped by a Christian Brother were “irresponsible, untrue and are absolutely denied”, the cardinal said yesterday afternoon.
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The allegations by Melbourne lawyer Vivian Waller, who is acting for more than 70 victims of abuse by Christian Brothers, were widely reported yesterday.

Dr Waller said in a submission to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into how churches handled sex abuse that Brother Robert Best raped the boy at St Alipius school in Ballarat.

She said the boy went back to class distressed and was beaten by his teacher until he withdrew the claim.

Later, believing a priest could help him, the boy had asked to speak to the then Father Pell, who had refused to see him, but Father Pell had been present when the victim told another priest what happened, it is claimed.

According to the submission, a third priest, notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale, then entered and offered to “deal with the situation”, which he did by again beating the victim.

Yesterday Cardinal Pell, now Archbishop of Sydney, said he had not been in Ballarat in 1969, which is when Dr Waller said the rape occurred, and was not appointed to that diocese until 1973. Unfortunately, the error had been repeated by media outlets across the country, he said in a statement from the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Indicating he would be happy to give evidence to the inquiry, he said he was never present when any allegations of rape were made by a victim against Brother Best.

“The truth will avoid further hurt to victims. Unsubstantiated allegations and personal and false smears are of no assistance to victims or to the inquiry.”

Cardinal Pell said he hoped parliamentary privilege enjoyed by those involved would not be “exploited with calumny”.

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Reserve Bank rejects a cap on home loans

A senior Reserve Bank official has rejected the case for capping how much banks can lend homebuyers, saying such a move would not quell the housing boom-and-bust cycle.
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In a bid to prevent wild swings in house prices, some countries overseas have recently toughened their restrictions on how much of a property’s purchase price can be financed by debt.

But the head of the Reserve Banks’ financial stability department, Luci Ellis, today said similar caps in Australia did not make sense, and threatened to make it harder for first home buyers to enter the market.

‘‘The cap would have to be set very low to be binding on existing home buyers who are trading up,’’ Dr Ellis said in Sydney. ‘‘First-home buyers would be squeezed out, but most buyers would be little affected.’’

Overseas experience with caps on lending had tended not to control prices, she said. Instead, caps had lowered the number of people who defaulted, because buyers would still have equity in their home if prices fell.

“The cap would not prevent boom-bust cycles in housing prices,” she said.

Lower default rates were ‘‘not a bad thing,’’ Dr Ellis said, but the primary task of regulators was to ensure the economy’s stability, rather than to shield banks from lower default rates.

Countries that have caps on borrowing include Hong Kong, which in late 2010 required all properties costing $HK8 million to $HK12 million ($1 million – $1.5 million) to have loan-to-valuation ratios no greater than 60 per cent.

In Australia, by contrast, banks can lend home buyers more than 90 per cent of the purchase price.

The comments come amid ongoing concern about the high level of mortgage debt in Australia – with latest figures showing household debt is worth 150 per cent of income.

Despite playing down the need for caps on lending, Dr Ellis acknowledged the need for homebuyers to save a deposit.

‘‘People need to provide some deposit when they buy a home. It protects them if something goes wrong for them, like a job loss or illness, especially if it happens at the same time that housing prices are falling,’’ she said.

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End of the kangaroo route for BA?

British Airways has given the strongest indication yet that it is considering pulling off the London-Australia route after Qantas favoured Emirates as an alliance partner.
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In a submission to Australia’s competition regulator, British Airways said its 17-year alliance with Qantas had been a ‘‘vital aspect of BA’s ability to offer services and operate in the aviation sector’’ between Australia and Europe.

‘‘BA considers that it is increasingly challenging for an international airline to operate services on long-haul routes between the United Kingdom/Europe and Australia in the absence of such an alliance due to persistent excess capacity and the nature off the substantial fixed costs involved in their operation,’’ it said.

The flag carrier has daily services between Sydney and London’s Heathrow Airport.

Portions of British Airways’ submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which is deciding whether to approve the proposed Qantas-Emirates alliance, have been blacked out for commercial reasons.

The redacted parts include the end of a sentence which details what impact ‘‘the termination of the [Qantas-BA alliance] in favour of the proposed venture [with Emirates] will’’ have on British Airways.

British Airways said it had relied on the revenue-sharing agreement with Qantas to gain better scheduling of flights and a more efficient use of aircraft time, as well as improved access to the high-yielding Australian corporate travel market and better connections in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

The airline also said in the submission that the ‘‘combination of Emirates, Qantas and Jetstar’’ would give the Middle Eastern airline ‘‘significant leverage’’ on trans-Tasman routes and ‘‘will minimise BA’s ability to provide competing services into and out of New Zealand’’.

British Airways and Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic have retained a presence on the Australia-Europe route, despite most of their European rivals pulling out years ago.

Virgin Atlantic flies daily between Sydney and London via Hong Kong.

As well as ending the alliance with British Airways, Qantas has pulled out of code-share arrangements with Air France and Cathay Pacific, and will also be giving up landing slots in Singapore.

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Demons to keep pressure off Hogan

Melbourne Football Club coach Mark Neeld at a press conference with new recruit Jesse Hogan. Teen dream: Jesse Hogan.
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IT WASN’T all Melbourne’s doing, but the expectations and pressure on former No. 1 draft pick Jack Watts when he first walked in the door four years ago were enormous.

The Demons are determined not to put 17-year-old Jesse Hogan in the same position. ”Part of that is media driven, part of that is supporter driven. People tend to get excited, especially at this time of the year, and that is up to us to manage and make sure we put everything in place,” coach Mark Neeld said yesterday, as he sat next to the maturely built key forward.

The club’s new high-profile young gun had his official unveiling at AAMI Park just days after the Demons secured access to his services by giving up pick No. 3 in this year’s draft to Greater Western Sydney.

The deal also included Melbourne trading away selection 13 to secure midfield dynamo Dominic Barry, on-traded by GWS, and pick 20 from the Giants. ”We do have high hopes for Jesse, however our expectations will be realistic,” Neeld said.

”As the seasons go, there is not too many teenagers that are stepping straight into the AFL and having an immediate impact,” he said.

”And we may have been down that road before with Jack Watts and some of the unrealistic expectations that were placed on Jack in the early part of his career.

”We are certainly not doing that with Jesse. We will have a progression plan.”

The West Australian, rated by some as a potential No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft if he were available, is ineligible to play until 2014, so he will play VFL next year.

During his interview with Melbourne, he was asked the question he knew was coming – ”are you worth waiting 12 months for?”.

At 195 centimetres and 97 kilograms, he can run a 20-metre sprint in three seconds – regarded as midfield standard – and has modelled his game on Fremantle star Matthew Pavlich.

”I just said, ‘Yeah, I can develop my game really well in that 12 months. It will be a good investment,’ ” Hogan said.

The Demons have experience in managing future prospects in this situation. Even though father-son recruit Jack Viney wasn’t officially added to the list until this week, he spent a development year with the Demons in 2012. ”He’ll be someone to sponge off, and someone who has gone through the same sort of thing,” Hogan said of Viney.

Still, Melbourne won’t take any chances with Hogan – who they believe is well worth the price tag – and even took the step of speaking to rival clubs Gold Coast and Adelaide about how they handled their 17-year-old draftees Jaeger O’Meara and Brad Crouch. That Hogan will have 18 months with the Demons coaching staff and fitness guru David Misson will be a big advantage, Neeld says, when the rising star ultimately gets his chance at AFL level.

”Jesse won’t play every week in the VFL next year, there will be some weeks where we might take him out of playing footy and he might emphasise his endurance training or something like that,” Neeld said.

Hogan has already been partnered up with new mentor Mitch Clark, a fellow West Australian and the other half of what the Demons hope could become a dangerous key forward combination.

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Court orders internet ban on Meagher accused

THIS is Adrian Ernest Bayley – the man accused of raping and murdering Jill Meagher.
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The Age is allowed after a court ruling yesterday to publish for the first time the face of the man who allegedly abducted Ms Meagher from Sydney Road in Brunswick.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton yesterday ruled there was no need to ban publication of Bayley’s image because identity did not appear to be an issue in the case.

Ms Broughton said that in such circumstances she did not believe the publication of photographs of Bayley would prejudice the administration of justice. She did, however, order any damaging material about Bayley be removed from the internet.

Ms Broughton said she disagreed with the view that the internet was an unregulated and anarchic environment that meant any ban would be futile. Most websites such as Facebook had sophisticated organisational structures that could be held accountable, she said.

The magistrate handed down her decision at 2.15pm yesterday after Victoria Legal Aid lawyers acting for Bayley had applied for suppression orders preventing the publication of any prejudicial material and images, photographs or likenesses of him.

Defence lawyer Helen Spowart tendered to the court a vast amount of internet-sourced material which she said was designed to express or incite hatred towards Bayley. The material had appeared on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

A bearded Bayley appeared via videolink from the Melbourne Assessment Prison to hear Ms Broughton’s decision yesterday.

He sat behind a table with his head bowed and his hands clasped in front of him for most of the 35-minute hearing. Wearing a grey jumper, Bayley would occasionally stare at the monitor showing courtroom 4 and scratch his beard.

He spoke only once during the hearing, when the magistrate asked him if he could hear and see her and he replied, ”Yes.”

Ms Broughton said there had been an extraordinary level of media and public interest in the case.

Mainstream media had so far been responsible in its reporting and the thrust of the suppression application was directed at non-mainstream material online, she said.

The prohibition order will remain until January 18 when Bayley is next due to appear in court for a committal mention.

Ms Spowart had told the court earlier that the material fuelling the vilification of Bayley could irreparably damage his chances for a fair trial.

Bayley had been labelled in ”subhuman terms” and the continued publication of the material could contaminate the views of potential jurors, she said. A number of websites had refused to remove the damaging material despite requests from Victoria Police.

Ms Spowart said the suppression order was needed to send a message to those responsible that continued defiance would result in criminal sanctions and would not be tolerated.

When Bayley first appeared in court on September 28, Ms Meagher’s distraught husband, Tom, pleaded with people on social media to stop posting comments about Bayley for fear of interfering with the court case.

Ms Meagher, 29, who moved with her husband from Ireland to Melbourne three years ago, was allegedly abducted while walking home alone from a bar in Sydney Road early on Saturday, September 22.

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