Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before – angry, activist and very gay

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Stacie Andree (Ellen Page) and Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) in a scene from Freeheld Photo: eOne Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell) in a scene from Freeheld. Photo: eOne
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This is Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before – angry, activist and very gay.

In this clip from the drama Freeheld, based on a true story, Carell plays Steven Goldstein, a lawyer and gay rights activist in New Jersey who acted in a landmark case for police lieutenant Laurel Hester (played here by Julianne Moore) and her partner Stacie Andree (Ellen Page).

Hester had been diagnosed with cancer, and wanted to leave her estate, including her police pension, to Andree, but the elected officials of Ocean County – known as freeholders – refused to allow her pension to pass to a same-sex partner.

“What these freeholders are doing is unconscionable,” he tells Andree, Hester and fellow cop Dane Wells (Michael Shannon).

Goldstein floats the idea of a gay pride parade, to “show them we’re a force to be reckoned with”.

When Wells tells him he doesn’t understand the conservative nature of this community, calling him “Steve”, Goldstein responds: “It’s Steven, with a V – as in very gay – and when people disrespect my gay brothers and sisters, I rain terror on them. Shock and awe. Shock and awe.”

Zach Galifianakis – like Carell, an alumnus of Saturday Night Live (though Galifianakis joined as a writer and lasted only two weeks) – was originally slated for the role of Goldstein but dropped out last August due to a scheduling conflict.

The real Goldstein told New Jersey’s The Auditor he was delighted with the casting decision.

“I’m so glad Steve Carell is playing me in Freeheld, rather than The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” he said.

Though this is the most out-and-proud role Carell – who is married (to a woman) and the father of two children – has played, technically speaking it isn’t his first gay role.

In 1996, he and Stephen Colbert provided the voices of Gary and Ace in an animated superhero comedy series called The Ambiguously Gay Duo.

In 2006 he played a gay Proust scholar recovering from a suicide attempt who is forced to go on a family road trip to a juvenile beauty pageant in the downbeat comedy Little Miss Sunshine.

And in 2014, he starred in Foxcatcher as John E. du Pont, the mega-wealthy wrestling enthusiast who shot and killed Dave Schultz in 1996, and whose relationship with his protégé Mark Schultz (played by Channing Tatum) in the film is tinged with a repressed homosexuality.

Freeheld, which is based on an Oscar-winning short documentary of the same name from 2007, opens in Thursday November 5.

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The two Chinan girls and their mother living in ‘jail’ at Villawood detention centre

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Villawood detention centre in Sydney. Photo: Jessica Hromas’Dad, why are we here?’ No life and a baby on the way on Nauru
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Salwa Abas stands out in the busy school drop off: she is the only child escorted by a guard. Classmates tease the five-year-old for living in a “jail” and when she returns home, each pocket of her bag is searched.

Salwa and her sister Yasmin, 3, are n citizens. But they have been living with their mother behind locked gates at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre for almost a year, after the federal government cancelled their mother’s visa.

In doing so, the government acknowledged the decision was not in the children’s best interests. Their mother Zahra, who is pregnant with her third child, has begged Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to intervene.

“They were happy n kids, why [did the government] do this to them, they don’t deserve to be here,” she told Fairfax Media from inside the detention centre.

“[My children] are really upset inside and they are asking me ‘What are we doing for Christmas, are we getting out? Why are we here?'”.

Ms Abas, originally from Iraq, arrived on a boat from Indonesia in 2009 with other family members. They were taken to Christmas Island then granted protection in .

Her father, known as Captain Emad, arrived in in 2010. He fled two years later, after ABC’s Four Corners program alleged he was running a people-smuggling racket from Canberra.

The case cast a spotlight on his family, and the Department of Immigration determined Ms Abas, who was 19 when arriving in , had falsified information on her visa application, including the reason why she needed protection.

Ms Abas said this week her father was “abusive, controlling and angry” and told the family to lie to immigration officials about their names and background.

“In Indonesia he wanted to break my legs because I wanted to run away from him, and he took a hammer and hit my leg and I got stitches from it,” she said.

“He told us to tell un-genuine information and I did, but my intention wasn’t anything bad, I just wanted to live [in] freedom without him abusing me any more.”

Under the former Labor government, the department said while Ms Abas had breached her obligations under migration law, her visa would not be cancelled.

But in December last year when the Coalition was in office, then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison personally intervened to cancel Ms Abas’ visa. She was informed on Christmas Eve.

In a letter to Ms Abas, the veracity of which the department did not dispute, Mr Morrison wrote that she had been living in Malaysia for many years, rather than in Iraq where she claimed to have suffered persecution, and should not have been granted a protection visa.

He said there was no evidence she was under duress from her father when applying for a visa.

“Notwithstanding that the best interests of the dependent children would be served by a decision not to cancel the mother’s visa, this is outweighed by the seriousness of the non-compliance,” Mr Morrison wrote.

Ms Abas was taken into detention in January, and lives in residential-style housing. Her n citizen husband suffers medical problems and depression after an accident and cannot care for the children, forcing them to live with their mother at Villawood indefinitely.

Ms Abas’ husband visits the family in detention and she is 21 weeks pregnant. She is also severely depressed and fears for the future of her unborn baby and young daughters.

Salwa, once a bubbly child with many friends who loved the film Frozen, is now lonely and suffers nightmares. Yasmin has become unhappy and clingy.

“Every day [Salwa] says ‘I had a really bad day, I hate this school, I hate you, I hate this place’, and then she goes in her room and cries. She doesn’t want to go out, she doesn’t want to eat,” Ms Abas said.

“It’s like a jail – you have no freedom, no control over your life or your children’s life.”

Mr Dutton and the Department of Immigration refused to answer questions regarding Ms Abas, or explain why she was the only family member being detained. A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton said his department was “managing” the case.

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Mafia history of Gino and Mark Stocco’s alleged victim Rosario Cimone revealed

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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 Gino Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters
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Mark Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Mark Stocco at Dubbo police station on Wednesday. Photo: Nine News

Body of Rosario Cimone found on remote property​How the Stoccos evaded police​The tip-off that led to the final hide-outWill o’ the wisps in Kelly Gang country

The long-awaited capture of father and son fugitives Gino and Mark Stocco has taken another bizarre twist as links have emerged between their alleged victim and the Italian Mafia, long-term cannabis cultivation and a fatal electrocution last year.

The pair, who had been on the run for eight years, were charged on Thursday morning with the murder of Italian-born farm caretaker Rosario Cimone, 68, on October 7.

They did not appear in Dubbo Local Court on Thursday and magistrate Andrew Eckhold ordered they remain behind bars until their case returns on January 20.

Mr Cimone’s decomposed body was discovered in a shallow grave at Pinevale, a remote property near Dunedoo, in central western NSW, just hours after police captured the Stoccos in a dramatic, covert operation on Wednesday morning.

The elusive pair had worked on the extremely isolated property with Mr Cimone, who was reported missing to Green Valley police by his daughters, Maria and Vicenza, on October 8.

When a white ute, similar to the one allegedly stolen by the Stoccos, was spotted in bushland behind the property on Tuesday, police had their “final pieces of the jigsaw” and descended on the 385-hectare spot.

Fairfax Media can reveal Mr Cimone, from Green Valley, was a cannabis cultivator with a string of past convictions and a long history with the Calabrian Mafia in .

His son, Phillip, 35, was also convicted in 2013 of cultivating more than 1000 cannabis plants on a remote property near Bundarra, in the northern tablelands,

Rosario, known as Ross to his friends, was charged with cultivating substantial cannabis crops in the early 1980s, charged with the sale of cannabis in the mid-1980s and convicted in 2003 of a $30-million cannabis operation at a property in Nimmitabel, in far southern NSW.

He was sentenced to four years in prison for growing 14,000 cannabis plants and possessing unauthorised firearms.

He was one of a group of prisoners to be given early release, in exchange for bribes, under the corrupt 1980s prison boss, Rex Jackson.

One of his seven co-accused in the Nimmitabel drug gang, Mario Cataldo, 58, was killed in October last year when he was electrocuted by an illegal hydroponic set-up in Bringelly, on the western outskirts of Sydney.

He lay dead in a shed for two days, and his body was eventually found when his family called an ambulance because they had not heard from him.

Former friend, Giuseppe Mammone, said Mr Cimone was “a nice man” who used to own a butcher’s shop in Edensor Park in the 80s and loved going to the Marconi Club when he was in Green Valley. 

Former assistant police commissioner Clive Small, who is writing a book on the Calabrian Mafia in , said Mr Cimone played a “mid-level” role.

He had been working in the Dunedoo area in recent months but it is not known whether drugs were being grown on the rugged, isolated property, described by locals as a “perfect hideout”.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, told Fairfax Media that she had made calls to CrimeStoppers in recent years to report suspicious people working on the property, that had no farms.

It’s not known whether the Stoccos had direct involvement but Mr Small said they would most likely have been considered too unreliable by the Mafia.

They were erratic, conspiratorial characters who were known to move frequently, barely staying on farms for more than a few weeks.

“When [the Mafia] are recruiting people to be pickers or cultivators … or crop sitters, that is, people who might go there to plant the crops under supervision with others and just sit there and make sure no one steals it, they tend, generally, to deal with people they have had experience with in the past or whose families they know.”

He said the Mafia was well and truly alive in and had a violent but little-known history.

“There are probably a number of reasons why they’ve been able to get away with it,” he said. “If you deny it’s existence, then you don’t have to do anything about it.”

In addition to murder, Gino, 57, and Mark, 36, are each charged with 17 NSW offences, including shooting with intent to murder, dishonestly obtaining property by deception, police pursuit and discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest.

Wanted for a string of property and violent offences in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, the men became the focus of a large-scale manhunt after police were shot at during a high speed pursuit near Wagga Wagga on October 16.

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Sydney man Zane Alchin likely to plead guilty to harassing slut-shame protesters

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Zane Alchin is expected to plead guilty. Photo: Nick MoirMan charged over slut shaming, harassment of Sydney woman for her Tinder profile
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A Sydney man will likely plead guilty to harassing women who defended their friend from online slut-shaming, a court has heard.

Zane Alchin​, 25, appeared before Newtown Local Court on Thursday, charged with using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend.

His lawyer indicated Mr Alchin was expected to plead guilty to the crime, which carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.

Mr Alchin allegedly committed the offence on a Facebook thread about the online abuse of Sydney woman Olivia Melville.

A photo of Ms Melville’s profile on the dating app Tinder had been uploaded to Facebook. Her profile caption quoted a lyric by the hip-hop artist Drake: “Type of girl who will suck you dry and then eat some lunch with you.”

Ms Melville was derided online by strangers. Her friends responded by reposting the original post and criticising the commenters for their attitudes toward women.

Mr Alchin is accused of harassing these friends in ranting, obscene comments, writing at one point “[sic] your all f—ing basic sluts”.

He also allegedly referred to “the best thing about raping feminists”. Fairfax Media has chosen not to publish other, more explicit messages in the series.

The alleged targets of the abuse told media they had reported the messages to police, who initially “offered little support to our case”.

They then began a Facebook group called “Sexual Violence Won’t Be Silenced”, which gained more than 8000 followers. Their petition to the governments of NSW and  for tighter laws and more resources to tackle online harassment gathered more than 15,000 signatures.

Mr Alchin was charged on Monday. “We would like to thank the Newtown Local Police for their hard work on this case,” the group wrote on Facebook.

“Not every person who experiences online violence has the time, resources or support network to start a campaign after being harassed. That’s why, regardless of the outcome of this legal case, SVWBS will continue to fight for better laws, training and education surrounding online harassment.”

Mr Alchin’s matter will return to court on December 8.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dressmaker

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THE DRESSMAKER (M)
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Stars: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Kerry Fox, Shane Bourne, Hugo Weaving

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Screening: general release

Rating: ★★★★

JOCELYN Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker is about the return of a prodigal daughter, and you might say it was made by one. While Moorhouse still has a high reputation as an n filmmaker, she has not shot a feature in her homeland since her debut Proof in the early ’90s. But this hectic, clattering Gothic farce, based on a novel by Rosalie Ham, finds her back with a vengeance.

In dead of night, the glamorous Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) arrives in the remote wheatbelt town of Dungatar, her Singer sewing machine by her side. As we soon discover, this is the home she was sent away from as a child, under ambiguous circumstances, which saw her implicated in the death of a schoolmate.

Even now, in 1951, the rumours haven’t subsided: Tilly herself fears she may be cursed, and Mad Molly (Judy Davis), her cranky old bag of a mother, initially refuses to recognise her. But Tilly is determined to set things right, or at least find out what really happened on that fateful day. She moves into Molly’s hilltop shack and, having learned her trade in the great fashion houses of Europe, she sets about introducing the local matrons to the joys of haute couture.

Teddy McSwiney’s (Liam Hemsworth) role as Tilly Dunnage’s (Kate Winslet) love interest isn’t conventional.

Whatever may be suggested by this synopsis, The Dressmaker is not one of those sentimental fables in which a free-spirited stranger brings new life to a repressed community. Like many outback towns in n cinema, Dungatar is something of a hellhole, its very name suggesting a smelly place where the hapless get stuck.

Its citizens also tend to be given blunt allegorical names, from the vicious schoolteacher Beulah Harridiene (Kerry Fox) to the slimy civic leader Evan Pettyman (Shane Bourne).

Those few characters worthy of sympathy tend to be outsiders of one kind or another – such as Sergeant Horatio Farrat, a friendly policeman and closet transvestite played by Hugo Weaving.

Another partial outsider is Teddy McSwiney (Liam Hemsworth), a rugged hunk from a family of rubbish collectors who serves as Tilly’s love interest, though his role isn’t quite what it would be in a conventional feelgood entertainment.

The great scene-stealer is Davis, who’s able to make Molly into an outlandish comic figure without eliminating all nuance, since the shamelessness belongs as much to the character as to the performer. Molly may be a recluse, but she relishes having an audience to play to.

Truth be told, Moorhouse has so many characters and subplots to juggle that her storytelling can feel disjointed: some weighty developments are skated over so rapidly we might wonder if they really happened at all. On the other hand, the lurches from broad comedy to grim melodrama and back are evidently intentional – part of a strategy for throwing the viewer off-balance, along with the dramatic colour contrasts and spatial distortions of Don McAlpine’s cinematography.

This cartoonish yet confrontational approach recalls the work of Moorhouse’s husband P.J. Hogan, who collaborated with her on The Dressmaker’s script. Absent, however, is Hogan’s softness of heart. By the end, it’s clear that Moorhouse wasn’t joking when she publicly compared the plot of The Dressmaker to Clint Eastwood’s great revisionist Western Unforgiven – though the film could also be seen as the long-delayed feminist answer to Wake In Fright.

Either way, it’s not for nothing that Tilly’s favourite colour, bright red, evokes both fire and blood.

All questions of taste and plausibility aside, The Dressmaker is a hoot and a healthy shock to the system. n cinema may never be quite the same again.

MOVIE REVIEW: Burnt

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BURNT (M)
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Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl, Alicia Vikander, Uma Thurman

Director: John Wells

Screening: general release

Rating: ★★★

BRADLEY Cooper’s chef, Adam Jones, comes out of the Gordon Ramsay school of kitchen tantrum. At least he starts that way. Burnt is the story of his long and noisy journey towards the embrace of teamwork and a civilised demeanour.

How much you enjoy it is likely to depend on your taste for the cult of the celebrity chef. I’m resistant, so I spent much of the action wincing over the size of the seafood bill as he hurls successive plates of seared scallops and poached turbot fillets at the wall because they don’t meet his exacting standards.

Bradley Cooper’s intense, blue-eyed stare does a lot of the heavy lifting in Burnt.

The film is directed by John Wells, best known as showrunner for ER and The West Wing and, more recently, as the director of August: Osage County.

When we first meet Adam, he’s just arrived in London, having undergone a long rehabilitation after years of abusing drugs, alcohol and best friends, few of whom have any desire to see him again. Nonetheless, he perseveres – or rather, bullies them into giving him another chance. In particular, he persuades his long-suffering friend Tony (Daniel Bruhl), who happens to own the Langham Hotel, to let him take over the hotel’s restaurant.

Cooper’s intense, blue-eyed stare does a lot of the heavy lifting in these scenes. He also employs quite a bit of the fighting spirit that he sported in his last film, American Sniper. In that, his co-star was Sienna Miller, cast again here as a talented young chef.

There are many loving shots of colour co-ordinated helpings cunningly arranged on white plates. And they’re usually served up as part of a montage, a device that tends to be the first refuge of a director lumbered with a script lacking enough lines worth saying.

There is some banter, much of it wisely assigned to Emma Thompson as Adam’s therapist, and to Matthew Rhys, who does a great job as his former friend. But Adam himself is so pickled in his own ego that he wouldn’t know a witticism from a witlof.

TOPICS: Mumford & Sons give it up for Dungog heroes

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Although hardly a classic situation, recent events at Newcastle City Council remind us of a certain novel.
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Mumford & Sons have a soft spot for flood-hit Dungog, having played there in 2012. Local heroes of the town’s April floods have the opportunity to attend the band’s concert at The Domain on November 14 for free. Picture: Peter Stoop

BRITISH band Mumford & Sons have a special connection with Dungog.

The folk-rockers played there before a crowd of 10,000 people in 2012.

They didn’t forget the connection they made with the town that day.

The band has joined with Telstra to offer 400 free double passes to members of the Dungog community to attend a gig in The Domain on November 14.

The giveaway includes bus transfers from Dungog.

It’s all about recognising people who helped rebuild Dungog, following the April flood which devastated the town and took the lives of three people.

So get in there and nominate a local hero.

All you have to do is explain in 50 words or less why your nominee has shown ‘‘great community spirit’’.

Telstra area general manager Chris Cusack encouraged locals to get involved.

“We are honoured to be able to work with the band to reward some of the heroes who helped others in their time of need,’’ Mr Cusack said.

Entries can be made at telstra上海龙凤论坛m/music.

A disgusting tale spawned from McDonald’s has been recalled.

TOPICS brought you the story yesterday about maggots found inside a bagged roast chicken bought from Waratah Coles.

This brought back a few memories for Derek Dowding, of Wallsend.

‘‘I had a similar encounter with a McOz burger from a local McDonald’s outlet in 1999,’’ Derek told Topics.

‘‘When the store manager failed to apologise for the wriggling maggot in my meal, I pursued it with head office and the health inspector.’’

Macky Dees sent him a letter, saying it did a ‘‘thorough investigation of your complaint’’.

The letter said Maccas referred the case to the University of NSW Department of Entomology for investigation.

The department ‘‘spent considerable time analysing the burger’’, the letter said.

‘‘They have been unable to identify anything that resembles insect origin.’’ Feeling a tad sceptical, Derek went back to the restaurant and confronted the manager.

‘‘He confessed the maggot was squashed and the burger was thrown in the bin,’’ Derek said.

‘‘The health inspector reported back saying he found a box of rotting tomatoes in the store and that was probably the source of my complaint.’’

Maccas said it was an isolated incident and posted Derek two vouchers for replacement McOz burgers. He didn’t take up the offer.

However, he did write a song called ‘‘The McMaggot’’, which included the line ‘‘would you like flies with that’’.

THIS brings us to Newcastle City Council. We were thinking about the Labor-Green axing of general manager Ken Gouldthorp.

We were also thinking about flies (there’s been a lot around lately, hence the maggots).

Then it hit us. This whole council business is a bit like Lord of the Flies.

You know the story – a group of children marooned on an island try to govern themselves with terrible results.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Lord of the Flies 1963​

Lord of the Flies 2013​Email [email protected]上海龙凤论坛m.au, tweet him @Lakemacjourno, or call on 4973-7709.

Taylor Swift files counterclaim against radio DJ who allegedly groped her

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Taylor Swift has filed a counterclaim against a radio DJ she alleges groped her at a promotional event.
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Former radio DJ David Mueller filed a lawsuit against the singer last month, claiming he was fired from his job and banned from Swift’s concerts following her allegations that he groped her at a meet and greet in Denver, Colorado.

But now Swift has responded, filing a counterclaim which, according to People, alleges Mueller “lifted her skirt and groped her” during the fan event before her concert at the Pepsi Centre in June 2013.

People reports the countersuit details that Mueller admitted an assault occurred at the event, but he blamed his “superior” David Haskell, the program director at Denver’s country radio station, KYGO FM.

“Ms Swift knows exactly who committed the assault – it was Mueller – and she is not confused in the slightest about whether her long-term business acquaintance, Mr Haskell, was the culprit,” the countersuit states.

The countersuit goes on to detail that Swift, 25, was “surprised, upset, offended, and alarmed” following the incident.

“Resolution of this counterclaim will demonstrate that Mueller alone was the perpetrator of the humiliating and wrongful conduct targeted against Ms Swift, and will serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”

Swift is seeking damages and costs, and has requested a jury trial.

The countersuit specifies any surplus damages or costs awarded to Swift following the suit will be donated to “charitable organisations dedicated to protecting women from similar acts of sexual assault and personal disregard”.

David Mueller filed a lawsuit against the Wildest Dreams singer in the US District Court in Denver on September 11.

The Denver Postreports Mueller was attending a meet and greet with his girlfriend as an employee of KYGO FM.

According to Mueller’s suit, Swift was talking to the pair before she “suddenly announced it was picture time” and “quickly put her right arm” around his girlfriend.

Mueller joined the pair for the photo “at the last second”, after which he says Swift thanked the couple and left.

Mueller alleges he later spoke to an unnamed co-worker who “described and demonstrated how he had put his arms around [Swift], hands on her bottom” when it was his turn to meet the singer.

Based on Swift’s countersuit, it seems likely this unnamed co-worker is Haskell.

Mueller lost his job at the station as a result of the incident.

According to People, he had previously been dismissed twice from radio host jobs at other stations and hadn’t been employed as an on-air personality since 2006.

After news of Mueller’s legal action broke, Swift’s representatives said they had provided “evidence” to the radio station of the assault when it occurred, although the decision to fire Mueller came from his employer.

“The radio station was given evidence immediately after the incident,” her representatives told People in a statement. “They made their independent decision.”

OPINION: Safety is paramount to moving China

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THE n Bureau of Statistics says more than half a million trucks use n roads every day. They are moving goods and commodities; from livestock and grains, vegetables and milk, to online shopping and imported cars – all are essential to the way we live.
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The tyranny of distance is something that has come to define in many ways. Our geographical separation from the rest of the world, let alone ourselves, gives us our unique n culture.

It is the thousands of kilometres of road separating n cities that has given birth to a strong and vibrant trucking industry.

The Hunter Region is home to a large number of nationally recognised companies that are at the heart of the trucking and logistics industry.

With all the time we spend on the road, as an industry we have had to develop a rigorous approach to safety. In the past few weeks in our region we were reminded about the tragic effects of road accidents that involve cars and trucks.

About 21 years ago the local transport industry decided to do something about road transport safety and we held our first event at Civic Park with the objective of improving safety through education and awareness.

To do this we used our close working connections with our emergency services and it was this relationship that began a tradition that will celebrate the 22nd Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Day on Sunday, November 1.

Our overall objective has not changed. We remain committed to improving road safety, but our focus has moved slightly. One accident involving a truck and car is one too many. With more and more motor vehicles on our roads we must work harder to educate people about how we can better share roads.

Each year on the first Sunday of November, the trucking industry comes together with emergency services and our wider business community in Newcastle to celebrate what we do, with a strong message of safety and awareness that is aimed at the whole community.

On Sunday, a parade of more than 50 big rigs will roll in from Sandgate to Newcastle Foreshore where a community family fun day will promote the role of the trucking industry in the community and advocate for safe road use for us all.

A big part of our day is to support the work of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. For almost 40 years the rescue helicopter has been servicing our region, and like so many people in the Hunter and beyond, the trucking industry understands the enormous value of its work within the emergency healthcare chain.

The transport and logistics industry plays a role in the community that extends well beyond travelling along highways. Whether it’s providing storage or logistics to community and sporting events or sponsoring kids’ sport, we are proud of our contribution and proud to work with our community to keep people safe.

Education is the key to ensuring safe road use for everyone. Whether that is understanding the distance it takes for a loaded B-Double to stop or how to overtake with care.

Like you, truck drivers want to get home safely to their families.

Pete Black is the chairman of the Newcastle and Hunter Region Road Transport Awareness Group

OPINION: Women reclaim the night

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Reclaim the Night rallies are held nationwide. Picture: Craig SillitoeTHIS evening hundreds of women will take to the streets to demand an end to sexual assault and violence against women.
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Reclaim the Night (RTN) is a yearly tradition for women that takes place all over the world, and Newcastle is no exception.

This protest was born in Germany in 1977 and the same year women’s rights activists in Britain organised RTN across 11 cities. By 1978 the event reached .

Reclaim the Night is, and always has been, a protest about ending sexual assault and violence against women.

The march is exclusively for people who identify as women and asserts that every woman has a right to live their lives free from violence, rape or fear.

Whether or not people wish to acknowledge it, violence and murder committed against women is chronic, brutal and devastating, and the statistics back this.

Almost every week one woman is murdered by a current or former partner, one in five women experiences sexual violence in their lifetime and one in three has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

Furthermore, intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to ill-health and premature death in women under 45, more so than any other risks, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, according to Our Watch.

The impact is so devastating that we feel the need to keep count: Destroy the Joint reports that 75 women have been violently killed this year and REAL for women has counted 34 Aboriginal women killed this year alone.

It’s a crisis and an injustice, and women deserve better. Women deserve to live their lives free of fear.

Rosy Batty has done much to put violence against women on the agenda in 2015, however, more needs to be done.

Ms Batty has given us a platform not just to raise awareness but to engage the community and work towards changing the culture of violence that exists in this country.

The need for these changes is reflected in the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey, which demonstrates some disturbing attitudes about violence against women by young people in : 40per cent of young people think rape results from men ‘‘not being able to control their urges’’, 60per cent think violence is caused by men being unable to control their anger and 25per cent think partner violence can be excused if they regret it.

These attitudes reflect a culture that condones violence against women and much more needs to happen, particularly with children and young people, to educate them around gender equality and human rights.

This is beyond simply respecting women; this is about creating a culture that does not abuse women and where men no longer feel entitled to abuse women.

Local issues of concern associated with this year’s RTN include the defunding of women’s and legal services by the federal and state governments and the absence of a Federal Circuit Court judge in Newcastle.

Hunter Domestic Violence services are very aware that incidents of domestic violence increase over summer, however, most services are at capacity already.

That scenario of support services at capacity, combined with a looming increased need for services, is a lethal combination that is terrifying.

Funding to women’s and legal services needs to be increased, not decreased, and comprehensive violence prevention strategies need to be implemented, as well as an overhaul of the legal system so that it supports women who are experiencing violence.

If these measures do not take effect, women will continue to be abused, assaulted, injured and murdered.

This is why we need initiatives like Reclaim the Night, so that we can continue to fight for justice and rights for women and to create a fairer society where women are free from harm and receive the services they so desperately need.

■ Reclaim the Night will be marked in Newcastle tonight with a march in Beaumont Street, Hamilton. Women and children are invited to march. Men are invited to attend activities before and after. Marchers will meet at 5.45pm in Gregson Park, Hamilton, for a 6pm march.

■ A Lake Macquarie march tonight has been organised jointly by Eastlakes and Westlakes Domestic Violence Committees, for Warners Bay foreshore. Meet at about 6pm near the rotunda for a march around 7pm.

Nicole Molyneux is a social science student, human rights activist and member of the Reclaim the Night Organising Collective 2015

MICHAEL McGOWAN: Guilty in his innocence

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Former n Prime Minister Tony Abbott gives The Margaret Thathcher Lecture at a banquet for The Margaret Thatcher Centre held at London’s Guildhall. Picture: Julian Andrews
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‘‘GOD save us always,’’ the novelist Graham Greene once wrote, ‘‘from the innocent and the good’’.

I wonder what Greene, a Catholic, would have made of the speech given by Tony Abbott in London this week.

While he seems intent on hanging grimly to what’s left of his parliamentary career, the former prime minister is apparently unhampered by his duties as member for Warringah, and found time to pop across to the old country to deliver the second Margaret Thatcher lecture.

You might say that Mr Abbott’s argument, that the ‘‘wholesome instinct’’ to love your neighbour as yourself has led Europe to make a ‘‘catastrophic error’’ in its response to the Syrian refugee crisis, fits neatly with Greene’s point.

The 1955 novel The Quiet American, from which I pulled the line, is set during the French war in Vietnam, and follows a cynical British journalist and an idealistic American CIA agent – two frenemies, to put it in contemporary terms.

The American – inexperienced and naive – is determined to make a difference in the conflict, but in the end his interventions only cause more harm.

In the context of ’s immigration policy, it is hard not to be reminded of the Left’s determined moral righteousness.

While decrying the government’s asylum seeker policy as fundamentally wrong, there seems to be no practical humane alternative to achieve what has become, rightly or wrongly, the electorate’s main concern; thatis, ‘‘stopping the boats’’.

Faced with an electorate more concerned with stopping brown people reaching our shores than a humane resettlement policy, the government has struck a sort of Faustian Pact in the interest of holding power, while the liquid-spined Labor Party follow along at its heels.

And there is no question that they have succeeded.

But, listening to Mr Abbott speak, I was struck, not for the first time, at the narrow lens through which he seems to view the world.

At the black-tie dinner, which cost £250 a head and, if you were wondering, featured Scottish lobster and Poached Hereford Tournedos on the menu, he lectured the crowd on how the continent’s compassion towards refugees risked ‘‘a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever’’.

Plenty has been written about the stunning obtuseness of those comments.

As if ’s policy of towing refugees back to Indonesia where – although they are reduced to a status as an essentially non-person – they aren’t shot, could or should be copy and pasted onto the literally millions fleeing civil war in Syria and the threat of Islamic State.

His comments seem to me to display a different kind of naivety. That of the blinkered ideologue.

I was living in England in 2009, and remember laughing out loud when I heard that the man I had always viewed as a sort of conservative conscience for the Liberal Party had become its leader.

He represented a sliver of modern life. The arch-conservative whose views, while not part of the fringe, still seemed antiquated.

The elevation of his sort of evangelical take on life seemed entirely out of step with what is generally a fairly moderate n public.

There was no way, I thought, that he could be acceptable to the average voter.

I turned out to be wrong.

But, now, unshackled from the chains of moderation that high office required, and with the (steadily decreasing) diplomatic heft that being a former n prime minister brings, Mr Abbott has decided to take his show on the road.

Still relatively young in political terms, he now gets to turn statesman, introducing the expanded version of his famous three-word slogans to a global stage.

There is another Greene line that springs to mind: ‘‘Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell,’’ he wrote, ‘‘wandering the world, meaning no harm’’.

EDITORIAL: The wrong question on councils

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THE answer, according to the NSW government, is to amalgamate more local councils around the state to create larger, more efficient entities and better economies of scale.
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If that’s the answer, then maybe the wrong question has been asked.

Local government has many faults, but it has some tremendous virtues. One of the greatest of these is that it is ‘‘local’’. Councils employ people who live within their local government boundaries. They spend money in their local areas, helping to stimulate local economies and supporting local businesses. They make decisions – as far as they are permitted – about local matters using local knowledge and experience.

Contrast this with state governments. Taking NSW as an example, the state government expends the greater part of its energies and resources looking after the state capital. Portfolio spending – both capital and recurrent – is heavily skewed to the capital.

Why, for instance, does the government spend hundreds of millions of dollars on cultural facilities in the capital, but steadfastly refuse to let any more than a trickle of funds leak into the regions? It is a cause for much frustration that Newcastle – the state’s second city – is left by the state to support its libraries, museums, art galleries and historical sites from council rates.

Too often, when the NSW government takes an interest in the Hunter Region, its decisions can appear ill-informed and unsuited to local circumstances.

No doubt some benefits can be obtained by amalgamating some local government areas.

However, many would argue that much greater benefits would accrue to ratepayers in regional NSW if only the current resourcing inequities could be effectively addressed.

Some day that will probably happen. Non-capital residents of NSW will eventually reach the point where they will refuse to tolerate the unfairness and put their demands for reform with such force that they can no longer be ignored.

Before then, however, the state government will keep pushing for council amalgamations. If the push becomes irresistible, ratepayers must insist that the resulting ‘‘super-councils’’ don’t replicate in smaller scale the negative aspects of centralised state rule.

Already many ratepayers within existing council boundaries – such as Beresfield in Newcastle and some parts of western Lake Macquarie – consider themselves victims of local government bureaucracies that can’t see far beyond the walls of their council chambers.

Any proposals for amalgamating councils in the Hunter must include safeguards to ensure the inevitable centralisation of administration does not exacerbate existing disadvantage, real or perceived, for those who don’t live close to the new centres of power.

Melissa Peacock’s inability to cope with mother’s dementia led to her death: inquest

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A Sydney medical receptionist who failed to take her sick, elderly mother to a doctor for more than two years, and then left her body in bed for months after she died, had been unable to cope with the woman’s descent into dementia, a coroner has found.
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The badly decomposing body of Noreen Peacock, 83, was found in October 2013 by real-estate agents conducting an inspection of the Kellyville home she had shared with the youngest of her three daughters, Melissa Peacock.

Six days later, police found Melissa at the Shangri La Hotel in central Sydney – one of a number of hotels in which she had been staying since her mother’s death.

They charged her with fraud and failing to report a death, the inquest into Mrs Peacock’s death heard.

“This was an extraordinarily sad case,” Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund said in handing down her findings on Thursday.

“Noreen Peacock died being cared for by the person who no doubt loved her the most, her youngest daughter.”

The inquest found that Melissa had lived with her mother since 1995 and cared for her since 2010 when Mrs Peacock was diagnosed with dementia.

The pair reportedly had a “very close and dependent relationship” but, from November 2010 until her death sometime in July or August 2013, Melissa failed to take her mother to a doctor or seek any other form of assistance.

The frail woman was left in the house for nine hours a day, six days a week, while Melissa undertook her job as a medical receptionist at Norwest Private Hospital.

Medical evidence suggested that Mrs Peacock had weighed as little as 37 kilograms at the time of her death, the inquest heard.

One doctor said he believed hypothermia was the most likely cause of death because she had been lying naked in bed during the coldest months of the year, probably without the heater on.

The doctors were unable to draw any conclusions from the discovery of fractured thyroid cartilage in Mrs Peacock’s neck.

While Ms Freund was unable to make a formal finding as to the cause of Mrs Peacock’s death, she found that the woman’s isolation from medical and other care had been a contributing factor.

“Responsibility for Mrs Peacock’s isolation must rest primarily with Melissa,” Ms Freund said.

“It was, in my view, totally unacceptable that Mrs Peacock was deprived of medical attention from November 2010.

“It is also unacceptable that Mrs Peacock was being left alone, locked in a two-storey house for up to nine hours a day, six days a week for many months while Melissa went to work.

“The risks involved in leaving an elderly person alone for this length of time are obvious.”

However, the coroner found that Melissa had most likely been suffering from serious, long-term depression and, more recently, alcoholism.

She also found that Mrs Peacock’s other two daughters, Jaslyne and Deborah, also bore some responsibility because they had failed to come up with a plan to assist with the care of their mother or “make further inquiries about how Melissa was coping”.

“They simply did not want to know,” Ms Freund said.

“At some point, Melissa became unable to cope with the responsibility of being the sole carer and provider of an elderly, frail mother who was suffering from the advanced stages of dementia.

“Melissa did not reach out for help. Her sisters did not extend assistance despite awareness of their mother’s deteriorating condition.

“This, in my view, further isolated Melissa from the outside world. Melissa was left to flounder and the consequences were extreme.”

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