Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras gets underway at Sydney Cricket Ground

Sydney’s COVID-safe Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras appears to be a success despite its move to Sydney Cricket Ground.

This year’s celebration, which saw floats march around the oval rather than through Oxford St, has been described as like a “gay Olympics” and “camp Big Bash”.

One of the biggest cheers of the night went to Australian children’s music The Wiggles, but there was a moment of controversy when the NSW Police float appeared. A banner was unfurled by someone saying “cops out” but this was quickly ripped down.

The night has featured a performance from Australian singer G Flip, and singer Rita Ora is also expected to perform.

Despite the change in format, one thing that didn’t change was the colourful costumes the event is known for.

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Man with Parkinson’s accused of murdering his wife of more than 60 years

A man on the Gold Coast who suffers from Parkinson’s disease has been accused of murdering his wife of over 60 years.

Police were called to Max Beever’s home in Varsity Lakes last week, where his wife Robyn’s body was found in the garage.

82-year-old Beever has been charged with murder, however his lawyer Jonathan Nyst says that his client is “unwell” and the proceedings shouldn’t be heard in the specialist domestic violence court.

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“It’s a very traumatic set of circumstances for the family, so their concerns however are with Mr Beever and are solely directed towards his health and making sure he gets the care that he needs,” Mr Nyst told 9News.

Beever remains at the Gold Coast University hospital under police guard while the matter is heard at a domestic violence court.

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Beever’s lawyer is pushing it to be moved due to his client’s health and age.

“It’s in everyone’s interests in this case that it’s resolved as quickly as possible,” Mr Nyst said.

Robyn Beever, who had dementia, was found by the couple’s daughter when she was going in to check on them.

The case is set to be heard next on April 23.

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Teen’s harrowing recovery after falling five metres onto rocks

Canberra teen Indi Mayhew didn’t see the harm in visiting a popular swimming spot after school, heading over there with friends on December 4 last year.

Excited to take a dip at Waste Point, Lake Jindabyne, the teens took turns launching themselves into the water from a hanging rope swing.
Indi, 17, was hesitant at first, her mother told 7 News, but eventually she took the plunge.

Tragically, Indi missed the water and instead fell five metres onto the rocky outcrop below.

Her friends frantically called an ambulance after she struck her head, cracking her skull.

“Her friends saw some people on a boat nearby and got them to help,” her mother Belinda Pendergast told

While the ambulance struggled to navigate their way over to the teens in the remote swimming spot, Indi lost consciousness.

Paramedics rushed Indi to Cooma Hospital before she was flown to Canberra Hospital for emergency surgery to remove part of her skull.

Stuck at work and unable to get to her child, Indi’s mother drove 116km to be by her daughter’s side. By the time she got there, Indi was already in surgery.

“It was the worst moment of my life,” she recalls.

Indi was placed in an induced coma after the accident, leaving her family and friends in the dark in terms of how serious her injuries were.

After a week by her daughter’s bedside, Ms Prendergast was relieved when Indi finally became responsive.

“She started blinking in response to yes and no – finally she moved arm and was squeezing for yes or no.”

Doctors prepared Indi and her family for the worst, predicting at least six months of intensive rehabilitation and specialist care. Indi had suffered memory loss, and was faced with the harrowing challenge of learning to walk and talk again

But she defied the odds, showing remarkable progress within the first month of undergoing daily physio and memory tests.

While she’s thankful she doesn’t remember the accident, Indi says her life is forever changed because of it.

“Before the accident I just wanted to have fun, I didn’t really want to go to uni, I was going to have a few years off, I guess the accident pulled my head in,” she told 7 News.

While she hasn’t decided exactly what she wants to study yet, Indi’s mother believes her commitment to her own health and wellbeing will no doubt guide her future.

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Police hunt for Paul Kraft after he failed to report

A manhunt is underway to find a sex offender who is on the run from police in Victoria.

Registered sex offender Paul Kraft has failed to comply with his reporting obligations and a warrant has been issued for his arrest, Victoria Police said.

“Investigators believe Kraft is currently living in the Sandringham area however he is actively avoiding police,” a spokeswoman said.

The 55-year-old was last seen in January when he went to a police station to collect property, they said.

He also uses the alias of Paul Fleming and is known to frequent Melbourne’s bayside suburbs including Beaumaris, Black Rock, Mentone and Mordialloc.

Kraft is 187cm tall, with a medium build, short brown wavy hair, hazel eyes, has a fair complexion and is clean shaven.

Anyone who spots him should call Triple 0 immediately.

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Experts call for second China investigation

International virus experts are demanding another investigation into the source of COVID-19, amid concerns China had too much control over the last.

In an open letter, academics from across the globe, including the Australian National University, called for an “unrestricted international forensic investigation”.

The group said despite previous studies, we are no further in finding the answers needed to determine the origin of the virus.

“Finding the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is critically important to both better addressing the current pandemic and reducing the risks of future one” the letter reads.

“Unfortunately, well over a year after the initial outbreak, the origins of the pandemic remain unknown.”

In January, a team of scientists chosen by the World Health Organisation visited hospitals and research institutes in Wuhan, the virus epicentre, in search of clues.

But the previous venture has been criticised by the group behind the letter. They said there were several “structural limitations” built into the endeavour.

“We wish to raise public awareness of the fact that half of the joint team convened under that process is made of Chinese citizens whose scientific independence may be limited, that international members of the joint team had to rely on information the Chinese authorities chose to share with them, and that any joint team report must be approved by both the Chinese and international members of the joint team,” the group wrote in the letter.

They argued the team didn’t have the independence or necessary access to carry out a full investigation.

In the letter, the group provided a list of requirements that should be met for a proper inquiry.

This includes being carried out by an independent team so there’s no conflict of interest or “partial control by any specific agenda or country”.

They also want the team to be made of experts from various fields, from virologists to wildlife experts, and have full access to records and sites, including the wet markets at Wuhan.

“We recognise that as an international agency that must rely on the collaboration of its member states, the World Health Organisation is limited in what it can achieve in this type of investigation,” the group said.

“It is not our intention to undermine the WHO, which is working under challenging circumstances at a time of tremendous global need.”

Earlier experts questioned the purpose of WHO’s mission which wrapped up in mid-February after scientists spent 28 days on the ground.

“It hasn‘t really given us new information,” Peter Collignon, a pathologist at ANU who has previously worked on WHO research projects, told ABC News at the time.

“I know some of those experts and I think they’re very good but they’re limited to the information they’re given, and there was a real hesitation in even letting them come.”

The most politically charged theory, that the virus leaked from a research lab, was deemed too unlikely by initial research team.

Instead they referred to the original theory, that it was transmitted from bats, or another animal, to humans.

The small group of scientists behind the letter hinted at the idea that this is unlikely.

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Gold Coast Aquatic Centre: Swimmer critical after near-drowning

A man is fighting for life after he was pulled from the water while swimming at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre on Saturday.

Paramedics are treating the man after the “post immersion” incident at the pool off Marine Parade and Nind Street at Southport about 10.45am, a Queensland Ambulance spokeswoman said.

He was in a critical condition and paramedics were still at the scene as of 12pm, the spokeswoman said.

The man has since been taken to Gold Coast University Hospital in a critical condition.

The centre has been contacted for comment.

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Christian Porter accused of rape: Doubts in accuser’s story

The psychiatric history of the Adelaide woman who accused Attorney-General Christian Porter of rape and two factual errors in her statement has prompted speculation that she may have used repressed memory theory to access her trauma despite clearly stating she had “always remembered these things.”

Friends of the woman have disputed the claims, insisting that she disclosed the alleged incident to friends before September 2019, the date when she says a counsellor pointed her towards a book that champions controversial theories.

In her statement, the woman does not state that she had recently remembered the incident and includes diary entries which she claims referred to the incident in 1991, three years after she attended the debating tournament.

She discussed telling an old boyfriend, Macquarie Infrastructure Corp director James Hooke.

However, there is no way of confirming at this stage when those diary entries were made.

“I have always remembered these things,” she wrote.

But she does note write that she had a “better understanding” after reading a controversial New York Times bestseller.

“I had a better understanding of these memories, and only really understood them, once my Sydney based psychologist (who specialises in counselling sexual assault survivors) referred me to The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma in September 2019,’’ she said.

“I had not previously heard of it, nor had I read it. My Adelaide-based psychiatrist confirmed that these are ‘somatic memories’ (i.e. lodged in the body rather than the brain, although the mind can access them) in an appointment in late 2019.”

The book the woman read was written by Bessel Van Der Kolk, director of The Trauma Center in Boston, professor of psychiatry at Boston University, and director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network.

He is recognised as a pioneer of mind-body interventions, such as controversial eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), neurofeedback, and yoga.

In 2014, he was the subject of a highly critical New York Times article that accused Kolk of practising a “hokey-sounding approach to therapy” and argued he was “a lead defender of repressed-memory therapy.”

It also said he had been an expert witness in court cases involving therapists accused of implanting false memories of early abuse, cases in which “entire lives were destroyed”.

Van der Kolk refuted that he had been a “defender” of repressed-memory therapy, insisting he had simply testified on behalf of sexual-abuse victims of Catholic clergy when the lawyers had tried to discredit the plaintiffs.

“Trauma evokes a lot of passion,” he said. “Passion to deny, and passion to assert. I see what happened with this article as a reflection of the incredible difficulties society has with staring trauma in the face and providing people with the facts of what happens, how bad it is, and how well treatments work.”

Concerns that repressed memory treatment could be raised as an issue in her coronial inquiry were first raised on Friday by online news outlet Crikey that suggested her memories were “freshly minted.”

“This is wrong. Our friend sought professional help for her trauma years before 2019,’’ friend Jo Dyer, the director of the Adelaide Writers Festival said.

“Her memories never had to be “recovered” as she lived with them constantly. An inquiry would establish this beyond a shred of doubt.”

There are other friends she disclosed the allegations to before reading the book in September.

They include Robert Crocker, an Adelaide-based academic and writer told Guardian Australia that she told him about the alleged rape in February 2019, which is significantly earlier than many of her other friends.

He also confirmed that she had claimed she met Mr Porter in 1994, a claim repeated in her unsigned affidavit.

“I do remember that she mentioned a [subsequent] social event – a dinner,” Crocker said. “She did definitely mention some dinner.” Crocker said he spoke to her several times in 2019 and then once more in 2020, before her death.

A spokesman for Porter said it was “not impossible” that he had done so “but the attorney general does not recollect any specific contact”.

The woman also told former Liberal staffer Chelsey Potter, who made headlines in 2019 with her own sexual assault allegation. Ms Potter did not know the woman but was told after she disclosed to a neighbour who was also a member of the Liberal Party in August and suggested she get in touch with Ms Potter.

Another old friend, who she spoke to shortly after she met with police in Sydney in February 2020 and drove her to the airport said she seemed “lucid” at the time she visited police.

“She was lucid, calm, rational, attentive, forensic,” Mr Kalowski told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“In no way was she delusional or away with the fairies.”

“We are not out for blood or to destroy anyone, we are simply out to seek justice for [our friend] as best as can be achieved in circumstances where she is no longer alive.”

Sky News commentator Andrew Bolt also argued this week that the woman’s claims were “falling apart” noting two incorrect claims in her unsigned affidavit.

He noted the parents reportedly had concerns she may have “embellished” the account.

“So I ask, is it possible that this mentally ill woman was acting under a delusion? Some people claiming to be victims do lie. Some are delusional,’’ he said.

He cited two key problems with her memories.

The first error is that she said they had gone dancing in Kings Cross at the Hard Rock Cafe – which did not open until a year later. The Hard Rock Cafe is also not in Kings Cross, it’s close to Pyrmont in Darling Harbour.

However, there is another pub in Kings Cross that was open at the time that operated under the name the Oz Rock Cafe, an iconic pub that is now known as the Kings Cross Hotel.

It lies on the four-way cross intersection of Darlinghurst Road, Bayswater Road, William Street and Victoria Street, Kings Cross.

The second, more important issue that Bolt raised was that she said she had vomited when the pair went back to her rooms and that she said he had put her into the bath.

“Plans from four years ago show there were no baths in that college at all, only showers. So, that’s two details now…that are wrong.”

Her unsigned statement however is more confused about exactly what happened.

“I lost track of time, disassociating badly in order to cope. (He) then took me from my bedroom to the bathroom at the Langley Building at women’s and made me take a bath or a shower. (I was still too drunk to stand so it probably was a bath),’’ she said.

Mr Porter denies he was ever there and said that nothing sexual ever happened between them.

It’s true that it is not clear if there were baths at the Women’s College at the time.

The building has undergone multiple refurbishments and renovations over that period. In the 1970s for example, the architects Joseland and Gilling converted the buildings living quarters into self-contained two bedroom units for married couples or twin share for students.

It underwent major works in 1999-2001.

But perhaps a more significant issue is how they got there. The women’s college at the Newtown campus is an 11 minute cab ride or a one hour walk from Kings Cross. She doesn’t mention how they got there, but said that when he did she walked him to her room.

She does say she was drunk and there was a “surreal quality to her memories.”

The team she competed with at the debating tournament in 1988 included four people.

Those people included the Labor MP Daniel Mulino – who she told about the allegations in recent years but asked to stay out of it because she didn’t want it to look like a “partisan” issue.

“I was a friend of the complainant,’’ Dr Mulino said.

“I first became aware of the complainant’s allegation December, 2019.”

“She indicated to me that she was determined to proceed with a formal complaint and I supported her in that decision.”

The other member was Matthew Deeble, who she also told in recent years and of course Mr Porter and the Adelaide woman who died by suicide in June, 2020.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that many of the people that she mixed with in debating circles went on to careers in politics and the law.

Two other men who attended the 1988 university debating competition that she attended with Christian Porter, went on to become cabinet ministers in the Morrison Government.

Health minister, Greg Hunt, who was a member of the Victorian team and communications minister, Paul Fletcher, even attended the tournament although Mr Hunt said he had no recollection of the woman.

Mr Fletcher, who attended the conference as an adjudicator did know her.

NSW police have said there is “insufficient admissible evidence” to continue their investigation. But a coronial inquest in SA remains a distinct possibility and SA police are undertaking further inquiries into the various claims raised in the media in recent days.

The Prime Minister said on Friday that a coronial inquest was a matter for SA authorities.

“The issue as to whether there is a coronial inquiry in South Australia is entirely a matter for the South Australian coroner,” he said.

“And if they chose to go ahead with that, of course, I would welcome that.

“But it would be highly inappropriate for me as prime minister, or any other politician, to interfere or intervene in a decision that a coroner should properly make about those issues.”

Mr Morrison also said that if Mr Porter was called to give evidence at a coronial inquiry that he would of course cooperate.

“And if the coroner sought that, then I have no doubt that the attorney general would cooperate with any coronial process.”

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NSW Health give Mardi Gras ‘Pride in Protest’ split-off rally the go ahead

A group of breakaway Mardi Gras protesters have been given the green light to go ahead with a planned rally by health officials, prompting police to withdraw a Supreme Court bid to have it shut down.

The globally renowned pride parade will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday night given COVID restrictions, with colourful revellers set to circle the stadium – each group reportedly given 45 seconds to make their way around the pitch.

Traditionally the march is held along Oxford Street and split-off group Pride in Protest, who believe the parade has abandoned its radical roots and embraced a bland, corporate vision of LGBTQ rights, has won its bid to have its own parade at its traditional home.

Hundreds of people have said they’re attending the planned protest, set to start at 2pm Saturday, via a Facebook group.

Revellers will meet at Taylor Square in Darlinghurst.

Earlier NSW Police commissioner Mick Fuller filed a summons in the Supreme Court to halt the protest that, if granted, would put protesters at risk of fines and arrest.

But that motion has been thrown out by NSW Police after NSW Health granted an exemption for the march to go ahead if they follow COVID protocols.

NSW Health has been contacted for comment.

“NSW Supreme Court proceedings relating to a public assembly tomorrow (Saturday) have been discontinued,” NSW Police said in a statement.

“The NSW Police Force has been in continued discussions with NSW Health and protest organisers in an attempt to ensure compliance with current health orders and the safety of all persons.

“We welcome the exemption that now enables police to further work with organisers to facilitate a safe and peaceful event.”

Police will be out in force to ensure all goes smoothly, including at the SCG where the main march will be held.

On Wednesday a lawyer acting for Mr Fuller told Justice John Garling that the number of people slated to attend would contravene public health orders aimed at combating COVID-19.

Lawyer Andrew Wilson, representing Pride in Protest convener Toby Walmsley, said the group would present evidence about its COVID-19 safety plan and from a doctor with experience in public health.

He said Pride in Protest had notified police of the protest on February 25 and met with officers on March 1 before the application to hold an approved protest was refused after 9pm on Tuesday night.

But now, it will go ahead.

“This is a massive win for not only the right to protest but for the queer community to say that the fight against transphobia and homophobia cannot wait,” the group said in a statement.

Pride in Protest describes the rally as a Mardi Gras with “no cops, no corporations, no conservatives”.

Their demands include ending Aboriginal deaths in custody, abolishing the police, decriminalising sex work, legalising all drugs, and advancing transgender rights.

Earlier the organisers behind Mardi Gras said Pride in Protest is in no way affiliated with the actual organisation.

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Barnaby Joyce calls for inquiry into rape claim

Former National party leader Barnaby Joyce has called for an inquiry into allegations levelled against the Attorney-General instead of a “salacious” inquisition.

“Christian Porter may not want an independent inquiry but he has got one by default. A demeaning, cathartic inquisition by the press and Opposition,” Mr Joyce wrote in a lengthy social media post on Saturday.

The call comes after Mr Porter publicly denied allegations he raped a 16-year-old girl during a debate competition at the University of Sydney in 1988, when he was 17.

The Nationals MP called for a “confidential” inquiry into the allegations levelled at the country’s chief law officer.

Mr Joyce said the media coverage achieved little “beyond ratings as salacious dissonance” and did not offer solace to any party involved.

It would be a more dignified and appropriate alternative for an “emotive and serious allegation”, he wrote.

“Otherwise the current vacuum may hang like fog all the way through the rest of a quite remarkable career.”

The former deputy Prime Minister referenced allegations he faced from a WA woman in the post and said he would have liked to run “at the speed of a thousand gazelles” to an independent arbiter if he could have.

“There wasn’t one, so I stood down to “clear the air” as I stated at my resignation press conference,” Mr Joyce said.

In 2018 a woman made a formal complaint against Mr Joyce to the National Party in relation to sexual harassment allegations.

The complaint was leaked to the media against the woman’s wishes at the time and Mr Joyce later resigned labelling the allegations as “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

The MP also took aim at his Coalition colleagues in the post.

“I don’t want Christian to end up sitting at the back of the chamber under the exit sign where my colleagues have kindly placed me,” Mr Joyce wrote.

He said Mr Porter would know many in the opposition and some in his own party wouldn’t want the truth unless it came with “his head on a plate”.

On Wednesday the Attorney-General broke his silence about the rape allegations at a press conference in Perth, and denied any wrongdoing.

He spoke after police in NSW said there was “insufficient admissible evidence” to go ahead with an investigation into the claims.

The claims came to light after an anonymous letter was sent to the Prime Minister, Labor Senator Penny Wong and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

The woman at the centre of the claims made a report to the police in 2019, however did not complete her formal statement and took her own life at Adelaide in June 2020.

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Basil Zempilas defends ‘on your knees’ comment on Christian Porter press conference

Perth Lord Mayor and Triple M Breakfast radio host Basil Zempilas has said he was taken out of context after commenting on a woman he works with being “on (her) knees” at a press conference where Christian Porter named himself as the subject of a rape allegation, which the Attorney-General denies ever happened.

“I’ve seen you in your jeans and on your knees before like, that’s your casual – you like to get down on the floor don’t you?” Mr Zempilas asked West Australian columnist and his Triple M co-host Jenna Clarke, who had just described the Porter press conference as “a very intense scrum”.

The comments sparked outrage when they were reported on Twitter by ABC journalist Emma Wynne.

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Mr Zempilas responded a few hours later claiming he’d been taken out of context, telling Ms Wynne that “as a journo, you know the importance of fairness and context” and “this tweet provides neither”.

“If you heard that bit – you heard the rest,” Mr Zempilas said.

“I was clearly asking about my co-host about sitting on the floor at the presser. We talk about seeing her in the cutaways and we then had a chat about how Jenna often sits on the floor when doing an interview. It’s simply unfair to have used one line and then not the rest of the discussion,” Mr Zempilas said across two Twitter posts.

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Ms Wynne did follow up her original tweet within five minutes of posting it to provide further context, saying the comments were “a reference to the fact she had to crouch down to keep out of the way of the TV cameras apparently”.

Ms Clarke had commented that she “was just crouching down because I was in front of the cameras” shortly before Mr Zempilas made the comments that sparked outrage.

“Some people wouldn’t sit on the floor,” Mr Zempilas said after his initial on-air comment sparked an uneasy “sure” from Ms Clarke.

“I mean this, I’m being serious, no innuendo whatsoever, some people would not sit on the floor, I’ve seen you can be comfortable interviewing somebody on the ground that sort of thing, right?” Mr Zempilas said.

“Yes, it was good to be in the view of the cameras,” Ms Clarke said before her male co-hosts, Mr Zempilas and Xavier Ellis “cleared it up”.

RELATED: ‘Not impossible’ Porter saw woman again

The comments were left out of a podcast of show highlights.

“What a disgusting inference,” one woman wrote in response to Ms Wynne’s report of Mr Zempilas’ “on your knees” comment.

“Just when I didn’t think I could feel any more disillusioned and exhausted this week,” another said alongside an “expressionless face” emoji.

Others shared a picture that has been circulating online showing a 17-year-old Christian Porter debating on stage with a 16-year-old Mr Zempilas visible in the background.

The pair both attended Perth’s Hale School, “an exclusive independent, Anglican day and boarding school for boys” in the salubrious suburb of Wembley Downs, named after its local golf course.

Mr Zempilas was elected as the 18th Lord Mayor of Perth in October last year, edging out former ABC journalist Di Bain in the contest to see which media identity would lead the city, after a campaign that drew criticism thanks to support from the West Australian newspaper, the only printed paper in town who is also Mr Zempilas’ employer.

It sparked a warning from the WA Electoral Commission who instructed him his columns in the paper amounted to election material and should come with political authorisations.

He was in the job for only two weeks when other comments on a different radio show he hosted on 6PR left many upset when he heavily implied transgender people were “wrong”.

“If you’ve got a penis mate, you’re a bloke,” he said.

“If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a woman. Game over.”

The game was not in fact over as he also asked for any women with a penis to ring in for the chance to win a $100 voucher.

Mr Zempilas would later cop to making a “mistake”.

“It‘s my job to be better than that and it won’t happen again.

“I do know what a transgender person is and I regret the comments that I made, because I know they’re not helpful.”

“For a brief moment … I forgot that I was the Lord Mayor of the City of Perth,” Mr Zempilas said.

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