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From lettuce fields to opera stages – the brilliant journey of Helen Sherman

<p>How does a young girl growing up on a lettuce farm in rural New South Wales, surrounded by the quiet rustle of leaves and the hum of daily farm life, go on to become such a powerful voice on the operatic scene? This is the unlikely beginning of Helen Sherman, the Australian-British mezzo-soprano who has taken the world of opera by storm. </p> <p>Sherman’s musical journey began at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where her extraordinary voice started to attract attention. It wasn't long before her ambition led her to the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in the UK. There, she honed her craft, setting the stage for a remarkable career that would see her representing Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and the Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition.</p> <p>Sherman's rise to operatic fame has been nothing short of meteoric. Her versatility and talent have seen her perform a wide range of roles across the globe. Recent highlights include Flora in <em>La traviata</em> at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Octavian in <em>Der Rosenkavalier</em> and Cherubino in <em>Le nozze di Figaro</em> with Opera North. Her portrayal of Tamiri in <em>Farnace</em> with Pinchgut Opera and Dorabella in <em>Così fan tutte</em> at Teatru Manoel in Malta further cemented her reputation as a mezzo-soprano of extraordinary range and depth.</p> <p>One of Sherman’s standout performances was her interpretation of the title role in <em>Carmen</em> with the State Opera South Australia. Her embodiment of Carmen’s fiery spirit and complex emotions captivated audiences and critics alike. Equally compelling was her portrayal of Giulio Cesare with Bury Court Opera, a role that showcased her ability to navigate the demanding vocal and dramatic challenges of baroque opera.</p> <p>In 2024, Sherman’s calendar is as busy as ever, as she will be singing Dorabella in <em>Così fan tutte</em> and Mistress of the Novices in <em>Suor Angelica</em> for Opera Australia, roles that promise to highlight her versatility and emotional depth. </p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; background-color: #ffffff; text-decoration-thickness: initial; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial;">Over60 was lucky enough to be able to interview Sherman in the lead-up to her Sydney performances of <span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;"><a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/il-trittico-sydney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Il Trittico</a> </span><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;">and <a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/cosi-fan-tutte-sydney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Così fan tutte</a></span>: </p> <p><em><strong>O60: How did you become an opera singer after growing up on a lettuce farm in rural NSW? </strong></em></p> <p>“It was quite a journey. My father was an incredible piano accordionist (think Flight of the Bumblebee, Malagueña etc). In the 1970s his teaching studio in Bathurst peaked at about 40 accordion students, which I think is quite remarkable. After his father died, Dad stepped back from his teaching to take over the family farm, though he still plays to this day. </p> <p>“My mother is a music lover, and wanted her children to have the opportunity to explore creative outlets that she wasn't fortunate enough to explore in her youth, so my brother, sister and I all had lessons in piano accordion, piano, dancing, drama and singing. We were fortunate to live in a town that had many thriving arts organisations, such as the Dolly McKinnon School of Dance, Bathurst Eisteddfod Society and Mitchell Conservatorium of Music. </p> <p>“Bathurst's Carillon Theatrical Society (for which my dad's cousin, the late, great, Carole Eastment, was choreographer) afforded us the opportunity to be part of full-scale classic musical productions. I was also fortunate to attend MacKillop College, a local Catholic high school of humble proportions, that had a very passionate and resourceful music teacher, Mr David Eyles. Thanks to him, students like me were able to star in wittily re-written and orchestrated G&amp;S productions. With such a plethora of opportunities at my feet, my love of the stage was pretty much pre-determined.</p> <p>“Upon graduating high school, aged seventeen, I moved to Sydney to take up a place at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where I completed a Bachelor of Music and a post graduate diploma in opera. At this stage, I wasn't really in love with opera, that came later, when I found myself covering third novice in OA's 2007 production of Suor Angelica.</p> <p>“During the last studio run of the show, mere metres away from me, star soprano Cheryl Barker was singing the final solo notes of the title role: ‘Madonna! Madonna! Salva me! Salva me!’, tears streaming down her face, and the most incredible voice soaring out; I had chills all over my body and in my soul, and I have loved opera ever since.” </p> <p><em><strong style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </strong><strong>You were based in London for years; how did you find the opera world overseas versus in Australia – in both your studies and performing? </strong></em></p> <p>“I guess the main differences are that the UK scene is a bigger one with more companies and more music schools; a more international one, that students and professionals from around the world flock to, and one with – historically – more financial backing and patronage. However, the scene in the UK has suffered dramatically in the last few years, particularly with the effects of Brexit compounded by COVID, cost-of-living crisis and embarrassingly ignorant cuts made by the Arts Council. </p> <p>“Generally, abroad, there are many more opportunities for musicians, but many, many more musicians competing for them. It is an awe-inspiring thing to meet and work with musical idols like Roger Vignols, Julius Drake, Yvonne Kenny etcetera, to sing a piece of music in the venue in which it premiered or was composed for; to tread the same cobblestones that the likes of Mozart and Handel trod and to delight in the discovery that the shoes or trousers you're wearing in a production bear the name of the likes of Dame Sarah Connolly.” </p> <p>“However, I would say that there is plenty of exciting stuff going on in Australia and an optimism and openness in the Australian people, which is impactful on our industry and its creative output. </p> <p>“More needs to be done in our country to insure all children are given creative learning outlets for the benefit of their development, their communities and for the future of our industry.” </p> <p><em><strong style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </strong><strong>Why did you return to Sydney and how are you enjoying it? Any future plans to head back overseas? </strong></em></p> <p>“After a health scare in 2022 that forced me to cancel all my work, my husband received a job offer to relocate to Sydney. It felt like the universe was opening a door for us, so we gladly walked through it, and onto a flight to Sydney in mid 2023. I have felt welcomed (back!) with open arms both personally and professionally and I have no imminent plans to return abroad, at this stage.” </p> <p><strong><em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </span>You’ve appeared in many staged productions as well as concerts. What do you like about these two types of performances? </em></strong></p> <p>“Concert performances are a chance to home in on the music and the words without worrying about physical action. Staged productions afford the performer the luxury of inhabiting and exploring a character, physically, right down to their shoes and petticoats. Both are wonderful ways of working and some works naturally lend themselves to one or the other – though, I think for opera, context is key, and can be a challenge to properly manufacture on the concert platform.” </p> <p><strong><em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </span>Tell us about your two characters and how do you prepare for performing two roles in different operas in the same season? </em></strong></p> <p>“I've been playing the role of Mistress of Novices in Suor Angelica and am currently preparing the role of Dorabella in Così fan Tutte. One is a senior nun and the other an excitable teenage girl, so they are rather disparate. </p> <p>“The big challenge is in the early days of learning and memorising the role. Once you have a grasp of the music, the libretto and who you are, it's about showing up and reacting to your world. Preparing disparate roles concurrently can be a vocal challenge, since tessitura and vocal gesture have a big impact on how one might approach a score. I like to keep in touch, daily, with technical exercises that encourage economy and flexibility in my voice, especially when I'm working on contrasting roles. Thankfully, the human voice is a very sensitive instrument and responds intuitively to intention and emotion, so developing the character arc and subtext helps a lot with that. </p> <p><strong><em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </span>What should audiences be watching and/or listening out for Il Trittico versus in Così fan tutte? </em></strong></p> <p>“There's so much to enjoy so let it wash over you in broad, beautiful, very human brushstrokes!! Or, if you love little details, in Il Trittico see if you can spot which singers appear in all three operas and watch out for Frugola's bag of strange objects in Il Tabarro. You'll learn a lot from the body language and small glances between characters in the world of Suor Angelica, and in Gianni Schicchi, well, I am told there is a very interesting door stop!</p> <p>“In Così fan Tutte, listen out for the way Mozart creates subtext for his characters; tiny details, like Dorabella needing to sing a third higher than Fiordiligi (because she is the competitive younger sister!) when emotionally fraught in some of their act one recitatives! Mozart is a genius of musical detail!” </p> <p><em><strong style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </strong><strong>Do you have any dream roles you’re yet to perform? </strong></em></p> <p>“There are too many to list, but I adore the role of Octavian in der Rosenkavalier by Strauss (a role I have sung, but would love to revisit) and I would love to sing Ariodante by Händel.”</p> <p>---</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px;">Click here for more information on </span><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;"><a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/il-trittico-sydney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Il Trittico</a> </span><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;">and <a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/cosi-fan-tutte-sydney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Così fan tutte</a>. </span></p>

Music

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"Felt like a criminal": Mother and disabled son "kicked out" of Pink concert

<p>A distraught mother has taken to social media to recall the moment her and her seven-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, were asked to leave a concert venue. </p> <p>Vanessa Vasey, 48, spent over $1,000 to take her son Jesse to see Pink in London during her UK stadium tour, but when the pair arrived at the venue, things took a turn. </p> <p>Jesse struggled to stay still in his seat and was soon surrounded by "six security guards" who ordered the disabled boy to sit down, otherwise they would have to leave.</p> <p>She said she tried to explain her son’s condition to the guards but they ended up being “escorted from the premises” just as Pink took to the stage.</p> <p>On Facebook, Vasey wrote in detail about what happened, saying her son had been “robbed” of a special experience.</p> <p>“Music is his life and Pink is one of his absolute favourites,” she wrote.</p> <p>“We successfully saw her perform at BST Hyde Park last year and were thrilled to learn of her return again this year.”</p> <p>Vasey said she purchased more expensive “hospitality tickets” allowing people to move between bars and food outlets during the night “so that Jesse wouldn’t be pressured into remaining in one seat all night, as he gets overwhelmed in busy environments and finds it hard to sit still.”</p> <p>“We spent some time in the bar leading up to the main act, and Jesse was having a wonderful time, until about 45 minutes before Pink was due to come on, they suddenly shut all the blinds, obstructing us from seeing anything,” she wrote.</p> <p>“I tried to consult with the hospitality managers over this, and explained Jesse’s needs, but they wouldn’t budge on it. So not wanting Jesse to stare at a blind all night, we attempted to go into the seating zone."</p> <p>“We couldn’t get him to sit in his seat, but he was happy dancing and singing at the front railings, and even interacting with some of the other guests."</p> <p>“Doing no harm to anyone, or obstructing anyone’s view. This seemed OK for about half an hour or so. Then ... just as Pink dropped from the sky in her opening number, we had six security guards come into the zone and ask us to leave or sit in our seats.”</p> <p>Vasey said the security guards were “abrupt, intimidating and unpleasant”, as they "tried to force us to take Jesse to a sensory room which was soundproof, and watch Pink on a screen.” </p> <div> </div> <p>“Something we could do at home, robbing us of the whole experience, as if my son was some sort of inconvenience, and better off shut in a room out of sight.”</p> <p>When Vasey complained to venue staff, she claims that more security guards appeared and they had no choice but to leave. </p> <p>“We were escorted out of the building like criminals and saw no more of the Pink show. Jesse was utterly devastated, and they showed absolutely zero care or understanding."</p> <p>“Shame on you Tottenham Stadium,” she concluded. “My poor boy deserved so much better than this!”</p> <p>After UK media picked up Vasey's story, Tottenham Stadium released a statement explaining their actions. </p> <p>“Following further investigation, we can confirm that Ms Vasey was offered assistance by our Safeguarding and Welfare teams throughout the night to provide Jesse with a comfortable viewing experience, including access to our dedicated Sensory Room,” the statement read.</p> <p>“The offers of assistance were declined by Ms Vasey and the party chose to leave the event.”</p> <p>Vasey was soon set upon by online trolls who condemned her choice to take Jesse to the concert in the first place, to which she issues a lengthy statement about inclusivity and not singling people out for their disabilities. </p> <p>“Why do we take them [to events]? Because, as parents, we have the same dreams and aspirations for our children as any other parent,” she wrote.</p> <p>“We have the same desires to see our children’s faces light up, as any other parent would. Our children are exposed to the same world as other children, and they enjoy the same things."</p> <p>“They have the same likes and desires. The only thing that’s different is their needs, their abilities and their way of accessing their dreams."</p> <p>“Why should these things deny them of fulfilling these dreams and passions? This is meant to be a world of inclusion. So let’s start including!"</p> <p>“That means adapting, understanding, supporting and most importantly; changing the way we deliver these privileges so that they are privileges for all of us, and not just some of us.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook/Richard Isaac/Shutterstock Editorial </em></p> <div class="hide-print ad-no-notice css-qyun7f-StyledAdUnitWrapper ezkyf1c0" style="box-sizing: border-box; caret-color: #292a33; color: #292a33; font-family: HeyWow, Montserrat, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 15px;"> </div>

Caring

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I watched some 40 films at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. Here are my top five picks – and one hilarious flop

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ari-mattes-97857">Ari Mattes</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-australia-852">University of Notre Dame Australia</a></em></p> <p>This year’s <a href="https://www.sff.org.au/">Sydney Film Festival’s</a> rich offerings of films more than compensated for the minor technical issues that led to some screenings being interrupted.</p> <p>Out of the 40-odd films I saw, here are my top five, along with some notable mentions and three disappointments (including a genuine <em>dud</em>).</p> <h2>1. The Girl with the Needle</h2> <p>Cowritten and directed by Swedish filmmaker Magnus von Horn, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_with_the_Needle">The Girl with the Needle</a> is loosely based on the story of notorious early-20th century serial killer Dagmar Overbye.</p> <p>But this is no procedural true crime film, painstakingly attempting to recreate crimes with historical accuracy. It’s a stylish Danish nightmare dazzling with cinematic acrobatics right from the opening sequence, in which black and white faces hideously morph, looking at the viewer like deranged figures from a hellish circus. It is, indeed, one of the most terrifying films I’ve seen.</p> <p>The narrative follows the struggles of new mother Karoline (Vic Carmen Sonne) as she gives her baby to Dagmar’s informal adoption agency and begins working with her as a wet nurse, unaware of what’s really going on.</p> <p>Sonne is as self-assured as ever – and none of the actors put a foot wrong here. Seasoned Danish film star Trine Dyrholm is exceptional in bringing nuance to what could have become a caricaturishly evil role as Dagmar. And Besir Zeciri endows Peter, a war-wounded veteran who can only find employment in a circus freakshow, with an unexpected warmth and tenderness.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VlyW-z1xbO4?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>The Girl with the Needle features some of the most distressing sequences one could find in a commercial film. Its meticulously rendered shades of German expressionism never distract from its smorgasbord of horrors, offering an almost unbearably bleak vision of the world in the aftermath of the Great War. If only all films were this good!</p> <h2>2. Dying</h2> <p>I’d normally suppress a yawn if you told me I had to sit through a three-hour social realist drama about the everyday difficulties of a bourgeois German conductor and his family. Yet writer-director Matthias Glasner’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_(2024_film)">Dying</a> is a near perfect film (no surprise it won <a href="https://www.screendaily.com/news/matthias-glasners-dying-wins-german-lola-for-best-film/5193046.article">four prizes</a> at the German Film Awards).</p> <p>The film is complex and engrossing – deeply sad in places and hysterical in others – formally controlled, but underpinned by an anarchic sensibility. It is life-affirming without any skerrick of sentimentality.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kagVqEfPxFw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Lars Eidinger is astonishingly good as maestro Tom, who is trying to keep his career on track as his family life crumbles around him. He is matched by Lilith Stangenberg, mesmerising as his unhinged sister Ellen. Robert Gwisdek is equally exceptional as the highly strung composer and friend Bernard, while Corinna Harfouch anchors the film’s first section as Tom’s far from maternal mother, Lissy.</p> <p>At one point, Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 period film <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_and_Alexander">Fanny and Alexander</a> is playing on the TV (Tom watches it every Christmas). Even though Dying feels like a contemporary film committed to interrogating the difficulties of being in the modern world, there’s something of late Bergman here as it unfolds across its epic length.</p> <p>It is a three-hour film about middle-class life, but like a great 19th-century novel, it never feels long. The fact that nothing particularly extraordinary happens is testament to how well-made the film is.</p> <h2>3. Kill</h2> <p>Director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s Indian action film <a href="https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/kill_2023_2">Kill</a> is cheesy, sentimental and at first seems remarkably silly.</p> <p>Commando Amrit, played by beefy TV star Lakshya, is travelling to New Delhi by train with his buddy, fellow commando Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan). His true love Tulika (Tanya Maniktala) is also on board and has recently become engaged to another man through an arrangement by her wealthy father, Baldev Singh Thakur (Harsh Chhaya), who happens to own the train company. When a group of 30-plus bandits led by the charming but ice-cold Fani (Raghav Juyal) move to rob the train, Amrit must defend Tulika, her family and the rest of the passengers.</p> <p>When the title card appears 40 minutes into the film, suddenly emblazoned on the screen, it seems like a distracting quirk at first. But it begins to make sense as the train rolls on. All of the violence and bone-crushing action of the first section is mere preamble, leading to a point of transition from an extremely violent but fun action film, to a much darker – and bloodier – revenge film.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/da7lKeeS67c?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Kill is an exceptionally well-wrought genre film. The kinetic and balletic action recalls the golden era of Hong Kong action cinema, but with hammers, daggers and sickles instead of guns and the frenetic staging of hand-to-hand combat instead of poetic slow-motion footage. It is also a great example of a film being more than the sum of its parts. No element is perfect, yet they come together to transcend these limitations, its flow reaching sublime levels by the end.</p> <p>There’s also an undercurrent of sadness throughout. We see an India of haves and have-nots, of families of bandits struggling to survive and of the supreme violence sustaining the social and political order. As Fani says to Amrit near the end: “Who kills like this? I killed four of your people. You finished off 40 of my family. You’re not a protector. You’re a monster. A fucking monster.” The title says it all.</p> <h2>4. Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story</h2> <p>Biographical films about celebrities inevitably feel gossipy. Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super/Man:_The_Christopher_Reeve_Story">Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story</a> is no exception. But it is so well made (and well-resourced, one would imagine, as it’s produced by DC) that it moves beyond its tabloid-like qualities.</p> <p>Interviews with Reeve’s friends and colleagues, including Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close and Jeff Daniels, are interspersed with home footage shot by Reeve and his family throughout his career and during his recovery from the near-fatal riding accident that left him paralysed and breathing through a respirator for the rest of his life.</p> <p>Reeve’s close friendship with “brother” Robin Williams assumes central importance, with the film implying the two men were so emotionally dependent on each other that Williams would probably still be alive if Reeve hadn’t died in 2004.</p> <p>But the most interesting parts of the film involve carefully assembled archival footage looking at how Reeve’s decision to play Superman negatively impacted his career and personal life. He never starred in another profitable film, and his father and colleagues such as William Hurt loathed his decision to play a comic book character.</p> <p>This is counterpointed with his post-accident career as a director and disability advocate. Interviews with Reeve’s children add a genuinely tragic sense of pathos to this slick, well-made and emotionally exhausting “true Hollywood” story. It’s everything one could want from such a documentary.</p> <h2>5. Kneecap</h2> <p>Cowriter-director Rich Peppiatt’s Kneecap is a riotous, irreverent biopic following the career of Belfast drug-dealers Móglaí Bap and Mo Chara as they team up with high school music teacher DJ Próvai to become the first Irish-language rap group, Kneecap.</p> <p>The real <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-66408560">Kneecappers</a> cowrote the film and play themselves and, given none of them are actors, do so remarkably well. They’re joined by Irish heavyweights Josie Walker, playing the detective who has it in for them, and Michael Fassbender, playing Móglaí’s father, an old-school Irish radical who has been on the run for the past few decades.</p> <p>The film depicts their hedonistic drug use and anarchic disregard for the law in the context of their radical political motivation to speak Irish against the colonial English. And while it may be a bit cartoonish in its presentation of Belfast’s history and the struggle to keep Gaelic alive, it is a music biopic after all.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FFYfp-hKxZQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Kneecap is violent, coarse and laced with infectiously good humour – a genuinely fun film, buoyed by its charismatic stars and lively style. Only the most stringent moralist wouldn’t enjoy this one!</p> <h2>Notable mentions</h2> <p>It’s extremely difficult to pick a top five when 15 or so of the films I saw were standouts. And this is testament to the quality of the festival’s selection.</p> <p>It was a pleasure watching heavyweight Sean Penn go head-to-head with Dakota Johnson in writer-director Christy Hall’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daddio_(film)">Daddio</a>, even if the story takes an uninteresting turn in the final third. Despite the banality of the premise – a New York cabbie chats with a passenger – and the inanity of some of the dialogue, this romantic ode to urban life in all its alienated, fluoro-lit techno glory is so well crafted that we happily go along for the ride.</p> <p>Equally affective is the melancholic and beautifully performed <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puan_(film)">Puan</a>, a restrained comedy set in a University faculty in Buenos Aires. Puan could easily make my top five, as could André Téchiné’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_New_Friends_(film)">My New Friends</a>), an offbeat French melodrama starring Isabelle Huppert as a disillusioned police officer who becomes friends with an anti-cop activist in the suburbs.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cnz-6h60tkk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Poor performers</h2> <p>Of the lot, I only found three films disappointing.</p> <p>The first, Among the Wolves, is a Belgian-French documentary in which a photographer and illustrator lie waiting in a tiny, makeshift building to encounter wild wolves. While some of the footage is striking, the film is let down by its scientific inaccuracy, such as references to the “alpha male” wolf – a term and concept that has <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/the-myth-of-the-alpha-wolf">long been discredited</a>. Such innacuracy is a cardinal sin for a documentary, which is supposed to inform the viewer.</p> <p>Though critically acclaimed, Hollywood horror film The Substance – a story of an ageing entertainer who turns to a mysterious substance to stay young (with unsurprisingly horrific ramifications) – feels neither new nor particularly interesting. And while it’s great to see Demi Moore and Dennis Quaid back on the big screen, their caricaturish characters make the whole thing seem like a boring joke: an inflated short film that is both irritatingly silly and painfully didactic.</p> <p>But rarely does a film so resolutely reaffirm a sense of the absurd hubris of humans as Francis Ford Coppola’s self-financed mega-flop, Megalopolis. This cartoonish, incoherent mess set in a dystopian version of the United States, “New Rome”, is howlingly bad in places.</p> <p>Imagine the worst parts of The Hunger Games and <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064940/">Fellini Satyricon</a> (1969) crossed with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and you begin to get a sense of the kind of self-indulgent, heavy-handed nonsense that is Megalopolis.</p> <p>Side-splittingly funny moments come courtesy of bad dialogue (“Utopias become dystopias,” actor Giancarlo Esposito says at one point with a straight face). And stilted acting by Adam Driver and Aubrey Plaza had the (remaining) audience in stitches. Megalopolis is like one of the great fiascos from days gone by – the 21st century’s Heaven’s Gate – and there is definitely something delightful about the existence of this <a href="https://variety.com/2022/film/news/francis-ford-coppola-funding-120-million-dollars-megalopolis-1235184765/">US$120 million</a> (roughly A$180 million) flop.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1FQzWD5xVKQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>But as a dud, Megalopolis is the outlier. And in a year following Barbie, Oppenheimer, Napoleon and Poor Things (talk about heavy-handed cinema), much of the menu of this year’s Sydney Film Festival once again proves there are still good filmmakers out there making good films.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232706/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ari-mattes-97857"><em>Ari Mattes</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Communications and Media, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-australia-852">University of Notre Dame Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-watched-some-40-films-at-this-years-sydney-film-festival-here-are-my-top-five-picks-and-one-hilarious-flop-232706">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: IMDB</em></p> </div>

Movies

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Tiny reason for huge commitment: Grandad to run from Perth to Sydney

<p>John Harb admits he’s never been much of a runner. But that’s about to change, when the 62-year-old grandad and yoga enthusiast runs from Perth to Sydney for his granddaughter Luna.</p> <p>Little Luna came into the world three months early at Sydney's Royal Hospital for Women, in February, and at just 500 grams, she was the same weight as a tub of butter. </p> <p>The experience left John in awe, not only of his baby granddaughter, but of the magic that happens in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the hospital.</p> <p>“To watch Luna over the past three months, and witness her strength and her fighting spirit has been incredible,” said John. </p> <p>“Seeing my daughter Michelle and her husband Nick, and all the other parents and premature babies in the ward going through such a difficult time but being so well supported by the doctors and nurses made me want to do something to help,” he said.</p> <p>“When I discovered 80 percent of the equipment in the unit, including the equipment that kept Luna alive, was purchased through donations, I wanted to do something big.”</p> <p>Taking inspiration from Nedd Brockman, John has decided to run across the country with the goal of raising one-million-dollars to support the NICU.</p> <p>Currently training by running 15 kilometres a day, John has sourced advice from a range of experts including Brockman himself, who made a special visit to the NICU after hearing of John’s plans.</p> <p>He plans to commence his run at Cottesloe Beach on 1 October and arrive at The Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick in early December.</p> <p>Royal Hospital for Women Foundation General Manager Elise Jennings said John’s commitment will allow the hospital to purchase more lifesaving equipment on their wish list, like a new ultrasound machine for high risk pregnancies. </p> <p>“I have come to know John through the time he spent in the NICU supporting Michelle and Luna and I know how passionate he is about making a difference for those who come after Luna and we are incredibly grateful to John for his commitment. Running from Perth to Sydney is a huge undertaking, especially for a grandfather in his 60s with no previous long distance running experience, but if anyone can do it, he can.”</p> <p> “We are thrilled that John is announcing his run as part of our major annual fundraiser, Heart for Her, in recognition not only of the extraordinary care received by Michelle and Luna, but for all of the babies and families who come through our doors.”</p> <p>“For three decades now, The Royal Hospital for Women Foundation has funded the best medical equipment, innovative research, people and programs but we rely on the generosity of our donors to do this.” </p> <p>Donations can be made <a title="https://www.royalwomen.org.au/fundraisers/johnharb" href="https://www.royalwomen.org.au/fundraisers/johnharb" data-outlook-id="eed61181-8705-430d-a478-3f5f14e8b008">https://www.royalwomen.org.au/fundraisers/johnharb</a></p> <p><em>Image credits: Supplied</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Search for trapped Sydney woman ends in tragedy

<p>The search for a woman in her 30s caught in the middle of an explosion in Western Sydney has ended in tragedy. </p> <p>Jasmin Mhey was the only person unaccounted for after a townhouse in Western Sydney was destroyed in an explosion on Saturday afternoon, caused by a suspected gas leak. </p> <p>Now, more than 30 hours after the blast, search and rescue teams on Monday confirmed they had located the body of a woman, who has yet to be formally identified. </p> <p>The frantic search for Ms Mhey began on Saturday after the explosion, but was hampered by wet weather.</p> <p>On Monday morning, police confirmed in a statement that the body of a woman had been found.</p> <p>“Following an extensive search operation over the weekend, the body of a woman was found about 3.20am on Monday at the scene," the statement said. </p> <p>“The woman is yet to be formally identified. A report will be prepared for the information of the coroner.” </p> <p>Neighbours on Sunday told of how the missing woman’s mother reacted when she found out her daughter was caught up in the blast.</p> <p>“She broke out crying a couple of times,” neighbour Evelyn said.</p> <p>“But then she kept saying, ‘my daughter’s strong, my daughter’s strong, my daughter’s strong’.”</p> <p>Emergency services are yet to establish what caused the blast, which will be subject to a NSW Police investigation, although police were initially called to the area to reports of a gas explosion.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News</em></p>

Caring

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Sad reason why Sydney dad went overboard

<p>A father-of-three who <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/cruising/sad-end-in-search-for-overboard-cruise-passenger" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fell overboard</a> a P&O cruise ship last week has been identified, and his brother claimed that he had racked up a $4,000 casino debt onboard after being lured to spend big by the company's incentives. </p> <p>Shane Dixon, 50, died after falling overboard the cruise ship two hours before was due to dock in Sydney Harbour at 6am on Monday, May 6. </p> <p>Shane was reportedly on the three-day Elvis-themed cruise to Queensland's Moreton Island with his mother Sue Dixon, 66, who had saved up for the trip. </p> <p>"Our mother is devastated. Broken," Shane's brother Scott Dixon told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13410955/Dad-three-plunges-death-luxury-cruise-liner-running-eye-watering-debt-ships-casino-tables-insider-reveals-high-rollers-lured-gamble-Australias-shores.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>. </p> <p>“She has already buried one son and now she has to bury another one,” he said. </p> <p>Scott said that his brother was going through a rough time, as he struggled financially due to a series of tragedies including the breakdown of his marriage, and the deaths of their brother and father. </p> <p>Shane had spent $5000 at the cruise’s casino on the Friday, and Scott claimed that his brother received free drinks,  a $750 play voucher and a ticket for a future cruise. </p> <p>In Australia, strict laws govern how gaming providers can advertise gambling, with promotions like the above, which may encourage someone to spend more than they intend banned. </p> <p>However, cruise ships that operate casinos in international waters can bypass these laws, reported the <em>Daily Mail.</em> </p> <p>After borrowing money from his family to repay the debt, Shane ended up spending another $4000 the following night, according to Scott. </p> <p>"His brain was probably going 100 miles an hour. He probably thought, ‘s***, I’ve done it again. I can’t afford it and I can’t ask mum for more money," Scott said. </p> <p>He added that P&O staff have been amazing and compassionate towards his mother. </p> <p>A P&O Australia spokesperson said they won’t be commenting on the claims due to the coroner’s investigation that is underway.</p> <p><em>Images: ABC News/ news.com.au</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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New claim from Mexican criminal cartel over murdered Aussie brothers

<p>A member of the Sinaloa Cartel has claimed that they were the ones who handed the robbers accused of <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/i-killed-them-major-twist-in-slain-aussie-brothers-case" target="_blank" rel="noopener">murdering two Aussie brothers</a> and their American friend over to police. </p> <p>The city of Ensenada, near where the murders occurred, is under the control of a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel, and now they have debunked <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-trouble/doesn-t-add-up-new-theory-emerges-in-perth-brothers-deaths" target="_blank" rel="noopener">previous theories </a>that believed the cartel were involved somehow. </p> <p>“They were low-level robbers acting alone,” a member of the group, who chose to remain anonymous, told <em>The Daily Beast</em>. </p> <p>“But we handed them over. We learned that the cops were looking for the gringos and also began looking for those who were responsible. We called the authorities to let them know where to find them.”</p> <p>The cartel member added that the group was afraid of "unwanted attention" from Mexican authorities. </p> <p>Callum Robinson, 33, Jake Robinson, 30, and their friend Jack Carter Rhoad, 30, were all killed in what police have characterised as a bungled robbery while they were camping in the Baja California region during a surfing trip. </p> <p>The trio were reported missing on April 27 after they failed to check-in at their next accommodation. Their bodies were discovered in a well over the weekend with <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/tragic-new-details-emerge-over-aussie-brothers-missing-in-mexico" target="_blank" rel="noopener">gunshots </a>to the head, around seven kilometres from where they were killed. </p> <p>Three people have been arrested, with the alleged ringleader charged with “forced disappearance”. He has not yet entered a plea and charges are expected to be upgraded to murder in the coming days. </p> <p><em>Image: Instagram/ 7NEWS</em></p>

Legal

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Sydney Airport launches massive auction of lost property

<p>Have you ever lost something at the airport? </p> <p>You're not alone.</p> <p>This year there were more than 2,500 unclaimed items left at the airport including electronics, jewellery and designer handbags, and now they are up for grabs for a fraction of their retail price. </p> <p>The airport has launched their annual online auction, with all the money raised going to the Harding Miller Education Foundation, which grants four-year scholarships to high-school girls with high academic potential who are experiencing disadvantage. </p> <p>Over the past decade, the auctions have raised $1.6 million for various charities. </p> <p>“It’s clear the public love nabbing a bargain in support of a worthy cause," Sydney Airport general manager of corporate affairs Josh Clements said. </p> <p>“There’s something for everyone with plenty of great tech, clothing, accessories and beauty products as well as a host of unique items like a massage table, an electric scooter, a leaf blower and a quintessential Aussie favourite, a jaffle maker (sandwich press),” he added. </p> <p>“It’s great to see these unclaimed items find new homes, while also supporting a charity that’s offering comprehensive scholarships to help level the playing field for high school girls facing disadvantage.”</p> <p>“Opening bids start at just $10, which means shoppers have a chance to grab a great deal while also supporting an impactful charity,” Theodore Bruce Auctioneers director, Casi Prischl, said.</p> <p>The auction runs until Sunday May 12, with the <a href="https://www.theodorebruceauctions.com.au/sydney-airport-lost-property-auction-2024a" target="_blank" rel="noopener">complete list of auctions currently open for bids below</a>: </p> <ul> <li>Tech & Gaming - Saturday 4 May to Saturday 11 May, closing at 10am</li> <li>Sunglasses, Bags, Scarves & Accessories - Saturday 4 May to Saturday 11 May, closing at 2pm</li> <li>Jewellery & Watches - Saturday 4 May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 10am</li> <li>Clothing - Saturday to May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 2pm</li> <li>Beauty, Alcohol, Home - Saturday 4 May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 4pm</li> </ul> <p>Goods can be delivered at a price, or picked up by appointment. </p> <p><em>Images: Theodore Bruce Auctions</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Police release new images in search for church rioters

<p>The images of 12 men who were allegedly involved in the violent riot outside The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley have been released by NSW Police. </p> <p>Three men have been charged over their alleged involvement in the riot last Monday, shortly after bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed during a service that was being live-streamed. </p> <p>A 16-year-old boy has been <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/teenage-boy-in-custody-after-stabbing-at-sydney-church" target="_blank" rel="noopener">arrested</a> over the stabbing incident, with police describing it as a "terror incident". </p> <p>Now, Strike Force Dribs have been established to investigate the violent incidents, and they have released the images of the men they would like to speak to. </p> <p>Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Holland said that around 2,000 people were at the scene but up to 50 were there "to start problems". </p> <p>"We know that there's groups of families involved that have gone there to support their parishioners, and we're not looking for those people," he said.</p> <p>"We're looking to speak with them if they can provide us information about the people involved."</p> <p>In the immediate aftermath of the incident, dozens of police were injured, their cars vandalised, and some officers and paramedics were forced to take shelter inside the church. </p> <p>One police officer had their jaw broken, while another suffered facial and knee injuries. </p> <p>Superintendent Andrew Evans said that the images of the men have been released  "due to the violent and aggressive nature of their actions".</p> <p>"We are doing everything we can to identify these men and are now appealing for public assistance," he said in a statement.</p> <p>"Someone in the community knows who they are."</p> <p>One man — known as Person A — had his face covered but was filmed jumping on top of police cars. He has a large tattoo of Jesus Christ on his stomach, and others on his left arm. </p> <p>Another — known as Person C <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">—</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> was described as being of</span> Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance with short black hair and a beard. </p> <p>A full list of all the people police believed were involved in the riots were released on their <a href="https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/news/news?sq_content_src=%2BdXJsPWh0dHBzJTNBJTJGJTJGZWJpenByZC5wb2xpY2UubnN3Lmdvdi5hdSUyRm1lZGlhJTJGMTExNTU0Lmh0bWwmYWxsPTE%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>, with descriptions of their features and the clothes they were wearing. </p> <p>Investigators are also collecting evidence including mobile phone and CCTV footage to identify those involved.</p> <p>Over the weekend, Issa Haddad, 28, was charged and granted bail for over the public disorder incident. </p> <p>Two others, Dani Mansour, 19, and Sam Haddad, 45, have also been charged and granted bail. </p> <p><em>Images: NSW Police/ SBS News</em></p>

Legal

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Why is the Sydney church stabbing an act of terrorism, but the Bondi tragedy isn’t?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/greg-barton-10990">Greg Barton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Just days after the deadly <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-14/several-killed-in-mass-stabbing-at-westfield-bondi-junction/103705354">Westfield Bondi attacks</a>, a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-16/albanese-says-there-is-no-place-for-violence-in-our-community/10372830">second knife attack</a> in Sydney has generated widespread shock and grief. This time, a 16-year-old entered an Assyrian church and rushed forward to stab the popular bishop presiding over a service, together with a priest who rushed to his defence. The shocking events were captured on the church’s video stream, and the news quickly reached thousands of members of Sydney’s large Assyrian community.</p> <p>While both priests were injured, thankfully the knife blows were not fatal. Parishioners immobilised the attacker, and police and paramedics swarmed the church. Police moved quickly to identify the assailant and analyse his apparent motivation before announcing they were treating the attack as a <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-68823240">terrorist incident</a> early this morning.</p> <p>Public knife attacks are rare in Australia, and for Sydney to experience two in quick succession has rightfully alarmed many and, understandably, led to comparisons between the two. A lot of the discussion is around why the Bondi Junction shopping mall attack in which six were killed wasn’t considered terrorism, but this shocking, but non-lethal, attack was.</p> <p>So what do we know about the church attack, and what important distinctions can be made between it and the awful events at Bondi?</p> <h2>What happened at the church?</h2> <p>Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel has developed a large following, not just in Australia but in the Assyrian diaspora <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-16/who-is-bishop-mar-mari-emmanuel-wakeley-church-attack/103728808">around the world</a>, with his live-streamed sermons. Shortly after seven o'clock on Monday night, the video feed of the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Sydney’s outer west went dead, but not before it captured the shocking attack and parishioners rushing forward to help.</p> <p>Almost immediately, crowds gathered outside the church. We don’t yet know the motivations of the people who turned up, but it can be assumed they were there because they either saw or heard of what had happened and rushed over out of concern.</p> <p>Tragically, at some point the dynamics of the fast-swelling crowd took a dark turn. Instead of letting the large police and ambulance presence continue to handle the situation, some emotional onlookers turned on the authorities. Multiple police officers and paramedics were injured and vehicles were heavily damaged.</p> <p>It’s likely the fact the attack was captured on video, and therefore able to be shared and watched over and over again, added to the combustibility of an already volatile situation. It would appear the attack was deliberately planned to provoke an angry response. But what exactly happened in the crowd is the subject of one police investigation.</p> <h2>Why is it considered a terrorist act?</h2> <p>The other investigation is an anti-terrorism one. This is because while the teenager acted alone, it’s very likely they had received encouragement and backing from others. <a href="https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/unabomber">The Unabomber</a> is one of the very few documented cases of someone committing violence for ideological reasons truly in isolation.</p> <p>This lone actor attack in Sydney is reminiscent of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-03/nsw-police-headquarters-gunman-was-radicalised-youth/6825028">2015 murder</a> of police accountant Curtis Cheng. He was shot dead by a 15-year-old who had been radicalised by supporters of Islamic State. It later came out <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-14/curtis-cheng-murder-surveillance-man-guilty-of-terror-plan/10900982">in court</a> the attack had been planned by three other people, who also supplied him with the gun.</p> <p>Police were quick to pronounce the knife attack on Monday to be an act of terrorism. Having identified the attacker, they would have been studying his social connections and examining his digital footprint.</p> <p>The police assessment would have also given attention to the particulars of the church targeted. <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Assyrian">Assyrians</a> (people from northwest Iraq, northeast Syria and southeast Turkey) are almost exclusively Christian, belonging to one of the oldest churches in existence, living in precisely that part of the world in which the Islamic State established its brutal caliphate.</p> <p>It’s telling that before the caliphate was established, Assyrians made up just 3% of the Iraqi population. But in the wake of Islamic State sweeping across northern Syria and Iraq, Assyrians soon made up <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/assyrian-australians-plead-for-second-special-refugee-settlement-deal/x7ej8ix2y">40%</a> of Iraqi refugees. The trauma of those years is <a href="https://theconversation.com/diversity-and-religious-pluralism-are-disappearing-amid-iraqs-crisis-29832">recent history</a>, fresh in the minds of many.</p> <p>The recent Islamic State claim of responsibility for the <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2024/03/27/europe/missing-people-russia-moscow-concert-hall-attack-intl/index.html">recent deadly attacks in Moscow</a>, is a reminder the group remains a live and growing threat. For these reasons police will be looking for any evidence Islamic State might have played a role in inspiring this attack.</p> <h2>Terrorism or not terrorism?</h2> <p>Events at the church have been under a bigger spotlight given the events of the days preceding it.</p> <p>Despite <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/15/false-claims-started-spreading-about-the-bondi-junction-stabbing-attack-as-soon-as-it-happened">early misinformation</a>, police said thathey believe the Bondi killer, Joel Cauchi, was not motivated by a larger political cause – that is, a terrorist motivation. Instead, they say he lashed out violently because of anger control issues related to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/14/joel-cauchi-who-was-the-queensland-man-who-carried-out-the-bondi-junction-mass-stabbing">mental ill-health</a>.</p> <p>But of the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/14/bondi-junction-mass-stabbing-attack-who-are-the-six-victims">six people</a> he killed, five were women. Women also make up the majority of those injured. The one man who lost his life, security guard Faraz Tahir, a Muslim refugee from Pakistan, was attacked because he bravely <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2024/04/16/friend-of-bondi-security-guard-says-his-last-moments-were-brave/">rushed towards</a> danger in an attempt to try to stop Cauchi. NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said Cauchi <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-15/westfield-bondi-attack-stabbing-investigation/103706698">deliberately targeted women</a>.</p> <p>So if someone is targeting a specific group of people, isn’t that terrorism? Why does it matter if they were killing based on gender or religion? Is misogyny not terrorism?</p> <p>Put simply, the defining characteristic of terrorism is perpetuating violence in the name of a higher, broader cause. Terrorists have a belief in a collective goal, and see themselves as being backed by people who share that belief. Misogyny can be an element of their motivation and justification of hatred, but it’s part of a larger political project.</p> <p>Basically, it boils down to whether these violent actors think they’re part of a political or religious movement that’s going to <a href="https://theconversation.com/social-inclusion-is-important-in-aotearoa-new-zealand-but-so-is-speaking-honestly-about-terrorism-167429">change the system</a>, or whether they are simply angry men projecting loathing and driven by personal demons. The two, of course, are <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/not-since-the-lindt-siege-has-sydney-known-grief-like-this-20240414-p5fjnl.html">not mutually exclusive</a>.</p> <p>This is not to undermine the damage that angry men can, and do, inflict. Domestic violence is a bigger threat to Australians than terrorism. Calling something a terrorist act doesn’t make it more or less serious than anything else, rather the categorisation is to provide conceptual clarity for the sake of the ensuing investigation.</p> <p>Events at Westfield Bondi Junction and the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church are both awful, but while they share some similarities, they are different sorts of crimes with different drivers and enablers. As police investigations continue, we’ll come to better understand the nature of both.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/227997/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/greg-barton-10990">Greg Barton</a>, Chair in Global Islamic Politics, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-is-the-sydney-church-stabbing-an-act-of-terrorism-but-the-bondi-tragedy-isnt-227997">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

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Teenage boy in custody after stabbing at Sydney church

<p>A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after he stormed a church service in Western Sydney and stabbed a bishop and a priest. </p> <p>The Orthodox Christian church service was being live-streamed from the suburb of Wakeley on Monday night and captured the moment Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel's sermon was interrupted by the teen, who allegedly stabbed him several times. </p> <p>Father Isaac Royel was also stabbed, with two parishioners also sustaining injuries as they subdued the teenager until police arrived. </p> <p>The bishop and priest were both taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. </p> <p>Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Holland said the churchgoers did a "fantastic job" trying to calm the scene, but outside the church, an emotional crowd quickly built. </p> <p>NSW Premier Chris Minns chaired an urgent crisis control meeting with leaders from multiple faiths, all agreeing to a call for calm.</p> <p>When police arrived on the scene, the riot officers attempted to forcibly move the crowd away from the church, which led to violence against the officers. </p> <p>Police cars were smashed and two officers were taken to hospital after being injured by members of the crowd who broke into “a number of houses to gain weapons to throw at the police”.</p> <p>The 15-year-old, who was known to police, was arrested once officers gained access to the church and was taken to an undisclosed location for his own safety. </p> <p>Premier Minns later confirmed that the attack is being treated as a terror event, saying Police Commissioner Karen Webb had designated the stabbing a "terror incident" just prior to 2am. </p> <p>Chris Minns urged the community to keep calm and not perpetuate further violence, saying he and religious leaders “endorsed and supported a unanimous condemnation of violence in any form, called for the community to follow first responder and police instructions and called for calm in the community”.</p> <p>“We’re calling on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other,” he said.</p> <p>The church said Bishop Emmanuel and a senior priest were in a stable condition and also appealed for calm.</p> <p>“We ask for your prayers at this time,” the church said in a statement posted on social media.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Nine News</em></p>

Legal

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"Find that car": Mother of fallen young lawyer speaks out

<p>Mitch East, a vibrant 28-year-old lawyer from New Zealand, lost his life on Sunday in an alleged hit-and-run accident that has sparked a desperate plea from his grieving mother and a heartfelt outcry from those who knew him.</p> <p>Debra East, now in Sydney to grapple with the unimaginable loss of her only child, stood on the roadside where Mitch's life was abruptly taken away. In an emotional <a href="https://7news.com.au/news/find-that-car-mother-of-lawyer-mitch-east-killed-in-sydney-hit-and-run-shares-desperate-plea-as-tributes-flow-c-14013341" target="_blank" rel="noopener">interview with 7NEWS</a>, she expressed her shattered state, saying, "I'm broken. He was my only child... I died too, on Sunday, with him."</p> <p>The pain of a mother losing her child in such a sudden and senseless manner is unfathomable, and her plea to find the perpetrator echoes through the community.</p> <p>Mitch's untimely demise occurred as he stepped out of an Uber onto Fletcher St, just metres away from his home, in the early hours of the morning. It is believed that he was <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/police-investigate-after-young-lawyer-killed-in-cowardly-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener">struck by a car</a>, leaving him with critical injuries that tragically proved fatal. Despite the efforts of emergency responders, Mitch passed away at the scene.</p> <p>The circumstances surrounding Mitch's death point to a hit-and-run incident, with CCTV footage capturing <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/police-investigate-after-young-lawyer-killed-in-cowardly-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a white Subaru</a> driving on the street shortly after the accident.</p> <p>Debra East, grappling with grief and disbelief, voiced her anguish, questioning how the driver could have failed to see her son and pleading for assistance in locating the vehicle.</p> <p>“I got up early hours of the morning today and stood on the side of the road to try to understand how they couldn’t have seen him as they were driving up," she said. “I just need you to help the police find that car. Not that it will bring him back to me.”</p> <p>NSW Police Inspector Josh Hogan condemned the act as cowardly, urging the driver to come forward and take responsibility for their actions.</p> <p>Anyone with information about the death is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.</p> <p><em>Images: GoFundMe | NSW Police</em></p>

Family & Pets

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West Side Story returns to Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

<p>Get ready to snap your fingers, tap your toes and experience the magic of Broadway in Sydney as Opera Australia presents t<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">he electrifying musical extravaganza <em>West Side Story</em> – making its triumphant return to the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour stage in 2024.</span></p> <p>The 2019 production of <em>West Side Story</em>, if you were fortunate enough to grab seats, was an absolute smash hit. With record-breaking ticket sales and rave reviews, it's no wonder this show stole the hearts of over 65,000 theatre and musical buffs. </p> <p>Directed by the incomparable Francesca Zambello, <em>West Side Story</em> promises to once again whisk audiences away to the bustling streets of New York City, complete with iconic songs, heart-pounding dance numbers, and enough drama to fill the harbour twice over. </p> <p>Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's musical masterpiece will once again take centre stage, accompanied by Jerome Robbins' legendary choreography – and this year, we were fortunate enough to be able to pose a few pre-performance questions to none other than Guy Simpson, the show’s musical director, and the all-singing, all-dancing Wayne Scott Kermond, who is playing “Doc” onstage.</p> <p>Let’s raise the curtain and see what they have to say!</p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/03/Guy-Simpson.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p><strong>Guy Simpson</strong></p> <p>Guy Simpson, a seasoned musical director with nearly 45 years of experience, boasts an illustrious career spanning global productions. Notably, his involvement with iconic shows like <em>Miss Saigon</em> and <em>The Phantom</em> <em>of the Opera</em> has taken him across continents, from Australia to Asia and beyond. Simpson's extensive repertoire includes serving as Musical Supervisor and Director for Opera Australia's acclaimed productions such as <em>Evita</em>, <em>My Fair Lady</em>, and of course <em>West Side Story</em>. Additionally, his contributions as an orchestrator and producer of cast recordings further solidify his stature in the musical theatre realm. With credits ranging from beloved classics like <em>Les Misérables</em> to contemporary hits like <em>Muriel's Wedding</em>, Simpson's versatile talent continues to enrich the world of musical theatre on an international scale.</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What memories do you have of your first time working on <em>West Side Story</em> – when was it and what was the experience like? </p> <p><em><strong>Guy:</strong></em> “I was a rehearsal pianist for the 1983 production of <em>West Side Story</em>. The conductor was Dobbs Franks, who came from the US to conduct the first production of the show in 1960. So I was lucky to learn the show from him. I wasn’t in the orchestra and had tickets to watch opening night but during the afternoon of that day I received a call to play in the orchestra that night because the pianist was unwell. I’ll never forget that! Since then I have conducted three seasons of the show and learn more and more about it each time.”</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What were Bernstein’s influences and what impact did Bernstein’s score have when the musical first premiered? And why do you think it remains so recognised today? </p> <p><em><strong>Guy:</strong></em> “Bernstein was influenced by many things. There is an <a href="https://www.wrti.org/arts-desk/2018-08-23/the-surprising-backstory-to-west-side-story" target="_blank" rel="noopener">excellent article by Debra Lew Harder</a> that outlines these influences. I love the combination of Jewish themes, Puerto Rican rhythm, Mexican dance music and of course American jazz. His classical roots also come in here – especially the music of Aaron Copland and George Gershwin. The genius is Bernstein's ability to blend all this into a score that tells the story so brilliantly."</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What’s your favourite moment in the music that audiences might not always notice but could listen out for?</p> <p><em><strong>Guy:</strong></em> I like what is known as ‘THE BALCONY SCENE’. Most people will know it as the iconic love duet ‘TONIGHT’. In the show this scene moves between spoken dialogue (with underscoring), into the song and back into dialogue in a wonderfully cohesive way. It is so well crafted and is quite a challenge for the conductor to fit the music with the dialogue in a seamless way. I also love the scene in the bridal shop that includes the song ‘ONE HAND ONE HEART’.</p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/03/Wayne-Scott-Kermond-as-Doc.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><strong>Wayne Scott Kermond</strong></p> <p>Wayne Scott Kermond, hailing from a rich lineage of Australian Vaudeville performers, epitomises the essence of musical theatre, comedy and cabaret. With a repertoire spanning from <em>Anything Goes</em> to <em>Hairspray</em>, including acclaimed performances in several productions of<em> West Side Story</em>, Kermond's versatility shines through. Additionally, he's showcased his creative prowess as the creator and star of captivating cabaret shows such as <em>Candy Man</em> and <em>Jive Junkys</em>. Beyond the stage, Kermond's talents extend to film, where he's contributed to projects like <em>Happy Feet 1 &amp; 2</em>, and as a respected scriptwriter and director for various musicals, cabarets and corporate events. With accolades including a Green Room Award and Mo Award, alongside nominations for Helpmann Awards, Kermond's exceptional abilities and esteemed showbiz heritage solidify his status as an extraordinary Australian talent.</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> You and Guy first worked on this musical 40 years ago, how does it feel to be coming back together on the Handa Opera version?</p> <p><em><strong>Wayne:</strong></em> “I first performed in <em>West Side Story</em> at the old Her Majesty’s Theatre (Sydney), 40 years ago playing the youngest member of the Jets gang, ‘Baby John’, and then again in another fabulous production touring Australia / New Zealand in the mid-nineties playing Arab. And so it was lovely to be reminded by Guy on the first day of rehearsals for this season how special it is to us both, here we are, doing it again, just a little greyer."</p> <p>“We shared a few laughs about ‘where did that time go?’, and how ‘young’ we still look after all these years. It’s so great to work with Guy again, I think the last show we did together was <em>Chicago</em>, back in the late nineties. So with Guy's huge amount of expertise and experience at the helm as our Musical Director the show is in great hands. Wait till you hear the amazing Orchestra.”</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What about this musical’s story, lyrics, etc resonate with you and why do you think it keeps being seen on stage? Can it appeal to all ages?</p> <p><em><strong>Wayne:</strong></em> “<em>West Side Story</em> is as iconic to music theatre as <em>Swan Lake</em> is to ballet. All great musicals such as <em>West Side</em> have to have a great love story; <em>West Side </em>certainly has that. And to add to that, also an incredible score, dynamic original choreography and a beautifully written book makes it a triple threat. That's why it stands the test of time – it's an inter-generational piece, whose story and message still stands today, which is the reason why I’m now getting the opportunity to play an adult character ‘Doc’ in this OA production 40 years later, as it will be for another artist, in another 40 years' time.”</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What’s your favourite moment in the show and why?</p> <p><em><strong>Wayne:</strong></em> It is very difficult to say there is a favourite moment as there are so many. The whole journey of the show is something everyone who loves theatre should experience. The Prologue, Dance at the Gym, America, Cool, Tonight, Something's Comin, and not forgetting the Quintet powerhouse... Every part of this show is special, whether you're seeing the show for the first time or for the tenth time, it’s exhilarating, poignant and moving."</p> <p>“It’s especially wonderful for me to have been given the opportunity to revisit the show, after all these years later as a performer. And it’s very exciting to watch another generation of performers being given the opportunity to experience such an exceptional piece of theatre.”</p> <p>So, mark your calendars, Sydney-siders, because Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is about to serve up a theatrical experience like no other. With world-class performances, breathtaking views of the harbour, and enough fireworks to make New Year's Eve jealous, this is one event you won't want to miss. </p> <p>So grab your tickets, grab your friends, and get ready to experience the magic of <em>West Side Story </em>like never before. See you at the opera!</p> <p>For more information and ticket sales, check out <a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/west-side-story-on-sydney-harbour/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">opera.org.au/harbour</a></p> <p><em>All images: Supplied</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Police investigate after young lawyer killed in "cowardly act"

<p>The tranquility of a Sunday morning was shattered for residents of Tamarama in Sydney's eastern suburbs, as news emerged of a tragic incident involving a young lawyer.</p> <p>Mitch East, a 28-year-old legal professional, was discovered critically injured on a street just metres away from his home, only to succumb to his injuries shortly after. What makes this loss even more devastating is the suspicion that his death was a result of a hit and run.</p> <p>The details of the incident paint a picture of a night that turned fatal in the early hours of February 17. Mitch East had been enjoying a night out and had opted for a responsible choice by catching an Uber home. However, he was allegedly struck by a passing car on Fletcher St, leaving him with fatal injuries.</p> <p>Detectives from the Crash Investigation Unit are now leading inquiries into the circumstances surrounding Mr East's untimely demise, with their focus on <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">locating the driver of a white Subaru Outback, believed to have been in the vicinity at the time of the incident.</span></p> <p>As friends and loved ones grapple with the shock and grief of losing Mitch, tributes pour in, reflecting the impact he had on those around him. Described as having a "hilarious yet kind nature" and an uncanny ability to befriend everyone he met, Mitch's presence left an indelible mark on those fortunate enough to have known him. A testament to his character, a <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-mitch-and-in-support-of-loved-ones" target="_blank" rel="noopener">GoFundMe page</a> initiated by Kane Dunkley has garnered significant support, surpassing $80,000, aimed at alleviating the financial burden on his family and partner.</p> <p>In professional circles, Mitch East was regarded as a highly talented lawyer whose potential was yet to be fully realised. His journey in the legal field saw him achieve remarkable milestones, from graduating with first-class honours from the University of Otago to pursuing further studies at Harvard Law School on a prestigious scholarship. His career trajectory was promising, with roles at esteemed institutions such as the New Zealand Supreme Court and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch Terrorist Attack before joining Sydney law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler in 2022.</p> <p>As investigations continue, NSW Police Detective Inspector Jason Hogan issued a plea for accountability, urging anyone with information regarding the incident to come forward “before we knock on their door”.</p> <p>“It is a cowardly act to drive away after colliding with another human,” he said.</p> <p><em>Images: GoFundMe | NSW Police</em></p>

Legal

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Elevating tradition: La Traviata at the Sydney Opera House

<p>Opera Australia is set to enchant audiences as it opens its highly anticipated 2024 season with the Sydney premiere of Sarah Giles’ acclaimed production of Verdi’s timeless masterpiece, <em>La Traviata</em>. The curtains will rise on January 2nd at the iconic Joan Sutherland Theatre in the Sydney Opera House, promising an unforgettable journey into the world of love, sacrifice and redemption.</p> <p>Hailed as "an absolute triumph" by <em>The AU Review</em> and described as "audaciously new" by <em>InReview</em>, this co-production by Opera Queensland, State Opera South Australia and West Australian Opera promises to deliver the quintessential glamour of <em>La Traviata</em> while offering a fresh, female perspective. Director Sarah Giles skilfully brings the inner turmoil of Violetta to the forefront, shedding light on the harsh realities and heartaches of her life as a courtesan.</p> <p>Enhancing the narrative, Charles Davis' masterful set design delves into Violetta's public and private spheres, while his costumes brilliantly capture the opulent world of lavish parties and extravagance synonymous with <em>La Traviata</em>.</p> <p>For the first time, the award-winning conductor Jessica Cottis will take the baton, leading the Opera Australia Orchestra and the celebrated Opera Australia Chorus through Verdi's emotionally stirring score. Audiences can anticipate spine-tingling renditions of iconic pieces such as the lively "Brindisi" and the achingly beautiful "Sempre libera".</p> <p>Taking centre stage as Violetta, Australian soprano Samantha Clarke, fresh from a string of successful debuts in prestigious venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is set to mesmerise audiences with her poignant portrayal. Joining her are the talented Australian-Chinese tenor Kang Wang, reprising the role of Alfredo, and New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes, making his Opera Australia debut as Giorgio Germont.</p> <p>As the season progresses, rising Australian soprano Sophie Salvesani will step into the shoes of Violetta, a role she previously captivated audiences with in 2022. Alongside her, Australian tenor Tomas Dalton returns as Alfredo, while baritone Luke Gabbedy, fresh from his acclaimed performance in OA's five-star production of the <em>Ring Cycle</em> in Brisbane, graces the stage as Giorgio Germont.</p> <p>Prepare to be swept away by the passion, drama, and timeless melodies of <em>La Traviata</em>, as Opera Australia invites you to experience this unforgettable journey of love and sacrifice, reimagined for a new era.</p> <p>Don't miss your chance to witness this exquisite production at the Sydney Opera House, from January 2nd to March 16th, 2024. For more information, <a href="https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/opera-australia/2024-season/la-traviata" target="_blank" rel="noopener">click here</a>.</p>

Art

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"Unfair" parking fines could soon be a thing of the past

<p>In recent years, road users in one Australian state have found themselves at the receiving end of unwelcome surprises in their mailboxes.</p> <p>An experimental parking fine process, initiated with the aim of streamlining administrative procedures, has instead garnered significant backlash from unsuspecting motorists.</p> <p>However, relief seems to be on the horizon as the New South Wales Government steps in to rectify the situation.</p> <p>The issue revolves around the introduction of ticketless parking fines, a system that was implemented with the intention of simplifying the issuance of penalties for parking violations. Under this scheme, parking officers could send details of fines directly to Revenue NSW, which would then dispatch infringement notices either by post or through the Service NSW app.</p> <p>However, what was meant to be a simple and streamlined modernisation effort has led to a surge in revenue from fines and a subsequent erosion of trust in the system.</p> <p>Concerns about the fairness and transparency of ticketless fines have been mounting, prompting action from the NSW government. Reports indicate that Finance Minister Courtney Houssos has written to all 128 local councils in the state, urging them to halt further adoption of the ticketless parking fine system. Instead, councils have been instructed to revert to traditional ticketing methods and ensure that drivers are promptly made aware of fines at the time of the offence.</p> <p>The move comes in response to a range of issues highlighted by critics of the ticketless system. One major concern is the lack of immediate notification, which diminishes the deterrent effect of fines and makes it difficult for motorists to contest them effectively.</p> <p>Without receiving timely notification, drivers may struggle to gather evidence or address issues such as inadequate signage, hidden signs, or other circumstances that could warrant a review of the fine.</p> <p>Organisations like the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) have been vocal opponents of the ticketless scheme, labelling it as "unfair" and criticising its impact on transparency.</p> <p>According to NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury, the system reduces the ability of drivers to contest fines, thereby undermining their rights and contributing to a loss of community trust in the administration of fines.</p> <p>The NSW government's intervention signals a recognition of these concerns and a commitment to restoring confidence in the fines system. By prioritising immediate notification for drivers, authorities aim to address the shortcomings of the ticketless parking fine process.</p> <p>The decision to reverse the experimental system comes amid staggering revenue figures, with nearly $140 million generated from ticketless fines in 2023 alone. While the financial gains may be substantial, they come at the expense of public trust and fairness, prompting a much-needed course correction.</p> <p>As Minister Houssos asserts, providing immediate notification to drivers is not only the right thing to do but also a crucial step towards rebuilding community trust. By ensuring that drivers are promptly informed of fines and have the opportunity to contest them, authorities can strike a balance between effective enforcement and procedural fairness in managing parking violations.</p> <p>As road users await the reinstatement of traditional ticketing methods, they can take solace in the prospect of a fairer and more transparent fines system in the future.</p> <p><em>Images: City of Sydney</em></p>

Legal

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Matildas captain Sam Kerr to face criminal trial

<p>Matildas superstar Sam Kerr has found herself at the centre of legal proceedings in London, as she pled not guilty to charges stemming from an alleged incident involving a police officer earlier this year.</p> <p>Kerr, aged 30, appeared before Kingston Crown Court via videolink to contest accusations of using insulting, threatening or abusive language towards a police officer in Twickenham on January 30.</p> <p>During the hearing, Kerr confirmed her identity and entered a "not guilty" plea to the charge, which was later confirmed by the Metropolitan Police. The specifics of the charge were outlined in a police charge sheet, citing Kerr for a racially aggravated offence under Section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986. The incident allegedly occurred during police intervention related to a complaint involving a taxi fare.</p> <p>The trial, slated to commence in February 2025, is expected to span four days, during which two police officers will provide evidence. Meanwhile, Football Australia (FA) has issued a statement acknowledging the legal proceedings involving Kerr, asserting their commitment to support all players both on and off the field. However, due to the ongoing legal nature of the situation, further comments were withheld.</p> <p>“Football Australia is aware of the legal proceedings involving Sam Kerr in the United Kingdom,” the statement read. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment at this time. Our focus remains on supporting all our players, both on and off the field. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide support as appropriate.”</p> <p>The announcement comes after Kerr's unfortunate sidelining from both club and international duties. Suffering an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury during Chelsea's warm-weather training camp in Morocco, Kerr faces a prolonged period of rehabilitation, ruling her out of action for the foreseeable future. Her absence from the Matildas' lineup is particularly sorely felt, with preparations for the Paris Olympics underway.</p> <p>Despite the setback, Football Australia has not officially ruled Kerr out of contention for the Olympics. However, the typical recovery timeline for ACL injuries suggests a lengthy rehabilitation process, casting doubts on Kerr's participation in the upcoming tournament scheduled to begin on July 26.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty Images</em></p>

Legal

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Mission: Impossible Sydney mansion sells for eye-watering price

<p>One of Sydney's most iconic properties, known as the Boomerang in Elizabeth Bay, has sold for $80 million. </p> <p>The mansion is featured in the second instalment in the <em>Mission: Impossible</em> franchise, with the 2000 movie starring Tom Cruise being set and filmed in Sydney.</p> <p>It was the first house to officially sell for above $1 million in 1978, before setting another record in 2002 when it fetched $20.7 million.</p> <p>Now, multiple sources have confirmed it has been snapped up by a purchaser, originally from Asia, for four times what it last sold for. </p> <p>The property has long been rated as one of Sydney’s Top 50 homes, and has been in the name of Katrina Fox, the daughter of Melbourne-based billionaire trucking magnate Lindsay Fox, since 2005. </p> <p>The impressive home was put up for sale by Ray White in 2017 with hopes of selling for $60 million and then again with Brad Pillinger of Pillinger for $80 million in 2021 — the last agent to have it listed.</p> <p>Pillinger couldn’t be contacted ahead of publication, but other sources have confirmed the property has sold for the $80m asking price, while speculation from other sources that the result was $105 million have been dismissed.</p> <p>Boomerang sits on 4233 square metres of waterfront land, and features 25 rooms including a private cinema modelled on the State Theatre.</p> <p><em>Image credits: realestate.com.au / Paramount Pictures</em></p>

Real Estate

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Burial plot up for sale for $100,000

<p>It turns out Australia's housing crisis extends beyond the grave, as it's now equally expensive to die in Sydney as it is to live. </p> <p>A graveyard in Sydney has wait lines longer than that of an Eastern Suburbs rental property, with plots at the exclusive Waverley Cemetery now up for sale for up to $100,000. </p> <p>Eyebrows were raised online when the plot at the cemetery was advertised for sale on Facebook Marketplace, with the ad reading that the plot is “used – like new” and is available “in perpetuity”.</p> <p>To sweeten the deal, the burial site’s owner states it has “ocean views” and is in a “quiet neighbourhood,” which is no doubt what one must take into consideration your forever home. </p> <p>Other plots in the same cemetery are also up for sale for a lesser $50,000 and $70,000. </p> <p>Talking to <em><a title="9now.nine.com.au" href="https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/sydneys-cemetery-crisis-exposed-as-100k-grave-listed-on-facebook-marketplace/fc2311a8-3591-4625-84f2-340de78d9f98" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Current Affair</a></em>, Ben Kelly from the Australasian Cemeteries and Crematoria Association, said cost of living pressures, or perhaps cost of dying pressures, were a factor even in the graveyard industry, given the rising cost of cemetery maintenance. </p> <p>“Waverley Cemetery is a beautiful, historic cemetery with extremely limited capacity left,” Mr Kelly said.</p> <p>“As the population grows these cemeteries are filling up and they are creating new ones but they are further and further away.</p> <p>“So when the spots do come available they are obviously of a premium.”</p> <p>A place in Waverley Cemetery has long been highly sought after, with the heritage listed site boasting impressive Victorian and Edwardian monuments and memorials, as well as ocean views that are... to die for. </p> <p>While there are definitely some people prepared to fork out the expensive sum for their prime spot in the ground, others weren't so sure. </p> <p>“It sounds disgraceful to be honest,” one passer-by told <em>ACA</em>, when told of the price of a plot at the graveyard.</p> <p>“I think that’s ridiculous”.</p> <p>Competition to get into Waverley Cemetery is so fierce that new plots with perpetual rights are no longer available, with the graveyard instead offering renewable internment rights. </p> <p>This allows for the burial of human rights for a minimum initial term of 25 years which then has to be renewed, and even then, there's an extensive waitlist. </p> <p>The extortionate prices after reflected in a 2020 report by the NSW Government, which found some of Sydney’s largest and most well-known public cemeteries were in there “final years” of being able to accommodate new burials and will likely be full by 2032.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / A Current Affair</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Pink denied entry to Sydney hotspot

<p>Global superstar Pink, known for her chart-topping hits and gravity-defying aerial stunts, faced an unexpected hurdle during her recent visit to a Sydney hotspot.</p> <p>Reports have emerged detailing how the 44-year-old singer, with her entourage of eight, was turned away at the door of the Manly Skiff Club on Monday evening, sending waves of disbelief through the entertainment world.</p> <p>Eyewitness Mark Eymes recounted the cringe-worthy encounter to <a href="https://manlyobserver.com.au/surf-and-turf-how-manly-snubbed-both-pnk-and-a-kardashian-this-week/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Manly Observer</a>, highlighting Pink's valiant yet futile attempts to gain entry. "I overheard her saying that she had a booking, but when they asked her to provide her ID, she said she didn’t have any on her," Eymes disclosed, echoing the sentiments of many who witnessed the debacle unfold.</p> <p>Despite Pink's earnest explanation that she had already secured her booking with a deposit, the club's staunch adherence to the Registered Clubs Act 1976, mandating the presentation of identification for temporary membership, left the pop icon out in the cold harbour breeze.</p> <p>"Next thing, I saw Pink and her group walking away. They just turfed her out," Eymes recounted, painting a picture of celebrity rejection that would make even the most stoic of us cringe.</p> <p>In a valiant effort to come to Pink's rescue, Eymes, akin to a knight in a polo shirt, attempted to summon the Skiff Club directors and floor manager to rectify the situation. Alas, his efforts were in vain, as Pink and her posse were unceremoniously ushered away, leaving behind a cloud of disappointment and a faint echo of "Get the Party Started".</p> <p>However, amid the chaos and the flustered apologies from the Skiff Club's Secretary Manager, Matt Hazell, Pink maintained her composure, displaying a level of grace and decorum belying her superstar status. Witnesses attested that not once did she resort to diva antics, despite the palpable sting of rejection. "Not once did she throw her weight around. She was really pleasant despite being a little upset that she couldn’t come in," Eymes reported.</p> <p>As Pink continues her Summer Carnival stadium tour, captivating audiences with her electrifying performances and trademark aerial acrobatics, one can't help but wonder if this unfortunate incident will serve as inspiration for her next chart-topping hit. Will we soon find ourselves belting out lyrics about the perils of forgetting one's ID at the club? Only time will tell.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram / Manly Skiff Club</em></p>

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