FOR many years, the spread of open-cut mining across the Upper Hunter triggeredgrowing concern about the broader region’sair quality.
More recently, the Newcastle Herald’s“Great Cover-up” series was generated in response tothe complaints of people living along the main rail line into Newcastle, who were worried about the impact of coal dust on their health, and their environment.
In response, the NSW government and the coal industry responded with a range of studies that havedone much to build a baseline picture of the atmospheric situation inthe Hunter.Given the concern in mining areas, the Environment Protection Authority began with dust and particle studies of the Upper Hunter, resulting in a 2013 declaration –one greeted with some scepticism at the time –that the biggest pollution problem in Singleton and Muswellbrook, at least in winter, was wood smoke.
In the intervening period, studiesalong the coal rail lines also challengedpreconceptionsby finding that particulate emissions from diesel locomotives, rather than dust from either full or laden wagons, was the main source of pollution from freight trains.
Now, the EPA has released another suite of results, in the form of dust deposition and particle characterisation studies for the Lower Hunter. Thesefindthe region’s overall air quality is good by global standards, althoughhigher levels of particulate matter –particularly ammonium nitrate –have been consistently detected in and around the Port of Newcastle. To its credit, Kooragang Island company Orica has acknowledged its role as the source of these emissions, and is pledging further changes to its manufacturing processes to minimise them.
Extraordinarily, the EPAappears to have all but exonerated the coal industry from any major culpability when it comes to air quality.
Some people will no doubt find this a difficult message to swallow, especially in the Upper Hunter, where the logic that mine blasts send dust into the air is difficult to deny.But unless contrary evidence emerges, the EPA’s studies should be accepted asscientifically rigorous, and their findings valid. For the Lower Hunter at least, they confirm what most people would think looking out the window: that the region’s air is pretty clean, and certainly far cleaner than it was in the years when the Newcastle steelworks and the Boolaroo smelter were operating.
Austrac has alleged Tabcorp contravened its reporting obligations on 236 occasions. Photo: Phil CarrickGaming giant Tabcorp has been accused of a further 61 reporting breaches as part of a landmark Federal Court action taken by anti-money laundering watchdog Austrac.
The ASX-listed company faces penalties of up to $18 million over allegations it routinely flouted anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing provisions by failing to report suspicious transactions.
Austrac chief executive Paul Jevtovic said the new breaches came to light after it launched legal proceedings in July 2015 against Tabcorp and its NSW and Victorian wagering businesses.
“This ongoing investigation into Tabcorp’s extensive, significant and systematic non-compliance with Australia’s money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation has resulted in these additional allegations,” Mr Jevtovic said.
Austrac has alleged Tabcorp contravened its reporting obligations on 236 occasions, which had the potential to facilitate large-scale money laundering by crime syndicates or compromise the integrity of the financial system.
A Tabcorp spokesman said the company would file a response in relation to the amended statement of claim lodged by Austrac.
The Melbourne-based company is also the subject of an Australian Federal Police investigation into allegations it made a $200,000 payment to the family of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2009 as part of a lobbying campaign
Tabcorp’s boss at the time of the alleged payment, Elmer Funke Kupper, resigned last month from his role as ASX chief executive over the scandal.
Last year, Fairfax Media revealed underworld figures were exploiting Tabcorp betting accounts to launder cash, while violent inmates sometimes used the accounts to receive payments for extortion rackets run inside Victorian prisons.
Most of the work for the new submarines will go to South Australia. Photo: SuppliedFrance wins $50b submarine contractVotes for boats
The Victorian government has demanded that Malcolm Turnbull put a local content mandate on the $50 billion submarine deal with France as a first step to bringing work on the project to the state.
Victorian Industry Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said on Wednesday there was “no reason” the Williamstown shipyards couldn’t be revived to help in the construction of the fleet of 12 boats.
But this view that was met with scepticism from industry sources. Most of the work will go to South Australia, home of government-owned shipbuilder ASC at Osborne, where the submarines will be built.
Ms D’Ambrosio said Victoria was the nation’s leader in maritime engineering and design, and Williamstown – which had lost nearly 1000 jobs in recent years as work finishes on other major naval shipbuilding projects – should be considered.
“Those people haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth,” she said. “They are dispersed throughout the economy, and with some commitment and long-term certainty that only Malcolm Turnbull can provide, we could potentially be able to do some of these jobs and this work. Nothing should be excluded until it has been examined.”
Ms D’Ambrosio said she was “somewhat heartened” by Mr Turnbull’s description of the project as a “national endeavour”, but added he was “yet to utter the words ‘Victoria, Victorian jobs and Victorian businesses'”.
“He needs to ensure that before any contract is signed … the government provides a strong local content requirement and allows the [French company] DCNS to make the right decision on how the submarines are designed and supplied.
“We’ve had too many decisions made by Tony Abbott and now Malcolm Turnbull that have been simply a reaction to political pressure in South Australia, and now of course is the time to make good on their promise that there is plenty of work to go around.”
Williamstown will be all but mothballed this year after it was overlooked by the federal government for work on the future frigate program. The number of shipbuilders has dwindled to a few dozen, although there are still nearly 200 design and engineering staff working there.
Ms D’Ambrosio said Williamstown could produce hull sections, as it did with the Air Warfare Destroyer project, which could then be shifted to Osborne for assembly.
There were also opportunities for Victorian companies to supply parts for the project, she said. A modern submarine has about 1 million components.
A BAE Systems spokeswoman said: “BAE Systems will investigate opportunities to work with DCNS to determine where we can best assist in providing skills, technology and capability to ensure the program is delivered.”
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Hundreds went to Canberra to hear the prime minister’s national apology to child sex abuse victims.For some survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions, Monday’s official apology was a powerful step.
Others left Canberra’s Parliament House in anger.
Rick Venero only came forward when his best friend took his own life after they had both been abused at a Marist Brothers school in Sydney.
“It meant a great deal. It’s fantastic to get that (apology) from the Australian people,” Mr Venero told AAP on Monday.
But now he wants action against the institutions who destroyed records and moved pedophiles.
“It’s pretty shattering actually, to come here and everyone’s behind it, and the power of these institutions means that nothing’s really happening,” he said.
Phylis Read was put in an orphanage in Ballarat and used to call out to people outside trying to tell them what was happening to the children.
“Sorry is never going to be enough, I think, with a lot of people. It’s better than nothing, is my view,” she told AAP.
“I’m grateful I’ve at least been heard, my siblings have been heard. We’re not being punished any more and continuously being told that we’re lying.”
Ms Read says governments need to stop taking children from their parents.
“Stop taking children and lying about it and saying they only come from abusive homes,” she said.
Niall Baird was raped by a chaplain on HMAS Leeuwin, as one of 271 victims from the same base.
He yelled out several times during Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech because there was no mention of military victims.
“I thought today was going to be a great day. I came here expecting closure,” he told AAP.
“I’m ropeable, absolutely ropeable.”
Mr Baird said he wanted the federal government to acknowledge it was responsible for what happened to people in its care.
“We’ve got some people here who did report it at the time and got kicked out,” he said.
“They’re just still covering it up and that’s wrong.”
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Jason Davidson made his A-League debut for Perth Glory against the Western Sydney Wanderers.Perth Glory recruit Jason Davidson is hungry for a Socceroos recall – so hungry he has lost five kilograms.
Davidson starred in his A-League debut on Sunday, with his relentless running a highlight of Glory’s 1-1 draw with Western Sydney.
The left-back was just 22-years-old when he started in all three games for Australia at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
He was also part of Australia’s Asian Cup-winning side in 2015.
But his international career has stalled since then and he hopes Glory coach Tony Popovic can help propel him back into the Socceroos’ set-up.
Davidson had a brutally honest chat with Popovic upon signing with Glory.
Popovic has always rated Davidson but felt the 27-year-old was carrying too much weight.
Davidson has worked tirelessly to fix that over the past three months.
“Since I’ve come I’ve lost five kilos,” Davidson said.
“I’ve been drinking a lot more water and eating smaller portions.
“I feel a lot better for it. I feel healthier, stronger, faster, quicker.”
Davidson has played in Croatia, Portugal, the Netherlands and England during his well-travelled career.
But he jumped at the chance to link up with Popovic when the master coach arrived at Glory.
“The biggest reason I came here was to work under him,” Davidson said.
“His attention to detail is unbelievable, and that makes the difference.
“He’s a hard task master but he’s simple as well. What you see is what you get with him.
“He’s tough on me and I appreciate that.
“If you work hard and put your body on the line for the team he’s the type of coach that rewards that behaviour.”
Glory skipper Diego Castro (hamstring) and former Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic (hip surgery) were among five players who missed the draw against the Wanderers.
The duo will be assessed at training this week to determine their availability for Sunday’s clash with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Momentous: Julia Gillard, as Prime Minister, announcing the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on November 12, 2012.Today is an exceptionally important occasion for the survivors of sexual abuse in institutional settings and their loved ones.
For those who have suffered so much, whether they gather in Parliament House or watch and listen from elsewhere, the apology being delivered today is an overdue acknowledgement. Finally, the nation is saying we see you, hear you, believe you, value you and we are sorry.
As Prime Minister, in consultation with my Labor colleagues, I determined to establish the royal commission that ultimately came to recommend the apology we will hear and witness today, along with a multitude of other actions our nation should take to try and make some amends for the past, and to better protect children in the future.
The decision to instigate the Royal Commission was not an easy one to make.I wrestled with it.
Related content:Sorry, but a national apology is not enough
Based on what was apparent in 2013, which was barely a fraction of what we would come to understand, I wanted the most powerful form of inquiry to investigate and uncover the harm done to children behind closed doors and veils of secrecy.
But I deeply worried about the impacts of a royal commission probing peoples’ hurt. I was anxious too about the fact that such an inquiry would inevitably take a long time and cause frustration.
These fears might seem like odd ones now, given how successful the royal commission has been.
But when I look overseas, it is clear to me that my worrying was not irrational. You only have to consider the UK’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and the litany of problems it has faced, including resignation and replacement of its lead commissioner three times, to understand how the flaws of an investigation can worsen the grief of survivors.
In the end, I decided that not having a royal commission would in fact bea further betrayal.
People who have experienced so many doors being slammed in their faces when they tried to tell the truth would once again experience the distress of another banging shut. I also believed that the commission would find new insights about how to protect our children in the future.
Having decided as a government that we should act, we selected the royal commissioners with the greatest of care.
Jenny Macklin, Nicola Roxon and I worked over many weeks to get the most experienced and expert team of people to be the commissioners. Wayne Swan provided some wise counsel along the way. We knew that those agreeing to take on a role of commissioner would be immersing themselves in years of evidence filled with pain and distress, a task that would take a toll on even the most resilient.
The nation owes a debt of gratitude to commission chair The Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM, and commissioners the Hon Justice Jennifer Coate, Bob Atkinson AO APM, Robert Fitzgerald AM, Professor Helen Milroy and Andrew Murray, who all agreed to take on this society-changing task.
Day after day they read and listened to the most horrific and distressing personal stories. By its final report, over 16,000 individuals had contacted the commission, and over 8000 stories were heard in person.
The commissioners fulfilled their roles with dedication and care, gaining the confidence of survivors and those who support them. Crusading journalists like Joanne McCarthy, of the Newcastle Herald, ensured the truth they uncovered was known throughout our nation.
All commissioners remained with the investigation from the beginning through to the final report. There can be no stronger demonstration of their commitment to a just outcome for victims, survivors and their families.
But those who did the most to make the commission work, and to ensure its report endures, are the survivors who came forward.What incredible courage. What a profound contribution to our nation’s future.
I would like to personally record my thanks to the survivors, the commissioners and those who supported them.
Your truth-telling and diligent work means we have achieved something remarkable as a nation.
Australia is one of the only places in the world to complete such a comprehensive government-instigated nation-wide inquiry into institutional abuse. We are also one of the only nations to have such far reaching recommendations to guide us for the future. Other countries like New Zealand are now following Australia’s lead and initiating inquiries of their own.
Today’s national apology is about more than just the word “sorry”. The institutional failures and cover-ups that compounded and prolonged the suffering of victims are a stain on our country’s history. While we cannot fully erase the pain of the past, we can help to ease its burden.
My hope is that today stands as an important milestone on the journey of healing and reflects our commitment to walk forward hand-in-hand with survivors.
I also hope it is a moment when we all commit to doing everything possible to prevent this dreadful systematic abuse of children’s trust ever happening again.
Julia Gillard was the prime minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013 Read More
LEAD ROLE: Sam Poolman will captain Australia in the Fast5 World Series. Picture: AAP/Craig GoldingThere were times when Sam Poolman questioned whetherthe hard work and sacrifices were worth it.
The towering Newcastle defender made every NSW and Australian junior teambetween the ages of 16 and 21 and travelled to Sydney several times a week chasing her dream to become a professional netballer.
On Tuesday, the Rankin Park 27-year-old will benamed Australian captain for the Fast5 Netball World Series in Melbourne this weekend.
Read more:Sam Poolman back in Diamonds camp
“You don’t get the opportunity every day and it’s something that I will hold on to all week,” Poolman said.
“I wilI do what I normally do but be proud and remind people that everything that you put in puts you into situations like this.A girl from Newcastle captaining Fast5 is pretty awesome.”
The Australian Institute of Sport graduate played four seasons with Adelaide Thunderbirds in the now-defunct trans-Tasman championship before joining the GWS Giants for a breakout season inSuper Netball last year.
Read more:Sam Poolman has been selected for the second successive year in the Australian netball team
Her efforts for the Giants earned Poolmana spot in theAustralian Fast5 squad for the 2017 world series.The last Newcastle player to make a national squad had been former Sydney Swift and Hunter Jaeger Raegan Jackson in the late 1990s.
But Poolmanadmitted there were times when she wondered “is it all worth it?”.
“I was thinking, ‘How long can I keep committing like this?’,” she said. “I was working at Rebel Sport to pay for my fuel to get me down to Sydney and back several times a week.
“There’s hard work and sacrifices but it’s pretty awesome now to be playing week in and week out at a professional level, being in a leadership position and playing Fast5.”
The Australian team, which has seven debutantes, are in camp this week preparingfor the two-day Fast5 tournament.
Read more:Newcastle’s Sam Poolman makes first Australian appearance at 2017 Fast5 World Series
It will be contested by the top-six netballing nations in the world, including defending champions England, New Zealand, Malawi, Jamaica and South Africa.
GWS Giants defender Sam Poolman in action during the Super Netball season this year. Picture: AAP/David Mariuz
Australia open their quest for an elusive Fast5 title against Malawi on Saturday. Poolman hopedshe could be the first captain to lead the nation to success.
“Australia has never won Fast 5 before,” said Poolman, who was a part of the team which won bronze last year.
“Because of the success of the Diamonds, everyone just assumes we won it. We’ve been through to the grand final butnever won it, so obviously that’s one of our goals.
Read more:Sam Poolman’s GWS Giants playing for the Super Netball minor premiership
“If we can play quite smartly, we’ve definitely got the players to do that and hopefully we can get through to that gold medal match and then to win it would be awesome.”
Fast5 hasless players with no wing defence or wing attack. There areshortened quarters, multiple point shots and power plays.
Each match is24 minutes in duration.
FEATURED SPEAKER: Demographer Bernard Salt will be at the symposium.You will not want to miss the Second Cities: Smaller and Smarter Symposium, scheduled for Newcastle from October 29-31.Thought leaders will engage with key figures across business, government, and community sectors from Greater Newcastle, Geelong, Wollongong, and other ‘second cities’.
It is an event of national significance.
Experts will discuss what is needed for us to take the next step. What do ‘second cities’ have to offer businesses, individuals and the national economy? What government policies are required, and what private sector coordination would help?
Themes are infrastructure, innovation and liveability. They will be addressed by expert speakers and panels. Featured are demographer Bernard Saltand respected economic commentator Michael Pascoe.
The symposium’s lead partners include Hunter Water, Hunter Development Corporation, Hunter Research Foundation Centre, and AECOM. The event is supported by federal, state, and local governments, leading businesses and professional peak bodies.
The symposium provides the cross-sector collaboration called for in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan. The plan is significant both locally and nationally. We are the only Australian city outside the capitals to have a Metropolitan Plan, according to NSW Chief Planner, Gary White. Hesees the plan as providing a framework for the city and the region to transcend political cycles and influence its own future. A key part of the plan’s vision is ‘collaborative governance that makes it a model to others in creating and adapting to change’.
Collaborate in creating the Hunter’s future as a globally recognised second city by attending this symposium. It will conclude with a list of action items to benefit Greater Newcastle in the long term.
Kyle Loades is the host of theSecond Cities Symposium Read More
Falls are the most common cause of injury admissions of elderly people to Victorian hospitals.Hospital deaths of injured elderly Victorians in aged care are largely due to falls, a study shows.
Falls accounted for more than 80 per cent of hospital deaths following an injury-related admission, according to a report by Monash University’s Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit.
The report calls for special attention to ensure the risk of falls is minimised and the impact of falls is reduced as much as possible.
A total of 188 residents in the state’s aged care facilities died in hospital during an injury-related hospital admission, during 2014/15 to 2016/17.
Fractures to the hip and thigh region accounted for the largest proportion of deaths.
After falls, choking or suffocation was the second leading cause of death.
In general, falls were the most common cause of injury admissions.
The report authors said the data showed the vulnerability of the elderly in care, especially considering two thirds of deaths were in the 85-94 age group.
The study looked at unintentional injury hospital admissions in Victorians aged 65 years and over living in residential aged-are facilities on a permanent or respite basis.
It called for state and federal funded investigations into injury among older people receiving care in their home, given the trend for older people to remain at home with paid or informal care.
However, while there is greater tendency for older people to live at home for longer, the number of people in residential aged care, and therefore the number of hospital admissions, is also likely to continue growing, it said.
Plastic straws may be banned for use in England in a year’s time after consultations are completed.The UK government is pushing to have plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds banned throughout England in a bid to help protect the world’s oceans and wildlife.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has launched a consultation into how to ban the items with the ban looking at being enacted between October 2019 and October 2020.
The consultation process, which applies to England only, will consider exemptions to make sure people who need plastics to deal with medical conditions or accessibility issues are not affected.
Under the plan, pharmacies would still be able to sell plastic straws and restaurants, pubs and bars would stock them for use on request only.
It is estimated that 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used each year in England.
Gove said the ban would be a boost to efforts to “turn the tide on plastic pollution”.
“Our precious oceans and the wildlife within need urgent protection from the devastation throw-away plastic items can cause,” he said.
“In England we are taking world-leading action with our ban on microbeads, and thanks to the public’s support have taken over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation with our 5p charge.
“I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers. But we recognise we need to do more.”
Greenpeace UK’s political adviser Sam Chetan Welsh commended ministers for doing “the sensible thing”, but urged big companies to do more by cutting down on plastic packaging.
He said: “Our society’s addiction to throwaway plastic is fuelling a global environmental crisis that must be tackled.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, welcomed the consultation, saying many restaurants and hotels have already begun taking action to cut down on plastics.
Prosecutor Chris Winneke says Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif aligned herself with the ideology of IS.An Adelaide woman is yet to decide if she will give evidence during the sentencing process after being found guilty of membership of the Islamic State terror group.
In South Australia’s first terrorism trial, Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury in September of being a member of IS.
During the 23-year-old’s trial, prosecutor Chris Winneke QC said Abdirahman-Khalif had “wholly embraced the concepts and aligned herself with the ideology of the terror group.
The court was told on Monday that a psychologist had completed interviews with the woman and that report would be available within a week or so.
Defence counsel Bill Boucaut said it was important for the court had an understanding of the “family dynamics” ahead of sentencing his client.
Justice David Peek said the question of whether Abdirahman-Khalif gave evidence during sentencing submissions was a question entirely for her and her legal team.
He described the matter before him as a “difficult case” and said it was important for the court to “tread carefully” in terms of how it proceeded.
Justice Peek ordered the court and the DPP be provided with the psychological report by November 2 and listed a directions hearing on November 12.
He also set a tentative date for sentencing submissions of December 4.
During Abdirahman-Khalif’s trial, the court heard she was stopped by police at Adelaide Airport after she tried to board a plane to Istanbul in July 2016.
Carrying only hand luggage and less than $200 in cash, she told officers she intended to work for an aid organisation and expected her living expenses and the cost of a flight home would be covered.
She was later released, but arrested at the Port Adelaide TAFE SA campus in May 2017, following a year-long investigation.
In evidence, a counter-terrorism police officer said 127 video files of “investigative relevance” were found on her phone, and the jury was played a compilation of violent scenes.
The court also heard she had been in communication with three young women and knew about their deadly terror attack on a police station in Kenya before it occurred.
In his closing statements, Mr Winneke said as well as embracing the concepts and ideology of IS, Abdirahman-Khalif had gone a step further.
“She set off to go to Turkey, to engage with terrorists in the view of lending her support to Islamic State,” he said
“In doing so, she became a member of Islamic State.”
Japanese author Haruki Murakami says his books find their own endings as he just goes with the flow.Haruki Murakami says he enjoys writing novels because he doesn’t know how they’ll end.
The Japanese author behind global bestsellers like his latest “Killing Commendatore” has told Tokyo FM that when he’s writing his books he just lets ideas pop up as he writes and goes with the flow allowing the story to take shape.
“It’s no fun writing a story if I already know how it’s going to end,” Murakami said on Sunday.
“Because the very person who is writing doesn’t know what happens, I think readers would also share the anticipation and enjoy the thrill while reading.”
“Murakami Radio” is a pre-recorded 55-minute show broadcast only in Japan – his second this year on Tokyo FM after his first in August was a big hit.
Music serves as important motifs in his stories. An avid listener and collector of music, he has also written books on the topic.
During Sunday’s show, Murakami played a selection of cover versions from jazz and pop. He opened the show paying tribute to Aretha Franklin, playing her version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which he only played partially in his earlier show, a week before the American singer died.
Murakami said he is a “cover maniac” as he likes to listen to the tunes covered in different styles and interpretations.
Murakami, 69, began writing while running a jazz bar in Tokyo after graduating from university. His first novel, “Hear the Wind Sing,” came out in 1979, and the 1987 romantic novel “Norwegian Wood” was his first best-seller, establishing him as a young literary star. Recent best-sellers include “1Q84” and “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.”
A perennial contender for the Nobel literature prize, Murakami got a break from the attention this year when there was no award given in the category due to a committee scandal.
Murakami appeared earlier this month at a talk event hosted by the New Yorker magazine in New York, marking the US debut of his latest novel. Murakami told the New Yorker in August that his original inspiration for the latest novel came from the 18th century ghost story. He said he also wants to write something of an homage to “The Great Gatsby.”
A driver accused of killing six people during a rampage through Melbourne’s Bourke Street believes God will exonerate him of guilt before a comet strikes earth, the Supreme Court has been told.
James “Dimitrious” Gargasoulas on Monday faced day one of a hearing before a jury to determine if he is fit to stand trial on six counts of murder and 28 counts of attempted murder over the January 2017 incident.
Both the defence and prosecution agree Gargasoulas has schizophrenia and suffers delusions, but disagree whether he is fit to stand trial.
Defence barrister Theo Alexander argued Gargasoulas was unable to meet three criteria required of an accused person facing trial, including his ability to enter a plea, understand the substantial effect of evidence or instruct his lawyer.
But crown prosecutor Kerri Judd QC argued Gargasoulas was “not consumed by his delusional beliefs”.
She said he was making a bid to instead be held at Thomas Embling psychiatric hospital, with a possible future release.
The court was told Gargasoulas had treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia with “Messianic delusions”, and acknowledged he had ploughed through pedestrians last year but believed “God made him do it”.
Forensic psychiatrist Lester Walton told court Gargasoulas was on his sixth antipsychotic medication and was in the early stages of treatment with a “last resort”, potentially life-threatening drug.
Dr Walton said he believed Gargasoulas was unable to enter a plea due to his delusions, believing “he was acting under divine instruction” when he allegedly drove through pedestrians.
“‘My mission is to reinstate God’s law, which will redeem myself,'” he quoted from Gargasoulas.
“I will become king before the end of this court case.
“If I don’t reinstate God’s law, we are all going to die.”
Dr Walton said Gargasoulas could not “meaningfully enter a plea”, regarding that as “irrelevant” to his mission.
“He wants to be recognised as the king. This will happen, apparently, during the course of the trial once a comet arrives,” he said.
He added Gargasoulas believed that he needed to “have his day in court” to persuade everyone of his world view, “or we will all perish”.
Dr Walton, who spent about four hours assessing Gargasoulas in custody, said he didn’t believe he was mentally ill, but was a compliant patient.
Several experts are expected to testify during the fitness hearing, including forensic psychiatrist Andrew Carroll and forensic psychologist Michael Daffern, a prosecution witness, who will argue that Gargasoulas is in fact fit for trial.
The hearing continues.