Wheels in motion for ‘sky bike’ highways in Melbourne’s CBD

May 31, 2016 – 7:28PM

Josh Gordon

STATE POLITICAL EDITOR FOR THE AGE

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A radical plan for a $100 million ‘sky bike’ super highway for Melbourne CBD cyclists is being examined by the Andrews government’s chief infrastructure adviser.

Infrastructure Victoria has floated a major plan to extend a network dedicated to bike corridors, including “grade separated” raised sections allowing cyclists to quickly and safely travel through and across the city.

An artist's impressions of a proposed raised cycle highway for Melbourne's CBD.

An artist’s impressions of a proposed raised cycle highway for Melbourne’s CBD.

In a major report examining dozens of major project options, Infrastructure Victoria predicted the controversial idea would cut traffic congestion, freeing up space for public transport.

“The provision of bicycle highways, especially if they are physically or grade separated, is likely to encourage new cycling trips by cyclists of varying ability and reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities related to crashes.”

It follows concerns that Melbourne’s bicycle corridors end abruptly on the city’s edge, with cyclists facing a dangerous journey into the heart of the business district.

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Although cycling infrastructure is less expensive than other forms of transport, the report warned retrofitting an “elevated veloway” could be costly, with an added risk of conflict between growing numbers of commuter cyclists and motorists.

“There may be a more crashes involving cyclists with the growth of commuter cycling, particularly in the areas beyond the upgrade infrastructure,” the report said.

It remains unclear which streets through the city could be used for the bicycle highways.

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In 2014, a consortium including Federation Square co-designer Donald Bates and Pacific Strategies director Mike Potter released a plan for a 1.7 kilometre raised “veloway” that would run about 10 metres above the ground, spanning six major intersections from Princes Bridge to Southern Cross Station.

An assessment by economic consultants Deloitte and engineering advisers Aurecon, suggested a more extensive network of cycle paths through the city would cost about $100 million.

But the assessment, commissioned by Infrastructure Victoria, said the idea would not make a significant contribution to meeting the state’s overall transport needs in the future.

The idea is also being examined as part of the government’s “Plan Melbourne” strategy. It found bike transportation played a major role accessing CBD jobs. Under the idea, “strategic cycling corridors will provide separated priority routes into and around the central city that support high volumes of cyclists of all abilities”.

VicRoads has also completed a Strategic Cycling Corridors project, which is due for release later this year.

Although Melbourne boast it is the world’s most liveable city (at least according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s measure), when it comes to cycling infrastructure it is well behind other major cities.

Copenhagen, regarded as one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world, recently completed its Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake, an elevated orange bike lane that winds its way over the harbour.

Copenhagen cyclingis well known as a cycle-friendly city. Copenhagen, well known as a cycle-friendly city, has recently opened elevated bike lanes.

And last year London Mayor Boris Johnson announced a Cycle Superhighway plan to create a network of segregated bike lanes with dedicated traffic signals.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said the Infrastructure Victoria proposal was a sign that bikes were moving into the mainstream of planning for economic development.

“Infrastructure Victoria is thinking big, and realises that the benefits of bikes comes from major, cor-ordinated and sustained investment rather than the piecemeal approach that has prevailed to date,” he said.

Infrastructure Victoria was set up by the Andrews government to “ensure initiatives are planned with transparent, independent and expert infrastructure advice”.

But a spokeswoman for Roads Minister Luke Donnellan appeared to dismiss the cycling highway idea, saying “while IV (Infrastructure Victoria) looks at options, we’re focused on our priorities”.

“We’re establishing the $100 million Safer Cyclists and Pedestrians Fund to invest in new, dedicated cycling and walking facilities across Victoria to help keep bikes and pedestrians away from traffic,” she said.

Source : The Age

Murder charge over underworld standover man George Templeton’s disappearance

May 31, 2016 – 11:06PM

Rania Spooner

Health reporter

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Robyn Lindholm with George Teazis.

Robyn Lindholm with George Teazis. Photo: Simon O’Dwyer

A woman has been charged with murder over the decade-old mystery of vanished underworld standover man George Templeton.

Templeton, also known as George Teazis, 38, disappeared from the Reservoir home he shared with his teenage son and then-fiancee in May 2005.

Fairfax Media recently revealed Templeton’s fiancee – former stripper Robyn Lindholm, 43 – was being investigated over his disappearance.

Robyn Lindholm after she finished a press conference into the disappearance of George Templeton.

Robyn Lindholm after she finished a press conference into the disappearance of George Templeton. Photo: Simon O’Dwyer

Lindholm was questioned by homicide detectives who had spent several months on the cold case and fresh statements were taken from several people linked to the pair.

Lindholm was once romantically linked to slain underworld identity Alphonse “Black Prince of Lygon Street” Gangitano, who was murdered in 1998.

Before he vanished, an inquest heard Templeton was a senior member of a Richmond-based gang.

He was once referred to as a “plastic gangster” and had served time on drugs and weapons charges.

When police revealed the disappearance was being treated as suspicious in 2005, Lindholm made an emotional plea for information about her missing fiance.

She said her partner of more than six years had left home between midnight and 1.30am on May 3, while she was out with a girlfriend.

Lindholm also said she received a text message from Templeton at 2.40am suggesting he might need to be picked up after an issue had arisen but that he’d failed to tell her where he was.

When contacted by The Sunday Age weeks later Lindholm had reportedly said:  “I’m not up to talking about it any more, sorry, I’ve had enough of it.  There’s just nothing more I can say.”

On Tuesday, homicide squad detectives charged a 43-year-old Ravenhall woman over Templeton’s death.

She is expected to face Melbourne Magistrates Court on June 3.

Source : The Age

Greens urge funding to save environmental defenders office

May 31 2016 – 7:11PM

Christopher Knaus

Flag of the Australian Capital Territory

The Greens have called on the ACT government to provide emergency funding to prevent the closure of a community legal service helping protect Canberra’s environment.

The federal government cut funding from the Environmental Defenders Office in 2014, threatening its ability to advocate and provide legal advice on the environment to the Canberra community.

Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, right, has called for the ACT government to step in to save the Environmental Defenders Office.
Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, right, has called for the ACT government to step in to save the Environmental Defenders Office. Photo: Jay Cronan

The EDO was forced to rely on temporary donations and grants to stay afloat, but has now warned it is in an unsustainable position and will close within months if new funding is not provided.

The office has turned to the ACT Government for help ahead of next week’s budget, saying it only needs a minimum of $130,000 a year to continue operating.

ACT Greens Senate candidate Christina Hobbs, right, has called for the federal government to reverse cuts and save the ...
ACT Greens Senate candidate Christina Hobbs, right, has called for the federal government to reverse cuts and save the Environmental Defenders Office.  Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Attorney-General Simon Corbell has warned the territory cannot afford to plug every funding gap left by federal government cuts.

But his cabinet colleague, Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, is lobbying for the territory to step in.

Mr Rattenbury has written to Mr Corbell and raised the issue with his Labor counterparts repeatedly, arguing the office provides an “invaluable” service to the ACT.

“It is clear that the EDO is in desperate straits, and we need to act urgently,” he said on Tuesday.

“The EDO is an advocate for important environmental matters in our region, and it provides advice and assistance to the community on a range of issues including planning and the protection of endangered species.”

The Abbott government cut funding from the network of EDOs across the country in 2014, a decision that was at odds with a Productivity Commission report recommending support continue.

Should the ACT office close, it will be the first of any state or territory.

Greens Senate candidate Christina Hobbs described the potential loss of the EDO as “deeply concerning”, calling on the federal government to reverse the cuts.

Ms Hobbs said the need for the service would only increase as Canberra continued to grow.

“As we expand, particularly into areas like Gungahlin and Molonglo, it’s really important that there’s an independent legal body that can review planning decisions and ensure that our city remains naturally beautiful,” she said.

“The EDO has done a fantastic job of protecting our natural environment, protecting endangered species, but also it plays an important role on day-to-day issues like resolving disputes between neighbours over trees.”

Mr Corbell has said the ACT will continue to fight for the federal government to reverse his cuts.

But he has not committed the ACT government to plugging the funding gap.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Christopher Navin jailed for killing former housemate Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber

May 31 2016 – 2:48PM

Alexandra Back

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The killer of Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber – a Canberra punk rocker affectionately known as the Ginger Ninja – will be eligible for release from prison in less than four years.

The friendship between Mr Sofer-Schreiber and his former housemate, Christopher David Navin, ended tragically when Navin killed him on Boxing Day 2013.

Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber, left, and his killer, Christopher Navin, who has been jailed for the crime.
Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber, left, and his killer, Christopher Navin, who has been jailed for the crime. 

Navin inflicted 73 stab wounds during an attack at Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s Lyneham home that lasted “tens-of-minutes”, killing him with a fatal stab to the neck.

He admitted causing Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s death, but was acquitted of murder last year, a jury instead finding him guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber's cousin Catherine McDonald said Mr Sofer-Schreiber's family and friends were disappointed by ...
Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber’s cousin Catherine McDonald said Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s family and friends were disappointed by the sentence. Photo: Karleen Minney

The finding meant Navin had suffered from an “abnormality of mind” that day, which substantially impaired his mental responsibility for Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s death.

Navin, 29, was sentenced on Tuesday to 12 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 6 years. With time already served he will be eligible for release in February 2020.

The maximum sentence Justice John Burns could have imposed was 20 years.

Navin’s moral culpability was diminished because of his mental illness. Navin had been earlier diagnosed with schizophrenia, though he had stopped taking his medication some weeks before Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s death.

His moral culpability was diminished, but Justice Burns accepted that Navin’s actions were premeditated and that he intended to kill his friend, knowing it was wrong.

“Were it not for mental illness you undoubtedly would have been convicted of murder.”

But the sentence has disappointed Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s family and friends, and his cousin Catherine McDonald said its length fell short of their expectations.

“Nic was a harmless, kind and gentle person who would not have been able to defend himself when Chris Navin entered his home,” she said outside court.

“However, it’s Nic’s life more than his death that we hope people will remember and we will endeavour to keep the memory of Nic alive and continue to support Nic’s love of music through the annual Gingerfest Music Festival.”

During the trial, Navin said he had killed the punk rock fan in a preemptive strike as he believed Mr Sofer-Schreiber had been involved in his grandfather’s death and had hired a hitman to kill more members of his family.

The court heard how after he killed Mr Sofer-Schreiber, Navin drove to a family property near Grafton where he burnt evidence, including two knives he later threw in a dam.

The defence argued Navin was not guilty by way of mental impairment as he had been suffering from a severe psychosis at the time. But the jury rejected this argument, instead finding him guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

The Crown had argued Navin had been socially rejected by Mr Sofer-Schreiber and was motivated by anger and revenge, but Justice Burns rejected this in sentencing.

Justice Burns said Navin would have to be supervised for the rest of his life, to ensure he continued taking his medicine and to monitor any deterioration in his mental health.

This was in part a reason for the lengthy parole period he had imposed.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Leigh Johnson is ‘no monster’: son of woman feuding with Sydney solicitor comes to her defence

May 31, 2016

Michaela Whitbourn

Legal Affairs and Investigations reporter

EXCLUSIVE

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Daniel Paul Calvo is speaking out against his mother Athalie in her court case against Sydney solicitor Leigh Johnson.

Daniel Paul Calvo is speaking out against his mother Athalie in her court case against Sydney solicitor Leigh Johnson. Photo: Nic Walker

It is a legal saga that risks destroying the career of high-profile Sydney lawyer Leigh Johnson, supporters say.

But the Woollahra solicitor has won support from an unusual quarter, with the son of the 80-year-old woman battling Ms Johnson in court speaking out against his mother to “put the record straight”.

Sydney solicitor Leigh Johnson.

Sydney solicitor Leigh Johnson. Photo: Peter Rae

Fairfax Media revealed on Monday Ms Johnson is the subject of a scathing judgment in the NSW Supreme Court about the circumstances in which she agreed to take a 32.5 per cent stake in the Australian Institute of Music, the nation’s largest private music school, from two elderly clients.
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Justice Patricia Bergin, the chief judge in the court’s equity division, said last year Ms Johnson had engaged in “inappropriate tactics” in her dealings with the founders of AIM, the late Peter Calvo and his wife Athalie, over the transfer of shares in the company. Justice Bergin struck down the transfer.

But the couple’s eldest son and the former managing director of AIM, Daniel Paul Calvo, told Fairfax Media the result would have been very different if he had given evidence in the case.
“I’m forced to come forward now as originally I didn’t take the stand. I didn’t want to go up against my mother [in court],” Mr Calvo said.
He said his mother was not “a distressed elderly lady” and was “always sharp of mind”.
“I can no longer sit back and watch Leigh Johnson’s career being destroyed,” he said.

Ms Johnson had been portrayed as a “monster, which is completely inaccurate”.
“I’m ready to do whatever it takes now to put the record straight,” he said.
Mr Calvo, who intends to bring legal proceedings against his mother over his father’s estate, said Ms Johnson was “always promised” a parcel of shares in AIM for her work on a case to claw back shares in the company from the family’s former accountant.

The family had “no money” and “no one thought we’d win this case”.
“This was the only way we could have a lawyer commit to our case,” Mr Calvo said.
“Leigh organised dozens of witnesses, she helped manage all the affidavits and all the evidence, she set up community support, and on and on it went. Hundreds of hours.”

He said Ms Johnson would appear in early directions hearings in the case without a barrister “and nail it. The average lawyer wouldn’t do that.”
The couple, represented by Ms Johnson among others, won the case against their former accountant in July 2009.
Justice Bergin was critical of the circumstances in which Ms Johnson had the transfer of shares signed at St Vincent’s Hospital in December that year, after Dr Peter Calvo suffered a stroke.
But Daniel Paul Calvo said the arrangement was longstanding and a separate $55,000 payment had been made to Ms Johnson at his insistence during the case to compensate her for her work.
The battle between Mrs Calvo and Ms Johnson rages on, with Mrs Calvo asking the NSW Court of Appeal last week to restrain Ms Johnson from recovering more than $2 million in fees for her legal work.
The court has reserved its decision.

Source : Sydney Morning Herald

Superliners cast shadow over facelift for Sydney’s overseas passenger terminal

May 31, 2016 – 5:43PM

Matt O’Sullivan

Transport Reporter

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Less than two years after a major facelift, Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal is already at risk of becoming overwhelmed by a new generation of superliners needed for the booming cruise industry.

And two of the world’s largest cruise companies are warning that, because Sydney is already one of the most expensive ports in the world for passenger ships to visit, any further increase in fees threatens its attractiveness.

Royal Caribbean has told the state’s pricing regulator that the Overseas Passenger Terminal has “effectively reached capacity” during the summer cruise season from October-November to April.

Large cruise ships are often too big to sail under the Harbour Bridge to Sydney's alternative passenger terminal at ...

Large cruise ships are often too big to sail under the Harbour Bridge to Sydney’s alternative passenger terminal at White Bay. Photo: James Morgan

And just 18 months after a $22 million upgrade was completed, the company said the terminal at Circular Quay would need to cater for cruise ships significantly larger than those it was built for.

The terminal’s facelift, which included a mezzanine level and larger baggage and storage areas, was designed for ships carrying up to 3900 passengers, but it now has to play host to cruise liners that can sleep 4900 passengers.

The use of ever-larger ships will increase pressure on the next federal government to allow passenger liners to berth at the navy’s historic base at Garden Island.

Large cruise ships are often too big to sail under the Harbour Bridge to Sydney’s alternative passenger terminal at White Bay in Balmain.

In order to cope with growth in demand for cruises, Royal Caribbean has been sailing larger ships such as Explorer of the Seas to Sydney because of difficulties gaining slots in the schedule for berths at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. At present, berths for cruise ships in Sydney are hired for 24-hour periods.

Royal Caribbean said the alternative of turning around ships anchored in the harbour at Athol Buoy was “prohibitively expensive, logistically challenging and inconvenient for passengers and crew alike”.

The cruise industry has been lobbying for years for Garden Island to be opened to passenger liners. In the lead up to the last federal election in 2013, then prime minister Kevin Rudd unveiled plans for a high-powered taskforce to consider moving the naval facilities from Garden Island to Queensland.

Premier Mike Baird has asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to provide advice on the maximum charges that should be levied on cruise ships docking at the Overseas Passenger Terminal and White Bay.

In a veiled threat, Royal Caribbean said Sydney’s port costs and charges were “uncompetitive” and highlighted its recent decision to pull out all three of its ships from Brazil after higher taxes were imposed.

“We simply do not cruise there any more,” it said.

“The opportunity for growth in the Australian cruise market from the rapid expansion of cruising in Asia could increasingly be placed at risk if our cost base continues to rise with no correlation to reality, simply because it is thought that we will be able to continue to charge what we like.”

However, the Sydney Harbour Association said fees should be set to allow the state’s Port Authority to recoup costs in order to protect nearby residential areas from the impact of cruise ships berthing at terminals, especially at White Bay.

“We see no reason for any special or concessional treatment of the cruise industry,” the community group said.

“Their legitimate interest in cost containment is likely to influence heavily their approach to the structure of port fees and charges.”

A spokeswoman for Maritime Minister Duncan Gay said the upgraded Overseas Passenger Terminal met the needs of ship turnaround times “better than ever before”, and work had started on a new mooring bollard to allow access for the next generation of vessels.

“The NSW government is committed to keeping Sydney open, available and accessible to the growing number of ships wanting to come here,” she said.

Since it opened in 2013, the $57 million terminal at White Bay has been the subject of hundreds of complaints from local residents, who have argued emissions, vibrations and noise from cruise ships berthed at the facility are making them sick.

Carnival Australia, whose brands include P&O, Cunard and Holland America Line, said the number of ships berthing at White Bay was likely to drop in the longer term as cruise companies replaced older liners with larger vessels.

The company said port access and pricing for Sydney was of national interest because it was Australia’s “cruise hub”, and “the impacts will be felt in every state”.

It argued port charges in Sydney had reached an “unprecedented level”, and were “among the highest in the world, if not the highest”.

Sydney’s costs of $132 per passenger compare with $92 for the three key cruise ship ports in the US, and $72 for Auckland, according to Carnival Australia.

Source : Sydney Morning Herald

 

Outdoor cinema in new Albion CBD high-rise hub

May 30 2016

Tony Moore

Leading Melbourne architectural firm Elenberg Fraser has designed a 20-storey landmark complex with an outdoor cinema to rise from the ashes of a 2013 fire to become a new urban hub at Albion.

Elenberg Fraser is heavily involved in the redevelopment of inner-city Melbourne, claiming to be involved in the design of more than 40 per cent of the city’s new apartments.

Albion Village redevelopment
Albion Village redevelopment Photo: Supplied

It is working with developers in Brisbane and has designed the Night Edge development on Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley.

The Albion Mill proposal, to receive final approval on Tuesday from Brisbane City Council, includes 633 one and two-bedroom luxury units across two buildings on the site.

A 20-storey tower will rise from the site of a 2013 fire at Albion.
A 20-storey tower will rise from the site of a 2013 fire at Albion. Photo: Supplied

“We want Albion to become a destination precinct and the Albion Mill site redevelopment will be a real place-making project,” City Planning committee chairman Cr Julian Simmonds said.

“It will revitalise Albion and encourage more people to take advantage of its dining and retail opportunities,” he said.

The complex is the first stage of the redesign of Albion Village, Cr Simmonds said.

The second stage includes the redevelopment of the old TAB building at Albion.

Overall there will be parking for 740 vehicles through five levels of underground parking.

“This world-class design includes 633 one and two-bedroom units across two buildings, with 13 ground floor retail areas for cafes, restaurants and boutique retailers,” Cr Simmonds said.

“Rooftop terrace areas on top the 20-storey buildings will feature outdoor ‘infinity pools’ with an outdoor cinema, kitchen and dining areas.”

Elenberg Fraser’s design includes a public-accessible urban common area with alfresco dining opportunities, table tennis and exercise equipment.

It could be used for small markets and fetes.

Cr Simmonds said the project would be the first in a wider renewal of Albion Village, and creation of new retail and residential precinct along nearby Corunna Street.

“The Albion Mill site is the first half of an urban hub envisaged by Council, with the second half to be contributed with a future redevelopment of the TAB building,” he said.

The work includes improvements to Albion and Hudson roads, landscaping and wider footpaths.

A 35-year-old man from New Farm was charged with arson and wilful damage after fire engulfed the abandoned building in November 2013.

In the middle of 2014, the remains were demolished.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk at that stage described it as a “sentimental loss” for the city.

“I remember living close to the Albion Flour Mill as a child and could see it from my backyard every day,” he said.

“So I understand the loss the local community will feel.”

 

Source : Brisbane Times