Daily News Roundup

November 26, 2019

TUESDAY, November 26

Relatives and friends of two baby girls who died in a hot car in the front yard of their Logan, Brisbane, home at the weekend, say they made multiple attempts to raise concerns with authorities without seeing any action.

The Courier Mail quoted a family member as saying: “I never stopped fighting to help protect those girls.”

“It’s sad that it’s come to this and now people want to investigate it. I have no faith in the system.” the paper’s report said.

“I know of four people that made reports to them and those agencies  and other agencies and nothing was done.”

The family member’s anger has been mirrored on social media across the country, and as the digital disgust mounts Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has taken control of the official response, effectively elbowing Child Safety Minister Di Farmer into a secondary role, which included a foray into trying to start making excuses.

Ms Farmer, whose position as Child Safety Minister has come under attack before, pointed at the department’s spiralling work-load when she said a child was referred to the Department of Child Safety every four minutes while at the same time confirming the two little girls were known to the department.

She also announced an independent external review into the handling of the case – separate to the Department’s Internal Child Death review – to be headed by Queensland Family and Child Commissioner Cheryl Vardon.

Ms Farmer said the death of any child was a tragedy, but offered no specifics on the family’s contact with the department.

“If the Department receives information that a child may be at risk, they assess and investigate that information,” she said.

“Like the rest of the community, I was shocked when I heard what had happened and I want answers.

Kerri-Ann Conley, the mother of the girls Darcey and Chloe-Ann, was yesterday remanded in custody, charged with murder.       

 Ms Conley is the first person to be charged under tough new laws passed in May this year, which expand the state’s definition of murder to include reckless indifference to human life.

She was also charged with possessing dangerous drugs and possessing utensils or a pipe.

Temperatures reached 31 degrees Celsius on Saturday and police said the girls, aged one and two, had been in the car for a number of hours before they died..

Detective Inspector Mark White commended the “commitment and the professionalism and the resilience” of those involved in such a difficult investigation.

Ms Palaszczuk said the deaths were an “absolute tragedy”.

“I was heartbroken when I heard about it, I think everyone would be in exactly the same position.”

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The future of 45,000 London Uber drivers are in limbo after the ride-hailing service was stripped of its operating licence in the city for the second time in just over two years, after a regulator found a “pattern of failures” on safety and security.

Uber has vowed to appeal the decision, but the process is likely to include court action

The ban followed a change to Uber’s systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other drivers’ accounts, meaning they could pick up passengers as if they were the booked driver, peak regulator, Transport for London (TfL) said.

As a result, it deemed Uber “not fit and proper at this time.”

While Uber immediately said it would appeal, the process is likely to include court action and could drag on for months.

However, the company, which has 21 days to file an appeal, can operate in the meantime, despite being stripped of its licence.

TfL said it had “identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk”.

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Westpac chief executive officer Brian Hartzer has resigned (with a $2.7 million golden handshake) as the major lender battles an investigation by Australia’s financial intelligence agency over a money laundering and child exploitation scandal.

The bank’s leader will step down on December 2 with 12 months’ pay. Other special payments could also be heading his way as he departs.

Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted said this morning the board accepted the “gravity” of the issues raised by AUSTRAC.

“As was appropriate, we sought feedback from all our stakeholders including shareholders and having done so it became clear that board and management changes were in the best interest of the bank,” he said in a statement released to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Mr Hartzer said he was “ultimately accountable for everything that happens at the bank”.

“It is clear that we have fallen well short of what the community expects of us, and we expect of ourselves,” he said in a statement issued by Westpac.

It comes after a report in The Australian revealed Mr Hartzer attempted to lobby support from Westpac’s senior leaders by saying the scandal “was not playing out as a high street issue”.