Daily News Roundup

December 3, 2019

Andrew “Greedy” Smith, founding member and songwriter of the 80s Australian new-wave pop-rock band is dead after suffering a heart attack in his car.

Band manager Grant Bartlett confirmed Smith, 63, had died unexpectedly.

“He was a lovely bloke — one of the best you could find,” Mr Bartlett, the band’s manager for 16 years, told the ABC.

“He will be extremely missed.”

Mr Bartlett said Smith, who wrote some of the band’s best known songs, including Live It Up, was inducted in the Australian Songwriters Association Hall of Fame only three weeks ago.

The band paid tribute to Smith in a Facebook post.

“It is with an incredibly heavy heart to announce that one of the founding members of Mental As Anything, Andrew Greedy Smith, passed away last night from a heart attack,” the statement said.

“Our grief and confusion at this time are little compared to what Andrew’s family will be feeling — our hearts and prayers go out to them.”

Smith helped found Mental As Anything in 1976 while he and fellow band members Martin Murphy, Chris O’Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa), Steve Coburn and David Twohill were studying at an art college in Sydney.

Coburn was later replaced by Peter O’Doherty, Mombassa’s younger brother.

Each of the members took stage names, with Smith’s being a reference to his appetite — he once ate 15 pieces of chicken on stage, according to a Sydney Morning Herald article from 1979.

Smith shared vocal duties with Murphy (aka Martin Plaza) and played keyboard. He was not just a lively presence on stage but became, with Murphy, one of the band’s key songwriters.

Smith, the only remaining original member of band, was on tour at the time of his death, Mr Bartlett said. The band have dates booked in Australia through summer.

In October, Smith told ABC Radio Perth about the process of writing Live It Up, which came to him during a long bus trip across Canada.

“The initial idea of it, all the words and what I thought the music was, I probably got in about half an hour,” he said.

“But it took two years for me to get it right.”

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Australian tennis champion Ash Barty has credited the “unconditional love” from her parents for her rise to world’s top player.

The humble superstar from Ipswich, Queensland, paid a heartfelt tribute to her mother Josie, father Robert and first coach Jim Joyce after winning the Newcombe Medal for the third straight year as Australia’s most outstanding performer of 2019.

Barty formally received her award at tennis’s night of nights at Melbourne’s Crown Palladium on Monday saying the success of Australian tennis was not about individuals like her.

“It takes a village. We’re a tennis family and I’m very humbled to be here … again,” said the French Open and world number one.

“I’m extremely fortunate to have such an amazing network around me. It’s very special to have mum, dad and my very first coach — Jim — here.

“They gave me the unconditional love and support time and time again in all bad times.

“In good times, they’re always there and there a few words they said to me: ‘I love to watch you play’.

“When your mum and dad says that to you, when your coach says that to you, that makes the heart race a little bit — like it’s racing right now.

“Honestly, it’s been incredible and I’m very grateful they’re here tonight to share it with me as well.”

During an unforgettable season, Barty became Australia’s first French Open champion since Margaret Court in 1973 and the country’s first women’s world number one since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

She was also the first Australian woman to secure the year-end top ranking — and first Aussie since Lleyton Hewitt to do so in 2002.

Barty crowned her spectacular season in ultimate fashion by beating four top-eight rivals in eight days to win the prestigious WTA Finals in Shenzhen and, with it, $6.4 million — the biggest cheque in tennis history.

Barty is the first player to claim three straight Newcombe Medals since fellow grand slam champion Samantha Stosur from 2010-2012.

Stosur was also honoured on Monday night with the Spirit of Tennis Award for her “leadership, professionalism and the positive impact she’s had on the sport” while finishing 15 consecutive years in the world’s top 100.

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A top British QC has warned the BBC that it runs the risk of a trial by media of Prince Andrew  after it aired Panorama’s investigation into sex allegations surrounding the Duke’s association with since-disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Daniel Janner QC , the founder of Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform, which campaigns for anonymity before charge in relation to sexual offences, said: “There is a danger in the Prince Andrew case of assuming guilt by association. He is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

“Those making allegations against Prince Andrew should have their evidence forensically tested to ensure they are not motivated by false compensation claims against a lucrative estate.”

Meanwhile, the Panorama program surrounding the Duke of York is “about as bad as it gets for Andrew”, a royal writer said.

Penny Junor says the duke’s accuser, Virginia Giuffre, came across as a more sympathetic character on the BBC One show compared with his own Newsnight interview.

But she warns there is no way to know which one is telling the truth.

Giuffre, in the interview on Monday evening, claimed she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with Andrew when she was a teenager, which the duke categorically denies.

She said Andrew was “the most hideous dancer I’ve ever seen in my life” and “his sweat was … raining basically everywhere”.

Giuffre added: “This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked, this is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys’ royalty.”

Junor told PA: “This is about as bad as it gets for Andrew.

“Virginia Giuffre sounds very plausible in this interview, while most of Andrew’s excuses in his interview with Emily Maitlis were laughable.

“She also comes across as a much more sympathetic character so viewers will warm to her.

“This made gruelling watching and the stories these girls tell are terrifying.

“Jeffrey Epstein was a monster and if what the girls say about (socialite) Ghislaine Maxwell is true, then she was no better. Whether Andrew actually slept with Virginia Giuffre I think is still unproven.”

Junor warned: “Virginia Giuffre is absolutely right that only one of them is telling the truth, but we still have no way of knowing which of them it is, and I think we should be cautious about which one we choose to believe. That has to be left to the FBI.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said in response to the allegations on Panorama: “It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts (Giuffre). Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”

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Sydney’s air quality this bushfire season is already three times worse than at any moment in the past five years.

In some areas, it went from the equivalent of smoking half a cigarette each day to almost 10

But experts say little is known about the long-term health effects of prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke

The Department uses an Air Quality Index (AQI) to inform the public about pollution.

The AQI is calculated by measuring the amount of “particulate matter”, or microscopic pollutants, in the atmosphere.

While NSW Government measures several different categories of “particulate matter”, the one of most concern to people’s health is PM2.5.

It’s also the smallest size the NSW Government measures — about 3 per cent of the diameter of a human hair.

That means it can enter a person’s lungs and bloodstream, and can trigger heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and asthma attacks.

This graph shows how much worse those smallest particles have been in the Greater Sydney area since the start of this season’s bushfire crisis.

In the past five years, albeit when there were fewer monitoring sites, there were only five recorded instances of a daily maximum AQI above 100, indicating “poor” air quality in Greater Sydney.

In November and December this year, there have already been about 80 — over a quarter of these readings were above 200, which indicates “hazardous” air quality.

In health terms, the toxicity of the air in some parts of Sydney has gone from smoking half a cigarette, to between four and 10 per day.

Director of Environmental Health at NSW Health, Dr Richard Broome, said there had been an increase in the number of people presenting to emergency departments with respiratory issues.

During the week ending November 22, there were around 2,230 ambulance calls for breathing problems — a 22.5 per cent increase from Sydney’s weekly average.

In the Mid-North Coast, where bushfires were so intense they created their own weather systems, the number of ambulance calls for breathing problems doubled over the same period.