Charges unlikely for parents who took boy

The parents of a severely disabled boy who took him from a Brisbane hospital are unlikely to be charged despite a frantic search that spanned two states.


Police found Chase Walker-Steven in NSW on Friday afternoon after an amber, or emergency, alert was issued earlier in the day.

They are yet to determine why Chase’s parents took him from Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital just after midday on Thursday.

But his mother Cini Walker’s social media posts confirmed she and her partner are anti-vaxxers who believed his condition was caused by immunisation and feared hospital food would kill him.

Ms Walker previously warned she would walk out of hospital with Chase if they refused to give him medicinal marijuana.

Detective Acting Inspector Grant Galston said a member of the public spotted Ms Walker, 26, in Newcastle and contacted police.

“The mother gave police information as to where her son and the father may be,” he said on Friday afternoon.

“Contact was made with the father and he returned with the boy to where police were with the mother in Newcastle.”

The boy, who was in need of medical attention, was taken by ambulance to nearby John Hunter Hospital for treatment.

Insp Galston said Chase was found safe and would remain in the care of his parents for the time being.

He said Ms Walker and Chase’s father Marc Alexander Steven, 28, were co-operating with police but he did not think they would be charged.

“At this stage, no,” he said. “We were primarily concerned with the welfare of the child.”

Ms Walker posted on Facebook one day before Chase’s disappearance that they stopped vaccinating him at age two because it gave him seizures.

She also alleged the vaccination caused him to develop “spastic, quadriplegic cerebral palsy and undiagnosed, uncontrolled epilepsy”.

Ms Walker claimed on January 18 the Department of Child Safety threatened to take her son unless they took him to hospital that night to be fed.

“They still think that they have the right to feed my son this formula synthetic s***,” she said.

“They’re going to kill my kid with food and they don’t care.”

Ms Walker said her son’s health improved after he went off medication, started eating organic food and took medicinal marijuana.

“He’s happy, he’s stopped seizuring (sic), he’s coming back and still it’s not good enough,” she said.

Ms Walker said she would take him to hospital but would insist he be given medicinal marijuana to keep him alive.

“I will be doing this and if they choose not to do it…. I’ll walk out of that hospital,” she said.

“I don’t care if child services have to get a court order to come get Chase, at least I know I saved my child and I’ll keep doing it, I will not stop.”

NSW to fight Victoria to host Comm Games

Australia’s bid to host the 2026 or 2030 Commonwealth Games is heating up with western Sydney and regional Victoria pushing to win the rights to hold the event.


Western Sydney leaders began their audacious bid on Friday as the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue made its pitch at the Out There Summit in Parramatta to bring the Games west.

It came just a few weeks after 11 regional Victorian towns floated their potential bid for the 2030 games.

Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive officer Craig Phillips says the body is yet to consult with the potential bidding teams but he’s “thrilled” to see such enthusiasm.

A decision on host cities for the 2026 and 2030 Games will not be made for a several years, but Mr Phillips said he expected an incredible amount of domestic and international competition for the right to host.

The idea has been well received by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who said at the summit that if the case stacked up, she would “definitely” consider it.

“I love the thought of greater Sydney, especially western Sydney, being the events capital of the region,” she said.

“I’m always open to those suggestions.”

Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue chairman Christopher Brown said the idea was a “no brainer”.

The region has “everything in place” to make it a success including a rich sporting culture and ready facilities, he said.

“It’s no cost for a major event because 90 per cent of the venues are already built,” Mr Brown told AAP.

“All we need is the new athletes’ village, which is a great opportunity to renew existing public housing estates in the region.”

ANZ Stadium, the main stadium for the 2000 Sydney Olympics is to be reconfigured into a rectangular ground, potentially making it too small for an athletics track.

Mr Brown said if Western Sydney did secure the games, it would help ensure the region’s infrastructure was up to date.

“I’m confident the city will deliver the infrastructure in time,” Mr Brown said.

The leadership group wants the premier to set up an exploratory committee and develop a business case for a possible bid for the 2026 or 2030 games.

“We don’t think regional Victoria has nearly the appeal that this region presents and would cost taxpayers much more money,” Mr Brown said.

The city of Shepparton is heading a bid by 11 regional Victorian towns, also including Geelong and Ballarat, to host the 2030 Games.

ACCC says Murray Goulburn ‘misled farmers’

The consumer watchdog is accusing Australia’s biggest dairy processor Murray Goulburn os misleading farmers about prices it would pay for their milk before announcing a shock price cut that pushed many into financial distress.


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has begun Federal Court proceedings against Murray Goulburn, the co-operative’s former managing director Gary Helou and its former chief financial officer Bradley Hingle.

The ACCC accuses Mr Helou and Mr Hingle of being “knowingly concerned” in the alleged misleading conduct up to April 2016, with commission chairman Rod Sims saying the former executives were “heavily involved”.

The ACCC claims Murray Goulburn misled farmers between June 2015 and February 2016, when it told them there was a reasonable basis for milk prices to start at $5.60 per kilogram of milk solids (kgms) and reach a final price of $6.05.

Between February 2016 and April 2016, the processor also said it could maintain the opening price of $5.60 and that a final price of $5.60 was most likely.

In April 2016, Murray Goulburn slashed its price to between $4.75 and $5.00, saying $5.60 was no longer achievable, after a glut in the global dairy market caused a slump in prices.

“The ACCC alleges that Murray Goulburn’s conduct had an adverse impact on many farmers who, as a result of Murray Goulburn’s representations regarding the farmgate milk price, had made business decisions,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims said the ACCC had formally interviewed the two men but details were confidential.

The ACCC alleges the co-operative maintained its forecast of what farmers would receive for their milk in the 2015/16 season despite knowing the prices were “overstated and unachievable”.

The watchdog is not seeking fines against Murray Goulburn because they would be borne by the co-operative’s farmer-members, but does want declarations, compliance orders, corrective notices and costs.

He said the ACCC wanted to send a message to the company and all agricultural industries that they should not engage in the sort of behaviour the watchdog alleges occurred.

However, the ACCC is seeking penalties against Mr Helou and Mr Hingle, who could face penalties of up to $220,000 for each breach of Consumer Law.

Mr Helou told a Senate hearing in February he did not mislead farmers over the farmgate price, saying the company acted on the best information available at the time.

Murray Goulburn on Friday said it was considering the proceedings.

The NSW Farmers’ Association welcomed the legal action, with dairy committee chair Erika Chesworth saying it showed a commitment by the ACCC to investigate agricultural supply chain issues.

“For our farmers in the MG (Murray Goulburn) Southern Milk Region, the decision made by Murray Goulburn 12 months ago placed them under unprecedented pressure, and finally they are being held to account,” Ms Chesworth said in a statement on Friday.

Mr Helou quit as MD of Murray Goulburn in April 2016 following the price cut and a profit downgrade.

The ACCC has decided not to take action against dairy processor Fonterra, which also cut the farmgate milk price in April 2016, saying it was more transparent about the risks and potential for a price cut.

Manus asylum seeker speaks about incident involving boy

The Afghan asylum seeker at the centre of conflicting reports about how violence involving gunshots broke out on Manus Island on Easter weekend has denied any wrongdoing.


Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has repeatedly claimed an attack on asylum seekers by PNG military personnel was sparked after a young boy was led into the detention centre.

Mr Dutton has insisted the incident involving the child, and a separate sexual assault, helped elevate tension on Manus Island before the violence broke out.

The regional police commander on Manus and Manus Island politician Ronny Knight have questioned and contradicted Mr Dutton’s account.

The PNG military says the incident was instead triggered by an altercation on a football field.

Now, the 34-year-old Afghan refugee, who asked not to be named, has given an explanation of his actions in leading the boy, thought to be 10 years old, into the detention centre.

The man has told the A-B-C his actions were completely innocent and he was only giving the boy food.

“I grew up in a country that had war and bombs and fighting and all of these things, and I was raised without a father. I experienced hunger, I experienced being thirsty, I experienced poverty, and I know how it feels for a child to be hungry. And when I see that, I cannot just close my eyes and not help.”

The Afghan man said he had fruit inside the centre and walked with the boy through a staffed security gate.

He says his actions were well-received by guards and the boy.

He denies taking the boy inside the centre caused angst in the local community and says it happened days before the violence broke out.

“It’s a shame for Peter Dutton to say that. I did this child a favour. In other countries, is it shameful to help a poor child? In my country, it is respected, and we all do this. I just helped a child, but Peter Dutton took something else from it.”

Mr Dutton is not backing off his version of events, repeating his position on the matter again on 2GB radio yesterday.

“We have seen reports. We are concerned about some allegations of sexual behaviour by the asylum seekers toward girls and women on Manus. I was very clear in what I said, and I stand by it a hundred per cent. I haven’t deviated from it at all, and I won’t, because I know what I’ve said to be factually true. So, that’s the reality.”

The Afghan man and two other men involved in the allegations have requested the CCTV footage of them walking with the boy be released.

The Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul says he has spoken to the men and it is imperative Mr Dutton clear up the facts.

“Now there are straight-out lies being told about them, lies that could be easily cleared up by the release of CCTV footage on Friday night. There’s CCTV coverage around the whole of the detention centre, as you can imagine. The idea that this is classified is just absurd. So people are upset, they’re angry, that these kinds of accusations are being put against them by the Minister.”



Australia’s Sierra Leonean community offers thanks

In Sunday church, it is the sound of gratitude.


It is the sound of Adelaide’s Sierra Leonean community giving thanks for all their new country has given them.

The chairwoman of the Sierra Leone Community of South Australia, Constance Jones, says she hopes their message will be heard by all Australians.

“We want them to recognise that we’re here to help, and to support, also. Not only to take from them, but also to give back to the community.”

In Friday mosque, it is a different religion, the same message.

Muslim members of the Sierra Leonean community are also giving thanks, likewise opening their hearts and their wallets to show their sincerity.

Imam Imdiaz Naveed Ahmed of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mosque says he is very happy to support the cause.

“This is our training. Wherever we go, we have to help the communities, we have to help the humanity.”

Constance Jones says the community wanted to support Aboriginal Australians in particular.

“We wanted to give back to the land. That was the first thing we all decided, that we were going to give back to the Australian government but give back specifically to the Aboriginal people, because this is their land and we’ve come here and we haven’t done anything for them.”

Funds raised will go to the Fred Hollows Foundation, which works in Indigenous communities across Australia to restore eyesight.

Foundation chief executive Brian Doolan says the donation has come as a surprise.

“Look, it was a great surprise, and what a fantastic surprise, to be supported by these new Australians who have decided to adopt probably one of the most Australian charities in the Fred Hollows Foundation. It was an absolute delight.”

Sierra Leone was torn apart by 11 years of civil war, which ended in 2001.

About 2 million people, one-third of the country’s population, were displaced from their homes.

About 3,000 have since settled in Australia under the humanitarian program.

Fashion designer Abdul Rahman Sazzoh was among those forced to leave.

“Then I fled for my life, because I was tied up, they looted my school, they do whatsoever they wanted to do. But thanks me to the Almighty God, today, I’m here.”

Constance Jones says the community still faces many barriers to social inclusion in Australia and hopes to work with the government to resolve them.

“I mean, the community has come a long way. You know, they’ve been through a lot of trauma, they’ve come here as refugees, and they’ve struggled so much.”

But, she adds, there is much more to be done.

“We have a lot of people suffering in their homes. They don’t have affordable homes, they’re losing their families, we have people going through domestic violence … There are so many issues that the Sierra Leone community is struggling from, that we’re hoping that these new executives, and me as a chairperson, would help to restore those issues, so that the Sierra Leonean people can be comfortable and, at the same time, while they’re embracing their culture, they embrace the Australian culture also.”

Constance Jones says she hopes such actions will create pathways to stronger inclusion.

Meanwhile, there are plans for the thanksgiving service to become an annual event.