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News in 5: Melbourne mum died after breaking leg on holiday; Liberals change leadership rules; Brisbane wheelie bin murder arrests.

1. Melbourne mum Anna Bowditch broke her leg on holiday. Three weeks later, she was dead.


Melbourne mum Anna Bowditch was on a celebratory family holiday in Hawaii when she slipped by a swimming pool and broke her leg.

Three weeks later the 34-year-old was declared dead, after suffering complications caused by undiagnosed deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during surgery in Australia.

The Point Cook woman was injured on July 30, 2014, and endured a cramped long-haul flight home, propping her bandaged limb on a tray table to keep it raised.

Upon her return home, Ms Bowditch opted to undergo surgery to speed her recovery, but her artery was blocked during the procedure on August 16 and she died five days later.

Coroner Audrey Jamieson said on Monday that she could not find the death was preventable and it may have occurred, even if Ms Bowditch had not undergone surgery.

However, her family insists her condition could have been spotted earlier.

“We would maintain that it was preventable,” lawyer Tom Ballantyne told reporters outside the Coroners Court.

“There was a clear opportunity to make the diagnosis of the DVT and then institute preventative treatment.”

The coroner did find Ms Bowditch’s leg was not properly examined during her initial consultation with Audi Widjaja.

The Melbourne surgeon failed to remove the bandage on the limb, which was not consistent with good practice, she said.

The lack of a “fulsome” examination meant he could not effectively compare the state of the limb when he did finally view it “unencumbered”, prior to surgery.

“It is difficult not to characterise it as an opportunity lost to have possibly improved on the medical management of Anna Bowditch,” Ms Jamieson said.

The coroner recommended the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons uses the case to create a learning tool for orthopaedic surgeons on how to rigorously examine a fractured limb.

However, she made “no adverse comment” against St Vincent’s Private Hospital or its staff.

“Anna’s family have always been concerned that there were a number of treatment, communication and system failures that contributed to her death,” Mr Ballantyne said.

“They are satisfied with some of the criticisms that the coroner has made today, she’s highlighted a number of clear failures in the treatment she received.”

The family hope the case can “serve as a lesson” for the medical profession, to ensure no one else has to suffer similar pain.

2. Federal Liberals change leadership rules.

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A Liberal prime minister will not be able to be deposed without two-thirds of the federal party room backing the change under new rules designed to end the revolving door of political leaders.

After meeting in Canberra on Monday night, Liberal MPs overwhelmingly resolved to change party rules to ensure a leader who becomes prime minister will serve a full term.

That’s unless the heightened threshold of MPs for a spill is reached, with the measure in place as a safeguard.

The step comes after Malcolm Turnbull was dumped as prime minister in August, with Scott Morrison taking his place.

Mr Morrison said the change is the most significant shift in how the parliamentary party operates since it was formed 74 years ago.

The prime minister said the party has listened to Australians frustrated about the coup that installed him in the top job.

“They’re sick of it and we’re sick of it and it has to stop. That’s why we’ve put this rule in place,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Australian politics has been peppered with leadership changes over the past decade with both major parties dumping prime ministers.

Kevin Rudd was replaced as Labor prime minister by Julia Gillard in 2010 before he returned to the top job in 2013.

Mr Turnbull seized the keys to The Lodge from Tony Abbott in 2015 before being ousted as prime minister in August.

“We’ve seen it on both sides of politics. We understand that disappointment, we understand that frustration. We acknowledge it and we take responsibility for it,” Mr Morrison said.

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Labor changed party rules after Ms Gillard was toppled by Mr Rudd in 2013 to ensure leadership contenders must gain a majority of votes in the caucus and in a grassroots party ballot.

Needing a two-thirds majority to dump a Liberal prime minister was proposed by the party whips, whom the party’s leadership had tasked with looking at the issue.

Mr Morrison said such a majority is rarely, if ever, achieved in leadership contests.

Former prime minister John Howard was consulted about the change, he said.

Mr Howard’s declaration the Liberal leadership was a gift of the party room remains in place because it was the party room that had changed the leadership rules, he added.

“They’ve done that out of their own authority,” Mr Morrison said.

3. Arrests made over Brisbane wheelie bin murder.

A second man is expected to appear in a Brisbane court after being charged with murder following the grisly discovery of a decomposing body in a wheelie bin.

On Monday, Adam John Charles Evans, 30, of Yeronga, was charged with murdering Kym Mitchell on November 26, six days before Mr Mitchell’s body was discovered in the bin at the apartment complex where Evans lived.

He appeared briefly in Brisbane Magistrates Court and was remanded in custody to reappear in the same court on January 21.

A 38-year-old man who has also been charged with Mr Mitchell’s murder is expected to appear in the same court,

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The dead man is understood to have been 61 years old and lived near where his body was found on Saturday.

Evans, whose head was roughly and partially shaved, was not required to speak during his court appearance. He stood in the dock behind glass wearing a green tracksuit with his shoulders slumped forward.

No details of the alleged offence were read out in court, but police earlier said the victim was found in a bin outside a unit complex in Yeronga on Saturday night after residents complained of a terrible smell.

Detective Inspector Mark Thompson described the discovery of the partially decomposed body as “horrific” for the officers involved.

After making the grim find, police said they were looking for two men, aged 38 and 30, and two women, aged 27 and 23.

All four were located, and Evans and the 38-year-old man have been charged.

The younger woman is still being questioned while the 27-year-old woman has been released without charge.

4. Tiny brain stimulator could treat epilepsy.

Australian researchers have developed a tiny device to electrically stimulate the brain in the hope of treating epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease without invasive surgery in the future.

The Stentrode device, just 4mm in diameter, can be permanently put inside a blood vessel to place electrodes in the brain through a vein in the neck, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The device was put into blood vessels in sheep and their brain tissue was simulated, the proof-of-concept study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering reveals.

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“By adding the ability to speak to the brain using electrical stimulation, we have created a two-way digital communication device,” Lead researcher Dr Nick Opie said.

“In one application, the Stentrode could be used as a tool to record the onset of an epileptic seizure, and provide stimulation to prevent it.”

It is hoped the device could be used for a range of treatments which traditionally require open brain surgery including deep brain stimulation for epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

“This offers hope of less invasive treatments for the symptoms of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder,” co-author Dr Sam John said.

It builds on 2016 research which found the device could be used to record brain signals related to movement.

Researchers at The University of Melbourne, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Monash University and Synchron Australia contributed to the work.

5. Brisbane pair face 38 charges after siege.


Two men at the centre of a six-hour siege in inner-Brisbane have been charged with a total of 38 offences, including the illegal possession of weapons.

The men, aged 29 and 33, were arrested by police after the stand-off in a unit in an apartment block in Auchenflower, surrendering peacefully to police officers at 4.40pm on Monday.

The siege started around 11am when officers investigating a string of break-ins on Brisbane’s southside went to the unit to find two armed men.

One of the men allegedly fired a shot at officers, causing an immediate lockdown of the surrounding area, including busy Coronation Drive.

All bus services through the area were suspended and all traffic on the nearby Brisbane River was also halted, including ferries.

The lockdown prevented some people from leaving or travelling to Wesley Hospital, which was just over the road from the unit complex; however, ambulances were still able to get through.

The hospital did not need to be evacuated, but police did move some people out of rooms on the side of the hospital closest to where Monday’s incident took place.

It’s alleged the men were renting the unit where the siege took place and had only been there for a few days.

Police also seized several firearms from the unit after the men surrendered.

The 33-year-old has been charged with 21 offences and the 29-year-old with 17. They are due to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

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