Inquiry ordered into Kathleen Folbigg's convictions.
Kathleen Folbigg’s convictions for killing four of her children will be the subject of an inquiry ordered by NSW Governor Margaret Beazley.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman advised the governor to order an inquiry after she received a petition from prominent scientists asking that Folbigg be pardoned due to new scientific evidence. Folbigg, 54, was jailed in 2003 after being convicted of murdering her children Patrick, Laura and Sarah, and the manslaughter of her son Caleb.
Speakman announced the inquiry on Wednesday, saying dismissing the petition from March last year would not be a proper option.
"The evidence, clearly in my view, reaches the necessary threshold for some kind of intervention," he said. "It certainly rises to the level of question or doubt that’s referred to in the statute about appeals and reviews in this sort of matter."
However, the Attorney-General said the evidence needs testing. He also apologised to the Folbigg family for the further trauma likely to stem from a second inquiry.
"A simple pardon without that open transparent process... it would not be appropriate. It will weigh on all our shoulders, the pain and suffering that the Folbigg family has been through, particularly [her husband] Craig Folbigg. This is a man who has lost four children over a 10-year period, who has seen his wife convicted of their homicides."
Folbigg was initially sentenced to 40 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 30 years, but an appeal later reduced her sentence to 30 years with a non-parole period of 25 years. Folbigg is not eligible for parole until 2028.
Scientists calling for her early release argue there is no medical evidence she smothered the children she has been convicted of killing.
The petition came after scientists discovered two of Folbigg's daughters had inherited a previously unknown genetic variant from their mother, which could lead to sudden and unexpected infant death. Her two sons also had illnesses, which could have caused them to stop breathing as they slept.
An inquiry already upheld Folbigg’s conviction in 2019, before the emergence of the new scientific evidence.
In order to be fair and equitable, the new inquiry will have to comprehensively consider that evidence, as well as fresh analysis of diary entries that were "cherry-picked" for evidence at the initial trial and first inquiry, Folbigg’s solicitor Rhanee Rego said.
"We are confident that the overwhelming evidence will finally free Kathleen Folbigg and prove her innocence," Rego said.
Psychotherapist Kamal Touma, who has assessed Folbigg multiple times, says the diary entries provide proof of innocence, not guilt. The inquiry will be conducted by recently retired chief justice Tom Bathurst AC QC.
- With AAP.
Evening Headlines: Joe Rogan’s bizarre lie about NSW.
Do you find the news cycle overwhelming? Depressing? Confusing? Boring? Endless? Then you need The Quicky. Mamamia's daily podcast that gets you up to speed on the top stories.
Listen to tonight’s episode of The Quicky below:
Serious concerns raised in Royal Commission into disability service.
A former senior executive within a disability services provider was told to "grow a backbone" after raising issues over the quality of its programs, a royal commission has been told.
The woman, identified as Rachel, worked for the Australian Foundation for Disability, also known as Afford, for about five years until her resignation in early 2020.
"I had become increasingly worried about Afford’s systems and processes to ensure compliance with all the regulatory frameworks given that the organisation had gone through such a rapid period of growth," she said In a statement to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability on Wednesday.
"Afford had no central person or department overseeing quality, compliance or work health and safety."
The Royal Commission is conducting a five-day examination of the services provided by Afford with a focus on its day program at Mt Druitt, where a number of young disabled men were abused.
On Tuesday, the Royal Commission was also told that the rapid growth of the Mt Druitt operations had resulted in a "dangerous' situation with clients not properly supervised.
A former senior staff member with the day program, identified as Dianne, said the service was growing so fast that at times she asked for intakes to be cut.
"We weren’t able to catch every issue coming through that door because it was just growing too quick," Dianne said. "It was dangerous."
The Royal Commission will continue.
Are you a person with disability who has experienced violence or abuse? Do you have ideas on how things should change? To share your experience with a Commissioner, register for a private session before 30 June 2022. We’ll provide support. https://t.co/uFUADWwL3r #DisabilityRC pic.twitter.com/3ybDllbWh8— Disability Royal Commission (@DRC_AU) May 16, 2022
Referring to staff failing to administer meds, Chair Sackville asks Afford executive Wayne Adamson: “Nobody ever thought, as far as you knew, to investigate whether these incidents should've been reported to the NDIS Commission?” Mr Adamson says “that's correct." #DisabilityRC pic.twitter.com/vgvEyEwi7D— Disability Royal Commission (@DRC_AU) May 18, 2022
- With AAP.
Victoria Beckham’s toxic new interview is a cry for help.
In exciting TV news, Disney has announced a wave of local Australian content plans for its streaming service, Disney+, featuring beloved Australian creators including Miranda Tapsell, Rove McManus, and Deborah Mailman.
And this week there have been a string of reports and paparazzi photos indicating that the new season of The Bachelor has started filming with not one, but two, leading men. But after an intensive investigation into these claims, we’ve discovered some pretty big plot holes.
Plus, Victoria Beckham has given a controversial new interview to Grazia saying that thin bodies are no longer in fashion. Her comments are very much a desperate attempt to make her new collection more socially acceptable, but once you peel back the layers of what she is actually saying, it’s a cry for help from both her and the industry.
Listen to The Spill now!
PM could have been "more sensitive", and all the news you need to know this morning.
Scott Morrison's Super Home Buyer Scheme has had everyone taking this week. But is using your super to buy a home actually a good idea?
Well, Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky, spoke to the experts to find out.
If you're more of a reader, Isabella Ross also whipped up an explainer on it right here.
But first, let's start off your Wednesday by getting you across the biggest news stories women are talking about.
1. PM says he could have been "more sensitive" as election race tightens.
Scott Morrison says he could have been a more "sensitive" leader as Australia grappled with the pandemic, natural disasters and global uncertainty.
Appearing on A Current Affair last night, the prime minister was asked how long he had known he was a "bulldozer", and what he would have done differently.
"I could have certainly been more sensitive at times ... there's no doubt about that," he said.
Morrison said he would have "militarised" the vaccine rollout earlier, which had been beset by delays at the outset of the program: "If we done it earlier and I think that would have made a difference."
Meanwhile, new polling by Resolve Strategic for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, shows the election race has tightened in the final week.
Labor's primary vote has dropped from 34 to 31 per cent over the past two weeks, while the Coalition slightly increased its support from 33 to 34 per cent. On a two-party preferred basis Labor leads by a slim 51 to 49 percent.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will speak at the National Press Club today for the leaders' election address ahead of Saturday's election.
2. Women's votes could decide the election.
Women could decide the outcome of the federal election with the number of unsure female voters more than three times that of men, according to new research.
Analysis by the Australian National University found 8.4 per cent of women are still yet to decide who they will vote for on polling day, in comparison to 2.8 per cent of men.
The research found a higher number of women said they would vote for Labor (33.4 percent) compared to the Coalition (29.2 percent). More women than men were also likely to vote for the Greens.
Research by the Australian National University shows that women are three times more likely to still be thinking about their vote than men. https://t.co/njdexE2iT3— Financial Review (@FinancialReview) May 17, 2022
ANU Director of Global Institute for Women's Leadership Professor Michelle Ryan said women's votes are "up for grabs".
"The data tells us women could hold the power to decide who is elected prime minister, meaning there is still time for candidates to convince female voters why they deserve their support," she said.
Voters also have the greatest amount of confidence in Labor delivering on gender equality.
Almost two-thirds of Australians have "little confidence" in the Liberal party when it comes to equity issues, with more than a quarter having "none at all".
3. More Aussies struggling under poverty line.
More Australians are struggling to afford housing, food, and basic medical care, as new research shows most visitors to one charity are living below the poverty line.
The Salvation Army has seen a significant uptick in the number of people reaching out for help in the past 12 months, given inflation pressures, the rising cost of living, and economic stress because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charity surveyed more than 1400 people who visited their emergency relief centres in the past year and found that, after they paid for housing, 93 per cent were living below the poverty line.
That bumped up to 97 per cent for people living on government payments, and 98 per cent for families with children. After paying for housing, couples with children had $19 a day to live off, while single parents had $22.
‘More than three million people, including one in six children, live in poverty in Australia & are finding it increasingly tough to make ends meet. Most cannot find secure, affordable housing as the cost of living skyrockets around them.— @VinniesAustralia (@VinniesAust) May 17, 2022
"We're calling on the next elected federal government to focus on the most vulnerable in society," said Salvos' public relations secretary Major Bruce Harmer.
"Being able to meet basic living expenses should be the norm for all in an advanced economy like Australia, and not something we are still discussing in 2022."
Wages are expected to have only grown at half the rate of inflation when the latest figures are released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics later today.
4. Ukraine’s most devastating siege ends after 250 soldiers surrender.
More than 250 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered to Russian forces at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol after weeks of resistance, bringing an end to the most devastating siege of Russia's war in Ukraine.
The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally guaranteed the prisoners would be treated according to international standards.
But a Reuters witness said seven buses carrying Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal garrison arrived at a former penal colony in the Russian-controlled town of Olenivka near Donetsk.
TASS news agency said a Russian committee planned to question the soldiers, many of them members of the Azov Battalion, as part of an investigation into what Russia calls "Ukrainian regime crimes".
Ukraine's negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said on local television on Tuesday that progress could not be made in peace talks, if Russia did not recognise the situation on the ground.
Russia earlier confirmed the end of talks.
5. Finland, Sweden 'optimistic' on NATO bid despite Turkey’s objections.
Finland and Sweden have voiced optimism that common ground can be found with Turkey over its objections to them joining NATO.
Turkey surprised many NATO allies on Monday by saying it would not support membership for Sweden and Finland after the two countries took the widely anticipated step of agreeing to apply to join the US-led alliance this week.
"Statements from Turkey have very quickly changed and become harder during the last few days," Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said during an address to Sweden's parliament.
"But I am sure that, with the help of constructive discussions, we will solve the situation... I am optimistic."
Both countries are due to submit their formal applications on Wednesday, with Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson travelling to the US to meet US President Joe Biden on Thursday.
Leaders of Finland and Sweden confirmed on Tuesday that the Nordic nations would jointly submit their applications for NATO membership this week, and would travel to Washington to meet with President Biden. https://t.co/pFz6i53mXO— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 17, 2022
That's it, you're all up to speed. We'll be back to bring you more stories throughout the day.
- With AAP.
Why bowel cancer is on the rise in women.
The Quicky speaks to two women who were diagnosed with bowel cancer in their 30s and 40s, and a specialist surgeon to find out who is at risk of bowel cancer, what symptoms to look out for, and why it seems to be increasingly common.
Feature Image: AAP.