News in 5: Mystery death of holidaying couple; NAPLAN results; WhatsApp texts hurt Bishop.

With AAP.

1. Daughter of couple who mysteriously died on holiday says “something” in their hotel room is to blame.

The daughter of a British couple who died in mysterious circumstances in an Egyptian hotel last week has suggested something inside their room is to blame.

Kelly Ormerod was holidaying with her parents, Susan Cooper, 63, and John Cooper, 69, at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada when the pair, from Burnley in Lancarshire, fell ill.

Ormerod went to check on the couple at roughly 11am Tuesday morning after they failed to show for breakfast.

“As I opened the door, I could see that my dad was extremely ill and he was staggering back to the bed,” she told the BBC.

Doctors attended to their pair at the hotel, where they performed CPR on rapidly deteriorating John.

“But nothing could help him, nothing could save him,” Ormerod said. “Mum had no idea what was going on – she was oblivious to what was actually happening because she was so poorly.”

Susan Cooper was rushed to hospital where she later died.

Speaking to Sky News, Ormerod described her parents’ deaths as “suspicious”.

“They had no illness, no stomach upset, no vomiting, no illness whatsoever – they were in perfect health when they went to bed,” she told Sky News.

“I believe something suspicious has gone on … something has happened in that room and caused them to be taken away from us.”

Local authorities have denied suggestions the couple succumbed to carbon monixide poisoning, with Attorney-General Nabil Sadeq asserting that the air-conditioning in their room was “working properly and had no faults”.


Investigations are continuing.

2. NAPLAN results show no sign of improvement after switch to online test.

Online testing has had little effect on initial NAPLAN results, with no significant change from last year in the literacy and numeracy tests.

However, the initial results released on Tuesday suggest some Australian schoolchildren are more proficient at typing than handwriting.

This year was the first of a three-year online testing rollout, with one in five students in years three, five, seven and nine taking the standardised tests online.

There may have been no significant change in any areas compared with last year, but writing test results for students in years five, seven and nine were “well below” the 2011 standard.

Outgoing Education Minister Simon Birmingham has praised the online roll-out and said future reforms in the sector should focus on equipping teachers with the right tools in the classroom.

Mr Birmingham says the eventual uptake of the online system will provide faster turnaround of results and more detailed feedback for students.

“The best way for each teacher, parent or school to get the most out of NAPLAN in the future will be for all schools to move to the online format,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.


The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority says online and paper testing results are comparable, but note the method of testing can affect results.

ACARA points to writing test results from year nine students, with those who completed the test online producing higher results on average compared with those who took the paper version.

Students at this level could be more confident writing online than on paper and online writing tests could be easier to review and edit, ACARA suggests.

The structure of the new online system has faced ongoing backlash, with US experts calling for this year’s results to be disregarded as they believe the two methods cannot be compared.

Final national results for the standardised tests are set to be released towards the end of the year.


* No significant changes compared with last year

* Areas significantly above the 2008 average:

– Years five and nine: Numeracy

– Years three and five: Reading

– Years three and five: Spelling

– Years three and seven: Grammar

* Areas well below 2011 results:

– Years five, seven and nine: Writing.


3. The WhatsApp group that helped quash Julie Bishop’s leadership bid.

Julie Bishop’s colleagues say she left her run for the Liberal leadership a bit late and deny the outgoing foreign minister was the victim of a “dirty tricks” campaign.

Ms Bishop was the party’s deputy leader for more than a decade but was knocked out in the first round of voting in Friday’s leadership ballot after Malcolm Turnbull called a spill.


The 62-year-old stepped down as foreign minister on Sunday after five years in the job.

She has since told the West Australian she is aware of claims MPs frightened her supporters into backing new Prime Minister Scott Morrison ahead of the spill, during a week she described as “personally devastating” for many of those involved.

Bishop was responding to WhatsApp messages leaked to the ABC’s Insiders program, which appeared to show that several of her supporters instead orchestrated a tactical vote against her in an effort to keep Peter Dutton from the top job.

Reportedly among the 19 members of the “Friends of Stability” WhatsApp group was Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher, who wrote, “despite our hearts tugging us to Julie, we need to vote with our heads for Scott in round one”.

Despite the revelation, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says he doesn’t believe claims Bishop was the victim of dirty tricks.

“I mean, I don’t know. Not from my point of view,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

The minister, who backed Peter Dutton to become prime minister, said rumours he had been involved in such tactics were untrue.

“I can completely and categorically rule out any such tricks, as you call it,” he said.

Fellow WA MP Melissa Price, who is joining the front bench as Environment Minister, said she thought Ms Bishop left her tilt at the top job too late.


“I wondered whether Julie was perhaps just a couple of hours late to the piece and I really felt that maybe people had already aligned themselves with either Dutton or Morrison,” she told ABC Perth on Monday.

“I’m not a mind reader, I can’t tell you what the rest of my colleagues were thinking, but I think that might have played a part.”

Ms Bishop has said she is still deciding whether to contest her seat – which she has held since 1998 – at the next election.

Former defence minister Marise Payne, who worked closely with Ms Bishop, moves into the role of Foreign Minister.

4. Driver to face court over death of 10-year-old Melbourne boy.

jack power boy hit by van melbourne
Jack and his mother, Bonnie. Image: Facebook.

A man has been charged with dangerous driving causing death over a crash that killed a 10-year-old Melbourne boy.

Jack Power was walking across a pedestrian crossing on Springfield Road at Blackburn North with his sister and her friend on August 18 when he was hit by a Toyota Hiace van.

He died in hospital on August 21.

A 45-year-old Blackburn man has been charged with one count of dangerous driving causing death. He was released on bail to face Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

Though her grief is raw, Jack's mother Bonnie Power last week spoke publicly about her son’s death in the hope that another family might be spared from experiencing such a tragedy.
Speaking to the ABC, she issued a message to motorists: “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a phone, doesn’t matter if you’ve had an argument with someone, doesn’t matter if you’re stressed about money, it doesn’t matter,” she said.
“Don’t just assume that you’re safely going to go from A to B.

5. Asylum seekers detained after making landfall in Queensland.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton points to border security failures. Image: Getty.

A boat believed to be carrying suspected asylum seekers should have been detected before it ran aground off the far north Queensland coast.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says it's clear there were failures in the border security process that led to the boat making it so close to Australian soil.

"Clearly there's been a problem that's taken place in relation to the surveillance of this vessel," he told reporters on the Gold Coast.

"Clearly there's been a failing where surveillance hasn't worked as it should."

The boat is understood to have come from Vietnam before running aground off Cape Kimberley, near the Daintree River, on Sunday.


Mr Dutton said it was the first time in almost four years a people smuggling boat had made it to Australian shores.

Locals raised the alarm after witnessing a large group of people fleeing the sinking vessel and swimming to a nearby beach.

Queensland police said they had detained 12 people by Monday evening and were looking for a further two people.

Two men were detained after being rescued from mangroves by local fishermen.

Barry Preston and Justin Ward invited the two men on to their boat after spotting them hiding in mangroves.

"When they got in the boat ... there was a croc on the bank and we pointed it out and they said 'oh geez' - it (was) probably a 14-footer," Barry Preston told the Cairns Post.

"Lucky they didn't make a dash for it."

Local tour operator David White said those missing would only be at risk if they unknowingly waded into crocodile habitat.

Local federal MP Warren Entsch said containing a slick of diesel that had drifted from the stricken vessel was also a concern.

"My concern is about 300 to 400 metres of oil slick, diesel, that's got to be cleaned up," Mr Entsch said.

"It's right along the edge of the reef. That needs to be a priority."