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News in 5: Woman's post before beach murder; 11 children moved off Nauru; NAPLAN report.

-With AAP

1. Woman’s poignant Facebook post before she was found murdered on beach after dog walk.


Police are appealing for public assistance after Toyah Cordingley’s body was found on a quiet north Queensland beach.

The 24-year-old animal lover was reported missing on Sunday after driving with her dog to Wangetti Beach, just north of Cairns, to go for a walk around 2pm.

She never returned home, with her body found just after 8am on Monday.

Police say they have no leads or suspects and hope the scientific examination of the body will be completed by Tuesday afternoon.

“If we’re dealing with a potentially sexually related murder, which commonsensically we may be, we may well be dealing with a male,” Detective Senior Sergeant Ed Kinbacher said.

“It may well be the case this young woman has run into a stranger or potentially a person known to her and circumstances have unfolded that have led to her death.

“So it’s critical that anyone who was there come forward and let us know because I think that, at the end of the day, will provide us with the leads we potentially need to solve this matter.”

The pharmacy employee had previously worked for a Port Douglas animal shelter and was remembered as a beautiful soul who adored animals.

In June, Ms Cordingley shared a poignant screenshot of a tweet on her Facebook page.

It read: “I can only imagine the rage and fear women feel to see women die doing everyday mundane things like walking home … only to then be told it’s their fault and that they need to be more careful. Stop Blaming Women. Make Men The Issue”.

The detective said blonde-haired Ms Cordingley, whose large dog was found uninjured on Monday, would have been easily noticeable on what was traditionally a quiet stretch of sand.

“No young woman should go to a beach to walk the dog and this unfold for them,” he said.

“There may have been males in the area that have made women uncomfortable, been behaving unusually, paying too much attention.

“Those sort of people, we want to hear about them.”

Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

2. Health issues on Nauru ‘unprecedented’ as 11 children transferred off for medical attention.

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The head doctor for offshore asylum seekers says medical staff on Nauru have seen “an unprecedented jump” in presentations in the past few months.

Home Affairs chief medical officer Parbodh Gogna’s comments came at a Senate estimates hearing where Border Force said 11 of the 63 children on Nauru had been transferred off on Monday so they could get adequate medical care in Australia.

An unknown number of adult refugees and asylum seekers were with them.

Dr Gogna said the reason for the recent spike in medical presentations on Nauru was unclear.

“They had seen an unprecedented jump in people presenting to the facilities in the last couple of months,” he said.

But the GP said anecdotes indicated some may be the result of the length of time refugees have spent on the island and the mental unwellness of parents transferring to children.

Before Dr Gogna began in July, Home Affairs had had no medically trained chief medical officer since psychiatrist John Brayley’s resignation in October 2017.

About 652 people, including 107 families, were on Nauru on Monday evening while 626 men were on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, Border Force told Senate estimates.

About 600 people are in Australia on “temporary transfers” from offshore detention.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces immense pressure to get sick refugee children and their families off the Pacific island.

He has said he is willing to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle asylum seekers and their families from the Pacific island, on the condition they never come to Australia.

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Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said there are “deep, deep problems” with the bill dealing with the NZ transfer; it has been stuck in parliament for almost two years.

Liberal MPs Russell Broadbent, Craig Laundy and Julia Banks last week demanded Mr Morrison get children off Nauru.

3. Man accused of fatally punching Melbourne surgeon said he felt “pressured”.

A man accused of fatally punching a Melbourne surgeon, says he felt pressured by a dispute over a smoking ban and that the doctor was “up for” a confrontation.

A Supreme Court jury trial started on Monday for Joseph Esmaili, 24, who is charged with one count of manslaughter over an incident at Box Hill hospital in May last year.

Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, 41, died in June 2017 when his life support was turned off, four weeks after the alleged assault.

“I felt he pressured me. I can’t handle things like that,” Esmaili told police during an interview recounted by prosecutors in court.

The accused said in the interview he didn’t mean to hit the surgeon hard and he shouldn’t have done it.

“I kept saying get the f*** away from me,” Esmaili said to police.

Chief prosecutor Brendan Kissane QC said in his opening the accused swore at Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann after the surgeon asked security to remove him and friends for smoking in a non-smoking area.

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“The accused walked to the area and overheard Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann speaking to the reception staff and said ‘how about you go get f***ed?’,” Mr Kissane said.

The argument escalated near the lifts and Esmaili allegedly punched the surgeon and fled the hospital.

Footage of the attack, captured on the hospital’s CCTV cameras, was shown to jurors on Monday.

The then-22-year-old Esmaili was interviewed by police the next day after his father saw him on the news and dobbed him in.

Defence barrister John Desmond argued the doctor had been aggressive towards Esmaili and followed him several times in the hospital.

“My client is retreating,” Mr Desmond said referring to CCTV footage.

“It’s the doctor who continues to pursue. He puts down his bag. He’s up for it,” Mr Desmond told the court.

Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann suffered bilateral skull fractures and was seen bleeding from the nose and mouth after the attack, the court was told.

After receiving immediate treatment at Box Hill Hospital he was transferred to The Alfred and spent several weeks in a coma.

His life support was turned off on June 27 and he died a day later.

The jury is due to visit Box Hill Hospital to survey the scene on Tuesday morning and three witnesses are expected to give evidence in the afternoon.

4. Vote counting is continuing in the key federal seat of Wentworth.

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Independent MP Kerryn Phelps still appears on track to win the seat of Wentworth, as the government shows no signs of worry about a minority-held parliament.

On Monday evening, the high-profile doctor was sitting on just more than 51 per cent of the two-candidate preferred vote to the Liberals’ Dave Sharma, ahead by 1542 votes.

The Australian Electoral Commission will conduct postal vote counting on Tuesday.

If, as expected, Dr Phelps wins the seat, she will push the coalition into minority government. She will be one of six crossbenchers to the coalition’s 75 members and Labor’s 69. One of the Liberal MPs is Speaker Tony Smith.

Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann told an estimates hearing on Monday the “pure maths” of the lower house would not change.

“Up until this weekend we needed 75 out of 148 votes (minus the retired Mr Turnbull and Mr Smith) in the House of Representatives and if the result is as it looks like it will be, we will need 75 out of 149,” he said.

He said he believed the government had confidence and supply in the lower house, based on public comments made by crossbenchers.

However, if Labor wanted to challenge this, it could always bring on a motion of no confidence.

The federal opposition would need 76 votes to pass such a motion.

Dr Phelps said she had yet to have a conversation with Prime Minister Scott Morrison but had received a text message from him saying “counting was still going on”.

She wants to bring asylum seeker children on Nauru to Australia for treatment and for the government to make a strong commitment to tackling climate change.

Three crossbenchers, Cathy McGowan, Rebekha Sharkie and Bob Katter, want the government to run its full term.

However, Mr Katter told Sky News he had an “untamed unpredictability”.

Independent Andrew Wilkie will not guarantee confidence, while Greens MP Mr Bandt says an election has to be called because “the sooner we turf out this rotten government, the better”.

5. New NAPLAN report recommends more focus on student progress instead of results.

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More attention should be on the progress Australian students are making rather than results of standardised testing, a new report suggests.

Think tank the Grattan Institute compared NAPLAN results on a state by state basis, focusing on student progress over the course of their education.

The report found Queensland primary school students make two months more progress in reading than the national average between years three and five, and about one month’s more progress in numeracy.

“Governments should investigate why students make more progress in some states than others, with the goal of identifying the teacher practices and school policies that produce the best results for our children,” the Grattan Institute’s Peter Goss said.

The report, released on Tuesday, found students in the ACT were two to three months behind in progress compared with the national average in both years three to five at a primary school level, and between years seven and nine in secondary school.

The study also found that students in years seven to nine at low-achieving schools made half the progress in numeracy compared with students in higher achieving schools.

In reading, students in lower achieving schools made 30 per cent of the progress of better performing schools.

“This finding should ring alarm bells in cabinet rooms and education departments across Australia,” Mr Goss said.

“If governments are serious about delivering on the Gonski vision of ‘at least one year’s growth in learning for every student every year’, then disadvantaged schools must be a big priority.”

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