Home' Greymouth Star : August 8th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, August 8, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1588 - The English fleet batters and scatters
the Spanish Armada off France, in the first
major naval gun battle in history.
1647 - Irish forces are defeated
by British Parliamentary forces at
Dangan Hill in Ireland.
1815 - France’s Napoleon
Bonaparte sails for St Helena to
spend the remainder of his life in
1940 - Germany begins heavy
bombing of Britain in World War Two.
1963 - Britain’s Great Train Robbery takes
place as thieves make off with £2.6m.
1967 - Foreign ministers of Indonesia,
Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand
sign declaration leading to formation of the
Association of South East Asian Nations.
1974 - US president Richard Nixon
announces he is resigning over the Watergate
1990 - Iraq formally annexes Kuwait and
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
orders British air and naval forces to the Gulf.
2004 - The legendary oil field firefighter Red
Adair, a fearless Texan who put out well fires
around the globe, dies aged 89.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Francis Hutcheson, Scottish philosopher
(1694-1746); Emiliano Zapata, Mexican
revolutionary (1879-1919); Paul Dirac, British
physicist and Nobel laureate (1902-
1984); Don Burrows, Australian
jazzman (1928-); Dustin Hoffman,
US actor (1937-); The Edge (Dave
Howell Evans), Irish guitarist of
U2 (1961-); Roger Federer, Swiss
tennis player (1981-); Toby Allen,
Australian singer (1973-); Vanessa
Amorosi, Australian singer (1981-); Princess
Beatrice Elizabeth Mary (1988-).
“ Man adjusts to what he should not; he is
unable to adjust to what he should.” — Jean
Toomer, African-American author-poet
“ For the gate is narrow and the road is hard
that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Win and place
dividends were paid
out by the Lions
Club last night. Two
Greymouth teenagers will go to Australia
this month sponsored by the club in its youth
exchange scheme. They are Brenda Kelly, 16,
of Ida Street, a sixth form pupil at St Mary’s
High School, and Judith Airey, 17, of Karoro,
in her fifth year at Greymouth High School.
Brenda was overcome last night when, after
addressing the club on the subject An Aspect
of West Coast Life, it was announced that she
had won the competition. Second placegetter
was Judith. They were placed first and second
from the five finalists chosen from 10 entrants
in the essay competition; A Civic Centre — its
Place in Growing Greymouth.
Both girls will tour mainly in New South
Wales — their hosts being Lions Club
With a rumbling roar, part of the side of a
mountain collapsed yesterday afternoon during
a torrential downpour at 2pm. It slumped from
above the branch road leading to Mount Davy
up the gorge on the east side of the Rewanui
station. Thousands of tons of rubble were swept
down to block the road to an estimated depth
of 30ft and dammed the creek some 70 yards
In its path the slip ripped down power and
compressed air lines leading to a dipping
prospecting drive into the Mount Davy block.
It also knocked out the supply leading to the
Dobson power station, in the process halting
production at the nearby Liverpool State
“ I’ve seen some slips in my time, but man,
this was the biggest,” remarked an eyewitness
uFood for thought
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olice believe they are closing
the net on whoever killed
a Brisbane mother and her
daughters 40 years ago, in a
case that could help crack
other underbelly crimes from
the city ’s dark past.
They say they have compelling new
evidence about the fate of Barbara
McCulkin, and her daughters Vicki Maree,
13 and Barbara Leanne, 11, who were
last seen at their Highgate Hill home in
Brisbane on January 16, 1974.
At the time the family vanished, Barbara
McCulkin was estranged from her husband,
the late Billy “The Mouse” McCulkin, a
debt collector who had left his family and
taken up with another woman.
McCulkin was a member of Clockwork
Orange, a notorious under world outfit
linked to a string of restaurant and
nightclub bombings in the early 1970s.
It was a time when rival gangs were
warring for control of illegal and highly
lucrative gambling dens and prostitute
parlours in Fortitude Valley, with corrupt
police on the take and helping control who
The worst of the firebombings came in
March 1973 when the Whiskey Au Go Go
nightclub went up in flames. Fifteen people
died that night in what was, at the time,
Australia’s biggest mass murder case.
John Stuart and James Finch were
arrested days after the bombing, and despite
protesting their innocence they were
convicted in October that year of arson and
the murder of one victim, Jennifer Davie.
Towards the end of 1973, after the bitter
split with her husband, Barbara McCulkin
had begun drinking too much.
She was regularly heard in city clubs and
bars threatening to blow the lid on who
was really responsible for the Whiskey
By the middle of January the following
year, she and her daughters had vanished.
When Billy McCulkin went to visit the
family he had left, he said he found the
house abandoned. The lights were still on.
There was no sign of a robbery.
And clues, such as the blouse still tucked
under the needle of his wife’s sewing
machine, suggested the family had been
going about life as normal when something
It was not until 1980 that a coronial
inquest was finally held into the
disappearances, and it was then attention
began to focus on two persons of interest,
including a close associate of McCulkin.
After hearing evidence that McCulkin’s
mate Vince O’Dempsey, and an associate
Gary Dubois, were seen entering the
family’s home on the last night the family
was seen alive, the coroner recommended
they be charged with murder.
They were. But the charges were
ultimately dropped by the Crown on the
grounds of insufficient evidence.
There were other charges that evaporated,
At one stage McCulkin himself was
charged over the February 1973 bombing
of the Torino’s nightclub. But those charges
were withdrawn after prosecutors decided
there was no prospect of a conviction on
the available evidence.
The convicted bomber Finch at one stage
named McCulkin as the getaway driver in
the Whiskey Au Go Go attack, but he was
never charged with that.
Forty years on, police believe they might
finally be close to solving a crime that has
become part of Queensland ’s criminal
On Tuesday, they raided two rural
properties in the War wick area after new
evidence surfaced during a comprehensive
review of the cold case.
Police say their renewed investigation
continues to focus on persons of interest
identified in the original investigation and
1980 inquest, but they have not offered any
The two properties raided this week are
both linked to one of those persons, they
Journalist and author Matthew Condon,
who has written books on Brisbane’s
underbelly history, says that if police can
solve the McCulkin murders, they might
also learn more about other slayings and
gang crimes in the 1970s.
He says Brisbane was in the grip of a
violent era 40 years ago, with rival criminal
mobs taking each other on for the rivers
of cash flowing from gambling and
“Prior to the Whiskey bombing, there
had been a number of similar bombings
through the city, nightclubs, restaurants,
a combination of extortion bids and
insurance jobs,” Mr Condon says.
“And involved in those bombings was a
gang called the Clockwork Orange gang.
He says Stuart, who was convicted over
the Whiskey attack, had been “a strong
acquaintance” of McCulkin and regularly
visited the family’s Highgate Hill home.
“It was a place where the criminal milieu
came and went from, so it was a dangerous
place to be.”
Mr Condon believes Barbara McCulkin
may have sealed her fate when she began
drinking her way around city clubs and
bars, furious with the husband who had
walked out on her.
“She was bragging she would blow the lid
on the real perpetrators of the Whiskey Au
Go Go night club bombing,” Mr Condon
“She had allegedly overheard Billy on
the phone ... through that year (1973), and
prior to the Whiskey bombing, talking
about the fires that were coming up, the
background organisation to the impending
“She’d heard a lot and seen a lot and it
appears she ultimately paid the price for
He said the answer to the McCulkin
mystery might lead to solving others.
“If we get to the truth, courtesy of this
investigation, it will turn history on its head
in this state,” he said.
“ We need clarity. That period, the early to
mid-70s, was a very violent, very aggressive,
very blurry period in our history.
“ We had people going missing. Brothel
madam Simone Vogel, prostitute Margaret
Ward, criminal Raymond ‘Norman the
Doorman’ Ford, and a dozen more unsolved
crimes. This is a huge step in clarifying that
Stuart died in Brisbane’s Boggo Road
prison in 1979 while still serving time for
the Whiskey Au Go Go bombing.
Finch was deported to London in 1988
after 15 years in jail. He later confessed to
the crime but then retracted his confession
amid fears he could be extradited to
Australia for the other 14 murders.
A timeline of Queensland’s McCulkin
Jan 16 — Barbara McCulkin, 34, and
her daughters Vicki Maree, 13, and Barbara
Leanne, 11, are last seen at their Highgate
Jan 17 — They fail to meet family and
Jan 19 — Barbara’s estranged husband
Billy McCulkin reports the trio missing.
A coroner rules that two men be
charged with the murders because a jury
could reasonably accept that they had been
at the McCulkin home on the night the
One of those men is known to Billy
McCulkin, who had worked as a debt
Charges against the two men are
dropped because there is insufficient
evidence to convict them.
Jan 16 — Family members appeal for
witnesses or anyone with any information
about the trio’s disappearance to come
Aug 5 — Police search two rural
properties near War wick and offer
$250,000 for information leading to the
arrest and conviction of the person or
The police investigation continues
to focus on information and persons
of interest identified in the original
investigation and 1980 inquest.
Police continue to search for an
unnamed man, who was not at home
during the raids.
Facts about the Whiskey Au Go Go
15 people perished when the club in
Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley is firebombed
early on March 8, 1973.
Most suffocated in the inferno,
which erupted when two drums of
petrol were thrown into the foyer and
Reports surfaced that grease was
smeared on the fire escape stairs and the
door handle of an emergency exit, trapping
At the time, it was the worst case of
mass murder in Australian history.
The crime occurred amid a turf
war among criminal gangs fighting for
control of the valley ’s illegal gambling and
John Andrew Stuart and James Richard
Finch were arrested soon after the attack.
They pleaded not guilty but were
convicted of murder and sentenced to life
Stuart was found dead in his Brisbane
jail cell in 1979.
Finch was deported to England in
1988 after 15 years in jail. That year he
confessed to the crime but later retracted it.
In 1987, the Q ueensland government
announced the Fitzgerald inquiry into
police corruption involving illegal gambling
and prostitution. It was later expanded to
look at political corruption.
In 2013, independent Queensland
MP Peter Wellington said he would
tell parliament who was behind the
firebombing, but backed down.
On August 5, 2014, police raided two
rural properties that could be linked to
the suspected 1974 murders of Barbara
McCulkin and her two young daughters
in 1974. There has been speculation they
were killed because Mrs McCulkin had
threatened to reveal who was really behind
the Whiskey Au Go Go attack.
Brisbane murder mystery
The Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub after the fire in 1973.
Barbara McCulkin, right, and her daughters, Vicki Maree, left, and Barbara
Ban 1080 Party
So the Electoral Commission is holding
up registration for the Ban 1080 Party
because of possible trademarks on the
term ‘1080’ (Greymouth Star, August 5).
I wonder if there would be a problem if
there was a pro-1080 party? Democracy is
not working, I feel.
Thanks yet again for the Greymouth
Star’s ongoing pursuit of the DHB
secret ser vice for information that is the
public’s by right and should not have to
be extracted like wisdom teeth from a
hippopotamus. I am not sure what the
Star’s motto is but one of my favourite
sayings, ‘Persistence is everything’, would
not be amiss.
So now we know the Greymouth
Hospital rebuild, ‘will cost about
$7.2 million more than the $67 million
the Government had initially earmarked’
— and I will wager the final cost will
be nearer $100 million — and this for a
hospital, ‘half the size, with almost half
the bed numbers of the present hospital’.
Brilliant! What next? Double the cost
and reduce the hospital to a quarter of
the previously proposed size? And do not
forget the loan interest doubling the cost
even without re-paying a dollar of the
Furthermore, the Government is, ‘willing
to consider private provision of ser vices
where they provide value for money’ —
how splendiferously magnanimous of them
— and that, ‘subsequent pages on that have
been withheld. Ngai Tahu Property Ltd
has previously indicated its interest ’. The
secrecy continues apace.
Again, I recall Labour Health Minister
Annette King’s promise in 2001 that
the new elected health boards would
be ‘open and accountable’ — when in
reality Labour set those boards up to be
secretive and controlled from Wellington,
thereby establishing a pretence of
public representation that the National
Government have gladly continued with
along their road to privatisation of health
If anyone doubts their intentions,
consider the report’s statement, ‘ There is
interest from the private sector to finance
the Buller Health Centre development
and the Grey Base Hospital’. I will bet
there is as the private sector — soon to be
joined by the outgoing Health Minister
Tony Ryall — targets health as a money-
grabbing business rather than health as a
public ser vice. And all this behind closed
If New Zealanders keep voting for this
deceit-ridden agenda from whichever
bunch of charlatans hold power, the
national symbol should be replaced with a
NZ Democrats for Social Credit
I would like to thank Peter Ewen for
his excellent article on the Gaza horror,
and acknowledge the Greymouth Star’s
courage in publishing it (August 6). There
would not be many provincial newspapers
in the United States capable of telling
The task remains, of asserting sufficient
pressure on Israel to change its path. As
with apartheid South Africa, the boycott,
divest and sanctions approach is necessary
and is already a worldwide movement.
Below is a list of Israeli products that
may appear on your shopping list: Beigel
Beigel — pretzels; Edukids children’s
rattles and marching drum; Happy House
children’s playhouse (Bunnings); Keter
Workhorse (Mitre 10); Seacret Dead Sea
Products; Silan Selected Dates Syrup;
Smart Trike (Farmers); Source Vagabond
sandals and hydration systems; jewellery
by Michal Negrin. This is not a definitive
list. Any bar code starting with 7290 will
be Israeli produced.
I would suggest Coasters, as well, make
their disgust known, or at least endeavour
to have a conversation on the subject, with
any Israeli tourists.
The Conser vation Minister has
confirmed that the largest drop ever of
1080 poison is getting under way over
As usual, he delights in scare tactics by
quoting numbers in zillions, with little or
no scientific basis for such claims, this is
in the belief that he can fool most of the
people most of the time.
He makes no reference to the killing
of many species, invertebrates, birds,
including natives and innocent
mammals, all of which die a death that
any self-respecting country would not
The excuse for this ecocide is that this is
a mast year for beech seed, which will lead
to an increase in rats and mice, leading
to greater pressure on native birds. Quite
true, it will lead to an increase in vermin
populations. What he does not say is
that mast years have occurred from time
immemorial every seven to 10 years, all
without resorting to killing many species,
including the ones he claims to protect,
and nature will restore the balance as it
always has done.
This method has been used for at least
50 years in New Zealand. It has failed
and will continue to fail until a growing
global horror is brought to bear on such
indefensible killing across this country.
It is a chilling fact that New Zealand
uses over 90% of the annual world
production of 1080. Guess who owns the
manufacturing capacity for this obscenity?
Clean, green — Yeah, right.
A giant and extremely venomous
jellyfish found off West Australia’s
north-west coast has researchers stumped
because it appears to have no tentacles.
The Keesingia gigas is one of two new
species of irukandji jellyfish recently
discovered by Marine Stinger Advisory
Ser vices director Lisa-Ann Gershwin.
While irukandji jellyfish are normally
only the size of a pinky fingernail, the
Keesingia gigas species is the length of an
arm and believed to cause the potentially-
deadly Irukandji syndrome.
The condition can cause pain, nausea,
vomiting and in extreme cases, stroke and
CSIRO scientist and director of Marine
Stinger Advisory Ser vices Lisa-ann
Gershwin said the Keesingia gigas was
first photographed in the 1980s.
A specimen was only captured in 2013
near Shark Bay by marine scientist John
Keesing, after whom the jellyfish is
Dr Gershwin said in all of the photos
the jellyfish did not appear to have
tentacles and that the specimen was also
captured without them.
“Jellyfish always have tentacles ... that ’s
how they catch their food,” she said.
“The tentacles are where they
concentrate their stinging cells.
“Some of the people working with it
through the years actually got stung by
it and experienced rather distressing
Dr Gershwin said the species could shed
its tentacles as a means of defence, like
some bioluminescence jellyfish who drop
their glowing tentacles in order to distract
predators, but there was no evidence that
any irukandji had that capability.
“I think more probably it does have
tentacles but by random chance the
specimens that we photographed and
obtained don’t have them any more,” she
“I think it’s probably a fairly tame
explanation — I just don’t know what it
Irukandji jellyfish have been found as
far north as Wales and as far south as
Melbourne and Cape Town.
Monster jellyfish poses tentacle mystery
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