Saturday, September 10, 2005


I noted recently that Australia's largest city, Sydney, is restoring its Christmas lights and decorations etc. It looks like Melbourne -- Australia's second largest city -- is following suit. And they seem to be going all-out. I wonder where all the "offended" Muslims and atheists have gone? I am an atheist myself but I love Christmas and all that goes with it

"Melbourne will put the baby Christ back into Christmas this year, with council planning to resurrect a nativity scene in the city after at least six years' absence. More than $200,000 will be spent on Christmas decorations this year, including a large diorama in the City Square depicting the story of Jesus' birth in a stable and a towering Christmas tree in St Paul's Court at Federation Square.

The council had been criticised by Christians in recent years for failing to display a nativity scene, which they described as pandering to political correctness. Lord Mayor John So told The Age yesterday that the council had worked closely with the city's churches to make this year's celebrations "special for everyone, including Christians".

Cr So, who grew up as a Catholic and attends church "on special occasions, like Christmas", said he had fond memories of singing in his church choir as a boy, and was looking forward to carols in the City Square this December. Last December the Catholic Youth Ministry called a choral protest outside Town Hall, including a live nativity scene, to embarrass the council for its oversight. But the 200-strong protest was defused when Cr So joined in the singing and vowed to work with the churches in the future.

Jo Grainger, a young Catholic who helped organise the protest, yesterday welcomed the council's plan for a nativity scene. "We're just really excited because for the first time in a long time the Melbourne City Council has acknowledged that the reason for the festive season is not shopping, it's the birth of Jesus Christ," Ms Grainger said. "People will be able to take their kids into the city on hot summer nights to see the Myer windows, and then be able to go to the city square to show them what Christmas is really about."

The City of Melbourne's Christmas plans will go before its business and marketing committee next Tuesday, where it is expected to be approved. New lights and decorations will also be placed around the city, and a range of free family events and activities will be announced in coming months".


Her only crime was doing it for free. If she had been a prostitute she would have got off with a small fine. I hope she appeals the verdict

Former Hobart high school teacher Sarah Vercoe will serve at least two years in jail for sex crimes against five teenage students. Vercoe was jailed yesterday in the Supreme Court in Hobart after pleading guilty to 14 charges involving five boys aged between 14 and 16. Outside court her sentence was condemned as too lenient by parents of the boys and child sex abuse campaigners. Vercoe, 25, was composed and showed no emotion as Justice Shan Tennent jailed her for four years with a non-parole period of two years and suspended 18 months.

The charges related to a sexual relationship she developed with a 15-year-old boy from Rose Bay High School between December last year and January and sex acts with four boys from Rose Bay High School and Sorell High School during a night in April at her home....

The April incident happened after Vercoe agreed to give four boys a lift to a party following a basketball game at Dodges Ferry. During the drive she jokingly suggested an orgy at her home at Moonah. She took the boys to her home via McDonald's and a bottle shop and initiated sexual contact with each boy before taking them back to Dodges Ferry the next day.....

The court heard at the time of the crimes Vercoe felt she was professionally ostracised from her colleagues and that her marriage was collapsing.

More here


Former Melbourne physical education teacher Karen Louise Ellis has failed in her bid to appeal against her jail sentence for having sex with a teenage boy. The 37-year-old teacher pleaded guilty to six charges of sexual penetration with a child under 16 after having a six-and-a-half week affair with the Year 10 student in 2003.

Ellis was originally sentenced in the Victorian County Court to 22 months jail wholly suspended for three years. In May this year the Court of Appeal upheld an appeal by the DPP and resentenced her to two years and eight months' jail with six months to be served immediately and the remainder suspended.

Today, High Court justices Michael Kirby, Ken Hayne and Ian Callinan rejected her application to appeal the sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal. "It is unlikely that the Court of Appeal gave no consideration of the discretions available to the sentencing judge," Justice Kirby said. "We are not convinced that a miscarriage of justice occurred in this case."


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