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THEATRE: New take on old tales for school holidays

CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Joseph’s coat arouses sibling jealousy. Picture: Simone de PeakEVERYTHING old is new again. That’s an enjoyable feature of theatre, as shown by two forthcoming school holiday productions, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and A Knight to Remember.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is being staged by Young People’s Theatre at its Hamilton venue in the first week of the holidays, opening on Monday, June 30, with Saturday performances in subsequent weeks until August 16.

And A Knight to Remember will be presented by Footlice Theatre Company at the Newcastle Community Art Centre’s Black Box Theatre in Hamilton in the second week, opening on Tuesday, July 8.

The two groups last staged the respective shows two decades ago, but the presentations this time will be very different.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is a lively two-hour musical that began life as a 20-minute pop cantata written in 1968 by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice for a London school’s annual concert.

At the suggestion of the school’s music master, they based it on the biblical story of Joseph, a farmer’s son in ancient Egypt who was sold into slavery by his brothers who were jealous of his brightly coloured coat.

Joseph eventually became the chief adviser of Egypt’s pharaoh and met his brothers again when they came to the royal court seeking food during a prolonged famine.

The short musical version of the story was so popular that Lloyd Webber and Rice gradually developed it into a full-length show, with bright songs including Any Dream Will Do, Close Every Door and Those Canaan Days.

The zip of its lyrics and music makes it very much a story for today, so directors Katy Booth and Emily Taylor have given it a contemporary setting.

The farmer, Jacob, is an outback Australian farmer who gives Joseph his brightly coloured Driza-Bone coat. Potiphar, Pharaoh’s chief adviser who has Joseph imprisoned because he suspects him of misbehaviour, is a millionaire operator of an airline and its chief pilot. And Pharaoh is the host of a Deal or No Deal-style television game show who teaches Joseph how to be a TV star.

YPT will stage the musical with two alternating casts.

Nicholas Hamilton, 15, and Hamish Pickering, 14, play Joseph, as well as one of his brothers, Judah, when they are respectively in the title role.

They see the musical as a fun show, even when the story moves into dark areas.

‘‘Joseph is a positive person who does his best in everything he puts his mind to,’’ Hamilton said.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays daily at 11am from Monday, June 30, to Friday, July 4, plus a 7pm supper show on Wednesday, July 2. It can then be seen every Saturday from July 5 to August 16, at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets: $15.90 to $16.50; supper show $20. Bookings: 49614895, at the theatre (corner Lindsay and Lawson streets, Hamilton) Friday, 4pm to 6pm, and Saturday, 9am to 1pm, or online,

UPLIFTING: A Knight to Remember.

A Knight to Remember is a light-hearted story about a scheming king’s attempts to get the fortune of his niece, Princess Cynthia, who is the rightful heir to the throne.

The king is hindered by his less-than-bright squire and aided by a quartet of inept and inane knights attracted to the royal castle by the offer of the princess’s hand in marriage for a knight able to slay a dragon that is terrorising the kingdom of Woddle Woddle Wip Bung.

The difference between this and previous stagings of the tale is the addition by director Fiona Mundie of an extra knight to the three included by writers Richard Howard and Christopher Fletcher.

The new knight is a character from an early 1990s revue sketch performed by Footlice.

The cast includes Oliver Pink as the King, Jan Hunt as the Squire, Sonja Davis as Princess Cynthia, and Callan Purcell as the four knights.

A Knight to Remember, which Fiona Mundie describes as ‘‘bright and cartoony’’, can be seen at the Black Box Theatre in Parry Street, Hamilton (behind the Sacred Heart Cathedral), daily at 10am and noon from Tuesday, July 8, to Saturday, July 12. The show runs for 45 minutes. Tickets: $10. Bookings: 0405154174; [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

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MUSIC: Tourbuoys Benjalu

HOME: Benjalu are back in Newcastle, and you can win a double pass to their gig on Saturday.BENJALU is wandering Australia off the back of their European tour, and their second stop is Newcastle.

Despite their five-piece composition, the band shrunk themselves to two for the trip. But they’re back together for the Aussie dates, and looking forward to getting back into it.

The band’s Ben ‘Gumby’ Gumbleton and Anthony Morris talked to LIVE about their travels.

Why set out as a two-piece for your European tour?

As an independent band, we back ourselves financially for everything. Recording, promotion and the often mountainous expenses of touring. We had initially spoken about the whole band going over for the European tour, but because we are a five-piece and with our first album in the works, financially it didn’t make sense … We decided that our first European tour was going to focus on building contacts and meeting new friends that may help us in building Europe’s awareness of Benjalu. So, to cut costs, only a couple of us went. The tour has really opened up a new avenue for the band … Most of the venues on the tour were small, intimate venues that suited the acoustic show perfectly.

What was the tour highlight?

Every night was a highlight. New places, new venues, new languages, new stories. The tour blew out to around 40 shows in 35 days, which was amazing. To be in a different country and hear the stories about how people had found our music and how they had made a huge road trip to see the show was pretty mindblowing. We also ended up in the studio with a well-known electronic artist recording songs between shows in Belgium. So many doors have been opened that weren’t planned. It’s all looking very positive for the future.

Favourite country where you performed and why?

That’s a tough one! I’d say probably Belgium. We have a friend that lives in Brussels … [who] organised four great shows, filled with new Benjalu fans that she had converted. Just goes to show the power of the people. So we thank Sylvie for what she has done and what she will do for us in Belgium for 2015.

What’s your earliest musical memory?

Music has always been a huge part of all our lives, even before any of us could play an instrument. We all grew up listening to our parents’ favourite records. When the band first started writing songs, it all came together from us sitting around, talking about the artists we liked. The Beatles, Paul Simon, The Doors, The Police, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles – pretty much all the classics!

First album you bought?

I paid for it, but I had to get my mum to physically buy it for me. It was The Offspring. The language was too ‘‘explicit’’ to be bought by a kid under 15. Good thing I had parents that looked at music beyond a couple of words.

Last album you bought?

The Arctic Monkeys. Great album and an amazing live band. We have tonnes of inspiration coming from them and their sound at the moment.

Most memorable gig you’ve played?

Most gigs are memorable to us, but I guess playing Byron Bay Blues Festival will always be a standout. It was pretty much like listening and hanging out with our album collection for five days. Another one … would be the first time we ever sold out a home show. It’s always a highlight to come home and play in Newcastle, to hang out and have a few beers with all our friends. We love our home and our town and it plays a huge part in our lives. This is where the band started and we love coming home and thanking everyone for their ongoing support.

Something my fans don’t know about me is … I love to cook! I find it therapeutic.

Benjalu will play on Saturday at Newcastle’s Cambridge Hotel. Tickets are $19.40 and available at tickets.oztix苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au. See Freebies on this page for your chance to win one of two double passes to the show.


FROM humble beginnings playing lacklustre house shows, Melbourne band Saskwatch has become a pretty big deal.

But despite being a nine-piece, they don’t butt heads over sound or direction.

Listing their influences as Sam Cooke, Arctic Monkeys, Aretha Franklin, Dr Dog and Nick Cave, the band is diverse in sound.

Saskwatch, who are part of the 2014 Splendour In The Grass line-up, will play The Small Ballroom in Newcastle tonight. Tickets can be bought on the venue’s website.

REMINISCENT of ’70s-era Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac with a splash of Springsteen and Tom Waits, Jim Gordon’s Travelling Companions have been playing around since the ’80s. With largely original material, the band – described as ‘‘a crackerjack live band by any measure’’ – is rhythmically persuasive and topically diverse.

Jim Gordon’s Travelling Companions play on Saturday at The Great Northern Hotel.

ESKIMO Joe’s lead singer Kav Temperley is sharing stories from their ARIA-winning album, A Song Is A City, on an intimate solo acoustic national tour.

Temperley says the album was a ‘‘turning point’’ and he is now ready to tell the stories behind the songs.

Temperley will play at Newcastle’s Lizottes on Thursday, July 24. Tickets are on sale now through kavtemperley苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au.

BALL Park Music has announced their Trippin’ The Light Fantastic tour. Band members will be appearing as three-dimensional images rather than actually being present at the shows.

‘‘This is just a crazy concept we have always wanted to turn into a reality,’’ said lead singer Sam Cromack.

The band will ‘‘appear’’ at Newcastle University’s Bar On The Hill on Thursday, September 25. Tickets are available at bigtix苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au.

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Best spots in Sydney for whale watching

South Head: Perfect spot for whale watching. Photo: David Finnegan The majority of migrating whales is expected to pass through the area between the end of June and start of July.

Whaling watching is a popular pastime for locals and travellers alike, and this year, with between 16,000 and 18,000 whales predicted to pass the NSW coastline, Sydneysiders and tourists will be in a for whaling delight.

According to NSW National Parks and Wildlife, these figures represent more than a 10 per cent increase in the number of humpback whales passing the Sydney coastline year on year.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife says Sydney Harbour National Park has already been visited by early migrating whales. It expects that the majority of whales will pass through the area between the end of June and start of July.

The official whale season runs from 1 June to 30 November when humpback whale migration passes Sydney’s coastline, providing the perfect excuse for visitors to pop on a wind jacket and pull out a pair of binoculars, and head down to the coast for some whale watching.

These are the top five vantage points for whale watching at Sydney Harbour National Park, according to NSW National Parks and Wildlife.

North Head lookout 

This lookout provides views across Sydney Harbour National Park towards South Head. It is one of the best spots for whale watching in Sydney. Head to Fairfax Lookout for sweeping Harbour panoramas and whale spotting.

Hornby Lighthouse 

The Historic Hornby Lighthouse is near Watsons Bay in Sydney Harbour National Park. Walk the easy track to the lighthouse for great whale watching.

Arabanoo Lookout 

Located at Dobroyd Head in Sydney Harbour National Park, Arabanoo offers fantastic views over to North Head and South Head, and the expansive Pacific Ocean beyond, making it a perfect spot for whale watching.

South Head

There’s no shortage of lookouts at South Head in Sydney Harbour National Park. The Gap offers some of Sydney’s finest views and fantastic opportunities for whale watching.

Shark Island 

With its lush grassy areas, picnic shelters and spacious gazebo and amazing 360-degree views, the island is a great vantage point to spot whales popping into the Harbour during the migration season.

Visitors can download the Wild about Whales app to see the latest whale sightings at these locations as well as post their own sightings.

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Tourism Tropical North Queensland welcomes Leonardo DiCaprio’s attack on reef

Tourism Tropical North Queensland said it does not fear a downturn, after remarks by Leonardo DiCaprio that the reef is now “riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones”.

To the contrary, chief executive Alex de Waal said the comments about the environmental changes of the World Heritage site are welcome.

“Any discussions that go on about the focus of conserving the reef are absolutely consistent with what we do, and absolutely supportive, if you like, of building our profile in the global environment,” he said.

DiCaprio’s comments came as US President Barack Obama pledged millions of dollars towards ocean conservation at the “Our Ocean” conference in Washington.

Mr de Waal said that while environmental devastation had occurred in isolated parts of the reef, “to apply Mr DiCaprio’s perspective to the entire reef is not appropriate”.

“If the celebrity’s voice is the only voice that is heard out there, and is in isolation, then naturally that is of concern, but contrary to that there [are] obviously other perspectives that need to be heard and I think they will be heard loud and clear,” he said.

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What Game of Thrones readers want in season 5

Tyrion must return for season five of Game of Thrones. When it comes to Melisandre we are all rooting for Jon Snow, quite literally. The Wall is cold, and a man needs a burning desire.

Remember Gendry? Surely he will play a part in the Lady Stoneheart plot.

Daenerys’ storyline needs more action, and fast.


(Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read all of the Game of Thrones books, do not read on.)

On mourning the loss of Game of Thrones for another year (April, 2015 just can’t come quick enough), thoughts immediately turn to next season and why there are certain elements of George R.R. Martin’s books that devoted readers want to see come to fruition on the screen, and quickly.

For example it became blatantly apparent on Twitter shortly after the season-four finale ended that book fans were disappointed that Lady Stoneheart did not make her entrance in what would have been a pretty amazing teaser for next season.

But on reflection, I can see why showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff didn’t want to introduce her just yet. Don’t forget there is still that tantalising element for TV viewers of not knowing who Lady Stoneheart is, and the series will get to draw out the terror that Lord Walder Frey’s men experience at the hands of some mysterious bunch of murderous bandits. Followed by the big unveil to Brienne of Tarth.

That’s a whole series there, so my bet is that Stoneheart will help launch the new season.

Interwoven with that is the reintroduction of Gendry, who we last left sailing away in season three while escaping from Dragonstone, and where he will be placed going forward. I suspect he has a greater role in the story than even the books have alluded to yet. He, Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton are the bastards upon which a great number of plot lines can still be centred (claims to the Iron Throne, anyone?). And before you start commenting that Jon, like most of the Starks, will meet a bloody end, I disagree.

Hasn’t Lady Stoneheart taught us anything?

Getting back to season five, Jon Snow’s ascension to Lord Commander is clearly next, now Stannis Baratheon has arrived at the Wall. But as a fan of both book and the show, I really want to know whether Weiss and Benioff plan on making Melisandre a complicating love interest. It was only a look, but what a tantalising look she gave Jon through the smoke of Castle Black’s burning bodies during the finale. And we know Jon has a thing for women who have been ”kissed by fire” – Melisandre comes straight off a Redheads match box.

Although the book never goes there, we know how much sex and naked bodies have been a staple of the show and there were plenty of hints coming from Sam Tarly, as well as possibly Wildling-king Mance. Sam pointing out that the vows taken by men of the Night’s Watch never explicitly meant celibacy (although this could just be in reference to his own desire for Gilly), but when coupled with Mance’s suggestion that Ygritte was not enough to turn Jon, suggests Jon’s days of naked romps may not yet be over (challenge accepted Melisandre?). Which will certainly make for an interesting dynamic with Stannis, although knowing him he might condone Jon spending a little time in a (ahem) bushfire in exchange for ensnaring him as Warden of the North (I’m not sure if they’ll bother with Mance’s Wildling sister-in-law).

Then there are the Stark girls, who we can see from Sansa’s new dark do are going to really come into their element rather than being led around by men in their lives. The trouble is that the books don’t really offer much in the way of Sansa’s story going forward, except that Robin seems to accept her as a surrogate mother. The TV show has already fast-tracked Littlefinger’s creepy crush and added her bad-ass element, which for many of us who have defended Sansa’s character (based on the books’ insights) is a welcome twist. So she may not return for season five but perhaps season six (by then Martin may have written another book (fingers crossed) but I have to acknowledge that three more TV seasons have been commissioned without him publishing another word.

Or, going off plot and thinking outside of the box, could Sansa eventually lead the northern revolt against Ramsay Bolton (instead of Lord Wyman Manderly)? She has declared herself publicly to the Vale, and reminded them of their failings to her family. And I’m guessing that Ramsay needs to carry out the charade of marrying Arya Stark, who is really Sansa’s friend Jeyne Poole (returned from the dead), to continue the plot line, as well as give him something sadistic to do. The role of Jeyne is the salvation of Reek (aka Theon Greyjoy) and the motive for Jon to send a rescue team to Winterfell. I doubt Ramsay’s sicko girlfriend (randomely introduced in the show) can fill that void.

But really Arya is where all the visual fun and excitement is at, especially upon landing in Braavos. Yet I suspect that her introduction to the Faceless Men of the House of Black and White may still  be a way off, as it was in the books, which will allow her to simply become a street urchin for a while. A murderous one, don’t get me wrong, but she has a language to learn and a new port city to explore (although in the books she wasn’t quite in Braavos – but surely that would be too confusing for watchers).

And when it comes to new things, there are a plethora of new characters yet to be introduced. Which leads me to disagree with Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson, who wrote that next season the show will morph into something unrecognisable, and not as good.

“Certain beloved characters will stay stuck and stagnant (anyone hoping that Daenerys will get out of the dang slave desert anytime soon should probably stop holding their breath), while a bunch of new characters are introduced who, as far as any of us have read anyway, really don’t have anything interesting to do,” Lawson claims.

“Will viewers be happy to meet more salty, stolid Iron Islanders? Will various antics involving other Dornish folk intrigue them as much as Oberyn’s plotline did? I’m just not sure they will.”

Shame on Lawson, for dismissing all the action in Dorne so swiftly. The repercussions of Oberyn’s death on the Sand Snakes and Cersei Lannister’s daughter, Princess Myrcella, provide a great deal of new political intrigues, sex scenes and betrayals. Which in turn spawns some of Martin’s most-inspired material since the Red Wedding – revenge plots on the House of Lannister.

Enter Young Griff (although strictly speaking he’s not the only Martell iron in the fire). This new character had me jumping up and down with glee, made all the more delightful that it is through Tyrion that we get to meet him. And let’s face it, I don’t think any TV fan can go without Tyrion for a whole season, so I would stake my fictional character’s life (if I had been so lucky as to have won Martin’s offer of being written into one of his books) that we will meet Young Griff in series five. And Tyrion’s adventure is so action-packed that it would no doubt take three seasons to play out.

I only hope (unlike the books) Varys plays a part in guiding Young Griff into the lives of TV viewers, because the eunich, played brilliantly by Northern Irish actor Conleith Hill, was well missed in season four.

You also have all the developing fun of King’s Landing as Margaery and Cersei wrestle for control of Tommen (of which I relish the day that Cersei makes that famous walk through the city). But there is much to come in the way of Cersei befriending and bedding Taena Merryweather, empowering the Faith Militant and losing Jaime, as he is once again road-bound for Riverrun and eventually Brienne.

I also can’t imagine Lady Oleanna sitting idly by as Cersei self-sabotages (as she mostly did in the books) since the Queen of Thorns is Highgarden’s Tywin Lannister (a real prick). I think her’s will mostly be an Agatha Christie plot, full of mystery and twists, as Cersei digs further into Joffrey’s death.

Not to mention the fact that season four did not kill off the Martell’s sworn enemy, The Mountain – who at the hands of Qyburn-Frankenstein sounds like he’s about to become a monster. To what end, who knows?

And just for the blood and gore factor there is always the rebellion against Daenerys Targaryen. But I have to admit her storyline needs to ramp up radically, even if it means fast-tracking the action of much later chapters. In that much, Lawson and I agree.

Iron Islanders be damned, they will just be a pawn in the much bigger chess game that Game of Thrones thrives on and has kept us hooked from the begining. Because in the game of thrones you win or you die. Valar Morghulis!

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Sydney man Christopher Muronzi allegedly infects second victim with HIV

A Sydney man serving jail time for knowingly infecting his girlfriend with HIV is accused of giving the life-threatening virus to another woman he had sex with.

Zimbabwean-born Christopher Muronzi, 44, was sentenced to a minimum three years behind bars after he had unprotected sex five times with his partner in 2002.

He never told her he was HIV positive, despite being diagnosed eight years before and knowing that he was legally required to disclose the diagnosis to all future sexual partners.

On Wednesday, Waverley Local Court heard that Muronzi had also knowingly infected another former partner between December 2003 and June 2005.

The former financial controller from Neutral Bay did not appear before the court but he was formally refused bail.

He is charged with maliciously inflicting grevious bodily harm on a person and is next due to appear before Central Local Court in August.

When he was sentenced for the same crime last year, Judge Penelope Hock said the emotional impact on his victim was “an aggravating factor”.

The victim had unknowingly passed the virus onto another man.

She told a court during Muronzi’s sentencing hearing that she hoped her case would encourage people to take better care of their wellbeing.

Her message for those who contract the disease was: “Act soon for yourself. Support yourself first because you’re number one in this. Care for yourself.”

Judge Hock noted that the 44-year-old had shown some contrition and remorse for his actions and found that he had “good prospects of rehabilitation”.

Muronzi was sentenced to a maximum of four-and-a-half years’ jail with a non-parole period of three years.

He will be eligible for release on September 28, 2016.

HIV is an infection that gradually destroys the immune system.

When a person’s immune system is severely damaged by the virus, they develop AIDS – acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

There are about 20,000 people living with HIV in Australia and 33.3 million globally, according to the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.   

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Electricity price deregulation in trouble

A plan to deregulate the retail electricity market from next month has stalled after the NSW government failed to gain the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party in the upper house, due to concerns it could lead to higher prices.

Energy Minister Anthony Roberts now says ”a number of regulatory options” are being considered by the government to ensure the reform begins on July 1.

The government has been sending notices to customers announcing ”price relief for households from July 1, 2014” in the expectation its legislation would pass the Parliament this week.

But on Tuesday it did not proceed with the bill in the Legislative Council.

Labor and the Greens have said they will oppose the measure and it is understood the Shooters and Fishers Party – which shares the balance of power with the Christian Democrats – is concerned that deregulation would see electricity prices increase.

The Parliament rises next week for the winter recess with Thursday reserved for private members’ business, meaning the legislation cannot be passed until August at the very earliest.

About 35 per cent of NSW electricity customers remain on a regulated electricity tariff determined by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Authority. The remaining 65 per cent have taken up offers from electricity retailers.

The government’s bill removes the regulated price and instead uses IPART as a ”market monitor” to report annually on the performance and competitiveness of the deregulated NSW retail electricity market.

Customers on the regulated price will be automatically switched to a ”transitional tariff”. The government’s notice says for ”the majority of households” the transitional tariff  will be 1.5 per cent lower than the present regulated price for the first year.

The government cites a report by the Australian Energy Market Commission suggesting deregulation could potentially save customers $300 to $400 a year.

But Greens MP John Kaye said it was a ”myth” that deregulation would lead to lower electricity prices.

”The Baird government arrogantly assumed the Upper House would join them in abandoning consumers to electricity retailers who are known for their predatory behaviour,” he said.

”All that is left of the Baird government’s electricity price deregulation is a glossy pamphlet, a divided upper house and thousands of confused households.”

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BentSpoke opens in Braddon

The opening of BentSpoke brewpub, Braddon, on June 6, brings Richard Watkins’ much-loved beers back to the market.

It’s no exaggeration to rate Watkins among Australia’s most inventive and accomplished brewers. Over a period of almost 20 years at Lachlan McOmish’s tiny Wig and Pen, Canberra City, Watkins built a big and loyal following for his increasingly adventurous beers. A steady haul of trophies and gold medals simply confirmed the good taste of McOmish’s patrons.

Watkins left the Wig and Pen last year and with partner Tracy Margrain established BentSpoke in a new building on the corner of Mort and Elouera Streets, Braddon.

Watkins and Margrain offered six beers and a cider on opening day and plan to extend the range to 18. BentSpoke occupies two levels and offers food and local wines as well as beer and cider.

BentSpoke Brewing Co Barley Griffin★★★★★ $11One of six beers created for BentSpoke’s opening, Barley Griffin offers complexity and easy drinkability. A cloudy, pale-golden coloured ale, with the stunning freshness of beer direct from the tank, it features rich malt flavours cut by perfectly judged hops flavour and bitterness and the exotic spicy edge of oregano.

Bent Spoke Brewing Co Adam’s Cider★★★★½ $11 How outrageous. Cider made from apples, not concentrate. Hand-crushed Granny Smith and Delicious apples, from Batlow, give the cider its pure, generous apple flavour. However, granny does her work, injecting the variety’s distinctive, pleasantly tart finish to a delicious dry cider.

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Mourners at Tamil man Leo Seemanpillai’s funeral attack ‘cruel’ asylum policy

The funeral for Leo Seemanpillai in Geelong. His parents were denied a visa to attend. Photo: Jason South Asylum seeker Leo Seemanpillai. Photo: Jason South

Comment: Asylum seekers can be managed with cheaper and more humane options

Leo Seemanpillai wrote in his journal about bad dreams. Some nights he could not sleep at all. His stomach lurched at the looming prospect of being sent back to Sri Lanka and tortured.

“As I got to know Leo, he confided some of the horrors of his past and these came to haunt him,” a friend said at his funeral on Wednesday.

“He was frightened and increasingly anxious about being sent home to Sri Lanka … yet between the dark periods we could see the hope that shone in his eyes.”

A photo of Mr Seemanpillai, projected on a large screen at Geelong’s St Mary of the Angels Basilica, showed just that: the warm face and a winning smile that masked his fears for months.

But as hardline government rhetoric and a life in limbo eroded what hope he had left, the 29-year-old Tamil asylum seeker took his own life.

He set himself on fire and died almost three weeks ago with burns to 90 per cent of his body.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at the church to farewell Mr Seemanpillai.

Father Pancras Jordan led the service and took aim at the federal government’s “cruel” asylum seeker policies that pushed Mr Seemanpillai  to suicide.

“We are gathered to say thank you and goodbye to our brother and friend, Leo Seemanpillai, who was killed by the harsh, unjust and cruel policies of our government,” he said.

Father Jordan said asylum seekers such as Leo were being “slowly broken in a system of indefinite detention that dehumanises and disempowers”.

“People are locked into the limbo of the legislated poverty that is life on a bridging visa … [it] normalises cruelty and strips the most vulnerable people of not only their rights but their dignity,” he said.

“The current policy is not about an orderly system saving people from drowning … billions of dollars are being spent on wrecking people’s lives in detention centres and in our communities.

“Our government is proactively brutal and intentionally determined to break the spirits of people like Leo, who once imagined they would find protection from oppression in our care.”

Mr Seemanpillai’s parents, living in India, were not granted temporary visas to attend the funeral service. The family will have to wait to watch a video recording of the ceremony that will be sent to them afterwards.

Aran Mylvaganam, of the Tamil Refugee Council, said it was a tragedy that a good man had been driven to the depths of despair due to Australia’s “shameful immigration policies”.

“In his 13 months being in the Geelong community, Leo had made so many connections with people, so many friendships … he had even signed up to be an Amnesty International member, a Red Cross member, a regular blood donor and an organ donor … he was such a beautiful person, but our policies have driven him to this point.”

Mr Mylvaganam said Mr Seemanpillai’s  fears of being returned to Sri Lanka edged closer to “tipping point” after announcements by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison last October suggesting all Tamils would eventually be deported.

“I received a call from Leo … his fear was real,” Mr Mylvaganam said. “He was sharing his fears with us but at the same time he was such a strong person, such a positive person. This is a very sad day for the Tamil community.”

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LIVE: Remi Kolawole’s realism in the raw

REMI Kolawole has only been rapping for three or four years, but his success has been phenomenal.

REMI, 22, said his success as Triple J’s 2013 Unearthed Artist of the Year had a lot to do with luck and timing – but countless fans and global attention seems to suggest otherwise.

‘‘I think that’s just mostly the music industry anyway,’’ said the ever modest REMI.

‘‘I think we got a bit of publicity from it but it’s hard to tell from the inside where the attention is coming from.

‘‘We live in a bubble on purpose because music comes out of your mind, whether you’re making beats or writing lyrics or whatever, and if something is affecting your mind – whether it’s your perception of yourself or what other people are thinking – then you’re not thinking straight.’’

REMI worked with Sensible J and Dutch on his new album, RAW X INFINITY. The trio, who have been recording since the release of Regular People Shit in 2012, have since embarked on a national tour.

He said inspiring writing sessions had led to an oversupply of material, and listeners could expect another release in less than two years.

‘‘We finished most of the album over the space of a week-and-a-half this year. As a result of having had to write hard to a deadline, we wanted to keep writing,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ll write a whole bunch of songs and then figure out how to put them all together. You always find that after you finish an album you want to keep writing because you’re in a great head space.’’

REMI said the lyrics in RAW X INFINITY were meant to take a closer look at society and its expectations, without necessarily commenting.

‘‘It’s cool because some people find it welcome and some people don’t, but I’d prefer there to be an honest reaction to what we’re doing rather than just middle-of-the-road acceptance,’’ he said.

One of the issues covered on the album is being forced to try to choose a career or life direction by the end of high school.

‘‘I’m a rapper and there’s not a class or avenue to take that will make you become a rapper,’’ he said.

‘‘Kids are forced to make huge decisions after not even finding themselves. I went from doing nursing for half a year to becoming a rapper, and I’m one of the lucky few. Lots of people are given limited options.

‘‘My father is from Nigeria. In order for him to get out of poverty he had limited options. We have more options than that but people end up doing shit they don’t necessarily love.’’

REMI said the dream was to make rapping his career and get to a point where the music he makes pays the bills. In the meantime, he works in retail on the side.

‘‘Something I notice when I’m working my part-time job is that often, when I say ‘Hi, how are you going’ to someone, they reply with ‘work’s work’ or something like that.

‘‘I know people who want to be doctors or they want to be tradies. If you want to do one of the options we have been given, that’s great, but I’m a weirdo and that’s not how I see it in my head.

‘‘Like my song Livin’. None of these things are meant to be critiques on how shit is; it’s just stating how shit is. That’s the key to rap. Just be real. I give people the realest situation they can possibly get.’’

REMI touches on the prevalence of club drugs in his song: XTC Party. He said it’s something he noticed becoming a big thing on tour.

‘‘This is not telling people to do or not to do drugs. It’s just what we’ve seen over the last two years’ touring,’’ he said.

‘‘Obviously it’s always been prevalent but the one thing that was the biggest was ice. You are at liberty to do whatever you want but ice is the one thing that – if you start it – you’re not really yourself afterwards.

‘‘A person goes from being someone you’re really good friends with and becoming completely different for life [after experiencing ice].

‘‘I was scared of drugs when I was younger and I’ve overcome that fear but I had a very vast knowledge of what this can do to you and what the side effects could be. I think a lot of people go into it blind.’’

REMI counts himself lucky to have a lot of like-minded fans: ‘‘We’re not tryin’ to sell you a gimmick, we’re just tryin’ to do the music.’’

His group have their own DIY label: House of Beige. Asked what it was named after, REMI laughed.

‘‘Sensible J is beige, the inside of his house is beige, I’m beige, all of our friends are beige, and so it’s kinda like let’s make this house beige collective,’’ he said.

Being on an independent label, he said, was liberating as an artist.

‘‘Especially being an upcoming artist, it’s quite difficult to come up with the major labels,’’ REMI said.

‘‘We had the offers and it was all very nice and all that, but at the same time you can get yourself in so much trouble. We’ve already seen how much you have to spend on a record. The beauty of this is we pay it and, yes, it’s expensive – and that’s why we work day jobs – but we pay it and then we don’t owe anybody any money.

‘‘If you do it with a label it’s like a bank. You have to pay all that back but at a very small percentage of money you’re earning.

‘‘I think it’s also the freedom to say whatever you want. I’m trying to make music that speaks to me and my friends.

‘‘A major label might stop us from appealing to our chosen audience.

‘‘My favourite part of the music industry is doing what I love with people that I f—king care about.’’

REMI, Sensible J and Dutch will be playing Newcastle’s Small Ballroom on Thursday, June 26. Tickets are $21.45 and can be purchased at tickets.oztix苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au. See page 35 of today’s Herald for your chance to win one of double passes to REMI’s show.

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