"This tragedy illustrates that systems such as signage and fencing can fail. The purpose of having backup systems is that failure of one does not necessarily result in tragedy." That was a comment on November 26 last year by Judge Greg Cavanagh in his Coronial report about Wilfried Thor and Gisela Thor (pictured) who perished at Threphina Gorge. Five weeks later, possibly on January 2 this year, Monika Billen was dead in similar circumstances. The government and the industry are not answering questions – so far – put to them by the Alice Springs News Online. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The slamming – his word – by Chief Minister Adam Giles of Prime Minister Julia Gillard for her "loosely veiled threat to cut funding to the Territory if the Government doesn’t reinstate the failed Banned Drinkers Register" would have a great deal more credibility if the NT police, for which he has responsibility, provided information that would make the BDR debate much better informed.COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. PICTURED: The leaked document. It seems to show a 50%, not nearly a 100%, increase in hospital admissions.
After 32 years it's official: a dingo or dingoes took baby Azaria Chamberlain from her family's tent at Ayers Rock on August 17, 1980, and the cause of her death was "the result of being attacked and taken by a dingo."
This was the finding of Territory Coroner Elizabeth Morris this morning, with mother Lindy Chamberlain Creighton and father Michael Chamberlain – now separated – in the Darwin courtroom for the fourth inquest into the sensational case.
It was flawed by faulty forensic work, and had seen Lindy convicted and jailed for murder of her daughter.
She was exonerated, but officially the cause of Azaria's death remained open until today.
Coroner Morris, after handing down the finding, her voice shaking, gave her "sincere sympathy" to the family, for the loss of their "special and loved daughter and sister, Azaria. I am so sorry for your loss."
Recent evidence, especially dingo attacks elsewhere in Australia, moved Coroner Morris, on the balance of probability, to come to the "adequate, clear, cogent and exact" finding that "a dingo or dingoes took Azaria," a conclusion further supported by finding dog or dingo hairs in tent at the base of Ayers Rock.
The full text of the coronial finding is here.
The photos are from an ABC Four Corners documentary produced and filmed by Alice Springs News editor ERWIN CHLANDA. This included a re-enactment, at Ayers Rock, by the Chamberlains from which these photos are taken. Chlanda was the first reporter on the scene, and then covered the case for television and print in Australia and around the world for several years.
NT Attorney General Rob Knight did not apologize to the Chamberlains.
All he could say in a media release this morning, as an affair came to an end that had put the Territory's legal and police processes in disrepute the world over, was to thank Coroner Morris for "bringing this matter to what should be the end of the legal process.
"My thoughts go out to Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and Michael Chamberlain and their families and hope that today’s decision helps deal with the tragic loss of their child."