John Newman (Australian politician)

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John Newman
Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
In office
1 February 1986 – 5 September 1994
Preceded by Eric Bedford
Succeeded by Reba Meagher
Constituency Cabramatta
Personal details
Born Johann Grauenig
(1946-12-08)8 December 1946
Villach, Austria
Died 5 September 1994(1994-09-05) (aged 47)
Cabramatta, New South Wales, Australia
Cause of death Murder (shooting)
Political party Labor

John Paul Newman (born Johann Grauenig, formerly Naumenko; 8 December 1946 – 5 September 1994) was an Australian politician who served as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1986 until his death. He died at the age of 47, after being shot and killed outside his home in Cabramatta.[1] Phuong Ngo, a local club owner and political opponent who had run against Newman as an independent in 1991, was convicted of Newman's murder in 2001. His death has been described by the media as Australia's first political assassination.[2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

Newman was born Johann Grauenig in Villach, Austria, on 8 December 1946, the son of John Arch and Helene Grauenig. His mother later married Peter Naumenko, and changed her son's surname accordingly. He later anglicised his surname to "Newman" by deed poll on 17 March 1972.[1] Newman arrived in Australia in 1950, aged four, and his family settled in Cabramatta in the western suburbs of Sydney. He attended Cabramatta Public School and Liverpool Boys High School.[5]

Political career[edit]

Newman had a long history of involvement with the labour movement and with the Labor Party, spending much of his working life as a union official. He was a State union organiser with the Federated Clerks' Union from 1970 to 1986. Newman completed post-graduate studies in industrial law at the University of Sydney and undertook a variety of Trade Union Training Authority education programmes. Newman was elected as an alderman of the Fairfield City Council in 1977 and remained on the council for 10 years. He was deputy mayor in 1985–86 and also served as acting mayor in 1986. In December 1979 Newman's pregnant wife, Mary, and five-year-old son, David, were killed in an automobile accident at Bossley Park.

Following a by-election in the seat of Cabramatta, Newman was elected to Legislative Assembly of New South Wales on 1 February 1986. He was easily re-elected at the 1988 and 1991 state elections.[6] Since the 1970s, Cabramatta has been a centre for immigrants and refugees from Asian backgrounds, particularly Vietnam, China, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Prior to his assassination, Newman had waged a campaign (by helping to form Task Force Oak) to combat Asian organised crime (such as the 5T Gang)[1] and fight the corruption, drugs, crime (particularly home invasions), and prostitution that had plagued the Cabramatta area.[1] His car had been vandalised, and he had been the target of numerous death threats from Asian gangs but did not treat them seriously nor seek police protection.

Death[edit]

At 9:30 pm. on the night of 5 September 1994, in the car-park of his Woods Avenue, Cabramatta home, he was shot twice and killed instantly.[7] His fiancée, Lucy Wang, was with him at the time (helping to put a car cover on his vehicle) but saw little of what happened because of the swiftness of the murder. She reported seeing a hooded man in an army style jacket, who fired four shots, then fled in a waiting car.[1] Newman was later given a state funeral.[1]

Investigation[edit]

Within days, the leader of the 5T gang, 21-year-old Tri Minh Tran became the prime suspect. A local club owner, Phuong Ngo's conflict with Newman and his close ties to Tran led to widespread rumours in the community that he was involved and the media repeated the allegations. Tran, who had led the gang since the age of 14, was assassinated on 7 August 1995. On the afternoon of his funeral, Cabramatta shopkeepers closed their shops as a sign of respect, an honour they had also given to Newman. Ngo attended the funeral and he now became the focus of police attention after one of Tran's relatives made a statement to police that Tran had rejected an offer of $10,000 from Ngo to kill Newman.

The case against Ngo was weak and after Ngo provided information to police that led to the arrest of the informant, the task force investigating the Newman murder was disbanded.[8] Ngo who had previously attempted to secure Labor Party pre-selection for the seat of Cabramatta and had run against him as an independent in 1991, was convicted of the killing in 2001.[7] Two of Ngo's alleged associates were acquitted.[7]

In 2003, an appeal by Ngo against the conviction failed. A Judicial inquiry was launched into the conviction of Phuong Ngo on 6 June 2008, by order of Chief Justice James Spigelman of the New South Wales Supreme Court. The inquiry was overseen by former and Acting District Court judge, David Patten, and addressed several concerns raised as to the validity of the original conviction.[9] On 17 April 2009 Patten ruled that the original conviction was sound.[10][11] Following the inquiry, calls were made to have Ngo's name removed from monuments in Cabramatta. Calls for the council to name a landmark in honour of Newman have not proceeded so far, although a swimming pool in Prairiewood bears his name.[12]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Case 40: John Newman – Casefile: True Crime Podcast". Casefile: True Crime Podcast. 2016-12-10. Retrieved 2018-02-28. 
  2. ^ Mark Morri and staff writers (2014-09-05). "Phuong Ngo murders rival John Newman in Australia's first political assassination in 1994". heraldsun.com. Retrieved 2018-02-28. 
  3. ^ The Newman Case, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2008-04-07, retrieved 2018-02-28 
  4. ^ Bibby, Paul (2014-12-12). "John Newman murder: Phuong Ngo loses last appeal for life sentence". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018-02-28. 
  5. ^ Newman, John Paul (1946–1994) - Australian Dictionary of Biography
  6. ^ "Mr John Paul Newman (1946–1994)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c Grimm, Nick (29 June 2001). "Ngo found guilty of Newman assassination". Lateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Cabramatta Four Corners 8 April 1997
  9. ^ "Inquiry called into assassination conviction". ABC News. Australia. 6 June 2008. 
  10. ^ Jacobsen, Geesche (17 April 2009). "Ngo did mastermind MP's murder: inquiry". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 April 2009. 
  11. ^ McLaren, Oscar (17 April 2009). "Review of John Newman assassination finds Ngo remain in prison". PM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Political assassin Phuong Ngo honoured all over Fairfield Fairfield Advance 6 May 2009

Further reading[edit]

  • Wang, Lucy. Blood Price: The Moving Story of the Fiancee of Murdered MP, John Newman (1996)
  • Breen, Peter. Who Killed John Newman?

External links[edit]

Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Eric Bedford
Member for Cabramatta
1986–1994
Succeeded by
Reba Meagher