you're reading...
Australian History

On This Day In Australia: In 1994, politician John Newman was murdered outside his Cabramatta home

Phuong Ngo and John Newman

On 5 September 1994, politician John Newman was murdered outside his Cabramatta home. Newman’s death has been described by the media as Australia’s first political assassination.

John Paul Newman was an Australian politician who served as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1986 until his death. He was 47 when he was shot and killed outside his home in Cabramatta. 

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.

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. 

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.

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 the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales on 1 February 1986. He was easily re-elected at the 1988 and 1991 state elections. Since the 1970s, Cabramatta has been a centre for immigrants and refugees from Asian backgrounds, particularly Vietnam, China, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

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. 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. Newman was later given a state funeral.

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. 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. Two of Ngo’s alleged associates were acquitted.

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 Supreme Court of New South Wales. 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.

On 17 April 2009 Patten ruled that the original conviction was sound. 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.

Source: Wikipedia

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 15,358 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

China’s new aircraft carrier Fujian: Hit or miss 

China’s new aircraft carrier Fujian: Hit or miss 

While the United States was wrapping up its Valiant Shield 2022 exercise on 17 June, China launched its third aircraft carrier with all the fanfare. The launch was postponed twice due to logistical and technical issues. The aircraft carrier has been named Fujian with the hull number 18. It has been under construction at the world’s largest […]

In Beijing’s BRICS summit, Putin is back on the world stage

In Beijing’s BRICS summit, Putin is back on the world stage

When Russian President Vladimir Putin dials into the virtual BRICS summit hosted by Beijing on Thursday, it will be his first time attending a forum with the heads of major economies since launching an invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. For Putin, this could offer a welcome picture: his face beamed onscreen alongside other leaders […]

U.S. not seeking to create “Asian NATO,” defense secretary says

U.S. not seeking to create “Asian NATO,” defense secretary says

The U.S. Defense Secretary emphasized partnership as the main priority for the American security strategy in the Indo-Pacific during a keynote speech on Saturday. However, Lloyd Austin stressed that the U.S. does not seek to create “an Asian NATO.” Austin spoke for half an hour at the First Plenary Session of the Shangri-La Dialogue 2022 […]

Why Chinese warplanes are ‘playing chicken’ with US allies

Why Chinese warplanes are ‘playing chicken’ with US allies

Chinese warplanes are targeting US allies in a high-stakes “game of chicken” over the Asia-Pacific that risks spiraling out of control — raising the risk of an incident that could spark war. That is the view of analysts who warn increasingly aggressive maneuvers by Chinese fighter jets — accused of endangering both Canadian and Australian […]

Has China lost Europe?

Has China lost Europe?

In April and May, as Russia’s war in Ukraine entered its third month, China sent a special envoy to meet with officials in eight central and eastern European countries. The timing was not coincidental: in the two months since Russia had launched its invasion, China’s standing in Europe had sunk to new lows. European governments […]

Xi’s re-election: Opportunity for the world, curse for China

Xi’s re-election: Opportunity for the world, curse for China

China is gearing up for the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party to be held later this year. According to the consensus view, President Xi Jinping’s historic bid for a third term as the party’s General Secretary is assured. The Chinese President and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi Jinping, doesn’t have much […]

China: A political view

China: A political view

I read Dr Mohamad Zreik[2] interesting and comprehensive article on the growth of China’s economy. It has come a long way since the days of Mao Tse Tung and the days of his communist experiment, the Long March, when millions died. The years that followed Mao set the path from which the economy took off […]

Math books outrage China with ‘ugly, sexually suggestive, pro-American’ images

Math books outrage China with ‘ugly, sexually suggestive, pro-American’ images

China has ordered a nationwide review of school textbooks after illustrations deemed ugly, sexually suggestive and secretly pro-American caused public uproar. The news has alarmed some experts and parents who fear the campaign is turning into a political witch hunt and represents an unnecessary tightening of the country’s already stringent censorship of cultural publications. The […]

Why Biden didn’t mean what he said about Taiwan

Why Biden didn’t mean what he said about Taiwan

The White House has been left scrambling a little after President Joe Biden suggested on May 23, 2022, that the US would intervene militarily should China attempt an invasion of Taiwan. The comment, which Biden made during a trip to Japan, was taken by some observers as a deviation from the official US line on […]

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

In a recent briefing, the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines warned, “I would characterize it as the Russians aren’t winning, and the Ukrainians aren’t winning, and we’re at a bit of a stalemate here.” So, where is the Russia-Ukraine war heading? What is Russian President Putin planning next? Is Europe ready for […]

%d bloggers like this: