Monthly Archives: March 2019

Shooters reload with greater demands

Posted on 28/03/2019 by

THE Shooters Party has upped the ante with the State Government, singalling it wants to amend firearms legislation as it continues to promote its plans to allow the shooting of feral animals in national parks.It also wants to ban further extensions to marine parks.Under proposed amendments to firearms legislation that may be tabled as soon as today, the Shooters want to remove the need to register air rifles and BB guns, as well as allow children younger than 12 to use air rifles under the supervision of an adult at registered shooting ranges.A further amendment is intended to exempt the holders of gun licences from recent legislation outlawing laser pointers, since some rifles have laser target finders.Separately, the Shooters intend also to seek a five-year moratorium on the declaration of more marine parks.”Enough is enough, and if the Premier isn’t hearing the backlash from fishers up and down the coast, he has his head too far in the sand,” Shooters MLC Robert Brown said.The legislative moves come as the Shooters Party is locked in dispute with the State Government over permitting the shooting of feral animals at national parks, legislation the Government is opposing. As a result, the Shooters are refusing to support Government legislation in the Legislative Council, jeopardising the Government’s legislative program.”We are seeking hunting only with ministerial approval in specified parks and [of specified] feral animals. We’re looking at 40-50 national parks out of more than 400,” Roy Smith, another Shooters MLC, said.Earlier, the Government had supported moves by the Shooters to ease firearms legislation making it easier for an unlicensed person to gain access to, and use, guns at shooting clubs, weakened penalties for breaching firearms laws and amended domestic violence laws to make it easier for perpetrators of domestic violence subject to an apprehended violence order to regain their firearms after the order is revoked, the Greens said.The Greens called on the Government to rule out supporting the latest proposed legislative changes. A spokeswoman for Mr Rees, Sarah Conway, said the proposed legislation would be considered once it is tabled.The Coalition said it was unlikely to support the Shooters legislation on marine parks ”in what is a very late entry into the debate to try and gain the fishing vote,” the Opposition spokesman on Industry, Duncan Gay said.It supports the philosophy of a moratorium on the creation of new marine parks, with ”decisions surrounding marine parks need to be based on proper scientific research, which NSW Labor has neglected to do,” he said.

Chilli a hot prospect as medication

Posted on 28/03/2019 by

CHILLI could one day replace aspirin for the prevention and treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to University of Tasmania scientists who are looking at the way the spicy fruit affects the blood.A research fellow at the university’s school of life sciences, Kiran Ahuja, said the two active ingredients in chilli – capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin – have the potential to lower blood glucose and insulin levels, reduce the formation of fatty deposits in artery walls and prevent blood clots.Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in developed countries.”We have tested capsaicin and that shows an effect on platelet aggregation, or the clotting of blood,” Dr Ahuja said.She said her research, which used chilli paste to minimise seasonal or batch variation, had not come across any side effects of chilli. In fact some studies had suggested chilli actually reduced the damage caused by aspirin.When it came to early-stage diabetes, when the pancreas overproduced insulin in an attempt to help the body absorb glucose, Dr Ahuja’s research suggested consuming chilli resulted in the body producing less insulin, while the glucose was still used efficiently.”It may actually delay or prevent the onset of diabetes,” she said.But for those wondering just how much chilli to add to their stir fry, Dr Ahuja said that’s still to be established.”It depends on how hot the chilli is, as the hotter it is, the more capsaicin it has.”Dr Ahuja, who has been working in this research area since 2003, has received $16,400 in funding from the University of Tasmania to continue the project, which will include comparing the effectiveness of chilli and aspirin on blood thinning.She also hopes to establish what amount of chilli would have the same effect on blood clotting as a standard dose of aspirin. The work is due to be completed by late next year.

Island solution expensive, says Evans

Posted on 28/03/2019 by

THE Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, has conceded everything done to keep asylum seekers on Christmas Island could be done cheaper on the mainland.”There’s no doubt that the cost of supplying labour and materials to Christmas Island makes it more expensive than such an operation on the mainland,” Senator Evans tells Herald journalist David Marr in an essay for The Monthly magazine, out tomorrow.Marr visited the predominantly Buddhist island, interviewing detainees, officials and locals. His cover story, The Indian Ocean Solution, outlines the costs – financial and social – of detaining people on Australia’s island outpost and questions the political motives for doing so.According to Marr, Senator Evans makes no big claims the policy of keeping asylum seekers offshore deters people smuggling. ”It offers a message about excision and a strong commitment to ensuring people who seek to come to Australia arrive lawfully,” Senator Evans says.Staff at the $400 million North West Point detention centre receive a food and board allowance of $190 a day, on top of wages, from a private contractor, G4S.The facility itself was built by the Howard government at roughly 10 times the price of a comparable prison in NSW.”The budget for reassuring Australians is bottomless,” Marr writes. ”Evans is trying to implement Labor’s immigration values inside John Howard’s grim facilities. It’s a most uncomfortable mix.”The Rudd Government continues to process people off shore, less as a warning to would-be arrivals and their aides, and more as a comfort to a frightened public, he says.”Isn’t this operation really about reassuring us back home that only the chosen will reach Australia? That boats are under control?” Marr says.In July last year, Senator Evans announced detention would be a measure of last resort and for the shortest practicable time. However, adding to the challenge of starting fresh with tools of the past were confines laid early by the Prime Minister, Marr says.In his final days as Opposition Leader in 2007, Kevin Rudd said he would turn back seaworthy boats headed for Australia. As Prime Minister, he called people smugglers ”the vilest form of human life” but offered little direct support when his minister came under fire for being soft.”Within Labor, there are fears of how Rudd might respond if the boats returned in the numbers that tempted Howard to stop the Tampa in 2001. There’s a sense that anything then is on the table,” Marr says.

Life may depend on giant sunshade

Posted on 28/03/2019 by

THE future of the planet could rest on risky and unproven technologies, such as giant sunshades in space to cool the Earth down, if global talks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions fail, a scientific report warns.Other last-resort, global engineering projects that may be needed to try to avoid catastrophic climate change include forests of artificial trees, ships that spray seawater to form clouds, and injecting sulphur particles into the atmosphere to mimic volcanic activity.The report, Geoengineering the Climate, by Britain’s most prestigious science body, the Royal Society, is the first significant study of ”plan B” options to counter global warming.It emphasised that reducing emissions must remain the priority, with cuts of at least 50 per cent on 1990 levels needed by 2050, and more after that.However there was a ”serious risk” reductions would not be made in time to avoid a 2 degrees or more warming this century.John Shepherd, from the University of Southampton, who chaired the year-long study, said geoengineering could become the only option left, and the price society had to pay for its inaction.”Our research found some geoengineering techniques could have serious unintended and detrimental effects on many people and ecosystems,” Professor Shepherd said. ”Yet we are still failing to take the only action that will prevent us from having to rely on them,” he said.The geoengineering options fall into two categories: soaking up carbon dioxide and reflecting radiation back into space.The first addresses the main problem of rising carbon dioxide levels, but would only work on long timescales.”None has yet been demonstrated to be effective at an affordable cost, with acceptable side effects,” the report said.Artificial trees that filter air and extract carbon dioxide would have less environmental impact than fertilising the ocean, which has ”a high potential for unintended and undesirable ecological side effects.”Planting trees could play a small but significant role, but there were ”significant doubts” over the biochar process, which turns plants into charcoal to be buried, the report said.Large-scale methods to reflect the heat from the sun could help in an emergency, but would not address the underlying problem.Putting mirrors in space would be an extremely expensive and complex process. While injecting sulphur particles into the atmosphere would be a low-cost, fast-acting option, it could damage the ozone layer.John Buckeridge, a professor of natural resources engineering at RMIT University in Melbourne, said the technological approaches could wreak havoc. ”Rather than geoengineering, we should be engineering human behaviour more effectively.”

Blanchett injured in stage fight

Posted on 28/03/2019 by

html,body { border: 0px; }html,body { border: 0px; }Cate Blanchett was left bleeding from the head last night when a fight scene in a preview performance of the Sydney Theatre Company’s flagship production of A Streetcar Named Desire went badly wrong.The Oscar-winning actress was struck with a prop, forcing the abrupt cancellation of the show.Blanchett, who is playing sexual predator Blanche DuBois, was performing a scene with Joel Edgerton, who plays Stanley Kowalski, a part immortalised by Marlon Brando.A witness, who was at last night’s performance at the Sydney Theatre in Walsh Bay, said Edgerton accidentally hit Blanchett in the head with a ’60s-style radio. The impact could be heard in the audience and the actress and STC co-artistic director fell down on all fours. Several people said they could see blood streaming down the back of Blanchett’s head. She went off stage to fetch clothes for Stanley’s wife, Stella (Robin McLeavy), and used some of them to try to staunch the flow of blood.”He [Edgerton] was supposed to throw it [the radio] out the window, but it sort of slipped and hit her in the head â?¦ she was so good, she just went straight on,” said the witness who declined to give her name.The show continued for about a minute until Blanchett was required to climb some stairs. At this point she realised she was hurt and left the stage.Edgerton continued to perform and was lying in a bath when a technician appeared on stage and stopped the show.”They just kind of went ‘Joel can you leave the stage please’,” another witness said.The audience were initially told there would be an intermission. But after they had gathered on the footpath outside the Sydney Theatre they were told the performance had been cancelled.Last night a spokesman for the STC said: ”Cate’s fine. I’ve just spoken to her and she’s fine.”She was confident tonight’s show would go on.with Ellie Harvey

Many workers will suffer under new awards

Posted on 01/03/2019 by

THOUSANDS of finance and insurance company workers will be among those to experience an immediate pay cut in January as a result of a ruling by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.The commission decided yesterday that wage increases under a shift to a new awards system would be phased in over five years but the loss of other job conditions and allowances would be immediate.The commission admitted that the overhaul of the system would leave some employers and employees worse off, though the Minister for Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, had given assurances that this would not occur.In the new system, which comes into effect in January, thousands of state and federal awards will be condensed to fewer, simpler, ”modern” awards.Yesterday the commission released a model of the new system to cushion the blow of the transition. But business groups and unions said the change would cause ”a considerable sting” for employers and ”unfair losses” for workers.The commission said: ”It is clear that some award conditions will increase, leading to cost increases, and others will decrease, leading to potential disadvantage for employees.”The commission ruled that the first wage and penalty rate rises would be delayed for six months until next July and then be phased in in equal instalments every year for five years.This will benefit retailers in NSW, which face paying higher penalty rates. But changes to other conditions, including hours worked and allowances, will take immediate effect.The director of workplace policy for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, David Gregory, said: ”The decision emphasises there will be impacts for many employers, particularly those covered by the state-based system moving to the federal framework, and there will be cost increases to many employers.” He said this was ”disappointing, given the assurances from government that the process was not about imposing additional costs”.The chamber’s concern that only a limited number of provisions – wages and penalty rates – would be phased in over five years was shared by unions. The national policy director for the Finance Sector Union, Rod Masson, said the union would seek an urgent meeting with Ms Gillard over the effect on insurance workers. ”We are absolutely shocked by it. Having thought that transition arrangements would make sure no employee was worse off, we are unsure that safeguard stands.”At present, insurance company staff are guaranteed a minimum of four hours’ pay if they are called to work on Saturdays, but this will disappear under the new award. Meal allowances would also end, and part-time workers would lose guarantees of minimum hours worked, he said.The ACTU secretary, Jeff Lawrence, said it was disappointing that thousands of low-paid workers would have to wait five years to see the full benefit of a lift in their award wages as a result of a ”scurrilous campaign” by employer lobby groups.Mr Lawrence said the take-home pay of many workers would be cut through reductions in allowances and changes to job conditions. ”This immediate loss for workers from January 1, 2010, unfairly contrasts with the five-year phase-in for rises in wages and penalty rates,” he said.The chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Heather Ridout, said the transition model was sensible and welcomed the delay in wages rises, but said the group needed to study the impact on each industry.

Plenty of jobs going if all the unfaithful were to quit

Posted on 01/03/2019 by

IF EVERY person resigned after having an affair, ”there would be a lot of empty offices”, says a psychologist, Clif Evers.

The University of NSW lecturer cautioned against taking the moral high ground in the Della Bosca incident.

He said politicians, like the many footballers who had become embroiled in scandals, did not enter public life to act as role models.

”Because they’re in that privileged position, I think there is sometimes an unhealthy expectation that politicians be perfect,” he said. ”That, just because they are politicians, they should be role models. The same thing is done with football players, and these people had no intention of being role models.”

Dr Evers said politicians faced the same dilemmas in life as any other people, including having affairs.

”But having an affair is not illegal. It’s a moral judgment, and people are judging their morals rather than their political activities.” He said people looked to politicians as the keepers of respectability, when those roles should be filled by the more immediate people in a person’s life.

”This isn’t to say that politicians don’t have to live up to certain standards.

”When they start lying about something, yes, that introduces issues of trust and a cover-up, and then we have a right to be outraged if that’s the case.

”But it seems strange to come up with outrage about somebody having an affair and expecting them to resign accordingly.

”If we had everyone in our lives resign, or stepping down due to affairs, there would be a lot of empty offices.”

A politician’s penchant for scandal could be tied to having minders who tidied up the smaller problems, leading to a perception of invincibility, he said.

”Politicians have a lot of minders and as such they can become sheltered from things that other everyday people would have to deal with on a regular basis.

”There’s the ability to have other people … cover your arse, is the best way I can think to put it.” But even a politician should be wise to the adage of hell having no fury like a woman – or anyone – scorned, not only for the personal repercussions, but for people’s awareness of how to use the media to advantage.

”In this day and age, people know they can turn to the media as an arbiter of this sort of thing.

”If somebody’s really angry and vengeful about a particular situation they can turn to the media … People have media literacy, they know how to use the media in a very particular way.”

Dr Evers said the woman making claims against Mr Della Bosca was obviously ”a very media-savvy person”.

”On being confronted by a situation, she obviously knew the profile of the person, that if things did go pear-shaped, she would have some recourse.”

Mistress who dumped Della ‘predatory’: psychologist

Posted on 01/03/2019 by

John Della Bosca …. resigned as health minister after his affair became public.A psychologist and sex therapist believes the ex-lover of disgraced former NSW health minister John Della Bosca is predatory, delusional, and at risk of ruining her own life.

Janet Hall, a Melbourne-based clinical psychologist with three decades experience, says a 600-word justification for making the affair public, published in today’s Daily Telegraph, was insincere and steeped in vengefulness.

“If you truly are acknowledging that you made a mistake, you don’t need to go and tell the world,” Dr Hall said.

“I doubt her stability.

“He’s 53 and she’s 26, she knew exactly what she was doing.”

The woman, known only as Newtown post-graduate student Kate, said she was embarrassed by the affair and “saddened by the consequences for John and his family”.

“I realise I am the woman who slept with a married minister so I’d be hypocritical and prudish if I criticised him simply for having had an affair,” Kate wrote.

“There were two people who caused this and I was one of them.

“I could have decided not to get involved in the first place.

“But from day dot John led me to believe that his marriage was dead and then as I grew to love him he reassured me that we had a future together.”

Dr Hall said Kate’s decision to go to the media about the affair, which ended a few weeks ago, showed a complete lack of emotional intelligence.

“Kate is basically pretending that she’s admitting responsibility and she was 50 per cent of the situation and then she’s blaming him and continued with something anyway,” she said.

“She’s trying to make herself feel better and she’s projecting the blame on to him.”

Dr Hall said it was clear Mr Della Bosca, who said he had made “poor decisions”, was “thinking with the wrong part of his anatomy” and had a duty of care to Kate, as the older party in the relationship.

She said Kate probably sought out powerful men.

“There’s a woman we call the predator woman, the piranha woman, she circles the famous, the Shane Warnes and Wayne Careys,” Dr Hall said.

“I’m sure he pursued her too and to him the young woman would have been a great burst to his ego but she’s delusional to have thought he was going to leave his wife.”

Kate said she did not want to be identified because women who come forward in similar situations usually “come out the worst”.

But Dr Hall said Kate’s decision to go to the paper in the first place was “extremely irrational”.

“She’s ruining her life because of the public humiliation that will follow because she’s vengeful and hurt,” Dr Hall said.

“She should have got some really good counselling and moved on with her life, obviously with someone who’s her equal and available.”

Be warned: interest rate rise before Christmas

Posted on 01/03/2019 by

THE Reserve Bank has given borrowers just months to get their affairs in order before a rate rise, declaring that the present low interest rates are appropriate only ”for the time being”, a qualification absent from its previous announcements and designed to indicate that a rate rise is imminent.

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, accepted accepted the inevitability of a rate rise, telling reporters in Canberra yesterday ”rates are at emergency levels right now, and of course at some stage in the future they can be expected to move”.

The statement released after yesterday’s Reserve Bank board meeting also replaced the usual reference to the need to ”monitor conditions” with a reference to the need to ”continue to adjust” monetary policy, the first such reference since rates were last moved in April.

Opinion among analysts yesterday coalesced around a rate rise at the bank’s November meeting on Melbourne Cup Day, followed by another in December, pushing the bank’s cash rate from its historic low of 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent, and pushing the standard variable rate to 6.3 per cent. That would add $90 per month to the cost of servicing a $300,000 mortgage.

The board of the bank is itself uncertain about the timing of a rise, but it has not ruled out an earlier increase – next month – if the relative strength of economic data continues to surprise.

The Bank will be paying special attention to the economic growth figures for the June quarter, to be released today, and the August employment figures on Thursday of next week as it searches for signs of an even stronger than expected recovery.

It believes Australia’s economy is already performing more strongly than it expected, enabling it to move rates away from their present ”emergency setting” in the months ahead.

If it sees signs that the economy is even stronger, it will remove the low rates more quickly. Only serious signs of renewed weakness would encourage it to leave rates at their present 50-year lows.

The bank was buoyed yesterday by news of a further 7.7 per cent increase in building approvals in July, the fifth such increase in six months. In NSW approvals surged 19 per cent, spurred by a 47 per cent jump in approvals for new apartment buildings.

Trade figures showed export income tumbling 13 per cent in the June quarter on the back of sharply lower prices, but export volumes were up an encouraging 1 per cent and import volumes up 2 per cent.

Mr Swan said the figures highlighted the fragility of Australia’s economic recovery and cast doubt on whether today’s economic growth figure would be positive.

”We certainly hope it will be positive,” he said. ”But what these figures absolutely underscore is the importance of keeping in place our economic stimulus.

”If the stimulus were withdrawn now, as the Opposition wants, that would be a recipe for much higher unemployment.”

Bureaucracy in way of indigenous unemployment

Posted on 01/03/2019 by

THE ”streamlined” program at the centre of the Government’s pledge to employ an extra 100,000 indigenous people in a decade has so far placed 65 people amid claims it is too bureaucratic.

The Indigenous Employment Program, or IEP, was changed on July 1 to better fund businesses that train and employ indigenous people.

Since that time, it has funded 30 new projects for $5.6 million on the promise they would find 750 indigenous people work and training. But only 65 people have started under those projects, figures from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations show.

In March 2008, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, announced a goal – made with the states – to halve the 24 per cent gap between indigenous and non-indigenous employment rates within a decade.

The results so far angered Milton James, who runs the Boys from the Bush program. More than 200 jobs he lined up in regional abattoirs for remote indigenous men and women were lost to a 16-month wait for funding, he said.

”They were real jobs offered and they were lost to delays. Enough talk, let’s get the show on the road.” He was sceptical of the Government’s goal and said dramatic changes were needed to achieve it.

Mr James said he had negotiated another 25 jobs at a Wagga Wagga meatworks to start within two weeks but was still waiting for funding. Others have questioned the need for indigenous people to leave remote communities to do the work.

The head of the Aboriginal Employment Strategy, Dick Estens, said he had also battled delays. ”The bureaucrats are in damage control all the time. They are at the back end of the problem.”

The push to centralise employment services did not work in rural communities because of a perception that government agents breezed in and out, without understanding the underlying causes of unemployment.

Mr Estens’ s not-for-profit organisation has helped more than 2000 indigenous people find jobs and is fully managed by indigenous staff.

A poll out today from Amnesty International finds 58 per cent of 1400 respondents had lost confidence in politicians’ ability to develop effective policy for indigenous people. Just over half said politicians had not learnt from past mistakes.

The organisation’s Indigenous Rights Co-ordinator, Rodney Dillon, said remote Aboriginal people wanted to work where they lived. ”That’s where they live and that’s where they’re going to die. If we move them off their land, they’re going to die faster.”

The Opposition spokesman for Indigenous Affairs, Tony Abbott, said a range of factors fed into Aboriginal unemployment, starting with poor schooling and health. ”It’s not an easy one.”