Archive for September, 2019

Climate change risks finally grab Australia’s attention

September 22, 2019

Sailosi Ramatu looks over the sea at his old village Vunidogoloa in Fiji. Each time the ocean surged through their coastal Fijian village, residents would use rafts to move from house to house. Photo: APWhen Cyclone Evan slammed into Samoa five years ago next week, it triggered the near-complete loss of power and water supplies in the capital, Apia, and forced villagers to relocate to schools and the university for months.
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The category-4 tempest was the strongest to hit the Pacific nation in a couple of decades. For Samoan Brianna Fruean, one of the Pacific Climate Warriors, it was another sign – along with rising sea levels, and more intense floods and droughts – that action needed to be taken.

“Climate change is happening right in front of our eyes,” Fruean said this week on the sidelines of a meeting in Fiji of Civicus, a global civil society group.

Helen Clark – the former New Zealand prime minister and an ex-senior United Nations official – was also at the Suva gathering. Clark says she is not surprised by its central topic.

“You can’t come to a meeting in the Pacific and not have climate change as the focus,” Clark tells Fairfax Media. “Everybody talks about it because it’s an existential threat to the Pacific.”

Samoa at least has high ground where people can seek refuge. Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands are nations barely three metrestoper centhonouring,per centdecarbonisecloserageingper centMrper centper centper centageing,realisingstrategisegovernmentup on,DefenceandcentrecharacterisationThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Law allowing bosses to sack pregnant women to be abolished

September 22, 2019

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman at the announcement of the NSW Government’s response to the Lindt Cafe Siege Inquest. 8th June, 2017. Photo: Kate GeraghtyA legal exemption allowing employers to sack or refuse to hire a woman who knew she was pregnant when she applied for a job will be abolished.
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Two subsections in the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 allow employers to fire women who knew, or ought to have known, they were pregnant when they applied for a job.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman and Minister for Women Tanya Davies will on Sunday announce the exemptions will be abolished. They said fair access to employment was good for the NSW economy and vital to the financial and social independence of women.

“It’s unacceptable and out of step with modern standards for a woman to be overlooked for a role because she’s pregnant, or dismissed from a new position once it becomes apparent she’s carrying a child,” Mr Speakman said.

“We understand the need for employers to plan and be prepared for staff who need to take maternity leave, but an agile workplace that accommodates family commitments is likely to attract and retain the brightest talent.”

The change to NSW discrimination law will bring it in line with other states, territories and the Federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

New NSW attorney general Mark Speakman with the AG ring and key. Monday 6th February 2017 AFR photo Louie Douvis .

Mrs Davies said the state government wanted to encourage equal opportunity in the workplace.

“That’s why we are removing this archaic legal exemption that has discriminated against pregnant women who are seeking employment,” she said.

The state government acknowledged the advocacy of NSW Greens MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi who has campaigned for the abolition of the legal exemptions for employers wanting to sack pregnant women.

“This is a huge win for our campaign to remove pregnancy discrimination from the law books and for women in NSW who were falling through the cracks because of these absurd exemptions in our anti-discrimination law,” she said.

“This shows that with determined activism, and by working together, we can make changes that have far-reaching impacts on people all over the state. I acknowledge and thank the NSW government for agreeing to make this very important change in our law.”

A recent Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into pregnancy and maternity discrimination had revealed that even after decades of anti-discrimination laws, pregnancy and maternity discrimination is still “remarkably pervasive”.

Belinda Smith, associate professor of law at the University of Sydney and an expert on sex discrimination laws, has said NSW was lagging behind federal and other state legislation in addressing pregnancy.

“Some women would be able to pursue protection under the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984, but this does not apply to state public servants (who only have the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act available), and entails much greater litigation risks (because for hearings of federal discrimination matters in court, the default costs rule applies, which means the loser pays all),” she said.

“In any event, that some women have some protections under federal law is not a good reason for NSW to have such backward and limited state protections.”

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South coast seabirds have stomachs full of plastic

September 22, 2019

Montague island scenes. Interiors.Photo Nick Moir 13 September 2015Seabirds at Montague Island off Narooma have stomachs full of plastic, one of Australia’s leading wildlife biologists has warned.
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Macquarie University professor of marine ecology Rob Harcourt has worked with the seabirds of Montague Island for many years. He is very familiar with the growing of problem of loose, floating plastic in the world’s oceans and how that pollution is impacting on marine animals.

“There is a large colony of seabirds breeding on Montague Island and plastics look a lot like their food items,” Professor Harcourt said.

“They [the birds] pick up the plastics instead, because they look like fish. They take it back to feed their chicks, and the chicks starve because their stomachs are full of plastic. It’s a serious, serious problem.”

He said it particularly affected the migratory seabirds, such as shearwaters, also called mutton birds, and terns.

The short-tailed shearwater birds migrate 10,000 kilometres from the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Japan, to Australian shores in late September to nest.

They have eaten little on their journey and are exhausted by the flight and so have been known to die in mass numbers.

But the plastic in their stomachs is a ticking timebomb for each bird, building up, eventually taking its toll and killing the bird.

“There is no doubt that trash is a problem, and plastic is a major problem for oceans,” Professor Harcourt said.

Professor Harcourt is expected to release 25-year modelling about the effects of climate change on the strength of the East Australian Current early in 2018. His research shows how that will impact the whole ecosystem.

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More Australian families have both parents in the workforce

September 22, 2019

With both parents in the households working, Tanya Losanno admits the family schedule can be a bit hectic.
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“Sometimes you’re rushing home with the kids from their activities to get dinner on the table, and it can be hectic at times, but it’s worth the challenges when you can be there for [your children] at school assemblies,” she said.

Brent Fuller and Tanya Losanno with their children Max, 8, and Frankie, 6. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The Narrabundah resident is employed in several jobs, working as a marriage celebrant, front of house staff at the Canberra Theatre Centre and occasionally doing work as a comedian, while her husband Brent Fuller is employed as a contractor.

While Mr Fuller’s job is a typical nine-to-five role, work for Ms Losanno is usually at nights or on weekends, meaning both can share in parenting responsibilities for their two children Max, 8, and Frankie, 6.

There’s been an increase in the number of ACT families with both parents in the workforce. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

“It’s fitting our working lives around our family, and that means that our family can get the best of everything,” Ms Losanno said.

“It also means the added benefit of not having to pay for before- and after-school care, which is expensive.”

Over the years, Ms Losanno said there’s been a shift in the number of families who have both parents in the workforce.

“I don’t think I’ve spoken to anyone where both parents are not working,” she said.

Tanya admits sometimes the family schedule can be challenging, but is worth it. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

“There’s definitely been a shift since I’ve grown up. Back then it was very different. The mums were at home and the dads were at work, and now that’s all changed.”

New figures released this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics back up Ms Losanno’s view, showing an increase in the number of Australian families where both parents are working.

Statistics show 64 per cent of families nationally that have two parents have both parents in the workforce, compared to 59 per cent a decade ago.

The bureau’s chief economist Bruce Hockman said women returning to the workforce after having children was a key reason for the increase.

“The increasing proportion of couple families with children where both parents work is an ongoing trend we have been observing for a decade, as female participation rates in the labour market have increased to the current record high of around 60 per cent,” he said.

“In June 2017, 25 per cent of couple families with children had both parents working full time, which increased from 21 per cent a decade ago.”

Out of the 111,600 families in the ACT, 28,500 of them have both parents working, an increase of more than 2 per cent from than 27,900 families in 2016.

The number of families where both parents work has increased every year since 2014, after a slight drop in 2013.

Nationally, there are more than 3.9 million families with both parents working, rising by 58,200 – or 1.9 per cent – from 2016 figures.

The bureau also reported the number of jobless families, either with couples or lone parents, remained steady over the decade at 12 per cent.

The figures from the bureau coincides with research released by the Australian National University this week showing six out 10 working couples had struggled to manage family commitments, with children at greatest risk where both parents experienced conflict between family time and their job.

Ms Losanno said the rise in the number of families where both parents are working could be due to many people choosing not to start a family until later in life.

“I didn’t get married until I was 35, so I always worked and looked after myself, so it was hard to suddenly stop work,” she said.

“People already spend a majority of their life in work, and it’s hard to stop.”

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Couple who planned to divorce if same-sex marriage passes renege on promise

September 22, 2019

Overview of the final vote on the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, December 7, 2017. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVINGThey were the Canberra couple who created a national stir in 2015 with their stance against same-sex marriage.
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Nick and Sarah Jensen caused controversy following a first-person piece written by Mr Jensen promising to divorce if same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia.

“My wife and I, as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognise the government’s regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same-sex couples,” he wrote at the time.

While their promise may have seemed outlandish at the time, two years later, same-sex marriage in Australia has become a reality, after it passed a vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

So will the Jensens follow through with their public promise to split? The short answer is no.

In a statement to The Canberra Times, Mr Jensen said he doesn’t intend to file for divorce in the wake of the historic vote.

“My previous public comments regarding civil divorce never envisaged me separating from my wife, but rather our marriage from the state,” he said.

“The legislation currently makes it untenable for us to do this under the law. The point we were highlighting, and that still stands however, is the fact that a redefinition of marriage changes the agreement under which we were originally married.

“We will be making no further comment.”

The original article penned by Mr Jensen triggered a wave of online responses at the time, which included a mock party set up with a Facebook page called “Celebrating Nick and Sarah Jensen’s Divorce” attracting more than 140,000 people.

The first same-sex weddings in Australia will be carried out on January 9, after the same-sex marriage bill was given royal assent by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Friday.

Same-sex weddings that were carried out overseas will now be officially recognised in Australia as part of the historic legislation.

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‘The court is not King Solomon,’ judge tells parents feuding over son’s body

September 22, 2019

For almost two months the body of a disabled teenager has remained with the State coroner in Newcastle while his family has waged a bitter war over what to do with his remains.
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Pono Aperahama died in tragic circumstances at Lambton swimming pool in Newcastle on October 17.

The 17-year-old had sustained severe head injuries in 2013 when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. He spent nine months in hospital and suffered ongoing health issues as a result of his injuries.

On his release from hospital Pono, who had been living with his grandmother, was placed into care with Challenge Community Services.

He was at the pool with his carer when he became erratic, striking out at the pool staff and repeatedly hitting his head against a brick wall.

He died in the ambulance on the way to John Hunter Hospital.

Almost immediately his family began fighting over whether he would be buried in New Zealand or cremated in Australia.

Pono’s mother Te Rina Abraham, who lives in New Zealand, wanted to bury her son there.

However, his father Steven Henry and sister Piki Aperahama wanted the body to be cremated in Sydney and the ashes to be divided equally between both parents.

Members of the family took to social media to air their grievances.

Two days after her brother’s death, 19-year-old Piki attacked her mother on Facebook. “You haven’t seen your son let alone any of your children in years and now you think you have a say? My brother is dead and still somehow my mother seems to make it about her, YOU WERE NOT THERE, my nana, papa and aunties raised me and the boys, they made sure we had a roof over our heads and were always fed.”

Her mother replied by text saying, “You f—ing lying little c— say you did everything for your brother and how much you love him while he lays here in Newcastle alone on ice.”

The feuding family took the matter to NSW Supreme Court.

“I have found this decision most difficult,” said Justice Stephen Rothman.

“The circumstances are tragic. The Court is not King Solomon. Whatever happens, one or other party will be disadvantaged,” he said in his judgment handed down earlier this week.

He noted both parents are New Zealanders whose son Pono was born in Sydney in January 2000.

His parents separated when he was three-months old and he lived with his mother.

However, at 8, Pono was removed from his mother and placed with her parents.

One of the major issues between the parents was a dispute over Maori culture.

His mother argued that Maori culture forbade cremation and that “a deceased must be buried so as to return the body to the earth from whence it came”.

Ms Abraham’s older sister, Maata Takiari, a liaison officer and secretary with the Maori Performing Arts Group in Brisbane, gave evidence on behalf of Pono’s father that although Maori tradition was to bury rather than cremate “it is not uncommon for Maori families to decide to cremate a body because it is cheaper than a burial,” she said in her affidavit.

Pono’s sister Piki testified that her brother did not have a strong connection with Maori culture or New Zealand, having been there only three times in his life.

Ms Aperahama told the court the family wanted a traditional Maori service in Penrith, lasting from three to five days, during which family and friends could come to pay their respects in accordance with traditional Maori practices.

Justice Rothman agreed with Ms Aperahama and her father and ordered that the body be released to them.

The judge also ordered that after the funeral service and the cremation, both parents were to receive half of the ashes.

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Gombau takes responsibility for Wanderers’ distressing loss

September 22, 2019

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Josep Gombau has taken full responsibility for the club suffering their worst A-League defeat in history after being thrashed 5-0 by Sydney FC in the derby on Saturday night.
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A major selection gamble failed in the club’s biggest home game of the season after Gombau opted to hand two teenagers their first starts of the season against the reigning champions, and played others out of position.

Lachlan Scott is yet to play a minute this season but started ahead of experienced striker Brendon Santalab at the arrow point of their attack, while Keanu Baccus was deployed as the Wanderers’ holding midfield in his first start of the season and just the second of his career. Right back Josh Risdon was played as a winger, and Kearyn Baccus, brother of Keanu, was moved from his holding midfield role to a more attacking position.

The changes were said to be in line with Gombau’s evolution of the club’s playing style. He says it will take a lot of time but the blame for their performance in the derby falls on his shoulders.

“For me, the players are trying to do what the coach is asking them to do. I assume all the responsibility of this big loss,” he said. “I want to said my apologies to the fans who come to support the team. For me, the team I am coaching, things are improving.”

The Spanish coach is embarking on changing the club’s playing style and mentality but is yet to experience any joy from his project. The Wanderers are yet to win under Gombau, losing three of their four games and having scored just once.

“Today is a starting point and it’s not good but for sure the finish point will be good,” Gombau said.

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Rachel Jarry faces six months on the sidelines

September 22, 2019

Canberra Capitals forward Rachel Jarry is facing a six-month stint on the sidelines as repeated concussions threaten to derail her career.
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A distressed Jarry was stretchered from the court and taken to hospital early in Canberra’s drought-breaking win over the Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong Stadium on Saturday night.

Jarry has suffered at least six concussions in her career and was told not to move as a precaution and left the venue on a stretcher, with the incident halting the WNBL clash for almost 20 minutes.

Jarry did not lose consciousness and was taken from the court by paramedics during the first quarter of Canberra’s stunning 81-78 win.

???The win snaps the second-worst losing streak in Capitals history at 13 games, leading Canberra fans to proclaim “ding dong, the witch is dead”.

But it wasn’t all good news with Jarry playing just 2:35 minutes before suffering her third concussion of the season, which came 10 days after she returned from a three week concussion-imposed lay-off.

The Olympian went down with ball in hand and was treated by support staff from both clubs, who opted to call an ambulance for additional help.

Capitals coach Paul Goriss was shattered for the star forward who was looking to use the final month of the season to relaunch her Australian Opals hopes.

“Obviously with the concussion history it’s probably not very good news for her. They called an ambulance and she’s in hospital right now with her mum,” Goriss said.

“She more than likely will be out for an extended period of time due to this being her third concussion in like eight weeks.

“She’s just hard-nosed. That’s the thing, she’s hard-nosed and she’s a competitor. Not that it’s her fault, but she puts herself in situations where she competes.

“That’s her and that’s her calling card but unfortunately it’s not good from a medical standpoint.”

Jarry, 26, told The Canberra Times the lack of knowledge about the long-term effects of concussion is “worrying” but she wouldn’t change her style when she had her most recent setback in November.

The WNBL concussion policy states any player suffering a concussion must be reported to the league and ticked off by an official club doctor before returning to play.

Jarry likely won’t play another minute this season with the Capitals out of finals contention with only five games remaining in the regular season.

It is a heartbreaking mishap for Jarry, who worked tirelessly to overcome a knee injury that hampered her start to the competition.

The Capitals shot out of the blocks to take a 26-18 lead into the first break and built one of their most complete performances of the season to clinch the nail-biting win.

Their lead was sliced to one with 14 seconds remaining but the Capitals held out for a three-point win, steered home by Jordan Hooper (21 points) and Nat Hurst (15).

It’s Canberra’s first win since they went back-to-back on opening weekend over two months ago and Goriss says it’s just reward for the effort they’ve put in during a rough season.

“A huge sense of relief. It’s just great for the girls because as I’ve said all along they’ve still worked their arses off every day after every game,” Goriss said.

“Losses mount up and have a toll physically and mentally and they’ve stayed strong throughout this period. They’ve deserved better than what they’ve got in the wins and losses column.

“The difference was we played consistent basketball for 40 minutes and I think that was showing in the end with a win. Everyone contributed.”

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Former TV presenter’s Bardon home sells for almost $1 million

September 22, 2019

For former television presenter and media personality Annette Allison it was hard to say goodbye to her treasured Bardon family home.
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“I had a lot of angst at various times about if I was going to sell it or if I was going to move back,” said Ms Allison, who is now based in Victoria.

“Because it is a large house, I think it’s deserving of a family home. I think that’s the way to look at it.”

However as soon as she put the Eastment Street home on the market, Ms Allison was ready to sell. The old brick house was in need of some updating to bring it back on trend but it had the bones of a good house, with a view of Brisbane’s inner west.

“It’s got a beautiful north-north east aspect at the back, so you look out to the Paddington water tower in that direction,” selling agent and auctioneer Andrew Degn said. “It’s in walking distance to the Rainworth school, so it’s a nice easy lifestyle.”

It attracted spirited bidding. Mr Degn took the first bid at $800,000 and the price climbed quickly from there. From $975,000 the price increased in $1000 bids until the hammer fell at $982,000.

The home sold to a family that had been looking for a new home for most of the year.

Ms Alison, who is now a public affairs manager for Royal Flying Doctors’ Service, said she was very happy with the result.

“I’ve just met the new owners, they’re devine and they’re just going to love being in the new house,” Ms Allison said after the auction. “It’s been a beautiful family home for a long time and I’ve had some great times, some great memories, some great parties.

“When you have a family home I think it’s very important you pass it on to a family. To someone who can appreciate it.” Related: The no-nos of Christmas gift-givingRelated: A guide to growing your own cocktail ingredientsRelated: The best swimming pools around Australia

It was a short and sharp auction earlier on Saturday, at an Annerly house just a few hundred metres from Ipswich Road.

The peace and quiet of a dead-end street, was interrupted by the cries of auctioneer Justin Marsden as he called the auction for 17 Kintore Street.

But he wasn’t calling long. Less than ten minutes from the word go, he had the three-bedroom Queenslander sold to two sisters.

Mr Marsden said it was great bidding. “It was exceptional. There was a late registration. It was unbelievable, [the bidders] were here to buy and it was good to see.”

The auction opened with a bid of $580,000, but went straight to $650,000 with the next. From there it wasn’t long until the price cracked $700,000, eventually selling for $735,000.

The result was a 25 per cent increase on the $587,500, that records show the vendors paid for it in 2013.

“It just shows the strength of this inner city market in Brisbane,” Mr Marsden said. “In the last five years maybe, it’s definitely received a lot of attention.”

Selling agent Geoff Sellars said the home had attracted plenty of attention, with about half a dozen registered bidders.

“It’s really nicely landscaped at the front and that sort of thing has really helped,” he said. “It’s a professional couples type of house. It’s low maintenance, good yard.

“It fits our demographic well, they’re not keen to have a lot of maintenance.”

Mr Marsden said it didn’t need much work done either.

“It’s one of those houses where you move the furniture in and you don’t have to do anything about it. Which is probably why it was so popular.”

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‘The beginning in truth telling:’ 25 years on from the Redfern speech

September 22, 2019

When Prime Minister Paul Keating took to a podium in Redfern Park on a warm December day in 1992, those present had no idea they would be witnessing history.
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Twenty-five years ago to the day, Keating’s address, now simply known as the “Redfern Speech” delivered a profound message on Aboriginal injustice.

“We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers,” he said.

“With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds. We failed to ask, how would I feel if this were done to me?”

In a joint statement to Fairfax Media, Linda Burney MP and Senator Patrick Dodson described the speech as the “beginning in truth telling,” speaking “truth to the power of an unexamined history.”

“The Redfern Address was an honest, unflinching acknowledgement by a prime minister of the impact of colonisation on our people, an acknowledgement of the appalling history for which they have been dealt, and a recognition of the role and responsibility not only of the colonists, but the collective responsibility of all Australians to play their part in redressing past and continuing wrongs.”

Twenty-five years on Ms Burney and Mr Dodson said the speech was a reminder of the “continuing gaps in economic, health and social indicators” for indigenous Australians.

“The Gap is still wide.”

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