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Comment: Just my five cents

Written on January 12, 2019 at 00:45, by

Imagine if you walked into your local bank, handed them a five cent piece and asked, “Can I have ten cents for this?” And then the teller said, “Yes.


Well, that’s the world of commerce our friends across the Pacific pond are used to. And soon, we might have to accept the same sort of illogic here in Australia.

In the 2012 fiscal year The Unites States Mint produced and distributed just over 1 billion US five cent pieces, worth a total of US$50 million. But they spent more than US$100 million to produce them! That’s more than US$50 million in losses. And all simply to subsidise the irritating existence of bacteria-ridden disks that you’d be surprised to find someone bothering to pick up off a New York City sidewalk.

Granted, the price of copper and nickel – the main constituents of the US five cent piece – have since lowered slightly, so the same loss might not be incurred today. But since the early 2000’s the price of copper, which also makes up 75% of all silver coins and 92% of all gold coins in Australia, has more than tripled. Compound this with inflation and the increasing costs of energy consumption required by manufacturing and distribution, and it’s no wonder it was reported in 2009 and 2011 by The Sydney Morning Herald that there were plans to scrap our echidna-bearing shrapnel forever.

The real cost to society could be in lost productivity costs, though. Think of all the times you’ve fumbled around for exact change and how the poor soul who has to count them at the end of the day must wish they were elsewhere. The US one cent piece – which is bafflingly still produced – is estimated to cost the US economy US$1 billion in lost productivity annually.

Even if they were affordable to produce or money was no object, for something which is meant to grease the wheels of commerce, the five cent piece really underperforms. Anyone would be rightly shocked to find even a single item in their local supermarket that costs five cents or less. Parking meters don’t take them, vending machines know better and even the infamous Melbourne Myki system can spot such indisputable inefficiency when it sees it.

The truth is that there are even laws to limit how many five cent pieces you can use in an individual transaction. The Currency Act 1965 (section 16) prohibits anyone from ruining the day of a store clerk beyond $5 worth of five cent pieces; any more it’s not considered legal tender. And rightly so, too – that’s 100 five cent pieces!

Our Kiwi cousins scrapped their five cent piece in 2006 after realising what a nuisance they were. Why can’t we do the same? It might not be a sexy topic or have catchy three-word-slogans like ‘Five Cent Wastage’ and ‘Coinage Reform Now’, but couldn’t we afford to be pragmatic for once? In fact, given the economy, how can we afford not to be?

Tom Burns is a blogger, vlogger and self-confessed political junkie.

Abbott cites exuberance in latest gaffe

Written on January 12, 2019 at 00:45, by

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott admits he was “a bit exuberant” when referring to the sex appeal of a female Liberal candidate.


Social network contributors and Labor pounced on Mr Abbott’s gaffe on Tuesday during a visit to the key marginal seat of Lindsay in western Sydney.

Standing between his daughter Frances and local Liberal candidate Fiona Scott, he was asked how the latter compared with her coalition predecessor Jackie Kelly.

“They’re young, they’re feisty and I think I can probably say have a bit of sex appeal,” he told reporters.

Leaving his daughter wincing, Mr Abbott was later forced to explain himself.

He said Ms Scott was a smart, hardworking woman with whom he was proud to be associated.

“I was a bit exuberant today … but we’re all working incredibly hard to get her elected,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday night.

But by the time Mr Abbott tried to explain himself, a backlash was underway against the man who has a record of gaffs about the role of women.

“He’s pathetic, he really is pathetic,” Labor minister Kim Carr told the ABC of Mr Abbott’s words.

“Sometimes we should think Tony Abbott really hasn’t crawled out of the 1950s.”

The coalition camp worked to brush off the remark.

“It was just a light-hearted comment, which I’m sure was not meant with any offence,” Opposition assistant treasury spokesman Mathias Corman told Sky News.

Coalition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said the comment was made in “jest” and talked up Mr Abbott’s deep respect for women, including his professional wife Margie, three daughters, and sister.

However Twitter exploded with opinion on the subject, much of it criticising Mr Abbott.

“So @TonyAbbottMHR thinks a woman candidate is vote-worthy if she has #sexappeal ? #mysogynist” posted one person.

The Twitter account for NSW Labor also weighed in: “On September 7 we should vote for candidates based on #policyappeal not #sexappeal”.

In an odd show of support, NSW Liberal minister Pru Goward, a former sex discrimination commissioner, said she sees nothing wrong with highlighting a candidate’s sex appeal.

“I think a lot of politicians are described as sexy,” she told Macquarie Radio.

The clanger comes a day after Mr Abbott’s incorrect use of the word “suppository” during a press conference attracted widespread publicity.

Tuesday’s comment risks overshadowing the coalition’s efforts in Lindsay, a seat currently held by Labor’s David Bradbury by a 1.1 per cent margin.

Mr Abbott also used the visit to announce that a coalition government will provide $12 million for a sport and community centre at Penrith.

Hird wants Demetriou blocked from panel

Written on January 12, 2019 at 00:45, by

James Hird claims in a writ that the AFL urged Essendon to call for an investigation into their 2012 supplements program because it would look better for the club.


Essendon coach Hird’s lawyers lodged a writ in the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday seeking to have AFL charges against him heard by an independent tribunal, not the AFL Commission.

It also seeks to have AFL boss Andrew Demetriou and any AFL commissioner who has been given access to the ASADA interim report on the on-going investigation into the Bombers to be banned from future hearings.

In court documents Hird details a phone call from Demetriou to then-Essendon chairman David Evans on February 4 which allegedly alerted the Bombers to investigations into drug use at the club in 2012.

“Evans said that Demetriou said words to the effect that Essendon players had been taking performance-enhancing drugs,” Hird’s writ alleges.

“Evans communicated the tip off to Hird and other Essendon officials including Danny Corcoran and Ian Robson (then-Essendon chief executive).”

Hird says the following day Robson, Essendon media adviser Justin Rodski and Hird attended a meeting at AFL House.

AFL deputy chief Gillon McLachlan told the Bombers they should come forward to the AFL and ask for an investigation, Hird alleges.

“If you come forward earlier and invite ASADA to investigate, then the investigation will look better for you,” Hird claims McLachlan told Essendon’s officials.

“Hird told McLachlan, as was the fact, that Essendon had not used PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs).

“On February 5 2013, Hird, Robson and Evans gave a press conference at the urging of McLachlan and the defendant (AFL).”

Essendon announced they were reporting to ASADA and the AFL about their 2012 supplements program.

Essendon, Hird and three other Bombers officials have been charged by the AFL with bringing the league into disrepute over Essendon’s supplements scandal since the AFL received an interim report from ASADA on its investigation.

Hird says he’s been denied natural justice by the AFL.

On Wednesday, eight days after the AFL announced it had laid the charges, Demetriou went ahead with the league’s stated intention to release the details of the charges in a 34-page document.

Hird is also hoping to stop the charges being heard until he has been given “proper particulars” of the charges against him and a list of the witnesses the AFL plans to call and the evidence they will give.

Hird wants the AFL to deliver the particulars by September 16 and the witness list by September 30.

Hird’s writ claims the AFL provided copies of ASADA’s interim report to “unknown members of the press including Fairfax Media”.

The AFL’s 34-page statement of grounds “includes allegations against Hird which Hird was given no opportunity to answer during the alleged joint investigation.”

Hird says with two rounds remaining before the AFL finals he fears he won’t be able to meet his coaching commitments fully and he is seeking damages for “interference with contractual relations” and court costs.

Prince may still reign at Broncos

Written on July 11, 2019 at 13:28, by

Rather than give Scott Prince a tap on the shoulder, Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin has provided the veteran pivot a pat on the back ahead of the 2014 NRL season.


Prince appeared on borrowed time at Brisbane after reports claimed the 33-year-old was told he was not guaranteed NRL action next year and had contemplated retirement.

Once speculation emerged that unsettled star Anthony Milford could be slotted in as Broncos five-eighth next year if released by Canberra, Prince looked like a dead man walking.

But Griffin seemed bemused by the claims on Thursday, saying Prince would decide when his time was up after helping inspire Brisbane to a four-game unbeaten run that has kept their NRL finals hopes alive.

Asked if Prince had turned it around since being told he may not be in the NRL mix next year, Griffin said: “It would be a good motivator if they get told that.

“You guys are writing the stuff that you hear.

“Scott Prince is playing some good football.

“It’s a credit to him over the last month he has been able to lift.”

Asked if Prince could be wearing the No.6 jersey again next year, Griffin said: “He could be, yeah.

“He’s doing a good job. He’s obviously coming toward the end of his career, (but) when that is will be up to him.”

Rather than sweat on Milford’s availability, Griffin said he liked what he saw from Prince in a new-look halves pairing with Ben Hunt.

“It has been a challenge for him but his defensive game is getting better each week,” Griffin said of Prince.

“And when a guy like him gets confidence out of that the rest of his game gets better.

“That’s why we brought him here, in the important games to be at his best.”

And Friday night’s clash at Penrith doesn’t get much more important.

The 10th-placed Broncos have moved to within one point of the top eight with three rounds left but must keep winning to scrape in.

One slip-up would also spell the end for 12th-placed Penrith, who snapped a three-game losing run with a shock 28-24 last round win away to the Warriors.

Griffin said the battle of the halves would be crucial in the crunch clash but hinted the jury was still out on his young halfback Hunt.

“He’s been patchy,” he said.

“Over his four games he has has shown some real brilliance but also faded out of games at times, but he understands that.

“There’s another level he needs to find to really stamp himself as a top No.7.”

Migrants hard-hit by affordable housing shortage

Written on July 11, 2019 at 13:28, by

It’s long been regarded as the Australian dream to own your own home.



But new research has found, despite interest rates being at historic lows, growing numbers of Australians are giving up on that dream and renting instead.


And that is particularly true for many newly-arrived migrants, international students and refugees.


Michael Kenny reports.


The National Housing Supply Council says it is growing increasingly concerned over a shortage of affordable housing in Australia.


A new report from the federal policy advisory body says this is being particularly felt by would-be property buyers with low or insecure incomes, including newly-arrived migrants, refugees and many Indigenous Australians.


The Supply Council believes high property prices are forcing growing numbers of Australians to give up on getting a loan and instead compete in an increasingly unaffordable rental market.


The housing lobby group National Shelter says the federal government has made some progress in addressing the problem by investing 20 billion dollars in affordable housing over the past five years.


However the group’s chairman, Adrian Pisarski, believes some disadvantaged groups, like refugees, are still struggling to access affordable housing.


“We are seeing increasing rates of homelessness amongst those communities and what happens then is that people might find themselves some crisis accommodation and there is really just nowhere to move to once they are in that circumstance. It is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone on a low income. But people who are recent arrivals, or if they’ve come from countries that don’t have similar legal situations to the one we do in terms of tenancy law, they will also struggle as well.”


The National Housing Supply Council says their data show many newly-arrived migrants and refugees are renting, rather than purchase a home.


A study released last year from the Australian National University’s Demographic and Social Research Institute, showed 85 per cent of recent arrivals were renters.


The institute’s senior research fellow, Professor Siew Ean Khoo, says many recent arrivals are living in over-crowded rented accommodation and this is particularly true for many international students.


However Professor Khoo says the institute’s research shows many migrants and refugees are shifting from renting to purchasing a home around five years after they arrive in Australia.


“There are quite a lot of differences across the different categories of migrants, depending upon when they arrive actually. Those who are more recent arrivals tend to be renting and those who come here as permanent migrants and who have been in Australia a few years, they tend to become home-owners.”


The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia says high housing costs are forcing many newly-arrrived migrants and refugees to live in outlying suburbs in capital cities where land and house prices tend to be less expensive.


However FECCA chairman Pino Migliorino says many new migrants then see a lot of their incomes eroded in commuting costs as their jobs tend to be located more in the centre of the big cities.


Mr Migliorino says many refugees particularly struggle to access affordable accommodation because they are more likely to be on much lower incomes than other Australians.


“The amounts that they’re actually allowed to spend on accommodation are limited and therefore quite often they have to live in a group together. We have had a lot of recent refugees, particularly single men who are coming here as irregular maritime arrivals who have been granted refugee visas. They’re keen to get their families here – that’s why they came. And the situation is that they thn end up grouping themselves with others in the same situation in households.”


Mr Migliorino says many refugees are then forced to live in overcrowded accommodation.


He says they may have a poorer understanding of Australian tenancy laws which can leave them at greater risk of exploitation by unscrupulous landlords and real estate agents.


The housing lobby group, National Shelter, says this highlights the need for more public information on tenant’s rights in community languages.


National Shelter’s Adrian Pisarski says more effort is also needed to help many Indigenous Australians access affordable housing, both in remote and urban parts of the country.


“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience the worse disadvantage in housing terms in Australia and very often live in over-crowded situations, particularly in remote communities, but also in urban areas.”


Mr Pisarski says he believes the federal government should use its upcoming budget in May to create a one-billion-dollar Affordable Housing Growth fund.


He also supports calls from the developers’ lobby group, the Urban Development Institute of Australia, for more effective local government approval processes to help speed up the process of building new homes.


The Institute has also raised concerns over the lack of available land set aside to construct new homes, especially in big cities like Sydney and Melbourne.


Mr Pisarski says unless all levels of government act now, there is a real danger of rising homelessness among low-income Australians.


“It’s not really a choice. It really needs to be done because if they don’t do it, those costs will appear somewhere else. We’re really at a point where increasing numbers of people will become homeless and once people become homeless, it is both far more expensive to address that and far more difficult for them to return to a normal way of living than if we prevented it in the first place.”



Buckman storms into 1500m final

Written on July 11, 2019 at 13:28, by

New Australian middle distance sensation Zoe Buckman is hungry for a 1500m medal at the world athletics championships.


And having qualified fastest for Thursday night’s final, smashing her personal best along the way, she is suddenly in just the sort of form to satisfy that appetite.

Buckman, 24, got the tactics just right in the opening semi-final, sitting in second spot for much of the race and then sprinting down the inside to claim the win when an opportunity presented itself in the final straight.

By setting a PB of four minutes 4.82 seconds and becoming the first Australian woman to qualify for a 1500m final at a world championships, Buckman has already matched the two targets she set herself before arriving in Moscow.

Now it’s time to dream bigger.

“Honestly coming in I didn’t think I was capable of medals,” she said.

“My aim was just to get to the final and with what I have done the last few races I can see that I am capable of that.

“I have a fighting chance, and I have the kick down.

” … my expectations are the only thing that matter and they are quite high and I am hungry to medal.”

Buckman developed her racing skills while at university in Oregon before returning home to Melbourne to train under Nic Bideau.

“Nic teaches me how to be competitive and think big,” said Buckman, who has made steady improvements over the last couple of years before taking a giant leap forward in Moscow.

“I was a bit more tense in that race than in the heat because it just means so much to me to make the final and I was up against a harder bunch so I had to try and stay relaxed in the early stages of the race.

“Once I got through I told myself to just keep running hard right to the line and not just hang out for fourth place.”

Kenyan Faith Kipyegon was second, one hundredth of a second behind Buckman.

Abeba Aregawi of Sweden won the slower second semi in 4:05.66.

In other Australian action on day four, Julian Wruck threw well below his best to finish 11th in the men’s discus.

Wruck – who set his personal best of 68.16m in California in June – could do no better than 62.40m on Sunday to miss the halfway cut in the final.

Germany’s Robert Harting continued his modern-day domination of the event, claiming a third straight world title with a best throw of 69.11m to go with his London Olympics triumph.

Piotr Malachowski of Poland was second with 68.36m and Gerd Kanter of Estonia was third with 65.19m.

Australian duo Lauren Boden and Tristan Thomas were both eliminated in the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles.

Boden was second-last in her semi in 55.75 seconds, with Czech Zuzana Hejnova clocking the fastest qualifying time of 53.52 heading into Thursday night’s final.

Thomas didn’t fare any better in the men’s semis, where he was also seventh in his race in 49.91.

Ancelotti keeps mum on Bale move to Real Madrid

Written on July 11, 2019 at 13:28, by

Bale’s move to the Spanish capital has been widely flagged in Spanish and British media and is said to be worth 99 million euros ($133 million), eclipsing the price of around 95 million Real paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.


Photographs of Bale in the Spanish holiday resort of Marbella appeared in local media on Sunday, prompting speculation he will be presented at Real’s Bernabeu stadium on Tuesday or Wednesday.

At a news conference on Sunday previewing Monday’s La Liga game at Granada, Ancelotti was asked where Bale might fit into his team.

The Italian laughed and said he had not thought about it as he had “other problems at the moment”.

“I understand it’s a very interesting issue for everyone but I can’t say anything because he is not a Real Madrid player right now,” he added. “I am sorry but I can’t reply.”

Quizzed later by British journalists, he said there were two reasons why he did not want to discuss the issue publicly.

“First of all because Gareth Bale is not a Real Madrid player at this moment,” Ancelotti said.

“The second because I need to have respect for my players and we are focused on our game tomorrow.”

He said he did not know if Bale would be the final addition to Real’s squad before the transfer window shuts.

“I need to have respect for the Spanish journalists who every day ask me this and I didn’t answer,” Ancelotti said. “So for you it’s the same I don’t want to answer.”

Ancelotti also responded to criticism from Barcelona’s new coach Gerardo Martino about Bale’s price tag.

Martino told a news conference on Saturday spending that amount of money on a soccer player would be “out of place in the current economic climate” and “a lack of respect to the world in general”.

“They were words I didn’t understand,” Ancelotti said.

“He (Martino) has not been here for long and he still doesn’t understand how European football works.

“He also doesn’t understand his own club because Barcelona has spent money on some very important players.

“I don’t want to talk about this but I think his words were a little strange.”

Champions Barca will be without the injured Lionel Messi when they play their second league match of the campaign at Malaga later on Sunday. ($1 = 0.7461 euros)

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Force re-sign hooker Heath Tessmann

Written on July 11, 2019 at 13:28, by

Western Force hooker Heath Tessmann says he’s confident the franchise is heading in the right direction after re-signing for a further two Super Rugby seasons.


Tessmann notched 10 caps off the bench for the Rebels before being axed at the end of last year.

The 29-year-old came over to Perth in the hope of snaring a deal with the Force, and went on to play 13 games last year in a breakout campaign for himself.

Tessmann finished in the top-five of the Force Player of the Year award, and hopes to build on his game next season as the franchise attempts to earn a maiden finals berth.

“A lot of the technical work I’ve been doing with Foles (coach Michael Foley) has been very beneficial for my game,” Tessmann said.

“And it’s been exciting to see us improving across a number of key areas as a team this season.

“It’s exciting to be a part of a team on the up.

“We definitely turned the corner this year and the recruitment for next season will only continue that development.

“With a number of guys like Benny McCalman, Hugh McMeniman and Wykesy also re-signing this year, we’ve got a core group of players that played together this season and will continue to develop together over the next few years.”

The Force, who finished 13th last season with just four wins and a draw, have bolstered their forward pack with the signings of South African pair Wilhelm Steenkamp and Chris Heiberg.

Foley said he had been pleased with the forward pack he has been able to assemble.

“We’re developing a forward pack that is not only skilled in the set piece but also has the ability to have an impact in the open – and Heath fits that bill,” Foley said.

A virtual tour through tsunami-hit Japan

Written on June 11, 2019 at 13:51, by

Google has created an interactive walking tour of the northeast coast of Japan, taking in some of the areas worst hit by the devastating event.


The tech company sent its Street View vehicles to map areas directly affected by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Many of the images were captured between July and October last year. They show cranes and workmen dotted around harbour landscapes, clearing debris and razing battered buildings.

Elsewhere, houses lay weather-beaten and abandoned. Whole towns appear to have vanished.

It’s all part of Google’s plan to digitally archive the extensive damage caused by the tragedy, which killed an estimated 15,800 people.

The images can be viewed on Street View, and also at a ‘virtual museum’ website. Each image is stamped with the date it was taken.

Kei Kawai, Senior Product Manager of Street View, wrote in a blog post that the project was intended for research and education.

“In the case of the post-tsunami imagery of Japan, we hope this particular digital archiving project will be useful to researchers and scientists who study the effects of natural disasters,” he wrote.

“We also believe that the imagery is a useful tool for anyone around the world who wants to better understand the extent of the damage.”

The following images can be found on the Google Street View project.

1. A badly damaged boat lies in Higashimaecho near Kamaishi.

2. Otsuchi Harbour, Kamihei district, Iwate prefecture.

3. A view of the now defunct Utatsu bypass, Miyagi prefecture.

3. Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture.

4. Workers repair buildings in Higashimaecho, Kamaishi.

5. Rubble awaiting clearance, Utatsu, Miyagi Prefecture.

First official photos of Prince George

Written on June 11, 2019 at 13:51, by

Prince William and his wife Catherine have released the first official photographs of their baby son George – and in a break with tradition they were taken by her father, Michael Middleton.


The intimate photographs were shot earlier this month in the garden of the Middletons’ family home in rural Bucklebury, west of London, and show the newborn prince lying peacefully in his mother’s arms.

George, the third in line to the throne, is wrapped in a white blanket and is apparently asleep despite the bright sunshine.

William, 31, stands to the left of his wife in both of the photographs, with an arm around her shoulders, and they are both smiling broadly.

Kate is wearing a long maroon dress and has her hair in waves over her shoulders, while William is in his familiar “off-duty” clothes – jeans and a pale blue shirt with the top buttons undone.

In one of the shots, the couple’s black cocker spaniel, Lupo, joins them while Tilly, a golden retriever belonging to the Middleton family, can be seen lying behind them.

In his first interview since the birth, William said George was “a rascal” and admitted that the responsibility of being a father had changed him already.

“He’s a little bit of a rascal, I’ll put it that way,” he told CNN in an interview shown on Monday.

“He either reminds me of my brother or me when I was younger, I’m not sure, but he’s doing very well at the moment.

“He wriggles around quite a lot,” he said. “And he doesn’t want to go to sleep that much, which is a little bit of a problem.”

The fact that Kate’s father, and George’s grandfather, took the photographs is a radical departure for the royals, who have traditionally relied on professionals for the first official shots of new additions to the family.

Little is known how much experience Michael Middleton – the British Airways flight dispatcher-turned-businessman – has behind the lens.

Martin Keene, head of pictures at the British Press Association agency which distributed the shots, said they were impressive.

“Any photographer would have been pleased to have taken them,” he said, although some observers said both photographs were overexposed and one was slightly out of focus.

Luna Rossa closes in on NZ showdown

Written on June 11, 2019 at 13:51, by

Italy’s Luna Rossa beat Sweden’s Artemis on Friday to move within one victory of advancing to a showdown with mighty Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup challenger series finals.


Luna Rossa have won all three semi-final races over Artemis Racing, who made a belated entry into the venerable sailing event after the May training accident that destroyed their first AC72 catamaran and killed British crew member Andrew Simpson.

The Italian outfit will have a chance to complete the sweep in the best-of-seven semi-finals in race four on Saturday.

Luna Rossa looked sharp, taking the lead with a perfect start and completing the seven-leg course in 47 minutes and 36 seconds — one minute and 18 seconds ahead of Artemis.

“Today was a great start,” said Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena, who was full of praise for helmsman Chris Draper.

“Chris really showed what he’s able to do,” Sirena said. “After the start we sailed probably our best race on the water as a team, which is good because tomorrow’s going to be tough. Artemis Racing is getting quicker and quicker every day and it’s not finished yet. We need to keep focused and race well tomorrow.”

The Swedish team’s crew also delivered a crisp performance on San Francisco Bay, reducing their deficit to as little as 1min 2sec during the race, but they just couldn’t match the Italians.

“We upped our game hugely today, but the bad news for Artemis Racing was so did Luna Rossa. They sailed excellently from start to finish,” said Artemis Racing skipper Iain Percy. “Now it’s sudden death tomorrow and we like that, we look forward to that pressure.”

The winner of the semi-finals will take on Team New Zealand, who won all of their races against Luna Rossa in the round-robin first round to advance directly to the challenger finals.

The winner of the challenger series will race against defender Team USA in the America’s Cup finals that start on September 7.

Is Abbott wrong to talk of ‘illegals’?

Written on June 11, 2019 at 13:51, by

It’s terminology the Federal Opposition uses regularly but refugee advocates and experts in refugee law says such descriptions are deliberate misrepresentations designed to create a sense of panic or fear about people who arrive in Australia without a visa.



Greg Dyett reports.


This week the Federal Opposition posed a question which ended up being answered by vandals.


On a billboard in West Perth came the question, how many illegal boats have arrived since Labor took over?


The coalition’s answer was 641 illegal boats.


But within 24 hours after it went on display vandals used spray paint to provide a different answer.


The number 641 was replaced by a zero and the vandals added the words: no crime to seek asylum.


The Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott had travelled to West Perth where he addressed the media in front of the billboard.


“I regret to say that now there have been 641 illegal boats and there have been more than 38 thousand illegal arrivals by boat. It doesn’t matter what this government says, the situation is just getting worse, and worse and worse. As with everything this government does, they make a bad situation worse.”

When taking questions from journalists, Mr Abbott was heckled by someone who took issue with his use of the word illegal.


“When you’ve got the illegal arrival problem that this government has created (Background heckler) They’re not illegal, you’re lying! (Abbott) You can say…(heckler) you know it’s a lie! (Abbott) You can say your piece in a sec, let me say my piece and then you can say yours sir.”


Professor Mary Crock from the University of Sydney Law School is a specialist in migration, citizenship and refugee law.


She too has a problem with the use of the word illegal.


“The complaint being made about the use of the word illegal with an asylum seeker is that it implies that it is somehow illegal to claim asylum in a country and the central point of having signed and ratified the Refugee Convention is that we agree that it is a lawful thing to do for a person to seek asylum in a country. It’s really just about emotion and the use of words here.”

Tony Abbott defends his use of the world illegal by referring to Article 31 of the Refugee Convention.


In part, Article 31 says contracting states shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees.


But Professor Crock says Article 31 is quite clear when considered in its entirety.


“Article 31 operates so as to require states who are parties to the Refugee Convention not to penalise people by virtue of how they come into the country. Now, if you come into a country without a visa, you come without authorisation. That makes you illegal in terms of Australian domestic immigration law, there’s no question about that. But the whole point of the Refugee Convention is that you sign on to agree that even if someone enters the country without authority that they are able to claim asylum and that they should not be penalised by virtue of the fact that they came in without a visa. That’s the central aspect of Article 31. (Reporter) Because it actually says ‘provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence. In other words, to claim asylum, correct? (Crock) Correct, that’s right, that’s right.”


Professor Susan Kneebone from Monash University in Melbourne is a specialist in forced migration, human trafficking and refugee law.


She says Australian law refers to foreigners as either “illegal” or “legal” non-citizens.


That is illegal if they arrive without a visa, or legal if they have a visa.


Professor Kneebone says the term illegal is only referring to someone’s migration status.


“It is not illegal for people to move in international law. People cannot be described as illegal. It’s contrary to the whole concept of the existence of a human being. It’s referring only to their migration status and in Australian law we actually don’t talk about illegals, we talk about persons with a lawful or an unlawful status which is, in fact, recognising the point that I’m making, namely that people are not, as such, illegal, to call a person illegal is to deny their very existence.”


One of the largest media organisations in the world, America’s Associated Press, has just recognised this very point.


Its editorial guidelines now instruct its journalists not to use the terms illegal immigrant or illegal to describe a person.


Instead, it instructs its journalists that illegal should describe only an action such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.


Susan Kneebone from Monash descibes Tony Abbott’s use of the word illegal as dishonest.


“The politicians are exploiting the use of the word and attempting to create a sense of panic or fear or just alienation of people who have come without a visa in the minds of the Australian public that is well documented, well researched and well known. As to whether it’s a fine distinction, I don’t think it’s a fine distinction. I don’t think it’s even a semantic distinction. I think it’s a fundamental distinction between recognising that a person has rights and has rights in international law and that this has to be distinguished from the way that they are described in terms of migration status under the laws of a particular state and as I say, it is dishonest, in fact, for politicians in Australia to be using the term illegal because it’s not in our Migration Act. Our Migration Act talks about lawful and unlawful non-citizens.”


Professor Mary Crock from the University of Sydney says the use of the word illegal is being done with a deliberate, political intent.


“It’s absolute deliberate political play and they’re playing with peoples lives in doing this. And I really think that one of the key features to getting anything like control back into this area is going to be a bi-partisan approach and as long as you’ve got an opposition carrying on like this, it’s virtually impossible to do anything sensible in the area.”


The founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Kon Karapanagiotidis says the use of the term illegal by politicians and the media amounts to lying to the Australian public.


He says he recently became infuriated after hearing WA Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash using the terminology.


“And they sit there going ‘another boat of illegals, another boat of illegals’ and as long as you’ve got politicians feeding the lies, a Murdoch media reinforcing the lies and you’ve got very little leadership on this issue and very little traction to have a real debate and go ‘actually, seeking asylum is not illegal, actually 90 per cent of these people are refugees and are not economic migrants, actually these people are fleeing for their lives and they’re exercising a human right that Australia actually granted them back in 1951 by agreeing to be part of the Refugee Convention. That’s what’s actually happening but we’re not interested in that debate because there’s not votes in that.”




Echo expects to remain strong

Written on June 11, 2019 at 13:51, by

Echo Entertainment Group does not fear James Packer’s probable entry into the Sydney casino market and is making plans to remain a strong competitor there after its exclusive licence expires.


James Packer’s Crown Ltd has proposed building a $1.3 billion resort and invitation-only VIP casino at Sydney’s harbourside Barangaroo development, to operate from 2019, when rival Echo’s exclusive licence expires.

The NSW government has favoured Mr Packer’s proposal over Echo’s rival $1.1 billion expansion plan for its Sydney casino, The Star.

Echo chief executive John Redmond said he did not fear competition from Mr Packer.

“It’s not something that we are worried about,” he told AAP on Thursday.

“We’re, obviously, developing a strategy over what to do (in Sydney), and that will not be divulged yet,” he told AAP.

Echo, which released its annual financial results on Thursday, described the NSW government’s response to its plan for The Star as disappointing.

But, it said, the benefits of being the incumbent sole casino operator in Sydney for at least another six years should not be under-estimated.

Echo said it continued to have productive talks with the Queensland government around a possible relocation of its Treasury casino in Brisbane and further investment in the Jupiters casino on the Gold Coast.

Chairman John O’Neill said both would be positive investments for Queensland and Echo shareholders.

Echo also operates the Jupiters casino in Townsville.

Mr Packer has flagged a move to take on Echo in Queensland, saying Crown’s rival had done a terrible job at its casinos there.

Mr Redmond said there was an opportunity to make a significant investment in casinos in Brisbane and southeast Queensland.

But until there was more certainty around what the Queensland government wanted in this regard, Echo would not divulge any plans.

Echo on Thursday said its 2012/13 net profit rose 97.9 per cent to $83.5 million.

The result was skewed by higher income tax and restructuring costs in 2012/13 and higher finance costs in the previous year.

Echo’s reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), excluding significant items, rose 12.1 per cent to $372.9 million.

The Star generated 17.5 per cent more revenue, but revenue from the Queensland properties fell 3.3 per cent.

Echo said revenue in the first seven weeks of the current financial year was up 6.8 per cent, with strong growth in VIP revenue offset by softer performance in the domestic business.

Shares in Echo were four cents, or 1.47 per cent, higher at $2.76 at 1322 AEST.