Skip to Content

Monthly Archives: February 2019

Insight: A pill to cure ageing?

Written on February 11, 2019 at 17:04, by

We can expect to see people live to 120 and beyond within our lifetime, a geneticist has told Insight.


Harvard University’s Professor David Sinclair is working on a ‘cure for ageing’ and believes modern medicine can significantly extend the human lifespan.

“I think there will be a world where people can look forward to living at least beyond 100, and it will be not uncommon where people can live to 120,” he says.

“Every time we say that there’s a natural limit, we develop technology to push us further.”

Simple organisms, even yeast cells and fruit flies, have ‘longevity genes’ that can be switched on by low calorie diets and exercise, says Professor Sinclair. When these genes are ‘switched on’, they can protect the organism and help them live longer.

“We have many of these genes in our bodies and we’re just starting to learn that they do help us live longer and healthier,” he says.

“If we could have a simple pill that our doctor would prescribe to take with breakfast, that could help our lifestyle.” 

He is confident science will know how to switch on these genes within the next 20 to 30 years. Professor Sinclair also tells Insight there are drugs already in clinical trials and, so far, they seem to be safe and showing early signs of success. 

“Instead of just lowering your cholesterol this pill would prevent Alzheimer’s disease, lung diseases, bowel diseases, dementia, a whole list of diseases… That’s what we’re able to do in mice so far. The question is: can we do that in people, and how soon?”

Many health practitioners would argue exercise and a healthy diet is far more effective at prolonging the human lifespan. But Professor Sinclair believes taking a pill is a more convenient way to maintain health.

“No matter how much we say that it’s good for you to be thin and to exercise, it doesn’t seem to help for most people,” he says. “If we could have a simple pill that our doctor would prescribe to take with breakfast, that could help our lifestyle. 

“I’m not saying we should just sit on the couch and get fat and take a pill, that’s not the point. But we can supplement what our bodies naturally are doing to help keep us young.”

When asked if these pills had any side effects, he admits that “we’re just learning as we go”, but says there are no negative side effects yet. 

Would you take a pill to ‘cure’ ageing? Ever wanted to live to 120? If you missed the program, you can watch it online here.

Join the discussion by using the #insightsbs hashtag on Twitter or by commenting on Insight’s Facebook page.



Is exercise the key to longevity?

Party profile: Seeking the conservative vote

Written on February 11, 2019 at 17:04, by

Mining magnate Clive Palmer and Independent MP Bob Katter have both established their own parties ahead of the election.



The right wing vote could be split even further with Pauline Hanson again attempting to make a comeback to federal politics.


Thea Cowie reports.


Colourful Queensland MP Bob Katter is known for causing a stir wherever he goes.


His controversial one-liners often overshadow the political nous which has seen him maintain his seat of Kennedy in north Queensland since 1993.


His father Robert Katter held the same seat for 24 years.


A former National Party member, Bob Katter says he left the party in 2001 after becoming disenchanted with the Coalition’s support of National Competition Policy and economic rationalism.


After more than a decade as an independent he’s now looking to spread his political ideology with his Katter’s Australian Party launched in May.


He says the KAP will give voters the option they’re looking for.


“In the last election, the people of Australia said we’re not going to vote for you any longer. We’ve had enough. You’re just continuing with the same policies, we’re all losing our jobs, we’re all going broke and we’re seeing our country being sold off. We’re not going to do it any longer.”


Mr Katter says his policies include repealing any tax on carbon, making ethanol mandatory to reduce petrol prices and relaxing recreational fishing rules.


Last year Mr Katter called for the federal government to make annual payments to parents of $7,000.


He warned unless the payments were made, Australians would become what he called a vanishing race in ten years.


Representing regional farmers, Mr Katter has lobbied for the restoration of live cattle exports to Indonesia, breaking down the supermarket duopoly and the introduction of food labelling that reflects how “Australian” the contents is.


Mr Katter is also highly critical of Labor and Kevin Rudd’s approach to Indigenous issues.


“They believe that white fellas should go in there and build all these houses for them, and fix everything up for them. You know, I have the exact opposite position. Mahatma Gandhi had it right: ‘Even though we may not be able to run India as well as the British, it is infinitely more important that Indians run India, even though we may not be able to run it as well’.”


Also threatening to split the conservative vote is the newly-established Palmer United Party.


Announcing his bid to enter federal politics, Clive Palmer stated he should be leading the country.


“I thought I should make it absolutely clear to you. The reason I am standing for federal parliament is that I’m standing to be the next Prime Minister of Australia. That’s why we’ve got the United Australia Party. We’re not there to compete with the Katter Party. We’re there to change the government of this country and that’s the reason we’re standing. As far as Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott go, there really is no difference. They’re all controlled by the same lobbyist consultancies who employ former ex-Liberal and former ex-Labor (people) so it doesn’t matter what happens the people miss out.”


Clive Palmer is famous for big, ambitious ideas.


After dropping out of university in the 1970s, Mr Palmer went into real estate and made around $40 million in property development.


In the 1980s his career in mining began with investments in iron ore deposits in Western Australia.


Since then Mr Palmer’s resources portfolio has grown extensively and last year Forbes magazine estimated he was Australia’s 29th richest person: worth around US$800 million.


Mr Palmer’s ambitious plans have included building a fleet of world class luxury liners including the Titanic Two, a 21st-century version of the ill-fated 1912 passenger ship.


He also has plans to build a park full of robot dinosaurs called “Jurassic Park”.


But the 59 year old says his decision to enter politics isn’t about fame or money.


“I think I can offer better service to the community than anyone else. I have no personal interest. I have made enough money in my life. I am not seeking any enrichment or wealth for myself, I am seeking it for the Australian people.”


A long-time financial supporter of the conservatives, Mr Palmer resigned his life membership of the Liberal National Party in 2012 after falling out with the party hierarchy.


Mr Palmer says his Palmer United Party would repeal the carbon tax and refund those who have paid it, ban lobbyists from having roles in political parties, colour-code Australian-made consumables and spend $80 billion on the health sector.


A government under Clive Palmer would also close overseas detention centres for asylum-seekers and process refugees at airports.


Mr Palmer has suggested asylum-seekers should be allowed to fly to Australia at one tenth of the cost of coming on people smugglers’ boats.


At last year’s Liberal Party conference he said asylum-seekers should be allowed to pay their own plane fare into Australia.


“Why have we got to give specific instructions to airlines in Indonesia: ‘don’t let these people travel normally, force them over to the people smugglers, put their lives in danger’? Why do we have to do that? If we’re going to do that then we’re responsible, the Gillard government is responsible for people drowning in the ocean.”


Another candidate seeking the conservative vote will be Pauline Hanson.


Despite once saying she would have to have rocks in her head to return to politics, the former One Nation leader has announced she will take her eighth stab at a parliamentary seat in 17 years.


This time Ms Hanson is running for a New South Wales Senate seat.


Announcing her decision to stand, Ms Hanson told reporters the major parties can’t be trusted.


She says, if elected, she’d work to counter what she calls a constant attack on the Australian way of life.


“If we are to preserve our heritage and our culture, and a decent standard of living, we must stand back and be counted. To stand back and do nothing is not the answer.”


Ms Hanson’s political career stretches back to 1996.


As an independent candidate, Ms Hanson won the Queensland seat of Oxley and wasted no time sparking controversy with comments Australia was in danger of “being swamped by Asians”.


More recently, Ms Hanson has focused her concerns on Muslims.


“We need to look at who we are bringing in here. And I think fundamentalist Muslims, we need to really have a strict look at whether we are going bring them into the country. We are foregoing our beliefs, our way of life to appease other people who come here. If they come here, be Australians. If you don’t want to, then go back where you came from.”


A year into her term in office as an independent, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party was formed and in 1998 the party captured 11 seats and 23 per cent of the vote in the Queensland state election.


Ms Hanson however failed to win federal re-election in 1998.


In 2003 Ms Hanson was jailed in Queensland for fraudulently registering her party and spent 73 days in prison before the charges were overturned.


Now 59 years old, Ms Hanson’s rejoined One Nation and is making a tilt for a Senate seat.


She’s named asylum-seekers, trust in the political system and welfare fraud as the issues she’ll stand on.


Policies include a $5,000 rebate on Australian-made cars, ensuring all government vehicles are Australian-made, labelling food to reflect how much is locally made and axing the carbon tax.


One Nation says it believes in zero net immigration and it doesn’t want migrants bringing in what it calls their problems, laws, culture and opposing religious beliefs.


It also says multiculturalism has failed everywhere, describing it as a negative weight drowning Australia’s once safe and cohesive society.


Both Labor and the Coalition have pledged to put constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians to a referendum some time after the election: a move Ms Hanson opposes.


But with so many new options for conservative voters, Opposition leader Tony Abbott is warning if they don’t vote directly for the Coalition, they’re likely to be stuck with a Labor government.


“If you vote for independents, if you vote for minor parties, if you vote for celebrities you’re likely to end up with either a Labor government or another hung parliament. No-one should want that.”

Nadal routs Raonic for 3rd Montreal title

Written on February 11, 2019 at 17:04, by

Spain’s Rafael Nadal took just 68 minutes to deliver a body-blow to Canada’s biggest tennis week, hammering out a 6-2 6-2 win over Milos Raonic in the final of the Montreal Masters.


The dominating victory, in which the big-hitting Canadian’s serve was all but nullified by precision returns from Nadal, marked the 25th Masters 1000 title for the 12-time grand slam champion who now owns eight trophies this season and 58 in his career.

Nadal showed no weakness on Sunday as he broke Raonic twice in the opening set, broke on a double-fault to start the second and claimed his fourth Masters title of the season after Indian Wells, Madrid and Rome.

“This was an amazing victory for me,” said Nadal, who lost only one point in the opening set on serve.

“I knew my serve would be very important and I felt consistent. My returns were also unbelievable.

“I played a fantastic match against a tough opponent. He just had a few more mistakes today than usual.”

Nadal will move back to third place on the ATP world rankings on Monday while Raonic moves to No.10, becoming the first Canadian to reach the magic number.

Nadal remains undefeated this season on the hardcourts after winning the Indian Wells title in March. He also won in Canada in 2005 and 2008.

Raonic, who was held to just four aces in the final, fell short in his bid to become the first Canadian to win the title since 1958.

“Rafa really gave me a clinic today,” said a deflated Raonic, who has broken new ground all week in the sport for Canada. “This was the most important moment of my career so far.

“I’m happy I could have it here in Canada.”

The rout gives Nadal a 4-0 career record over the rising Canadian star, with three of the victories coming on hardcourts.

Nadal and Raonic are due to head to Cincinnati for next week’s last major tune-up before the August 26 start of the US Open. But Nadal insists he’s not looking too far into the tennis future.

“It was very important to win here. The US Open is not for two weeks. I’ll have time think about it later,” Nadal said.

“It’s been an amazing season for me.”

Nadal stands at 48-3 this year and has reached the final in 10 of 11 events he has entered.

After a slow start, Raonic is showing big progress with new coach Ivan Ljubicic.

The 22-year-old Raonic was playing his first Masters final.

Greens vow to increase vote in Victoria

Written on February 11, 2019 at 17:04, by

The Greens have launched their Victorian election campaign vowing to return Melbourne MP Adam Bandt to the lower house and secure a second Victorian senate seat.


Greens leader Christine Milne said the party can make history again with Mr Bandt being elected and lead Victorian senate candidate Janet Rice joining the team in the upper house.

“We’re certainly going to have Adam Bandt returned in the seat of Melbourne,” Senator Milne said on Saturday.

“I looking forward to Janet Rice coming to Canberra as the new Victorian senator.”

Meanwhile, though, an opinion poll conducted by the Guardian showed the Greens losing support in the inner-city Sydney seat of Grayndler, which Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese holds, undermining any hopes the Greens may hold of voters switching in protest at the major parties’ asylum policies.

The Guardian Lonergan poll, taken on Thursday night, shows the Greens candidate Hall Greenland on 22% of the primary vote, 4 points lower than his 2010 result when he reduced Mr Albanese’s margin to 4.2 per cent.

The poll of 966 voters shows Greenland coming third, well behind the Liberal Cedric Spencer on 28% and Albanese on 47%.

Nationwide polls following leader Bob Brown’s retirement have shown the Greens attracting only 9 per cent, sharply down on the record 13 per cent of the vote that they achieved in 2010 when Adam Bandt won the party its first lower house seat and its upper house representation soared to nine senators.

Former meteorologist Janet Rice hopes to join Richard di Natale, who in 2010 was the first member of the Greens party to be elected to a Victorian senate seat.

The Greens also launched their election television advertisement, “Standing Up for What Matters”.

They will be campaigning strongly on asylum seekers, climate change and university funding.

Mr Bandt, who is also the party’s deputy leader, said the party will be striving to increase their primary vote so they can win the seat without preferences from either of the major parties.

He said published polling indicated they were on track to increase their vote to a point “where it does not matter if the old parties conspire”.

“We had a big boost when Jeff Kennett came out and endorsed my opponent,” Mr Bandt said.

This week former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett told News Ltd the party should preference the Greens and independents last, even if it meant Labor candidates would win in some cases.

“I’m going to be putting that on my leaflets,” Mr Bandt said.

“When Jeff Kennett says it’s much better we have Labor MPs, you know you must be doing something right.”