Monthly Archives: February 2019

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Barnaby Joyce ‘certain’ he will get control of water as China dries out

Drought conditions are expanding as the El Nino impact on grows. Photo: Peter Rae Environment flows are necessary to maintain the health of the rivers, including the Macquarie Marshes in western NSW. Photo: Nick Moir
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Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says he remains “absolutely certain” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will keep his promises to the Nationals, including transferring responsibility for water to them, amid reports of simmering tensions over the issue.

Mr Joyce told ABC Radio’s Fran Kelly on Monday that the agreements made by Mr Turnbull after he deposed Tony Abbott as leader last month “will be honoured”.

“This is absolutely crucial for how the Coalition works,” he said, adding he was also certain “water returns to Agriculture”.

The comments follow a report by News Corp on Monday that said the Nationals were worried Mr Joyce’s assistant minister Liberal senator Anne Ruston would get responsibility for water.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s department, meanwhile, retains control of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office which manages water purchased by the government for the benefit of the environment, his office confirmed on Monday.

Water is looming as an increasingly contested area as the regions with unusually dry and hot conditions continued to expand, with irrigators keen to maintain allowances while environmental scientists say rivers must maintain their health.

Farmers are starting to feel the bite, with Rabobank on Monday saying the country’s wheat crop was threatened by the hot and dry conditions.

“We forecast production to reach 24 million to 25 million tonnes but if rains don’t arrive later this month, we will have to reduce the estimate further,” the bank said in its latest commodity review.

Dry times 

The Bureau of Meteorology last week released its updated drought and streamflow reports showing that rainfall deficiencies are expanding and the near-term outlook is for declining run-off reaching reservoirs for most of the country.

The reports came as much of southern broke early-season heat records at the start of October and the bureau lifted its forecasts for above-average warmth and below-average rainfall for the October to December period.

Record low rainfall has been recorded in parts of south-eastern South and adjacent parts of Victoria.

Almost half of Victoria is now enduring severe rainfall deficiencies, the bureau said, noting that much of eastern has been relatively dry over the past 36 months.

September was the equal third driest on record with about two-thirds less rainfall than usual. Those dry conditions combined with the three-month outlook mean 98 of 118 stream or river locations are likely to have lower-than-usual flows over the period, the bureau said.

Last month, the Senate passed the government’s plan to cap water buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin to 1500 billion litres, prompting criticism from scientists who warned the move did not take proper account of the long-term threat from climate change.

Separately, the n Conservation Foundation has welcomed an ABC report that Mr Joyce is willing to consider reinstating the Sustainable Rivers Audit. While open to the idea of the survey being reinstituted, no decision has been been made, Mr Joyce’s office said.

The audit, cancelled three years ago by state governments, had found all but two of the 23 river valleys in the Murray-Darling Basin were in a poor, very poor, or extremely poor state.

“Millions of ns depend on a healthy Murray-Darling for their lives and livelihoods, so closely tracking its long-term health is vitally important to a large number of people,” Jonathan La Nauze, ACF’s healthy ecosystems program manager, said.

“Putting the river and irrigation industries on a sustainable footing is a difficult journey, making reliable scientific evidence all the more important,” he said in a statement.

El Nino plus

While this year’s dry spell has been attributed to the widening impact from the El Nino in the Pacific, southern has experienced a longer term drying out, particularly for winter rains.

This shift was first detected in south-western Western but has now extended to the country’s south-eastern regions.

Storm tracks that typically bring winter rains have shifted southwards as circumpolar winds speed up.

Malcolm Turnbull urged to back partial repeal of Racial Discrimination Act as Senate stoush looms

Andrew Bolt has been a vocal proponent for changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. Photo: Justin McManus Family First senator Bob Day has proposed removing the words “insult” and “offend” from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is facing pressure to reinstate the Coalition’s policy to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act after he previously backed a compromise bill up for debate in the Senate this week.

The so-called Day amendment would make it no longer an offence to offend or insult a person on the basis of their race.  It would remain unlawful to humiliate or intimidate a person or group of people based on their race or ethnicity.

Earlier this year and before he seized the prime ministership, Mr Turnbull told conservative News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt that he doubted such a change “would have any negative impact.”

The bill, put forward by Family First senator Bob Day, is listed for debate on Thursday morning.  It is co-sponsored by Liberal senators Dean Smith and Cory Bernardi and Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm.

Senator Bernardi backed Tony Abbott against Mr Turnbull in the September leadership tussle but was a strong critic of the former prime minister for reneging on his promise to repeal Section 18c to appease the Muslim community.

He said on Monday the looming debate was an important test for the new Prime Minister.

“The current Prime Minister has previously said he supports these modest changes on 18c so this Thursday is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate actions speak louder than words,” Senator Bernardi told Fairfax Media.

“It should be brought to a vote and the Coalition should support this bill.

“This was our policy that was temporarily delayed but given the current Prime Minister’s commitment to these changes I see no reason to delay it any further.”

Up to half a dozen Coalition senators have previously vowed to vote in favour of the Day amendment even if it means crossing the floor. Senator Bernardi called on his colleagues to maintain the courage of their convictions.

“It will remain to be seen whether those who are now on the frontbench but previously committed to freedom of speech in supporting this bill will now have the courage of their convictions to do so,” Senator Bernardi said.

The Queensland Liberal National senator James McGrath is one of those understood to have now retreated from his position to cross the floor in favour of free speech because he is now in the ministry. Crossing the floor would mean giving up his frontbench position.

He took a strong stand on the issue when he entered the Parliament and declared in his July 2014 maiden speech that free speech “should never be restricted by government.”

“People will say hurtful and bigoted and stupid and dumb things. People will make racist and sexist and homophobic comments,” he said at the time.

“Those views are wrong, but the right to express them is not. If you believe in democracy, you cannot cleanse it of the views you disagree with.”

Senator McGrath backed Mr Turnbull in the leadership spill and was rewarded in the subsequent reshuffle by being made Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister.

Senator McGrath’s Queensland Nationals colleague in the Senate, Matt Canavan, confirmed to Fairfax Media on Monday that he would be crossing the floor in favour of the Day amendment, in the unlikely event it would come to a vote.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said Mr Turnbull needed to “pull his right-wing backbenchers into line.”

“Continued Liberal support for this divisive bill defies Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to adopting more inclusive government rhetoric.”

“Community harmony is more important now than ever, and it is time for Malcolm Turnbull’s actions to match his words. He needs to pull his right-wing backbenchers into line.”

“Malcolm Turnbull should direct his senators to abandon their divisive bill and rule out any further attacks on the Racial Discrimination Act under his leadership of the Liberal Party.”

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ACCC rejects taxi industry’s counter to Uber

Uber is a major threat to the established taxi industry. The taxi companies and Cabcharge had wanted to launch the iHail app as early as July. Photo: Angela Wylie
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The competition watchdog plans to block Cabcharge and local taxi companies from teaming up to start a new smartphone taxi booking app as a rival to Uber because it would come at “too big a cost to competition”.

In a major blow to the established industry’s fight against Uber and other ride-sharing services, the n Competition and Competition and Consumer Commission said the iHail app would have a “significant impact on competition in the taxi industry, which could impact prices and quality of service”.

Cabcharge and its partners wanted to launch the iHail app in ‘s major metropolitan and regional centres as early as July. The iHail app was aimed at allowing passengers to book the closest available to them, regardless of which taxi network the driver belonged to.

While the app would make booking taxis easier for passengers, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the regulator believed it would be at “too big a cost to competition”.

“The ACCC estimates that the initial iHail shareholders represent more than half of all taxis in , and a larger share in the metropolitan areas where the app would operate,” he said.

Apart from Cabcharge, the companies behind iHail include Silver Top Taxi Service, Black and White Cabs, Yellow Cabs and Suburban Taxis. Two American taxi companies and n mobile tracking and data company MTData are also partners.

Releasing the ACCC’s draft decision on Monday, Mr Sims said the iHail app would have a dominant market position right from its launch, not through competition but because of the larger fleet of taxis operated by its owners.

“Depending on the rate of take up of the iHail app amongst other taxi networks, it could potentially grow to include all taxi networks in any area,” he said.

The regulator was also concerned that a demand for passengers to pay for fares booked with iHail through the app would shut out opportunities for Cabcharge’s competitors. Under the plans for iHail, Cabcharge would process all the payments.

In July, the competition watchdog denied an application from the iHail partners to fast-track approval of their joint venture.

Comment was being sought from Cabcharge and the other shareholders in iHail to the ACCC’s latest decision.

Uber said it welcomed the n regulator’s interim decision to “put consumers first and reject the taxi industry’s latest attempt to shut out competition”.

Rugby World Cup 2015: France v Ireland

#RWC2015: France v Ireland | photos, video A French Rugby fan walks through the city on his way to the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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Remi Tales of France is tackled by Devin Toner of Ireland during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Paul O’Connell of Ireland receives medical treatment during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

: Rob Kearney of Ireland scores their first try during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Remi Tales of France is tackled by Devin Toner of Ireland during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Thierry Dusautoir of France shakes hands wqith Dave Kearney of Ireland after the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates on the final whistle during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Damien Chouly of France and Pascal Pape of France applaud the fans after the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Ireland captain Paul O’ Connell leads his team out before the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

A France fan looks on during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ireland fans celebrate a try during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Ian Madigan of Ireland passes during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

French fans before the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

TweetFacebookSean O’Brien could be in trouble for this https://t杭州龙凤论坛/hZzjQ4taBq

— Rugby Banter Page (@RugbyBanterPag3) October 11, 2015

“I certainly hope not,” Schmidt said when asked if he thought O’Brienshouldmiss a game. “He was being held at the time and he swung. I don’t think he’s looking directly at the player. But it’s not for me to determine. I also think that it’s not a closed fist.

“I’d be hopeful but it’s not a decision for me.Hopefully it’s not a decision that impacts on us considering the dressing room at the moment with the amount of injuries we have we can ill afford to lose another player, particularly a player of Sean’s experience and standing in the group.”

Tuesday, October 13

Tough odds: Restoration .FREE TO AIR
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Restoration , ABC, 8.30pm

The narrative here is a familiar one that spans observational documentaries from Grand Designs to Country House Rescue. A couple make a seemingly impetuous decision to buy/restore/build based on idealism and romance. Can they win the day in the face of apparently insurmountable odds? This is a particularly satisfying version of that story as the ever smiling and even-tempered Jen and Harold get to grips with a crumbling Georgian manor house in Wollongong.

How Safe Are My Drugs, SBS2, 8.30pm

Canadian DJ Brianna Price (aka B Traits) takes an extraordinary tour of the British ‘‘legal high’’ scene. Her non-judgmental approach and calm advocacy for harm minimisation makes this an unusually powerful documenary that is also, by turns, terrifying – especially for anyone with teenage kids. Price’s credibility gives her an amazing level of access to users, manufacturers and sellers, painting a chaotic picture of out-of-control risk-taking.

Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Seven, 9.40pm 

Regular Ramsay watchers will be familiar with the show’s tried and tested recipe. Take one failing restaurant, combine with an owner/owners who can’t see the shortcomings of the business and add one celebrity chef, season liberally with foul-mouthed rage and serve garnished with snarky asides from staff eager to stick the knife into management. This episode follows the classic recipe almost to the letter. The subject is Barefoot Bob’s, a casual beachside eatery in Hull, Massachusetts. The business is owned by husband and wife team Mark and Lisa, who each have a very different concept of what it means to run a restaurant. Mark puts in 14-hour days, seven days a week, while Lisa likes to swan around doing as little as possible glued to her phone in a manner familiar to the parents of teenagers everywhere. The mystery ingredient this week is the addition of  Ramsay the Marriage Counsellor. Things aren’t going too well for Mark and Lisa and it’s up to Chef Ramsay to dispense relationship advice as well as his recipe for a killer clam chowder. Ramsay’s couples therapy essentially amounts to telling Lisa to get off her butt and do something around the place. Somewhere, a producer is working on Ramsay’s Marriage Nightmares. Nick Galvin

MOVIES

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) Action Movies (pay TV), 8.30pm 

America’s inability to psychologically cope with defeat in Vietnam led to all manner of disturbing symptoms. One was a belief that victory was denied by political white-anters. Another was that thousands of American POWs were still being illegally held in Vietnam. By freeing them, America might magically turn defeat into a semblance of victory. Sylvester Stallone and James Cameron (Titanic) separately contributed the tissue-thin script about a one-man killing machine who returns to Nam and frees some POWs, despite yet more government white-anters of staggering callousness trying to undermine him. For their hero, they brought back Johnny Rambo (Stallone), who had waged war on anyone showing disrespect to returning vets in the less-seen but far-more-fascinating First Blood (directed by Ted Kotcheff). Having beefed up, let his hair go 1980s wild and tied a red ribbon as a scarf, Rambo goes deep undercover with resistance fighter Ca-Boa (Julia Nickson) and is again paternally overseen by Col. Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna). A key issue is what  the politicians will do if Rambo succeeds.

Bedlam (1945) ABC, 2.20am (Wednesday) 

The 11 movies Ukrainian-born Val Lewton co-wrote and produced at RKO constitute the best set of B-movies ever made. They tend only to be screened in the early hours of the morning, but they deserve prime-time slots and fanfare. n film buff John Flaus has even declared the second of the films, Jacques Tourneur’s IWalked with a Zombie, the finest ever made. The last project Lewton masterminded at RKO, and in no ways the least, was Mark Robson’s Bedlam, set in London’s St. Mary’s of Bethlehem Asylum in 1761. After the murder of an acquaintance of Lord Mortimer (Billy Hughes), the asylum’s fawning apothecary general, Sims (Boris Karloff), produces his oily best to charm Mortimer with a theatrical evening that mocks the inmates. Mortimer’s spirited protege,  Nell Bowen (Anna Lee), rebels and faces a future of incarceration, torture and death. Bedlam is a classic shocker,  photographed by the greatest of all film noir cameramen, Nicholas Musuraca (who also shot John Farrow’s Where Danger Lives and Tourneur’s Out of the Past). It is a riveting exploration of how people grovel and lie to attain theirends.  B movies are often promoted by fans to a status they rarely deserve. That is not the case with Bedlam or the 10 other RKO gems from Val Lewton. He was a colossus.Scott Murray