Archive for August, 2019 | Monthly archive page

Watch: Tony Abbott cops grilling from new chief spin doctor Mark Simkin on paid parental leave scheme

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

From journalist to spinner … Mark Simkin applauds as Prime Minister Tony Abbott takes the stage to address the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen From journalist to spinner … Mark Simkin applauds as Prime Minister Tony Abbott takes the stage to address the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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From journalist to spinner … Mark Simkin applauds as Prime Minister Tony Abbott takes the stage to address the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

From journalist to spinner … Mark Simkin applauds as Prime Minister Tony Abbott takes the stage to address the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

In his former life as an ABC journalist, Tony Abbott’s new chief spin doctor Mark Simkin was great at putting politicians on the spot.

In this case, it’s unfortunate that one of those pollies was Mr Abbott, and that the spot relates to one of the Prime Minister’s most spectacular backdowns.

A 2013 interview between the pair, posted to social media by Labor MP Jenny Macklin, features the then Opposition Leader spruiking the importance of a “fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme”.

Mr Simkin, now the Prime Minister’s communications chief, presses Mr Abbott on the timing of the scheme: “But when is it very important – immediately, or is it something that could be deferred?”

“It will happen within the first term of a Coalition government,” Mr Abbott replies.

Not content with the answer, Mr Simkin seeks clarification: “Not straight away, but within three years?”

Mr Abbott’s certitude now looks incredibly unfortunate: “It will certainly happen within the first year of a Coalition government.

“I want this to be a signature policy of any incoming Coalition government because the women and the families of Australia have waited too long for this important reform.”

After months of speculation, the paid parental leave scheme was officially dumped by Mr Abbott during his speech to the National Press Club on Monday.

Fairfax Media

Insurance company workers caught in Christchurch office sex romp by patrons watching from pub

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Left the lights on: The March Ltd office workers inadvertently put on a show for patrons at a nearby bar. Photo: Twitter
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Left the lights on: The March Ltd office workers inadvertently put on a show for patrons at a nearby bar. Photo: Twitter

Left the lights on: The March Ltd office workers inadvertently put on a show for patrons at a nearby bar. Photo: Twitter

Left the lights on: The March Ltd office workers inadvertently put on a show for patrons at a nearby bar. Photo: Twitter

A late-night romantic encounter in a Christchurch insurance office on Friday night  that was witnessed by bar patrons across the road could cost the couple their jobs.

The Marsh Ltd employees, who left the lights on in the Papanui Rd building, were filmed and photographed by patrons at the Carlton Bar and Eatery who posted images on Facebook and Twitter.

The photos have attracted thousands of likes and hundreds of shares.

“The whole pub knew about it and was watching, while they were totally oblivious to it. And afterwards celebrating with wine,” one man posted.

“They should have turned the lights out,” said another.

Several patrons said the band stopped playing while most of the bar watched out the windows.

Marsh Ltd chief executive Grant Milne said the company was taking the matter seriously.

The man and woman had been identified and an employment investigation was under way.

“We know who is involved. It’s obvious from the photos,” Milne said.

Executives from the insurance broker company were flying down from Auckland this morning to help deal with the incident.

Milne would not say if the man and woman had returned to work this morning.

“We take these matters very seriously,” he said.

“It’s not the type of behaviour we condone. It’s very disappointing.”

Milne said the online publicity was embarrassing for the company.

“One of the challenges of social media is the inability to control things,” he said.

Carlton owner James Murdoch said the bar had been in contact with Marsh Ltd.

“Obviously they’re customers and we’re working through it with them,” he said.

Rabobank, who has the naming rights to the building, said the late-night activity had nothing to do with them.

Their branding was in the pictures only because it had naming rights to the building.

“The pictures are of another office in the building,” a company spokeswoman said.

Employment lawyer Kathryn Dalziel said the question for company bosses would be if the encounter damaged the reputation of the company.

The open windows, the lights on and the location opposite a bar meant the couple could not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”, she said.

“In my view, that made it an open place.”

Marsh Ltd could have rules about the use of offices after hours or inter-office relationships, she said.

If a disciplinary inquiry found the encounter did not amount to serious misconduct, the couple might escape with a warning.

Marsh Limited was previously based in the PGC building that partly collapsed in the February 2011 earthquake.

The Press

Australian journalist Peter Greste speaks of euphoria at release and concern for colleagues still imprisoned in Egypt

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Peter Greste (right) and co-defendants, Al-Jazeera English producer Baher Mohamed, left, Canadian-Egyptian acting Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, centre, during their trial for allegedly supporting a terrorist group and spreading false information, in Cairo on 31 March 2014. Photo: EPAHow a temporary assignment became a 13-month ordealEgypt court sentences 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death
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Larnaca, Cyprus: Australian journalist Peter Greste has spoken for the first time since being released from an Egyptian prison, describing conflicting feelings of “relief” at his freedom and an “incredible angst” leaving his two Al-Jazeera colleagues behind.

Imprisoned for 400 days, Greste said his release was a kind of rebirth: “the sense of euphoria, of optimism, is overwhelming”, he said, speaking to Al-Jazeera English in his first interview as a free man.

“I feel incredible angst about my colleagues, leaving them behind”, Greste said. “Amidst all this relief, I still feel a sense of concern and worry. If it’s appropriate for me to be free, it’s right for all of them to be freed,” he said.

His two Jazeera colleagues, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy, are still imprisoned in Egypt, left behind after Greste’s sudden release and deportation on Sunday afternoon.

“I won’t expecting [to be released] at all, I woke up thinking of the campaign ahead of us,” he told Al-Jazeera English. “I went for a run and the prison warden called me over and told me it’s time to pack your stuff. He told me the embassy is coming.

“There was a mix of emotion boiling inside. Sense of relief and excitement, but a stress of having to say goodbye to my colleagues.”  Peter Greste’s full interview can be watched here: https://t上海龙凤419/2O9Xbw0kMU#Egypt — Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) February 2, 2015

Plan to relax entry requirements for foreign workers is drawing fire from Australian unions

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Proposals to revamp visa rules for foreign workers will be attacked by the union movement as a “thinly veiled attempt” to give employers a way of sidestepping sponsorship obligations.
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Australian unions, in a new submission, will urge the Immigration Department to weigh the impact that easing visa restrictions would have on the worsening youth unemployment crisis gripping the nation.

The department has been considering relaxing entry requirements for overseas workers, including the introduction of a new short-term visa class for specialised workers to stay in Australia for up to a year.

Under this change, overseas workers would not need to apply for a 457 work visa, which imposes entry requirements including English language tests and forces employers to prove they have looked for local workers before seeking overseas labour.

“This proposal may align with the wish list of certain employers, but it is not in the interest of Australian or overseas workers,” the submission states.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said there were 1.1 million temporary visa-holders in Australia as of last September – an increase of more than 28,000, or 2.6 per cent, in a year.

He said the department had failed to explain “how deregulating work visas will benefit the large number of Australian workers without jobs”, including those unable to secure apprenticeships and university graduates facing a depressed job market.

Assistant Immigration and Border Protection Minister Michaelia Cash said the skilled migration program was aimed at plugging skill shortages, and she strongly disputed union claims that Australian jobs were under threat from overseas labour. She said any changes would complement rather than replace the existing workforce.

“An effectively managed temporary labour-migration program will not threaten Australian jobs,” a spokesman for Senator Cash said. “Rather, it will secure the future of business and grow employment opportunities to enable businesses to employ more Australians.

“It is essential in restoring growth in the economy. It is essential in lifting our productivity.”

The spokesman said the ACTU “should explain how they reconcile their ongoing objections to foreign workers with the fact that some of their own trade unions continue to employ subclass 457 visa holders in their offices”.

Southern oceans play major role in absorbing world’s excess heat, study finds

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Oceans store about 93 per cent of the extra heat taken up by Earth. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers Oceans store about 93 per cent of the extra heat taken up by Earth. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers
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Oceans store about 93 per cent of the extra heat taken up by Earth. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Oceans store about 93 per cent of the extra heat taken up by Earth. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

The world’s oceans are heating at the rate of two trillion 100-watt light bulbs burning continuously, providing a clear signal of global warming, according to new study assessing data from a global fleet of drifting floats.

The research, published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Climate Change, used data collected from the array of about 3500 Argo buoys from 2006-13 to show temperatures were warming at about 0.005 degrees a year down to a depth of 500 metres and 0.002 degrees between 500-2000 metres.

Oceans south of the 20-degree latitude accounted for two-thirds to 98 per cent of the heat gain during the period studied, with three giant gyres in the southern Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans largely responsible for drawing down the extra warmth.

“The global ocean heat content right now is the most reliable metric of that radiation imbalance” between the energy received from the sun and what is radiated back to space, said Susan Wijffels, an oceans expert at the CSIRO and one of the report’s authors.

Until the Argo fleet launched about a decade ago, coverage of ocean temperatures was closely linked to rocords provided by ships – giving readings a strong bias to the northern hemisphere, near continental coasts and during summer, the paper said. Most readings were down to 700 metres or less.

The Argo floats – about 10 per cent of which are operated by Australia – have “hugely revolutionised our ability to track what’s happening to the earth,” Dr Wijffels said.

The paper noted there has been “no significant trend” in mean sea-surface temperatures since 1998, confirming a “hiatus” that deniers of climate science often point to when claiming global warming isn’t happening. However, since the oceans are responsible for absorbing about 93 per cent of the Earth’s net energy gain, trends beneath the waves are a much better guide, the researchers said.

“The ocean is just vertically transferring the heat away from the surface to the depth,” Dr Wijffels said. “The ‘hiatus’ is not meaningful.”

Even with the relative slowdown in surface temperature increases, 14 of the world’s 15 warmest years on record have been in the 21st century, the World Meteorological Organisation said on Monday.

The United Nations body also confirmed that 2014 was the hottest year, edging out 2010 and 2005. The readings were based in part on United States agencies, including NASA which last month also declared 2014 as its warmest year.

John Church, another of the paper’s authors and also from the CSIRO, said the temperatures in the atmosphere – which accounts for just 1 per cent of the planet’s heat uptake – would rise sharply if oceans absorbed less of the heat.

“If there was no heat absorbed by the ocean and it all went into the atmosphere, it would be really dramatic,” Dr Church said.

As it is, warming oceans are swelling in volume, lifting sea levels, and also affecting ecosystems, he said.

“If we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change then we need to start taking some mitigation action,” Dr Church said. This included cutting carbon emissions and lifting renewable energy targets at home and overseas.

Future Argo missions will extend coverage to higher latitudes, including sea-ice zones, and reach depths of 6000 metres.

However, Dr Wijffels said Australia’s contribution is in doubt with about half of its Argo budget tied up with the Abbott government’s stalled higher education reform bills.  Those funds run out “in a few months”, she said.

The Nature study was led by Dean Roemmich of the California-based Scripps Institution of Oceanography.