Nats to choose new Vets Affairs Minister

Michael McCormack will decide who will be his replacement as veterans affairs minister.New Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is set to decide who will be his replacement as veterans affairs minister within days.
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The new Nationals leader has taken on the infrastructure and transport portfolios, and will decide in the next couple of days who will become the nation’s third veterans affairs minister since December.

Party members and senators gathered for a special party meeting on Monday to see former leader Barnaby Joyce formally stand down after weeks of fall out surrounding his marriage break-up and relationship with a former staffer who is now pregnant.

“I want to make sure that people know that in me they will have a fighter. I have a huge challenge ahead of me,” Mr McCormack said after the vote.

NSW MP David Gillespie and agriculture minister and Joyce supporter David Littleproud earlier withdrew from a leadership contest.

But in a surprise move, Queensland MP George Christensen put up his hand, although his bid was unsuccessful.

Mr McCormack has previously been criticised for penning a 1993 column when he was a former newspaper editor describing homosexuality as “sordid behaviour”.

He has since apologised and voted in favour of same-sex marriage in parliament.

Despite stepping down from the leadership, Mr Joyce is still under investigation over his parliamentary expenses.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on February 21 ordered a review of whether Mr Joyce broke the ministerial code of conduct, but the review was cancelled after Mr Joyce quit two days later.

The Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority is still investigating his travel.

Mr Joyce cited allegations of sexual harassment – which he denies – as the final straw that led him to resign.

Catherine Marriott, a former West Australian Rural Woman of the Year, accused Mr Joyce of sexual harassment, but says she never intended for the allegations to go public.

Nationals federal president Larry Anthony confirmed he asked for her complaint against Mr Joyce be made in writing, but he insists he did not leak it.

“The confidentially that we were imposed on, by her solicitor and mine, we have kept,” Mr Anthony told Sky News on Monday.

Australian Associated Press

Butterflier Groves may miss Games trials

Madeline Groves may miss the Commonwealth Games swim trials despite clearing her name with FINA.She may have beaten a FINA doping panel ban but Rio Olympic swimming medallist Madeline Groves may still miss this week’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games selection trials.
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Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren said the champion butterflier had entered the four day trials starting on Wednesday but it remained to be seen whether Groves contested them after a tough lead-up.

“I think with her we will see on the day,” Verhaeren said of the Rio 200m butterfly silver medallist’s chances.

Groves, 22, had to clear her name to contest the trials after facing suspension for missing three drug tests in 12 months.

Last October she escaped a ban when she successfully argued to the FINA doping panel that her third strike should not count because WADA testers did not do enough to find her.

Verhaeren said it had taken an emotional toll on Groves and had disrupted her preparation.

Adding to her anxiety before fronting the FINA doping panel, Dolphins teammates Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Jarrod Poort were hit with 12 month bans for the same offence.

Then Groves underwent surgery late last year to treat endometriosis, a painful condition where a lining in the uterus is found on another part of the body.

“There is a bit of a question mark (about Groves), she obviously had a very different preparation,” Verhaeren said.

“She had to deal with being on three strikes, which is obviously very difficult.

“We are very happy that it was proven that she wasn’t guilty of that, but as you can imagine emotionally it is draining.

“It puts you in a position where working hard and dealing with that is very difficult so she definitely started her preparation a bit later so let’s see where she is at.”

Verhaeren did not want to touch on Groves’ health battle but said the butterflier was back in the pool training.

The Dolphins mentor said they could not afford to push Groves ahead of the Gold Coast Games otherwise they risk burnout ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“It’s difficult to tell what level she is at but she is back in the water and training – she can look forward now,” Verhaeren said.

“(But) we got to take it easy with her and at the end of the day she needs to make a decision to get over a couple of issues – let’s hope that’s the case.”

Australian Associated Press

Blistering Finch ton has Vics on the brink

Victoria’s Aaron Finch has clocked 151 not out against WA in the Shield clash at the WACA.Victoria are on the brink of thumping Western Australia after three days of the Sheffield Shield clash at the WACA Ground, set up by a blistering Aaron Finch century and 10 Chris Tremain wickets.
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Victoria started the day at 1-70 with a 160-run lead and are within touching distance of a big win.

Despite some wobbles in the first session with Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Agar bowling well for WA, Finch put the Bushrangers on course to victory.

He smashed 151 in 122 balls to remain unbeaten when declaring at tea with Victoria 8-378, setting WA 469 to win.

Victoria looked likely to wrap it up in the last session, having WA 8-99 with the extra half-hour called.

But Josh Inglis (54) and Matt Kelly (24) survived to stumps with the Warriors 8-161. They are still 307 runs behind.

After falling to 5-153 in the morning session, Finch and Cameron White (41) guided Victoria to lunch and from there, Finch took off.

He brought up his century in 95 balls and then needed just 26 more to reach 150.

His first century since November 2016 and first ever at the WACA included 16 boundaries and seven sixes.

Stoinis (4-82) and Agar (2-115) toiled hard for WA. But having Matt Kelly hampered by a back complaint and Simon Mackin bowling a horror first over and never reappearing didn’t help.

Victoria’s pace attack was too good on a wicket offering plenty of assistance and with some cracks providing unplayable deliveries.

Tremain has backed up 7-82 in the first innings taking 3-61 while Scott Boland claimed 3-44 and Peter Siddle 2-39.

Stoinis did well with the ball for the match but knows some loose shots with the bat and not keeping the pressure up long enough with the ball has been costly.

“Obviously it’s disappointing,” Stoinis said.

“There’s a bit in the wicket and we didn’t bowl as well as we should have, and haven’t batted as well as we should have. You can’t let a good side like Victoria off the hook and that’s what we’ve done.”

Tremain has 10-143 for the game but more importantly is looking forward to closing out the important win for the Bushrangers.

“It’s vital to get a result and that’s our reality,” Tremain said.

“We need to play attacking cricket to get these results. If we want to be on top at the pointy end of this season, we are going to have to be on point the next two and-a-bit games.”

Australian Associated Press

Love for lockers leads sisters to spread Mustard joy

Sister act: Rebecca Stern, right, and her sister Jessica, left, have founded the home decor brand Mustard. THERE’S a sizeable difference between teaspoons and industrial lockers, but Rebecca Stern has leapt from one to the other withaplomb.
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Stern has shelved her respected creative label House of Bec, which sold hand-crafted and repurposed cutlery, to launch her new brand Mustard with her UK-based sister, Jessica.

Mustard’s first effort is “soft industrial” lockers made from powder-coated steel and in six colours thatare made forkids rooms, offices and general living.

Stern has always been a collector of vintage lockers and a “thing” for metal furniture and, after having her second son a year ago,realised she didn’t want to be in her studio hammering away at jewellery.

“It got to a point where Iliked handmade things but my strengthwas in design, concept and ideas, and I loverunning a creative business,” she says.

She and Jessica, a fashion buyer, did lots of research into how to make lockers more functional before heading to China to find a manufacturer.

“It was basically taking an original design and making it better suited for modern times,” says Stern, adding that she worked to “push the parameters of possibility” with the manufacturer to achieve a design aesthetic for the Australian market.

She said the Chinese town where her manufacturer is based specialises in lockers, and she watchedas workers cut and shaped the lockers every step of the way through production.

The signature locker is the Skinny, a tall locker withclothes rail and adjustable shevling, and the second locker is Shorty, which can work as a bedside table or side table or office storage.

Wholesale and retail preorders for the lockers are moving swiftly, though Stern hadn’t trademarked her business until she and Jessica went the premium boutique trade event Life Instyle in Sydney last month.

“I just though if it’s a disaster I don’t want to spend all that money, I thought if we get the orders we’ll set up the business, and we had such a positive reaction – so many people saying it was the best thing there,” she says.

London-raised Stern says the brand name is a nod to her love for the colour, the condiment and the potential to grow the business. In factnew accessories are afoot, so tooplans for a UK launch.

“Ifeel like I have learnt so much from it, I started it as a broke single mother and my life has really changed,” says Stern.

“I kept saying to myself ‘If Ican make a living out of selling unwanted old cutlery then surely I could make it selling something else as well.

“It’s a bigger leap and biggerrisks but it’s just how I do things.”

Elephant genome study offers surprises

The research found multiple instances of interbreeding between different extinct elephant species.The most comprehensive elephant genome study ever conducted, covering seven living and extinct species, is offering some surprises about the family tree of the world’s largest land animal while also settling a debate about Africa’s elephants.
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Researchers said their research confirmed that the two types of African elephants, those inhabiting forests and those roaming savannas, are separate species that have lived in nearly complete isolation from one another for the past half million years despite their close proximity.

They join the Asian elephant as the world’s three existing elephant species.

The scientists sequenced the genomes of two African savanna elephants, two African forest elephants, two Asian elephants, two extinct so-called straight-tusked elephants, four extinct woolly mammoths, including two from North America and two from Siberia, one extinct Columbian mammoth and two extinct American mastodons. Mastodons are not classified as members of the elephant lineage but are cousins.

“I hope that this study can create an appreciation for the rich evolutionary history of elephants and emphasise the need for protecting the only three elephant species that still walk the planet today, who are all under imminent risk of extinction from poaching and habitat loss,” said Harvard Medical School geneticist Eleftheria Palkopoulou, one of the researchers.

The research found multiple instances of gene flow – interbreeding – between different extinct elephant species, though this has virtually stopped among today’s elephants.

The straight-tusked elephants that once inhabited Europe and Asia – the largest of the species studied at up to four metres – are a case in point. The species turns out to be a hybrid with portions of its genome arising from an ancient African elephant, the woolly mammoth and the African forest elephants still alive today.

Straight-tusked elephants were traditionally thought to be most closely related to Asian elephants due to similarities in their skulls and teeth. One of the two straight-tusked elephants studied lived 120,000 years ago and provided one of the oldest high-quality genomes for any extinct species.

The scientists also found fresh evidence of interbreeding among the Ice Age Columbian and woolly mammoths, which crossed paths in locations where the more temperate regions of North America met the glaciers that then covered large parts of the continent.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Australian Associated Press

Centenary of the Great War

BRIEF PAUSE: Light Horse officers pose for a photo during a break from the offensive against the Turks. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan MahonyNewcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for February 25 – March 3, 1918.
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CAPTURE OF JERICHOMr Massey telegraphs:The capture of Jericho was most difficult, but it forced the Turks to burn the storehouse of Rujur el Bahr, north of the Dead Sea, which is an important centre of grain supply.The operation lasted three days, and was splendidly executed. The mountain heights were taken almost in accordance with the time-table. The London Infantry gunners were irresistible, and carried position after position with magnificent courage, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy, whose stubbornness was without avail.The Anzac mounted men, moving down from the high ground around Jerusalem, got among crags and boulders, but after being held up for a time sent the enemy flying over the Jordan. The whole country is a succession of kIoofs and dongas. In one place, Wadi Farar, there are perpendicular cliff sides 500 feet high, but the Cockneys scaled the boulder-strewn hillside, and ousted the dug-in foe.We attacked four important positions on Tuesday, and all were captured by three o’clock in the morning, though the Turks offered stout resistance. Our London battalion assaulted three times before bayoneting the enemy out of the trenches. The final fight before the Anzac rush was around Jebel Ektrif, whose southern face is as precipitous as Gibraltar. The infantry had to march in single file from Muntar. Moving guns uphill was a herculean task. Finally the Turkish machine gunners were routed out and captured, while the Anzacs moving from Muntar attacked the Turkish rear as already stated.

ANZACS’ BRILLIANT WORKThe capture of Jericho was most brilliant. The Australian and New Zealand mounted men moved eastward over the hills, threatening the enemy’s rear in the most difficult country up hills.It took a considerable time to press through a defile, where only two could ride abreast. The enemy brought several guns to bear on the point, but when the darkness fell, the Anzacs had such commanding positions, that the Turks fled east, and the Anzac cavalry entered Jericho in the morning.A Turkish official report states: We were unable to repulse all the enemy’s attacks in Palestine, and our troops took up previously appointed positions.

AMERICA’S ARMYMr F.M. Cutlack, the Assistant Australian Correspondent on the West Front, states:The advance guard of the American army is taking its first experience of war in Lorraine, where patrol encounters have already occurred with German troops.The Germans, who long sought to deride America’s military efforts, are now beginning to view with alarm the preparations of this great new Power, which is coming into the battle line on the western front. The advance troops of the United States’ regular army and National Guard are already a respectable field force, yet they represent only a small fraction of the huge citizen army which will follow before long. Vast numbers of American engineers and other technical troops are behind the lines, preparing communications and transport routes, without which such large numbers are unable to operate.The first drafts from the 10,000,000 men enrolled in America have yielded a large number of divisions, which are already equipped and partially trained. The remainder have been classified for later divisions and reinforcements. The American staff men talk in millions, and many hundreds of thousands are already in all stages of training.The American divisions are magnificently equipped. Their artillery, machine guns, transport services, and food supplies are the admiration of the skilled armies.Individually, the American soldier is most like the Australian soldier, and in general appearance he reminds one of the first troops who left Australia. The Americans belong to all classes of society, and they are entering the war with the utmost enthusiasm. This is no mere phrase. They represent the public opinion of a great democratic people, whose minds are now turned exclusively to active participation in the war for liberty, which is more vital to their national freedom than any they ever fought in.

The modest bearing and attitude of the Americans, as they enter the line alongside the older fighting armies have impressed all observers, and betoken the serious purpose to which they are addressing themselves. Equally noteworthy is the eagerness with which they receive and absorb every guidance the more experienced armies are able to offer.Attached British and French officers express admiration for the soldierly qualities and the efficiency of America’s first fighting troops. Many visits which are being exchanged between the American and Australian officers reveal the highest appreciation of each other as free peoples of the New World, fighting to maintain civilisation and liberty in Europe.

LATE TROOPER REIDMr and MrsPeter Reid, of Elder Road, Lambton, have received a letter from Palestine, written by an officer of the battalion to which their son, the late Trooper Reginald Reid, was attached. After offering his sympathy, the officer says that Trooper Reid was killed in action at the battle of Khuweiffe. Death was instantaneous and he did not suffer any pain. He was buried on a hillside, not far from where he was killed. There were others of the company and battalion buried near him. The letter also refers to the popularity and bravery of the deceased soldier.

CARRINGTONRepresentation was made to the military authorities by Mr J. Jordan, of Gipp Street, Carrington, whose family of five sons volunteered for active service in the early stages of the war (the youngest and last to volunteer having made the supreme sacrifice), asking that the remaining youngest, who is on active service, be returned from the front to his home. Mr. Jordan received word, per Mr. D. Watkins, MHR, stating that the matter had received consideration, but it was regretted that owing to the serious shortage of reinforcements, it was quite impossible to grant the request. The Minister appreciated the splendid patriotism of MrJordan’s family, and fully sympathised with them in this matter, but for the reasons mentioned, deeply regretted having to give an unfavourable answer.

GRETAMrs W. Wholert, Greta, has received a communication that her son, Private G. W. Swinton, 35th Battalion, is returning to Australia. Private Swinton left his home soon after war commenced, and at that time was 14 years of age. Inquiries for his whereabouts were unsuccessful until more than 12 months afterwards, when information was received from England that he had enlisted at Goulburn, and was in one of the camps about London. He is now 17 years, and is 6 feet 1¼ inches in height. It has been reported by Greta soldiers in the old country that he has been twice wounded at the front.

MARYVILLEA welcome home was tendered to Bombardier Fred Davies, by his sister and brother-in-law, Mrand Mrs H. Street, at their residence, Lewis Street, Maryville, on Saturday night. There was a large gathering of relatives and friends. MrH. Street presided. After the loyal toast had been honoured, the chairman proposed the toast of The Guest,and on behalf of all present extended him a hearty welcome home. The guest, in responding, referred to his impressions after two and a half years of active service, and said that after it all there was no place like home. Mrand MrsStreet have a son fighting in France.

HOME FROM THE FRONTA welcome home was given by Scott’s Limited and the members of the staff, at the Central Hall on Thursday night to four of the employees who have returned from active service abroad. The returned soldiers who were thus welcomed were Messrs. B. Moffatt, J. Mackay, A.H. Sellers, and H.E. Guy. Mr W. Scott presided, and apologised for the unavoidable absence of Alderman Kilgour, Mayor of Newcastle. During an interval in a very enjoyable programof musical and elocutionary numbers, presentations were made to the returned soldiers and to the father of the late Reginald Reid.MrScott said they had gathered together to welcome back the men who had returned from the other side after having done their bit. “When the men went away,”MrScott continued, “we promised every one of them that their positions would be kept open for them, and in very case the firm has fulfilled that promise. Fourteen of our young men have gone to the front. The firm also felt that those who had gone to fight for the liberty of the country should not be at any loss in doing so.”He was very proud to have those that returned back in his employ, and he hoped that God would spare the other men to come back. The firm would find positions for them. There was one boy who would not return, Reg Reid. He was quite a boy, one of the juniors, when he volunteered, and he had given his life for his country in Egypt. Their heartfelt sympathy went out to his family. He felt sure that RegReid had not given his life in vain. It was to such heroes as RegReid and the men who had returned, and those who were doing their bit, that we owed our freedom today. The names of Anzac and Australia would be among the brightest when the story of the war was written. Australians had helped to make the name of Britain more glorious than before. It was a grand thing to know that we still had men who would fight for liberty, righteousness, justice, and freedom, and while we had such men we had no need to fear for Australia or for the British Empire. In extending a hearty welcome to the returned men, Mr Scott remarked that Mr Mackay had not rejoined the staff of Scott’s Limited, but had started business for himself in Sydney.

Mr H.S. Thompson, in adding a few words of welcome, said Mr Scott had covered the ground so well that there was little left for him to say. They had seen by the press that the German raider, Wolf, had only been a few hours’ steam from the Australian coast. Some could not go to the war, but thousands of others could, and perhaps if the Wolf had come along and shelled the port of Newcastle they would have wakened up to the necessities of the hour. He joined cordially in the welcome to the returned men, and added his sympathy to that already expressed to the relatives of their deceased friend, Reg Reid.

On the suggestion of MrScott, it was unanimously decided that the gathering should send greetings to other employees of the firm at the front. MrScott said MrThompson and he had decided after consultation that the difference between the military pay of the men and their wage when they enlisted should be made up during the time they were at the war. The present was the first opportunity they had had of paying that debt. He would ask them to do one thing, and that was to put the cheques they were about to receive in the War Loan. It would be safe, and would help the boys at the front. Mr. Scott then handed a cheque to each of the returned soldiers. He also handed a cheque to MrReid, representing the difference between the military pay of his son Reginald and the wages he was receiving from the firm at the time of enlistment for his term of active service. MrScott asked MrReid to accept his deepest sympathy in his loss.

Messrs. Moffat, Mackay, Sellers and Guy, in responding, spoke in grateful terms of the welcome home that had been given them, and of the generosity of Scott’s Limited.

ENLISTMENTSRobert Ernest Dawson, East Maitland; Basil Robert Healy, Muswellbrook; William Joseph Jones, Boolaroo; Frank Oswald Pryor, Hamilton; Marlwood Clarence Ryder, New Lambton; Alexander Ware, Newcastle.

DEATHSPte Stanley Johnson Mears, Branxton; Pte Henry Edward Auckett, Paterson; Cpl Edward Hewit, Cooks Hill; L/Cpl John Henry Johnston, West Maitland; Sgt Francis James Kellaway, Tighes Hill.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter Valley-based military historian. Follow David’s research at facebook南京夜网/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory

Stylist reveals Seacrest abuse allegations

Ryan Seacrest has denied all claims of sexual abuse as alleged by his former personal stylist.Claims of years of alleged sexual abuse and harassment by US personality Ryan Seacrest have been revealed by his former personal stylist.
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Suzie Hardy was a single mother with a preschool-aged daughter when she landed a stylist job for E! News in 2006.

The position provided good pay and a schedule that would allow her to pick up her child from school most workdays.

But according to a November letter from Hardy’s attorney addressed to cable channel E!, its corporate parent NBCUniveral, and Seacrest, the job became an ordeal.

Seacrest allegedly subjected Hardy to years of unwanted sexual aggression, grinding his erect penis against her while clad only in his underwear, groping her vagina, and at one point slapping her buttock so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later.

Hardy claimed that she endured the abuse for years out of concern over being able to provide for her daughter, and that the situation only ended in 2013, when, after reporting Seacrest’s actions to human-resources executives, her employment ended.

Variety exclusively obtained a copy of the November letter and spoke on multiple occasions to Hardy and her lawyer.

In the letter and in exclusive interviews with Variety, Hardy described in detail numerous incidents of harassment and assault allegedly perpetrated by Seacrest over the years she was his stylist.

“As proud as I am and as strong as a woman as I am, as smart as I am and as much work as I’ve done with therapists, it really affected me,” Hardy told Variety of the abuse she said Seacrest subjected her to.

Seacrest has repeatedly refuted Hardy’s claims.

Australian Associated Press

Joyce scandal hurting votes, Nationals

Labor is asking questions about who leaked the name of Barnaby Joyce’s sexual harassment accuser.Barnaby Joyce’s scandal appears to have cost the coalition support in the polls, as he refuses to rule out, but doesn’t expect, a return to the Nationals leadership.
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Mr Joyce played down suggestions new Nationals leader Michael McCormack was keeping the seat warm for him.

“I never rule anything in or anything out, right, because otherwise later in life you look like a hypocrite … I don’t expect to ever return,” Mr Joyce said.

An Essential poll published on Tuesday said at least 60 per cent of voters thought Mr Joyce should have resigned as Nationals leader and put the coalition’s two-party preferred vote at 47 per cent to Labor’s 53 per cent.

He said a sexual harassment allegation – which he denies – was the final straw that led him to resign as Nationals leader on Friday following two weeks of scandal after his affair with a staffer, who is now pregnant, was revealed.

Mr Joyce has been accused by former West Australian Rural Woman of the Year Catherine Marriott of sexual harassment but she says she never intended the allegations to go public after making a formal complaint to the Nationals.

The Nationals are confident no-one from the party leaked Ms Marriott’s name, while deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek urged the government to guarantee the Liberal Party wasn’t behind the leak.

“This sends the worst possible message to women who have been subjected to sexual harassment,” Ms Plibersek told reporters on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed accusers should retain confidentiality but told Ms Plibersek to name names if she had an allegation to make.

“Members of parliament privy to those complaints should not disclose the identity of the complainant,” he told parliament.

Nationals whip Michelle Landry denied her party had mishandled the complaint.

“I’ve spoken to the hierarchy in the party and the leak didn’t come from us,” she told reporters.

Another Nationals MP Damian Drum was asked if his party had a problem with women, to which he responded: “I hope not, no.”

Another poll, published by Reachtel on Sunday, showed the coalition’s two-party vote at 46 per cent, down from the Newspoll figure of 48 per cent published just before the Joyce scandal broke.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the coalition party room on Tuesday there was “plenty of time” to turn the polls around and win the next election, which must be held by mid-May 2019.

She said the government needed to make sure voters understood Labor leader Bill Shorten was unqualified to run the country.

Mr Shorten told his party room the government MPs had spent the last three weeks fighting among themselves.

Australian Associated Press

Qld enlists YouTube in bullying fight

Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queensland will partner with YouTube to crack down on cyberbullying.The Queensland government will partner with YouTube as part of an effort to crack down on cyberbullying.
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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the LA-based YouTube Space Hub to establish the partnership with the video-sharing website and her newly established Anti-Cyber Bullying Task Force.

Ms Palaszczuk launched the taskforce to deal with the growing prevalence of cyberbullying following the suicide of Northern Territory teen and Queensland boarding school student Amy “Dolly” Everett.

Ms Palaszczuk hopes by working with YouTube content can be developed to equip “vulnerable young Queenslanders” with “tools to combat harassment and peer pressure”.

“If we are going to tackle cyberbullying, we need a multi-layered approach that brings the anti-bullying message out of the classroom and onto the digital platforms young people are increasingly engaging with,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

She also wants Queensland to be the location for Australia’s first YouTube Space Hub, following places like Berlin, London and New York.

“I am keen to see more young Queenslanders creating content for a worldwide audience with a YouTube Space of our own.”

The premier is on her annual trade mission to the US, which includes meetings with studio executives, state governors and investment groups.

Last week she met with Sesame Street senior team members in New York to encourage them to film in Queensland.

She has used past visits to help lock down film productions for Queensland, including Thor: Ragnarok and Aquaman.

Australian Associated Press

Coalition dog-whistling on migrants: Labor

Home Affairs boss Michael Pezzullo has flagged a tougher monitoring regime for potential migrants.Labor has accused the government of dog-whistle politics as the Home Affairs department considers a new plan to use spies to covertly vet potential migrants.
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The Turnbull government is considering a new vetting system with three assessment points – in the potential migrant’s home country, once they arrive in Australia and upon applying for citizenship.

“It wouldn’t surprise me that this government would use whatever dog whistle it can against potential refugees, potential migrants to this country,” Labor senator Doug Cameron told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“Nothing would surprise me what (Home Affairs Minister) Peter Dutton would do.”

Home Affairs department boss Michael Pezzullo told The Daily Telegraph the new assessment procedure would scrutinise people’s previous behaviour to ensure they were honestly answering questions when applying for Australian citizenship.

“Prior to you even getting citizenship, before you even migrate, the government is looking at how do you make an assessment using intelligence, using all sources of information,” he said.

He denies it was a way to exclude non-Anglo or non-white people, saying it would embed the Australian values framework in law.

But Senator Cameron said the policy would not hold up either domestically or internationally.

However, his Labor colleague Jenny McAllister said the opposition would wait to see the detail and seek the advice of security agencies.

She noted had the idea emerged earlier, senators could have explored it in detail on Monday when Mr Pezzullo spent much of the day before a Senate estimates hearing.

Liberal senator James Paterson said assessing the values of migrants was one of the most important predictors of whether they would be a good citizen.

“The system does need to be robust and needs to ensure we are accurately assessing their values and that the test isn’t being gamed in any way,” he told reporters.

Crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm said he was happy to substantially raise the bar on citizenship but he had his doubts about the screening of migrants before they even reached Australia.

Australian Associated Press

AFP feeling ‘supply and demand’ challenge

AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin says there’s fewer federal police but an increased workload.The head of the Australian Federal Police admits there is undoubtably a “supply and demand” issue being felt by the force as his officer numbers continue to dwindle.
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Staff numbers at the AFP have been cut from 6751 to 6498 over the past two-and-a-half years and are expected to fall further this year.

“We have a supply and demand challenge, there’s no question of that,” AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday.

“The demand for our services is increasing, the crime environment is increasing, and like any police commissioner I have to make sure that I appoint my resources as best I can against that demand.”

Mr Colvin said a large chunk of the staffing reduction was due to winding up a security mission in the Solomon Islands, and the demand imbalance for AFP services was nothing unusual.

Labor senator Louise Pratt asked the commissioner what he would do with another 300 sworn officers.

“I would probably try and address my most pressing needs which at the moment I would suggest are against some of our national security and organised crime mandated responsibilities,” Mr Colvin said.

“I don’t want that to be interpreted that we’re not doing that now; I need to move resources around accordingly.”

Senior AFP officers confirmed looming cuts would leave their overall budget $137 million worse off in four years time, compared to a scenario where the federal government maintained this year’s funding levels.

The Senate estimates hearing was also told a joint taskforce between Australian and Chinese police to fight the narcotics trade has netted more than 15 tonnes of illegal drugs in two years.

Taskforce Blaze, which was established in November 2015, has seen 8379kg of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals seized in China and another 7452kg in Australia.

The Australian Federal Police has similar agreements in place with Thailand and Cambodia as it tries to thwart smuggling rings peddling drugs from Asia into Australia.

Australian Associated Press

We really need to talk about social media overuse

There has been a great deal of focus lately about the impact social media use has on our mental health.Social media is a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends, meet new people, promote your business and focus on the things that you’re passionate about.
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HIT WITH ALL AGES: It’s not just teenagers who are glued to their mobile phones.

I use social media, but I’m very conscious about how much time daily I devote to the online world.

Does social media have a negative impact on our mental health?In my view, in many cases, absolutely.The issue is not the use of social media but the overuse of social media.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are probably the most common forms of social media but there are others (Snapchat, Reddit, Linkedin).

Recently Facebook’s founding president Sean Parker said he knew they were creating something addictive that exploited “a vulnerability in human psychology”.Parker described how in the early days of Facebook people would tell him that they weren’t on social media because they valued their real-life interactions.And he would reply “OK. You know, you will be.”

He went on to explain that when Facebook was being developed the objective was: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit”.

This is the crux of the problem.

Dopamine is the naturally produced “feel good chemical “ that makes us feel great and a regular “hit” of dopamine can be highly addictive.For all the positives that the use of social media provides the downside is the lack of attention we might pay to other areas of our lives and this need to get a regular “hit” of dopamine.

Social media can also validate someone’s view of themselves and raise self-esteem, which, for many kids who struggle socially, can be very helpful in developing relationships.The opposite can be true for the sensitive and vulnerable teen who receives negative messages on social media.

There has been an increasing number of teenagers whose mental health has been negatively affected by online bullying.The worst case scenario has been suicide.

The death of 14 year old Dolly Everett in the Northern Territory in January once again highlighted the sometimes tragic outcomes are after a sustained period of on-line cyber bullying.

There is no quick fix to online bullying, but in my view, the short answer is to report it and block the perpetrator straight away.Someone who bullies you has no place in your life.Then find other ways to build self-confidence besides social media.Learning self-defence is a great place to start. Not just so you can physically handle yourself but it really is a great way to raise self-esteem.

I find it staggering when I see a group of friends get together. I’m not just talking about the 12 to 18 years olds, I’m also talking about many people in their 40s and 50s. There can be four or fivefriends sitting around a table having coffee and every one of them is looking at their phoneand not talking to one another.

Talking to each other is good for our overall mental health as well as providing the obvious benefits of maintaining our language skills.

Have athink about it today. Do you overuse social media?

Craig Hamilton is anABC broadcaster and a mental health advocate

Program tweak to test swim comeback trio

James Magnussen won’t be able to cruise through his heats when he returns to the pool this week.A program tweak means James Magnussen, Kyle Chalmers and Cate Campbell have to be near peak right from the start when they launch their comebacks at this week’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games swimming trials.
Nanjing Night Net

Semi-finals have been removed meet, ensuring a cut-throat heats session will determine the eight finalists in each event.

National head coachJacco Verhaeren said the semi-finals were ditched to keep the pressure on his athletes and create the intensity of a major meet, tipping even Campbell, Chalmers and Magnussen to feel the pinch.

Former world champion Campbell officially returns to competition after taking a 2017 sabbatical in the wake of her disappointing Rio Olympic campaign.

Two-time world champion Magnussen is back after taking time to recover from shoulder surgery while Rio gold medallist Chalmers missed the 2017 world titles due to a heart operation.

“Even for them it will be tough competition,” Verhaeren said.

“We cut out the semis, it’s top eight immediately qualify for the final.

“We did it on purpose to replicate and create tough conditions to make the final to drive peak performance and resilience, to show every moment counts.”

Verhaeren copped criticism for allowing the high profile trio to enjoy a 2017 break from competition, missing the world titles campaign in Budapest where Australia finished a distant eighth with one gold.

But the Dolphins mentor felt vindicated after seeing the trio arrive for the four-day selection trials starting on Wednesday.

“They all took a break, all for very different reasons but for the right reasons and it shows,” he said.

“They are truly excited to perform and are in fine shape.”

“I can understand some criticism. But none of them actually stopped training.

“They were very professional in their break trying to shape up for this event – to me that makes complete sense.”

Australian Associated Press