Monarchists support citizenship changes but raise some concerns

A Senate inquiry into the government’s proposed changes to Australia’s citizenship requirements has attracted about 13,000 submissions.

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The overwhelming majority advises against the changes. But a submission by Philip Benwell, the national chair of the Australian Monarchist League, said it agreed with the “proposed strengthening of the bar” for citizenship approval.

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“The issue of multiculturalism, which is important, is being put above the Australian identity,” he said.

“It’s important that when people come here, they become Australians, assimilate into the Australian community, and not form individual communities.”

Mr Benwell said the League was not convinced all potential citizens were doing everything they can to fully integrate.

The League’s members have backed the government’s push for applicants to prove their integration, whether it’s joining clubs or enrolling their kids in school.

But Mr Benwell was more cautious about other measures, including the English proficiency test.

“We believe the proficiency test should be stronger. Of course, not to University level, that’s a bit absurd,” he said.

He also raised concerns about the immigration minister being given powers to overrule tribunal decisions he disagrees with.

“Something needs to be done to strengthen the requirements for citizenship without being overruled by another body,” he said.

“But on the other hand, too much power being placed in the hands of one person is never a good thing. Peter Dutton may be a very competent minister, but in a few years time we may have a totally incompetent minister.”

Dick Smith calls citizenship debate a “non-issue”

Entrepreneur Dick Smith said he was sceptical of all the measures, in the shadow of his million-dollar campaign encouraging Australia to slash its annual migration intake by more than half.

“I think this is a complete non-issue,” he said.

“I don’t agree on making the English test harder. I think modern Australia’s made from immigration and many of those immigrants came here, coudn’t speak English at all.

“Trying these different small changes are because our politicians are not game to say that we have to have a population policy.”

Mr Smith’s campaign is pushing to bring down Australia’s annual migration intake to 70,000.

But in a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the migration program “remains at a ceiling of 190,000 places”.

It added that Australia’s citizenship program is demand driven and without caps.

“There is nothing in the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill currently before parliament that will change this,” the statement read.

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Mexico earthquake: Rescuers race to save trapped girl after family of 11 killed at baptism

Rescuers are racing against time to save a trapped 12-year-old girl as they labour for a second night amid the rubble of a school that collapsed after a powerful earthquake rocked Mexico.

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At least 237 people were killed by the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck about 150km southeast of Mexico City on Tuesday afternoon, 32 years after a 1985 quake killed thousands.

It comes as news emerges of the deaths of 11 family members, including a two-month-old girl who was being christened, when a baptism turned to tragedy after the roof caved in at a church.

The only survivors were the girl’s father, the priest and the priest’s assistant, the Archdiocese of Puebla said.

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0:00 Dramatic moment as side of building collapses during Mexico quake Share Dramatic moment as side of building collapses during Mexico quake

At least four minors were among the dead.

“It was a scene of horror, sadness with most of the people inside the church dying,” priest’s assistant Lorenzo Sanchez told The Associated Press.

Sanchez said those who survived moved to the edges of the church when the swaying started while those who died didn’t have time to do so.

“One of the things they taught us is to stick to the firm walls of our church, which is old and its structure a bit deteriorated,” he said.

Authorities search the building rubble for survivors as the death toll rises to 230.AFP

 

When the ground stopped shaking, people called for help using loudspeakers and residents of nearby communities quickly arrived in Atzala with shovels, pickaxes and chains to haul away rubble.

They dug for hours through the crumbling remains of the Santiago Apostol church but found the 11 relatives had died.

Covered in dust and exhausted, the rescuers laid the bodies out on the same street where a party was meant to be held after the baptism.

Family members of the dead travelled overnight from other states to attend Wednesday’s wake in Puebla.

Each coffin had a name attached: Florencio, Fidela, Aurelia, Manuela, Maria de Jesus, Carmen, Samuel, Azucena, Feliciana, Susana and Elideth – the girl who was to be baptised.

0:00 Mexico City: Two children rescued from rubble of a collapsed school Share Mexico City: Two children rescued from rubble of a collapsed school

Search for school survivors continue

Rescuers are working frantically to dig a young girl out from under the rubble of a partially collapsed school amid devastation.

They were able to communicate with the girl, identified only as Frida Sofia, who responded there were two other students nearby but could not tell if they were alive, according to broadcaster Televisa.

The dramatic rescue attempt was aired live on Wednesday after crews at the school in southern Mexico City reported finding the girl, seeing her move her hand and threading a hose through debris to get her water.

The girl’s full name was not made public but her family waited in anguish nearby, knowing the bodies of 21 school children and four adults were already recovered from the Enrique Rebsamen School.

0:00 Mexico earthquake: Twenty-one children dead in school collapse as toll hits nearly 250 Share Mexico earthquake: Twenty-one children dead in school collapse as toll hits nearly 250

They and other parents clung to hope after rescue teams reported a teacher and two students had sent text messages from within the rubble.

About 14 hours after the effort began, rescue workers in hard hats made an urgent plea on camera for beams and chains to support parts of the school ruins that were collapsing.

“We have a lot of hope that some will still be rescued,” volunteer David Porras said.

“But we’re slow, like turtles.”

0:00 The moment a dog is rescued after Mexico City earthquake Share The moment a dog is rescued after Mexico City earthquake

Rescuers periodically demanded “total silence” bystanders to better hear calls for help.

As rescue efforts continued at the school, emergency crews, volunteers and bystanders toiled elsewhere using dogs, cameras and heat-seeking equipment to detect survivors.

Hundreds of neighbours and emergency workers spent the night pulling rubble from the ruins of the school with their bare hands under the glare of floodlights. Three survivors were found at around midnight as volunteer rescue teams known as “moles” crawled deep under the rubble.

Rescue teams work at the Rbsamen school in Mexico City (Getty Images)Getty Images

By Wednesday morning, the workers said a teacher and two students had sent text messages from within the rubble. Parents clung to hope that their children were alive.

“They keep pulling kids out, but we know nothing of my daughter,” said 32-year-old Adriana D‘Fargo, her eyes red, who had been waiting for hours for news of her seven-year-old.

Overnight, volunteers with bullhorns shouted the names of rescued kids so that tense family members could be reunited with them.

“The priority continues to be rescuing people from collapsed buildings and taking care of the injured,” said President Enrique Pena Nieto. “Every minute counts.”

The earthquake toppled dozens of buildings, tore gas mains and sparked fires across the city and other towns in central Mexico. Falling rubble and billboards crushed cars.

Even wealthier parts of the capital, including the Condesa and Roma neighbourhoods, were badly damaged as older buildings buckled.

RT @ElGuardiaCholo: #Mexico City #earthquake #CiudaddeMexico #temblor #AlertaSismica #SimulacroCDMX #sismodel85 pic南京夜生活,/5j7qtKS8b8

— • V ä ł Å ñ g ł ę • (@0vangle0) 19 September 2017Another building exploded after the earthquake in Mexico Citypic南京夜生活,/GjYBKFfHp5

— Jemisha Johnson (@jemisha_johnson) 19 September 2017

Parts of colonial-era churches crumbled in the adjacent state of Puebla, where the US Geological Survey put the quake’s epicentre about 158km southwest of the capital.

Around the same time that the earth shook, Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano, visible from the capital on a clear day, had a small eruption. On its slopes, a church in Atzitzihuacan collapsed during Mass, killing 15 people, Puebla governor Jose Antonio Gali said.

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.” Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto spoke at length on Wednesday, according to the White House.

God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 19 September 2017

Residents of Mexico City, home to about 20 million people, slept in the streets while authorities and volunteers distributed food and water at tented collection centres.

Other volunteers, soldiers and firefighters formed human chains and dug with hammers and picks to find dust-covered survivors and bodies in the remains of apartment buildings, schools and a factory.

With power out in much of the city overnight, the work was carried out with flashlights and generators.

0:00 Devastating scenes during Mexican earthquake Share Devastating scenes during Mexican earthquake

The Australian newspaper launches Chinese language website

The website will include translations of national, regional and international news and analysis, selected by the newspaper’s editors.

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The website will sit outside of the Australian’s paywall, and it’s expected that about ten stories will sit on the site. 

“There’s a big demand for Australian based content, translated into Chinese,” The Australian’s CEO Nicholas Gray told SBS World News.

“It’s not a plan at this stage to deliver a separate service, it’s purely a translation of Australian content which is relevant to a Chinese reading audience.

“It’s the largest language other than English, spoken and read in Australian homes.

“And it’s the language in which there’s the most content overlap.”

Hello! Pleased to launch Chinese language version of The Australian. Enjoy!

你好!高兴地推出中文版的澳大利亚人。请享用!南京桑拿,南京SPA,/[email protected]

— Nicholas Gray (@NicholasGray) September 20, 2017

More than 2.5 per cent of Australian residents speak Chinese at home.

Senior journalism lecturer Dr Saba Bebawi from the University of Technology Sydney sees the move as a targeted approach.

“They would have strategic reasons as to why they would invest in producing in different languages and targeting different groups,” Dr Bebawi said.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing, it fits with what commercial media does.”

“I think the online platform is interesting because it’s not targeting only Chinese in Australia, but aiming to reach them outside Australia.”

But Dr Bebawi does have one criticism.

“What The Australian is doing is targeting these audiences with what interests them, be it business, international students, real estate, buyers.

“So they are including them, in that sense.

“But [it is] not including their voices.”

 

Multicultural cast brings Carole King musical to life

The new musical to hit Australia focuses on the early period of Carole King’s life when she wrote hit songs for groups, including The Shirelles and The Drifters.

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It is the first time Marcus Corowa has played a role that is not specifically for an Indigenous character.

“Sometimes as an Aboriginal person and a South Sea Islander person we kind of get pigeonholed in just telling our own story, but there’s more to us than that,” he said.

Corowa is one of 24 cast members in one of the most diverse ensembles to take the stage in Australia for the Carole King musical.

Akina Edmunds had considered being Maori something of a curse in musical theatre. Now she understands it as a blessing.

“Being part of a cast that has people from Tonga [and] Samoa, and being Maori, it’s really heartening to know that I still have a home here,” she said.

“I think it was more over time where I went that actually it’s kinda good that I don’t look like everyone else or sound like everyone else.

“It means I’ll miss out on a few but the special ones that I’ve found myself a part of are really amazing productions.”

King was reluctant to see the show when it opened on Broadway three years ago, but is now a fan and the legendary singer-songwriter personally approved the Australian actress who plays her.

The Shirelles and The Drifters had big hits with songs written by King and her first husband, Gerry Collins.

“They gave work to people who at that point in pop history were often relegated to R&B stations, they weren’t as much in the mainstream,” musical writer Douglas McGrath said. 

The show’s writer said the mix of ethnicities in the Australian version reflects the couple’s groundbreaking work.

“Carole and Gerry were two Jewish middle-class kids who had no prejudice about anything. They wanted the best people to sing and perform their songs,” McGrath said.

The cast is hoping more directors and casting agents follow the show’s lead on diversity.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical opens in Sydney on Saturday.

 

Wozniacki keeps title defence alive, Strycova downs Konta

The former world number one trailed 3-0 in the decider before securing victory after toiling for more than two hours.

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Pulling off an upset seemed on Rogers’ mind as the American fended off three break points in the 10th game to clinch the first set.

Wozniacki wrestled back momentum in the second, converting two break points before firing back-to-back aces to force a decider.

Rogers raced to a 3-0 lead in the third set before Wozniacki staged a brilliant comeback, claiming six of the last seven games to advance to the next round.

“I knew she has powerful strokes and a big serve. it definitely was not easy,” Wozniacki said in a courtside interview. “I’m just happy to win this one.”

Earlier, Barbora Strycova registered her first win over a top 10 player this year when the Czech edged out Britain’s Johanna Konta 7-5 7-6(5).

Fourth seeded Konta dominated the early proceedings in her first meeting with Strycova and raced to a 3-0 lead before the Czech broke her back and went on to claim the first set.

Konta’s dominant backhand put her 5-4 ahead but the British number one could not serve out the second set, allowing Strycova to force a tiebreak and eventually seal the match.

“I’m very happy, because this match meant a lot to me,” Strycova said.

“I don’t have any words to say because I’m very emotional and very happy that I won against Johanna,” said the 31-year-old who meets Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-final.

Ninth seed Caroline Garcia beat local favourite Kurumi Nara 6-1 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash with world number one Garbine Muguruza.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Pritha Sarkar)