Qld CCC boss warns of corruption loophole

The head of Queensland’s corruption watchdog has urged the state government to close a legal loophole which allows people to potentially cover up corrupt conduct without consequences.

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The Crime and Corruption Commission on Friday found there were no grounds to prosecute MP Mark Bailey, following a six-month investigation into the use and subsequent deletion of the private email account – [email protected]

CCC chief executive Alan MacSporran said the investigation found the stood-down energy minister had technically not breached the public records act by deleting the account, because it had been reactivated, meaning the emails hadn’t been “disposed of” under the law.

He said Mr Bailey had been “very foolish” but was “extremely lucky” the email account could be retrieved.

However Mr MacSporran said even if the account had been permanently deleted, it would have been hard to prosecute Mr Bailey because the Public Records Act and Right to Information Act don’t contain provisions for people to be prosecuted for those types of behaviour.

“So you end up with a technical breach where you haven’t dealt with the records appropriately, but in effect you can’t be prosecuted for that,” he told reporters on Friday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reinstated Mr Bailey to cabinet and his ministerial positions, including energy and main roads, following the CCC’s announcement.

Mr Bailey apologised for his actions, insisting he had deleted the account to try to comply with ministerial guidelines.

However he refused to commit to now publicly release the emails, suggesting another RTI request should be filed to access them.

Rohingya, Tibetan and Telugu coming to SBS Radio

SBS has announced changes to its radio services in order to meet the needs of multicultural Australia and to better reflect the country’s increasingly diverse society.

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The SBS Radio Services review took into account the results of the latest Census survey and audience listening habits.

The revised services will include seven new languages; Telugu, Karen, Tibetan, Hakha Chin, Rohingya, Mongolian and Kirundi (Rundi).

The population of a language group, English language proficiency, recentness of arrival, age and household resources were all considered, along with any discrimination or vilification of a particular group in Australia.

More than 74 million people speak Telugu in India and the population is growing here.

“We’re looking forward to servicing them and helping them navigate life in a new country,” Director of SBS Audio and Language Content, Mandi Wicks said.

“It’s probably one of the fastest growing communities in Australia with 18,000 speaking the language five years ago and 34,000 speaking it now.”

All content in the new languages will be available digitally via on demand audio podcasts accessible via the SBS website and SBS Radio app.

Final Selection Criteria

SBS received more than 600 submissions during the public consultation process from November to December last year.

During a four-week consultation process (14 November – 11 December 2016) which gave people and organisations the opportunity to provide feedback on the Selection Criteria that was being proposed, SBS Radio received more than 600 submissions; representing 85 languages. The submissions received were taken into consideration in finalising the Selection Criteria

The criteria for the language groups included whether or not they were considered a ‘large language’ with a population of approximately 25,000 or greater.

High Needs Languages Criteria focused on whether or not the population was greater than 1000 people, their English language proficiency, recentness of arrival, ageing and household resources.

“The purpose [of the review] is really to make sure our services reflect today’s Australia,” Ms Wicks said.

SBS also considered including a sizeable ethnic community if its needs are significant but not adequately captured by the other criteria.

Factors taken into account included discrimination or vilification in Australia based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.

Immediate need was also considered, focusing on whether or not there had been a significant increase in the population of a language group through Australia’s Humanitarian Program.

Census highlights

The latest Census data revealed 4.87 million people speak a language other than English at home.

SBS has committed to regularly reviewing and updating its services every five years in conjunction with new Census data.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia Chairperson, Joseph Caputo told SBS it is important the broadcaster continually assess its role and audience.

“I think as new needs come up and there is new and emerging communities arriving to our shores like the Rohingya, I think it is important to recognise [their needs,” Mr Caputo said.

“I think it is fundamental for the SBS to make sure that it remains relevant to multicultural Australia as it changes.”

Languages discontinued

Based on the final selection criteria, 12 languages will be discontinued including Kannada, Tongan, Norwegian, Cook Island Maori, Fijian, Swedish and the African program (in English).

SBS will instead be servicing 6 African languages, including Kurundi.

Lithuanian, Malay, Latvian, Danish and Maori have all been in recess for the last 12 to 18 months and will also be discontinued.

“One of the challenges about Australia changing so rapidly is that some communities are no longer as large as they once were,” Ms Wicks said.

“When we looked at the criteria, unfortunately some languages didn’t meet it in 2017.”

The English service, SBS World News Radio will become digital first – this means more audio content online, more often, instead of a weekday radio program.

Hours changed

Changes have also been made to the broadcast hours allotted to certain language groups. The Turkish and Croatian languages will reduce from five to four hours of programming per week, while German will reduce from seven to five hours a week.

Hungarian, Bosnian and Albanian will also reduce to one program per week.

There have also been changes to the broadcast time of some programs affecting the Dari, Dinka, Khmer, Maltese, Nepali, Pashto and Tigrinya programs.

SBS Radio will remain the world’s most linguistically diverse public broadcaster, producing content in 68 languages.

The changes come into effect on the 20th of November.

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Vic Labor MP election exodus rolls on

The number of new Victorian Labor faces for next year’s election continues to climb after embattled government MP Khalil Eideh said he too would hang up the boots.

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Mr Eideh, upper house deputy president and a member for the Western Metropolitan Region, on Friday said he would walk away from politics at the November 2018 state election.

The announcement came after his electoral office was shut and staff were put on leave amid a probe into an alleged scheme to rort parliamentary allowances.

Mr Eideh’s decision takes the number of Labor MPs declining to recontest their seats to eight, while Melton’s Don Nardella – stood down from the parliamentary Labor party following an allowances scandal – also plans to walk away from politics.

Footscray MP Marsha Thomson earlier announced she would bow out next year after signalling her intention “some time ago”, a statement from Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday night.

Mr Eideh and Ms Thompson will join disgraced former Speaker and Tarneit MP Telmo Languiller, member for Buninyong Geoff Howard, Cranbourne’s Jude Perera, Clarinda MP Hong Lim, Narre Warren South’s Judith Graley and member for Wendouree Sharon Knight in calling it quits.

In a statement, Mr Eideh said he had done nothing wrong after the opposition used parliamentary privilege to name him as being involved in the parliamentary allowances rort.

“I am confident the claims made in media reports will be completely dismissed and that I will be fully exonerated,” Mr Eideh said on Friday.

LABOR MPs NOT RECONTESTING IN 2018:

Khalil Eideh, Marsha Thomson, Geoff Howard, Jude Perera, Telmo Languiller, Judith Graley, Sharon Knight and Hong Lim.

Resilient Tigers ready for huge AFL final

For a Richmond side long derided as fragile, part of the journey towards overcoming their mental demons was accepting them.

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Just how far they have come will be put to the test in Saturday’s AFL preliminary final against Greater Western Sydney at the MCG.

It has been 35 long years since Richmond last made the grand final, and 37 since they held the premiership cup aloft.

But for the Tigers faithful, there is a sense that it might finally be time to overcome years of crushing finals disappointments.

Led by Brownlow Medal favourite Dustin Martin and gun skipper Trent Cotchin, the Tigers are playing irresistible football.

Coach Damien Hardwick has implemented significant on-field changes, most notably introducing a mosquito fleet of high-pressure small forwards to complement spearhead Jack Riewoldt.

Importantly, the Tigers appear to have also improved their mental resilience.

Their reputation for flakiness reared its head when they lost three consecutive games by less than a goal earlier in the season.

But the Tigers bounced back, winning 11 of their next 14 games in a testament to the work of Hardwick and his football department.

“We’ve done that work throughout the year,” Hardwick said.

“Accepting the fact that you are going to feel, at certain stages, a fog upon you, whether it’s an opposition or you’re not playing well.

“That’s the art of the mental game, getting the players to understand that that is going to happen at various stages.

“The key element is that the players are equipped with the tools to get themselves out of that.”

The introduction of the pre-finals bye means Richmond will head into Saturday’s clash having played just one game in 27 days.

Geelong and GWS were knocked out at the penultimate stage last year after winning their qualifying finals, but Hardwick is confident the Tigers have found the right balance in their preparation.

“We’re very confident that we’ve done the work,” he said.

“We think we’re going to be fresh, we’re going to be vibrant, but until that ball bounces we’ll have to wait and see.”

Schoolgirl’s story about fleeing Islamic State wins Australian writing competition

Sarah Sona was only eleven when her family fled Iraq.

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Islamic State militants invaded her small village of Qaraqosh in 2014 vowing to kill all Christians.

“I was very scared and nervous because we could hear people screaming. My neighbours were telling us [her family] to run away because there was no where we could stay, they would just kill us”, the Year 6 student from St Dominic’s Primary School Broadmeadows told SBS World News.

Sarah has now been awarded the Young Journalist award by the Australian Catholics magazine for her entry detailing her harrowing journey from her small village in Iraq to Melbourne’s northwestern suburb of Broadmeadows.

The theme for this year’s competition was Justice Heroes with students asked to write about a hero from their own community.

Sarah’s family first escaped to Erbil and travelled to Jordan. Here, members of the humanitarian charity, Caritas, took Sarah and her family into their care. 

Sarah based her story around this organisation that she says made her family’s life in Australia possible.

“They [Caritas Jordan] are the real justice heroes and I will never forget them”, Sarah’s entry reads. 

Caritas Jordan have been working with refugees since the escalation of violence in 2010.

There are 165 Caritas agencies globally working to end poverty and promoting justice. Caritas Jordan has been in partnership with Caritas Australia working on programs for refugees fleeing attrocitieis in Syria and Iraq.

Sarah Sona says her Justice Heroes are the Caritas Jordan volunteers.Caritas Australia

Humanitarian program coordinator at Caritas Australia, Suzy McIntyre, said Sarah’s piece highlighted the significance of work by organisations like Caritas to protect refugees. 

“Sarahs piece is very significant for Australians to understand the work being done like Caritas for refugees”, Ms McIntyre told SBS World News.

Ms McIntyre said she was so uplifted by Sarah’s piece that she contacted Caritas Jordan to notify them straight away.

“I sent them an email to share the story. I think they were touched that Sarah was able to express personal gratitude to them”, McIntyre said. 

The life I’v nw wd’t have been possible without @CaritasJordan #justice #heroes #Sara #Iraqi_refugees @CaritasAust 南京桑拿,南京SPA,/Hi1Tu9ebIK

— Caritas Jordan (@CaritasJordan) September 9, 2017

 Sarah spoke only a few words of English when she arrived to Australia last year. She says Caritas introduced her to English.

“When I was in Jordan, some teachers from Caritas came and they started teaching me writing”, Sarah told SBS World News.

“I knew the letters but I didn’t know how to read. They started showing me easy words, like apple and banana and I started learning quickly.

“I always thought English was really hard and impossible to learn but here I am”, Sarah says.

Sarah with Caritas Australia staff member, Megan Bourke, at the Awards Ceremony.Caritas Australia  

Sarah, an aspiring author, says writing is an integral part of her life. 

“I think I can make my imagination work pretty well and I can be free. When I’m angry, I write – and it just makes me feel better”, Sarah says.

This is the first time Sarah has openly penned her journey from Iraq to Australia and says her winning entry has given her a taste of what it would be like to accomplish her dream.  

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Crows thrash Cats to reach AFL grand final

Adelaide livewire Charlie Cameron has kicked five goals in a 61-point belting of Geelong in the first AFL preliminary final.

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The Crows have secured a spot in their first grand final since 1998 with a 21.10 (136) to 10.15 (75) triumph at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

Adelaide jumped the Cats, kicking nine of the first 10 goals, to set up a a premiership decider against the winner of Saturday night’s clash between Richmond and Greater Western Sydney.

“Great credit to the players for the work they have done,” Crows coach Don Pyke said.

“The connection they have got allows them to perform like they did … the start was fantastic.”

Geelong megastar Patrick Dangerfield was felled in a second-term collision with Adelaide’s Rory Sloane which will attract scrutiny.

The great mates crashed front-on and Sloane’s upper arm hit Dangerfield in the head in what appeared accidental contact.

Dangerfield lay prone on his back for about 15 seconds before being helped from the field, but came back on to play out the match.

The incident came as Adelaide steamrolled the flat Cats – seven minutes into the second quarter, the Crows led by 48 points.

The closest Geelong came was 27 points before Adelaide accelerated into their third grand final – they won the others, in 1997-98.

Fleet-footed Cameron’s five goals were a career-best return, complemented by a soaring pack mark in the third quarter.

Cameron’s attacking colleague Josh Jenkins slotted four goals, and Eddie Betts, Taylor Walker, Paul Seedsman and Tom Lynch bagged two each.

Betts sparked the early onslaught – within the first three minutes, he had a hand in one goal and kicked another.

The masterly forward later curled a 40m boundary-line set shot to give the Crows a 6.3 to 1.2 quarter-time lead.

Only once this season have the Cats scored less in a first term – 0.4 in their qualifying-final loss a fortnight ago to Richmond.

“They (the Crows) were fantastic tonight … they executed extremely well,” Geelong coach Chris Scott said.

“Their skill level … they well and truly deserve to be where they are.”

Adelaide’s vaunted forward line were fed a feast of chances from the Crouch brothers in midfield – Matt had 31 disposals, Brad 29.

Defender Rory Laird was outstanding with 32 possessions, roaming forward Lynch collected 20 touches and teammate Sam Jacobs won the rucks.

Geelong’s linchpin Dangerfield started in attack – and the Crows kicked four goals in 15 minutes before he was shifted into the midfield.

The Brownlow medallist triggered a mini-revival in the second quarter when the visitors pulled within 27 points – he finished with two goals and 24 disposals.

But the Crows, despite the plucky efforts of Cats captain Joel Selwood (34 disposals) and Mitch Duncan (25 touches), were never seriously challenged before 53,817 raucous spectators – a record AFL crowd at Adelaide Oval.

Geelong dam burst in AFL final loss: Scott

All through the AFL season, Geelong coach Chris Scott felt like he was plugging holes.

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The dam finally burst on Friday night when his Cats copped a 61-point hammering from Adelaide in a preliminary final.

“Our season has ebbed and flowed in terms of the cohesion of our group and our injury list,” Scott said after Adelaide’s 21.10 (136) to 10.15 (75) victory.

“We probably thought that we had a few holes right throughout the course of the season that we were always battling to fill.

“… We had eight or nine debutants for the year. We had a lot of players used across our list.

“And while it’s a credit to the players that are able to still get us to the point where we still finish second on the ladder at the home-and-away end, it would be much more preferable to be playing 25, 26 players across the course of the year instead of 36, 37.”

Scott said Geelong had no choice but to again transform next year, given the retirements of defensive stalwarts Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan.

“I hope that no one associated with Geelong falls into the trap of thinking that we were close again, and have just got to improve a little bit to go the next step,” he said.

“Because the cold, hard reality is we have got to go back to the start again.

“And there are some really good football teams with a lot of talent who didn’t make the eight this year who I suspect will get better.

“I wish we could just fast forward to the prelim final next year. But we have got so much work in front of us to even make the finals.”

Scott said he wouldn’t rush to judge Geelong’s season.

“I don’t really feel like it’s the time to make those assessments because we are all really emotional at the moment,” he said.

” … Our job is to not let the emotion impact our decision making negatively.”

Apps help treat mild depression: study

Smartphone apps can be an effective treatment option for people with mild to moderate depression, according to a new international research review.

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With mental health services struggling to meet the demand for treatment, researchers from Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Harvard Medical School, The University of Manchester and the Black Dog Institute examined the efficacy of smartphone-based treatments for depression.

Researchers systematically reviewed 18 randomised controlled trials which examined a total of 22 different smartphone-delivered mental health interventions.

The meta-analysis involved more than 3400 male and female participants between the ages of 18-59 with a range of mental health symptoms and conditions including major depression, mild to moderate depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and insomnia.

Overall, the smartphone apps “significantly”reduced people’s depressive symptoms, according to the findings published in journal World Psychiatry.

“The main analysis found that smartphone interventions had a moderate positive effect on depressive symptoms, with no indication of publication bias affecting these findings,” the authors wrote.

“However, our subgroup analyses found that the effects of smartphone interventions were substantially larger when compared to inactive than active control conditions.”

After accounting for population type, the significant benefits of smartphone apps were only found for those with self-reported mild-to-moderate depression.

“Nonetheless, the nature of smartphone interventions does appear to position them as an ideal self-management tool for those with less severe levels of depression. The observed effects indicate that these interventions are well-placed for delivering low-intensity treatment within a stepped-care approach, or even prevention of mild-to-moderate depression among the millions of people affected by subclinical symptoms,” the authors concluded.

Despite the promising early results, there is currently no evidence to suggest that using apps alone can outperform standard psychological therapies, or reduce the need for antidepressant medications, the authors cautioned.

Earlier this year, consumers were urged to be cautious about the plethora of ‘mindfulness’ apps now available in the booming digital health market.

Dr Quinn Grundy, a postdoctoral research fellow in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy based at the Charles Perkins Centre, said while apps have the potential to deliver tailored, accessible and cost-effective mental health services, greater regulation was needed.

Dr John Torous at Harvard Medical School agrees patients and doctors are faced with a vast array of mental health apps, and says for this reason it’s “imperative” more research is done.

“This research provides much-needed information on the effectiveness of apps for depression, and offers important clues into the types of apps which can help patients manage their condition,” Dr Torous said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

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Bird in hand means future bright: Bennett

The addition of Jack Bird and another year of finals experience means Brisbane are a step closer to another elusive NRL premiership, according to coach Wayne Bennett.

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The Broncos fell short in their quest to break an 11-year drought when they were over-run by Melbourne, who put on 22 unanswered second half points for a 30-0 victory in Friday’s preliminary final at AAMI Park.

Brisbane’s kicking game let them down while they failed to build any pressure on the Storm in the second half with some poor attacking choices.

But Bennett said Cronulla utility Bird, who signed a four-year deal in May worth about $4 million, would be a strong addition.

“The bridge is not long, it’s pretty short,” Bennett said of their journey to a title.

“We’ve got Jack Bird coming next year, we’ve got quality players there – we’re on this journey to get ourselves in a situation where we can’t get exposed like we did (against the Storm).

“Next year we’ll be older and smarter, we need to play in these games, these guys need to get the experience.”

Bennett lamented the injury toll at his club and said the side rarely played the same spine throughout the season, losing hooker Andrew McCullough for the year with a knee injury while others were in and out of the line-up.

“I’ve been in a lot of finals series and a lot of seasons and I’m going to tell you the best thing is constant players – the same team every week, you crave for that,” Bennett said

“To put the same 17 on every week and that gives you confidence and belief and we haven’t managed that.

“It’s the best thing you can have going into the finals.”

Skipper Darius Boyd missed their last two games after suffering a hamstring injury in round 26. The gamble of playing him underdone on Friday backfired and he was forced off early in the second half.

Bennett likened it to his club’s 2002 finals campaign, when Allan Langer broke his thumb late in the season and returned but couldn’t stop the Broncos crashing out in the preliminary finals.

“When Alf came back in for the play-offs like Darius did he wasn’t the same player he was before,” Bennett said.

“We needed what Darius brings and what Alf brought in that era so it does have an impact.”

Lavrov says US has no proof of Russian vote meddling

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that US officials have failed to provide any evidence to prove that Moscow interfered in the American presidential race.

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Instead, he suggested, the allegations had been invented by former president Barack Obama’s “small-hearted and vengeful” administration to poison future US-Russian ties.

“They put this time bomb in US-Russia relations. I did not expect that from a Nobel Peace Prize winner,” Lavrov told reporters at the United Nations.

Lavrov said that he had asked US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to provide proof that the Kremlin had covertly intervened to support Donald Trump’s campaign.

Tillerson replied that the evidence was part of a confidential investigation, Lavrov claimed, scorning the idea and suggesting any real proofs would have been leaked.

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“And now the immense potential of our bilateral relationship stands there in vain, and our relations are contracting due to Russophobic hysteria,” Lavrov complained.

US officials said that a bilateral meeting between Tillerson and Lavrov had focused on improving coordination between the US and Russian militaries in Syria to avoid inadvertent clashes.

A US special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, has launched a wide-ranging inquiry into allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened to back Trump.

The Kremlin allegedly favored the business mogul over his opponent Hillary Clinton, who had backed sanctions against Russia for rights abuses and interference in Ukraine.

US officials think Russian agents hacked email accounts associated with Clinton’s campaign and leaked damaging information, amplified online by an army of paid “trolls.”

Russia has fiercely denied this. But Mueller’s inquiry has destabilized US politics, angered Trump and contributed to a deep chill in ties between Washington and Moscow.