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Australian News

Scott Morrison says no China talks with preconditions


Scott Morrison will refuse to meet his Chinese counterpart if Beijing demands concessions before talks begin.

Australian industries are under threat from an ongoing trade war between Canberra and Beijing, which has seen China slap trade sanctions on a number of Australian products.

The prime minister confirmed he was open to meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to salvage the relationship, which he said remained vital to both parties.

RELATED: China warns ‘writing is on the wall’ for Canberra ties

But after China leaked a dossier of 14 grievances with Canberra last November, Mr Morrison warned discussions would not come at the cost of Canberra kowtowing to Beijing’s demands.

“Those discussions, as I’ve made clear, won’t take place on the base of any sort of pre-emptive concessions on Australia’s part on those matters,” he told reporters on Monday.

“I don’t think that any Australian would want their prime minister to be conceding the points that they’ve set out.

“Our position on that is very clear, it’s very honest, it’s very transparent.

“But of course we value the trading and more broader comprehensive relationship, and we will be taking up whatever opportunities we believe is going to best position Australia to be in a position to advance that relationship.”

Beijing was angered by Canberra’s push for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 early last year, and Labor has accused the government of exposing Australia by leading the charge without sufficient international backing.

But Mr Morrison said relations had soured over a number of years, and could not be attributed to any one development.

Relations have shown no signs of improving recently, after Beijing launched an attack on Canberra at the United Nations last week, accusing Australia of “racism” and hypocrisy over human rights.

The comments, made at a review of Australia’s human rights record, were a breach of UN protocols and drew the ire of Coalition MPs.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has urged Mr Morrison to enlist the help of former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard in dealing with Beijing.

With a raft of Australian industries in Beijing’s firing line, Mr Albanese said Mr Rudd’s “significant relationships” with the Biden administration and international experience dealing would be an asset.

“To be clear, it is China that is to blame for breaking down that relationship,” he told reporters on Monday.

“But you need to find a way through, and I think that it is very sensible to engage former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard.

“That is a suggestion that has come to me from senior people in the business community, as well as people in the union movement who have been worried about jobs.”

Mr Morrison confirmed he was “open” to the idea, but said he would continue to pursue the relationship in Australia’s interest.

“(The relationship with Beijing) is a matter that the former prime minister Howard and I have discussed on many occasions. I speak to him pretty regularly about these and many other things,” he said.

“It’s a topic that some time ago, and even more recently, I was connecting with prime minister Rudd about these matters.

“I’m always open to those who are experienced in these areas and both of those former prime ministers are experienced in those areas.”



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Local News - Victoria

Former Victorian deputy premier John Thwaites appointed AM


As a state MP for 15 years and Victoria’s deputy premier from 1999 to 2007, John Thwaites was constantly in the public eye but after politics he has flourished in academia as a sustainability advocate.

Professor Thwaites, 65, has been made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2021 Australia Day honours, “for significant service to the environment, and to the people and Parliament of Victoria”.

Professor John Thwaites

Professor John Thwaites

As chair of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, he sees himself as a bridge between researchers, government and business.

The Institute works in Australia and Asia on climate action, sustainable cities and developing a more environmentally conscious approach to water management.

The Institute’s offshoot, ClimateWorks Australia, which Professor Thwaites also chairs, is helping Australian states, companies and some Asian countries commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Institute is working with scientists, farmers, agribusiness and farm finance bodies on ways to make land use and food production more sustainable.

Professor Thwaites said the AM “does reflect that I’ve had some great opportunities to work on issues that matter, both in politics and at Monash University”.



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Australian News

Australian of the Year 2021 inspires


Australian of the Year and sexual assault survivor Grace Tame brought down the house with her raw and impassioned speech on Monday night.

The 26-year-old, who was raped by her 58-year-old teacher when she was a schoolgirl, was prevented from speaking out about her experience for years due to an archaic gag law in Tasmania.

In 2019, she won a legal case to be able to publicly self-identify as a rape survivor with the help of News Corp’s #LetHerSpeak campaign, paving the way for the overhaul of oppressive victim gag laws across the country.

Her powerful speech at Monday night’s awards ceremony resonated with Australians everywhere, who praised the campaigner as “extraordinary” and a “legend” who would make the most of her role.

“All survivors of child sexual abuse, this is for us,” said Ms Tame, after thanking her friends, family and fellow nominees at the opening of her speech.

“So powerful,” tweeted Elizabeth Broderick, Chair-Rapporteur of the United Nation Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls and former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner. She said Ms Tame was a “brilliant choice” and her win was testament to the Let Her Speak campaign led by Nina Funnell.

Ms Funnell said: “What a huge moment this is for Grace, but also for all survivors of sexual assault in the community.”

RELATED: ‘I lost my virginity to a paedophile’

RELATED: Four women sweep board at awards

Lucy Turnbull was also among those who congratulated Ms Tame, writing: “Speak out on behalf of the thousands and thousands of victims of abuse who could not. You changed the system! Good for you.”

Journalist Jane Caro said Ms Tame being named Australian of the Year “gives me hope”, while former lawyer, journalist and author Georgie Dent tweeted: “What an extraordinary woman. A survivor. A heroic advocate. Never heard an Australian Of The Year deliver an acceptance speech as raw, as emotive as heartbreakingly powerful as Grace Tame.”

Ms Tame bravely detailed her horrific abuse as a child, and the appalling public response from not only her abuser but the legal system that would not allow her to speak.

“I lost my virginity to a paedophile. I was 15, anorexic. He was 58. He was my teacher. For months he groomed me and then abused me almost every day: Before school, after school, in my uniform, on the floor. I didn’t know who I was.”

“Publicly, he described his crimes as ‘awesome’ and ‘enviable’. Publicly, I was silenced by law. Not any more. Australia, we’ve come a long way but there is still more work to do in a lot of areas.

“Child sexual abuse and cultures that enable it still exist. Grooming and its lasting impacts are not widely understood. Predators manipulate all of us — family, friends, colleagues, strangers in every class, culture and community. They thrive when we fight amongst ourselves and weaponise all of our vulnerabilities.

“Trauma does not discriminate, nor does it end when the abuse itself does. First Nations people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQI community and other marginalised groups face even greater barriers to justice. Every voice matters.”

Her words resonated deeply with watching Australians, who called her “brilliant” and her speech “something else”, comparing her to 2015 winner and domestic violence survivor Rosie Batty.

“Congratulations Grace Tame. This outstanding young woman will do great things as Australian of the Year,” tweeted Christine Milne, former Greens leader and Tasmanian senator.

“Huge congratulations to Grace Tame,” said Jess Greene, President of Laurel House, the Sexual Assault Counselling and Support Service in the North and North West of Tasmania. “I thank Grace for her advocacy, courage and persistence for change.”

Ms Tame, one of four women to win, and the Tasmanian Australian of the Year in the 61-year history of the award, outlined her plans to change the future.

“Just as the impacts of evil are borne by all of us, so too are solutions born of all of us.

“I was abused by a male teacher. But one of the first people I told was also a male teacher. And he believed me,” she said.

“This year and beyond my focus is on empowering survivors and education as a primary means of prevention. It starts with conversation. We’re all welcome at this table. “Communication breeds understanding and understanding is the foundation of progress. Lived experience informs structural and social change. When we share we heal.

“Yes, discussion of child sexual abuse is uncomfortable. But nothing is more uncomfortable than the abuse itself so let us redirect this discomfort to where it belongs — at the feet of the perpetrators of these crimes.

“Together we can redefine what it means to be a survivor. Together, we can end child sexual abuse. Survivors be proud, our voices are changing history.

“Eleven years ago, I was in hospital, anorexic with atrophied muscles. I struggled to walk. Last year, I won a marathon.

“We do transform as individuals, and we do transform as a community. When I first reported I was shamed and ridiculed by some, but now my truth is helping to reconnect us.

“I know who I am. I’m a survivor. A proud Tasmanian.

“I remember him towering over me, blocking the door. I remember him saying, ‘don’t tell anybody’. I remember him saying ‘don’t make a sound’. Well hear me now, using my voice, in a growing chorus that will not be silenced. Let’s make some noise, Australia.”

Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea called Ms Tame an “outstanding recipient”.

“A powerful, compelling and heart-wrenching acceptance speech by #AustralianOfTheYear, Grace Tame. A survivor of child sexual assault, survivors’ advocate and change agent,” she wrote.

Media commentators and author Mike Carlton tweeted: “Surprising choice. Great choice. What a woman.”

Studio 10 co-host Angela Bishop said Ms Tame was an “extraordinary young woman who has achieved something often considered impossible: to force a manifestly unfair law to be changed.”

Podcast host Natasha Mitchell called her a “strong, resilient woman”.

“What a powerful, inspiring, gut wrenching speech,” tweeted Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson.

Health service leader Sandra Gates tweeted: “It is impossible to measure how important this is for survivors of sexual assault. As Grace says, ‘There is no shame in being a survivor’”.

And journalist Sherele Moody tweeted at Margaret Court “this is what a real hero looks like. Grace Tame is the legend Australia needs right now. She is a true Warrior – Grace by name, Grace by nature and attitude!”

Australian TV veteran Kerry O’Brien had accepted an appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) but changed his mind due to the “deeply insensitive and divisive decision” to award the tennis legend.

He wrote a letter reversing his decision on Saturday to the office of the Governor-General, David Hurley.



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Business

‘Huge opportunity’ in construction tech: Aconex co-founder backs Matrak


Mr Jasper said he was extremely bullish on Matrak’s prospects and while the number of construction technology startups in Australia was growing rapidly there was plenty of room for the new players in the market.

“With technology more broadly, the opportunities keep on expanding. You couldn’t have built Matrak 10 years ago,” he said. “As technology evolves and customers become more adept at using it, the opportunities arise.“

Matrak is a global construction tracking network that provides end to end supply chain information for construction companies.

The startup was founded in Melbourne in 2017 by Shane Hodgkins, 35, and Brett Hodgkins, 28, after the brothers found the lack of information about when supplies were due to arrive at their dad’s construction company was causing “mayhem”. They set about building a solution.

“It blew up straight away and multinationals overseas and big builders in Australia wanted access to the software,” Shane Hodgkins said.

Matrak is used on more than 140 projects across Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Hong Kong, Macau, China and Thailand and will use the funding to expand its sales and marketing push into Europe and Asia, particularly China and the United Kingdom.

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“It’s a big opportunity to take what is world-leading technology to the rest of the world,” Mr Hodgkins said.

He said working directly with Mr Jasper had been “surreal” as Aconex had always been an inspiration to the brothers.

“Now that we’re connecting hundreds of companies globally, being backed by the co-founder of one of Australia’s biggest tech successes puts us in a phenomenal position to emulate their trajectory.”

Paul Naphtali of Rampersand said construction technology was a “huge new frontier” with opportunities for scale where technology adoption was not developed yet.

“I think property and building and construction are so central to the Australian DNA that it is such an oversized industry for this country that we’ve got a really advanced market to sell into,” he said. “As opposed to many other industries, you can springboard out of Australia within construction, probably more easily than some others.”

The investment brings Matrak’s total funding since launching to $9.8 million. The startup raised $3 million via convertible notes in 2019 and a $765,000 seed round in 2018.

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Local News - Victoria

British ties perpetuate a blind focus on one group


Finally, we would have a national day of celebration that resonates with all who live here.
Roan Plotz, Preston

An uncontroversial interim date
The suggestion by Ken Rivett (Letters, 25/1) that Australia should celebrate its national day on March 3 is a good one.

It could also be an uncontroversial date until Australia becomes a republic, in which case the date of the referendum on which this is voted would be a logical choice.
Juliet Flesch, Kew

A way to show you disagree
Perhaps people who disagree with January 26 being Australia Day because for our First Nations people it marks a day of invasion and the beginnings of dispossession and massacres should hang a black flag, wreath or other such symbol on their front gate or front door to show their desire for a better chosen day.

It would certainly send a clear message to Canberra.
Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights

A deep sense of shame at the lasting injustices
Although I’m only a third-generation Australian, genealogically speaking, whose forebears were on the other side of the world while the British Empire claimed this country, I retain a deep sense of shame at the lasting injustices carried out against our First Nations people.

Some would consider the concept of collective guilt illogical, but I would doubtless feel the same if I were a more recent citizen of the Americas, South Africa, India, the East Indies, or other places colonised by European powers without regard to, and with violence against, the original inhabitants. We cannot move forward as a nation without acknowledging past wrongs and actively seeking to address them.

As long as we continue to celebrate Australia Day as the birth of the nation, this contentious issue will remain a source of division and will not engender the sense of unity that a national holiday should.
Vikki O’Neill, Ashburton

January 26 is the worst possible day
The issue is simple. We would like a day on which to celebrate what unites Australians, including mateship, inclusivity and the expectation of a fair go.

The day chosen for this is the worst possible in the whole calendar, the day most likely to offend and injure those from whose loss the rest of us built our gain. The day is about celebrating an idea, not an event. There can be no genuine argument to stick with January 26 beyond reluctance to change; as well as representing dispossession of First Nations people, it disrupts the week leading to the return to school and often leads to loss of revenue for businesses (if it falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, workers often take off the adjacent Monday or Friday).

We have the whole calendar to choose from: I suggest the second Friday in August. It is half way through the holiday-free stretch of the school third term and would offend no one.
Barbara Boxhall, Glen Iris

THE FORUM

Release this family
It was so heartening to see asylum seekers released into the community last week. Now, what about releasing Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharunicaa back to their home and adoptive community in Biloela?
Their release could put the millions of dollars currently spent holding them in captivity back into the economy to help kick-start recovery from the coronavirus devastation. Win-win.
Brenda McKinty, Oakleigh East

Unconscionable attitude
So it’s the cost of detaining refugees that has finally convinced Peter Dutton that they should be released into the community. What an astonishing epiphany.

Your editorial (″⁣Release the rest of the detained refugees″⁣, The Age, 23/1), is right to describe this response as ″⁣remarkably trite″⁣ and his justification as ″⁣spurious″⁣.

In his relentless attempt to demonise them, Mr Dutton continues to describe these refugees as ″⁣illegal maritime arrivals″⁣ when, according to the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, there is nothing illegal about seeking refuge by boat or any other means. It is the callous and cruel disregard for the welfare of these men over many, many years by the federal government that has rightly brought upon us local and international shame and condemnation.

It is Peter Dutton’s mercenary attitude that puts the costs of detaining these men above the care or compassion they rightly deserve that is so unconscionable.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Hitting a raw nerve
Ross Gittins’ accurate analysis (″⁣PM’s trust, respect for public servants vital for economy″⁣, Business, 25/1) hits a raw nerve for anyone who has observed the decline of the public sector from inside or outside over the past 40-odd years.

The whole context has changed: the idea of ″⁣public″⁣ service has been replaced by ″⁣government″⁣ or ″⁣personal″⁣ service, designed to bolster those in power at the expense of others. No wonder there’s no trust, no credibility, no continuity, no impartial professional advice.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Public servants can set an example of principled leadership and integrity, even in a political policy vacuum, and the public they serve can recognise and appreciate good service.

The public sector must be encouraged to participate in open discussion of government proposals, without being forever silenced and ignored; it is the only way to harness the necessary skills and experience to actually serve the public.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

This is no substitute …
The Australian government signing an agreement to commit to adaptation to climate change when they won’t commit to proper action to minimise the level of global warming is like signing up to deal with the public health crisis of obesity by committing to provide larger clothes while making sure that sugary drinks are provided free in every school (″⁣Australia to support climate resilience strategy″⁣, The Age, 25/1).

We need our government to properly commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to reduce climate change, not to trumpet that they will take action to adapt to climate change. Adaptation without reduction will be much more expensive than reduction and will not stop catastrophic impacts of unchecked climate change.
Graham Phelps, Ocean Grove

… for real action
Speedy resilience and adaptation are essential in helping tackle the climate crisis. And it is important that politicians such as Environment Minister Sussan Ley can agree on this.

But it is equally essential that all countries must also speedily reduce the main causes (fossil fuel emissions and land clearing) of the crisis. Otherwise, climate extremes will continue worsening way beyond any hope of life (including humans) adapting.

This is the very hard truth that a minority of the Morrison government still refuse to understand, accept and act on.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

A selective reading
On the ABC news on Sunday night Margaret Court claimed she only teaches the Bible, and her critics should move on. I would like to put to her, does she teach the whole Bible, or if not, how does she choose which parts to teach?

For example, does she teach: Leviticus 25:44, which states that people may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are from neighbouring nations (Exodus 21:7 also sanctions slavery); or the sacrifice of cattle to please the Lord (Leviticus 1:9); or a person working on the Sabbath be put to death (Exodus 35:2)?

Clearly we have moved on from these ″⁣teachings″⁣, and it’s time Ms Court moved on to more enlightened views on gender diversity.
Ian Gardner, Northcote

We have changed
Yes (″⁣Diminished as a people″⁣, Letters, 25/1), the LGBTQI+ community may be a minority group in their numbers compared to heterosexuals but I believe the majority of Australians now accept the diversity of sexuality that has always existed in our country.
We are only diminished by not respecting other people’s sexuality.

In 2013 it was made unlawful in Australia to discriminate against a person on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

A person of her time
Margaret Court is a person of her upbringing and time and reminds us of what were mainstream Australian public views and values not so long ago.

Perhaps that reminder is part of the reason for the excessive righteousness of her critics. Had she as a young woman publicly adopted the views that are now required of her, then she would have been also attacked, but probably less intensely.

I’m not attracted to her beliefs; neither am I attracted to the unfeeling, shrill attacks on a person, now aged, who was in her time a national hero.
Adam Thomson, Collingwood

Cleansing tears
I spent an hour or so consuming Saturday’s Age (23/1): Trump and his cult followers, Joe Biden (hallelujah), refugees, climate change, Invasion Day/Australia Day, the virus and its ramifications, Australia/China relations, the downfall of Aussie cricket, the effects of concussion on the brains of our AFL players, and throw in the odd letter and Comment from regular contributors. Sadness started creeping in. I needed a break.

Several hours later I returned to my favourite section of the paper, Spectrum. J.S. Bach’s The Art of the Fugue had been put into the CD player, and I turned to page two and the article by Anson Cameron: ″⁣The last goodbye″⁣.

If ever there was a recipe for allowing the tears to flow – and Bach will certainly help conjure up those tears – this article did just that. Not tears of sadness, but, somehow, cleansing tears.

For five minutes, as I read Anson’s words about the imminent death of his friend, the worries of the world had been left behind. All that mattered were these two people and their interaction, and it reminded me to try and be the best person I can possibly be before my own inevitable death.

A wonderful article.
Jan Courtin, Albert Park

Something to aim for
On May 9, 1901 we had a new Federal Parliament. May 9, 1927 the old Parliament House was opened. May 9, 1988 the new Parliament House was opened. Surely these are significant dates for Australians.

Perhaps a near-future May 9 will be called Republic Day. January 26? Treaty Day? Now that’s something to aim for.
Tom Upton, Bendigo

This annual fuss …
I am utterly weary of the annual fuss made over Australia Day – both its uninspiring celebrations and the recurring painful debate over January 26.

Please let’s just change the date to January 1 and call that either Australia Day or Federation Day. Then our New Year’s Eve fireworks can do double duty, heralding both the new year and the anniversary of Australia’s nationhood.

Any slight awkwardness as to public holidays is easily resolved. Our states and territories can continue to mark their own proclamation dates. And no single state (guess which?) will any longer hog the limelight on this country’s national day.
Anthea Hyslop, Eltham

… is not helpful
It’s not helpful on any issue for discussion to go round and round ad infinitum.

Australia Day is the latest. Because it is in the major school holidays, it has lost its significance for two reasons – many families are not in their local communities, and students are not taught about it. But we need a day to celebrate both the First Nations people and all the cultures who have called Australia home for the last 240 years.

The government should choose a date when the weather is pleasant across Australia, and I suggest March 1 would be ideal.

First Nations people should be included everywhere and local communities encouraged to celebrate what is appropriate for their place and time.

Please make a decision and move on from this endless discussion.
Jennifer Monger, Benalla

We change with the times
Given thousands of Australians also march on or commemorate January 26 as Invasion Day, by what stretch of the imagination is it fair or relevant for government to browbeat the ABC for using both terms on its website?

Language and community attitudes change, and just because something has an official name, common or alternative usage also has to be acknowledge and respected. (It’s why we update dictionaries.)

Especially so in this case, because we all know – or should know by now – that celebrating this day has a different impact on many of our Indigenous fellow citizens.
Ernest Raetz, Northcote

AND ANOTHER THING

Australia Day
Scott Morrison’s new name for January 26: ″⁣Not a Flash Day Day″⁣. Fixes everything, methinks.
Mark Mocicka, St Kilda East

Credit:

The result for the Australia Day survey should have been reported as ″⁣48 per cent of Australians have no empathy for our Indigenous people″⁣.
Denis Liubinas, Blairgowrie

Politics
Bill Shorten is clearly positioning himself for another crack at the Labor leadership; whether he achieves this or not is immaterial because as far as the electorate is concerned, there ″⁣ain’t much difference″⁣ between the government we’ve got and what we could have.
Jaroslaw Kotiw, Strathfieldsaye

Paul Fletcher, this is not Russia. The ABC is meant to be independent of the government.
Lou Ferrari, Richmond

Didn’t we just have an election? Seems like all we talk about is when the next election may be. Time for fixed four-year terms.
Dean Virgin, Strathmore

Margaret Court
The next time you’re in town, Margaret Court, come and visit some of the transgender and homosexual kids I teach. You’ll learn so much from them about kindness, forgiveness and decency.
Andrew Dowling, Torquay

I don’t want to spoil the party, but Timothy 2:12 says quite clearly that women can’t have authority over men, so Margaret Court’s ministry is against the teachings of the Bible and she’ll have to step aside. Sorry, Margaret.
Anne Cooper, Stanmore, NSW

Furthermore
I look forward to a time when the highest honours are awarded to unpaid community volunteers.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Finally
It would be more effective to use some form of ″⁣conversion therapy″⁣ to treat bigotry, which is a learnt behaviour, rather than sexual orientation, which is not.
Chris Wilson, Poowong

Note from the Editor

The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

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Margaret Court, Tim Cahill, Malcolm Turnbull


The Australia Day Honours list has been revealed and notable Aussies being honoured this year include a former prime minister and a number of household names in Australian sport.

Among them are Malcolm Turnbull, Gai Waterhouse, Greg Chappell and Tim Cahill.

Margaret Court has been honoured for her service to tennis but her nomination has been met with controversy.

Australian TV veteran Kerry O’Brien backflipped on the honour after previously accepting an appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), but he changed his mind due to the “deeply insensitive and divisive decision” to award the tennis legend.

The former Four Corners presenter and political correspondent is widely regarded as one of the most important voices in journalism. He was honoured for distinguished service to broadcast media.

The Agereports O’Brien wrote a letter reversing his decision on Saturday to the office of the Governor-General, David Hurley.

“I believe the decision to award Australia’s highest honour to Margaret Court may serve to erode the hard-fought gains made over decades in reducing the impact of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community,” he wrote.

He said he was also refusing the award “in support” of Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo, a transgender woman and LGBTIQ advocate who received an Order of Australia medal in 2016.

“Given the message that the Council for the Order of Australia is sending by giving this promotion to Mrs Margaret Court, I would like to return my OAM,” she wrote.

“I do not want to be seen as supporting the values that the Council for the Order of Australia seem to be supporting with this promotion of Mrs Margaret Court.”

O’Brien said: “To me Dr Took Meng Soo epitomises the true spirit of the Order of Australia. Her actions speak volumes as to why the Court award is so wrong.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday that he does not believe Court is worthy of the award.

“I don’t believe she has views that accord with the vast majority of people across our nation that see people from the LGBTIQ community as equal and deserving of dignity, respect and safety,” he said.

“I don’t believe she shares those views and I don’t believe she should be honoured because of that.”

NOTABLE NAMES

In total there have been more than 800 Australians recognised, including 571 recipients of awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia, 28 recipients in the Military Division of the Order of Australia and 176 meritorious awards.

Governor-General David Hurley sent his congratulations to all those who were recognised.

“The individuals we celebrate today come from all parts of our great nation and have served the community in almost every way conceivable,” he said.

“They’re diverse and unique but there are some common characteristics, including selflessness, commitment and dedication.”

Some of this year’s most notable names include:

MARGARET COURT

The 78-year-old was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for “eminent service to tennis as an internationally acclaimed player and record-holding grand slam champion, and as a mentor of young sportspersons”.

Court won 24 Grand Slam singles titles, 19 Grand Slam doubles titles and 21 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles and was the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon in 1963.

Her achievements on the tennis court are well recognised but her comments off the court – particularly about the LGBTIQ community – have been met with condemnation.

Court hit back at critics after news about her Australia Day honours were leaked. She claimed she had been unfairly bullied over her beliefs, calling on her outspoken critics to stop.

MALCOLM TURNBULL

Mr Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister from 2015-2018, was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for “eminent service to the people and parliament of Australia, particularly as prime minister, through significant contributions to national security, free trade, the environment and clean energy, innovation, economic reform and marriage equality, and to business and philanthropy”.

The Chair of Australian Republican Movement published his fourth book, The Bigger Picture, in 2020.

CRAIG FOSTER

The former Socceroos captain turned refugee advocate was recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia for service to multiculturalism and human rights.

Foster has worked tirelessly to give a voice to refugees and asylum seekers who were kept locked up on Nauru and Manus Island and later in Australia.

TIM CAHILL

Cahill, another former Socceroos captain who scored 50 goals for Australia, was recognised for distinguished service to football.

G REG CHAPPELL

One of Australia’s greatest ever cricketers, who captained Australia in 48 Tests, was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to cricket.

JAY WEATHERILL

The premier of South Australia between 2011-2018 was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the people during his time in SA parliament.

GAI WATERHOUSE

The Melbourne Cup winning racehorse owner was recognised with an Officer of the Order of Australia award for distinguished service to the thoroughbred horse racing industry.

GRAHAM ROSS

The Better Homes And Gardens presenter was recognised in this year’s awards for service to broadcast media.

CAL BRUTON

The former National Basketball League player and coach was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to basketball.

“Recipients have not put their hand up to be recognised. Most would consider the achievements that they are being recognised for to be ‘ordinary’ or just what they do,” the Governor-General said.

“Therein is the great strength of our system – recipients in the Order of Australia have been nominated by their peers, considered by an independent process and, today, recognised by the nation.

“The sum of these contributions speaks to our nation’s greatest strength – its people.”

Nominations for the Order of Australia can be made at any time throughout the year. If you know someone worthy, nominate them at www.gg.gov.au.



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Australian News

Malka Leifer, former Melbourne principal, extradited from Israel


A former Melbourne principal accused of child sexual abuse has boarded a flight to be extradited from Israel to Australia.

Attorney-General Christian Porter confirmed Israeli media reports about Malka Leifer’s extradition.

“Victorian authorities are responsible for the physical return of Ms Leifer to Australia now that the legal extradition process in Israel has concluded and she has been found suitable for surrender to Australian authorities to face the charges against her,” a spokesman for Mr Porter said in a statement.

Victoria Police declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate while the extradition process is ongoing.

Ms Leifer is accused of abusing three sisters while she was headmistress of Adass Israel School in Melbourne’s Elsternwick neighbourhood over several years in the early 2000s.

She left Australia after the allegations against her surfaced. Since then, she has been waging a legal fight to avoid extradition.

But on Monday evening Australian time, Israeli media published pictures of Ms Leifer boarding a flight, holding the rail of a metal staircase and accompanied by three female officials in masks and face shields.

Her lawyer in Israel, Nick Kaufman, told local newspaper Times of Israel it was unfortunate “photographs of (Leifer) being led in handcuffs and legcuffs were leaked to the press”.

He added Israeli authorities had been “expected to ensure the secrecy of the date of transfer and to ensure maximum respect for Ms. Leifer’s dignity until she left Israeli jurisdiction”.

The spokesman for Mr Porter said the Australian government was aware of the Israeli news reports.

“The Australian Government does not comment on logistics involving extradition arrangements against individuals until the extradition process has concluded,” the person said.

“Both the Attorney-General and Minister for Foreign Affairs have expressed their thanks to the Israel Government for its assistance and co-operation to bring this long-running process to a conclusion to allow for the extradition of Ms Leifer to Australia where she faces serious sexual assault allegations.

“The Ministers will issue a further statement at the conclusion of the extradition process.”



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Local News - Victoria

Victorian beach users ignoring safety signs amid record drowning death toll


“These findings highlight the importance of using multiple risk management strategies to prevent drowning and aquatic injuries, such as signage, public awareness campaigns, education and lifeguard services,” she said.

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Dr Matthews urged beachgoers to read signs carefully and learn the risks before swimming.

“Our advice to beachgoers and waterway users is that every beach and waterway has different hazards, so we do urge you to take time to read safety signs, to understand the local hazards, before entering the water.”

The responsibility for displaying signs at waterways lies with the land managers rather than Life Saving Victoria, but the service can provide recommendations about signs and other matters including education.

Forty-two people have drowned since July last year, including seven in the past 10 days, making it the most deadly six-month period on record. The toll is also 15 more than the five-year average.

On Saturday a 58-year-old man died near Anglesea after heading out with another man in a small boat that overturned. His companion made it back to shore. On the same day a man was pulled from the water at Thirteenth Beach near Barwon Heads after getting into trouble. He died at the scene.

Rescue crews were called to an Anglesea beach after a small boat capsized just after 2pm on Saturday.

Rescue crews were called to an Anglesea beach after a small boat capsized just after 2pm on Saturday.Credit:Nine News

While zero to 14 is the age group most at risk of drowning, authorities are also increasingly worried about men under the age of 45 who “overestimate” their abilities.

For the past decade, emergency services have been grappling with a “disturbing trend” among drowning victims who have fallen into the water from boats. Seventy-five per cent of those who died due to a boating accident were either not wearing a life jacket or were wearing it incorrectly, according to Cameron Toy, the director of Transport Safety Victoria.

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“The message here is: wear a life jacket even if it’s not required by law,” Mr Toy said. “We would really like to see people starting to get into the habit of putting a life jacket on because … it’s when you unexpectedly enter the water that things go wrong and you really want to avoid that.”

Mr Toy was at The Warmies in Newport with Fishing and Boating Minister Melissa Horne on Monday morning to highlight water safety messaging.

He said research conducted for his department consistently revealed men under the age of 45 were over-represented in drowning figures, fuelled by the cohort “overestimating” their abilities in the water. He said Transport Safety Victoria had also investigated the effectiveness of warning signs at waterways and found people were not paying attention to the messages.

“[The research] tells us that unless the message changes regularly, people won’t pay any attention to it,” Mr Toy said.

“Signage is a good way of getting messages across, but it’s not the only way. That’s why we’re pretty heavily involved in partnering with other agencies, using social media to get our messaging out, and it’s not just something for us to do – we really rely on a whole-of-government approach for that.”

The department has also looked at embedding boat safety in school curriculums, but has not struck a formal deal with the Education Department.

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Business

Coke takeover price under water as share price bubbles


It is easy to see why non-Coke aligned investors thought the company was being stolen from beneath them despite the fact that the deal had the unanimous support of the Coca-Cola Amatil board.

Since then Coca-Cola Amatil’s share price has not only improved but has risen beyond the offer price.

Thus the offer from Coke in Europe looks not just opportunistic but poorly timed.

Had that price been proposed earlier in the year (when the shares were at $8) it may have succeeded. But given the parent, The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, controls all its bottlers, it probably doesn’t subscribe to the view that it needs to offer a regular control premium.

The trouble is that, given it doesn’t get to vote its shareholding, it is up to minority shareholders to decide the takeover’s success.

Based on a positive-ish earnings update last week, the share price has taken another leg up and at Monday’s price of $13.14 there will be significant pressure on institutional shareholders to reject the bid.

If they do they will be rolling a dice on whether Coke Europe will come back with a higher offer.

Citi’s analyst Craig Woolford now sees a 35 per cent chance of a sweetener being added to the offer and a 50 per cent chance the offer will proceed at $12.75.

It took 18 months of haggling with the Coca-Cola Amatil board to come up with the $12.75 offer. In March 2019 Coke Europe started the process with an offer of $10 a share when the stock was trading around $8.50.

Coke Europe could walk away from the $12.75 per share deal – or stump another 40 to 50 cents which analysts reckon would get it over the line.

Citi’s analyst Craig Woolford now sees a 35 per cent chance of a sweetener being added to the offer and a 50 per cent chance the offer will proceed at $12.75.

It rates the chances of no deal at 15 per cent – in which case it believes the Coca-Cola Amatil share price will fall to $11.

Macquarie sees ‘upside risk’ to the $12.75 share offer – which means it thinks there is a possibility the bid price will be lifted. Its analyst Ross Curran says the earnings update raises the risk that shareholders may vote against the scheme if the price is not improved.

This is not a company with a long-term growth trajectory. It has been attempting to replace falling sales from carbonated sugary soft drinks with other healthier-product sales and sugar lite options (plus some alcoholic beverages) for 10 years or more.

Despite some success it’s hard to fight the reality that its mainstay is still fizzy sugary drinks. Having said that, 2020 was a particularly poor year for Coca-Cola Amatil.

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While overall volumes were still down in the fourth quarter the trend was improving from earlier COVID affected quarters. In Australia and New Zealand volumes started growing in the fourth quarter – albeit only marginally in Australia.

Analysts may see the better performance from NZ as a proxy for what volumes could look like in other territories given volumes across the ditch were hit less by lockdowns.

Overall, Coca-Cola Amatil volumes continue to be dragged down by Indonesia which is still battling with COVID and its economic consequences.

The company, under chief executive Alison Watkins, has made a decent fist of improving the cost base over the past five years. But that said the company has still been something of a chronic underperformer.

So minority investors in Coca-Cola Amatil have a lot at stake. Either accept the offer on the table, take a punt that the offer will be improved or risk the offer disappearing and the share price falling.

Given the stock is trading above the offer price, the market appears to be betting the offer will be raised.

Spare a thought for the uncomfortable position in which Coca-Cola Amatil directors find themselves- they are, in effect, now recommending an offer that is at a discount to the share price.

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Australian News

Scott Morrison defends George Brandis’s Queensland holiday


Australia’s top diplomat to the UK took a holiday to Queensland while many expat Aussies were begging his office for help to get home.

High Commissioner to the UK George Brandis was backed up by the Prime Minister after 7 News revealed Mr Brandis had left the UK at the peak of that country’s COVID-19 crisis to holiday on the Sunshine Coast.

“I’ll just simply give you the facts: He came back for meetings here in Australia, like many other heads of mission. He did not take the place of any other Australian,” Scott Morrison told reporters on Monday.

“He’s an Australian and he spent some time with his family in his home state while he was here.”

Mr Morrison said he’d met with Mr Brandis during the diplomat’s time in Australia.

The High Commission, a Commonwealth equivalent of an embassy, is the Australian government’s point of contact for Aussies living in the UK.

That’s where Australians have turned for help visiting home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Brandis, a former attorney-general and Liberal senator for Queensland, arrived in Australia in November and undertook a fortnight’s quarantine before travelling for meetings in Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, a spokesperson told 7 News.

“He then, in accordance with DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs) guidelines, took a short period of annual leave, which was spent at his home in Queensland, before returning to the United Kingdom,” the spokesperson said.

In a picture published by 7 News, Mr Brandis is seen sitting in an airport terminal wearing casual clothes.

Other high commissioners and ambassadors also travelled to Australia over Christmas, according to the news channel.

Arrival caps for people returning from the UK have been slashed since a mutant strain of COVID began running rampant in the country.

With more than 100,000 Aussies living there, the pressure on local consulate staff has mounted as people try to find ways to visit home despite the restrictions.

On New Year’s Eve, the High Commission in the UK cancelled all passport appointments until further notice, citing “the significant increase in COVID related cases in the United Kingdom and the national lockdown”.



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