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Telstra taken to court over aggressive selling towards Indigenous Australians


Australia’s major telecommunications provider Telstra has been taken to court for admitting it aggressively sold mobile phone plans to vulnerable Indigenous communities.

On Thursday morning, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission confirmed it had taken legal action against the telco provider in the Federal Court following Telstra’s admittance of lobbing high cost mobile phone plans on Aboriginal people.

Telstra has admitted to breaching Australian Consumer Law between 2016 and 2018 after employees took advantage of 108 Indigenous customers and signed them up to multiple mobile phone plans without conducting credit checks or properly explaining terms and conditions.

Telstra has accepted a $50 million fine, to be confirmed by the court.

ACCC chair Rod Sims says Telstra’s wrongdoing caused severe personal financial hardship and ongoing distress for a number indigenous communities.

“These debts significantly impacted the affected individuals,” Mr Sims said.

“For example, one consumer had a debt of over $19,000; another experienced extreme anxiety worrying they would go to jail if they didn’t pay; and yet another used money withdrawn from their superannuation towards paying their Telstra debt.”

Telstra confessed that the five stores located in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and

South Australia used unfair selling tactics and took advantage of their bargaining position to sell products onto people whose first language may not have been English.

The ACCC said Telstra’s actions resulted in the customers incurring an average debt amount of $7400. Some cases were also referred onto third party debt collectors.

“In many instances, sales staff also manipulated credit assessments so consumers who otherwise may have failed its credit assessment could enter into postpaid mobile contracts. This included falsely indicating that a consumer was employed,” the ACCC said in a statement.

Mr Sims said despite Telstra becoming aware of these issues, it failed to act swiftly in rectifying the problem.

“This case exposes extremely serious conduct which exploited social, language, literacy and cultural vulnerabilities of these Indigenous consumers,” Mr Sims said.

“Even though Telstra became increasingly aware of elements of the improper practices by sales staff at Telstra licensed stores over time, it failed to act quickly enough to stop it, and these practices continued and caused further, serious and avoidable financial hardship to Indigenous consumers.”

Telstra board and senior management were unaware at the time of the serious misconduct by some of its retail staff.

The company has agreed to the filing of consent orders and joint submission of a $50 million fine, which will be decided by the court.



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Local News - Victoria

Victoria achieves 27 days with no new coronavirus cases


“I think there’s every chance that there are a handful of cases out there, this is a wildly infectious virus,” he said on Wednesday. “You’ve always got to assume there’s more out there than you know.”

There have been 20,345 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria and 819 deaths, most of them among the elderly in aged care.

Victorians will be able to enter Queensland from next Tuesday after its extended run of zero-case days.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Wednesday morning she would reopen the border to Victorian travellers on December 1, after the southern state recorded its 26th consecutive day without a COVID-19 case.

NSW opened to Victoria on Monday, while Tasmania is due to open from Friday. South Australia will allow Victorians to enter the state without restriction again on December 1.

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Victorians are already permitted to enter ACT and the Northern Territory has been allowing regional Victorians to enter without quarantining since November 2, but still classifies metropolitan Melbourne as a hot spot.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner has previously spoken of his intention to allow Melburnians back into the territory by Christmas.

Melbourne will start to receive international arrivals again on December 7, with Mr Andrews confirming there would be trials done in the hotels picked for the relaunched quarantine program.

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While infectious diseases experts are quietly confident Victoria has completely stamped out community transmission of the virus for now, they warn the biggest risk of the virus returning comes from the easing of border restrictions and the reopening of hotel quarantine.

“When we achieve 28 days we will be achieving it with bells and whistles because we will have had no new cases for 28 days and we will have no active cases left in the community,” University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely said. “It’s the complete Rolls-Royce version.”

But Professor Blakely warned that unless Australia changed its border policy and stopped accepting people flying in from the northern hemisphere, where the virus continues to run rampant, it would only be a matter of time before there was a “slip-up somewhere” and more cases leached into the community.

The last patient in Victoria infected with the virus, a man aged in his 90s, was discharged from hospital on Monday night, after being admitted last month. The man was treated at the Monash Medical Centre for more than 40 days alongside his wife who also contracted the virus.

with Melissa Cunningham

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Teenager ‘choked unconscious’ by security guards at Melbourne pub


Sickening footage has revealed the moment a teenage pubgoer was choked unconscious by bouncers in front of horrified patrons.

The incident occurred on November 14 at the Dorset Gardens Hotel in Croydon in Melbourne’s east, and the video was shared on social media this week before being picked up by news outlets.

In the clip, a young male can be seen being grabbed and dragged by security guards and placed into a chokehold before he loses consciousness and his body drops to the ground face-first.

A bouncer then grabs the young man by his red shirt and drags him out the door.

According to Seven News, the 18-year-old had been told to leave the venue earlier in the day due to unruly behaviour, before jumping a fence to sneak back inside and rejoin his friends.

Witness Alex Hayhow claimed security guards tried to escort the “rowdy” patron out again before he ran off, jumped behind the bar and poured himself a schooner of beer before being intercepted by security.

Witness Lousie Bambery told the network she was “just in shock” after watching the treatment of the man, while the unnamed victim claimed the bouncer showed “no duty of care” and that the fall “had the potential to kill me”.

Victoria Police told news.com.au in a statement that police were investigating “following a reported assault at a licenced premises in Croydon on 14 November”.

“Investigators have been told a male was ejected from the Dorset Road premises before returning a short time later,” the statement reads.

“An altercation occurred between the man and security before he was ejected a second time.

“The investigation remains ongoing.”

Dorset Gardens venue manager Anthony Poloso told the Herald Sun the guard had received a written warning.

“We don’t condone that sort of behaviour from the guards,” Mr Poloso told the publication.

“In the context of the situation we were extremely patient with that patron. He chose to jump the beer garden fence and he ran behind the bar.”



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Business

Markets Live, Thursday 26 November, 2020


“It’s a growth day, flipping back the other way away from value,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. “It’s this ongoing struggle between the virus and the vaccine.”

“There’s a reality setting in that while the vaccine will start being distributed fairly quickly, the virus isn’t going away quickly and therefore the timeline for economic improvement is getting pushed out.”

A wide range of data released in advance of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday was dominated by a second consecutive week of unexpected jobless claims increases, suggesting that new restrictions to combat spiking coronavirus cases could hobble the struggling labour market’s recovery.

“The economic data is not good, and we know it won’t be good for some time given this new wave of the virus,” Ghriskey added.

The market appeared to be replaying the previous two weeks, which began with rallies driven by promising vaccine news but pivoted back to stay-at-home plays on near-term pandemic realities and lack of new fiscal stimulus.

Still, the vaccine developments and removal of uncertainties surrounding the US presidential election have driven Wall Street indexes to record closing highs, and put the S&P 500 on course for its best November ever.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 173.77 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 29,872.47; the S&P 500 lost 5.76 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 3,629.65; and the Nasdaq Composite added 57.08 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 12,094.40.

Reuters



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Diego Maradona dead at 60: The world reacts, live blog


RIP Diego Armando Maradona

 

(Reuters)

 

Tragic news this morning for football fans, as one of the greatest of all time, Diego Armando Maradona, has died in Buenos Aires at the age of 60.

 

He’ll be remembered for a crazy, eventful life, but mostly for what he did on the football pitch. 

 

We’ll take you through the reactions from Argentina and around the world.



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Kylie Moore-Gilbert released from Iran prison in swap


Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been released from an Iranian prison as part of an inmate swap.

Iranian state media claims she has been exchanged for three Iranian citizens who have been detained abroad.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she was “extremely pleased”.

“Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release has been an absolute priority for the Government since her detention,” Ms Payne said in a statement.

“The Australian Government has consistently rejected the grounds on which the Iranian Government arrested, detained and convicted Dr Moore-Gilbert. We continue to do so.”

The Islamic studies lecturer was tried in secret for espionage and sentenced to 10 years prison, despite no evidence of her alleged crimes having been publicly presented.

She has been detained since September 2018.

The BBC quoted Iranian state media as saying Dr Moore-Gilbert was exchanged for an Iranian businessman and two Iranian citizens “who had been detained abroad”.

Video published by the state broadcaster Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting shows Dr Moore-Gilbert wearing a grey hijab and a facemask, briefly removing it to reveal her face.

She is seen getting into a van, unsmiling, before a man shuts the sliding door and gets into the front seat.

Ms Moore-Gilbert was stopped from returning back to Melbourne, where she is a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, after attending a conference in Qom in Iran in August 2018.

The country‘s Revolutionary Guard alleged that a person she interviewed for a research project was suspicious and refused to let her leave Iran.



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Local News - Victoria

Victoria’s 2020 budget papers show Aboriginal education targets were missed


Just 44.2 per cent of Aboriginal year 3 students finished above the bottom three bands, short of the government’s target of 46.7 per cent and down on the previous year’s result of 44.9 per cent.

Similarly for year 3 reading results, the proportion of Aboriginal students above the bottom three bands fell from 56.1 per cent in 2018 to 51.9 per cent last year, significantly below the Victorian government’s target of 58.2 per cent.

The NAPLAN test results for Aboriginal students in year 7 improved over the past year with the proportion above the bottom three bands growing from 25.5 per cent in 2018 to 28.9 per cent in the numeracy test. However, this was still short of the government’s target last year of 29.7 per cent. The results for students in year 9 declined year-on-year in numeracy, while improving slightly in literacy.

Principal Lois Peeler (in yellow) says Worawa College prepares personalised learning plans and emphasises cultural pride.

Principal Lois Peeler (in yellow) says Worawa College prepares personalised learning plans and emphasises cultural pride.Credit:David Callow

Lois Peeler, principal of Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville, said she was unsurprised by the NAPLAN results because they were “not a good thing for measuring our Aboriginal cohort”.

“The results cannot be an accurate measure,” she said. “They do not factor in that many students do not have English as their first language and most of the topics and contexts are highly unfamiliar to many Aboriginal as well as non-Aboriginal students. Commitment to mainstream and Aboriginal society and values is rarely understood.”

Dr Peeler, who has family links to the Cummeragunja Aboriginal Reserve on the NSW-Victorian border, said students often arrived at her girls’ boarding school in year 7 with a rich knowledge of their first language but limited English language and numeracy skills. Others arrive with highly interrupted schooling.

Worawa Aboriginal College combats these issues by devising personalised learning plans and dividing students into learning streams.

“Balancing the commitments of two very different cultures is complex and many students have cultural obligations that are vital,” Dr Peeler said.

“Aboriginal students are reflected in the curriculum and learning environment at Worawa, but there is a long way to go in mainstream education, including NAPLAN, in this regard.

“We focus a lot on being able to express and be proud of your cultural identity. Pride in your culture is important for anybody’s wellbeing, I think. It helps academic results but also in preparing the girls to navigate their way through the mainstream or return to their communities as leaders.”

John Guenther, an Aboriginal and remote education expert with Darwin’s Batchelor Institute, said despite Victoria’s 2019 results, Aboriginal education outcomes in the past 15 years had steadily improved, particularly through year 12 completion rates.

He echoed Dr Peeler’s statement that governments should not overemphasise NAPLAN results, and said concerning attendance rates should be viewed as a structural issue in schools, rather than a sole problem of students or families.

“We can ensure our teachers are culturally aware of the diversity in their classrooms, particularly our First Nations kids,” Dr Guenther said.

“There are systemic issues – we have to change the language we use, so we don’t call Aboriginal children “disadvantaged”, which labels them as something other than normal and discourages them from going to school. There’s no real rocket science: it’s partly about respect, raising awareness and putting structures in place to help students be their best.”

Dr Peeler suggested Aboriginal students’ poor attendance figures were a result of recurring pressures inside the school gates and at home.

Students at Worawa College come from communities across Australia.

Students at Worawa College come from communities across Australia.Credit:David Callow

“Some of the circumstances that Aboriginal families find themselves in can stem from intergenerational trauma, the socioeconomic position of families. The effect of that on students would have certainly been exacerbated this year as they spent more time at home and more technology was required,” she said.

“I have to say that racism continues to play a part in this in schools too, because we [Aboriginal people] are a minority. Our numbers in most cases in mainstream schools are very small, so kids being kids will point out the differences. Your desire to go to school drops when you feel you are targeted or exiled.”

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Tuesday’s $49 billion state budget included a relatively modest investment of $105.7 million this year specifically for Aboriginal initiatives, while a total of $1.2 billion will be plunged into educational improvements such as school upgrades across Victoria.

There are about 15,000 Aboriginal students in Victoria.

Education Minister James Merlino said $7.4 million had been committed to increasing Koori engagement support officers in schools and improving the Koori literacy and numeracy program for Aboriginal primary school students.

“While we have made significant improvements, we know there is a lot more that needs to be done,” he said.

“That is why specialised and targeted education supports will be provided throughout 2021 to ensure students that may have fallen behind are supported to catch-up.”

Mr Merlino added that figures for Aboriginal students achieving in the top two NAPLAN bands had grown since 2015, though this measure was not included in the budget figures.

The Victorian government’s targets for Indigenous education are separate from the national ‘Closing the Gap’ targets, which were first set in 2008 and just two of them — early childhood education and Year 12 attainment — were achieved by 2019.

The scheme was effectively dumped for a new a new national agreement between Indigenous organisations and governments around Australia. Efforts to meet targets for school attendance, child mortality, employment, life expectancy and literacy and numeracy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people failed.

Last month, the Productivity Commission found that, despite massive spending to address disadvantage, governments’ evidence of what works to improve outcomes was thin, with many programs developed without adequate consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

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Diego Maradona dead at 60: From street urchin to the greatest footballer in the world


He had many nicknames — ‘Golden Boy’, ‘Moptop’, ‘Cosmic Kite’, ‘God’ — but, ironically, the name which best captured this colourful character and the operatic saga of his life was his real one: Diego Armando Maradona.

Argentina’s favourite son and one of world football’s greatest ever players died today in his home in Buenos Aires from a heart attack, bringing to an end a life overflowing with glory and gross excess.

Maradona was a street urchin from a Buenos Aires slum whose natural genius with a football was complemented by a bloody-minded will to succeed.

That he played football like a God made him a figure of worship all over the world, but particularly in his homeland and in Naples, Italy, where he played at his peak.

While he may have appeared god-like on the pitch, in reality he was just a man — and the adulation gradually crushed him.

Intense pressures on and off the field, and a penchant for the kind of debauchery that can only come when nobody in your world ever tells you ‘no’, led to years of drug abuse, controversies and bizarre behaviour.

His flaws, writ large by a voracious media, never diminished the love many Argentinians felt for him, especially the poor and underprivileged, who always saw him as their talisman, conquering the world.

“He is a divine figure.”

And Maradona did conquer the footballing world. He won club titles in Argentina and Italy and the 1986 World Cup with his national side. Many came to regard him as the best of all time, with the legendary Brazilian Pelé the other serious contender.

Perhaps to placate fans of both, or to prevent a war between Argentina and Brazil, Pelé and Maradona jointly won FIFA’s Player of the Century in December, 2000.

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Golden Boy never lost his sense of mischief

Diego Maradona in 1989
Diego Maradona enjoyed God-like status in both Argentina and the south of Italy.(Reuters)

Short and stocky, Maradona’s low centre of gravity and incredible ability with the ball made him a wriggling, slippery menace for opposing defenders.

Playing as a midfielder or forward, he also possessed astonishing vision — an ability to read a game and open it up with a single pass or dribble.

“He had complete mastery of the ball,” said former Barcelona teammate José Carrasco.

“When Maradona ran with the ball or dribbled through the defence, he seemed to have the ball tied to his boots. I remember our early training sessions with him: the rest of the team were so amazed that they just stood and watched him.

“We all thought ourselves privileged to be witnesses of his genius.”

His childlike attitude to the game could manifest itself in many ways, both negative and positive. He was petulant at times, but mostly joyous to watch. His sense of mischief saw him try things nobody else could even imagine.

‘I have two dreams’

Maradona was born on October 30, 1960 in the Villa Fiorito shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires — the fifth of eight children.

He received a football as a gift for his third birthday and from that point on, the game would consume him. The ball and Diego never parted company. He started joining in the children’s pick-up games on the dirt pitches of the neighbourhood, and it soon became apparent he was special.

At the age of eight he joined Las Cebollitas (The Little Onions), a feeder team for professional outfit Argentinos Juniors. When he first showed his skills the coaches told him to go home and bring back his ID, as they didn’t believe someone so young could do what he was doing.

Word of his talent started to spread, and soon he was performing tricks to entertain the crowd at half-time during the senior team’s matches.

Grainy black-and-white footage of a young Diego shows him playing keepy-uppy with ridiculous ease, before he says to the camera: “I have two dreams. My first dream is to play in the World Cup. The second is to win it.”

He signed with Argentinos at age 14 and made his first-division debut in 1976, 10 days before his 16th birthday.

Four months later he became the youngest Argentine to play for the national team, making his debut in a friendly against Hungary — and though he was left out of the 1978 World Cup-winning side due to his youth, he won the Junior World Championship the next year as an under-20.

From the slum to the pinnacle of football

Argentina captain, Diego Maradona, holds up the trophy after the 1986 World Cup final
Diego Maradona holds up the trophy after Argentina beat West Germany 3-2 in the 1986 World Cup final.(AP: Carlo Fumagalli, file photo)

Maradona played 490 official club games during his 21-year professional career, scoring 259 goals. For Argentina he played 91 times and scored 34 goals.

Though he became best known for his love of Boca Juniors, he spent the majority of his early career at Argentinos Juniors — five seasons saw him amass more than 100 goals and a reputation for obscene outbursts of skill. The skills displayed proved he was not just a golden child but the real deal — and as a result he became the great hope of Argentinian football.

With every team in Argentina chasing his services, the only two realistic options were the country’s greatest clubs, River Plate or Boca Juniors. Though River offered him more money, only one choice was possible for Diego; the team he’d adored since childhood, the team associated with the poorer classes and a gutsy fighting spirit: Boca.

His first stint there would be a short one, as his talents drew attention from across the world. In 1981 he led Boca to the championship, scoring 28 goals in 40 games, before promptly taking up an offer from European superpower Barcelona with a then-world-record $9 million transfer fee.

Maradona’s time at the Catalan club was not a happy one. His relationship with club officials was fraught, and he was subjected by brutal treatment from opposing players, who hacked at his legs with little consequence, until Athletic Bilbao’s Andoni Goikoetxea broke one of his ankles.

It was during this period that the young Argentine became increasingly enamoured with the Barcelona nightlife, and first began taking cocaine.

There were some highlights on the pitch, most notably when he became the first Barcelona player applauded by the crowd at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium after an astonishing El Clásico performance.

But his two seasons in Spain ended in ugliness.

After the 1984 Spanish Cup final in which he was roughed up on the pitch and subjected to racist abuse from Athletic Bilbao players and fans, Maradona was at the centre of an all-in brawl between both squads, hurling flying kicks at the opposition while 100,000 fans, including Spain’s King Carlos, watched on.

Barcelona officials had seen enough, and ended their relationship with him.

‘I saw Maradona, oh mamma, and I’m in love’

A throng of cameramen surround Diego Maradona at the top of a set of stairs leading into a stadium.
Diego Maradona on the day of his presentation for SSC Napoli, entering the San Paolo Stadium.(Supplied: HBO)

In what looked like a step backwards, in 1984 Maradona signed with unfashionable southern Italian side Napoli, again for a world-record fee — sending fans of the club into delirium.

‘Italy’s poorest club signs the world’s most expensive player,’ read one headline at the time.

His time in Naples would be the most triumphant of his football career.

Maradona inspired Napoli to their first ever title in 1987, a UEFA Cup in 1989 and another Italian title in 1990.

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For a club that had never before been able to compete with the rich northern giants, this was an extraordinary period of success. And Neapolitans had no doubt who to thank for it.

Maradona ascended to the same God-like status in the south of Italy as he enjoyed in his homeland. His fierce determination, defiant swagger and streetwise playing style made him an immensely appealing character to the residents of the tough port city.

“Maradona is a God to the people of Naples,” said Italy legend and Neapolitan Fabio Cannavaro.

“Maradona changed history … to live those years with Maradona was incredible.”

His genius on the field every weekend became the city’s primary form of escapism.

“Oh mamma, mamma, mamma,” they sung in the terraces and in the streets.

“Oh mamma, mamma, mamma, do you know why my heart is beating?

“I saw Maradona, I saw Maradona, eh, mamma, and I’m in love.”

But after seven years of glory, Diego’s time in Naples ended in scandal. His less-than-savoury extracurricular activities and criminal connections had long been common knowledge, but as Italy’s battle against the Mafia ramped up, authorities stopped looking the other way.

In 1991 Maradona was handed a 15-month ban for a positive doping test and was charged for possession of cocaine. He was also investigated for tax fraud and links to organised crime.

Even the club itself ran out of patience, suing him for damaging its image and fining him heavily for missing training and matches.

Maradona served his ban then refused to return to Naples.

He played a stint with Spanish club Sevilla, then returned to his homeland, briefly appearing for Newell’s Old Boys — where he was kicked out after being caught with half a kilo of cocaine — before ending his career with two seasons at his beloved Boca.

After leaving briefly to coach, Maradona made one final comeback for Boca before failing another drug test and retiring once and for all in 1997 on his 37th birthday.

He has taken up several short-term coaching roles since, but never enjoyed sustained success. Most notably he coached Argentina at the 2010 World Cup, where his sideline antics and hilarious press conferences outshone the team — led by his heir Lionel Messi — itself.

The ‘Hand of God’ and ‘Goal of the Century’ come minutes apart

Maradona shoots at goal with England players flailing around him.
Maradona scores for Argentina against England.(Reuters: Juha Tamminen)

It was on the international scene that Diego enjoyed his most iconic moments, including scoring perhaps both the greatest and most infamous goals of all time — in the same match.

Those who rate him as the best footballer of all time point to the 1986 World Cup victory for Argentina as proof. Never before or since has a single player had such a substantive impact on a tournament.

Maradona dragged a mediocre Argentina outfit to glory through a combination of sublime skill and sheer force of will.

He had debuted at the World Cup in 1982 in Spain, but endured a torrid time — unprotected by referees, he was fouled mercilessly and well contained by Italy and Brazil, before being sent off for violent play as Argentina bowed out to their South American rivals.

By the time the Mexico World Cup rolled around in 1986, Diego was 25 years old, the captain of his side and the best player in the world.

In the quarter-final against England, the best and the worst of Maradona was showcased in a matter of minutes.

The match was taking place just four years on from the Falklands War, which many Argentinians, including Maradona himself, still felt aggrieved by — and victory over England packed an extra emotional punch, whether it was achieved by fair means or foul.

With the game locked at 0-0, Maradona drove at the England defence before leaping for a deflected ball which lobbed towards goal. Despite being 20cm shorter than England goalkeeper Peter Shilton he managed to beat him to the ball and turn it into the net.

The referee awarded the goal as Argentinian players wheeled away in celebration. Maradona had, of course, used his hand to knock the ball in.

After the match when replays made it obvious he had cheated, Diego said the goal was scored, “A little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God.”

In the 2019 Asif Kapadia documentary about his life, Maradona showed no remorse for his nefarious goal.

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“We, as Argentinians, didn’t know what the military was up to [during the Falklands War]. They told us that we were winning the war. But in reality, England was winning 20–0. It was tough.

“The hype made it seem like we were going to play out another war. I knew it was my hand. It wasn’t my plan but the action happened so fast that the linesman didn’t see me putting my hand in.

“The referee looked at me and he said: ‘Goal’. It was a nice feeling, like some sort of symbolic revenge against the English.”

Just four minutes later scored what would become known as ‘The Goal of the Century’.

Taking possession near the halfway line, he skipped and slalomed through the majority of the English team before dinking the ball past Shilton. There was no doubting the legitimacy of that second goal, which also legitimised Maradona’s greatness in 11 breathtaking seconds.

England striker Gary Lineker could only watch in awe.

“When Diego scored that second goal against us, I felt like applauding. I’d never felt like that before, but it’s true … and not just because it was such an important game,” he said.

Maradona further enhanced his reputation with a brilliant solo performance in the semi-final against Belgium before setting up the winning goal in the final against West Germany. Argentina was world champion and Maradona cemented his status as an eternal hero to its people.

A diminished Diego carried an ankle injury into the 1990 World Cup in Italy but nevertheless still managed to guide a dour Argentina side to the final, again against West Germany. This time, in a turgid affair, the Europeans prevailed.

Four years later in his last World Cup in the USA, Maradona was sent home in disgrace after testing positive for ephedrine. His manic celebration of a goal against Greece became infamous in the wake of the doping revelations.

A life of turmoil and scandal

An overweight Diego Maradona salutes fans.
Diego Maradona salutes to the crowd prior to a football match in La Bombonera stadium.

From the time he was at Barcelona in his early 20s, Maradona’s life was beset by drug and alcohol abuse, personal turmoils and scandal. He endured numerous health scares after retirement, with his weight fluctuating wildly.

“Everything about Maradona is exaggerated — the good and the bad. As a player he was number one. He can be charming, but in his private life he broke all the rules,” La Nacion sport editor Daniel Acrucci told AP.

After leaving Spain in some disgrace following the brawl with Bilbao, Diego found himself in his element in Naples, where the locals worshipped him for bringing his immense talent and profile to the city, to the extent where he could get away with almost anything — for a while at least.

Kapadia’s documentary focuses on this time in particular, and shows a Maradona perennially in shock at the level of adulation shown him, as he gradually gives more of himself to the nefarious influences around him.

He was openly wooed by the Neapolitan Mafia, the Comorra, and began to unashamedly accept their expensive gifts and invitations to events and openings. It also meant he had an unlimited supply of cocaine. He was arrested in 1991 for soliciting drugs and prostitution.

The series of doping violations that eventually brought his career to a stuttering halt foreshadowed the serious health problems to come.

“I was, am and always will be a drug addict,” he said in 1996.

Diego Maradona looks dazed amid a throng of police officers.
Diego Maradona escorted by police as he leaves a courthouse after answering charges he shot and injured journalists outside his country home two months earlier.(Reuters)

In 2000 Maradona was hospitalised with a heart condition caused by his cocaine use and moved to Cuba for two years at the invitation of his friend Fidel Castro to undergo rehab.

In 2004 he suffered a heart attack and was forced to have gastric bypass surgery a year later.

In 2007 he was hospitalised again with the effects of excessive eating, drinking and smoking cigars and in November, 2020 he underwent surgery for a blood clot before checking into rehab afterwards for his alcoholism.

Hounded by the press as he struggled for form and fitness in the lead-up to the 1994 World Cup, Maradona shot at reporters gathered outside the gates of his house with an air rifle, injuring several of them.

It wasn’t the only time he hurt a member of the press corps. When he named his squad as coach for Argentina’s 2010 World Cup campaign, he ran over a cameraman’s leg in his car, then shouted abuse at him as he drove away.

Diego married Claudia Villafañe in 1987 but they divorced in 2003 after numerous infidelities on the part of the footballer. The pair would remain close throughout his life, though and she continued to manage him professionally.

A number of people claiming to be his illegitimate offspring have come forward, but for many years Maradona only acknowledged his two daughters with Villafañe, Gianinna and Dalma.

The Argentine media has reported he may have up to 11 children, with his lawyer recognising in 2019 that Maradona had fathered at least three during his time in Cuba.

The most famous Argentine

Diego Maradona fan outside hospital
A fan of Diego Maradona stands outside the clinic where he underwent surgery for a subdural haematoma.(Reuters: Matias Baglietto)

Argentine psychologist and author Gustavo Bernstein once said: “Maradona is our maximum term of reference.

“No one embodies our essence better. No one bears our emblem more nobly. To no other … have we offered up so much passion. Argentina is Maradona, Maradona is Argentina.”

Juan Perón, Eva Perón, Formula 1 legend Juan Manuel Fangio, Pope Francis and Lionel Messi are all known across the world, but no Argentine is as recognisable globally, or as adored at home as Diego Armando Maradona.

The debate as to whether he was the greatest footballer of all time will never be decided, it’s certainly true that for a particular generation of fans who remember El Diego in his pomp, nobody else can ever compare.

He fell well short of the God-like status bestowed on him, but the myth of Maradona will live on forever.

Shirtless Diego Maradona celebrates in front of the stands.
Diego Maradona celebrates before thousands of spectators after his team Boca Juniors, beat their rival River Plate.

Goal of the Century

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Commentary from Victor Hugo Morales:

Now Maradona has it, two marking him, he dribbles past, taking off down the right, this genius of world football.

He leaves behind a third! And is going to lay it off to Burruchaga, but it’s still Maradona…

Genius! Genius! Genius! Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta and GOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

GOOOOOOOOOL! I want to cry!

My God, long live football. Incredible goal!

DIEEEEGOOOO! Maradona!

It’s making me cry, I’m sorry.

Maradona, in a memorable run, in a play for the ages.

Cosmic kite, what planet are you from?

To leave so many Englishmen in your wake?

For the country to be a clenched fist, shouting for Argentina.

Argentina 2, England 0. Diego! Diego! Diego Armando Maradona.

Thank you, God, for football, for Maradona, for these tears, for this Argentina 2, England 0.



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Australian News

Football legend Diego Maradona dies of heart attack at age 60



Argentina football legend Diego Maradona has died of a heart attack at age 60, his lawyer has confirmed.

The former midfielder and national coach had recently battled health problems and underwent successful surgery earlier this month for a blood clot on his brain.

He suffered a heart attack at his home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Wednesday, Argentinian media and acquaintances of the former player said.

He famously captained Argentina to victory at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, winning the Golden Ball as best player of the tournament.

The tournament also featured his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-finals.

Although his reputation was tarnished by drug problems, off-field indiscretions and an ill-fated spell in charge of the national team, he remained idolised in soccer-mad Argentina as the ‘Pibe de Oro’ or ‘Golden Boy’.

Hospitalised and reportedly near death in 2000 and again in 2004 for heart problems blamed on cocaine, Maradona later said he overcame the drug problem.

Cocaine, he once said famously, had proven to be his “toughest rival”.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez declared three days of national mourning after the news of Maradona’s death.

More to come.



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Local News - Victoria

We humans need to be more than ‘clever apes’


Like Dr Emily Frawley – ‘‘Year 12s leaving literature on shelf’’’ (The Age, 23/11) – I learnt a great deal from my students, whose insights into great literature often led to stimulating discussion and independent, high-end thinking, not always accurately assessed in a two-hour exam. I enjoyed my year 12 English classes too, but that subject does lend itself to coaching so that students often enter the exam room with highly polished answers in their armoury, not necessarily proof of their ability to think for themselves.

Moreover, like philosophy, great literature contains much of the wisdom of our civilisation, often in the comparatively accessible form of stories, poetry and plays. In the Greek myth, Prometheus was punished by the gods for stealing fire from Olympus and giving it to humans. The gods feared that such technology would be dangerous in the hands of clever apes, lacking in moral judgment.
If we as a human race are to meet the challenge of handling increasingly dangerous technology, if we are to be more than clever apes, we need the humanities. If Australia is going to be an intelligent country, rather than merely a clever or a lucky one, we need independent, critical and creative thinkers who cut their teeth on some of the big questions asked in great literature.
Janet Strachan, Docklands

Appreciating literature, but with a sense of fun

I was bemused by comments from the former chief assessor of VCE literature, Terry Hayes (Letters, 24/11), who so effortlessly discovered flaws in the latest literature study design. He says he has ‘‘watched a highly motivated student, who enjoys reading and talking about literary texts, become anxious and stressed while dealing with the new demands of accessing and understanding huge dollops of literary theory better suited to study by first year English students’’.

My experience is that literary theory is designed to guide students towards other viewpoints in order to assist with shaping their own positions. I teach literature in an all-boys, private school in the south-eastern suburbs, and make certain any class comes with an appreciation of literature’s purposes as well as an emphasis on fun. This year we bucked the trend again with a year 12 class of 26 students.

World-wide, inquests abound over the decline in both English and literature, with maths, physics, economics and subjects that will assist with money-making numbering among the suspects. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already reacted by slashing fees for in-demand courses at the expense of the humanities.
Ian McKail, Cheltenham

A course better suited to university students

Terry Hayes is right in his criticisms of the study design for VCE literature. As much as the course designers might dispute it, the emphasis they have placed on critical theories leads most students to try to master abstruse, often desiccated, perspectives on texts before they have even developed their own interpretations. This is the opposite of what senior school literary study should be about, namely the close engagement of the students with vibrant texts.

Unfortunately this is a symptom of the course designers’ delusions of grandeur. Instead of tailoring a course for senior secondary students, they seem to think they are dealing with honours candidates at university who already have an extensive experience of literary texts. Is there any wonder our year 12 kids are voting with their feet?
Mike Smith, Croydon

THE FORUM

Going back to the future

Victoria used to have a dual secondary education system – ie, high and technical schools. The latter provided a high quality choice to those whose talents and interests were in trades and technical vocations and it equipped them to undertake apprenticeships or progress to institutes of technology. For some inexplicable reason, the 1980s Labor government abolished technical schools and condemned all students to a text book-based education. A generation of young people received an inappropriate education.

The introduction of the VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) was an admission that a single type of secondary education had been a failure. It has provided an appropriate choice for those who choose a technical education and training. Now, as part of the budget, it is to be abolished and merged with the VCE (The Age, 24/11). When will they ever learn?
Ian Bennett, Jan Juc

Towards a fairer system

The Victorian government should be commended for its pilot scheme to provide sick and carers’ leave for casual workers (The Age, 24/11). However, the plight of insecure workers is a national problem. Casualisation is increasingly common, and disproportionately hits younger people and those without education or qualifications. While some people may believe that it is cheaper for the employer, the pandemic has shown that is is exceptionally expensive for the taxpayer.

A national solution is needed and that can only happen through changes to our industrial laws that outlaw casual and insecure work except in the most specific and constrained circumstances. The federal government should also look at measures to increase union membership. Mooted changes to IR laws thus far will only exacerbate a system that gives more power and profit to employers and weakens workers’ rights and entitlements. We need a fair and level playing field that will restore the balance between employers and employees.
Robyn Edwards, Chelsea

A masterful solution

I do like Tim Pallas’ scheme to borrow $260 million for a ‘‘jobs mentoring’’ program for the unemployed (The Age, 25/11). It has the potential to operate in perpetuity. For, as the mentored unemployed find work, their mentors will become unemployed. Then more mentors can be recruited into the government’s Jobs Victoria agency to help the now unemployed, former mentors. A cure for all your troubles.
Peter Fenwick, East Melbourne

Cost of petrol and diesel

My husband and I both own an electric car and can see the value in the Victorian government introducing a tax for the maintenance and building of roads. Most people we know who own electric vehicles charge them from solar panels or green energy.

Now for a more level playing field. Internal combustion engines contribute 18per cent to our carbon footprint, which in turn increases the rapidity and adverse effects of climate change. This will increase bushfire heat, longevity and range. It will cause worse droughts and more devastating flooding. These costs could be calculated and a mere 18per cent of the costs could, and should, be added to petrol and diesel sales.
Meg Reeves, Wangaratta

EVs and coal and gas

Do those who believe that electric vehicles deserve concessions for environmental reasons realise that most of the energy used and dissipated by them comes from coal and will continue to do so for many years? Or that producing the minerals used to make their batteries and motors causes vast environmental degradation?

Or that increased numbers of EVs will inevitably increase the demand for grid-based power to charge them which will eventually make more thermal power stations necessary? EVs are mostly powered by fossil fuel. It just happens to be coal (or gas) rather than petrol, and generation is comfortably out of sight for the user.
Morris Odell, Toorak

Just a confused mess

Many people appear confused about road usage charges. Fuel excise is a federal tax. It is just one of many taxes that form consolidated revenue. Fuel excise is not spent on roads.

The proposed electric vehicle tax is a state tax. My car has 50per cent less fuel excise charge than the proposed EV charge. Major roads are federally funded, while minor roads are state funded. The proposed EV charge is distance based, but what if most of my travel is in another state? It is reasonable to expect that EVs experience a cost for roads, but the proposal is a confused mess – just as road funding is a confused mess.
Chris Thompson, Mont Albert North

Urgent SOS from the PM?

Was the Prime Minister calling for help? His mask, bearing the national flag, was upside down, a recognised sign of distress. National flags should not be used for such a signal. Indeed, they should not be used for face masks at all. Please Scott Morrison, wear a plain mask.
Carol Andrews, Fitzroy North

Stop messing with super

I refer to Shane Wright’s useful analysis about ‘‘retirees not spending’’ (The Age, 21/11). Sadly, he does not mention a key driver of retirees being cautious about spending their superannuations’ hard-won balances. It is the uncertainty of government policy.

Since Paul Keating put the current regime in place, successive governments have not been able to avoid ‘‘tweaks’’ of the system, thereby creating uncertainty for retirement investors. Malcolm Turnbull was the latest bad example of this. Either leave the policy alone and allow people to invest with certainty or give them fair warning – say, five years – before changes are made.
Geoff Harry, Brighton

High cost of ‘convenience’

Five delivery riders have died in three months (Comment, 25/11) and their employers bear no responsibility because they are classed as independent contractors. Many vulnerable migrants are forced to work as delivery drivers because they have been excluded from federal government support during the pandemic. They are paid on average $10.42 an hour after costs by overseas platforms.

I am sure there would be a clarion cry from the public if it were our young people dying on the roads at the same rate. These young men have families who are mourning their loss. In some instances, their deaths represent a total loss of income for their families. The federal government must ensure there is legislation that protects these workers. And consumers must question the fact that overseas platforms are taking 30per cent of the profit from our local restaurants for a meal, with the potential of costing someone their life to deliver it.
Caitriona Prendergast, Black Rock

Lessons in road etiquette

Yes, this is a terrible loss of life. However, there needs to be better training for delivery riders as well as legislative changes. In the CBD, often they cycle through red lights, across pedestrians crossings and on pavements, do not use lights at night and do not look behind them when they are pulling out. They need to be taught road rules and etiquette. This could be done by their employers or by way of a government subsidy. But it could well save lives. I cycle every day in the city, although not in the past few months, so have seen this behaviour first hand.
Colin Hood, Carlton North

Commuters, mask up…

Taking the step back to public transport is a big one now. Commuters need to feel okay about riding together. Metro Trains and the Victorian government can help by making SMS the only permitted phone option on trains. Who has taken off their mask and is getting bad vibes from everyone in the carriage? The guy making a 20-minute call. This is stressful for other commuters.
Annie Bolitho, Preston

…and visitors, tidy up

Melburnians, thank you for leaving all that rubbish on the beaches and other parts of Torquay over the weekend. It gave the local residents something to do for a few hours in cleaning up the mess. That is something we did not miss during the lockdown.
Cheryl Westlau, Torquay

Be good, little Victorians

Re the opening of the Queensland border: Does anyone else feel like a child in school who has been sent to the naughty corner, patted on the head and told that if you behave yourself, you can come out on Monday?
Margaret Haggett, Cheltenham

Let him pay his own way

I am outraged. Mathias Cormann leaves Parliament on a generous pension but seeks a job in Europe paying about $377,000, tax-free, and the Australian taxpayer picks up the tab for flying him to and around Europe in an RAAF jet for a couple of weeks. It is this sort of ‘‘snout in the trough’’ behaviour that destroys any trust or confidence that one might have in the current government.
John Thompson, Seymour

Finger in many pies

Nero may well have preferred golf, Mike Preeston (Letters, 24/11). But it seems clear that Donald Trump is no stranger to the fiddle.
Rob Warren, Ivanhoe

Face reality of defeat

With the third count of votes taking place in Georgia, Donald Trump should give some thought to the expression: ‘‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’’
Keith Lawson, Melbourne

Only minority support

Amid the almost universal rejoicing over the fall of the Chaplinesque, Washington, would-be dictator, one important detail seems to have escaped the attention of most. Since only about two-thirds of eligible voters cast their ballots, it could be truthfully stated that neither candidate obtained a clear majority, and that both the winner and the loser represent a minority of the total electorate. A sobering thought.
Dino Bressan, Ivanhoe

AND ANOTHER THING


Credit:Ilustration: Matt Golding

Trump

‘‘Agent Orange’’ has been fired for the last time. Now we await the first signs the world will be a better place.
John Hennessy, Glen Iris

How ironic that a goose has pardoned a turkey.
Frank Stipic, Mentone

Will the turkey in chief pardon himself?
Tony Kane, Maldon

Victoria

000 – Licensed to Spend, supported by Mask On, Mask Off.
Michael Cowan, Wheelers Hill

The spending will not be paid for by manna from heaven but, ultimately, by every Victorian.
Bill Holmes, Kew

Why the fuss? The government is just spending in one go what it, and previous ones, should have spent over the past 10 years.
Alan Duncan, Frankston South

Michael O’Brien, the last time the Liberals had a mega project was when Kennett closed 350 schools.
John Johnson, Richmond

It would be fairer to put a tax on the sale of new ‘‘other vehicles’’ to encourage the use of electric cars.
Ann Shephard, North Fitzroy

Federal

The only real plan the government has for compulsory super is to scrap it.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

Maybe the RAAF flight is the only one you can light up a cigar on.
Philip West, Jan Juc

Can I get a free myki to go to job interviews? If l get a job, l promise not to accept a Commonwealth pension.
James Lane, Hampton East

Thank you, Ita Buttrose, for defending our ABC. I only hope ScoMo takes note.
Lisa Bishop, Macleod

Welcome back, Paul Keating, de facto opposition leader.
Dick Davies, North Warrandyte

Re the alleged war crimes. Linda Reynolds says there’s been a ‘‘failure of leadership at multiple levels’’. Surely that includes a series of prime ministers.
Ian Cooper, California Gully

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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