Monthly Archives: June 2019

Same-sex marriage supporters call Kevin Andrews but he won’t answer

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews’ has opted out of receiving the calls from same-sex marriage supporters as part of the “Equality Calling” campaign. Photo: Andrew Meares Defence Minister Kevin Andrews’ has opted out of receiving the calls from same-sex marriage supporters as part of the “Equality Calling” campaign. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Defence Minister Kevin Andrews’ has opted out of receiving the calls from same-sex marriage supporters as part of the “Equality Calling” campaign. Photo: Andrew Meares

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews’ has opted out of receiving the calls from same-sex marriage supporters as part of the “Equality Calling” campaign. Photo: Andrew Meares

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has barricaded himself against a new same-sex marriage campaign, by refusing to receive messages from his constituents who support the reform.

The “Equality Calling” campaign began delivering messages to federal politicians on Monday.

Organised by Australian Marriage Equality (AME), it allows supporters of same-sex marriage to record a voice message on a 1300 number that is then delivered straight to their locals MPs and senators.

But on Monday, after receiving the first batch of recordings, one of Mr Andrews’ electorate office staff members contacted the group to ask that the messages stop.

Fairfax Media understands the staff member reasoned that the Defence Minister  – who is known for his conservative views – believed marriage should be between a man and woman – and would not change his position.

He also said the calls were clogging up the phone lines. According to AME, only two messages have come in for Mr Andrews so far. Together they last for about five minutes.

One is from a woman, who says she is approaching 30, and tearfully explains how she wants to be able to marry her female partner, before thanking Mr Andrews for listening.

The other, which the office has not listened to, is from a primary school teacher who wants to marry his partner of 29 years.

“We just want the right to be able to publicly celebrate our relationship in front of our family and friends,” he said.

“Quite frankly, we’re getting a bit tired of going to all these other weddings and watching everybody else celebrate their love for each other.

“And we’re not allowed to do that … We’re not getting any younger and we want to do this before it is too late.”

According to a spokeswoman for the Defence Minister, his electorate office received a “number of automated calls”.

“His office contacted the organisation concerned and expressed that further contact be made in writing to best facilitate a personal response.”

AME national director Rodney Croome said it was “very disappointing” that Mr Andrews was refusing to listen to his constituents.

“Politicians should welcome engagement with their voters, not actively deny those voters a voice.

“It would be entirely inappropriate to hang up on a constituent calling in real time. And it’s just as inappropriate to hang up on a constituents’s heart-felt recorded message.”

Mr Croome said that at the end of the voice messages, it was also possible for MPs to opt out from receiving further messages, but said they would still be posted on social media “for all the world to see what they refuse to acknowledge”.

National Party senator Matt Canavan’s office has also opted out of the calls.

A spokesman for Senator Canavan said that it was “well versed with the issue”.

He explained that the initial calls were helpful, but the small office found the ongoing calls “distracting” and time consuming.

The spokesman said that people were still able to ring the office directly on a range of issues, including same-sex marriage.

AME said that Labor’s defence spokesman Stephen Conroy – who did not vote for same-sex marriage in September 2012 – had also opted out of the messages, however a spokesman for Senator Conroy said this had been an inadvertent mistake.

“Senator Conroy is happy to receive all communications from the public on any issue,” he said.

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Family of accused Sydney terror plotter Sulayman Khalid demand his release from maximum security prison

Khalid’s father AbuSalem and his mother DomenicaBiscotto outside court on Wednesday. Photo: Paul Bibby Sulayman Khalid in 2013. Photo: James Alcock
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Khalid’s father AbuSalem and his mother DomenicaBiscotto outside court on Wednesday. Photo: Paul Bibby

The family of a young Sydney man accused of planning a terrorist attack have demanded his immediate release from Goulburn’s maximum security prison, claiming the charges against him are “political” and that they have been forbidden from visiting him.

Approximately a dozen relatives of Sulayman Khalid, 20, gathered at Central Local Court on Wednesday to protest against his continued detention on a charge of possessing documents “designed to facilitate an attack”.

The 20-year-old was allegedly found in possession of several pages of notes which referred to an AFP building as a target and a plan to carry out guerilla warfare in the Blue Mountains.

Mr Khalid, who once appeared on the SBS show Insight, was one of the people arrested in a December counter-terrorism raid in Sydney.

During a brief mention of the matter in court, during which Mr Khalid appeared via audio visual link from the maximum security prison at Goulburn, his solicitor Zali Burrows said she intended to apply for the prosecution of her client to be permanently stayed.

After the hearing Mr Khalid’s mother, Domenica Biscotto, made an impassioned defence of her son while flanked by members of his extended family, some of whom were carrying banners declaring “Justice for Sulayman”.”We are asking for the remainder of the prosecution brief of evidence to be served so that we can proceed with the application,” Ms Burrows said.

“The Commonwealth have the resources to get these items together.”

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“My son Sulayman is innocent and he is innocent until proven guilty,” Ms Biscotto said.

“There are murderers, much worse people, who are out on bail but my son isn’t out on bail. He’s sitting in Supermax prison – high security –  being treated in an inhumane way and we have not [been allowed to see him].”

Ms Biscotto said the notes that allegedly belonged to her son belonged to someone else.

“Those notes are not in his writing, they’re just scribblings,” she said.

“This is purely political.”

“Stop blaming people based on their faith. I was born in this country – I’m an Australian citizen. My son is innocent and he should be released today.”

Ms Biscotto said that, after her son’s arrest, NSW Police deputy commissioner Catherine Burn had asked her for a closed door meeting and that she had refused.

The mother of six said the deputy commissioner had requested the meeting through a member of a local Muslim community organisation. Ms Biscotto had been too upset to attend and now wonders why such a meeting was requested.

But a police spokesman said Deputy Commissioner Burn had never requested a meeting with Ms Biscotto.

“Conversely, a meeting was requested by the Muslim Women’s Association, who were providing assistance to a distressed community member,” the spokesman said, in an apparent reference to Ms Biscotto.

“That meeting did not transpire due to the unavailability of the community member. “

Mr  Khalid’s  father, Abu Salem, broke down as he described seeing his son for the first time when he appeared via audio visual link from jail.

“I couldn’t control my emotions actually – I had tears in my eyes.”

Mr Khalid is due to return to court in April.

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Bendigo vigil held for Bali nine: Photos

Bendigo vigil held for Bali nine: Photos Bendigo Law Association president Jennifer Digby.
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Bendigo Law Association president Jennifer Digby.

Bendigo Law Association holds a minute of silence.

Bendigo Law Association president Jennifer Digby.

Bendigo Law Association holds a minute of silence.

TweetFacebookMEMBERS of the Bendigo Law Association took part in a vigil on Wednesdaymorning in protest of the death penalty and to urge the Indonesian government to grant two of the Bali nineclemency.

The event was organisedin conjunction with a vigil held on the steps of the County Court in Melbourne.

Australians’Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were convicted of drug charges in Indonesia in 2005 and sentenced to death.

The pair have served 10 years in custody.

BLA president Jennifer Rigby said the death penalty was “barbaric”.

“We haven’t had the death penalty in this country for a very long time,” she said.

“The important thing about it is these men are rehabilitated now. They’ve spent 10 years in prison.

“They have workedvery hard to make amends.

“An important cornerstone of the law is that people are able to demonstrate that they show redemption.”

Ms Digby said there would be afeeling of devastation among the law community if the executions were to go ahead.However, she said the most recent delay in the men’s executions had sparked a small ray of hope.

“We seem to be at acrossroad, whereby thereprieve to not send themen to the island for execution has been stayed, but we don’t really know what thatmeans,” she said.

“There are people working very hardwith the legal proceedings which are still on foot, and I note that Peter Morrissey SC, who is part of that legal team, has said that while that is still happening these men can not be executed. So I think there is a little bit of hope there.”

Major sponsor pulls support for greyhound racing in wake of live baiting scandal

Greyhound racing in NSW has no independent regulator with power to root out criminal and unethical practices.● Hunter greyhound property: Rabbits found in raid
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●Trainers unite to deter live-baiting

EXCLUSIVE

One of greyhound racing’s biggest sponsors has pulled its support in light of the live baiting scandal.

National meat provider Macro Meats Gourmet Game has pulled its sponsorship from all greyhound racing in Australia, including Brisbane’s Albion Park, in the wake of theFour Cornersinvestigationaired on Monday.

The company signed on as the largest sponsor of South Australian racing last year and has had long associations with greyhound racing in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Managing director Ray Borda also dabbles in greyhound and horse ownership. He said he was sickened by the activities exposed in the program.

“It’s not just a business decision, it’s a personal decision,” he said.

“I’m as appalled as everybody else. A clear message has to be put through that change has to occur.

“It sickens me, my staff and a lot of people in the public.

“I’m an animal lover and it’s knocked me around personally a fair bit.”

Macro Meats sponsors regional events such as gymkhanas, and some horse racing, but Borda said it was a simple decision to pull their sponsorship.

A screenshot of the Four Corners program on greyhound racing industry, allegedly filmed at trainer Tom Noble’s property in Queensland. Picture: ABC

“We’re one of the biggest sponsors of greyhound racing in Australia,” he said.

“We were associated with the greyhounds as a good family sport and once it changed from that, even though it was just a few individuals, we stopped immediately.

“It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you cannot disregard animal welfare.”

Borda said he wouldn’t rule out a return to greyhound sponsorship, but would need to see a great deal of change.

“You never say never,” he said.

“They’d have to address animal welfare issues, that’s the number one problem, and change the image of what it is.

“How they do that is up to the people that run the greyhound industry.

“It’s a complete re-education process from the ground up.”

Other sponsors are yet to make a call on their associations with Greyhound Racing Queensland.

Garrard’s Horse and Hound, which supplies supplements and health products for horses and greyhounds, is one of those sponsors.

General manager Daren Garrard said they were still honouring their contract with Albion Park and had not made any decision either way.

Animal welfare groups have called for the complete cessation of greyhound racing.

The Barristers Animal Welfare Panel chair, Joanna Fuller, said the industry could not be relied on to regulate itself any longer.

“Whatever is done now or is attempted to be done it simply cannot be guaranteed that this can be stamped out,”he said.

“These aren’t just rogue elements and the only way to prevent animal abuse is to stop the industry.”

Thirteen Queensland trainers have been in the spotlight of the live baiting scandal.

Racing Queensland issued Reg Kay, Debra Arnold, Tom Noble, Tony McCabe, James Harding, Michael Chapman and Greg Stella with show cause notices on Tuesday. They have seven days to respond.

Kay has also been removed from the Racing Queensland Hall of Fame.

A further six trainers (Stephen Sherwell, Gerri Crisci, Anthony Hess, Steven Arnold, Mick Emery and Samantha Roberts) have been suspended for the duration of the investigation.

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The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D review – a new sheen for the darkest Zelda

Long the black sheep of the Zelda series, the bona fide genius at the core of Majora’s Mask is exposed in this remake. Though shrunk down for the small screen, Majora’s Mask 3D’s visuals are leagues ahead of the Nintendo 64 original.
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The quests and characters are just as dark and weird as ever, but the frustration of managing them all is gone.

There are thousands of things to do in Termina once you get your head around how the time cycle works.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D on 3DS $59.95 Classification: PG Reviewer’s rating: 10/10

In 2000, Nintendo released its follow-up to the incredibly successful The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and although the sequel was running on the same hardware as its predecessor, it proved to be the black horse to Ocarina’s mainstream darling.

Much darker than any other Zelda adventure, but also much more human, Majora’s Mask has now been remade for Nintendo 3DS in a form that keeps and improves upon its incredible highs, while removing some of the technical niggles and confusion that chased some gamers away 15 years ago.

This is unequivocally Zelda – quirky characters, amazing music, plenty of interesting items and great puzzling dungeon designs – but it carries a legitimately dark edge in both tone and visual design, and the game is defined by its unexpected and wholly unique time-looping hook.

While players will recognise the standard explore-dungeon-item-boss structure common to Zelda games in completing Majora’s Mask’s main quest – which involves saving the land of Termina from being crushed by a menacing and ever-falling moon in just three days’ time – the rhythm of the action is fundamentally different as it takes place over the course of just three days.

Thanks to Link’s ability to manipulate time, you’ll play these three days over and over again. Whenever you run out of time – assuming you’re not yet ready to take on the final boss and prevent apocalypse – you have to start over again on day one. Every change you’ve made to the world returns to the way it was before, although you can take with you any magical form-shifting masks and important quest items you managed to acquire.

This Groundhog Day mechanic adds an extra dimension to traditional puzzle and adventure designs, as Link uses his ever-growing skillset and knowledge of the Termina residents (who of course never remember who he is) to provide assistance to a town increasingly disturbed by the lunar body threatening to end all of their lives.

Indeed, as Link jumps between helping doomed characters deal with their life’s regrets in the face of obliteration, staving off the ever-lingering Damocles-esque moon and taking the form of recently-deceased warriors to tap into their power and abilities, Majora’s Mask can occasionally feel obsessed with death. The theme is executed brilliantly, adds a beautiful candour not often seen in mainstream gaming and is part of why this is such a must-play game, but it could hit on sensitive subjects for some.

Though the game makes sure you’re constantly in mind of your race against time, you’re unlikely to feel too rushed or pressured once you understand the game world and plan your objectives accordingly. Some actions are only available to you at certain days or times, and the central area of Clock Town seems to get more frantic and menacing as the moon makes the final leg of the approach (this is helped along in no small part by the increasingly frantic distortion of the music). The growing feeling of impending doom, not just for the player but for all the other characters too, is one of the game’s greatest strengths.

Improved in this version of the game, a handy notebook keeps track of mysteries, rumours and characters’ schedules over the three-day period, making it easy to plan out your actions for each three day cycle and make sure you don’t run out of time. Some side-quests – like the aging punk who regrets that he will never get to see his pet chickens grow up into proud roosters – are touching and a joy to work out a happy ending to, while others – like person who lives in a toilet and just wants to find some good paper before the end of time – are just plain weird.

Several changes have been made to this version of the game to minimise the chance that you’ll get stuck or frustrated, which was a considerable issue in the Nintendo 64 original. The locations of some masks have changed, the boss battles and dungeons have been tuned up and one vitally important ocarina song – which makes time pass a little less quickly – has been made a bit easier to come by.

That combined with more save locations, the added ability to skip forward to any specific hour in the timeline, and the aforementioned notebook that keeps track of the actions you need to take to attempt a specific challenge or subplot, means this new version is leaps and bounds ahead of the original in making Majora’s Mask the epic, emotive masterpiece it was always designed to be.

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