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Cost of metadata laws will be $400 million, cost of inaction incalculable: Tony Abbott

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott says metadata needs to be kept to catch criminals. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant

The cost of keeping metadata for telcos and their customers will be as much as $400 million but Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the price of not storing electronic communication records is “incalculable” because it would lead to an “explosion in unsolved crime.”

Mr Abbott on Wednesday broadened the case for storing metadata as proposed in the third phase of new counter-terror laws by linking it to policing of paedophilia and white collar crimes.

He visited the headquarters of child safety group Bravehearts on the Gold Coast in Queensland with Liberal MP Dan Tehan, who is the chair of the Parliament’s independent and bipartisan intelligence committee, which is scrutinising the legislation.

Mr Abbott said the new laws that would force telcos to keep communications records for two years will help authorities deal with a “whole range of criminal conduct”.

“Metadata and its retention is more important than ever if we are going to be able to track what criminals are doing, whether it be criminals who want to commit terrorist offences, whether it be criminals who are committing corporate offences, whether it be people who are committing child abuse offences, so much of this kind of activity is being conducted online,” he said.

“We all know that people who want to abuse children often feed their habits online.”

Mr Abbott said the cost would equate to 1 per cent of the $40 billion communications sector, or $400 million, but said the price of not acting would be “incalculable”.

“The cost of losing this data is an explosion of unsolved crime, that’s the price of losing this data,” he said, adding it was a small price to pay for the “freedoms” and “safety” Australians deserve.

“And if we don’t get it, it will be a form of unilateral disarmament in the face of criminals… [Without it] our crime fighting agencies and our police are flying blind,” he reiterated.

Tony Abbott’s office says the $400 million price tag is a one-off implementation cost.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously said the government would contribute but has not specified how much the sector might be asked to pay. But he Prime Minister appeared to suggest it would be up to the sector to shoulder the costs.

“It’s very important that if you do business in this country you adhere to the rules, and the rules of being a telecommunications provider in this country should include keeping your metadata…for two years,” he said.

Parliament’s intelligence committee will publish its report on the metadata bill next Friday. The government is urging Labor to help it swiftly pass the legislation once the review is handed down. The opposition’s communications spokesman Jason Clare sits on the joint standing committee. He told Sky the evidence presented to MPs “is starting to show…a number of concerns with the legislation that will need to be addressed”.

He listed press freedom, data storage costs and what constitutes metadata as areas of concern.

Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm is opposed to the new legislation and his vote will not have any impact on the legislation’s passage if Labor supports the government.

Senator Leyonhjelm said the Prime Minister’s arguments for new spying powers exposed the estimated costs as just one of many reasons why the legislation is a “crock”.

He also warned that telco companies would be likely to store the data on overseas servers where it could be vulnerable to hacking and misuse.Follow us on Twitter

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Pirates of the Caribbean 5: extras, crew tell no tales of filming Johnny Depp movie on Gold Coast

Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp in a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End. Photo: Supplied Johnny Depp is reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow for the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Photo: Supplied
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Movie session timesFull movies coverage

It’s called Dead Men Tell No Tales but in the case of Pirates of the Caribbean 5, no live ones do either.

Local actors and crew members are on strict non-disclosure agreements, forbidding them to discuss their experiences on set, particularly on social media.

Phones are also banned from the Village Roadshow studios at Helensvale on the Gold Coast, where filming began this week.

Tight security for film production is nothing new, but the presence of star Johnny Depp, aka Captain Jack Sparrow, has prompted widespread interest in Pirates 5.

He’ll be joined on set by Javier Bardem, who will play the villain Captain Salazar.

Bardem is well known for his malevolent onscreen characters, including assassin Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men and Raoul Silva in the James Bond film Skyfall.

Geoffrey Rush is the most high profile Australian cast member, reprising his role of Captain Barbossa.

However Cairns-born actor Brenton Thwaites has also been cast, playing Henry, a British soldier.

The 25-year-old studied at QUT Kelvin Grove and starred in the Brisbane-based drama SLiDE before a stint on Home and Away.

He moved to the US in 2012 to further his career, landing roles in Oculus and Maleficent.

An official statement from Walt Disney Studios has outlined details of the plot.

“A down-on-his-luck Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar (Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea…including him,” it says.

“Captain Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas.”

It’s understood official casting for extras began in October, with male actor picked instructed not to shave or cut their hair until they were confirmed as in or out in early January.

A source told Fairfax Media extras were sorted into three categories: pirates, villagers or British soldiers.

Those chosen to play soldiers were put through a bootcamp, learning how to march, hold guns and fire replica muskets.

There were concerns wild weather predicted to hit south east Queensland between Thursday and Sunday would halt work on the film.

However, a spokesperson for Pirates of the Caribbean 5 said while they hoped the weather wouldn’t be as bad as predicted, contingencies were in place and filming would continue.

Pirates 5 was lured to film on the Gold Coast last year after intense negotiations with Screen Australia and Screen Queensland.

The federal government offered a $21.6 million funding package and the then-LNP state government slashed payroll tax to fend off a competing bid by Mexico and interest from other Australian states.

Pirates 5 is set to be the biggest movie ever filmed in Australia in terms of budget and size.

* If you have information about the Pirates of the Caribbean 5 filmingor you have spotted one of the stars, email [email protected]南京夜网.au, sent a text to 0414 284 637, contact us via Facebook, or mention @brisbanetimes on Twitter.

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Surfest: Philippa Anderson into fourth round

Surfest: Philippa Anderson into fourth round DAY 3: Maud Le Car waxes up for heat 9. Picture: Darren Pateman
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Maud Le Car paddles out for Heat 9.17th February 2015 pic Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Warming up. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Philippa Anderson. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Philippa Anderson gets ready for heat 7. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Jess Grimwood gets ready for heat 7. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: All the action from heat 6. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Georgia Fish. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Georgia Fish. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Philippa Anderson on her way to win Heat 7. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Philippa Anderson after winning Heat 7. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Macy Callaghan on her way to winning heat 8. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Macy Callaghan. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 3: Macy Callaghan. Picture: Darren Pateman

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Joel Parkinson. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Joel Parkinson. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Joel Parkinson. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: American surfer Kanoa Igarashi. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: American surfer Kanoa Igarashi. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: American surfer Kanoa Igarashi. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jackson Baker. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jackson Baker. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jackson Baker. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jake Sylvester. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Jake Sylvester. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Brazilian surfer Michael Rodrigues. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 2 Dixon Park Beach: Brazilian surfer Michael Rodrigues. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DAY 3: Laura Poncini. Picture: Darren Pateman

TweetFacebookMEREWETHER’S Philippa Anderson kept her cool to progress to the fourth round and French top seed Maud Le Car again dominated her rivals in the Surfest Women’s Classic on Wednesday.

Anderson recovered from last spot at the halfway point of her four-woman, round three heat to post scores of 8.00 and 7.57 to win with a total of 15.57.

Avoca 14-year-old Macy Callaghan earned 6.47 and 5.83 early to lead with 12.30, which was enough to defeat Laura Poncini (11.77) for the other place in round four from heat four.

Le Car racked up the highest total of round two with an 18.6 in the morning and was again the best in the afternoon with 18.70 in round three.

Le Car is the top seed after the late withdrawal of West Australian Bronte Macaulay.

Coolum’s Isabella Nichols was the other standout of round three, scoring 9.70 and 8.60 to win her heat with 18.30

Merewether’s Philippa Anderson stamped her class on the Surfest Women’s Classic with an opening-heat blitz at Dixon Park Beach on Wednesday.

The 2009 Surfest champion put together scores of 8.83 and 8.50 to easily win her round two heat with 17.33.

Central Coast’s Jess Grimwood, who won the Australian amateur title last year, survived a late scare from Portuguese Carol Henrique to take second place and progress 12.77 to 12.03.

Palm Beach’s Kiani Dobbyn was also close, scoring 11.76.

Anderson, 23, was pleased with the start in the one-star world qualification series contest.

‘‘It felt really good,’’ Anderson said.

‘‘Two eights, and it’s always really good to start off an event with scores like that.

‘‘It gives you confidence that the judges like your what you were doing out there.’’

Anderson capitalised on local knowledge and a morning of study at the site.

‘‘I was watching all morning and it was a choice of two breaks,’’ she said.

‘‘I surf here a lot and I chose the right break and it paid off, so that was lucky.’’

Frenchwoman and topseed Maud Le Car was the standout performer of the morning, scoring 9.43 and 9.17 for a 18.60 total. Palm Beach’s Ellie Brooks (12.63) also secured a round three berth from the heat.

Pro Junior champion Macy Callaghan, from Avoca, won her heat with a 12.50-point total.

Round three of the women’s contest will also be held to fill the rest of the Wednesday schedule.

Anderson is due to surf again at 3.20pm and will face Callaghan, Brazilian Karol Ribeiro and Sunshine Coast’s Laura Poncini.

Kirkconnell Correctional Centre to reopen near Bathurst

REOPENING FOR BUSINESS: Member for Bathurst Paul Toole with Bathurst Correctional Centre security manager Brad Peebles and general manager Bill Fittler at Kirkconnell Correctional Centre yesterday. Photo: BRIAN WOOD 021715jail1KIRKCONNELL Correctional Centre will reopen within months, less than four years after it was controversially shut by the NSW Government.
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Member for Bathurst Paul Toole yesterday confirmed the Government would spend $4 million upgrading the centre before it is reopened to house up to 260 minimum security inmates in 13 accommodation units.

The jail’s closure in 2011 cost 20 corrections staff their jobs and sparked loud protests across the Bathurst and Lithgow regions.

But Mr Toole would not be drawn yesterday on whether the decision to shut Kirkconnell was a mistake.

“Prisoner numbers were lower in 2011,” he said.

He said at the time the Government gave an assurance that Kirkconnell would be reopened if the prison population was to increase, and it had honoured that promise.

The correctional centre and grounds have been maintained since the closure.

“I’m pleased to see mylobbying of government ministers about getting Kirkconnell reopened has paid off,” Mr Toole said.

He said when Kirkconnell closed, 12 staff took up voluntary redundancies and 40 accepted positions at other jails, including Bathurst, Lithgow and Oberon.

Now 60 corrections jobs ranging from manager to administrative personnel will be available prior to the jail becoming fully operational by the end of June.

Mr Toole said it would be up to management to determine if this will include former staff of the Kirkconnell Correctional Centre.

Bathurst Correctional Centre general manager Bill Fittler, who will oversee operations at Kirkconnell, said he expected there to be a lot of interest in working at the jail.

“We will certainly have a big pool of people to draw from. It’s a great place to work,” he said.

“I think this is fantastic news.

“There is a real need for these additional beds as the number of inmates increases across NSW.”

Mr Fittler said upgrading work at Kirkconnell would be carried out by a combination of contractors and inmates.

He said up to 60 inmates would be relocated to the correctional centre over the next two weeks for this purpose.

Mr Fittler said there would be a strong focus on education and vocational training at Kirkconnell.

In addition, inmates will be exploring industry involvement, most likely the forestry industry.

“We will also return to doing community work with the people in Yetholme,” he said.

Attorney General Brad Hazzard said recent legislative changes and active policing had resulted in an increase in the prison population.

It meant the NSW Government had to take additional measures to house inmates.

He said the reopening of Kirkconnell Correctional Centre followed staged expansions at centres including Long Bay and Lithgow, where 635 beds were added over the past year.

WA hit with first Hepatitis A case linked to frozen berries

WA Health has reported the first case of Hepatitis A linked to frozen berries in our state. WESTERN Australia has reported its first case of Hepatitis A linked to the recently recalled Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet brands of frozen mixed berries.
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Communicable disease control director Dr Paul Armstrong said this latest case adds to at least 12 other confirmed cases across Australia.

He urged Western Australians to not consume the following implicated berry products:

Nanna’s Mixed Berries, frozen in1 kilogram plastic bags, with best before dates up to and including 22/11/2016

Creative Gourmet Mixed Berries in 300 gram (best before 10/12/2017) or 500 gram (best before 6/10/2017) packs

Nanna’s Raspberries (frozen) in1 kilogram plastic bags, with best before dates up to and including 15/09/2016.

Consumers should return any packs of these products, which were widely available from supermarkets in WA, to the place of purchase for a full refund, or discard them.

“There is no need for people who have eaten these products and remain well to see their doctor for testing or vaccination, as the risk to any individual should be very low,” Dr Armstrong said.

“Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can be passed from person-to-person, or come from food or water contaminated with the virus.

“Symptoms of hepatitis A can start2 to7 weeks after exposure to an infectious person or after eating contaminated food.”

Early symptoms are fever, nausea, loss of appetite and abdominal discomfort.

After several days jaundice can develop, with yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin, dark urine and pale stools, sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.

Dr Armstrong said it was important for anyone who does experience the above symptoms to see their doctor for testing, especially if they have eaten the above berry products in the pasttwo months.

“People who are unwell should also take steps to avoid spreading the infection by careful hand washing and not handling food or providing personal care to others until they have received advice from their doctor,” Dr Armstrong said.

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A and people sometimes require hospitalisation for supportive care. Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination.

Most cases of hepatitis A in WA occur in people who return from travel in developing countries, where transmission is associated with inadequate sanitation and poor standards of personal and food hygiene.

Swiss Franc surge puts strain on WHO’s $US4b budget

The World Health Organisation is feeling the rising salary costs at its Geneva headquarters. Photo: Denis Balibouse Health workers carry the body of an Ebola virus victim in Kenema, Sierra Leone. The WHO’s board adopted a set of reform proposals last month after criticism on its Ebola response. Photo: Umaru Fofana
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After a year in which it was battered for its handling of the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organisation is facing another rising threat: the Swiss franc. Switzerland’s currency has gained 12 per cent against the euro this year, increasing salary costs for a United Nations agency that employs almost 1900 people at its Geneva headquarters. The WHO is revising a proposed budget of more than $US4 billion ($5.1 billion) in total for 2016 and 2017 and its executive board discussed an increase to adjust for the strength of the franc at a meeting last month, according to Sarah Russell, a spokeswoman. No consensus was reached, she said by e-mail. The rising costs are complicating the WHO’s efforts to convince donors that the agency represents value for their money. The side effects of the surge in the franc, which has prompted profit warnings and job cuts at Swiss banks and manufacturers, is also rippling out through Geneva’s cluster of UN agencies and aid organisations. If the franc trades too closely to parity with the euro, there’s a risk for an exodus of jobs, said Yves Flueckiger, the vice rector of the University of Geneva and a professor of economics. “It will indeed create an incentive for international organisations and NGOs to remove part of their activities to other places,” he said. That would “reduce the level of employment in Geneva quite strongly.”

Costs foreseen

The WHO’s estimates for its next two-year budget range from $US4.17 billion to as much as $US4.38 billion, including a special adjustment for salaries, according to document published last month. The WHO doesn’t expect to go beyond the higher amount, Russell said. The Swiss National Bank abruptly ended the cap on the exchange rate with the euro on January 15, leading the franc to reach its strongest level since the common currency’s 1999 debut. The WHO receives contributions denominated in francs of 220 million francs ($300 million) a year and has expenses of 400 million francs in that currency, exposing it to an exchange rate risk for about 180 million francs, Russell said. Last year, the WHO started charging member nations half their annual fees in francs instead of dollars to reduce the currency risk. A decline in the US dollar against the franc between 2000 and 2011 reduced the WHO’s purchasing power for payroll costs by 34 per cent, according to a 2012 report. The agency has been cutting jobs and has moved about 100 positions to Malaysia. The WHO’s board also adopted a set of reform proposals last month after the criticism on its Ebola response. Headquarter staff

The agency plans to complete the budget review by April so the financing can be approved in May, the spokeswoman said. The WHO has more employees in Geneva than any UN body besides the United Nations secretariat. As of July 2014, 1888 WHO employees were based at its headquarters, about a quarter of the total. The franc has given up some of its gains against the euro since rising beyond parity last month, a development that may save the city from losing too many jobs, the University of Geneva’s Flueckiger said. Some international organisations based there are already seeking ways to cut costs. Unicef, the UN agency that works on children’s rights, said last week it will cut costs by setting up a services center in Budapest employing about 200 people. Still, others aren’t as worried. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which spends about $US4 billion a year fighting the world’s three biggest infectious killers, said all its funds are raised and disbursed in US dollars, and less than 10 per cent of its costs are in francs.

‘Waiting for the dust to settle’GAVI, which last month raised $US7.5 billion to fund vaccinations in developing countries, said about 3 per cent of its costs are in francs. Because of hedging measures, the SNB’s action “will not have any significant impact” on its finances, said Rob Kelly, a spokesman. The International Committee of the Red Cross receives most of its income in foreign currencies, but has its budget in francs. The organisation appealed for an additional 132 million francs in October to cover its 2014 budget of 1.3 billion francs as it faces increased costs associated with humanitarian responses in South Sudan, Ukraine and Syria. It’s too early to measure how the organisation’s funding will be affected by the strong franc, said Red Cross spokesman Alexis Heeb. “We will of course be affected in some way but are remaining calm and are waiting for the dust to settle.”  Bloomberg

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Meet Ruby, Australia’s newly discovered seadragon

‘Mesmerising beauty’: The ruby seadragon. Photo: Western Australian Museum ‘Mesmerising beauty’: The ruby seadragon. Photo: Western Australian Museum
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Say hello to Ruby, the seadragon that until recently no one knew existed.

A bright red, black-eyed bony beauty, it is only the third species of these peculiar Australian marine creatures ever discovered.

All the time, it was drifting right under scientists’ noses.

The ruby seadragon is believed to live in dark waters beyond normal scuba diving depth, and so escaped attention, unlike its relatives, the leafy and weedy seadragons.

Josefin Stiller, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution in California, led research that first uncovered the ruby seadragon, and described it as a new species of “mesmerising beauty” in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

The discovery of the first new seadragon species in 150 years was “highly unexpected,” Ms Stiller said.

Teasing out the genetics of the two better-known species, she was sent a tissue sample from a Western Australian Museum specimen, thought to be a common seadragon, but found to have clearly different DNA.

Ms Stiller, her Scripps colleague Greg Rouse, and the Western Australian Museum’s Nerida Wilson then checked on the actual specimen, which had been trawled off the Recherche Archipelago in WA in 2007.

It was a male, brooding young, as male seahorses do, about 24 centimetres long and still a vivid red when it was photographed on the research ship.

It was intact except for the waving appendages that keep seadragons hidden in their surroundings, both from predators and the tiny shrimp prey they suck up through straw-like mouths.

The scientists then scoured Australian collections and turned up several other rubies, all of them different anatomically from the leafy and common species.

“The red colour of the ruby seadragon helps to camouflage it at depth, as red light does not penetrate very deep,” Ms Stiller said. “So anything that is red is effectively black.”

She said the discovery underscored two things: how important long-term museum collections were, and how many more secrets still waited to be uncovered in the sea.

The ruby seadragon was found at a depth of 51 metres, just a few kilometres off the Austalian coast.

“Even at relatively shallow depth, which is much better explored than other parts of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, we still find new species,”  Ms Stiller said.

“This particular new species is relatively large, brightly coloured and charismatic – and so it is all the more remarkable that it escaped recognition until now.

“It is a sign of how much more there may be to find in shallow and deeper waters of Australia.”

The team gave it the scientific name Phyllopteryx dewysea, naming it after  Mary “Dewy” White, an American benefactor of seadragon conservation and research.

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Gallipoli’s ratings fail highlights Australia’s inferiority complex

Artful: Gallipoli’s is an accomplished production but is failing to draw in viewers. Kodi Smit-McPhee in Gallipoli.
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One hundred years after the Gallipoli campaign was marked by terrible casualties, the Channel Nine mini-series is also suffering extensive losses. Gallipoli launched last week with a strong capital city audience of just more than 1.1 million, but on Monday night for the second of seven episodes the audience was virtually halved, down to 580,000. The ultimate indignity? It was beaten in the ratings by Ten’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! which drew 600,000 viewers earlier that evening.

“If you didn’t see ‘GALLIPOLI’ tonight you are truly out of your mind. Yes, it’s dark, violent, and bloody. But it is SENSATIONAL”, tweeted actor Lachy Hulme, who has a supporting role in Gallipoli as British military commander Lord Kitchener, on Monday night. And he’s right. This is a benchmark Australian television drama that captures the horror of a nation-defining moment with evocative writing, artful direction, strong performances and accomplished production values.

This actually is must-see TV, but the public doesn’t appear to be responding. The possible reasons why begin with an unwieldy timeslot – Gallipoli is screening at 9pm on Monday nights, although any show that airs after a major reality show tends to have a less than faithful relationship with its advertised starting time. And that lead-in on Nine, The Block Triple Threat, isn’t quite the ratings powerhouse of previous years. It’s been monstered by Channel Seven’s ratings behemoth My Kitchen Rules.

Interest in the Gallipoli centenary was expected to be high – there are several other television series in the can that now have highly nervous producers – but you could argue that the show’s qualities are better suited to the ABC, where it could have found an earlier slot on a Sunday night. The ABC did a good job of finding an audience for the last standout Australian drama, The Slap, in 2011.

But if a series is good enough, and having seen the first four episodes I know Gallipoli is, then surely the quality should transcend network logistics. The problem could run deeper, in that while the Gallipoli campaign has become a touchstone for Australians, it’s more of a symbol than a clearly defined reality. What Gallipoli makes clear, with its bloody hand-to-hand combat and no man’s land carpeted with Australian and Turkish dead, is the unchecked carnage behind the reassuring mythology.

The series is harrowing because it values reality over jingoistic sentiment and that’s not been the recent norm for Australian drama offerings. The successful diet offered by broadcasters has been a melodramatic confection of billionaires and their adversaries, led by multiple Kerry Packer offerings (including two where he’s played by the aggrieved Hulme). Channel Nine itself has only just finished serving up the overly ripe House of Hancock, a show whose pulpy appeal evaporated after a repetitive scene or two.

Australians have been eager adopters of the prestigious American cable drama series, with laudatory debates about whether The Sopranos is better than Breaking Bad and aficionados proudly boasting about being an early adopter of The Wire. But while those shows are among the medium’s very best, there’s also a part of us that bow down to imported acclaim and refuses to believe that we can make truly great television drama in this country. Presented with a worthy Australian program some television consumers prefer to wait online in case a new Game of Thrones trailer drops.

One of Gallipoli’s story strands is how the Australian military was a misused tool of wasteful British generals, and while we bowed down to the British a century ago our empire of choice now is American. Gallipoli’s falling ratings tells us that Australia’s sense of cultural inferiority is as strong as ever. If you didn’t see “GALLIPOLI” tonight you are truly out of your mind. Yes, it’s dark, violent, and bloody. But it is SENSATIONAL @Gallipoli9 — Lachy Hulme (@LachyHulme) February 16, 2015This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Mike Baird labelled a ‘coward’ by Senator Sam Dastyari for not attending parliamentary inquiry into electricity privatisation

Senator Sam Dastyari, flanked by independent Jacqui Lambie and the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon, criticised Mike Baird for not attending the public hearing into asset recyclling on Wednesday. Photo: Daniel Munoz Senators Jacquie Lambie and Sam Dastyari with protesters before the public hearing. Photo: Daniel Munoz
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A NSW Senator has accused Premier Mike Baird of gagging senior bureaucrats and preventing them from attending a parliamentary inquiry into his centrepiece election policy of privatisation.

“Mike Baird is a coward for refusing to show up to the inquiry today,” said Sam Dastyari, a federal Labor MP. He also accused the government of gagging its economic bureaucrats. “NSW Treasury was coming today; they have been told by the government that they couldn’t attend”.

The former NSW party boss was appearing with fellow senators Lee Rhiannon of the Greens and Tasmanian independent Jacqui Lambie at a Senate inquiry into asset sales held at the state library Wednesday.

A spokesman for the NSW Treasurer, Andrew Constance, said Treasury was unaware of any invitation to attend the inquiry, which he dismissed as a “collection of Canberra’s weird and wacky identities”.

“Any outcome from this inquiry would no doubt reflect their weird and wacky views,” the spokesman said.

The issue of privatisation is set to feature prominently in next month’s state election. It involves the federal government because it has promised to make cash payments to states that sell assets, such as Mr Baird has promised to do with half of NSW’s “poles and wires” or electricity distribution networks.

But that money has stalled in the federal parliament, where legislation is locked in a stalemate, leading to calls for Mr Baird to revise downwards estimates of how much money the sale would reap.

Wednesday’s inquiry featured testimony from several critics of privatisation including economist John Quiggin and the Australia Institute think tank.

Federal treasury bureaucrat Chris Legge said the federal government had determined to pay the states up to 15 per cent of the money spent on infrastructure funded through privatisations; a figure arrived at by negotiation.

Members of the Labor-dominated committee questioned why those incentives needed to be tied to privatisations. Mr Legge said it reflected federal government thinking that the states would have little money to spend on projects otherwise.

The federal government has promised about $6 billion in such incentives if they sell off assets.

But the Senate has blocked about $3.5 billion of that, which the Abbott government had planned to take from education funding. The bill to release funding has now stalled in the federal senate.

That could have serious implications for NSW: if the federal scheme does not go ahead, it could take more than $2 billion out of the $20 billion windfall the state government promises will be netted from its sell off, according to Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.

“Premier Mike Baird is promising to deliver a $2 billion federal sweetener for his poles and wires sell-off from a federal fund that that doesn’t exist,” said NSW Greens MLC John Kaye. “The Premier should be honest about his privatisation balance sheet and cut his infrastructure inducements by at least $2 billion”.

Dr Kaye accused the state government of further inflating its expected revenue from privatisation by claiming it will earn $5 billion in interest on the sale alone.

A spokesman for the Premier said he was confident the federal government would deliver the scheme in full. “We are outlining a $20 billion infrastructure plan and we’ll be delivering it.”

A Commonwealth bank analyst, William Allott, told Fairfax on Wednesday the assets may even be valued at more than the forecast $20 billion. He projected the market could pay up to $25 billion for the lease.

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie dismissed the payments as a “bribe”.

“Once you decide to sell it’s all over red rover,” Ms Lambie said of infrastructure sales.

The Tasmanian senator warned that a re-elected Baird government that sold off electricity assets would be, like its federal Liberal counterpart, “living on borrowed time”.

The NSW Labor party is gearing up for a negative campaign on the issue of privatisation, after a similar proposal turned voters in Queensland off a sitting conservative government.

The senator from NSW dismissed a report by consultants Ernst and Young, comissioned by the Baird government, that found privatisation had led to a drop in retail electricity prices in Victoria.

“They were then awarded [another government] contract,” Mr Dastyari said. “That’s the kind of thing you see in the Mugabe regime”.

Treasurer Andrew Constance also cites research from other sources such as the Grattan Institute and Frontier Economics in support of the claim.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said he believed privatisation would lead to lower prices in an August speech but in its submission to Wednesday’s inquiry the watchdog warned against structuring any deal to maximise sale proceeds to the detriment of competition in the market.   

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Fiftieth anniversary re-enactment of freedom ride goes north to fight discrimination against Aboriginal people

An original member of Australia’s freedom rides is farewelled before boarding the bus for the 50th anniversary of the original ride promoting social justice for Aboriginal people. Photo: Peter Rae Original freedom riders ready to go. Photo: Peter Rae
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Freedom ride committee, 1965 – John Powles, Charles Perkins, Patricia Healy and Jim Spigelman.

Anniversary a celebration and reminder

When the first freedom ride left Sydney University to fight discrimination against Aboriginal people in 1965, it did so without Wednesday morning’s fanfare, without the university’s support and without official speeches marking the occasion.

In those days, there were no Aboriginal flags fluttering above the quadrangle, they hadn’t even been designed yet, and there were only two Aboriginal students on campus.

On Wednesday morning, the 50th anniversary re-enactment left in a flurry, with two buses carrying media, and some of the original freedom riders including Eileen Perkins, the widow of the late Aboriginal politician and activist, who initiated the original ride with Bill Ford, who had come back from the freedom rides in the United States inspired to bring about change in Australia.

With a new generation of 29 students on board along with some of the original freedom riders, the four-day bus trip will retrace much of the original route to northwest NSW, including Dubbo, Walgett, Kempsey and Moree. It will hold community forums, meetings and concerts.

As well as this week’s re-enactment of the original ride, Sydney University will mark the 50th anniversary of the freedom rides – a group of 30 students who took direct action to highlight discrimination against Aboriginal people in swimming pools, clubs and restaurants across NSW – with a new scholarship fund and a promise to lift the number of Indigenous students 65 per cent by 2016.

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“When the (original) freedom riders set out, the university wasn’t exactly the most supportive institution,” said Shane Houston, the deputy vice-chancellor, indigenous strategy and services. The1965 bus trip had been inspired by the American freedom riders in the deep south. The Australian students headed to the deep north, with the goal to “expose segregation and the shameful treatment of Aboriginal people.” The original freedom ride was led by Sydney University student Charles Perkins, who was to make history the year after the freedom rides by becoming the first Aboriginal man to graduate from an Australian university.

“The freedom ride really was a remarkable contribution to social consciousness in Australia,” said Mr Houston. It had brought Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues into the public gaze over a sustained period of time for the first time ever, he said.

“Up until that time, it was out of sight, out of mind largely (for Aboriginal people).”

One of the original riders who will join the 2015 bus ride in Moree this week is Jim Spigelman, now ABC chairman and a former chief justice of the NSW Supreme Court. He was 19 and a student at Sydney University when he left to fight racial discrimination that he knew firsthand from his parents and brother’s experience as Jews at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust.

This week he recalled it was the first time that Aboriginal issues had ever been on the front page for a continuous period.

What the students uncovered across rural NSW was a shock to them and to many Australians. “We did not know before we got there that a number of local government councils had formal resolutions on the books prohibiting Indigenous Australians from swimming in the pools. We had heard that there were some kinds of discrimination in one or two places, but we didn’t know it was as formal as that. And a number of Australians didn’t know they (these racial bars) existed, ” Mr Spigelman said.

Mr Houston said the new freedom ride scholarship fund had been designed as a flexible fund that could be used to support and retain Indigenous students. In addition, the university had implemented a range of new policies to address institutional racism.

“A lot of people don’t understand that there are different forms of racism. Everyone gets the blatant acts,” he said, citing a time when he was banned from the front bar of a pub in Burke and told to ring a cowbell from out the back to order. “But what they don’t often get is the institutional racism, often unintentional, where we construct a way of behaving or a set of rules that has an unintended consequence that it disadvantages a group of people.”

To address this less obvious racism, the university had made thinking about and serving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders part of its core business affecting every part of the university. It was reviewing how it taught every subject, and it had made cultural competency a priority for every part of the university.

“If the Uni of Sydney could do what it is doing, there is no excuse for any other university. “

There are currently 383 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at the university. And he said the goal of increasing that number to 600 was ambitious but the university was hungry for change.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.