There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Ms Berejiklian - According to the Independent Commission Against Corruption
(See Translation in Arabic section)
Sydney - M E Times Int'l: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has declared: “I won’t resign” over bombshell revelations that she conducted a clandestine relationship with a former MP who is now the subject of a corruption probe.
After confessing for the first time that she was in a “close, personal relationship” with the father of two, Ms Berejiklian has declared she has no intention of standing down as premier because she “hadn’t done anything wrong”.
“If I had done something wrong, I would be the first one to consider my position. But I haven’t,” Ms Berejiklian said in a press conference on Monday.
“I’m an intensely private person and without question, I stuffed up in my personal life.
“It’s very difficult for someone in my position to have a private and personal life, and I’m very upset at what has transpired. But I want to make this assurance to the people of New South Wales - I have always put the public first. I have always made sure the public interest is first and foremost paramount in every single thing that I do.
“The integrity of the role I have - the office that I hold - is the greatest privilege of my life. And whilst I have made this mistake in my personal life, I intend to serve the people of New South Wales to the best of my ability. That’s what I’ve always done. I’ve sacrificed my life to public office, and I’m proud of that.”
Ms Berejiklian said she had trusted someone who had let her down in the worst way, describing the situation as “devastating” and her “personal nightmare”.
“I want to state at the outset that, had I known then what I know now, clearly I would not have made those personal decisions that I did,” she said.
“I trusted someone that I’d known for a long time, and I feel really, really let down. I trusted him for a long time. We were colleagues for 15 years. And I’m not going to take away from the fact that I made a mistake in my personal life, but I have to say that there is huge separation between a personal life and public office.
“And I can’t stress enough that, every day that I’ve been in this job, I have held myself accountable to the highest standards.”
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Ms Berejiklian according to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Eight more NSW SES names added to memorial
Sydney: NSW has honoured the emergency services personnel who died in the line of duty, adding eight names to the memorial at a ceremony at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said it is important to remember the 102 volunteers who paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting their community.
“The men and women who volunteer put service above self, often prioritising the safety of their community above their own. Our State owes them all a debt of gratitude,” Mr Elliott said.
“NSW tragically lost eight beloved volunteers, Geoffrey Keaton, Andrew O’Dwyer, Samuel McPaul, Colin Burns, Michael Maria, Phillip Bell, Ian Long and Robert Panitz. The whole community mourns with their families.
There are now 102 names enshrined on the memorial which recognises volunteers from the NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW State Emergency Service, Marine Rescue NSW and the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association.
Aust Government announces changes to working, marriage visas
Canberra: The Federal Government is offering refunds or waivers of Visa Application Charges (VAC) for tourists, working holiday makers, seasonal workers, prospective partners and temporary skilled workers whose travel was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visitor visa holders who are overseas and whose visas expired or will expire between March 2020 and December 2021 will be eligible for a waiver when they apply for a new visa.
Backpackers on working holiday visas unable to come to Australia or who had to leave Australia early due to COVID-19 will also be eligible for a waiver. Those unable to return because they have passed the age limit for the visa will be able to claim a refund.
Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme visa holders will also be eligible for a refund of the VAC if they were granted a visa before March 20 and were unable to travel to Australia.
Visa conditions for these workers were also temporarily relaxed and options are available for them to extend their stay in Australia for up to 12 months.
The government will offer a waiver of the VAC for subsequent applications by affected temporary employer sponsored skilled migrants.
The Prospective Marriage visa provides holders with nine months to travel to Australia to marry an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
VAC refunds will be available for Prospective Marriage visa holders who have been unable to enter Australia before their visa expired, due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.
Refunds will ensure these visa holders are able to apply for another visa to travel to Australia and hold their wedding once travel restrictions are lifted. For those visas that have already expired, any new application will be prioritised.
Visa extensions will be available for Prospective Marriage visa holders whose visas are still valid.
Aust PM Morrison maintains support after budget
Canberra: The Federal Budget has gained the popular support of voters, according to a new opinion poll.
Scott Morrison also retained his high personal approval rating despite gross debt soaring to more than $1 trillion in the Budget as the coronavirus pandemic plunged the economy into a deep recession.
Latest Newspoll figures show the Prime Minister’s net satisfaction rating remains steady on 65.
But dissatisfaction with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese rose three points to 43 per cent.
Four in five voters supported the bringing forward of income tax cuts.
More people – 26 per cent compared with 23 per cent – also thought they would be better off financially under the Budget.
The Coalition has gained another point from Labor with the parties standing at 52-48 on a two-party preferred basis.
About 57 per cent of voters believe Mr Morrison is the better prime minister.
Parliament has passed contentious laws that will dramatically increase the cost of some university degrees
Canberra: Parliament has passed contentious laws that will dramatically increase the cost of some university degrees, while cutting the cost of others.
Under the changes, the cost of a social sciences degree will more than double, while nursing, mathematics and teaching degrees will become cheaper.
The laws also remove government support for students who fail too many courses.
The cost of degrees will change due to a major shake-up of how much the Commonwealth will pay for students' degrees.
Education Minister Dan Tehan says the changes will give students cost incentives to study subjects that will prepare them for fields where jobs are needed.
"The ... legislation will provide more university places for Australian students, make it cheaper to study in areas of expected job growth and provide more funding and support to regional students and universities," he said earlier in the week.
Australia Post sets Christmas delivery deadline of December 12
Melbourne: Consumers are being urged to make online purchases well before the end of November to ensure gifts they intend to send arrive in time for Christmas.
Australia Post has set a December 12 postage deadline to guarantee parcels will be delivered before Christmas Day and December 19 as the guarantee for Express Post deliveries.
Typically, Australia Post’s parcel service delivers within two to three business days in metropolitan areas, but the pandemic-driven boom in online shopping has played havoc with timelines.
Lockdowns in all states during the year followed by Victorians being closeted for weeks on end following a second coronavirus wave that caused undue delays in deliveries.
The issue is not just consumers needing to post parcels destined for interstate by December 12 but first ensuring their online purchase arrives within enough time for them to forward it.
“We are hiring 4000 more people to help us through what we know will be our busiest Christmas ever we’ve ever seen in terms of online shopping.”
NSW Labor wants answers over data theft
Sydney: Shadow Minister for Better Public Services Sophie Cotsis is demanding the NSW Government explain how cyber criminals were able to steal 3.8 million documents from Service NSW.
It comes after Ms Cotsis, who has been holding the Government to account over the breach, discovered she was among the 186,000 people whose information was stolen.
NSW Labor will use an upcoming Parliamentary Inquiry into cyber security this month to explore the extent of the problem and the lack of assistance available to those impacted.
“I have been calling for months for the NSW Government to harden its digital systems against cyber-attacks,” Ms Cotsis said.
“I was upset and shocked to find I was one of the victims of this cyber-crime, however I am even more upset for the other 186,000 innocent people whose data was stolen.
The first hearing into cyber security will begin on October 29.
$270b defence package a boost for Canberra weapons maker
Canberra: In an unassuming shed in Hume, sits $130 million worth of high-tech military equipment going nowhere fast.
The coronavirus pandemic has shut down Canberra defence manufacturer EOS Group's global supply chains, meaning for now millions of dollars’ worth of weapons systems are stuck with millions more stranded across the globe, unable to reach customers.
But the company has been given a lifeline, after the Defence Department accelerated plans to buy 251 remote weapon stations from the company in the next 12 months.
It is part of the $270 billion capability upgrade for the Australian Defence Force, under the new 2020 Force Structure Plan.
The systems will be added to the Army's Bushmaster and Hawkei protected mobility vehicles, and allow a gunner to operate a weaponised system from a protected position.
The deal will bring forward the timeline on products EOS was already contracted to deliver, to tide the manufacturer over during the temporary shipping hiatus.
"That single act is going to save thousands of jobs," EOS chief executive officer Ben Greene said.
It is estimated the deal will provide work for 200 of EOS Group's engineering and support staff, and another 100 business across Australia further down the supply chain.
Australia is set to spend $270 billion over the next decade on weapons and infrastructure, including billions of dollars on long-range strike missiles.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied it was a provocative move, saying the investment would help create jobs and boost Australia's sovereign capability.