Citizenship appointments resume in all states and territories
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Canberra - M E Times Int'l: More people now have the opportunity to become Australian citizens, with citizenship testing and appointments now available in all states and territories following COVID-19 shutdowns.
In-person citizenship tests and appointments resumed in Melbourne this week, after COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria eased.
Testing has progressively resumed in other states and territories as COVID-19 restrictions have allowed.
More than 30,000 tests have been administered since testing resumed in July 2020. There are currently 117,000 people waiting for an appointment nationally, of which almost 40 per cent are in Victoria – with Melbourne being the second largest testing centre, after the combined Sydney sites.
Law reform takes tougher stance against sexual offences in NSW
Sydney: NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman tabled the NSW Law Reform Commission report Consent in Relation to Sexual Offences in Parliament today.
The report, of more than 250 pages, considers questions central to sexual assault proceedings in NSW courts, including: the structure, language and meaning of consent; when a person does not consent; knowledge of consent or non-consent; and the meaning of terms such as sexual intercourse, sexual touching and sexual act.
“Sexual offences in our community are significantly under-reported to police,” Mr Speakman said. “The conviction rate for those offences that do make it to court in NSW is also low in comparison with other offences.”
The Government is expected to consider the report’s 44 recommendations and intends to respond next year.
The report follows the Make No Doubt campaign, an initiative of the Government’s Sexual Assault Strategy, to encourage open discussion about sexual consent.
'I find the Greens problematic': Bill Shorten
Canberra: Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten says he finds the Greens "problematic" and since the the political party has risen the environmental debate has "gone backwards, not forwards”.
“I find the Greens problematic,” Mr Shorten told Alan Jones.
“They’ve taken some of our primary vote to the left.
"I think that since the Green political party has risen, the environmental debate has gone backwards, not forwards."
Mr Shorten’s comments come in the wake of the recent resignation of Joel Fitzgibbon from Labor’s frontbench.
Mr Fitzgibbon’s move to the backbench surfaced over internal disputes about the party’s stance on coal, climate change and energy.
“In terms of energy policy, there’s no question it’s been very vexed, very vexed,” Mr Shorten said.
“And Labor, certainly at the last election, had trouble convincing people rightly or wrongly that it wasn’t going to jeopardise jobs.
“So, I think that for any debate about energy, we need to put jobs in the centre of it. “People need to understand where they fit in”.
Mr Shorten also threw his support behind Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese saying he’s “doing a good job”.
“I think we’ve got to make sure that people associate Labor with jobs and more jobs”.
NSW may scrap stamp duty for first home buyers
Sydney: NSW home buyers could be spared from paying stamp duty on new homes if a new government plan becomes reality.
Instead of an exemption from stamp duty, first-time buyers would get a grant worth up to $25,000 under the proposed overhaul.
The state Treasurer revealed budget plans to ask the public’s opinion on scrapping stamp duty and replacing it with a smaller annual tax.
Stamp duty is a tax the government charges every time someone buys a new property. First-time buyers already benefit from an exemption if the home they’re buying costs less than $1 million.
Dominic Perrottet said the current system was “one of the biggest financial barriers to home ownership” in NSW and said an overhaul would enable more people to be able to buy a house.
“This is the single most important economic reform we can tackle to turn the Australian dream into NSW’s reality,” Mr Perrottet said.
Focus on job creation, Shorten tells Labor leader
Canberra: Anthony Albanese should focus on job creation amid internal rumblings over its energy policy, according to his predecessor Bill Shorten.
Mr Shorten led Labor to a shock loss in the 2019 election with an energy platform he concedes was “able to be portrayed as threatening jobs”.
He insisted Mr Albanese was doing a “good job” in trying circumstances, but warned his successor against making the same mistake.
“If people aren’t voting for us, then what we’ve got to do is get their vote. If job security is their priority, then that’s what matters,” he said.
Joel Fitzgibbon resigned from the Labor frontbench, claiming the party’s climate policy had alienated its blue-collar base. He called for Climate and Energy Minister Mark Butler to be moved on after seven years in the portfolio.
Mr Shorten said Labor had lessons to learn from Mr Fitzgibbon’s resignation, but stopped short of calling for Mr Butler to go.
Berejiklian ‘incredibly proud’ of state’s coronavirus response
Sydney: New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has told the Daily Telegraph’s Bradfield Oration that the state is leading the world in its coronavirus response and recovery.
“I don’t know any other jurisdiction on the planet that has our infection rates and level of openness with the economy and lack of borders,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“As a team we’re incredibly proud of that.”
Ms Berejiklian also spoke about contact tracing and how New South Wales got it right in comparison to other states.
“You can only really test your system and your contact tracing when your citizens are free and businesses are operating,” she said.
“Queensland and WA haven’t had their systems tested. When you’ve got your borders up and when you’re not welcoming back, as we are, 3,000 citizens every week through hotel quarantine.
“That all carries risk with it, but also opportunity.”
The premier said the most difficult decision she had to make was putting the state into lockdown early in the coronavirus pandemic.
“I promised myself we would do everything we could beyond that point to never go backwards, to always keep pushing forward.”
China outlet warns Joe Biden over human rights
CHINESE propaganda outlet the Global Times has warned that if US President-elect Joe Biden cracks down on China’s human rights abuses, he won’t have time to focus on “climate change”.
A Global Times editorial warned that a Biden presidency will live in the shadows of “Trumpism” if it takes a hardline stance against China.
“If the Biden administration follows the current path in terms of the China policy, then they will have to put more effort into China-US confrontation.
“It would be hard for them to focus on the COVID-19 fight, climate change and other issues that the Democratic Party attaches importance to. The new administration will continue to live in the shadow of ‘Trumpism’."
The Global Times also warned any attempt by President Donald Trump to “flex” on China will be met with “embarrassment and humiliation”.
“The US is a real tiger on the global stage but when it comes close to China's coastal waters and touches China's core interests, it becomes a paper tiger,” The times wrote.
The US election is ‘far from over’
Sydney: Alan Jones says the US presidential election is “far from over”.
“How much more evidence of voter fraud do people need,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Jones pointed to Sidney Powell, one of five attorneys on Donald Trump’s legal team, who said there is substantial evidence which shows Dominion Voting Systems are capable of vote switching.
“Apparently switching the votes from one candidate to the other or deleting them is easy to do on these Dominion Voting Systems,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Jones spoke with New York Post columnist Miranda Devine about the issue.
“Yesterday in Georgia we had 2,600 uncounted votes were discovered from one of these Dominion voting machines, and most of those - you won’t be surprised to hear - were for Donald Trump,” Ms Devine said.
“There’s still a ways to go, there are a lot of lawsuits wending their way through the court system.”
Pilot’s miracle escape in the air finds new life on social media
The incredible tale of how a British Airways pilot was sucked out of the cockpit mid-flight and survived has resurfaced 30 years on.
Just 27 minutes into flight 5390 from Birmingham, UK, to Malaga, Spain, in June 1990 over Oxfordshire, two of the six cockpit windows shattered and Captain Tim Lancaster was ripped from his seat and sucked out of the window at 23,000 feet (7000 metres).
The force blew the cockpit door from its hinges, nearly knocking flight attendant Nigel Ogden to the ground but he rushed into the cockpit and grabbed the pilot’s legs as he disappeared out of the window.
Mr Ogden was gradually slipping out as he held onto the pilot but a second cabin crew member, John Heward, came running into the cockpit and grabbed him by the belt.
The lives of 87 passengers and crew also hung in the balance.
While co-pilot Alistair Atchinson took over the controls, a second flight attendant Simon scrapped himself into the third pilot’s chair and helped to hold on to the chain of men.
The plane landed at Southampton Airport. The pilot suffered several fractures and frostbite, but he survived.
Mr Ogden later left British Airways and went to work for the Salvation Army, but Captain Lancaster flew again.
According to a report by the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch, a fitter had used the wrong bolts to secure the windscreen.
The whole incident was recreated for a documentary which aired on the National Geographic Channel in 2005. Stills from the show recently went viral on social media.