‘Facebook news ban was wrong’: Josh Frydenberg
(See Translation in Arabic Section)
Canberra: M E Times Int'l: Facebook’s decision to ban all Australian news content was wrong, unnecessary and heavy handed, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
He said the actions of the company would "damage its reputation" in Australia.
Facebook’s move comes as hostilities grew over the Australian government’s media bargaining code, through which it was trying to force tech giants to pay Australian media outlets for using news content in a bid to sustain the future of journalism.
Facebook said it failed to strike a solution with the government because the law fundamentally misunderstood the relationship between the platform and publishers.
However, Mr Frydenberg pointed out Facebook’s decision to block access to Australian government websites providing pandemic, mental health and emergency support was “completely unrelated” to the media code in question.
“The Morrison government remains absolutely committed to legislating and implementing the code. And we want to thank Google for the very constructive discussions that they have been having with stakeholders," he said.
“What today's events do confirm for all Australians is the immense market power of these media digital giants. These digital giants loom very, very large in our economy and on the digital landscape."
Covid vaccinations in NSW to start on Monday
Sydney: More than 35,000 critical staff in NSW will be among the first in Australia to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when the rollout begins on Monday, 22 February.
The initial three-week vaccination phase will see all hotel quarantine workers given the Pfizer vaccine - including all workers within quarantine hotels, those screening arrivals at the airport, health staff, cleaners, police officers and security guards.
Health care workers who have the greatest exposure to potential COVID-19 patients will also be included in the first round of jabs, which will be rolled out progressively. These workers include COVID-19 clinic workers, emergency department workers, NSW Ambulance clinical workforce including patient transport workers, COVID ward workers, critical care workers including support staff and COVID pathology lab staff.
The vaccines will be administered in three initial vaccination hubs at Westmead, Liverpool and Royal Prince Alfred Hospitals.
Child Protection Minister under fire as report finds five ...
Adelaide: A report released on Tuesday probed the Child Protection Department’s handling of two separate cases of young teenagers in care who were sexually abused by paedophiles.
One girl, 13, became pregnant in the course of the abuse, and the other, of a similar age, was abused while pregnant to a different man.
Former Judge Paul Rice was asked to conduct a review in December 2020 after it was revealed the minister, Rachel Sanderson, only became aware of the cases when two men were sentenced for sexual abuse.
Mr Rice said he was informed of five “at the present time” when he asked the department how many pregnancies there were among children in state care.
He also asked for figures over the past five years, he wrote, but was told they were not available as teenage pregnancies were “were an ongoing problem across all social levels”.
“I was told that normally pregnancy would not be reported because ‘children in care are no different to … other children’,” he wrote.
Berejiklian won't jump the vaccine 'queue' but would take it 'in a heartbeat'
Sydney: Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she would take the coronavirus vaccine “in a heartbeat” but is determined to wait her turn.
Asked at a press conference on Wednesday whether she would get early access to the jab, the premier said she would “love to get mine early” but thought it unfair to “jump the queue”.
“I think the people of the state would be upset if I jumped the queue so I’ll wait my turn, but if I could have access to it tomorrow I’d do it,” she said.
“And I want to say I’d feel that extra level of confidence, I’d still make sure I was safe, I’d still make sure I was doing all the things people asked me to.”
NSW Labor moves to ban developers from top jobs in Parliament
Sydney: Labor is calling on the Berejiklian Government to support its efforts to ban property developers from serving as cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries.
Labor moved this amendment as part of a broader suite of integrity measures that it has put before the NSW Parliament. They include banning the receipt of commissions from property developers, making it a crime to recklessly shred important government documents and a requirement for the publication of ministerial registers of interest.
Labor has pushed these integrity measures forward after the Berejiklian Government faced a series of related scandals in the past 12 months.
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said: “I call on the Government to support all the integrity measures we’ve put before the Parliament.
“We introduced this legislation because the Opposition believes you can be a cabinet minister or a property developer. You can’t be both.”
Aussie house prices set to explode
Sydney: There are few things in this world that can get Australians talking as much as property prices. Whether it’s talking negatively geared investment properties at a backyard barbecue or first homebuyers discussing a potential purchase around the dinner table, property is never far from many people’s minds.
And since the pandemic began, avid watchers of Aussie real estate have certainly had a lot to talk about.
But as the property market heats up for what some analysts are predicting will be a boom year, there is one factor playing a role in the ongoing price growth which may have been overlooked. Superannuation withdrawals.
When the Morrison Government first allowed people to withdraw up to $20,000 from their superannuation from April last year, it was ostensibly intended as a measure to help struggling households through the worst of the pandemic.
During the roughly nine-month life of the program, around 3.5 million people withdrew a cumulative $36 billion, with around 500,000 all but emptying their accounts entirely.
While the Government’s intention may have been for super withdrawals to provide a much-needed boost to household budgets during the pandemic, it didn’t really end up working out that way for many who made one or more withdrawals.
According to figures from analytics firm AlphaBeta, in the two weeks following a superannuation withdrawal, 64 per cent of additional spending was on non-essentials, including clothing, furniture, takeaways, alcohol and gambling.
But some shall we say “enterprising” folks have used their super withdrawals for a very different purpose – a deposit for a home.
Mark Latham backs calls to use ‘green bank’ to invest in coal after ‘market failure’
Sydney: NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham has backed calls for the so-called green bank to use part of its $10 billion fund to invest in coal projects.
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has announced he will put an amendment to the government’s legislation for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation so it has the ability to invest in “high intensity, low emissions coal-fired power”.
Mr Latham told media there is now a “classic case of market failure” whereby banks such as ANZ have refused to invest in projects even slightly connected to coal because “they’ve gone woke”.
“It’s a disgrace that banks like ANZ won’t touch projects that are legal and legitimate just because there’s some even indirect association with coal,” he said.
“Coal shouldn’t be a dirty word, coal shouldn’t be a dirty investment anywhere it’s creating jobs, 75,000 coal reliant jobs in the Hunter Valley alone”.
Andrews under pressure to compensate businesses for lockdown losses
Melbourne: The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell is calling on Premier Daniel Andrews to provide assurance to businesses they would be compensated for losses suffered during coronavirus-induced lockdowns.
She raised concerns about business confidence, pointing out owners would struggle to invest and reopen when Mr Andrews failed to rule out further lockdowns.
“So, they’ve got to be confident that they can get on with business … they can contribute to economic growth and be confident that they’ll be compensated if there’s a close down,” Ms Carnell told media. The snap lockdown was announced on Friday, ahead of one of the biggest weekends for Victorian business in months due to the Australian Open and Valentine's Day.
Unemployment falls to 6.4 per cent for January
Sydney: The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed the unemployment rate for January has dropped to 6.4 per cent from 6.6 per cent in December which was better than the consensus forecast of most economists.
The number of people in employment has risen to 12.93 million people up from 12.1 million in May last year.
Ross Greenwood said, “it also means Australia is getting … close to where employment was before coronavirus really took hold.”
“In December 2019 there were 13 million Australians who were effectively employed at that time”.
NSW Labor slams government over ‘broken’ infrastructure projects
Sydney: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian refused to explain a cancelled a series of infrastructure projects promised for Wentworth Point and Newington during Question Time.
The NSW Government cancelled the M4 Hill Road Exit, and Stage 2 of the Parramatta Light Rail, and further delayed the delivery of Metro West services until at least 2033.
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said: “People moved to those communities because of what Gladys Berejiklian promised them, now she has broken promises to build vital transport links and turned her back on rapidly growing communities in Wentworth Point and Newington.”
The Shadow Minister for Transport Chris Minns said: “The Government has left these areas high and dry. People invested their hard-earned money on that basis and the Government has failed them.”
Member for Auburn Lynda Voltz said: “The people I represent in Wentworth Point expected the road access and public transport links their neighbourhood needs. They’ve been let down by this government yet again.”
Joe Biden suggests China’s Uighur genocide is part of ‘different cultural norms’
US President Joe Biden has appeared to downplay China’s genocide of Uighur Muslims, saying “culturally there are different norms” in every country.
Mr Biden made the comments during a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, where he was asked by host Anderson Cooper about his recent conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In that conversation, the newly elected President reportedly pressed his counterpart over human rights abuses in Hong Kong and the northwestern Xinjiang province, where more than one million Uighur men and women have reportedly been detained in a sprawling network of “re-education” camps.
Mr Biden answered by relaying Mr Xi’s justification for the abuses, saying the Chinese President “gets it”.
“You know, Chinese leaders, if you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been, the time when China has been victimised by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home,” he said.
“So the central – it’s vastly overstated – the central principle of Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China, and he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.”
Mr Biden continued, “I point out to him no American president can be sustained as a president if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States, and so the idea I’m not going to speak out against what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uighurs in western mountains of China, and Taiwan, trying to end the One China policy by making it forceful … I said, and, by the, he said, he – he gets it. Culturally there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow.”