Archive for: April, 2019

Malcolm Turnbull could force voters to the polls three times in two years

Apr 20 2019 Published by under 南京夜网

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull could force voters back to the polls three times in the next two years. Photo: Alex EllinghausenPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull could force voters to the polls another three times in the next two years.
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If Mr Turnbull gets his way Australians will be asked to turn out for both the same-sex marriage plebiscite and the Indigenous constitutional recognition referendum some time in 2017.

That could culminate in a federal election in 2018, possibly as early as August – just 23 months from now.

A new paper by the Parliamentary Library points out that because of some of the vagaries surrounding this year’s double dissolution and Senate terms the next election – assuming it’s a normal house and half-Senate election – has to be held between August 4, 2018 and May 18, 2019.

But that’s an already crowded nine months, leaving Mr Turnbull – assuming his leadership survives that long – with a conundrum.

While he may be inclined to hold on to power for as long as possible before going back to the people, 2019 looks particularly tricky.

Going late in that range would require him to move the budget, and by much more than a week like he did this year.

He’d either need to deliver it significantly earlier in the year before calling a campaign – which would be extremely logistically difficult – or push it back into the second half of the year, after voters have cast their judgement.

While March elections were common in the 1990s, this time it would be difficult because it would inevitably conflict with the NSW state election, due to be held on March 23. Mr Turnbull could ask the NSW government to move the date of its election but that would be unprecedented and politically perilous.

And if the election was early in March the government would still need to push the budget back into the second half of the year.

“The government also tries to avoid having an election campaign over the Easter period. As Easter Sunday is on 21 April in 2019, this may be a factor if an election is considered in that year,” the library says in its analysis.

Any earlier in 2019 and the campaign would have to start in January, when people are on holiday and totally disengaged with politics. This did not work terribly well for former Queensland premier Campbell Newman.

But late 2018 also poses some barriers.

A poll between October and December would seem to make the most sense but there’s another state election in the way: Victorians are due to go to the polls on November 24, 2018.

Mr Turnbull could not realistically go after that because it would conflict with the Christmas break.

To avoid any campaign overlaps he’d have to call the election in July, August or September – but even then his options are limited by football grand finals.

Going too close to a state election could also severely stretch party fundraising abilities.

Of course, the same-sex marriage plebiscite may not happen if Mr Turnbull can’t win parliamentary support.

The Indigenous referendum could also be pushed back into the next term of Parliament if politicians fail to get their act together. However at this stage hopes are still high it will happen in the second half of 2017.

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

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Wings recognised in NAPCAN Awards for providing safe space for children

Apr 20 2019 Published by under 南京夜网

Children from the Wings drop-in Centre in Wilcannia, the 2016 NSW winner of the NAPCAN “Play Your Part” awards.For some children it’s the chance to just play and enjoy being a kid, for others it’s a meeting point or shelter in a crisis, and for others it’s where they get a friendly welcome and a healthy bite to eat.
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Whatever their needs, children know they’ll have a home away from home at the Wings drop-in Centre in Wilcannia, far west NSW.

Now, the centre has been honoured for its huge community contribution.

Wings is the NSW winner of the NAPCAN Play Your Part awards, a prestigious prize announced this weekend and given out annually as part of National Child Protection week.

The centre is the main location available to Wilcannia’s youngsters after school and during  school holidays and attracts up to 90 kids daily during busy times.

“I loved coming here when I was a kid, back when it was just a small place on the main street,” recalls co-ordinator Natika Whyman.

The centre was  first set up in the early ’90s and has been run by the Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation since 1998.

Ms Whyman, 25, said her visits as a child so inspired her, she did the training and returned to Wings as one of the centre’s five Indigenous staff in 2012.

“It’s a very close-knit community and it’s lovely to see my relatives coming in. But for all the kids it’s like being part of family.”

It’s a popular meeting point for 5-15 year-olds who know they’ll always get a bite to eat, support if needed and a friendly word from centre staff, including the much-loved Aunty June, a Wings stalwart, now in her 60s and a favourite with staff and kids.

Centre staff say some of the children who attend are affected by grief and loss, violence and other traumatic events so Wings aims to provide a haven where kids gain support and self-esteem.

NAPCAN said Wings sums up what the Play Your Part Award is all about.

“We are very excited about this project as a prevention initiative. Drop-in centres are a wonderful grass roots way to build community and provide children with the support they need,” NAPCAN President, Teresa Scott, said.

“It embodies the National Child Protection Week message of Stronger Communities, Safer Children,” says Ms Scott.

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

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Free IVF for most disadvantaged: industry leader

Apr 20 2019 Published by under 南京夜网

IVF remains beyond the reach of disadvantaged families. Photo: ThinkstockDevastating cases like a woman who was left infertile by a rape have sparked a call from a leading IVF doctor for the government to fully fund some fertility treatment.
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Professor Robert Norman from the Women’s Health Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital wants free IVF available for the most disadvantaged, including refugees, as long as they meet certain requirements such as age, weight and that they don’t smoke.

“I know I can help them, I know I can give them a fantastic result but they just can’t afford it,” said Professor Norman, who also sits on the board of a private IVF clinic.

“I would see two or three patients a week who need IVF because their tubes are blocked, husband’s sperm is terrible and there’s nothing I can do for them because they’ve got zero money,” he said.

“Infertility treatment needs to be part of the public system and not shoved off into private hands exclusively.”

Fairfax Media last week revealed increasing numbers of Australians were raiding their retirement savings to pay for IVF, which at a premium clinic costs about $11000 a cycle up front, although nearly half of that can be claimed back.

There are few public IVF clinics in Australia that offer subsidised services and even at these clinics the out-of-pocket expenses for IVF can still costs patients up to $3000 a cycle.

Industry leaders say even when profit is removed from the equation, the Medicare rebate of about $5000 for a cycle does not come close to covering the costs of the technology and personnel required to perform IVF.

“I might be seen as the doctor involved in this multi-million dollar service but just for me I would have three scientists, three nurses, two admin staff, a counsellor,” said Professor Michael Chapman, the president of Fertility Society of Australia.

“For IVF to run in a public sector there would need to be state and federal funding specifically for that purpose.”

A new public model that would allow a few hundred people living in Sydney’s east to access a cycle for less than $1000 is expected to be opened out of the Royal Hospital for Women in May.

The doctor leading the clinic, Professor William Ledger, said it incorporates egg and semen-freezing for cancer patients with fertility research and low-cost IVF. It has been funded by the University of NSW and the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation.

“The model is that everyone will have to pay the same, it will be capped as low as it can be because we’re not making a profit, we don’t have shareholders,” he said. “We just have the public hospital that pays its doctors a reasonable wage but nothing excessive in order to deliver that care. It’s cheaper than it would be in the private sector.”

He said Westmead and Royal Prince Alfred Hospitals offer public IVF services in other parts of Sydney using a similar model.

But in Victoria, there is only the Reproductive Services Clinic at the Royal Women’s Hospital, which is affiliated with Melbourne IVF, said fertility specialist Alex Polyakov.

Dr Polyakov, who works at the clinic, said IVF was heavily subsidised but still cost patients a couple of thousand dollars. “I think it would be wonderful if there was a fully-funded service for some patients but what is done in the lab costs a lot of money,” he said.

Professor Norman loathes turning away patients who can’t pay. Especially those from cultures that prize children above all else, who are often from parts of Africa and the Middle East.

“I see a number of patients who have absolutely no money and for whom having children is the ultimate desire in their life, we’ve got nothing to offer them.

“IVF is an important medical treatment, infertility is a real disease that causes pain and the two often have to be combined together.”

Last week, new data revealed that of 73,598 women who started IVF cycles in 2014, one in five (19.8 per cent) delivered a live baby. It was a 10 per cent improvement in the live birth rate over five years.

But the success rate shrunk to 6 per cent for women aged 40 to 44, and less than 1 per cent for over 45s, throwing into question whether the rebate should be available for older women.

Professor Chapman had told Fairfax Media if all the costs of IVF treatment for women aged over 40 were added together and then divided by the number of babies born, this worked out to $100,000 per baby, and $200,000 for women over 45, compared with less than $30,000 for babies born to women aged 30.

“Is that value for money?” Professor Chapman said. “That’s a question the taxpayer has to answer.”

Professor Norman will present on the future of IVF at the annual scientific meeting of the Fertility Society of Australia, in Perth this week.

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

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Tony Abbott left grinning as Malcolm Turnbull flounders

Apr 20 2019 Published by under 南京夜网

Tony Abbott was on the verge of schadenfreude overdose after question time. Photo: Andrew Meares Malcolm Turnbull has one job to prove last week. He stuffed it up big time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Bill Shorten is now following Abbott’s playbook. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The PM can’t blame Tony Abbott for this stuff-up. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Tony Abbott’s grin said it all. When the former prime minister left Parliament House after Thursday’s embarrassing lower house debacle he looked perilously close to schadenfreude overdose.

Abbott’s government was an incompetent mess from top to bottom; a circus that lurched from one self-inflicted crisis to another until it finally tore itself apart. But at least it never lost a vote in the house.

Abbott will never get the vindication he truly wants – he’ll never reclaim the top job – but he’s already getting the next best thing: a front row seat to watch as the man who vanquished him falls apart.

Malcolm Turnbull had one job last week: to prove to Australians that his “solid working majority” was real.

He stuffed it up big time.

And in typical Turnbull style he blamed everyone but himself.

Bill Shorten reneged on his promise to be a constructive opposition leader in favour of “schoolboy tricks”; frontbenchers Peter Dutton, Christian Porter and Michael Keenan were guilty of “complacency” for leaving Parliament early; the government whips clearly didn’t crack the whip hard enough; the media was making a mountain out of a meaningless, procedural molehill.

It was all very reminiscent of his graceless election night speech. Shorten was a big liar; Labor sent out tricky text messages; the Australian people were too dumb to see through the Mediscare campaign.

The result had nothing to do with his dull and lacklustre campaign. Or his uninspiring and threadbare agenda. Or the previous nine months of backflips, thought bubbles, scandals and sellouts. It wasn’t until days later he finally shouldered some of the responsibility for the disaster.

But make no mistake, here too the buck stops with Turnbull. He’s at the top of a government that was careless and sloppy.

Whenever Gillard’s Parliament descended into farce – and it certainly did from time to time – Abbott didn’t blame whips or frontbenchers or backbenchers or anyone else. It was all Gillard’s fault, all the time.

The PM’s authority – already at its lowest ebb after July’s humiliating result – has taken another knock. Labor’s line – “If you can’t run the Parliament you can’t run the country” – is both accurate and effective.

And Turnbull can’t blame Abbott for this stuff-up, as Gillard could so often blame Kevin Rudd.

Except in that Shorten is now following Abbott’s playbook. From Abbott, Labor learnt all it needs to know about how to destabilise a weak government and prime minister. Abbott helped Labor sharpen and hone its parliamentary tactics. Labor is good at this stuff because up against Abbott, it had to be.

Turnbull called last week’s debacle a “wake-up call”. But what sort of government needs a wake-up call three days into a new Parliament after coming within a whisker of losing power? If July 2 didn’t wake them up, nothing will.

No, the Australian people don’t care about Parliamentary procedure. But they know chaos when they see it.

They’ve seen a lot of it, after all.

And so now the tone is set. Turnbull and his team wanted the first week to be all about economic management and budget repair, with a side serving of union-bashing. They introduced 26 bills in a bid to reassure Australians that they have a plan and they’re executing on it.

(Just what they plan to do once these 26 bills are passed – or perhaps more likely stalled in the Senate – remains something of a mystery. Like I said: uninspiring and threadbare agenda.)

Instead, the first week raised serious questions about Turnbull’s competence and his government’s longevity.

So what now?

Turnbull has to work twice as hard to convince us he knows what he’s doing. If he gets stuck in the same cycle of endless stuff-ups that ensnared both Gillard and Abbott, he’s finished.

One way or another, leaders who lose authority lose their jobs. If his party doesn’t tear him down, the voters will.

In the short-term Turnbull has a couple of things going his way that could help him regroup.

First, Parliament’s barely sitting; it will convene for just four of the next 35 days. So not much opportunity for more stuff-ups.

Second, it’s summit season. For the next couple of months Turnbull will spend a great deal of time outside of the domestic fray, looking important and prime ministerial on the world stage.

The benefits of such trips often prove ephemeral – just ask Julia Gillard – but they can be a useful circuit-breaker when things are going awry.

Of course his number one asset – apart perhaps from that $50 million harbourside mansion – remains that he has no obvious internal challenger, unless Kevin Andrews finally decides to have his tilt.

But that won’t necessarily last.

Nature abhors a vacuum and politics abhors a power vacuum. If Turnbull can’t start providing leadership someone else will.

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

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Merrick Watts on his Father’s Day plans and the best part of being a dad

Apr 20 2019 Published by under 南京夜网

Merrick Watts dishes his Father’s Day plans, and why he loves playing the fool for a living, to Kate Waterhouse. Photo: Christopher Pearce Merrick Watts with wife Georgie and son Wolfe, who says his father’s job is to “make people happy”. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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Merrick Watts began work doing stand-up comedy in pubs and has gone on to a 17-year career as a comic, radio host and TV presenter. The 43-year-old now hosts Triple M’s drive-time show, Merrick and Australia, each weekday. The father of two tells KATE WATERHOUSE about his plans today for Father’s Day and the best part of being a dad.

How will you spend Father’s Day?

I will receive some home-made/drawn cards from the kids. I get these every year and if it never stopped I’d never complain.

How do you like to be spoilt?

Lasagne! The kids help [my wife] Georgie in the preparation and then help Dad to the couch for a lie-down after eating.

What is the best thing about being a dad?

Being loved by the very people you love the most … and lasagne.

Do your kids listen to you on the radio?

Yes, so my kids listen to my show passively because my wife will listen to it in the car when they get picked up from school. They will listen to it at home and if you ask my son what I do for a living, he says, ‘Daddy makes people happy, it’s his job’ … So that makes my job seem a lot better, rather than, ‘My dad is an egocentric wanker’, which is also correct.

What is the best aspect of your job?

I love hearing stories, that’s my favourite thing – hearing other people’s stories on the radio.

What is the worst?

I know it sounds bad – I’d say meetings. In the past, generally in radio, meetings are what really drags people like myself down.

Is there a lot of preparation that goes into the show?

Yes, sadly there is because when you listen to it, you think, ‘God, there is no preparation in that show’. But one of the great tricks of radio, they say, is to hear a show and to make it sound like not too much work has gone into it. You shouldn’t be able to hear the labour that has gone into the show.

What is the most challenging aspect of drive radio?

Just coming up with new ideas and new content and not letting things get stale. I think that’s the challenge with any radio: to have a consistency of product and consistency of content in your show. People can have an expectation, but also too you’ve got to challenge yourself to do things differently or do things out of your comfort zone … I think everyone is guilty of it today certainly, but even if you’ve got a strong work ethic you can slip into a comfortable pattern.

How do you get yourself out of that?

The hardest thing is to be aware of being in a pattern. I think you don’t realise that you’ve kind of fallen in this malaise of not challenging yourself. But I think every now and again you get a little wake-up – you’ll see somebody … [and] they’ll challenge you in one way or another and it kind of reminds you to push yourself.

What has been the most confronting situation on air? 

I think when someone tells you a very personal story, and it might be a tragic loss or a sick child – one of those stories where you’re not expecting them to talk about that and then they bring it up and you think you’ve got to be sympathetic and empathetic. But you’ve also got to remind yourself that you’ve got a listening audience. So you’ve got to balance that … As soon as you get off the phone to them, you make sure if they need any counselling or if they need somebody to talk to.

You started your career as a stand-up comedian. How did you get into that?

I was not very good at anything else … My mum wanted me to be a police officer [but] I had no ambition to do anything else other than be a fool!

Do you still do stand-up regularly?

[Yes] … stand-up teaches you to be sharp, it teaches to work literally, to hone your wit. Also it kind of teaches you and shows you, at the coalface, what’s kind of resonating with people.

Do you still get nervous doing stand-up?

I get nervous sometimes if I’m trying new material out or I’m in a different circumstance to what I’m used to.

When you have a tough audience, what’s your fail-safe joke?

Just find somebody in the room who either thinks that they’re the most powerful person in the room or somebody who has got tickets on themselves … When in doubt, target someone and bring them down … and then that way, everybody kind of laughs and usually it’s a good jawbreaker.

Were you the class larrikin at school?

I was the class clown as a small child. I think that’s why I fell into comedy because, I guess, I had no other skills. I tried builders labouring and I tried various things and I worked in hospitality when I was young as well, but I wasn’t really good at anything and I had no application.

If you hadn’t gone down the career path of media, what would you be doing?

I’d like to think that I’d be an artist, as my father was a painter … But the reality is I probably would have been a yabby farmer. Having said that, I’m still thinking about becoming a yabby farmer one day.

What else are you working on?

I continually write things … Most comedians have several little home projects that you kind of chip away at over a period of time. There is lots of little things that I’ve written or I’ve got held over that maybe one day I’ll produce it. I can’t produce now because I’m producing this radio, but maybe one day I’ll develop into something else.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully, in exactly the same position I’m in now. I’ve done radio for 17 years at either drive or breakfast in senior level, so the two plum jobs in the country. So I’ve been very, very fortunate and I’d like to continue doing it. Katewaterhouse南京夜网

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