Grey takes ‘sip’ to tackle adversity of paralysis

Dean Mumm, Henry Speight and Joe Tomane promote the SipWeek challenge. Photo: Stuart Walmsley/ARU mediaRWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Rugby World Cup interactive: your guide to every teamFull coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
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After the Wallabies produced one of the finest displays of defence in beating Wales in the World Cup last Sunday (AEDT), the mastermind of their defence, assistant coach Nathan Grey, told me the determination that they showed was not exclusive to rugby or even to sport. He said it is something that “manifests itself in many different ways in our lives”, such as what is needed to beat an illness or cope with a disability.

On Thursday (AEDT) and amid a World Cup campaign that will see play their quarter-final against Scotland on Monday morning (AEDT), Grey put his weight right behind what he meant on Sunday by declaring his support for the Spinal Injury Project to raise funds for research to find a cure for paralysis. It is driven by Perry Cross, who in 1994 was left a C2 quadriplegic at age 19 while playing rugby when his neck was broken in a tackle. Cross has been a close mate of Grey’s since their days at The Southport School in Brisbane, when both played in the 1992 1st XV and Cross rowed in the 1st VIII.

So Grey, an SIP ambassador, will take on the SipWeek challenge from November 8-14 in which entrants will consume all of their drinks through a straw. On Facebook, Grey said his participation is “an attempt to help a great mate take one small step towards achieving something he is passionate about – a cure for paralysis.”

But when contacted by Fairfax Media, Grey elaborated on how highly he regards Cross’s determination in adversity compared to what sports stars face in competition. “Blokes like Perry really put things into perspective around life and sport,” he said. “What is seen on the sporting pitch as a defining moment either positive or negative wouldn’t hold a candle to the difficulties that people with paralysis go through everyday. Perry’s mental application to extract every ounce out of life and live his life to the fullest with no regrets, and aiming to leave a legacy of research and a cure is truly honourable.

“For people in the sporting spotlight regularly this insight really puts it into perspective. How we choose to handle difficulty in life really defines us, not when we are running down hill and things are going well.

“We would love to have one Perry Cross in our defensive line. Even in his chair he would clean up a couple of attackers … and have a smile on his head doing it. I am very lucky to call him a mate.”

If you want to support the SipWeek challenge, go to www.sipweek上海龙凤论坛m

Express yourself

The Wallabies are all about the music right now, reports Fairfax’s Georgina Robinson, now in London. The squad trains to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck and belt out the national anthem in the dressing room after a win. On Wednesday, Kurtley Beale revealed each player was tapping into their own “music” to bring out the best in themselves on the pitch. “We talk about playing our own music,” he said. “Everyone brings a different game to the match on the weekend. I think that’s important to be able to express that.”

What’s doing Wallabies

The Wallabies team to play Scotland at Twickenham on Monday morning (2am AEDT) is announced on Friday afternoon (AEDT), after which there is training.

Making news

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer says he “cried for 24 hours” after Japan defeat, – How deep Japan’s win over the Springboks cut in telegraph上海龙凤论坛.uk.

“Comment la France va-t-elle battre la Nouvelle-Zélande?” [How is France going to beat New Zealand?] – The question from that only France can answer.

They said it

“If we lose the breakdown game and the physical contest there, we’re fighting an uphill battle. So what we’re going to focus on is getting there before they do – and being clever about it,” Scottish back-rower Dave Denton telling thecourirer上海龙凤论坛.uk how they plan confront the breakdown against .

What to watch

Sunday: Quarter-finals: South Africa v Wales – London (2am AEDT), New Zealand v France – Cardiff (6am), Ireland v Argentina – Cardiff (11pm AEDT)

Monday: Quarter-final: v Scotland – Twickenham (2am)

Senior Sydney oncologist Professor John Kearsley pleads guilty to indecent assault

Sydney oncologist, Professor John Kearsley, has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a colleague. Photo: Jane DysonAn eminent Sydney radiation oncologist has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a female colleague after spiking her drink with a tranquilliser.
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On Thursday, Professor John Kearsley pleaded guilty in the Downing Centre District Court to charges of using an intoxicating substance to commit an indictable offence, and assault with an act of indecency.

The court heard Professor Kearsley, 63, the Director of Radiation Oncology at St George Hospital, in Sydney’s south, put a type of benzodiazepine into the woman’s glass of wine during dinner at his house in Glebe, in Sydney’s inner west.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, woke to find Professor Kearsley sucking her nipple.

The offences occurred in November, 2013, when the woman was working as a registrar.

Professor Kearsley hasn’t worked at St George Hospital since the allegations were taken to police in February 2014.

Benzodiazepines, also known as minor tranquillisers, are depressant drugs commonly prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Professor Kearsley, who is also a Conjoint Professor of Medicine at the University of NSW, has worked in oncology for more than 30 years. In 2012 he was voted Consultant Teacher of the Year by third- and fourth-year medical students.

A spokeswoman for UNSW said the university is “reviewing Dr Kearsley’s conjoint appointment” as his conduct “is entirely inconsistent with our Code of Conduct”.

“UNSW’s senior management was not made aware of the existence of criminal charges until shortly before [Kearsley’s court appearance] and was not aware of the details of the charges until the media reporting today,” the spokeswoman said.

Professor Kearsley is known for his work with prostate cancer and is a pioneer in the practice of “whole person care”, which combines treatment of the physical self with the emotional and spiritual needs of a patient to make a difference to quality of life.

He describes himself as having “a major interest in teaching communication skills, medical student education, and whole person care”.

The chief executive of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Gerry Marr, said: “It would be inappropriate for South Eastern Sydney Local Health District to comment on this matter while proceedings are still before the court.”

In a statement, the chief executive of the the Royal n and New Zealand College of Radiologists, Natalia Vukolova said the college and it’s Fellows “have supported and will continue to support the victim, who is a member”.

“Of upmost concern to the college is the wellbeing of its members.”

Professor Kearsley will return to court for sentencing on February 26, 2016.

OPINION: Residents deserve better

Groundwater from the contamination zone is not safe for human consumption. Toxic Truth: More stories
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Toxic truth: Archive

ON September 4, the people of Newcastle woke to the headline ‘‘Toxicity Warning Around Air Base’’. This was shocking news to many in my community, including me.

Investigations undertaken by the Department of Defence had uncovered soil and groundwater contamination on RAAF Base Williamtown and surrounding off-site areas.

As more information emerged, we learnt that despite the Department of Defence, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Port Stephens Council all being aware of the contamination for a number of years, the community had, until now, been left in the dark.

The chemicals in question, Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), were components of firefighting foam previously used on the base for firefighting and fire training purposes. They are classified as emerging contaminants – namely, chemicals or materials that are characterised by a perceived, potential or real threat to human health or the environment.

In response to the news of contamination, local fisheries were shut, and the community was advised not to consume eggs, milk, fish and prawns from the area, or drink water from non-town water sources.

The residents of Williamtown and surrounds, including RAAF Base personnel, have many questions with very few answers. Their legitimate concerns about the impact of this contamination on their health, the health of their children and animals, and the ongoing safety of their water supply is understandable.

Beyond these immediate and valid health concerns, local businesses are being pushed to the brink, with some undergoing their second month of being unable to earn an income and their mortgage stress is very real.

As a community we understand that not all of the answers to our questions about health and safety are available today.

But we do expect the relevant government departments and agencies to work together and to be doing everything they can to help alleviate the real anxiety being experienced by residents.

To date, this hasn’t occurred.

I have brought the concerns of the community to the attention of the Defence Minister and the Environment Minister and have continued to update and share with them the ongoing concerns and frustrations of residents as I become aware of new and emerging issues raised at local forums, community meetings I have hosted or direct contact with those affected who have shared their personal stories with me.

Promises have been made by officials that communication will improve, that drinking water will be delivered, that adequate testing will be undertaken and that compensation would be made available to affected businesses and residents but the lived reality is that none of this is occurring fast enough or indeed at all, and there is a general lack of understanding and empathy for the affected community.

It has been nearly six weeks now since the news of the contamination broke and residents are increasingly frustrated by the lack of clarity and uncertainty ahead.

The fact that we now have two ‘‘red zones’’ of contamination being investigated, with distinctly different boundaries, depending on whether you are using Defence or NSW EPA data is indicative of the confused approach being taken.

The residents of Williamtown are understandably frustrated by the requirement for them to negotiate their way across seven or more government departments and agencies crossing all three levels of government.

I have recommended to the Assistant Defence Minister and Defence officials in Canberra that a single point of contact is established, one that is embedded in the community, to provide guidance and assistance to help alleviate much of the distress and confusion.

I join with my community in calling for a thorough and systematic approach to the testing of soil, groundwater, bore water and livestock at all properties within the affected area.

The issue of compensation for primary industries and individuals suffering economic loss and reputational damage due to the contamination requires immediate attention. I understand the NSW EPA has provided to Defence relevant information regarding potential mechanisms for calculating compensation payments. I urge Defence to honour the commitment that has been made to provide compensation to affected residents and businesses as a matter of urgency.

I have consistently asked that Defence takes a lead role in the ongoing management of the contamination. The community must be kept well informed, assured that plans are in place to deliver a safe water supply, be adequately compensated for any loss and be part of the conversations about possible solutions.

This is an edited version of a speech to Parliament by federal member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon on Wednesday

Fullerton Cove resident Lindsay Clout, who is outraged over the report of toxins from the air force base next door leaching onto his property. Picture: Darren Pateman

Tristan Carlyle-Watson encouraged gang rape of girl filmed on Go-Pro camera, court hears

Tristan Carlyle-Watson, alleged to have been part of a group who raped a girl, 16. Photo: FacebookA man encouraged multiple men in the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl as the “deplorable” act was filmed on a Go-Pro camera, a court has heard.
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Four men and a teenage boy were charged on Wednesday, months after the alleged gang-rape of a young girl as she fell out of consciousness at a party in Sydney’s north-west.

Fairfax Media understands police are looking at the possibility the girl’s drink was spiked before she was assaulted.

Police allege up to eight males were in the room as the girl was raped, with a number of them taking turns to assault her.

In May, police targeting graffiti offences seized the camera and found a 16-minute video documenting the sexual assault.

The assault, which had not previously been reported to police, was referred to the Child Abuse Squad.

Andrew Waters, 23,  Kurt Stevenson, 25, and Tristan Carlyle-Watson, 25, appeared in Penrith Local Court on Thursday charged over the assault.

Mr Waters and Mr Stevenson, charged with aggravated sexual assault, did not apply for bail and their cases were adjourned to December 10.

The court heard Mr Carlyle-Watson – who was charged with concealing a serious indictable offence – encouraged the other co-accused to engage in the conduct.

“At no stage did he try and help the victim, who was unconscious,” police prosecutor Varinder Pawar said.

Mr Pawar said the other co-accused were laughing at the victim.

He said the alleged victim sent a text to Mr Carlyle-Watson after the assault and asked what happened.

She asked for her property back and sent messages asking “what happened last night” and “who is this Kurt person”, the court heard.

Mr Carlyle-Watson allegedly told her “nothing happened” and that he did not want any more communication with her.

The only way police found out about the crime was by stopping Mr Carlyle-Watson’s co-accused and uncovering the video, Mr Pawar said.

Mr Pawar said there was a distinct possibility there was further evidence that might have been disposed of or could have been.

However, Mr Carlyle-Watson’s lawyer Scott Fraser submitted that was only speculation.

He said his client was not the principal offender and was only charged with concealing the offence.

Magistrate Mark Douglass said Mr Carlyle-Watson’s previous convictions for stalking and intimidating and using a carriage service to harass did not assist him.

It also supported the prosecution fear that he could interfere with the witnesses and the alleged victim if on bail, the magistrate said.

Mr Carlyle-Watson, who appeared via video link, shook his head as bail was refused.

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be identified, has been charged with sexual assault offences and is due to appear in the Children’s Court on Thursday.

A 24-year-old, charged with aggravated sexual assault in company and filming a person in a private act, is due to face Mount Druitt Local Court on Thursday.

It is understood some of the men involved are married while another is engaged.

National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 RESPECT

Refugee spending will drive our economy, Germany says

Soccer fans in Dortmund supporting Germany’s open door stance: Europe’s largest economy may benefit from the influx of refugees. Photo: Frank AugsteinGermany expects over a million refugees this yearHow you can help refugees trying to reach safety in Europe and here in
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The German government is banking on the refugees arriving in its cities by the thousands each day to help turbocharge its economy and offset the effects of weaker demand from China.

Increased state spending on refugees and private consumption will drive growth in Europe’s largest economy this year and next, German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

Record numbers of people, fleeing war in the Middle East or seeking prosperity, have been arriving in Germany in recent weeks The federal government and states are spending €10 billion ($15.7 billion) on accommodating the new arrivals, integrating them and finding them jobs.

“When it comes to refugees, the billions of euros we are planning to invest in education, kindergartens and schools will of course have an effect like a small stimulus package,” Gabriel said on Wednesday. The country’s aid in the refugee crisis was an investment in Germany’s future given its ageing population, he explained.

Having said that, consumer spending will continue to be the main prop for the economy, which was on a solid growth track despite the subdued global outlook, he said. Record-high employment, rising wages and nearly stable prices are boosting household spending, while cheaper petrol is freeing up some cash for consumers for other purchases.

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has slightly lowered its 2015 growth forecast to 1.7 per cent, from the 1.8 per cent it predicted in April, but confirmed its estimate for a 1.8-per cent expansion in 2016.

The economy ministry expects domestic demand to rise by 1.7 per cent this year and 2.1 per cent next year.

It revised up its estimates for government spending to an increase of 2.3 per cent this year and a gain of 2 per cent next year, mainly due to higher spending for refugees.

The influx of refugees is also expected to affect the labour market, with the ministry saying employment would rise to a record-breaking 43.3 million next year, though the new arrivals will likely push up unemployment by 60,000 in 2016.

German authorities are struggling to cope with the roughly 10,000 asylum seekers arriving every day. The German government still officially expects 800,000 asylum applications in 2015, while media say up to 1.5 million people could come.


OPINION: Creating a healthier and wealthier future

TODAY is another landmark occasion in HMRI’s history as we celebrate our international connections with an official visit from Swedish ambassador Par Ahlberger, while formally cementing a regional business alliance with industry co-operative HunterNet.
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When HMRI’s founders met in 1998 I imagine this was a far cry from even their wildest dreams. There were fewer than 90 scientists and clinicians engaged in research back then, and seed funding of just $100,000 was provided to implement a business plan.

A simple endeavour to improve community wellbeing has evolved into a major industry in its own right, with 1500 researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health (HNEH) now striving to treat and defeat some of the world’s biggest health issues.

Of course, the time was ripe for a new venture to replace the ailing steel industry and reinvigorate the city. In a region renowned for pioneering spirit, the stakeholders were hungry to ensure that their research vision was realised.

Today, HNEH and the university are the region’s major employers, while HMRI has grown to become the second largest medical research institute in NSW. The Hunter has proven to be a place where the nurturing of knowledge can flourish alongside grapes and coal.

Delivering world-class translational research is our sole purpose, which means supporting an ongoing cycle of information and technology from the laboratory through to the clinic and back.

At any given time researchers from the university and HNEH are engaged in clinical trials valued at over $100million. HMRI’s own fundraising efforts have generated more than $50million, which has leveraged considerably more state and federal funding into the region.

At the same time there are healthcare cost savings worth billions of dollars flowing from more effective and efficient treatments.

When you consider the multiplier effect of the dollar, we’re creating both a healthier and wealthier future for the region. We aren’t just giving people more energy – we’re energising the Hunter’s economy too.

Of course, game-changing innovations can emerge quite suddenly when you provide the right environment for smart people to work in, and encourage them to think outside the square. Harness the support of surrounding industries and the sky’s the limit.

That’s why HMRI has increasingly become pro-business in its thinking, forging partnerships with drug and technology companies across the nation, as well as abroad. Our horizons have expanded not only to Sweden but throughout Asia, the US and Europe.

By signing a new Memorandum of Understanding with HunterNet, we hope to further capitalise on synergies within the region’s medical and manufacturing sectors and create new investment opportunities. It’s a significant point of difference for our institute.

Both organisations share a strategic vision to establish a biotech cluster for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare delivery, and I see great opportunities for good ideas to flow back and forth.

We can dare to think big and dream big in the Hunter because we have infrastructure, we have expertise, we have entrepreneurship, we have connections and we have the close proximity to major markets.

Our alliance with HunterNet provides a mechanism, right on our doorstep, to underpin and accelerate new developments that will further help grow the local economy. It also puts us on a stronger footing to work with our fellow collaborators in Sweden and beyond.

Professor Michael Nilsson is director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute

Like it or not, we’re moving into a world of greater tax transparency, not less

Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting would be among a number of private companies that would have to publicly report their tax information, unless the laws are wound back by the Coalition government. Photo: Ron D’RaineThe arguments put forward by some in business and the Coalition government about why large private companies shouldn’t have their tax details published by the n Taxation Office have become more sophisticated.
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That doesn’t necessarily make them legitimate.

Under tax disclosure laws – passed under the former Labor government but voted against by several  Coalition ministers – Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan was required to publish on its website the tax details of about 1600 public and private companies with $100 million or more annual turnover.

The laws affected public multinationals and private businesses such as those run by billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart. It would have given details including a company’s taxable income, total income and tax paid.

But the Coalition – which has faced constant lobbying from those in business and tax circles – has decided this is a bad idea. It has passed amendments to the laws that will exempt about 800 private companies.

How and why did we get here? The first sign that these laws were going to be wound back came in January last year, when the then assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos expressed concern that it would mislead and prevent the public from being well informed.

Then in March, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the reason they were reviewing the laws was because private business owners were worried they could be kidnapped and held at ransom when people realise how wealthy they are from their published tax information.

There was of course no evidence to back that extraordinary claim, and  the n Federal Police had not been told of these security concerns.

That same month, when Josh Frydenberg was assistant treasurer, the public started being fed new arguments about why public companies should be exempt.

These included that companies would be at a “commercial disadvantage” if they happened to be suppliers to the big supermarket chains like Coles and Woolworths, or were negotiating with them.

That publication of company directors’ name and addresses would breach people’s  privacy.

And finally, that there was no public interest benefit, that such information could mislead the public, and create unnecessary compliance costs for business.

These arguments, on first glance, are more understandable than the ridiculous one that the wealthy will be subject to kidnapping.

While it managed to confuse some independent senators such as Nick Xenophon as to how they should vote, the case to wind back the laws still doesn’t stack up.

Firstly, we are not talking about small fish here. The laws would only affect companies with revenue of $100 million or more. Apart from Gina Rinehart’s business, companies like James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings and Adelaide Airport would be among those required to report.

This legislation would not give Coles and Woolworths, or any other large player, more information than they already have.

Secondly, personal information about company directors is already a matter of public record. Sole owners of businesses can currently be identified through ASIC searches – just ask one of the journalists compiling the BRW rich lists.

And finally, it’s not misleading to know how much tax multinationals pay. Telling the public they are too stupid to understand tax information is offensive: the Senate economics legislation committee cited a “poor understanding” of the difference between turnover and taxable income as one of the “strong reasons” to wind back the transparency measures.

We are moving into a world of greater tax transparency, not less. In Europe and Canada, extractive companies are already being required to publicly reveal their tax information.

A dissenting report by Labor senators and the n Greens on the government’s proposed amendments says that introducing this law will erode public confidence, and that “the arguments being wielded clumsily in defence of this bill are absurd, illogical, and often lacking any evidence”.

“The government is evidently doing the bidding of a tiny number of very wealthy individuals,” it says, adding that the bulk of submissions to the inquiry were made by tax consultants and tax lawyers servicing large private companies. The only corporation to make a contribution was Teys , it said, a privately owned meat-processing joint venture with the American company Cargill, based in Brisbane.

The dissenting report also points out that the individual’s right to privacy of their income and tax information remains preserved under current legislation, and that “corporations do not enjoy the rights and privileges of natural people”.

The government had tried to make out as if it was a breach of a UN covenant drafted back in 1966 that aimed to prevent governments arbitrarily or unlawfully invading the privacy of people’s homes and bedrooms.

As Parliament debated privacy concerns, ‘s biggest public companies are gearing up to launch their own reports detailing how they are good taxpayers.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto publish voluntary reports. While this is more than most other companies do, BHP is not a beacon of transparency. It had avoided answering detailed questions at the Melbourne hearing of the inquiry into corporate tax avoidance on the amount of profit it shifts through Singapore.

It was only until the inquiry forced it to make a written submission that BHP Billiton revealed that the ATO is chasing it for $500 million in unpaid taxes and fines and that it pays no n tax on the 42 per cent of its profit channelled through Singapore.

It may be the case that large private companies have legitimate operations in places like Singapore and that they pay the right amount of tax in .

But how will we ever know now that these companies aren’t expected to report it?

When the crisis manager hits a crisis: Nauru spruiker Mercer PR goes to ground

Nauru Justice Minister David Adeang. Photo: Michael Gordon The conditions of asylum seekers detained on Nauru are clouded in secrecy. Photo: Angela Wylie
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Protesters at a rally calling for the closure of the Manus and Nauru detention centres. Photo: Anadolu Agency

PR company condemned by peak body for releasing rape claim details

When calamity strikes and your reputation is shot, Lyall Mercer reckons he can sort you out. But what happens when the crisis manager is steeped in his own crisis?

Mercer, a former journalist and founder of Mercer PR, went to ground this week after his firm committed a colossal public relations blunder – revealing the name of an alleged refugee rape victim and making itself the story.

The Brisbane-based firm’s Instagram and Twitter account have been set to “private” and most links on its website have been deleted.

Among Mercer’s clients is the government of Nauru, which hosts a detention centre bankrolled by . Mercer PR circulated a Nauru police brief detailing the Somali refugee’s name, particulars of her alleged rape and a vaginal examination.

Condemnation was swift, including from the Public Relations Institute of  which suggested the incident was a privacy breach that highlighted lax professional standards.

The incident has cast the spotlight on Mr Mercer, principal of the eponymously named firm.

The company website says clients pay Mr Mercer “primarily to think. I think about the message, the angles, the implications and the pitfalls. I think about what no one else thinks about.”

Mercer PR is called on when “company, executive or personal reputations are at risk” and advises clients on “achieving positive outcomes from negativity”.

The Hillsong Church and the Queensland Taxi Council confirmed they use the services of Mercer PR. The Queensland Liberal National Party was also once on the firm’s books.

Mr Mercer is no newcomer to controversy. In 2012 he brokered a contentious interview deal between Channel Nine and the wife of triple-murderer Max Sica.

Victims of crime groups labelled the deal, for which Mr Mercer was reportedly paid, as “disgusting”.

Since the latest controversy broke, Mr Mercer has deleted his blog, however his views on social affairs and the PR business are on the public record.

In 2013 he said then prime minister Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech – widely lauded as one of her best performances – badly misread the public mood.

In 2010 he wrote in the Courier Mail that children live in “an unprotected, R-rated world” and asked “aren’t our children more important than making money? If not, maybe it’s time for governments to step in for the sake of children.”

In August, there were 93 children in detention on Nauru.

In an odd role reversal on Thursday, the Nauruan government came out swinging in defence of its embattled n spin doctors.

In a press statement Justice Minister David Adeang said the release of the woman’s name was “the decision of the Nauruan authorities alone” and the media should stop blaming others including the firm who “merely distributed the government’s statement”.

“The police investigation has shown there was no rape, therefore, as far as we are concerned the person in question is not a rape victim or a victim of any crime,” Mr Adeang said, adding “truth is the real victim here”.

Nauru police – subject to criticism they are incompetent and ill-equipped – have closed the rape case due to insufficient evidence.

The controversy underscores the difficulties journalists face obtaining information about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees at the n-funded detention centre.

The n Border Force Act threatens detention centre workers with up to two years in prison if they disclose information relating to their work, and the Nauru government recently hiked the cost of a journalist visa to $8000 – which is not refunded if the application is refused.

The Nauru government said on Thursday the “absurd” reaction to the release of the woman’s name means it is “reluctant to update n media on future police investigations”.

In a statement issued Friday morning, Mercer PR said the company has acted “legally and ethically” at all times and is considering legal action against the PRIA.

“We have not ‘gone to ground’ and these reports are ridiculous,” the statement said. “We are simply focused on servicing our clients in the manner we always have, rather than answering ridiculous questions no one in cares about, like the settings on our social media accounts.

“Just because we choose not to give a particular journalist a response to questions doesn’t mean we are hiding.”

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Dancing tampons frolic in The Period Song on Swedish children’s TV channel Barnkanalen

The Period Song video clip features dancing, anthropomorphic tampons. Photo: YouTube Swedish public service broadcaster SVT says the video is designed to teach children about menstruation. Photo: YouTube
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Anthropomorphism has always been big in children’s television. In , it is all about talking bananas. In Sweden, dancing tampons are the stars.

Children’s channel Barnkanalen has released a video titled The Period Song, which features tampons dressed as pirates, kings and hippies, bouncing merrily from their strings like puppets beneath a makeshift mirror ball.

YouTube star and television presenter Alex Hermansson strums a ukulele, while singing and rapping in Swedish, “Period, period, hip hip hooray for period!”

He sings with a group of teenagers, cavorts on a basketball court and dances in front of a street mural decorated with red droplets. “It’s just a little blood,” he sings, as a red spatter hits the screen.

“The body’s working as it should. And that is really, really good – hooray!”

At the video’s conclusion, Hermansson dips one of the bouncing tampons into a container of crimson liquid.

The song will air on Friday on the channel, which is part of the Swedish public service broadcaster SVT. The broadcaster has said the video aims to destigmatise menstruation and explain the subject to children.

“You should be able to talk about the most natural thing, as half the world’s population is involved,” head of programming for SVT, Petter Bragee told Sweden’s The Local.

It is not the first time the channel has caused a stir with its videos for children. Earlier this year it aired a video featuring a pair of dancing male and female genitals. Called Snoppen och Snippan, which translates as Willie and Twinkle, the clip has been viewed more than six million times on YouTube.

Adani Carmichael: China’s largest coal mine free to proceed after Greg Hunt gives approval

Environment Minister Greg Hunt, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, announced on Thursday the mine would proceed. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Equipment at the Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland. Photo: Glenn Hunt
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Protesters oppose the Carmichael coal mine in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Former prime minister Tony Abbott with mining magnate Gautum Adani. Photo: Andrew Meares

The site of the proposed Carmichael coal mine.

Opponents say the yakka skink is threatened by the mine.

The ornamental snake.

Abbot Point coal terminal. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Analysis: Is the mine really a $20b project creating 10,000 jobs?

The nation’s largest coal mine has passed a significant hurdle after Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved it with “the strictest conditions in n history”, in a decision environment groups have declared “a disaster”.

Mr Hunt on Thursday said the Carmichael coal mine proposed by Indian mining giant Adani has been given the green light after the Federal Court in August set aside the previous approval.

The project, which will produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal for export a year, has faced staunch opposition because its Abbot Point terminals are located close to the Great Barrier Reef.

Opponents have already flagged an intention to launch a legal challenge to the latest approval.

The government decision clears a regulatory hurdle, yet there are still questions over how the $16 billion project will be financed. National Bank has said it will not fund the mine and other banks are being pressured to follow suit.

The court previously said Mr Hunt had not properly considered advice about two threatened species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.Mr Hunt on Thursday said his approval for the project, in the Galilee Basin in remote central Queensland, considered additional information provided by Adani and environmental groups.

The approval, which includes a rail line, would be “subject to 36 of the strictest conditions in n history”.

These include implementing all advice from an independent expert scientific committee and protecting and improving 31,000 hectares of southern black throated finch habitat.

The approval will require $1 million funding for research programs to improve conservation of threatened species over 10 years, and strict groundwater monitoring and action triggers would protect Doongmabulla Springs, Mr Hunt said.

The Department of the Environment will monitor the mine and Adani must provide a groundwater management and monitoring plan.

Federal Labor resources spokesman Gary Gray welcomed the decision and said the project was of “great importance to Queensland and to “.

The project still requires federal dredging approval and some state-based approvals.

The Mackay Conservation Group launched its Federal Court challenge in January, alleging greenhouse gas emissions from the mine, vulnerable species and Adani’s environmental track record had not been taken into account.

Mr Hunt said the court set aside the mine’s earlier approval at the request of the government.

The case prompted the government to propose new laws that would prevent “vigilante” environment groups from challenging large developments in court.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts said the approval “risks threatened species, precious ground water, the global climate and taxpayers’ money”.

“[Mr] Hunt is sacrificing threatened species … and precious ground water resources for the sake of a mine that simply does not stack up economically,” Ms Roberts said, adding the black throated finch would probably be pushed to extinction.

She said the conditions set by Mr Hunt did not adequately deal with the serious implications of the mine, which “can’t be offset”.

Greenpeace Pacific campaigner Shani Tager said the mine would be “a complete disaster for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef”.”This project means more dredging in the Great Barrier Reef, more ships through its waters and more carbon emissions,” she said.

Adani welcomed the decision, saying the initial legal hurdle was a “technicality” prompted by a mistake by the Department of the Environment. In a statement, the company said it was always “confident in the soundness of the broader approvals, that the species involved had been protected by conditions, and that the technical error would be promptly rectified”. “Today’s announcement … makes clear that these concerns have been addressed, reflected in rigorous and painstaking conditions,” it said. The company intended to deliver mine, rail and port projects in Queensland creating 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested into community services, Adani said. The jobs figure has been disputed.

Lobby group GetUp! on Thursday said its members had already helped fund legal action against the mine, and the organisation was “exploring the legal opportunities available to us” in light of the latest decision.

“This coal mine is the dumbest, most dangerous and uneconomic development in ,” senior campaigner Sam Regester said.

“We are calling on GetUp! members and the community to stand up and fight this mine again. We’ve beaten it before and we can beat it again.”

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