The Guardian 2024-03-08 16:01:20


More than 550 issues raised on behalf of children in police lockups this year, Queensland public guardian says

Exclusive: Influx of reports comes amid concerns about welfare of young people detained in overcrowded adult watch houses

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The Queensland public guardian says its community visitors have reported more than 550 issues on behalf of children detained in police watch houses since the start of this year, amid ongoing concerns about the welfare of young people in overcrowded and “unsuitable” lockups.

First-hand reports from watch houses, revealed by Guardian Australia in January and February, detail how the system is struggling to cope with an influx of children, the result of the state government’s “tough on crime” justice policies.

Last month the Queensland Police Service released video to announce the 1,000th young person arrested during a “youth crime crackdown”, nicknamed Operation Guardian.

The result has been detention centres at capacity and young people held for weeks on end in police cells, which are designed to hold adults for short periods.

A “cry for help” letter sent by a psychologist working in the Cairns watch house in January detailed “horrendous” conditions and alleged human rights abuses in the lockup, including claims young people were not being provided adequate food, medical attention or legal support. Others have warned about a “massive deterioration” in the mental health of children.

Guardian Australia also revealed that a boy, 13, was allegedly sexually assaulted by another detainee – a much larger, older teenager – in a cell they were housed in together in Cairns.

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The Office of the Public Guardian – an advocacy body for the rights and interests of people who are in state custody or care – sends public visitors into detention centres and watch houses.

The public guardian, Shayna Smith, said data from the beginning of March showed that the average daily number of children held in police watch houses since the start of the year was almost 80.

“The government responses to youth crime have predictably led to youth detention centres operating at full capacity with a spill over into police watch houses,” Smith said.

“Since January, high numbers of children are being detained in unsuitable watch house conditions all over Queensland, some detained in their cells for multiple weeks.”

Smith said community visitors had made more than 100 visits to children and young people in watch houses this year and “raised over 550 issues on their behalf”.

“[Community visitors] are receiving reports that the large number of children experiencing prolonged detention in watch houses is leading to overcrowding in some locations,” Smith said.

“Overcrowding creates an environment for worsening conditions, heightened frustration and can result in incidents of physical and emotional harm occurring.

“These are the hidden consequences of detaining our children and is counterintuitive to rehabilitation and changing mindsets, which is essential to supporting them to put their lives on a different trajectory.

“When speaking with them during a visit, it is clear that all children want to be listened to, feel safe and loved. These are universal values, no matter what their age, gender or culture is.”

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Donald Trump has posted a $91.6m bond as he appeals the judgment against him in the E Jean Carroll defamation case.

It comes after US district judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan on Thursday denied Trump’s request for more time to secure an $83m bond to pay damages to the former Elle magazine columnist.

In January, jurors agreed with Carroll that Trump had defamed her in June 2019 by denying he had raped her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan. The jury awarded $83.3m to Carroll in her trial against Trump

Kaplan made the verdict official on 8 February and gave Trump 30 days to post a bond or come up with cash during his appeal, which is expected to challenge the jury’s finding of liability and the amount of damages.

Trump had sought to delay enforcement of the verdict until the judge ruled on his motions to throw it out, which he filed on Tuesday. But the judge said Trump should not have waited 25 days after the verdict before seeking a delay, adding that Trump failed to show how he might suffer “irreparable injury” if required to post a bond.

Analysis

Joe Biden came out swinging at his State of the Union address – will it be enough?

David Smith in Washington

The president brought the fight, jousting with Republican hecklers as he attacked Trump without mentioning his name

Would it be a withered old man or a human dynamo? Would it be a rambling, gaffe-prone politician or an inspiring leader touched with fire? Would it be Geriatric Joe or Dark Brandon?

Within the first few minutes of Thursday’s State of the Union address in Washington, millions of Americans had their answer. Joe Biden, 81, had brought the fight.

The US president was feisty, fired up and possibly highly caffeinated. For over 68 minutes he shouted for America, let rip at Donald Trump and found artful ways to address concerns over his age. The more that Republicans heckled him and screamed “Liar!”, the more he fed off their energy and turned it against them.

Indeed, for the second year running, Biden’s State of the Union address became more akin to Britain’s House of Commons – combative, electric, rowdy. Past American presidents could get away with reading from a teleprompter. Biden, supposedly old and sleepy, has made the event interactive and turns out to be looser with ad libs and quicker on his feet than any of them.

Rarely has the State of the Union address doubled as a medical exam before a global audience, more about stamina than statistics, more about pep-in-your-step than policy.

Biden hit the ground running with the topics likely to be his central pitch for November’s election. He accused Trump and Republicans of trying to rewrite history about the January 6 insurrection. “My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about January 6. I will not do that. You can’t love your country only when you win.”

You had us at hello. The House speaker, Mike Johnson, shook his head and rolled his eyes.

Biden also went after Trump for his comments inviting the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to invade Nato nations if they did not spend more on defence. “My predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, quote, ‘Do whatever the hell you want.’ That’s a quote. A former president actually said that – bowing down to a Russian leader. I think it’s outrageous, it’s dangerous and it’s unacceptable.”

Biden tackled reproductive rights, pledging to “restore Roe v Wade as the law of the land again” if Democrats regain control of Congress. There were rousing cheers from Democrats. Biden added that anyone “bragging about overturning Roe v Wade had no clue about the power of women, but they found out reproductive freedom was on the ballot. We won in 2020 and 2022 and we’ll win again in 2024.”

Later some Republicans jeered as Biden said the bipartisan border bill would have included the “toughest set of border security reforms we’ve ever seen”. He relished the challenge, shooting back: “Oh, you don’t like that bill, huh? That conservatives got together and said was a good bill? I’ll be darned … You’re saying no. Look at the facts. I know you know how to read.”

Drawing another contrast with Trump, Biden also commented: “I will not demonise immigrants saying they are poison in the blood of our country.” (He did, however, make a reference to “an illegal”, attracting the ire of progressives in Congress.)

Still, amid all the bantering and euphoria, there was Gaza. Biden’s motorcade took a different route from the White House to the US Capitol after protesters blocked part of Pennsylvania Avenue. Inside the House of Representatives chamber, some members wore keffiyehs, the black-and-white checkered scarves that have symbolised solidarity with Palestinians. Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush held up signs calling for a ceasefire.

Biden announced that the US military will build a port on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast to receive humanitarian assistance by sea. But he called on the Israelis to do more to alleviate the suffering even as they try to eliminate Hamas. “To Israel, I say this humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip.”

He spoke with compassion about the plight of Palestinians but did not urge a “permanent ceasefire” policy shift that demonstrators crave – that threat to his re-election remains.

Thursday’s audience included George Santos, expelled from Congress, and a man wearing Trump’s mug shot emblazoned on his shirt. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene sported a red “Make America great again” cap and a “Say her name” shirt referring to Laken Riley, a student murdered last month, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant.

Biden stumbled over a few words but on big occasions like this tends to benefit from the soft bigotry of low expectations on the age question. First elected to the Senate in 1972, he took aim at Trump again: “Now some other people my age see a different story: an American story of resentment, revenge and retribution. That’s not me.”

It was a far cry from Trump’s bleak, subdued victory speech at Mar-a-Lago on Super Tuesday. When it was over, glum Republicans bolted for the door while Democrats mobbed Biden as if he had just won the Super Bowl. “No one’s gonna call you cognitively impaired now,” Congressman Jerry Nadler told him. Biden quipped: “I kinda wish sometimes I was cognitively impaired.” Another congressman said: “You had the Irish fire tonight!” But will we love you tomorrow?

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Homes on steroids: how Australia came to build some of the biggest houses on Earth

My family of four lives in a home that 90 years ago housed a family of 11. How have our ideas of enough changed over the decades?

It opens with a back-lit wine cellar, then the camera pans back; past the double garage and the fifth bedroom. Past the home theatre and the powder room. With a chill out soundtrack and a colour palette of overwhelming whiteness, the YouTube video promoting the Artisan 55 display home takes us into a double-height ceiling above the dining room. We swerve left to the kitchen and its butler’s pantry, and swing right to the family room and an expansive L-shaped lounge. Upstairs, of course, there are four more bedrooms – each with their own walk-in wardrobes and an en suite bathroom – and another living area simply designated “leisure”.

At more than 400 square metres, the Artisan is substantially larger than the average new Australian home but it is emblematic of how over the past few decades, Australia has become home, by some measures, to the largest average new houses on the planet.

I watch the Artisan video from the dining table of my own home, an 1880s row house measuring perhaps 110 or 120 sq metres – a size more typical of new houses in Europe, or Japan. By 2024 Australian standards, the house is claustrophobic. It has three moderate bedrooms, a single living room, solitary bathroom and a dining space off the kitchen. It is so small by contemporary Australian suburban measure that all new visitors to it are met with a laugh and self-deprecating reference to the “grand tour”.

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Our reference points of small and big, of enough and not enough, have shifted dramatically over the last century. In 1960, our average new homes measured about 100 sq metres. By 1984, it reached about 162 sq metres. Now, it’s more than 230 sq metres. In the 1930s this home of mine, which today feels barely able to contain a family of four, housed the White family – a household of 11.

What has happened to Australian houses in that time? How did we get here, to the land of some of the largest average homes on Earth? And can we ever turn back the tide on big house culture?

‘I want one of those’

How we got here begins, in a way, on a leafy avenue in Burwood, a suburb on the boundaries of Sydney’s inner west.

Along the short, but wide and handsome Appian Way – bisected by a grass tennis court – are stately Federation homes, set back from the footpath by lush front gardens. They are stationed apart from one another – verandas and gardens and paths establish clear boundaries, turrets and gables showcase wealth and taste – each a miniature castle built for a new world.

“1896/1897,” says architect Tone Wheeler without hesitation. This is one of three key dates the president of the Australian Architecture Association says marks Australia’s progress to big house culture. As federation neared, local councils were determined to dispense with the smaller terrace homes and workers cottages of the past, the slums which had proven unsightly and problematic in the larger cities. So they called for larger subdivisions of land, he says. “That’s where the quarter-acre [1,000-sq-metre] block comes from.”

“Appian Way became the place every homeowner went to and said ‘I want one of those’,” says Wheeler. No longer was the colony a land of crowded dirty cities and a vast pastoral land beyond, scattered with a few grand homes tended to by house staff. Appian Way, and the quarter-acre blocks divvied up across the country, became a new form of national aspiration and identity. “Suddenly it became suburbia, detached houses, individual style.”

It set the standard for the Australian dream in a country that was in the business of defining its place and aspirations. The big house. The quarter-acre block. A place apart from others. It was, in truth, a dream only available to the upper middle classes, but the rest of us have been chasing it ever since.

Wheeler next identifies 1932, when auctioneer AV Jennings bought a plot of land in Melbourne for the purpose of building new homes (having run out of existing homes to sell himself) as a second turning point. It would ultimately prove to be the beginning of a project home behemoth – though the global economy and events would intervene to prevent that model from kicking off just yet.

During the height of the second world war, when battalions of the renting class were out fighting and dying in foreign lands, the dream of “one little piece of earth with a house and garden which is ours; to which we can withdraw … into which no stranger may come against our will” was extolled by the prime minister of the time, Robert Menzies. The desire to own a house of one’s own was, he declared, a “noble instinct”.

After the war, new homes for the ordinary person to own were finally built at mass, home ownership boomed but labour and material shortages kept a natural cap on house sizes. That enforced modesty, however, would not last.

The aspirations set by the Appian Way era, the model set by AV Jennings in the 1930s, and the sense of righteous entitlement to home ownership set by Menzies collide in the 1970s. This is the decade – around 1975/76 – says Wheeler, when project homes shifted from single-storey builds, to two storeys.

“The two-storey house is the thing that destroyed the bungalow idea of single-storey Sydney and Melbourne,” says Wheeler. “When you have two-storey houses it enables you to have a much bigger house, to separate things out, to put children’s rooms separate from parents rooms. And then what do you fill these rooms with? You have a parents’ retreat, a rumpus room, now you have a cinema room, a games room, the kitchen gets bigger, you get a butler’s pantry.

“It goes from being your domestic life, your home where you raise a family, to being property and product.”

And with a product, bigger is better.

The monetisation of homes

Our homes have always been a display of our individual wealth. But over the past three decades in Australia, homes have gone from being a display of wealth to a vehicle for creating it.

“We are now thinking of housing as our major investment in our life,” says Hannah Lewi, professor of architecture at the University of Melbourne and co-director of the Australian Centre for Architectural History and Urban and Cultural Heritage. “Once it gets embroiled completely with the major financial equation in someone’s life, then maximising becomes the main objective.”

As a home has become something more than shelter and into a speculative investment, says Wheeler, the way we think about that space becomes “skewed”. “People think,” he says, “‘We could do with a house that’s 150 sq metres, but when time comes to sell we want to be much bigger, so we’ll build a 250 sq metre, so it’ll be worth more money – even if we don’t need it.’” (In 2019-2020, the ABS found that 77% of households in Australia had at least one bedroom spare).

“Almost everyone we’ve ever met [as architects] is interested in the value of their property going up.”

The fact that any gain in value on the home you reside in is not subject to tax and is not included in means testing for the age pension, says Hal Pawson, professor of housing research and policy and associate director at UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre, means it makes financial sense for those who own homes to build bigger and bigger to get the greatest tax-free benefit.

Often, debate about McMansions is tinged with condescension; the bourgeois inner city wringing its hands at the unsophisticated aspirations of those in the new outer suburbs. However, the expansion of existing homes in these established areas is an important part of the explosion of our national house footprint over the past 20 to 30 years, says Pawson. Modest bungalows knocked down and replaced with hulking two-storey homes, semis gutted and rebuilt to double in size. Inner suburban streetscapes forever dotted with council approval signs cable-tied to front gates, alerting neighbours to renovations afoot.

“It isn’t just the outer suburbs,” says Pawson.

“The cultural preference [for larger homes] is a pretty widely shared one.”

‘Everyone has to have their own space’

Aside from the evolution of homes from places of domestic life to vehicles for financial gain, something else has happened to the way we think about space in our homes.

As I sit in my home and imagine, as I sometimes do, where the nine White children may have fit, it becomes quite clear that they did not. That much of their lives must have been spent in public places – along the street, in the local park, perhaps down at the municipal pool – and that time spent within the home would have involved little privacy and limited individual possessions.

“There seems to be a shift in the way social dynamics work in families,” says Lewi. “Everyone has to have their own space. They must have privacy. And that seems to have to happen at an earlier age.”

Alongside the shift within family dynamics, some have likened modern suburbia to places of miniature fortresses, where unscheduled interaction with others – neighbours and strangers alike – is limited by the retreat into our ever-larger homes.

“All the things that were the glue of the suburbs – pools, bowling clubs, civic centres, cinemas, baby centres – gradually a lot of that public realm interaction has fallen away,” says Lewi. “More and more things are atomised into people’s homes. Homes have to do multi-functional things.”

Wheeler says the desire to have more of one’s own private space increases as one’s wealth does, but “Australians have put that on steroids.”

The idea of what children, families or any household needs is always informed by what we see around us. Which is why what is acceptable in one era is unthinkable a few decades later, and why in Finland people seem no less happy with their houses less than half the size of Australian ones. A 2019 American study found that people’s satisfaction with their homes does generally rise with more space, but only until the houses in their neighbourhood get bigger.

When the NSW government this year announced plans to increase density in Sydney, the premier, Chris Minns, remarked that the city was the 20th most expensive in the world, but the 800th most dense. Indeed, Australian cities are notoriously some of the world’s most expensive but not, says Pawson, when we compare how much we get for the money. A 2023 study by the Urban Land Institute found that, when considering cost per square metre of new and existing homes, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane homes were cheaper than those in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Tokyo, Yokohama-shi, Osaka-shi, Singapore and Seoul.

“What that’s saying is that we have cultural preferences for large properties and we, to some extent, pay the price for that,” he says.


I would like a bigger house

I wonder, often, about how much space is in the roof. Can we build an extra bedroom up there? Maybe an en suite bathroom? Could we open up the third bedroom and make a big open living space? Maybe we can squeeze a tiny studio in the garden. Because while this is enough for now, we are constantly thinking: how will this work when the children are grown?

Half of all 18-29-year-olds live in their parental home. The housing affordability crisis has created its own ouroboros – the homeowner’s impetus to make their house as expensive as possible effectively prices out the children who have grown up in these houses from affording their own. And so houses now may need to be bigger to accommodate the greater number of larger bodies that inhabit them.

“The need for separation is greater when you’ve got semi-autonomous young adults living under the same roof as their parents,” says Pawson.

“Older teenagers and adults are not leaving home,” says Lewi. “People who might have downsized at a younger age are now feeling like they have to support their adult children, so they need larger houses.”

Lewi has two sons, 17 and 22. “They’re both living at home and will never leave. One of them lives in a cabin in the garden,” she laughs. The cabin was originally designed to be a home office, and place for guests. Separate living quarters, like cabins, real estate agents have told her, are now a huge selling point.

Is there a way back from big house culture?

Lewi suggests that large houses that are far away from facilities are “really bad for ageing populations”. Wheeler imagines that large homes with long commutes from the city may become “stranded assets”. A shift to denser, smaller living is firstly and mostly a financial necessity for many, he argues, not a cultural or philosophical rejection of expansive private domains. “The market will dictate,” he says.

“People are living in apartments, exploring more densification, through necessity,” says Lewi. “And they’re finding, perhaps, that’s bringing them more community.”

“We been moving away – maybe quite slowly – from the suburban home ownership dream,” says Pawson.

After decades of ever-expanding houses, we may have reached a kind of breakpoint. Where for a new generation, the Australian promise of a big house, the myth of the quarter-acre block has moved so far away on the horizon, they see it not as a dream, but a mirage. Which is, in no small way, quite big.

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The Liberal party does not have a ‘women problem’. Men are the problem

Amy Remeikis

The party’s women continue to wring their hands in their support group chats, apocalyptic with rage off the record, while soothing on it

After years of circular conversation it is time to call it what it is. The Liberal party does not have a “women problem”. They have a men problem. Or more specifically, a problem with men who do not want to cede space to give women a chance.

Scott Morrison belled the cat in 2019 when he told an International Women’s Day event that “we want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse”.

Liberal party branches took that literally and Simon Kennedy’s preselection in Scott Morrison’s former seat of Cook is just the latest example in a long line of missed opportunities. Women being preselected in winnable Coalition seats is the exception, not the norm.

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In Queensland, men were preselected for the safe seats of Fadden and Bowman and James McGrath won the Senate ticket battle over Amanda Stoker. Karen Andrews’ McPherson branch, an electorate considered so safe that at one point, Peter Dutton challenged her for it, will be deciding between four men for its next candidate. That will leave Angie Bell as the sole woman in the Liberal’s strongest state. Bell is also facing a fierce preselection challenge from men, which if successful would mean out of the 23 seats the LNP hold, Michelle Landry would be the only woman – and she sits in the Nationals party room.

And it is not just Queensland. Former Western Australian senator Ben Small will replace retiring MP Nola Marino as the Forrest candidate. Bridget Archer, one of the only Liberal MPs to consistently vote with her conscience, is facing a preselection battle orchestrated by men furious she has exercised said conscience. Archer was notably absent once again, from Dutton’s ministry reshuffle, which left more MPs with a frontbench position than without. As one Liberal woman said of the reshuffle which advanced just two women among the six men, “it seems we care more about western Sydney than women”.

The retiring Marise Payne was replaced in the Senate by Dave Sharma. The Liberal candidate for the Dunkley byelection was male. Men replaced Victorian MP and speaker Tony Smith and former defence minister Christopher Pyne in South Australia. Men will replace Gerard Rennick and David Van on Liberal senate tickets.

A “local and administrative committee” decided to preselect Manny Cicchiello for the Victorian seat of Aston, replacing the former preselected candidate from the byelection, Roshena Campbell. And despite once claiming he’d like to see a woman replace him, Scott Morrison refused to support the sole woman’s bid, while the men fell in behind failed Bennelong candidate, Simon Kennedy.

The Liberals now have fewer women in parliament than they did when they set their gender parity target by 2025, nine years ago. An analysis by the Australia Institute found that of the 228 MPs who sit in Liberal party rooms across the country, just 71 are women. And despite the tactic of crowding women behind the dispatch box where they will be seen for question time, there is no hiding that there are just nine women sitting with the Liberal party in the lower house. To help recent car-obsessed Coalition MPs understand, you could fit them all in two Ford Rangers, or one VW Caravelle.

And yet, none of the men seem to think this is an issue. Six years on from when former finance minister Kelly O’Dwyer (who was forced to fend off a concerted attempt to unseat her from parliament 10 days after giving birth to her second child) warned colleagues the Liberals were in danger of being seen as “homophobic, anti-women, climate change deniers” the men in charge of the Liberal party continue to stay the course.

As my grandmother used to say, if he’s not helping solve the problem, he is the problem.

The shadow ministry changes signal where Dutton believes the battleground for the next election is, but unless the women contorting themselves to be seen as worthy by preselectors can transform into a small modular nuclear reactor, it’s hard to see what role women play in the Coalition’s future.

Blaming Scott Morrison’s unpopularity with women for the 2022 election loss has been a handy deflection, but Morrison was a symptom of the party’s overall attitude, not the cause. Teal independent campaigns are already mobilising in Liberal electorates like McPherson, where communities are no longer willing to wait for the Liberal’s come to Dolly moment.

The lack of women in the party room and more broadly across the Liberal tent has seen the party all but vacate the arena on women’s policy issues. Dutton has left most of the heavy lifting of policy direction to deputy, Sussan Ley, who seems to spend more time waging culture wars and posting inflammatory tweets than building a policy platform to woo back female voters. Ley has convened women’s roundtables while speaking on the party’s need to reconnect with women and has made a point of highlighting domestic and gendered violence issues.

At the same time, Ley barely managed to admonish her Coalition colleague Matt Canavan for claiming companies reporting their gender pay gaps was turning men towards misogynist himfluencer Andrew Tate.

The vacuum gave Labor an easy win on paying super for paid parental leave, a policy cynically announced for International Women’s Day, and one with widespread support from voters. Labor dragged its feet on implementing the policy while independents picked up the fight in the absence of the Coalition. Even after Labor made the announcement, the Liberals fumbled it out of the blocks with James Paterson referring to PPL as “welfare”, a toneless comment reminiscent of the Coalition’s earlier war on “double dipping”.

Instead of pushing the government to act sooner than its set 2025 implementation date and put some fingers on an easy policy win, Ley’s official response was the party will look at the sums.

Meanwhile, Liberal women continue to wring their hands and speak of their despair in their support group chats, apocalyptic with rage off the record, while soothing on it.

Which is part of the problem. Women who still believe in the Liberal party are too busy trying to make nice with the boys’ club and not rock the boat, in the hope that if they just prove themselves a little more, the men will see the error of their ways.

They never seem to realise the boys club don’t think of them at all.

The answers have been there for decades.

Women have spent untold lifetimes trying to save men from themselves. At some point, you just have to let them own it.

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The Liberal party does not have a ‘women problem’. Men are the problem

Amy Remeikis

The party’s women continue to wring their hands in their support group chats, apocalyptic with rage off the record, while soothing on it

After years of circular conversation it is time to call it what it is. The Liberal party does not have a “women problem”. They have a men problem. Or more specifically, a problem with men who do not want to cede space to give women a chance.

Scott Morrison belled the cat in 2019 when he told an International Women’s Day event that “we want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse”.

Liberal party branches took that literally and Simon Kennedy’s preselection in Scott Morrison’s former seat of Cook is just the latest example in a long line of missed opportunities. Women being preselected in winnable Coalition seats is the exception, not the norm.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

In Queensland, men were preselected for the safe seats of Fadden and Bowman and James McGrath won the Senate ticket battle over Amanda Stoker. Karen Andrews’ McPherson branch, an electorate considered so safe that at one point, Peter Dutton challenged her for it, will be deciding between four men for its next candidate. That will leave Angie Bell as the sole woman in the Liberal’s strongest state. Bell is also facing a fierce preselection challenge from men, which if successful would mean out of the 23 seats the LNP hold, Michelle Landry would be the only woman – and she sits in the Nationals party room.

And it is not just Queensland. Former Western Australian senator Ben Small will replace retiring MP Nola Marino as the Forrest candidate. Bridget Archer, one of the only Liberal MPs to consistently vote with her conscience, is facing a preselection battle orchestrated by men furious she has exercised said conscience. Archer was notably absent once again, from Dutton’s ministry reshuffle, which left more MPs with a frontbench position than without. As one Liberal woman said of the reshuffle which advanced just two women among the six men, “it seems we care more about western Sydney than women”.

The retiring Marise Payne was replaced in the Senate by Dave Sharma. The Liberal candidate for the Dunkley byelection was male. Men replaced Victorian MP and speaker Tony Smith and former defence minister Christopher Pyne in South Australia. Men will replace Gerard Rennick and David Van on Liberal senate tickets.

A “local and administrative committee” decided to preselect Manny Cicchiello for the Victorian seat of Aston, replacing the former preselected candidate from the byelection, Roshena Campbell. And despite once claiming he’d like to see a woman replace him, Scott Morrison refused to support the sole woman’s bid, while the men fell in behind failed Bennelong candidate, Simon Kennedy.

The Liberals now have fewer women in parliament than they did when they set their gender parity target by 2025, nine years ago. An analysis by the Australia Institute found that of the 228 MPs who sit in Liberal party rooms across the country, just 71 are women. And despite the tactic of crowding women behind the dispatch box where they will be seen for question time, there is no hiding that there are just nine women sitting with the Liberal party in the lower house. To help recent car-obsessed Coalition MPs understand, you could fit them all in two Ford Rangers, or one VW Caravelle.

And yet, none of the men seem to think this is an issue. Six years on from when former finance minister Kelly O’Dwyer (who was forced to fend off a concerted attempt to unseat her from parliament 10 days after giving birth to her second child) warned colleagues the Liberals were in danger of being seen as “homophobic, anti-women, climate change deniers” the men in charge of the Liberal party continue to stay the course.

As my grandmother used to say, if he’s not helping solve the problem, he is the problem.

The shadow ministry changes signal where Dutton believes the battleground for the next election is, but unless the women contorting themselves to be seen as worthy by preselectors can transform into a small modular nuclear reactor, it’s hard to see what role women play in the Coalition’s future.

Blaming Scott Morrison’s unpopularity with women for the 2022 election loss has been a handy deflection, but Morrison was a symptom of the party’s overall attitude, not the cause. Teal independent campaigns are already mobilising in Liberal electorates like McPherson, where communities are no longer willing to wait for the Liberal’s come to Dolly moment.

The lack of women in the party room and more broadly across the Liberal tent has seen the party all but vacate the arena on women’s policy issues. Dutton has left most of the heavy lifting of policy direction to deputy, Sussan Ley, who seems to spend more time waging culture wars and posting inflammatory tweets than building a policy platform to woo back female voters. Ley has convened women’s roundtables while speaking on the party’s need to reconnect with women and has made a point of highlighting domestic and gendered violence issues.

At the same time, Ley barely managed to admonish her Coalition colleague Matt Canavan for claiming companies reporting their gender pay gaps was turning men towards misogynist himfluencer Andrew Tate.

The vacuum gave Labor an easy win on paying super for paid parental leave, a policy cynically announced for International Women’s Day, and one with widespread support from voters. Labor dragged its feet on implementing the policy while independents picked up the fight in the absence of the Coalition. Even after Labor made the announcement, the Liberals fumbled it out of the blocks with James Paterson referring to PPL as “welfare”, a toneless comment reminiscent of the Coalition’s earlier war on “double dipping”.

Instead of pushing the government to act sooner than its set 2025 implementation date and put some fingers on an easy policy win, Ley’s official response was the party will look at the sums.

Meanwhile, Liberal women continue to wring their hands and speak of their despair in their support group chats, apocalyptic with rage off the record, while soothing on it.

Which is part of the problem. Women who still believe in the Liberal party are too busy trying to make nice with the boys’ club and not rock the boat, in the hope that if they just prove themselves a little more, the men will see the error of their ways.

They never seem to realise the boys club don’t think of them at all.

The answers have been there for decades.

Women have spent untold lifetimes trying to save men from themselves. At some point, you just have to let them own it.

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‘A big boys’ club’: senior Liberal women fight to solve the party’s gender problem

The preselection of Simon Kennedy in Cook has fanned fears about lack of balance – with more men set to replace retiring female MPs

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Senior Liberal women are quietly campaigning to preselect more female candidates ahead of the next federal election as representation plummets to decade lows.

The preselection of Simon Kennedy in the safe Liberal seat of Cook has reignited a battle within the Liberals to take its gender targets seriously and deal with its “women problem”.

Male candidates have also been chosen for preselection in Chisholm, Dunkley, Aston, Curtin – all previously held or contested by a Liberal woman – leading some politicians to contemplate whether it is time for gender quotas.

Just nine women sit on the Liberal benches in the lower house while the party has 10 women in the Senate. It means the party’s “women problem” has worsened in the nine years since it introduced a 50-50 gender target by 2026.

Those fighting for gender parity grumble the campaign to elevate women in preselection battles has been consistently stymied by the party’s conservative old guard.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott and his factional colleague Angus Taylor were named by two NSW Liberals, who spoke to Guardian Australia under the condition of anonymity, as undermining efforts to promote the sole female candidate, Gwen Cherne, over Kennedy in the recent Cook battle.

Abbott declined to comment while Taylor did not address the questions on the record.

Taylor said he supported the local party members’ decision to choose Kennedy, adding he was a “fierce advocate for plebiscite-based preselections”.

Factional in-fighting and the “boys’ club” have continued to hamper efforts to reach the gender targets, Liberal sources say.

“It just takes a couple of high-profile people, like those two, to set us back [on meeting gender targets],” one NSW Liberal, who would not speak on the record for fear of retribution, said.

“It’s not that it’s not happening, but the way they operate and the things that they do make it a hell of a lot harder.

“I actually think people want to vote for us. I think what we’re actually doing is giving them reasons not to.”

Communities want ‘candidates that reflect them’

The party’s post-election autopsy recommended more professional women be chosen at preselection in an effort to lure back centrist voters. Women should represent half the party in federal parliament by 2032, it recommended.

But the party’s current decade-low representation could dwindle even further unless more women are elected after the retirements of former ministers Marise Payne, Linda Reynolds and Karen Andrews.

Senior women within the party have taken note, calling for the gender targets to be front of mind as time winds down to the next federal election.

The NSW Liberal senator and former state president Maria Kovacic said Australians were frustrated with politics and wanted to see strong leadership within the party to elevate women candidates.

“It was really pleasing to see former prime minister John Howard actually step forward and endorse Gwen Cherne [in Cook] because that’s the kind of leadership we need,” Kovacic said.

“We need to ensure that we give our communities candidates that reflect them, and that means more professional women and people with broad lived experience, including people of a multicultural background, in winnable seats.”

Reynolds, who told Guardian Australia she hoped a woman would replace her in the Senate at the election, said improvements to representation required “long-term structural and cultural change”, which she said was occurring.

“The Liberal party has nothing to lose by embracing gender reform,” Reynolds wrote in a post on gender reform shortly after the 2022 federal election.

“If we fail to implement meaningful change, the party will become permanent occupants of the opposition benches. The quiet approach has not worked. We have a small window to act. And we must.”

Kate Chaney, who was elected as a “teal” independent for the Western Australian seat of Curtin in 2022, said she ran because the Liberal party had “very little appeal”.

Despite coming from a family of state and federal Liberal MPs – her grandfather, Fred Chaney, was a Menzies government minister – Chaney said the party still looked like “a big boys’ club” from the outside.

“My experience as a parliamentarian – I don’t feel like there’s any additional challenges with being a woman running as an independent but it sounds like that’s quite different if you’re inside the Liberal party,” she said.

“I know that in Western Australia, they’ve been talking a big game in terms of recruiting women, but it doesn’t really seem to be delivering. And I think it’d be a pretty hard road to choose if you’re a sensible woman who wants to be taken seriously.”

Chaney’s Liberal opponent in Curtin at the next election will be Tom White , who was preselected for the wealthy Perth earlier this year.

‘There’s no point saying we don’t have a women’s issue’

The Liberal party’s preselection season is fast approaching. A number of seats are up for grabs but they aren’t necessarily going toward women.

It’s an all-male affair in the Gold Coast seat of McPherson, where Karen Andrews is retiring, with four men nominating to replace her.

Angie Bell has been battling to stave off preselection challenges from men in her Gold Coast electorate of Moncrieff. Of the 21 federal seats the LNP holds in Queensland, only three (including Andrews) are women. Of the five LNP senators, Susan McDonald, a National, remains the only woman.

Queensland’s south-east has been identified as a strong opportunity for teal candidates, with community groups beginning to mobilise in McPherson and other male-held LNP seats.

Former Western Australia senator Ben Small is the likely replacement for outgoing Forrest MP Nola Marino, while in Tasmania the popular moderate Bridget Archer is also staring down a preselection battle.

The Hilma’s Network was created to address the Liberal party’s “woman problem”. One of its co-founders, Charlotte Mortlock, said the solution was simple.

“We won’t be able to get more women to join the party as members until we have more women in parliament,” Mortlock said.

“There’s no point saying we don’t have a women’s issue, we have to prove it. And we prove it by electing more women.”

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Woman shot dead by police in Melbourne, and another dies at the scene

Officers were challenged by a woman armed with a knife after being called to an incident in Lower Plenty in the city’s north-east

A woman has died after being shot by police in Melbourne’s north-east.

The officers were called to reports of one woman assaulting another woman at an address in Lower Plenty about 6.30pm on Friday.

Victoria police said officers were challenged by a woman who was armed with a knife.

One woman was shot dead by police and another woman was treated by emergency responders but died at the scene.

Detectives are not looking for anyone else over the incident and believe the two women knew each other.

The homicide squad is investigating.

The inquiry will be overseen by professional standards command, which the force says is protocol when a police firearm is discharged.

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South Australia considering making reporting of homelessness deaths mandatory

Exclusive: government urged to change Coroners Act to make it compulsory for police and other authorities to report the deaths

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The South Australian government will consider a proposal to mandate the reporting of homelessness deaths. The move follows revelations that hundreds of rough sleepers are dying premature, preventable deaths.

The South Australian Alliance to End Homelessness wrote to the SA attorney general, Kyam Maher, this week urging him to follow New South Wales and consider a proposal for the mandatory reporting of homelessness deaths to the coroner.

The letter cites a recent Guardian investigation that examined 627 deaths and found an average age of death of 44, more than 30 years lower than the general population.

In many cases, the deaths exposed systemic failures across the justice, health and housing sectors. They were also largely invisible, because no government in the country bothers to count the deaths of rough sleepers and others experiencing homelessness, setting Australia apart from other jurisdictions, like the United Kingdom.

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“These deaths are in circumstances that are often violent,” the alliance wrote. “The people are dying deprived of their dignity and most disturbingly, they are often dying unnecessarily from easily treatable illnesses and injuries.

“As noted by the Guardian, deaths currently notified to a coroner of people who have experienced homelessness are a vast undercount because deaths are only reported to the coroner in limited circumstances, and homelessness is rarely routinely documented.”

The alliance proposed a simple change to the SA Coroners Act making it mandatory for police and other authorities to report the death of someone experiencing homelessness to the coroner. This would give visibility over most – but not all – deaths.

“Whilst our understanding of why homelessness occurs has improved over time, the exclusion of mandatory recording of homelessness deaths to the coroner has left a concerning gap in efforts to protect some of our state’s most vulnerable,” the letter said, co-signed by the alliance’s national chief executive, David Pearson, and the SA director, Liv Carusi.

“In line with the representations that have been made in a number of other states, the South Australian Alliance to End homelessness is urging the South Australian government to make a minor amendment to the Coroners Act stipulating that the death of a person experiencing homelessness is reportable to the coroner.”

A spokesperson for the SA government confirmed it would examine the proposal, saying: “The government will consider the suggestion in consultation with the coroner.”

Last month, the NSW housing minister, Rose Jackson, confirmed her government was considering mandatory reporting reforms.

The Australian Medical Association has backed calls for improved reporting of homelessness deaths, and the federal housing minister, Julie Collins, has said she will continue to talk with her state and territory colleagues about improved data collection and reporting as her government develops a new housing and homelessness agreement.

Collins described the deaths of those experiencing homelessness as “completely unacceptable”.

The monitoring of homelessness deaths has so far been conducted at a local level only, by researchers and academics.

In a recently published paper, Prof Lisa Wood, who heads the Home2Health team at the University of Notre Dame, and colleagues Dr Matthew Tuson and Shannen Vallesi examined 360 deaths in Perth and found a median age at death of 50 years, three decades below the standard.

“The ongoing poor health and premature death of people who have experienced homelessness are indictments on our society,” the paper, published in the British Medical Journal, said.

“Timely, verified data on homeless mortality are important for galvanising action and accountability, and targets should be set to reduce the observed three-decade life expectancy chasm.”

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Astronomers detect ‘waterworld with a boiling ocean’ in deep space

Exclusive: Significant discovery, made by James Webb telescope, provokes disagreement over conditions on planet’s surface

Astronomers have observed a distant planet that could be entirely covered in a deep water ocean, in findings that advance the search for habitable conditions beyond Earth.

The observations, by Nasa’s James Webb space telescope (JWST), revealed water vapour and chemical signatures of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the exoplanet, which is twice Earth’s radius and about 70 light years away. This chemical mix is consistent with a water world where the ocean would span the entire surface, and a hydrogen-rich atmosphere, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge, although they do not envisage a balmy, inviting seascape.

“The ocean could be upwards of 100 degrees [Celsius] or more,” said Prof Nikku Madhusudhan, who led the analysis. At high atmospheric pressure, an ocean this hot could still be liquid, “but it’s not clear if it would be habitable,” he added.

This interpretation is favoured in a paper published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters, but is disputed by a Canadian team that made additional observations of the same exoplanet, which is known as TOI-270 d. They detected the same atmospheric chemicals but argue the planet would be too hot for liquid water – possibly 4,000C – and instead would feature a rocky surface topped by an incredibly dense atmosphere of hydrogen and water vapour.

Whichever view wins out, these latest observations showcase the stunning insights James Webb is giving into the nature of planets beyond our solar system. The telescope captures the starlight that has been filtered through the atmospheres of orbiting planets to give detailed breakdowns of the chemical elements present. From this, astronomers can build up a picture of conditions at a planet’s surface – and the likelihood of life being able to survive there.

The evidence for TOI-270 d’s ocean is based on the absence of ammonia, which basic chemistry predicts should occur naturally in a hydrogen-rich atmosphere. But ammonia is highly soluble in water and so would be depleted in the atmosphere if there were an ocean down below. “One interpretation is that this is a so-called ‘hycean’ world – with a water ocean under a hydrogen-rich atmosphere,” said Madhusudhan.

Conditions would be very different from those on Earth. TOI-270 d is tidally locked, meaning one side permanently faces its star and the other is bathed in eternal darkness, creating an extreme temperature contrast.

“The ocean would be extremely hot on the day side. The night side could potentially host habitable conditions,” said Madhusudhan. But there would be a crushing atmosphere, with tens or hundreds of times the pressure at the Earth’s surface, and steam rolling off the ocean. The waters are likely to reach depths of tens to hundreds of kilometres, with a high-pressure ice seabed, and beneath that a rocky core.

Prof Björn Benneke, of the University of Montreal, has carried out additional observations of the planet and questions the “hycean world” hypothesis. “The temperature in our view is too warm for water to be liquid,” he said, adding that the atmosphere appeared to contain substantial amounts of water vapour – too much for the existence of an ocean to be plausible. At the surface, temperatures could reach 4000C, Benneke estimates, with water existing in a supercritical state, where the distinction between a liquid and gas becomes blurred. “It’s almost like a thick, hot fluid,” he said.

Both teams detected carbon disulphide, which is linked to biological processes on Earth, but which can also be produced by other sources. However, there was no sign of another biosignature molecule, dimethyl sulphide (DMS).

“We can’t tie [carbon disulphide] to biological activity,” said Madhusudhan. “In a hydrogen-rich atmosphere, it is relatively easy to make it. But if we’re able to measure the unique molecule it’s promising that we should be able to measure habitable planets in the future.

“We need to be extremely careful about how we communicate findings on this kind of object,” he added. “It’s easy for the public to jump on to the idea that we’re finding life already.”

Dr Jo Barstow, an astronomer at the Open University who was not involved in the latest work, said: “Spectra of these small planets with JWST are really exciting because these are brand new environments for which we have no solar system equivalent.”

Barstow added that further observations to pin down the abundance of water vapour in the atmosphere would help clarify the likelihood of an ocean. “It’s really fascinating and really nice that two teams have looked at the same dataset and come up with the same chemical makeup,” she added.

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Astronomers detect ‘waterworld with a boiling ocean’ in deep space

Exclusive: Significant discovery, made by James Webb telescope, provokes disagreement over conditions on planet’s surface

Astronomers have observed a distant planet that could be entirely covered in a deep water ocean, in findings that advance the search for habitable conditions beyond Earth.

The observations, by Nasa’s James Webb space telescope (JWST), revealed water vapour and chemical signatures of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the exoplanet, which is twice Earth’s radius and about 70 light years away. This chemical mix is consistent with a water world where the ocean would span the entire surface, and a hydrogen-rich atmosphere, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge, although they do not envisage a balmy, inviting seascape.

“The ocean could be upwards of 100 degrees [Celsius] or more,” said Prof Nikku Madhusudhan, who led the analysis. At high atmospheric pressure, an ocean this hot could still be liquid, “but it’s not clear if it would be habitable,” he added.

This interpretation is favoured in a paper published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters, but is disputed by a Canadian team that made additional observations of the same exoplanet, which is known as TOI-270 d. They detected the same atmospheric chemicals but argue the planet would be too hot for liquid water – possibly 4,000C – and instead would feature a rocky surface topped by an incredibly dense atmosphere of hydrogen and water vapour.

Whichever view wins out, these latest observations showcase the stunning insights James Webb is giving into the nature of planets beyond our solar system. The telescope captures the starlight that has been filtered through the atmospheres of orbiting planets to give detailed breakdowns of the chemical elements present. From this, astronomers can build up a picture of conditions at a planet’s surface – and the likelihood of life being able to survive there.

The evidence for TOI-270 d’s ocean is based on the absence of ammonia, which basic chemistry predicts should occur naturally in a hydrogen-rich atmosphere. But ammonia is highly soluble in water and so would be depleted in the atmosphere if there were an ocean down below. “One interpretation is that this is a so-called ‘hycean’ world – with a water ocean under a hydrogen-rich atmosphere,” said Madhusudhan.

Conditions would be very different from those on Earth. TOI-270 d is tidally locked, meaning one side permanently faces its star and the other is bathed in eternal darkness, creating an extreme temperature contrast.

“The ocean would be extremely hot on the day side. The night side could potentially host habitable conditions,” said Madhusudhan. But there would be a crushing atmosphere, with tens or hundreds of times the pressure at the Earth’s surface, and steam rolling off the ocean. The waters are likely to reach depths of tens to hundreds of kilometres, with a high-pressure ice seabed, and beneath that a rocky core.

Prof Björn Benneke, of the University of Montreal, has carried out additional observations of the planet and questions the “hycean world” hypothesis. “The temperature in our view is too warm for water to be liquid,” he said, adding that the atmosphere appeared to contain substantial amounts of water vapour – too much for the existence of an ocean to be plausible. At the surface, temperatures could reach 4000C, Benneke estimates, with water existing in a supercritical state, where the distinction between a liquid and gas becomes blurred. “It’s almost like a thick, hot fluid,” he said.

Both teams detected carbon disulphide, which is linked to biological processes on Earth, but which can also be produced by other sources. However, there was no sign of another biosignature molecule, dimethyl sulphide (DMS).

“We can’t tie [carbon disulphide] to biological activity,” said Madhusudhan. “In a hydrogen-rich atmosphere, it is relatively easy to make it. But if we’re able to measure the unique molecule it’s promising that we should be able to measure habitable planets in the future.

“We need to be extremely careful about how we communicate findings on this kind of object,” he added. “It’s easy for the public to jump on to the idea that we’re finding life already.”

Dr Jo Barstow, an astronomer at the Open University who was not involved in the latest work, said: “Spectra of these small planets with JWST are really exciting because these are brand new environments for which we have no solar system equivalent.”

Barstow added that further observations to pin down the abundance of water vapour in the atmosphere would help clarify the likelihood of an ocean. “It’s really fascinating and really nice that two teams have looked at the same dataset and come up with the same chemical makeup,” she added.

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Woman dies after being pinned between bus and building in Brisbane’s CBD

Police say the bus mounted the kerb in Edward Street shortly before 5pm, pinning the pedestrian between the vehicle and a wall

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A woman has died after a bus ran onto the footpath during peak hour in Brisbane’s CBD.

The bus mounted a kerb in Edward Street shortly before 5pm, pinning the woman between the vehicle and a building, police said.

A Queensland ambulance spokesperson said there were nine people on the bus. Five of those, including the driver, were transported to hospital with minor injuries.

Nine ambulance crews attended the scene.

A Queensland police spokesperson said the forensic crash unit was investigating.

Motorists were urged to avoid the area due to multiple road closures.

The accident contributed to major traffic issues on the eve of the opening round AFL match of the Brisbane Lions against the Carlton Blues at the Gabba stadium.

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Gold statues and jewellery stolen in €1m heist at museum by Lake Garda

Items by Italian sculptor Umberto Mastroianni taken from exhibition at Vittoriale degli Italiani estate

Gold statues and jewellery made by the Italian sculptor Umberto Mastroianni have been stolen from an exhibition in northern Italy in a €1m (£850,000) heist.

The 20 gold statues and 30 pieces of jewellery were crafted between the 1950s and 1990s by the artist, who was the uncle of La Dolce Vita film star Marcello Mastroianni.

The items had been on display since December at the Museo d’Annunzio Segreto in Vittoriale degli Italiani, a hillside estate overlooking Lake Garda.

But on Thursday morning, a day before the show was due to close, managers found the exhibition space had been emptied of the works, which along with the statues included rings, bracelets, pins and brooches made by Mastroianni using the “golden stream” melding technique.

All but one of the pieces, which the thieves presumably dropped as they fled, were gone.

The theft was confirmed by Giordano Bruno Guerri, the president of the estate, which was the home of Gabriele D’Annunzio, a poet believed to have influenced Italian fascism.

“The good news is that a piece has already been recovered,” Guerri added in a statement. “Fortunately, nothing of D’Annunzio’s legacy has been touched.”

Italy’s art police are investigating the robbery, although as of Friday afternoon no developments had emerged. Guerri said updates would be provided at a press conference on Saturday.

According to a report in the local newspaper Brescia Today, the thieves entered the museum through a service door and deactivated the alarm.

“What happened at the Vittoriale is a very serious event,” Francesca Caruso, the councillor for culture in the Lombardy region, told the newspaper. “It is a cowardly gesture that has struck one of the highlights of Lombardy’s culture. I hope the works will be found as soon as possible and those responsible be brought to justice.”

Mastroianni, who died in 1998, was among the most famous Italian artists of the 20th century. He joined the Italian resistance during the second world war.

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Polestar joins Tesla in quitting auto lobby over its campaign against proposed vehicle efficiency standard

Electric carmaker concerned at ‘overblown’ claims that Albanese government’s plan to import environmentally cleaner cars would increase ute prices

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Electric car brand Polestar has become the second company to quit Australia’s main auto industry lobby group over frustrations at its campaign against the Albanese government’s plan to import environmentally cleaner cars.

On Friday – a day after Tesla announced it would cease being a member of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) over the group’s opposition to the government’s proposed vehicle efficiency standard – Polestar Australia’s managing director, Samantha Johnson, wrote to FCAI CEO Tony Weber advising him the Volvo-owned brand was also cancelling its membership.

In the letter, Johnson echoed concerns from Tesla over claims the FCAI was warning the government’s preferred model for a national vehicle efficiency standard (NVES) could increase the price of popular utes by up to $13,000.

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Johnson said the active campaigning against the standard by the FCAI and fellow member companies was not aligned with Polestar’s focus.

She said claims about the standard leading to price increases are “overblown” and called on the FCAI to release the modelling underpinning its assertions. “Rather, it appears that the FCAI has cherrypicked what it thinks will progress the position of only some members”.

“The FCAI’s commentary against the proposed ‘Option B’ framework of a NVES does not represent the position of Polestar and may have irrevocably damaged consumer perception and trust in the proposed policy,” Johnson wrote.

“The brand can not in good faith continue to allow its membership fees to fund a campaign designed to deliberately slow the car industry’s contribution to Australia’s emissions reduction potential,” she said.

Johnson also pointed to a submission by the Grattan Institute on the government’s proposed model for the NVES, which estimated the policy would on average increase prices by about 1%, but that consumers would quickly be financially better off due to significant savings on fuel and maintenance costs.

Johnson said Polestar would consider returning to the lobby group “when the FCAI commits to representing all voices in the automotive industry, fairly”.

Weber, in a statement, noted that the FCAI “must act in the interests of the Australian automotive industry and Australian car buyers” which includes more than 50 brands with more than 350 vehicles “from battery electric vehicles, plugin hybrid and hybrids to petrol and diesel drivetrains”.

“FCAI cannot support a standard that in the short-term might meet the needs and pockets of those at the premium end of the market while potentially hurting businesses and families who may be forced to deal with less choice and higher prices next time they buy a new car,” Weber said.

Responding to Tesla’s accusations earlier this week, the FCAI said it had encouraged successive governments to introduce an efficiency standard for more than a decade, and that its members “want to continue to play their role in combating climate change and providing Australians with the zero- and low-emission vehicles they can afford”.

On Thursday, Tesla asked the FCAI to publicly correct its “false claims” and acknowledge they do not accurately reflect what car companies intend to do. It was worried the group’s comments would significantly push up the price of most popular cars and utes, and significantly reduce the price of Tesla models.

It expressed concern the FCAI’s claims could lead to a consumer run on high-polluting utes out of fear their cost would increase when the NVES is introduced. It was also worried the claims could push motorists to delay buying Tesla cars out of an expectation of a price drop when the government’s scheme comes into effect.

Australia’s proposed fuel standard will place a cap on the emissions from new cars to incentivise carmakers to supply low- and zero-emissions vehicles. The cap will be lowered over time.

The government plans to introduce legislation before July that will take effect from January 2025.

The Albanese government’s preferred model is expected to cut 369m tonnes of CO2 by 2050 – equivalent to the last six years of emissions from light vehicles in Australia.

Australia, along with Russia, remains one of the few countries in the OECD without standards. Industry analysts have routinely warned that manufacturers are treating Australia as a dumping ground for heavily polluting vehicles due to a lack of penalties.

A new car sold in Australia uses, on average, 6.9 litres of fuel for each 100km compared with new cars in Europe and the US that use 3.5 litres and 4.2 litres, respectively.

Since the government unveiled its preferred model in early February, tensions have simmered between climate advocates, car companies and political opponents.

On Wednesday, Anthony Albanese denied that the Thai prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, asked him to slow the introduction of Australia’s planned fuel efficiency standard as it would adversely affect Thai exports.

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‘No discernible nostrils’: Crufts in row over prizes for French bulldog

Critics say Elton does not meet revised breed standard, but world’s biggest dog show says he passed all relevant health checks

A row has erupted at the world’s biggest dog show after the prize for the best canine in the utility group went to a French bulldog that some have argued has no discernible nostrils.

Concern over hugely popular squashed-face breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs has grown in recent years, not least because they are prone to short lives and myriad health problems.

One of the main worries with such brachycephalic breeds is that their flat faces mean they are susceptible to respiratory problems. Experts say noisy breathing, snoring and fainting after exercise are all signs that a dog is struggling for air. Some even require surgery to open their nostrils or remove soft tissue to help them breathe.

Now concerns have been raised that Crufts has gone to the dogs after a French bulldog called Elton scooped top gongs at the show.

Among those to express their unease was Jemima Harrison, an award-winning producer and director of science-led documentaries and a campaigner for health and welfare reform in dog breeding.

“This French bulldog – with no discernible nostrils and an almost concave face – won not just best of breed at Crufts today but also the Utility Group,” she wrote on X. “A terrible day for the breed. Am gutted.”

Dr Sean McCormack, a vet and presenter, also noted that Elton had severely pinched nostrils.

“Nothing like the revised breed standard that asked for more muzzle, more nose, to alleviate the health problems associated with being such a flat-faced breed,” he said in a TikTok video.

The breed standard for the French bulldog, released in 2021, states that such dogs should have a “well defined muzzle that can clearly be viewed in profile” and nostrils that should be “visibly” open.

Crufts, which is organised by the Kennel Club, has said that the three-year old French bulldog from Birmingham does not have respiratory problems.

“The health and welfare of dogs at the show is our priority, and the winning French bulldog, Elton, has passed all relevant vet health assessments that it has undertaken within and outside the show ring,” said Charlotte McNamara, the Kennel Club’s head of health.

“He has a grade 0 score on the Kennel Club/University of Cambridge breathing assessment that was done prior to the show, and which – from Crufts 2025 – will be mandatory for all French bulldogs, pugs and bulldogs before they compete, meaning he is clinically unaffected by brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS),” she said.

“Elton has also passed the show vet check which are given to all dogs before group judging, and to some breed winners, to ensure there are no visible signs of health concerns on the day of competition.”

He will now go through to compete for the best in show title on Sunday.

The introduction of mandatory breathing assessments to Crufts has been welcomed by some as encouraging responsible breeding – those that receive the highest grade of 3, or who are not tested, are barred from the ring – but a number of animal charities, including the RSPCA and Blue Cross, have called on the Kennel Club, to ban brachycephalic breeds from Crufts altogether.

Dr Samantha Gaines, an RSPCA dog welfare expert, said extreme traits should not be celebrated or normalised.

“We are hugely disappointed that a French bulldog with an extremely short muzzle and pinched nostrils has been awarded best in breed at Crufts on Thursday.

“The breed standard states these dogs should have a well-defined muzzle and wide open nostrils, so awarding best of breed and group as well as allowing this dog to compete for best in show sends completely the wrong message,” she said.

“We must prioritise health over looks and we’re urging people to join our Born to Suffer campaign, pledging online to say no to extreme breeding, and yes to health and wellbeing.

“The public need to know the serious health issues faced by flat-faced dogs – which go beyond breathing difficulties and include skin, dental, spinal, brain and eye problems – and to encourage people not to fuel the demand by buying one.”

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