The Guardian 2024-03-25 01:01:21


Australia’s Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM), Jake Blight, has flagged his concern with the blunt nature of secrecy offences – especially offences for leaking or receiving any information marked “secret” or “top secret” – while speaking at an opening remarks at a public hearing today.

It is fair to say that at this stage I have a lot of concerns with this offence.

He noted that government determined how widely this designation was applied and suggested it may be being used more wider than is really necessary.

Blight also suggested Australia may need clearer definitions of what security, international relations and defence within secrecy laws and that he also held concerns about the impact of secrecy laws on journalism, particularly the offence of receiving (as opposed to retaining) information.

I am minded to agree that at the very least merely receiving information should be removed from this offence.

He said retaining and then using it was another matter.

Asio’s director general, Mike Burgess, is now beginning to give evidence.

Union leader among arrests at pro-Palestine Port Botany protest in Sydney

Maritime Union of Australia branch secretary Paul Keating one of 19 people arrested and charged

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Nineteen people were arrested at a pro-Palestine protest at Port Botany in Sydney on Sunday night.

Protesters, including members of the Maritime Union of Australia, were demonstrating against the Israel-owned ZIM shipping company. Among those arrested was MUA’s Sydney branch secretary, Paul Keating, New South Wales police confirmed.

Police said they had responded to an unauthorised protest at 6.50pm on Sunday.

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Police alleged the group had moved to Penrhyn Road which leads to the Patrick Terminals facility on the dock, “blocking the roadway and access to the port”, about 9.30pm. They were directed to move but police said some had not complied and were arrested for disobeying police direction.

The 19 people arrested were taken to Surry Hills police station.

They were all charged with obstructing a driver/other pedestrian’s path, failing to comply with a move along direction, and remaining near/on a major facility and causing serious disruption.

They were issued with a field court attendance notice to appear at Downing Centre local court on 8 May.

“The remainder were removed from the roadway,” police said. “A small group gathered in a nearby park before departing.”

Unionists for Palestine said members of the MUA Sydney branch had been arrested as part of the demonstration, including Keating. MUA Sydney has been contacted for comment.

Keating had previously urged the federal and state governments to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and for sanctions to be placed on Israel.

“We call on the Albanese government to put arms embargoes on Israel now,” he said.

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I knew the facts about millennials but I wasn’t ready to admit the life my parents had would never be mine

Miles Herbert

It took working on a podcast about what’s happening to young people for me to let go of the idealism about my future and face the sobering reality

  • Who screwed millennials?: a new podcast series

The uncertainty facing my generation was not new to me. I have read articles just like the one I am now trying to write. I have seen the reports. I have watched the TikToks.

But the life I am living was by far the biggest clue that my generation is facing a growing economic crisis.

I just was not ready to admit it.

Like many millennial men who have just entered their 30s, I am happy to self-identify as a stunted youth. As traditional markers of adulthood have been pushed back, so too has my sense of myself as an actual grown-up. Although I manage the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood, I still feel as though I am making my way in the world. I still feel like a kid.

And idealism about my future, instilled in me by my parents, still rang louder in my head than the reality of my every day. It was like my brain was bifurcated; still believing in the dream but at the same time understanding the reality. Despite watching the housing crisis make home ownership more unattainable by the day, despite the seemingly inescapable burden of student debt, I still felt the road to economic safety and stability was in reach. I was going to reap what I sowed. If I just worked hard enough, hustled harder, created a more successful, economically stable and more commercially viable version of myself, I too could have my own little patch of earth, just as the former Australian prime minister Robert Menzies promised to generations before.

But late last year I began an investigation into the economic conditions facing my generation for the podcast Who Screwed Millennials. And over the course of those several months I, in a sense, grew up.

Through hours of reporting and recording, I realised that the life my parents had would never – no matter how hard I grafted – be mine.

“We grow up and go out in the world and we’re like, ‘Oh, shit, we’re screwed.’ The world is not really our oyster,” one of the interview subjects, Dr Intifar Chowdhury, told me. “I think there’s a huge discrepancy between how we’ve been raised versus how the world actually is.”

Since the end of Covid lockdown orders in New South Wales, I have experienced the rental crisis first-hand. Rent increases and the cost of living have forced moves to three different properties over the same number of years. Each time, moving further away from the city, from my work, and from the connections to people and place that I developed when I signed each lease. Any thought my partner and I had of removing ourselves from the perils of the rental market were dashed each time we checked our shared student loan debt and our dwindling savings.

The latest Scanlon Report which maps social cohesion in Australia over time says that almost half of 18- to 44-year-olds – that is millennials and gen Z – said they were “just getting along financially”, and the same amount believed the things they do in life are worthwhile only a little or only some of the time.

When you start to see those kinds of shifts, that’s really dangerous for any society,” Jill Filipovic, author of OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind, told me.

Filipovic says generational inequality is not simply a concocted culture war but a tangible economic and political divide which has the potential to worsen divisions.

I have seen this online and in real life. As my elders blame younger generations for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, I watch as friends and family fall down rabbit holes looking for answers to why they can not create the life they feel they have been promised.

“I think when people feel as though they’ve been sold a bill of goods and they start to lose faith in the society, faith in their government, in their institutions,” Filipovic told me. “I don’t think anything good comes of it.”


I am very much a child of the global financial crisis, the first time I saw my generation lose faith in the economic status quo and spill out into the streets. I remember feeling this was the fork in the road when it came to economic inequality – the system had to change for my generation to be optimistic about our futures. But more than a decade later, here we are.

In our efforts to know how we got here, the podcast team and I called a man who knows a thing or two about a financial crisis.

Yanis Varoufakis, capitalism doomsayer and the former finance minister of Greece, who was at the helm during the middle of that country’s debt crisis, said in the last 10 years he had noticed a complete change in the mood of young people.

For Varoufakis, the problem, and the solutions – at least when it comes to the housing crisis in Australia – are easily identifiable. But he says we are locked in the same political stasis we were seven years ago when he told Guardian Australia negative gearing was “scandalous”.

The more we talked, the more intractable Varoufakis made generational inequality seem. But, as I began projecting my own worries on to our conversation, the more questions moved from “who or what caused the housing crisis?” to “whose fault is it that I will never own a home?”, the more optimism Varoufakis offered.

“Every generation feels that the end times are nigh and every generation is proven wrong,” he told us. “But at the same time, it is important to identify the structural causes of apathy and a diminution in cultural capital.”

He found optimism in the crisis – as did Filipovic (sort of).

“OK, the bad news for millennials is that I don’t think we do get out of this situation. Not entirely,” she said. “The good news for younger folks is that this doesn’t have to go on in perpetuity. Millennials are a much more liberal generation.”

In Australia this more liberal generation has become the largest voting bloc. Millennials and gen Z make up 43% of the electorate, and the way they do politics is really different. Chowdhury says they care about the issues that impact them directly, not necessarily what the major parties are offering up at election campaigns.

“Assuming that millennials do kind of continue to ascend in politics … I think that those younger generations are going to see a future in which they are better cared for and more invested in,” says Filipovic. “I don’t think it’s happening as quickly as it needs to. But I do feel optimistic about the trajectory that we’re on.”

I share this optimism. I can identify the logic in it.

But I also understand how it is easy to let anger and apathy consume you.

So before I left Varoufakis, before he disappeared from my computer screen and I returned to my white-walled, mould-infested apartment, I asked him for advice. I asked him how young people can be hopeful and imagine a better future for ourselves and the generations coming up from behind.

“Well, look, young people do not want advice, especially from old people like me.”

Paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw, “he said this ironically, of course”, Varoufakis said anger, or what he called “madness”, isn’t always such a bad thing.

“There are two kinds of young people. There are the sensible ones who try to adapt themselves to the world around them, and then there are the mad ones who try to adapt the world to their own ideas of how it should be.”

“Be mad,” he told me.

  • Listen to Who Screwed Millennials, presented by Matilda Boseley and Jane Lee, in the Full Story feed – wherever you get your podcasts

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  • I knew the facts about millennials but I wasn’t ready to admit the life my parents had would never be mineMiles Herbert
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With rising house prices, a decade of wage stagnation and ballooning student debt, young people in Australia are living through what author Jill Filipovic describes as ‘a series of broken promises’. In episode one of this new series from Guardian Australia, Full Story co-host Jane Lee and reporter Matilda Boseley sort through these broken promises, investigating why young people are living in a time of such economic strain.

In this episode, we hear from a handful of experts featured in Who screwed millennials?, including author Jill Filipovic, youth researcher Intifar Chowdhury, author Malcolm Harris, Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis about how millennials became the first generation to be worse off than their parents



How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know

You can subscribe for free to Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast Full Story on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts

Read more:

  • I knew the facts about millennials but I wasn’t ready to admit the life my parents had would never be mine
  • Who screwed millennials out of affordable housing?

More from this series

  • Who screwed millennials out of affordable housing? – podcast

  • Newsroom edition: the struggle to get big money out of politics – podcast

  • Karen Middleton on the state of Australian politics – podcast

  • Black Box episode three: repocalypse now – podcast

)

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And we want to keep our journalism open and accessible to all.
But we increasingly need our readers to fund our work.


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Topics

More ways to listen
  • Apple Podcasts

  • Google Podcasts

  • Spotify


  • RSS Feed
  • Download

How did the government set fire to the Australian housing market? Jane Lee and Matilda Boseley look at how the threat of a communist uprising, a benign sounding tax review and one prime minister’s admiration for two world leaders changed the lives of young Australians



How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know

You can subscribe for free to Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast Full Story on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts

Read more:

  • I knew the facts about millennials but I wasn’t ready to admit the life my parents had would never be mine
  • Who screwed millennials: a generation left behind

More from this series

  • Who screwed millennials? – podcast

  • Newsroom edition: the struggle to get big money out of politics – podcast

  • Karen Middleton on the state of Australian politics – podcast

  • Black Box episode three: repocalypse now – podcast

)

Support The Guardian

The Guardian is editorially independent.
And we want to keep our journalism open and accessible to all.
But we increasingly need our readers to fund our work.


Support The Guardian

Topics

There’s a lot of debate about why and how Australia’s housing market became the garbage fire it is today, with many accusations being hurled at one particular suspect: negative gearing. But while negative gearing is certainly a factor, it doesn’t deserve all the blame. The Guardian’s Matilda Boseley explains that, when it comes to the country’s housing crisis, negative gearing is just the garbage, which needed a lit match to set it alight

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Four suspects in Moscow concert hall terror attack appear in court

Footage of gunmen reinforces Islamic State’s claim to have masterminded worst terror attack on Russia in two decades

Four suspects have appeared in court in Moscow charged over the terrorist attack on the Crocus City concert hall on Friday that left 137 people dead.

The men were officially identified as citizens of Tajikistan, the Tass state news agency said, and were remanded in custody for two months at Sunday’s hearing.

The court released a video showing police officers bringing one of the suspects into the courtroom in handcuffs, as well as photographs of the same man sitting in a glass cage for defendants. One of the suspects was led blindfolded into the courtroom. When his blindfold was removed, a black eye was visible. Another suspect was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair.

The men, identified as Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Dalerdzhon Barotovich Mirzoyev, Shamsidin Fariduni and Muhammadsobir Fayzov, face charges of a “terror attack committed by a group of individuals resulting in a person’s death”, according to the Tass news agency. All four pleaded guilty.

Earlier on Sunday, Islamic State had released new footage of the attack, corroborating the terror group’s claim to have masterminded the slaughter even as Russia has sought to place the blame on Ukraine, which Kyiv denies.

The incident near Moscow is the deadliest IS-claimed assault on European soil and the deadliest attack by any group in Russia since the 2004 Beslan siege.

The footage, published by IS’s news agency Amaq, showed gunmen filming themselves as they hunted victims in the lobby of the hall and fired from point-blank range, killing scores of people. At one point, one gunmen tells another to “kill them and have no mercy”.

Vladimir Putin said 11 people had been detained, including the four gunmen. Russia’s investigative committee released a video earlier yesterday showing the suspects being led, blindfolded, into its headquarters.

Russia observed a nationwide day of mourning on Sunday for the worst terror attack on the country’s soil in two decades, as the official number of wounded rose to 154. Russian authorities have said they expect the death toll to rise with at least one dozen victims still in critical condition.

Thousands of people brought flowers and other tributes to the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, as local emergency workers say they are still continuing to search for anyone who may be left wounded or dead inside the severely damaged entertainment complex.

Putin has not yet visited the site of the shooting. The Kremlin published footage showing the president lighting a candle at a church at his residence outside Moscow on Sunday evening to honour those who died.

Foreign embassies in Moscow have also voiced their solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attack. Flags were lowered to half-mast at the embassies of the US, the UK and the Netherlands amid high tensions over the war in Ukraine.

The Russian leader also claimed, without evidence, that Ukraine had “prepared a window” for the terrorists to cross the border from Russia into Ukraine. Kyiv has vociferously denied any links to the attack and has indicated that it believes Moscow is preparing a pretext to escalate the conflict.

The US has said it received intelligence that the terror group acted alone. “Isis bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” the national security council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, said in a statement.

Russian officials and state media have largely ignored IS’s claims to be behind the attacks. Meduza, an independent Russian-language website, has reported that Russian state-funded and pro-government media had been instructed by the Putin administration to emphasise possible “traces” of Ukrainian involvement in the attack, according to two state media employees.

Olga Skabeyeva, a prominent state television host, claimed on Telegram that Ukrainian military intelligence had recruited assailants “who would look like Isis. But this is no Isis”.

Putin did not name the Islamist terror group during his public statements on the attack, while directly accusing the “Ukrainian side” of involvement. IS also released a photograph of the purported gunmen before the attack. Researchers have noted that their clothing matches that worn by some of the attackers.

On Sunday, the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, disregarded the US intelligence reports that IS was behind the attacks. “I wish they could have solved the assassination of their own President Kennedy so quickly,” she wrote on Telegram. “But no, for more than 60 years they have not been able to find out who killed him after all. Or maybe that was Isis too?”

“Until the investigation into the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall is completed, any phrase from Washington exonerating Kyiv should be considered as evidence,” she added. “After all, the financing of terrorist activities of the Kyiv organised criminal group by the American liberal democrats and participation in the corrupt schemes of the Biden family have been going on for many years.”

Fresh details have emerged of how the gunmen stormed the concert hall and began firing into crowds of people, then set fire to the building and fled the scene, leading to a fevered manhunt for the terrorists. The Russian investigative committee said those killed in the concert hall died of gunshot wounds and “poisoning” related to the fire.

The gunmen appear to have planned the attack carefully, setting fires by an emergency stairwell in order to herd people toward a killing zone in the middle of the lobby.

The men were caught in the southern Bryansk region, where authorities said they disabled their vehicle, and then apprehended several of the suspects as they fled into a nearby forest. New videos have been published showing Russian security forces interrogating the men, at least one of whom spoke Tajik during an interrogation. Tajikistan’s foreign ministry initially denied that the suspects were citizens of the country.

In a phone call on Sunday, Putin and the Tajikistan leader, Emomali Rahmon, “noted that security services and relevant agencies of Russia and Tajikistan are working closely in countering terrorism, and this work will be intensified”.

Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has previously been reported to have recruited radicalised nationals from central Asia, including Tajikistan.

Some of the videos of the interrogations suggest that the men were tortured by Russian security services. One of the clips, circulated by Russian bloggers, appears to show members of the security forces cutting off the ear of a man who is later interrogated over the attack and then stuffing it into his mouth. Another appears to show security forces beating a suspect with their rifle butts and kicking him as he lies in the snow.

Russian independent media noted that the officer who apparently cut off the ear of the suspect was wearing patches that indicated his support for neo-Nazi groups and appeared to have contact with the far-right Rusich paramilitary group, which is active in Ukraine. The patches included a black sun and a symbol resembling the Totenkopfor death’s head – worn by several Nazi divisions.

Experts have described Friday’s attack as a failure of the country’s sprawling security services, which have been distracted by the war in Ukraine and a relentless crackdown on political opposition at home.

“The FSB obviously had their priorities wrong. They had their main resources on Ukraine and on the domestic opposition,” said Mark Galeotti, an expert on the Russian security services.

“What is striking is the catastrophic incompetence of our security services,” Ivan Zhdanov, the former head of late opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, told AFP.

Andrei Soldatov, a leading Russian researcher, wrote that the FSB had become “very efficient and innovative at repression … But these are not the qualities that help to prevent attacks happening, and time and again the FSB has failed as an intelligence collection agency because other things are needed: information-sharing capabilities between agencies, both domestic and foreign, and trust between those agencies and within those agencies.”

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt said that the UK should “absolutely” be concerned about the threat that IS poses to the country after the terror attack in Moscow.

“We are very lucky in this country that we have incredibly impressive intelligence agencies, who have been successful in stopping, in foiling a lot of terrorist threats over recent years,” the British chancellor told Sky News.

“But we have to remain vigilant. And if it is Islamic State, they are utterly indiscriminate in what they do. They’re prepared to murder in the most horrific way.”

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Four suspects in Moscow concert hall terror attack appear in court

Footage of gunmen reinforces Islamic State’s claim to have masterminded worst terror attack on Russia in two decades

Four suspects have appeared in court in Moscow charged over the terrorist attack on the Crocus City concert hall on Friday that left 137 people dead.

The men were officially identified as citizens of Tajikistan, the Tass state news agency said, and were remanded in custody for two months at Sunday’s hearing.

The court released a video showing police officers bringing one of the suspects into the courtroom in handcuffs, as well as photographs of the same man sitting in a glass cage for defendants. One of the suspects was led blindfolded into the courtroom. When his blindfold was removed, a black eye was visible. Another suspect was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair.

The men, identified as Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, Dalerdzhon Barotovich Mirzoyev, Shamsidin Fariduni and Muhammadsobir Fayzov, face charges of a “terror attack committed by a group of individuals resulting in a person’s death”, according to the Tass news agency. All four pleaded guilty.

Earlier on Sunday, Islamic State had released new footage of the attack, corroborating the terror group’s claim to have masterminded the slaughter even as Russia has sought to place the blame on Ukraine, which Kyiv denies.

The incident near Moscow is the deadliest IS-claimed assault on European soil and the deadliest attack by any group in Russia since the 2004 Beslan siege.

The footage, published by IS’s news agency Amaq, showed gunmen filming themselves as they hunted victims in the lobby of the hall and fired from point-blank range, killing scores of people. At one point, one gunmen tells another to “kill them and have no mercy”.

Vladimir Putin said 11 people had been detained, including the four gunmen. Russia’s investigative committee released a video earlier yesterday showing the suspects being led, blindfolded, into its headquarters.

Russia observed a nationwide day of mourning on Sunday for the worst terror attack on the country’s soil in two decades, as the official number of wounded rose to 154. Russian authorities have said they expect the death toll to rise with at least one dozen victims still in critical condition.

Thousands of people brought flowers and other tributes to the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, as local emergency workers say they are still continuing to search for anyone who may be left wounded or dead inside the severely damaged entertainment complex.

Putin has not yet visited the site of the shooting. The Kremlin published footage showing the president lighting a candle at a church at his residence outside Moscow on Sunday evening to honour those who died.

Foreign embassies in Moscow have also voiced their solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attack. Flags were lowered to half-mast at the embassies of the US, the UK and the Netherlands amid high tensions over the war in Ukraine.

The Russian leader also claimed, without evidence, that Ukraine had “prepared a window” for the terrorists to cross the border from Russia into Ukraine. Kyiv has vociferously denied any links to the attack and has indicated that it believes Moscow is preparing a pretext to escalate the conflict.

The US has said it received intelligence that the terror group acted alone. “Isis bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” the national security council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, said in a statement.

Russian officials and state media have largely ignored IS’s claims to be behind the attacks. Meduza, an independent Russian-language website, has reported that Russian state-funded and pro-government media had been instructed by the Putin administration to emphasise possible “traces” of Ukrainian involvement in the attack, according to two state media employees.

Olga Skabeyeva, a prominent state television host, claimed on Telegram that Ukrainian military intelligence had recruited assailants “who would look like Isis. But this is no Isis”.

Putin did not name the Islamist terror group during his public statements on the attack, while directly accusing the “Ukrainian side” of involvement. IS also released a photograph of the purported gunmen before the attack. Researchers have noted that their clothing matches that worn by some of the attackers.

On Sunday, the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, disregarded the US intelligence reports that IS was behind the attacks. “I wish they could have solved the assassination of their own President Kennedy so quickly,” she wrote on Telegram. “But no, for more than 60 years they have not been able to find out who killed him after all. Or maybe that was Isis too?”

“Until the investigation into the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall is completed, any phrase from Washington exonerating Kyiv should be considered as evidence,” she added. “After all, the financing of terrorist activities of the Kyiv organised criminal group by the American liberal democrats and participation in the corrupt schemes of the Biden family have been going on for many years.”

Fresh details have emerged of how the gunmen stormed the concert hall and began firing into crowds of people, then set fire to the building and fled the scene, leading to a fevered manhunt for the terrorists. The Russian investigative committee said those killed in the concert hall died of gunshot wounds and “poisoning” related to the fire.

The gunmen appear to have planned the attack carefully, setting fires by an emergency stairwell in order to herd people toward a killing zone in the middle of the lobby.

The men were caught in the southern Bryansk region, where authorities said they disabled their vehicle, and then apprehended several of the suspects as they fled into a nearby forest. New videos have been published showing Russian security forces interrogating the men, at least one of whom spoke Tajik during an interrogation. Tajikistan’s foreign ministry initially denied that the suspects were citizens of the country.

In a phone call on Sunday, Putin and the Tajikistan leader, Emomali Rahmon, “noted that security services and relevant agencies of Russia and Tajikistan are working closely in countering terrorism, and this work will be intensified”.

Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has previously been reported to have recruited radicalised nationals from central Asia, including Tajikistan.

Some of the videos of the interrogations suggest that the men were tortured by Russian security services. One of the clips, circulated by Russian bloggers, appears to show members of the security forces cutting off the ear of a man who is later interrogated over the attack and then stuffing it into his mouth. Another appears to show security forces beating a suspect with their rifle butts and kicking him as he lies in the snow.

Russian independent media noted that the officer who apparently cut off the ear of the suspect was wearing patches that indicated his support for neo-Nazi groups and appeared to have contact with the far-right Rusich paramilitary group, which is active in Ukraine. The patches included a black sun and a symbol resembling the Totenkopfor death’s head – worn by several Nazi divisions.

Experts have described Friday’s attack as a failure of the country’s sprawling security services, which have been distracted by the war in Ukraine and a relentless crackdown on political opposition at home.

“The FSB obviously had their priorities wrong. They had their main resources on Ukraine and on the domestic opposition,” said Mark Galeotti, an expert on the Russian security services.

“What is striking is the catastrophic incompetence of our security services,” Ivan Zhdanov, the former head of late opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, told AFP.

Andrei Soldatov, a leading Russian researcher, wrote that the FSB had become “very efficient and innovative at repression … But these are not the qualities that help to prevent attacks happening, and time and again the FSB has failed as an intelligence collection agency because other things are needed: information-sharing capabilities between agencies, both domestic and foreign, and trust between those agencies and within those agencies.”

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt said that the UK should “absolutely” be concerned about the threat that IS poses to the country after the terror attack in Moscow.

“We are very lucky in this country that we have incredibly impressive intelligence agencies, who have been successful in stopping, in foiling a lot of terrorist threats over recent years,” the British chancellor told Sky News.

“But we have to remain vigilant. And if it is Islamic State, they are utterly indiscriminate in what they do. They’re prepared to murder in the most horrific way.”

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  • Moscow concert hall attack
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Labor dissent sees Plibersek’s veto on offshore gas project rules restored

Paul Karp

Internal lobbying has added safeguards to a power for the resources minister to water down consultation requirements

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The Albanese government has kept a lid on dissent over changes to the approval process for offshore gas projects, but a late internal push has seen the environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, regain a power to prevent consultation rules being watered down.

While the resources minister, Madeleine King, had labelled claims she was taking over environmental approvals a “conspiracy theory”, widespread opposition from the Greens, the crossbench, First Nations activists and environmental groups spurred an informal Labor pro-climate group into action.

The relatively innocuous sounding offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage amendment (safety and other measures) bill sailed through Labor caucus on 13 February.

But buried in a bill ostensibly about worker safety were amendments stating that approved offshore gas projects would be taken to be compliant with environmental laws even if they wouldn’t otherwise be – an effective override.

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The bill’s explanatory memorandum said this is needed to “provide certainty to stakeholders” that existing approvals will “remain effective” in the event of changes to environmental laws.

The Greens were the first to raise the alarm, with their concerns backed by Indigenous activists and environmental groups who argue the bill responds to industry pressure to water down consultation requirements after two high-profile court cases.

Mardudhunera woman Raelene Cooper won her challenge against Woodside’s seismic blasting for the controversial $16.5bn Scarborough gas development due to inadequate consultation, and a Tiwi Islander challenge against Santos’s $5.8bn Barossa offshore gas project succeeded in 2022, slowing down the approval process.

Fears over the bill could be justified after the West Australian revealed Santos had warned King the offshore gas approvals regime was in a “dire” state a week after the federal court overturned Woodside’s approval.

King insists the bill itself does not change the process of assessments or water down environmental standards.

But when combined with her powers to change the consultation requirements and the fact offshore gas approvals are not in the environment minister’s portfolio, it’s easy to see how it could achieve just that.

The bill was expected to pass parliament with bipartisan support after the Coalition demanded clarification of consultation requirements to restart offshore gas investment as one of four demands to pass the petroleum resource rent tax.

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The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, insists clarifying consultation requirements and environmental approval changes are happening “for their own good reasons, not as a bargaining chip”.

On 29 February the bill was referred to a snap parliamentary inquiry, which held just one five-hour hearing, adding to crossbench fears the fix was in.

At the inquiry, the resources department explained that since 2014 projects only needed approval from the environment or resources department.

The bill “simply allows flexibility for improvements to the law without automatically introducing that burdensome and bureaucratic process” of requiring approval from both, according to Robert Jeremenko, the head of the industry and resources department’s oil and gas division.

The Senate economics committee reported back on Friday, with the Labor and Coalition majority recommending the bill pass. The Greens, David Pocock and Lidia Thorpe dissented.

Earlier in the week, the government pulled its own bill from the notice paper, a sign that behind the scenes things were a little more complicated.

The assistant health minister, Ged Kearney, Macnamara MP Josh Burns, Fremantle MP Josh Wilson and other Northern Territory and Victoria-based MPs lobbied internally for changes.

The Labor Environment Action Network wrote to the government on Friday, saying it was “deeply concerned” the bill would “create parallel and divergent environmental assessment and approval processes for offshore resource projects”.

King suggested she was open to amendments, as Plibersek pushed to prevent the override becoming a loophole that would exempt offshore gas from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC).

Amendments to be introduced this week reinsert a power of veto for Plibersek, through a requirement that both the resources minister and then the environment minister must be satisfied that any changes to consultation rules comply with the ecologically sustainable development principles in the EPBC Act.

The government will also add a 12-month sunset clause to the EPBC override, by which time Plibersek’s EPBC reforms should be done. This should prevent a future Coalition government further streamlining offshore gas approval consultation.

The bill is listed in the House early this week, and in the Senate on Wednesday, allowing it to be passed by Easter.

Despite the marginal improvement that will need two ministers to change consultation requirements, this is still a Labor bill designed to streamline approval for offshore gas and more likely to pass with Coalition votes than the crossbench.

On Thursday Pocock said he is concerned when it comes to climate action that “rather than working with the crossbench the Australian people delivered, Labor seems to want to do a deal with the Coalition, who were voted out” on the basis of climate “inaction”.

“The crossbench stands ready to act in the best interests of Australians, not the best interests of the fossil fuel industry.

“We know … it’s played an important part in our economy but it’s time to transition out of [fossil fuels]. We’re not seeing that – [it’s] really worrying.”

The Albanese government seems determined to govern from the political centre. And on issues like political donations, religious discrimination and offshore gas consultation, it now seems that amounts to seeking opposition support rather than crossbench deals or amendments.

Labor MPs will have to have their wits about them about what they’re being asked to rubber stamp through parliament.

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‘Lost its human touch’: Australians ending up in court over missed strata fees in cost-of-living crisis

Homeowners are facing legal action and bankruptcy, sometimes after just one missed payment, as strata managers increasingly use litigation as a first resort

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As Oliver packs up his Melbourne home of 16 years, he wishes the managers of his strata property had checked in with him before things became so bad that he needed to sell. In 2018, Oliver – who asked not to use his real name – lost his job and fell behind on his strata levies, the regular payments made to upkeep common facilities like roofs, stairwells, lifts and gardens. Then the managers took legal action, meaning he had to pay legal fees on top of his strata payment debt.

Now he’s facing forced bankruptcy after the strata managers filed a claim against him.

Oliver is among a growing number of homeowners falling behind on strata fees as they battle the cost-of-living crisis and rising mortgage repayments. But many of these homeowners are finding themselves caught up in legal action – leaving some with a bigger total bill than their original debt.

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Unlike a freestanding house, where homeowners can skip maintenance work, there is a statutory obligation for common property in strata homes to be maintained and repaired. This means everyone in the building chipping in via regular levies – and sometimes special levies to cover unplanned repairs.

Managers can take legal action against homeowners who haven’t made their strata payment by a certain period and the cost of the legal action is often added to the person’s debt. Once unpaid strata fees reach $10,000, managers are able to take bankruptcy claims against homeowners.

Figures collated from the federal court by Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) show there have been 126 filings for forced bankruptcies related to strata debt in 2023-24 as of mid-March.

It already exceeds the 116 forced bankruptcies filed for the previous financial year – and in Victoria, where Oliver lives, the figure has already doubled to 31.

*2023-24 figures are from 1 July to 22 March
Source: Financial Counselling Australia

About 16% of Australians lived in strata-titled properties as of last year, a number projected to increase as more apartments are built in response to the housing crisis. In NSW, almost 3 million people are expected to live in strata properties by 2040.

Samantha Reece, the CEO of the Australian Apartment Advocacy group, says cost-of-living pressures, rising strata fees due to increasing insurance and maintenance, rising mortgage repayments and growing maintenance costs are behind the issue.

Homeowners can face exorbitant “special levies” – payments to pay for maintenance costs such as replacing the roof – on top of regular strata levies.

“[Rising strata fees are] a real problem for those [who] are on fixed incomes and haven’t budgeted for this, and have chosen [a strata property] as an affordable option,” says Reece.

“It’s really lost its human touch. Rather than knocking on people’s doors or sitting down for a coffee to ask what’s going on, they’re just handed a legal notice.”

Why more people are falling behind

After forced bankruptcy was filed against him, Oliver decided to sell the home where he and his 17-year-old son live. He estimates his total debt may now reach $22,000 with legal costs and interest added on top of the original $10,000 strata debt.

Gary Bugden, a Queensland-based internationally recognised expert in strata law, says this is not uncommon.

He found that in 10 bankruptcy proceedings for levy recovery in Queensland in recent years, the amount of debt recovery costs exceeded the amount of the original strata debt. In six of those cases, the legal costs were close to double the amount of strata debt being recovered.

The laws around strata vary from state to state, but Bugden says in Queensland and New South Wales they are the least compassionate when it comes to debt recovery.

Both states allow body corporates to recover the entire cost of bankruptcy proceedings against a person who has fallen behind in their strata fees.

“In NSW and Queensland you’re getting this buildup of costs much quicker [than] in other jurisdictions where recovery costs are more strictly regulated,” Bugden says. “There’s not a lot of incentive for a body corporate or a law firm that’s geared up to do the recovery work to be conscious of cost.

“There’s no inquiry in a lot of cases just to ask why somebody’s not paying their levies, and I think that’s wrong.”

The issue extends beyond just forced bankruptcies. Advocates say they’re seeing body corporates and strata managers increasingly taking legal action as a first resort rather than the last where an owner has missed just one payment.

In NSW, a notice of recovery action can be filed in court 21 days after a missed payment, while in Victoria a notice can be filed after 28 days. In other states and territories there is no limit, says the FCA advocacy lead, Lody Stewart.

Stewart says they frequently see NSW strata managers applying debt recovery costs without a court order – a contravention of the law.

“We’re seeing more and more instances where managing agents, rather than just sending a reminder notice to say they’ve missed a payment, flick it to a legal firm,” she says.

Stewart says one man who lives in a strata-titled property came to FCA for support after the owners required a special $1,500 levy to cover maintenance costs. The Sydneysider, who lives on the age pension, had successfully set up a four-instalment payment plan with the managers, but accidentally missed one payment.

“As soon as he became aware he missed it, he made the payment but in that period of time the strata manager had already added an undefined recovery cost to his ledger without any court order or tribunal orders,” she says. “It made his difficulty paying his special levy even worse.”

Negotiating payment plans is also an issue. In one instance, Stewart says, a 25-year-old who lives in NSW attempted to negotiate a payment plan four times with the strata manager after she lost her job due to a medical condition.

The manager refused each time, then initiated legal action in the local court, which ultimately sided with the resident’s request to set up a payment plan.

“Between the time of them refusing the payment plan and her applying to pay by instalments to the court, [the strata managers] had added a significant amount of interest in legal expenses to her ledger, which further deepened her debt cycle,” Stewart says.

She says FCA has long focused its efforts on supporting and educating people in NSW, where the problem is most acute due to the number of strata properties and the lack of protection.

The NSW strata and property services commissioner, John Minns, has flagged reform seeking to reduce bankruptcy risk and improve financial certainty in strata schemes.

“This will include addressing potentially harmful practices in the recovery of levy arrears,” he says. “This is a complex but critical issue which we are committed to ensuring can be balanced for all parties.”

But Stewart says reform is needed across Australia as the problem grows in other parts of the country and more homeowners turn to strata-titled properties.

“This problem is not going away,” she says.

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Israel will no longer approve Unrwa food aid to northern Gaza, agency says

Head of agency says military authorities told UN that convoys will no longer be approved amid ‘man-made famine’

Israel has reportedly barred the UN agency for Palestinian refugees from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest, the head of Unrwa has said.

“Despite the tragedy unfolding under our watch, the Israeli Authorities informed the UN that they will no longer approve any @Unrwa food convoys to the north,” Philippe Lazzarini said on X.

“This is outrageous & makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man made famine.”

Israel did not immediately respond on Sunday to AFP’s request for comment about Lazzarini’s statement. The Unrwa spokesperson, Juliette Touma, said the decision had been relayed in a meeting with Israeli military officials on Sunday. It followed two denials in writing for convoy deliveries to the north last week.

No reason for the decision was given, Touma said.

Gaza faces dire humanitarian conditions as a result of Israel’s war against Hamas that began nearly six months ago, triggered by Hamas’s deadly attack on southern Israel on 7 October.

Last week a UN-backed food security assessment warned that famine was projected to hit the north of Gaza by May unless there was urgent intervention. Unrwa has not been able to deliver food to the north since 29 January, Touma said.

“The latest decision is another nail in the coffin” for efforts to get desperately needed aid to Gazans reeling from war, Touma said.

Martin Griffiths, head of the UN humanitarian coordination office, said on X on Sunday that Unrwa was the “beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza”.

He added: “The decision to block its food convoys to the north only pushes thousands closer to famine. It must be revoked.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said that blocking Unrwa aid deliveries was “denying starving people the ability to survive”.

Earlier on Sunday, the UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, urged an end to the “non-stop nightmare” endured by Gaza’s 2.4 million people in the territory’s worst-ever war.

Israel has accused Unrwa staff members of participating in the 7 October attack and called the agency “a front for Hamas”.

Touma said Israeli authorities on Sunday also rejected a UN request to send a team to Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza, where fighting has flared for almost a week, “to evacuate people who are injured”.

The 7 October attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.

Israel’s military campaign to eliminate Hamas has killed at least 32,226 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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Israel will no longer approve Unrwa food aid to northern Gaza, agency says

Head of agency says military authorities told UN that convoys will no longer be approved amid ‘man-made famine’

Israel has reportedly barred the UN agency for Palestinian refugees from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest, the head of Unrwa has said.

“Despite the tragedy unfolding under our watch, the Israeli Authorities informed the UN that they will no longer approve any @Unrwa food convoys to the north,” Philippe Lazzarini said on X.

“This is outrageous & makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man made famine.”

Israel did not immediately respond on Sunday to AFP’s request for comment about Lazzarini’s statement. The Unrwa spokesperson, Juliette Touma, said the decision had been relayed in a meeting with Israeli military officials on Sunday. It followed two denials in writing for convoy deliveries to the north last week.

No reason for the decision was given, Touma said.

Gaza faces dire humanitarian conditions as a result of Israel’s war against Hamas that began nearly six months ago, triggered by Hamas’s deadly attack on southern Israel on 7 October.

Last week a UN-backed food security assessment warned that famine was projected to hit the north of Gaza by May unless there was urgent intervention. Unrwa has not been able to deliver food to the north since 29 January, Touma said.

“The latest decision is another nail in the coffin” for efforts to get desperately needed aid to Gazans reeling from war, Touma said.

Martin Griffiths, head of the UN humanitarian coordination office, said on X on Sunday that Unrwa was the “beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza”.

He added: “The decision to block its food convoys to the north only pushes thousands closer to famine. It must be revoked.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said that blocking Unrwa aid deliveries was “denying starving people the ability to survive”.

Earlier on Sunday, the UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, urged an end to the “non-stop nightmare” endured by Gaza’s 2.4 million people in the territory’s worst-ever war.

Israel has accused Unrwa staff members of participating in the 7 October attack and called the agency “a front for Hamas”.

Touma said Israeli authorities on Sunday also rejected a UN request to send a team to Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza, where fighting has flared for almost a week, “to evacuate people who are injured”.

The 7 October attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.

Israel’s military campaign to eliminate Hamas has killed at least 32,226 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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Tasmanian sport on the rise as Jackjumpers edge towards NBL title after last-gasp drama

  • Jack McVeigh nails ‘incredible’ three-pointer with seconds left
  • Another win on Thursday will crown JackJumpers champions

Tasmania is beginning to flex its muscles as Australian sport’s unlikeliest emerging power after the JackJumpers upset Melbourne United with a dramatic last-gasp shot from longe-range to close to within one win of their first National Basketball League title.

The result follows last week’s launch of the Tasmania Devils AFL side, which has attracted more than 150,000 foundation members.

In Melbourne on Sunday, JackJumpers forward Jack McVeigh hit a deep three-pointer in the dying seconds to secure game three of the best-of-five NBL finals series 93-91. The NBL’s official website labelled it “one of the most incredible finishes ever in a basketball game”.

The result means the Tasmanian upstarts – who have reached the finals in two of the first three years in the competition – can secure a first-ever NBL title with a win at home on Thursday.

JackJumpers coach Scott Roth played down McVeigh’s shot, but talked up its significance, after the game.

“If we happen to somehow or another win a championship, they’ll talk about it [for a long time],” he said. “But right now it’s just another half-court shot that went in.”

The JackJumpers club is still in start-up mode, and has not yet been sold by NBL owner Larry Kestelman.

But the side is set to deliver a windfall for Kestelman. His recent divestment from Melbourne United valued that club at $40m.

The Hobart franchise is unlikely to attract the same investment as one of the league’s marquee clubs, but the JackJumpers have quickly developed a passionate following.

Regular sell-outs suggest they have already outgrown the 4,300-seat MyState Bank Arena in Hobart.

The arrival of the AFL side, which is slated to play its first match in 2028, is seen to enhance rather than threaten the JackJumpers’ success.

The NBL season runs over summer, complementing the winter AFL season. JackJumpers chief executive Christine Finnegan warmly welcomed the Devils last week.

“We certainly see the Devils as complementary to the JackJumpers and the NBL and are delighted that Tasmanians will have elite sporting content across the state, year-round” she said.

“Sport gives people a place to belong, an outlet for escapism and ultimately a tangible sense of community.”

The stunning response to the Devils’ membership drive has been attributed to the long period of exclusion of a Tasmanian presence in national sporting competition.

Executive director of the Devils, Kath McCann, said while the ultimate count of members – now more than 150,000 – was a surprise, the club suspected it would drive strong support during its consultation period run over the summer.

“We had a very strong sense around the level of support for the club, that we deserve a place on the national stage,” she said.

If Melbourne United can defeat the JackJumpers in Hobart on Thursday, the finals series concludes with the deciding match in Melbourne on Sunday.

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Olivia Colman says she would be paid more if she was a man

Oscar-winning actor says gender pay disparity rooted in outdated idea that male actors draw audiences

Olivia Colman has criticised gender pay disparity in the film industry and said she would be paid more if she was a man, arguing that it is rooted in an outdated idea that male actors draw in the audience.

Speaking about her latest movie, Wicked Little Letters, the Oscar-winning actor said that gender limits her earning potential. “Research suggests that [women have] always been big box office draws,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour programme.

“Don’t get me started on the pay disparity but male actors get paid more because they used to say they draw in the audiences and actually, that hasn’t been true for decades. But they still like to use that as a reason to not pay women as much.

“I’m very aware that if I was Oliver Colman, I’d be earning a fuck of a lot more than I am,” Colman added. “I know of one pay disparity which is a 12,000% difference. Do the maths.”

She did not confirm the production to which this disparity relates.

It is not the first time Colman has pointed out a gender disparity when promoting Wicked Little Letters.

Speaking to the Radio Times last month, Colman pointed out that there’s still a gendered double standard when it comes to obscenities.

“If a woman swears, people act shocked. Fuck off! Women are human – funny, filthy, loving, caring – just like men.”

Wicked Little Letters tells the true story of the Littlehampton poison-pen scandal of 1923, with Colman playing the role of the prim-and-proper Edith Swan.

It is the latest cinematic outing for the actor who is also known for playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown and The Favourite, where she stars as the 18th-century monarch Anne.

Colman won the best actress Oscar for her work in The Favourite. She received a second nomination for the same gong in 2022 for her role in The Lost Daughter alongside Wicked Little Letters co-star Jessie Buckley. Colman was also given an actress in a supporting role nomination for The Father in 2021.

This month, Forbes named Adam Sandler as the highest paid actor of 2023 after he raked in $73m (£57.3m) after the success of his 2023 Netflix film Murder Mystery 2 and his standup comedy tour.

Margot Robbie was the second highest earner, achieving $59m after her starring role in the blockbuster Barbie film, which she also produced, but the only other woman to place in the top 10 was Jennifer Aniston, who was Sandler’s co-star in the comedy.

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Details of millions of UK voters accessed by Chinese state, ministers will say

Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden to update MPs on cyber-attacks by Beijing, some of whom may also have been targets

The personal details of millions of voters are believed to have been accessed in an attack by China on Britain’s democratic process, ministers will say.

MPs and peers are thought to be among 43 people who the government looks set to confirm have been targeted by cyber-attacks backed by the Chinese state. The UK could impose sanctions on individuals believed to be involved in these acts of state-backed interference, one of which was a separate attack on the Electoral Commission in which Beijing accessed the personal details of about 40 million voters.

Ministers will set out full details on Monday, with the deputy prime minister, Oliver Dowden, expected to tell parliament that Beijing is behind this wave of cyber-attacks.

With the UK under pressure to respond, multiple reports suggested that sanctions against individuals thought to be connected with the alleged activity are under strong consideration.

A small group of politicians who are hawkish on China are said to have been called to a briefing by parliament’s director of security, Alison Giles, in relation to the activity.

They include former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former minister Tim Loughton, the crossbench peer Lord Alton and the SNP MP Stewart McDonald, the Times reported.

The four are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac) pressure group, which focuses on issues involving the increasingly assertive Asian power.

Some of those affected are understood to be preparing to jointly address the matter publicly on Monday. A government spokesperson refused to comment on Sunday.

At an Ipac meeting on Friday, Luke de Pulford, its executive director, said: “About a year ago the Belgian and French foreign ministries publicly confirmed [Chinese state] sponsored cyber-attacks against our members.

“Other countries have done the same privately. Beijing has made no secret of their desire to attack foreign politicians who dare to stand up to them.”

Earlier this month a US army intelligence analyst was arrested and charged with conspiring to sell sensitive defence information to China.

Meanwhile, reforms of UK spying laws continue to make their way through parliament, with the investigatory powers (amendment) bill also in the Commons on Monday.

The legislation, designed to ensure the UK’s investigatory powers framework remains adequate in the face of evolving threats, includes measures to make it easier for agencies to examine and retain bulk datasets.

If passed, it will update elements of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 found to require a refresh by a statutory review published by the Home Office in February 2023.

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Speculation about Princess of Wales was worst I’ve seen, says former adviser

Paddy Harverson said rumours had fed ‘permanent doom loop’ before Catherine’s cancer announcement

  • What we know about the Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis

The pressure and speculation about the Princess of Wales’s health before she disclosed her cancer diagnosis was “the worst I’ve ever seen”, one of her former advisers has said.

Catherine, 42, said in a video message on Friday that she was having “preventative chemotherapy” after major abdominal surgery in January.

The statement followed weeks of frenzied rumour and conspiracy theory on both social media and in traditional media outlets.

Paddy Harverson, who was previously the official spokesperson of Kate and her husband, the Prince of Wales, said the speculation had reached new levels before Friday’s announcement, which has prompted a global outpouring of support.

Appearing on BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, Harverson was asked whether social media or the mainstream media bore most responsibility for the pressure on Catherine.

He said: “Well, it feeds off itself … It’s a sort of permanent doom loop. And it’s the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Harverson, who was also communication secretary to the king when he was the Prince of Wales, said he believed the royal family would have chosen to make the announcement in the same way even without the pressure.

“I’m absolutely convinced that if we hadn’t had all the madness and social media, if we hadn’t had the Mother’s Day photo mistake, they would have still done it like this,” he said. “They would have still waited till this last Friday when the schools are breaking up to make the announcement.”

Catherine and William said on Sunday they had been “enormously touched” by the outpouring of support from all over the world.

Harverson denied that the institution had been left “fragile” now that King Charles III and Catherine were receiving cancer treatment. “We just have to come to terms with the new reality, there’s fewer of them,” he said.

“So, everyone just needs to sort of understand that they will still be busy, they will get over this. I am highly confident that the king, who I know well, is incredibly strong, very resilient, a great spiritual person, so I know he’ll get through it.

“Likewise with the princess, with Kate, I think once they’re through this sticky patch, I think we’ll get back to normal. I think the nation just needs to adjust, and the media, and everyone who follows this, to a smaller family but still very busy doing what they do in their own way.”

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, on Sunday praised Catherine and the king. He also told Laura Kuenssberg: “My thoughts are also with the Princess of Wales and the king, and how much I think we all admire their incredible stoicism.”

Anneliese Dodds, the Labour party chair, said she felt a “huge amount of sympathy” for the princess while watching her announce her cancer diagnosis on Friday evening.

Rumours online about the princess intensified after William cancelled at short notice his appearance at a memorial service for his godfather, the late King Constantine of Greece, on 27 February.

It is now understood the prince’s decision not to attend was related to his wife’s condition but it is not known when the princess was told about the cancer.

Further speculation was triggered after the princess admitted to “editing” her official Mother’s Day photograph, which had irregularities.

In a further development, an investigation was launched by the UK’s privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, into allegations there were attempts to access Kate’s private medical records at the London Clinic, where she had her surgery.

It is not known how long Catherine will be receiving treatment but it is understood she may be keen to attend events as and when she feels able to, in line with medical advice, although this will not indicate a return to full-time duties.

William will continue to balance his official duties with caring for the family as he has done since her operation. He is due to return to public duties after his children return to school after the Easter break.

He and his wife will not attend the royal family’s traditional Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which the king is hoping to go to with the Queen if his health allows.

It is not likely to be a large family gathering or service, according to The Telegraph, as the king has paused public-facing royal duties.

Charles has been receiving treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer since early February after he was treated for an enlarged prostate at the same hospital where Kate had abdominal surgery.

The king’s nephew Peter Phillips said on Sunday that Charles was “frustrated” that his recovery was taking longer than “he would want it to”. He added that the king was in good spirits and was pushing his staff to be able to return to his duties after beginning treatment for cancer last month.

Phillips, the son of Princess Anne and Capt Mark Phillips, told Sky News Australia: “I think ultimately he’s hugely frustrated. He’s frustrated that he can’t get on and do everything that he wants to be able to do. But he is very pragmatic, he understands that there’s a period of time that he really needs to focus on himself.

“But at the same time he is always pushing his staff and everybody – his doctors and nurses – to be able to say: ‘Actually can I do this, can I do that?’”

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