The Guardian 2024-04-12 16:04:18


Childcare workers to get wage boost in budget as Australia battles staff shortages

Exclusive: Move is intended to prevent workers from leaving for other sectors, including aged care, where wages were recently increased

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The Albanese government is in the final stages of signing off on a boost to childcare workers wages as a centrepiece of next month’s budget.

Guardian Australia understands the budget razor gang, the expenditure review committee, has considered a number of proposals on the sector-wide wage increase, which would see the government cover a significant pay rise for early childcare educators.

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It is yet to sign off on the final proposal, but raising wages in the childcare sector has been identified as a priority as the government attempts to stem the flow of workers leaving the sector, including to work in aged care, where wages were recently increased.

The united workers union is using new multi-employer bargaining laws to seek a 25% pay rise through the Fair Work Commission, in line with the increase aged care workers received in what was considered a new benchmark for underpaid, mostly feminised industries.

The aged care decision saw workers receive a 15% increase upfront, with the total staggered over a number of years.

Childcare providers are not opposed to a pay increase, but want the government to fund it.

Education minister Jason Clare did not deny the budget proposal and said the bargaining process in the fair work commission was ongoing.

“There aren’t many jobs more important than what our early childhood educators and teachers do,” he said.

“We have changed the law to make it easier for childcare workers to get a pay rise.

“Unions and providers are using the laws we passed and we won’t pre-empt the outcome of any bargaining process.”

While the final childcare wage proposal is still being finalised, key consideration is being given to how to fund the wage increase without it being used to bolster centre profits, after much of the increased subsidy for parents was absorbed by higher fees.

The government’s plans for a boost to childcare workers is part of its push to have early childhood education considered a universal right for Australian children, which would see it treated in the same way as school or healthcare.

One of the remaining issues the ERC is considering is the fate of the activity test, which sets out how much subsidy a parent or carer can receive based on how many hours they work.

The government is still considering whether it scraps the test as part of its childcare budget package with a delayed implementation date.

Advocates, such as the chief executive of The Parenthood, Georgie Dent, said the activity test remained one of the biggest barriers to universality.

“In a universal system, a child’s entitlement to attend quality early childhood education and care should sit with the child, not the parent’s postcode, income or employment activity.

“In that regard, the activity test is counter to a universal system which is why we have been urging the government to remove this test. Everyone from the Productivity Commission to the ACCC to the women’s economic equality taskforce in successive reports have highlighted the flaws of this policy.”

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Many aged care workers may wait until 2026 for full pay increase as Albanese government requests phased implementation

Commonwealth requests Fair Work Commission phase in full 23% increase over two years to prevent workforce shortages elsewhere

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Aged care workers should wait until January 2026 for the full 23% pay rise ordered by the Fair Work Commission, according to the Albanese government.

The commonwealth has requested that the commission phase in the increase over two years, from January 2025 and 2026, to prevent “large one-off wage increases” that would add to workforce shortages elsewhere in the economy.

In a submission released on Friday the government said this was “fair and reasonable” for workers involved in direct care, given its fiscal strategy and that aged care workers received a 15% interim pay increase ordered in November 2022.

However, indirect workers – such as administrative workers, cleaners and those providing food services – could expect their smaller pay rises sooner, as the government accepted a January 2025 start date for these workers.

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In March the commission adopted a new benchmark pay rate of $1,223.90 a week – or $63,642.80 a year – for certificate III qualified employees in aged care.

“The total wage increase which will be produced by the adoption of this benchmark rate, inclusive of the interim increase, will be 23%,” the commission said.

The decision will trigger billions of dollars of investment in aged care, on top of the $11.3bn allocated over four years in the 2023 budget for the interim increase.

On Friday the government submitted that it would commit to fund 50% of the remaining pay increase for direct care workers in January 2025, and the remaining 50% in January 2026.

However, the commission could order the full pay rise sooner.

The January 2025 start date would be appropriate to ensure the wage increases are “correctly calculated” and regulations were in place, the government submitted.

With respect to the 12-month delay for the rest of the rise, the government submitted that “employment shortages are prevalent across the economy, including in sectors such as hospital nurses, disability carers and childcare workers who have substitutable skills with aged care workers”.

It cited statistics showing job vacancies in the healthcare and social assistance industry as at February 2024 were about 118% higher than February 2020 levels.

“The commonwealth considers it prudent to adopt a phased approach to the funding of large one-off wage increases, particularly where large wage increases may draw workers from other sectors of the economy that also face employment shortages,” it submitted.

The government also noted its “fiscal strategy, which is focused on improving the budget position in a measured way, consistent with the overarching goal of reducing gross debt as a share of the economy over time”.

Aged care workers and their unions launched the work value case in November 2020, seeking a 25% pay rise on the basis pay in sector was not an adequate “safety net” and that care work had been historically undervalued for gender-based reasons.

In March the Health Services Union secretary, Gerard Hayes, said the pay decision was “one of the best outcomes this union has ever achieved”.

Hayes said the pay rise would make “aged care competitive with the public health system”.

“Dignity matters when it comes to aged care. Older people will not be treated as commodities. They will be cared for in their older years.”

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‘Reclaiming the narrative’: Ballarat women call for end to violence as search for Samantha Murphy continues

Victorian city holds rally after Murphy, Hannah McGuire and Rebecca Young were allegedly killed in recent months

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Hours after police tramped out of the bushland where they hoped to find Samantha Murphy’s body, the sound of footsteps in the heart of Ballarat grew louder.

Gathering to march through the city’s streets in the Victorian central highlands on Friday evening, locals called for violence against women to stop.

The rally came a week after the body of Hannah McGuire was found in a burnt-out car in a nearby state forest, and within 48 hours of police launching a new and unsuccessful search for the body of Murphy, who was last seen by her family at their East Ballarat home in February. That same month, 42-year-old Rebecca Young was killed in a suspected murder-suicide by her partner, in the small Ballarat suburb of Sebastopol.

Scores of locals were expected to march from the Ballarat train station on Friday evening before gathering at nearby Camp Street to unite under candle light.

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Rally organiser Sissy Austin, who was allegedly bashed while running in the Lal Lal state forest last February, says local women hope to “reclaim what’s been taken from us”.

“Reclaiming the narrative of the town, reclaiming the streets and the bushlands that have become known as places where men’s violence has been perpetrated on women’s bodies,” she says.

“We’re feeling sadness, loss and shock, but there’s definitely a feeling of solidarity.”

Police and volunteers spent countless hours traipsing through the vast bushland surrounding the regional city searching for clues into Murphy’s disappearance. When police laid charges over Murphy’s death last month, they launched new efforts to find her body.

All of these searches have punctuated months of anguish for Murphy’s family, but the answers are yet to come.

The latest was launched on Thursday, in the Enfield state park, about 30km south of Ballarat. Announcing the search, police said it was “intelligence derived from a number of sources” that had led them to the area.

Six days earlier, and about 10km away from the search area, emergency services found McGuire’s body.

McGuire, a 23-year-old teacher’s aid, was the 18th woman to have allegedly been murdered in Australia this year, according to the research group, Counting Dead Women Australia. After Young and Murphy, she was Ballarat’s third woman allegedly killed in recent months.

A visibly emotional Mick Murphy, tells Channel Nine before Friday’s rallythat the loss of his wife has been hard.

“The march … just shows the respect that the community has … not only for Sam but for the other women that have lost their lives in this last few weeks,” he says.

Austin, whose alleged attacker has never been found, says gendered violence must not be swept under the carpet.

“We’re determined to change the narrative of our town. We’re also being very clear that there is an issue of men’s violence both in our town, in the state and in the country,” she says.

Austin was allegedly brutally bashed by a man while running along a motorcycle track in the Lal Lal state forest, about 20km from where Murphy had planned to run, on 11 February 2023.

Patty Kinnersly, chief executive of Our Watch – the national body for preventing violence against women – says while there has been a succession of alleged murders in Ballarat, it is a crisis mirrored across Australia.

“We all have a role to play to contribute to preventing it. We know that means promoting respect and equality for women everywhere,” she says.

“Every person in the community needs to crack through our fear to have the conversation about respect for women.”

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Suno AI can generate power ballads about coffee – and jingles for the Guardian. But will it hurt musicians?

Plug in some prompts and the ‘ChatGPT for music’ whips up a song in seconds – if you don’t mind slightly silly lyrics

Heralded as the ChatGPT for music, Suno AI is the latest iteration of generative artificial intelligence to flood social feeds, wowing users with its (ahem) lyrical prowess.

Plug in the musical style you want, a genre and a prompt for lyrics and Suno can spit out a full song for you in a matter of seconds.

The business has been around for two years, formulated by a group of machine learning experts in Cambridge who struck an interest in audio, according to a profile in Rolling Stone last month.

From the outset, making silly songs is slightly addictive. The lyrics might seem shallow and soulless, but they’re also often hilarious.

Asked for a power ballad about a morning coffee, Suno came up with:

Coffee, you’re my fuel for the soul (oh-oh)
Without you, I’m feeling so cold (feeling so cold)
Coffee, you ignite my fire within
With each sip, a brand new day begins (oh-oh-oh)

When asked for a dance pop song about unrequited love, it spat out:

I’m watching you from the shadows of my mind
But you’ll never know the feelings I hide
In these neon dreams I’m lost in the night
But my heart keeps hoping – maybe one day you’ll be mine

And in response to a request for a jingle about Guardian Australia, it went with:

From the shores of Sydney to Darwin’s embrace
The stories we tell leave no room for disgrace
Investigative journalism, always on the go
Guardian Australia, letting truth flow

That’s what you get if you choose to have Suno generate the (often quite stilted) lyrics. If you want to put in slightly more effort, you can enter your own lyrics along with a genre and see what happens.

One prompt engineer last week tweeted a sad girl song using the text of the MIT software licence as the lyrics and it’s surprisingly catchy.

As you can see the quality of the song will vary, but you can refine it and create up to 10 songs a day on the free account (which can’t be used for commercial reasons). For $10 a month you can make up to 500 songs and also commercialise them by uploading them to services such as Spotify or Apple Music.

One of Suno’s co-founders, Mikey Shulman, told Rolling Stone that the aim of Suno is not to replace artists, but to make the app fun and democratise the creation of music by making it more accessible to others.

But it doesn’t take much to hear similarities to songs you know. While you can’t type in a specific artist’s name to create a song in their style, you can definitely steer towards it via your prompts.

The tool can reportedly identify when lyrics you want it to use are subject to copyright. The company’s terms of service say that permission must be sought if you plan to use copyrighted lyrics.

But the main point of contention with the tool is whether or not it was trained on copyrighted material. Guardian Australia asked Suno to clarify this but did not get a reply by deadline.

Ed Newton-Rex, a composer and the CEO of Fairly Trained, an organisation founded to license content provided with consent to companies that train AI, posted on X last week several examples where, without naming certain artists, songs resembling those by Eminem, Queen and others were generated by Suno AI.

Artists are already concerned about what the effect of AI-generated music will mean for their industry. Elvis Costello, REM, Billie Eilish, Katy Perry and Jon Bon Jovi signed an open letter last week calling for AI companies to pledge not to develop technology that undermines or replaces the roles of songwriters or artists.

According to the letter, they fear that AI trained on their work could be used to create massive quantities of AI-generated sound and images that could replace human work and dilute royalty pools.

One of Suno AI’s investors, Antonio Rodriguez, also told Rolling Stone that he invested in the company with the knowledge that record labels could sue. The company said it was in communication with the major labels and sought to respect the work of artists.

A dystopian outcome of a product like Suno would be music streaming sites becoming clogged up with AI songs that sound similar in style to artists already struggling to earn a living from those very same platforms.

Suno AI seems to be aware of this potential outcome, saying an inaudible watermark is embedded into each song it generates so AI music can be identified.

The next question is whether any of the music streamers will put a handbrake on AI-generated music. Spotify, at least so far, seems to be leaning towards allowing AI-generated music that does not directly rip-off artists.

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Rhetoric with no policy, vision with no detail: Dutton and Albanese have big gaps to fill

Karen Middleton

Labor’s green industry plan may prove a winner – when we know what it is – but the opposition leader got an inflammatory message across with little room for confusion

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One week, two leaders’ speeches and suddenly the nature of the next election contest is becoming clear.

One speech leaned on blistering rhetoric. The other signalled a major policy shift. In the first there was no policy, but no missing the message. The second contained a substantive change, but it was so wrapped in protective coating that it almost wasn’t there.

Peter Dutton gave the annual Tom Hughes oration at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday night. It’s the seventh iteration of an event created by the member for the northern Sydney seat of Berowra, Julian Leeser, to honour the Liberal party veteran who was the first MP for that federal electorate.

The location varies each year, as does the speaker, who usually selects the topic. This year, Leeser invited Dutton. Leeser’s office says the MP wanted the speech at the Opera House – the site of a pro-Palestinian protest two days after the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel – and focused on antisemitism and Australian values.

That was also the subject of an address Dutton had been due to give to the annual interfaith parliamentary breakfast on 16 November, which Leeser and other MPs and senators attended. Last-minute urgent talks on contentious deportation legislation, rushed into parliament after the high court ruled indefinite detention unlawful, kept Dutton away.

He sent his apologies and his defence spokesperson, Andrew Hastie, instead. Hastie read Dutton’s speech, top-and-tailing it with his own reflections, and conveyed his leader’s regrets. Delivered by proxy on a very busy Thursday morning, the speech received barely any media coverage.

Dutton re-ran it this week, updated, expanded, revved and relocated, guaranteeing that this time it caught public attention. Penny Wong’s comments about accelerating the path to Palestinian statehood were fodder for extra content.

In both versions of his speech, the opposition leader referred to tolerance, importing homeland hatreds, social cohesion, antisemitism and the Opera House protest. In that, he said, Australians could not recognise themselves or their country.

Both versions referred to “moral cowardice”, “moral ambiguity”, “moral equivalence” and a “moral fog”.

Both also said those who did not subscribe to the Australian way of life should leave, that violent non-citizens should have their visas cancelled and be deported, and that a future Dutton government would ensure this occurred. In the months between the two speeches, his Coalition blocked government legislation aimed at jailing those who refused to go.

In the November speech, Dutton called for leadership, including from government and law-enforcement. This week, he said both had failed.

Only in this week’s version did he compare the Opera House protest to the 1996 murder of 35 people at Port Arthur in Tasmania, a link he insists was about their “social significance” as moments requiring government action. That alone ensured the speech would not go unnoticed.

Dutton’s re-run address left little room for confusion as to how he will present himself to the electorate. It was a campaign speech designed to engage a range of specific cohorts and send a bigger message about himself, his opponent and leadership. Condemnation of immigration and education policy was supported by value statements, not policy specifics.

Filled with high-octane language (his shadow treasurer Angus Taylor called it a “clarion call”), the speech used the Gaza conflict to frame a values-and-identity pitch that focused on family, duty, country, law, liberty and freedom.

This despite the warning from Asio director general Mike Burgess, who provides Dutton with security briefings when required, that especially in relation to the Middle East conflict “words matter”, and Asio “has seen direct connections between inflamed language and inflamed community tensions”. The warning remains current.

On Thursday came a very different speech. Anthony Albanese’s address to the Queensland Media Club was billed as a roadmap to the election and beyond, to a second Labor term. The prime minister foreshadowed a major interventionist shift to subsidising green energy innovation and smart manufacturing, to speed up the transition from fossil fuels and facilitate new jobs for workers moving out of sunset industries.

Albanese’s speech contained extensive descriptions of why Australia had to change, how it must compete with other countries doing the same on a much bigger scale, and how this change would provide certainty, secure the future economy and drive the integration of economic and national security.

But nowhere did he say specifically what he is actually going to do. If the text had not been handed out in advance – and attempts made to explain it – the journalists in the room might well have struggled to figure out what he was revealing.

Its centrepiece was the creation of a Future Made in Australia Act to coordinate the measures he was hinting at. He could not say precisely what function the act would perform. Details to come in the budget.

It was a bit reminiscent of Kevin Rudd’s unveiling in March 2010 of a big shift in health policy. Having quietly shelved his plans for an emissions trading scheme – a move that deeply unsettled key colleagues and would become public soon after – Rudd unveiled a blueprint to take over hospital funding from the states.

The commonwealth would, he announced, become “the dominant funder” of hospitals. But he never managed to explain clearly how that would improve healthcare. About a month later, Julia Gillard replaced him.

The campaign paths that this week’s two speeches signposted currently do not intersect. One relies on activating anger, projecting strength versus weakness, conviction versus equivocation, clarity versus confusion. It says: what you see is what you get. Like it or not, at least you know.

The other is about the big picture, about policy vision, about securing the future and other important stuff. It’s about resetting the economy and grasping opportunity and strengthening the nation to guard against what may come. It excites the people engaged in it. Without a clearer, livelier explanation of what they are doing, and how and why it matters, it may not seem quite as exciting to those who will decide if it happens.

Eventually, these paths will converge. The opposition will need policy substance as well as cut-through commentary. And to get people engaged with its story, the government will need to tell it a lot straighter.

They both matter – words and ideas. But sometimes in politics, words can matter more.

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Rhetoric with no policy, vision with no detail: Dutton and Albanese have big gaps to fill

Karen Middleton

Labor’s green industry plan may prove a winner – when we know what it is – but the opposition leader got an inflammatory message across with little room for confusion

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

One week, two leaders’ speeches and suddenly the nature of the next election contest is becoming clear.

One speech leaned on blistering rhetoric. The other signalled a major policy shift. In the first there was no policy, but no missing the message. The second contained a substantive change, but it was so wrapped in protective coating that it almost wasn’t there.

Peter Dutton gave the annual Tom Hughes oration at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday night. It’s the seventh iteration of an event created by the member for the northern Sydney seat of Berowra, Julian Leeser, to honour the Liberal party veteran who was the first MP for that federal electorate.

The location varies each year, as does the speaker, who usually selects the topic. This year, Leeser invited Dutton. Leeser’s office says the MP wanted the speech at the Opera House – the site of a pro-Palestinian protest two days after the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel – and focused on antisemitism and Australian values.

That was also the subject of an address Dutton had been due to give to the annual interfaith parliamentary breakfast on 16 November, which Leeser and other MPs and senators attended. Last-minute urgent talks on contentious deportation legislation, rushed into parliament after the high court ruled indefinite detention unlawful, kept Dutton away.

He sent his apologies and his defence spokesperson, Andrew Hastie, instead. Hastie read Dutton’s speech, top-and-tailing it with his own reflections, and conveyed his leader’s regrets. Delivered by proxy on a very busy Thursday morning, the speech received barely any media coverage.

Dutton re-ran it this week, updated, expanded, revved and relocated, guaranteeing that this time it caught public attention. Penny Wong’s comments about accelerating the path to Palestinian statehood were fodder for extra content.

In both versions of his speech, the opposition leader referred to tolerance, importing homeland hatreds, social cohesion, antisemitism and the Opera House protest. In that, he said, Australians could not recognise themselves or their country.

Both versions referred to “moral cowardice”, “moral ambiguity”, “moral equivalence” and a “moral fog”.

Both also said those who did not subscribe to the Australian way of life should leave, that violent non-citizens should have their visas cancelled and be deported, and that a future Dutton government would ensure this occurred. In the months between the two speeches, his Coalition blocked government legislation aimed at jailing those who refused to go.

In the November speech, Dutton called for leadership, including from government and law-enforcement. This week, he said both had failed.

Only in this week’s version did he compare the Opera House protest to the 1996 murder of 35 people at Port Arthur in Tasmania, a link he insists was about their “social significance” as moments requiring government action. That alone ensured the speech would not go unnoticed.

Dutton’s re-run address left little room for confusion as to how he will present himself to the electorate. It was a campaign speech designed to engage a range of specific cohorts and send a bigger message about himself, his opponent and leadership. Condemnation of immigration and education policy was supported by value statements, not policy specifics.

Filled with high-octane language (his shadow treasurer Angus Taylor called it a “clarion call”), the speech used the Gaza conflict to frame a values-and-identity pitch that focused on family, duty, country, law, liberty and freedom.

This despite the warning from Asio director general Mike Burgess, who provides Dutton with security briefings when required, that especially in relation to the Middle East conflict “words matter”, and Asio “has seen direct connections between inflamed language and inflamed community tensions”. The warning remains current.

On Thursday came a very different speech. Anthony Albanese’s address to the Queensland Media Club was billed as a roadmap to the election and beyond, to a second Labor term. The prime minister foreshadowed a major interventionist shift to subsidising green energy innovation and smart manufacturing, to speed up the transition from fossil fuels and facilitate new jobs for workers moving out of sunset industries.

Albanese’s speech contained extensive descriptions of why Australia had to change, how it must compete with other countries doing the same on a much bigger scale, and how this change would provide certainty, secure the future economy and drive the integration of economic and national security.

But nowhere did he say specifically what he is actually going to do. If the text had not been handed out in advance – and attempts made to explain it – the journalists in the room might well have struggled to figure out what he was revealing.

Its centrepiece was the creation of a Future Made in Australia Act to coordinate the measures he was hinting at. He could not say precisely what function the act would perform. Details to come in the budget.

It was a bit reminiscent of Kevin Rudd’s unveiling in March 2010 of a big shift in health policy. Having quietly shelved his plans for an emissions trading scheme – a move that deeply unsettled key colleagues and would become public soon after – Rudd unveiled a blueprint to take over hospital funding from the states.

The commonwealth would, he announced, become “the dominant funder” of hospitals. But he never managed to explain clearly how that would improve healthcare. About a month later, Julia Gillard replaced him.

The campaign paths that this week’s two speeches signposted currently do not intersect. One relies on activating anger, projecting strength versus weakness, conviction versus equivocation, clarity versus confusion. It says: what you see is what you get. Like it or not, at least you know.

The other is about the big picture, about policy vision, about securing the future and other important stuff. It’s about resetting the economy and grasping opportunity and strengthening the nation to guard against what may come. It excites the people engaged in it. Without a clearer, livelier explanation of what they are doing, and how and why it matters, it may not seem quite as exciting to those who will decide if it happens.

Eventually, these paths will converge. The opposition will need policy substance as well as cut-through commentary. And to get people engaged with its story, the government will need to tell it a lot straighter.

They both matter – words and ideas. But sometimes in politics, words can matter more.

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‘Tone deaf’: Port Arthur survivor criticises Peter Dutton’s comparison of pro-Palestine protest to massacre

Tasmanians say opposition leader’s ‘cheap political shots’ undermine the healing process for those still heavily impacted by the event

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Peter Dutton’s comments comparing the 1996 mass murder of 35 people at Port Arthur to a pro-Palestine protest at the Sydney Opera House have been labelled “tone deaf” by a man who survived the horrific mass shooting.

The Liberal leader has faced a barrage of criticism from Labor, the Greens and even members of his own party after he used an address to the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday night to draw links between the social significance of Australia’s deadliest shooting massacre in recent history and pro-Palestine demonstrations last October.

“While no one was killed during the 9 October protests, the events at the Sydney Opera House were akin to a Port Arthur moment in terms of their social significance,” he said on Wednesday.

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Dutton refused to walk back the comments on Friday, saying he made the comparison to demonstrate Anthony Albanese’s “weak” leadership on antisemitism in the wake of the conflict in Gaza compared with that of former prime minister, John Howard, who brought in tougher gun laws after the tragedy at Port Arthur.

“That’s the parallel that I’m making – to the absolute absence of leadership from the prime minister at the moment, which has given rise to those in the Jewish community talking about feeling unsafe in our country,” Dutton told the Today show.

“I don’t resile from that at all.”

But those in Tasmania, where the impact of the violent event still lives on decades later, say Dutton’s comments evoked the event for the wrong reasons.

One man, who survived the shooting while working at the Port Arthur historic site on 28 April 1996 and was one of more than 50 to receive a bravery award, said the comparison – even with Dutton’s clarification – was “tone deaf”.

Almost 28 years later, the man – who asked not to be named to avoid receiving further harassment from online trolls – said: “Our trauma is never far from the surface. It just appears when you least expect it and to have a political representative, let alone a political leader, use this … as a cheap political shot – it’s damaging for people, incredibly damaging for survivors.

“It actually demeans that privileged position that somebody gets to hold and it does a great disservice to people who are trying to rebuild their lives. These reminders are just not helpful.

“Using this as a political point is actually taking a narrative away from survivors and their families. He’s actually taking away our story.”

Indie filmmaker, Neil Triffett, was eight when the massacre happened. While Triffett wasn’t at the historic site, he recalled hiding in his parents’ general store with customers from the area until the threat was gone.

Triffett said the massacre should be referenced in a “considered, useful way” and that he wasn’t sure Dutton had done that.

“To evoke the massacre to make a political point like this risks confusing both events,” he said.

“Survivors, of whom I’ve spoken to several in recent years, are a quiet, sensible bunch, and I imagine they would view Dutton’s statements mainly as a nuisance, an unnecessary intrusion in their lives. I know I do.”

Liberal frontbenchers raced to their leader’s defence on Friday with deputy Sussan Ley saying he was a “conviction politician who says what he means, not what he expects people to hear”.

“The point that Peter Dutton was making, there are pivotal and seminal moments in our nation’s history where leaders, where prime ministers need to stand up. We saw that in that time with John Howard and we changed the laws about guns in Australia forever,” she told Channel 7’s Sunrise show.

But Tasmanian premier, Jeremy Rockliff, said comparisons to the massacre were never appropriate.

“It is never appropriate to compare the Port Arthur tragedy with anything, in any circumstance. This is still raw for many Tasmanians and will be forever raw with those who are directly affected,” he told ABC radio.

“My view is we need to be very careful and never compare the Port Arthur tragedy to anything but the absolutely tragedy that it was.”

The Liberal MP for Bass, Bridget Archer, similarly condemned Dutton’s comments.

“[Dutton’s comments were] incredibly disrespectful to the victims and survivors of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history and a wholly inappropriate and somewhat bizarre comparison,” she said.

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Cars submerged and shopping centre roof collapses as severe storm hits Perth

About 50 calls to SES for assistance as ‘very localised’ storm reportedly dumped up to 130mm of rain in less than an hour

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Parts of Perth broke a six-month-long dry spell on Friday with a fierce storm and flash flooding that left people stranded in submerged cars and caused part of a shopping centre roof to collapse.

A spokesperson for WA’s emergency services said SES volunteers had been going “flat out” to help fire crews with rescues. There had been about 50 calls for assistance over the course of the afternoon.

“There were a number caught in their cars that needed to be rescued,” the spokesperson said.

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A video posted to social media showed a roof collapsed during the storm at a shopping centre in Perth. Ocean Keys Shopping Centre in Clarkson confirmed to the Guardian that it had experienced a roof collapse.

Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson Daniel Hayes said the official weather gauges only showed around 10-11mm had hit Perth during the storm.

However, he said the storm – which came with some hail – was “very localised” around Perth’s northern suburbs and the Bureau had received unofficial reports of up to 130mm falling in some parts.

“It was the first significant rainfall in those areas for probably a good six month period,” he said.

“I wouldn’t call it a freak storm, but it did develop quite quickly and unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast sometimes.”

Hayes said the deluge fell for between 30 and 60 minutes, but had since largely eased and the severe thunderstorm warnings had been cancelled.

Edoardo Paolucci, who lives in the Perth suburb of Clarkson, said the streets surrounding his parents’ home had flooded.

He said he had seen three cars submerged in the flood water that had been abandoned. One car still had the windscreen wipers on, he said.

“It’s still completely flooded, but the rain has slowly been letting up,” he said.

Paolucci said some had been making fun out of the flooded streets, with one duo kayaking past his parents’ house, and kids playing with paddle boards on the road.

“There’s dogs playing in the park that’s flooded,” he said.

Hayes said the deluge hit Perth before a weekend which will be mainly dry across the country.

“This weekend is largely dominated by high pressure ridge across some most of the country and that includes Western Australia,” he said.

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‘So it’s you. Here you are’: Salman Rushdie describes moment he was stabbed

In first interview since his stabbing, writer tells how knifeman was ‘last thing my right eye would ever see’

Salman Rushdie has said that his first thought upon seeing the man who would stab him on stage in August 2022 was: “So it’s you. Here you are.”

“It felt like something coming out of the distant past and trying to drag me back in time, if you like, back into that distant past, in order to kill me,” said the Indian-born British-American author of books including The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children.

Rushdie was about to give a talk at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state on 12 August 2022 when a man rushed on stage and stabbed him about 10 times.

“I was seated at stage right,” said Rushdie, reading from his forthcoming memoir about the attack, titled Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder. “Then, in the corner of my right eye – the last thing my right eye would ever see – I saw the man in black running toward me down the right-hand side of the seating area. Black clothes, black face mask. He was coming in hard and low. A squat missile.

“I confess, I had sometimes imagined my assassin rising up in some public forum or other, and coming for me in just this way. So my first thought when I saw this murderous shape rushing towards me was, ‘So it’s you. Here you are.’”

After the attack, Rushdie remained in hospital for six weeks. He lost vision in one eye and feeling in some fingertips. “One of the surgeons who had saved my life said to me, ‘First you were really unlucky and then you were really lucky’. I said, ‘What’s the lucky part?’ and he said ‘Well, the lucky part is that the man who attacked you had no idea how to kill a man with a knife’,” Rushdie told Anderson Cooper on CBS’s 60 Minutes in his first television interview since the attack (due to be broadcast in full on Sunday at 7pm Eastern US time, midnight BST).

The attack came 33 years after Iran’s then leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death in the aftermath of the publication of The Satanic Verses, which was deemed blasphemous.

The alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault. He has been held without bail since his arrest immediately after the attack.

In January, Matar’s trial was delayed because of the forthcoming memoir, which is due to be published on Tuesday. A lawyer representing Matar argued they were entitled to see the memoir and any related material before his client stood trial, as it would constitute evidence.

In June last year, Rushdie announced he was working on the memoir during a pre-recorded Zoom appearance at Hay festival. Knife, which is published by Penguin and runs to 224 pages, is the first book Rushdie has written since the attack. “This was a necessary book for me to write: a way to take charge of what happened, and to answer violence with art,” he said.

Rushdie’s latest novel, Victory City, was published in February 2023, though it was written before the attack. He previously published a memoir in 2012, titled Joseph Anton, about his time in hiding after the publication of The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie has written 15 novels and many works of nonfiction. He has been shortlisted for the Booker prize five times, winning the award in 1981 for Midnight’s Children. The book also won the Booker of Bookers in 1994 and the Best of the Booker in 2008, to mark the 25th and 40th anniversaries of the prize.

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Bruce Lehrmann case sends Seven, Nine and Ten into internecine TV warfare

Amanda Meade

The spats continue among Australia’s media outlets in the wake of the all-consuming defamation case

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It’s been open warfare in the media as the nation awaits a decision in the Bruce Lehrmann v Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson defamation case on Monday.

And we don’t mean the recent Ten v Seven drama in the federal court in which the network that aired The Project interview with Brittany Higgins introduced new evidence in their defence case accusing Seven of reimbursing Spotlight interviewee Lehrmann for drugs and sex workers.

Last week Justice Michael Lee allowed Ten to present the additional evidence delaying his judgment by a week and airing claims by a former Spotlight producer which put the program’s methods in securing the exclusive interview under the microscope. Seven denied the claims outright and Lehrmann’s lawyer challenged them in court.

This week saw Nine’s mastheads take the gloves off against its traditional television rival, Seven, in a series of sensational reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Nine alleged in a report that veteran Seven commercial director, Bruce McWilliam, had effectively forced the Herald to shelve a story in 2022 about the Sunrise program. He allegedly told the journalist her inquiries had led to the then-executive producer of the program, Michael Pell, self-harming and included a photograph of a bloodied Pell. Weekly Beast saw this photograph at the time and it is graphic.

McWilliam, who recently announced his retirement, is alleged to have said: “If you publish untrue allegations. And he tops himself. It’s on you … And we are determined to protect him.”

McWilliam told Weekly Beast he was surprised anyone had a problem with him sending the photo of Pell to a journalist as he was “protecting a colleague and friend”. He maintains he did not know the photo was old and he sent it on the day he got it.

“Firstly as I had a duty if he was in a fragile state and secondly because I felt the accusations were over the top,” he said.

The Herald and the Age published their 3,500-word investigation 18 months after the story was allegedly shelved, claiming that Pell had not self-harmed but had just fallen over some time earlier and cut his head.

When McWilliam responded on Wednesday by sending journalists at other organisations a lengthy text message by way of explanation, the mastheads published his entire message – complete with cheeky annotations. Brutal.

“I’m a friend of Janet Albertson (sic) [Albrechtsen, of The Australian] who I think is a great journalist and I’ve copied her on this reply,” was just one of the lines the report claimed McWilliam sent. “I was pretty amazed that Fairfax would go to the trouble of devoting more than 2 1/2 pages, including the front page in writing this it is obviously a pile on, but never mind I don’t take it personal.”

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So senior was McWilliam at Seven – where he has been Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes’ right-hand man for decades – it was his name on the federal court affidavit at the Lehrmann hearing last week.

In the affidavit McWilliam explained why the network had not handed over more documents in relation to the Spotlight interview when it was subpoenaed last year. He pointed the finger at the executive producer, Mark Llewellyn, alleging in the affidavit that he had been assured by Llewellyn that the team only spoke on the phone or in person with Lehrmann and that accordingly he believed there were no written communications between Spotlight and Lehrmann.

Spotlight on Spotlight

Late on Thursday reports emerged Mark Llewellyn had left the building and had hired John Laxon, an employment lawyer to manage his exit from Seven. Laxon, Llewellyn and Seven have been approached for comment.

Former Spotlight producers Taylor Auerbach and Steve Jackson both lost jobs as a result of the Lehrmann trial: the former at Sky News and the latter with the NSW Police.

Spotlight, it would appear, has survived all the bad press and lives on to present a program about Ozempic on Sunday night at 8.45pm: “Obesity is now a bigger problem than world hunger, but is Ozempic the miracle cure?”

On Monday at 10.15am Lee will hand down his decision on whether Ten has established, on the balance of probabilities, that Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins in then defence minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019. Lehrmann has consistently denied the allegation and maintains no sexual activity took place at all between the pair.

A parting shot

The Australian’s media section was not to be left out of this McWilliam drama. It claimed to have reproduced its own text messages from the veteran executive who is famous for sending pithy missives.

“‘Mate, you’re a piece of shit’: Bruce McWilliam unplugged in furious farewell,” was the claim in the headline.

In response to questions from Oz media editor James Madden, McWilliam allegedly said Madden was a joke and an idiot, adding “mate, you’re a piece of shit” for good measure.

The sobriquet McWilliam gave Madden in his text message to other journalists however, was “a flea journalist”. Madden did not include that insult in his piece.

Sky’s the limit

Chris Uhlmann, who retired about 18 months ago, has joined Sky News Australia and taken a swipe at the ABC along the way.

The former ABC and Nine political editor who helped launch the ABC’s 24-hour news channel in 2010 said he had a “brutal reality check on just how hard it is trying to keep pace with Sky” when he was on the ABC.

But it was just five years ago Uhlmann was on Nine’s Today show being highly critical of Sky’s methods and lack of influence outside Parliament House.

“One of the big forces in the United States was Fox News,” Uhlmann said. “And one of the big forces in this building – it doesn’t have much purchase beyond this building because it’s a cable network – is Sky News.

“And Sky After Dark has been running a campaign against [then PM] Malcolm Turnbull,” he said. “Sky After Dark at the moment is turning Liberal National party voters into One Nation voters and they’re not coming back.”

Peek Channel Seven

It might not be a good time to pull back the curtains at Channel Seven newsroom, but nonetheless an invitation went out this week to viewers for “an exclusive behind-the-scenes with your local news”.

“Get to know your local news team as we discover the passion, precision and credibility that goes into every broadcast in intimate Q&A sessions,” the invitation read.

Warfare is like a box of chocolates?

Meanwhile on Channel Nine, Today co-host Karl Stefanovic compared the situation in Gaza to a bar of chocolate in an interview with the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, which also included the phrases “poking a bear” and “much ado about zip”.

In a live cross on Channel Nine, Stefanovic asked Albanese: “But separating Hamas and a Palestinian state is like kind of separating the milk and the dark chocolate in the Cadbury Top Deck. I mean, it’s just about impossible, isn’t it?”

Albanese: “Well, that’s not right. That’s not right. When you look at the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank it is not run by Hamas.”

Oh look, it’s Bruce Lehrmann

There have been more than a few marginal stories published about the Lehrmann case. We bring you two examples of the genre: one from the Sydney Morning Herald and one from the Daily Telegraph this week.

“Clearly Bruce Lehrmann is not a man who lets looming legal judgments get in the way of a good time,” wrote editor-at-large Matthew Benns in a story about Lehrmann moving to North Sydney. The piece was accompanied by multiple paparazzo shots of the man of the moment and two women walking along the street in the rain.

“On the day Justice Michael Lee announced the new date for the judgment in Lehrmann’s defamation case the man in question decided to step out with two women,” the report said.

But it was this line that left us scratching our heads: “He allowed the ladies to protect themselves from the rain, one holding an umbrella while the other put a coat over her head”. What does Benns mean? That Lehrmann should have been holding the umbrella, like a gentleman?

The Herald also had a fresh angle on Lehrmann’s move to North Sydney, written by none other than the paper’s legendary chief investigative reporter, Kate McClymont. The front page story on Friday was “Lehrmann’s karaoke hits annoying chord”.

And it’s the story that had everything: a scandalous court case, alleged noise complaints, karaoke, a $4m-plus house and bonus slide show of real estate photos.

“Bruce Lehrmann and his mates have already angered their new neighbours, who have described them as “complete ferals” who belt out karaoke until all hours, including a rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You,” the report began. The report was number one on the SMH website site on Friday morning.

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Bruce Lehrmann case sends Seven, Nine and Ten into internecine TV warfare

Amanda Meade

The spats continue among Australia’s media outlets in the wake of the all-consuming defamation case

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

It’s been open warfare in the media as the nation awaits a decision in the Bruce Lehrmann v Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson defamation case on Monday.

And we don’t mean the recent Ten v Seven drama in the federal court in which the network that aired The Project interview with Brittany Higgins introduced new evidence in their defence case accusing Seven of reimbursing Spotlight interviewee Lehrmann for drugs and sex workers.

Last week Justice Michael Lee allowed Ten to present the additional evidence delaying his judgment by a week and airing claims by a former Spotlight producer which put the program’s methods in securing the exclusive interview under the microscope. Seven denied the claims outright and Lehrmann’s lawyer challenged them in court.

This week saw Nine’s mastheads take the gloves off against its traditional television rival, Seven, in a series of sensational reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Nine alleged in a report that veteran Seven commercial director, Bruce McWilliam, had effectively forced the Herald to shelve a story in 2022 about the Sunrise program. He allegedly told the journalist her inquiries had led to the then-executive producer of the program, Michael Pell, self-harming and included a photograph of a bloodied Pell. Weekly Beast saw this photograph at the time and it is graphic.

McWilliam, who recently announced his retirement, is alleged to have said: “If you publish untrue allegations. And he tops himself. It’s on you … And we are determined to protect him.”

McWilliam told Weekly Beast he was surprised anyone had a problem with him sending the photo of Pell to a journalist as he was “protecting a colleague and friend”. He maintains he did not know the photo was old and he sent it on the day he got it.

“Firstly as I had a duty if he was in a fragile state and secondly because I felt the accusations were over the top,” he said.

The Herald and the Age published their 3,500-word investigation 18 months after the story was allegedly shelved, claiming that Pell had not self-harmed but had just fallen over some time earlier and cut his head.

When McWilliam responded on Wednesday by sending journalists at other organisations a lengthy text message by way of explanation, the mastheads published his entire message – complete with cheeky annotations. Brutal.

“I’m a friend of Janet Albertson (sic) [Albrechtsen, of The Australian] who I think is a great journalist and I’ve copied her on this reply,” was just one of the lines the report claimed McWilliam sent. “I was pretty amazed that Fairfax would go to the trouble of devoting more than 2 1/2 pages, including the front page in writing this it is obviously a pile on, but never mind I don’t take it personal.”

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

So senior was McWilliam at Seven – where he has been Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes’ right-hand man for decades – it was his name on the federal court affidavit at the Lehrmann hearing last week.

In the affidavit McWilliam explained why the network had not handed over more documents in relation to the Spotlight interview when it was subpoenaed last year. He pointed the finger at the executive producer, Mark Llewellyn, alleging in the affidavit that he had been assured by Llewellyn that the team only spoke on the phone or in person with Lehrmann and that accordingly he believed there were no written communications between Spotlight and Lehrmann.

Spotlight on Spotlight

Late on Thursday reports emerged Mark Llewellyn had left the building and had hired John Laxon, an employment lawyer to manage his exit from Seven. Laxon, Llewellyn and Seven have been approached for comment.

Former Spotlight producers Taylor Auerbach and Steve Jackson both lost jobs as a result of the Lehrmann trial: the former at Sky News and the latter with the NSW Police.

Spotlight, it would appear, has survived all the bad press and lives on to present a program about Ozempic on Sunday night at 8.45pm: “Obesity is now a bigger problem than world hunger, but is Ozempic the miracle cure?”

On Monday at 10.15am Lee will hand down his decision on whether Ten has established, on the balance of probabilities, that Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins in then defence minister Linda Reynolds’ office in 2019. Lehrmann has consistently denied the allegation and maintains no sexual activity took place at all between the pair.

A parting shot

The Australian’s media section was not to be left out of this McWilliam drama. It claimed to have reproduced its own text messages from the veteran executive who is famous for sending pithy missives.

“‘Mate, you’re a piece of shit’: Bruce McWilliam unplugged in furious farewell,” was the claim in the headline.

In response to questions from Oz media editor James Madden, McWilliam allegedly said Madden was a joke and an idiot, adding “mate, you’re a piece of shit” for good measure.

The sobriquet McWilliam gave Madden in his text message to other journalists however, was “a flea journalist”. Madden did not include that insult in his piece.

Sky’s the limit

Chris Uhlmann, who retired about 18 months ago, has joined Sky News Australia and taken a swipe at the ABC along the way.

The former ABC and Nine political editor who helped launch the ABC’s 24-hour news channel in 2010 said he had a “brutal reality check on just how hard it is trying to keep pace with Sky” when he was on the ABC.

But it was just five years ago Uhlmann was on Nine’s Today show being highly critical of Sky’s methods and lack of influence outside Parliament House.

“One of the big forces in the United States was Fox News,” Uhlmann said. “And one of the big forces in this building – it doesn’t have much purchase beyond this building because it’s a cable network – is Sky News.

“And Sky After Dark has been running a campaign against [then PM] Malcolm Turnbull,” he said. “Sky After Dark at the moment is turning Liberal National party voters into One Nation voters and they’re not coming back.”

Peek Channel Seven

It might not be a good time to pull back the curtains at Channel Seven newsroom, but nonetheless an invitation went out this week to viewers for “an exclusive behind-the-scenes with your local news”.

“Get to know your local news team as we discover the passion, precision and credibility that goes into every broadcast in intimate Q&A sessions,” the invitation read.

Warfare is like a box of chocolates?

Meanwhile on Channel Nine, Today co-host Karl Stefanovic compared the situation in Gaza to a bar of chocolate in an interview with the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, which also included the phrases “poking a bear” and “much ado about zip”.

In a live cross on Channel Nine, Stefanovic asked Albanese: “But separating Hamas and a Palestinian state is like kind of separating the milk and the dark chocolate in the Cadbury Top Deck. I mean, it’s just about impossible, isn’t it?”

Albanese: “Well, that’s not right. That’s not right. When you look at the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank it is not run by Hamas.”

Oh look, it’s Bruce Lehrmann

There have been more than a few marginal stories published about the Lehrmann case. We bring you two examples of the genre: one from the Sydney Morning Herald and one from the Daily Telegraph this week.

“Clearly Bruce Lehrmann is not a man who lets looming legal judgments get in the way of a good time,” wrote editor-at-large Matthew Benns in a story about Lehrmann moving to North Sydney. The piece was accompanied by multiple paparazzo shots of the man of the moment and two women walking along the street in the rain.

“On the day Justice Michael Lee announced the new date for the judgment in Lehrmann’s defamation case the man in question decided to step out with two women,” the report said.

But it was this line that left us scratching our heads: “He allowed the ladies to protect themselves from the rain, one holding an umbrella while the other put a coat over her head”. What does Benns mean? That Lehrmann should have been holding the umbrella, like a gentleman?

The Herald also had a fresh angle on Lehrmann’s move to North Sydney, written by none other than the paper’s legendary chief investigative reporter, Kate McClymont. The front page story on Friday was “Lehrmann’s karaoke hits annoying chord”.

And it’s the story that had everything: a scandalous court case, alleged noise complaints, karaoke, a $4m-plus house and bonus slide show of real estate photos.

“Bruce Lehrmann and his mates have already angered their new neighbours, who have described them as “complete ferals” who belt out karaoke until all hours, including a rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You,” the report began. The report was number one on the SMH website site on Friday morning.

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Labor accused of throwing school refusal in ‘too-hard basket’ after response to inquiry

Education minister says issue is ‘complex’ as federal government agrees or supports in principle just two of 14 proposals

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The federal government has come under fire for refusing to implement recommendations to front a national action plan or offer peer support funding to reverse the national trend of school refusal.

On Thursday evening, the federal government provided its response to a Senate inquiry into the issue, agreeing or supporting in principle just two of its 14 proposals.

They included tasking the Australian Education Research Organisation (Aero) with analysing the drivers of school refusal and effectiveness of interventions, and working with governments to embed school refusal training in teaching courses.

The education minister, Jason Clare, said school refusal was “complex” and there was “a lot more to do” to reverse a decade of decline in attendance across all demographics.

But the Greens, who initiated the inquiry last October, said Labor had squibbed its response to the crisis, urging education ministers to put action at the top of the agenda at the next national meeting.

The report tabled eight months ago recommended a string of measures, including granting school students improved access to mental health care and providing more funding to parent support groups to address the “alarming rate” of low school attendance.

It also recommended improving child health screening for early intervention and improving trauma-informed practices in schools.

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The Greens spokesperson on primary and secondary education, senator Penny Allman-Payne, said parents, carers and advocates had been “crying out for help” for years.

“This is a national issue that requires a national response and Labor has thrown it in the too-hard basket,” she said.

“Families experiencing ‘school can’t’ [school refusal] aren’t able to access appropriate support … and their physical health, mental health and financial wellbeing suffer as a result.

“The inquiry’s report recommended a range of very basic measures to begin to address this issue … but Labor’s response will leave those families without much hope.”

Founding board member of School Can’t Australia Tiffany Westphal said the commonwealth’s failure to prioritise immediate funding for peer support left families unsupported and “children at risk”.

Acara data released last year found about 40% of young people were deemed “chronically absent” according to benchmarks on attendance.

“Instead of taking the lead on what is a significant issue nationally, the government has hand-balled most of the responsibility back to the states,” Westphal said.

“We’ve just waited eight months for a response and will now have to wait longer.”

School Can’t Australia currently has more than 11,000 members, receiving about 20 applications a day from distressed parents and carers, and is using crowdfunding to cover basic expenses.

“There is not a single parent or carer in our group who doesn’t wish their child was able to attend school,” Westphal said.

“Research efforts need to be directed towards identifying stressors and barriers to attendance.”

An associate professor in learning interventions at the University of Melbourne, Prof Lisa McKay-Brown, said she was “disappointed” by the commonwealth’s response. The inquiry received almost 200 submissions, many of them from parents.

“I understand education is the purview of states and territories but this response is a lost opportunity,” she said.

“I hoped I would see leadership from the federal government … particularly the recommendation around a national action plan.

“Traditional models of schooling aren’t working for everybody, and devolving to home schooling or distance education is not going to solve the problem either. But we need to understand what the problems are – we don’t at the moment.”

The president and executive director of the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association (Aspa), Andy Milson, said the report’s recommendations were “sensible” but may place additional pressure on an already under-resourced sector.

“Baseline data on the scale of the issue would be useful – but what jumps out at me is the overwhelming burden carried by schools responding to these issues,” he said.

“There’s the expectation schools will make more room to come up with flexible models for schooling – and this expectation is one of reasons we have a teacher shortage and really high levels of burnout and stress.”

Milson said “schools couldn’t take on more and do it alone”, backing additional collaboration with the health sector in favour of developing additional professional learning resources for teachers.

“We can’t keep overburdening schools,” he said. “Resource us properly and we’ll be happy to lead.”

Clare said the next National School Reform Agreement (NSRA), due at the end of 2024, would look at funding measures such as catchup tutoring to boost enrolments.

“The next NSRA is about making sure we properly fund our schools and tie that funding to the sort of reforms that will improve student outcomes,” he said.

“If you understand what’s happening in class, you are more likely to want to be in class.”

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Ronald Goldman’s family says there is no closure from OJ Simpson’s death

Family of man killed alongside Nicole Brown Simpson says ‘the hope for true accountability has ended’ with OJ Simpson’s death

OJ Simpson’s death did not bring closure to the family of Ronald Goldman, who was killed alongside Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson in Los Angeles in 1994.

“The only thing that is important today are the victims, and it’s just a reminder for myself and my family that Ron has been gone all these years – and that we continue to miss him, all these years,” Fred Goldman, Ron’s father, told the Daily Beast. He also said “there’s no such thing” as closure for him.

While Simpson was acquitted of the double murder in 1995, he was later found liable for the murders in a civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5m. Goldman’s family still hold him responsible for the killings.

In a statement, Goldman and his daughter Kim said Simpson’s death from prostate cancer at age 76 meant “the hope for true accountability has ended”.

“The news of Ron’s killer passing away is a mixed bag of complicated emotions and reminds us that the journey through grief is not linear,” they said. “The money is not the issue, it never has been,” Fred Goldman said. “It’s making certain that one man, the man who murdered my son and Nicole, is held responsible by a court of law.”

Gloria Allred, who represented Brown’s family during the murder trial, also said she “doesn’t mourn” Simpson’s death.

“I feel that the system failed Nicole Brown Simpson and failed battered women everywhere,” she said on an ABC News telecast in New York. “In the civil case which followed, he was found liable, responsible for her wrongful death. So, it’s fair to call him a killer. In any event, I don’t mourn for OJ Simpson. I do mourn for Nicole Brown Simpson and her family. They should be remembered. The system failed.”

Simpson’s death could make it somewhat easier for their families to collect on the judgment, since the administrator of an estate may be more willing to pay out debts than the original debt-holder was, according to the Associated Press.

Simpson avoided paying on the judgment by declaring bankruptcy and moving to Florida. The Goldman family accused him of “living the high life”. David Cook, an attorney for the Goldmans, has vowed to collect the debt, with interest. It’s not yet clear what Simpson’s assets were.

“He died without penance. We don’t know what he has, where it is or who is in control. We will pick up where we are and keep going with it,” Cook said in a statement.

The probate process generally takes place in the state where someone dies. In Simpson’s case that would be Nevada, though there could also be cases in California and Florida, where he also lived.

In California, the Brown and Goldman families could get priority over other creditors because they have a secured debt.

Goldman said the family’s motivation was “making certain that one man, the man who murdered my son and Nicole, is held responsible by a court of law”.

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Teenage boy dies and another seriously injured after multiple stabbings near Sydney school

New South Wales police say one person has been arrested following the incident in Doonside

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A teenage boy has died and another is in a serious condition after multiple stabbings near a school in western Sydney.

Emergency services responded to reports of the stabbings near a school on Power Street in Doonside at about 3.40pm on Friday.

Before officers arrived on the scene, two teenage boys arrived at Blacktown police station. The boys were treated for serious stab injuries.

A boy died at the scene, while another was taken to hospital.

New South Wales police said they have arrested one person.

Police are investigating and have established crime scenes near the school and at the police station.

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Trump thought Ukraine ‘must be part of Russia’ during presidency, book says

Ex-president ‘could not get his head around the idea that Ukraine was an independent state’, former adviser Fiona Hill tells author

As president, Donald Trump “made it very clear” that he thought Ukraine “must be part of Russia”, his former adviser Fiona Hill says in a new book about US national security under threat from Russia and China.

“Trump made it very clear that he thought, you know, that Ukraine, and certainly Crimea, must be part of Russia,” Hill, senior director for European and Russian affairs on the US National Security Council between 2017 and 2019, tells David Sanger, a New York Times reporter and author of New Cold Wars: China’s Rise, Russia’s Invasion, and America’s Struggle to Defend the West.

“He really could not get his head around the idea that Ukraine was an independent state.”

This, Sanger writes, meant Trump’s view of Ukraine was “essentially identical” to that of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who would order an invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a year after Trump left office.

Before triggering the invasion, Putin said in a speech: “Ukraine is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space.”

Last month, in a speech marking 10 years since the annexation of Crimea, Putin declared that parts of occupied Ukraine were part of a “New Russia”.

New Cold Wars will be published in the US on Tuesday. The Guardian obtained a copy.

The book appears with the Ukraine war grinding into its third year but with $60bn of new US military aid to Kyiv blocked by far-right Republicans in the US House, acting in accordance with Trump’s wishes as he runs to defeat Joe Biden in a presidential election rematch and return to power.

The House speaker, Mike Johnson, has indicated he wants to pass Ukraine aid but he faces strong opposition, not least from Trump, with whom Johnson is due to appear in Florida on Friday. Biden has strongly condemned Republicans’ hold on Ukraine aid, as have lawmakers from both parties. Biden and other senior figures have also condemned Trump’s words in support of Putin, including a stunning promise to “encourage Russia to do what the hell they want” to US Nato allies he deems financially delinquent.

On Thursday, Alexander Vindman, formerly the top Ukraine aide on Trump’s national security council, told CNN that without new US aid, Ukraine’s position had become “quite precarious”.

Like Hill, Vindman was a key witness in Trump’s first impeachment trial, over his attempts to blackmail Ukraine by withholding military support, in an attempt to extract political dirt on rivals including Biden.

Vindman was fired, after Senate Republicans loyal to Trump assured his acquittal at trial. Hill left office on her own terms.

Vindman was born in Ukraine. Hill was born in Britain. Now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and chancellor of Durham University in the UK, Hill’s thoughts on Trump, Russia and Putin remain eagerly sought, particularly given her co-authorship of Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, a well-regarded biography.

In Washington in February, Hill told a conference staged by anti-Trump conservatives that Trump “idolises” Putin for his autocratic leadership and longevity in power.

That view, Hill said, contributed to Trump’s furious rejection of intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win.

She also said she had spoken to European leaders at the Munich security conference, finding them nervously preparing for a possible second Trump administration.

“The prime ministers and presidents and foreign ministers and others … all know how capricious Trump is,” Hill said. “And that’s really what they’re worried about, because it doesn’t matter how many people that they know who become secretary of state or secretary of defense, it comes down to Trump himself and the unpredictability of his personality.”

Hill’s words to Sanger about Trump’s view of Ukraine, though brief, seem guaranteed only to add to such worries.

The result of growing qualms about Trump, his attitude to Russia and other idiosyncrasies, Hill said in February, “is that [European leaders] have started to lose faith in the United States. And it’s very distressing to hear.”

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