Mining downturn to push more into arrears

The mining downturn and soft property price growth are expected to hurt Australians with a mortgage, especially in resource-reliant regions.

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Moody’s Investors Service, the credit ratings agency’s research arm, expects the proportion of Australians more than 30 days behind in their mortgage repayments will edge up over the coming year, after rising slightly in 2015.

But, it will still stay at a historically low level, Moody’s says, after the “delinquency” rate rose to 1.20 per cent in the 12 months to November, compared with 1.19 per cent the previous year.

Moody’s assistant vice president Alena Chen says the country’s economic growth was well below the long-term average of 3.5 per cent, with the mining industry wind-down having a major impact on borrowers.

“The economic backdrop will prompt a slight increase in the mortgage delinquency rate in 2016,” Ms Chen told AAP.

“What needs to be highlighted is the diverging performance between the states and the big difference we are seeing between the more diversified states compared to the ones that are more reliant on the resource sector.”

She said the resource reliant regions in WA, NT and Queensland would experience the most mortgage arrears, while better labour market and economic conditions in NSW would likely mean its level of arrears remains steady.

In 2015, a high proportion of the worst performing parts of the nation were where employment hinged on the mining industry, a sector hit hard by low commodity prices, falling investment and China’s declining demand for iron ore.

WA had the highest level of mortgage arrears in 2015 with the rate rising by a significant 0.48 percentage point over the year, Moody’s report says.

Imports of Adler shotgun pouring into Aust

SYDNEY, March 4 AAP – Thousands of Adler rapid-fire shotguns have flooded into Australia over the past six months, sidestepping a ban on a previous version of the controversial weapon imposed following the deadly Sydney siege.

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As commonwealth and state ministers and attorneys-general were undertaking an urgent review of national gun laws following the siege, orders for a five-round version of the Turkish-made Adler A110 were already pouring into gun dealers across the country.

Figures obtained by AAP from law enforcement agencies in NSW, Queensland and Victoria reveal almost 4000 of the lever-action shotguns have been imported into those states alone.

In some states, they are sold to shooters under the least restrictive weapon category, which includes air-rifles and paintball guns.

The gun-control lobby argues that even the modified weapon – which fires five 12-gauge cartridges in rapid succession – should be classified as a semi-automatic firearm, warning that tough laws introduced by John Howard after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre are being eroded.

“How utterly shameful in the year of the 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre, governments have commemorated the year by handing back to the gun lobby general access to rapid-fire shotguns,” Gun Control Australia president Samantha Lee said.

“Rapid-fire rifles turn up in mass shootings, which is why these guns were basically banned here after Port Arthur.”

Plans to import a previous seven-round version, marketed as a game changer for hunters because of its rapid-fire ability, were halted by a 12-month ban imposed in July on guns that fire more than five rounds without the need for reloading.

But since then, more than 1000 five-round shotguns have been imported into NSW, with 701 sold to shooters and a further 373 held by dealers as stock.

“There was no Adler A110 shotgun 5 capacity identified on the Integrated Licensing System prior to 15 September 2015,” NSW Police said.

In Victoria, 602 Adler A110s have been registered by licence holders since September while 86 are held by dealers.

There are 2063 Adler shotguns “registered in possession” in Queensland.

The original version – which anti-gun lobbyists say had similar firepower to a pump-action shotgun – was banned by former prime minister Tony Abbott for six months, which was extended to 12 months, to allow time for the states and the federal government to consider a review of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Michael Keenan has confirmed to AAP that at a meeting of commonwealth and state ministers and attorneys-general on November 5 an updated NFA was referred to federal, state and territory police commissioners and justice department secretaries for consideration.

“Once appropriate amendments to the NFA have been agreed by senior officials, the updated NFA will be reconsidered by the LCCSC (Law, Crime and Community Safety Council) in 2016, prior to being reviewed by the Council of Australian Governments,” the spokesperson said.

Microsoft pushes smart chats with computer

Microsoft wants you to talk more with your computer – and have more useful conversations.

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The software giant is promoting new uses for Cortana – its voice-activated answer to Apple’s Siri digital assistant – including the ability to interact with software “bots” that can have limited conversations with users and help with tasks such as booking a hotel room, ordering a meal or arranging a delivery.

Voice-activated services such as Siri, OK Google or Amazon’s Alexa can already perform tasks for users such as playing a song at a request or answering a question.

Bots are smarter than traditional software apps, though, using artificial intelligence to respond to a wider range of commands and in a convenient, conversational way.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, at the opening on Wednesday of the company’s annual conference for software developers, touted the power of “conversational intelligence” as he outlined a long-term vision in which Cortana, a central feature of Windows 10, becomes a digital concierge for other online interactions.

“Bots are the new apps,” Nadella told developers.

Lilian Rincon, a program manager for Microsoft’s Skype service, demonstrated how this might work.

After receiving a video message from her boss that mentioned an upcoming conference in Dublin, Rincon used Cortana to mark the dates on her calendar. Cortana then used Skype to contact a hotel chain’s bot, which suggested a room and helped Rincon make a reservation for those dates.

Integrating Cortana with other companies’ bots could increase the use of Microsoft’s services, and make them more valuable, said analyst Ross MacMillan, who follows tech companies for RBC Capital Markets, in an email on Wednesday.

Bots are not perfect, however. Microsoft recently shut down an experimental internet bot called “Tay” after some Twitter users taught it to make offensive statements.

Nadella acknowledged the episode Wednesday, saying it shows the importance of designing technology to be “inclusive and respectful.”

Cortana isn’t as well-known as Siri or OK Google. But unlike those services, which are found mostly on smartphones and tablets, Microsoft has made Cortana available on desktop and laptop PCs, via Windows 10.

But Microsoft, after seeing its business suffer because fewer people buy new PCs, has also released Cortana as an app for smartphones and tablets that run Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating software. Similarly, Skype also works on those platforms.

Microsoft is now releasing programming tools for developers to build bots that will interact with Cortana.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft would be glad to see people use these services on Skype, the internet video and voice-calling service that it owns. But some of its tools for creating bots will work with other messaging services: Microsoft listed Slack and standard text messaging, among others.

Fair Work to phase in Sunday rate cuts

Fast food, hospitality, retail and pharmacy workers will see their Sunday penalty rates drop by five percentage points on July 1.

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But the full impact of the rate cut won’t be felt until 2019 for some workers and 2020 for others.

The Fair Work Commission on Monday released its decision into the transitional arrangements for the Sunday penalty rate cut, which was announced in February.

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The commission found the existing Sunday penalty rates in the four industries “do not achieve the modern awards objective” and they overcompensate employees for Sunday work.

“Given this conclusion, we are not satisfied that it is appropriate to impose any further delay in the implementation of our decision,” the commission’s full bench said.

But the commission acknowledged cutting Sunday rates on July 1 meant employees would only have had four months notice.

“In these circumstances, it is appropriate that the first step in the transition be smaller than subsequent steps,” it said.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the “adjustments” levelled the playing field for Australia’s small businesses, but they have been labelled appalling by opposition leader Bill Shorten.

The first cut will be five percentage points, with more significant cuts in 2018, 2019 for fast food and hospitality workers.

Retail and pharmacy workers will have their cuts phased in until 2020.

Public holiday penalty rates will drop 25 percentage points from July 1 for fast food, hospitality, restaurant, retail and pharmacy workers.

Dominique Lamb, the chief executive of the National Retail Association (NRA), said she was disappointed with the long transition period.

“Australian retailers are paying some of the highest wages in the world, and it’s often not viable to even open their doors on a Sunday because they can’t even cover the wages let alone turn a profit, and that doesn’t help anyone.”

She added: “Four years is a really long time, and adds complexity to an already complex system.”

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), which represents more than 60,000 businesses, said the decision was cautious but fair.

Ms Cash said the ruling would help thousands of small businesses open their doors.

“Throughout this process the Fair Work Commission has cited many examples of small business owners who work on Sundays for free, but would rather hire staff, or businesses that would provide services on Sundays but cannot because of penalty rate levels,” she said in a statement.

But the cuts to penalty rates were criticised by Mr Shorten, who said they came at a time when wages were falling in real terms.

“The solution is simple – these cuts can be stopped if Malcolm Turnbull supports Labor’s legislation to do so.”

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Hasler’s Dogs hurting after horror start

Des Hasler is facing the toughest test of his illustrious coaching career after Canterbury limped to the worst ever start by a team under his watch.

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Hasler became just the 10th coach in premiership history to rack up 350 games on Sunday however the occasion was overshadowed by his side’s 38-0 mauling to Penrith which saw them slump to 14th.

After 13 rounds the Dogs are just two wins off the bottom of the table and it represents the lowest position a Hasler-coached team has occupied at the season halfway mark.

The 56-year-old has amassed one of the finest records of any modern day coach having made 12 successive finals series and possessing a 58 per cent career success rate – the fifth highest of any coach to have overseen 350-plus games.

In a show of faith, the Bulldogs board earlier in the year re-signed him to a two-year contract extension until the end of 2019 however his side finds themselves with their backs to the wall after four straight defeats.

The Bulldogs’ 2017 is the poorest start by a Hasler side, even worse than his rookie season at Manly in 2004 when they were 13th and 4-8 through the first 13 rounds.

It’s unfamiliar territory for the two-time premiership-winning coach who has only been outside the top eight at this point of the season on three occasions in 14 years – in 2004, 2009 and this year.

The Bulldogs have been stilted in attack this season, scoring the equal least points per game (13.7) level with the Tigers, according to Fox Sports Stats.

They have also made the fourth least metres per game (1370m) and the least linebreaks per game (3.2).

Hasler described Sunday’s loss to the Panthers as not up to first grade standard and lamented his side’s ability to maintain possession and build pressure.

The Bulldogs could receive a timely boost with five-eighth Josh Reynolds scheduled to return from a hamstring injury against St George Illawarra on Monday.

HASLER’S COACHING RECORD

Where Des Hasler-coach sides have sat after 13 rounds and their win-loss record:

* 2017 – 14th, 5-8

* 2016 – 7th, 7-6

* 2015 – 7th, 6-6

* 2014 – 2nd, 8-4

* 2013 – 7th, 7-6

* 2012 – 3rd, 8-5

* 2011 – 3rd, 9-3

* 2010 – 4th, 7-5

* 2009 – 10th, 5-7

* 2008 – 1st, 8-4

* 2007 – 2nd, 10-2

* 2006 – 6th, 7-5

* 2005 – 2nd, 9-3

* 2004 – 13th, 4-8.

Radical anti-migrant group plans to block rescuers on Mediterranean Sea

A radical European anti-immigrant group says it has crowdfunded almost $100,000 to block humanitarian rescue boats on the Mediterranean in an attempt to stop them from saving migrants and bringing them to the European mainland.

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“Mass immigration is changing the face of our continent – we’re losing our safety, our way of life,” one member of the identitarian group said in a promotional video.

Intercut with footage of young men speaking are images of migrant rescues and terror attacks on mainland Europe.

More than 71,000 migrants have travelled across the Mediterranean so far this year, the majority arriving in Italy.

Packed into overcrowded, unseaworthy boats, more than 1,700 have drowned making the journey in the past six months.

Government-operated rescue ships and passing commercial vessels have rescued thousands of migrants in recent years, though EU officials estimate that roughly 40 per cent of stranded migrants are picked up by boats deployed by charities and NGOs.

The Sicily-based anti-immigrant identitarian group says with its new funding it will gather a crew, organise a boat and take to the Mediterranean to block NGOs and “chase down” trafficking ships.

A video shows several members navigating a small boat and lighting flares in front of the Aquarius, an SOS Mediterranee rescue ship supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

On its website – available in English, French, Italian and German – the group accuses humanitarian rescuers of colluding with people smugglers.

In response to previous criticism, MSF has said rescue boats are not the cause of the crisis, but a response to it.

The NGO has described its response as humanitarian, not political, noting that without intervention many more deaths would occur at sea.

Please find here some recent data. Dedicated to all those who talk about an “invasion”. pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/6emkfhCCiL

— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) May 29, 2017

Fabrice Leggeri, head of the EU border protection agency Frontex, earlier this year told a German newspaper that while everyone at sea has a duty to save people in need, he did have concerns over the way NGOs operated.

“We must avoid supporting the criminal networks and smugglers in Libya through European ships rescuing migrants ever closer and closer to the Libyan coast,” he told Die Welt.

“This means that the smugglers force even more migrants than the years before onto unseaworthy boats, without enough water and fuel.”

DATELINE: Europe’s young, hip far-right

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Poor numbers behind drive for Arabic women’s breast screening

Randa Kattan has been chief executive of the Arab Council of Australia for over 15 years.

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Her passion lies in social justice and improving the lives of the Arabic community.

But a decade ago, Ms Kattan’s own future prospects were looking ominous.

“Back in 2007, I felt like a pain going right through me. And that led me to examine my breasts. And I found a lump, and I could swear that it wasn’t there yesterday (the day before).”

A mammogram and ultrasound diagnosed the lump, initially believed to be a cyst, as breast cancer.

It was aggressive, capable of spreading to her whole body, but Ms Kattan says early detection allowed it to be quickly removed — and saved her life.

“In my case, it’s extremely lucky that I found it when I did, and (it’s) extremely crucial that it is detected very early, because the survival rate … I’m 10 years down the track, and I’m around to tell the tale.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women.

But recent figures show more than 9,000 from New South Wales’ Arabic community alone have not been screened in the past two years.

That has prompted Breast Screen New South Wales to launch an awareness campaign to highlight the importance of getting screened.

And Randa Kattan is a leading voice behind it.

“I think it’s extremely important that we tell the others, and, when I found out the numbers and that we are under-represented in screening and so they don’t take up that free option, that’s quite alarming — to find out that there is screening available and people are not taking up that option. It could save lives.”

Campaign director Naomi Combe says she thinks the best way to raise awareness is from woman to woman.

“So what we hope to do is engage with women, especially using champions from their own communities, to talk them around and explain to them that there is no need to be concerned about the various different barriers and to work with them so that they understand the most important thing to do to look after their health is to screen regularly, every two years, to give themselves peace of mind and to make sure that they’re looking after their health.”

The director of the Breast Cancer Unit at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, Dr Nirmala Pathmanathan, says many of the barriers are myths.

A key one, she says, is that breast cancer is a “white woman’s” disease.

“First of all, they think to themselves, ‘Well, we don’t have a family history, this is not a common disease for us, it doesn’t affect us — it’s a white woman’s disease.’ Secondly, they may feel that their role as a wife and a mother takes precedence over their own health, so they won’t take the time to actually come and have a mammogram. They may also feel that, you know, ‘I don’t have a lump in my breast. I don’t need to have this test. I’m perfectly well, why would I need to have this test?’ And also there’s the stigmatisation around cancer. So there’s this misconception that breast cancer is a fatal disease — it’s got the c-word, the cancer word. But in reality, it’s highly treatable, particularly when it’s picked up early.”

But cancers can sometimes be as small as a grain of rice, and experts say only advanced technology and equipment in hospitals and breast clinics can detect them.

Mammograms are free for women between ages 50 and 74, and Dr Pathmanathan says women should take advantage.

“Cancer is not the death sentence that we used to believe it is. It is definitely an eminently treatable disease, and we’re very lucky in Australia with the wonderful medical facilities we have. We have one of the highest survival rates from breast cancer in the world.”

Arabic women have also attributed issues like poor English skills, embarrassment at having to expose their bodies and fear of the actual test for their reluctance at getting screened.

But Naomi Combe says breast-screening sites offer services to ensure the patients’ comfort.

“The actual breast x-ray is very short. It’s a matter of seconds, really. And all the way through at all points, women are made welcome, and we explain what’s going on. So, before women actually have the procedure, somebody explains to them how it works, how it happens. As we said, they can always have an interpreter with them — we provide interpreters free of charge. Or they can bring a female friend along, and then the procedure itself is very short. Once it’s over, women are told that they’ll receive their results within the next two weeks or so, and then, hopefully, for them, that’s it for another two years.”

As for Randa Kattan, she says she hopes, by sharing her story, she will help many other women live long enough to tell their own.

“I’ve gone through it, and I’ve got a story to tell. It is extremely valuable for other people to understand that cancer is not a death sentence. While none of us are leaving this Earth alive, we still can do something about it.”

 

 

 

 

 

GWS privileged to be a target: Tomlinson

Greater Western Sydney defender Adam Tomlinson says it’s a privilege for the AFL’s youngest club to have a target on its back and be in the unfamiliar role of being hunted.

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Saturday’s home win over Essendon lifted GWS to top spot for the first time in their five and a half seasons as a senior club.

They have hit the halfway stage of their home and away program with 9-2 record, having reeled of four successive victories.

It’s a far cry from their first three seasons when they reached halfway with one, nought and two wins respectively.

“It is different,” Giants foundation player Tomlinson told AAP on Monday.

“A lot of teams are out to hunt us down, but that’s sort of a privilege.

“We take that as it comes and it just shows we’ve got to play our best footy next week to stay at the top of the table.

“It is nice to be there, but if you have a look at the games that have happened within the last six weeks, we scrapped home in three of our games and without that we wouldn’t be sitting here.

“Obviously we’re in a a pretty good position for the halfway mark of the year but the mindset hasn’t really changed to the years previous.

“It’s not as if we’ve put more focus on later in the season.”

The Giants face bottom two sides Carlton and Brisbane in the next two rounds, either side of their bye.

GWS have won as many games in the first half of 2017 as they did in their first three seasons combined.

Over the past month they added to their growing list of club milestones by finally completing a full set of AFL scalps by beating both Collingwood and West Coast for the first time.

“We started at the very bottom and the club has definitely grown a lot since I first started with 15 of the other boys who are still here,” Tomlinson said.

“It’s been amazing for us to be the start of something new.

“To pass those little milestones has been a great sort of reminder for us to show how far we’ve actually come each year and a sense of accomplishment as the team grows”

THE RISE OF GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY – HOW THE CLUB HAS PERFORMED AT THE HALFWAY STAGE OF EACH AFL CAMPAIGN (WINS/LOSSES)

*2012: 1-10

*2013: 0-11

*2014: 2-9

*2015: 7-4

*2016: 7-4

*2017: 9-2

Arthur hits back at critics after Pakistan surrender

In the end, one of the most eagerly awaited matches of the tournament proved a damp squib as India utterly dominated every aspect of a stop-start, rain-interrupted 124-run victory.

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“That’s a total insult to say we’re playing even worse,” said the 49-year-old South African, who took on the role a little more than a year ago, after his team succumbed meekly at a packed Edgbaston ground.

“If you have a look at our records over the last year we’ve won two series. We’ve got ourselves from nine to number eight (in the ODI rankings) and our brand of cricket has changed.”

Pakistan won the toss but nothing else went right for them as they dropped catches, persisted with bowlers who bled runs and folded inside 34 overs with the bat.

“We had a poor game,” the former South Africa and Australia coach added. “But we’re obviously trying our best and we’re trying to change it.

“It’s not going to happen overnight. We’re trying every day. Every time we go down to training, we try and get the basics right. We didn’t do it today. And that’s disappointing.”

Apart from the manner of their surrender, Pakistan are also fretting on the fitness of fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz.

Amir bowled 8.1 overs before developing severe cramp and leaving the field, while Riaz, who conceded 87 runs in 8.4 wicketless overs in the most expensive spell of five-plus overs in tournament history, hobbled off after twisting an ankle.

“I don’t know why they’re cramping,” Arthur said. “That’s something that I need to take up with the medical team.”

Pakistan play South Africa in their next Group B match at the same venue on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O’Brien)

Aust-EU to show climate leadership: Bishop

History may not look kindly on the “narcissistic ignoramus” Donald Trump and his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate change deal.

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That’s the view of former Labor foreign minister in the Hawke and Keating governments, Gareth Evans who sees it as a turning point in world history.

“I do think there is every chance last week’s events will be seen by… historians of the future as the day the United States actually abdicated the global leadership role it has played for 75 years,” Professor Evans told the inaugural European Union-Australia leadership forum in Sydney on Monday.

The Australian National University chancellor says there are now big shoes to fill as a result of America’s departure.

Overnight, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop hinted Australia and the EU could be poised to help fill the leadership vacuum.

“I see another leadership role for the Australia-EU partnership and that is in the implementation of the Paris agreement on climate change,” Ms Bishop told the gala dinner.

She also believes there is scope for collaboration between citizens, scientists and policy makers on coming up with ideas for affordable, reliable low emissions energy to drive economies.

“We are like-minded countries, and while geography may divide us, our shared values unite us,” Ms Bishop said.

Mr Trump’s decision to leave the 197-nation Paris climate agreement has left much of the world reeling.

Under the deal reached in late 2015, countries have pledged to submit and review five-yearly plans to slash their emissions. The aim is to limit global warming to below two degrees, with an aspiration target of keeping it to 1.5 degrees.

The US withdrawal leaves a leadership void in settling the rules and norms to give force to the agreement, but China and the EU have been quick to reaffirm their commitments.

In Australia, the federal government faces some internal pressure to follow the US, but Ms Bishop and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have rejected that notion.

Ms Bishop insists the vast majority of government MPs support the stance on Paris.

She warned colleagues that don’t not to debate the issue through the media, but to save it for the party room.

Turnbull dismisses Abbott’s claims that police lack clarity on terror responses

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agrees with his British counterpart, Theresa May, that enough is enough.

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“This is a corruption, a disease within Islam. We will never give into terrorism, we will never change the way we live. We defy these cowardly criminals. We defy them and we reject the poisonous ideology that they peddle.”

Mr Turnbull says the internet has been fertile ground for that I-S ideology.

“There is too much tolerance of extremist material on social media and that, ultimately, requires cooperation from the big social media platforms: in particular, Facebook and Twitter.”

But former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, says political correctness is leading to a wider tolerance of what he calls radical Islamist views.

Mr Abbott claims Australia’s leadership suffers from ‘a surrender mindset’ which weakens defences against terrorism.

“There is this notion that Islamophobia is almost as big a problem as Islamist terrorism. Well, Islamophobia hasn’t killed anyone. Islamist terrorism has now killed tens of thousands of people: that’s why it’s absolutely critical that there be the strongest possible response at every level.”

During his time as Prime Minister, Mr Abbott put a commando unit on standby during the Lindt cafe siege in December 2014.

He wants to amend the Defence Act to allow specialist army units to take the lead on major domestic terror incidents.

The former Prime Minister says there also needs to be more clarity for Australian police to give them the authority to shoot-to-kill terrorists.

“These people have this ‘death to the infidel’ approach and such sieges are almost inevitably going to end badly so the sooner they’re ended by the police or other agencies the better.”

Islamaphobia was blamed for two recent deaths in the United States, and for the 2011 massacre in Norway.

Kuranda Seyit, from the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations, says by alienating the Muslim community you’re letting the extremists win.

“Terrorism is a criminal act. It has no religious affiliation and it doesn’t matter which religion the person is from and whatever motivation they have, it’s a criminal act. We can’t affiliate Islam with terrorism because we’ve seen it before – we’ve seen it with Christian organisations and white supremacists.”

The rapid response of British police to the London attack is being applauded.

Prime Minister Turnbull says Australian police also have clarity when responding to particular types of terrorism attacks.

“The practice of cordon and contain, which had been used for many years, is not applied by police in situations where there is an active armed offender, an active shooter or someone with a knife, such as you saw in London.”

 

Australian soft drinks linked to diabetes risk

Australian soft drinks have higher levels of glucose that could be linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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Global analysis by researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute found that in four popular soft drinks, total glucose concentration was 22 per cent higher in Australian formulations compared to similar drinks in the US.

The report published in the Medical Journal of Australia has led to calls for an examination of the health effects of Australian soft drink formulations.

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“Given that glucose, but not fructose rapidly elevates plasma glucose and insulin, regular consumption of Australian soft drinks has potential health implications regarding type 2 diabetes and its complications,” says Professor Bronwyn Kingwell, Head of Metabolic and Vascular Physiology at the Baker Institute.

Australian soft drinks are chiefly sweetened through sugar cane derived sucrose – made up of 50 per cent glucose and 50 per cent fructose.

In the US they are predominantly sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, and sugar beet in Europe.

Prof Kingwell says the findings are particularly relevant for Australians who are high consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

A recent Australian Health Survey estimated that 39 per cent of all men and 29 per cent of women are regular consumers of SSBs.

The potential adverse effects of fructose over-consumption are well known, particularly with regards to potential build-up of fat in the liver and links with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

But little is known about the health effects of Australian soft drink consumption containing high glucose concentrations, says Prof Kingwell.

“The potential health implications of regional differences in soft drink sugar content have not previously been examined, despite the differing metabolic effects of glucose and fructose,” wrote the report authors.

“Our short report should motivate specific examination of the health effects of Australian soft drink formulations.”

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Federal Labor pushes anti-slavery laws

Australian companies would be required to report on measures they’re taking to reduce slavery in their overseas supply chains, or risk being fined, under legislation proposed by the federal opposition.

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Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten on Monday outlined how a Modern Slavery Act could work, including the role of a new independent anti-slavery commissioner.

Australia’s top 1000 companies would be held to account by the legislation with monetary penalties for those that don’t comply. They could also be named and shamed in parliament.

Mr Shorten said Labor wanted to work with Malcolm Turnbull’s government to introduce the slavery act.

“(But) if Mr Turnbull fails to act a Shorten Labor government will,” the opposition leader told reporters in Sydney.

“The right to freedom belongs to everybody, it’s not some middle-class Australian value, it’s a universal value.”

Business Council of Australia spokesman Adam Carrel says local businesses are willing to accept the risk of being fined in order to stamp out slavery.

“When business invites legislation in such a way as they have in this instance, I think they might expect that at some point or another there might be some naming and shaming going,” the Ernst and Young partner said.

“They see the task of remedying modern slavery as so important that they’re willing to accept that risk.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney believes the act could help eradicate slavery.

“Trade unions see, only too sadly, first hand the results of modern slavery in Australia and particularly our region,” she said on Monday.

Walk Free Foundation founder and mining magnate Andrew Forrest praised Labor for its commitment to support modern slavery legislation in Australia.

Mr Forrest believed the Turnbull government would support the legislation.

“The commitment of the Labor party and the positive feedback the Walk Free Foundation has received from government, opposition, Greens and independent MPs gives me great confidence that a bill introduced into parliament by the government would be overwhelmingly supported,” Mr Forrest said in a statement.