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.

NSW ‘camo attacker’ may have struck again

A Central Coast community is on high alert with fears a camouflage-wearing sexual predator has struck again, just weeks after dragging a 12-year-old girl into bushland and assaulted her at knifepoint.

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An 18-year-old girl has told police a man grabbed her around the neck after she got off a train at Narara Railway Station on Sunday afternoon.

The incident occurred about two kilometres from where the schoolgirl was attacked in mid-May.

The attacker, thought to be in his mid-20s, was wearing a grey hooded jumper, long camouflage pants and had a loose covering over his face that exposed his eyes and nose.

The teenager attacked on Sunday kicked the man and broke free before running off and screaming for help.

She then rang triple-zero after seeing the man walk away towards Narara Valley Drive.

“The fact this person was wearing camouflage clothing and covering their face is a concern to us and shows the level of criminality of the person involved,” Detective Acting Superintendent Mick Haddow told AAP on Monday.

Police said the description of the man was “strikingly similar” to the one given by the schoolgirl who was abducted while walking to school alone on May 15.

Her attacker was wearing a knitted camouflage shirt, camouflage pants and a camouflage hat and had a loose covering over his face.

He dragged the terrified girl to nearby bushland, tied her up and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint.

She managed to escape and was treated at Gosford Hospital for her injuries.

More than 1000 people have shared an online a post by Brisbane Water Police about the attack.

One member of the community in an open letter described her disgust and anger toward the attacker.

“This brave little girl will be admired for her strength and bravery and will be protected by the community during all that lay ahead of her,” the letter states.

Act Supt Haddow said police received numerous tips after the first attack, and investigations often turned on information supplied by members of the public.

He urged members of the public to consider if they knew anyone who fitted the description or owned similar camouflage clothes.

“It’s concerning to us that this person might live in the area,” the detective said in Sydney.

UK victims recall the terror, insist they will live life

Britain is dealing with its third militant attack in as many months after three attackers in a van ran down pedestrians on London Bridge, then got out and began stabbing bystanders.

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Police shot dead the trio just minutes after the first call to emergency services was made.

Spanish tourist Carolina Mayo, who was staying at a hotel next to the scene of the attack, has described how events unfolded.

“The policemen were there and told us to leave the hotel and not to run but walk very, very fast (along) all the streets until we arrived to a point that I can’t remember. And we stayed there for about 10 minutes, and, suddenly, a man came to us and told us that he had a bar and told us, ‘You can come with me, stay in my bar, and you’ll be warm there,’ because people from the hotel were without socks or without shoes, a lot of children and people in pyjamas, you know. I can’t describe the feelings.”

Another witness, a woman named Rhiannon, says she ran for her life and sheltered in a nearby pub.

“A taxi driver just swerved towards me and screamed at me, saying, ‘Run. You have to run. They’ve got a knife.’ And his face was just like … something was just very wrong. I just started running as fast as I could. There were sirens everywhere, people screaming, the glass was smashed in one shop. And there was a guy, like he was injured. I just started to run. I ran into this pub in Borough Market called Applebee’s, and I just screamed into that, ‘Everyone, run! They’re stabbing people. You’ve got to run now.'”

London reporter Oliver Jones, who worked with SBS, says it is hard to believe two incidents like this could happen so close together.

But he says locals are refusing to back down.

“There were a lot of people staying nearby who were staying in hotels, who were visiting London. I spoke to somebody who was from the north, and they’d obviously, you know, a week and a half ago, been affected by the attack in Manchester, but, now, to have come to visit London and have another attack, I think they said to me that they were petrified. I took a walk earlier just to clear my head, and I live quite close by to one of our main tourist attractions, Columbia Road Flower Market, and there were still people enjoying that. There were lots of people in the bars, lots of people in restaurants. It really did seem that, actually, Londoners were being defiant and not willing to give in to fear and terror.”

Undeterred by the latest attacks, a benefit concert for the victims of last month’s bombing of an arena in Manchester has gone ahead.

Singers including Katy Perry, Robbie Williams and Justin Bieber performed, along with Ariana Grande, whose concert was the focus of the attack in which 22 people died.

Ariana Grande performed the Crowded House song Don’t Dream It’s Over alongside pop star Miley Cyrus.

Despite the recent attacks, many Britons say they are determined to keep living life as they know it.

On social media, many have lampooned headlines in US media outlets saying locals are “reeling” from the latest incident, tweeting about how they are carrying on with life.

Also demonstrating that defiant spirit is Richard Angell, who was at a nearby restaurant when the attack happened.

“I keep saying, if me having a gin and tonic with my friends, flirting with handsome men, hanging out with brilliant women, is what offends these people so much, I’m going to do it more, not less, because that’s what makes London so great, that’s what makes it the best city in the world, and we’re going to go out and enjoy it more, and I’m more determined than ever to love the city that looks after me.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fears for fifth Aussie in London attacks

There are heightened fears for a young Brisbane woman who may be a fifth Australian injured in the weekend’s London terror attacks.

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Family and friends of Sara Zelenak have taken to social media to appeal for information about the missing 21-year-old who hasn’t been heard from since witnessing the London Bridge attack on Saturday night.

Her family had hoped Ms Zelenak may have been one of two unnamed Australians caught up in the dramas but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday afternoon said the government had been in touch with those families.

A Facebook post written by a friend, and shared numerous times, says Ms Zelenak was last seen on London Bridge and witnessed the attacks before getting separated from her friends.

“Her phone has rang with no reply and now the battery must have gone,” read the original post, which has since been deleted.

“She is Australian aged 21 with long blonde hair. She calls her mum daily. It’s been over 24 hours with no news from the consulate. We was hoping the 3rd Australian reported would be her, but it’s not.

“She is based in London. Please share with as many people as possible especially if you have friends down south. Thank you for your help.”

The frantic appeal came as the Queensland families of two other Australians – Brisbane’s Candice Hedge and Darwin electrician Andrew Morrison – breathed major sighs of relief after they were stabbed.

Ms Hedge, 34, working as a waitress in the Borough Markets area, underwent emergency surgery but is expected to make a full recovery after her attackers missed her windpipe or arteries.

“She can’t think how she got so lucky because she thought she was going to die,” Ms Hedge’s grandfather Brian, who lives in Queensland’s Darling Downs, told AAP.

Mr Hedge spoke to his granddaughter, who has been living in the UK for just over a year, after ringing her in hospital on Monday morning.

“She told me she’s going well. She said ‘grandad you know I’m a Hedge and I’m a fighter, I’ll get over this,” he said.

Mr Morrison is on his way home after receiving stitches for a stab wound he received while leaving a bar after watching the Champions League soccer final.

He said he believed a brawl was breaking out when “all of a sudden a guy comes up with a knife … stabs me there (motioning to his neck) I push him off and blood is going everywhere”.

Mr Morrison’s Gold Coast-based father Dave has told reporters he was thankful his son was heading home, and expect him back on Tuesday.

“It could have been worse, a lot worse,” he told ABC radio.

Seven people were killed and 48 wounded when three men launched the attack just after 10pm on Saturday local time.

Police shot the three terrorists dead within eight minutes of the violence erupting.

Mr Turnbull says the government has “very real concerns” for the other two unnamed Australians but wouldn’t divulge details of the pair.

“This is the work of cowardly, crazed criminals,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

Their evil message was a “blasphemous corruption” of Islam and millions of Muslims around the world, he said.

NSW religious leaders join Adani protests

Religious leaders have camped out at Commonwealth Bank’s Sydney headquarters to protest the proposed Adani mega coal mine in Queensland.

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Ten Buddhist and Christian leaders rallied inside the Darling Harbour office on Monday holding signs with messages including “People of faith say rule out Adani” and “Grandpa what did you do about global warming?”

More supporters gathered outside.

The protest comes ahead of the bank’s board meeting on June 13 when it will decide whether to fund coal projects including Adani’s Carmichael mine.

Uniting Church Minister Rex Graham said the group was opposed to the expansion of coal mines in Australia.

“The other banks have heard the message, particularly National Australian Bank and Westpac, and that’s what we’re looking for the Commonwealth Bank to also do,” he told AAP.

Commonwealth Bank quit an advisory role on the Adani project in August 2015 but hasn’t followed other banks in ruling out financing the mega mine.

The bank on Monday said people had the right “to express their views in a peaceful manner”.

The Commonwealth Bank supported “nearly every sector in the economy,” a spokesperson told AAP on Monday.

“(But) we will only fund projects that meet our strict environmental, social and governance standards.”

A Stop Adani spokesman later told AAP he was sceptical of that claim, however, given the bank had given millions of dollars to Adani over the years.

The Indian miner last week accepted the Queensland government’s royalties deal for its $16 billion coal mine in the Galilee Basin although the details won’t be released due to commercial-in-confidence.