Westpac pays up for Austral scandal


Westpac has been forced to cough up more than a billion dollars in penalties to the financial crimes watchdog following its 23 million financial law breaches in 2019.

The country’s second largest bank has been court ordered to pay Austral $1.3 billion following investigations last year which revealed the incumbent had allowed bank transactions and transfers that funded terrorism and human trafficking.

Westpac in its 2020 half year results had provisioned for a fine total of $900 million.

A dispute between Austral and Westpac was lodged in the federal court earlier this year to determine the total payout and the number of breaches.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Westpac admitted to the total number of breaches claimed by Austral.

The bank had originally admitted to around 19 million of the financial crime violations following an internal probe, instead of the 23 million alleged by the regulator.

Westpac chief executive Peter King said the bank is apologetic for its failings relating to the historical transactions which were not flagged as suspicious at the time.

“We are committed to fixing the issues to ensure that these mistakes do not happen

again. This has been my number one priority,” he said.

“We have also closed down relevant products and reported all relevant historical transactions.”



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Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Legacy Can Be Found in Everyday Life


Her litigation wasn’t about a series of isolated inequities, though: Ginsburg’s core argument was that “equal protection” under the law, as promised by the Fourteenth Amendment, covered discrimination based on sex. One unconventional but shrewd strategy she used was to focus on how such discrimination harmed men. “Rather than asking the Court to examine inequalities facing women, where nine men were very unlikely to be sympathetic, she asked them to look at inequalities affecting men, because she thought it was more likely that they would recognize those as problematic,” Michele Dauber, a law professor at Stanford University, told me.

This attention to the law’s treatment of men was not merely strategic, but also a component of Ginsburg’s larger legal project of demolishing the norms that steered women toward caregiving and men toward work. “The breadwinner-homemaker model is built into the structure of American society and American law at a very deep level,” says Joan C. Williams, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law. One of Ginsburg’s crucial contributions to American feminism, Williams told me, was the insight “that you had to talk about these as a set of matched stereotypes, and attack them both at once.”

Ginsburg’s approach helped alter the way women were able to make their way in the world. Before the mid-’70s, they were often denied access to their own credit cards, “on the presumption that their husband controlled the family’s financial assets,” Patricia Seith, a researcher specializing in congressional legal history, told me. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 banned such discrimination, which had extended to mortgages as well. “Ginsburg paved the way for legislation such as ECOA,” Seith said.

Signs and flowers left in Ginsburg’s honor in front of the Supreme Court (Alex Wong / Getty)

The legal precedents that Ginsburg helped establish in the ’70s in a sense shaped the way households are set up today. For instance, female breadwinners are now much more common than they were several decades ago. “She’s not responsible for every single woman individually deciding to go get a job, but she did cultivate the conditions by which, if you chose to do so, you have full access to the benefits that your employment provided,” says Melissa Murray, an NYU law professor.

The accumulation of new protections won by Ginsburg and others have allowed many Americans to envision versions of family life beyond the breadwinner-homemaker binary. Her legacy “isn’t just Social Security or tax exemptions, though those are huge in their own way,” said Stanchi, the UNLV professor. “It is the ability to perform your gender as you wish, whether that is women working outside the home, … men staying home and caring for children, men loving other men, women loving other women.”



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Trudeau to address the nation as Conservatives reject throne speech


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will speak to the nation in a rare televised address tonight, after his government outlined an ambitious plan to protect Canada from a worsening pandemic and build back an economy ravaged by job losses.

The major broadcast networks have agreed to hand over nearly 30 minutes of airtime for Trudeau to speak directly to Canadians at a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking — particularly in Ontario and Quebec — and the economy is shaky.

Following Trudeau, the opposition leaders will have a chance to respond. The logistics of that response could be challenging, now that Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has COVID-19.


  • CBC News will carry the prime minister’s live address to the nation at 6:30 p.m. ET followed by analysis and reaction. 
  • Watch, listen and follow LIVE on cbcnews.ca, the CBC News app, CBC TV, CBC News Network, CBC Gem and CBC Radio, as well as on YouTubeFacebook and Twitter

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette delivered the government’s nearly hour-long speech from the throne in the Senate chamber earlier today.

Watch: Throne speech outlines Trudeau government’s plans for pandemic recovery

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette began the 150th speech from the throne by explaining how these four ‘foundations’ can help the economy recover. 1:53

In that speech, the government pledged to create one million new jobs, extend the wage subsidy program until next summer, launch the largest jobs training program in the country’s history and begin to build a national child-care program to support working women.

The Liberal government also promised to push ahead with plans to create a universal pharmacare program with any provinces willing to take part.

The government promised to pursue an ambitious environmental agenda to fast-track Canada’s efforts to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through home retrofits and infrastructure spending, and through tax incentives for companies building zero-emissions products, like electric vehicles.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be short-lived. This is not the time for austerity. Canada entered this crisis in the best fiscal position of its peers and the government is using that fiscal firepower,” the government said in the speech.

The Bloc Québécois and Conservative parties promised Wednesday to vote against the speech.

If NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his caucus also vote against the speech, Canadians will be headed to the polls for a fall federal election.

Singh told reporters that he had not yet decided how his caucus will vote when it’s given the chance in the Commons in the days ahead.

“We’re going to take a lot of time to consider the throne speech and make sure we evaluate it and make a decision around whether we’re supporting or not,” he said.

He said he’s troubled by the Liberals’ pitch to do away with the Canadian emergency relief benefit (CERB) in favour of a revamped Employment Insurance (EI) system, warning it could hurt workers who have been forced to stay home because of the pandemic.

Conservatives say no

Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said the Tories cannot support the speech because it doesn’t address a major issue: Western alienation and national unity.

The speech said little about the oil and gas sector — an industry that has been hit hard by sinking oil prices and dwindling demand, leaving thousands jobless.

“There were no words that said, ‘We value natural resources, we value our forestry workers, we value our agricultural sector.’ They should have said all that and they didn’t. We were hoping for something better,” she said. “Conservatives continue to be the only party standing up for the West.”

The speech included big-ticket spending promises with no plan for pay for them — which Bergen dismissed as irresponsible.

“They’re still talking about how budgets will balance themselves, so it’s very, very concerning,” Bergen said, citing Trudeau’s claim from years back that a growing economy would reduce federal deficits.

Bergen said the speech offered little new material — “just grand gestures and empty promises” — and the prorogation of Parliament to deliver the speech was a naked attempt to shield the Liberal government from further parliamentary inquiry into the WE Charity scandal.

Asked if it was responsible to push Canadians closer to an election during a pandemic, Bergen said Canada is a democracy and Tories have the right to vote against a speech that fails to address their priorities.





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70 pilot whales now returned to sea as rescue operation on Tasmania’s West Coast enters fourth day



Rescuers working to save the survivors of Tasmania’s largest ever mass whale stranding say more than 70 animals have now been successfully returned to deeper water.

About 270 pilot whales became stranded on a sandbar near Strahan, about 190 kilometres from Hobart on Tasmania’s West Coast, earlier this week.

Another 200 were found, mostly dead, about 7 to 10 kilometres away after an aerial scan yesterday.

Rescuers will today focus their efforts on the returning the remaining surviving whales stuck on Fraser Flats, in Macquarie Harbour, to deeper water.

Yesterday Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service confirmed 380 of the whales had died.

Wildlife biologist with the Marine Conservation Program Sam Thalmann described the effort to re-float the animals as “challenging”.

“But the rewards as we have seen over the last few days with over 70 animals released are great and they’re very much well worth the effort,” he said.

More to come.



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If China plans to go carbon neutral by 2060, why’s it building so many coal plants?


China’s president, Xi Jinping, has announced plans for the nation to become carbon neutral by 2060, setting a bold goal for the world’s biggest climate polluter.

But it’s hard to reconcile Xi’s pledge, made before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, with the nation’s recent actions. Most notably, China is in the midst of a coal building boom. As of late last year, the country had nearly 150 gigawatts’ worth of coal power plants in the development pipeline, roughly equal to the European Union’s total capacity, according to Global Energy Monitor, a nonprofit that tracks coal projects around the world.

The plants can easily operate for 60 years or more, so anything built today could continue pumping out greenhouse gases for decades beyond the 2060 deadline.

China appears to be trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, the nation is asserting itself as a climate leader at a point when President Donald Trump has abdicated any such role the United States might once have played. And his rollbacks of environmental policies are sure to increase should he be reelected.

China also hopes to extend its dominance as the world’s clean-tech manufacturing powerhouse, seizing the lion’s share of revenue from the global shift to low-emissions energy sources. It already produces most of the world’s lithium-ion batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines and sells the biggest share of electric vehicles.

But China’s $7 trillion economic stimulus package earlier this year poured still more funds into coal plant construction. Meanwhile, the nation’s banks have been financing dozens of coal plants in other countries through its Belt and Road development initiative.

So there are clear discrepancies here between the rhetoric and the action. That said, the statement on Tuesday may still be significant.

It comes as China is developing its next five-year plan, notes Jonas Nahm, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. So it could signal that the nation is preparing to implement stricter emissions policies, even if they’re not enough to meet the 2060 goal.

If China does somehow reduce emissions—whether by, say, mothballing coal plants or installing pricey carbon capture systems in them—it would have a huge global impact. The nation is such a big emitter that those reductions could single-handedly shave as much as 0.3 ˚C off of global warming projections, according to a Climate Action Tracker analysis.

Either way, the announcement itself could place greater pressure on other nations to step up their climate goals as clean technologies and emissions reduction commitments become the currency of emerging trading partnerships, marketplaces, and spheres of influence.





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Ambitious maritime vision for Port Hedland’s future


Pilbara Ports are the largest authority in the country, with record levels of exports and shipping movements in Port Hedland.

And the CEO of the Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) Roger Johnston has big plans for the West End of Port Hedland.

Now that the land zoning has been changed by the state government to discourage sensitive developments such as aged care, hospitals or residential development due to ongoing dust issues, the PPA has taken on the Port Hedland buyback scheme which will see residential homes bought up for new developments.

They are also the lead agency in the marina development announced earlier this year.

A maritime training college, a maritime museum and a new shipping channel simulator for pilot training are all part of Mr Johnston’s vision for a maritime precinct in the West End.

He also wants to build maritime industry and cultural assets for the future with other new facilities such as a turtle rehabilitation centre.

Mr Johnston believes there is also need a Helicopter Underwater Escape Training facility in Port Hedland to alleviate travel requirements to Perth.

The port authority has used World Maritime Day to launch their new cadet training scheme for high school graduates in 2020.

Since its inception and pilot program, it has now grown to five training and work experience places on offer for graduates who want a career in the maritime industries.

Professional mentorship

With many large and junior miners using the Port Hedland and Dampier facilities for iron-ore exports, the opportunity to work on an international vessel is not hard to come by, thanks to PPA’s arrangements with large shippers and the volume of trade.

“We have more tug boats and line boats operating here than anywhere else,” Mr Johnston said.

Two world’s leading edge German maritime helicopters with shipping pilots onboard fly in and out of the port tower facility about every half hour to carry them out to the iron ore cargo vessels offshore waiting to come in.

The training and education package for graduates offers land and sea-based training with a diploma at the completion and after two years cadets are qualified to work as a watchkeeper on deck of an ocean-going vessel.

With professional mentorship and financial assistance during training, many opportunities are available for graduates to work in the maritime industry after 300 days of seagoing time.

Kyal Randazzo, who was recruited in 2019, went onboard the Eckert Oldendorff to Russia and had his first white Christmas in freezing Vladivostok. Russia.

It’s not for the faint-hearted though, spending up to 10 months at sea.

Kyal Randazzo working on the Martha Oldendorff during his cadetship with PPA.(Supplied: Pilbara Ports Authority)

“We passed through the Great Barrier Reef, and around the eastern side of Papua New Guinea,” Mr Randazzo said.

“We then headed directly through the Pacific Ocean in the typhoon season.

“Thankfully, we only confronted a low pressure system.”



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Search for missing boatie Tony Higgins and the Margrel off SA coast enters third day


An air search for missing sailor Tony Higgins in waters south of Adelaide will resume this morning.

Equipment and a wallet containing Mr Higgins’s identification were found washed up near the Murray Mouth yesterday, two days after he put out a distress call near Victor Harbor.

The 57-year-old man was involved in the state’s biggest maritime search two weeks ago.

About 500 square kilometres of ocean off Victor Harbor, Goolwa and the Coorong has already been covered in the latest search.

SA Police Inspector Gus Sickerdick conceded the length of time missing reduced the chance of finding Mr Higgins alive.

“We’ve got to bear in mind the nature of the surf and if he is in the ocean how it is affecting him if he has got anything to protect himself.”

Tony Higgins on board his boat Margrel at Granite Island two weeks ago.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)

Police said the search had covered a wide area including around Victor Harbor and the Coorong, but efforts had been hampered by “very poor” weather conditions over the past couple of days.

“It’s been impossible to see anything, given the nature of the surf and everything out there,” Inspector Sickerdick said yesterday.

A four-wheel drive on a beach
A commercial cockle fisherman collects debris from Tony Higgins’s boat the Margrel on a Coorong beach yesterday.(ABC News)

Police have been in contact with Mr Higgins’s son to let him know his father’s ID had been found, along with glasses and keys.

A commercial cockle fisherman discovered the items washed ashore several kilometres south-east of the Murray Mouth, near Goolwa, about 6:30am yesterday.



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Aboriginal construction jobs that last


By ERWIN CHLANDA

Alice Springs builder Murray River North, which usually reaches or gets close to its target of 40% Aboriginal employment, is one of several NT companies participating in a $68m government program for housing in bush communities.

Operations Manager Ross McLellan says two “sentenced to a job” prison inmates moved from unskilled work to an apprenticeship to becoming tradesmen over six years.

Currently Aboriginal tilers, plumbers, an electrician assistant, carpentry apprentice and several labourers are employed by the company operating from Alice Springs airport land for about 20 years.

Mr McLellan says the firm, which also has a branches in Darwin and Borroloola, builds up to 100 houses on concrete slabs, weighing 34 tonnes all up, which are transported on “900mm off the ground trailers” to their destinations.

He says the company, initially from WA, obtains its materials from local firms including Home Hardware, Stratco, Neater Glass, Reece Plumbing, Central Tiling and Carla Furnishers.

The group of companies were last year awarded contracts to build 134 homes, 74 of which have been completed, according to a government media release.



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