Kristina Keneally accuses Peter Dutton of ‘cancelling’ trip to Christmas Island and Tamil family visit



The Labor senator had said was “looking forward to meeting” Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two Australian-born daughters.

Kristina Keneally has accused Defence Minister Peter Dutton of personally intervening to cancel an approved trip to Christmas Island, where she was to visit the Tamil family from Biloela held in immigration detention.

In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, Labor’s home affairs spokesperson said the Australian Border Force had green-lit her wish to meet the family during a visit to the island next week.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika, five, and Tharunicaa, three, have been detained on Christmas Island since August 2019 after an urgent court injunction blocked their deportation to Sri Lanka.

“Looking forward to meeting Priya, Nades and the girls,” Senator Keneally tweeted at 5:14pm AEST.

But shortly afterwards at 5:25pm, Senator Keneally tweeted she had received an email at 5:12pm saying: “the defence minister has determined that the special purpose aircraft can no longer be made available for the committee’s travel”.

“Dutton cancelled the trip,” she tweeted.

The ABF and the office of Mr Dutton have been contacted for comment. They could not immediately be reached.

Senator Keneally had been due to visit Christmas Island as part of parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Capitals, Guardian Australia reported.

The committee was scheduled to travel to Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands to consult with local community groups and hold public hearings between 19 and 21 April.

The Tamil family is currently the only family detained on Christmas Island.

They will remain there for the immediate future after the full bench of the Federal Court in February upheld an earlier decision which found Tharunicaa was not given procedural fairness when her application for a protection visa was assessed.

The Department of Home Affairs has repeatedly said the family does not meet the criteria for a protection visa.

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Russian prison threatens to force feed hunger-striking Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny: allies


FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny attends a court hearing in Moscow
FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

April 12, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Staff at the Russian prison holding hunger-striking Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny are threatening to force feed him, his allies said on Monday, warning he had lost 15 kg since he arrived at the facility last month.

Navalny, 44, a prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, announced a hunger strike at the end of March in protest at what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to treat him properly for acute back and leg pain.

They say they have offered him proper treatment, but that he has refused it, insisting that he wants to be treated by a doctor of his choice from outside the facility, a request they have declined.

Navalny, whom the West says has been wrongly jailed and should be freed, was moved to a prison clinic earlier this month after complaining of a high temperature and a bad cough.

On Monday, his Twitter account, which his allies use to provide updates based on information from his lawyers who regularly visit him, said he had been discharged from the prison’s medical facility.

“Given the severity of the hunger strike, the (prison)administration is threatening on a daily basis to start force-feeding,” the account said.

There was no immediate comment from the state prison service. The regional prison service did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Navalny’s weight has fallen to 77 kg, a drop of 15 kg since he arrived at the prison facility 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of Moscow, his allies said.

Navalny had already lost 8 kg in the facility before beginning his hunger strike, his allies said on April 1, something they blamed on guards deliberately depriving him of sleep.

Prison authorities deny depriving him of sleep and have said previously that Navalny’s condition was satisfactory and that he has been provided with all necessary treatment.

Navalny’s allies want an outside doctor of his choice to be able to check his condition.

His Twitter account said on Monday that a doctor had still not been allowed in to see him. It said his pulse was averaging 106 beats per minute, a reading that is higher than normal. His blood pressure was at 94/76, it said.

Navalny returned to Russia in January after recovering from what German doctors say was a nerve agent poisoning. He was jailed in February on charges he said were trumped up for two and a half years. Russia has said it has yet to see evidence he was poisoned

(Reporting by Anton Zverev and Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn)

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Star Adelaide Crow Chelsea Randall is gutted to miss this week’s AFLW grand final, but hopes her clear-eyed stance on concussion acts as an example to footballers at all levels.


But it’s not hard to think of other footballers who would have spent this week exhausting every medical and legal avenue in an effort to play. Injury drama is the stuff of grand final week. In a certain men’s competition we could name, can you imagine the fuss?

Chelsea Randall (right) in action against Collingwood during the AFLW season.Credit:Getty Images

And Randall is first and foremost a footballer, a trailblazer of this pioneering era of the women’s competition, a three-time All-Australian, and already a dual premiership co-captain, which of course does not mean that she has had enough, but yearns for more. It’s why footballers play.

But as the interview shows, Randall is also a leader, conscious always of a good greater than her own.

“As much as I am gutted, devastated, sad that I won’t be taking the field with my teammates in the grand final,” she says, ” the last six months – the last 10 games – haven’t been about me. It hasn’t been about one individual. It’s been about this group.

“They don’t need me. They’ve proven that, themselves. They can get the job done without me.”

She said she would be on the boundary line, anxious and proud like a parent.

When the AFL mandated earlier this year that a concussed player sit out for 12 days, so nearly always ruling him or her out of the next game, some immediately asked: what if it’s a grand final? Now, clarified by Randall, the answer is plain: they don’t play. Full stop.

There was one solution floating around in the footy ether this week. It was to move the bye from the end of the home-and-away series to the week before the grand final. This is unsustainable in two ways. One is that the pre-finals bye has been good for the game, freshening up all teams in the finals.

The other is that a pre-grand final bye for the sake of concussion, a relatively rare occurrence, would be an overreaction. Worse, since we’ve at last decided to take head injuries utterly seriously, it would look like a work-around, which would raise doubts about how seriously we’re taking head injuries after all.

Listen to a leader with her head screwed on.

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Collingwood co-captain Bri Davey followed in the footsteps of Magpie greats Darren Millane and Dane Swan by being named the AFLW’s most valuable player by her peers


Collingwood co-captain Brianna Davey followed in the footsteps of Magpies greats Darren Millane and Dane Swan by being named the AFLW’s most valuable player by her peers on Wednesday night.

Davey edged out Western Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn and Fremantle star Kiara Bowers to claim the AFL Players’ Association gong. Only Millane (1990) and Swan (2010) had previously won an AFLPA MVP award for Collingwood.

Bri Davey capped off an outstanding AFLW season by winning the competition’s MVP award.Credit:Getty Images

“Bri is resilient and very dedicated to her craft. She’s been tasked with adversity and tough times over the journey through injury, but she’s persevered to piece together this amazing season,” Davey’s co-captain Steph Chiocci said.

“It takes a lotto stop her. I’ve seen her storm through one, two, three tackles and dish the ball out and not many girls can do that. Then you’ll have her smothering the ball, laying a tackle herself, and it inspires the girls.”

The versatile Davey was brilliant in her second season for the Pies since being traded from Carlton, leading her team to a preliminary final where Collingwood were shaded by Brisbane.

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Fresh from the news she will miss the AFLW grand final through concussion, Adelaide’s Chelsea Randall was voted the league’s most courageous player. Blackburn won the award for best captain, while Richmond young gun and No.1 draft pick Ellie McKenzie claimed the best first-year player award.

Meanwhile, Sharni Norder (formerly Layton), the Pies’ AFLW ruck and vice-captain, has announced her retirement.

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Morris wasn’t given a fair go by Sharks, Fitzgibbon should expect no different


No, you couldn’t.

For his part, Mace later said: “Our culture is we’re no longer a football club, we’re a football business”.

But look, in business there still has to be candour doesn’t there?

And here we are getting to the nub …

For even while Morris was succeeding in getting the Sharks to start to look the goods on the field, he had to contend with mixed messaging from the chairman and CEO, who were nevertheless publicly proclaiming their support.

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When reports circulated that Cronulla was looking at Eddie Jones to take over, Mezzatesta denied it: “That contract is in place today and we have a job ahead of us. As a group and a team, we are committed to this place and we all have a job we do in our little environments. The guy is on contract and there’s no way I’m speaking to anyone else. He’s on contract until the end of next year. If anything, those discussions don’t take place until the end of the year because I’m sure, for his benefit, he’d like to know for next year and beyond.”

No doubt.

And so it went, right up until at last Sunday, when a decision on Morris’s future must have been made, when Mezzatesta was quoted: “Bomber [Morris] is still our coach and we have not signed a deal with anyone.”

By Tuesday, though? Morris was gone. And Mr Mezzatesta was wringing his hands.

“However, in announcing the appointment, we need to acknowledge the contribution John Morris has made at the Cronulla club as a player, development and 20s coach, NRL assistant, and as our head coach in 2019-2020 and to this point in our 2021 season. As coach, John has brought through a number of promising youngsters to where they are now performing at an NRL level, his work ethic can’t be questioned and there is little doubt he has a bright future as a coach in the NRL. We certainly wish him future success.”

Mighty big of you, Tex.

Anyway, you get the drift. The whole thing was complete and utter debacle, a text-book example of how not to run a club.

I feel sorry for two people.

Firstly for John Morris. Just imagine what he could have achieved with support?

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And secondly for Craig Fitzgibbon.

The former Roosters forward and now assistant coach is by all accounts a good man with a great football brain, who has served a long coaching tutelage under Trent Robinson. Great things are predicted for him.

But mate, look at the back office you are inheriting!

You will recall the famous line, “Marry your mistress, and you create a vacancy”, the point being that the mistress can hardly expect fidelity as a wife when she herself had arisen to the position through infidelity.

My question to you, Craig Fitzgibbon:

You have become Sharks coach through a chairman and CEO who have not been completely up front with their own bloke. How can you expect they will be better with you, and give you the support you will need to succeed?

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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Woodside’s early CEO change rings alarm bells


Mr Kavonic on Wednesday described Woodside’s CEO transition situation as “shambolic” and said it cast doubt over its ability to make key decisions at such a significant time for the company.

Woodside and the other producers of oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) were hit hard last year by the onset of the coronavirus crisis, which hammered demand, sent benchmark commodity prices tumbling to multi-year lows, and forced a sharp pullback in spending across the sector. Woodside is now looking to get its growth agenda back on track and hopes to give the go-ahead to the $17 billion Scarborough gas project off the coast of Western Australia in the “second half” of 2021.

“The market does not like such messy management churn situations and Woodside’s ability to make key decisions including Scarborough FID [final investment decision] can appear compromised until CEO certainty is attained,” Mr Kavonic said.

“Clearly, the faster leadership certainty – and hence decision-making credibility – is achieved, the better.”

Santos chief Kevin Gallagher, previously considered as the lead contender for the Woodside top job, this week signalled his intention to stay at Santos after being offered a $6 million bonus plan to see through the company’s key growth projects until at least 2025.

Alongside Ms O’Neill, who is presently Woodside’s executive vice-president of development and marketing, leading external candidates to become Woodside’s permanent CEO may include former Shell Australia boss Zoe Yujnovich and BHP head of petroleum Geraldine Slattery.

UBS energy analyst Tom Allen said a key challenge for Woodside was the need to reset some of its joint-venture relationships in the north-west.

“An executive that has a track record in asset consolidation, infrastructure sell-downs and finding win-win commercial outcomes from difficult joint ventures would be well-regarded by the board.”

Woodside share closed the session on Wednesday 0.4 per cent weaker at $24.16.

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‘It’s crazy’: Eastwood coach slams call to hand Donaldson Waratahs No.10 jersey


“It’s a real bitter pill for me to swallow as his coach. What does he have to do to get the starting jersey?

“It’s crazy. The Waratahs dig their own grave sometimes. They’ve only got themselves to blame for certain things.”

Following Rob Penney’s departure, interim coaches Chris Whitaker and Jason Gilmore are in charge of picking the team. The Waratahs have two regular season matches remaining.

Eastwood and Waratahs playmaker Tane Edmed. Credit:Rhett Wyman

Donaldson played under Gilmore at the 2019 under-20 world championships, where Australia lost 24-23 to France in the final. Harrison was the team’s starting No.10, however Donaldson did play there in the semi-final but was used mostly off the bench.

Donaldson has been touted for a number of years as a player of promise and NSW may be simply experimenting with him at No.10 given their Super Rugby AU season is all but over. He was a regular bench player for the Waratahs last season as a back-up option to Harrison.

Ironically Edmed, 20, left Randwick to take up an opportunity with Eastwood because he was behind Harrison and Donaldson in the pecking order at club level.

“They’re clearly not rewarding Shute Shield form at all, which is disappointing for us in club land,” Batger said.

“I’m sick of everyone talking up that great 2019 under-20s team. They made one finals appearance and they sunk a hell of a lot of resources into that tournament. They still were only runners up. I played in the 2005 team that was runners up and I think all 15 of us were playing Super Rugby at that time. They seem to be getting a saloon passage everywhere in Australian rugby. Their breeding ground is right at their doorstep and they’re not honouring it.

“From the outside looking in, there appears to be no rhyme or reason to rush a guy in. If it was an experienced campaigner, say a Jono Lance, you completely understand. They can’t say it’s an experience thing. I would dare suggest Tane has played more senior games against men than Ben Donaldson. They can’t use form because Donaldson hasn’t been playing. They can’t use runs on the board; he doesn’t have any.”

Batger even took aim at the Galloping Greens, suggesting they were being given preferential treatment.

“If these guys are all so good, no one has got a chance of winning the Shute Shield at the back end of the year because Randwick have a mortgage,” Batger said. “They have brought in Mitch Short from Randwick, Will Harrison, Ben Donaldson, Izaia Perese and James Ramm. From the outside looking in, it certainly does seem to help if you have a green jersey on your back.”

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Edmed is understood to have taken the news in his stride but so incensed is Batger that he threw up the idea of the prodigious youngster looking to take his talents elsewhere.

“I’d be telling him to look at options,” Batger said. “If you’re the third-choice five-eighth … he could potentially look at being a first-choice five-eighth [elsewhere]. The Force is one to look at. You could almost build a franchise around Tane, in my opinion. That’s how highly I regard him.”

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The new downsizing dilemma: Fear of moving out


In the frenzied real estate market, I’ve identified a new strain of FOMO. It’s not fear of missing out but the polar opposite situation: fear of moving out — FOMO-21.

Using my own bush-fringed street of 50 houses as a case study, the novel FOMO-21 syndrome seems to have emerged from a recent failure of the once-logical formula of downsizing.

Theoretically, this is the exercise where people of a certain age who are developing dodgy knees and backs or who find the empty nest, family-sized house hard to justify when it’s just Darby and Joan and the old dog in situ, sell up.

The theory is they release funds to buy a smaller, single-level property with less mowing, plus a great deal of excess coinage cascades into the bank and we all live happily ever after.

It’s not happening around here, Jan!

Not with the way the prices have been moving this year, which is up and up and up. In the past two months, three not dissimilar homes in big native gardens have consecutively set price records in our street.

The first (with pool) went for $1.7 million. The owners were downsizing to a neighbouring suburb. Only two weeks ago we were congratulating a second resident (without pool) on achieving $1.8 million. They were relocating to their holiday unit in coastal Queensland.

Last weekend, the smallest of the houses (with pool) was knocked down to a determined bidder for $2 million-plus and the vacating couple were moving to their Victorian regional holiday home.

All well and good for vendors whose next address is secured. But very unsettling for the remainder of the vintage householders, some of whom have been here for half a century, having developed their properties on virgin land.

At a regular community meeting last week, four of the six in attendance – including one of the sellers farewelling the group – admitted they’d genuinely considered the downsizer step but had faltered in its execution because “where do we go?”

The implied end to that classic FOMO sentence is: “Where do we go and find happiness, or at least a place of comparable enjoyment to where we now live?”

2 Wild Cherry Drive Eltham
Where do we go next? Photo: Barry Plant

Two of us have actually been through the exercise of floating our houses in off-market campaigns. I found the offer that came forth would have purchased me a townhouse in nearby suburb with a small courtyard and shared driveway. For that I’d be exchanging half a hectare with wide forest views.

Another had found that if they sold now, in the current market, to get a house of comparable amenity they’d need to move regional. What’s the point when the increasing crop of grandchildren live in the ‘burbs? “So, we’ve decided to stay.”

A city friend has been stuck in the novel FOMO ditch for years. Hounding agents in bridesmaid suburbs near hers, she’s found little to justify liquidating the five-bedroom home that once catered for the blended step-siblings in a near-beach situation.

Her emptyish nest uses only two bedrooms now and has become a magnet for anyone of their acquaintance visiting Melbourne and on the lookout for amendable accommodation with a full fridge. “You don’t mind, do you?”

Even the children of friends will ask if they can move in between flats or jobs. One young couple presumed to stay for six months.

A few weeks back, finally, she found the ideal downsizer. Fewer than half the bedrooms and a courtyard rather than a garden but still with off-street parking. Farther inland from the seaside but, in all other ways, perfect.

When the auction price pushed $1 million over the reserve, and $1 million over the quoted estimate she’d been given for her bigger, better house, she was philosophical: “There must be more desperate downsizers out there than I’d imagined.”

2 Bahen Close Eltham
Forest views. Photo: Jellis Craig

Desperate downsizers who will pay breathtakingly over the odds are old school FOMO folk. They so fear missing out they’ll apparently pay whatever it takes.

Meanwhile, my bewildered neighbours, suffering the other fear of moving out have resolved to stay sane and stay put. Especially when the idea of employing a gardener equates to a fraction of the cumulative costs of stamp duty, moving, setting up and improving another smaller house.

While the FOMO-21 strain might seem new, on thinking of the snowy-haired ones who stayed around here in beloved homes until they were hauled off by some concerned relative, maybe it’s not such an original scenario.

Mr B, who used two walking sticks, was out in his garden tending his berry bearing canes and orchard every day. Meg was 100 when she left her sweet house on the hill. And, Audrey, whose winter smoke-curling chimney signalled to neighbours she was as warm as the whisky she poured, was hosting drinks until she was 97.

Maybe they knew about how to get over fear of moving out. You simply stay put.

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Canberra Times review: OTIS at Kingston provides a polished experience




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Officer seriously injured when hit by trail bike – Maitland – 16 News


A police officer has been injured when he was struck by a trail bike during a pursuit in the Hunter this evening.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District had initiated a pursuit of the trail bike rider shortly before 7pm (Wednesday 14 April 2021), on the New England Highway at Maitland.

The officer was on foot when he was struck by the trail bike and has suffered serious leg fractures, as well as suspected arm, head, pelvic and spinal injuries.

The male constable has been airlifted to John Hunter Hospital where his condition is reported to be serious but stable.

The trail bike rider – a man believed to be aged in his 20s – has been arrested and taken to John Hunter Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He remains there under police guard.

Officers attached to the Crash Investigation Unit (CIU) are now inquiring into circumstances surrounding this incident.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

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