Political leaders’ failure to report allows cycle to continue


How much longer can Scott Morrison ignore the stench of the abuse of women within his party? He should grow a backbone and force the senior minister named in the most recent rape allegation to step aside. Then encourage the police to investigate the issue the best they can. The Coalition, indeed Australia, will wear this ugly issue until it is thoroughly dealt with. – Henry Spirek, Orange

Illustration by Matt GoldingCredit:Fairfax Media

You have to hand it to conservative commentators such as Parnell Palme McGuinness who will desperately try to spin the indefensible under the guise of “whataboutism” (“Women in the house causes friction in factions”, February 27-28). She devotes more than half her column space to one Labor Party incident from five years ago, while minimising the glaring cover-up by the Coalition in the latest of a string of sexual scandals as “trivialities of timing”. McGuinness reinforces the sad demise of ethical and even legal behaviour within the Coalition, where “getting away with it” has become the unofficial slogan of successive administrations. – Andrew Barrs, Prospect

The PM has clearly learnt a lot from the pandemic; preventing the spread of the accountability virus in his office with political distancing, quarantining the facts, isolating victims, and always wearing the mask of implausible undeniability in public. Until the electorate develops ‘heard’ immunity to news of the current outrage, he can breathe easily … until the next outbreak. – Peter Fyfe, Enmore

Surely, above all else, we need, crave, a Minister for Ethics and Decency? – Julia Booth, Westleigh

Segregating sexes only leads to dysfunction

I attended an all-girls high school and have been a teacher for over 30 years. My brother taught at an all-boys high school (“Rape culture reckoning as claims unleashed”, February 27-28). Both my brother and I ensured our children attended co-educational schools as single-sex schools did not reflect the reality of living in a society where men and women co-exist. Respectful relationships develop from working alongside someone, not seeing them from a distance as a possible conquest. I am dumbfounded that schools continue to segregate boys and girls. This is the real cause of the problem. – Cathy Ahearn, Kiama

When I went to The King’s School many years ago, there were no girls around. They were exotic creatures who were desired but completely misunderstood, leaving misogyny and sexism to flourish. Recent reports show nothing much has changed in private all-boy schools. This isn’t such a problem in New Zealand and many other countries where there are few private schools and most children attend public co-educational schools and mix happily with the opposite sex. – Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

I read with admiration the Cranbrook head boy’s address to the students but, combined with Chanel Contos’ survey, it paints a sorry picture. Consensus seems to be that schools must do more to prevent underage and unsupervised alcohol-fuelled sexual assaults in private homes. Are some parents so irresponsible that they are allowed to hand over all parental responsibility to teachers? – Judy Jackson, Orange

Entitlement is the power inherent in sexual assault, the power that ignores the other. Porn is irrelevant, other than as a tool in the school principals’ values clarification exercises on power, equality and respectful sexual relations. (“Schools blame porn as key element in poor attitudes to consent”, February 27-28). – Anne Eagar, Epping

Brandon Jack says he was the only male in his gender studies class at university (“Men, be brave like Asher and help him redefine masculinity”, February 27-28). Why is this so? Feminist academics need to examine why such courses have no appeal whatsoever to men. To hazard a guess, the subject is probably now best described as “radical feminism” which attacks so-called privileged white males. Why would male students subject themselves to such attacks? – Riley Brown, Bondi Beach

Four boys (no girls) in their school blazers promoting “Independent Schools” on the cover of an advertising liftout (February 27-28). This type of imagery steeped in historical sandstone and navy is cringeworthy, anachronistic and untimely; part of a bygone era that should be forgotten and one which the current crop of principals would do well to avoid given recent events. – Dorin Suciu, Eleebana

Labor, you need to talk to Kevin

Although Kevin Rudd has not endeared himself to many in the Labor movement, the fact is that he is one of the few to have led the party to government from opposition. Thus he should be listened to, particularly when his proposals for a roadmap back to power make eminent sense (“Courage is needed to go negative”, February 27-28). Rudd is correct when he asserts that Labor has been so consumed with principle that it has forgotten about winning the fight and destroying the policies, such as they are, of those presently in power. If nothing changes, Labor will continue to languish in opposition despite the deficiencies of the government. – Max Redmayne, Drummoyne

Rudd is absolutely right. God knows, there’s more than sufficient ammunition to blast this government out of office and into oblivion for several terms. Just do it, Labor. – Maureen Jones, North Rocks

Really, Kevin? Is that the best you can offer? Surely you know that every time an opposition leader defaults to a reflex contrary view, voters just switch off. How about championing authenticity over negativity in Australian politics? We all deserve to be led by authentic politicians, not just those who think they can win by being negative. – Craig Marcombe, Neutral Bay

Frydenberg the future

It says a lot about conservative politics in Australia that a politician with such a skinny resume as Josh Frydenberg should attract paeans of praise (“A fixer with his eyes on greatness”, February 27-28). According to Peter Hartcher, Frydenberg’s path to “greatness” includes smashing Facebook – the evidence for this provided by Murdoch’s New York Post – failure to get a very mild carbon emission control policy through the party room; a likely binning of a tiny increase in the superannuation levy and a return to dire poverty for the unemployed. On the other hand, after re-reading the article, I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t a clever piece of political satire. – Tony Mitchell, Hillsdale

Frydenberg, as others have said, does not want to offend any MPs who might give him future support. But he might well offend potential voters by, for instance, being churlish to JobSeeker recipients. Sooner or later he will need to stand behind his principals and not those of others. – Tony Sullivan, Adamstown Heights

Where’s the care?

Megan Stoyles, I sincerely hope that your mother at least got some comfort from those Tim Tams (Letters, February 27-28). During my mother’s miserable two-year stay in a nursing home, she was also served biscuits, albeit a cheap generic brand. However, as she was totally blind, she only got to eat them if a visitor was present because the staff had no time to feed her. The current term “aged care facility” is a misnomer. – Peter Mahoney, Oatley

Your correspondent’s experience of her mother’s misery in a nursing home is unfortunately the demise of many of our elderly. Which is why I have decided to sell my home and accept with delight and gratitude my daughter and son-in-law’s generous invitation to live with them on their 15-acre property with seven dogs, four teenage sons, two goats, ponies, free-range hens and a rooster, n’ere a neighbour in sight, tank water, miles from the nearest shop, close to bushfire prone national park and patchy internet access. It’s going to be a crazy, risky and unpredictable ride but, for me, far preferable than a nursing home. – Elizabeth Maher, Bangor

Not so Stoked

Elizabeth Farrelly is absolutely right (“Are you Stoked by planning vision? Don’t be fooled”, February 27-28). The latest piece of “repetition, flummery and fluff” from the NSW Planning Department is a dangerous indication of the loosening of public protections. Nobody will argue against the fact that the NSW planning system is woefully inadequate and needs an overhaul, but “design-led development” is just another step towards rendering the system completely ineffective. – Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy

Farrelly says “design-led development” is a false objective that sets out to fool the public. So presumably she prefers no design, no involvement of architects and that somehow Sydney will just muddle along. She uses me as an example of how design-led “fools us” because I moved from being government architect to CEO of Urban Taskforce which she describes is the “dark side”. But Farrelly offers no ideas on how the city can be improved. – Chris Johnson, Millers Point

Magic worth millions

Gerry Harvey’s association with the Magic Millions has assumed a new poignancy (“‘JobKeeper did its job, we won’t repay it’ says Harvey”). – Neale Marshall, Roseville Chase

Living on the edge

Many of our South Coast towns have one road in and one road out, and the bush grows right to the edge of the road (Letters, February 27-28). We proudly protect our natural environment. Some of us, including Andrew Constance, were unlucky enough to experience last year’s bushfires. The removal of large trees, which in a bushfire, could impact the use of these roads, is sensible and necessary. It is a truly terrifying experience to be driving on a road, with fire licking vegetation close to the car. Low growing shrubs and native grasses could remain and would provide habitat for native fauna. – Valerie Little, Tathra

“No bush, no bushfire”, you’re definitely onto something Han Yang (Letters, February 27-28). We could follow up the clearing of all NSW trees with some nice new concrete footpaths. Barnaby Joyce – “have you ever seen a footpath on fire?” – was an early adopter of this theory. It’s a no-brainer. – Paul Links, Wamberal

Rodd Staples is my hero – his severance pay was worth every cent. I thank him for the enjoyment of being able to drive through beautiful tranquil country that has roadside trees. – Jenny Peat, Narooma

Christo Curtis’ suggestion to replace all trees with green cement is not new (Letters, February 27-28). Like many Greek migrants in the ’50s and ’60s, my Uncle George had a lovingly maintained all cement front yard painted in fetching shades of green and red. – Nick Andrews, Bellevue Hill

University business

The China trade war also affects the Australian universities (“China’s trade war targets students”, February 27-28). A multibillion-dollar market is lost. Take it as a blessing. Finally, our unis have an opportunity to stop being commercial businesses, reinstall academic rigour and honour the staff who deliver that. The government must provide funding to recreate a world in which academic excellence will prevail, rescuing the deteriorating international reputation of qualifications from an Australian university. – Servaas van Beekum, Bondi Beach

Wildlife lifeline

I would like to add my admiration and thanks to Pat McDonald (“Teacher loved her work so much she left it $7 million”, February 26). She once gave a young guy from fisheries a job teaching natural history on the famous Australian Museum train. Without that, I’d be still boring fishermen about echosounders and would never have made it to the ABC, where wildlife talkback has now been going for 40 years. Thanks, Pat! John Dengate, Avalon

Bread of heaven

I went to Randwick Primary School on Avoca Street directly opposite the Sunshine Bakery (Letters, February 27-28). The lovely convex face inside the loaf of bread, once pulled into two halves, was called “the baker’s apron”. They also assured me it was the older brother or sister that got the apron – warm, and usually saturated with butter, peanut butter, cheese or strawberry jam. Adrian Bell, Davistown

Well before pre-sliced bread, “newly married couple’s loaf” was the name my grandmother gave to a loaf with grooves baked into the crust. This evidently ensured the happy couple could cut evenly sized slices, a skill obviously beyond the unwed. Janita Rankin, Annandale

Clearly winging it

If a $200 chook needs to be poached in pig’s bladder to enhance flavour, one has to wonder how tasty the chook itself is (“Our clucky day: Australia pulls off a chicken coup”, February 27-28). Genevieve Milton, Newtown

The digital view

Online comment from the story that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
‘Shut up or you’ll lose endorsement’: Kelly reveals details of meetings that led him to quit
From I8: “I drove past Craig Kelly’s office in Sutherland the day after his “surprise” resignation. The old signage had already been changed . . . no mention he was the Liberal Member for Hughes. Either signage companies in the Shire are the fastest in the world or the resignation had been planned for some time.”

  • To submit a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, email letters@smh.com.au. Click here for tips on how to submit letters.

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Engagement to continue with business and property owners in Central Geelong


The Central Geelong Business
Reference Group will meet three times a year starting from July, to provide
feedback and advice to council on Central Geelong’s growth and recovery from
the pandemic.

The group will focus on public
transport, parking, the Central Geelong Marketing Committee and Levy and
commercial rates within the Central Geelong Action Plan area.

Last night the Council endorsed
Terms of Reference for the group, which was established in 2020 and previously
named the Geelong CBD Engagement Taskforce.
The Central Geelong Business
Reference Group will be open to the 31 businesspeople who took part in online
taskforce workshops last year, as well as other current business and/or
property owners in the action plan area who apply.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie
Asher said councillors are interested in the experiences and viewpoints of
business and property owners in Central Geelong.

Having a thriving and
sustainable Central Geelong plays a significant role in the region’s recovery
from COVID-19.

The council group looks forward
to hearing the Central Geelong Business Reference Group’s feedback on the four
strategic areas, as we navigate through the challenges of the pandemic.

Councillor Eddy Kontelj said it was positive that the group
would continue providing feedback to council.

The workshops that were held last year with Central
Geelong business and property owners offered up valuable insights on priorities
that are important to the business community.

I’m sure continued engagement with the Central Geelong Business
Reference Group will see ‘clever and creative’ ideas that support an active and
thriving CBD.

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Kidnappers release Nigerian schoolboys as search for 300 abducted girls continue


Maiduguri: Gunmen in Nigeria on Saturday released 27 teenage boys who were kidnapped from their school last week in the northern state of Niger, while security forces continued to search for more than 300 schoolgirls abducted in a nearby state.

Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups, many of whom carry guns and ride motorcycles.

An empty classroom following an attack by gunmen at Government Science College, Kagara, Nigeria, earlier this month. Credit:

On February 17, an armed gang stormed the Government Science secondary school in the Kagara district of Niger state, and abducted 27 students, three staff and 12 members of their families. One boy was killed during the raid.

After their release, boys were seen by a Reuters witness walking with armed security through a dusty village, some struggling to stand and asking for water. A government official said the boys were aged between 15 and 18.

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ASIC investigation into Melissa Caddick’s alleged Ponzi scheme to continue


But the Australian Securities and Investment Commission said its investigation into her alleged crimes is continuing.

The body of Melissa Caddick has been found on the NSW South Coast. (Photo: James Brickwood) (James Brickwood)

“ASIC’s priority is to seek the return of funds to investors in the most efficient way possible,” the statement read.

“ASIC will continue to work with the receivers and provisional liquidators to prepare for the Federal Court hearing listed on 7 and 8 April.

“ASIC’s considers the hearing should go ahead as a priority to seek return of funds to investors.”

A human foot in a shoe was found by campers on the shoreline at Bournda National Park near Tathra on Sunday.

Analysis using DNA from Ms Caddick’s toothbrush matched the foot.

Melissa Caddick (NSW Police Force)

Offshore drift modelling found that a body which entered the water near Ms Caddick’s home in Dover Heights in Sydney may have drifted to the South Coast over time.

Ms Caddick, 49, disappeared on November 12 last year after leaving her home for what her husband believed was a morning run at 5.30am.

She and her family lived in affluent Dover Heights in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

She had been under investigation for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme, using millions from investors to make lavish personal purchases.

A bunch of flowers left outside Melissa Caddick's home in Dover Heights.
A bunch of flowers left outside Melissa Caddick’s home in Dover Heights. (Nine)

Her purchases included expensive holidays to the US ski resort town of Aspen, as well as couture gowns, designer clothes, shoes and handbags, and jewellery.

Her five-bedroom home was bought in 2014 for $6.2 million.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided her home as part of an ASIC investigation the day before she disappeared.

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Further investigations have found neither Ms Caddick nor her business held a current AFS licence, required under Australian law to provide financial services.

It appears Melissa Caddick's remains drifted south from Sydney to the Far South Coast of NSW.
It appears Melissa Caddick’s remains drifted south from Sydney to the Far South Coast of NSW. (Nine)

Instead of investing funds from investors, Ms Caddick allegedly transferred money from the business into her personal accounts.

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Anganwadi workers continue stir – The Hindu


Several anganwadi workers and assistants continued their waiting agitation for the second day near the Collectorate here on Tuesday in support of their demands.

Their demands to the government included regularisation as government employees and provision of time-bound scale of pay. Over 300 anganwadi workers participated in the stir, said police sources.

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Tom Parker heads back to hospital to continue cancer treatment after ditching vegan diet


Tom Parker shared an update with his followers as he underwent treatment for cancer at hospital.

The 32-year-old dad of two, who recently received his first Covid-19 vaccination, filmed himself as he underwent treatment on his stage four tumour.

His latest post came just over four months after The Wanted musician revealed to fans that he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

In Tom’s latest social media post, that the musician shared with his 212,000 Instagram followers on Monday, the singer revealed that he was ‘all hooked up’ as he underwent his latest round of treatment.

Tom later returned home to his wife and two kids where he later spoke to fans about the changes he has recently made to his diet.

While Tom initially opted for a largely vegan diet, he has since decided to add some meat back into his diet.



Tom Parker updated fans as he received treatment for his cancer

“When we first found out I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, everyone was like well on it for me,” Tom said on his Instagram story.

“All the information and stuff, I mean, you should have seen some of the stuff I was eating.”

“For the first couple of months, I pretty much went vegan didn’t I? Like I was eating lentils and s***.



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He added: “Anyway, I’m not doing the vegan thing, I didn’t really enjoy it. I’ve added a bit of meat back to my diet, nowhere near as much.”

Just last month, Tom also shared his pleasure at learning that his tumour had shrunk significantly since beginning treatment last year.

Following an MRI scan, the musician was told that he was responding well to treatment and vowed to continue fighting.

He wrote: “I had an MRI scan on Tuesday and my results today were a significant reduction to the tumour and I am responding well to treatment.



Tom later shared a tender moment with his wife as he spoke to fans about his latest diet
Tom later shared a tender moment with his wife as he spoke to fans about his latest diet changes

“Everyday I’m keeping on the fight to shrink this b******!”

Tom continued: “I can’t thank our wonderful NHS enough. You’re all having a tough time out there but we appreciate the work you are all doing on the front line.”

Tom and his wife Kelsey welcomed their son Bodhi in October, shortly after learning of his devastating cancer diagnosis.



Tom revealed he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2020
Tom revealed he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2020



Tom told fans he’s getting there ‘day by day’

The couple, who also share one year old Aurelia, have been sharing lots of adorable updates as they enjoy some precious family moments with their newborn.

In his January post, he also had nothing but praise for his wife.

Tom wrote: “To my amazing wife @being_kelsey who has literally been my rock. My babies- I fight for you every second of every day.

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Delicate talks continue as crunch time looms for hubs


By the completion of this weekend’s round five, they will have both played the full allotment of other non-Victorian teams, meaning that unless the border situation was to change, either WA or Victorian clubs would need to relocate to interstate hubs in order to avoid fixture double-ups.

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Players – all of whom are semi-professional and many of whom hold other jobs – were surveyed by the AFL Players’ Association as to whether they would be prepared to head interstate for several weeks to finish the season. The AFLPA was unwilling to reveal specifics of the survey’s results but multiple women’s football sources have indicated that a majority of players – but not all – would be willing to enter hubs rather than risk further diluting the integrity of a competition in which clubs already don’t play all others during a season.

The question however remains as to which clubs will need to relocate. North Melbourne and St Kilda were floated by industry insiders on Tuesday as frontrunners to move but the league is adamant no decisions have yet been reached. Meetings between key stakeholders continued on Tuesday.

While overwhelmingly keen to complete the season, sources suggest some players have shown a reluctance to relocate, understandable given many have significant commitments outside football. The needs of club staffers are also being taken into account.

Greater Western Sydney already spent a lengthy stretch during January away from Sydney because of the coronavirus situation in NSW at the time while Adelaide were whisked into Sydney ahead of round two after players initially needed to isolate having spent time in WA when that state had a positive case in late January.

The Giants were whisked straight to the airport after their match against Fremantle.Credit:Getty

Gold Coast, meanwhile, are spending the week in WA in between matches against both Fremantle and West Coast.

The AFL provided financial assistance for Giants players who spent an extended time on the road and a similar scheme would be likely for any Victorian clubs who need to relocate.

The AFL is steadfast in its determination to ensure the season is completed with a premiership awarded unlike 2020 in which the competition was called off in late March with four sides left standing and no team crowned as premiers.

Meanwhile, Carlton announced on Tuesday that they would challenge the one-match ban handed to reigning league best and fairest winner Madison Prespakis for rough conduct. Prespakis was on Monday offered the suspension for a dangerous tackle on Richmond’s Sarah Hosking which was graded as careless, medium impact and high contact.

But the Blues will contest the ban at the tribunal on Wednesday night in a bid to free the gun midfielder for this weekend’s meeting with North Melbourne in Launceston and ensure she remains eligible for a second straight AFLW best and fairest gong. That game in Tasmania forms part of the inaugural AFLW Indigenous round, which was launched on Tuesday. The AFL announced that Aboriginal Elder Aunty Joy Murphy would be honoured throughout the round.

“The inaugural AFLW Indigenous Round will draw on stories of empowerment, strength, resilience, and determination and will showcase the journey of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander women on and off the football field,” AFL women’s chief Nicole Livingstone said.

“Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander women have played a significant role in the development of our sport for many years, so we’re delighted that we’re able to recognise their contribution to our game in the first dedicated round this weekend.

“The 2021 AFLW Indigenous Round provides AFLW players and fans from Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous heritage with the opportunity to embrace Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander culture and I’m looking forward to seeing this round flourish for many years to come.“

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Women continue to carry the load when it comes to unpaid work | Greg Jericho | Business


In news that will shock no women around the nation, the latest survey shows women do much more unpaid work than men. At least the survey shows that in the past year more men doing more unpaid work than they were last year. The problem is so too are women.

The past year saw many of us in our homes a lot more than normal. And while that has involved many of working from home, it has also involved more unpaid work at home.

When for example young children are at home rather than at school, someone needs to be there supervising them. The latest survey by the Bureau of Statistics on the household impacts of Covid-19 sought to discover who was doing most of this unpaid work.

It is of course, women:


Graph not displaying? Click here

Nearly 45% of all women with children spend more than five hours each week supervising or caring for them – more than a third spend over 20 hours.

By contrast just 32% of men spend more than five hours a week and a mere 17% do more than 20 hours watching over or caring for their children.

This is, of course, no shock. It confirms all household surveys done over the years, but it is worth highlighting because while it might be unsurprising it doesn’t mean it should be a given.

And the reality is that even when we exclude childcare and focus on other unpaid work around the house, women are the ones carrying the bulk of the load:


Graph not displaying? Click here

Over a quarter of women spend more than 10 hours a week doing unpaid indoor housework compared to just 8% of men. When we shift outdoors, 7% of men spend more than 10 hours a week on outdoor housework and repairs, barely above the 6% of women who spend that amount of time doing the same unpaid work.

When we break down who spends more than five hours a week doing various tasks, once again women are the heavy lifters, and men are the leaners.

Over half of women spend more than five hours a week doing indoor housework, compared to just 28% of men, and women continue to be the ones who will most likely be cooking dinners – 54% of women spend more than five hours a week doing so, compared to 30% of men:


Graph not displaying? Click here

A quarter of men spend more than five hours a week caring or supervising children – roughly the same level who spend such time on outdoor housework and repairs. But the reality is the level of work done by men outdoors does not balance the work done by women indoors.

At this point the common response by those who get irked by such facts is that men do more paid employment so it all evens out.

Unfortunately that argument does not stack up.

In 2019 the Melbourne Institute’s Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey found that even when taking into account the amount of paid employment, women did more work.

When men were the main breadwinner of a household the amount of work both paid and unpaid was roughly the same by both the men and women, but in all other cases – even when women were the main breadwinner – women did more overall work:


Graph not displaying? Click here

But clearly the Covid-19 pandemic has seen an increase in the amount of work being done, and men have definitely lifted their unpaid workload.

Across all activities more men say they are doing more work now than are year ago compared to the amount of men who say they are doing less:


Graph not displaying? Click here

Ten percent of men say they are doing more indoor housework than last year compared to 5% who say they are doing less.

And yet women are also doing more work than last year.

Nearly 20% of women say they now do more indoor housework compared to last year, while 6% say they do less:


Graph not displaying? Click here

Somewhat oddly given the astonishing increase in grocery shopping done in the past year, the only category that more women say they are doing less work is on such shopping.

And while it is good that men have increased their workload, the reality remains that women have increased theirs by more.

In all categories except grocery shopping more women have increased their level of work compared to men:


Graph not displaying? Click here

Before the pandemic women did more unpaid work than men and during the pandemic men increased the amount of unpaid work they did. But so too did women, and so we see women continue to be the ones carrying the load when it comes to work that doesn’t get paid.

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West Ham continue Premier League charge with win over Tottenham


West Ham United claimed fourth spot in the Premier League as goals early in each half by Michail Antonio and Jesse Lingard earned them a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Their seventh win in their last nine league games moved West Ham two points above Chelsea in their mounting challenge for a Champions League spot.

West Ham’s Jesse Lingard scores his side’s second goal against Tottenham at the London Stadium on Sunday.Credit:AP

Antonio gave West Ham the perfect start when he fired past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris in the fifth minute.

When Lingard doubled West Ham’s lead in the 47th minute with a goal initially disallowed for offside but awarded after a VAR check it looked like a comfortable win for David Moyes’ side.

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Tasmanian retailers warn of price hikes as shipping problems continue amid COVID pandemic


John Cole could be called a modern-day pirate, sifting through stockpiles in hoarder’s homes and digging through junk in barns and farms to find hidden treasures.

Mr Cole has travelled the world to find unique old and new items, importing them back to his antique shop in Tasmania.

But a perfect storm of events is causing lengthy delays to international shipping and is pushing up the price of importing goods into Australia.

Stock meant for last Christmas only recently arrived at Mr Cole’s Devonport shop — he estimates the lost sales have cost him up to $50,000.

“It’s made it really difficult for us, the last few months,” Mr Cole said.

An antique retailer in Devonport says he’s been hit with a 275 per cent increase in freight costs.(ABC News: Michael Brooks)

“Our last two containers that were due in for Christmas in September and October last year arrived three weeks ago and cost us $13,000 dollars more than what they normally would have done.

“We’re currently faced with 275 per cent freight price increases on our goods and they’re now asking for a special surcharge to guarantee your containers get on the ship.”

Freight group says shipping limited

The coronavirus pandemic has caused chaos for the movement of goods worldwide, with the collapse of air travel, shutdowns, thriving ecommerce, industrial action, and a shortage of shipping containers leading to delays and higher freight prices.

Mr Cole is already thinking about this Christmas.

“Now we’ve got the dilemma that importers need to buy for Christmas 2021 in the next eight to 12 weeks but the rates are too high,” Mr Cole said.

Tasmania Logistics Committee chairman Brett Charlton believes the main problem is the shipping lines are not adjusted to the demand, with more containers needed than there is space on ships.

“If you are speaking to an importer in Sydney or Melbourne or any other port in Australia, there is a suite of shipping lines,” Mr Charlton said.

Woman in homewares shop, with furniture, light, mirror in background
Devonport retailer Narelle Morris says she’s had delays of up to 12 months in stock arriving.(ABC News: Michael Brooks)

Narelle Morris is facing similar issues at her homeware and furniture shop, also in Devonport.

“We have to compete with the mainland prices, so of course we have to absorb a lot of the freight charges,” Ms Morris said.

“Quite often we get things from around the world to Melbourne and the freight is as much from Melbourne to Tasmania as it is to get anything to Melbourne.”

Some of last year’s Christmas items didn’t arrive at her shop in time, with some stock delayed by up to 12 months.

Ms Morris is worried she will run out of stock if things don’t change.

“It’s not like overnight an industry can just start in Australia and start producing things, it can’t happen,” she said.

Consumers to bear the costs

Retailers and importers are warning these impacts will flow on shoppers.

“We are operating on the lowest profit margins we have ever done in 17 years in business.”

To continue trading competitively throughout the global delays to shipping, the freight logistics committee is advising importers to be exact with their forecasting.

“They need to perhaps reconsider using the ocean as a warehouse and consider having emergency stock here,” Mr Charton said.

“You might see a change where people are going to be having more warehouses, where they’re holding more stock in Australia, where before they would traditionally order just in time.”

Thank you for stopping by to visit My Local Pages and checking this news article regarding National and TAS news and updates called “Tasmanian retailers warn of price hikes as shipping problems continue amid COVID pandemic”. This news article is posted by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our local news services.

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