Australian of the Year Grace Tame has criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s rhetoric in the aftermath of Brittany Higgins’ Parliament rape allegations.
The 26-year-old appeared before the National Press Club on Tuesday – delivering a powerful speech addressing her own experience with sexual assault and the need for more action to help others.
Mr Morrison said he spoke with his wife Jenny after Ms Higgins, a former Liberal staffer, shared her distressing allegations of being raped inside a ministerial office in Parliament House.
“Jenny and I spoke last night and she said to me, you have to think about this as a father. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?” he told reporters at the time.
“Jenny has a way of clarifying things. Always has. And so, as I’ve reflected on that overnight and listened to Brittany and what she had to say.”
Asked about Mr Morrison’s response, Ms Tame said: “It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience.”
“And actually, on top of that, having children doesn’t guarantee a conscience,” she said.
Ms Tame used her speech to call for national reforms to address the challenges facing women coming forward with sexual assault allegations.
She said a uniform, national standard of sexual consent needed to be implemented to effectively teach this principle across Australia.
“To our government – our decision-makers, and our policymakers – we need reform on a national scale. Both in policy and education,” she said.
“To address these heinous crimes so they are no longer enabled to be perpetrated.
“It is so important for our nation, the whole world, in fact, to listen to survivors’ stories.”
Ms Tame was recognised with the Australian of the Year honour for her tireless advocacy, particularly her fight to overturn Tasmanian laws preventing survivors from speaking out.
More to come.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit http://1800RESPECT.org.au. Readers seeking support with mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at http://Beyondblue.org.au.
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Ahead of Hearing Awareness Week, the bubbly Brisbane girl’s mother, Heidi Dredge, wants families to know they need not despair if a child has hearing loss, that technology and support have outpaced perceptions of hearing loss.
It comes as new data from First Voice reveals 94 per cent of Australians are unaware it’s possible for children born deaf to learn to listen and speak as well as children with typical hearing.
Not-for-profit Hear and Say chief executive Chris McCarthy said it was sobering that most Australians did not realise potential outcomes if their children got the right diagnosis, technology and specialised speech therapy.
“We’re seeing amazing outcomes for children with hearing loss,” he said.
“Children that are going through our program have got clear, natural spoken language and I would challenge people that didn’t know they have a hearing loss to pick it up.”
Ms Dredge said there were no signs in her pregnancy and no family history of hearing loss, but Zia’s hearing loss was identified in the Healthy Hearing screening for all newborn babies in Queensland.
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Days after Canada pledged to make Facebook pay for news content amid an ongoing media battle with tech giants, one newspaper publisher is warning local news could be in trouble if the government doesn’t take bold action.
“Facebook and Google control the digital world,” Bob Cox, publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press and chair of News Media Canada, told CBC News Network’s John Northcott on Sunday. “They control the vast majority of advertising and they really have made it very difficult for other media to make a living, as you might want to say, online.
“You’re going to get to a point, a drop-off point, where suddenly you have communities without news — without news outlets, newspapers or television stations or radio stations.”
On Wednesday, Facebook announced it is blocking Australians from seeing or sharing news on its platform because of laws in the country proposing to make digital giants pay for journalism.
“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” Facebook regional managing director William Easton said.
WATCH | Newspaper publisher discusses making tech giants pay for news:
Bob Cox, publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, says local news could be in trouble if the government doesn’t take bold action. 6:09
CBC/Radio-Canada has a content distribution partnership with Facebook and Google that includes services like mobile distribution, data storage and communication tools.
Cox said advertising revenues for news outlets have been slowly declining for years, which puts limits on the journalism they can provide amid dwindling jobs and resources. There’s also danger of misinformation filling the void left in the absence of local news, he said.
Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, who’s in charge of creating similar legislation in Canada that will be unveiled in the coming months, said Facebook’s actions in Australia won’t deter Ottawa from taking a stand.
“Canada is at the forefront of this battle … we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Guilbeault said Canada could tap Australia’s model, which requires sites like Facebook and Google to make deals to pay news outlets, or it could agree on a price through binding arbitration.
Whatever path the federal government chooses, Cox said it’s crucial that it takes some kind of stand for anything to change.
“One way or the other, the idea will be that it will force Google and Facebook essentially to negotiate with publishers,” said Cox, who described the current relationship between news outlets and tech giants as “one of a tremendous power imbalance.”
“What we’ve seen around the world is that unless governments act, these companies typically don’t do anything.”
Proliferation of conspiracies
The implications of such inaction is huge, said Jason Hannan, an associate professor in the University of Winnipeg’s department of rhetoric and communications who studies social media and how it shapes public discourse.
He said news organizations have been struggling to survive since the transition from print to digital news — but digital giants like Facebook and Twitter have thrived during that time.
“They get to post, they get to feature news content, and every time we post an article or like or share or comment or so forth, this drives Facebook traffic and activity and they profit from it,” Hannan said.
“And unfortunately, this doesn’t really result in much revenue going to the news organizations whose stories they publish.”
WATCH | Facebook and Australia are in a standoff. Is Canada next?
Facebook blocked news posts for Australian users as the government plans to make technology companies pay for sharing news content. There are concerns something similar could happen to Canadians. 7:37
If nothing is done, Hannan said more news organizations will be confronted with financial situations too dire to keep going and will have to fold. That could degrade democracy, he said.
“The implications are that we will have fewer and fewer qualified and trained journalists providing quality news, and then we will see a proliferation of people with no training in journalism, but plenty of practice in YouTube posting nonsense and conspiracy theories,” Hannan said.
“We will see fewer news articles and more memes and YouTube videos and this will just contribute to the already severe degradation of our public sphere.”
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On Thursday’s “CNN Newsroom,” Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) stated that teachers should be the next group to receive the coronavirus vaccine, and that doing so is “really important for them to be able to stay in the workforce. It doesn’t do any good to open schools only if teachers get sick and go out.”
Host Poppy Harlow asked Porter if the Biden administration’s statements on vaccinating teachers are satisfactory.
Porter responded, “I think if we push and make a real effort, it is very possible to offer at least the first vaccine to all teachers here in the next couple of weeks. We’re getting through that 65-plus population. I think teachers need to be in the next group, and that’s really important for them to be able to stay in the workforce. It doesn’t do any good to open schools only if teachers get sick and go out.”
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That is how the communities of the Hunter used to be. And we still live by the same attitudes of rugged realism in the face of difficulty. We never perceive ourselves as entitled in that reckless, self-absorbed way that erodes trust and community spirit but are humbled by the earth in which we live and work.
Our forefathers made sacrifices by going down a pit for another back-breaking shift only so that the next generations could flourish. Now in 2021, those same values and sensibilities point to the need to close the coal mines, to help create a liveable Hunter for the next generations.
Most Australians know the paralysis in the climate debate in our country is an indulgence we cannot afford. We are dangerously poised in the current climate emergency. The claims being made by Fitzgibbon in pursuit of his own short-term political agenda do nothing constructive. They kneecap efforts by the Labor Party to form a cohesive voice as a functional opposition in our crucial national climate debate.
People in the Hunter are no different from people in other parts of the world who want immediate and drastic action to protect our Earth. Anyone unfamiliar with the Hunter could be forgiven for thinking that jobs in coal mining were all that mattered to our region. If you listened only to the distorted characterisations, you would think that a Hunter Valley without coal mines and coal dust would cause us all to collapse in despair.
This is bogus. Though Fitzgibbon only acknowledges it in passing, the fact is that the transition in employment out of primary industries has been afoot in our region for decades.
In the Hunter (excluding Newcastle), employment in the mining industries is low and shrinking. Jobs in tourism and hospitality outnumber jobs in mining, as do jobs in retail and construction. Population sizes in Hunter towns are booming while employment in the coal industry is declining. The Hunter Research Foundation showed that coal mining jobs in the Upper Hunter in 2018 had fallen by 2000 since 2012, and stood at 11,500. On the other hand, according to a parliamentary study, jobs in health and social assistance now stand at 17,100 .
The facts are that the performance of coal mining as an employment bastion in our region has been declining for a long time. The need for skills transfer by traditional workers in the coal mining industry to other sectors is a regular talking point among locals.
Sure, there are the newly settled or the “fly-in, fly-out” workers keen to make a quick buck, but that trend is grossly out of step with the natural attrition of a dwindling coal mining industry in the Hunter region. What we hear on the ground, the anecdotal evidence, shores up the official data.
We should be facilitating the transition out of coal mining and into future industries, not putting obstacles in the way. The invitation is open for Fitzgibbon to work with others to get an industry plan that fast-tracks to clean energy. The Hunter could positively model what can happen in other parts of the country for climate protection.
The Hunter region has been exploited for two centuries for its coal. Now it’s being exploited for political advantage in the most pernicious and regrettable way. By holding the national climate debate to ransom, Fitzgibbon is holding back the people of the Hunter and risking a dire future for our children and our children’s children. There have to be better ways forward.
Felicity McCallum is an Awabakal woman, a PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University and a research member of the Centre for Public and Contextual Theology. She lectures at the Australian Catholic University, Canberra.
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Sunday in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment acquittal, former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) discussed the GOP’s identity with Trump no longer in office.
Flake, now a CNN analyst, warned the GOP would remain in a “permanent minority” if it continues to follow Trump. He doubled down on his belief that there is “no future with Trumpism.”
“It simply has to [move on from Trump],” Flake advised on “CNN Newsroom.” “We have no choice. We’re headed down a demographic cul-de-sac if we don’t.”
“There’s really no future with Trumpism,” he added. “So, we’ve got to move on. It’s difficult because the president’s base is still there, but we have to move on.”
Host Pam Brown asked, “And what if you don’t? What if it just is the party of Trump?”
“Well, we’ll just continue to lose seats,” Flake replied. “We’ll continue to be, frankly, in a permanent minority if we continue this. So we have to. We should want to as well. I mean, look at what has happened since the last election. The president lost the election, then used every lever at his disposal to hang on … to the White House. And we saw what resulted on January 6.”
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CoronaCheck is RMIT ABC Fact Check’s weekly email newsletter dedicated to fighting the misinformation infodemic surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
You can read the latest edition below, and subscribe to have the next newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.
Welcome to CoronaCheck 2021. The team at RMIT ABC Fact Check are back and ready for another year of debunking misinformation, demystifying conspiracies and countering nonsense.
This week, we’ve looked into claims made by federal MP Craig Kelly, who has stated repeatedly that an immunologist whose views on COVID-19 treatments align with his own is the “most senior” and “most qualified” in Australia.
In addition, we’ve explained why it’s a good idea to be mindful of news reports about polls on vaccination, and bring you the latest from the US and Myanmar.
Craig Kelly’s last stand?
Might Craig Kelly become the most talked about government backbencher in 2021, a potential election year? If recent weeks are anything to go by, he seems destined to be among the frontrunners for such a label.
Among Mr Kelly’s recent newsworthy moments have been an appearance on a podcast with known conspiracy theorist, occasional poster of neo-Nazi cartoons and celebrity chef Pete Evans, as well as a “dressing down” from Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the wake of a public confrontation with Labor’s Tanya Plibersek in the corridors of Parliament House.
During that run-in, Ms Plibersek accused the Member for Hughes of “spreading crazy conspiracy theories”, to which Mr Kelly responded by suggesting the former deputy Labor leader “listen to our most senior immunologist”.
“Did you hear about Professor [Robert] Clancy?” Mr Kelly asked Ms Plibersek.
“You need to listen to the most senior qualified immunologist in this country, Professor Robert Clancy.”
Mr Kelly has also frequently made mention of Professor Clancy on his Facebook page, where, in multiple posts, he has drawn attention to the emeritus professor’s inclusion in the Australian Academy of Science’s COVID-19 expert database and his ties to the University of Newcastle.
But who is Professor Robert Clancy, and what are his credentials?
According to a staff listing on the University of Newcastle’s website, Robert Clancy is an emeritus professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, focusing on immunology and microbiology.
The university, however, recently distanced itself from Professor Clancy in a statement issued in the name of its vice-chancellor, Alex Zelinski.
“While the University always respects freedom of speech, Robert Clancy is not speaking on behalf of the University of Newcastle when offering his opinion on this issue,” Professor Zelinski said.
“The University has not funded his research since 2009 and he retired in 2013.
As frequently pointed out by Mr Kelly, Professor Clancy is indeed listed on the Australian Academy of Science’s COVID-19 expert database.
However, in an email, a spokesman for the academy confirmed for Fact Check that its database contained 1,876 experts who had “self-elected” to be included on the list — as a clearly displayed note at the top of the database also explains.
“The Academy verifies that experts in this database are listed publicly on university or other reputable organisation websites,” the spokesman said.
This point appears to have been lost on Mr Kelly, who, in some Facebook posts, shared Professor Clancy’s views alongside an image stating that “it is time to listen to the experts from the Australian Academy of Science”.
The academy’s spokesman confirmed that Professor Clancy had no formal ties to the institution.
“The Australian Academy of Science is a body that brings together Australia’s most distinguished researchers, Fellows elected for their outstanding achievements in sciences. Professor Clancy is not a Fellow of the Academy.”
As to whether Professor Clancy was Australia’s “most senior” or “most qualified” immunologist, a spokesman for the Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology told Fact Check that such labels were inappropriate.
“Immunology research is very complex and diverse, and requires detailed investigations into many different areas within a given topic,” the spokesman said in an email.
“We do not believe labels such as ‘most senior’ or ‘most qualified’ can be fairly applied to any one Immunologist (and can be very subjective).”
Spoiler alert: Facebook polls are not scientific
As Australia prepares to launch its COVID-19 vaccine program, professional pollsters at Ipsos have found that three in four Australians are willing to get the jab once it becomes available.
“Among those who agree they would get the vaccine for COVID-19, a majority would opt to receive it within a month, with an average of 44 per cent globally indicating they would get it ‘immediately’,” Ipsos said in a news release.
“In Australia, 40 per cent say immediately.”
The poll made headlines across the country, though some reports muddled the facts. One headline, still live across two News Limited websites, reads:
“One in four Australians say they will get COVID-19 vaccination but national willingness trails other countries.”
That headline appears to reverse the proportions reported by Ipsos, although it does accurately convey Australia’s relative international position.
The UK, Brazil, Mexico and Italy are among a number of nations whose citizens were reportedly more willing to get vaccinated if given the opportunity.
Meanwhile, the Hobart Mercury appeared to suggest a poll run on its Facebook page was comparable to the Ipsos findings.
“A separate survey of more than 470 readers on the Mercury’s Facebook page found 65 per cent would get the vaccine as soon as they could,” the paper reported in an article detailing the Ipsos survey results.
But as Fact Check has reported previously, Facebook polls are not an accurate measure of public sentiment.
Anne Kruger, Asia-Pacific director of verification outfit First Draft, told Fact Check in an email that the results of Facebook polls should be “taken with a grain of salt”.
“At best, they are self-selective; at worst, they can be manipulated and weaponised,” Dr Kruger said.
“There is little that can be drawn or compared between the rigorous methodology of an Ipsos survey and a Facebook poll.”
Dr Kruger explained that while it didn’t appear to be the case in this instance, Facebook polls could at times be gamed by respondents intentionally skewing the results, as can occur when activist groups share polls and tell their followers how to vote.
“Messaging about the vaccine rollout and take-up by the population is at a crucial juncture, and while it is understandable that journalists may want to gauge attitudes, this is best left to the more rigorous methods,” she said.
From Washington, D.C.
Freshly ousted former US president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial got under way this week, just a month after the protests which led to hundreds of Mr Trump’s supporters storming the US Capitol.
On day one, senators were tasked with deciding whether or not a former president could indeed stand trial for impeachment, this time on the grounds of “incitement for insurrection”, with six Republicans breaking rank to join Democrats in bringing Mr Trump to trial.
Fact checkers at PolitiFact kept an eye on the proceedings.
Democrat Jamie Raskin, they said, was correct when he claimed “the vast majority of constitutional scholars”, including prominent conservative scholars, agreed with the Democrats that a former official could be tried in the Senate.
“The Congressional Research Service,” PolitiFact noted, “has written that while the Constitution leaves the question open to debate, ‘most scholars who have closely examined the question have concluded that Congress has authority to extend the impeachment process to officials who are no longer in office'”.
On the opposing side of the debate, Mr Trump’s defence lawyer, David Schoen, argued that the House of Representatives, which on January 10 indicted Mr Trump to stand trial, had “denied every attribute of fundamental constitutional due process”.
PolitiFact, however, said that while the House had not held hearings before its decision, it had built its case on materials already in the public eye, such as Mr Trump’s public statements.
“The Constitution doesn’t get more specific about the process than saying the House indicts and the Senate holds the trial,” the fact checkers concluded.
“It leaves it to the House to follow its own procedures.
“Due process, in terms of the opportunity to present evidence and mount a defence, is more part of the trial process in the Senate.”
In other news: Myanmar’s military coup triggers misinformation
Following the Myanmar military’s coup this month against the country’s democratically elected government, rumours, falsehoods and conspiracies have proliferated across social media, according to misinformation researchers at First Draft.
Among the conspiracies circulating are competing theories as to the involvement of a range of state actors and other powerful figures in orchestrating the coup.
Some social media users, First Draft found, have linked the takeover to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
According to one exiled Chinese businessman, Guo Wengui, the CCP “sold [Ms Suu Kyi] out” after she tried “to please the Chinese and the Americans at the same time”.
Others have drawn links between the coup and a meeting Ms Suu Kyi had with a Chinese diplomat in January, saying that the diplomat commanded the coup in order to teach Ms Suu Kyi a lesson, while some have suggested the coup was the result of the military’s desire to benefit from Ms Suu Kyi’s close relationship with the Chinese.
Erik Prince, the founder of US private military outfit Blackwater, has also been linked to the coup, with a 2019 Global Witness report providing the impetus for an unproven theory involving a private security contractor owned by Mr Prince and backed by the Chinese state-owned Citic Group.
According to one Twitter user, Mr Prince orchestrated the coup in order to “create slave-labour mines for Chinese jade corporations”.
Meanwhile, in American right-wing circles, according to First Draft, an opposing theory has circulated claiming the Myanmar military intervened to prevent further involvement of the CCP in the country.
And what’s a globally significant news event without an accompanying dose of conspiratorial George Soros stories (which are always rooted in anti-semitism)?
In this case, as First Draft found, social media users pointed to a photo posted by Mr Soros’s son Alex as “proof” of the Soros family’s involvement in the coup. The photo, showing Alex Soros in Myanmar, was posted in January 2020 — a year before the military takeover.
Got a fact that needs checking? Tweet us @ABCFactCheck or send us an email at email@example.com
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January’s nonfarm payrolls report made clear that the U.S. is not experiencing, nor is moving toward, maximum employment. The paltry 49,000 jobs added is only the tip of the iceberg of bad news the report contained.
By the numbers: The Labor Department also reported that the U.S. shed an additional 87,000 jobs in December, for a total of 227,000 jobs lost.
Further, in November the U.S. added 72,000 fewer jobs than originally reported.
That brought the three-month average of job gains to just under 29,000, which is about 100,000 less than needed simply to keep up with population growth — to say nothing of the 9.9 million people who had jobs in February 2020 but do not now.
What they’re saying: “I’m afraid that the job market is stalling,” Treasury secretary and former Fed chair Janet Yellen told CBS on Sunday morning.
“We have 10 million people unemployed, 4 million have dropped out of the labor market and another 2 million are working part time who really would like full-time work.”
“We’re in a deep hole with respect to the job market and a long way to dig out.”
The big picture: While the low-tax environment and the Fed’s supereasy monetary policies are helping make businesses flush with cash, it’s not being used to hire workers.
To be sure: As Fed chair Jerome Powell has said repeatedly, the economy’s recovery is largely dependent on beating the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the Fed’s $3 trillion reaction to the pandemic has clearly been very beneficial to asset prices since March, but the real economy and real people have seen much less benefit.
The intrigue: While Powell has said the Fed must continue its easy money policies to help low-income workers and people of color who have borne the brunt of the crisis, researchers from the New York Fed found the Fed’s policies have done little to reduce the inequality they face.
“On the contrary, it may well accentuate inequalities for extended periods,” the New York Fed’s Monetary Policy and Racial Inequality report concluded.
“Over multi-year time horizons, the employment effects are substantially smaller than the countervailing portfolio effects.”
On the other side: Prices have hardly been stable. In addition to the extreme increase in health care and higher education costs and the price of food climbing at its fast rate since 2014, asset prices are inexplicably high.
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Joe Biden doesn’t want to get “mixed up” in Brexit over the Northern Ireland border row, an ally of the president has told the Sunday Telegraph,
The source said the new White House administration is monitoring the situation carefully but is loathe to intervene, marking a significant departure from Donald Trump’s foreign policy style.
The European Union’s recent blunder triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol in a row over vaccines, threatening to effectively create a border on the island of Ireland, set off alarm bells in Washington DC.
There was no public comment on the issue at the time from Mr Biden, who has made statements on the subject in the past and is deeply personally committed to the Good Friday Agreement, or from his administration.
But it was considered the latest in a series of troubling diplomatic faux pas by the EU as the US seeks to rebuild relations.
The Biden source told The Sunday Telegraph: “Whatever the EU or the UK does [in relation to Northern Ireland] the administration wants to tread carefully, wait and see what develops, and not take a hard position. It’s a tough one because you have the UK, Ireland and the EU, and you can’t win.
“With Biden, though, there is this sense of closeness with Ireland. But his officials never wanted to get mixed up in Brexit, you only get into trouble.”
He added: “It is a tightrope for him. Obviously, he wants to have a good relationship with the EU and the UK. At the same time there’s a considerable Irish American constituency here. It’s a tightrope he could fall off.”
Mr Biden has a strong affinity for Ireland due to ancestral ties. In September he warned that the Good Friday Agreement must not be a “casualty of Brexit” and made clear any future UK-US trade deal would depend on that.
Two months later he warned there must be no “guarded border” and that he would “make sure” of it.
A state department official said they were aware of ongoing discussions between the UK and EU and monitoring developments.
Many officials within the Biden administration held trenchant anti-Brexit views in the past.
But the former state department official said: “Something that is coming back is compartmentalising relationships in diplomacy. So you can be strong on one thing without it affecting other parts of the relationship.”
That left open many areas for boosting US-UK ties but much would depend on how the relationship between Mr Biden and Boris Johnson worked out, and that was still unknown.
Meanwhile, the EU’s actions, not only in relation to the Irish border, turned US officials’ attention to them rather than the UK.
A former senior national security official in the Obama administration told The Sunday Telegraph there would be “hard work ahead” in the relationship with the EU.
He said: “There is a lot of emphasis here on establishing a united front of [European] allies towards Russia and China.
“Borrell’s visit to Moscow provides yet further evidence of the need for early conversations across the Atlantic on how the US and EU deal with Russia.”
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