Harry Seidler's legacy



A look at Harry’s legacy on residential architecture to mark the 70th anniversary of the first home he built, Rose Seidler House, at Wahroonga

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Hope amid horror: the legacy of the New Year’s Eve fires | The Canberra Times


news, latest-news, new year’s eve fires, new years fires, black summer, 2019-20 fires, smoke impact babies, smoke pregnant, smoke unborn baby

Think back to where you were this time last year. If you were on the east coast of Australia, your New Year’s Eve likely involved searing heat, desiccating winds, oppressive smoke and apocalyptic skies. Families sheltered on beaches as entire towns were destroyed. Three people lost their lives. The days and weeks of terror left an indelible mark on Australians. Here are just a few stories from that day. Last New Year’s Eve, Roly Stokes and his wife Amber received news that rocked them to their core. The baby girl they were expecting to be born around Australia Day had to be delivered within 72 hours or she would likely be stillborn. “And then they came back less than an hour later going, actually, we think she needs to come sooner, she needs to come in 24 hours because the risk of stillbirth is very high if she stays in there, the risk is gonna go up and up the more time goes on,” Mr Stokes said. “And Amber was absolutely shocked by that news, like she became a violently quivering leaf like I’ve never seen anybody react so strongly to anything, she was just immediately trembling.” On Christmas Eve, under a blanket of hazy smoke, the Wollongong mother had a scan which showed the baby was smaller than she should have been. The placenta appeared undersized and the fluid around her was reduced. However the Stokes did not see the results of the scan until New Year’s Eve, when it became a race against the clock to save their baby. “When she was born, like immediately, the midwife said ‘are you a smoker’? Like when she took a look at the placenta, it just looked absolutely riddled like a smoker’s placenta and of course Amber is not a smoker but she’d been exposed to smoke for so long through through the pregnancy,” Mr Stokes said. “And, you know, it’s impossible to say for sure that the smoke was the cause, but absolutely it would be brave to say didn’t contribute. “We know from studies in Colorado that bushfire smoke, specifically to pregnant women during pregnancy, results in high blood pressure, low birth weight and premature birth in babies. Saga was low birth weight, very low birth weight and also, three and a half weeks premature.” Saga spent 17 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. Every three hours, Amber would drive to the hospital to express milk, sometimes snatching an hour of sleep in between the nightly feeds. Even when Saga was released from the hospital, she was not out of the woods. “Getting out of hospital, she’s this tiny, fragile baby who’s already on a back foot from smoke damage to the placenta … but then we’ve got to bring her into that environment as well, the smoke hadn’t gone anywhere,” Mr Stokes said. “All the air purifiers are all sold out, we ended up getting a heater one that could clean air a bit but nothing was cleaning the air well enough to protect her little lungs.” For months, she wouldn’t take a bottle and was not growing. Finally at six months of age, she began to pick up. “She was so far off the charts in terms of growth percentiles, like just like literally not on the piece of paper,” Mr Stokes said. “She’s so happy and bright and healthy.” But the potential loss of their daughter made the Stokes realise they needed to do everything they could to combat climate change. “We’ve bought a farm in Bathurst and we’ve done a lot of research on what we can do to best do our bit for the environment,” he said. “We’re building a super environmentally friendly, sustainable off grid house also growing industrial hemp, which absorbs so much carbon dioxide from the air. “We never really thought that we were super greenies or hippies or anything like that, but just connecting so clearly with the potential loss of our daughter, we need powerful change on climate change, and we need to take our own action because the government’s not doing it.” Darin Sullivan left his Lake Conjola holiday house in the early hours of December 31, 2019 to head up to Shellharbour for a shift at the local fire station. Fires were already burning up and down the south coast of NSW, and firefighters were bracing for a bad day. But when his wife called him at 10am saying people were evacuating from Lake Conjola he was stunned. “I said to her there was no fire down that way, it was all some kilometres away over towards Nowra, and she said ‘no it’s here’, and she turned the video camera around. The national park was on fire over on the other side of the water. The islands were on fire right in the middle of the water. That’s when I realised how bad things were down here,” Mr Sullivan said. His wife headed down to the beach to shelter, and he lost contact with her. Then the bells at Shellharbour started ringing. “We were called to go and help assist with the fires down at Batemans Bay, there had been numerous properties lost down there and firefighters needed equipment,” Mr Sullivan said. Transporting oxygen tanks in a HAZMAT truck and van, Mr Sullivan realised they would have to drive on a highway where both sides of the road were on fire to get to Batemans Bay. “We didn’t have any firefighting hoses or anything with [the HAZMAT truck and van] so we were a little bit more exposed than fire appliances,” Mr Sullivan said. “I looked the crew in the eyes and said, I need to get through that part of the fire to get down to Batemans Bay and I needed their agreement to do that. And they backed me up and didn’t hesitate.” They stumbled on two Rural Fire Service tankers who agreed to flank them as they travelled through the most dangerous part of the fire. The drove past Conjola where Mr Sullivan’s wife was stranded but couldn’t stop. “I didn’t know where my wife was at that point but we had to get to Batemans Bay with my crew,” Mr Sullivan said. Once they had dropped their precious cargo at Batemans Bay though, Mr Sullivan could not help but go and search for his wife. “I made my way into Conjola through the fire on both sides of the road in and came across what ended up being the incineration of entire suburb of Conjola Park and some very damaged areas within the main part of Conjola,” he said. “I grabbed my wife, put her in the car and headed back out to the to the main road after checking on some friends. “I called on the radio for more resources to be deployed into Conjola because there was a distinct lack of resources in Conjola, you know the way the emergency services were stretched that day.” One year on, Mr Sullivan is back in Conjola, reflecting on that day and those that followed. Many of his friends in the area are yet to start rebuilding. He said it was a “national scandal” that the area was left without resources during the fires. But he’s also frustrated that the focus has slipped away from the fires and the changing climate. “Everyone’s moved on, everyone’s forgotten,” Mr Sullivan said. “We changed the world for COVID in six months, and we’re not doing it for climate change.” Last New Year’s Eve, Tura Beach mother Jen Spears was intently monitoring the Currowan fire to her north. It didn’t occur to her that the rapidly spreading Mallacoota fire to her south was the bigger threat until residents of the town of Eden started to evacuate. “It was touch and go. We knew we couldn’t go north because there was a fire that went through Mogo and all the highway up there. And we knew that Mallacoota had been cut off so we couldn’t go south. So our only evacuation point was to the west. But it also put us past three small fires,” she said. Ms Spears was concerned about the impact of the smoke on her two boys, aged three and one. But she was also around two months pregnant with her daughter at the time. They evacuated to Canberra, where the smoke soon followed. In the days and weeks that followed, the family would pack up to evacuate another three times. “I don’t think I’d seen the sky until the end of January,” she said. The experience has left Ms Spears with a lingering unease about hot windy days, and living on the edge of a national park. But there were other effects. Months later, she had to be induced several weeks early after her daughter’s growth in the womb plateaued. “When I had her, the midwives asked my husband to come and have a look at the placenta and it was calcified and had fat deposits, which is associated with a mother who’s been smoking. And I don’t smoke,” Ms Spears said. Of the women who were pregnant in the area at the time, Ms Spears said only one went to term – and she was in Queensland during the smoke. Ms Spears said pregnant women were given conflicting advice about the impact of the smoke on their unborn babies. “They put all the onus on these mothers, but what can I do if the whole country is on fire? I have nowhere to run to, nowhere to go,” she said.

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Football, dementia, and the legacy of brain injury for our sporting heroes – Channel 4 News



23 Dec 2020

Our North of England Correspondent, Clare Fallon, has been looking at sport and the long-term effects of head injuries.


Some of history’s most beautiful goals are thanks to football’s iconic header. But has the move harmed, even killed, some of our most treasured football stars?

In recent years, we’ve lost many of the heroes of England’s World Cup winning team of ‘66 – and many of them suffered from dementia.

Our North of England Correspondent, Clare Fallon, has been looking at sport and the long-term effects of head injuries.

Sources: ITN, PBS

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Eddie McGuire’s Collingwood legacy more than black and white


His comments on radio linking former Indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes with a stage adaptation of King Kong, his joking offer of money if The Age’s then chief football writer, Caroline Wilson, went down the slide at the Big Freeze charity event and stayed under, and his mocking of double-amputee Cynthia Banham when she tossed the coin at an AFL game were all deeply offensive. He also watched on as The Footy Show’s Sam Newman on many occasions got laughs peddling humour based on crude sexist remarks and racial stereotypes.

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For a man who was a driving force in pushing the AFL into the future, McGuire struggled to free himself of locker-room banter and, surprisingly, often had a tin ear when it came to evolving community standards on what was acceptable humour.

These lapses of judgment, though, should be weighed up against his substantial achievements. At Collingwood, his recruitment of Mick Malthouse as senior coach laid the groundwork for its 2010 premiership, he moved the club from its spiritual home at Victoria Park to Olympic Park, and he made the MCG its home ground. Less well known is the club’s philanthropic program, in collaboration with the Salvation Army and others, which provides housing for the homeless and support services for those in crisis.

This week, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan described McGuire as “a giant of the game” who was “one of the most significant figures in the transition to a national code”. He said McGuire understood better than anyone the history and heritage of Australian football and how to marry it with entertainment for a modern audience.

To the Collingwood faithful, McGuire gave his everything. Jeff “Joffa” Corfe, the head of Collingwood’s cheer squad, said McGuire the person, rather than the club president, was ultimately misunderstood by the public. “Lots of people are wrong about him – I just love the bloke,” he said.

The boy from Broadmeadows has certainly made his mark. Whoever fills his shoes should prepare themselves for the fervour and passion that will come their way. They will be loved, and hated, as any Collingwood president should be.

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Collingwood fans exalt departing president’s legacy


He said McGuire had personally given the Collingwood faithful countless grand final and preliminary final appearances, “making the club great again”.

“More importantly, Ed in his first years as president, he brought all the supporters together,” he told The Age on Monday night.

Joffa celebrates in the last quarter of the 2010 grand final replay with Collingwood fans.Credit:Justin McManus

“Before he was president – through nobody’s fault – it was just horrible times for Collingwood.

“I’m pretty sad and devastated that he’s gone, but I appreciate that he probably feels he’s done all he can and it’s time to move on. So we have to respect that, and we’ll move on to the next chapter at the club.”

Joffa said McGuire ‘the person’, rather than the club president, was ultimately “misunderstood” by the public.

“If you had Eddie as a mate, you had a mate who would back you up and be with you. Lots of people are wrong about him – I just love the bloke.”

Luke Humphries is also a staunch defender of the outgoing club president. Born in 1998 – the year McGuire joined Collingwood – he runs the Pies Nation podcast and said McGuire was responsible for the team’s current success.

Collingwood fan Luke Humphries is a big supporter of outgoing president Eddie McGuire.

Collingwood fan Luke Humphries is a big supporter of outgoing president Eddie McGuire.

“Everything he has ever done has been for the betterment of the Collingwood Football Club and I will always be grateful for what he built this club into today,” he said.

“I was born the year Eddie started his presidency at Collingwood so for me he is Collingwood. Always has been and always will be.

“I wish him nothing but the best for what’s to come and hope we can send him off with another premiership.”

Ned Alderson, 17, from Oakleigh, said he was disappointed when he heard McGuire was retiring after 23 years in the top job. Mr Alderson’s great-uncle, Ken Smale, wore the Collingwood guernsey between 1955 and 1958, and led the club’s goalkicking tally in 1955 and 1956.

“He was one of the most passionate presidents, he really loved his football club and would do anything for it,” he said.

Long-time supporter Sarah Smith agreed: “No one can deny his unwavering loyalty.”

“I think it shows great strength to forward plan and announce his retirement a year in advance … He’s not perfect and neither are we as fans or the players, but Eddie’s support is always undeniably, 100 per cent Pies through thick and thin,” she said.

Nicole Moffat said they needed a whole year to plan Collingwood without McGuire as there was “big shoes to fill”.

Another fan, Daniel Slattery, said while McGuire’s reign had been “sensational”, it was ultimately time for him to pass on the torch.

Collingwood fan Daniel Slattery with his sons Callum, 11, and Mitchell, eight.

Collingwood fan Daniel Slattery with his sons Callum, 11, and Mitchell, eight.

He had hoped after the 2018 grand final loss, McGuire would step down so there would be a “new set of eyes to look over the place”.

“Collingwood were an absolute basket case when he took over. He brought enthusiasm and a massive sense of purpose to a board that had become stale,” Mr Slattery said.

“In recent years the board and even coaching staff look to have become a boys club. (Coach Nathan) Buckley and Ed are tied together and the bottom line is we haven’t won a flag under that leadership in 10 years.

“Overall he will go down as an off-field great … Even though he slightly tarnished his great work in the past 24 months.”

Kristen Haythorne agreed: “(I appreciate) that Eddie has forecast his resignation, giving time to find a suitable replacement instead of just leaving us in the lurch. After 23 years though, it is probably time for a pair of fresh eyes.”

The notoriously one-eyed group of Pies fans spoken to by The Age singled out many different McGuire masterstrokes as their favourite from his tenure: the poaching of coach Mick Malthouse from West Coast Eagles, the move from Victoria Park to the MCG and Holden Centre, as well as Collingwood’s move away from gambling-based revenue.

“Joffa” Corfe said that he truly believed there would be a statue of McGuire cast in gold, towering outside the MCG for his broad contribution to AFL.

“Eddie will be part of the history of Collingwood forever,” he said. “He saved the club.”

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Collingwood faithful exalt Eddie’s legacy


He said McGuire had personally given the Collingwood faithful countless grand final and preliminary final appearances, “making the club great again”.

“More importantly, Ed in his first years as president, he brought all the supporters together,” he told The Age on Monday night.

Joffa celebrates in the last quarter of the 2010 grand final replay with Collingwood fans.Credit:Justin McManus

“Before he was president – through nobody’s fault – it was just horrible times for Collingwood.

“I’m pretty sad and devastated that he’s gone, but I appreciate that he probably feels he’s done all he can and it’s time to move on. So we have to respect that, and we’ll move on to the next chapter at the club.”

Joffa said McGuire ‘the person’, rather than the club president, was ultimately “misunderstood” by the public.

“If you had Eddie as a mate, you had a mate who would back you up and be with you. Lots of people are wrong about him – I just love the bloke.”

Luke Humphries is also a staunch defender of the outgoing club president. Born in 1998 – the year McGuire joined Collingwood – he runs the Pies Nation podcast and said McGuire was responsible for the team’s current success.

Collingwood fan Luke Humphries is a big supporter of outgoing president Eddie McGuire.

Collingwood fan Luke Humphries is a big supporter of outgoing president Eddie McGuire.

“Everything he has ever done has been for the betterment of the Collingwood Football Club and I will always be grateful for what he built this club into today,” he said.

“I was born the year Eddie started his presidency at Collingwood so for me he is Collingwood. Always has been and always will be.

“I wish him nothing but the best for what’s to come and hope we can send him off with another premiership.”

Joffa said he truly believed there would be a statue of McGuire cast in gold, towering outside the MCG for his broad contribution to AFL.

“Eddie will be part of the history of Collingwood forever,” he said. “He saved the club.”

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Trump’s Most Malicious Legacy – The Atlantic


One of the essential tasks of this decade, then, is to rebuild trust in one another—and that happens best person-to-person, often at the local level, a conversation at a time, a generous act at a time. We also need to rebuild trust in our institutions, trust that has been mostly declining for decades. But for this to happen, institutions—government, media, the academy, the corporate world, churches—have to act in ways that earn our trust. The more institutions deliver, the more trust we will have, and the more trust we have, the less likely the seeds of paranoia, conspiracies, and subjectivism are to take root, or if they do, the soil will be shallow. But even if trust in one another and our institutions increases and feelings of alienation, apprehension, and isolation decrease, we will still have to navigate a turbulent time. An awful lot of cortisol has been released into our national bloodstream.

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command,” George Orwell wrote in his masterpiece 1984.

[Winston Smith’s] heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s center. With the feeling he was speaking to O’Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote: Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows.

For four long years, that important axiom was denied by the president of the United States and almost everyone in his party. But last month, more than 80 million Americans declared that enough was enough. What many of them were saying with their vote—what I was trying to say with my vote—was that it’s time to reaffirm that stones are indeed hard, that water is indeed wet, that objects unsupported do fall toward the Earth’s center. That two plus two does make four.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves; enormous repair work still needs to be done. Donald Trump’s hold on his party, a party that became a battering ram against reality, remains unchallenged, at least for now. And for some number of his followers, convinced that the election was rigged and that Trump was robbed, now is the time to settle scores, to exact revenge, to burn down the village.

“We have now entered a fighting season in our country,” the Trump acolyte Charlie Kirk, the president of the student-movement group Turning Point USA, recently told the talk-show host Eric Metaxas. “It tells us in Ecclesiastes there is a season for everything. This is a fighting season.” Republican Representative Paul Gosar sent out a tweet urging the president’s supporters to follow the example of Japanese soldiers who continued to fight decades after Japan lost the war. Nothing can be done right now to connect people who have this mindset with reality; it’s an invitation they will decline.





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Trump’s legacy on courts still building in waning days of presidency


The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote Thursday on the nominee to fill the appeals court seat vacated by new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett as well as voting on whether to send three other lower trial court nominees to the Senate floor — which could further cement President Trump’s reshaping of the federal judiciary before he leaves office.

This comes to the chagrin of Democrats who insist Republicans are violating tradition by continuing to confirm judges despite a Joe Biden victory in the presidential race.

After hearings on nominees before the Thanksgiving recess, the committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on the nomination of Thomas L. Kirsch II to serve on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, replacing Barrett. Kirsch is currently the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.

There are only three current and known future vacancies on appeals courts, according to the Judicial Crisis Network, which monitors judicial nominations. Meanwhile, there are 59 current or known future vacancies on district and specialty courts, with 35 pending nominations.

“People focus less on district courts because they decide cases rather than make legal precedent,” Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, told Fox News. “But we have seen rogue district judges impose national injunctions during the Trump administration. They can make it difficult for a president and slow the administration of justice. What district courts do matter. A Trump-appointed district judge will be very different from a Biden-appointed district judge.”

JONATHAN TURLEY: GUN RIGHTS CASE TAILOR-MADE FOR JUSTICE BARRETT, SUPREME COURT. HERE’S WHY

The Judiciary Committee will also vote Thursday on the nominations of Charles Edward Atchley Jr. and Katherine A. Crytzer, both to be judges for the Eastern District of Tennessee; on the nomination of Joseph Dawson III to be a judge for the District of South Carolina and for Zachary N. Somers to be a judge for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

President Donald Trump and Amy Coney Barrett stand on the Blue Room Balcony after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to her on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Oct. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

On Nov. 13, Trump announced his intent to nominate Raúl M. Arias-Marxuach to be a judge on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. Arias-Marxuach is currently a district judge for the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico. He is still awaiting a hearing.

Trump’s term expires on Jan. 20, 2021, but he is contesting the outcome of the Nov. 3 election in several states, even as Biden has been certified the winner in key battleground states.

Still, with one term in office, Trump has already appointed more judges than his immediate predecessors who served two terms. On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Taylor B. McNeel to be a judge for the Southern District of Mississippi and J. Philip Calabrese to be a judge for the Northern District of Ohio while four other lower court nominees are pending a Senate floor vote.

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR PASSES ON BIDEN CABINET OFFER, SOURCES TELL FOX NEWS

These recent confirmations mean a total of 229 Trump-appointed judges in just one term — so far, according to Courthouse News Service. Three of those appointments — Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — were to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That’s compared to Presidents Barack Obama, who managed to get a total of 160 judicial nominees over two terms, George W. Bush, who got a total of 204 nominees confirmed in eight years, and Bill Clinton, who scored 203 judicial appointments over two terms. Also falling short of Trump’s single term — Obama, Clinton and Bush each appointed two Supreme Court justices.

“The most important thing Trump did in judicial nominations is break free from the traditional Republican method of picking jurists,” J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department lawyer, now president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told Fox News. “Trump picked conservatives who have battle scars and who have fought the fight. That’s what prevents us from getting another David Souter on the Supreme Court.”

Shortly after the election, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters: “I think we got some district court judges that were Republican and Democrat. But, yeah, the committee will keep operating.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told radio host Hugh Hewitt before the election, “We go through the end of the year, and so does the president.”

KENTUCKY AG TAKES STATE’S CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS TO SUPREME COURT IN BID TO OPEN RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

However, outgoing ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a Nov. 12 letter to Graham “it is imperative” the committee cease processing nominations to allow Biden to make nominations for remaining vacancies in keeping with a “long and established tradition in presidential election years” after the party in power has lost.

“Going back to 1984, the Committee has only twice held a nomination hearing in the lame duck period of a presidential election year — once in 2004, following President George W. Bush’s reelection, and once in 2012, following the reelection of President Obama,” Feinstein said in the letter to Graham. “Unlike President Bush and Obama, President Trump has lost his reelection bid.”

Critics of Senate Republicans have noted the “Thurmond rule” named for the late South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond that calls for the Senate not to approve circuit court nominees in the months leading to Election Day, while others contend that not since Republican William McKinley’s election in 1896, when a Democratic Senate approved several of President Grover Cleveland’s judges, has a party that lost the race for the White House continued confirming judicial nominees.

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But the Senate confirmed future Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer to a seat on the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in late 1980 after the man who nominated Breyer — Democratic President Jimmy Carter — lost in a landslide to Republican Ronald Reagan, noted Levey of the Committee for Justice.



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The poisonous legacy of robodebt


The $1.2 billion settlement of the Centrelink robodebt class action should have been seen as another stumble in a Government display marked by flailing and floundering. 

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains located in a polling stratosphere, certainly relative to his Labor counterpart, Anthony Albanese, who increasingly resembles a caretaker leader awaiting quick dispatch.

Of all the disasters, improprieties and lashings of corruption that might be attributable to the Morrison Government, robodebt remains most hideous and typical of government callousness. 

It took human agency out of the equation; it targeted the vulnerable using an income averaging system instead of reported fortnightly income designed to recover overpayments to social welfare recipients, starting in 2016 but casting its cold focus back to 2010. 

It was given a heavy dressing of euphemism, a measure to strengthen “the integrity of welfare payments”. And it was led by Scott Morrison, who was keen to stress the more mechanical, rather than humane elements, of welfare. 

The media release from May 12 2015 chills the blood, suggesting a deeply suspicious Minister keen to keep his hands on the government’s cash reserves while using the crude language of law enforcement. 

It read:

‘We will put a strong welfare cop on the beat focusing on deterrence, detection, investigation and prosecution to track down suspected welfare fraud and non-compliance.’ 

The new system would focus on:

‘High-risk geographic hot spots, unexplained wealth, undeclared income, and undisclosed changes of customer circumstances, which can lead to ineligibility for payments.’

During the course of its brutal life, this welfare cop on the beat sent out, through Centrelink, some 470,000 notices to unsuspecting recipients, accusing them of receiving excess payments. The overpaid sums had to be returned promptly – a window of opportunity of 21 days was given.

This same generous scheme was assailed by both the courts and specialist opinion. Between April and September 2017, Professor Terry Carney of the Australian Appeals Tribunal found in five judgments against Centrelink, claiming that it could not recover a debt in an exercise exclusively using a person’s annual income to claim overpayment over a shorter period of time. 

Robodebt claims the life of a 19-year-old mum

In November 27, 2019, the Federal Court ruled in the Amato case that income averaging and penalty fines were unlawful.

A gruff Peter van Onselen, writing in The Australian, was unimpressed: 

‘Rather than admit its mistake as soon as it came to light, the government fought tooth and nail to defend its missteps, settling only at the last minute before the court case was due to start.’ 

The result: $1.2 billion in a class action settlement. Of that amount, refunds of $721 million will be made to 373,000 people, $112 million earmarked as compensation and $398 million in cancelled debts making up the rest.

The Government remains resolutely above responsibility in this regard. As a spokesman for Government Services, Minister Stuart Robert said dismissively:

‘The Commonwealth’s agreement to settle the matter is not an admission of liability by the Commonwealth, and does not reflect any acceptance by the Commonwealth of the allegations that the Commonwealth, or any of its officers, had any knowledge of unlawfulness associated with the income compliance program.’  

Robert also prefers to term the final $112 million in the settlement ‘interest payments’ rather than ‘compensation’, as the law firm Gordon Legal describes it.

Scott Morrison's robodebt to society

Labor’s Government Services spokesman, Bill Shorten, who has made campaigning against robodebt his undying mission, is astonished that “no one in this Government is taking real responsibility for this $1.2 billion scam”. 

Shorten also found the stubbornness of the Government astonishing: 

“I wish they had done their homework. It shouldn’t have taken until the day of the court hearing for the Commonwealth to come good.”

Morrison, for his part, has no interest in any actual compensation measures. He coolly explained to The New Daily in an interview:  

‘Income averaging has been found not to be a way of raising debt that can be relied upon. And the Government has changed its practice.’

This is all a tad rich coming from a man who was instrumental in formulating the scheme, then ensuring its application. Instead of admitting to fault and liability for a program that destroyed lives (the Prime Minister believes a basic apology for “hurt or harm” was sufficient), Morrison has busied himself with hectoring distractions, such as the removal of Christine Holgate from her position as Australia Post Chief. 

Stuart 'Robodebt' Robert and unfunded empathy

The sum involved in the attack on the CEO was somewhat smaller than $1.2 billion: the issue with Holgate had been her supposedly injudicious purchase of Cartier watches valued at $19,000 as executive bonuses for her staff. 

He thundered in Parliament with unconvincing moral outrage:

“We are the shareholders of Australia post on behalf of the Australian people. The chief executive … has been instructed to stand aside, and she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go.” 

Unfortunately for Australia, the wrong person went. And just to illustrate the point, Morrison is happy to keep Robert secure and in place. Government heads won’t be rolling any time soon.

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Cambridge Scholar and is an Independent Australia columnist and lecturer at RMIT University. You can follow Dr Kampmark on Twitter @BKampmark.

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Danny Frawley legacy at St Kilda Saints helps bring James Frawley out of retirement


“It’s an honour to be here, the Danny Frawley Centre opening up. Everyone knows he went through his battles.

“It’s a great thing for the community to have somewhere they can go if they are struggling … and get some help.”

James Frawley barracked for the Saints as a kid, and watched his late uncle Danny captain the club. Credit:Getty Images

Frawley also reflected on his time growing up and supporting St Kilda with the rest of his family.

“My old man, pretty much my whole family, barracks for St Kilda,” he said.

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“I used to go down to Waverley every weekend and the old man and we’d go down the rooms and hang out with the players, that’s where my passion started wanting to play footy.”

The defender was first approached by Roughead in Noosa and informed of St Kilda’s interest. He had around six weeks off in Queensland following his retirement before the approach, and had planned to play VAFA footy and begin looking for work.

“I was a bit surprised and it went from there,” he said. “I’d had a few more beers than I usually would and a couple of meals I wouldn’t usually eat.”

The 2010 All-Australian said he was putting no limits on how much longer he might last at AFL level. If 2021 went well, who knows what 2022 could hold, he said.

“I am pretty genetically blessed with the old man and Mum were both pretty quick, my Pa [grandpa] ran Stawell [Gift], I am pretty lucky [to still have speed],” he said.

“When I told Dad and he loved it … he said to me, ‘At least I can go back to barracking for St Kilda now’.”

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