the crisis Australia has hardly noticed


Australia’s role in deciding the result of the contest for the forum’s next secretary-general, to be former Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna, was the latest departure from that principle. We should have left it to the rest of the region to decide between two equally impressive candidates who are both good friends of Australia. Australia is best served when our diplomacy helps to facilitate consensus in the Pacific and prevents the emergence of such damaging splits.

However, this cavalier lack of interest in, and sensitivity towards, the region has become the norm under successive Australian conservative governments. During the Howard government, the forum’s founder, Ratu Mara, said he regretted letting us in the door to begin with. Tony Abbott mocked the entire gathering. And it was conservatives’ halving of Australian aid to the Pacific after 2013, and Scott Morrison’s recalcitrance on climate change at the 2019 forum, that made things incandescent and laid some of the groundwork for the deep cracks that were on display last week. The bottom line is that Morrison’s lack of regional credibility has diminished Australia’s capacity to wield effective influence in regional capitals.

Scott Morrison lacks regional credibility.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The brutal reality the Australian government confronts today is that there are two paths ahead. The status quo will see us retain a seat at the table of a fractured regional body that has seen a third of its membership effectively quit. As a result, power will become more concentrated in the three subregional bodies for Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia where we have no place at the table whatsoever.

The alternative is that we now, with urgency, help the Pacific family heal and reimagine a new collective framework for regional governance. This will require urgent and continuing prime ministerial effort over the next 12 months.

This won’t be the first time Australia has has worked with the region to navigate difficult challenges. In 2015, Julie Bishop brought Pacific leaders to Sydney, which helped pave the way for Fiji to return to the forum after democracy was finally restored. This required Fiji to back down from their demand for Australia and New Zealand to first leave the forum.

The fact this same sentiment for Australia to leave is already being bandied about as one of many possible pre-conditions for the Micronesian nations to return underscores the need for urgent Australian action. There is much good work we can and should do now as part of the Pacific family, such as helping magnify the voice of the region globally, particularly on climate change. With the right framework, and the right approach, the island states welcome our engagement. Our financial support is also obviously critical, even if one of the many proud legacies of the outgoing secretary-general, Meg Taylor, has been her bolstering of the contributions of the Pacific Island nations themselves to the forum budget.

Outgoing secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum Meg Taylor with former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop.

Outgoing secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum Meg Taylor with former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop.Credit:Twitter

The Pacific Islands Forum has made a real difference for the people of the Pacific. It helped put a stop to French nuclear testing. It has helped secure the Paris Agreement. And most recently, it has helped ensure the Pacific has been the most successful region in the world in limiting the spread of COVID-19 (quite an achievement when you look at the history of the Spanish flu there a century ago).

The lack of urgent political and media debate in this country on the prospective dismemberment of a regional institution that has helped underpin regional security for half a century is breathtaking. It is an indictment of a government that, despite its anti-China jihad of recent years, has been largely asleep at the regional wheel. If this is not turned around, the events of last week will be recorded in the decades to come as one of those seminal moments when the region began drifting away from Australia altogether.

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The lack of public debate cannot mask the fact that the island states of the Pacific continue to be of critical strategic importance to Australia’s future. Just as they were for us in the past, including during the darkest days of World War II. The Pacific Islands Forum is worth saving. And the Australian government needs to step up to work with the region to support it to find a way through this crisis.

Kevin Rudd is a former Labor prime minister of Australia.

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Meghan and Harry’s Christmas card – all the things we noticed in their sweet snap


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first Christmas card since relocating to the US offers a glimpse of their new family life, complete with 19-month-old son Archie and their family dogs.

The digitally-painted card captures a sweet moment, which shows the young family playing outside in the garden of their home in Montecito, California.

The card was released in partnership with animal welfare charity Mayhew, of which the Duchess of Sussex is patron.

In the card, the Duchess confirms that her family has made a personal donation to the charity, which will support its work to help dogs, cats and communities.

Read below for all the things we noticed in their first Christmas card since stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family.

What do you think of Meghan and Harry’s Christmas card? Let us know in the comments below



The young couple pictured in last year’s Christmas card

A rchie has red hair just like Harry

Eagle-eyed fans of the Royals will have noticed Archie’s shock of red hair, showing how he is looking more and more like his dad.

The 19-month-old prince is pictured sat on Harry’s lap as Meghan looks back at the pair of them.

Interestingly, as well as taking after Prince Harry in his hair, the young royal also dresses in a similar style as his dad – both of them are dressed in blue denim jeans for the shot, unlike the Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children, who favour shorts.

The festive setting for the photo is Archie’s playhouse, in the garden of their $14.7million home in the California.



DROP SIPA USA via PA Images Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex, holding baby Son Archie, during the visit to Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)

T heir dogs Pula and Guy

Animal lovers will be of the view that the real stars of this year’s card are the young family’s beloved dogs, Pula and Guy.

Guy the beagle can be seen gazing at the duchess in the picture, while Pula the black Labrador, who joined the family after the couple married in May 2018, takes a more relaxed stance on the grass.

The Sussexes are understood to have made a donation to the animal charity The Mayhew and their patron, Duchess Meghan, has sent a special message.

The charity tweeted: “We’re thrilled to receive wonderful Christmas wishes from our Patron, The Duchess of Sussex, who also made a personal donation, helping dogs, cats and our community.

“From all of us at Mayhew, thank you and Merry Christmas.”



Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, holding their son Archie

M eghan’s mum took the original photo

The digitally-enhanced image is based on a real photograph taken at the couple’s Santa Barbara home earlier this month by Meghan’s mum, Doria.

The small Christmas tree, including the homemade ornaments and other decorations, were reportedly selected by Archie, and the tree will be replanted after the holidays.

Inside the card, Meghan writes: “This year we, as a family, have made donations to several charities with you in mind.

“From a local California organisation that helps families transition out of homelessness, to two of our UK patronages: one that supports animal and community welfare, and the other, a memorial fund for a cherished friend that helps to educate children and fight poverty in Uganda, we have honoured their work on behalf of all of us.”





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The ACT’s major parties have formally launched their election campaigns — but few voters would have noticed


Updated

October 05, 2020 09:09:37

There is a certain routine to an ACT election campaign.

Campaigning begins informally months before an election, but really kicks into gear once a government enters caretaker mode.

Leaders make daily announcements (of varying significance) and hold accompanying media conferences.

Parties and candidates make their case to the voters either through the scrutiny of the media, or directly through social media, old-fashioned door-knocking and letter-boxing.

But there is another tradition that is harder to understand.

At some point, well after campaigning has begun, candidates, leaders and the party faithful gather to “officially” launch the campaign.

ACT Labor held its launch a fortnight ago, and the Canberra Liberals’ was last night. The Greens held theirs way back in June.

Aside from a little media coverage, voters take little notice. So why bother?

Preaching to the choir

In other (larger) elections, campaign launches have a little more meaning.

In the United States, conventions are held to formally appoint a presidential candidate. While this is usually just a formality — the candidate is decided on long before the convention — the event goes for days and generates significant public interest.

During Australian federal elections, the major parties’ frontbenchers and staff can claim taxpayer-funded allowances for travel up until the campaign launch (which explains why launches are usually very late in the campaign).

But launches are harder to explain in the ACT.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Labor and Liberal launches were attended by about 100 and 200 guests respectively, and 25 seats at each were occupied by candidates.

Both were livestreamed over Facebook. As of this morning, fewer than 1,000 people had watched the Liberals’ launch. About 4,700 people watched Labor’s held a fortnight ago.

To even stumble across the livestreamed launches, most viewers would have needed to like the party’s Facebook page — suggesting they are rusted-on supporters or political tragics.

Neither group are the people the parties need to speak to.

Stump speeches and star power

In years gone by, campaign launches were an opportunity for a high-profile federal politician to lend their ACT colleagues some spotlight.

In 2016, then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull attended the Canberra Liberals’ launch to endorse Jeremy Hanson’s campaign in person.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek helped launch ACT Labor’s 2016 campaign.

This year, neither launch attracted an in-person endorsement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison sent a pre-recorded message for the Liberals (though he attended the rugby league in Canberra the night before), and Anthony Albanese did the same for Labor.

It was left to the party leaders to be the stars of their own shows, as both Andrew Barr and Alistair Coe delivered 20-minute speeches to those gathered.

Barr’s speech was a laundry list of Labor’s achievements over the past term and a summary of the party’s key commitments for the next four years.

Coe’s speech was a laundry list of everything he feels Labor has screwed up over 19 years, the opportunities he suggests are being missed, and a summary of his party’s key commitments.

Neither delivered anything that those watching would not already know and agree with.

One Liberal MLA suggested after the party’s launch that an undecided voter probably would have been convinced. But, the MLA acknowledged, it was unlikely any were watching.

Energy and enthusiasm matters

If the party faithful are the only ones paying attention, is the expense worth it?

The events require a venue to be hired, sound, lighting and audio-visuals, and untold hours from party staff and volunteers. And campaign resources are finite.

However, manpower is critical in ACT elections.

The parties and candidates rely enormously on volunteers to fill letterboxes, knock on doors, stand on street corners and spend their evenings making phone calls.

Volunteers spend the middle of the night hammering in corflutes and their days pounding the pavement of suburban electorates.

If the launch serves only to remind the volunteers why they are making the effort — for a cause they obviously believe in — then perhaps the exercise is worthwhile.

Election campaigns do not win themselves, and a shot of energy into a campaign definitely will not go astray.

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October 05, 2020 09:08:19





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How to Get Your Resume Noticed (And Out of the Trash Bin)


Antony Nagelmann/Getty Images

How long does it take a recruiter to decide if you’re right for a job? It’s actually around seven seconds, according to eye-tracking research. To put that into perspective, close your eyes and take two deep breaths. That’s the time, on average, hiring managers spend skimming your resume, sizing up your history, hopes, and dreams before either tossing it into the trash or moving you to the next round of the application process.

For those of us just entering the workforce or looking to make a career transition, one thing is clear: We need find ways to stand out — and fast. While there is a plethora of guidance on the Internet surrounding how to be a “great” candidate, it can be contradictory or confusing depending on where and when you look.

I’ve spent the past few weeks catching up with recruitment experts who specialize in remote work, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), in attempt to decode the most up-to-date advice when it comes to applying for a new job — especially during this pandemic. I’ve asked them to weigh in on everything from how resumes are screened to how candidates can make connections that might help them land an actual interview.

Here is what I’ve learned:

Outsmart the Robots

According to Sulaiman Rahman, CEO of DiverseForce, recruiters may not be the only ones you need to impress. “Organizations are increasingly using automation to screen resumes, so it’s important for job seekers to use keywords that are also found in the actual job description,” he told me. In short, more and more artificial intelligence (AI) tools are being used to match the language in your resume to the language in the job posting.

This means that, when you apply for any job, you should pay attention to what the company has written about it — everything from the general description to the qualifications. The language they use has been intentionally crafted to highlight the skills and experiences they seek, so weave that language into your CV. If you do, you have a better chance of outsmarting AI and moving your application through the initial screening process.

Rahman also cautioned against overly cluttered or involved design layouts. “Unconventionally formatted resumes may be catchy to the human eye,” he said, “but it can be challenging for automated systems to find keywords on those resumes, and this can backfire on the candidate.”

Pro tip: If you want to show off your creative side, consider making an online portfolio instead of showcasing it on your resume. This is a great way to highlight your career and experience through colorful, eye-catching content. Include a link to your profile on your resume. Another option is to use a cloud-based recording platform like Loom to make a personalized video that can be linked to on your resume. 

Show Off Your Skills

Your resume should tell a story about why you are the best fit for this role. And like all great narratives, it should begin with a hook. Underneath your name and title, include a summary about what you have to offer and who you are as a professional, as well as a key skills section highlighting your strengths — focusing on the ones that are most relevant to the job.

Here is an example of what a this might look like:

An aspiring project manager who thrives on creating order out of chaos, I am energized by “wicked” challenges and am comfortable with ambiguity, having served in multiple internship roles with distributed SaaS start-ups. I keep teams on track and have a knack for identifying blind spots and finding elegant solutions to unforeseen problems. Playing a key role in remote product launches has been exciting, but what drives me continues to be the opportunity to forge a path for others as part of an underrepresented group in tech.

“The top of your resume should be a forward-leaning section that shares what you have to offer and who you want to be as a professional,” Brie Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs, said. “It’s very different from the rest of the resume, which is backward-leaning and shows what you’ve accomplished thus far.”

For the key skills section, Reynolds also recommends highlighting any remote-work skills. “Because so many roles are becoming at least partially, if not fully remote, a technology skills section showcases your ability to work with and through various platforms.”

Pro tip: Be sure to include any business-related programs you’re familiar with (Microsoft Word and Excel, Salesforce, WordPress) and any remote collaboration tools you’re comfortable using, like IM/chat programs (Slack, Teams, Google Chat), file sharing (Dropbox), document collaboration (Box, Google Drive), or video conferencing technologies (GoToMeeting, Skype, Zoom).

Don’t Restrict Work Experience to “Work”

Recently out of college with little work experience? Consider including major projects and papers you worked on as a student. “Group projects and large research papers can involve the types of skills that many employers are after: communication, writing skills, time management, focus, project management, teamwork and research — just to name a few,” Reynolds said.

It can be tricky to decide where to place this kind of experience on your resume, but if the work you’ve done has largely occurred in an academic setting, the experts recommend listing it separately under a “Relevant Experience” section. Use titles like research partner, strategy lead, or project manager, and make clear any time restrictions you were bound by to emphasize that you are comfortable working on a deadline.

Prospective employers will be impressed by your ability to connect the dots from the classroom to the real world and communicate value beyond an assignment’s scope.

Pro tip: Only highlight projects that are relevant to a potential role.

Let the Numbers Do the Talking

Which of these statements sounds more impressive?

  • “In my past role, I led the team to increase revenue by 20%.”
  • “In my past role, I increased annual revenue from $5 million to $6 million, a gain of 20%, while leading a global team of six employees spread across four time zones.”

Most recruiters would probably say the second. Not only does the second sentence talk about the candidate’s accomplishment, it also shows the depth of their success by citing cold, hard facts.

Like facts, no one can really argue with numbers. “They help us understand just how successful a candidate has been,” Lance Robbins, director of economic and workforce development at Distribute Consulting, explained. “Metrics are essential to telling the story of previous successes.” So keep track of any quantifiable milestones you’re hitting in your current role, project, or internship. You never know when you’ll need to pull data together to bolster a job application or interview.

Pro tip: Continue this practice even after landing a job. You can use numbers to make a case for why you deserve a promotion or a raise down the line.

Keep Your Cover Letter Personal

Last but not least, let’s talk about cover letters. For these, you want to capture the reader’s attention right away. One foolproof way to do this is to address the reader by their actual title. (Put yourself in their shoes — if you got a letter from a recruiter that began with “To whom this may concern” or “Dear potential job candidate,” would you be enthused? Probably not.)

You can usually find this information through a professional networking site like LinkedIn. Robbins recommended identifying a shortlist of 15 to 25 target employers. “Reach out to current employees in similar roles. Remember, though, that online networking is not unlike real-life networking, so pitching yourself early isn’t usually a good idea,” she said. “Take time to build trust and engage with others in a supportive way. Let people know you’re available and would love to be considered for a current (or future) opening.”

A few suggestions:

  • “I noticed from your LinkedIn profile that you’ve been at the company for X years. What do you love most about being there? What has kept you from pursuing work somewhere else?”
  • “On the company careers page, I read that X is one of your company values. What does that look like for someone in your role? How do you see it in practice?”
  • “Are there any skills or practices that you’d recommend I brush up on to find a role like yours at your company?”

As you begin to actually draft your cover letter, think about what your reader is likely to care about. Scan the company’s website, and view their mission statement. Research the company so that you are up to date on any recent news or media mentions. Check out their social media accounts to see what they are talking about. Review publications in your field of interest, noting any industry shifts that may be relevant to mention. All of this will help you better understand the organization’s needs, values, and interests.

Now ask yourself, “Knowing this, how can I contribute to those areas if I were hired for the role? What makes my contribution unique?” Write that in your cover letter.

Pro Tip: Making personal connections, finding out who the hiring manager is, and reaching out personally with your application materials could be the single most important action you take — the one that lands your resume on or nearer to the top of the virtual pile.





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Lockdown is easing but many RWAs seem not to have noticed


Authorities must take strong note of various residents welfare associations (RWAs) that are becoming a law unto themselves since the coronavirus outbreak.  A Gurgaon apartment RWA has demanded that employers furnish Covid-19 negative certificates before domestic helps are allowed to work. India is not in a position to do such frivolous testing; moreover, the official focus of testing is on symptomatic individuals and primary contacts of positive patients. Such testing of non-risk groups could delay testing for those who need it more.

 Many such instances have come to light where RWAs  frame regulations which make even the stringent terms of the lockdown pale in comparison. Yesterday, a case was filed against a Greater Noida RWA official for harassment of Chinese employees of cellphone major Oppo. Across India many RWAs have been accused of violating official norms on distribution of newspapers, entry of support staff and even stigmatisation of essential service personnel like doctors and nurses who are at the frontlines of the Covid-19 fight. With cases increasing, such siege mentalities could sharpen despite the lockdown easing.

These actions betray autocratic tendencies but also fear psychosis and paternalistic mores. RWAs claim to be leaders of housing societies but they could be hindering the fight against Covid-19 by setting bad examples of coercion, stigma and ignorance. Instead of hunting for coronavirus among the usual suspects like maids or various groups of minorities, it could educate people on wearing masks and even distribute them freely, which will go a long way to keeping everyone safer.

If it is the fear of sealing, government has said 1-2 positive cases don’t mandate the sealing of an entire office building. Housing societies can also expect similar treatment. The country is in an economic crisis, the scale of which only a newspaper can perhaps convey while disabusing readers of fake news. But this essential service is denied to many people by overbearing RWAs. Resumption of economic activities with social distancing norms has become imperative for survival of all classes of society. RWA leaders, who are often society elders, must take the lead in this effort.

Read also: Oppo alleges bias against Chinese employees, head of RWA booked in Greater Noida



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