Iran nuclear: State TV names suspect in Natanz attack

Iran’s state TV has named a man that intelligence authorities allege was responsible for an attack at the Natanz nuclear site last weekend.

Reza Karimi fled Iran shortly before the blast, Network One said, showing a man’s photo on what it said was an Interpol wanted poster.

Interpol said it could not confirm that Mr Karimi was on its red list of wanted fugitives.

Iran has blamed Israel for the attack and stepped up its nuclear activities.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement, but Israel public radio cited intelligence sources as saying it was a Mossad cyber-operation.

The attack came shortly before Iran was due to take part in talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

The agreement is designed to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon, something it denies wanting to do. Israel opposes the deal, saying it will not prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power.

The agreement, which saw Iran limit its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief, was in danger of collapse after former US President Donald Trump abandoned it in 2018.

Iran’s announcement it would produce 60%-enriched uranium following last Sunday’s attack was a further breach of the nuclear agreement, under which it is permitted to enrich uranium only to 3.67% purity to make reactor fuel.

It is not entirely clear how the attack unfolded. However, Alireza Zakani, head of the Iranian parliament’s research centre, said thousands of machines used to refine nuclear material were destroyed or damaged at Natanz.

The attack took place in a facility up to 50m (165ft) underground, another official said.

On Saturday, Iranian state television announced that the intelligence ministry had identified “Reza Karimi, the perpetrator of this sabotage”.

“Necessary steps are under way for his arrest and return to the country through legal channels,” it added.

The channel also showed footage of the damaged centrifuges.

But asked if Mr Karimi was on its red notice, Interpol declined to comment “on specific cases or individuals”.

Interpol’s website shows no red notice for anyone named Reza Karimi.

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Victorian opposition renews East West Link push ahead of next state election

The Victorian opposition has renewed its pledge to build the contentious East West Link and will again take the policy a state election, despite the project being scrapped six years ago.

The East West Link is a proposed tunnel from the end of the Eastern Freeway in Clifton Hill to CityLink in Parkville.

On the sixth anniversary of the project being dumped by the freshly-elected Andrews Labor government in 2015, the Victorian Liberal Party has renewed its push for the road to be part of its election platform.

It took a tweaked route, with the tunnel starting further east of Clifton Hill, to the 2018 election under leader Matthew Guy, but the party was soundly beaten on election day by Labor.

Mr Guy’s replacement as Opposition Leader, Michael O’Brien, has already put the road on his party’s policy platform.

Opposition Roads Spokesman Tim Smith said the pledge by the Commonwealth to allocate $4 billion to the East-West Link still stands.

“We can build this road immediately with that money,” he said.

But any East West Link project would likely cost more than $4 billion, meaning private investment would also be needed.

The project remains on Infrastructure Australia’s list of high priority projects.

An Infrastructure Australia audit in 2019 found the east-west corridor to the north of Melbourne’s CBD had the highest road congestion delay cost in Melbourne.

“It’s a vital piece of infrastructure that Infrastructure Australia rates as a very high priority, so the Andrews Labor government should get out of the way and let the Commonwealth fund this road,” Mr Smith said.

Daniel Andrews promised during the 2014 election campaign to cancel the contracts for the East West Link, and duly did so after defeating Denis Napthine to win government.

In 2014, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott dubbed the year’s state election a referendum on the East West Link.

The road has been taken to the last three state elections.

In 2010, by the Labor Brumby government; the Coalition Napthine government in 2014; and Matthew Guy’s Coalition opposition in 2018.

All three suffered defeat.

In 2016, Treasurer Tim Pallas ruled out the road, dubbing it a “zombie road project”.

Roads Minister Ben Carroll said the government would not revive the plan.

“Twice this issue has been to the people of Victoria and twice they’ve rejected it,” he said, referring to Labor’s election victories in 2015 and 2019.

Mr Carroll said the Victorian government was focused on other road and public transport projects.

“We are doing the West Gate Tunnel, but we are also doing enormous investment in our Airport rail link, which is going to be a real boon for the western suburbs.”

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Queensland to recalibrate Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the state as Torres Strait pauses AstraZeneca program

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the Torres Strait Islands has been paused by the local health service, as it works through the implications of changed advice for administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 50.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said today the rollout would continue in the Torres Strait, located close to COVID-19-stricken Papua New Guinea, as authorities worked to recalibrate the rollout, which would include setting up more Pfizer hubs across the state.

Late on Thursday night, Australian health authorities advised that the Pfizer vaccine should be given to Australians aged under 50, amid concerns of rare blood clots potentially linked to the AstraZeneca vaccination. 

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has encouraged people over 50 to continue coming forward to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“It is important that older people who are not at that increased risk of having those adverse events from the AstraZeneca vaccine continue to come forward and get vaccinated,” Dr Young said.

“We don’t know when we might have an outbreak of COVID-19 — we need to be prepared, so people must come forward and get vaccinated.

Pfizer vaccine hubs will be set up in every Queensland Health hospital and health service across the state, in light of the new storage requirements by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

“Originally we were only going to put them in the larger ones, but now we’ll be rolling them out across the whole state — so there will be Pfizer vaccine available across the whole state,” Dr Young said.

She said authorities had recently revised storage advice for Pfizer doses and it could now be stored for two weeks in a normal freezer, rather than a freezer at -70 degrees Celsius, and for five days in a normal fridge.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the vaccine rollout was “business as usual”.

“We accept the health advice about the continued rollout of AstraZeneca,” she said.

That includes vaccinating people in the Torres Strait Islands, near Papua New Guinea, which is grappling with a major outbreak.

“The continuation of the rollout of the vaccine program in the Torres Strait is absolutely critical,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“That has been happening because of the high rates in Papua New Guinea … We will absolutely be monitoring the rollout up there, but the rollout will continue in the Torres Strait Islands.”

Tony Brown, executive director of medical services for the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Services (TCHHS), said the changed recommendations had significant implications for the region, where most of the population was under 50 years old.

Torres Shire Council Mayor Vonda Malone said about 800 of the area’s residents had been vaccinated so far, and the news had caused concern among that group.

“The news certainly rocked confidence around the safety of the vaccine,” she said.

“I’ve been informed by Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Services that this will put a direct pause on the continuation and rollout of the vaccine as far as it continuing throughout the Torres Strait — at this stage, we’re not sure when that will occur.

“With the vaccine, it is something that we have to have to ensure we have that protection because of the close proximity of the Torres Strait with the looming cases in PNG.”

She said: “we’ve just got to ensure that it’s safe and our communities are understanding the possible effects from the vaccine”.

“I was awaiting the rollout for Thursday Island, which wasn’t due until later this month, but at the same time those up in the top western communities were the first to get the vaccine,” she said.

“I believe the Torres and Cape HHS team will be going back to the top western communities as of next week to just continue the monitoring of the first rollout of vaccines, so there will be some follow-up in that respect.

“I’ve called for Torres and Cape [Health Service] to really get some advice out and some reassurance for those who’ve already received the vaccine for how they can best make those assessments and work with their doctors to make sure their health and wellbeing is intact.”

Ms Palaszczuk also said the Commonwealth had agreed to publish more regular data about how many doses were being sent to the states.

“That’s actually going to be quite transparent now, so we’ll have that information coming to us on a much more regular basis, which is great news,” she said.

Authorities said Queensland had now administered vaccines to everyone in the 1a category — including healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients and quarantine hotel workers — and has moved onto the 1b category, which includes other health workers and frontline workers such as paramedics, police officers and correctional services staff.

Queensland had no locally acquired COVID-19 cases overnight, though one new case was detected in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.

The state has 63 active cases, with 9,700 tests were carried out on Thursday. 

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Women the focus of state government funding for bushfire impacted areas

Domestic violence services in regional areas of Victoria severely impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires are set to receive $700,000 in funding, as agencies warn there is often an increase in family violence after disasters.

The Victorian government said the cash injection would be used to help women with economic recovery and boost critical support for the prevention of violence.

About $500,000 will go towards preventing violence against women — including $140,000 for Gippsland Women’s Health and $75,000 for Women’s Health Goulburn North East to support local councils to deliver primary prevention initiatives using their expertise, local knowledge and existing relationships.

Wangaratta-based Women’s Health Goulburn North East chief executive officer Amanda Kelly said the money would be used to expand on work already being undertaken in the region.

She said the health service in partnership with Women’s Health in the North would build on a significant body of research which they started after the 2009 bushfires looking into the gendered impact of disasters on communities.

 “One of those unfortunately is that there is an increase in domestic violence against women after a disaster like this.

“And then when we also have the impact of COVID-19 on top of this we’ve got a recipe for some really unfortunate situations.”

Ms Kelly said there are several “complex reasons” for the increase in domestic violence.

“One of the basic reasons for it is around expectations of how people manage after a bushfire, so we have situations where men are often expected to be and lauded as heroes in disasters like this,” she said.

“But what we’ve seen with the ferocity of these fires in 2009 and the most recent one’s last year is that it is bigger than anybody.

She said broadly speaking men are often at the frontline.

“They are the ones that are talked about in these sorts of environments and women sort of say, ‘oh look I’ll step aside the impact of me isn’t as big, I’ll step aside,” she said.

“What can happen is unfortunately frustration and anger turn to violence and there is no excuse, there is the choice to be violent but then there is little help when there’s difficulties and working out how to get help.”

Ms Kelly said the funding will be used to increase the work which is already being undertaken in the region.

She said they will work with local councils to help them understand the gendered nature of the impact of the fires.

“Often when we are looking at developing programs, we think about what the program is about but not how it is going to impact different people in the community, so we’ll be supporting them in that way.”

An additional $285,000 will be shared between East Gippsland Shire, Mansfield Shire, Towong Shire, Alpine Shire, and Wangaratta Rural Shire to support activities that stop family violence and violence against women before it begins.

Minister for Women and the Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams said last year’s bushfires were devastating for entire communities but for women the impacts have been even worse.

 “We want to work with local councils and local health and financial service providers to improve services for women who faced the added challenge of the coronavirus pandemic while rebuilding their lives after the devastating impacts of the bushfires,” she said. 

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Aerodyne and Federation of Malaysian State Skills Development Centre Work Together on National Talent Initiative

  • Expected to hit 2k youths in 2 years, first batch of 200 trainees across five states
  • Developing young talent equipped with knowledge and capabilities are critical

Aerodyne Group, a DT3 (Drone Tech, Data Tech, and Digital Transformation) drone-based global enterprise solutions provider and the Federation of Malaysian State Skills Development Centre (FMSDC) announced an MOU today to collaborate on a national talent initiative to develop up to 2,000 youth for the drone and advanced data technology industry.

Aerodyne, which has a presence in 35 countries, will provide technology support, Drones-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service as well as digital transformation subject matter experts in each state in Malaysia with a focus on talent development and driving transformation in various industries.

With this partnership, FMSDC will be able to offer cutting edge DT3 technology to more than 1,000 of its industry members across Malaysia. Present at the signing ceremony at Aerodyne’s campus in Cyberjaya was Selangor Menteri Besar, Amirudin Shari.

FMSDC which consists of 13 State Skills Development Centres aims to develop the nation’s skilled talent pool by providing industry led technical training and education to meet local industry demand.

Muhamed Ali, Chairman of FMSDC said, “The core reason of the State Skills Development Centres’ existence are the industries at each locality that play the role of initiating and developing business policies, type of technical courses or training the industries require, development of modules and the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) development.

“For the year 2021, this collaboration aims to certify more than 200 fresh and unemployed graduates with industrial skills and competencies from Aerodyne itself in the area of drone technology.

“The initiative is in line with the government’s efforts to nurture and develop new talent to propel Malaysia into becoming a high-income nation and also boost youth participation in high-income employments especially in Industrial Revolution 4.0 segments, in line with SPV2030 agenda.

“Developing young talent equipped with knowledge and capabilities are critical to bring forward-looking approaches and lead the way in sustaining business in a highly competitive and ever-changing global economic landscape”.

Aerodyne’s founder and Group CEO, Kamarul A Muhamed said, “The global drone market is anticipated to reach US$25 billion by the end of 2023 witnessing a compound annual growth rate of 18.2% owing to the significant use of drones in various sectors. As such, we can forsee an attendant demand for human resources such as pilots, data analysts and programmers to support the projected industry boom. Our strategic partnership with FMSDC is an exciting way to upskill Malaysian talent not only for the local market but also global as well.”

The first batch of 200 trainees across 5 states will take 6 months and be completed by December 2020.

Persekutuan Pusat Pembangunan Kemahiran Malaysia or the FMSDC was established in 1999 under the Societies Act 1966. Today, FMSDC consists of 13 (thirteen) State Skill Development Centres (SDC) nationwide with more than 600,000 trainees benefiting from its various upskilling/reskilling programs. 

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State funeral to be held on April 15

The state funeral for fashion trailblazer Carla Zampatti will be held at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on April 15.

Ms Zampatti was hospitalised after a fall at the premiere of La Traviata on Sydney Harbour on March 27, and died a week later. She was 78.

The designer’s family accepted the offer of a state funeral from Gladys Berejiklian’s government.

Carla Zampatti died after a fall in Sydney. (Carla Zampatti)

The premier described the businesswoman as a “trailblazer in every respect and a role model for generations of Australians”.

Thousands who had worn and loved her clothes paid tribute to the iconic designer in the days after her death.

She has been remembered as an innovator and a champion for women.

Ms Zampatti was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987 for service to the fashion industry as a designer and manufacturer.

Carla Zampatti
Celebrated Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti died on April 3, a week after falling down stairs at Mrs Macquarie Point in Sydney. (WireImage)

In 2009 she was also made a Companion of the Order of Australia for her service through leadership and management roles in the fashion and retail property sectors, multicultural broadcasting, and as a role model and mentor to women.

Ms Zampatti is survived by her three children – Alexander Schuman, Bianca Spender who is also a fashion designer, and Allegra Spender – and nine grandchildren.

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Possos and 13th host state titles

“The opening round of the two part series was originally planned to be held on Phillip Island,” Surfing Victoria’s Liam Robertson said.

As per previous years, the final round will be a ‘prime round’ giving competitors 10 per cent extra points compared to the opening round.

The series is the direct pathway to the Australian championships to be held in August at Port Macquarie.

Victoria’s National Title allocations can be found via the Surfing Australia Rule book on

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New locations to be investigated for Brisbane inner-west state primary school

The Queensland Education Department is now investigating new locations for the inner-west primary school after backlash over the original Indooroopilly site.

The first proposed location of the new inner-western suburb state primary school was on the grounds of Indooroopilly State High School, prompting strong community outcry.

The “Stop School 5” campaign was launched by residents over concerns about the new school being built within 500 metres of four existing schools, and subsequent traffic and safety implications.

Education Minister Grace Grace confirmed the Department was now investigating the feasibility of alternative sites for the school, including reviewing any available government-owned land in response to an e-petition with 1,561 signatories tabled in Parliament.

Public consultation on the possible location for the school was held in January and February and included an online survey and face-to-face feedback sessions.

A local resident, Maryanne Jardine, launched an e-petition in February calling for the state government to release a strategic plan for primary and secondary education in Brisbane’s western suburbs, to extend the consultation period until September, and to prove that a new school would not “exacerbate traffic congestion and risk to pedestrians”.

In response to the petition, Ms Grace wrote the Education Department’s consultation process had allowed the public to give feedback on the Indooroopilly location and to nominate alternative locations.

Those alternatives included the Queensland Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology, Perrin park precinct, the former Toowong Bowls club and the TriCare site at Taringa, she wrote.

“This feedback will be considered by the Department and will inform the site selection process,” she wrote.

“As planning considerations progress, there will be further community consultation opportunities to provide input about the school’s catchment area, design and name.” 

In the response, Ms Grace wrote the Education Department would work with the Transport Department and local council to mitigate the impacts of a new school on the local road network.

However, Opposition education spokesman Dr Christian Rowan said local residents’ views were paramount in “getting the location right”.

Dr Rowan added that planning for additional high school capacity needed to be considered when determining the location of the new primary school.

Ms Jardine said she was grateful the community’s “strong voice” had been heard, and new sites were being considered.

“I think it’s also good that traffic concerns and the need to plan for traffic in the inner city have now been recognised.”

“Unfortunately, the Minister didn’t take up our request to share a school strategy for the inner-west.

“There are very real questions: Will one primary school be enough? Will Toowong State School get support for its rapid growth? and we’re not told by this response from the minister.”

Maiwar MP Michael Berkman said he had mixed feelings about the response in a social media post yesterday.

“On one hand, it’s good to see the public pressure paying off, and the Minister has been forced to acknowledge the significant traffic issues the Lambert Road area is facing,” he said.

“On the other hand, it’s pretty disappointing to see the weak approach the Department has taken to locating appropriate land laid so bare.

“The fact that the Minister is only now committing to investigate the feasibility of the alternative sites, (including by conducting a review of the government land register) after already wasting a huge amount of time and resources consulting the community on just one site seems pretty back to front to me.”  

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Zampatti to be farewelled at state funeral

Trailblazing Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti will be farewelled at a state funeral at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral next week.

The general public is welcome to join the 10.30am service, which will also be livestreamed, inside the Catholic cathedral on April 15.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Zampatti was a role model for generations as Australians.

Zampatti, 78, died on April 3, days after a fall at an outdoor opera performance.

The mother-of-three and grandmother of nine had spent a week in hospital after the accident.

Born in Italy in 1942, Zampatti migrated to Australia with her parents in 1950 at age nine, and set up her fashion famous label at 24.

Her designs have been worn by some of Australia’s most influential women, including Princess Mary of Denmark, Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman and Ms Berejiklian.

“Carla has long been celebrated for making Australian women feel confident and elegant through her exceptional design, tailoring and understanding of the modern woman,” her family said in a statement.

Zampatti was named Australian Designer of the Year in 1994, awarded the Australian Fashion Laureate in 2008 and a year later was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia, Australia’s highest civilian honour.

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Italy brings the curtain down on state censorship of films

For more than a century, many directors have fallen foul of Italy”s film censorship laws. But now state intervention into artistic freedom is over as the government has called time on the censorship of films on moral or religious grounds.

Instead, filmmakers will classify their own movies based on the age of the audience. These decisions will then be verified by a commission of 49 members chosen from the film industry.

Hundreds of films have been censored in Italy, most famously Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 classic “Last Tango In Paris”.

Thousands more were modified including works by director Federico Fellini.

According to a survey by Cinecensura, an online exhibition promoted by the culture ministry, 274 Italian films, 130 American movies and 321 from other countries have been censured in Italy since 1944.

The last major case of censorship was in 1998 with the blasphemous and grotesque “Toto Who Lived Twice”, which was strongly criticised by traditional Catholics.

Dr Stefano Baschiera, a senior lecturer in film studies at Queen’s University Belfast, says ending state censorship is something producers have wanted for a long time.

“This is the first time that we have a sort of self-regulation in the industry in Italy, instead of state control,” he said. “Producers want to follow the American system, but more significantly, the commission cannot prohibit the distribution of a film or demand cuts and other changes in the text if a film is deemed problematic.”

Hear more from Dr Baschiera in the video player, above

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