Prosecutor tells Senate Estimates they are considering dropping charges against ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle


Prosecutors will decide whether to drop charges against Australian Taxation Office (ATO) whistleblower Richard Boyle within the next week.

On Tuesday night, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Sarah McNaughton, told Senate estimates that the CDPP was considering whether or not it should drop the charges against Mr Boyle, a former debt collection officer at the ATO’s Adelaide office.

Mr Boyle is relying on the public interest disclosure defence in pleading not guilty to offences including using a listening device to monitor a private conversation, recording another person’s tax file number and disclosing protected information.

A Senate report last year found that ATO did a “superficial” investigation into Mr Boyle’s public interest disclosure about the ATO misusing its powers against small businesses.

On Wednesday night, Ms McNaughton responded to questioning by independent senator Rex Patrick about whether the charges would be dropped.

“We can indicate that we have received materials and that includes a copy of the Senate report,” Ms McNaughton said.

“I can also indicate that we have indicated to the court that we will be considering these matters in relation to whether or not the matters should be no-billed (discontinued) within three weeks from the 10th of March.

“We are considering whether or not it should continue, and that decision — we have indicated to the court — we hope to be making by around about the 31st of March, and beyond that I’m really not in a position to comment.”

Public servant turned whistleblower

Mr Boyle became a whistleblower in October 2017 when he made an internal public interest disclosure to the ATO.

It was only after the ATO dismissed his internal disclosure about heavy-handed debt collection practices at the Adelaide office branch that Mr Boyle took his claims public via an ABC Four Corners investigation.

The media investigation revealed ATO staff were instructed to use an aggressive debt collection practice known as garnishee notices, which can have an adverse impact on vulnerable individuals and businesses.

Mr Boyle’s case is the first major test case of protections available under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (2013).

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) has already reduced the charges against Mr Boyle from 66 to 24.

But if found guilty of each of the alleged offences, Mr Boyle could still face a maximum sentence that means he spends the rest of his life in jail.

Richard Boyle speaks to Four Corners.
Richard Boyle became a whistleblower in October 2017 when he made an internal public interest disclosure to the ATO.(

ABC

)

A ‘huge injustice’

Senator Rex Patrick told ABC News that “a huge injustice would occur if the prosecution were allowed to continue”.

“It is not in the public interest to prosecute whistleblowers,” he said.

Rex Patrick addresses the Senate while Stirling Griff sits alongside him
Senator Rex Patrick said the ATO “improperly rejected” Mr Boyle’s public interest disclosure.(

ABC News: Nick Haggarty

)

“Mr Boyle is not out of the woods yet, but the CDDP’s reconsideration of the prosecution is a very good thing.”

Senator Patrick said the ATO “improperly rejected” Mr Boyle’s public interest disclosure.

“At great risk to himself, he [Mr Boyle] then went to the media and the improper conduct was exposed which ultimately caused a stop to the abuse of power,” Senator Rex Patrick said.

“Mr Boyle acted courageously in the public interest only to find himself charged and before a court.”

“But for the superficial nature of the ATO’s investigation, the events that followed that led to the charges would never have occurred.”

“If the ATO had only done its job properly none of the alleged activities would have occurred.”

Following Mr Boyle’s revelations in the the Four Corners investigation, two major reviews found issues with the way the ATO exercised its powers.

The Inspector-General of Taxation’s report in the ATO’s use of garnishee notices noted that ATO staff had not on all occasions exercised their powers “proportionately and appropriately”.

Another review by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman found the ATO’s actions were “crippling” small businesses.

The ATO has since made some changes to the way it handles small business disputes.

The reporter Nassim Khadem was part of the joint Fairfax-ABC Four Corners investigation during her previous employment with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

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NRL tells Titans, Cowboys to get out of Queensland



News Corp understands the Titans and Cowboys have been instructed by the NRL to leave Queensland over the next 48 hours with the clubs set to feature in a double header at Kogarah’s Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.Titans players are due to fly out on Wednesday, while the Cowboys are slated to head to Sydney on Friday.Watch The 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership Live & On-Demand with No Ad-Breaks During Play. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >While there are no major COVID infection cases in north Queensland and the Gold Coast, both clubs are bound for Sydney with the NRL determined to take no risks around the potential cancellation of games.Titans officials have received notification from the NRL, while Cowboys management were in meetings on Wednesday morning in a bid to make quick arrangements to depart Townsville.The decision comes just 48 hours after the Broncos relocated to Sydney for their next two games against Melbourne and Souths in the wake of the COVID outbreak that has hit the greater Brisbane region.NRL Magic Round 2021It is understood the Queensland government issued no directive to the Cowboys or the Titans, with the NRL making the call to ensure the season can continue as smoothly as possible.Titans boss Steve Mitchell remained hopeful that the players and staff would be able to return home next week, although it’s looking more likely their round five game against Newcastle will have to be switched. “We’re hopeful of returning to the Gold Coast after this week’s clash, we might remain in Sydney for a few days.“We will respect the advice from the Queensland government and Chief Health Officer.“We’re hopeful our round five game against Newcastle goes ahead at Cbus.”The Cowboys are not relocating, with North Queensland to embark on a hit-and-run mission for this week’s Kogarah double-header before returning to Sydney next week for their clash against the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, April 11.Brisbane are in lockdown at Parramatta and Broncos skipper Alex Glenn said Queensland-based NRL stars will do whatever is required to keep the NRL competition afloat.“We are prepared for the worst. It’s a sacrifice that we have to make to keep the game alive,” he said.“It’s a little taste of what the Warriors went through last year. If we get back sooner (to Brisbane) it’s a bonus.“The Warriors did this for 12 months, but all our families in Brisbane have the support.“It is definitely a sacrifice being away from your family, especially with kids, but we are trying to keep the game alive for the other games, and this is the sacrifice we have to make for the game and emotionally we have to commit.”Melbourne will host the Broncos on Friday after Brisbane were given exemption from the Victorian government.

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Home and Away: Ari is alive after Lewis’ failed plot to kill him while Mac tells Tane she’s pregnant


Oh Home and Away, sometimes you disappoint me so.

After weeks of promos and going hard on Lewis’ killing spree, he doesn’t kill Ari.

Ari also appears to make a full recovery.

I’m not a doctor but I have watched A LOT of Grey’s Anatomy and if Ari’s scans showed no signs of improvement — in my unmedically-trained opinion — I find it unlikely that he would wake up without any kind of “impairment,” as Budget McDreamy put it.

And this isn’t because I want Ari to die, but more there wasn’t enough of a struggle or a fight for life.

I’m a bit shocked at how quickly it all happened.

But alas, we don’t watch the show for its accuracy.

So back to the start and things pick up with Lewis preparing the syringe filled with a life ending substance and is putting it into Ari’s drip when Anna walks in and nearly catches him.

Lewis hides it – not surreptitiously – behind his back.

Anna doesn’t think it’s suss and actually thanks Lewis for taking such good care of Ari.

“I’m really glad you’re looking out for him,” Anna says.

Meanwhile Budget McDreamy is “worried about making the wrong call” but he sucks it up and meets with the Paratas and Anna — who is suddenly in love with Ari now that he could die.

The doc gets a quick inspirational pep talk from Tori.

“It’s the job hun,” Tori says. What a way with words.

Budget McDreamy is wearing a tie for the formal occasion of telling a family that the swelling in Ari’s brain hasn’t gone down but they’re going to bring him out of the coma to see if he can breathe on his own or wake up.

New tie who dis?
Camera IconNew tie who dis? Credit: Channel 7/Channel 7

Nikau gives a rousing speech at his uncle’s bedside and just when they are growing impatient, Ari begins to cough and splutter.

He’s breathing on his own and is somewhat responsive. He playfully slaps Tane in the face and cracks a joke which means he’s completely healed.

Lewis is devastated.

I’m not sure if it’s because Ari isn’t dead or because hindsight is a cruel mistress and he regrets that he would have killed Ari if he wasn’t caught.

Tane tells Mac about the good news.

She breaks down in tears and Tane comforts her.

Boys will be boys.
Camera IconBoys will be boys. Credit: Channel 7/Channel 7

Mac has just been on a mums and bubs forum and if everyone casts their mind back to last year, Jasmine was basically living an alternative life through a forum pretending Gracie was her baby.

“There’s something that I need to tell Ari but I don’t want to,” Mac says to Tane.

Tane cracks a joke about her being pregnant.

I’ve never seen such a disappointed face.

Tane is way out of his depth and calls in reinforcements in Dean and Ziggy, who already know.

The boys are “just trying to help” but in typical man fashion they want Mac to come to a decision and she just needs someone to hear her out until she figures it out for herself.

Luckily Zig kicks the guys out.

Sighs.
Camera IconSighs. Credit: Channel 7/Channel 7

Tane needs to “clear his head” and Dean is troubled because Mac is keeping it from Ari.

He goes back to see Mac and tells her that Ari dreamed of being a father and he and Mia had several miscarriages and she eventually gave birth to a son who died 10 days later.

Ari struggled to deal with the pain and his life spiralled out of control and he ended up in prison.

Look, I know Tane is just trying to tell his brother’s point of view since he just had blunt trauma to the head, but Tane has absolutely no right to advise Mac what to do with her body.

“I just thought she needed to know,” Tane says.

Anyway, it gets Dean thinking about life BC (before children) even though he’s only known about his son for a few weeks and he and Amber regale the good times.

“We’d make a good couple,” Dean says. “I’m in this 100 per cent.”

From my extensive TV watching experience, particularly reality, don’t trust anyone that says “100 per cent”.

Dean leans in to kiss Amber but she rejects him and walks off.

But just moments later Dean gives it another go and the mood changes.

“It’s you, I want to be with you,” Deans says to Amber.

I guess it’s a nice sentiment but am I really supposed to believe that Dean – who was in a long-term relationship with Ziggy and loved her so much he got her some hideous necklace and she got a heinous River Boys tramp stamp — is over it and in love with a woman he hasn’t thought about in five years?

They get it on anyway.

Any chance to get the rig out.
Camera IconAny chance to get the rig out. Credit: Channel 7/Channel 7

Jai finds them in bed together in the morning and is obviously very excited and yells out “mum and dad sleep in the same bed now” in front of Willow.

Willow freaks out but Dean isn’t worried because he’s “not a complete idiot”. Such high self-praise from old mate.

Willow thinks living together as co-parents is “perfect” but clearly, she doesn’t have the gift of foresight because it was going to go downhill when one of them started seeing someone.

Dean acts weird after that.

But he resolves his issues with Amber and they’re once again going to live as one big happy family.

Over at Salt Ryder tells aunty Roo that Chloe kissed him.

Roo takes a seat and orders a Rosé to get the full story… instead of going to the gym.

YASS Queen.
Camera IconYASS Queen. Credit: Channel 7/Channel 7

Meanwhile Chloe tells Bella they she “mooshed faces” with Ryder.

I must have missed the part when they became friends but maybe being trapped in a shipping contained does that to people.

Bella and Nikau are hatching another plan to get Chloe and Ryder together when Willow — who Bella hates for ruining Colby’s life — walks into the diner and makes Nik leave before he’s finished his chocky milkshake. Such an injustice.

Back at Salt Ryder takes Chloe to the cool room where a lot of mental breakdowns and revelations have taken place.

Not enemies anymore.
Camera IconNot enemies anymore. Credit: Channel 7/Channel 7

He asks Chloe straight up if she likes him. She says yes and he leans in to kiss her.

They pretend they still hate each other to keep up appearances.

Bella is also ready to talk to Willow but thankfully we are spared from hearing a soppy conversation about ‘trust, betrayal and honour’ — words that are thrown around far too often in this show.

Then there’s Justin and Leah who are waiting to hear back about the settlement of their new house.

Leah calls in a favour from Alf to distract Justin because he’s driving her insane.

The men both need a hobby. Alf suggests fishing because fishing fixes all of life’s problems.

Next thing Justin is in a wetsuit holding his surfboard with a really apprehensive facial expression.

It’s supposed to be this grand moment of rebirth after the trials and tribulations of his scare with death but I think that Justin is such a pathetic drip that it’s lost on me.

Justin proclaims how great he feels and how “great life has turned out”.

The happy couple.
Camera IconThe happy couple. Credit: Channel 7/Channel 7

But finally, some bad news tonight. The real estate agent who Justin and Leah supposedly bought the house off has never heard of them. No surprises there.

And they can’t get a hold of Susie either.

Irene will have a few strong words to say about that.



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Say What? MyPillow CEO Tells Steve Bannon ‘Trump Will Be Back in Office in August’



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Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, Inc., is currently entangled in a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit filed late last month by Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. The company claims Lindell, a staunch supporter of former US President Donald Trump, knowingly disseminated false information purporting that Dominion rigged the 2020 US presidential election.

During a recent appearance on “Steve Bannon’s War Room,” Lindell ended up getting into a bit of a shouting match with Bannon – a former White House chief strategist who notably received a pardon from 45 earlier this year. 

The conversation began with the businessman asserting, once again, that he is in possession of evidence that “is going to go before the Supreme Court.” 

He went on to baselessly argue that voter fraud was present in the 2020 presidential election. 

“It was an attack by other countries, communism coming in,” the My Pillow CEO added. “I don’t know what they’re going to do with that after they pull it down.”

According to the US National Intelligence Council, there were “no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 US elections, including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation, or reporting results.” 

As Bannon tried to butt in, Lindell talked over the host to make one last assertion: “Donald Trump will be back in office in August!” 

While Lindell has been permanently suspended from Twitter, the businessman’s comments managed to become a trending topic on the social media platform.  

“The problem is not that Mike Lindell says crazy, stupid stuff. The problem is that there are violent pro Trump supporters who believe this, egged on by GOP leaders who lie about the election being stolen,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) tweeted. “That’s why National Guard troops in body armor are still at our Capitol.” 

Sputnik reported last month that Lindell was named as a defendant in a $1.3 billion lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems. 

The suit, which names both Lindell and his company, alleged the businessman sought to use Trump’s campaign as “another chance to boost sales.” It also claimed Lindell’s allegations of election rigging “have exposed Dominion to the most extreme hatred and contempt.” 



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Too many young African-Australians are in jail. Some blame police, but the data tells a more complex story


There’s a concerning trend in the kids we’re locking up. For some, it’s clear evidence of racist policing.

While overall youth crime rates have declined in Victoria, the imprisonment of African-Australian youth has spiked.

African (predominantly South Sudanese) youth comprise at least 19 per cent of young people in custody despite being less than 0.5 per cent of Victoria’s youth population.

But are prejudice and police tactics behind numbers, or is the answer more complicated?

African-Australian youth say in surveys they’re being targeted by police because of their race.(

ABC News: Margaret Burin

)

In 2012, a number of young African-Australians lodged a complaint of racial discrimination against Victoria Police, alleging they’d been subject to ongoing racial profiling in the Melbourne suburbs of Flemington and North Melbourne between 2005 and 2009.

The case was eventually settled in 2013 with Victoria Police agreeing to review its practices with migrant communities.

Just three years later, the notion of racial profiling by Victoria Police was again thrust into the public sphere.

Between 2016 and 2018 a small number of African-Australian youth were involved in a number of highly publicised offences.

These incidents received extensive media attention — with some outlets criticised for politicising their coverage and demonising the African-Australian community.

For some commentators and community advocates, racial profiling was a factor in this sequence of offending, and the coinciding spike in African-Australian youth imprisonment — which has now reached concerning levels.

If racialised policing tactics are implicated, or even partly implicated, in rising African-Australian offending rates in Victoria, then this would be a gross violation of procedural fairness for a vulnerable population.

It also alleges a systemic bias of the sort that led to that 2012 discrimination complaint.

Young people say they’re targeted

In a number of recent community surveys, African-Australian youth say they’re being targeted and harassed by police in public places because of their race.

While the sample sizes of these reports are small, the concerns raised by the participants are similar to those expressed in the 2012 lawsuit.

For some African-Australian youth, perceptions of police are often an extension of how they see society at large treating them.

After all, if someone has experienced racism in the broader community, they can develop a sense of being rejected by society.

This can lead to feeling devalued and hyper-vigilant when they encounter law enforcement, and for some a justifiable sense of frustration.

For people who are regularly breaking the law, police attention is expected and should not come as a surprise.

But there are occasional incidents of overzealous policing, and perhaps isolated incidents of profiling.

Police behaviour can also stigmatise, even if it is unintended.

A young person who is publicly stopped and questioned on the street as part of routine police activity may feel signalled out and humiliated.

There is always room for improvement to ensure that people are treated with dignity and that procedural fairness is adhered to.

But it’s unlikely police services have the explicit intention to disfavour particular cultural groups.

For the most part, police are reacting to information given to them by the public.

So what is behind the over-incarceration?

Higher rates of African-Australian youth imprisonment are most likely because of an increase in violent criminal activity by some members that group.

A recent study pointed to the significantly higher rate of “crimes against the person” by South Sudanese-born youth compared to Australian-born youth between 2015 and 2018.

Crimes against the person include serious offences such as robbery and assault, which often involve less police discretion. They’re also crimes that tend to receive custodial sentences.

In contrast, rates for less serious crimes, such as public order and drug offences, have remained stable and relatively low for South Sudanese-born youth.

If police profiling of African-Australian young people is pervasive, one might have expected public order and drug offences to climb during a period of intense media coverage, given that such crimes generally involve more police discretion.

A person in shadow walks through a caged internal courtyard covered in more shadows.
African (predominantly South Sudanese) youth comprise at least 19 per cent of young people in custody despite being less than 0.5 per cent of Victoria’s youth population.(

ABC News: Jane Bardon

)

One may also expect to see over-representation right across the African-Australian diaspora if profiling was both rampant and regularly pulling kids into the justice-system.

However only specific African-Australian sub-groups (i.e., South Sudanese) have been over-represented in recent years.

This is likely the result of those groups being collectively exposed to a number of socio-economic and environmental risk factors that increase the likelihood of young people engaging in crime.

It is unlikely that alleged racial profiling by Victoria Police members is driving the imprisonment rates of African-Australian young people.

This does not suggest in any way that racial profiling does not occur at all. Some African-Australian young people have experienced adversarial confrontations with police, however it’s not known how widespread these experiences are across the community.

Over-involvement in serious crimes most likely explains the concerning trends in African-Australian youth imprisonment.

But while Victoria Police may not be part of the problem, they can be part of the solution.

How police can help

Police are often expected to deal with the outcomes of entrenched social problems.

Young people with complex needs often end up in the criminal justice system because there are few opportunities to intervene in other ways.

An emerging approach from overseas has provided us with one. Developed in the US, the model encourages strong partnerships between law enforcement and community service providers to address urban violence.

While aspects of the model are not new (similar versions have been trialled in Scotland to counter knife violence) the combination of three principles are pivotal to the intervention:

  • ‘Focus’ requires police to expend their energies and resources on the people and places where offending is likely to occur. By observing higher-risk individuals, they are less likely to cast a wide net and profile law-abiding young people.
  • ‘Balance’ involves police immediately connecting high-risk young people with trusted service providers and mentors that can address the young person’s complex needs and offer them pathways out of crime. This provides a non-punitive intervention for young people who are at-risk for a serious offence.
  • ‘Fairness’ has police earning the support and legitimacy of the communities that experience the most intervention. This involves relentless outreach, transparency, and an open line of communication with the community to ensure that trust is maintained. Importantly, the community needs to be reassured that policing is held accountable and that avenues for complaint are taken seriously.

There are already examples of this approach being piloted in parts of Victoria on a smaller scale.

Officers in the South and West of Melbourne are working alongside youth workers who provide initial support and referrals to services for high-risk young people who have contact with police.

These efforts should be given the time and resources to determine their effectiveness with different culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

There needs to be a broader commitment and investment from policy decision makers, to ensure that more African-Australian youth can reach their potential and are not lost to the justice system.

Police are the gatekeepers to our criminal justice system. But they cannot ignore serious acts of violence that threaten the safety of the community.

However they can assist young people coming into contact with the justice system who have complex needs and are at-risk for serious violence.

Through proactive community partnerships with trusted community-based cultural, health and legal service providers, police can help re-orient the delinquent pathways of vulnerable young African-Australians.

Dr Stephane Shepherd is a forensic psychologist, an associate professor at the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University and an ABC Top 5 humanities scholar for 2021.

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Witness tells court Dru Baggaley hired him to drive the boat in alleged drug smuggling attempt


Anthony Draper gave evidence in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Wednesday, explaining his role in the alleged crime.

Olympian Nathan Baggaley and his brother Dru Baggaley have pleaded not guilty to attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. 

The prosecution has alleged that in July 2018 Nathan Baggaley bought a boat for more than $100,000, along with navigation equipment and a satellite phone, and prepared it for his brother to use, including by concealing the boat’s registration.

The prosecution also alleged that he drove it to the Brunswick Heads boat ramp and planned to be there when Dru Baggaley and Mr Draper returned with the drugs and he would be responsible for storing them.

The prosecution told a jury Mr Draper and Dru Baggaley boarded the boat and travelled more than 360 kilometres offshore to meet a foreign ship.

The prosecution alleged the boat and the ship were in the middle of an “empty ocean” when the crew from the larger vessel threw black parcels containing more than 650 kilograms of cocaine to Dru Baggaley and Mr Draper.

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NSW Labor MP tells parliament of an alleged rape by a member of the state government



A NSW Labor MP has alleged in state parliament that a current government MP raped a sex worker in the Blue Mountains.

Trish Doyle used parliamentary privilege on Wednesday afternoon to allege the unnamed MP raped the sex worker, who did not consent to penetrative sex.

The Blue Mountains MP said this happened about 18 months ago.

“It is all the worse that this man who raped her is a government member of this chamber … his power and privileged position as a civic leader make that fear, anger and hurt all the worse,” Ms Doyle told the NSW lower house.

NSW Police said they were aware of the allegation.

“Detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad are investigating allegations of sexual violence against a woman in the Blue Mountains in September 2019,” NSW Police said in a statement.

“The matter was reported and referred to the squad in late September 2020 and has been under investigation since.”

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

If you are in NSW and would like to make contact with a counsellor, or any other form of support, call the Victims Access Line on 1800 633 063 or Rape Crisis on 1800 424 017. A trained counsellor can discuss your needs and refer you to someone who can help.

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ECB wants to keep yields in check while economy heals, Lane tells FT




FILE PHOTO: Executive Board member of the European Central Bank Philip Lane attends the Fortune Global Forum in Paris, France, November 18, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

March 16, 2021

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank is aiming to stop bond yields from rising before the pandemic-hit euro zone economy is ready to digest higher borrowing costs, the ECB’s chief economist Philip Lane said in an interview published on Tuesday.

The ECB’s decided last week to accelerate bond purchases for the next three months to counter a rise in bond yields, which policymakers deem at least partly unwarranted for an economy still struggling under the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our objective is basically to make sure the yield curves, which play an important role in determining overall financing conditions, do not move ahead of the economy,” Lane told the Financial Times.

With the ECB in the middle of a strategic review, Lane added there was a “strong logic” in announcing that inflation would be allowed to overshoot the ECB’s 2% target given that it had lagged it for so long, as the U.S. Federal Reserve has done.

But he cautioned there were “other options that may also be successful in anchoring inflation expectations”.

(Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Editing by Balazs Koranyi)




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Brittany Higgins tells March4Justice rally that Australia’s leaders can no longer dodge accountability


Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has questioned whether politicians can be trusted to address sexual harassment and assault in the community “if they aren’t committed to addressing these issues in their own offices”.

Speaking at one of several rallies being held around the country on Monday, Ms Higgins said her former bosses had downplayed her lived experience and she felt like a “political problem” when she went public with allegations about being raped in Parliament House.

She said she came forward in the hopes of protecting other women, and it was time for politicians from all parties to stop “sidestepping accountability” and address gendered violence.

“I was raped inside Parliament House by a colleague, and for so long it felt like the people around me only cared because of where it happened and what it might mean for them,” she said.

“It was so confusing because these people were my idols … and suddenly they treated me differently.

“I wasn’t a person who’d just gone through a life-changing, traumatic event. I was a political problem.”

A protesters holds a placard during the Women’s March 4 Justice in Canberra on Monday.

AAP

Ms Higgins said her story had served as a painful reminder for women that “if it can happen in Parliament House, it can truly happen anywhere”.

She said Australia’s political leaders “should be the exemplar, the gold standard” but “sadly, this just isn’t the case”.

“If they aren’t committed to addressing these issues in their own offices, what confidence can the women of Australia have that they will be proactive in addressing this issue in the broader community,” Ms Higgins said.

“This isn’t a political problem. This is a human problem. We’ve all learned over the past few weeks just how common gendered violence is in this country.

“It’s time our leaders on both sides of politics stop avoiding the subject and sidestepping accountability.”

‘Evil thrives in silence’

At the Hobart March4 Justice rally, Australian of the Year Grace Tame welcomed the “paradigm shift” in normalising conversations around sexual abuse.

Ms Tame called for attendees to take action and stand up to abuse when they saw it, saying an individual person’s contribution can have a powerful domino effect.

She said making noise was the start of the solution.

“When an issue that has been shrouded in darkness for such a long time is suddenly thrust into the light, there’s widespread shock and disbelief over how something so evil could happen, and not just happen, but happen so ubiquitously,” Ms Tame said.

“And the answer is plain and simple – silence. Evil thrives in silence.

“Behaviour unspoken, behaviour ignored, is behaviour endorsed.”

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.



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Doting mum tells kids goodbye on video call before dying from coronavirus


An ‘amazing and strong’ mum was forced to say goodbye to her three children in a heartbreaking video call before she died from coronavirus.

Susan Allsop had taken precautions to try and stay safe during the pandemic but she contracted the virus and was rushed to hospital when she deteriorated to the point she could no longer eat or drink.

After speaking to Craig, Kerry and Leee, the 64-year-old, who lived in Shortferry Caravan Park in Fiskerton, Sheffield, was placed into a coma and died on March 5.

Her daughter Kerry told Yorkshire Live : “Sadly today we had to say goodbye to our beautiful mum. The immediate family have been preparing for this overnight so had time to grieve privately.

“This morning we had the call for her three children to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, her lungs were just too damaged and her body was giving up.



Susan Allsop had taken precautions to try and stay safe

“We spent a couple of hours with her telling her how amazing and strong she is. How much she is loved by all her family and friends.

“She looked comfortable and beautiful, full of colour and just like she was sleeping at home.

“We need to focus on the 64 amazing years mum had, and all the happy times we all shared with her. Keep your family close and cherish every moment.”

The devoted mum had been “cautious” throughout the year-long pandemic, making it harder for her devastated children to comprehend how the virus could take her so cruelly.



Susan with her son Craig
Susan with her son Craig

Susan first started to struggle with her breathing and developed headaches but when she could no longer eat or drink Craig was advised to take her to Northern General Hospital.

The 35-year-old said: “My mum has been so careful throughout the entire pandemic which is why it is so sad for her to get the virus at this point in the pandemic.

“I think for many of our friends and family, we had not known of anybody who had become seriously ill through Covid until now, so this has really brought it home for everyone.

“When we said goodbye, we were all trying to stay positive and told her it is what her body needs and how much we love her, but we were all devastated.”

Craig is now fundraising for the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust by walking 50 miles from Sheffield to Lincoln.

The walk is called “from where she lives to where she loves”.

He said: “I really want to make people aware of how horrific it is, to get people to take it more seriously.”

A fundraiser has been set up ahead of Craig’s walk to donate click here.



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