Tag: External Link Tweet

Expats wanting to leave Cambodia hit ‘brick wall’ in bid for government help


A group of 85 Australian expats in Cambodia fear time is fast running out to leave before a state of emergency is declared in the country, saying their pleas for help from the Australian Government have gone unheeded.

Key points:

  • Nearly 100 Australian expats have been unable to leave Cambodia on commercial flights
  • They are concerned the local healthcare system will be unable to cope with the pandemic
  • The Smart Traveller website warns it may not be possible to help every Australian get home from many parts of the world

Commercial flights from Cambodia bought at exorbitant rates are repeatedly being cancelled — one large family reported losing $10,000 on a cancelled flight before being quoted $63,000 for another.

Flights back to Australia are directed via other countries, but many of them are closing their borders in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone’s quite happy to pay a reasonable price, or a touch above, for the Australian Government to take the initiative and get people out,” said Peter Brady, a former editor of South Australia’s Stock Journal newspaper.

“But the Australian Government is sitting on its hands.”


Peter and Sue Brady say a lot of their fellow expats are scared. (Supplied: Peter Brady)

Mr Brady and his wife, Sue, moved five years ago to Siem Reap, where Ms Brady worked as a teacher and Mr Brady volunteered with a not-for-profit group building a new school.

He said the Aussies Attempting To Leave Cambodia (COVID-19) Facebook group was in contact with the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh but had become increasingly frustrated by the lack of commitment from the Australian Government.

“The Americans, the French, the Germans and Swedes, they’re all getting their people out, and the Brits did a charter flight,” Mr Brady said.

“We’re not all tourists. These are testing times and a lot of expats are getting scared.”

Embassy ‘working with airlines’

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the embassy was providing regular updates to the local Australian community, including through social media.

“The embassy is working with airlines and government authorities to help secure commercial flight options for Australians in Cambodia and other nearby countries to return to Australia.”

External Link:

Tweet from Australian Ambassador to Cambodia

The Government is prepared to consider supporting Australian airlines on a case-by-case basis to operate non-scheduled commercial services to less central locations to bring citizens home.

However, it has said it would only be done where feasible, where all other commercial options were exhausted and if local authorities permitted it.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has pledged to donate seven months of his salary to the National Committee for Combating COVID-19, and there are rumours he will declare a state of emergency in the country as soon as Friday.

This would close provincial borders, making it harder for expats to travel to international airports.

Facing a ‘brick wall’

Jamie Christopherson runs a volunteer tourism company and an education charity from Cambodia, where he also owns and manages a retreat outside Kampot.

He said he helped establish the Facebook page to find out how many people were trying to leave the country.


Ting Moung (scarecrows) to ward off evil spirits have been erected across Siem Reap in response to COVID-19. (Supplied: Peter Brady)

Within days, 85 Australians had verified they wanted to leave but had not been able to.

“The major concern that exists here is that the healthcare system is not able to cope with this situation,” Mr Christopherson said.

“We have a family of nine in our group — five of which have pre-existing conditions that are dangerous — and a number in their 70s, whose families have contacted me to express their concern.

“We have heard from our embassy, who I believe are doing all they can, but there is a brick wall between them and the Federal Government to actually action anything.”

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast podcast.

Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson Senator Penny Wong said the health and security situation was deteriorating in many overseas locations and delays were “putting Australians at risk”.

“Other countries have recognised this is the situation faced by their citizens, which is why other countries have acted with urgency to get their citizens to safety,” she said.

“Australia has two airlines with capacity to help, and we should be enlisting them in the national effort to keep Australians safe at home and overseas.

“I again urge the Australian Government to follow the lead of other countries in providing direct support to help bring stranded Australians home, including through subsidised and assisted departures.”

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Cambodia slow to act

Reports from several South-East Asian newspapers have suggested Cambodian leaders were slow to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously.

Mr Hun refused to restrict transport to and from neighbouring China after Wuhan was locked down by authorities in mid-January; even by that stage, thousands of people had reportedly fled the stricken city for Cambodia.

The Prime Minister visited Beijing in a mark of solidarity at the height of the outbreak in early February, and later allowed the stricken Westerdam cruise ship into the port of Sihanoukville after it was turned away by a growing list of countries.

Tests revealed no COVID-19 infections among the ship’s crew or passengers.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:


Hun Sen initially seemed relaxed about the threat of coronavirus. (Supplied: The Phnom Penh Post)

At the end of March, Cambodian authorities announced it had recorded 107 cases of COVID-19, but with limited testing there were fears the actual total was higher.

On its Smart Traveller website, the Australian Government said the scale and complexity of the crisis was greater than anything it had faced before, and it “won’t be possible to help everyone get home from many parts of the world”.

“You may have to wait it out in that country until the border closures are lifted or departure arrangements are made,” it stated.

“Our focus will be on those places where Australians are most vulnerable.”

Video: David Speers and the panellists discuss the Government's response to the coronavirus pandemic

(ABC News)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Who is eligible to receive free child care?


The childcare sector has been plunged into uncertainty as the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop.

On Thursday, the PM made a pretty big announcement to try and save the sector — that child care will be free.

But what does that actually mean in practice, who is eligible and how’s it going to work?

Here’s what we know so far.

Coronavirus update: Follow the latest news in our daily wrap

What was announced?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced at a press conference that for parents who still need child care right now, it will be free.

To make that happen, Australia’s childcare sector will receive a $1.6 billion boost over the next three months, with the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package to officially start from April 6.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

“Child care and early childhood education is critical,” Mr Morrison said.

“Particularly for those Australians who rely on it so they can go to work every day, particularly those who are working in the such critical areas.”

As part of the latest announcement, support will be provided to Australia’s 13,000 childcare centres to ensure they remain open.

Mr Morrison said the arrangements were to protect more livelihoods during the pandemic.


The Federal Government maintains that it’s safe for kids to go to childcare during the pandemic. (ABC News: Hugh Sando)

“I don’t want a parent to have to choose between feeding their kids and having their kids looked after, or having their education being provided,” he said.

“This virus is going to take enough from Australians without putting Australian parents in that position of having to choose between the economic wellbeing of their family or the care and support and education of their children.

“I won’t cop a situation where a parent is put in that place with their kids.”

The scheme was developed to complement JobKeeper, helping centres pay the wages of early childhood educators even though enrolments have dropped off, and the funding will go straight to the centres from next week.

External Link:

Tweet @ChildcareAus Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that child care will be free for parents who still need it

Who is eligible to receive free child care?

Education Minister Dan Tehan clarified that parents who are currently sending their kids to child care will be able to do so for free.

“We want as many people being able to work as we possibly can, and we want them to be able to access child care as they need to make sure that their children are being looked after while they’re working” he said on Afternoon Briefing on Thursday.

“We need all our nation’s workers there, helping us deal with this global pandemic.

“What we want to be able to make sure is that their children are being looked after while they help us flatten the curve.”

Video: Dan Tehan outlines changes to childcare arrangements

(ABC News)

Mr Tehan explained that centres should prioritise enrolments for the parents who need it most — parents still working, parents who are struggling to provide safe care for their kids at home, vulnerable children, and then parents who have already taken their kids out of childcare.

“There is a clear priority list that we want centres to take into account,” he said.

“The most important of those are those essential workers and the vulnerable children.”

Can families who unenrolled their kids hold their spot or re-enrol?

As part of the deal, childcare centres who receive the payments must try to re-enrol children who have recently been taken out of child care.

Mr Tehan said to help with that, the Government will waive the gap fee for returning parents, backdated to March 23.

“The hope is that now all parents who need will get the care they want, and those who have sought to disengage from the childcare sector will re-engage with the sector,” he said.

This also depends on spaces available and what your family’s current work situation is.

“We want people to understand that the priority will be given to those who need to be working,” Mr Tehan said.

“The priority will be given to those who can’t care for their children.”

External Link:


If families have coped without care so far, do they still have to pay?

Mr Tehan clarified that if a centre has spaces open, parents who hadn’t previously had their kids in child care can enrol them for free.

“We will be putting in place a childcare finder apparatus to make sure you can contact the Department of Education and we will try and assist and help you, but of course there has to be room available at a centre for you to be able to access it,” he said.

“Obviously preference has been given to those who are currently working and using childcare for those children who are vulnerable and those who already have enrolments.

“But where we can help and assist, others who now need child care to help us fight the pandemic, then we’ll be doing what we can to try and find places for those families.”

External Link:

Tweet @AnnastaciaMP I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement that childcare will be free for children of essential workers

Why is Goodstart Early Learning different?

The free child care plan is linked with the JobKeeper scheme — which applies differently to businesses who have over $1 billion revenue.

Goodstart Early Learning employees were not previously eligible for JobKeeper payments for that reason.

Mr Tehan said discussions are continuing with the company, but it’s not clear at this stage whether they will or won’t be able to access the latest rounds of assistance.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast podcast.

“Obviously, they will benefit from what we have announced today, which puts a baseline into their funding,” Mr Tehan said during the announcement.

“I am not saying that exemptions will be made, I am saying that we will continue to liaise and discuss these issues through with them.”

Goodstart Early Learning Advocacy Manager John Cherry also spoke on Afternoon Briefing soon after the announcement, and said discussions with the Government had been positive so far.

“The frustration for us is we suspect we’re going to miss out on qualifying for JobKeeper because we’re a slightly larger organisation and just tipped over the threshold that requires us to show a 50 per cent reduction in turnover,” he said.

“We had to let 3,000 casual workers go last week because we had no certainty about funding.

“Today we still have no certainty … I really wish we had. I really would have liked to have been in a better position to provide certainty for our 60,000 families and 16,000 staff.”

Goodstart Early Learning confirmed on their Facebook page on Thursday evening that children enrolled at any of their centres were eligible for free care if parents were working, searching for work or studying.


It’s not known at this stage exactly how parents will transition back to paying for child care after the pandemic. ( AAP/Paul Braven, file)

What happens when the pandemic ends?

It’s the question all of Australia and most of the world is asking (and not just about child care).

Mr Tehan said the arrangements will be in place up until June 30 with a review after one month, with plans for a further three months after the end of the financial year.

It’s unclear at this stage exactly how the system will revert back after the pandemic ends, but Mr Tehan indicated that it’s unlikely the free child care arrangement would be permanent.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

“Our desire, our want, is to get us through this pandemic and then we would like things to go back to normal,” he said.

“That would be when we would look at reintroducing the system that we currently have in place.

“Obviously for the next six months, while we’re dealing with the pandemic, we want those workers who are out there helping us get through the pandemic to be able to get the support they need through free child care.”

External Link:

Tweet @samanthamaiden PM stresses this free childcare deal is temporary

Money aside, is it safe for my kids to be in childcare right now?

The Government’s current advice remains that childcare centres should remain open, as made clear by Thursday’s announcement, and that it’s safe for kids to be there.

“There is no health risk to children going to school or going to child care,” Mr Morrison said.

“That has been the clear and consistent advice that the government has received.”

While most states are now on school holidays or have gone pupil-free this week, schools are expected to remain open next term (subject to medical advice).

Many schools are transitioning to online learning, but the Prime Minister has previously said that no students will be turned away when school resumes after Easter.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

Video: David Speers and the panellists discuss the Government's response to the coronavirus pandemic

(ABC News)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Activist abused by Tyler, The Creator fans wants Splendour headliner to address his past

Byron Bay 2481

For some, the return to Australia of US rapper and singer Tyler, The Creator, as part of the Splendour In The Grass line-up, will be exciting news.

The 28-year-old, real name Tyler Okonma, is an alternative hip-hop star whose widely praised 2019 album IGOR won a Grammy last month for best rap album and went to number three on the ARIA album chart.

But for Coralie Alison, the announcement just represents an opportunity for the musician to right past wrongs.

“I still receive abuse from his fans four-and-a-half years on,” Ms Alison, director of the women’s rights group Collective Shout, told the ABC.

In 2015, the singer told his millions of Twitter followers that he had been “banned” from Australia following a campaign by Collective Shout.

They had argued he should be refused a visa on character grounds because of lyrics on his early records depicting the rape and murder of women.

The Federal Government did not actually ban him — his tour was cancelled — but Okonma’s tweet tagged Ms Alison.

External Link:

Tweet from Tyler, The Creator in 2015

She said she was subsequently inundated with “hundreds” of rape and death threats from the rapper’s fans, something the singer never acknowledged or condemned.

“I had to go to the police about it and there were fans trying to track down where I lived, threatening my relatives and family members,” she said.

In 2013, during a performance as part of his first Australian tour, the singer called another member of Collective Shout, Talitha Stone, a “f***ing whore” during an on-stage rant.

Tyler shouts out former UK PM over ban

Ms Alison would like to see Okonma, who is one of the headliners of July’s festival at the North Byron Parklands, address that abuse and his past lyrical content when he takes the stage for his only Australian show.

She wants him to use his platform to express a positive message to his fans in Australia “where violence against women is at epidemic rates”.

“If Tyler, The Creator is still profiting off the harmful misogyny he released in the early days then he is complicit in advocating the messages those songs portray,” she said.

The festival’s organisers have been contacted for comment.

External Link:

Tyler, The Creator – Earfquake

Critics have noted Okonma’s last few records have drifted away from what was dubbed “horror-core”, exploring more personal themes, and he has spoken of how he was still a teenager when his first album, Bastard, was released in 2009.

When asked about his lyrics in 2012, he told the BBC: “My lyrics aren’t offensive … Some people find everything offensive.”

Overnight, the musician called out former UK prime minister Theresa May, who — according to the rapper’s manager — banned Okonma from the UK in 2015 when she was home secretary based on lyrics that “encourage violence and intolerance of homosexuality”.

“Shout out to all the UK boys that keep this place fun for me at night,” the musician said during an acceptance speech at the BRIT Awards, where he won Best International Male Solo Artist.

“And I want to give a shout to someone who holds a special place in my heart, who made it so I couldn’t come to this country five years ago.

“I know she’s at home pissed off. Thank you to Theresa May.”

Men feature heavily at the top of the bill

While the full line-up is not yet out — there is often more than one announce — Splendour faced some criticism online on Wednesday for the number of all-male acts at the top of the bill.

There is only one woman, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, among the permanent members of the first five acts listed in promotional material for the festival. The headliners of each of the three nights — Tyler, The Creator, Flume and The Strokes — are all male.

The issue of a lack of gender representation in headline acts has dogged many Australian festivals in the past, including Splendour, and it has become a major point of discussion in the music business in the past few years.

External Link:

Tweet from Nic Kelly about Splendour

External Link:

Tweet from Paddy Braden about Splendour In The Grass

Vicki Gordon, founding executive director of the Australian Women in Music Awards, said the Splendour line-up was another example of the industry’s unwillingness to tackle the issue.

“We have heard the excuse that women just don’t pull the numbers,” she told the ABC.

“The industry has always had extraordinary women that deserve a lot more than what the industry or the culture has enabled.

“I know what many of the programmers and producers are juggling, and I know it is not easy … but without that leap [of putting female acts in headline slots], we are just not going to see cultural change.”

This month, the singer of British band The 1975, Matt Healy, said his band would only perform at festivals with a gender-balanced line-up.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Taiwan’s President meets top US official as Beijing claims ‘cheating, repression’ after election


Taiwan’s President has met with the de facto US ambassador to Taipei the day after winning the island’s presidential election by a record margin, as China warned that countries should stick with recognising communist-ruled Beijing as the rightful government of “One China”.

Key points:

  • Many observers see Tsai Ing-wen’s victory as a rebuke of Beijing
  • China has alleged Ms Tsai’s camp used “dirty tactics” to win
  • Taiwan’s Government says Beijing should respect the election result

Some 57 per cent of Taiwan’s voters opted to give Tsai Ing-wen a second term, delivering her a landslide victory over Beijing-friendly rival Han Kuo-yu, who received just 39 per cent of the vote.

“Taiwan’s people once again use the vote in their hands to show the world the value of democracy,” Ms Tsai said when meeting William Brent Christensen, a US diplomat who is director of the American Institute in Taiwan.

The woman China can’t topple
China’s Government has made little effort to conceal its dislike of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, and her landslide re-election is a massive blow to Xi Jinping, writes Bill Birtles.

“Democracy and freedom are indeed Taiwan’s most valuable assets and the foundation of the long-term Taiwan-US partnership,” Ms Tsai said, vowing to deepen cooperation with the United States on issues from defence to economy.

“In the future, we will continue to build on the foundation we have created over the past three years to strengthen our cooperation on global issues.”

While China says Taiwan is its territory, Taiwan maintains it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.


Beijing’s hostility to Ms Tsai and protests in Hong Kong loomed large over the campaign. (AP: Chiang Ying-ying)

Ms Tsai ran partly on a platform to protect the island’s democracy and autonomy from Beijing’s desire to rule the island under a “one country, two systems” model.

She has sought closer relations with the US while pushing back against pressure from China, and the Trump Administration has reciprocated.

Ms Tsai’s victory is a setback for Chinese President Xi Jinping at a time when Beijing is grappling with an economic slowdown and long-running, sometimes violent anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s countdown to 2047 Hong Kong was handed back to China with no framework for what would happen after the year 2047, leaving the city to carve an identity out of two ideologically opposed empires.

State news agency Xinhua published an editorial claiming that Ms Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party had used “dirty tactics” such as “cheating, repression and intimidation to get votes, fully exposing their selfish, greedy and evil nature”.

“Anti-China political forces in the West openly intervened in Taiwan’s elections and supported Tsai in order to contain the Chinese mainland and to prevent the two sides of the Taiwan Strait from getting closer,” it argued.

China’s foreign affairs ministry, meanwhile, issued a statement asserting that “regardless of what happens in Taiwan, the basic facts won’t change: there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China”.


Many Taiwanese people were not turned off by frosty ties with China, and supported Ms Tsai. (ABC News: Brant Cumming)

“We hope and believe that the international community will continue to adhere to the One China principle, and understand and support the Chinese peoples’ just cause of opposing ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities and striving to achieve national reunification,” said spokesman Geng Shuang.

External Link:

Tweet @iingwen: Thank you, Taiwan

In her victory speech, Ms Tsai urged China to resume talks with Taiwan without preconditions while warning against threatening use of force.

“Today I want to once again remind the Beijing authorities that peace, parity, democracy and dialogue are the keys to stability,” Ms Tsai said.

“I want the Beijing authorities to know that democratic Taiwan and our democratically elected government will never concede to threats.”

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said China should respect the election result and stop putting pressure on the island.

“Our government will firmly defend the sovereignty of the Republic of China and Taiwan’s democracy and freedom,” it said.

Following the election result, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Ms Tsai and lauded her for seeking stability with China “in the face of unrelenting pressure”.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also sent congratulations, referring to Taiwan as a “precious friend”.


Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Thousands protest against climate change policies amid bushfire emergency

Sydney 2000

Climate change rallies have been held in most capital cities around Australia in the wake of the bushfire crisis, with thousands of protesters criticising Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of the fire emergencies in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Key points:

  • Organisers want to “sack Scomo”, and secure compensation for volunteer firefighters
  • A number of people attending the Sydney rally were bushfire victims or had family who had lost homes
  • Some people said it was the first protest they had ever attended because they were so upset

Protesters were criticised by politicians and police, who said resources had to be diverted from bushfire fronts to manage the crowds at the rallies.

The Uni Students for Climate Justice organised the protests that were intended to shut down parts of the CBD during peak hour in those capital cities.

Rallies were also held in a number of regional cities.

Organisers said they wanted to “sack Scomo”, and secure compensation for volunteer firefighters, as well as emergency housing and compensation for those paying for accommodation after their houses burnt down.

They also demanded the Federal Government end the multi-billion-dollar fossil fuel subsidy.

Follow our live blog of the bushfires burning around the country

‘Get rid of Scomo’

In Sydney, thousands of climate protesters packed into the area around Town Hall.

Several people told the ABC it was the first protest they had ever attended because they were so upset about bushfires and the climate change situation.

External Link:

Tweet: @isabellahiggins Very loud crowd at Sydney climate rally. Several people have told me this the first protest they’ve ever attended because they’re so upset about bushfires and climate change situation @abcnews

Crowds spilled across several city blocks, causing delays to car traffic and light rail services.

Protesters chanted “we want climate justice,” and “get rid of Scomo”.

The crowds at the Sydney rally were so densely packed in places that people were struggling to move.


Several people at the Sydney rally told the ABC it was the first protest they had ever attended. (ABC News: Isabella Higgins)

Sydney father Lachlan James told the ABC he hoped the rally sparked a political response.

“I’m doing this for my daughter really,” he said.

“I haven’t been to a protest before but I’ve just been absolutely disgusted by 20 years of political paralysis.

“Politicians would rather see the planet burn than admit ‘yeah, we were wrong’, so it’s really important to be here.”

A number of people attending the Sydney rally were bushfire victims or had family who had lost homes.

External Link:

Tweet: @isabellahiggins Big crowd at Sydney climate protest. Chanting “what do we want, climate justice!” @abcsydney

In Melbourne, despite rain, there were at least 5,000 people blocking off the middle of Melbourne’s CBD and part of La Trobe Street.

Some people held signs with pictures of animals that had died in the nation’s bushfires while others held up photos of the Prime Minister calling for him to be sacked.

External Link:

Tweet: @kristian_silva La Trobe St in the Melbourne CBD turned into a protest dance party. @abcmelbourne

Premier not happy with timing of rally

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews criticised the organisers for pushing ahead with the protest in Melbourne, putting pressure on police resources during the fire emergency.

“The protest against advice of police in the middle of a disaster —that’s when you start losing public support, not adding to your public support,” Mr Andrews said.

“Common sense tells you that there are other times to make your point.”


Protesters stood in the rain at the Melbourne climate rally. (ABC News: Kristian Silva)

Victoria Police would not confirm how many officers were covering the Melbourne protest, due to operational concerns.

However, they confirmed no police officers were pulled back from the bushfires in Victoria for the protest.

Protesters said now was the time for protest.


Despite the rain, there were more than 1,000 people outside Melbourne’s state library. (ABC News: Kristian Silva)

Greens MP Adam Bandt was forced to deliver his speech under a tarp on the back of a truck as the rain bucketed down in the city.

“We want to stop the country we love from burning,” he told the crowd.

“We were warned it was going to be like this. Scott Morrison, you share some of the blame for these fires.”

‘Shame Scott Morrison, shame’

In Brisbane, emotions ran high at the climate change rally where more than 3,000 people gathered in King George Square to demand Mr Morrison’s resignation.

Carrying a sign saying ‘A Quite Angry Australian’, the Connoly family said Mr Morrison’s actions had fallen “completely short” of “what’s expected of a leader”.


Protesters at the Brisbane rally. (ABC News: Kate McKenna)

Waving banners and signs including “climate change is killing Earth” and “how hot is this ScoMo”, protesters voiced anger at the Prime Minister.

The crowd also paused for a minute’s silence to remember the bushfire victims.

Shortly after 6:00pm, protesters began to march along Adelaide Street while chanting “Scomo’s got to go”, shutting down some city streets to traffic.


Protesters marched down Adelaide Street in Brisbane about 7:00pm. (ABC News: Kate McKenna)

“They cannot say they didn’t know, but can only say they didn’t care to act,” Brisbane rally organiser Priya De told the crowd to cheers.

“Shame Scott Morrison, Shame.”

She also hit out at spending on military jets in her speech.


Protesters gathered at the Brisbane climate rally in King George Square. (ABC News: Kate McKenna)

In Hobart, about 200 people gathered on the city’s Parliament House lawns.

Angus Bylsma from Extinction Rebellion Tasmania said the bushfires were “indisputably a result of the climate crisis”.

“We need to publicly declare a climate emergency and acknowledge that,” he said.

“These fires are unprecedented and they are huge and devastating, which is why now is the time to act.

“If there’s one way to get into the public consciousness and say what needs to happen is climate action right now, then these bushfires are an amazing visual example of why that’s the case.”


About 200 people gathered at the rally in Hobart. (ABC News: Ainsley Koch)

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Actor hit in head with Golden Globe trophy

United States

The Golden Globes afterparties were always going to result in a few sore heads, but Joey King’s post-ceremony headache had little to do with champagne.

King tweeted a selfie from her bed the morning after with a circular welt on her forehead.

“Patricia Arquette accidentally hit me in the head with her Golden Globe,” she wrote.

Arquette, a loving mother with no apparent history of clobbering young actors with trophies, surely couldn’t be to blame for such a welt, right?


The award-winning actor owned up to it on Twitter.

External Link:

Tweet from Patricia Arquette: "What happens in the elevator stays in the elevator! No seriously I’m so sorry sweetest one!"

Now, if you’re thinking that Arquette accidentally hitting King in a lift is something that should have been captured on video, you’re in luck.

At the InStyle and Warner Bros afterparty there’s something called The Golden Globes Elevator, where celebrities strike poses and perform quick skits.

The doors open, the people inside do something zany and someone captures it on video.

It’s kind of like a photo booth, but fancier.

External Link:

Tweet from Kerry Washington: "When your #GoldenGlobes look has you ready to RUUUUUUUMBLE!!!! Thank you to my phenomenal #glam fam @LUXURYLAW @takishahair & @carolagmakeup . And thank you to @InStyle for capturing my right hook "

And it just so happens the Golden Globes Elevator was where this accidental assault took place.

You have to watch right until the end, but you can just see King taking the hit as the doors close.

King goes in for a bow as Arquette lifts her right hand while mimicking an opera singer.

External Link:

Tweet from InStyle: "This is one show we'd pay to see."

King later tweeted “there are worse things to be hit in the head with,” but it’s important to note that a Golden Globe statuette is quite solid.

Made from zinc, brass and bronze, the trophy weighs a little more than 3.5 kilograms, making it quite a hefty implement to be clobbered with.

The impact was enough to form a welt on King’s forehead, clearly visible underneath the actor’s award-ceremony makeup at the end of the night.

“You could feel the bump,” Arquette tweeted.


The statuette made its mark on King’s forehead. (Twitter: Joey King)

But despite the hefty blow, there was no bad blood between the co-stars, who were pictured smiling together at another afterparty.

The welt was well covered by makeup at that point, however is just visible if you zoom in.


The welt is just visible under King’s makeup. (AP: Mark Von Holden)

Arquette won the award for her role in The Act, in which she plays an overprotective and, ultimately, abusive mother to King.

King missed out on her award but was lauded for her choice of dress for the event — a 3D-printed couture dress from Dutch designer Iris van Herpen.

King’s head wasn’t the only thing sore at the end of the night, with host Ricky Gervais calling the response to his scathing opening monologue — which no doubt left a few feelings hurt — the “best ever”.


The dress made a bold statement on the red carpet. (AP/Jordan Strauss)

Relive the 2020 Golden Globes

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

If Democrats lose to Trump in 2020, they may blame it on this factor

United States

In exactly a month, the political equivalent of The Hunger Games will kick off in the United States, with 14 Democratic candidates fighting it out for the chance to take on Donald Trump in the November presidential election.

The Iowa caucus is the first in a series of crucial state contests that will ultimately determine the Democratic nominee.

As always, the candidates’ ability to draw political donations will be one of the major determining factors.

Collectively, Democratic cash registers have been sounding a merry tune, even out-raising their Republican rivals.

But individually, Democratic candidate war chests are a mere pittance when compared with the might of Mr Trump’s fundraising juggernaut.

The Democrats face numerous challenges

Foremost is the absurdly large field of 14 candidates, which is slowly dwindling from the 26 running at the group’s peak.

The people trying to beat Trump
These are the 15 Democrats still in the race for president in 2020.

The remaining spread is splitting the pot of treasure that can be used for campaign advertisements.

The money the Democrats raise is largely being spent at cross purposes, often directly against each other.

This week the deadline passed for party donations in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Early indications suggest Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is polling at 17.8 per cent, is still far and away the best Democratic fundraiser.

With around 1.8 million individual donations this quarter, he says he raised $US34.5 million ($49.3 million), more than any other Democratic candidate has raised in any quarter this year.

Surpassing his goal of 5ive million individual donors, he’s miles in front of the rest if inspiring large numbers of voters to hand over their cash is the measure.

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Graph of US democrat candidate's self-reported fourth quarter fundraising results

Senator Sanders claims to have attracted more individual contributions from more Americans than any other candidate in the history of US politics.

(As a tangential note about popularity, Senator Sanders consistently blows away the rest of the Democratic pack in terms of Facebook mentions as well, according to data compiled by CrowdTangle. But Mr Trump has by far the most mentions of any candidate.)

Like Senator Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren (polling at 14.9 per cent) has decided to shun wealthy donors and big dollar fundraisers in favour of relatively small campaign contributions.

Unlike Senator Sanders, it’s not working out so well for her.

In a desperation-tinged email to supporters in the days leading up to the fourth quarter fundraising deadline, Senator Warren stated simply: “We’re behind.”

External Link:

Tweet @sahilkapur: New fundraising email today from Elizabeth Warren says she’s raised $17M in the fourth quarter but remains “a good chunk behind” her Q3 haul.

Breaking with the convention of keeping the numbers secret until all the loot is counted, Senator Warren’s campaign team announced earlier they were on track to collect just $US17 million ($24.3 million).

Her team has yet to release its final numbers for the last three months of 2019, but $US17 million is just two-thirds the amount raised in the previous quarter, at a time when momentum is paramount.

Democrats are turning on themselves over money

In the recent Democratic debate, Senator Warren used her self-imposed fundraising piety to apply the blow torch to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who’s polling at 7.5 per cent.

“Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States,” she declared, after detailing a Buttigieg fundraiser where $US900 ($1,288) bottles of wine were served to rich donors.

It set off a flurry of internet memes and became the moment of the debate.

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Tweet @rtraister: I really like your wine cave want to shake your money tree

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Tweet @davidmackau: really was betting on marianne to be the first candidate to utter “wine cave full of crystals”

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Tweet @jdelreal: me in my wine cave

In response, Mr Buttigieg rightly pointed to the $US10 million ($14 million) in big-donor funds Ms Warren herself raised during her 2018 Senate bid, money which she has since transferred directly into to her presidential campaign.

Still Senator Warren’s barb appears to have hurt the Mayor from South Bend, Indiana.

On Christmas Eve, Mr Buttigieg’s campaign team launched a “contest” aimed at drawing small donors to his camp.

External Link:

Tweet @ttagaris: The Pete for America Innovation Team out there working hard on Christmas Eve coming up with gimmicks to lower his average donation amount this quarter. Funny stuff.

Critics called it a “cynical ploy” to drive down his campaign’s average donation amount in a bid to dampen the impression he’s selling out. Mr Buttigieg’s camp brought in $US24.7 million ($35.3 million) this quarter, just short of his summer record of $US24.8 million ($35.5 million).

Former vice-president Joe Biden, who’s leading the Democrat pack with 27.8 per cent of the national vote, has bounced back in fundraising terms after a poor third quarter, in which he spent $US2 million ($2.8 million) more than the $US15.7 million ($22.4 million) he took in.

He announced a $22.7 million windfall on Twitter, his biggest quarter of the campaign so far.

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Joe Biden tweet I'm excited to share that we raised $22.7 million this last quarter — our biggest quarter so far this campaign! Thank you to everyone who chipped in what you could — your support means the world to me. You truly are the heart of our campaign

One big surprise contender in the fundraising stakes, relatively speaking, has been tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

The political outsider, who’s polling just 3.5 per cent, said he raised more than $US16.5 million ($23.6 million) in the final three months of the year after a strong showing at the last debate.

External Link:

Tweet @zGuz: @AndrewYang just reported another monster fundraising quarter – topping $16.5 million for the first time. Looks like the #YangGang is building momentum

Donald Trump is still fundraising king

To put all of that in perspective, Mr Trump reportedly raised just as much as the top tier Democrat fundraisers — but did it in a third of the time.

Citing data obtained by the Federal Election Commission, Fox News claimed the Trump campaign raised $US20.6 million ($29.5 million) in November alone. His final fourth-quarter totalled $US46 million ($65.8 million), a figure that doesn’t include Republican National Committee donations.

The President’s team says he raised a whopping $143 million for the year.

External Link:

Tweet @realdonaldtrump: Sohrab Ahmari, New York Post “The Trump Campaign raised $10 million in the two days following the impeachment (Scam) vote. It seems the Democrats have shot themselves in the foot in one more way. They set up a process they know is not going to lead to the Presidents removal, &…

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Tweet @parscale: Biggest number in Trump fundraising haul is $102.7M cash-on-hand. Most ever by a re-election at this point. Plus, since Trump Victory funds our massive field program thru RNC, the President’s campaign will be flush with cash to execute the game plan & expand the map. #Winning

The Trump campaign has reportedly spent more than $US23 million ($32.9 million) on TV and digital advertising.

The only Democrat who can compete with the President dollar-for-dollar right now is fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

Worth an estimated $US54 billion ($77 billion), he’s so rich he doesn’t have to bother with donations.

In fact, since entering the race just a month ago, Mr Bloomberg has spent close to $US100 million ($143 million) on ads, way more than the rest of the Democrats combined.

For those in the business of political consultancy, public relations and advertising, 2020 is shaping up to be a belter.

So much for draining the swamp.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Riverbank catches fire after New Year’s Eve fireworks display


The New Year’s Eve family fireworks at Elder Park in Adelaide’s CBD sparked an emergency when a section of reeds along the River Torrens caught fire last night.

Key points:

  • Fire crews extinguished the blaze within minutes with the help of firework technicians
  • There were calls to cancel the fireworks in the Adelaide CBD
  • It comes as a number of bushfires continue to burn across the state

The incident came after numerous calls last week to cancel the fireworks display due to the potential fire risk and as a mark of respect to South Australian bushfire victims.

Footage of the fire was posted online last night, showing reeds stretching along the River Torrens catching alight just to the north of the footbridge in the Adelaide CBD.

The incident occurred following the 9:00pm fireworks at the Elder Park celebrations near Adelaide Oval in front of about 50,000 people.

The Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) said crews extinguished the blaze within minutes with the help of firework technicians.


Spectators watch a past display of the fireworks at Elder Park. (Audience submitted: Tracey Baker)

Event organisers then allowed the midnight fireworks to go ahead despite them being a much larger and more extravagant display.

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Tweet fireworks

The MFS brought in a second truck to stand by, however, the midnight display went ahead without a glitch.

The event along the River Torrens was also held as a fundraiser to assist bushfire victims.

Last week, there were also calls for Sydney’s iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks to be cancelled.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro was among those calling for the display to be cancelled due to the risk being “too high”.

However, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) granted organisers an exemption from a total fire ban and the event went ahead.

Firework displays across regional NSW that were cancelled or postponed included Wollongong, Maitland, Orange, Berry, Shoalhaven, Huskisson, Armidale, Port Macquarie and Tweed Heads.

Bushfires continue to burn across SA

In South Australia, the firework concerns came in the wake of the Cudlee Creek bushfires that devastated the Adelaide Hills in the past fortnight.


Scrubland burns at Keilira, in the south-east of SA. (Supplied: CFS)

More than 80 homes were destroyed in the Cudlee Creek fire along with one person also losing their life.

Another blaze at Ravine on Kangaroo Island remains at watch and act level following more catastrophic conditions on Monday.

Three homes have been lost, thousands of livestock killed and almost 25,000 hectares have also been burned in a bushfire at Keilira, in the state’s south-east.

Cooler weather is expected to help firefighters control bushfires burning across the state today, with forecast temperatures in the mid-20s.

However, the CFS is concerned ahead of another day of hot and windy conditions on Friday, which is forecast to rise above 40C.

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

When does the new decade start? That depends on how you look at it


Tuesday, December 31 was the last day of 2019, which means Wednesday, January 1 is the first day of 2020.

But does that mean a decade dawns with January 1’s sunrise?

Well, that depends on who you ask.

Debate of the decade

As the new year approaches, debate on social media has flared up about whether we need to wait until 2021 until we can officially welcome a new decade.

A study from US website YouGov polled more than 13,500 Americans about when the new decade starts. Of these Americans, 64 per cent said the decade started in 2020.

Seventeen per cent said it started in 2021. The remaining 19 per cent weren’t willing to commit to either year.

Why would it be 2021?

Pedants in the 2021 camp put forward a reasonable (and passionate) case.

Their argument is rooted in a fundamental fact: the Anno Domini system used to number years in the Gregorian calendar has no year zero.

This means the counting for years began at one.

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Tweet from Resurrection: "About the decade drama 2010 – first year 2011 – second 2012 – third 2013 – fourth 2014 – fifth 2015 – sixth 2016 – seventh 2017 – eighth 2018 – ninth 2019 – tenth BOOM after 2019 the tenth year is over 2020 – first 2021 – second etc… Enjoy"

This means the first decade went from January 1, 1 to December 31, 10.

So, by that logic, the second decade kicked off on January 1, 11.

It’s for this reason people argue the current decade began on January 1, 2011 and will end on December 31, 2020.

The same school of thought saw people argue the third millennium officially began until 2001 and not 2000, when much of a globe celebrated the new era.

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Tweet from waseem850: "I'm gonna be the nerd that ruins the "sparkle of the new decade" here and say the decade starts at 2021 not 2020 So next year is the last year of the decade…"

Why would it be 2020?

When we refer to decades, we say the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

And when we talk about the nostalgia of the ’90s, we’re referring to the years 1990 until 1999. So as a cultural collective, we count decades from zero to nine.

Andrew Novick, a scientist who works for the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, put it succinctly when unpacking the debate in a series of tweets.

“You wouldn’t say that someone born in 1970 was from the sixties, would you?” he said.

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Tweet from Marques Brownlee: "The 80s were a decade. The 90s were a decade. We're about to end the 2010s and start the 20s decade."

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Tweet from Dom2K: "People are simply saying we're going from the 2010s, to the 2020s Yes, technically the new decade doesn't start until 2021 But literally nobody is counting 2020 as a part of the 2010s What a weird hill to die on Let people be."

But what’s the answer?

It’s really up to you, but ABC Language researcher Tiger Webb says convention leans towards tomorrow being the time to use that NewDecadeNewMe hashtag.

“The first ‘decade’ really ran from 1 January 1 to 31 December 10 — this is a fair enough way to look at things, if you are a spreadsheet,” he said.

“Most people aren’t, though, and the overwhelming convention at present is to discuss decades as discrete spans of 10 years beginning, for example, January 1, 1990 and ending December 31, 1999.

“It’s all depressingly normative.

“Government agencies and weather satellites may well record the current decade as ending 31 December 2020, and rats off to them.

“People, in the aggregate, are not incorrect to mark that span slightly differently.”

External Link:

Tweet from Hans Nobel: "Knowledge is knowing that there was no year 0, so technically, the new decade begins Jan. 1, 2021, not 2020. Wisdom is knowing that we started this system in the middle, it's socially constructed anyway, and it feels right to treat "1 to 10" as a decade, so that's what we do."

So if you want to kick off the new year in a new decade, go for it.

But if you want an extra year to check off your to-do list for the decade, take your time.

Time is a human concoction

“What’s often missing from this discussion is that all calendrical systems are abstractions of human arrogance in the face of an indifferent universe,” Mr Webb said.

“To insist otherwise is time fascism.”

External Link:

Tweet from Hazel Gaynor: "What's with all the dramz about 'another decade nearly at an end?' We are heading into the '20s again. The twenties! "

In the Gregorian calendar system, we measure years in terms of Earth’s orbit of the Sun.

One lap around that spherical mass of fire equals one year. Ten laps around the sun is called a decade.

But years and decades are just units of measurement humans concocted to make sense of our past, present and future.

We could measure years in completely different terms and, in fact, we used to.

Before the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582, the Julian calendar was used but, according to Time and Date.com, that system did not reflect the actual time it took to circle once around the Sun.

Before the Julian calendar came about in 45BCE, the Roman calendar, which was based on the phases of the moon, was used to track the passing of time.

But no matter how a year was a defined, time continued to pass.

A decade by any other name?

It’s worth noting that “decade” didn’t always mean what it means to us today.

“Interestingly, the use of ‘decade’ to refer exclusively to a period of time is a relatively modern convention,” Mr Webb said.

“From Old English Dictionary citations, it seems that ‘decade of years’ was the more regular expression through to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

“Prior to that, a “decade” could be a collection of any 10 things.

“A king could have a ‘decade of [i.e. 10] subjects’, or a country a ‘decade of [i.e. 10] kings’, and so on.”

So, by that logic, a collection of 10 years could start at any year that takes your fancy.

And whether you want to start your new collection of 10 years tomorrow or one year from now is entirely up to you.


The word “decade” used to refer to a collection of 10 things, not just a period of 10 years. (AAP: Glenn Hunt)

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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