Qld govt accused of ‘protection racket’

Queensland’s Labor government has been accused of running a “protection racket” after the state archivist was blocked from appearing at budget estimate hearings to answer questions about stood down minister Mark Bailey.

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The Crime and Corruption Commission last week found that Mr Bailey may have breached the official records act when he deleted his personal yahoo email account used for some ministerial business.

Mr Bailey has been stood aside as minister while the State Archivist Mike Summerell investigates the matter further.

Opposition MP Verity Barton tried to add Mr Summerell to estimates proceedings twice on Tuesday, but was thwarted both times.

Ms Barton accused the government of protecting the energy and main roads minister.

“This whole process is a farce,” Ms Barton said.

“The whole point of estimates is to be transparent and accountable and this government is running a protection racket.”

Fellow Opposition MP Tarnya Smith expressed frustration later on Tuesday when she asked Digital Economy Minister Leeanne Enoch and her Director-General Jamie Merrick a series of questions about the state archivist’s inquiry, but was then told only Mr Summerell could answer.

“If the state archivist had been allowed to come along today we might have been able to get through some of these questions,” Ms Smith said.

Ms Enoch clarified that Mr Summerell was never going to appear at the hearings for procedural reasons.

“The state archivist is neither a direct report or a CEO of a related entity, and according to standing orders… the state archivist is not listed as a person who can be directly questioned anyway,” Ms Enoch said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the list of people appearing at estimates had been finalised several weeks ago

“That’s a matter for the committee, the witness list is set, I think, from memory, about a month out,” she said earlier on Tuesday.

Dees’ Gawn under cloud for Hobart AFL trip

Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn is racing the clock to line up for Saturday’s AFL clash with North Melbourne in Hobart.

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Gawn rolled his ankle during the third quarter of the Demons’ win over Port Adelaide.

The 208cm big man played out the rest of the game but is battling to overcome swelling and soreness, with the team due to fly on Friday to Tasmania.

He will face a fitness test at Thursday’s main training session.

“It was quite swollen after the game, but he’s pulled up really well and we’re being pretty conservative with him early in the week,” Demons fitness boss Dave Misson said on Tuesday.

“We expect him to do some work on Thursday and play.”

Neville Jetta also sent a scare through the Demons’ camp on Tuesday afternoon, with the in-form defender limping from the training track.

Jetta had his ankle assessed by club doctors before returning immediately to club headquarters, but Misson said he would be fine to play on Saturday.

“It was a really innocuous incident – he rolled his ankle on a footy,” Misson said.

“He’ll train on Thursday and be right to go.”

Misson said co-captain Nathan Jones was likely to miss another week as he continues to recover from a quad injury.

The seventh-placed Dees will start strong favourites against 17th-placed North Melbourne, who have lost their past seven games.

But midfielder Dom Tyson said the struggling Roos would be far from easybeats at their Bellerive fortress where they hold a 10-4 record.

North downed ladder leaders Adelaide earlier this year in Hobart and had also dominated Melbourne in recent years, winning their past 16 clashes.

“I know from playing down in Hobart last year, it was really high scoring – there was a really strong wind, so there was a scoring end,” Tyson said.

“Whether that changes your tactics on game day … it probably does a little bit with how you play, whether you have a spare behind the ball against the wind or try and use your numbers around the contest.

“North touched us up earlier this year and they seem to have our measure at the moment but we feel like we’re in a good spot and in some decent form, albeit a little inconsistent still.”

Australia ‘consistent’ on asylum seeker policy despite UN backtrack claim: Bishop

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop insists Australia has been clear and consistent about its boats policy despite being urged to clarify any promises it made to the United Nations’ refugee agency.

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The UNHCR says it agreed to help administer the deal to send refugees to the United States on the condition that Australia would consider resettling vulnerable refugees on Manus Island and Nauru who have close family in the country.

It said the understanding was reached over months in a number of meetings with senior government officials, but would not identify exactly who.

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UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection Volker Turk said about 36 people had been identified for resettlement in Australia.

But Ms Bishop insists Australia’s position has been clear.

“If people seek to arrive illegally, if they pay criminal smuggling networks, they will not be resettled in Australia,” she told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Asked if that means the UN agency was making it up, she said she was not casting aspersions.

The UN’s claim has been rejected by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, with his office reiterating that those transferred to regional processing centres will never settle in Australia.

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Fellow frontbencher Michael Sukkar echoed their defence.

“I think what we say privately and what we say publicly is always the same here,” he told Sky News.

Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers said Mr Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull had big questions to answer.

“They need to urgently clarify the arrangement that was made with the Americans and any involvement from the UNHCR,” he told the ABC on Monday night.

“They need to clear this up sooner rather than later because there does seem to be a pretty extraordinary difference between the account provided by the agency and the account provided by the Turnbull government.”

The one-off deal with the US was announced last November.

More than 1600 refugees have expressed interest in the US resettlement deal, but only about 1200 places are expected to be on offer.

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Turkey journalists reject ‘terror’ claims as "absurd" as trial opens

The 17 defendants from Cumhuriyet daily were detained from October last year and a dozen of them have now spent more than eight months in jail.

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They have been held under a state of emergency imposed after the July 15, 2016 failed coup aimed at ousting Erdogan that the authorities blame on US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The case has further raised tensions between Turkey and the European Union, in particular Germany, which fears the crackdown is being used to target any critic of Erdogan.

The moment when they bring in arrested #cumhuriyet17 journos into the court room @cumhuriyetgzt #Journalismisnotacrime #GazetecilereOzgurluk pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/p6wWZFBMnk

— Arzu Geybulla (@arzugeybulla) July 24, 2017

The Cumhuriyet journalists, cartoonists and executives were applauded by supporters crammed into the Istanbul courtroom as the trial opened.

Supporters released dozens of multicoloured balloons outside the courthouse, chanting: “Don’t be silenced! A free media is a right!”

If convicted, the journalists face varying terms of up to 43 years in jail.

In an extraordinary coincidence, the trial opened on Turkey’s annual national day of the press which marks the end of official censorship in the Ottoman Empire in 1908 under Sultan Abdulhamid II.

– ‘Illogical’ –

Those on trial include some of the best known names in Turkish journalism including the columnist Kadri Gursel, the paper’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, cartoonist Musa Kart as well as its chairman Akin Atalay.

They are charged with supporting in the newspaper’s coverage three groups considered by Turkey as terror outfits — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the ultra-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and Gulen’s movement, which Ankara calls the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO).

The indictment accuses Cumhuriyet of beginning a “perception operation” with the aim of starting an “asymmetric war” against Erdogan.

But supporters insist the paper has always been bitterly critical of the three groups, including Gulen’s organisation. Gulen denies any link to the failed coup.

The 17 defendants from Cumhuriyet daily were detained from October last year and a dozen of them have now spent more than eight months in jail.AAP

“To say I was in contact with FETO members is illogical and against good sense,” Gursel told the court in a powerful testimony where he sought to refute the accusations charge-by-charge.

“There is nothing to justify my jailing — nothing apart from slander,” he added. “The claims are totally without basis.”

Atalay said it was the authorities who were scared. “But Cumhuriyet will not give in… independence and liberty are written into the DNA of the paper,” he said.

Cartoonist Kart meanwhile denounced the accusations against him as “unfair, unfounded and unacceptable”.

– ‘Test for Turkey’ –

Cumhuriyet (Republic), which was set up in 1924 and is Turkey’s oldest mainstream national title, has been a thorn in the side of Erdogan in recent years.

It is one of the few genuine opposition voices in the press, which is dominated by strongly pro-government media and bigger mainstream dailies that are increasingly wary of challenging the authorities.

Also being tried in the case is the investigative journalist Ahmet Sik who in 2011 wrote an explosive book “The Imam’s Army” exposing the grip Gulen’s movement had on the Turkish state.

Eleven of the 17 including Gursel, Sabuncu, Kart and Sik, are being held in custody. The trial will resume Tuesday and this preliminary stage is expected to last until Friday.

#Cumhuriyet’s Gursel: I’m not here bec I helped a terrorist orgn, but bec I’m an independent & critical journalist.” 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/Px3mdO4A7o

— Sejal Parmar (@_SejalParmar) July 24, 2017

Since their arrests, Cumhuriyet has continued publishing the columns of the jailed journalists but with a blank white space instead of text.

“This trial is a test for Turkey,” Aydin Engin, one of the writers on trial who was freed after his initial arrest. “Erdogan says justice is balanced in Turkey. Now we will see.”

Being tried in absentia is the paper’s former editor-in-chief Can Dundar, who was last year sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail over a front-page story accusing the government of sending weapons to Syria.

He has now fled Turkey for Germany.

– ‘Criminalising journalism’ –

Steven Ellis, director of advocacy at the International Press Institute (IPI), said outside the court that the case aimed at “criminalising journalism.”

“If it works… then they will do it again and again,” he said.

Turkey ranks 155th on the latest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) world press freedom index, below Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Related:

According to the P24 press freedom group, there are 166 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were arrested under the state of emergency.

Erdogan, however, insisted in an interview earlier this month there were just “two real journalists” behind bars in Turkey and anyone else was jailed for offences including robbing ATMs.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said last month that the detention of the staff was arbitrary and that they should be immediately released and given the right to compensation.

Drought risk to soar even at 1.5C

Extreme El Nino events that can cause crippling drought in Australia are likely to be far more frequent even if the world pulls off mission improbable and limits global warming to 1.

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5 degrees.

International scientists have just released new modelling that projects drought-causing El Nino events, which pull rainfall away from Australia, will continue rising well beyond any stabilisation of the climate.

Even if warming is limited to the world’s aspirational target of 1.5 degrees – something scientists have warned is unlikely if not impossible – the modelling suggests Australia will face more frequent drought-inducing weather events.

The risk of extreme El Nino events will rise from the current five events per century, to 10 per century by 2050 under a scenario that presumed warming peaks at 1.5 degrees then.

But the risk keeps on rising for a further 100 years – to about 14 events per century by 2150.

In short, the risk of extreme El Nino events won’t stabilise even if the climate is stabilised, CSIRO researcher and lead author Dr Guojian Wang says.

“This result is unexpected and shows that future generations will experience greater climate risks associated with extreme El Nino events than seen at 1.5C warming,” Dr Wang says.

Report co-author Dr Wenju Cai says extreme El Nino events occur when the usual El Nino Pacific rainfall centre is pushed eastward, toward South America. Sometimes it moves by up to 16,000km, causing massive changes in the climate.

“This pulls rainfall away from Australia bringing conditions that have commonly resulted in intense droughts across the nation,” says Dr Cai, director of the Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research.

“During such events, other countries like India, Ecuador, and China have experienced extreme events with serious socio-economic consequences.”

The global Paris climate change agreement seeks to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, a target intended to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

But the Paris deal, recently abandoned by the United States, also set an aspirational target of 1.5 degrees – a demand from the most vulnerable countries, including low-lying island nations in the Pacific that may not survive at 2 degrees.

Dr Scott Power heads climate research at the Bureau of Meteorology and says most small island states in the Pacific have a limited capacity to cope with major floods and droughts, and the latest modelling is very bad news for them.

“To make matters worse, our recent study published … indicates that the risk of major disruptions to Pacific rainfall have already increased. And, unfortunately, these El Nino-related impacts will add to the other challenges of climate change, such as rising sea levels, ocean acidification and increasing temperature extremes.”

The latest research on the El Nino risk has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.