Treasurer Joe Hockey, pictured at the National Reform Summit in Sydney on Wednesday, will co-hair a new parliamentary group to build support for an Australian republic. Photo: Louie Douvis Peter FitzSimons, the new chair of the Australian Republican Movement, favours a very minimalist republican model with the head of state chosen by a two thirds majority of Parliament. Photo: Andrew Meares
Shanghai night field

Five things that need to happen before Australia becomes a republicPM keep open same-sex marriage referendum option openRead Peter FitzSimons’ speech to the National Press Club

Treasurer Joe Hockey has agreed to front a new bipartisan political push for an Australian republic as part of an ambitious ten year map for constitutional change.

The new chair of the Australian Republican Movement, author and Fairfax Media columnist Peter FitzSimons, said it had been a generation since the unsuccessful 1999 referendum but the time had come to make the case for change again.

“It’s time for us to be entirely self-governing. We propose it starts with a simple question to be put before the Australian people some time in the next five years, ‘do you support replacing the British monarchy with an Australian citizen as the Australian head of state’,” Mr FitzSimons said in a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday.

“Bingo, simple as that. We reckon the ‘yes’ vote will look like Phar Lap at Flemington, like Bradman at Lord’s, well ahead of the field and looking good.”

The organisation wants to see a plebiscite by 2020 followed by a referendum proposing a specific republican model by 2025.

Should a plebiscite on the republic be held within that time frame it could be the fifth time in as many years Australians were asked to go to the polls. Votes on marriage equality and constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians as well as two federal elections are also expected in that time frame.

Mr FitzSimons said it was essential republicans came together and agreed on a model before a referendum rather than face a repeat of the 1999 vote when arguments between republicans about different models contributed to the defeat of the ‘yes’ case.

Mr FitzSimons said he favoured a very minimalist model with the head of state, who would still be called the governor-general, chosen by a two thirds majority of Parliament.

“It is the most likely to succeed as it addresses the foremost concern of the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ crowd. Essentially we are not fixing it. We would be snipping one unsightly apron string,” Mr FitzSimons said.

The Australian flag would not be part of the debate.

Mr FitzSimons warned Australia would only make the change if Tony Abbott, a strong supporter of the constitutional monarchy, was no longer prime minister: “The reality of this is we won’t get this over the line without bipartisan support.”

Mr Hockey will be the co-chair of a new parliamentary group to build support for constitutional change among MPs.

Labor senator Katy Gallagher will be the other co-chair.

A spokesman for Mr Hockey said he “has long advocated his views on this issue”.

“They are a matter of public record and those views haven’t changed,” the spokesman said.

Earlier this year Opposition Leader Bill Shorten recommitted Labor to pursuing an Australian republic.

“Right now I’m focused on jobs, health and education and fairness in our community. But I do think that by 2020, it will be 250 years since Captain Cook came to Australia. I probably think now it’s time for Australia to have an Australian head of state,” Mr Shorten said on Wednesday.

Follow us on Twitter

Follow Stephanie Peatling on Facebook

The Smith Street Band. Picture: Ian LaidlawIT’S not just the fans losing themselves at The Smith Street Band gigs, it’s the band members too. Whether it’s the drummer singing along with fans in the front row or a wayward bassist falling off the stage, the Melbourne four-piece are pumped for what each show might bring.
Shanghai night field

The Melbourne band – Wil Wagner, Lee Hartney, Michael “Fitzy” Fitzgerald and Chris Cowburn – formed in 2010. Named in a nod to a local suburban street, the band has released three albums and three EPs, including last year’s top 20 album Throw Me in the River and the 2015 EP Wipe That Shit Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face. Over the five years they’ve been together they’ve also done the hard yards touring Europe, America and Australia. Luckily for Newcastle punters, we’ve been treated to many shows from the four-piece over the years and the band’s popularity in Newcastle has echoed their nationwide and worldwide success.

“We’ve gone from a tiny little DIY sort of place which felt like playing in someone’s loungeroom to playing these massive shows at the Great Northern then to The Small Ballroom, which is a little bit bigger, and then The Small Ballroom to The Cambridge, which we sold out. It’s pretty wild because early on we played a show at The Cambridge and we walked into that room and we were like, ‘Woah this is so big.’

“There were like 50 people there so it was too big,” drummer and vocalist Cowburn said.

“To continually come back somewhere and have more and more people come to the shows is great … I can distinctly remember the last tour which was the Get High See Everyone tour, the show at The Cambridge was one of the best vibes of the whole tour.

“It was definitely the best live show we’ve had in Newy so we’re pumped to get back.”

Pumped they are. Addicted to the feeling of seeing the crowd go crazy and sing along to their songs and creating shared memories each night at each gig. How does it feel to look out and see a writhing mass losing themselves to a Smith Street Band song?

“It’s indescribable, it totally is. It’s a feeling that doesn’t get old. It just makes me smile from ear to ear. A lot of the time I sing along with people in the front row. I try not to get distracted because I’m having a great time but I’ve also got stuff to do up there,” Cowburn said.

“When I think about music and the music that I love and that I grew up with, it’s all about having fun. I like to see personality in music, whether it’s people making little mistakes or on a knife’s edge, it’s that stuff which is showing that they’re human.

“Stuff which shows they’re as affected by what’s going on in the room as the crowd.

“We try to make our music as communal as possible. We want that feeling to be part of our shows, that it’s not us up on stage playing down to the crowd, but that everyone is part of it.”

The Smith Street Band takes the same raw and real approach to their recordings. Cowburn agreed they’re wary of over-thinking or over processing their music when it comes to laying down their tracks in the studio. They want to keep the unpredictability and realness of their live shows at the heart of their records, whether it’s achieved by tracking completely live as they did for their 2013 EP Don’t F- – – With Our Dreams or very close to it as they did with the 2014 album Throw Me in the River.

“A lot of bands use a click track, like a metronome, to play along to but we purposely don’t to get that live flow, the natural flow of the song,” he said.

“I think any band would say the same thing, that they want to capture the live feeling and essence of the song on record. It’s a super hard thing to do, it’s really tough.”

Staying motivated on the road can prove difficult too. Cowburn admitted the band was “in a bit of a bad place” at the end of 2014 during a lengthy touring run. But this year, despite months spent away from their Victorian base, the band found their groove. Plus, as the drummer explained, they do have pretty awesome jobs.

“At the end of the day you’re on the other side of the world playing music, you can’t get much better. Anything you do is going to have bad points in life, so I just try and look at the positives and stay pumped on it.”

Other days, it might be memories from previous tours which will get them through or lighten the mood. Especially their last Manchester show when bassist Fitzy fell off the stage.

“It was the most memorable show for all the wrong reasons, we all might have had a few too many beers and didn’t play very well and one of us fell off the stage,” Cowburn said with a huge laugh.

“It was quite a high stage, he fell off the stage and was off and couldn’t get back on. It wasn’t so funny at the time, but we can all laugh about it now.”

The Smith Street Band play at the Cambridge Hotel on September 10 with Andrew Jackson Jihad (USA), The Sidekicks (USA) and The Sugarcanes. Tickets at Bigtix.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott joins the Remote School Attendance Strategy bus to collect schoolchildren in Bamaga during his Cape York visit. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Got it nailed: Mr Abbott, with nail in his mouth, helps build a cubby house at Bamaga Senior School. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Shanghai night field

Mr Abbott at work on the cubby house. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

PM keeps open same-sex marriage referendum option

Bamaga, Cape York: Tony Abbott has given Indigenous people some prospect of more control over how the money is spent in their communities after receiving a heartfelt plea from a regional leader on the tip of Cape York.

The Prime Minister was given a blunt reality check after arriving at communities where primary school attendance is improving but the gap in other areas between mainstream and Indigenous Australians is widening.

The mayor of the Northern Peninsula Area, Bernard Charlie, delivered his impassioned plea after Mr Abbott arrived at Bamaga, about 40 kilometres from the cape’s northern tip. He detailed his concerns during a meeting with the Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoon.

“I cannot continue to witness another generation of our families be exposed to an outdated system of governance and ancient thinking of paternalism and integration that continues to haunt and fail our community miserably,” Mr Charlie said in his speech welcoming Mr Abbott to the area.

“We continue to experience high levels of poor health outcomes, whereby our Indigenous people’s life expectancy is greatly reducing to around 45 years.

“Our people are considered ‘lucky’ to reach 50 years of age and continue to experience a high level of unemployment, low-skilled jobs and low standard of educational outcomes across all critical years of learning.”

Other concerns included the high cost of living and the trend towards government services being provided by outside providers “when we have the capacity and capability to deliver locally”.

The 40-year-old mayor is one of six children who grew up in a broken home. He told Fairfax Media how he was belted by the local sergeant for walking the streets after a 9pm curfew because his parents were drinking and fighting at home.

“The system failed me. Government decisions were made for us elsewhere and I couldn’t stand living that life. It made me become a politician.”

Mr Abbott replied that he could understand the feeling of powerlessness, but maintained there was “less and less reason for that today”.

He suggested that the government was looking at a trade-off whereby communities would be given more autonomy in return “for a serious effort to get the kids to school, the adults to work and the community safe”.

“Certainly we are prepared to consider allowing communities much more control over the discretionary government funding that goes into them,” Mr Abbott said.

The government received a blueprint for change called Empowered Communities: Empowered Peoples in March, crafted by several Indigenous leaders and aimed at driving change and ending wasteful spending. Mr Abbott on Wednesday promised a response by the end of the year.

He arrived with half-a-dozen ministerial colleagues and department heads in what he described as the “biggest official delegation ever to this part of the world”.

After two days highlighted by moving ceremony in the Torres Strait, the focus was on education and Mr Abbott began the day observing the “remote school attendance strategy” in action before sitting in on lessons in the classroom.

“I think everyone should be encouraged by what’s happening here at Bamaga and in many other parts of remote Australia right now. Certainly I’m encouraged,” he said.

Robbie Tamwoy, who manages the program, said the strategy focuses on home visits to families whose children are not going to school and has achieved remarkable results in the two local primary schools. At Bamaga Junior School about 50 of the 300 students had attendance rates of 90 per cent or better.

But Mr Tamwoy said the challenge was much greater at the local high school where attendance was about 50 per cent and “60 per cent on a good day”. One driver of low attendance was the area’s high unemployment level.

Mr Charlie said he was pleased Mr Abbott and so many ministers and officials were in the area “to experience what we have been saying all along”.

“In order to change, it has to go from inside out. They have to see how we want to change, rather than do what some uni student from down south thinks is best for us.”

Follow us on Twitter  

Dyson Heydon is taking more time to consider his position as royal commissioner into trade unions. Photo: Anna KuceraDyson Heydon will announce whether he will resign from the royal commission into trade unions on Friday.
Shanghai night field

The commission has issued a statement saying Mr Heydon will announce his decision at 10am on Friday, and publish his reasons online “as soon as possible thereafter.”

The commissioner – who has been accused of creating the apprehension of bias – was scheduled to deliver his decision on Tuesday, but on Monday afternoon delayed this without issuing a new timeframe.

Lawyers for unions that have appeared before the commission argued last week that the former High Court judge should disqualify himself following revelations he had agreed to speak at a Liberal Party fundraiser.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have both said the commission can continue under another commissioner if Mr Heydon steps down.

Despite later cancelling his appearance, the ACTU’s barrister, Robert Newlinds, said on Friday that the “hypothetical observer” would think Mr Heydon harboured a political prejudice against the union officials before him.

Mr Newlinds also said he had not received all relevant documents, including emails, relating to the arrangements for the event, as the commission had promised.

Mr Heydon was billed as a speaker on an invitation to the event, which was named after former High Court Justice and Liberal MP, Sir Garfield Barwick.

He previously told the commission that he was asked to speak at the event last year, before the commission was extended for a year.

But he later “overlooked” the Liberal Party’s connection to the event when he received a follow-up email in March this year and the fact he had only agreed to speak if the royal commission had finished its hearings at the time of the event.

Mr Heydon had not read an attached donation form and flyer he received on the event in June, as he had been busy with royal commission hearings.

Follow us on Twitter

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, currently in Cape York, says he may be too busy to visit the Canning byelection. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen BIll Shorten with Labor candidate Matt Keogh. Photo: Philip Gostelow
Shanghai night field

Prime Minister Tony Abbott with Liberal candidate Captain Andrew Hastie in Perth last Friday. Photo: Thomas Davidson

Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison — the three Liberal ministers seen as leadership candidates in February’s failed spill motion — are all set to campaign in the Canning byelection over the next 10 days.

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is in Northern Australia for the rest of this week, would not say on Tuesday if he would make another appearance with Liberal candidate Andrew Hastie ahead of the crunch by-election contest because “life is pretty busy”.

In addition to Mr Turnbull, Ms Bishop and Mr Morrison, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann plan to campaign in the seat over the next week.

The Canning byelection is due to be held on September 19, but with Parliament to sit for two weeks from September 7, next week offers the most straightforward opportunity for senior ministers to participate in the campaign.

Given that the Liberal Party held the seat by a comfortable 11.8 percentage points at the 2013 election, a loss could be politically fatal for Mr Abbott after a rolling series of political missteps and scandals kept the government on the back foot.

A Reachtel poll published in the West Australian newspaper on Tuesday found the contest between Mr Hastie and Labor candidate Matt Keogh was neck and neck, predicting a swing of nearly 12 percentage points to Labor.

The poll of 768 voters in Canning found the ALP lead in the two-party preferred status, by 50.1 per cent to the Liberals on 49.9 with a little over three weeks until polling day.

Former Liberal MP Don Randall, who died last month, won the seat with 61.8 per cent of the two-party vote in 2013.

CFMEU Canberra offices were raided Tuesday afternoon by the Australian Federal Police.The Australian Federal Police has launched raids on the Canberra head office of the CFMEU in search of evidence of bribery and blackmail.
Shanghai night field

The raid, which took place on Tuesday, was prompted by evidence given to the trade unions royal commission, and come as commissioner Dyson Heydon considers whether to withdraw himself on the grounds of apprehended bias. That decision has now been pushed back to Friday.

It is understood about 20 police – including forensic and IT specialists – attached to the Royal Commission raided the Dickson headquarters at 10.30am Tuesday. They stayed for about 13 hours, until almost midnight.

The CFMEU gave officers access to the branch computer system and about 10,000 electronic and hard copy files, and mobile phones were seized.

An email, circulated among senior CFMEU staff on Wednesday morning advising of the raid, said police frisk searched all officers and staff present, removed posters from wall, and went through the office safe and ceiling cavity.

The email, from a union legal officer, said the CFMEU had a lawyer present during most of the raid and the warrant had been issued by the ACT Supreme Court.

“The terms of the warrant required that the executing officers have reasonable grounds for suspecting that there would be evidence at the premises relating to the commission of offences that have been and continue to be the subject of investigation by the Royal Commission,” the email said.

“These include the allegations of blackmail against former CFMEU official Halafihi Kivalu and organiser Johnny Lomax.

“We understand the officers are part of the group of police officers attached to the royal commission although we do not have confirmation of that.”

The ACT police confirmed on Wednesday that a “significant amount of computer files and hardware was seized” during the raid on the construction union’s office.

They said the search warrant “related to people already before the courts,” and they would not comment further.

The CFMEU said the raid was “obviously under the direction of the royal commission”.

“It smacks of overkill and a waste of police resources at a time when police are stretched dealing with more pressing issues in our community including terror-related activities,” the union said in a statement.

“This is nothing other than a political stunt by the royal commission which is desperately trying to defend its credibility and purpose.”

The raids come after Fairfax Media reported this week that criminal investigations are taking place in three states into allegations against the most senior levels of the union’s leadership on allegations ranging from receiving secret commissions to blackmail.

In Queensland, the CFMEU’s former national president and Labor factional boss, Dave Hanna, quit the union as a major criminal investigation examined allegations that he took secret commissions and kickbacks.

In Victoria, police taskforce Heracles has recently taken witness statements from construction industry figures as part of an inquiry into Victorian CFMEU secretary John Setka and his deputy, Shaun Reardon, with a focus on allegations of blackmail over the union’s campaign against concrete company Boral.

In NSW, the state union secretary, Brian Parker, is being investigated by police after phone taps were aired at the union royal commission which revealed his close relationship with organised crime figure and allegedly crooked labour hire firm boss, George Alex.

Lomax, a former Canberra Raiders rugby league player and union organiser, was arrested in July and charged with blackmail. He has entered pleas of not guilty.

Former CFMEU organiser Kivalu will also fight allegations of blackmail after he told a royal commission he accepted payments of $60,000 from a Canberra formwork contractor.

Kivalu was taken into custody after admitting under questioning he had accepted $60,000 in payments from formwork contractor Elias Taleb to help him with contacts in the industry.

Warragamba Dam during an earlier spill. Torrential rain caused havoc in the Illawarra over the past 24 hours with numerous roads, including the Mount Brandon Road in Jerrara, closed because of flooding. Photo: Sylvia Liber
Shanghai night field

Jamberoo Road was among the roads flooded in the past 24 hours. Photo: Sylvia Liber

Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main reservoir, will begin spilling on Wednesday night for the first time in two years, leading to minor flooding downstream in the Nepean Hawkesbury Valley, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

The level of Lake Burragorang was about 1.2 metres below the spill level as of early Wednesday afternoon, with the height likely to rise further as flows resulting from the east coast low reached the dam, said Hugh Bruist, a senior bureau hydrologist.

About 160 millimetres of rain fell into the Wollondilly River catchment upstream of Warragamba in the 48 hours to 9am on Wednesday, the bureau said. \n”,colour:”water”, title:””, maxWidth:200, open:0}] );}if (!window.googleMaps_Icons) window.googleMaps_Icons = {};window.googleMaps_Icons[“water”] = {“marker”:{“image”:”http://maps.gstatic上海夜网m/mapfiles/ms2/micons/water.png”},”shadow”:{“image”:”http://maps.gstatic上海夜网m/mapfiles/ms2/micons/water.shadow.png”}};if (!window.gmapsLoaders) window.gmapsLoaders = [];window.gmapsLoaders.push(CreateGMapgmap2015726144453);window.gmapsAutoload=true;/*]]>*/]]>

Meanwhile a minor flood warning was issued for the Nepean-Hawkesbury Valley after 170mm of rainfall in the valley resulted in spills from the Nepean and Avon Dams.

“Landowners should begin preparation for minor flooding. Pumps and other portable assets in low lying areas should be relocated. Livestock should be moved to higher ground,” the SES said.

Rising waters are expected to trigger minor flooding at Menangle from midnight Wednesday.

Warragamba Dam is expected to start spilling early on Thursday morning for the first time since June 2013.

“At this stage minor flood peaks downstream of Warragamba Dam are expected to be similar to the March 2012 event,” the bureau said in an updated alert.

Penrith is now expected to see a peak of 5 metres by about noon on Thursday with minor flooding, with the peak at North Richmond likely to reach 8 metres by about 6 pm on Thursday, the update said. Windsor should also receive minor flooding, with a peak at about 6 metres three hours later.

Flooding in NSW’s south-east

An intense low pressure system sat off the coast south of Sydney most of Tuesday, directing heavy falls over the region.

The St Georges Basin had moderate to major flooding as of Wednesday afternoon, the bureau said in a separate statement.

A flood peak is expected at Sussex during the late afternoon coinciding with the high tide.

Moderate flooding is also taking place along the Lower Shoalhaven River at Nowra and Terara, the bureau stated.

Tomerong, about 180 kilometres south of Sydney, received 439 millimetres of rain in two days, while Nowra copped 390 millimetres and Kiama 336 millimetres, the bureau said.


The bureau was reassessing its estimates for Warragamba after flood levels on the Jooriland River upstream of Lake Burragorang peaked higher than expected, Mr Bruist said.

“It’s quite difficult to assess how much is coming into the system and how it will behave,” Mr Bruist said.

Rain over the Lake Burragorang catchment eased from early on Wednesday morning, Mr Bruist said.

Forecast models suggest the rain belt “should die off”, he said, adding that no further rain was expected to aggravate conditions.

Former Treasury head Martin Parkinson: “Unless we actually grab this challenge by the horns and really get concrete about what are the priority issues, we are actually going to find ourselves sleepwalking into a real mess.” Photo: Louie Douvis RBA Governor Glenn Stevens and for Mr Parkinson at the National Reform Summit in Sydney on Wednesday. Photo: Louie Douvis
Shanghai night field

Forget reform, go for growth, RBA governor tells summitShorten calls on business, community workers to work together on emissions

Australia is facing the equivalent of a recession in the next decade as incomes grow at only a fraction of the officially forecast pace, the National Reform Summit has been told.

The past head of the Treasury, Martin Parkinson, told the Sydney summit that unless Australia acted quickly, it would sacrifice as much as 5 per cent of the economy in the next ten years, the equivalent of a recession.

“Unless we actually grab this challenge by the horns and really get concrete about what are the priority issues, we are actually going to find ourselves sleepwalking into a real mess,” he said.

Economic modeller Janine Dixon from Victoria University had told the summit the Treasury’s Intergenerational Report had painted a “rosy” picture of the future, projecting average growth in real income per person of 1.4 per cent, meaning that by 2055 Australians would enjoy real incomes 75 per cent higher.

Her own modelling had real incomes growing by less than 1 per cent per year, meaning that by 2055 incomes would be only 44 per cent higher.

“Put another way, it would take an extra 20 years to reach the income forecast in the Intergenerational Report for 2055,” she said.

Her modelling has productivity growing at only half the pace assumed by the Treasury, whose assumption was based on the unusually high decade of productivity growth that followed the economic reforms of the early 1990s.

Melbourne University economist Ross Garnaut said if her estimates turned out to be correct, the budget would “never get back to surplus”.

Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said Australia’s economic growth rate had mostly started with a “two” instead of a “three”, “despite the lowest interest rates in our lifetimes”.

Dr Parkinson said if economic growth remained nearer to 2.5 per cent than 3 per cent, as much as 5 percentage points of gross domestic product would be lost over the next decade.

“If this is not happening because our population growth is slow, it means willingly accepting the impact of a recession,” he said.

“The loss of GDP from a recession is about 5 or 6 percentage points.”

Without acting we would be “sleepwalking into a real mess”.

The summit has brought together 100 business and community leaders to try and discuss issues the organisers believe the government is afraid to touch. It is sponsored by KPMG, and both the Australian Financial Review and The Australian newspapers.

Asked to be specific about tax or spending measures that could help boost growth, Dr Parkinson said the most obvious way in which the tax system held growth back was the way in which it skewed tax concessions to the top end of the income distribution.

“It’s not a retirement incomes policy, it’s a wealth accumulation policy,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense to me. It’s an obvious area we should be looking at.”

The draft communique to be refined at the summit notes “widespread concern” that super tax concessions are used for purposes “inconsistent with the purpose of the retirement income system”.

Australian National University tax professor Miranda Stewart cautioned the summit against cutting income tax rates in order to emulate either New Zealand or Singapore. She said New Zealand was more heavily taxed than Australia and Singapore housed most of its citizens in public housing.

Follow us on Twitter

Follow Peter Martin on Facebook

CSIRO and Jobs for NSW chairman, David Thodey, says Asia is going through a correction and not a downturn. Photo: Louie DouvisFormer Telstra boss David Thodey says Asia’s economy is suffering “a correction it had to have” and the region will bounce back to growth.
Shanghai night field

Mr Thodey spoke to Fairfax Media after launching Jobs for NSW, which is a $190 million government fund designed to finance propositions that can generate employment in the state.

He will help run the body as its first chairman alongside his other duties as the chair for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

But despite global markets being pummelled by repeated falls in Asia’s stock markets after China’s ‘Black Monday’ this week, Mr Thodey was confident that the region would continue to offer strong growth.

“I personally don’t think it’s a long term thing,” he said. “It was a correction they needed to have because there was too much heat in the market.

“But the fundamentals of China … the advancement of that population moving from a degree of low income into middle income, and when you look at the aspirations of people in education and to have a better quality of life – when you see those fundamentals you know that the economy has got to grow.”

Telstra under Mr Thodey launched several ventures into the Asian region including a joint-venture partnership with Telkom Indonesia and the purchase of telecommunications provider Pacnet for $US697 million.

Mr Thodey’s comments echo those of several Australia chief executives who moved quickly to tell investors that Asia was merely going through a correction rather than a long-term downturn.

ANZ Banking Group chief executive Mike Smith said there was still “huge potential” for growth in China and some experts pointed to stability in 10-year bond rates as evidence that the equities market rout was a short-term phenomenon.

There is no doubt the loss of a baby is one of the toughest things a couple can ever face.
Shanghai night field

But while a mother’s grief for her baby is expected and supported, a father’s pain following his baby’s death is often overlooked.

Sands Australia is hoping to change that with the launch of a Male Parent Support line dedicated to helping dads dealing with the loss of a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth or a newborn death.

“A father’s grief following the death of a baby tends to be overlooked by society,” Sands Chief Executive Officer Andre Carvalho said.

“There is no doubt that carrying a child results in an intense emotional bond for the mother, however research and anecdotal evidence from our work shows that fatherhood for so many dads begins as their child is in the womb.

“Dads also experience acute grief following miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.”

An estimated 103,000 pregnancies (one in four conceptions) ends in miscarriage in Australia each year, and approximately 3000 babies are either stillborn or die in the first 28 days after birth.

One father who suffered the loss of his third child to stillbirth said he ignored his own grief due the pressure to support his wife and family.

“The pain was so intense. I wanted to grieve, but I felt like I had to support my family – my responsibilities as a husband and father came first,” the dad, known only as Luke, said.

“It was so tough on my wife and suddenly she wasn’t able to take care of our children and I had to shoulder all of the work and parenting alone.

“I didn’t know where to go where to go or who to speak to.”

Research shows that men are less likely to seek help for any type of emotional problems, including stressful and heart-wrenching life events such as the loss of a baby.

“We recognise that bereaved dads also need a safe space to grieve and that is why we have developed our dedicated Male Support Line,” Mr Carvalho said.

“Calls to the support line are answered by a team of trained male volunteers who truly understand what a grieving father goes through as they too have experienced the heartache of pregnancy loss or newborn death.”

Sands is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support and information to parents and families who experience the death of a baby, as well as offering resources and education to healthcare professionals.

The Male Parent Support Line will complement Sands’ existing services including the National Helpline (1300 072 637), local support groups, live web chat and email support.

Appointments for Sands’ Male Parent Support Line can be made on their website.