Justice Dyson Heydon is taking more time to consider his position as royal commissioner into trade unions. Photo: Anna KuceraThe royal commission into trade union corruption would be unlikely to continue if Dyson Heydon disqualified himself from heading the inquiry because of his role in judging the credibility of witnesses when they give evidence, leading law academics have said.

Even so, Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed on Tuesday that the royal commission would continue if Mr Heydon stepped aside.

“Regardless of what the royal commissioner ultimately decides, the royal commission must and will go on,” he said.

But law experts have warned that it would be difficult to continue because a new royal commissioner will not have had the opportunity to observe and interrogate witnesses who have given evidence.

Greg Craven, Professor of Constitutional Law at the Australian Catholic University, said there was a strong legal argument against Mr Heydon recusing himself from the royal commission because it would threaten its ability to continue after his departure.

“That is actually relevant in law, as well as relevant practically,” he said.

“One of the things the law of natural justice would say is that authorities like royal commissions should actually lean against disqualifying themselves from bias if the results of so doing would be that they could not carry on their inquiry.

“If I were Heydon, that would be part of the reason that I would say I was not going to recuse myself.”

Professor Craven, who is also vice-chancellor of the university, said that if Mr Heydon disqualified himself for bias, “the argument would then be that the royal commission could not go forward under another royal commissioner”.

“That would also be a breach of procedural fairness because they had not heard the parties,” Professor Craven said.

This would also give unions the opportunity to make the $61 million royal commission start again with a new royal commissioner.

Desmond Manderson, a professor of law at the Australian National University, said: “the question of weighing up evidence etc is clearly not just a matter of reading transcripts”.

“Too much about weighing up evidence is about credibility and that’s about personal demeanour, responsiveness and lots of other things that a text can’t adequately capture.

“The judicial system sets a lot of store by first hand and oral evidence.”

Mark Findlay, Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Sydney Law School, said a royal commission is given to an individual commissioner.

“If he rules that he can’t continue he must resign his commission – as such the commission then lapses,” he said.

“[I]f he can no longer continue then the commission has to be reissued.”

Professor Findlay said it was possible for a new commission to be given to someone else who could take all transcribed hearings into account.

“But that would be difficult to manage and the new commissioner might object to not being able to personally interrogate key witnesses,” he said.

Unions made an application on Friday for Mr Heydon to disqualify himself from the inquiry because of an alleged appearance of bias after he accepted an invitation to a Liberal Party event

Mr Heydon said he “overlooked” the Liberal Party connections to the Sir Garfield Barwick Address to be held on Wednesday night and cancelled his appearance in recent weeks after he realised it was a fundraiser.

On Friday, Mr Heydon adjourned the hearing till Tuesday, but he is taking longer to make a decision.

A spokesman for the royal commission said on Tuesday afternoon that Mr Heydon “is taking the time required to consider his decision”.

“A further update will be provided in due course,” the spokesman said.

Ben Simmons in action for LSU against the Newcastle All-Stars. Picture: Jonathan CarrollAUSTRALIAN basketball legend Andrew Gaze says the hype about teenage phenomenon Ben Simmons is justified. He compares Simmons’ all-round game to that of LeBron James.

Five-time Olympian Gaze is convinced the 19-year-old former Newcastle Hunters junior is ready to play in the Boomers and contend for a spot at next year’s Rio Games.

Melbourne-born Louisiana State University freshman Simmons starred for his new team in front of packed crowds on their five-match Australian tour which ended at the weekend.

Tipped to be a future No.1 NBA draft pick, 208cm forward Simmons averaged 20 points per game at 52per cent from the field. He also averaged nine rebounds, two blocks and more than three steals a match.

Gaze, who coached against Simmons at under-18 level in Melbourne and played several seasons alongside Ben’s import father, Dave, at the Melbourne Tigers, was among spectators at LSU’s two matches against NBL club Melbourne United.


‘‘He’s just a phenomenal talent that continues to even improve on what we all thought was going to be great,’’ Gaze said.

‘‘The evidence we’ve seen in his first outings with LSU is that the hype around him, which we’ve heard about through his performances over in the United States, is absolutely justified because he’s just an incredible talent.

‘‘His size, his versatility. He’s got the size he can defend the bigger guys, his quickness to defend the little guys, he can put the ball on the floor.

‘‘He’s got incredible passing skills. When he drives into traffic, he’s got good court vision, natural instincts for the game, and package all that up in just a freakish athleticism and you can understand why he is such a highly regarded prospect for the NBA.’’

Simmons, the 2015 male US high school player of the year, is primarily a power forward, but Gaze believed he could also be a fine small forward.

‘‘The three spot [small forward] is well within his capabilities,’’ Gaze said.

‘‘With the way he can put it to the floor … dare I say it and let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but he’s almost LeBron James-like in the way he can bring the ball up the floor, get to the rack, distribute the ball.

‘‘Right now that’s something that you could say, as bold a statement as this may sound, he’s got that type of capability.

‘‘If he continues to grow, there’s no reason why he can’t have that type of impact.’’

Simmons has played a couple of games for the Boomers but missed this month’s Olympic qualifiers against New Zealand because of his LSU commitments.

Gaze has no doubt the Melburnian can mix it at senior international level.

‘‘From the evidence we saw against LSU he is more than ready, in my opinion,’’ Gaze said. ‘‘Certainly from what I’ve seen he has absolutely got the capabilities to not only play, but make a significant contribution to the Australian team.’’

“What we serve we do so with a clean conscience and with pride”: Linda Lodue from Momo Wholefoods. Picture: Peter Stoop WHETHER it’s their own house-made cheese or almond milk made from scratch each day, open-range biodynamic eggs from the Hunter Valley, organic herbs and honey from Paterson, or organic and free range chicken from Port Stephens, Momo Wholefoods takes pride in sourcing the best produce for their Newcastle cafe.

The cafe opened in mid-July at the former bank building at 227 Hunter Street, Newcastle, a building which once housed Soul Foods and before that KFC.

Try this: The smoked salmon board. Picture: Peter Stoop

The building has been transformed under the guidance of Tenzin and Linda Lodue, the couple also behind Momo Wholefood Cafe at Organic Feast, East Maitland. Flooded with natural light pouring in the huge windows, the space is warm and welcoming with accents of natural wood, pops of turquoise, wicker lights, brightly coloured artworks and living touches of olive trees and plants peppering the large corner site.

The interior at 227 Hunter Street, Newcastle. Picture: Peter Stoop

It’s an understated but beautiful canvas against which Momo’s food and drink can shine. Linda and Tenzin’s menu shows off their long-held mantra of eating unrefined, fresh ingredients grown in clean, healthy soil. They use local produce where possible and support organic and sustainable farming practices.

‘‘We are not just saying that we are seasonal, organic and local, we have really put the effort in to follow it through. It’s not just an idea we have read about, it’s how we are and how we’ve been living for years,’’ Linda said. ‘‘What we serve we do so with a clean conscience and with pride. We know where every single ingredient we serve comes from, which is very important.’’

The Indian Thali plate. Picture: Peter Stoop

The menu is designed to have something for everyone: for those who are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters (thanks to free-range ethical meat producers).

Momo serves breakfast (quinoa chia porridge with stewed winter fruits, vegetable bowl, egg and bacon roll, eggs on sourdough), an all-day menu (avocado on sourdough, smoked salmon board, vegan board) and lunch (salads, Tibetan momo dumplings, Indian Thali plates, nachos, frittata, polenta bake, vegan burgers), as well as grab-and-go lunches for workers in the CBD.

Enjoy Momo’s traditional handmade dumplings, left, in a relaxed atmosphere. Picture: Peter Stoop

They also serve Five Senses Coffee throughout the day and an array of cold and hot drinks including their own Momo Chai (an Indian-style chai brewed traditionally with whole spice, black tea, Bonsoy and raw ginger), freshly-squeezed organic juices, milkshakes, smoothies (such as the Almond Cacao Smoothie with house-made almond milk, banana, raw cacao and agave) and Zest Kombucha on tap. Stay tuned for a Sunday opening, organic wines and alcoholic drinks and an expanded retail space selling Momo’s own chutneys, relishes and more.

Momo Wholefood Cafe is open 7.30am to 3pm Monday to Saturday. Phone: 9263310. Visit: facebook杭州夜网m/momowholefood, Instagram @momowholefood.

Threatened ground: Horses at the Coolmore Stud in the Hunter Valley. Photo: Tanya d’HervilleA controversial Hunter Valley coalmine extension has secured preliminary approval from the Baird government in a move described by horse breeders as the “beginning of the end” for their industry.

The Planning Department has recommended that a scaled-back plan to extend the life of the Drayton South open-cut coalmine operated by mining giant Anglo American can be approved by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) with conditions.

The mine, which would expand closer to the famous Coolmore and Woodland horse studs, would be able to extract about 75 million more tonnes of coking coal. The open pit, though, would have to remain behind a natural ridgeline and leave a buffer zone along nearby Saddlers Creek, resulting in about 100 million tonnes of coal resource being left untapped.

The department’s “preliminary recommendation is that the revised mine plan is far enough from the nearby horse studs that it can be approved subject to strict conditions especially around dust and noise”, a spokesman said.

The PAC is due to hold a public hearing on September 10. Commissioners will be required to take into account the Baird government’s proposed amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) that will result in economic factors losing their primacy over social and environmental ones.

However, the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association said that two previous versions of the mine plan had been rejected by the PAC and the third iteration should also be dismissed.

“This mine remains less than one kilometre from the operations of the Darley and Coolmore horse studs,” the association said in a statement. “Concerns regarding impacts on water, blasting, noise, dust, equine and human health, destruction to lands and threatened species, visual amenity and the reputation of one of the world’s leading thoroughbred breeding industries remain.”

Cameron Collins, association president, said the mine expansion would devastate the breeding industry and put thousands of jobs at risk.

“Despite a rejection last year, Anglo American is allowed to submit any number of applications regardless of their consequences to strategic agricultural lands, industries and our environment while ordinary landholders are stripped of their appeal rights,” Dr Collins said.

Major projects directed by the Planning Minister to a PAC review for public hearings do not have merits appeal rights although they can be challenged on judicial grounds.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes does not normally comment on projects being assessed by the PAC, a spokesman said.

Fairfax Media sought comment from Anglo American. The company welcomed the department’s preliminary recommendation that the mine extension would be approved, according to a report in the Singleton Argus.

The recommendation “agrees with Anglo American’s detailed and peer reviewed assessments which found the project will have no adverse effects on the health of horses” on the nearby studs, the paper quoted Rick Fairhurst, the company’s project director for the mine, as saying.

The department said the mine would require capital investment of about $131 million, generate annual spending of about $213 million and permit the retention of 500 jobs at the mine for another 15 years.

Darley is owned by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Sheikh of Dubai, while Coolmore is Swiss-owned.

“[E]ven if the owners of these operations did decide to leave the area, there is no reason why the properties could not continue to be used to breed thoroughbred horses in the future, albeit in all likelihood by operations without the international reputation of Coolmore  and Darley,” the department said in its preliminary recommendation.

Redoute’s Choice, Fastnet Rock and Exceed are among champion horses produced or sired at the two studs.

Spotless chief executive Bruce Dixon is predicting more growth to come. Photo: Luis AscuiHow many ASX-listed companies does it take to change a light bulb? Just one will do, says outgoing Spotless Group chief executive Bruce Dixon who has stumbled upon a lucrative revenue stream.

The cleaning, catering and facility management company posted $2.8 billion in revenue for the 12 months to June 30, a 12.3 per cent gain on the previous year. This excluded costs associated with its return to the ASX in May, 2014.

Mr Dixon is predicting more growth to come in the next 12 months, saying its acquisition of smart reader and installation company, Utility Services Group [USG], in June has delivered unexpected revenue opportunities.

Among these are municipal contracts to change street light bulbs, which Mr Dixon said were worth millions of dollars a year.

“It’s opened up a whole new area for us,” said Mr Dixon about the USG acquisition.

“We were probably lacking in our foresight to see it but that whole energy sector is just huge and it fits our portfolio beautifully.

“There are large players, large contracts and the services are down our line, whether that be meter reading, maintenance of the poles or vegetation management. Going forward that will throw up a lot of acquisition possibilities and also organic growth.”

Spotless’ shares closed 6 per cent higher at $1.85 on Tuesday.

Mr Dixon, who retire at the end of year to help his son manage his pubs, expected further earnings gains in the next 12 months.

He said the company had been able to secure $70 million worth of new contracts since June 1. New customers include Melbourne Airport, Western Australia Department of Housing and the New Zealand Defence Force.

“Last year, we had $350 million of new contract wins and we renewed $950 million. We had a lot of large contracts, and we held every one.

“Revenue is up 12 per cent and we expect to do even better than that because a lot of the new contracts were [signed] in the back half the year, so FY16 is looking very positive.”

He also said the company, which is the third biggest manager of mining towns, was well positioned to combat dwindling investment in the resource sector.

Mr Dixon the Spotless was able to be more competitive when tendering for new resource contracts because it was able to submit an enterprise bargaining agreement that was 50 per cent less than the incumbent provider.

“The incumbents can’t match the price because the unions don’t want to swap to a greenfield EBA,” he said.

“Traditionally these contracts weren’t tendered. The town was built and the contract was awarded but now mining companies are looking to save costs.

“We think that will be a big growth area in the next 12 months.”

Mr Dixon also has cost savings from the four acquisitions it made in the past year contribute to the bottom line.

“Margins remain in line with our global peers and we see further upside as we improve processes and look for efficiencies in the new businesses currently being integrated into Spotless,” Mr Dixon said.

The company will pay a final dividend of 5.5¢ a share on September 25.

Senator Jacqui Lambie speaks at the 2015 National CWA ConferenceThey are strong women and salt of the earth 鈥?there is little wonder Senator Jacqui Lambie fit right into the mix when the CWA took her under their wing during her toughest moments.

Senator Lambie arrived in Port Macquarie on Wednesday with just one thing in mind 鈥?to meet the women, who for the last 70 years, have been a part of an organisation that has rallied with grit for change in rural and remote communities.

The voice of the Country Women鈥檚 Association is louder than ever, with the national conference in Port Macquarie tackling some of the nation鈥檚 biggest and most challenging issues.

鈥淧rime ag land is where these ladies are born and bred from. You鈥檝e got their nice side and their attitude of tough love, and then you鈥檝e got their political side,鈥?Ms Lambie said.

鈥淗elping others is what these ladies are about. You鈥檝e got to give back to the life you receive and that鈥檚 exactly what they do.

鈥淪ome of the issues these ladies hit are the ones our own politicians are putting into the too hard basket. And that鈥檚 their toughness. They don鈥檛 shy away from what people are asking for.

鈥淭hey are the last entry at the gate in looking after our rural communities.鈥?/p>She spoke candidly to the Port News about her catapulting into politics saying she has learned a lot in 12 months.

The single mother of two and proud Aussie digger for 10 years before being medically discharged, said politics is her way of making a difference.

鈥淚 think I鈥檇 be the only woman in the crowd who has fired an M60 machine gun and has a licence to drive a tank,鈥?she said.

鈥淥ne lesson I鈥檝e learned in politics so far is that an M60 and a tank would come in handy.

鈥淚 admit I鈥檝e made mistakes and when you get knocked down you just have to get back up again.

鈥淭hese women here today are leaders in our country. They are no bullshit women 鈥?put them in politics and we might get something done.鈥?/p>LIVE: CWA tackle the big issues | photos, videohttps://nnimgt-a.akamaihd杭州夜网/transform/v1/crop/frm/storypad-ppNWdZhTTkjhqMUVsrRSd4/091ba75a-19a1-4633-a175-db15eca4fce5.jpg/r0_245_4928_3029_w1200_h678_fmax.jpgSome of the nation’s biggest issues will be debated at the National CWA Conference in Port Macquarie on Wednesday proving these trailblazing women have 21st century influence.news, local-news, cwa, conference, port macquarie, cwa national conference2015-08-26T10:00:00+10:00https://players.brightcove杭州夜网/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=4444453917001https://players.brightcove杭州夜网/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=4444453917001Ms Lambie reacted emotionally to the positive response she had received since sharing her personal story of her son鈥檚 addiction to ice. She also hit out at those who said she鈥檇 鈥榯hrown her son under a bus鈥?by mentioning his addiction before parliament as well as media slurs implying she was a bad mother.

It鈥檚 a 鈥渨icked drug鈥?she said, and time the Australian government took the epidemic seriously before more young lives are lost.

鈥淥verall the feedback I received was very caring and supportive and many people shared with me their tragic and terrible stories.

鈥淣ot all feedback kind and I expected that criticism because not all people know what it is like to have a child on a drug takes on their body and mind. Some went out of their way to write hurtful comments that I was a bad mother.鈥?/p>Ms Lambie called for a reintroduction of national service to help give young people direction in life which was met by a round of applause.

鈥淚 think the state of Australian politics at the moment is embarrassing. We are a laughing stock on the international scene. It鈥檚 time for us to clean up our own backyard and that needs to start with employment.

鈥淭he people who make it, mine it, grow it and show it are our primary wealth creators.

鈥淚 want our politicians to get out there with their boots on and see first-hand what is actually going on in this country.

鈥淚鈥檓 just getting on with it.鈥?/p> LIVE: CWA tackle the big issues | photos, video TweetFacebookThe NSW CWA has partnered with Rape and Domestic Violence Australia to develop workshops and personal development courses in rural and remote areas for sexual health workers dealing directly with victims of domestic violence.

The association also hopes to host forums to educate the community about how to identify signs of domestic violence and raise awareness about the services available.

The forum agreed that at the local courts level, matters of domestic violence are not being dealt with effectively and harshly enough and conversations must be had with magistrates and police about how the process can change.

鈥淚t鈥檚 such an enormous problem . Women are presenting to court and the guy that is beating them up is representing himself and he can have free shots at them in court. This has to stop. Their safety has to be given a higher priority,鈥?Ms Brooke said.

鈥淲e need to find ways to address ways that honours and supports the victims, and does not empower the perpetrators.鈥?/p>Country women will demand all levels of government commit to investigations into the existence of Lyme disease in Australia, how it is contracted and diagnostic tests.

NSW CWA representative Gail Commens said it was time for a united approach to address the devastating health implications of this little known disease and provide some hope and support to people seeking treatment.

鈥淭his disease is officially not recognised in Australia,鈥?Ms Commens said.

鈥淥ur government and medical practitioners refuse to acknowledge it.鈥?/p>Lyme disease is contracted by ticks presenting itself initially as a bullseye rash and manifesting into a range of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, blindness and crippling muscle pain.

The forum heard the story of five-year-old Sydney girl Genevieve Huntly Jackson who was bitten by a tick and presented symptoms shortly after.

Genevieve on her worst days living with the disease, cannot get out of bed and is confined to a wheelchair.

鈥淪ince she was bitten in 2012, she has seen 30 doctors. It took 23 months and 23 health professionals to come up with a diagnosis,鈥?the forum heard.

Many Australians are assistance overseas, particularly in Germany, where diagnosis and treatment can cost up to $200,000.

The CWAA will put forward a recommendation to all governments to have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) recognised as a disability so services will have adequate access to funding and support to assist families in rural and remote areas.

The forum heard that FASD is a serious health condition across all regions of the country, arising from fetal exposure to alcohol, and is totally preventable.

鈥淚t is the invisible disability,鈥?the forum heard. 鈥淚t takes a village to raise a child 鈥?this does not happen in isolation.鈥?/p>Dorothy Coombe, Victorian CWA representative, said while the disorder itself was already recognised, classification as a disability will ensure the right services are funded to address the issue.

鈥淚f we acknowledge it as a disability, children and adults can be given the care they need to live their lives at the highest possible level of function,鈥?she said.

鈥淓arly diagnosis provides access to intervention.鈥?/p>Judy Richardson, NSW delegate, believes not much has changed in terms of equitable access to care for all Australians.

鈥淚t鈥檚 taken them so long but we have to stand our ground on these matters. If you took a state child you were given all these things to raise them, if you took an Aboriginal child you were given one set of clothes and sent on your way.

鈥淣othing much has changed unfortunately, we really need to try and make this one country.鈥?/p>An emotional discussion about how to address the epidemic of the ice has resulted in a call for more resources to address the effects and impacts of the drug on all Australian communities.

Many of the women in the CWA forum shared their own experiences of how the drug has affected their families.

Sharon Pendergast, Victorian delegate, said families in all corners of the country are suffering.

鈥淓very day when we turn on the radio or TV, pick up paper there is another article about ice,鈥?she said.

鈥淵ou may say it鈥檚 not your problem, it鈥檚 everyone鈥檚 problem.

鈥淟ast week , Senator Jacqui Lambie came out and said her son was on ice. I too have a son on ice. I can鈥檛 get help. It鈥檚 embarrassing to admit you can鈥檛 help your child. It鈥檚 hard to face and deal with it.

鈥淚 know she is not alone. Many families all over Australia are in the same dilemma.

鈥淪weden has mandatory rehabilitation and it seems to be working very well.

鈥淧rison is not the answer – I know from life experiences that even after being incarcerated, because there is no drug rehab in prison, they return home and back to their old habits and eventually back in prison again.鈥?/p>The forum called for better security for health workers treating ice addicts and adequately trained staff capable of managing aggressive and threatening behaviour.

鈥淪adly we do not have enough beds in rehab in this country and many are waiting up to 10 months to enter rehab. For many who decide to kick this habit is too long.

鈥淲e need services for those who come forward and say need help. That help is now.鈥?/p>Julie Morrison, Riverina delegate, said her hometown of Wagga has been named the ice capital of Australia.

鈥淭he police said it鈥檚 the hardest thing for them go to an accident because in many cases they are drug related and many are on ice. They can be attacked and the same with our ambos,鈥?she said.

As a result, Wagga police have been resourced with four additional drug response officers.

Jan Peasnell, NSW delegate said more resources for police is required if the problem is to be tackled at the source.

MORE than 45 percent of Australians will experience a mental illness at some stage in their life.

The CWAA is call on the government to stand up and recognise the shortfall in resources and support services to address mental health, treatments and recovery.

Sharon Pendergast, Victorian delegate, said it was time for the stigmas attached to mental illness to be broken down and attention to focus as a priority on providing services to address what is a national health crisis.

鈥淢ore than 40 percent of the population will be affected by depression. It is oone of the most common conditions among our young people,鈥?she said.

鈥淧eople living with mental illness are also likely to be victims of violence, sometimes by themselves. It is not purely physiological, it can have physical features as well.鈥?/p>鈥淯p to 85 percent of homeless people suffer from mental illness. I鈥檓 shocked by these figures.

鈥淭here are just not enough facilities around Australia and families continue to wait for places for their loved ones so they can have the best chance of recovery.

鈥淚t is unfair to just expect families to care for people with mental illnesses 24 hours a day 鈥?even nurses get to go home after a bad eight hour shift.鈥?/p>All women and children must be removed from mandatory detention centres in Australia.

That is the call of the CWAA to the Australian government in a bid for urgent policy change.

Heather Scott, Victorian delegate, said Australia is a signatory to the UN convention on the rights of the child and is bound to protect children.

There are currently 127 children held in immigration facilities in Australia, 88 of those are on Nauru while a further 642 are in community detention.

鈥淭here is still no change to legislation which requires all those who arrive in Australia without a visa to be detained. Detention is used as a first and not a last option. Australia is the only country in world with such a policy,鈥?she said.

Ms Scott said a 2014 Australian Human Rights Commission investigation into children in detention found significant negative health and well-being impacts, physical and mental illness.

鈥淭he best interests of the child should be our primary consideration. Prolonged detention is having profoundly negative impacts on mental and emotional health.

鈥淥ver a 15 month period, 128 children in detention engaged in acts of self harm including attempted suicide. 鈥?/p>Judy Anictomatis, Northern Territory delegate, was told by one detainee that she鈥檇 rather have died on the ocean than remain in mandatory detention.

鈥淭o quote one mother 鈥榠t would have been better if I fell in the ocean and sharks ate my body鈥?鈥?Ms Anictomatis said.

鈥淐losed detention for an indefinite period is not a healthy environment for women or men either,鈥?she said.

鈥淎lternatives can include community arrangements in line with international human rights laws. Community placement is much cheaper than mandatory detention. There are fewer risks to mental health and safety of asylum seekers and refugees ad lower rates of suicide and self harm.鈥?/p>The current superannuation system is failing women forcing many to live in poverty in retirement, and even leaving some homeless.

The CWAA is urging the federal government to implement policy to enable women who have not had adequate superannuation contributions during their working life to live poverty free.

Lyn Harris, Victorian delegate, said the aim of the current retirement income system encourages an individual to accumulate wealth to provide financial security in their post-work years.

This, she says, 鈥渄oes not serve women well鈥?

鈥淎 gender gap arises when you link the retirement income system 鈥?superannuation 鈥?to engagement in paid work and levels of learning,鈥?Ms Harris told the CWAA forum.

鈥淭his disadvantages women who move in and out of the paid workforce due to caring responsibilities, and women generally earn less than men and have lower superannuation coverage.鈥?/p>RENEWED acquaintances, shared ideas and working together are some of the goals Country Women’s Association (CWA) member Carol Clay has for the organisation’s 2015 national conference in Port Macquarie this week.

The past state president of Victoria said it is her third national conference, having joined the CWA in 2001.

“It’s great to talk with each other so we all sing from the same hymn sheet,” she said.

“The CWA carries great weight with the government; that’s why the national president is on so many committees,” the Packenham, Victoria resident said.”People sit up and listen when the CWA weighs in.”

Of the 18 resolutions the conference has on its agenda Mrs Clay said the banning of the sale of energy drinks to young children is important to her.

“Children are our greatest asset and we don’t need them polluted by all this rubbish so early in life.

“We are concerned mothers and grandmothers who want the best for the next generation.So many influences on them are not for the better.”

Mrs Clay said people from all walks of life, some who struggle to finance the trip and others who generously sponsor someone to attend, bring with them diverse achievements.

“It is great to be among so many positive women looking for the best in each other.”

Taree resident Jacqueline Hyde has been a member of the CWA for 62 years.

The former Pilliga (530 kilometres west of Port Macquarie) resident worked the family farm there until she retired.

“The CWA was our life. We didn’t get drought assistance much but we got personal support from each other,” the 85-year-old said.

She loves to cook and still does but agrees the organisation is about so much more.

“Bush nursing home and baby health centres are two of the most important things the CWA brought to people on the land back in the day,” Mrs Hyde said.

“The scholarships were also vital, so people in remote areas could study medicine.

Mrs Hyde was a state executive at the age of 37, at the time, one of the youngest.

“But the drought came and I didn’t have time to devote to it.

“Now we tackle the big issues like domestic violence and awareness of things like organ donation.”

She would like to see the CWA get more young members.

“In Victoria they have 50 new branches and I think we need to discover their method of attracting members,” Mrs Hyde said.

“It’s a bit harder on the coast because everyone has so many opportunities for entertainment.

“And these days women have to support their families by going off to work so they don’t have the freedom to be involved.”

The conference continues until Thursday afternoon.

[View the story “FairfaxRegional/2015-cwa” on Storify]

Leaders from across industry sectors have united against violence towards women. Photo: Louie DouvisIf Australian deaths in war zones matched fatalities from domestic violence, commanders would be held accountable and forced to explain, David Morrison, the former Chief of Army said.

The full force of the “shocking and appalling” prevalence of violence against women in Australia was a focus of the 2015 Male Champions of Change business forum in Sydney on Tuesday.

Retired Lieutenant General David Morrison said 800,000 women in the Australian workplace are today in some way affected by violence and that domestic violence fatalities are a “national scourge”.

“Two women have been killed every week this year by their partner or their former partner. If we were seeing two soldiers killed every single week in Afghanistan or an area of military operations, commanders would be held to account and be asked to explain,” he told Fairfax Media before speaking at the high-powered event, where he compared the “unspoken” effects of domestic violence to the horrors of war.

“For a lot of men this is a problem that is unseen, and because it is unseen in a busy life it isn’t given the focus it needs.”

With a plan to “disrupt the status quo”, the male leaders, including the head of the ASX Elmer Funke Kupper, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and the Commonwealth Bank’s Ian Narev are using their combined influence to advocate for gender equality across all organisations and sectors.

Mr Narev told Fairfax Media that the MCC’s work with domestic violence campaigner and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty had opened leaders’ eyes to the scale of the problem.

“We’ve all been shocked and appalled. It’s led us to actually look at our own businesses and our own customer bases and say ‘within the scope of our businesses we’ve got women who are victims of domestic violence and men who are perpetrators of domestic violence and that’s unacceptable’.

“This is a mainstream issue. This isn’t an issue only in particular parts of the economy or parts of the business, this is something we’ve all got to be prepared to stand up and deal with.”

KPMG’s Gary Wingrove agreed. “I for one did not have a clear understanding of how prevalent [violence against women was] was,” he said.

He added that in coming weeks, pushes for policy change, including leave entitlements that would mean those affected by domestic violence would have access to paid time off work, would emerge from the MCC.

The call comes on the same day as the UN Secretary-General’s monthly UNiTE Orange Day, which seeks to raise awareness of violence against women. Number five on the list of the UN foundation’s sustainable development goals, due to be ratified at the end of September, is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030.

“If every leader in the community, every leader in business, every leader in the military, every leader in the government says [violence against women is unacceptable], then that hasa powerful impact,” former Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Dr Ian Watt said before speeches at the forum.

“But you’ve got to say it, you’ve got to live it and you’ve got to call it if it occurs.”

Showtime: Brumbies and Canberra Vikings player Rodney Iona is keen to make the most of his chance in the No.10 jersey this weekend. Photo: Jay CronanCanberra Vikings playmaker Rodney Iona will be out to take advantage of Brumbies star Christian Lealiifano’s absence when he lines up at flyhalf on Saturday against NSW Country.

Lealiifano has been named in the Barbarians squad to play Samoa in London on Saturday, opening the door for Iona to stake a claim for the No.10 jumper during the National Rugby Championship.

Iona struggled for opportunities during the 2015 Super Rugby season, but said he was eager to show his skills in the Vikings’ first match of the NRC season.

“I’ve been training at flyhalf the whole year, and getting the chance to work under Stephen Larkham, Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano, it’s been great,” he said.

“It’s good to put my skill-set out in the national competition. It would be good to have Christian there but he’s obviously doing his things with the World XV so it’s just another opportunity to showcase what I’ve got and what I can do at 10.”

NSW Country is coming off a narrow 32-31 win against big brother Greater Sydney Rams, while the Vikings were forced to watch from the sidelines with an opening round bye.

But Iona said the squad was put through its paces with a challenging training session on Saturday to replicate a match.

“We’re very excited, it’s that point where we just want to get out there and play already.

“We took a positive out of the bye, trained hard and grabbed the opportunity to work on combinations.”

Vikings lock Blake Enever agreed with Iona, and believes the bye had given the side an extra week of preparation.

“Knowing we had the bye was beneficial to the whole team,” Enever said.

“The other teams played 80 minutes but hopefully we’ll be a bit fresher and we still had a big day so we should be right to go.”

Enever enjoyed a breakout season with the Brumbies, playing 11 matches after fellow lock Sam Carter was injured.

After playing with Queensland Country last year, Enever said there was an encouraging mix of Super Rugby players and club players in the Vikings squad.

“I’m really enjoying the set up, it’s exciting – there’s a good bunch of blokes coming from clubs, and we’ve got a good amount of players coming from our Super squad so I think it’s a good balance.”


NRC round two: NSW Country Eagles v Canberra Vikings at Woollahra Oval, Sydney, 3pm

Robyn Butler (left) with Lucy Fry in the comedy Now Add Honey. Photo: Ben King Successful series … Madeleine Jevic and Michala Banas in Upper Middle Bogan. Photo: Lachlan Moore

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The success of the TV comedy Upper Middle Bogan seems like an ideal platform to jump into filmmaking.

But co-creator Robyn Butler says there is another reason for making the new comedy Now Add Honey with husband Wayne Hope.

“I’m stark raving bonkers,” she says.

After success with earlier series Very Small Business and The Librarians, the couple have had three “super busy” years working on comedy projects they created.

As well as Upper Middle Bogan on ABC and the children’s mockumentary series Little Lunch on ABC 3, they have combined to make Now Add Honey, with Butler writing and starring and Hope directing. They also produced the film.

Butler plays a woman whose life falls apart when her teenage movie star niece, Honey (Lucy Fry), is forced to stay with her in suburbia. The cast includes Portia de Rossi, Lucy Durack and Hamish Blake.

Despite the couple’s television success, Butler says she has always wanted to make a comic film with bite.

“I love being in a movie theatre with a lot of people,” she says. “I just like that shared experience.

“And even if it’s not in the cinema, even if it’s watching a DVD or watching it later at home on DVD, I like that 90-minute format. I love Tootsie and Groundhog Day and When Harry Met Sally – that format of comedy with bite. I was really tempted to try it.”

Now Add Honey opens the CinefestOz Film Festival in Western Australia on Wednesday ahead of cinema release on November 5.

It is one of five contenders for the country’s richest film prize, worth $100,000, at the festival. Also vying for the award are Michael Petroni’s psychological thriller Backtrack, Paul Ireland’s comic drama Pawno, Nicole Ma’s documentary Putuparriand the Rainmakers and Simon Stone’s timbertown drama The Daughter.

The festival is touting it as a world premiere but Butler admits Now Add Honey has had one screening already – at Geena Davis’ new Bentonville Film Festival, which champions women and diversity in film, in Arkansas.

That seems fitting considering the issues the film addresses.

“The idea of the movie star niece coming to wreak havoc with her suburban family in Melbourne is the plot but the idea is about aging and body image and self-esteem – all the big ticket issues that women and girls talk about all the time,” Butler says.

“It’s in every magazine, it’s in every brunch that you sit down with your friends, it’s in the schoolyard talking with people. I just thought it would be really interesting to try to dramatise that and put it on screen somehow.”

Butler describes Now Add Honey as a broad comedy that is similar to Upper Middle Bogan in having generations and levels of society clash.

To cast Honey, the filmmakers auditioned 200 actresses before setting on Fry, the young Australian best known for Vampire Academy.

“Honey is reliant on two things – the ability to seem like she’s a star and somebody who’s on the cusp of being a child and being an adult,” Butler says. “They’re really hard things to find in one person but Lucy Fry captured all of it at that moment in time.”

Tony Abbott tours Green Hill Fort on Thursday Island with Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Tony Abbott and Palm Stephen during a medal presentation for veterans on Thursday Island. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

His parents called him Palm because he was born on Palm Sunday. He was the little brother who didn’t want to miss out who became a forgotten veteran of World War Two.

He is also the powerful face of the war story that passed most Australians completely by; one that helped shape the modern identity of the people of the Torres Strait.

When Henly, Jerry, Sereako and Arthur, his four older brothers, enlisted in the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion to fight the Japanese, Palm decided to join them, even though he was not yet 15.

“I was going to school and I was feeling sorry for my other brothers and thinking to myself, ‘I am big enough to use a rifle.'” Palm “Bill” Stephen, now 86, said on Tuesday.

Although he was big for a boy of his age, the enlistment application was rejected, so Palm tweaked his name and address, claimed he had no birth certificate and applied again, this time successfully.

War records show that Bill Stevens from Steppens Island enlisted in April 1944, a month after Palm Stephen from Stephen Island turned 15. He served for two years on Horn Island.

They also show that outside of Darwin, Horn Island was the most bombed and the most savagely attacked part of Australia, with eight air raids in 1942 dropping 500 bombs and killing 156 people.

Mr Stephen told his story at an extraordinary remembrance service on Thursday Island on Tuesday, where young Torres Strait islanders were presented with a ceremonial bow and arrow to represent their taking over responsibility for the future defence of their community and country.

There was also a stirring rendition of the national anthem by a frail man with a powerful voice, 86-year-old Seaman Dan.

On the second of five days in the area, Prime Minister Tony Abbott pointed out at a service that more than 1100 men of the Torres Strait volunteered to serve in that conflict.

“If volunteering to serve is the ultimate mark of commitment to country and patriotism, no part of Australia has been more patriotically Australian than the Torres Strait and its citizens,” he said.

“At a time when we hardly acknowledged Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians acknowledged us … At a time when Indigenous people were not even counted in the census, Australia could count on Indigenous people.”

That Mr Stephen was honoured was the product of what Mr Abbott called some “marvellous sleuthing detective work” by the local member, Warren Entsch, a longstanding advocate of Torres Strait war veterans.

After noticing that there were six Stephens, including two cousins of the brothers, mentioned in the war records, he saw that there was a seventh named Bill Stevens, but no Palm.

“It didn’t make sense because I knew there were no ‘Stevens’ in the Torres Strait. Then I looked where he came from and I knew Steppens Island didn’t exit.”

After the recognition was finalised a few weeks back, arrangements were made for Mr Stephen to make a two-day trip from Broome with a grandson to join two of the other surviving veterans, Mabai Warasum and Bamia Mast.

He said that his only surviving brother, Jerry, was 102 and not strong enough to make the trip from Cairns.

“I just wanna give a little speech about me and my brothers,” he said at the start, adding the trip was worth it to be with old mates and have breakfast with Mr Abbott and Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.

“We were proud to do our bit for our country,” was his parting line.

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