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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

Thousands of images are filed through media wire services every day, from every corner of the globe. Far more than any newspaper can ever dream of publishing.
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In Picture Editor’s Choice you will find a daily collection of the most stunning, creative, weird and wonderful photographs from the best photographers on the planet.

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

“The statistics related to physical illness and early death among people with a mental health difficulty are appalling” … Allan Fels, chairman of the National Mental Health Commission.MENTAL health services are in an ”appalling” state, the chairman of the National Mental Health Commission said as the inaugural national report card on mental health was launched.
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Allan Fels said on Tuesday that Australia had failed in its delivery of mental health services and called on the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to keep mental health as a priority.

”Every five years or so something is done about mental health and then it gets forgotten, but the government now needs to actually implement their policies,” Professor Fels said.

“The statistics related to physical illness and early death among people with a mental health difficulty are appalling.

”People with a severe mental illness have their life expectancy reduced by 25 years on average due to the increased likelihood of heart-related conditions, diabetes and obesity.”

The commission had been given the independence to ”tell it like it is”, he said, adding that the report had uncovered hard truths about mental health services in Australia.

The report, called A Contributing Life: the 2012 Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, recommended reducing the early death of Australians with severe mental illness and improving their physical health; increasing access to home-based visits to support families and children; providing local interventions to prevent suicide; and minimising the use of seclusion and restraint.

Employment rates of people with mental illness also needed to be increased, the report found, with greater attention to workplace support.

The federal Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, admitted ”there is more road ahead of us than there is behind us”.

He said a further $4.5 million would be directed to preventing suicide by indigenous people, a major issue identified by the commission.

“We asked the National Mental Health Commission to put Australia’s mental health services under the spotlight to give us insights into service gaps, where governments need to do more and where services are working well,” Mr Butler said.

“The report card will be produced by the commission every year and will provide guidance to all governments.”

The NSW Mental Health Minister, Kevin Humphries, said for reform to occur, there needed to be less focus on announcements by the federal government and more focus on delivery.

But a major review of the NSW mental health system released this month recommended the state system was also in need of overhaul, with services stretched and under-resourced.

The commissioner for disability discrimination, Graeme Innes, said workplaces, support services and families had to be a major part of any reform across the country.

”As such, it changes from just being a medical issue to a focus on the whole person, and how they can become and remain a contributing part of our community,” he said.

”I strongly support this change.”

The chief executive of the Consumer Health Forum, Carol Bennett, said she was pleased the commission had for the first time provided comprehensive detail on people’s experiences of mental illness.

”We have consistently said more research into consumer experience and satisfaction is needed to better understand treatment outside of the clinical context,” she said.

An estimated 3.2 million Australians live with mental health issues, at a cost of about $20 billion every year.

Support is available for anyone who may be distressed.

Lifeline 131 114

Mensline 1300 789 978

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

THE opposition’s attacks on Julia Gillard’s actions as a lawyer are foundering with Julie Bishop first accusing the Prime Minister of being complicit in, and profiteering from, fraud 20 years ago – and then withdrawing the claim.
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And the government has called for Ms Bishop to resign for having a secret meeting in Melbourne last week with the self-confessed fraud and Australian Workers’ Union bagman Ralph Blewitt, who is now being discredited by both sides of politics.

Ms Bishop claims the meeting on Friday was coincidental and unplanned. Fairfax Media understands Ms Bishop and Mr Blewitt spoke by phone on Wednesday while she was in Perth.

The opposition was relentless on Tuesday in its pursuit of Ms Gillard who, as a lawyer for Slater & Gordon, provided legal advice

to her then boyfriend and AWU Victorian state secretary, Bruce Wilson.

In 1992, Ms Gillard advised Mr Wilson as he established a slush fund known as the AWU Workplace Reform Association.

The association received contributions from construction companies and was supposed to be used for the re-election of AWU officials on a workplace safety platform, but Mr Wilson misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars and even bought a house in Melbourne in Mr Blewitt’s name.

Ms Gillard has always denied wrongdoing, saying that she provided advice to help establish the association but had no further involvement with it and had no idea it was being used for illegitimate purposes.

Mr Wilson told 7.30 on Tuesday he had not committed any fraud and it was Mr Blewitt who took money out of the fund and buried it in his backyard.

Early on Tuesday, Ms Bishop suggested Ms Gillard was complicit in the fraud because she never opened a legal file on the work she did.

”The reason she didn’t open a file within Slater & Gordon … was because she and Wilson and Blewitt wanted to hide from the AWU the fact that an unauthorised entity was being set up to siphon funds through it for their benefit,” Ms Bishop said.

But by the end of the day, Ms Bishop retracted the allegation with regard to Ms Gillard.

It was the second successive question time that Tony Abbott did not ask a question and Ms Gillard labelled him ”gutless” for leaving the dirty work to his deputy. Mr Abbott, who is personally unpopular in the polls, is trying to reinvent his image.

Today, he will launch a book titled A Strong Australia which features a selection of his speeches and outlines the ”values, direction and policy priorities of the next Coalition government”.

Ms Bishop pressed Ms Gillard over why she never told the AWU of the association, which was registered in WA, when it emerged in 1995 that Mr Wilson had created another association in Victoria from which he was also siphoning money.

Ms Gillard argued that when the WA association was being incorporated, a notice was placed in The West Australian so it should have been common knowledge. But the WA association was not discovered by the AWU until 1996 by which time Mr Wilson had sold the property.

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

MELBOURNE Victory is set to offer teenage scoring sensation Andrew Nabbout a full-time professional contract in a bid to snuff out interest from rival A-League clubs.
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Nabbout, who turns 20 next month, is playing as an amateur having been promoted from Victory’s youth league squad into the first team.

The teenager, an engineering student, is in talks with the club to sign a contract which would put him off limits from other clubs that could offer him a professional deal during the transfer window.

”We are negotiating with him on a deal which could be for a couple of seasons,” Victory chief executive Richard Wilson said on Tuesday.

”We would like to get something completed. Ange [Postecoglou, Victory’s coach], sees potential in him. He’s done very well in the games he has played in and he’s a bright young talent.”

Meanwhile, Victory midfielder Billy Celeski believes he is getting into the kind of groove he did three seasons ago when he broke into the Socceroos squad for an Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia in Jakarta.

The 27-year-old has endured a harrowing three injury-plagued seasons when he has displayed glimpses of his technical ability only to be consistently let down by his body.

Celeski even managed to sustain a hamstring injury before the kick-off to this season.

Still, given Victory’s first two games ended in losses, that might have been to his advantage.

He came into the team for the first win of the campaign at home to Adelaide and has cemented a starting spot since.

”I have had so many injuries and problems in these last two seasons,” he said on Tuesday. ”It has been hard sometimes but I have just kept working hard and believing in myself and giving myself every chance to get fit.

”I have really enjoyed playing regularly again and have developed a good partnership with Mark Milligan in midfield. We both play deeper roles as screeners, with players like Marcos Flores and Gui Finkler in front and Archie Thompson and Marco Rojas in wide areas.”

Postecoglou is Celeski’s fourth coach in his time at Victory and he says his new boss’ commitment to playing soccer and trying to win every match is the sort of pressure players who want to play at successful clubs should thrive on.

”When we had 10 men last weekend against West Sydney he wanted us to go out and win the game, not go for a draw,” Celeski said.

”He wanted us to send a statement to the rest of the competition that we are here to win the league.

”Ange makes things very clear and that’s the sort of pressure that comes with playing for a team like Victory.

”We have had success in the past and we are always expected to be contenders.”

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

THE Coalition will oppose the federal government’s long-awaited poker machine reforms, arguing pokies regulation is a matter for states, and citing concerns about cuts to industry jobs.
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The government’s long-awaited reforms were due to be debated in Parliament on Tuesday night, with a slight chance of a vote.

Several crossbenchers are attempting to enlist support for amendments.

Earlier at the Coalition party meeting, the opposition decided to oppose the government’s pokies reforms that require venues with more than 20 machines to have voluntary pre-commitment on all its machines from 2016, with smaller venues given longer.

The government’s reforms also pave the way for a $250 ATM withdrawal limit in gaming venues, and a trial of mandatory pre-commitment – where punters are forced to preset how much they are willing to lose – in the ACT.

While the Coalition supports voluntary pre-commitment, it has consistently argued against mandatory pre-commitment, saying it ”won’t work”.

As reported by Fairfax, independent Craig Thomson is pushing amendments to the bill to reduce the financial impact on clubs.

Mr Thomson’s plan includes removing rules to make all machines ”mandatory ready” – forcing punters to set limits and requiring venues with 11 or more pokies to have pre-commitment technology on only 20 per cent of their machines by 2016, with every machine to have the system by 2022.

Members of the clubs lobby were in Canberra on Tuesday speaking to MPs about the industry.

The Greens were on Tuesday night considering reintroducing amendments to make all machines capable of having a maximum $1 bet.

Shadow families minister Kevin Andrews said the Coalition acknowledged that gambling is a major problem for some Australians.

”Any response to problem gambling must recognise that many Australians gamble responsibly. Many Australians also rely on the sector for jobs,” Mr Andrews said.

”We support voluntary pre-commitment, as do the states,” he said.

The industry has argued that the government’s deadlines are too hard and too expensive to meet. The Coalition has also raised concerns about the timeline of the rollout.

Last year the opposition said it had set up a taskforce to formulate the Coalition’s problem gambling policy. It was due to report by February, but nine months on it is still to be released.

The taskforce’s discussion paper advocated voluntary pre-commitment and more access to counselling services.

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

Australian Schoolboys player Tom Staniforth training with the Brumbies on Tuesday.He’s just finished year 12, but some pre-season lessons with the Brumbies might keep one of Australian rugby’s most exciting prospects out of the clutches of the ACT team’s rivals.
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Two-time Australian Schoolboys representative Tom Staniforth says an invitation to train with the Brumbies this pre-season has all but convinced him to commit his immediate future to Canberra, his home-town team.

The Canberra Grammar graduate, one of the Australian Rugby Union’s ”national talent squad”, had options to study next year at Sydney University and the University of Queensland, the backyards of the NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds, but then came the perfect graduation gift.

”The training I’m getting here is the best I’ve come across and I think it’s the best move to stay in Canberra, for sure,” Staniforth said.

The 18-year-old second-rower, who is 196 centimetres and 105 kilograms, is now sure to become a target of ACT clubs. He led Canberra Grammar to its first ever ACT title this year and was part of a rare victorious Australian Schoolboys team in New Zealand.

”I’m not committed to any club at the moment,” he said. ”I’m just waiting for my dad to get back from overseas and then I’ll figure out what club I play for.

”It’s pretty scary actually, I don’t really know what I want to do in terms of club footy. I’ve got a few mates at a variety of clubs and it’s hard to pick one.”

Staniforth will be joined at Brumbies’ pre-season training next week by MacKillop College student Andrew Robinson, who also represented Australian Schoolboys this year.

Staniforth said it had been a thrill to train with a club he had followed all his life. ”You grow up watching the greats and you always dream of playing for the Brumbies. I’d always go to home games, wishing I’d be able to play for the Brumbies one day. Coming in and training with them has been phenomenal.”

Staniforth was only nine when Brumbies second-rower Peter Kimlin graduated from Canberra Grammar.

Kimlin said there were few better prospects in Australian rugby now than Staniforth.

He also has high expectations for himself in 2013, having set his goal at a Wallabies recall. ”I’ve always wanted to be there since having a taste in 2009,” Kimlin said.

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

WHEN you are next up to take on a team that has lost its past four matches and conceded 16 goals in the process, then the fixture can take on all the characteristics of a banana skin.
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Thus Melbourne Heart, hardly itself in the greatest form, travels north to take on crisis club Sydney FC on Sunday acutely aware there will be plenty of finger pointing in its direction if it becomes the first team in five weeks to fall to the managerless Sky Blues.

Both sides are likely to be hit by international call-ups, with Sydney having two players – Brett Emerton and Terry Antonis – in the Socceroo squad Holger Osieck has gathered in Sydney for next week’s East Asian Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong, while Heart has three: Michael Marrone, Aziz Behich and Richard Garcia.

Osieck will trim the squad to 20, but it is likely the Heart trio – all of whom have either played for Australia or been in the squad for World Cup games – will make the cut.

That puts more pressure on the first-season coaching duo of John Aloisi and Hayden Foxe to get a result, with Heart eighth of 10 on the A-League ladder, two points above bottom-of-the-table Sydney.

Teenage defender David Vrankovic, who is usually a centre-back, could replace Marrone at right-back, while Golgol Mebrahtu or youngster Ben Garuccio could be tried forward, where Garcia has been playing well in recent weeks.

Aloisi could also opt to change the team’s shape and play with a back three, using Vrankovic in a central defensive line-up with Simon Colosimo and Patrick Gerhardt.

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

Mitchell JohnsonRECALLED Mitchell Johnson claims he can be the fast bowling leader Australia may be in dire need of in Perth, with the hosts contemplating entering Friday’s third Test without frontline pacemen Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus, as well as the injured James Pattinson.
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A veteran of 47 Tests, during which he took 190 wickets, the 31-year-old left-armer is back in a Test squad for the first time in a year. A serious foot injury put his career on hiatus after Australia’s drawn tour of South Africa last November but in truth Johnson, lacking in control and confidence, was already facing probable omission.

Beset with question marks over his reliability and consistency, he went back to the drawing board after regaining fitness, working closely with the legendary Dennis Lillee, and in a way, re-learning his craft, via the Sheffield Shield and Australia A and limited-overs tours of England in the winter.

Now, with an exhausted Siddle in doubt to play at the WACA Ground after his prodigious output in Adelaide, and Hilfenhaus no certainty either after working his own backside off in the dramatic draw, Australia could roll out a brand new pace attack.

Australia’s coach Mickey Arthur says it is conceivable that both could sit out the deciding contest against South Africa despite its importance – Australia, should they win, would return to the top of the world rankings – and in their potential absence Johnson’s track record could be key.

”I think I can still be a leader with my experience,” he said. ”I’m 31, I’ve played a few Tests and one-dayers and I’ve got that experience. I was recently named vice-captain for WA which was really exciting for me. It’s been just over 12 months now, so I’m looking forward to getting back in there and training hard with the boys and hopefully keep pressing my claims.

”I never gave up hope. I guess for me this injury that came to me was a blessing in disguise. I was able to work on a lot of things, just getting back into Shield cricket as well has been really exciting for me, just to work on my game, get away from all the media, all the public and just go out there and play my cricket.”

Johnson is one of two left-arm quicks, along with Mitchell Starc, in a 14-man squad for Perth that features six seamers; the others being Josh Hazlewood and John Hastings. The younger Starc, Australia’s 12th man in Brisbane and Adelaide, has until now been ahead of him in selectors’ minds but Johnson’s rich record in Perth will count in his favour.

Two summers ago he starred in Australia’s only bright spot of a dismal Ashes campaign, taking 6-33 and nine wickets for the match in a solitary victory over England, and two years earlier claimed 11 including a first-innings haul of 8-61 against South Africa.

”The past is the past,” Johnson said. ”Obviously memories like that are why you play the game. I can sit back when I finish my career and look at those moments where I’ve done well and really sort of enjoy it, have a beer and talk about it with my mates. But I don’t think you can live off those past performances.”

Johnson credits Lillee with steering his career back on course so it will be fitting if he does make Australia’s short list at his home ground and where Lillee is president.

”It’s nice to have his support, and him backing me all the way,” Johnson said of the legendary fast bowler.

■ The Sheffield Shield’s reigning player of the year and leading wicket-taker Jackson Bird admits to a pang of disappointment at missing out on Australia’s squad for the third Test against South Africa.

Bird was named man of the match in Tasmania’s crushing win over Western Australia at Bellerive following his devastating 6-25 in the Warriors’ first dig of 67.

”If I can keep putting performances like I have this week on the board I can’t be too far away,” he said of his Test chances.

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

HOUSING in Sydney is more affordable than any time since the global financial crisis shook the property market three years ago.
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And if the brief improvement in affordability caused by the crisis is set aside, the city’s housing is now more reasonably priced, relative to incomes, than at any time in the past decade, the quarterly Housing Industry Association-Commonwealth Bank housing affordability index has revealed.

A combination of falling interest rates, stable property prices and rising wages has contributed to a sustained improvement in the relative cost of buying a home. Sydney’s housing affordability index has risen by 13 per cent since the March quarter last year.

A year ago it took two average full-time wages to affordably service a mortgage for a median priced Sydney house, but that has dipped to 1.84 average full-time wages. The average monthly loan repayment required in Sydney has fallen by $422 to $3,453 over the past 18 months, the index shows.

The Housing Industry Association’s chief economist, Dr Harley Dale, said that apart from a short spike in affordability caused by the GFC Sydney’s housing was now more affordable than at any time since the June quarter 2002.

”It gives another tick in the box that gives us optimism that we’ll finally see a housing recovery in 2013,” he said. ”We can have some confidence that moderate price growth will return to the market over the next couple of years, but I don’t think we need to fear another price boom lurking around the corner.”

These trends could help drive a long-overdue recovery in the state’s residential construction industry, Dr Dale said.

Interest rates have fallen by a full percentage point since May and this promises to drive further improvements. Even so, Sydney’s property market remains the least affordable in the country. While the city’s housing affordability index rose 4 per cent to 54.2 in the September quarter, that was still well below the national index which was up 5.3 per cent to 65.8.

The typical monthly mortgage repayment required in Sydney was $873 higher than the national average. Nationally, housing affordability has improved for seven consecutive quarters.

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Jun 11 , 2018 / By :

Illustration: Rocco FazzariASIDE from war, corruption is probably the biggest obstacle to economic and social development in poor countries. But it’s best we see ourselves as being on a continuum with them, rather than as having solved the problem. Even if no law was broken, Wall Street financiers imposed vast costs on us all by corrupting the financial system – while they walked away with billions.
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The way I see it, all social and economic institutions are an ecology of private and public goods – of private and public motives. If I’m right, our penchant for ideological trench warfare between those arguing for the primacy of the private over the public or vice versa is a sideshow. What matters is making the ecology of public and private as healthy as possible.

Let me explain.

In a market, people pursue their own interests. That’s the point of markets. But that self-seeking is according to rules. In addition to pervasive social norms, there’s also the law. But whereas traders are self-interested (mostly within the rules) those enforcing the rules – such as police and judges – represent collective interests and must reflect that in their work, rather than their self-interest. Market failure arises where such public standards cannot be delivered – so traders must waste their time and resources checking to ensure they’re not being cheated and fighting for their share.

And this same ecology of public and private goods, of competitive and public spirited endeavour, is just as crucial in the market for knowledge.

Shi-min Fang was shocked to discover the extent of misconduct on returning to his native China from US scientific training. Since 2000, his website New Threads has relentlessly exposed plagiarism, fraud and corruption in Chinese science. It’s making a difference. He’s just won the international Maddox Prize for his efforts. But don’t get too smug about developed country science. Though outright fraud is very rare, you’d be amazed at how corrupted things are.

In the mid 2000s, Massachusetts builder and self-taught 29-year-old architect Stephen Heywood was diagnosed with the horrible Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, which produces rapid and ultimately fatal neuronal degeneration. His brothers Jamie and Benjamin completely rearranged their lives to try to save him. They identified 15 promising results in the literature that might have helped him. Incredibly, as they replicated each study, not one positive result was confirmed.

I doubt any of the studies were deliberate frauds. Something much subtler is going on. A Nature article recently identified numerous interrelated culprits. First, though we might think of scientists and academics as a dispassionate lot, their imagination is captivated far more by a positive relationship – say between some substance and cancer, or a cancer cure – than a ”null result”.

And with journals the world over, like the popular press, far keener to publish positive findings than null results, the incentives for scientists are clear. Let’s say you’re a researcher looking for some positive association to impress your colleagues and score that prestigious publication, but your experiment didn’t produce such an association. You can always run it again – and if necessary again and again, each time with variations. As the great, now centenarian economist Ronald Coase says, “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess”.

There are plenty of institutions that should represent the public interest in the integrity of this market for knowledge. Jealous of their reputation, journals use peer review to vouchsafe the integrity of what they publish. But they’re already rife with publication bias. And peer review doesn’t come with the resources necessary to replicate experiments.

The universities and foundations where so much of this work is done are publicly or philanthropically funded. So you’d think they’d be motivated by the public interest. But only to a point. Competition between them is intensifying under the influence of government policy, with funding and official rankings between institutions based on – you guessed it – publications!

Of course, the vast body of scientific literature isn’t vitiated by these problems. But as the Heywoods’ experience illustrates, it’s corrupted to a surprising extent. That’s because many institutions we think of as reflecting the pubic interest routinely forsake it to pursue their own interests.

Meanwhile, public-spirited individuals are doing what they can. The Cochrane Collaboration, a scientific network of more than 28,000 volunteers in more than 100 countries, promotes vigilance. Shi-min Fang tends his website and the Heywood brothers founded the world’s first non-profit biotech firm which develops ALS treatments outside strictures of academic and corporate life. They also founded the website PatientsLikeMe that helps users manage their illness with tools such as diaries and social networking, while assembling a database that helps patients and scientists distinguish between what helps treat their disease, and what generates a null result.

Nicholas Gruen is CEO of Lateral Economics.

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