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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Comments Off on Eric Abetz objects to rainbow flag being displayed in government buildings

Eric Abetz objects to rainbow flag being displayed in government buildings

Eric Abetz objects to rainbow flag being displayed in government buildings

Enemy combatants: Liberal Eric Abetz Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Labor MPs show off a rainbow flag. Photo: Andrew Meares
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The rainbow flag has become a symbol for the marriage equality movement.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore with a rainbow flag outside Sydney Town Hall. Photo: Anna Kucera

A rainbow flag atop Victorian Parliament House last year. Photo: Penny Stephens

The Brandenburg Gate in Germany is seen with a rainbow flag projected onto it during a vigil for victims of the Orlando, Florida nightclub shooting. Photo: Adam Berry

For some it’s the symbol of gay and lesbian progress and the fight for equality, but for Liberal culture warrior Eric Abetz it’s the flag of a hostile nation that has declared war on .

Bureaucrats from the Department of Finance were baffled when the former minister used Senate estimates hearings on Tuesday to ask what protocols exist for the flying of flags inside government buildings.

He said a staff member of the department had reported that a rainbow flag, associated with the LGBTIQ community and the fight for same-sex marriage, had been displayed in the Finance foyer.

Senator Abetz told department officials and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann the flag’s presence and political nature might upset some staff members. He proposed a group opposed to same-sex marriage should have similar rights.

“To cut to the chase, there was the rainbow flag on display in the lobby which, believe it or not, some people see as an activist flag for a particular cause in relation to an issue of whether or not we should change the legislation on marriage and some people of course support that cause, others don’t.

“If that is allowed, then one imagines that the Marriage Alliance banner should be flown equally,” he said.

“If you allow one side of the debate, then you need to allow the other side and that is why I sought to determine upfront who is responsible for making these determinations.”

A prominent opponent of same-sex marriage, Senator Abetz said the flag represented a hostile nation that had declared war on .

“This particular flag, you will realise, is the flag of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, that declared war on and you Senator Cormann would understand they did the same as Prince Leonard of Hutt River Province and now this is their official flag,” Senator Abetz said.

“Of course, it is the flag of a hostile nation if we are to believe them, having declared war on . I dare say that wasn’t the reason it was flown…”

In 2004, activists said n policies for gay and lesbian citizens had caused them to plant a flag in the Coral Sea Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, naming their own nation and declaring war on .

To date, the conflict has been limited to YouTube videos from n citizen Dale Parker Anderson, who has declared himself Emperor of the tiny nation.

Senator Abetz later asked why the Israeli flag hadn’t been flown during last week’s visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Officials said the issue would be raised at a future meeting of the department’s executive board.

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Comments Off on ‘I’m too outspoken’: George Christensen resigns as Nationals whip

‘I’m too outspoken’: George Christensen resigns as Nationals whip

‘I’m too outspoken’: George Christensen resigns as Nationals whip

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Nationals MP George Christensen. Photo: Alex EllinghausenNationals firebrand George Christensen will resign from the job of parliamentary whip, saying his “constant outspokenness” meant the position was untenable.
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But the frequent and vocal critic of the Turnbull government, said the move was not a sign he could quit the Coalition. It will also mean his pay is cut from $225,000 a year to $199,000 a year, a $26,000 salary cut.

His resignation as whip comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned his colleagues that “disunity is death”, telling them it was their duty to stick together after last week’s outburst by predecessor Tony Abbott sparked a wave of discontent and introspection.

“We have a duty to  and to our constituents to stick together, to be united,” he told a meeting of Liberal and National MPs.

“We can be proud of what we’ve done. We’ve done a lot in this Parliament and we need to keep building on that.”

The whip is meant to help enforce parliamentary discipline during votes in the House of Representatives, record votes and help determine who speaks and when during debates.

However, Mr Christensen has spoken out on a range of policy issues, including repeatedly threatening to cross the floor and back Labor’s proposal for a royal commission into the banking sector.

He has also threatened to resign from the LNP because of his unhappiness with the government’s policy agenda, in particular its failure to resolve a dispute with sugar growers in his north Queensland electorate of Dawson.

The increasingly prominent MP said he had “resigned as chief whip of the Nationals effective 5pm Thursday”.

“I realised my constant outspokenness was incompatible with the position in the long term. It was my decision alone and I wasn’t pushed. [Deputy Prime Minister] Barnaby [Joyce] was going to back me in either way,” he said.

“It doesn’t signal anything else.”

Mr Christensen’s claim that he is not poised to quit government ranks is unlikely to do much to calm the government’s nerves.

As recently as Monday evening, he told Sky News it was “possible” he could one day join One Nation.

“That’s a hypothetical, that, you know, possible, possible but, you know, I’m in the National Party and . . . I’m in the National Party today and I will be in the National Party tomorrow. I mean, you know, anything is possible.”

On other occasions, however, he has dismissed suggestions he could defect from the Liberal National Party and join Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, citing personal loyalty to Mr Joyce.

A Nationals source confirmed Mr Christensen had sat down with Mr Joyce and the pair had jointly agreed he could not continue as whip while regularly criticising his own side of politics.

“I was not pushed by anyone,” Mr Christensen said.

“However I did feel some of my colleagues may have been aggrieved that the enforcer of discipline was being somewhat ill-disciplined himself.”

Mr Joyce subsequently told Sky News that “if he was going to jump [to One Nation], he would come and say [it] to me” and the resignation was not the first step towards Mr Christensen quitting the LNP.

“I’ll ask myself the question you should ask me. Has George said to you you he might go to One nation? Have you asked if he is loyal to the Nationals party and wants to stick around with his mates in the National Party? Yes he has and yes he does want to stick around. That is really all, that’s where it resides.”

Nationals MP Damian Drum, a former minister in the Victorian state government, is tipped to be Mr Christensen’s replacement.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Party was rocked by the resignation of Senator Cory Bernardi, who moved to the crossbench and announced he planned to establish a new “n Conservatives” party.

A ReachTEL poll commissioned by the progressive Institute and released earlier this week found that the One Nation primary vote had risen to 30 per cent – equal to that of the LNP – in Dawson.

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Comments Off on Cambodia cancels Chinan exercise in growing rejection of Western help

Cambodia cancels Chinan exercise in growing rejection of Western help

Cambodia cancels Chinan exercise in growing rejection of Western help

Bangkok: Cambodia has cancelled an important counter-terrorism exercise with  as the country’s strongman Hun Sen warns he may use military force during upcoming elections.
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Mr Hun Sen has also ramped up criticism of Western nations after in January cancelling annual military exercises with the United States.

“All foreigners should understand that the Khmer [Cambodian] story should be sorted by Khmer,” he said, adding what while Cambodia needs foreign aid and business investment “I have never interfered in your international affairs.”

The Prime Minister’s comments were aimed at Western countries, particularly the US, which he accused of being hypocritical for its bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

“When you bombed on my country and you killed people, did you ever think about human rights?”

Mr Hun Sen said some have claimed he would not recognise the outcome of elections in which opposition parties are expected to poll strongly because of concerns about corruption, land grabs and lack of employment opportunities for the young.

“They predicted that in 2018 they could win, and if we don’t hand over power to them they will crush us,” he said.

“How can this happen if the troops are in my hands?”

Over three decades in power Mr Hun Sen, a former commander of the murderous Khmer Rouge, has often used force to crush his political opponents. He staged a coup in 1997 to oust his co-prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh in which dozens of people were killed.

Last weekend a senior government official declared that US President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media were an inspiration to his country to observe limits on freedom of expression. He signalled a move against two radio outlets funded by the US government.

Mr Hun Sen has been presiding over a crackdown aimed at key opposition figures and parties in what critics say is a blow to hopes the country can move towards democratic rule.

The government passed legislation effectively banning anyone convicted of an offence from running for office, a move aimed at the main opposition party whose leaders have been systematically targeted in criminal prosecutions, mostly in defamation cases for comments on Facebook.

Sun Samnang, an official in Cambodia’s Ministry of Defence, told the ABC commune elections in June, national elections scheduled for 2018 and budget restraints caused the Dawn Kouprey exercises with to be cancelled.

Only two months ago Cambodia held if first major military exercise with China, which has become one of the country’s biggest aid donors.

will send $90 a million in aid to Cambodia this year, in addition to the $55 million it paid for the country to accept a handful of refugees from Nauru. That agreement has been widely criticised by the UN refugee agency, human rights and refugee groups.

Cambodian soldiers are expected to take part in a separate counter-terrorism event in  in 2018.

Comments Off on Giuseppe Serafino didn’t know drugs were ‘such a big crime’ in Bali, court hears

Giuseppe Serafino didn’t know drugs were ‘such a big crime’ in Bali, court hears

Giuseppe Serafino didn’t know drugs were ‘such a big crime’ in Bali, court hears

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa David Fox in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa
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Police with n Giuseppe Serafino (in orange prison clothes, right) and Briton David Fox, who have been arrested for allegedly possessing hashish in Bali. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino?in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Briton David Fox (left) and n Giuseppe Serafino were arrested in Bali for allegedly possessing hashish. Photo: Supplied

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino with his lawyer Desi Widyantari at Denpasar District Court on Thursday. Photo: Amilia Rosa

An n man arrested in Bali for allegedly possessing hashish said he didn’t know it was a “such a big crime” to use the drug in Indonesia.

Giuseppe “Joe” Serafino, 48, and former Reuters correspondent David Fox were arrested in Sanur last October for allegedly possessing 7.32 grams and 9.83 grams of hashish respectively.

Mr Serafino, who had been living in Bali for the last five years, said he felt pain, was agitated and couldn’t sleep if he didn’t use hashish, which he mixed with tobacco and smoked like a cigarette.

“I understand now that it is illegal,” Mr Serafino told the Denpasar District Court. “But in it was ok. I didn’t seek a recommendation from a doctor because I don’t speak Indonesian and didn’t know the system. I promise not to use it again.”

He said he bought the hashish for three million rupiah ($AUD300) from a man at McDonalds at Sanur. “He was wearing a helmet, so I didn’t see his face.”

Mr Serafino faces a charge of possessing category one narcotics, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 years’ jail, or the lesser charge of possessing narcotics for personal use, which carries a maximum sentence of four years’ jail.

He testified that he bought hashish every three to six weeks.

He told the court he only used it himself and never gave it to anyone else. “I bought quite a lot for stock. Each time I bought it was enough for two to three weeks use. I used depending on the pain I suffered. If I used I felt relaxed, I could sleep.”

Kerobokan prison doctor Agung Hartawan said in a medical statement that Mr Serafino first started using hashish in 2007 when he was diagnosed with mouth cancer.

“He was searching for ways to lessen the pain, increase his appetite and improve his sleep from the internet,” Dr Agung said.

“Because the medication he took caused him stress, he was not able to sleep, was in a bad mood and lost his appetite.”

Dr Agung said Mr Serafino sourced “ganja” (marijuana) and hashish from his friends.

“His doctor (in ) was aware of the ganja use, his doctor said to use a small amount as necessary.”

He said Mr Serafino also had back surgery in 2009 which caused him further pain.

Mr Serafino continued to use marijuana after he moved to Bali in 2011.

A friend recommended by seek rehabilitation with Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency BNN.

“But because he was busy, before he was able to consult BNN in Bali he was arrested by police,” Dr Agung said.

Police arrested Mr Serafino in his Sanur home on October 8 last year. The asked him if he had shabu shabu, the Indonesian slang term for methamphetamine, but he told them he only had hashish.

He said Mr Serafino had continued to use marijuana when he was first incarcerated in Kerobokan jail but after counselling had stopped and now used the medication Tramadol for his back pain.

“His girlfriend, friends and lawyer often visit him in prison,” Dr Agung said.

He recommended Mr Serafino have psychotherapy and rehabilitation.

“It would be best if he received comprehensive treatment – something we don’t have in prison,” Dr Agung told the court. “It would be best if he could get treatment elsewhere, like in a rehab centre.”

The court was adjourned until next week, when prosecutors will make a sentencing request.

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Comments Off on MWC 2017: Hands on with LG’s bright, slim G6

MWC 2017: Hands on with LG’s bright, slim G6

MWC 2017: Hands on with LG’s bright, slim G6

What a difference a year makes. Last year, LG stole Sunday — the day of glitzy launches — at Mobile World Congress showing off their new, modular G5. But by Monday afternoon, sentiment had shifted. Once the press had a chance to play with the devices, snapping the modules on and off, reality set in. Who would really do this? Why was the camera module basically just an expensive grip? What were they thinking?
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While launching the G6 this week, Juno Cho, President of LG Mobile Entertainment had one simple sentence on the disappointing modular LG G5; “we’re still proud of that effort”. Heartbreaking. Still, we’re always told to “fail fast” in tech, so good on LG for realising its mistakes and moving on so quickly.

The G6 is a gorgeous unit, and one hell of a course correction. It’s sporting the new, tougher Gorilla Glass 5, front and back, with the back panel curved to feel a little more snug in the hand. And the front panel is nearly all screen, so despite it being a 5.7-inch display, it’s comfortable in my Trump-esque hands.

LG call the front panel a FullVision display. It has a unique 18:9 screen aspect ratio, which keeps the phone quite narrow, again helping with reach. In many respects this little mobile screen is better than my TV, supporting 2K images in Dolby Vision and HDR 10.

LG’s skin of Android is a colourful mix of pastels, showing off the new display in subtle ways. It’s a definite improvement over its previous interpretations of Android.

There’s a chamfered edge around the front panel, which gives the phone a high end look and feel, with just a tiny bit of sharpness to the grip. It’s an odd contrast to the rounded edges of the rest of the unit. Everything else is curved, right down to the rounded edges of the display.

The new flagship comes with IP68 water and dust resistance, matching the features of other flagships on the market. Having never dropped my phone in the toilet, I never thought I’d care about water resistance. But it’s allowed me to take snaps of my kid’s first trip to the beach, so now I consider it a “must have”.

The G6 sports a dual lens camera, but unlike Huawei’s P10 or the iPhone 7 Plus, the lens are independent, giving you the option of standard or wide screen shots. You won’t get any of the “fauxkeh”, or fake bokeh of those devices here.

And the G6 is the first phone after Google’s own Pixel to have the new Google assistant built in. I look forward to more handsets being blessed with Google’s assistant in the future.

There’s no word on local pricing, but history tells us to expect the LG G6 to be priced somewhere in between the mid range phones from Motorola et al, while undercutting the flagships from Apple and Samsung. If that’s the case, the LG G6 will be a fantastic deal, as it’s easily one of the best phones on display here in Barcelona.

With Blackberry and Nokia grabbing the headlines, Mobile World Congress in 2017 is fast becoming the year of the comeback. But while those brands have a more dramatic comeback story to tell, LG has the most compelling product. When the hype dies down and we all go home, the G6 is the phone I’m most interested in spending more time with.

The author travelled to MWC in Barcelona as a guest of Huawei.