Archive for February, 2019

Turnbull government’s same-sex marriage plebiscite defeated in late-night Senate vote

The Senate votes on the same-sex marriage plebiscite bill on Monday night. Photo: Andrew Meares Labor senators Murray Watt and Penny Wong after the vote. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Greens senators Sarah Hanson-Young, Janet Rice and Larissa Waters embrace after the vote. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Turnbull government’s proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage has formally been killed off by the Senate, where it was defeated 29-33 in a late-night vote on Monday, amid a warning the decision would delay marriage equality “for years”.

Months of speculation and political posturing culminated in Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch combining to defeat the proposal, which would have seen same-sex marriage decided by the n people in February.

The decision – an inevitability since Labor pledged to oppose the plebiscite four weeks ago – will force a new conversation about marriage equality that will divide the Coalition and threatens to destabilise the Turnbull government.

Conservatives will resist any attempt to shift away from the plebiscite policy, demanding no action on same-sex marriage until at least the next election. Most observers expect any change on that front would blow up Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.

In a final defence of the policy he once opposed, Attorney-General George Brandis warned that a plebiscite was the only foreseeable way to achieve same-sex marriage and that if defeated, “the cause of marriage equality will be delayed for years”.

Senator Brandis, a supporter of marriage equality, said Labor’s decision to block the plebiscite was “one of the more cynical exercises in politics that I have ever seen”. He implored the Senate to “stop playing politics with gay people’s lives” and “get out of the way”.

But senators had already made up their minds, voting 29-33 against the plebiscite just after 9.30pm on Monday. n Marriage Equality chairman Alex Greenwichsaid the focus would now shift to netting a parliamentary vote before the next election.

“The past 12 months has been a very difficult time for the LGBTI community,” he said. “We now need to make sure that we channel the frustration of the plebiscite into passionate advocacy to achieve this reform.”

Mr Greenwich said one positive to emerge from the past year was that several Coalition MPs had put on record their support for marriage equality.

The plebiscite was first floated by former prime minister Tony Abbott following a marathon Coalition party room meeting in August 2015, when liberal and conservative forces in the government tussled over how to respond to an issue which has long commanded the support of the n people.

Back then, Malcolm Turnbull had opposed the plebiscite in favour of a free vote, but was obliged to continue the policy when he took over as Prime Minister just a month later. Introducing the plebiscite bill in September, he said marriage equality was “a big moral issue” best decided by a public vote.

Earlier in the day, senator Dean Smith – the Liberal Party’s first openly gay parliamentarian – spelled out his own opposition to the plebiscite, arguing it would set a dangerous precedent of the Parliament outsourcing important decisions.

“Plebiscites are not and should not be a feature of our democratic culture in ,” he said. “How do we look our electors in the eye and ask them to place their trust in us on future issues?” Senator Smith abstained from Monday night’s vote.

Key crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie argued in favour of the plebiscite, saying that although she opposed same-sex marriage on “sacred religious grounds” she would have respected the will of the Tasmanian people after a plebiscite.

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Q&A: Naomi Klein says China no better than ‘insane and racist’ Donald Trump

“They’re so desperate to have their freedom of speech heard that they’re self-immolating”: Canadian journalist Naomi Klein on Q&A. Photo: ABC “The detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru are open centres where people can come and go”: Liberal senator James Paterson. Photo: ABC
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Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Virginia on Monday. Photo: ALEX BRANDON

Canadian journalist Naomi Klein has skewered for its treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention, comparing the policy to one proposed by Donald Trump.

On the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night, Ms Klein – an author and climate change activist – said the conditions on Nauru and Manus Island were an “international atrocity”.

“I find it shocking that people on Nauru and Manus are lighting themselves on fire, sewing their mouths shut, so they can be heard,” Ms Klein said.

“They’re so desperate to have their freedom of speech heard that they’re self-immolating. I want to know where the outrage is in this country about their freedom of speech and the freedom of whistleblowers – the doctors, the teachers – who are speaking out against this atrocity. This international atrocity.”

Ms Klein said the US presidential election had lowered the level of political discourse to such a degree that some abhorrent policies seemed normal.

“One of the reasons why I can’t wait to be rid of Trump, if this does happen, is he’s lowered the bar so much that anything can seem sane in comparison,” Ms Klein said.

“We can all feel terrifically smug because we’re not that crazy.

“I think that Donald Trump talking about building the wall with Mexico is insane and racist, but I also think what is doing on Nauru and Manus is as well. I think we shouldn’t be so self-satisfied about it. You’re actually doing it, he’s just talking about it.”

The comparison was also made by a questioner from the audience, who asked: “What is the difference between ‘s Operation Sovereign Borders and Donald Trump’s wall?”

Liberal Senator James Paterson, who was also on the panel, defended the policy.

“For one, the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru are open centres where people can come and go,” Mr Paterson said.

“They can have jobs. They have healthcare. They can go to school. That’s one difference.”

Another difference, Mr Paterson said, was offshore detention is also supported by Labor.

Speaking about Donald Trump, Mr Patterson, 28, who entered the senate in March, said the Republican nominee wasn’t his “cup of tea” but it was important that n politicians work with whoever is elected.

“I think we can’t afford to be complacent in ,” he said.

“We have to always make sure, particularly politicians like us, that we are in touch and doing what we say we’ll do, because otherwise we’ll have the same kind of cynicism about our leaders and politicians [as in the US].”

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Crowdfunding campaign raises $10,500 for widow of killed Bali police officer

The widow of Wayan Sudarsa, Ketut Arsini, and her son Kadek Toni, hold a portrait of the police officer who was killed on Kuta beach. Photo: Alan Putra The widow and son of killed Bali police officer Wayan Sudarsa meet with representatives of Bali charity Solemen, who have raised more than $10,000 for the family via a crowdfunding campaign. Photo: Alan Putra
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n woman Sara Connor, who along with her British boyfriend David Taylor are accused of the police officer’s murder. Photo: Supplied

David Taylor has admitted to bashing Mr Sudarsa with binoculars, a smashed beer bottle and a sharp object but not to killing him. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Bali: In 2014 a mentally ill Irishman known only as Sean was found wandering the streets of Bali, dazed and confused, with horrific leg wounds from a motorcycle accident.

The late Balinese police officer Wayan Sudarsa responded immediately to requests for assistance from Solemen, a charity that helps the disadvantaged in Bali.

On Monday, Sarah Chapman, the head of Solemen’s outreach team, recalled Mr Sudarsa’s kindness as the charity met with his widow, Ketut Arsini, to inform her a crowdfunding campaign had raised $US8000 ($10,500) to assist the family.

“He was a good person, I knew him when he was helping the Irishman,” Ms Chapman told Ms Arsini, patting the widow’s back when she became overwhelmed with emotion.

On August 17 Ms Arsini, an elementary school teacher, was attending a flag-raising ceremony to mark Indonesian Independence Day when she learned her husband’s bloodied corpse had been found on Kuta beach.

At first she couldn’t comprehend the fact her healthy husband was dead – it was only when a colleague of his showed her the photos that the horrific reality sunk in.

Byron Bay woman Sara Connor and her British DJ boyfriend David Taylor are expected to this week go to trial over Mr Sudarsa’s alleged murder in the Denpasar District Court.

Solemen founder Robert Epstone said the charity decided to appeal to people over the internet when they heard about Mr Sudarsa’s death.

“On an island where we are very quick to launch humanitarian funding campaigns for hapless tourists in hospital who come to the Island, get drunk and fall off a motorcycle or to fund an operation for a wounded stray dog, we desire to step up and set up a special fund to aid the family of the fallen policeman,” said the crowdfunding website, which was written in both English and Indonesian.

Mr Epstone said Solemen did not contact Ms Arsini because he was unsure if they would be able to raise any funds. “We didn’t want to raise Ibu’s (Ms Arsini’s) expectations then to come up with nothing.”

But over a two month period 158 people pledged more than $US8000. “We are just happy we can do this,” Mr Epstone said.

Ms Arsini was overwhelmed when she learned the donations were not linked in anyway to Connor and Taylor.

“So these are voluntary donations? I am very grateful for it. I can’t repay your kindness. I can only pray that God will repay your kindness,” she said.

Ms Arsini had earlier told Fairfax Media she could never forgive Connor and Taylor, despite Taylor writing her a letter saying he would always be haunted by his “terrible actions”.

“The one thing I miss about Bapak (Mr Sudarsa) is that he was always by my side, wherever I went,” she said.

“Aside from when he was working, he was always with me. I just remember him if I am alone. I stayed away from the news, I can’t watch it.”

Ms Arsini’s youngest son, Kadek Toni, was unsurprised to hear of his father helping the Irishman. “I remember my father telling me about it,” he said. “If he helped someone and there was a casualty he would attend the funeral. My father would do that.”

Ms Arsini said she hoped Connor and Taylor would be honest in the trial, which is due to start in the Denpasar District Court on Wednesday..

Taylor has admitted to bashing Mr Sudarsa with a beer bottle but not killing him, while Connor has said she is innocent of the police officer’s death.

“I hope both perpetrators will be able to tell honestly what they did to my husband, that cost him his life,” Ms Arsini said.

“That’s what I hope for, they admit it honestly, so the trial can end quickly.”

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Rosebery development site has $100m price tag

Rosebery Properties and Filetron, a private family company in Sydney, is selling three separate lots of land with a value of more $100 million in Rosebery. Photo: Supplied The privately-owned Rosebery Properties and Filetron, a company run by Ben Cottle, is selling three separate lots of land with a value of more than $100 million in Rosebery – an area undergoing rapid transformation from industrial to residential.
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Mr Cottle is also the founder and managing director of FDC Construction, one of the larger construction companies with offices in all of ‘s capital cities. Founded in the early 1990s, the company is earning half a billion dollars and employs 300 workers.

The sale in Rosebery is located within one of Sydney’s strongest new apartment suburbs, with a potential gross floor area of 32,864.40 square metres and a height limit of 29 metres.

The land is at 12-40 Rosebery Avenue and 108 Dalmeny Avenue, and consists of 15,215 sq m of land with existing industrial and commercial buildings equating to 11,722.80 sq m, which generates an existing rental income in excess of $2 million per annum.

The agents on the deal. Michael Crombie and Trent Gallagher of Colliers International, said demand is expected to be strong as suburbs on the City fringe, such as Rosebery, are see as some of the hottest markets in Sydney for residential apartments.

Mr Crombie, the director in charge of South Sydney for Colliers International, said, it was seen as “one of the best sites to come onto the market in 2016. It has great scale, over multiple titles, quality buildings and solid income, allowing staging of the development”.

Rosebery and surrounding suburbs are slowing morphing from industrial zones to “trendy” residential areas complete with new food outlets and a burgeoning cafe society.

The site is also near the multi-billion-dollar Green Square development, which will transform that area into a major mixed use and residential area.

Investors hold little fear of any over-supply of apartments in Rosebery given its proximity to Sydney airport, the eastern suburb beaches and universities and the City.

“Well known developers have focused heavily on the Rosebery precinct, including Meriton, Mirvac, Stockland, Top Place, LivStyle & JQZ, as Rosebery provides a lifestyle choice for the discerning investor or occupier, with so many new trendy eateries within the precinct,” Mr Crombie said.

According to Mr Gallagher, the director, property sales & leasing for Colliers International, rates being achieved in nearby residential development projects such as “Symphony” by Meriton – a 215-unit brand new development on Epsom Road in Rosebery, due for completion in mid-2017 – are as high as $19,000 per sq m.

The leasing market is also strong in the area with private firm Martin Sales Pty Ltd, paying $785 per sq m per annum for a 191 sq m retail space at Shop 3, 1-3 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, from Epsom Property Group Pty Ltd through Jessica Male and Charlie McKenzie, JLL.

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