MPs vote against Tasmanian euthanasia bill

A clear majority of Tasmania’s lower house has voted against a bill which proposed legalising voluntary euthanasia.

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MPs on Wednesday spent hours deliberating reasons for and against legislation to give Tasmanians with an eligible medical condition, who are judged competent, access to a lethal drug to end their life.

But the bill was defeated 16 to eight in a conscience vote on Wednesday night.

State Greens leader Cassy O’Connor, who had co-authored the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, said every day the parliament avoided the issue, it was “another day of suffering and potentially choices for people for whom palliation does not and cannot provide relief”.

She promised to introduce the legislation as a private member, if re-elected, in the next term.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the bill would leave vulnerable people exposed to exploitation and remove protections safeguarding the sanctity of life.

“This is in fact a dangerous bill that will in fact create a different group of cruel tragedies,” he said on Wednesday.

“We’ve said every suicide is too many yet before us is a bill that would sanction suicide.”

Former Tasmanian premier Ms Giddings stressed the proposed law would act as a last resort for people suffering intolerable pain, and palliative care options often subjected patients to “state-sanctioned torture” preventing them from ending their lives with dignity.

Liberal premier Will Hodgmanm, who opposed the bill, had insisted party members voted with their heart, leading to Nic Street being among the bill’s supporters.

NSW and Victorian parliaments are also considering similar bills amid support for euthanasia rights.

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Lance Franklin impressed with young Swan

Will Hayward has played only eight AFL games but already made a big impression on Sydney teammate Lance Franklin.

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Hayward, who joined the club during last year’s draft, made his debut in round two and hasn’t looked back.

Forwards generally take a long time to develop but Hayward has already stepped up superbly, booting 11 goals.

Franklin, who is regarded as a mentor by many young guns at the SCG, has been suitably impressed with the 18-year-old.

“He’s been super … to do that in your first year is a really good effort,” Franklin said of the South Australian’s capacity to keep the scoreboard ticking over at such a young age.

“He’s probably the most exciting kid coming through (at the Swans).”

Franklin will take centre stage on Friday night, when the Swans host his former side Hawthorn at the SCG, in a crunch clash.

Sydney dropped their opening six games of the year but have since impressed in comfortable victories over Brisbane, North Melbourne and St Kilda.

Franklin suggested there was one clear difference between the way his side played earlier this year compared to now.

“Working as a team, helping your teammates and just that contested side of the game; that’s really what has got us back in the game,” he said.

“Hanners (Dan Hannebery), Joey (Kennedy) and Parks (Luke Parker) are playing some good football, getting it going forward and giving us a chance to win the game.”

The Swans and Hawks have built a special rivalry in recent years, notably contesting the 2012 and 2014 grand finals.

But this year both powerhouses have tumbled down the ladder, banking a combined six wins across the opening nine rounds. It means the Swans and Hawks’ finals hopes are already in the balance.

“We didn’t get off to the start we would have liked to as a club but the last three weeks have been really good,” Franklin said.

“No doubt (the Hawks will be desperate). Obviously they lost last week against Collingwood so they’re going to come out firing, we’ll have to be at our best to get the win.”

The Swans are expected to resist the urge to rush former co-captain Kieren Jack back from a hip injury when they name their side on Thursday night.

Blues defend Walters on Slater Origin snub

NSW winger Blake Ferguson has leapt to the defence of Queensland coach Kevin Walters following his gut-wrenching decision to drop Billy Slater for State of Origin I.

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Walters has been pilloried both sides of the border after seemingly shutting the door on the Melbourne champion’s 27-game Origin career, a call which reduced him to tears.

Even north Queensland maverick politician Bob Katter on Wednesday joined the pile on, accusing the Queensland selectors of being in the pocket of Brisbane after selecting Broncos skipper Darius Boyd in the No.1 jersey.

However Ferguson defended the selection of his Kangaroos teammate, calling him the best custodian in the league over the last few years.

“I think Darbs is the form fullback in the comp and he’s been playing a couple of years at fullback (for the Maroons),” Ferguson said.

“It’s sad to see someone like Billy Slater miss out but Darbs has shown he’s earned that position.”

Walters made the difficult decision to stick with Boyd at fullback, resisting the temptation to play him on the wing and Slater in the No.1.

Slater has returned in stunning form this year following back-to-back shoulder reconstructions but given he is 33, Walters has decided to move on.

Katter on Wednesday made the unusual step of turning on his own and in a press release riddled with spelling errors accused Walters of nepotism and claimed only one per cent of Queenslanders supported Boyd’s selection ahead of Slater.

“Darrius (sic) Boyd wouldn’t know what a linebreak was if he fell over it on a dark night,” Katter’s statement said, ignoring Boyd’s record of two linebreaks, 10 linebreak assists and six try assists this year.

“We don’t deny Darrius Boyd is a solid rock on which you can build an NRL team.

“However that is not needed at State of Origin level when you have arguably all-time great players such as Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.”

Qld back nice guy Cordner as NSW captain

The days of the NSW skipper as public enemy No.

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1 in Queensland appear numbered.

The thought may have seemed inconceivable with 16-time captain Paul Gallen at the Blues helm.

Especially after his now infamous “two heads” jibe at Maroons fans.

But new Blues skipper Boyd Cordner won’t be infuriating anyone north of the Tweed River any time soon, judging by rare praise from the Maroons.

Cordner’s predecessor Gallen gleefully revelled in the role of Origin villain in Queensland.

He quickly became the man Maroons fans loved to hate, ruffling most feathers when he described them as “two heads” in 2014.

However, Cordner may yet get cheers not jeers from the Suncorp Stadium crowd at Origin I next Wednesday night judging by the Queensland team’s reaction to his looming debut as NSW captain.

“He’s actually a very likeable guy,” Queensland and Test skipper Cameron Smith said.

“I’ve only got good things to say about Boyd. He’s a very impressive player and person as well.

“I can only applaud him being given the captaincy of the Blues – I’m sure he’ll do a great job.”

Sydney Roosters backrower Cordner, 24, became the youngest Blues skipper in 21 years when he was handed the reigns for 2017.

He held out the likes of Wests Tigers captain Aaron Woods and Canterbury back-rower Josh Jackson in order to take over from veteran prop Gallen.

“It’s probably the best decision NSW could have made, not that I worry too much about their decisions,” Queensland prop Dylan Napa said of Roosters teammate Cordner.

“I wish him, well, not too much luck. He’s a great leader and an even better bloke. He’s probably my best mate at the Roosters.”

France, Germany agree to Trump’s IS plan

France and Germany will agree to a US plan for NATO to play a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.

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The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda.

“NATO as an institution will join the coalition,” said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. “The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States. France and Germany believe it is.”

Flying to the NATO meeting in Brussels with Trump, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday it would be an important step for the Organisation to join the US-led, 68-nation coalition.

“I think they’re going to support NATO joining and becoming a formal member,” he said, referring to “a couple of countries that are still thinking it over” but not giving details.

Trump has said he wants to focus on fighting Islamic terrorism and, in a brief encounter with the Belgian prime minister, referred to a suicide attack claimed by Islamic State that killed 22 people in Manchester on Monday.

“It’s a horrible situation…. unthinkable. But we will win,” Trump said. “We are fighting very hard, doing very well under our generals … We will win this fight.”

A senior French diplomat said Paris was ready to accept NATO joining the coalition fighting Islamic State, but that its role would be limited to training and intelligence, things allies were already involved in.

US and other European officials want to show Trump, who called NATO “obsolete” because he said it was not doing enough against terrorism, that the alliance is responding.

While Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul and bracing for an assault against its de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria, U.S. officials are concerned fleeing militants could leave a vacuum that could prompt Arab tribal fighters to turn on each other to gain control.

All 28 NATO allies are members of the coalition, but the alliance as a formal member could become more involved, contributing equipment, training and the expertise it gained leading nations against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Family members arrested in UK bombing probe

      

The Libya counter-terrorism force detained the father, Ramadan  Abedi, outside his home in the Tripoli suburb of Ayn Zara on Wednesday afternoon.

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A witness said he was handcuffed by armed men who drove him away in two unmarked vehicles.

 

      

The force, known as Rada, detained the brother Hashem Abedi, who was born in 1997, on Tuesday evening on suspicion of links to Islamic State, spokesman Ahmed Bin Salem said. He did not give any details on the reasons why the father was arrested.

 

     

But Hashem Abedi had been in touch with Manchester Arena attacker Salman Abedi, Bin Salem said, and was suspected of planning to carry out an attack in the Libyan capital.

     

“We have evidence that he is involved in Daesh (Islamic State) with his brother. We have been following him for more than one month and a half,” Bin Salem said. “He was in contact with his brother and he knew about the attack.”

  

He said the younger brother had travelled from London to Tripoli on April 16.

     

Salman Abedi, 22, was born in Britain to Libyan parents. Britain’s interior minister said earlier that he had recently

returned from Libya and had likely not acted alone. His father lives in Tripoli.

Meanwhile, US entertainer Ariana Grande has suspended her Dangerous Woman tour following the attack on her Manchester show, which killed 22 people.

A spokesman for the 23-year-old announced the decision on Wednesday evening following widespread speculation that dates would be affected.

Grande’s next engagements were two nights at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday and Friday before heading to mainland Europe.

There has been no word on the six-date tour of Australia and New Zealand scheduled for September.

“We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy and our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this devastating incident,” promoters Live Nation said in a statement.

 

Aussie actor joins Depp, Bloom in Pirates

Former Home and Away soap star Brenton Thwaites has joked he had plastic surgery to look like English heart-throb Orlando Bloom before arriving on the Australian set of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

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Thwaites plays Henry Turner, the son of Bloom’s Captain Will Turner, in the fifth instalment of Disney’s action-adventure pirate franchise shot at Queensland’s Village Roadshow Studios and locations including Port Douglas, Moreton Bay and Tamborine Mountain.

“A lot of plastic surgery on that front,” Thwaites deadpanned when asked at a Los Angeles press conference how he prepared for the role.

“I went for plastic surgery and I said, ‘Make me look like Orlando Bloom’.”

The Cairns-born 27-year-old Thwaites holds his own in the star-studded cast headed by Johnny Depp and Oscar winners Geoffrey Rush and Javier Bardem.

Thwaites’ Turner teams up with Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow and Rush’s Captain Hector Barbossa to break a curse that has left his father marooned at the bottom of the ocean.

Thwaites said he was mesmerised by the way Depp was constantly going off script and adding extra layers to Sparrow.

“Even in the table read he’s searching for ideas and improvising and kind of going off script to search for new ideas,” he said.

Thwaites has become one of Hollywood’s top young actors after getting his start on Australian TV series Home and Away and SLiDE.

He starred opposite Angelina Jolie in Maleficent and Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges in The Giver.

Despite being cast as his son, Thwaites says he has never been compared to the hunky Bloom, who was briefly married to and has a son – Flynn – with Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr.

“No, I’d never been compared to Orlando Bloom,” Thwaites said.

“Mainly, young Australian actors that were on the TV show, Home and Away, which is a soap opera I did back in the day.

“Because, you know, Home and Away, they all kind of look the same don’t they?

“Beachy surfers … I had blonde hair.”

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens in Australia on Thursday (May 25).

Trump calls North Korea leader ‘madman’

In a call last month with the Philippines’ president, US President Donald Trump described North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un as a “madman with nuclear weapons” who could not be let on the loose, according to a leaked Philippine transcript of their call.

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Trump told Duterte in the April 29 call that the United States would “take care of North Korea,” and had a lot of firepower in the region, although it did not want to use it, according to a transcript of their conversation published by the Washington Post and the investigative news site The Intercept.

The document included a “confidential” cover sheet from the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

A senior US official said the Trump administration did not dispute the accuracy of the transcript and declined to comment further.

Trump requested Duterte’s help in impressing on China, North Korea’s neighbour and only major ally, the need for it to help rein in Kim, the transcript showed.

“We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that,” Trump said. “We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20, but we don’t want to use it.”

The US president told Duterte that Washington had sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, comments likely to raise further questions about his handling of sensitive information after US officials said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian officials this month.

“We have two submarines – the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” Trump said.

The Philippines foreign ministry said earlier in a statement that it had no comment on news reports about the leaked transcript.

But it said that under Philippine law there was “criminal and civil liability attached to the hacking, unauthorised disclosure and use of illegally or inadvertently obtained confidential government documents.”

The ministry said it valued the need for transparency, but the release of some information could affect national security and regional stability. “As such, we appeal to the sense of responsibility and patriotism of all concerned,” it added.

North Korea has vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped missile that can strike the US mainland, presenting Trump with perhaps his biggest foreign policy challenge.

It has conducted dozens of missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the start of last year.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible and that all options are on the table, but his administration says it wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically with the aid of tougher sanctions.

Books, reading her passion; literacy her mission: Heiss

Anita Heiss is an Aboriginal author and improving Indigenous literacy is her mission.

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Books are her passion and reading her obsession.

“It’s my most intimate relationship at this point in time, let’s say that. The power there is for our people in terms of self-determination – we need to be able to read and write in the English language.”

She’s firmly in touch with her Indigenous heritage but also connects with her European background.

“So I’m a Wiradjuri woman, I’m a Williams from Brungal mission, Griffith, Tumut and Canberra, but I was born and raised in Gadigal country. My dad was Austrian, Heiss means hot, I’m never changing my surname.”

Anita Heiss is a celebrated author with many awards to her name.

She’s not the only star in the family.

Her younger brother, Mark Heiss, is a highly respected educator.

“I’m very proud of Anita. She’s been a great role model for me, she’s been the type of person that I want to be, and I look up to her, yeah she’s an inspiration to me. I’m an educator myself and she’s very big on educating our young people, in particular around literacy needs and language, and also around the *18C debate. That was something Anita was drawn into through no fault of her own but then decided to make a stand in a class action when injustice was being done for our people.”

Her hero is one of Australia’s most important Aboriginal literary voices.

“I always go back to Oodgeroo Noonuccal, who was formerly Kath Walker and changed her name in 1988 as a protest against the bicentenary. I have an original hard cover (edition) of “We Are Going”, which was the first book of Aboriginal poetry published, and the charter of Aboriginal rights, which is still relevant today.”

Just like her inspiration Anita Heiss is not afraid to speak out, which saw her take part in a landmark case involving freedom of speech and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, over an article published by commentator Andrew Bolt.

“I would say as a blackfella the most important thing I’ve done was take Andrew Bolt to court with a group of other Indigenous people because winning that case was really about representing all those people who are persecuted in the media every day but have no comeback at all.”

The battle for equality is one she’s fought since childhood.

“I was socialised as a child by white people saying you’re an abo, boong, coon, chocolate drop, coco pop, telling me who I was, but in the next breath taking it away saying, ‘you’re only half-caste’. I grew up in a time where Australians believed they had the right to give you your identity but also take half of it away.”

Anita Heiss was born a year after the 1967 referendum.

She wants Constitutional recognition, but for her it’s not the final goal.

“As a writer I see this is where it starts, we write ourselves into the Constitution. That is the stepping stone to the treaty, that we all want.”

A parallel to her ambition as an author mirrors her ambition for the constitution.

“I want to write the great Australian novel! I would say that’s most Australian writers’ dream and the reality is the great Australian novel won’t be written if it doesn’t include Aboriginal people and place… if it doesn’t include our people and our place, it can’t be the great Australian novel. You can’t exclude us from that landscape.”

 

 

Iranian ambassador says Monis should have been stopped

Most Australians will remember Man Haron Monis as the gunman whose siege of Sydney’s Lindt Cafe 10 days before Christmas 2014 cost the lives of two innocent people.

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But years before that, Iranian authorities say, Monis had a reputation in Iran for being a cheat and financially corrupt.

In the aftermath of the New South Wales coroner’s report into the siege and deaths, Iranian ambassador Abdolhossein Vahaji has been sharply critical.

“You know, this person was not a normal person. He was not a religious person. He was carrying that uniform that the clergy people were using in order to fool society, to fool the people. He was mentally distorted, and he was psychologically at a problem.”

The Iranian government warned Australia about Monis as early as 2002, seeking the asylum seeker’s extradition to face fraud charges at home.

Interpol was informed, but, because Australia had no extradition agreement with Iran, no action was taken.

Mr Vahajil says what occurred at the Lindt Cafe did not need to happen.

“If … if … we could repatriate that person from Australia to Iran, under any circumstances, under any rules and regulations that we (encountered), if we could do that, I believe that this tragedy would be prevented.”

Australian Muslim communities watched the drama play out in horror, but also in despair.

One of those watching the backlash in some quarters was barrister and communities advocate Bilal Rauf.

“There was a sense of dread. There was a sense of dread because the immediate question as a Muslim and Australian was, ‘Will it be connected in some way with me, with Muslims generally, with Islam more broadly?’ And, sadly, it did come to be conveyed in that way. As it turned out, (people) had started professing and exclaiming anti-Islamic rhetoric, blaming Islam for the event, as being the cause for what had occurred, and that saddened me, it made me upset, it made me angry, that there were these people who were being opportunistic.”

Mr Rauf was just across the street in his high rise office when the siege unfolded.

He knew one of the victims, barrister Katrina Dawson, from university days.

At the memorial to lay flowers, he watched the anti-Islamic group Party for Freedom blaming his religion for the tragedy.

He says he confronted the protest leader and told him much of what he was saying had no basis in Islam and was wrong.

Concerns over a backlash against Muslims sparked the social media campaign I’ll ride with you from others supporting the communities.

The campaign’s founder, Tessa Kum, says she is still surprised by its success.

“The reaction to it was exponentially larger than I had anticipated, to say the least. I think, within an hour or so, it had spread all over Australia, and, a couple of hours after that, it had spread internationally.”

Tessa Kum says she, too, faced a backlash after the campaign but she has no regrets.

“(It was) a really beautiful thing to see how many people took it up and passed it on and shared it, so it was an incredibly loud message. That … that was really something amazing to watch.”

For most Australians, the tragedy is firmly etched in their memories.

Their reactions on the streets as the report comes down more than two years later were varied.

(First:) “I’m interested to see truth for those families who lost their … like Tori and the girl, the lawyer, yeah.”

(Second:) “Never forget that we’re just as vulnerable as the rest of the world, the danger and terrorism, and the dangers that affect the rest of the world. We’re not excluded just because of our geography.”

(Third:) “I mean, obviously, it was a one off event, in my opinion, so I don’t feel any threats whatsoever, no.”