MP George Christensen quits as Nationals whip, citing ‘incompatibility’

The backbencher confirmed his decision in a statement on Tuesday which said: “It was my decision to resign; and my decision alone.

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I was not pushed by anyone.”  

His decision to relinquish the position will see his annual salary drop by close to $26,000 a year, leaving him with just the base parliamentary remuneration of $199,040. 

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

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The maverick MP said Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce had been incredibly supportive and would have supported whatever decision he made.

“I thank him and the rest of the Nationals team for the great honour of serving as their Chief Whip over the last six months,” Christensen said.

George Christensen accepts his outspokenness is incompatible with being Nations Whip #auspol @SBSNews pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/kIUuATtr11

— Daniela Ritorto (@danielaritorto) February 28, 2017

His decision comes just a day after an opinion poll revealed he is staring down a challenge from Pauline Hanson’s party in his seat of Dawson ahead of the 2019 election. 

Just last week the outspoken backbencher pledged his support to the National Party after urgent peace talks with leader Barnaby Joyce. 

“I’m loyal to Barnaby Joyce, I’m loyal to the National Party, loyal to the LNP,” Mr Christensen said at the time.

Mr Joyce travelled north to persuade Mr Christensen not to leave the party and to ease tensions over a dispute which could see jobs lost in the sugar cane industry.

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It will take effect from Thursday when Nationals MPs and senators will meet to elect a replacement.

Mr Christensen said his position had become untenable after speaking out on several issues in recent months.

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Mr Christensen famously posed for a photograph wearing a shearer’s singlet and holding a stockwhip given to every Nationals whip since 1917.

In the November Fairfax media profile, Mr Joyce said Mr Christensen had great potential and there was no reason he couldn’t be a cabinet minister in the future.

Since then, there has been speculation he may follow renegade Liberal senator Cory Bernardi in quitting the coalition.

The Nationals will elect a replacement Chief Whip during Thursday’s party-room meeting, with nominations closing at 12pm on Wednesday.

Mr Christensen hosed down those rumours as recently as Monday, saying he would stick with the Nationals.

Nevertheless, he has been outspoken on issues such as the treatment of cane growers in his electorate of Dawson, immigration, and the need for a serious inquiry into banks.

On Tuesday morning he indicated he was willing to cross the floor and vote for a Greens move for a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the banking sector.

-With AAP

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Graduate hits the street in search of dream job with his giant CV

Most weekdays, Sri Lankan-born, recent Melbourne University graduate Adil Aslam takes to the streets of Melbourne’s financial precinct with a steely resolve and a placard presenting his impressive resume.

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“I feel quite nervous, I’ll be honest – just standing here just smiling all the time waving this around, obviously I’d rather not be doing it but here I am because I am serious about getting a position I really like,” he said.

Strangers have approached the 22-year-old offering support, and would-be employers have taken his details, but he has not yet received a job offer from the exercise. 

Mr Aslam compliments his street-based approach with extensive email and LinkedIn approaches to various companies. 

“Whatever it takes I’m prepared to do and I’m not entitled to anything just because I have a degree, and it’s about me trying hard, it’s about me staying focused and me staying motivated and using my skills to get there,” he said.

Mr Aslam is adamant he hasn’t experienced direct racism during his three years in Australia, but also says he can’t be certain whether his Sri Lankan name influences recruiters.

“Even though they’re not racist people per se – just in case they have a different perception with Adil being the name versus John being the name,” he said.

Some of his graduate friends have experienced success by Anglicising their names, but the proud Sri Lankan says it’s not something he would consider.

“I wouldn’t want to work for a company where this exists which is why I haven’t changed my name,” he said.

Monash University management and HR expert Peter Holland examined Mr Aslam’s resume, predicting he will secure employment within six months of leaving university. 

He says racial profiling of resumes is illegal, but virtually impossible to prove – with various studies around the world suggesting it still takes place.

Associate Professor Holland also says it’s not only the applicants who suffer.

“Names shouldn’t come into it – it should be looking at the quality of the person via the resumes and the companies are actually doing themselves a disservice if they do these kind of things – as they may be missing out on the best person for the job,” he said.

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Associate Professor Holland also believes it’s time names were removed from resumes. 

“Name-blind I think is something the government should consider or companies could consider as a way of effectively minimising the potential to discriminate against people,” he said.

Either way, Adil Aslam will continue his online and on-street efforts with the aim of achieving his employment goal.

“Ten years from now I (hope to) have the experience, people come to me asking for help and I will be able to consult with them, advise them this is what you do – that’s the dream we’ll see how it goes,” he said. 

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Audit report slams govt over Centrelink

A scathing auditor-general report has criticised the way the federal government ensures Centrelink compliance as ineffective, recommending several changes.

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The Australian National Audit Office report on Tuesday examined seven Centrelink compliance measures and found three were not effectively implemented while another two were only partly effective.

“As a consequence, most of the compliance measures examined did not fully achieve their expected outcomes, including savings and addressing the risks to payment integrity,” the report tabled in parliament says.

“The Department of Human Services’ internal and external monitoring and reporting for compliance measures could be improved.”

The report doesn’t cover the controversial robo-debt crisis, which Labor claims is resulting in 4000 people each week receiving letters wrongly accusing them of owing money.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said the department would implement one of the report’s recommendations, while partly implementing another.

He said the audit office used different accounting methodology to the department, resulting in savings being allocated to different categories and the conclusion that some compliance measures didn’t meet targets.

He said all fraud and compliance activities combined had delivered savings of $1.44 billion, exceeding a target of $1.07 billion.

“The ANAO report does not comment on how compliance savings has grown since 2012-13 or that the 10 measures combined have exceeded their target,” he said.

Labor’s human services spokeswoman Linda Burney said the report confirmed the department was a complete mess on Mr Tudge’s watch.

Vandals attack Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia

Hundreds of headstones, some of them more than 100 years old, were cut in half, local media reported Sunday.

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A local rabbi, who was unnamed, told ABC television affiliate WPVI that the affected graves at the historic Mount Carmel Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia’s northeastern Wissinoming neighborhood also included those of one-time members of the Quaker and Muslim communities.

“We’re not interested in any narrative about victimization and as heartbreaking as this is, we are strong together,” the rabbi said.

“I just met two congregants of mine who were here, one of whom has relatives. His way of responding was to go row by row and count, and he’s counted over 500 tombstones.”

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New Jersey resident Aaron Mallin discovered the vandalism on Sunday when he came to visit his father’s grave at the cemetery.

“It’s just very disheartening that such a thing would take place,” he told WPVI.

Police say they are investigating the vandalism.

The Anti-Defamation League has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon posted a statement on Twitter saying, “#Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry. Full confidence #US authorities catch and punish culprits.”

Latest anti-Semitic attacks 

The attack comes a week after more than 100 headstones were damaged at a Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri. The incident prompted a Muslim-led crowdfunding campaign to raise more than $100,000 to repair the cemetery, and a visit by Vice President Mike Pence.

Among more recent attacks, vandals spray-painted swastikas on several cars, highway overpasses, buildings and an elementary school playground over the weekend in Buffalo, New York, The Buffalo News reported.

After remaining silent on the subject for several days, President Donald Trump on Tuesday decried the anti-Semitic threats against Jewish community centers across America as “horrible” and “painful.”

However, concern is rising about his embrace by white supremacist groups and an “alt-right” movement given a platform on Breitbart, the online news outlet once headed by Trump’s chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

The White House raised eyebrows on International Holocaust Remembrance Day late last month by issuing a statement that made no mention of the six million Jews killed in the Nazi genocide.

Other groups have also been targeted. On Wednesday, a drunk white man fatally shot an Indian engineer and wounded another in Kansas City, screaming racial slurs and telling them “Get out of my country!”

Survivors’ voices help shape discussion to stamp out domestic violence

Speaking at a national summit on family violence in Canberra, 2016 Australian of the Year David Morrison said there should be a national focus on the issue, proposing a national day of remembrance.

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“We need to pause, I think, at least on one day of the year to think about millions of Australians who have had almost no say, whose potential, whose aspirations, have been squandered as a result of domestic violence,” he said.

Mr Morrison’s comments came amid growing calls for a countrywide framework to be setup to tackle domestic violence.

In 2015, Irishwoman Emma Murphy posted a video of herself online, sitting at the bottom of a staircase, her young son Xavier on the steps behind her.

In a pink hoodie, hair pulled back, her black eye is clearly visible.

“I’ve been thinking long and hard and contemplating whether to post this video,” she said to the camera.

The Dublin mother of two – then 26-years-old – described her relationship with a man who she says was “the love of her life”, including his infidelity and the three separate occasions where he physically assaulted her.

“I finally realised this is not acceptable, no man has a right to put his hand on a women. No man at all, no matter how big, how small, no matter where you’re from, it is not right,” she said through tears.

As soon as she uploaded the video to her Facebook page, the impact was immediate.

“It was hectic, from posting that video, my phone wouldn’t stop ringing. It was constant,” Ms Murphy said. remembering how her message went viral.

“It wasn’t just from Ireland, it was from all around the world. It was from kids, parents, other women going through it.”

Her video has since been viewed millions of times.

Two years on, Ms Murphy said she still feels the impact of her decision to share her experience.

“They get courage from my story, from listening to that video.

“Only recently, I had a girl mail me and she said, ‘I’ve watched your video six times today because I’m looking for strength to leave my relationship,’ which she did,” she said, smiling.

Ms Murphy travelled to Canberra to attend the National Family Violence Summit, to try and pass on some of her courage.

The annual event, now in its second year, was facilitated by the Tara Costigan Foundation which was set up in memory of a young Canberra mother who was killed by her former partner, in front of her children.

Founder Michael Costigan, Tara’s uncle, said the main goal of the summit is to bring services and resources from across the country together to create a national framework to tackle domestic violence.

“We will put that together to serve the sector and to help the sector be better at marketing and engaging and setting up funding streams, just giving the sector support, bringing it together,” he said at the event.

Domestic violence survivor Rebecca Poulson, who also attended the two-day summit, agreed.

“We really need to work together to get a unified voice,” she said.

“Something like a national framework that we can all work towards, like what is the best practice … and we really do need victims’ voices in that plan.”

Ms Poulson believed establishing best practice starts with education.

“It would be so wonderful to have family violence and awareness of family violence, what it looks, what it feels like in every single school in Australia,” she said.

“Just like we have stranger danger awareness in schools, and we don’t have family violence awareness in school.”

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

Steve Smith’s staggering record v India

Playing against India brings out the best in Steve Smith – to an unprecedented point for an Australian.

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Smith’s Test batting average in Border-Gavaskar contests is currently 88.83. No player from either country has ever achieved such a high number, with Ravi Shastri (77.75) and David Boon (70.82) next in line.

The obvious caveat is that Smith is yet to be truly tested in India.

Australia’s shock win in Pune was just his third Test in the world’s second most populous country, where Smith averages a mere 49.5.

The skipper impressed with a defiant ton in the first Test, becoming just the third Australian to post a second-innings hundred in India.

Coach Darren Lehmann described it as the greatest of Smith’s 18 Test tons.

“It’s probably his best, especially in those conditions,” Lehmann said.

“I haven’t seen him so determined.

“He’s always determined, he’s captain of our country and plays really well obviously, but he knows conditions on that wicket (were tough so) to make a hundred was very special.”

Smith has now reached three figures in five consecutive Tests against India, having dominated the 2014/15 series when he served as caretaker captain after Michael Clarke’s hamstring injury.

Only four other players in Test history have achieved such an incredible run against one side: Don Bradman, Shoaib Mohammad, Neil Harvey and Jacques Kallis.

If Smith continues to lead from the front during the four-Test series it will trigger more debate about where he sits on the list of Australia’s greatest batsmen.

Last month, Smith joined Bradman as one of four players to average more than 60 with the bat through 50 Tests.

The 27-year-old’s deeds are more incredible given he didn’t reach three figures until his 12th Test, having made his debut in 2010 as a legspinning allrounder.

Smith’s century in Pune – and Virat Kohli’s lowest tally of runs in a home Test that he’s batted twice in – helped the Australian consolidate his lead atop the International Cricket Council’s Test batting rankings.

Smith has reached a career-high 939 rating points, while India captain Kohli remains in second place with 873 points.

Only five batsmen in the history of the game have achieved a higher number of rating points based on the ICC’s modern-day formula: Bradman (961), Len Hutton (945), Jack Hobbs and Ricky Ponting (both 942) and Peter May (941).

HIGHEST TEST BATTING AVERAGE IN TESTS BETWEEN AUSTRALIA AND INDIA

88.83 – Steve Smith 77.75 – Ravi Shastri 70.82 – David Boon 63.00 – Doug Walters 61.90 – Dean Jones.

Broncos can get it done without Parker

Life without retired skipper Corey Parker is yet to officially begin at Brisbane but veteran Alex Glenn reckons it won’t take long for their young pack to fill the Broncos great’s shoes.

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Test prop Josh McGuire looks set to replace Parker in the No.13 jersey in Brisbane’s season opener against reigning premiers Cronulla on Thursday night – the Broncos’ first NRL game without the 347-game lock.

However, the jury was out on how the Broncos pack would replace Parker’s tireless workrate this season.

Glenn said no one could compare to the inspirational Parker.

But he believed a competitive Brisbane pack would not waste time stepping up in Parker’s absence.

“I don’t think it will take time,” Glenn said.

“He is a massive loss to us though.

“He was one of our big workhorses.

“(But) the boys who are going to step in are going to fill his boots perfectly fine.”

Veteran Sam Thaiday agreed that the Brisbane pack was in a “good position” ahead of their daunting away clash with the defending NRL champions.

The Test forward said the pre-season form of youngsters Jai Arrow, Tevita Pangai Jnr and Joe Ofahengaue plus Newcastle recruit Korbin Sims had ensured a smooth post-Parker transition.

“We’ve got some good competition in that young pack,” Thaiday said.

“We’ve got Jai, Tevita, Joe and add Korbin into that mix, they are all pushing each other…to make sure Wayne (Bennett) selects them.

“We are in a good position at the moment.”

Sims is expected to slot into the front row vacancy created by McGuire’s No.13 move – a thought that excited ex-Brisbane skipper Thaiday.

“To be honest I don’t think Korbin has showed everyone his full potential,” Thaiday said of Sims, who linked with Brisbane after four seasons at Newcastle.

“Hopefully we can pull it out of him.

“He is a great buy for us at this time of the year.

“He is looking forward to running out there and playing some good footy for us.”

Sutton eyes return to finals for Souths

As South Sydney’s NRL games record holder John Sutton has seen the best and worst of life at the Rabbitohs, but in 2017 he is targeting one thing, a return to finals football.

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Sutton endured tough early years at the club, playing in wooden spoon sides in two out of his first three seasons, as the club struggled upon their readmission to the competition.

He was then part of the exhilarating resurgence which carried them to preliminary finals in 2012 and 2013 and culminated in them winning the 2014 premiership, the club’s first in 43 years.

That momentum couldn’t be maintained and they dropped to seventh the following year before a miserable 2016 saw them win just nine games and crash to 12th on the ladder, missing the finals for the first time since 2011.

“(It was) very disappointing, you want to be there in October,” Sutton said.

“We’ve had a couple of disappointing years, so we’re going to be working hard to get back there.”

The 32-year-old forward is just as excited about the prospect of starting his 14th season as he was his first, back in 2004.

“We’ve got a lot of young blokes in the squad, they keep me young,” Sutton said.

“I enjoy coming in every day, and training with the boys and getting to play on the weekends so, I’m really looking forward to it.”

The recruitment off 33-year-old former Tigers rake Robbie Farah means Sutton is not the oldest player in the Rabbitohs squad and Sutton feels Farah’s experience, ability to drive his fellow forwards around the field and his kicking game will be assets for Souths.

He was excited by the potential of the combination of Farah and Damien Cook, who each played a half at hooker in the recent Charity Shield game.

“I thought it was awesome, Cooky has got that explosive speed,” Sutton said.

“When he came on he set up that really good try for Burnsy (Braidon Burns), so seeing what Madge (Souths’ coach Michael Maguire) is going to do there is exciting.”

The 2017 season also brings further change for Sutton, who is expected to continue to play in the forwards but says a shift to his old role of five-eighth would be welcome if he was asked to play there.

Brisbane ready to stamp authority: Thaiday

Lessons learned from the World Club Series have primed Brisbane to “stamp their authority” early this NRL season despite a tough draw.

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The Broncos appear vulnerable ahead of Thursday night’s season opener against reigning premiers Cronulla after their shock WCS loss to Warrington in the UK.

And one look at their daunting schedule prompted league great Peter Sterling to claim Brisbane would struggle to even make the eight this year.

But veteran forward Sam Thaiday said some home truths after their historic loss to Warrington had steeled the Broncos for the demanding weeks ahead.

Brisbane have been dealt one of the toughest season starts, taking on each of last year’s top four in the opening month.

“Look at the first few weeks for us, it’s a huge opportunity to see where we are at as a team and stamp our authority on the competition,” Thaiday said.

Alarm bells were ringing for Brisbane when they became the first NRL club to lose a WCS clash, succumbing 27-18 to the Wolves this month.

However, Thaiday said coach Wayne Bennett had helped them learn a harsh lesson and move on.

“We had to put it behind us. Wayne quashed all that at our last team meeting – this week has all been about the Sharks,” Thaiday said.

“We learned a few lessons from that game.

“We need to control the footy and play a Broncos brand if we are going to be close to winning games this year.

“We gave away too many penalties and dropped too much ball but the beauty of that game was that it wasn’t for competition points.”

Thaiday said the thought of knocking defending champions Cronulla “off their perch” on Thursday night had also energised Brisbane.

“It does make you want to play a bit harder and maybe get one up on them,” Thaiday said of facing the premiers.

“I think it will be a tough year for them – everyone lifts their game to play you (premiers).

“We want to go down there and hopefully knock the premiers off their perch and really start our season off well.”

Bolton ready made Tamou replacement: Scott

The rise of unheralded veteran Scott Bolton has ensured North Queensland co-captain Matt Scott is not feeling any pressure to inspire the Cowboys pack in James Tamou’s absence this NRL season.

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North Queensland looked set to rely on veteran forward Scott – 32 in July – more than ever in 2017 after fellow Test prop Tamou defected to Penrith.

But Scott claimed he was not feeling the heat, backing the evergreen Bolton to step up in Tamou’s absence.

Bolton – 30 in May – is expected to fill the front row vacancy created by Tamou in North Queensland’s NRL season opener against Canberra in Townsville on Saturday night.

“We are definitely not missing too much by having him in there,” Scott said of Bolton replacing Tamou.

“Bolts is one of our most senior players, a guy who has always done his job – he’s a steadying influence in the front row.

“When you have someone like him coming in, it takes the pressure off everyone else.

Scott paid tribute to the off contract Bolton, who will get a chance to nail down a front row start in his 11th NRL season.

He has only ever played for North Queensland since making his NRL debut back in 2007.

The dependable Bolton got his shot after averaging 96 metres per game the last three seasons, largely off the bench.

“Me and Bolts are similar players in that we get through our work and both work hard off the ball also,” Scott told AAP.

“There’s no pressure there for me to provide momentum for the team – we are well placed to do so.”

Scott also believes they have the depth to cover the loss of retired forward Ben Hannant after Sam Hoare and Patrick Kaufusi impressed in the pre-season.

“It’s good to see guys like Kaufusi and Hoare chasing spots, there’s a great opportunity for them to cement a spot in the 17,” he said.